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Lamya

"When there is more than one side to the moral coin, there is no morals. Blackpond is just one of those examples."

0 · 548 views · located in Newhaven

a character in “Shadows of The Forgotten”, as played by Mr_Doomed

Groups

Assassin group currently in control of the City of Blackpond.

Description

Gender: Female

Age: 25

Affiliation: The Shadow’s Conflict [Leader]

Ability (if enlightened): Lamya has the kiss of death. Her lips are a deadly poison of their own. Although, it is not actually a poison at all, but in actuality the touch is all there is to it. Death is instant once contact has ceased. Now the drawback to this is that she has to consume some sort of liquid within an hour after she’s killed the person or she will die.
Only the other members of the Shadow’s Conflict know of her power, but they don’t know of the drawback to it. No one knows that except Lamya herself.

Description: Lamya is a young and attractive woman who doesn’t see a reason not to show it off. She has light hazel eyes and copper red hair that she usually keeps down. Really none of her features are exceptionally defined, but some say that’s what makes her such a beauty. She is just above average height and in fine shape, but when you are an assassin, you are kind of expected to be in peek physical condition.
She isn’t afraid to show people how pretty she is and usually wears the right clothing to lure her targets into her deadly kiss. The most dangerous part of this beauty she holds is the fact that she’s confident about it.
Here and here are some reference photos.

Personality

Personality: To say Lamya is crazy would be an understatement. She is completely deranged and she understands it completely. Really she just wants to live her meaningless life to the fullest and prove to others how meaningless things really are. She has no compassion, morals or sense of justice, all she really cares about is the two things mentioned above. She feels everyone will break their moral codes and other things at some price whether it be actual gold or some other bargaining tool. She’s found that people’s lives can be used as a great bargaining tool.
Another great bargaining tool seems to be her own body. She uses it as a weapon of its own. Because of her deadly kiss, it becomes an asset to be beautiful. Sometimes, she kills the men that she attracts, but sometimes she lets them live and uses them in her own enjoyment and to get what she wants from them. In the end however, she kills most of them.
Just as an example of how crazy she is: She killed a man and then kept the blood soaked drapes that surrounded him in his death. She’s since made the still blood soaked drapes into an outfit that she wears on occasion.

Equipment

Equipment: Lamya likes it if she doesn’t even have to fight at all. Usually she uses threats and bargains to get her way and in the end kills them with her kiss. When the time comes to actually fight however, she is more than capable typically using daggers or a claw that is usually laced in poisons.
This is the claw.

History

Background: Lamya’s life is quite simple. From birth she was chosen to become an assassin of Blackpond. She was taken away from her mother in the middle of the night and never seen again. The only childhood that she knows is the one that kept her from the outside world. She was mostly left inside the castle walls with the other kids who had been taken from their mothers and fathers. At around four years old, she started her training. Ever since, she has been training and growing stronger as an assassin, but she was never all too keen on the blood part of it all. She avoided it as much as possible by manipulating the people around her to do her dirty work.
When she was a teenager, she was allowed to go out into the city and that is when she discovered her power. It did take her a while to figure out, but after a couple of guys had died while she was kissing them, she finally figured it all out. From there, she decided it would be best not to tell people about her power at all. The only problem was, to be a member of the Shadow’s Conflict, you have to have an enlightenment. She was lucky to know someone in the Shadow’s Conflict who could use his power and make it look like her own. This way, she wouldn’t be killed.
Soon enough, she had to prove her worth to the City of Blackpond. She was sent on her first mission. This mission proved to be tougher that they had first suspected. Lamya had a chance to show her leadership skills (however unconventional they were) and found herself as the leader of the Shadow’s Conflict. Since then, she has found her way to get the highest position in the city of Blackpond even if no one in the city knows.

Other: Here is a picture of Lamya in the moment after she shot the man who was stuck out on the ice covered lake. One of my more cherished Lamya moments.

So begins...

Lamya's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Crystal Rivers Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Jake Turner Character Portrait: Allison Blake

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As Ella decided to let the woman in and Mageria asked him to lead her to the 'receiving room' Jake bowed his head respectfully, while holding back an annoyed frown. He had no intention of being dragged into this situation; he was there out of curiosity, but had regretted it already. Unwillingly, he ignored the woman's hand as she reached out to him again and forced himself not to let his frustration show as he answered. "Of course miss, please follow me.", before leading the visitor into the castle.

Once inside the castle he strayed from the path he was supposed to take and took another one, a longer one, to the room Mageria had directed him. Once sure no one was listening in, he spoke in a quiet tone, not turning to face the woman as she walked beside him. "Between you and me: Or you are lying through your teeth as to who you are, or your King is one tremendous fool." He stated. "Which one is it?"

Lamya had been in the castle of Newhaven enough times to understand where she was, and it seemed that she was being brought on a wild goose chase until they were able to secure a proper place for her. What did it matter where she was going though. She was going to have some fun with Jake.
"Would both be acceptable answers?" She said with a fake smile. "Now please tell me why after these years is the solo artist Jake taking orders from a young woman. If I remember correctly, you left the Black Knights after the incident with the Pack."
She didn't bother to say anything else to explain why she would know something like that. She enjoyed the ambiguity in the way she spoke. It caused people to feel a loss of control; a unbearable sense of chaos.

Jake laughed out at the information the woman had on him. He didn't care how she got it, and he surely didn't care that she had it. It was a far more interesting reaction than what he had been expecting, and it also confirmed what he already knew; this woman was far more dangerous than she appeared. "If you know that much about me, you also know I won't be sharing my motives with you. However I was simply leaving the decisions that concern Newhaven to those who have to make them, I have no reason to get involved in politics. I wouldn't even be here if you hadn't requested my presence." He glanced towards the woman now. "And I wonder why that is. I noticed there was at least one Knight far more interested in being your escort than I would ever be."

"Why should you give someone what they want Mr. Turner?" Lamya asked swaying her arms back and forth like a child would as they would walk. Both going forward and then back with a sharp jerks of the hips in the opposite direction. "That doesn't really matter, does it? What really matters is the fact that you decided to get involved in this even though you had a choise not to. Hmmm... . Anywho, I'm curious as to what you were laughing at. Did you laugh at the mere absurdity that I thought you might be afflicted by the knowledge that I appear to have on you? Maybe it was just because you find my motives to be absurd. I personally like to laugh at the laughter of those who find what they laugh at to be absurd." She then began to let out an incredibly fake and monotonous laughter until her blood stained cloak fell of her shoulders and onto the ground. She didn't even mean to do it, but in a way wished that she had.
She didn't say anything for a few moments and neither did Jake, but then Lamya stopped and turned to look at the cloak. A few moment beats passed by while she looked. She didn't bother to notice if Jake had kept walking or if he had noticed the sword that was placed around the loose fitting belt she had on around her purple dress. She just continued to stare at it until she finally broke the silence to say, "are you going to get that?"

Jake didn't speak as the woman rambled on, he kept leading her through the halls, careful not to go anywhere important, not that he thought it'd matter. He didn't speak or stop until she dropped her cloak and he immediately turned to look at it. A moment, or maybe even a few moments, passed in silence as they both stared at the red cloak. Then she broke the silence, asking if he was going to get it. "I don't see why I should." He stated simply, raising his head to face the woman, but not elaborating on why he wouldn't get it. He watched her for a couple of seconds only, and then turned to keep walking, deciding to address the question she made before about the laughter. "Specifically I laughed at the words 'solo artist'. Such a theatrical term. Made me wonder if you are actually familiar with my work. But then at the same time all your assumptions would also be correct." He said, pretending to watch the path, but at the same time keeping his attention on the woman to be sure she would follow. "The only problem I see with asking questions is that you usually get nothing out of them aside from more questions." He nodded slightly, stopping at a few steps away from their destination. "And I'm afraid, miss, we don't have that many halls." He leaned against the wall and nodded towards the door to the room. "Ladies first."

Lamya listened in intrigue about the laughter. She didn't bother to pick up her cloak, just leaving it in the middle of the hall, letting whatever happen to it happen. "So you were laughing at the absurdity of my choise in words?" Interesting. It's also interesting that you chose to escort me by my request, yet you choose not to pick my cloak off the floor. So many choices, so many inconsistencies." She paused to let him continue his talks until finally he said, "ladies first."
Lamya didn't walk through the door as Jake had requested. "The trick to a question is to get more knowledge out of the question than you do questions, unless however you wish to lead a string of questions, by which you should be asking a question with the intent of having another question to ask after the original question has been asked. Now the question is, whether my questions had the intent of leading more questions or if they were specifically intended for obtaining answers. You will probably never know. Now I suggest you either grab my cloak from down the hall there while I enter the room or enter the room before I do. Both paths will lead to the same meaningless result in the end so it doesn't matter what one you pick."

Jake raised an eyebrow at the woman after she was done talking, and glanced at the cloak that was still lying on the floor where it had been left, however he didn't move towards it, or towards the room entrance. "Inconsistencies? I don't see inconsistencies in my behavior, but perhaps that would be because I know that both actions you refer to have the same motives behind them. I also find it irrelevant to know whether you mean your questions to obtain answers from me or not, as much as it is irrelevant whether you answer mine. After all... Whatever the truth might mean to you, or to me, it is unlikely that either one of us would speak it in this moment." At this point, Jake spotted what he had been waiting for as a servant passed the halls in their direction, noticed the red cloak lying in his path and picked it up. Jake simply waved to catch the man's attention and spoke. "Bring that to me, will you?"
The man immediately brought the cloak to Jake with a small bow of his head and wandered off down the hall, quickening his pace before anyone had the chance to ask anything more of him. Jake then looked at the woman, still holding the cloak in his hand, and repeated. "Ladies first."

Once they both entered the room, Jake simply folded the cloak on top of a chair and leaned casually against the wall beside the entrance. Fully aware that he had taken longer than it would have been necessary to bring the woman over, he faced Mageria and spoke with a perfectly straight face. "Sorry, Captain. It seems I don't remember my way around the castle as well as I thought."

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[Forest - Outside Newhaven]

Luke was wandering around the little encampment growing more and more bored with it by the second. There was really nothing to see there, at least nothing that would interest him. Not even stealing food from these guys seemed challenging enough to be entertaining. As a result, he simply wandered past, making sure that no one he crossed could ever remember his face. His face could raise a couple of red flags in the city after all, the joys of having a famous twin... His brother: The gift that keeps on giving. If anything, he had left Luckas with a goal, a purpose of sorts: The woman who had killed him or, better yet, survived him.

Suddenly, he was faced with a rather odd sight, his attention immediately caught by the girl in ragged clothing who stood in his path. Nonetheless, he simply kept walking, although slowing down his pace, watching the young woman with curious eyes, not quite sure what to make of her. He kept walking until her was close enough to see the golden color of her eyes. Something told him that it would be smarter to just keep walking and ignore, but when he was curious about something or someone, Luke found it extremely difficult to be smart. So, he stopped, intrigued be the strange words she spoke to him, tilting his head to one side. "My turn? Are we playing a game?" He asked, curiously.

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[The desert]

Ali nodded, listening to Akida explain about where she had come from, one eye glancing over to the orc again as he told his stories. He was most likely exaggerating, because all the good storytellers do, but it all sounded very impressive even so. "Well, welcome to Valcrest. Although, I'm afraid that if half of what your friend says is true, you might be terribly bored here." She stated with a grin. "And it's true, we don't have any ties with other countries, not ever since Brightvale was destroyed centuries ago..." She nodded towards the crumbled buildings around them. "... The Crimson have their stories of what the ancestors have seen and lived in their travels, but they are too much of a small clan to afford sending people out of the territory nowadays." She explained. "Same with every other faction in the land. We're so busy trying to keep an eye on each other that we simply can't bother to look any further." She heaved a long sigh and poked at her stew, not really wanting to eat anymore, but forcing herself to take another bite before continuing with the conversation. "It's a pity, but maybe someday."

She took one more bite of food before addressing the question. "As for how we met Theron... Well... It's a long complicated story. I think currently he would be the only one who knows where or how it began, but to put it simply: He wanted to exterminate our clan. He was actually getting pretty close to it, although Crys likes to think we would've been able to stop him had things gone different. I'm not so sure." She stated, taking a moment to rethink the whole scenario of four years ago. "Anyway... Evin and I left camp one night to try and find him in Newhaven. Evin had personal reasons to be going after Theron and Dani, our leader at the time and Crys' mother, insisted he took someone with him. We ran into Theron sooner than we expected, in an Inn that the clan owned. Evin thought he could intimidate him and some things were said, and in the end they both agreed they would duel the next night. The clan got word of the whole thing and the next morning, after Evin and I came back from an errand, Crys was there having a very friendly conversation with a man who was our sworn enemy. Before we could even get an understanding of what was really going on though, we got attacked by soldiers and the Inn ended up on fire. Theron helped me out of the building." She frowned a little bit thinking that she never thought of asking Crys what she and Theron talked about. "Well, after we managed to get out and lose the soldiers, Evin and Crys went to Blackpond, I went back to our camp with Theron, and a friend of ours who was there helping. He turned himself in that night. Dani forgave him and accepted him into the clan as an instructor. Crys, Evin and I trained under his supervision after that." She concluded. Sure, she had left a lot out of the story, including everything that had to do with the Shadow. For some reason talking about the whole thing still made her uneasy. "I never really understood why he surrendered though. After he left, I discovered that he and Dani had met before we caught up to him at the Inn, but... She died before I got the chance to ask her about it and he had gone, so..." She finished with a light shrug, turning back to her food for a bit until it was done. Then she sat the bowl aside and chuckled. "It's odd to hear you call him 'Lockwood'. For months I only knew him by Theron." She said absently.

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[Flashback - Wolfpack Camp, approximately 10 years ago]

It was early in the afternoon, a bright sunny day, but still cool with the occasional breeze that was so common in the forest at spring. Even though the day was beautiful and perfectly enjoyable, and even though she had no chores or assignments, Crys was unable to enjoy any of it. She was stuck trying to find a solution to an unsolvable problem. Sitting by her mother’s table at the common room of the Leader’s cabin, she was sitting there trying to think of what answer to give her father when he got back. As if it wasn’t enough that she didn’t have one, her parents came home a little earlier than expected; or maybe she had been sitting there longer than she had imagined. It didn’t matter, soon the quiet room was filled with the sound of talking.

“You two and your mind games...” An amused voice pierced through Crystal’s ears, disrupting her thoughts.
The girl shook her head in annoyance and waved towards her mother dismissively. “Sssh… I’m thinking.” She mumbled.
Dani laughed. “Bastian, your daughter is going crazy.”
“Leave her, she’ll figure it out eventually.” Bastian replied with a chuckle. “It’s not an easy one.”
“It’s been two whole days.” Dani argued. “This isn’t healthy.”
“It’s really not an easy one.” Bastian explained.
“I usually don’t ask, but what is the question here? I’ve never seen Crystal this stuck on a logic problem.”
“Ah, but… The problem with this problem is that it has nothing to do with logic. It doesn’t even have a right answer.” He explained. Crys knew he was doing it to mess with her; she was more than used to it, only this time she really couldn’t figure it out.

Finally, she let her head down and pressed her forehead against the wooden surface of the table. “I quit.” She mumbled. “I don’t know what to answer.”
“That’s unacceptable.” Bastian said simply. “Keep thinking, or choose one.” He said, sitting across from her. “Just pick one, any one will do.”
“Which one did you pick?” Crys asked him raising her head to face her father.
Bastian sighed. “I’ll tell you once you’ve answered.”
“What is the question?” Dani asked again, sitting by the table as well.

“There is a flood about to wash over the whole land. Nothing will be left and the only way to survive is to reach the mountains before the water reaches you. You have a carriage, but, aside from yourself, you can only carry one more person. Halfway to safety, you run into three people: Your best friend , the love of your life, and a pregnant woman, who is a complete stranger. Knowing you can only save one person, who do you choose?” Crys asked her.
“That’s easy.” Dani stated simply, standing. “I’m making some tea, anyone want some?”
“No, thank you… How is that easy? You know what you would do?” Crys asked her.
“There is no right answer, either way someone is going to die. So… It doesn’t really matter. The only question is? Do you rescue two strangers: the woman and her unborn child, or do you save one loved one? And in that case, which one?”
Crys chuckled. “And that is easy?” She asked.
“I’ll gladly tell you what I would do, if you give me your answer first.”

Crys stopped to think for just one more second before answering. “Fine, I’d choose my best friend.” She said, then she turned to her father and asked. “What did you answer?”
Bastian laughed. “Well… Back when I was first given this problem, I chose my best friend, and it didn’t even take me long to think about it, but that was a long time ago. Right now, suppose I’d have to give it more thought.”
Crys waited for a good few moments while her mother made tea, before finally letting curiosity get the best of her and pushing the subject. “Mom, what about you? You said it was easy.”
“I would get off the carriage and ask my best friend to take the pregnant woman to the mountains.” She stated simply, sitting back down with a cup of hot tea.
“Wait, what?” Crys asked her. “You would get off the carriage?”
“Yes. If the carriage only holds two people, then by giving up my spot I can save a loved one and two strangers.”
“Alright… Then why the best friend?” Crys asked her.
“For two reasons: Your best friend is always more likely to respect your wishes, and… If you’re going to die, might as well die with the love of your life.”
“Why thanks, love. That’s so considerate of you.” Bastian laughed.
"Don't mention it." She replied, sipping from her cup of tea.
“And having to decide on this is not difficult at all?” Crys inquired.
“Of course it is, but I suppose it’s better than killing everyone simply because I couldn’t make a decision.” Dani replied. “If there is no right answer then you simply have to pick whatever seems right to you.”

“This question is meant to point out what you value most in your life: Love, friendship, or morals.” Bastian explained. “Morals dictate you save a pregnant woman and her child, loyalty demands that you save your friend, and obviously love would beg you not to leave your significant other behind.”
“And your answer would be different now?” Crys asked him.
“Honestly? Nowadays, I would most likely want to save my significant other; although, she might respond by kicking me off the carriage and replacing me with the pregnant lady.” He said, jokingly.
“Really?” Crys asked, rather intrigued. “Why would you choose that?”
“I don’t really have anyone I would call a best friend anymore, besides… I’ve left my friends behind once, and if it came to it I’d probably do it again. It’s just a part of my personality I’ve come to accept over the years. One day you’ll come to accept the fact that you can’t always be loyal kiddo. One day you might have to choose, and trust me: You can’t ever know what that choice will be until you make it.”


[Reality - The Desert, present time]

“Hey, Crys, did you hear what I said?” A familiar voice broke Crys out of her memories and she turned to face one of her assassins.
“I’m sorry Trevor, could you please repeat that?” She mumbled, leaning back against a rock, near the place where the Crimson were paying their respects to their fallen comrade.
“I said Katelyn was rushed to the healers this morning. She is in a vulnerable spot, we could take advantage of that.” The man informed. “Should we pick her up?”
Crys heaved a sigh. “I’m not sure yet. Taking her could put the Pack on our trail a little too soon.”
“If you will excuse me, I think that an attempt on her life might have been more than enough to do that. She could give us an advantage, when Sean killed Owen he took away our source of information. We have no idea what the Pack is planning; we haven’t had any concrete information in months. If only Jake would bother to…” The man stopped immediately after realizing the name he had just spoken. “I-I’m sorry, Crys, I…”
Crys simply shook her head, usually simply mentioning Jake’s name would be enough to finish a conversation, but tonight she had greater concerns, and she needed to take care of this immediately. “Yes… I know Jake has an informant and a good one and he could provide us with that information, but that’s not an option. Not right now at least.” She thought for another second. “Keep a close watch on the White Shadows camp, and pick her up when you can, but… Not until she’s fully recovered. I don’t the kid dead on our watch.” She pulled away from the boulder and added. “Snatch her once she’s healed, but before Annie gets a chance to notify Sean. Be careful though, the last thing we want is problems with healers.”

The man bowed, even though his leader couldn’t see. “Consider it done.” He assured her.
Crys simply nodded and, as the man turned to leave, she gave him one final instruction. “Not a word of this to anyone, and remember: If you get caught, you’re on your own.”
There was no response from the assassin, but Crys was sure he had gotten the instructions. With that taken care of, she slowly moved back to the center of the encampment, thinking of getting something to eat and maybe see what Theron had to tell her about his return. “What a damn long day.” She muttered under her breath as she walked.

Reaching the center of the camp, she got herself some stew, trying not to wonder when the last time she had anything different was, and stopped to locate the man amongst the small noisy crowd of mercenaries. Once she located him she walked over and sat next to him, focusing on her food for few moments. Finally she lifted her head and muttered. “I’d kill for apples. I would literally kill for a bag of apples. I haven’t had one in over six months.” She stated absently. After which she changed the subject to what she really wanted to discuss. “I don’t get it… Why are you back after all?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sham (No Last Name) Character Portrait: Lamya

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You need to listen to this music for the chase scene in order to get the full effect. Please and Thank You.

Sham felt just a bit more delight in the chase than she should have. The woman in the red cloak was damn fast, darting in and out through the corridors with a a recklessness that wasn’t wise for someone who cared about their future health. Red Cloak ran down one of the more busy hallways, laughing as she ran between the people, grabbing a few of them and slinging them in her wake. Sham followed, leaping over the fallen servants when she couldn’t dodge them. Red Cloak glanced back and giggled when she saw Sham chasing her, grabbing a suit of armor and pulling it down with a loud clatter. The helmet the woman spun and threw at Sham, who dodged to one side and returned it with force. The other woman dodged it as well, spinning on one foot to leap down a stairwell. Sham followed, turning a corner just in time to see Red Cloak grab the edge of a tapestry and jump, using it to swing down to the ground floor. The reason she did so was obvious, the stairway was crowded with people. Sham on the other hand, drew on her gift and jumped up, running down the banister and gaining speed as she went.

Red Cloak simply smiled as if she was a child given the perfect gift and picked up her skirt with both hands. She whirled and darted through the staring crowd, moving as if they were standing still. Most of them screamed and ran, unfortunately the majority of them were idiots and managed to tangle themselves up and get in Sham’s way. So she simply leapt and started leaping from shoulders to backs to tables back to someone else’s shoulder. She really didn’t want to know what Mageria was going to hear about this.

Red Cloak simply grabbed a vase off a table and hurled it through a nearby window, following it a moment later. Apparently the woman really hated doors. Sham followed her, diving head first out the window, rolling when she hit the ground. It was purely luck that let her dodge the blow that the woman aimed at her from beside the window, swinging a heavy length of wood that would have caved in Sham’s skull if it had connected. Sham finished rolling into a crouch, planting her hands on the ground and pushing off of them in a tackle. Red Cloak gripped the staff in both hands, planted it on the ground in front of her and somehow used it to flip up and over Sham while leaving the staff behind. Sham couldn’t halt her momentum and instead just ran up the wall, flipping over and spinning to see Red Cloak taking off across the courtyard. Sham followed, but apparently ever damn person in the entire Castle was wandering through the area at that time AND GETTING IN HER WAY! With a loud oath, Sham leapt past people, over them, using some of them for springboards . . . She saw Red Cloak actually skid under a horse at one point, startling the poor thing into a wild rear. Sham certainly didn’t help, while the handler was trying to hang onto the reins and control it, Sham ran up, leapt, placing one hand on it’s rump and leaping over it, spinning in mid-air.

She couldn’t make it to the woman before she got out the gate, leaving her no choice but to follow as Red Cloak lead her on a chase through the entirety of Newhaven. Sham used her abilities at every turn, but Red Cloak was damn fast to begin with and she didn’t care if she hurt anyone in the process of getting away. Finally they neared the City walls, where a bit of scaffolding was all that remained to show that the walls had ever fallen. They were in the process of being dismantled, but that didn’t stop Red Cloak as she ran lightly up them, daintily holding her skirt out of the way.
“You’ve got nowhere else to go! There’s no other way out!” Sham yelled as she worked her way up the scaffolding, pushing from stairs to bracing to whatever looked like it would hold her weight. Panting, she reached the top to find that Red Cloak was standing at the very edge of what was left, far above the ground and the far edge of the wall. Turning around, she smiled gently.
“There’s always another way out.” With that Red Cloak fell backwards off the platform. Sham ran after her to see that she had somehow wrapped a rope around her waist and was running down the outside of the wall. Sham only wasted a moment in staring before backing up a few steps and running at the same place. As she went she whipped out one of her batons, the blade snapping smoothly out. Almost absently she severed the rope, then she was leaping, her eyes flaring brightly as she smoothly twisted through the air to land in a crouch a few feet away from where Red Cloak had landed in a tangle of dress and cloak. With a flick of the wrist Sham pulled out her other baton, extending that blade as well. Breathing hard, she planted her feet and stared at the other woman.
“You tried to hurt my friends.”

Red Cloak didn't bother to untangle herself from the mess her clothes had created. Looking down the edge of the blade, she just smiled. It didn't matter if she died right then. Nature would take it's course and things would work themselves out in the long run. Of course, she wouldn't see it all unfold, but it didn't really matter. Truth was, if she died, so did those soldiers and the corruptible shadow, Mageria would feel responsible, even if she didn't admit it.
"What makes them your friends?"

Sham tilted her head to the side and frowned, not letting her guard down. "I choose to call them that. My reasons are my own and nothing I think that you would understand." She shifted the tiniest bit to be sure of her footing. "Why does Blackpond think that sending someone who would threaten us with bombs would make us more inclined to do as they want?"


Red Cloak snickered, placing her forehead right on the tip of the blade, eyeballing Sham with doe eyes and an indifferent frown. "Well it's safe to assume that you like to deflect questions you don't know the answer to by making assumptions of your own about the person you speak to. Am I being a hypocrite? Yes. Do I care?" She continued eyeballing Sham, but her gaze grew more an more sinister the longer she looked into her eyes. She then placed the tip of her finger o the edge of the blade and ran it down towards her forehead. When her finger got close enough to connect with her forehead, she let the blood course down the blade and eventually onto her head where it ran down to the tip of her nose and slowly dripped. She then grabbed the blade and forced it to her where her heart would be, cutting her hand till it became a bloody mess, but she didn't flinch one bit. Instead that indifferent frown turned into a jubilant smile. "Blackpond doesn't think it. Why should a city have only one voice? I think Mageria has had the same idea as I have for a while now and she knows that it must be done to insure optimal survival."
She paused again for a moment, taking time to think about what she was going to say next. She wanted to word it perfectly as to not leave any room for stipulation. "Now I have a story for you." Red Cloak said. There was once a woman at the mercy of another woman. The first woman-- let's call her Yishka-- was on the ground with the blade of the second woman aimed directly for her heart. Yishka was a vile woman, who used threats and lied to get her way. No one could tell how many people's death she was responsible for. The second woman, with the perfect chance to kill this woman has a difficult choice to make herself however. She could kill Yishka, but face the consequence when 27 innocent soldiers die or she could let Yishka go, not knowing how many innocent lives she could possibly take herself. So, would you rather play the soulless tango with Mother Death herself or would you rather kill what you know you need to have to be happy?"

It seemed to Sham that everything froze for just a moment. She could feel a breeze blowing across the back of her neck, hear birdsong off in the distance. And in front of her, ruby red drops of blood ran down the length of her blade to drip onto the ground. She literally held the lives of 28 people with the twitch of a blade.

Almost gently, she pressed her scythe forward, digging it deeper into the other woman’s chest.

Finally, reluctantly, she stopped. It hadn’t advanced very far, but it was still enough to cause a scarlet patch to grow and spread.
“Yishka, is it? At least at the moment, I’d say. Your world must be a very cold place, that you can stand so bravely behind the shield of another’s life.” She withdrew her blade, not caring if she cut the other woman’s hand.
“Go back to your King, Yishka. You’ve delivered his message, you’ve made your threats. You’ll know soon enough what our decisions are.”
Slowly Sham backed up, giving the other woman the room to stand up and walk away. Stone faced, she watched as Yishka held up her bleeding hand to her face, watching the blood run down her wrist to soak into her sleeve. Then she brought the edge of her cloak around and started to wipe her fingers on it as if she was drawing some sort of pattern into the cloth.

Sham watched her get up and walk away, waiting until she couldn’t see her any more before turning and walking back into the City, stopping at the first food vendor that she saw in order to deal with the sudden pit that she held in her gut. She had eaten about a meal and a half as she was walking before she noticed that Thomas was riding beside her.
“Report please, Sham.” He raised an eyebrow at the trail of confusion that lead back towards the Castle. “A great deal seems to have happened while I was gone.” Sham snorted softly and did her best to catch him up in between bites.

The setting changes from newhaven to Valcrest

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lamya

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(Bold writing will be when any of the assassins—or other characters, as I see fit—communicate telepathically with Simon, who’s character sheet you can find in the OOC for NPCs. When it is bold and italicised it means that the person is both saying it telepathically and out loud)

Just on the outskirt of Blackpond was the river that passed through from the mountains, all the way to Newhaven. It had frozen over from the winter cold and was just recently safe enough to ride a horse over, however stupid riding a horse over ice may have seemed. To Lamya, it was just a fun game that she would play with on a poor unfortunate soul that she would see every once in a while since the ice had begun freezing over.
She would pick someone; a traveler or trader of some sort who was traveling by horseback somewhere and force them off their horse. She would then proceed to bring her toy, along with their horse to the river where she would tell them that they have a choice of either ride their horse across the river or walk across the river. The catch was that she would only give them ten seconds to get out of range of her crossbow.
It was only until this morning that someone had actually managed to almost make it safely across the river on their horse. The horse had however slipped and fell and the man was crushed under his horse and left there to freeze to death. Not only was it a good indicator to Lamya that it was probably safe to cross the river herself, the enjoyment of her activity was just enough to give her a little bit of enjoyment before the meeting.
“Simon darling, are you there?” Lamya asked as she walked down across the river.
“Yes, yes my love, I’m here.” Lamya attempted to interrupt, but Simon overpowered Lamya with his thoughts. “And before you ask, everyone else is here as well. Rick, Lazarus, Vorso, Sachi, Jacy, Sandre, Fuad, Haden, Dax, Winfield and bevel all reported in an hour ago. Where have you been?”
“Enjoying the weather with my friend.” Lamya laughed a bit as she walked up to the man whose horse had fallen on top of him. “You know, I could kill you. I could also save you. Or maybe you could have done something earlier to save yourself. I’d much rather just see what fate has in store for you.”
The man started to yell as Lamya continued on her way to the other end of the river where the forest began again. She paid no attention to the pleas that were being made.
“Are we finally going to have this meeting? I’d really like to get back to slowly poisoning the maid’s food if you don’t mind.” Fuad thought to the rest of the group in a distraught tone.
“Calm the hell down. I’m here now and we can begin our meeting. ”
There was a small moment of silence in Lamya’s head while the other members of the conflict decided who would speak first.
“He escaped last night. Sooner than I expected, but from what I hear, he had an accomplice help ‘im out. I understand that he has been given all the information necessary before leaving.” Sachi said.
“From what I gather about this accomplice, she is a member of the Blacks with a skill for adapting to environments. Seems like someone well suited for a job here, wouldn’t you say.” Jacy’s oddly feminine voice chimed in.
“Besides the fact that she’s a woman.” Simon interrupted. The sounds of the other’s laughing chimed through Lamya’s head as she continued along the northern part of Valcrest.
“Enough, enough. I’d like to hear how Rick is doing. How’s the nest?” Lamya asked.
“Shit. But I found who I was looking for.”
“We don’t need to hear about your personal journey. All we want to know is what you found out about the noises that were coming from the area a while ago.” Dax interrupted.
“Watch how you speak to your king!” The thoughts of the rest heckling Rick could be made out past Rick’s thoughts. “I’m not entirely sure what happened there, but from what I heard people talking about, it seems that something has been buried under a collapsed cave. Do you think its…”
“Doubtfull.” Lamya replied.
For the next ten minutes there was silence. People needed a while to take a break from the conversation. As they weren’t all trained telepaths, it made things difficult to keep up a conversation for very long. To give some of the less experienced a chance, they would drop out of the conversation for a while. Simon kept his ability going, and waited along with Lamya. They didn’t say much of anything to each other during the time that everyone dropped out. Lamya wasn’t even sure if there was anyone else in the line of communication with them; only Simon would know that, but she didn’t really care.
As she walked deeper into the parts of the woods she didn’t wander around often, she caught foot tracks which winded around the trees and brush until reaching a fence. Lamya followed the steps along the snow until she reached a fence.
”Everyone’s back. We can begin again.” Simon said.
“Well guys, you shouldn’t have!” Lamya said with a cheery tone. “I know you all love me, but you really didn’t have to build me a mansion out in the middle of nowhere. How kind!”
“Sometime I wonder what herbs you take in the morning to make you think like that Lamya. There is no mansion near Blackpond.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure, about that Sandre. You really don’t have to be that modest.”
Lamya looked up at the giant mansion staring straight at her. It was a magnificently built mansion with large doors and windows all around. In the front there were a couple statues of the Twins. In the center of the Twins was a statue of a woman. It was made of marble and was entirely white except for the hair. It had been painted red.
“If that staute wasn’t made specifically for me, then I have no idea… you really are wonderful people. Maybe I won’t have the urge to kill you people today.”
“Anyways, let’s move on.” Vorso snapped. “The Wolfpack hasn’t yet decided to make a move on Ella.”
“No need to worry. I’ve had my eye on her the past while. In fact, I’m under her bed right now. She’s at her desk reading a book. Give it another couple of days and I’ll be ready.” Lazarus said.
”Is that everything? Can we end this damn meeting yet? My maid is vomiting out her guts and I don’t want to miss it!” Fuad asked rather irritated.
Simon answered“There is one more thing, but it pertains to the person listening in on our conversation right now. Would you like to say hi? Oh, he’s gone. I guess he didn’t want to be the center of attention like I thought he would.”
“Oh! Who was it?” Lamya asked.
“Our leader. Haha! It seems like it will be only a matter of time then?”
Before anyone could answer, there was an interruption by Vorso "Hey guys. You will never guess who just died... Lena
"Great! Who's up for a party?" Lamya said with excitement.

The setting changes from valcrest to The Manor

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lamya

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The stay at her new manor was a pleasant one. Lamya had been treated with death threats by the maid with the cats on a couple of occasions, not many people were there and the decoration was horrendous. When she had finally slipped out of sight from everyone, she managed to find a comfortable place to sleep in a small cupboard space, with broken glass and porcelain everywhere from the contents of the cupboard that she had to break to fit inside of. Overall, it had been worth her time and she believed that she might come back to the place the next time she wanted to retreat from her castle in Blackpond.
She hopped out of the cupboard, in one quick and fluid motion. She then looked down at her arms, scanning for any glass that might have caught as she came out. As it turned out, there were a few pieces, which she picked out of her skin, absently flicking the pieces across the room as she did so. More interesting to her, however, was a shard of glass which had pierced through her boot and was scratching her foot. As she pulled it out, she heard footsteps of someone walking into the room.
“Who are you? You aren’t supposed to be here!” It was probably a guard of some sort.
She finally pulled the glass out of her boot and with it, cut her pants with it so one leg looked slightly lopsided. She put the piece of fabric in the same hand as the shard of glass, and then picked up a decretive bowl that was sitting on top of the cupboard. By this point, the guard was only a foot away from her…

Lamya admired the statue of herself again in the courtyard for a moment. It was made perfectly; accentuating her beauty. She especially enjoyed the red hair. The only problem was that people who walked by wouldn’t know who it was. There was no marker that said “Lamya” on it, not even on the small marble stand on which it stood did it have the name. Lamya followed the trail of blood to the door with her eyes. She didn’t want the cat lady to interrupt her with her lovely death threats again. It seemed like the cat lady wasn’t going to interrupt, so she continued. She folded the pant cloth in half and dipped it into the bowl. The clots seemed to all stick together and onto the cloth. The salty smell and gushy feeling was wonderful in her hands, but she had to pick them off the cloth anyways. It would make writing her name difficult. Then she knelt over and started writing.
When she was done, she wiped her hands off in the snow and walked to the gate door and stood… waiting.

The setting changes from the-manor to Valcrest

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Jake Turner Character Portrait: Samantha 'Johnson'

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[Raven's Nest]

Mageria sat on a ledge upstream of camp, hands clasped before her as she stared down at the swirling water. She had woken up in a troubled mood. Dark shadows had haunted her dreams, forgotten faces that came to the forefront of her mind, speaking to her and reminding her of past actions that she wished she could change; moments when her life could have gone one way if she hadn't taken another path. The question was, would she be any happier if she had gone along another path? More comfortable, she acknowledged wryly, shifting a bit and digging a sharp stick out from under her leg.

But still.

I think I would still have made the same choices. I don't think I would like who I might be otherwise.

Leaning back, she sighed slightly, breath pluming upwards, dragon-like to rise among the bare branches of the trees around her. This was one of the very rare moments when she had a moment of peace, away from the never ending worries that went hand in hand with leading a group of hard-headed, battle ready, constantly on edge fighters. She'd have to start sending them out on jobs soon, or she'd wake up one day to find them at each other's throats.

Still this moment of peace was . . . . over.

A wry grin twisted her lips as a slight footstep alerted her to the fact that the weight of the world had once again landed firmly on her shoulders. The day it left for good, would be the day that they lead her to her pyre.

Jake had ridden all night without rest. Not the he cared much about rest nowadays, any excuse not to think about his inability to fall asleep was not only appreciated, but more than welcome to him. Shadow had rested well while in the Plains and there would be plenty of time for him to rest more once they arrived, so there was no hesitation to push the horse to fasten its pace. It was Jake's plan to stay around camp, make himself useful, maybe stay out of trouble for a change, and work with Irvin as he had promised. The kid had a lot of potential, and plenty he needed to learn... About of lot of things in life... And Jake felt that it was his responsibility to make sure he learned, just like he had learned himself not too long ago. Just like he was still learning now, admittedly; there was a lot he still didn't know... About life.

Shadow snorted loudly, as if meaning to break Jake out of his thoughts, as they neared the encampment. It was morning already, had been for a little while, and Jake could tell it was beginning to warm compared to the freezing cold mornings he'd experienced before going to Blackpond; a subtle sign of the season's advancing towards its end. Near the entrance of the camp he dismounted and walked in leading Shadow by the reins. Not too far in, he was greeted but an amused voice. "We were betting on how long it'd take you to come back this time."
Jake chuckled softly as he greeted the guard with a friendly handshake. "I'm surprised you weren't betting on whether I would get myself killed."
"Nah... Sham had your back, now didn't she?" The man retorted. "Listen now, you better have the coin you owe Aiden, you know he hasn't forgotten about that."
Jake laughed at the warning. "Yeah, I wouldn't have expected him to. No worries though, I'll find a way to pay him. You know I'm good."
The man simply nodded at that statement, shaking his head in amusement. "Course you are."

It was after making sure Shadow was settled and wouldn't cause trouble, and chatting a couple of other people, that Jake was directed to where Mageria might be; wasn't too long of a walk before he spotted the woman where she sat, watching the waters of the river and he made his way towards her, trying to be as quiet as possible. But after noting the change in her expression he was sure she already knew he was there. He chuckled under his breath as he spoke. "Captain. You know one of these days, I will manage to sneak up on you." He continued to walk until he was standing right next to her. He paused a moment scratching at the light stubble forming itself upon his face, before speaking again. "So... I know I've been locked up for about a month or so... And I know a lot of things happen in a month, but... Uh... That I know of, people coming back to life were never on that list of things, so..." He sighed. "I have to assume Grim is not actually dead and... Did you know about that?" Jake asked the question a little wary of the woman's reaction. In case this was somehow news to her, he didn't expect it to be good.

Mageria laughed. “Relax Jake, I already knew.” She motioned for him to sit and looked back out at the river. “I actually found out about a month ago, not long after you went to Blackpond. Of course, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind then.” She sighed. “In fact, you could probably say I was rather drunk. One thing led to another and well . . . Getting into a brawl that led to me beating Grim into unconsciousness with my bare hands was not the way I wanted to leave Newhaven.” She laughed slightly. “But then, what other kind of impression can the Black leave behind?”

She glanced over and Jake and shook her head. “I have to admit Jake, I was wondering if you would come back. It’s not as if I can offer you what you signed on for this time around.” She raised one eyebrow. “That is, if you’re not just here as the bearer of good news. Either way, I need to know what you can tell me about that prison you were in. Sham couldn’t tell me much beyond how many ways she thought up to kill somebody with a pot of water.”

Jake didn't mask his relief at the fact Mageria was already aware that Grim was alive. He didn't bother with asking how that was possible; he wasn't quite sure if he'd be able to handle any more complicated stories than absolutely necessary, and he felt this story would be a unnecessarily complicated one. Sitting next to Mageria, and letting himself relax for a moment he sighed. "Well, the healers have him at the moment. He got into a fight with some Wolves it seems and they poisoned him, they say a young woman he was with didn't make it, maybe you know her? Either way, Annie's with him and I'm certain he made it to her in time, so... He'll recover, but I thought you should know." Jake went silent for a moment, absently pulling a little golden dagger from the inside of his boot and looking it over as if there was something written on it with invisible ink. "Why wouldn't I come back?" He asked, looking from the blade to Mageria with a sincerely surprised look. "I know I haven't been the most... Uh... Consistent... Guy to ever join the Blacks, but it's not like I'd just up and vanish... Again..." He chuckled. "Okay, I see why you'd think that. Don't worry though, I think this is still exactly what I signed on for. I might have some personal things on my to-do list, but I plan on staying nonetheless."

Jake put away his dagger, and scratched the back of his head as he thought about his time in the underground prison. "That place is..." He paused and heaved a sigh. "Frightening. Not that it's a bad place to be, it's not, and I guess that is what's frightening about it. In a few words: The place is a heavily secured... Labyrinth. After a month I still often got lost down there and I couldn't recall exactly all of the one hundred steps in our escape plan if I tried. Overall, it's a much cleaner, more peaceful, safer city than Blackpond ever was. People don't want to leave because they have everything they could possibly need or want down there and their appreciation towards that... Lamya woman is... They worship her. Most of them believe they are following her to dethrone Rick and restore Blackpond to its former glory and they won't hear otherwise, but even the few who don't buy that will pretty much do anything just so they get to stay there where it's safe. That woman has an army down there, and there is no actual way to know what she really plans on doing with it, because there's just no way to read her... She'll tell ten or twenty different stories and you'll never know which of it is true. And I think the simple fact she locked me up there instead of killing me proves she's just insane." He shuddered slightly, trying to shake off the eerie feeling creeping up his spine at the thought of her. "Anyway... I spoke with the City Commander while I was there, she told me her name was Rita, but wouldn't give a last name. She is someone who could one day pose as an ally maybe. She was close to Hastings, she's still genuinely distraught by how he died and she despises the King. She mentioned that... This according to Lamya... There is someone else behind the king and the assassins, calling all the shots in Blackpond, and that this individual would be the person to go after. Whether that's true or not... I really want to get rid of Rick. Something in the little time I was face to face with the man tells me he's going to cause me trouble soon. That's why I..." He sighed. "That's why I went to the desert looking for Crys... I might have let something slip to that telepath guy and... She wasn't there though." He paused for a moment, fixing his stare at the waters as he thought, finally an amused chuckle escaped him. "So, you killed Morgan, huh?"

Mageria was silent for most of Jake’s story, simply cataloging away information as he brought it up. This Rita woman, she might be useful as an ally in the future, that was true. She’d have to have a couple of people looking out for her, maybe move in to make contact at some point. Something to thing about, anyways. Either way, that Lamya woman needed to be taken care of. An insane opponent was far more dangerous than a sane one, because you could never predict what an insane person would do next.

“There’s a woman I need you to talk to later, by the way. She’s got a son being raised somewhere in Blackpond, whose father might be in jail. We’re trying to track them down. I don’t have all the particulars, but she might be able to give you more information. And you just missed Crys, I think. She and a friend of her’s were here a day or so ago, but I think that they left. I’m not sure where they went, sorry.”

She sighed heavily and rubbed her forehead, face twisting in a remembered pain. “Yes. I was the one who killed Morgan. It’s . . . . not something I care to dwell on. Evil as he was, he was still my commanding officer. I still broke my oath to him and Newhaven when I killed him. And I drug the rest of you down with me when I fell.” She shifted slightly. “Honestly though, I’m surprised it stayed quiet as long as it did. I expected to pay for my sins a long time ago.”

Jake nodded quietly when Mageria said she ask him to talk to a woman about finding her kid. "Sure... I'll be glad to help with that. I think that if she can give me the name of the father or something else to go on I might be able to come up with something. Where can I find her?" He asked simply, raising an eyebrow to know Crys had just been there. "Oh... Crys was just here?" He mumbled, frowning as he thought for a moment. "Wonder if I keep missing her by accident or if she can tell I'm coming. I don't put it past her." He scratched his head with a little sigh. "It's alright I suppose... I'll find a way to catch up with her some place. Valcrest is tiny after all."

Jake sighed, taking in Mageria's words on Morgan's death. "Well, Captain... I'd say that...There are far worse sins and more shameful ways to fall than ridding the world of a murderer, but I might not be the most impartial in this case when said murderer killed someone I knew." He stated with a small shrug of his shoulders. "I was also brought up to believe that a person's character shouldn't be judged by what lines they cross as much as by why they cross them." He smiled rather softly and added. "That, and 'always trust your gut'." He paused for a second, letting his gaze wander around for a bit before a slightly curious expression crossed his features and he turned his eyes back to her. "Out of curiosity though... How... Did this information get out... Exactly...?"

Mageria shrugged. "I'm not sure about the exact chain of events. But one of my enemies saw me doing something that they didn't like and so they sent some information to the Council. There had been a third party present there when I killed Morgan, and they told someone else. I've made a lot of enemies over the years, one of them found the information useful. Then they used that information at a moment when the Council wanted to get rid of me. A lot of them never really forgave me for forcing them to let me take care of the children of my Guard."
Idly, she scratched the back of her neck. She knew damn well that taking Jake on and dealing with the rest of the Wolves that were with the Crimsons in the desert was what had triggered the incident; she also knew that if she let on to Jake what had happened, he'd go off on a rampage. She wasn't about to give him the fuel for that particular fire.
"It was particularly stupid of whoever it was, really. That was the only bit of leverage that they might have had and now it's gone."

With that she got up, brushing off her coat and twisting slightly. She held out a hand to Jake and smiled a little bit. "Come on. There's something to be said for knowing that the one thing you've worried about has come true and the world hasn't exactly ended. We've been doing a lot around here, even got a few new recruits. I'll show you around."

Jake chuckled "Well, I think it was Lena who told me that the more politicians hate you, the more you know you must be doing something right." His smile momentarily faltered as he needed to remind himself once again that Lena was gone, but it never faded completely. He knew Mageria probably had more knowledge on how the information reached the council than she was willing to tell him, but he also knew that persisting on the matter would just be pointless. Getting up on his feet Jake gave the woman a slightly suspicious, yet amused, look. "This isn't another excuse to drag me to a spar, is it? Because I'm still getting complaints from the guys who bet on me last time. And speaking of new recruits... Did the kids I sent over manage to spend the day without causing trouble?"

Mageria huffed a laugh. "Why yes they did. They were very polite actually, once you ignored the flirting. Right now I think they're sleeping somewhere, but all in all they didn't cause any trouble. I expect that to change soon, just because they're in a different environment." She started down the path toward the center of camp, frost covered leaves crunching under her feet. After only a few feet, she stopped, leaning against a tree. "One thing though, I'm starting to hear rumors about children in Blackpond being stolen and put into some sort of slavery ring. Have you ever heard anything about that, either when you grew up there or when you were in prison?" She rubbed her nose a bit. "I have to say, if we get any solid information about it, I'm going to have to move on it. It's just something that needs to be taken care of." The flat tone of her voice left no doubt to what she would do when the time came.

Jake snickered softly as he followed Mageria down the path. "Only flirting? Why that's a lot more politeness than I expected from Irvin, I thought that Sham would've had to break some of his fingers on the way here." He stated, shaking his head in amusement. "He'll go back to normal soon." He snickered softly under his breath. His amusement faded though as Mageria mentioned disappearing children and a slavery ring; something twisting inside his stomach, the feeling extending to his expression and he suddenly appeared as if he'd been forced to swallow something bitter. "I've heard things about child slavery... When I was a kid..." He sighed. "My sister tried to keep me from hearing it, but I know this was somewhat of a constant subject of arguing between her and my father, and with our godfather once he died... Jesse wasn't fond of people telling her that there's nothing that can be done, even if she often said the same to me. But the truth was still that the City Guard had no intention nor means to out an end to the whole thing. I never heard anything about children missing from the city though, that's something I've only heard of recently although it seems to be going on for much longer than that in minor scales, he White Shadows have mentions of child disappearances in their records that go as far as twenty years back; but nothing substantial there either. Only that some kids turned up dead at the time, and then it stopped altogether..." All the while he spoke Jake fiddled with the locket around his neck, a bittersweet smile slowly crossing his features as he went silent, fading soon after. "Most recent word I had was last year, before I went back to Newhaven. I didn't manage to find out much though, I couldn't even find anyone who actually had a child in their own family go missing, only rumors here and there." Jake nodded quietly. "Have you heard something I haven't? Either way, I'll see if I can find out more. I do want to see an end to this."

Mageria sighed heavily. "One of the men you sent me, he apparently had some family connections that he believes might link up with such a thing. There's a journal that I'm decoding, might have some information in it. Either way, it seems to be a far larger operation that anyone outside of it knows about. I get the feeling that this is going to be just the chill breeze that precedes a storm." Her face was troubled for a moment, before she snorted softly. "And Krander used to tell me that I worry too much, that I need to let things happen as they will. But this is one thing that I'm not going to let go. Children shouldn't have to be afraid to live their lives, their parents shouldn't have to worry about them disappearing. We'll find out what's going on. And we'll make sure those bastards regret whatever it is that they're doing."

She started walking back towards the camp and looked over her shoulder, a dark smile crossing her face. "You might want to run a few drills though. Things are going to get interesting and you'll want to be in top shape."

Jake chuckled softly under his breath, nodding his agreement to Mageria’s words. “Twins forbid I miss the interesting part.” He whispered to himself, realizing that his ideas of staying out of trouble had gone out the window in some moment of that conversation... But then who was he trying to fool with that anyway?

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[The Manor]

Luke awoke next morning to the sound of a familiar humming; the same melody he’d hummed the night before. He groaned and rolled over on his stomach to try and get more sleep before he realized that the voice not only seemed to be humming softly in his ear; it actually was, and he wasn’t dreaming. His eyes snapped open and he planted his palms on the soft mattress to push himself up, but a warm hand on his back stopped him half movement.
“Easy now, love. You don’t want to kick the sheets away, I might see something.” Sam’s voice told him, her breath warm in his ear… Was she lying next to him? How long had she been there?
“Sammy… What are you…? This isn’t… I’m not…” He mumbled.
She giggled softly. “You’re adorable.” She stated, one finger slowly tracing the lines of the tattoo-like scarring on his shoulder. “You’re not decent, that’s what you were going to say? Lukey… When are you ever decent?” She taunted. “I only just got here, and I’ve seen nothing, don’t you worry about that. You were taking forever to wake up, however, and my time is rather scarce.” Her weight disappeared from the bed in an instant, and Luke was surprised to find her absence rather cold. “I’ll wait outside while you make yourself…” She giggled. “Presentable. Hurry up though, I have much to explain.”

Luckas waited for the sound of the door closing before pushing himself off the bed and finding his clothes were clean, dry, and folded on top of a chair; not how or where he had left them, and he quickly made a mental note to never, ever, sleep without them again, no matter how damp or dirty they got. He also found that his boots had been replaced with new ones, but that didn’t seem to surprise him as much as it should; it was a lesser invasion all things considered. As he stepped out of the room to the hall, Sam was standing there. This time she wore no cloak, but a plain green dress, simple as something one would wear in the comfort of their home, her long jet black hair falling loose past her shoulders, a warm smile on her face… Luke had to shake his head a couple of times to bring himself back to reality and remember what he was doing there in the first place. “I’m sure I locked my door.” He said, frowning at her.
“It’s my house.” She replied simply. “I have all the keys.”
“That’s comforting.” He muttered.
“You were sleeping late.” She shrugged, beginning to walk down the hall. “Follow me.”
“Where to?” He asked, beginning to walk after her.
“We’re going to my room.” She replied. “I have something I’d like to show you; something personal of mine.” She said.
“Oh…” Luke mumbled, not sure what that meant exactly. “I thought you were going to explain things to me.”
Sam looked back at him from over her shoulder. “I am, why? What else did you expect to do in my room, Luckas?”
Luckas scratched the back of his head and chuckled. “That’s not what I meant…” He mumbled. “I mean I thought we were going to the library.”
“Bad Lukey.” She snickered softly. “Business before pleasure, hun… And no. I have a little bit of personal history to share with you. I don’t keep those in the library” She stated a bit more seriously. “I’m assuming Ezekiel explained, to a certain point, what the Order is and what we do, yes?”
“Yes.” Luckas answered.
“However, he didn’t quite explain why exactly, right?”
“No, that he didn’t.” Luckas replied, stopping beside her as they entered the room.
“That’s because I asked him not to. Wanted to do that myself.” She replied.

Sam’s room was on the opposite of the Estate; on a whole different wing from the one the Branded and ‘pure’ Prospects were allowed to live. It was a very large room that was divided into a common area; where there was a square wooden table with chairs and two other, comfy, chairs near a fireplace, a study; where there was a desk, writing supplies and two shelves crammed with books that took up one entire wall each. The third area, Luke imagined were the sleeping quarters, since the area of the room was concealed behind dark blue drapes. Sam motioned toward one of the comfy chairs by the fireplace and he took a seat while she walked to the office and got a book from her desk drawer. She then sat in front of him and opened the book in her lap. “This is my family history, per se.” She stated. “Most of it is just journals and other documents that are rather boring, not to mention personal, but this…” She flipped the pages until she found a loose letter amongst them, which she then placed in his hands. “This is a piece of Valcrest Myth that has been erased from most mythology books and forgotten by the population thousands of years ago.” She explained. “This is the beginning of my story so, please, go ahead and read it.”

Luckas looked at the folded paper in his hands, it seemed very old and as he unfolded it he found a handwritten Mythology story he had never seen or heard before, which slightly surprised him since, in his time with White Shadows, he thought he’d read and heard them all.

Terra

Mother and Father didn’t like the way that the Twins had gotten themselves involved into the human’s lives. The different conflicts between every human weren’t something that Mother and Father liked seeing them get involved in. The Twins were sent to Valcrest to give guidance to the people and nothing more. They didn’t physically involve themselves and never use their enlightenments to the human’s benefit. It just happened way to often so Mother and Father finally had enough.
They decided that the only way to stop the Twins from ever being involved was to make them break the rule that had been told to them when they were sent to Valcrest. They were not to have any children with anyone but another Twin. This rule was the only way to properly remove the Twins from Valcrest without creating imbalance to what had already been created.

The only way that they would ever be able to make them break the rule, which the Twins were so vigilant to keep true to was to create a being that would be irresistible to even a god.
Mother and Father conceived another child. She was one being far different than any that had come before her. She didn’t have a twin, nor did she appear to be like a god. She didn’t carry with her any of the distinct features of any of her other brothers or sisters. The only thing that was special to her was her red hair, which no other human or god in Valcrest possessed. With no other real distinction, she looked like any of the other humans. She was even given a human name: Terra and she was made almost completely irresistible to the eye of any man. She was made to be sought after by anyone who saw her. The most desirable of people whose name would quickly travel, even to the most remote of places in Valcrest.

Emerging from the waters she came into the land. The wolves were the first to see her arrival. From there she traveled across from city to city with a mission. She was to find the most stunningly handsome of men in Valcrest. Only he was fit to have a child with Terra. She went to every city, thrice before she could find the right suitor. By this point the word had reached even the deepest crevices of the most beautiful of woman looking for a man. Duels were fought and many died, but not even a duel could settle it as she found a man more handsome than them all. Duncan, a fair noble man from Blackhurst found his way to Terra on the day of her third visit to the city. Not only was this man a handsome one, but he was also had great integrity and honor. He was the true gentleman’s man.
When the word finally got to the Twins, they were relentless to find her, but neither Duncan nor Terra wanted to be found. The two hid themselves in Blackhurst in places they believed that not even the Gods could find. For Terra, a war erupted between all of the Twins and Valcrest was torn apart as they searched.
Eventually, the most sinister found them. Greedy Life had searched Blackhurst for days looking for her. He was the only of the Twins clever enough to avoid the war between the Twins and instead slither past unscathed.

With the rest of the Twins out battling each other and the only thing in his way being the noble Duncan, Life concocted a dastardly plan to win the love of Terra. Life challenged Duncan to a duel. The winner would receive the love of the desired Terra. Duncan, unaware that the man who challenged him wasn’t a man at all accepted the challenge out of honor.
Duncan was the better dueler, but every cut of the blade that he made on Life was quickly recovered as Life could never die. Even when Duncan took the stab right to Life’s heart, Life simply smiled and stabbed Duncan back, leaving Terra’s suitor dead on the sandstone floor.
Terra abided by the rule however. She didn’t complain or even mourn as she hadn’t been created to truly love anyone. She held onto whoever was best fitted and because Life won the battle, he stole away human’s chance of gaining the powers of enlightenment strait from the source. Her giving abilities would have to be done through Life.
Not much more than a year later, Terra had her first and only child. Mother and Father got what they wanted and the Twins planted their enlightened seed amongst the humans. In the meantime as the chaos of the Twins’ loss of power over Valcrest occurred, Life and Terra raised their son.

When her son was old enough to take care of himself, Terra, still with the same immense beauty as she did so many years ago decided that she had enough of what Valcrest had to offer. She wanted to see new lands. She headed South to what is now a land called Terra. Many humans who praised her like a god for giving them the enlightenment followed her into those lands, but after passing the mountains all enlightenments seemed to stop working. When they realized they couldn’t use their enlightenment anymore, some of them left her, while others stayed with her to colonize the new land of Terra.

It is believed that Terra never had another child. She lived the rest of her life dedicated to the man she had a child with, even if he was an evil man. Although she never saw the man again, she kept true to the arrangement made out on the day of that duel.



Luckas finished reading and was unable to speak; he simply looked up at Sam with inquiring eyes as he folded the paper again and returned it to her, watching as she carefully and lovingly returned it to the book.

“It’s surprising, huh?” She asked, in a small whisper, looking as if she had shown him a page of her personal diary. “It contradicts the part of the Origin Myth that speaks of how Enlightenment came to be. Mother and Father set a trap for the Children, because they were losing themselves in the Human Realm, getting too involved.” She smiled sweetly holding the book close to her chest and heaving a sigh. This Myth, the somewhat ‘official’ version you just read, states that Terra never had another child. Not even after leaving Valcrest. However, there are others who see things differently than what is written here.”

“By others you mean the Order?” Luckas asked, leaning back in his seat.

“The Order came later, I’m talking about my family and how we came to be.” She told him. “See, hundreds and hundreds of years ago, my forefathers came to Valcrest from the Southern Land of Terra. Not too long after their arrival, they were surprised to discover their youngest child to have an unusual ability: The ability to grant Gifts to others. They sought the Blackhurst Elders for their opinion, but the Scholars were unable to explain how the seventeen year old outsider suddenly gained an Enlightened gift. The named it an anomaly, but the family never gave up on finding an explanation, and after extensive searching they came across this piece of Myth. From it, they concluded that, despite it stating otherwise, Terra must have had other children in the South, and that we descended from her. From that, they also came up with other theories, and one of them was that Terra was sent not only to take the Twins back to the Afterlife, but she was also sent to choose humans worthy of being granted the gift of magic, to protect the Land once the Twins were gone. It was never Mother and Father’s plan that all the Twins broke their rule; it existed for a reason. Instead they sent her to choose the ones best suited to bear the magical gift. It was all very calculated… Only it failed when Life challenged Duncan and killed him. Yes, now Mother and Father could take the Twins home, but the Order they had planned to leave in Valcrest, the balance, was shattered in the moment the Twins spread their seed throughout the Land. Humanity was not prepared for such a Gift, and the Gods were soon forced abandon them; leaving them to cope with the gifts of magic on their own.”

“The Order…” Luckas mumbled under his breath. “You are saying we exist to right the wrongs of the Gods? That’s just a little arrogant, huh?” He didn’t know if it was less or more offensive to play that out as a joke, so he simply raised an eyebrow.
Sam chuckled. “It is arrogant. You don’t know the half of it.” Her tone was slightly bitter as she spoke. “See, my… Followers, seem to believe that not only I descend from Terra, but that I am her.”
“They think you are the reincarnation of a Goddess?” Luckas tried, but couldn’t help a slight tone of laughter in his voice.
“I am the only female to ever be born with this Gift, and from the moment of my awakening, I have been different. Despite the fact that, for what Legend tells, I physically resemble her in nothing… Yes, that led some people, starting with my father, to believe I am the Goddess herself. It all started with you and Matthew, in fact. My father had systematically failed to imprint children. All his attempts led to failures, until he had me do it for him. Not only children, but we have horses so fast in our stables that you would travel from Blackpond to the Desert in a matter of minutes in one and not even tire the animal. All of which my father could not do, nor could anyone born with the Gift before him. I was unaware of this, until that day I was caught in the basement and my father decided my life was bad for his health.”

“You... You said that memory was fabricated…” Luckas muttered, his eyes narrowing slightly.
“No, love. I said the memory of my death was fabricated. I was severely punished for my rule breaking. I thought I was going to die, but no. That’s when I overheard one of my father’s advisers warn him that taking my life would anger the creators, that I was a part of their design and all sorts of things. My father surrendered to his reasoning, but I knew he wouldn’t hesitate again. I decided I should take matters into my own hands. I slowly began to turn the brotherhood against my father, and the next time he tried to lift a hand in my presence, they killed him without thought. That was five years ago.” She smiled. “I’m no fool, Luckas, as to blindly believe that I am a Goddess, whether that assumption is true, or simply convenient, is up to the Gods to know, but as I said: I believe in the cause. Valcrest has been troubled for too long because of the hypocritical and selfish acts of infants put on this Earth with no understanding of how fragile it truly was. Their presence, and those tainted by their blood, should be wiped from this plain of existence.”

“You are talking about the Twins?” Luckas asked. “I never believed all that much in the Gods, but… Of all the Myths I’ve seen… Of all the crazy interpretations… This is by a far the craziest.”
Sam snickered, although her eyes made clear she had taken a slight offense. “Is it, now?” She asked. “Don’t your beloved Healers believe their Leader to be sent by their Goddess to aid them? Maybe that is crazy as well, but is it a coincidence then that every Spiritual Healer ever known was born in Blackhurst or within the clan of the White Shadows? The first King of Blackhurst was known to be one; a true descendant of Peace herself, some claim. Is it a coincidence that the assassins foolishly believe Wolves to be able to communicate with Heart even in the Afterlife and they are not found anywhere else in the Land, but their forest? Perhaps, that’s just coincidental as well. There are many, many, other examples, but I think you see the point I’m trying to make. Is it also a coincidence that the only one of the Twins’ children who wasn’t consumed by his power was the son of Terra and Life?” She asked. “All the others were corrupted by their Enlightenments and terrorized the humans.” She smiled. “If you think about it like this, tell me: Doesn’t it make at least a bit of sense?”
“I suppose it does.” Luckas admitted, with a rather confused expression on his face. “But... What about all the chaos that wiping out all Enlightenment would cause, it means... Mass murder, Sam, and people tend to respond terribly to things like that. How is that supposed to salve Valcrest?”
“Well, Luckas... Sometimes things are beyond salvation... Sometimes, the only way is to burn it all down and rebuild. So yes; there will be chaos, and people will revolt... Valcrest will fall. There is one thing though, one very important thing, about the human race that you seem to overlook; it always survives... It feeds on illusions, it sees hope where there is none and just keeps moving forward by will alone. So in time, people will forget. They will erase the ugly from their minds and replace it with their hopes and dreams... Valcrest will be born again from those hopes and dreams and stand proud and beautiful, in a way it has only been described in legends. It is likely no one in this lifetime will get to see it, but this land will be everything it was meant to be and more. I believe in that.”

“Sammy, you... You are enlightened, right? Wouldn’t ending all of those who descend from the Gods also mean...”
“That I should die myself?” Sam finished his thought with a little smirk. “It is unclear, if the goal of the Order also applies to its Masters... It is... A subject of fierce discussion amongst the Brotherhood for centuries, with no actual conclusions drawn, only opinions here and there and those opinions have differed greatly from one another, depending on who was in command of the Order in that moment in time... Some Masters, my father obviously one of them, believed they were an exception to all the rules. I personally see things a bit different, I think... It is a great possibility, and it would be an honorable Death if there ever was one.”
“You’re not afraid to die?” Luckas asked, smiling at her with a bit of admiration in his tone.
“Luckas... One thing in this world we can all be sure of: Everyone will die. We are all going to die one way or another. Why fear the only thing that’s certain? I personally find the thought of Death comforting.”
“You’ve already told me this once...” He chuckled. “Haven’t you?”
She smiled brightly at him and nodded. “Yes, I have... That was a long time ago though. I wouldn’t expect you to remember even without any outside interference. You were so little back then...” She paused, simply letting her eyes examine the young man before her, still smiling cheerfully. “It’s almost unbelievable to see you here. For a moment, I think, I almost gave up the thought, but... Here you are.” She sighed softly, averting her eyes as she realized she’d been staring for a bit too long. “I know, and I’ve said this, you may not understand... Truth of the matter is that you and Matthew were the closest I’ve had to family; pathetic as it may sound. I think that, all things considered, if it weren’t for that I wouldn’t have survived... I wouldn’t have the strength to face him...”
“And we would both be dead right now.” Luckas stated, staring into the woman’s green eyes and finding amusement in the fact he had never actually spoke to her in those few years of childhood they shared.
“Exactly. Funny isn’t it? In a way we saved each other.” She stated, leaning back in her seat and leaning her head back to stare at the ceiling. “So, what else do you remember?”

“I remember the song... You used to hum it... And the pictures on the walls... And I remember you told me you had a brother, but you never said what happened to him.”
“My brother...” Sam heaved a small sigh and stood from her seat, wandering towards to office to put the book away. As she went through her desk, apparently for the sake of keeping busy, she replied. “He turned twelve and didn’t show sign of being a Gift bearer… Dad killed him.”
“What about your mother?” He asked.
“I don’t know. My father never spoke of her, he was horribly mad whenever I asked… One day I stopped asking.” She answered walking back slowly to sit before him by the fireplace. She went silent after a while, watching him intently as if trying to find out what he was thinking. “I wish I knew a better way to make you understand things…” She mumbled. “I know I sound like some lunatic raving about fixing the world and purging the Land, but… I do believe it’s for the best.”

Luckas sighed. “Well, I’m not sure what I believe right now, Sam.” He rubbed his eyes, still exhausted from the night before. “Suppose that doesn’t make me the best of followers, huh?”
“Can you believe that I am your friend and that I will never betray you? That’s all I ask you to believe right now. I have enough followers; I don’t need that from you.” She leaned forward and reached for his hand. “I know I promised to take care of you and, for the most part, I failed, but I won’t leave you again.”
Luckas winced slightly at the words, and stood up turning away from her. “Don’t…” He silenced shaking his head in anger.
Sam stood up as well and paced slowly after him, she rested her hands on his shoulders and whispered. “Don’t, what? What’s the matter, Luke?”
“You know... I could have stopped them. I WANTED to stop them, but I didn’t… I just let them hurt you. I could have done something. I should have protected you… I could have!.”
Sam sighed softly. “Luckas… You didn’t know that. You were a child. You were a small child and there was nothing you could have done for me. I would never have asked that of you… You…” She paused for a moment or two before finishing the sentence in a whisper. “You were innocent.”
Luckas laughed at the words. “Innocent.”
“You were innocent... Everyone was innocent once, love.” Sam stated simply, her tone was gentle as if she still spoke to a child now. As if nothing had changed. “We do what we must to survive, Luckas. I don’t hold it against you; I’m glad you survived. I’m glad you are here, despite your reasons.”

Luckas sighed, turning to face Sam and slowly walking past her and back to his chair. He sat and ran both hands over his eyes wearily. “My reasons.” He repeated, a bitter laugh escaping him. “I don’t even know what that means anymore.”
“I understand, and I wouldn’t blame you for hating me, or even wanting me dead, if it is the case…”
“No.” Luke replied quickly. “I don’t want you dead.” He sighed, looking down at his hands. “Not now at least.”
“Okay. That’s good to know.” She replied simply. “Are you alright?”
“I don’t know.” Luke mumbled, idly rubbing his temples as he felt a headache beginning to form itself. “Think I need to get some air, are we through?”
“No, we’re not, but you can go.” Sam replied.

Luckas left the room without another word, feeling a bit of relief as he found himself out of Sam’s sight. Things had gotten a little more personal than he would like; way too personal considering what he had gone there to do. Sam’s logic was sound to him, but sound as it was; Luckas honestly didn’t care about what the Gods did or didn’t do, and he certainly didn’t care about the fate of the Land. All things considered he could probably find it amusing to watch Valcrest burn, wasn’t for couple of little, previously insignificant, details; such as the fact he gave Lena his word. Stupid little details... Stupid little promises...

With all of that on his mind, Luckas didn’t really look, or mind where he was going, so when he finally bothered to look around it surprised him to a point that he was heading towards the courtyard with no recollection of ever intending to go there. Shrugging it off he kept walking until he saw movement and absently headed towards it, the sight of a woman standing at the gate doors becoming more clear as he let his attention fall on her and noticing right away that whoever she was, she didn’t belong. “Oh, lovely, another redhead... No way that can go wrong, right?” He snickered under his breath, realizing that whoever the woman was, she was somewhat blocking his path. “Hey you.” He called. “Are you trying to open that with your mind or something?” He asked, slipping his hands into his pockets as he stopped to stand next to her, facing the gate himself and tilting his head. “It’s a pretty gate, but I’ve seen prettier ones...” He mused. “So what are we waiting for?”

The setting changes from valcrest to The Manor

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Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Luckas

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Luckas was idly staring at the gates as the woman spoke, not quite believing her words and not caring much either. He only turned to face her as she changed her story to a far more interesting, yet less believable, one. It was then, when he looked at her face to face that he recognized the redhead he had seen in Jake's memories. The thought causing a grin to immediately spread across his features. "Has your mommy never told you never to go anywhere with strangers, Miss? Especially ones who openly admit to lying right before they tell an even bigger lie? Mine might have, but I wouldn't know... Anyway, see... That which you speak of, sounds like... An awfully organized action for the Blackpond guard. Since when do they actually investigate such unimportant things as murder? I myself have spread more corpses through that city than the average person, no one ever gave me trouble for it, hell they didn't even clean up after it." He continued speaking, raising an eyebrow as he gave her a exaggerated suspicious look. "And it's highly unlikely that anything would ever be traced back here... Under any circumstances... So... What, if you don't mind me asking, has really brought you here, Miss Lamya? Surely you have not come this far only to vandalize the courtyard and lure unsuspecting men to be your assistants in your imaginary murder investigations only to never be seen again?" He asked, tilting his head as he grew more and more curious towards the woman. "Even though that honestly sounds more appealing than an actual murder investigation, I have to say. i can't think of anything more boring than murder."

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Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Luckas

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Luckas blinked a few times as the redheaded woman spoke, her absent play with Lena's name was not something Luckas found amusing in the slightest, in fact; it was surprisingly insulting to him. His smile shutting slowly with every spoken lie as if each one was a new insult of its own. Lying always bothered Luckas, but even he understood that there was lying and then there was the lying for the sake of lying, the first simply bored him, but the latter... It just made him angry. His anger however was expressed in a slightly annoyed sigh. "Well, this was a record. I don't think I've ever lost interest in a woman faster than this... And unlike other redheads I've met so far, your person is actually far more entertaining when your mouth is shut, Miss... I suppose, since this new perspective brings me one tiny step closer to actually understanding the concept of misogyny, I can truly say that meeting you has been... Educational." Luckas paused, giving out an irritated snort. "However, I have no interest in people who don't even know, or care to know, who they are... That is a far too... Wasteful, use of my time." He then opened a small grin as he concluded. "And I am sure you could make an excellent whore, with little to no efforts, and without a doubt the mere implication of any possibility of paying for your... Attentions... Would have most men pissing themselves with excitement, however... I don't see any reason why I would want that." Turning his back and beginning to walk away, Luckas added over his shoulder. "Oh, maybe you should put that sword away, Miss. Would be tragic if your hand slips and you 'accidentally' stab yourself with it."

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Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Luckas

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There was something, something most people had and Luke didn't share most of times, something he had heard Lena refer to as a 'fight-or-flight response'. It was an instinctive response to flee or fight back when faced with an imminent threat. Luckas felt no such urges when faced with what normal people would consider threatening, in those situations he stood. Not in a 'frozen with fear' way either... In the way a dog would sit and curiously stare as its owner approaches with a weapon in hand. As if he didn't understand danger, even though he did. Luckas knew danger, but he lacked the fear that triggered that instinctive urge in him.

As Lamya responded to his small command unexpectedly and spoke of her sudden urge to kill herself, Luckas stopped and turned to face her. Maybe that wasn't smart, maybe the smart thing would have been to walk away, but Luckas didn't have that urge; that instinct was not a part of him. So he stood, curiously watching, motionless and nearly unresponsive; he wasn't in a shock, he could hear Lamya's words clearly, and understand them perfectly, he could see it in her eyes what she was doing, and he could have easily avoided her has he wanted to, but he didn't. Because by a far, this was the more interesting choice. He wanted to see what happened after this; he wasn't taking another step until he found out.

And then the fight-or-flight response kicked in. It wasn't due to the threat to his life, but the sudden and much unwanted, touch of her lips to his cheek that caused Luckas to jerk his head away from her in annoyance, finding himself unable to get away.

“Will I be killing you or are you committing suicide?”

The closeness in which the words were spoken was so bothersome to Luckas that he almost didn't notice as the blade pierced through his body, and yet the stabbing pain was enough to snap him out of his little trance... And he laughed. A small amused chuckle that grew within instants into a full fit of laughter. "Well... Played..." He gasped, chuckles still escaping in between the words. "I never said 'kill' though... That's the beauty, of giving a vague command... It gives a person's mind room for interpretation... Pathetic that yours would immediately urge you to kill yourself." He snickered. "But hey, if that is truly your wish... Good luck with trying to make me suffer... This is... Hah... the most fun I've had this past couple of days."

The setting changes from the-manor to The Desert

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Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Dastan Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Annie Turner

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The Sun had just come up and Jackson was waiting. He was waiting for Dastan to show his face around camp, something he noticed had been happening less and less. The mercenary was unsure if this change on the man’s behavior had to do with his fights with Indrani, of ir something else was actively wrong with him, but it was noticeable that he was not being himself lately. After a while he decided to wait by the Fire Temple entrance for the man to come out, eyes wandering towards Indrani’s tent in the distance; its entrance was sealed tightly and it suddenly looked like it had been empty for years.

“Jacks, Jacks...” One of the younger mercenaries called as he ran up to him. “Is it true? Tell me it’s not true...”
“It is.” The man confirmed heaving a sigh. “She left a letter; it says she’ll come back, if he’ll take her, but that she needs to settle her score with Sean.”
“I don’t understand why she had to leave...”
“Because...” Dastan’s voice sounded suddenly as he walked in their direction. “We just agreed on a truce with the Wolves, and if she wants to kill the Alpha she can’t be associated with the clan, or she will be violating that truce.” He explained in a casual tone, his eyes following Jackson’s towards the tent.
“She left Mirage.” Jackson pointed out, handing Dastan a sealed letter. “I’m not so sure she really plans on coming back.”
“We’ll see. Until then, you know what to do.”
“Yes Shaykh.” Jackson replied, with a simple nod of agreement as he watched his leader walk away from the camp, letter in hand.

Dastan walked away from Jackson and headed towards the area where Indrani’s home was set up, walking past the sealed tent it didn’t take him long to find a pale grey mare, smiling a bit sadly as the animal turned it head towards his footsteps somewhat eagerly and stared with what he could swear was a questioning look. “You miss her already, huh?” He asked, approaching the animal and soothingly stroking its neck. Finding a nearby rock to sit on, Dastan opened the letter the girl had left him and started to read.

My dear brother...

I write this letter in the hopes that you will find it in your heart to understand, and not hate me for what I have decided to do. I know that I was weak and selfish in my past actions, even if I thought they were the right ones. For that, I will never be able to truly forgive myself; therefore I cannot ever ask you to forgive me as well. Nothing hurts me more than to realize I let my faith in you falter after everything we lived together, after everything you taught me, after all the times we supported one another. You were, in my lifetime, a constant, supporting, and loving figure, and the one who always believed in my strength even when I was unable to believe it myself. What I did to the trust we shared as leaders and to the loving bond we shared as siblings was a despicable, unforgivable, thing. I disgraced myself that night. I disgraced my family name; and I betrayed you.

You have not made me an outcast, for which I am grateful. I’d like to believe you did so out of the kindness of your heart, although I am aware it might have also been an emotionless act of mercy, or worse; pity. Whatever the reason, I respect that decision, and please believe that I am not questioning you, or your motives, as I leave. Yes, as you probably already know, it has to do with the truce you have just decided on. No, I don’t believe you should have acted any different... I believe this truce is extremely beneficial to the clan and to this, already torn, land as a whole and that is precisely why I am disengaging myself from the clan as of this moment. I don’t want my personal feelings or foolish actions to harm the Crimson Shadows any longer and yet... This is something I feel I must do for myself. For my own peace of mind.

I wish, with all my heart, that I return safely once it’s over, but if I don’t; please remember two things:

First: This was something I decided for myself, and you need to think of the clan above it all. If I die trying, accept my failure as an honorable Death. A warrior’s Death. A consequence of War, and nothing more than that. Do not seek to ease whatever pain it causes you by retaliation. Don’t make this painful gesture of mine a meaningless one. Honor my memory that way and be the leader you and I know you can be; with or without me. I have faith in you.

Second and last, but certainly not least. I always have, still do, and always will love you above anyone and anything else. Forever and always. I know you will be well in my absence, however long it lasts, because even if I die tomorrow I will always take care of you. You will never be alone. That’s a promise.

Until we meet again, in this life or afterwards...

Your little sister...

Indrani.


Dastan read the words repeatedly and intently; his eyes darkening from their usual brown to a jet black here and there, only to soften again moments later, the shadows around him moving constantly and somewhat eagerly in response to his conflicting emotions regarding Indrani and his anger towards the situation as a whole. His own shadow had changed from a replica of his own sitting figure to a whirling pool of darkness beneath his feet, as if at any minute he could sink into the shadows and drown in them. Disappear in the darkness... It would be so easy if that’s what he wanted, but... Was it fair for him to even wish for such a thing when he had so many people depending on him? Was it fair that he be the one responsible for so many live in the first place? Did fairness even matter anyway?

Sighing wearily and closing his eyes, Dastan turned his face towards the light of the Sun, allowing its warmth to drown out his bitter feelings and give him some, probably foolish, notion of comfort. He needed to pull himself together and not break further apart. He needed to pull himself together somehow and be the leader he was expected to be.

[Flashback - White Shadow’s Camp, 8 years ago]

“I haven’t told anyone. I’m afraid to, even though... I question my sanity, and I question it constantly. What if something like that happens again? I don’t even recall what I have done, but the... Blood... I’ll never forget waking up covered in all that blood... I’m not... A violent guy. Not like that... I...” Dastan hid his face in his hands and let out a choked whimper. “And now these nightmares... I don’t want to die like my father. I know you tried to help him, tell me what I can do, if there’s even something...”

Lena sighed slightly as she watched the mercenary leader and caught the fear and doubt in his expression. “Hm... I see... Well... You’re not going insane, per se. What you are experiencing; the whispering, the nightmares, the blackouts... Your gift causes these side effects. Remember when I explained to you that your shadow becomes alive as a severed part of your personality? That personality doesn’t disappear when you dispel the shadow-golem, it continues to exist inside your mind. It doesn’t always happen with shadow manipulators, the golem is usually only an imprint of the caster’s personality, responding in a similar manner than he, or she, would. In some rare cases, such as your father’s and now yours, the golem’s personality splits from the caster’s, which is not necessarily a problem if the caster is aware and careful in how and when to cast his shadow. Nighttime is when your ability is more powerful, but it is also when you suffer the greatest risk of losing control.” She sighed. “Dastan, there is no... There is no guarantee that this will not take control of you one day. There are things you can do to manage this, and nothing says you will lose control, but... Your father was as careful as one could be, in the end, he just wasn’t strong enough. If you don’t want to hurt anyone, I suggest you confide in someone. As your father did his Commander. If he hadn’t, then you wouldn’t be alive today.”

Dastan shook his head. “Maybe it would have been better, no? I wouldn’t have to worry about waking up to find I’ve killed people I care about. And I don’t understand... I thought my enlightenment didn’t work in complete darkness.”
“‘Shadows’, as defined by the myths, is an element that fills the spaces where light cannot get through... Darkness is made of shadows... Your enlightenment won’t work because light is what gives shadows dimensions your mind is capable of measuring. See, just as with any other element; the more of it there is, the harder it is to manipulate it. In time, if you work for it, you will be able to use your ability in the full darkness, but I’d suggest you to never cast your own shadow in such a scenario. That would be terribly dangerous.”

Dastan nodded, running one hand through his hair and giving the woman the most confident look he could manage. “Alright... Tell me what I should do.”


[Reality - Desert, present time]

“Shaykh! Can you hear me? Are you alright?”

The voices grew louder and louder and Dastan mentally begged them to let him sleep some more, someone was shaking him forcefully as if in a panic and finally, as he senses began to kick in he realized he’d been lying in the warm sand. A grunt escaped the mercenary and whoever it was trying to wake him became less frantic at his response. Slowly he lifted his head and opened his eyes to find himself in the middle of the training arena, a quick look around showed why the mercenary trying to wake him seemed so frightened... The training dummies were wrecked, and several training swords were parted in half, scattered across the ground. Sitting up, Dastan noticed his whole body ached, but otherwise, he didn’t even remember walking the small distance from where he had been sitting to the arena.

“What happened?” He mumbled.

================================================

[The Manor]

“Luckas... Shut up and tell me who did this to you!” Ezekiel scolded, glaring at the laughing man laying in the infirmary bed; sword still pierced through him. He had been laughing like an idiot when Adam found him lying in front of the gates.
Luckas forced himself to stop, looked up at Ezekiel, took a long deep breath... And exploded in another fit of giggles.
“SHUT UP!” Ezekiel shouted, losing his patience completely.
“Do not shout in here.” A woman in blue scolded as she entered the room, walked past Ezekiel, yanked the sword out and placed both hands over the wound until it was fully healed. Afterwards she simply exited without another word, not really paying the ‘patient’ and his ridiculous fit of laughter.
“Luckas...” Ezekiel growled at him.
“Hah... Hahahah... How... Heh... How... Do you expect me to shut up and then tell you anything? It’s not... Heh... Possible!” He played, rolling over and nearly falling off the bed in his amusement. Laughing twice as hard when Ezekiel grabbed him by the collar of his shirt, nearly choking him in the process. Eventually he stopped again, this time actually taking a serious tone as he replied. “I’m a big boy, Zeke... I don’t need anyone hunting down my attackers, I can do that myself, if I wish to. Now...” He firmly planted his feet on the ground and worked his way out of the man’s grip. “If you excuse me... I believe I was on my way to the city.”
“You don’t leave without Amber... Mistress’ orders.” Zeke replied.
Luckas sighed, but didn’t reply as he walked past the man out of the sick ward, Amber meeting with him just down the hall... Today looking like an eighteen year old, redhead... boy. Luckas was undeniably bothered by this, but decided that it was best not to say so. “New look, huh? Not my type.”
“Right back at you.” The ‘boy’ replied, tugging on his bloody, and punctured, coat.
“I like it, personally... All black sometimes can become a bit bothersome.”
Amber let out a ridiculously girlish giggle considering her appearance and nodded in agreement to his comment, somewhat bouncing as 'he' made his way towards the main entrance a bit ahead of him.

==========================

[White Shadows’ Camp]

Annie had decided to sleep shortly after meeting with Crys, but as she entered her tent she found the book Sean had left her and ended up reading it for great part of the night, and writing in it on the remaining part. During that period she was constantly updated on the state of Isaac, Alistair, Pondus and others, as well as informed of Crys’ departure, only a little bit later than she said she would be leaving. Annie hoped that her trip was a safe and uneventful one.

Because of those things and more, she was resting when someone came to tell her someone was looking for. The man didn’t say more than that and seemed slightly shocked. Annie followed the man to where a redheaded woman was waiting. Annie looked a bit surprised at the woman’s state, but not as shocked as the other healers. She had noted that the woman had punctured an artery and was bleeding quite a bit. Raising an eyebrow at the seemingly oblivious bleeder, who she had never seen in her life but was asking for her for whatever reason, she walked towards the woman and casually made use of her enlightenment to handle her wound. After which she opened a curious smile and spoke. “I hear you have been looking for me? I’m Annie, and you are...?”

The setting changes from the-desert to Blackpond

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Ella Page Character Portrait: Alexander

0.00 INK

There was just something about Lamya. Everyone who knew her hated her in some way or another for some reason, but at the same time, if you knew her well enough, you had to have a certain amount of respect for the woman. From the way that she moved around Valcrest to the way that she influenced the people around her. It was almost like she knew the people of Valcrest as well as she knew herself. Or maybe it was because she knew her self better than everyone else in Valcrest. She at least knew what she believed in. But what did she believe in? Whatever it was that she did believe in, it allowed her to host a party for all the important people of Valcrest, despite the fact that they probably all dislike her in some way.
Rita sat at the top of the stairs asking herself some of these questions as she watched Lamya talking castle workers around the ballroom to set up for the party which was less than twelve hours away. From the distance the smells from the kitchen attested to the hard work going on in there. Around her, people busily bringing out the finest carpets and decorations for the finest ball that Valcrest have seen in several hundred years. Not even the great balls of Newhaven, before the false king, were anything in comparison to what this was going to be. If historians didn’t write about this party, Rita was going to be shocked. Especially so, since Rita believed that Lamya had a few ulterior motives to this ball, which was yet another reason why Rita was surprised that people were actually going to show up to this thing.
With Rita deep in her thoughts, she almost forgot that she was supposed to be keeping an eye on people to make sure that no shady dealings were going on in the arrangement of the party. The instant that she realized this, she shot up and stood guard. She couldn’t actually help how absent minded she was lately. The thought of what Lamya had said to her more than a month ago was still on her mind. Lamya could tell too. Every once in a while, while Rita would be doing things around the castle in the past month, Lamya would walk up to her and ask her if everything was all right. Rita would say that she was fine, but she knew that Lamya knew better. It just really bothered her to know that there was someone even above Lamya in all of this and that she couldn’t do anything about the predicament. She was stuck in her position, serving a king who doesn’t deserve the throne; one who is just a puppet to Lamya, who herself was just a puppet to an unknown leader.
It would make sense that the leader of an organization which likes keeping its secrets would want to be hidden by the cover of shadows while others took what seemed to be the leading role. Would Lamya ever let herself be under control of someone else? Would she even be able to be tamed? Her wild chaotic nature seemed to say otherwise, but it could always just be a show… a very deadly one. What is an assassin but deadly? Suicidal? Maybe not so much. Rita had heard of what she had done in that random house in the woods just a couple of days back. How she had stabbed clean through herself with a blade. The only reason she knew this was because she was told about it after she arrived back home. Despite what the new leader of the White Shadows did to save Lamya, she still had a scar from what she had done. She had asked Rita to bring her a healthy body and preferably one without any scars on them.

Flashback- A couple of days ago
Rita simply nodded to Lamya at the request and walked off to satisfy her duty. It was late in the day and she really didn’t want to be doing any of these pointless duties, especially since she was due to be in her room in ten minutes for a discussion with one of her generals about pointless battle plans for pointless battles which would, needless to say, never happen. It wasn’t much fun being a commander of an army that sat around collecting fat, but then again, nearly three years of peace was a nice thing as well. It could be said that a commander that does their job right isn’t doing their job at all. That is definitely how Rita felt on occasion. The meeting would probably only last about ten minutes and then she would be able to say that she was finished with her duties for the day. With this task that she had been set out on, however, she could be at it for a while longer than she wished. No early nights where she would get to sit at a bar or other establishment and just enjoy the rest of the day with her fellow bar mates.
She walked down the corridors, looking around for a person who fit the description. The sad thing about Blackpond, however, was you weren’t really a citizen until you had a scar of some sort. It didn’t matter if it was from a simple fall off a tree or if it was from something more serious. You would have to be locked up in the castle all your life to be perfectly saved from any scaring. That was why Rick liked to take the maids… then she got an idea.
She started a walking her way to the king’s room. A walk that always reminded her of her dear friend Hastings. It was so terrible to walk in and see his dying body there and know that there was nothing that she could do. She cleared her head before walking through the door. That is when she heard Rick in the room.
“You are going to jump out that window by the time I get back or you will wish that you were dead.”
Rick walked out of the room. He looked over at Rita with a large, sadistic smile across his face. Rita just sneered back at him and said, “or you will wish you were dead? That’s your best threat?”
“Hey, it works.” He said and continued walking down the hall to wherever he was going.
Rita walked into the kings room, expecting to find a woman who was half beaten already. The only reason that she wouldn’t be beaten would be because she was ‘fresh meat’. Luckily for Rita, she was. This just meant that she was sparing one less maid’s life. At least, she would be for now. It would only be a matter of time Rick got himself a new toy.
“Oh, thank you! Thank you! You’ve come to save me.” The maid said from the bed. It was clear that she had the idea that Rita was there to save her. That wasn’t exactly the case. It was a shame that she couldn’t bring herself to break the news to her. The maid ran up to her and got down on her knees right in front of Rita. I’ve heard of the things that Rick does to us in here. He locks us away in here and does those terrible things until he drives us mad enough to kill ourselves. I knew someone would come to my rescue, I just knew it.”
Rita didn’t say anything. She just grabbed the woman’s arm and picked her up from off the floor then started walking back to Rita. The woman kept going on about how it was her luckiest day, since she had been locked away. That was probably true.
When she made it back to Lamya, she saw exactly what she expected to see. There was another one of the assassins there. One that she rarely saw unless there was some sort of issue regarding health. It was absolutely clear what was going to happen. The man with no name walked up to the maid and quickly offed her, right in front of Rita. Now the maid would not have to suffer through the unspeakable pains that would have occurred to her in Rick’s room. The assassin’s eyes glowed a bright gold and then he placed his hand over top of Lamya’s scar. In a matter of seconds, the scar was gone. All it took was the life of the young maid to do that. To fix a scar.


Reality
“Rita.” Lamya’s voice called from the bottom of the stairs. “Could I see you for just a brief moment?”
“Are we talking about people taking weapons at the door? If so, I’ve already got that settled.” Rita asked.
Lamya looked shocked. “No! Don’t do that. There’s no fun if there’s no weapons. That’s not what I want to talk about though. Come!”
Rita, with a slight hesitation did as she was asked of and walked down the stairs. She didn’t know what she should ever expect with Lamya and despite knowing her for three years; she still wasn’t used to it.
“What is it Lamya.”
“Not here.” Lamya quickly shushed her. She looked around a bit and then motioned to the next room where everyone had cleared out of since it was ready for the party.
They walked into the room, decorated in almost entirely green and white. Even the waxes of the candles on the chandeliers were green. The tables where the food and drinks would be placed were green and even the instruments that the string quartet would be playing were green. It was rather impressive as well. The room had been decorated with several emerald encrusted armour plates.
“Are you ready yet?” Rita asked, sounding rather frustrated with the whole ordeal. All she could smell off of Lamya was trouble.
“Hold on.” Lamya said as one by one, thirteen men appeared from nowhere in the room. She only recognized a couple.
“Hello Rick, Lazarus, Sandere… and the rest of you.” Then she chuckled a bit. “This is it? This is the Shadow’s Conflict?”
“Looks can be deceiving.” Rick smiled.
“That’s for sure. If I saw you on the road, I’d think you were a respectable man.” Rita said with a sliding chuckle.
Rick looked like he was about to draw his sword, but the eyes of one of the assassin’s flashed green for a moment and he almost instantly calmed. He wasn’t sure what had just happened to calm him so quickly, but she wasn’t exactly sure she wanted to know. “If you are planning to assassinate me, could you do it somewhere that will make less of a mess? There’s going to be guests in this room for in less than 12 hours.”
“We aren’t going to kill you yet. You are still yet useful to us. In fact, that is why I wanted to speak to you.” Lamya said in a most peculiar tone that almost sounded relaxed and normal. “You see, our boss will be here tonight to join the party. He would like nothing more than to see a number of people who will be attending the party dead. Several of them being us. Others include people from Newhaven as well. The killing of these people would bring about a full out war in Valcrest that you, as well as I know will not be winnable.”
The idea was concerning to Rita. She believed what Lamya was saying. If Lamya was crazy enough to do the things that she did, the person in charge of her would have to be insane enough to start a war that would bring Blackpond to its knees. There was no surprise there. What Lamya said next was a surprise. “I want to see peace just as much as everyone else…” Then it made sense, “Of course, that isn’t saying much lately. Regardless, I’d like to see something else other than the typical battle. Those get boring. That is why I need you to help me from stopping this man from killing anyone.”
“And How will I be able to tell who he is.”
“I’ll tell you what he looks like”…

Newhaven
“The carriage is… uhhh, Ms. Page?”
Ella was in one of the many rooms of the castle practicing for the next time that Evin arrived for a practice session. When the stable boy walked in to tell her that the horse and carriage was ready to set out for Blackpond, she was reciting the creation story while balancing on a small side table and swinging a sword, all while wearing her ball gown. It must have been a weird sight. Ella stopped what she was doing when she finally realized the stable boy and jumped off the table. She sat herself down on the chair and put her shoes back on.
“Tell me something. How is it that you were allowed anywhere near me? Security has been much higher the past couple of months you know and now that I’m going to the ball, I’m sure something like this, from a security standpoint, is absolutely deplorable.” Ella asked as she put her second shoe on. The boy remained silent, and for good reason too. The kid wasn’t supposed to be there, but what bragging rights there would be for the rest of the stable boys when he said he got to speak to the queen. How very much more interesting it would be when he told them what they witnessed her doing. “It’s fine. I know you aren’t supposed to be here and I won’t tell anyone. Just don’t do it again, because I will remember your face. Thank you.” The boy started to leave. “Wait!”
The boy stopped dead in his tracks. He turned around, with a bit of fear in his face, but as well, there was also the slightest bit of excitement. It was as if there was a sparkle in his eyes, not one of enlightenment. Rather, it was one that can only be described as the sighting of a spirit. Something that she could remember seeing in herself every now and again when she was younger. She still had something similar—gumption—it just wasn’t the same. She missed that same sort of spirit. There was only a few things that could bring her to that sort of spirit. It wasn’t something that she could share with people. No one would ever approve. Ella couldn’t afford to not have approval. Then again, she needed to tell someone.
“Come here kid.” The kid followed the order. “When I do this, you have to promise me that you will not go around telling people what you walked in on me doing. Promise?” The boy nodded. “Good.”
Ella walked right up to the boy. Because of the shoes she was wearing, she seemed unusually tall and towered over this little boy. She leaned down as best she could until she was right in his face. Then she grabbed the kid’s chin and twisted his head slightly so she could kiss the kid on the cheek. “Now there will be a good story to tell your friends. Get out of here before someone see’s you.”
The kid still didn’t say anything. He was in too much shock to even know what to do. With that, he smiled a wide smile and ran out of the room. There was no doubt he was going off to tell as many people as he could of what had happened to him.
With that, she was done with her practicing and ready to leave for the ball. She walked into the next room which she had dedicated to her own personal armoury. It was a small room. Almost just a walk in closet, but it was filled with several weapons that were perfect for a queen. Not all of these weapons were made for her however. There had been weapons made for several different occasions and instances for several different queens among many different reigns. She grabbed two different weapons. One was a small clip in her hair. It was meant to be decorative, but underneath the plume of hair, there was a considerable amount of blade to be found. It was nothing too good; just a simple poking weapon. It would do. The other one was a sword which was found under all her cloathing. She had her dress made specifically so that there would be a fold over a part of her hoop skirt that was not covered in fabric. All she had to do was move the flap and reach down her skirt for the holstered sword. She took the sword she wanted to use and then slipped it down the flap.
Now she was ready to go. She folded the flap back to its spot and walked out of the armoury, out of the next room and into the halls. Waiting there was Conrad. He wasn’t dressed in any of his usual guard uniform. Instead, he was dressed in his finest dress cloth. “What’s this?” Ella asked.
Conrad placed himself in the ground and stood tall. “I’m going to the ball.”
Ella was still a little confused. Enough so that she had to stifle a little laugh. “I think they’re only letting good looking people in.”
“I’m good looking and I know you think I am too so don’t even try to lie.”
Ella blushed. “Well I guess that’s true.”
“Anyways, I was looking for someone else to go the ball with. There are a lot of noble girls from Newhaven who seem to be going, but none of them are the Queen… I mean, none of them are Ella.”
“Yeah, yeah. Come along.”

------

In Newhaven Market, several things were taking place. Most of them were common day occurrences such as candid conversations, crafty conversations, conversations that just don’t make sense. There were many a new deals going down and many an old. Books, clothing, shoes, food and many other miscellaneous things were being sold. The typical thieves were out doing their thievery and the swindlers their swindling. Out of all the typical things that were going on however, there was one thing going on that could not be described in any other way but peculiar. Anyone who was to witness the whole thing take place wouldn’t exactly describe it as anything but regular, but to those involved, much more was going on.
The Queen had left for Blackpond a few hours ago. It was exactly where Alexander wanted to be in the next couple of hours as well. He just needed to be assured that when he walked in the ball, he would be ready. He wanted to be gone a couple of hours ago, shadowing the Queen. He didn’t really mind, but he was really hoping to get into the thing on time.
“You’ve already delayed me over two hours, Wyatt. I need to be at that party so just let me know that I have my people and where they are.” Alexander said in annoyance, lighting up another cigarette. The twelfth he’d had that day.
“I give you money, and you give me nothing in return and then I give you people. How do I expect to get something in return?” Wyatt said.
Alexander flicked the ash off his cigarette. “I gave the money back because I couldn’t find a large enough groups of swords for hire for my liking. Now, I’ve given you back that money, in case you don’t remember. Now I’m looking for swords for hire from you and I will guarantee you that you will be able to get your influence back in Blackpond Castle. This is the deal.”
“And if I don’t get any influence back?”
“I’ll guarantee you that you won’t. Now where will I find them?”
“They are all in the market right now.”
“In the market right now? Are you kidding me? Have you looked around you,” Alexander flicked his cigarette in the direction we wanted to bring Wyatt’s attention to. “I swear that person over there is a White Knight.”
Before Alexander could finish his sentence, the people that Wyatt had found him were there with them. “We’re fine.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Dominic Adams Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Ella Page Character Portrait: Alexander

0.00 INK

Some would find it crazy, others, just plain stupid. Leaving a woman all alone in the most dangerous place inhabited in Valcrest while she was being threatened by an insanely rich, insane woman. Most people would like to stay with that threatened person no matter what if they were supposed to protect them. The only thing was that Evin had already sent her to the party. She was one of the first of the guests to arrive. Evin had nothing to worry about. If there were Wolves at the party, Evin suspected that they would be a little cautious before making their move. It would just seem too easy.
The reason that Evin left was because he wanted to go wait for Crystal. He didn’t want to waste time at a stupid and annoying party that was bound to be filled with hellish thoughts and hellish people who would be willing to act on those thoughts. He didn’t want to wait for Crystal there. It wouldn’t be nearly as fun as waiting all alone with his own thoughts would be. Of course, he wasn’t going to allow his presence to be known to Crystal right away. He wasn’t even sure if she would visit where he was waiting for her, but he expected that she might be compelled to go just for nostalgia’s sake.
He perched himself on the top of a roof near the building he was waiting at. It was the building that he recalled as the place that Crystal’s father died. What a great man he was, and to think that he would be killed so heartlessly, by Perry of all people. In that moment, the fate of the Wolfpack and the rest of Valcrest was sealed. Without that moment, it would be very unclear to foretell the events that transpired after. There would be far less motivation to go looking for the False King. Theron might not have been as motivated to join the Wolfpack and the Wolves might have actually gone into a regression as they might have been too afraid to re-enter Newhaven for a while without some sort of excuse. It was a sad thought, but not even Dani would have had the courage to face off against Newhaven without merit. From experience, Evin knew how much of a threat Newhaven was to the Wolves. With the state that Newhaven was in at the moment however, the Wolfpack could easily take down the entire infrastructure of the city if they wished to and after that, Blackpond would probably easily do the rest if they really wanted to.
Perched just out of sight, Evin watched as Crystal walked up to the old Wolfpack Inn. Just as he had expected. The attraction to places with bitter histories always seemed to be too much for most people in Valcrest to handle. She stood there, probably having similar thoughts to Evin’s about that night and how things changed because of it. About her life the way it is was now and finally, about her father. The great man with a million great and insightful thoughts.
He forgot the reason he had been waiting for Crystal in the first place. His thoughts of Bastian had distracted him for a moment. Obviously that moment was just one brief moment too long. He saw Dastan walk up behind him just as he was about to exit from his perch. While it wasn’t the worst thing in the world that Dastan was there, he rather he had a chance to talk to Crystal in private. Crystal to him was his confidant. She was someone who he could share anything with. That absolute trust in her and her decisions is what allowed her to talk openly to her. It didn’t matter if it was a negative or a positive; she would listen and would only tell those who needed to know as to the matters which he discussed with her. It was much like the constant trust that everyone could have in Time. No matter how much someone could attempt to change things, Time would continue, unwrinkled and pure. Nothing could contaminate the trust that people had in mind. Dastan, to Evin was more like water. He couldn’t exactly do go on without him, but is easy to contaminate. He didn’t want to discuss anything with Dastan nearby.
He continued to watch Crystal and Dastan until the two of them were gone. For about ten minutes after, he got off from his perch and made his way to the party.
At the entrance to the castle, there were six guards right at the door to welcome him in. On each side of the wide path that lead to the door, there were about five or six guards at attention. To any untrained eye, that would be all that anyone would see. This was a mistake. At the lowest windows and the lower two towers that protected the entrance, there were several men trying their best to be out of sight while still being ready to shoot their crossbows at anyone who even tried to enter. Even harder for the eye to catch, several hundred feet, directly above him at the top of the castle were just more archers ready to air their crossbows directly down on anyone who would try something funny. Finally, there were the true shadows of this party. Those were the shadows of what he could only imagine were the group that was known as the Shadow’s Conflict. Ten people who believed that they could hide themselves in plain sight. They were very skilled in the art of blending. Behind the stationary guards, in with some of the groups enjoying fresh air before entering the party, there was even one that was so perfectly still that only the blinking of his eyes is what tipped Evin off to the fact that he was standing there. The most deadly part about these assassins was that he knew that the moment they decided to come into the party, they will not be recognizable at all. People who were this skilled at blending in, that the moment they blended into the party, it would be nearly impossible to discern them from a regular guest. Evin was certain that they would bring him a good show when the actual party got started.
Evin gave a quick wave to the one who had blinked to let the rest know that he meant business and he wasn’t going to allow himself to be tricked by any simple mind game that they would plan to dish out at this party. He would be cautious, as they were capable of almost killing Crystal, but he wanted to show them that he had gained the first edge on them and not the other way around like they had expected would happen. He instantly saw the heads of the nine other assassins look his way when this happened. Evin then looked at each individual one of them. He placed his finger on his temple and tapped it a couple of times in a gesture of knowledge. Evin instantly regretted this decision. The assassins didn’t do anything, but he knew that by being so cocky, he was putting a huge target on his back.
He continued his walk down the path until he reached the six guards that were there to welcome him in. Shaking one of their hands, he spoke, “I’m so happy to have been invited to this party. I know you didn’t do it personally, but I’m still glad and would like to show my appreciation. Now I understand that there are no weapons checks here as I’ve seen a couple before me who weren’t even checked for weapons. You guys are so considerate, you know that. Thank you.”
Little did any of the guards know, but while shaking the man’s hand, he had grabbed the guard’s war axe as well as the holster for said weapon from right off his body.
This is when he moved himself into the party. It was the most beautiful of ballrooms… filled with hundreds of people. “Oh what fun!” Evin sarcastically exclaimed as he dipped himself into the fountain of madness that was going to be this party.

------

Alexander stood himself just in sight of the castle. His hired swords, the ones he had left, were walking their way along the road just ahead of him. He was a little nervous to go to this thing, but he knew it had to be done. If he wanted to bring Blackpond back to its former glory and possibly put a peaceful ending to this war, then he would. Damn it Grim, he thought as he continued thinking about the possibilities if everything was to work out.
“Hey, Alexander, what’s up?” One of the hired swords said, seeing that Alexander was sitting still.
Alexander jumped out of his thought to respond. “Oh, yes nothing. Just thinking.” He started walking again. “Now men. The odds are that the entrance to the Ball will be heavily fortified. Don’t act suspicious as you walk through the guards. Just act as if you are like any other party guest, but carrying a sword out in the open. When you get to the door, they will probably ask you to relinquish your weapons. At this point, it will be pretty easy to force our way into the door. After that, we target the red-head. I created it, so I will destroy it. The Shadow’s Conflict will suffocate under our feet as we re-take control of Blackpond.”
The two men and woman nodded in unison and fell into silence as they got close to the door. Alexander looked at every guard individually as he walked up the path. The whole idea of acting nonchalant about things wasn’t really working out for him. For the first time in over twenty years, the idea of fighting made him nervous. His heart pounded ten times faster until he reached the door, where six guards were there to welcome him. His heart stopped and he found it nearly impossible to catch his breath. It was like the feeling that he felt when he heard the sound of war drums out in the distance. At this moment, the hired swords looked just about ready to draw their weapons to attempt what Alexander only imagined would be a historic moment. Something that, whether it worked out or not didn’t really matter. Historians would still have some interesting things to write about. In a moment where everyone who is anyone in Valcrest sat themselves in one room for festivities, a small revolt was under way.
Alexander reached for his sword, but was stopped when one of the guards said. “What are you’s doing? This is an open invitation party. You can enter you know.”
The four looked around at each other with confused eyes. There was something wrong here. Why would anyone ever allow so many angry people into one room with swords when there was just so much conflict in Valcrest? The four revolutionaries passed through the doors and into the Ballroom. It was just as Alexander remembered, just with more people.
“Ok men, we will keep a low profile from now until we find the right opportunity. Know our enemies, they already know that we’re here and what we are here for so there is no need for surprise. Enjoy the night for now and we will attack when opportunity arises.”

-----

The instant that Ella’s parade made it within a mile of Blackpond, the news had already made it around that the Queen of Newhaven was actually personally visiting Blackpond. This was the first time that royalty had visited Blackpond personally since her father, from what she could remember. It was very important to the city of Blackpond. Despite the fact that these people were her enemy, she understood the needs of the people. When something exciting happened to them that didn’t involve a public maiming or some random rape, it brought joy to the citizens. The city’s dark and menacing demeanour brightened up for a change as the parade followed through.
“Dominic!” Ella called from her closed carriage.
The carriage continued on at the same pace and in a couple of seconds, then the door opened. The large White Knight took a few quick steps until he jumped into the moving compartment. Dominic, had to crouch as to not hit the roof, his head barely fitting as he sat down. The behemoth of a man then said, “What do you need?”
“I have a request for you Dominic. While you may not agree with it, I want you to wear this.” She hunched over to reach down to the floor and grab a handle. “Could you please move your feet?” She asked. When Dominic moved his feet, she opened the small compartment under the floor.
Dominic looked at what was in the compartment and just shook his head. “I don’t think that this is a good idea. If the council finds out, and trust me, they will—”
“I don’t really care what they think of it. I actually want them to know. I want the council and Blackpond to know that my loyalties are still strong, despite what it may seem.”
“There are other, more subtle ways to do this m’lady.” Dominic frowned.
“Just put it on.”

The trumpeters serenaded the party goes with their melody to signify the entrance of the Queen. Each note a beautiful representation of the delicate, yet demanding nature of Newhaven’s flower. Then the promenade; the grand march into the room was what made Ella the most important person in the room. It was true too. She was the attention to everyone’s eyes.
Ella’s had on a champagne pink, A-line dress with a flared skirt, puffed out by heaps of crinoline. The same crinoline material was used to accentuate the sweetheart neckline. The main focus of the dress was the rose however. It was a real pink rose with leaves still attached to create a slight green accent. It was placed right between her skirt and the corset, which had a seem down the middle and curved around her waist so the skirt came up further around the sides. She was absolutely stunning and clearly the best dressed as well, but when you are one of the best off people in Valcrest, it was simple to look better than other people in the room.
Behind her was something that put an aura of pure shock around the people who had come from Newhaven to the party. A black Knight stood tall and proud, seemingly there to protect the Queen with all the dishonor that came with the attire.
“Ella!” A voice echoed from the top of the staircase. “Pleasant for you to join.” It was the woman. The red haired woman who had visited the Castle from Blackpond the weeks before winter. “Now we can start our party.” The woman was accompanied by four other people right behind her. One of them was definitely working with something as his eyes began to glow. A fire started to build right around him. Then, a glow from a second person. This person wasn’t as visible as the other four who accompanied this woman. The glow of this person’s eyes came from an unlit balcony just above the woman and the four men. The fire moved from the man to the door behind Ella. It let out a large amount of heat, enough that the medal doors that Ella had just entered through started to melt. When the fire was gone, they could see that the fire melted the metal to create an airtight seal around the door. “My name is Lamya, and I’m your host for the evening.” Two of the other men’s eyes lit up, and again the balcony man’s eyes lit up as well. Water moved in every which direction to every exit in the entire ballroom. Then an incredible cool air blasted through the room, cooling the water right down until every entrance was covered in a layer of ice so thick that it would be impossible to break through. “As you can all tell, this is a historic night with so many figureheads of Valcrest in one room. I don’t even know how things are supposed to work out. With the amounts of conflict between all these figureheads, I can’t exactly tell how long it will take for things to get out of hand. Well, we are probably stuck here all night with the ice storm blocking us in and all. Enjoy the evening. Carry on.” She said with a smile before walking up the stairs into the balcony area above to blend with the crowds.
That moment after she stopped talking was when the commotion started. The festivities of the party that seemed to have been happening before from Ella’s point of view all stopped. There was a quiet but panicked chatter that buzzed through the room.
“Dominic, get the string quartet to continue with the music. I’m not going to let Blackpond ruin what should be a perfectly good evening. We can’t get out yet, but we might as well enjoy the time that we’re stuck here. Conrad, come with me.”
Dominic went off and Ella walked to the center of the room with Conrad. She placed her one hand on his shoulder and the other in his other hand. When the quartet started playing again, she danced. She hoped that this would calm the crowd down a little.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Crystal Rivers Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Sean Fletcher Character Portrait: Alexander Character Portrait: Ess Character Portrait: Darren Hearst

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Evin looked down at the blade that the King was holding in his hand. His reflection fell back at him with the grimace of truth that only the visual echo from a blade could tell. The mourning the dead were usually viewed as a time to reflect on one’s self. The blade was the perfect foreshadow to this as it held a physical mirror to the person it killed much like the people who mourned would use the killed as their own mirror. In a way, it made the dead a perfect mirror. The dead can’t alter the image that they left behind.
For some reason, this made Evin a little less ambitious to move in on Rick before he made his move on Crys. Rick wasn’t going to just jump Crystal right away, however; not with Evin in the way. This much he knew. If Evin didn’t want to make the move, all he could do was sit and attempt to anticipate what the stressor would be. He ignored the man as best he could and looked back at Crys.
Despite the fact that Crys was trying to speak with Rick, Evin tried to catch her attention again. “I guess you haven’t been too busy yet. I’ve always been happiest when I’m at work. I’ve been working since I got here.” He quickly glanced at Rick, who had veins begin to show in his neck and forehead. “I think it’s about time I take a few moments and actually try to enjoy a party.”
Evin grabbed Crystal by the hand gently and walked towards the dancing floor where the fighting was taking place. He didn’t expect her to come, he didn’t even force her. He was hoping that she would come just for the thrill. “Don’t think that you can dance with Sean without dancing with me too.” He smirked as he turned around to face her, ignoring the battle that went around her. Placing his second hand on her shoulder, he started to sway.

-----

With the battle now on the floor, things were going a little better than before. Alexander couldn’t help but admit that he enjoyed fighting in this exact type of situation. Outnumbered by many with no way other than skill to gain an advantage over the opponent. It was the most terrifying feeling in the world, but he never thought of fighting to lose. It was a strange feeling. He couldn’t explain it to anyone who wasn’t truly versed in the art of sword combat. It was almost as if he was invincible when faced in the situation, like the Twins themselves had divinely intervened and had taken his side.
“Ah hell, I need a drink!” He yelled as he looked around him.
Nothing too much was centered on him in terms of the fighting. It was all focused on the hired swords for some reason. They must have known who he was. They must have known he was in charge of it all, but all he would get was the occasional attack by sword or maybe a gentle push of wind. It didn’t make sense…

-----

She watched it all unfold; People panicking, fighting between guests and then the real blood battle that was going on right below her. She looked on all of this from the balcony where she could get a good bird’s eye view without needing to use her enlightenment. It made matters simpler if Rita was forced into battle at a moment’s notice. Unlike the regular battlefield, there was no safe place to run off to keep safe while her body was exposed. It was unsettling to her that she shouldn’t rely on her enlightenment.
“You know that you’ve got to do it. It’s your duty.” An ever familiar woman’s voice said.
“And if I don’t?” She turned around to look Lamya in the eyes with her own, stern gaze.
“You are free to do so. You are also given the freedom to keep on living. The real question seems to be why you would choose to do one and not the other.”
Rita wasn’t going to have any of this. She actually was thinking of joining the rebel forces and maybe off Lamya herself. Before she made a rash decision, she started to walk away. “The choices seem to me to be two and the same, wouldn’t you agree?”
Lamya smirked and started to follow. “No. To some, there is a difference. If Hastings could tell you something right now, he’d probably tell you that one of them would involve not being a bitch.”
“He’d probably also tell me to kill this bitch while I have the chance.” Looking over her shoulder and pointing her thumb at Lamya.
“Good point.” Lamya laughed in an almost human-like way for once as she continued to follow Rita down the stairs.
Rita moved in towards the battle, getting about ten paces away before she stopped with one foot slightly in front of the other. In a single flash of fire, Rita pivoted on the balls of her feet and drew her sword, pressing it beneath Lamya’s breast where her wicked heart rested. “It’s the one with the eye patch, right?”
Lamya smiled her blackened smile. “Exactly.”
Rita turned around and faced her sword directly at the man with the eye patch. For being the person that they wanted to have dead, it was a surprise to her that he wasn’t already in the grave and wrapped up in a poorly built coffin. This made her think about Lamya’s smile. Why did she smile this time? Was it because Rita had given in once again to Lamya’s demands or was there something more sinister about it. Was this all a scam to off the only person capable of properly commanding Blackpond’s shattered army, much like what they had done to Hastings? She quickly used her enlightenment, only for a quarter of a second. Just long enough for Rita to see what Lamya was doing behind her and jump back into her body before it fell limp on the battlefield. Lamya wasn’t doing anything behind her, so she decided that she’d best just get this all over with.
“Man with the eye patch! Surrender to the crown of Blackpond or otherwise face me and meet Death.” The words sounded almost cheesy coming out of her mouth. It made her slightly sick.
The man with the eye patch lifted his weapon up and stood in a stance to match Rita’s. He then grabbed something from his pocket—a book—and threw it on the ground beside him.
Rita was just about to go into a full charge on the man. She took the first step, but was quickly halted. An older man accompanied by a younger woman walked directly in between the two soon-to-be combatants and began a dance. It was too dark to really make out who either of them were and she wasn’t too concerned with it. It was just a minor hesitation from her actual goal. Again, Rita ran towards the eye patched man, sword raised.

-----

As the two danced, Evin felt a quick breeze flow past him. Soon he realized from the sound of clashing swords just paces away that it was likely someone running past him. The fighting was very close to the two of them.

Crys couldn't help but laugh as Evin led her to the dance floor, partly because the situation was somewhat amusing on its own considering most of the party guests were running around or pushing for the exits in a panic and there was not even any music playing anymore, but partly because she knew very well that Jake was somewhere in that mess keeping an eye on her. While not too long ago that would have been a comforting thought, right now she took far more comfort in the thought of making him squirm, even if for a childish reason such as this.

As she and Evin danced, Crys could hear steps and clashing metal not too far from them, and she vaguely asked herself if she could make it through the night without drawing her blades. Heaving a small sigh she poked Evin's shoulder playfully. "So... Weren't you supposed to dance with your date? Or your, whatever you call the woman you've been sort of stalking most of the night?" She asked in an innocently curious tone; her attention never distracting from what was going on around them.

Evin placed both his hands against the small of Crys’ back and pulled her closer to him. He rested his head just above her right shoulder. This allowed him to look behind her and keep an eye on anything that seemed suspicious, especially Rick, who didn’t look too happy.
“The woman I’ve been stalking is…” Evin stopped mid-sentence when he noticed something happening around Sean. All he saw was Ella move towards Sean and Ella drop down to the floor, blood pooling out of her stomach moments later. “Twins have mercy.” He said under his breath, forgetting Crystal could hear it all. “Ella’s dead. Sean did it and he’s trying to disappear now. Mageria’s taking care of the body. Let’s worry about this all later.” He tried to let it escape his mind. Although Ella was close to him, he wasn’t going to mourn over it until he actually had time to. He took a moment and continued talking. “Jen is the woman I’m stalking. You know the story already…” He paused again, just for a moment…

-----

Lamya laughed it all off and watched as the fight began. Surprisingly to her, there was a couple dancing between Rita and Alex. It surprised her because she didn’t think anyone would have the balls to get in the way of all the fighting. It also surprised her that she hadn’t thought of the idea first. She looked around to find someone she could dance with. Quickly, screams caught her attention. A young woman, passionately killing an older woman. By the end of the brutal murder, the younger woman was covered in blood and very irate in appearance.
Lamya only let the woman have a moment to reflect on what she just did before she grabbed the bloody girl and pulled herself right beside the other couple. He grabbed the girl in a proper dancing position and looked over at the other couple.

-----

“… You know Jen had a baby, seventeen years past. His name is Kurt. Last time I’d seen Jen was ten years ago... I really love that woman.” Evin realized what he was saying when the woman who had welcomed everyone to the ball came with her own partner to dance with—a bloody woman—and said, “Good night for a dance.”

Essence didn't have barely enough time to breathe, more or less think straight when she felt herself lifted off of her feet by another redheaded woman. Staring back over her shoulder at the brutality on the floor it slowly sunk in what she had accomplished. Between her dress and all the blood she was a beacon of reds flourishing amidst the crowd and stood out more than normal against the chaos. She finally dragged her gaze from the body, noting her wolf was still where she left her, and focused upon a curious individual before her. The fuzziness in her mind began to leave her as she noticed she was dancing with the woman while still firmly gripping her dagger in one hand, letting her other hand rest upon the woman's hip. The angry and crazed look in her eyes calmed, her shoulders bouncing in amusement as what started as muffled giggles erupted into manic laughter. Ess had done it. The hellion was gone and now she seemed to be celebrating by dancing with some strange woman who didn't seem fazed or disgusted that her partner was practically soaked in blood. "Hmm, guess this is the closest I'll get to dancing on that Bitch's grave..." She snickered, turning towards the couple beside her, quirking a brow. "Crys? Wait..." Ess took in a deep breath, trying to speak clearer through her laughing fit and turned back towards her partner. "Who the hell are you?”

Crys really didn't need Evin to tell her what was going on with Ella, she could very much tell for herself, although she wasn't so sure about Sean, however... To her, if anything, the man seemed shocked and frightened in a way as if the worst possible thing he could imagine was happening before his eyes. If one thing she knew well was that Sean wasn't one to regret a kill, so that just didn't make sense in her mind. She didn't argue with what Evin said he was seeing, there would be time for that later, right now she just simply settled for listening to what he was saying and trying to keep her mind where it should when she could feel very clearly the pain and rage of loss coming from the former Black Knight captain as she carried the Queen. It made her wonder honestly just how much more that woman could still bear. Not missing Evin's words despite of that, Crys didn't really get the chance to offer him a reply, at least not one she would be willing to give in the presence of a strange woman, whose voice Crys had recognized from the greeting she had given them earlier; aside from that she honestly didn't know what to make of this person, considering that in the situation they were in, she seemed absolutely unaffected by the chaos, if anything she seemed constantly cheerful. Her dance partner on the other hand was all too familiar, and Crys wasn't sure if she could allow herself to be surprised by this, something about Essence gave her the impression that this was probably not the oddest scenario where their paths would cross. Taking a small step back from Evin she turned towards the dancing pair and let out a snicker. "Ess... I have a feeling Ali's doing a terrible job of keeping an eye on you."

Evin was more confused than anything by the whole situation. Crystal seemed to actually know one of them and the way that the other one was looking at Crystal, it seemed like she knew Crystal as well. His suspicions were correct when she spoke.
“I know you. I’m Lamya. You probably remember me as the person who nearly killed you in the woods about three years ago. Small world.” Lamya said.
Evin ruffled his eyebrows. Knowing the person who actually took the hit that Sean called on for Crystal was standing right by him was bothersome. It was only a mild irritation though. As an assassin, he understood why another assassin would take a hit on Crystal.
Ignoring the comment he looked at Ess and said, “My name is Evin Bana. I don’t think I’ll have to explain who I am. My name has seemed to get around over the past couple of year. What’s with all the… blood?”

Essence quirked a brow, looking from Lamya, back to Crys and then the man who introduced himself as Evin. Feeling a bit confused as she didn't think she had addressed him yet, she simply shrugged at Crys' observation of Ali not keeping an eye on her. "We both got preoccupied, it seems." Stepping back she spun before returning to her partner and smiled. "Lamya...I apologize. Think I got some blood on you." Glancing down at herself, her brows furrowed at the sight of herself; now blood and rags of her once beautiful gown. Releasing a sigh her smile broadened. "Well, Evin, officially I am Essence but Ess is just fine...and the blood..well.." She motioned behind her, still keeping an eye on her wolf out of the corner of her eye as her and Lamya danced circles around Crys and Evin. "Well, I didn't arrive this way.." Ess joked, her expression falling a bit more serious as she continued. "I ran into someone I thought was dead, who I actually found out tried to contract my death through the Wolf Pack. Ironic since my original attempt on Ebony's life was a failure, it only makes sense she'd want revenge I guess. Gotta tell you though...was definitely more satisfying this time around than poisoning the Hag the first time." Essence rolled her eyes at herself, shaking her head as she thought back on that time. "I was a child, guess can't expect too much from a child..."Turning back towards Lamya, she stared at her curiously, violet eyes glowing softly. "What about you? Good ol' fashion stabbing or poison?"

Crys arched in eyebrow at the woman who called herself Lamya and her casual mention of stabbing her almost to death. "Small world indeed. I'm sorry though, I don't remember you, or much of anything from that night. Blood loss and all..." She trailed off with a small shrug. "Nice to meet you... As long you don't decide to try again, that is." She smiled pleasantly at the woman, even though she didn't think she liked her very much, and funny enough that had very little to do with the attempt on her life and much more to do with her simply giving her chills. Crys remained silent as Evin and Ess exchanged names and the woman explained the blood that Crys assumed was on her clothing. Ess' story and the name of the woman she killed sounded like something Crys had heard before somewhere and she felt a passing urge to laugh shooting Evin a glance. "Huh..." She snickered under her breath. "...Small, small world..."

Lamya laughed at Crystal’s comment in a way that would make people assume that she knew Crystal very well. “Blood loss will do that to you.” Suddenly, her attention was flipped to Ess who had mentioned getting blood on her. The dress she was wearing made the blood almost blend. “Goes well with the dress. In fact…” She grabbed a clot that had formed in Ess’ locks, just below the ear and placed it over top of the gem that was encrusted on the broach she was wearing. “Now it all looks intentional… of course, for you it was so you’ll have no problem.”

Evin watched the woman in bewildered amusement as she played around with blood clots and spoke to Essence. Not soon after, the attention went back to Evin. “I think I’ll call you Essence.” He said in a tone he never intended to sound rude, but surely sounded so. She went on to explain the blood. He didn’t laugh at her poor attempt at a joke either. It was something that Evin would have said in his youth when he was first an assassin. It would have been funny to him then. I think I’m becoming a cynic. He thought. Probably. She continued talking and mentioned that reached name. Evin’s eyes went wide and he squeezed Crystal’s waist extremely tight.
Then he heard Crys whisper in her ear, probably unintentionally. It was small indeed. What made it even smaller was what she said after about when she was a child.
“Lust.” Lamya said, answering Ess’ question. “Lust can kill any man and some women. Seal the deal with a kiss and it is all but over for them. You’re an attractive woman you are Ess. I’m sure you’d understand.”
“I tried to poison her.” Evin interrupted. “I tried poisoning her 17 years ago. Thought she was dead. Prylithosade was the name of it. I don’t know why it didn’t work when I heard she was still alive. It all makes sense to me now. If you used any poison from the root of a flower on her, our poisons would have counteracted each other… that is what the poisons master said to me. I can’t believe this!”
Evin let go of Crystal and placed both of his hands on her cheeks tightly. Without thought, he leaned into kiss her. He meant to do it on the cheek, but completely missed in his excitement. In mid kiss, Evin pushed Crys into a dip to avoid the swing of a blade. When he came back up to look at Crys, he realized what he just did. He already knew that Jen would have been looking towards the two of them. She was probably already unimpressed with the whole dance show he was putting on. He could only imagine what she was thinking now. “Uhh… sorry about that.” Evin said. He grabbed onto her waist again and tried to pretend it didn’t happen.
“Aren’t you a little old for her Evin?” Lamya said, again, like she was old pals.
“Aren’t you a little too much of a woman for her?” He retorted and began to keep watch for Rick and anyone else who he might think to be important.
“Fair enough.”

Whatever tune they had been swaying to, real or hidden inside her mind, Essence didn't take notice but they had paused. She didn't know if she was appalled or enticed. Reaching slowly towards the broach she stopped, just hovering over the piece as if admiring it, before retracting slender fingers to rest along her own waist. Ess stared as if forgetting to blink before nodding politely towards Evin, a genuine smile breaking through. It was as simple as that and her perspective had changed. Turning her gaze downwards, her attention was everywhere. One ear open to her furry friend's direction and the other shifting back and forth between those addressing her and for a moment her mind went blank. Her head snapped at attention to Lamya's familiar words. "I agree...for most it is their weakest point. But not all. Can't say it's my favorite though but more like survival. At least, how it was for a time."

Ess' body tensed, whispering back a particular word of Evins: " Prylithosade." The woman's fingers began tapping in light frustration along one of the tiny daggers along her side. "I wouldn't have known then. I was quite nieve to it all but neither of us..." She laughed. "Guess I can't be surprised more than one person wanted that woman dead. I don't think I'd even classify her as human, much less a woman...Wait a second..." Ess pointed at Lamya, "She's too much woman for me?..Interesting.."

~~~

Darren was trying to make some sort of progress with the Wolf, to get her to let him help her but she was not trusting. Couldn't blame her. Even before he got close enough, the silvery form pushed herself to her feet and limped directly towards Essence but at the last minute making a sudden turn for Crys. Tala nuzzled the woman's hand and whined up at her curiously. Darren followed, hanging back a bit when he got closer to Lamya, having a feeling he may be recognized. Stepping on the opposite side with Ess between then she leaned in close, whispering concern. "You're playing with fire, you know. Are you trying to get burned?"

Crys was confused with what Evin was doing, to say the very least, but her tension and awkwardness were barely noticeable at all. She didn’t react as she would if it had been anyone else randomly kissing her, which would probably be with a dagger to the throat, she simply fell into a confused daze too busy with trying to make sense of the what and why to even wonder if she should maybe be weirded out or offended. It was only when Evin mumbled an apology that she snapped out of her minor shock and shook her head, snorting a trace of a laugh and patting the man on the arm in a reassuring gesture. “I’ve had worse.” She retorted playfully; genuine amusement beginning to break through her expression as she realized what Jake had just witnessed. Maybe it was bit cruel of her to be glad about the fact he was currently pissed, but she couldn’t help it nonetheless. Her amusement slipped past her lips in a small series of chuckles at Ess questioning Evin’s comment of Lamya being ‘too much woman for her’, but she made no comment, her attention snatched away by the slow approach of a familiar creature. Crys lowered her hand to reach for Tala as the wolf stopped by her. “Hey, Tala...” She whispered, pulling away from Evin some and turning her attention to the animal, tracing her fingertips along the wolf’s snout. “Are you alright, hm? You sound a bit tired...”

Evin chuckled at Ess taking offence to the comment that Evin made. It was a good icebreaker to a rather awkward couple of minutes. As much as he believed that he'd probably come to like this Essence girl, there were things about her that Evin didn't like. This was how he felt when he met every new person though. It probably didn't help that she was the one that killed Ebony and not him. He imagined that Ess would have probably felt the same way if it was the other way around though. Holding any sort of tension over who got to be the vehicle which sent Ebony to Death herself was such a silly little trifle. Only seconds before, he had practically thanked her for what he did in his silly display, but he'd rather forget that.
Evin saw a wolf approaching. Alongside the wolf was a large man big enough to take on someone like Grim in a fair fight without enlightenment. Evin wasn't even sure if this wolf was the same Wolf that had turned into a bird earlier in the evening and if it was, who was the big guy following her? He moved his foot within his boot to adjust the knife that was sitting under its sole. Very quickly, blade was protruding from the front of his boot. That knife was for the wolf. He wasn't quite sure what he'd do with the large man. He'd let the man's reaction to the attack on the wolf dictate his next move. When the Wolf got close enough, it started to give affection towards Crys and the large man started to speak to Essence about one of the other three people who were dancing. Evin didn't bother to move the blade from its placement in his boot however as he noticed Rick again, who seemed like he was going to crack at any moment.

Ess wasn’t paying much mind to how Evin was acting around Crys, feeling it not her business or concern. Although, it brought back to her the memory of the woman stabbing her Sai through that bartenders hand, the idea seeming appropriate for that kind of closeness. Then again, it wasn’t towards herself and they probably knew one another she assumed. Still, this fellow didn’t seem as though he deserved a stabbing but that was still left remaining to be seen. It wasn’t right to discriminate but Essence would never change the fact she kept her guard up always longer around strange men compared to women.

Ess twirled the dagger between her fingers, pausing to wipe the blade clean, if that was even possible, along what remained of her dress. She simply grinned at Darren’s comment before kneeling down beside her furry companion when she stopped beside Crys for affection and carefully inspected the still bleeding wound. “I’m going to have to stitch this somehow...but not now..” Ess whispered, not hesitating to tear off another piece of her gown, leaving almost her entire left leg exposed. In all honesty, it left her more cold than modest, not really thinking too much of the minimal clothing. Gently she tied the rag around the wound, giving one yank to secure it, causing Tala to growl softly. “I know...Waaait..” Ess stood up looking around as if something just dawned on her. She had momentarily forgotten about Joffrey and now discovered he was not where she had left him; only the severed hand remained. “Where...did?....DAMN.”

Darren shrugged as if he was the one being asked the question directly. “Your wolf had a snack and then you went all Wild Animal on Ebony...I mean..really did you have to kill her now? I had some things I wanted to interrogate that woman on but now...” Darren sighed, snapping his fingers as if he had lost a bet. He suddenly noticed Ms. Rivers and politely tipped his hat in her direction. “Looking lovely today, Crys.” He commented. It didn’t matter that it was kind of a pointless gesture to make in front of a blind woman as he did it more as part of his new obsession with his hat.

“I was done with her speaking. The very sound of her breathing made my ears bleed.” Ess groaned. “There’s another way..” She shivered, standing back on her feet. “Where did I leave my jacket?” She muttered to herself. “I dropped it around the time...just before the Queen...” The woman’s eyes hardened. “I don’t even know what I think I saw...some party this turned out to be.”

Crys stood, idly petting Tala as she listened to the exchange of words between Ess and Darren, not at all surprised at this point that they seemed to know each other, there had been too many of those 'coincidences' for her to actually make much of them anymore. As Darren addressed her she smiled at him in a far more sincere way than she had Lamya not holding back a slight shrug at the boy's compliment, but still responding nonetheless. "Why, thank you, Darren. Always a gentleman, I see. Did you find what you needed in Newhaven by the way?" She asked him, her eyes lowering slightly towards Tala for a moment as she silently let some thoughts cross her mind before turning to Ess with a questioning look. "You were with Ella, when... When she...?" Crys heaved a sigh not quite finishing the sentence properly. "Something is off about this... Again..." She muttered, not being able to keep the memories of what happened last time from flooding her mind. Only the last time the Wolves and Newhaven had a falling out, her mother had been there... Mageria had been there... Who was there to hold things back now?

Lamya's eyes darted back and forth and people continued to speak to one another about their fruitless pursuits and selfish endeavours. It was almost enough to make her realize why she didn’t have the idea of dancing with random people before Evin and Crystal did. It was interesting to her. There were people who really wanted to change the world, like the White Shadows that never got anywhere. Then there were people, like everyone else who mattered in Valcrest who did things for themselves and it changed the world for worse or for better. Of course, it was all subjective. There was not enough chance in Valcrest anymore. No one could appreciate the chaotic nature of reality.
“Why can’t anyone of you be like Lena? A bitch, but a damn near real person with realistic expectations about every facet of life.” Lamya noticed the blood on her hands and wiped it on the clean parts of Ess’ dress. “Now most people would like to think that I’m the antithesis of Lena. Why else would I be holding a party following her death? We are nothing but the same person raised into different circumstances which made our random acts different from one another. I think she only ever realized what she was like when she got away from those White Shadows. No, this party isn’t because I dislike her. It’s a party to celebrate the death one of the only true people left in Valcrest. Now if you’ll excuse me.”
Lamya walked away, as she did, she passed Rick, who was approaching the group slowly. As she passed him, she balled her fist and punched him directly in the face and continued on walking.

Evin didn’t care much about anything that Lamya was saying. She was a person who believed that she had the world all figured out. In that way and that way only, were the two alike. Maybe they were both a little delusional as well, but Lamya was a little more delusional than Lena was… just a little.
He did, however, watch her as she walked away, which brought Evin to the startling discovery. Evin had forgotten about Rick completely and it wasn’t until he saw Lamya punch him in the face, knocking the twisted man onto the floor. Evin let go of Crys completely; he knew that she was far less interested in dancing now. He did, however lean in to warn Crys of Rick coming back. “Be ready for a fight. If I did anything right, you won’t have to fight, but just be ready.

Darren smiled down at Crys, "It's hard to be anything but a gentleman in your company, Crys. Even if there weren't...'watchful eyes', I have to be given a reason to withhold respect if those in turn are lacking such themselves. Thank you again, by the way, for letting me have use of your name." The young man chuckled. "It came in quite handy...at least I think. Blackwell is...well, quite an interesting fellow." Darren took the opportunity, while Tala was a bit more relaxed beside Crystal, to reach out towards the wolf and lightly scratch behind her ears. She looked tired indeed, barely turning her head to look up at him. It made him wonder if she even cared or if she was falling weaker by the moment to even bother with precaution.

Ess watched Darren with a curious, and yet unbelieving look in her eyes. It was automatic for her to assume anyone male who acted so polite was anything but and even if it were true, she still held onto that defensive barrier just in case. She didn't really respond to Crys' words with that of her own but instead turned away from the woman, inhaling a sharp whisp of air through her teeth. Ess didn't feel comfortable saying much more about the situation, out in the open. That itchy and bothersome feeling of being trapped that had ignored earlier was gradually making its way back, starting with her fingers, causing them to twitch incessantly until she cracked her knuckles. In her internal thinking, she almost missed Lamya leaving and her apparent praise of Lena. Wasn't the party to celebrate her death? Essence wasn't sure if she should laugh at the woman and her statement suggesting this was in some sort of memory or honor of the deceased woman. She just wasn't buying it. At the same time, she did agree that there were so few 'real' people that existed in Valcrest. A part of her became annoyed with Lamya but as Ess watched the woman randomly punch the King of Blackpond in the face, she wasn't sure if she kind of liked her. "Hmm..unpredictable and perhaps a little crazy...just like this party. I'm liking this." Motioning for Tala to follow, Essence turned back to Crys. "I believe I would like to find Ali and the Captain. We shouldn't be all separated..."

"Right." Darren chimed in, smiling wide so white teeth were showing. "Your wolf doesn't seem like she will be on her feet much longer...I could help.." He offerred as he continued to pet the animal. Tala snorted and started to walk away from the group a bit defiantly, yet coincidently in Mageria's direction. "Ok..I stand corrected.."

Lamya’s little speech about Lena seemed to be the first thing to actually annoy Crys to the point of it showing clear on her expression, even if only for a moment. She didn’t answer the woman however; she didn’t feel that it was worth a response and if anything she wanted Lamya to just go away and the farther away the better. It did annoy her though how Lamya spoke of Lena as though they were the same person just separated by random acts and circumstances. If the woman was alive to speak her mind Crys was sure she would have strongly disagreed, but she wasn’t and it wasn’t Crys’ place to speak for her now.

Catching Evin’s words on the possibility of there being a fight she nodded her acknowledgement, not really minding to give him a verbal answer and just waiting for things to happen as they would. A small chuckle escaped her at Darren’s words on Blackwell. “Yes, he’s quite the character that man, but he’s surely worth the trouble, you’ll see.” She gave Ess a nod, giving Tala one final pat as the woman excused herself. “Of course. Ess, send Mageria my best wishes... In case we don’t get the chance to speak...” She told the woman in soft near-whisper smiling momentarily as if the words held some hidden meaning; maybe they did.

-----

Alexander looked dead as he looked into Rita’s eyes. He knew that this moment was going to come. If Lamya had anything to say about it, this moment was bound to occur. Lamya always seemed to revel in those ideas.
The dead eyes were the look of someone who seemed to already accept his defeat. He wasn’t going to be happy with the results no matter what happened. The defeat flushed over him like a bruise, but he had little time to think about it as Rita started her attack. It was a typical first move. She quickly moved forward towards him to make a downward motion across her torso. She was left handed so her attack came in from left to right on his side. It wasn’t something that Alexander was used to, but he had faced off against enough left handed people in his times at battle that he knew enough to know the slight differences that a left handed fighter had.
Alexander used a right shoulder guard to make contact. Rita’s sword flexed as it contacted the long edge of Alexander’s sword. He pressed sword against hers and gently finessed the pressure on his thumb against the ferrule to give him the leverage to allow him to push Rita’s sword in the way he wanted. Rita’s sword moved across the long edge of Alexander’s blade until it abruptly stopped at the finger guard and ultimately at the quillon. Alexander was hoping to end this right away. He swooped his sword down with Rita’s caught in the guard. If she was gripping her sword improperly, it would fall out of her hand. That didn’t happen. This battle was going to be a little more complicated.

-----

Evin smiled when he could see that Rick was picking himself up off the ground. He readied himself, while still keeping close enough to Crys to hide the fact that he was readying himself. Slowly Rick approached. He wasn’t in any hurry to reach them, but the intent in his hands told a different sort of story. It was the slow motion of his fingertips flexing and contracting against the handle of his blade. He wasn’t thinking of the kill, that much was for sure.
Rick reached them and stopped. He lifted the hand that didn’t have the blade in it, finger up and he struggled to spit out some words. He wasn’t in a good mental state, which was for sure. Evin didn’t want to wait. He calmly moved Crystal aside and then moved in. With his foot-blade, he kicked at Rick’s shin. This came to Rick as a surprise as he didn’t even flinch at the attack. He looked down at his bloodied shin and then back up at Evin and hesitated in a quick moment of shock. Evin kicked him again, this time in the other shin. This time, Rick yelled out in pain and grabbed at his shin. Evin wasn’t going to kill Rick. That wouldn’t be fair to do so. Not only had Evin made the first attack, but Rick didn’t even seem to react to him. The only reason he would kill someone who was so vulnerable was if he had a contract out on them. To him, Death was not judgement. Death was just death and that is all.
“I’ve softened him up for you. He won’t be an issue anymore.” He said to Crys. “Now I have someone else to take care of.” Evin scanned around looking for the only person in the room that he had wanted dead more than Ebony. The fact that Ella was now dead too was just incentive for Evin to pursue him just that much more.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Crystal Rivers Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Dastan Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Jake Turner Character Portrait: Annie Turner Character Portrait: Allison Blake Character Portrait: Sean Fletcher Character Portrait: Ess Character Portrait: Darren Hearst Character Portrait: Samantha 'Johnson'

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Annie parted ways with Darren and was immediately grabbed by the hand and pulled into a somewhat quiet corner, as if someone was just waiting for her to be alone. She would have worried if everything hadn’t happened faster than her thought process had been; by the time it took her to actually worry, the person who grabbed her spoke and she recognized the man’s voice, despite of how panicked it sounded. “Listen, I need to ask you something... I don’t think I have much time.”
“Sean... What...”
“Just... Listen...” Sean asked. “Ella is dead and there’s a great chance I’ll be accused of killing her, if not by Newhaven by Evin or someone else who already has reason enough to hate me... doesn’t matter... I didn’t do it, but that doesn’t matter either... If something happens to me, Annie... I need you to convince Katie to go stay with you in the plains... If something happens to me... Things will get ugly in ways she can’t really understand and... No matter what she says; she can’t stay in camp, it won’t be safe... It’s probably not even safe anymore as we speak. Promise you’ll do this for me.”
“Sean, I don’t...” Annie mumbled, not really having much time to process what Sean was saying had happened or what she was being asked to do. He was scared, for himself, but mostly for Katelyn and she understood his request, but she knew it would be near impossible to convince that girl to ever leave the Pack. Annie sighed, for some reason she was finding it difficult to say no to this promise she wasn’t sure she could ever really keep. “I promise... I’ll do everything I can... Alright?”
Sean nodded, for a moment he seemed like just another frightened man trying to make sense of something he couldn’t control, but then he shook his head as if pushing every ounce of fear out of his system. “Alright, that’s all I needed to hear.” He smirked. “Time worry about something else.”

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Sam let her mind wander off slightly as she watched the movement and activities in the ballroom, watching the people in that room was almost as if staring through a window into the very core of human society and its flaws. It was an odd and pathetic thing, how fragile people’s sense of security really is. Enough so that it shatters immediately the moment something goes wrong. Panic sets in. People run in circles. Flames rise. Blood is spilled... Humanity at its finest, represented by idealistic fools fighting battles they can’t win and panicked bystanders caught in the crossfire... The graphic representation of the world’s evolution; perpetually hindered by fear and foolish notions of justice. People loved to talk of faith, but it was clear that they lacked the necessary level of faith and trust in the Gods to simply let nature run its course. If it was Blackpond’s time to fall, why fight it? If Valcrest was fated to burn, why not just let it? Humanity’s fear of change was still the world’s greatest curse, it seemed.

A sudden movement beside her caught Sam’s attention and she reached out to grab Luckas by the arm, not speaking a word, but simply following the man’s gaze towards a commotion, not at all surprised to see the woman she has spoken with earlier to be right in the center of it. “Hush, Lukey.” She muttered simply, releasing his arm as he seemed to relax, leaning back against the wall behind them.

Luckas had honestly managed to get his mind off of things for a bit, his eyes half closed as he allowed himself a quiet moment, or as quiet as a moment could be in that chaotic place. It was only when he heard a canine yelp that he took notice of what was happening not too far from where he and Sam were standing, only realizing he had started to move away when Sam grabbed his arm, mumbling something to keep him still. Luckas snorted, holding back the urge to push the woman’s hand away from him and caving, leaning back against the stone behind him. Eyes watching intently as soon blood began to soak the floor. The whole scene seeming to him, oddly enough, like a waking dream, even though he felt close enough to smell the blood, he was at the same time too distant to hear the even make out the shouts and insults being cast onto the air, screams and curses sounding faintly in his ears, the exact words unclear, but then they really didn’t matter.

Luckas was unmoving staring at the whole thing with an excitement in his eyes that didn’t match the rest of his expression; an emotionless, almost stoic, expression on his face as though he wasn’t even seeing the scene of violence playing out before his eyes. The overall seriousness in his expression drawing Sam’s attention to a point she really didn’t bother to watch the scene all she really cared to know was displayed clearly in Luckas’ face, in his eyes, just as though they told a story. It was only a slight change in the man’s eyes, one not everyone would see, but it was there nonetheless... A spark of life inside a bottomless pit. The look in Luckas’ eyes wasn’t just the look of a killer enjoying the sight of fresh blood; there was something else hiding underneath, something she couldn’t exactly identify... Something undeniably frightening. “Luckas.”
Luckas breathed in an out as if he had been holding his breath all along, his voice a bit void as he spoke. “How much longer? I really don’t feel like being here anymore.”
“Not too long, I hope. Everything alright?”
Luke shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest tightly as if trying to hold himself still. “I’m fine, just a bit cold.”
“Cold?”

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

Irvin was about to reach one of the frozen doors in an attempt to see what if it was possible to use his enlightenment to melt the ice. He thought that it was very likely that even if the ice melted away the doors would be stuck. The boy barely had the time to reach the nearest exit however and the lights gave out on him. There was almost immediate panic as the ballroom went dark, people started to rush for the blocked exits and Irvin got himself caught in a mess of people desperate to escape. Untangling himself from the commotion Irv felt someone grab him by the shoulder and drag him to a corner, he didn’t get the chance to see who it was until another flash of light flooded the room and reached the woman’s face. “Allison?”
“What are you doing in the middle of this mess, kid? Trying to get stomped on?
“How does one try to get stomped on?” Irvin asked, raising an eyebrow in fake confusion. “I’m trying to reach the doors.”
“The doors are blocked, you know.”
“Yes, I know. Unlike most people trying to reach the doors though, I might actually be useful.”
Ali held back a snicker, disguising an involuntary flinch as the room suddenly lit up in random flames once again, taking the time to breathe deeply and forcing her mind back into the conversation she was having. It had been a considerable amount of time since fire had affected Ali in any way that was truly debilitating, but the knowledge that the room was sealed caused her little waves of panic every the flames burst into life around the ballroom. “Feeling important now, are we?” She played, ignoring the uneasy feeling making its way up her spine, however persistent it was. There would be plenty of time to freak out after they got out of that place.
Irvin snickered softly. “I wouldn’t put it in those terms.”

The lights went off again, and Ali could feel herself tense, knowing what would be coming next. She breathed deeply, holding back a groan as she felt a sharp pain spread from her right hand and up her arm, stopping at her elbow and disappearing as suddenly as it came, instinctively closing her eyes as another burst of flames crossed the room. “This is most certainly not my night.” She muttered under her breath, a familiar voice screaming its way across the room to reach her ears. “Irvin... We need to open those doors soon... This thing is about to get really ugly soon.”
“No kidding.” The boy replied with an annoyed snort, seeming a bit wary of the panicking crowds, but quickly spotting a opening he could go through to reach one of the exits. “Let’s see what I can do about that then... Meet you on the outside.” The boy smirked, rushing his way into the mess of people, disappearing not soon after.

Ali didn’t have time to think of whether it was a good a idea to let that boy wander off alone in that mess of people; he was already gone and her attention was already focusing elsewhere as she moved in the opposite direction towards the scream she’d heard.

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

Dastan was less than pleased when the lights went out, he didn’t care for why that happened, and even less for how many people were immediately going to try and stab each other in the dark, he barely cared about getting out as long as there was still booze he could reach for and drink down, but the darkness in itself was disturbing to him. When children are afraid of the dark, they are told there is nothing in the darkness that isn’t also there in the light, but Dastan knew that to him that wasn’t entirely true. To him, there were things hiding in shadows that he’d prefer would never see the light of day. Drinking helped though... So did a good distraction and that’s why when he spotted a familiar face the mercenary stumbled his way straight to her, shouting over the sounds of frightened partygoers and clashing blades. “Blondie!”

Ali didn’t go too far before she felt someone grab for her shoulder and pull her close, if it wasn’t for Dastan’s excited greeting she would have pulled a blade and severed some fingers, but the man’s presence, as loud and drunk as he was, actually provided some comfort. “Dastan.” She sighed. “You’re wasted.”
“Aren’t we all in a way?” The man replied with a chuckle. “A party’s... Still a party.” He stated, pointing at the center of the confusion where a couple was making it way to what used to be the dance floor.. “See? There’s still some people having fun.”
Ali chuckled, shaking her head in amusement at the thought of some people still being in a party mood after everything that happened. Her expressions shifted from amusement to curiosity when she realized the pair on the dance floor were in fact Crys and Evin. “...For two people who don’t like to party...” She mumbled shaking her head. Suddenly the pain returned, causing her to grasp Dastan’s arm to keep herself steady; it came with much more intensity this time, although it didn’t last as long as it had the previous time.
“You alright, Allison?” Dastan asked, a slight frown marking his features as he pushed a half-empty bottle of something he’d been dragging around. “Drink, it’ll help.”
Ali accepted the bottle and took a drink from it before pushing it back to the mercenary, coughing at the burning feeling of alcohol in her throat. “Thanks, friend, but I have a feeling this won’t help me.” She said, forcing a smile at Dastan.
“Your hand, still? I thought you were getting better.” He inquired.
“So did I.” Ali responded shaking her head, a bit concerned with how the pain was manifesting, and spreading; it didn’t feel normal. “Have you seen Annie anywhere? I tried to find her, but it’s just too messy in this place.”
“I don’t think I’ve seen her, but I did see Alistair a while ago, so she must be here somewhere.”
Ali nodded. “Suppose we should think of getting out of here first... No matter how much it hurts it’s not going to kill me now, right?”
Dastan chuckled, but not seeming all too amused at the comment, his expression changing slightly as he watched the dance floor, Ali could make out the expression on the mercenary’s face exactly, but it was strangely serious. “Well, what doesn’t kill you...” He mumbled, his eyes seemed to darken for a moment, but Ali shrugged it off, taking it as being just an impression, as she turned to follow his gaze she saw five people on the dance floor; Crys, Evin, Ess and Tala stood out to he immediately, one redhead she didn’t know was already walking away and Ali watched with amusement as she walked up to a man she could recognize as the king from the speech the man had given earlier, and punched right in the face knocking him down. The woman simply punched the king and kept on walking, and Ali couldn’t deny that was the most hilarious thing she’d seen in a long time. Shaking her head she pulled Dastan by his arm, the man nearly leaning into her now in a bit of a drunken haze. “Come on you silly drunk... I came with a friend, and it’s about time I find her again.”
“Ookay... That’s her right there, no?” Dastan asked pointed out a blood covered Ess.
“Yes, you two met then?” Ali asked curiously.
“Aye... Crys introduced us... Interesting lady.” Dastan stated, pushing himself away to stand up straight. “You think I have a shot there, Blondie?”
“No.” Ali chuckled, giving the man a playful shove. “...But who knows? You’ve proved me wrong before.”
The man laughed out, shaking his head in amusement. “Fair enough... Fair enough...”
As they walked towards Essence they walked past Crys, Ali simply letting her fingers graze the woman’s hand in silent greeting, not wanting to stop and talk, as she didn’t feel the things she had to say were safe ones to mention in this place. Dastan on the other hand stopped and leaned into Crys to whisper something to her, not waiting for a reply and simply moving on, looking back at her friend Ali thought Crys seemed a little bit confused. “What did you say to her, Dastan?”
“Nothing important.” The man replied with a shrug walking a bit ahead of her and catching up to Ess before she did. “Miss Essence... We meet again!” He called playfully. “I’m not sure if I’m more drunk than usual or if you really got less clothes on you than I remember...” The man mumbled giving Ess a second glance rubbing his eyes as if genuinely doubting them, but not hesitating to offer the woman his cape; the crimson red fabric poorly stitched from Dastan’s fight with Veronica in the plains. The man then looked at the boy that was with Ess, and chuckled. “Don’t tell me you ditched me for this guy here? He looks a bit young no?” He played.
Ali chuckled. “Hush Dastan... And I’m sure you’ve been far more drunk than this, don’t worry.” She told him, patting the man in the arm and turning to Ess. “I see that Tala was right to not trust me with keeping an eye on you. Did I miss all the excitement?” She asked curiously, nodding towards Ess’ company; she remembered seeing the guy in the Raven’s camp so she simply assumed Ess knew him from there. “Hey, I’m Ali. ” She greeted.

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

Jacob had been standing still, eyes darting from where Crys was dancing with Evin, to a blood covered Ess dancing with Lamya of all people, and to two figures battling whom he could recognize as being Alex and Rita... Darren and Tala joining the dancing couples not long after. Rick wasn’t too far away watching just as he was and looking almost as bothered as he was... although in a far more manic way. The whole scene seemed to have been designed with the sole intent to test his patience... And for one moment, one particular moment, he really had to hold back not to give himself away and do something unbelievably foolish, even for his standards. Instead; he stood, watching from the outside as Lamya wandered off, knocking Rick down with a punch to the face, the man recovering only to be attacked by Evin next. Jake remained where he stood until people started to part ways. He watched as Ali passed him by with Dastan, his eyes momentarily following the pair as they caught up with Ess and Darren. Eventually, the only person left in the group still standing in the ‘dance floor’ was Crys. Rick was still there as well, grabbing at his bleeding shin where Evin had left him. Jake wanted to talk to Crys, but at the same time he didn’t; he was mad for things that didn’t matter, and he had not right to be angry for if he was honest with himself, talking to her would probably just make it worse... So he focused on Rick... Manic and vulnerable Rick... It was an opportunity he couldn’t really throw away. Making his way towards the King as fast as he could, still concealed by his enlightenment, Jake didn’t hit the man as much as full on collided with Rick with a force that was clearly unnecessary to knock down a distracted man with two injured shins, but Jake couldn’t really bring himself to care for fairness at this point anymore, he didn’t just want Rick on the floor, he wanted him to hurt; if not now, the next morning. Once the man was down Jake, stepped on the wrist of his weapon wielding hand and made himself visible and knelt down, holding a blade of his own to the man’s throat. “Where... Is that dagger of yours...” He muttered out pressing the blade to Rick hard enough for it to nick his skin. “...Your Highness?”

Crys was about to walk away from Rick, not really caring anymore for what the man wanted with her... If he insisted she’d deal with him, but he wasn’t anywhere on her list of priorities at this point. Before she had the chance to take a step however, Jake charged at the man, knocking him to the ground in a very audible collision, causing her to turn and face the scene; Jake wanted to kill the guy right there, she could tell as much and she couldn’t begin to imagine what would happen if he went through with it. “Jacob... Don’t!” She protested. “You don’t want to do this here.”
“I do. You know I do.” Jake muttered, his eyes not leaving Rick’s face. “And I’m not the only one... This guy isn’t quite as popular as the last impostor we killed.”
“If someone needs to do it, it doesn’t have to be you... Jakey...” Crys sighed softly. “Newhaven already lost its queen... Don’t kill him tonight.”
Jake growled under his breath, flinching as though he wanted to look at Crys, but not letting Rick out of his sight as he felt his anger subside just a bit at Crys’ request. “You... Will not... Touch her.” He whispered, softly enough so that Crys wouldn’t hear it as he stood up straight and stepped away, standing between the fallen man and Crys as he turned to face her and put one arm around her protectively; leading her into the crowd as fast as possible away from Rick.

The setting changes from blackpond to Valcrest

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Jake Turner Character Portrait: Ella Page Character Portrait: Alexander

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The death of a Queen or King once stood for something. It was the end of an era. The end of an era of treachery, pain, agony was the ones most remembered. Then there were the golden eras of joy, wealth and posterity. The least common of the eras remembered were those consisting of normalcy. That was mostly what Ella would be forgotten for. No matter where she did end up going after death, there were no real changes made under her rule. Most scholars would probably say that her ideology was that if she did nothing to change the world, she could do nothing to screw it up. The real problem was inexperience. It was as if she was placed in the middle of a chess game without knowing the mechanics of the pieces. The relations between nobles, the country and their cities were like these mechanics. This was the reality of being someone who didn’t grow up in the environment that would have allowed her to learn these mechanics. It wasn’t her fault. If anything, it was her mother and father for creating these circumstances for her. How were they supposed to know what was to become of their daughter in the years to come. It was a simple mitigation—maybe an evasion.
“Wake up girly!”
Ella tried to open her eyes to see where the voice was coming from. At first, with a calm temperament, but quickly it changed to a franticly fruitless effort. She then tried to move her arms to see what was wrong with her eyes. Those weren’t working either. In fact, it was almost as if she didn’t even have any arms. This strange and surreal feeling followed through across her entire body… or lack thereof a body. Laughing echoed through the corridors of open space.
“Death couldn’t even experience this without killing herself. It wasn’t until Death’s son searched for immortality that this experience could be documented. When I heard about him showing up a couple years back at the siege of Newhaven, I decided that I could give it a try. From what I can tell, it seems like the process worked out pretty well.”
“What in the Hell…” Ella exclaimed.
“No, not hell. You know, it is surprising how well Death’s son was able to describe this place. ‘It is the void in which voids are created. Living within this void, one discovers that which not even the sprit can be found. Rather, it is the birthplace of empirical logic as we know it. It creates the supernatural in which the natural comes from. True darkness only lightens up when the spirit interferes…’ What a brilliant place.”
Ella didn’t understand what this voice was saying, all she could think was “Who are you?”
Somehow, Ella could tell that the voice was smiling. “I’m Lazurus, the new owner of your body. Only reason you’re here is because of the other life you possess. That marking on your hand was supposed to do it, but I messed that one up. Good thing too, because I don’t think I’d be here right now if I you didn’t have that extra life.”
“Extra life? What is this? Why do you seek immortality?”
“I don’t seek immortality,” Lazurus quickly said. “Immortality comes at a price. You lose your humanity when you seek immortality, much like the son of Death did. He was described as a demon in the last 200 years of his life. What I seek is much simpler. I just seek a life long enough to break down the constructs of society enough for anarchy to take over. How much easier could that be than doing so it as Queen?”
There was a moment where Ella didn’t know how to feel about this, but quickly, she started to figure it all out. Ella tried to be mad, but she couldn’t even do that. It was just like when she tried to move her hand; it was as if the emotion didn’t exist.
“Ah! Relax there Girly. Good to take note that you may have a hot temper. Now tell me more or face an eternity of excruciating pain.” Ella didn’t know where it came from, but a pain rang through her non-existent body as if she was being torn apart. It was worse than the pain she felt when she’d stabbed herself. There was no way that she was going to ever deal with that pain for the rest of her life… or whatever exactly she was feeling.
“Ok, I’ll tell you anything you want to know about me.” Ella screamed in a frantic huff.
She spoke for what felt like an eternity about herself. Any question that Lazurus had, she would answer. He waited until he got a profile big enough to be able to properly portray Ella. To her, this was a bigger defeat than her death was. Unable to emote about it, she went immediately to a thought that had been lingering on since she ‘woke up’. “What do you mean by my extra life?” She asked, but it seemed like Lazurus was gone.

The first thing that could have been noticed was that Ella’s wound had disappeared. The only thing that remained as a reminder was a scar. A scar right around where her pancreas would meet her stomach, just below her ribs. It was a pretty damaging spot to have a cut as it probably hit right through her renal artery. This would have been what caused her to bleed out so fast.
The next indicator was that her eyes started to flicker. It could be seen that her eyes were moving underneath her eyelids, but it grew into a full flutter of the eyelids, at which point, despite being slightly stiff, Ella rolled out of the arms of the person holding her and onto the floor. She slowly got onto her feet, ignoring any reaction she might have got from those around her. It was only moments after she got up that she looked at who was holding her. Mageria… We are going to have a problem with this. Lazurus thought to himself.
You sure are. Ella replied.

-----

To Rita, the whole night had become exactly what she pictured it would be. Although she didn’t have that good of a sense of time, she would guess that by this time, it was probably the earlier hours in the morning. If the sun hadn’t already risen, it would be rising in the next few hours.
For her, she wanted this whole thing to end. Maybe Lamya was telling the truth and maybe this guy she was fighting was actually who she said he was. Maybe this would be the beginning of a long needed reformation of Blackpond. The end of this fight may not only mark the end of a really shitty party, but it could also possibly mark the end of everything she was fighting to end. The idea was just too alluring to let it go.
Rita blocked, parried and dodged her way through a defensive technique that she believed would work to her advantage. She was going to tire out the man, who looked really warn out to begin with. He was a hardened fighter, but he couldn’t fight forever. It was easier to take the defensive than to be the aggressor. This technique didn’t seem to work this this man though. There was an issue here. An important detail in this man’s fighting style that seemed uncharacteristic of someone who looked as beat up as he did. He seemed to hesitate, which meant that he wasn’t using up his energy. Was that what he wanted her to think, that he was hesitating? It was likely that he was waiting for her to realize that and then try to take advantage of that.
In a book supposedly written by War, it said that war was deceptive.
Rita decided to take the risk. She went on the aggressive and right away, she knew that there wasn’t any deception. Two quick blows knocked him back with an unexpected surprise flowing over his face. She then cut his sword arm. He dropped his sword, but without hesitation, he tackled her. It was a gut reaction. He was on top of her and her sword slid across the floor. She didn’t have anything to defend herself but her body. She tried to throw a punch. It was ineffective as he just blocked it with his good arm and then placed his bad arm over her neck, pushing down with his bodyweight and blocking her windpipe. There was nothing she could do but flail her arms for a few seconds. It took all the energy that she had to focus and relax enough to flip Alexander off him. As she tried to get up, he grabbed at her ankle and she fell back on the floor, head smacking against the floor with an audible crack.
The world turned completely black for a moment. She could see nothing and there was a loud ringing in her ear, she even felt as though there was a lack of any smell. Quickly, her sight began to come back, but it was grey. When things were clear enough, she noticed that Alexander was on top of her again. This time, there was a dagger staring her right in the eyes. Despite her inability to think strait, her instinct to live kicked in. She grabbed onto his wrist as the dagger dropped down. With what strength she had remaining she tried her best to avoid the tip from cutting through her already damaged head.
The man shook his head and moved his mouth, but only an obscured mumble could be heard through the ringing. Her sight cleared up a little more as she started winning the fight for her life. Color started coming back and she started to feel the blood running out of her head from where she hit the floor so hard.
Finally, it was far enough away that she could expend energy somewhere else and not be afraid of losing control of this knife fight. She used her knee to kick into his crotch. It was enough to make the man keel over and drop the dagger. Rita grabbed the dagger and finished the job. One quick stab to the heart and then another and another. All until she was conscious enough to realize what she was doing.
It all suddenly started to feel like an outer body experience. As she was overlooking the battlefield and able to see things that she hadn’t seen before.
She then realized what she was actually seeing. For the entire time she had fought with Alexander from the moment that he knocked her to the ground and her head hit the floor until then, she was looking at the battle as if she was a third person. It was surprising to her that she actually missed the fact that she was seeing things from a different angle, but in the moment of a battle, any the distracted are the dead. Especially when it comes to such a struggle to hold onto one’s life.
Rita took a moment to watch herself from the outside. She could see the cut on her forehead. It looked pretty bad. Then she moved to look down at herself and Alexander from above. She wasn’t done her job yet. Rita would be able to examine this new point of view at a different time.
She looked down as she waded through the personal belongings of Alexander’s coat. In his coat pocket, there was a book. She moved her vision in to focus purely on the book. It took her a moment to adjust to this new view. She could no longer see herself, only her hands. Learning how to move parts of her body which she is not even connected to would be a challenge, especially when she couldn’t see her body. She fumbled with the book until she looked at the final page with writing in it. It was a journal. In the final page, it was Alexander’s last account. She read the entirety of that page to see exactly what his motives were. By the end, she made the shocking realization.
Her view moved out so she could no longer see the words on the pages. She was looking at herself. Her eyes whited out as if she were a drowned body. In that moment, looking at herself, she could describe her exact emotion, even if she was a complete outside observer. In one word, she would call it droopy. Every single wrinkle and line seemed to want to fall from her face in this unbelievable sadness. Then, behind her, she caught Lamya’s gaze and that frown tensed up into a scowl.
She moved her view so that she would get the perfect view of what she was about to do and then she turned around. “You bitch!” She yelled loud enough for the entire ballroom to hear her. She picked up her sword and walked right up to her. She didn’t get close enough to be able to use the sword on her, but she got close enough to say, “you knew,” without anyone hearing.
“What of it?” Lamya asked.
“You are so fucking lucky. You wasted my energy from that fight. You fucking knew.”
Rita just turned around, this time sword pointing directly at her intendie. Heyden. Pointing it directly at his throat, he could tell that his moments were numbered. A woman in her state was not to be reasoned with. She would do what she wanted. “Let me out!” She said.
“Bevel can do it for you m’lady.”
“Bevel, let me out!” She yelled again, running up to him and pointing the sword at his throat.
He didn’t say anything to her. He just smiled as if to say, “as you wish,” and then his eyes brightened. A swift gust of wind appeared out of nowhere. Quickly the pressure in the room grew and everything felt heavy. In the next moment, his eyes stopped, but the pressure continued, then with a whooshing noise, the high pressure air formed in a single point and literally cut through the ice and then through the metal door. It was an incredible sight. The natural light finally let itself into the room. The sun was beginning to rise.
Rita’s expression didn’t change in any of this time. It didn’t even falter as she plunged the blade slowly into Bevel’s windpipe. It was only enough that he would eventually choke to death. It was going to be slow and painful. None of the Conflict moved against her as she walked out the castle doors.

-----

Lamya let out a loud yell to the cheering crowd as they all walked out the door. “Be sure to give the guards at the doors your weapons before leaving. Valcrest needs protecting after all.”

-----

Simon had given up on the fighting that had been going on. Once Rita got involved, the use of the Conflict was no longer really needed. What concerned Simon more was the whereabouts of Luckas and Rick. First off, Rick wasn’t to be trusted around anyone, but neither was Luckas, from the little he was able to gather from him. With the situation in the room dying down as the doors opened to let people out, there was a quick calming of everyone’s mind in the room. Tension that was once there was gone… or fleeing the scene and it allowed Simon to work harder on the things that needed work.
Luckas was there somewhere. If he could concentrate enough, he would be able to find him through reading the outer limits of his mind. With Rick, it wouldn’t be that easy. With the change in his patterns, he would have to rediscover the things that made Rick’s mind tick. It was an arduous task, but one that needed doing. If he could actually see where Rick was in the room, it might make things easier.
Where is Rick? Simon asked through the channels for the Conflict. There was no response.
Frustrated, Rick stepped out towards the door himself. There was only going to be one way to find Rick, and that was to personally confront him where ever he found him. The sooner, the better because he was practically useless in the frame of mind that he was in at the moment. Simon needed to catch Rick before someone else, such as Luckas, caught him so he could do his best to allow Rick as normal a life as he could possibly give him with his corrective mind work.
Let’s see all the good we accomplished today. Lamya’s voice suddenly stirred to meet Simon’s thoughts.
The commander is gone, Rick’s gone insane, Ella’s dead, relations with the Wolfpack have probably been sullied and Rita has left. Another of the Conflict said.
And what of Lazurus? Another bellowed.
There was a moment of silence. No one was sure if Lazurus had managed to do his job, but then, an unexpected voice came through. What the hell is going on?
As you can hear, Lazurus’ voice echoed in the hollowness of Simon’s mind, with the voice of Ella speaking to you, I’ve managed to plant the seed.
Good. Now we have a choice that must be made. Lamya said.
Before the conversation could go on any further, Simon spoke up. What of Rick? Where has he gone?
That isn’t priority at this moment Simon. We are more concerned about our next target. Lamya replied.
Mageria or Crystal? Vorso spoke up, knowing that the job would be appointed to him and his team. Not sure. Both of them could get in the way of our accomplishing what needs accomplishing. I’ll sit on it for a couple of months. Let things pan out and see where things take me.
Simon scoffed, as no one else seems to care, I’ll be after Rick. Think of it as an attempt to preserve the chain of command.
The chain of— Vorso said before Simon cut all his communications off with the Conflict. This would be the last time that they would use Simon’s form of communication for a while.

-----

“The chain of command?” Vorso slyly remarked under his breath.
Vorso grabbed a glass from the table that hadn’t been ruined by the fighting. He took a sip from the glass so that there was exactly a third of the drink as there was in the glass before. He placed it back onto the table and then started walking off into the heart of the castle.
He knew that there was some truth to what Simon had just said. The Conflict’s chain of command was in shambles. Lamya was only first in command by title as she really did nothing that could be described as organized. This left Rick in charge of organizing things for the most part. Since he’d gone insane, he could no longer attend to his duties the way he was supposed to. Lazurus was an interesting story. The man who was alive, but dead at the same time. The second that he was done with Ella’s body or he could no longer control Ella’s body, he would himself be dead. That left only one person in the chain of command that was in his way of taking the role of active leader of the Shadow’s Conflict: Simon.
Vorso stopped when he reached a small dining room it wasn’t in any way lavish. It was more or less used by the slaves who had been commissioned to work for the King. It had a table and a couple of chairs. Only big enough to hold about six or seven people, five if one wanted to be comfortable. That was what made this room perfect for Vorso’s needs.
Four men walked into the room. The four men were the elemental users of the Conflict. The one’s that Vorso had power over.
“We will keep an eye on Mageria, but for now, we have more pressing matters. Simon needs to be eliminated.”

-----

Evin looked around the room. He wasn’t sure what had just happened. The woman who was just in the fight against the man who had instigated the biggest conflict in the ballroom was angry enough to force the party to end. On top of it all, the crowds were rushing to get out of the room as quickly as possible. Only about five people could fit through the doors at a time and with the crowds all bunching up right there, it could take minutes to actually get out of the castle. Evin decided instead to sit back.
If there was one thing that he knew for certain, he knew that Jake would also wish to sit back. Jake was observant and what better time to observe people than when they leave a place. Usually, people feel less like they’re being watched when they are leaving a place, or at least, that was how Evin always felt when he left places.
Evin was just about to speak aloud when he was interrupted. “Not quite the party that I was expecting, Evin.” Jen sarcastically remarked as she approached him.
“It might not have been, but it sure was my kind of party.” Evin said.
“You must be insane.”
“More unafraid.”
Jen laughed. “To me, they’re the same thing.”
“Fine then. Call me crazy, but then I’ll call you crazy for being unafraid of the blissfully ignorant life you’ve been living.” Evin retorted.
“It wasn’t by choice!”
“Are you afraid of it?”
Jen paused for a moment. The only reason Evin could imagine her doing so was to look for a witty comeback to what he’d just said. With a sigh of defeat she said, “fair enough.”
Evin looked into Jen’s eyes for a moment. The two crystalline spheres flashed in and out as her eyelids closed and opened. It was a special ballet. A ballet where only the truest of onlookers would know exactly what the performers were trying to say. Soon, the crystal grew even clearer and they sparkled leaving Evin in wonderment and then consciousness. “Don’t worry.” He wiped the tears away. “I know what I have to do to solve everything.”
“Will you ever be able to solve yourself?”
Evin scratched his head. “What do you mean?”
“I’ll never be able to settle down if you don’t settle down. The only way you will ever keep me safe is if you stop protecting me.”
“There’s no truth to that.”
“Just hold me, Evin.”
Evin did exactly that. He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close until they were united as one. Nothing could break that bond between them. Jen rested her head on his shoulder and she just let her emotions fly. All Evin knew to do was to rub her back and let her deal with the rest herself. Relations were never his strong suit.
“Jake. I know you’re there and I know that you want this to end just as much as I do.” Evin’s voice started to tremble. “He’s tried to hurt people we love and now he’s killed a queen. I’m going right to the camp after I’m through here.” Evin wasn’t finished, but he felt a cough coming.
He grabbed for the tissue he’d been using for his cough, which had been coming and going since he met up with Jen. Covering his mouth with the cloth, he let go. The pain from this cough was above a normal pain. He didn’t let anything show, but he sure didn’t like the feeling. When he uncovered his mouth, the cloth revealed something troubling. Blood. He looked at it for a moment, but then put it back into his pocket.
“It all ends in the next couple of days. Whether you are involved or not, Jake, it will end. If you join me, the odds will be better in our favor though.” Evin stopped talking. It was all he needed to say.
Evin stayed with Jen for as long as she needed. When she was done, he set off for the Wolf camp.

The setting changes from valcrest to Newhaven

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Crystal Rivers Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Ella Page Character Portrait: Sean Fletcher

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2 Days After the Ball
It was the first real day that Lazurus could get settled in. Everything on this day was unimportant. Everyone in the castle understood that Ella had been through a lot and that she needed rest. Lazurus, on the other hand, didn’t ever rest. He took this alone time as a chance to scower through Ella’s things. He wanted to get to know her just a little better. There was nothing too special in the room. It was a Rich blue color and kept a rather queen-ish theme that was expected from a queen. A couple of books on a shelf and a boat load of clothing in the closet. A chess set, a desk, a few notes from her secret, not-so-secret lover under her mattress. She was more or less a girl who was privileged, but not for her entire life so she didn’t exactly know what to do with those privileges. Any good royal would have an entire lifetime before being crowned to get to know this privilege. Ella didn’t have that luxury. It was really all that he could gather from the room.
You are a special kind of boring, Ella. Lazurus said.
What did you expect to find in my room? Unlike you scum, there are people who would actually be interested in knowing things about me. I don’t keep important things in my room. There’s a room only known the White Knights and the queen that is used for things like that. Ella replied.
Then tell me where—
Am I really pregnant? Ella asked.
Yeah. But what do you expect after fooling around like you did?
I was going to be a mother and you took that away from me!
You took it away from yourself, Ella. You are the one who was foolish enough to get yourself killed. I was just there to intervene. Lazurus said.
Ella took a moment. It was true, what he was saying to her. But she couldn’t help to be sort of excited. To be a mother… although, how would she ever be a mother if she was already dead. She couldn’t control her body. There was no way. She could only do stuff if Lazurus allowed her to. It was a depressing reality.
Although, Lazurus did seem surprised when she talked to him at the party. She obviously had some sort of control. Maybe there was a way that she could take control of Lazurus. If that was the case, she could live out the rest of her life normally. She could be the Queen. She could have her child and she could even marry Conrad. Things could be so much better!
I hope you go to hell. Ella said.
Lazurus didn’t say anything, but she knew that it bothered him.

Blackpond- 5 Days After the Ball
It was a struggle for Rita. Things had gone from bad to worse in Blackpond and she had to pick up the broken pieces and replace them with fresh new ones. The only way she could do it, however, was to use the broken pieces to make the new ones. It wasn’t her favorite of plans, but it was the best she had. The fact that she was disembodied seemed like nothing compared to the challenges that she had to face now.
She needed an army, and there was only one place where she could gather one large enough to take down the ruling of Blackpond with a single display of brute force, Blackpond’s favorite method of force.
It all started with a connection that she had made by making friends with some city guards who supported her cause. They spoke to those who ran the security in the dungeons and found out who could be trusted. Within only twelve hours of gathering the information she needed, she was looking towards the dastardly side of Blackpond’s crime syndicates. These were people who could be trusted far less, but with the fallacious promises of protection once Rita was in control of Blackpond, she gathered enough money to be used for a sizable bribe and a little more for extra measure. Sent out, the bribe allowed Rita passage through the dungeons without any trouble. It even gained her admittance into the underground city, where she was planning to go.
Rita literally saw no one on her way to the dungeon. No guards blocked her way or even made an appearance. She didn’t take any chances though. She brought twelve of the finest fighters that she could find to join her. Money could buy a person many things, but if there was one thing money could never buy, it was a guarantee. Standing at the door, she looked at her fighters and signaled them to stand down. She was going to go in alone. Maybe not the smartest thing, but again, a group of 13 Knightly-looking people walking into a room might have looked like a deathly cleansing waiting to happen. Going in alone was actually the safer approach, no matter how much others wanted to convince her otherwise.
She took the key from her belt and put it into the hole. Twisting it, it made a screeching sound, until finally, a click. She swung the door open and felt the stingy air breeze past her. It wasn’t like the first time she had visited. The air was actually fresh when she last visited. This was very different.
The bodies were everywhere. Not a single one more than a day past their expiration. It was a sea of bodies, not a single one of them living, but even in this horrific mess, something was wrong. When she was in the city the first time, it was a bustling ground that functioned better than its above ground counterpart was. It was a strange thing to her, seeing that most of these people were criminals. Now, at least a quarter of them were dead. The rest… missing.
“Lionel!” Rita shouted out to the door.
The door whooshed open with a gust a wind that flowed past Rita’s hair. Then she felt a stinging sensation through her body as she heard Lionel’s sword clang against the ground. Rita turned around to see a ghost. Lionel obviously had never fought in the war. There were no words for him to speak. He just walked forward. A face caught his eye. A breathy mumble escaped his mouth as he walked past Rita to see the face closer. When he got close enough, he confirmed what he knew was already true. He ran to the body and collapsed on top it.
Rita walked over slowly. She didn’t expect that he’d actually recognize a face in the crowd of faces in this underground city, but in Blackpond, everyone probably knew someone who ended up down here. She just stood beside him. He wasn’t crying, but he wasn’t happy.
Franklin spoke. “Her name was Yishka. She was my partner in my revolution. She was captured when we stormed the castle. I didn’t even know that this place existed.”
“It was a nice place to live in. Better than the shithole above. I’m sure she was actually quite content here.” There was a long pause between the two. “I doubt that there’ll be any, but have everyone search for survivors. I’m going to search around the rest of these dungeons and see if I can figure anything out.”
Rita took one more look at the bodies all around her and then she left the room. When she walked out, the 12 other warriors were waiting for an order. She just motioned them into the room with a wave of her hand and kept walking. She was sure that Lionel would do a fine job at relaying her orders and she wasn’t really in the mood for it. She ventured into other parts of the city that were far better known to her than this area. Her particular interest was in the room where Ella had been held all those years ago. If she was to find anyone from the underground city who was still alive, it would have been there.
She knew the path all too well. She heard all too much about the whole Ella ordeal from Lamya. It had to be the place she went. She walked into the next hall. It was more of a large room than a hall, but for some reason, it was called a hall. This is when she was caught off guard. The room was entirely dark. She knew this tactic all too well. It was exactly what they did when Mageria had come to take back Ella. They had a room completely blackened out by enlightenment. She was told this story so many times that she knew exactly where Jacy was hiding. Rita took her sword out and swung it towards the direction where Jacy should have been, but nothing connected. Instead, she was thrown for a loop. The room came to light and a face was right in front of her. Rita’s first reaction was to back away, but the owner of the face had already grabbed Rita by the neck and wouldn’t let go. Behind Rita, a sword poked her. There was no doubt that it was Jacy. The face in front of her: Lamya.
“Where’s the city?” Rita choked.
“Have you ever met a man named Lionel? He’s a nice guy. I decided to take him out on a date. Want to see?” Lamya let go of Rita and she felt the blade point direct her around. Behind her, a horror. A set made up of 12 dead bodies. Two chairs and a table with a candle and some food set atop it. A still living, but badly beaten Lionel sat in one of the chairs made from his dead comrade. The scariest part of it all was how Lionel seemed unwilling to struggle at all. He’d just given up. She hadn’t Lionel more than ten minutes before and it was as if he was just ready for death. What had happened to him?
Lamya walked up to the table. She reached over and under to the side that Rita couldn’t see. When she got up, she was holding a pitcher with a crimson liquid in it. She poured the liquid into a glass on the table. When the glass was about half full, she reached into the pitcher and grabbed a dark red clump from the bottom and plopped it into the glass, making it splash everywhere. She put the glass on the table and then cut the bonds that held Lionel. He didn’t even move an inch. He’d truly given up.
When Lamya was finished, she walked around the table to sit on her fleshy chair. “Go ahead, Lionel. Have a drink.”
That was the first moment that Rita saw Lionel feel emotion. His eyes widened and some color came back to his pallid face. He reached for the cup with a shaking arm and clasped onto it in the same way a crossbow would hold its arrows. He lifted it, but his shaking caused him to spill a small portion of the crimson liquid onto the ground. Slowly he brought it to his mouth. A little hint of contempt crossed over his face right before he put the cup against his mouth. He leaned his head back and gulped down the metallic liquid. Then came the clot. Before Lionel could even chew it so he could eat it, Lamya jumped across the table and placed her fingers over his nose. This forced him to swallow it whole, but it was too much. The clot didn’t make it past his windpipe and he started to choke.
“Oh little Lionel. Don’t do this to me. We were having a good time. Sure, we have our differences, and I know we fought earlier, but we can get through this. You don’t need to be angry anymore.” Finally, Lionel managed to pass it, but he didn’t look good. “Oh, thank the Twins!” Lamya kissed him passionately and he just fell to the floor, lifeless. Was the blood poisoned? What was the clot really? Rita couldn’t make proper sense of it all!
“You bitch!” Rita belted.
“Those were your best warriors, Rita? You’re going to have to do better than that. Jacy and I dealt with them all alone. Do you really want to go to the ends of hell with me? You see, the difference between the two of us is that in our limits. I don’t have them. You either stoop to my level or I’ll… well you can guess. I’ve already done in enough people you know to be able to prove a point… haven’t I. Now get out of here and come at me when you’re actually ready to put up a fight.”

6 Days After the Ball
The old Inn: it was exactly where Rita expected to find her. She had heard rumors over the week and a half after the party that she had stayed in town. It wasn't exactly Rita's business anymore to know why she was there, but if she could find out, it might be her best interest to make it her interest.
Rita cautiously walked up to the door. Knowing exactly what it was like to be in hiding, it was always in the hider's best interest to set up traps in their safe house in case an intruder wanted to poke around. To prevent any of these accidents, Rita treated it if she was visiting someone's house. She knocked.

"Are you sure there's enough room down here for this?" Nicholas asked, watching as Crys paced around the biggest room of the underground level of the Inn. "We need the smaller areas for storage, otherwise we could break the walls and open the space up."
"It'll be tight, but we'll manage. We need to at least store liquor in the other rooms, we can store other supplies upstairs, it'll work." She stated, smiling contently at the man. "It's not the best training area we've ever had, but it'll surely work."
"What about weapons?" Nicholas questioned, pacing around the basement himself.
"Patience, my friend... We have no allies to arm just yet. For what it's worth though, I'm working on it."
Nicholas chuckled a bit nervously. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to question you so much, I..."
"Its alright. If I'm putting you in charge of running the Inn it is your job to know these things and it's your right to question me." Crys reassured her fellow assassin with a small pat on the shoulder. "We're making great progress Nick, and the results will start showing soon, you'll see."
"I guess you're right, Crys. I'm just a bit anxious I guess... I know that once we're fully operational it's going to draw a lot of attention."
"Well, that's a part of it, I'm afraid." She whispered softly. "We'll be prepared when the time comes, I'm sure of it."
"Excuse me, Crys..." A voice called from the top of the stairs that led to the ground floor. "We... Uh... There's someone at the door."
Crys frowned slightly in confusion; the only people who knew they were there wouldn't be knocking on the door. "How odd. I suppose I should go check to see who it is."
Nicholas chuckled at her calm response. "Okay, so we've decided to make a training room down here, yes? I'll get to work on that."
"Yes, we've decided, I trust you to take care of it as you see fit. I'll be back as soon as I can." Crys replied to the man, starting to make her way to and up the staircase. The area of the bar was mostly functional and to Blackpond standards it was actually looking pretty fancy, but the front of the building, the exterior, was still the same as it had been since the Wolves left the city, they were very careful to not alert too many people of their presence just yet so this person was either very perceptive or simply knew enough about her to guess her whereabouts. Whichever the case, she wanted to know who this person was. That didn't mean she would simply open her door for a stranger. Instead she exited through a side door and walked her way to the person standing outside the establishment. "I recognize you, from the party. You were fighting not far from me on the dance floor." She stated casually. "We're not open for business yet."

Rita would have been caught off guard if it wasn't for her new perspective on life. Literally. She had her vision backed far enough away that she would be able to see the entire front of the Inn. She was even able to see at the side, where Crystal had stepped through her secret door. Regardless, she acted as surprised when Crystal spoke to her. She jumped a bit at the sound of the voice and turned to see her.
"I'm not here for a drink or a place to stay Miss Rivers." Rita went right to business. "The name's Rita, former commander of the Blackpond army and new found coordinator in the efforts that are now being made against the oppressive Blackpond leadership. I've come to speak about creating a symbiotic relationship between your people and mine. Even if you don't, there is a lot of information that your people will want to know if you are to want any success here and I'm willing to give it all up to you." Rita motioned for the door. "I'd like to speak with you more, but the streets have ears. In fact," Rita had her vision focused on a street adjacent to the one that they were on, "there are some informants to the Blackpond leadership that are well known to me who are closing in on our location very quickly. On my way here, I broke from their trail, but it seems that they are on the verge of finding me. If you want, turn me away, but know that you have nothing to lose from speaking to me."

Crys chuckled a bit under her breath at how direct the woman was, it was a rare thing nowadays to have someone state what they actually wanted instead of wasting time hiding behind false pretenses. Of course, she did know who Rita was, Jake had done a very thorough job of filling her in on all the details she might have missed of the ball, and he had already mentioned the woman to her when he told her of his time in the city dungeons. "Alright." She agreed, opening the door to the Inn and motioning for Rita to enter, following after her and closing the door after herself. "Please call me Crys, Rita. Now I'd offer you tea, but we don't really have any so I guess we might as well be more direct." She said, motioning for one of the few tables in the place the seemed to be clear of any messes, most of them were covered with random bits of wood and assorted tools as some of the men had been working on fixing or replacing some of the still broken furniture. The assassins present in the room immediately stopped what they were doing as they entered, but lingered around until Crys very discreetly indicated that she wanted them to leave. Once the room was empty except for herself and her guest, Crys continued. "I know the general rule is that one can never have too many allies, Rita, but I've gotten into the habit as of late of choosing mine with extreme care. So I hope you understand that the first thing I want to know before we go any further into this conversation is how you expect a possible relationship between my people and yours to be beneficial to your cause. As you can see we're not exactly functional in any way at this point. My entire group consists of no more than 75 assassins, most of which lack proper experience, and our presence in this city consists of only a fraction of those assassins. I don't question for a second the amount of aid you could provide us, but I wonder why you would bother to offer."

Next to Blackpond Castle, the Inn was one of the nicest places in Blackpond. Everything in the room spoke of wealth and that was something that very few people in Blackpond had. Even the richest of those in Blackpond most likely couldn't afford a place with such a nice interior. It still obviously had some work to do, but it didn't matter. She would be coming to this Inn all the time now that she knew how nice it was.
"I met your mother once. It was a brief encounter, probably several years before you were born. She assassinated my husband, who was on Blackpond's council just before the dissolution of council into the true monarchy that Blackpond has now.
Not long after his death, I was approached by a member of the Wolf Hunters. His name was Sebastian Rivers. I accepted his offer. For several years, I was taught how to fight assassins. It is in itself far different from fighting an army. One of the most common of tactics was creating the false contract. You'd hire an assassin for a contract that doesn't exist. It is all a trap and you'd ambush the assassin. Those less experienced assassins who would come with a partner were a little more difficult, but it was still an applicable strategy."
Reaching into the breast of her loose fitting epaulette, she grabbed a small bottle with a dirty-gold liquid from the neck between two fingers. In between the adjacent fingers, she pulled out two shot glasses. She placed them all onto the table and uncorked the bottle. Pouring equal amounts into the glasses, she looked up at Crystal. "I prefer alchohol over tea." She smiled. "If you want it, it is there, but no pressure." She winked and then took her shot.
"Anyways..." She poured herself another shot and continued with her story. "... the month before the death of the Wolf Hunters, I was told of a planned attack directly on the Wolfpack. I was no strategist at the time, but I saw it for what it was and what it was was a death wish. I told them that they should stick to old tactics, but they were greedy. The Wolfpack was at a low point in their history so they thought they could act greedy. I didn't want to be a part of it. I left and decided to join the Blackpond army. There were better ways to make a difference in the world." She took another shot and filled the glass again. She didn't know if she was going to take her next shot, but she thought she might as well pour it anyways. "I know how to kill an assassin, but I don't know how to fight a war against assassins. You'd be far more capable of that than I am. If not for anything else, I want you for your experience. Your mother, she ruined my life, but she turned out to be a good leader and I know that Sebastian was a good leader too, from personal experience. As a Rivers, I expect no less from you. I believe we have intersecting goals. That is why I've come to you."

Crys listened to Rita in silence, the expression on her face showing a mix of surprise and curiosity towards the fact this woman knew so much of her parents; she wasn't expecting to hear any of that and it caught her a bit off guard. Once Rita was finished speaking, Crys reached out to the shot glass that was placed before her on the table, casually sniffing its contents before drinking and placing the empty glass back on the table. "I see." She spoke softly, making a long pause as she went into a moment of thinking, her fingers lightly tapping the surface of the wooden table. "I can't say I've come here with the exact purpose of waging war, but I won't deny you any help should you need it. I don't know how much help I can provide however, the way these people operate is unlike anything I have ever seen in my life time. I don't fear them, but I'm not too proud to admit that they have bested me and I still have no idea how they did it. My purpose here, for the moment, is to learn what I can and then make an informed decision on whether a war is necessary. As you know all too well, every war, no matter how small, always brings casualties and I'd like to avoid those as much as possible." Leaning back in her seat, Crys fell into a another small moment of silence, a small smile crossing her features. It was funny how she always found herself having these conversations; first with Theron, who had his father killed by the Pack, then Mageria who lost her entire family by the hands of the clan, and now Rita whose husband had been taken out by her mother. "So, Rita, if you don't mind me asking... Who was the man you killed at the party?"

When Crystal asked her question, Rita instantly grabbed her shot glass and took a sip. She didn't want it necessarily as much as she needed it at that moment. She didn't pour another for herself though. That was going to be it. She could already feel the buzz from the other shots she took. Anymore and she was afraid she'd go past her tipping point. She did, however, pour another for Crystal if she wanted it.
"The man I killed. Well..." She was lost for words, but then she remembered something. She reached into her jacket one more time and pulled out a book. "I think this book can explain it better than I can." She handed Crystal the book and allowed her to scan through it. "Your answer will be on the second last page with writing in it. Turns out the Royals of the cities, even the really old cities passed around this diary of sorts between each other. From what I can tell, Ella was the one who broke with tradition and gave it to a non-royal. Namely, Sean. Since then, it’s been passed on to more non-royals and finally to me. You might as well take it and write something in it too. You seem important enough." Rita winked again. "Since we are playing the question game, I guess it’s my turn. If waging war isn't your main focus, what is? Is there something I can do to help. I have a sizable and fairly well trained force at my disposal, including Sean's little protégé girl, Ari. I also have a fair amount of intel that you'll need to know, both about the assassins and Blackpond. If you are going to stick your nose into such affairs, I can't stress enough how important this information will be to you."

Crys took the book that had been offered to her, holding it closed in her hand as she nodded, an amused smile crossing her features at Rita's question. "My main focus, my goal per se, is a pretty modest one really. I'm going to renovate this bar, open it up for business and keep it open. If that goes well I plan on doing the same with every shop and home in this neighborhood. Meanwhile, if there's anything else I can do to help the city, then of course I'll do it. If there's a war I'll gladly offer my assistance in fighting it, but right now I personally feel it's just as important to show that the damage that has been done to this city can still be undone." She shrugged casually, taking the refilled glass and drinking her second shot. "It may sound foolish I suppose, but I honestly don't see any point in what these so called assassin are doing aside from spreading chaos, so I believe the best course of action is to establish some sort of order from the
chaos they've created. So that is what I intend on doing, or rather I intend to encourage the people here to do. We're merely here to make sure they are not intimidated any further. Aside from that..." Crys sighed softly. "We've had word of certain people that have been operating in the city that we have been looking out for, these people are said to be involved in child kidnapping slavery, prostitution, and many other things that simply do not go well with me and my people. We are hunting for them. If in the future you or any under your command hear of any occurrences of that sort, I would like to be informed as soon as possible; some of my people have rather personal reasons to be after these elements." Crys sighed softly, her fingers lightly tapping the cover of the book she held in her hands. "I'm sure Sean will be pleased to know his recruit is in good company." She mentioned, a bit of amusement clear in her tone. "And of course any information you have to give me, Rita, will be greatly appreciated; the more we know of our opponents the better. If there's something else you may need to know from me in return, don't be afraid to ask. For an assassin I have considerably little to hide at this point in time."

"Alright." Rita sighed and she began. "I know a lot, but what I should first discuss with you is what I know of the assassins who have taken rule over the city. The one you probably know the best is Rick. Rick seems to be the person who is in charge of most menial things in the Assassin's order, as well as taking full reigns over what goes on in Blackpond. He is rather arrogant and easily fixates of things. He is able to teleport where ever he wants. Lazurus is one of the ones who is more messed up if you ask me. He brings the dead back to life and you can tell by the way he likes. I haven't personally seen it, but he collects blood in jars. He doesn't need them for any enlightenment. I think he drinks it. Then we have Simon. Simon can't speak like we all do. He only speaks through thoughts. Because he's mute, he has an inflated sense of his telepathic abilities. Sandere is someone I don't know much about. He appears from time to time when one of the assassins has hurt themselves. He usually appears with a random Blackpond street kid as some sacrifice to heal people. That's all I really know. Then there is the four elemental users. I don't know their names and they don't really have any personalities for themselves. It is more or less what Vorso wants them to be. Vorso is the one in charge. He likes to keep in the shadows, but from what I know, he's the real enforcer of the group."
Rita took a moment and shook her head before she continued. "Then there is Lamya. For as much as I've been around Lamya, I can honestly say that I know nothing worth wild about her. She is the epitome of crazy. She only really appears if she wants something from you, but she never lets you know. She is manipulative in a way that she never lets you know what she wants you to do, but you somehow manage to do it anyways. Maybe its because she's not entirely sure what she wants either? I don't know. Stay away from her. If she starts speaking to you, run the other way. The only way to avoid her psychopathy is to avoid it all together. Good luck if you can manage."
"Now... there is also a matter that is far too pressing for me to ignore. There's a city underneath Blackpond. Filled with criminals. I went there to try to gather more supporters for my cause the other day, but they are all gone. The only thing that remains is about a quarter of the citizens in that city are lying down there, dead. I don't know what it is for exactly, but Lamya has an army that is far stronger than anything I'd be able to produce with all of those citizens and I have no idea where they went. Hundreds of people are nowhere to be found and I heard nothing about any odd activities from any of my sources. It worries me. If there is any questions, I'll do my best to answer."

Crys listened carefully to everything Rita had to say, registering every bit of relevant information for when she'd need it in the future. It was really nothing new to Crys what the woman had to say about Lamya and Rick, but she knew nothing of the others and she couldn't deny that it was valuable information to have. She didn't seem too shocked at what the woman told her of the underground prisoners; Jake had already told her about that as well, but the absence of the prisoners, nearly all of them at once, was somewhat concerning. "If you can't find them, odds are they're not in the city... And if they're not in this city there is only one other place where one is likely to take an army. Let's face it, there's little left to destroy around here anyway." She responded, heaving a long deep sigh. "What happened to the bodies of those people in the underground city?" She asked simply, not elaborating on why she wanted to know such a thing and moving on. "I'd advise you, Rita, if I were to give any advice, to consider the possibility of reaching out to the former Black Knights, I think they're calling themselves Ravens now. You've met one of them in the dungeons already; the man responsible for my mother's Death as you so kindly reminded him. Newhaven, as of late, has its own reasons to want these assassins gone as it seems that what has happened to their Queen during the ball fits the work of someone who can raise the dead... The Wolfpack would be more than willing to assist as well I'm sure, but I'm not sure I'd advise you to go to them; things have not been the same since I left, I'm afraid." Crys smirked at the last words, a very discreet trace of bitterness in her smile that lasted for only a fraction of a second. "I have to ask though, why are you still fighting for Blackpond? Are you actually fighting for Blackpond, or are you just fighting against these people?"

Rita looked at Crystal completely seriously. Her eyes were parted just enough that the pearly whites could only just be seen. She parted her lips for a moment, but only just slightly before she shut them again. What was she fighting for? "I fight for a belief, Crystal. What that belief is; I'm not really certain. What I am certain about is, no matter what that belief is, it is better than the shadow that has fallen over Valcrest."

Newhaven- 1 Week After the Ball
It was the first official council meeting since Ella had come back from the Ball. In fact, it was the only council meeting that the councilmen had told Ella of. The council had things to talk about in terms of the troubles that had occurred in the week after Ella's arrival. Mageria no longer seemed to support her at all. It made everyone wonder what had happened at that party. Some councilmen were even at the party, but not a single one could really figure out what happened.
"Shall we kick things off?" Ella Quickly asked.
"The first issue is rather pressing. A large number of citizens of Blackpond are sitting outside the gates. They've all claimed that they see the war that is about to break of out Blackpond and..."
"Let them in." Ella interrupted.
"But my Queen, there is not enough room in the city."
"Then we'll make room. Mr. Bennett, I want immediate action on the construction of the West end of Newhaven. And by immediate, I mean now. Tell the guards to start letting people in too."

"No."
Mageria's voice was quiet, but carried clearly. She stepped forwards, her eyes glittering strangely in the light. She was dressed in her uniform of Captain of the Black Guard, but she still wore the coat that was decorated with the pattern of Raven's feathers. No more than half of the old Guard had returned, choosing instead to stay out in the woods. It was said that they were still intensely loyal to her, and her alone.
Mageria walked forwards, her hands clasped behind her, carefully placing one foot in front of the other. Anybody looking at her could see that she was armed to the teeth. Now that was her privilege and duty, to always be armed. But she seemed to carry herself differently now, not as if she was on guard, but as if she was ready to attack. As she walked carefully along the table, the light coming in the windows highlighted the sudden presence of stark white in her hair, as if it was frosted touched. It also highlighted the new hollows under her cheekbones. Mageria was a woman being driven to the limit of her strength and it showed. For a moment she wavered, her strength of will failing her. Could she do this? Then she drew a deep breath, steeling herself. She knew what she had to do.
"The purpose of the Black Guard, is to protect Newhaven against any threat, by any means. Today, it is my duty to carry this out." She stood tall and grim, eyes black as night. "With great responsibility, comes great power. At any time, if both Captains are in agreement, they can call for the abdication of the ruler of Newhaven." From the shadows opposite her, Thomas also stepped out, an equally grim alabaster statue. And if the puppet before you was real, that is what we would do. But not today." Mageria drew a deep breath, her voice ringing out. "The Queen is dead and an imposter sits on the throne of Newhaven!"

-----------

Outside the window, Sham had been waiting for the entire morning. She had hidden herself away on Mageria's orders, waiting for the proper moment. Mageria didn't really believe that she could talk any sense into anybody, but she thought she could make a good distraction.

"Keep going Bennett. Don't worry about anyone getting in your way. Conrad and the city guard have an obligation to the Queen to carry out their duties. So do the White Knights but for reasons that aren't entirely understandable to me, the White Knights can no longer be trusted." She nodded to another dark corner of the room where Conrad walked out of. His sword was drawn and as he walked passed Thomas, he bumped his shoulder.
"This is a military coup." Ella said calmly replied to Mageria and her White Knight counterpart. "I'm a reasonable woman Mageria, but there comes a point where enough is enough. It surprises me that when my father was killed and replaced by an impostor that you were completely incapable of doing your job to protect Newhaven. If you did your job then, maybe Blackpond would have fallen by now!"It was obvious to everyone in the room how angry Ella was getting. It was uncharacteristic of her, but not necessarily uncharacteristic of a pregnant woman so it didn't seem out of place. "Now." She paused again, throwing her hand up to the top of the table and stabbing a dagger into the wood. "Mageria... if you are actually serious about kicking me off this throne then do it. Otherwise, get the hell out of my council room."

"I failed once. When the King died. I failed again. When Ella died. I will not fail again."
Mageria smiled thinly, like a knife slash. "False Queen, I would be glad to leave, forever if you like. So long as you agree to stand before the White Shadows, before their mind readers, and have them state that you are who you seem."

Ella stopped, not speaking for several moments. For a painfully long five minutes every eye in the council room stared at her while he tried to put things into perspective. "The White Shadows have proven to be an extremely bias group in the past couple of years. They have been very clearly and very secretively been taking sides in this war over the past years. I can trust them as well as I can trust a Black Traitor's mouth." Ella stood up, staring daggers at Mageria. Lazurus knew that Mageria had won this battle, but he still intended on winning the war.
When Ella had gotten up, the entire room bowed. (This is an OOC note. If you intend on having Mageria bow, I would like to mention it here, but I will wait for a PM from you confirming that before I add it into the text) She waved them all off and people stood back up. Then she looked at Mageira again. "Come now Mageria. These accusations have gone too far. Let the coup begin already. Otherwise you are wasting my your time, my time and the council's time."

Mageria stood straight, refusing to bow before one who didn't deserve it. "The Black Knights are traitors. The White Knights are traitors as well. Now the White Shadows are biased and you stand ready to throw the gates of the city open to the huddled masses fleeing Blackpond in the hopes of a better life." She took a few slow steps forward, living shadow in a pool of light. "This is all very out of character; for the ruler of Newhaven, that we know so well. A change so very.... sudden. It is almost as if you seek to cut us off from everybody that we have trusted in the past." She smiled grimly. "The White Shadows are neutral to every conflict. They avoid the double dealing and back stabbing of the rest of Valcrest like the plague it is." Her voice suddenly rang like the clash of blade against blade. "You will stand before the White Shadows and be declared to be whom you claim or you shall be restrained in a secure location until you give birth. Those are your options."

"Since Lana's disappearance and afterwords, her death, the White Shadows have been less and less what they used to represent. Since Dani's death, this has been going on with the Wolfpack. My Brother's death marked the end of what Newhaven represented. and Blackpond's loss of their king has marked the end of what they represent. I would say something about the Black Knights too, but that would just be rude. Regardless, everything that Valcrest used to be has changed. Newhaven has always been on the forefront of change and I plan on making this change better, not only for Newhaven, but for Valcrest. A good start to that is letting the refugees in. It will bolster the already illustrious reputation of Newhaven." Ella snarly remarked.
She walked towards the nearest window. It looked down at the city in full view. It was a bright day and there was barely a cloud in the sky. It made seeing the hundreds of Blackpond refugees waiting at the gate more than visible. If she looked close enough, she would be able to see each individual head bobbing about. "Now," she said, still looking out the window, "there is the ultimatum that you've given me. Trust the White Shadows to be honest or trust you to run a city. The White Shadows don't help the Wolfpack anymore, from what I've heard. I don't know if I can trust--"
Down at the city gates, she could see that the refugees were starting to be let in. She turned around and looked at Mageria. "It looks like you'll have to restrain me."

Mageria sighed slightly. If that's the way you're going to play it, you murderous bastard....

Mageria whistled sharply. Sham, who had been hanging under the windowsill, burst into sharp action. She pushed off from the wall, turning and flipping so that she landed feet first inside the room. The miniature crossbow she held in one hand only held one bolt, but one bolt was all she needed. She took one step forwards and jammed the point into the chest of the False Queen. "Aye then, you'll be wanting not to make any sudden moves."
Around the room, there was a clatter as those who's alligence lay with the person they thought was the Queen drew their weapons and were disarmed by those who were loyal to Mageria and Thomas.

"That. Is. Enough." Mageria's voice was cold as the heart of winter.

Newhaven-1 Week 6 Days After the Ball
Luckas groaned slightly under his breath as he wandered the halls of the Newhaven Castle. He had decided at random to check things out before going back to the Ravens’ camp. He hadn’t been in the city in over a month, even less the castle, and he wondered if the place had changed from its previous dreadfully boring state. It didn’t seem like there was much difference to be honest. If anything the place had gotten even more boring without the children roaming the halls and the random visits of assassins and formerly deceased members of the military. As he started to think it was about time to give up and go home he caught a curious sight; about three or four men were guarding one single door as if all of the demons in hell would run loose in the castle if it happened to open. Luckas didn’t need as much as a second glance to recognize Black Guard when he saw it. Upon his approach the men immediately blocked his path and ordered him to turn away. Luckas stood, hesitantly for a moment or so. Usually this wouldn’t be enough to hold him back, but as of late he and the Captain had a silent agreement of sorts; as long he posed no threat to her people they wouldn’t mind him wandering in and out of camp. The terms were simple enough that there wasn’t ever a need to talk about it; it simply was. He didn’t like to admit it, but access to the encampment was really important to Luckas, and he’d rather not lose that little privilege he’d gained.
Smiling innocently he looked from one Guard to another and then tried to peek through the little barred window on the center of the door, but unable to see past the men. “Whaaat are you guys keeping in there?” Luke questioned, seeming quite curious and amused, even when the four guards stood menacingly blocking his path in silence. Luckas sighed. “Not feeling chatty, then? I getcha.” He chucked. “I’d be grumpy too if I had to stand here all day. I bet you guys are really tired, huh? I’m tired too you know, been traveling a while.” Luke sighed, faking a yawn, holding back a smirk as he saw one of the men mimic his gesture and discreetly yawn as well. “In fact, I am very, veeery, sleepy... I you are all sleepy too, right. So... Very... Sleeepy...” Luckas continued, his voice lowering to a near whisper, but somehow still getting through to the men, one or two of them starting to sway where they stood in a bit of a stupor. “Yes, if I was standing there all day I’d probably be thinking to myself ‘boy, I’d really love to close my eyes for a bit.’, why don’t you guys try that, just for a second, hm? Just for a little while... Close your eyes... Just for a second.... You know you want to...”
It worked. It was almost ridiculous how well it worked. One by one the men started to fall to the floor, slipping out of consciousness and into a deep slumber. “Well, that was easy...” Luckas mumbled, approaching the door and peeking into the room. What he saw inside caused him to snort in amusement. “Of course.” He muttered under his breath before raising his voice and addressing the person inside the cell. “Poor little Ella... Your family has such an annoying habit of getting captured and impersonated. I don’t know if that’s sad or hilarious, honestly.”

"Yes." Lazurus huffed. "Because Mageria is known for her impersonations."

Luckas snickered softly. "Captain has her talents, even I'm forced to admit that..." He said simply, shrugging at his own words. "...But personally, I know far better impersonators. Some of them so good at what they do that if they choose to take your place, your own mom won't know the difference... And given enough time you may even actually start believing they're for real and you're the fake. Some people would surely benefit from a lesson or two from such impersonators in my opinion. Too many amateurs out there getting murdered by wolves and locked up in jail cells... It's just awkward for everyone."

Lazurus laughed. It was a uncharacteristic laugh. "I'm not going to give you the satisfaction. I can tell you're one of those types of people. Those people who like to beat around the bush until they seem to figure things out unsuspectingly. How dreadfully boring is that!"
Lazurus looked at Luke dead in the eyes. For a moment, it was Lazurus' deadly glare, but a moment of desperation slipped into the eyes. Then intense anger and a moment's thought of self-harm. Then Lazurus continued. "You think what a handful of people who still trust Mageria believe. I don't know how you haven't been arrested yet. Martial Law is in effect out there. Must me a helluva sight. She's got a woman coming over--a Healer--to read my thoughts... you want to do me a favor?"

"I'm amused that you think you could possibly satisfy me in anyway." Luckas replied calmly, arching an eyebrow in a mildly curious expression. "I honestly don't understand why everyone feels the need to tell me what kind of person I am... Even if I don't know that for myself by now it's highly unlikely I'll take someone else's word on it. Just seems like a ridiculous waste of energy." He sighed softly. "I doubt anyone here could arrest me, if they could they would have long ago." Luckas leaned against the door with both hands, pressing his forehead against its surface for a moment as if in deep thought, before raising his head again and snickering. "Why would I want to do you favors? We don't know each other. And I don't do favors."

"Kid, in the end, it doesn't matter much what you think of yourself. It is what others think of you that really affect the way you live your life. Does it matter what Life thought of himself? No. It is what people think of him that lasts in our memories. Quit trying to be a clever. If you do me a favor, I'll let you talk to Ella without a fight."

"Come on, Life? That's stupidest possible comparison. Seriously, people need to really shut up about the Twins already. It's been thousands of years since they actually mattered for something other than people's need to create increasingly uninventive analogies." Luckas shook his head. "And if it's what others think of me that really matters maybe you all should be preaching to each other until you reach an understanding of what kind of person I am instead of annoying me with your opinions, since my thoughts on the subject are simply irrelevant; but again that would be an even greater waste of energy, so my point still stands. Truth of the matter though... Is that in the end nothing will matter... Because it will be the end." Luckas replied simply, shrugging once again. "But fine: Assuming I have any interest in speaking with Ella, and assuming I'd actually even consider you an obstacle; which I really don't. Pray tell... What the hell do you want?"

Lazurus just sat back--as that was all he could do--as he listened to Luke. He just proved his point. Luke thought that the Twins were a waste of time. That was all that mattered to him and therefore, it was all that mattered about the Twins. He wondered for a moment if Luke was smart enough to figure it out. He decided that he wasn't. "As someone who has never experienced 'the end', I feel that I'm under qualified to make claims of what it might be. I just use it as a reference point more than anything." Lazurus snorted. "Now will you kill a guard for me? That's all I ask of you."

"Hmm... I'm not really in a killing mood right now." Luckas stated simply. "Since you did me the kindness of not going on about how my opinions clearly prove your point in some way I really don't give a shit about, I'll make you a deal... I'll talk to Ella, whether you let me or not; I'm not asking permission, and if in the meantime someone happens to find me here, where I'm clearly not supposed to be... I'll take care of 'em. We'll leave it up to fate, or whatever other uninventive analogies you happen to believe in, whether you get your way or not. Yes?"

"We have a deal." Lazurus smiled a devilish smile.

"We'll see." Luckas stated, smiling back through the door and giving a slight glance at his surroundings before putting his focus on the imprisoned 'Queen' inside the cell. The scenery changing from the grey castle walls to an open grass field lit up in gold from a bright sun above, empty for miles and miles except for himself and Ella, no another living thing in sight; even less another person. Luckas had made sure to shut the necromancer off from the conversation, so he would not be able to hear or see anything other than what was happening in reality; which was Luckas standing in silence outside the door. Luke snorted and looked around with a frown in his expression, squinting some at the sudden brightness. "I wanted something outdoorsy, but I think I might have overdone it just a bit. I don't usually put much thought into these illusions, but I felt like giving it a shot." He spoke, walking around a bit in a wide circle as if testing to see how real the ground felt beneath his feet. "So, Little Ella... I'm a bit curious... What does death feel like? Does it hurt?"

Ella was taken by surprise. She had no idea what had just happened, but the face was familiar. She had the urge to reply despite the content of the question. She wasn't too happy about answering it though and it showed in her tone. "I don't know. I haven't really died, have I?"

"I think that it depends if you believe in afterlife. If you do, then you are technically already dead because you are no longer occupying a human body of your own. You are dead and so is the man in control of your body, although it doesn't seem like it to either of you. If you believe that after you die there's nothing because you simply cease to exist; body and soul, then you're alive because you haven't ceased to exist yet." Luckas shrugged. "You look pretty dead to me. So... Does it hurt?”

"I guess not then." Ella shirked. "How the hell did you even get into my head anyways?" Ella wasn't really sure about anything at the moment. It was all too much for her to really handle. She was experiencing the world again. She could feel the breeze and the grass under her feet. The sweet scent of the flowers wafted into her nose as she heard the wind through the grass. This man created this world for her to talk to her. She even had her own body. He could control the mind. Part of it was enlightenment, but after entering the mind, it comes down to skill. "Would you be able to help me?"

Luckas sighed softly, sitting in the grass with his legs crossed like a child, staring at Ella with amused interest. "Technically, I'm not in your head, Little Ella... I'm in his head... Without going into complex and boring explanations, at this point your mind exists as a voice in his head." He answered. "The only way I could possibly help you would be to kill your body. Then you, him and little Ella Jr, will all discover whether there is an afterlife or not after all. If you want, I can do that. Other than that, I don't think there's anything I can do to remedy your situation."

Ella wasn't satisfied with that answer. It wasn't what she needed. She needed to know that there was another way out. "NO!" She yelled! "I'm in control! I'm not just a voice in his head! That is my head that he is using!" Ella started to cry. It was an uncontrollable sobbing sound. The kind of crying that was in no way flattering on any human being. "He's not controlling me right now. He's even surprised that I can strike up conversations with him at my own whim! I need to know that there's another way! Please."

Luckas groaned a bit under his breath. He absolutely hated pleading, but he sat through it because he knew he could only really do this once. "There's a certain amount of power involved with being a voice in someone's head. I would know. And there's much that you can do to get back at him before you run out of time, if you put effort into it; but in the end... You can't really save yourself. You could have before it came to this, but now it's too late." He replied calmly. "Your heart stopped beating, Little Ella... You died. You just didn't cease to exist. Death, in a physical sense, is rather permanent. What keeps your body functioning right now, I imagine, is the necromancer's control, so if he goes your body stops functioning and vice-versa."

Ella tried her best to control her sobbing. She tensed her neck up and tried to set her breath. It wasn't perfect, but it was way better than before. "I can force him out of control of my body then? But I don't get it. Why can't I control my body afterwords? I heard something about a White Knight who harbored the body of the son of Death. How is this different?"

"A necromancer is someone who can control dead bodies, usually from the outside like someone controlling a string puppet.What this guy managed to do somehow is that, by giving up his own body, he is be able to control yours from the inside instead, like a hand puppet. So even though you breathe, your heart beats and every other part of your body is still functional, it's only functional due to his enlightenment. Since his original body has died, he depends on this body to exist, but since this body is technically not alive, without the necromancer's control it will shut down." Luckas explained, not really stopping to ask himself how he even knew all of this. He just did somehow. "It's different from the Son of Death only in because the Son of Death was a Demigod. His soul was able to endure certain periods of time without a body so he learned to jump from carrier body to another in order to technically live forever. Since his soul was not entirely human though, It was too much for a human body to bear for too long without changing in some horrific way. That is what happened to Sir Daniel. I've been in his mind, granted far more briefly than I've been in yours, and there was very little humanity still left in him. Captain did him a huge favor by slaying the Beast he became." Luckas stopped talking for a second, going into a moment of thought and remembering his brief encounter with the thing. After a while though he shook his head and continued speaking. "If you want to you can push him out, yes, but there is simply no way to bring your body back to life once you do."

Ella understood what Luke was saying all too well. If she wanted to get rid of Lazurus, she was going to have to give up her life. She wanted control. Was control of her body for a brief moment worth her death? If not, Lazurus might be able to live for far longer and she would never... no. She didn't want to think about it anymore.
"I think a lot of people misunderstand you. You don't exactly make a good impression on people and you have qualities that many would see as unredeamable. You really do have a sweet heart somewhere in all the black you wear." Ella said, but then her expression changed. She was no longer herself, not even in her mind. "Someone's coming." Said Lazurus through Ella's voice.

Wolf Camp- 1 Week, 6 Days After the Ball
Evin was sure that he wasn’t the only one who was having trouble sleeping. The entire camp was probably having trouble sleeping. Even the forest was in a state of unrest. The wolves, deep in the forest were howling nonstop. Things weren’t right.

Wolf Camp- 2 Weeks After the Ball
Tradition is very thread on which the fabric of society functions. Each generation uses it as their own personal crutch. They only know life through tradition and there is no other way in which society could ever function. But from generation, to generation, the newer generation always proves them wrong. Suddenly, one doesn’t need to be dipped into the water as a child to become enlightened. There is no correlation between water and enlightenment and the new generation proves it. That is what they said when they did it, at least. There’s no real way to test it though, so people just believed it.
This urge of the new generation to push away the traditions of the older generation had to do with an urge that each generation had. Each generation has an urge to be better than their parents. It was something that was undoubtedly similar among every generation that had ever existed. It was what made Sean do what he did and it was what compelled Evin to try to stop him at all costs. It is also what made him so rebellious against Dani, no matter how good a friend she was to him. In the end, the one tradition that never changed was the tradition of breaking tradition.
These were the thoughts that ran across Evin’s mind while he sat by the bonfire at the Wolf camp again. Last time he was there, some assassins were spending their time drinking away; breaking with tradition. Not unlike Evin probably would have done in his youth, but he valued the tradition of abstaining from drinking too much to have ever broken that tradition. It was just one of those things that may not have made much sense, but to have lived through a horrific attack on the Wolfpack in more than one occasion, he knew how detrimental such a gluttonous action could be.
Evin noticed something. A loud noise and then a change in the crowd. It was a shift in the atmosphere almost too subtle to be detected. Two Wolves made quite sudden and abrupt movements. An instant change of direction, nearly in unison was all that this movement was. This action, however, could easily be hidden by what Evin would call a ‘oh yeah!’ moment where they realized that there was something important in the camp that they had to do which was at the opposite direction of where they were going. This told Evin nothing other than they might have forgotten something, but it was when the rest of the assassins walking around camp took notice to them and started to walk just a slight bit slower and looked around in a way only an assassin looked in. Something was about to happen. It was Evin’s hope that this distraction, whatever it was, would be enough to make his move.
Evin sat up from the log he was on and grabbed the axe that was positioned next to it. Doing his best to look like the average worker that he was, he moved along the group of assassins as if he knew that there was nothing going on. If he made them aware that he understood such intricacies of the movements of assassins as a mere worker, he might have found himself in trouble. It was more of a testament to Evin’s skill that he could do what he did though.
As he made it past the crowds, he found himself in the almost strenuously familiar path. A path that he had traveled down more times than anyone could count, for both good and for bad reasons. This, by far was going to be for the worst of all reasons. He took his time walking down the path towards the Alpha’s cabin. Maybe it was his stupidity that didn’t make him rush or maybe it was the nerves. Not much of it mattered in the end because regardless, the only end Evin saw was one of absolutes. There was absolutely going to be an end to a war spanning three years between Sean and Evin. No matter how far it took him, it was absolutely going to end with an absolute. Nothing more, nothing less.
When Evin got close enough to see the cabin, the door opened. Before he could see who was at the door, he threw the axe towards the door, hitting the frame just beside where Sean’s head would be. It was just a warning. Evin wanted to at least start the fight on equal footing.
Evin quickly realized that the figure at the door was not the same height as the axe at all. The figure was slightly taller. Evin knew exactly who it was.
“Evin, I don’t have time for this! Let me through!” Franklin yelled from the door.
Evin’s reaction was nothing but what was to expected of Evin. Daggers were drawn quicker than a wolf’s bite and within moments, he was right in front of Franklin and it all came with a flash of the eyes. Franklin had a sabre with a very thick and heavy blade out and he quickly deflected that first shot.
“This isn’t a joke Evin!” Franklin barked out, but it was all in vain. Evin continued at him relentlessly. Never too hard to block, but also never too easy to dodge. Evin wanted to end this quickly. “Enough!” Franklin finally yelled. The shock of it all made Evin flinch, in which time Franklin disarmed Evin and grabbed him. Evin seemed petrified as Franklin took Evin’s shoulders and rolled onto his back, kicking Evin into the sturdy wood table inside the cabin. The force was so strong, but the table didn’t even move. It wasn’t that the table was nailed down to the floor, it was just so heavy.
Evin was disoriented. The actions happened so fast that he didn’t even have a moment to figure out what had just happened. Franklin was way past his prime, but he was still a fierce fighter and Evin knew that all too well. In all his confusion, Evin still made sure that Franklin couldn’t escape him. Evin saw, through a blur, Franklin leaving. Franklin seemed only to take three steps before Evin could feel the tug on his hand, then a thud. Franklin was on the floor. Evin dragged the thin line holding Franklin until he was inside the cabin too. The whole time, Franklin tried desperately to untie the rope.
The two of them stood up seemingly equal; without weapons. Where Franklin’s weapon had gone seemed a mystery to both. Evin still couldn’t see the room straight. The room was a set of gears in motion which distorted Evin’s vision in several spinning circlets. This distorted vision made it hard to tell if the pull he felt next was his disorientation or something else.
Turns out it was something else. Franklin had grabbed the wire that was attached to him and pulled Evin towards him. This made Evin snap back into reality. The time it took to do so was the time that Franklin had to completely eliminate the gap between the two. This was a mutual agreement between the assassins and they both knew it. They had bonded each other literally and figuratively with the wire. It was literally what connected them and figuratively, it was connected them to a death pact. As it was the only thing they both held, it was considered by both assassins to be their weapon; a shared weapon between foes. One of them was going to die by it.
The fight began in fantastic force. Evin was the first to make a strong move. It was a quick tug upwards. An attempt to see if he would lose his grip of the rope or not more than anything significant. Franklin, however, pulled down on the rope, which gave Evin the perfect opportunity to use the torque to his advantage. Franklin had the same idea and it just left them back at square one. Evin then leaned into the rope, causing tension between them. It wasn’t exactly enough so, he moved a step back, at which point, he could see Franklin losing position. Evin quickly gave himself some slack and Franklin stumbled backwards. Evin didn’t let Franklin get his footing though, he instead ran towards the stumbling man, but Franklin used the slack to his advantage, even as he was stumbled. Franklin let himself fall once Evin was close enough. He put his hand on the ground and then used his hand to slide himself on the ground, maneuvering right under Evin’s feet until he was behind him.
Evin saw this and knew exactly what was about to happen. Stopping himself from the momentum he’d created was more impossible. Instead, he did the best he could by planting his feet into the ground with as much force as he could. Almost at the exact time he was expecting it, the tug. It was a sudden grab at the bottom of his pants, right at the crotch from the rope that worked its way up until it reached his hand, at which point there was no longer any slack from the rope. The momentum had to go somewhere. Evin’s had was pulled along with the rope down between his legs. Soon enough the rest of his body followed as it turned inside-out on itself. Once he did a full flip, he landed flat on with a hard thump. By this point, it was too late for Evin to react. Franklin was now right behind him and he used the slack that Evin had created for him to wrap tightly around his neck. Evin had only the chance to catch his breath after the flip and it wasn’t a particularly good one. Not only was there that, but there was also a sharp object pointed directly at his spine.
Evin’s instant reaction was to try to catch his breath, but of course, there was nothing going in or out. His next reaction was to grab at his neck, but he didn’t allow himself to do that. He knew that if he made any movements that Franklin would kill him right there. Everything he did had to be subtle enough that an assassin wouldn’t be able to notice. His hand was something that he wouldn’t be able to see unless he was looking over his shoulder at him. That was something he had to his advantage, but there was little time. He had to be quick, but he couldn’t make anything obvious. As quickly as he could—but not in any panicked rush—he unravelled some of the rope in his hand, creating some more slack. Just as there was about enough slack to make his move, he started to feel an unusual sense of calm. He didn’t even want to do anything anymore. It was this feeling of complete complacent content; a euphoric escape to eternity unlike anything he had ever felt. Things went grey and a black slowly followed along until everything was black. Then a second black started to surround the first black. It was a darkness disembodied from any known darkness. It was truly the most fearful thing that he had ever seen in his lifetime. It was deaths dress covering him to bring him to the end…
…nothing….
…more nothing….
…a disembodied scream…
… as the color came back to him, the scream became less disembodied and more distant; somewhere in the camp. Again, Evin tried to breathe, but quickly, he remembered the predicament he was left in. With even less breath than before, he did his job with more fervour than before. With the slack on his side again, he was able to stretch himself forward and slightly to the left. With this time, Evin took the chance to breathe again. The dagger stabbed into his side instead of his spine. Then he stood, as the rope tightened onto him again. Now, however, there was far more free rope to play around with.
Evin turned around to face Franklin again. He was already trying to manipulate the rope, but Evin, still being choked by the rope kicked Franklin in the gut, pushing him back and jolting Evin towards him by the neck. Evin, however was prepared for this jolt. He gave himself a chance to manipulate the rope himself. Evin had the upper hand for this moment. He didn’t worry so much about the fact that he still couldn’t breathe at the moment and rather, focused on putting Franklin in the same predicament. But it wasn’t going to work. Evin saw it. He saw exactly what Franklin was going to do. He tried for subtly, but Evin knew Franklin’s work all too well. Evin let go out the rope and twisted himself out of his bonds just before Franklin tried to pull hind down. Franklin’s tug was a strong one and it gave him all the rope, including what was at the very end of it. Evin turned around and the dagger, still stuck in his back popped, out and flew right towards Franklin. Hitting him right in the chest, it knocked Franklin right over. Evin ran up towards him and punched the dagger further into Franklin’s chest.
“You always taught me how to fight with a rope, but you never once taught me to put a dagger at the end of the rope. You were a good mentor, but by the Twins, you are about as stubborn as Life himself.” Evin smiled at Franklin.
Franklin didn’t say anything. He was still up for a fight. But with the dagger in his chest, it was only a matter of time. Franklin tried to punch him, but Evin dodged it and grabbed his hand.
Franklin cringed and then sighed. “I knew that it was a matter of time. Perry was my best student. He was better than me before he even graduated. When you killed him those few years back, I knew that you were officially the best student that I ever graduated.” He coughed. “When I was appointed as the Beta, I knew I this was going to come, but I planned to make it different. As your mentor, I’d like to make one request.” Evin opened his mouth to ask what it was, but nothing came out. “Make my death a sceptical. The Wolfpack is already in frenzy. I was going to save her, but you got in my way. I know you aren’t only here for me and Sean. You are here to bring down the Wolfpack this time. And if not, you’re a liar!”

24 Years Ago
The training area for the Wolfpack was under renovation. There were improvements being made to it to make it better than it ever had been. To the unconventional, however, this construction zone was better than any fully functional training zone could be. The constantly changing, not fully finished conditions allowed for variables that a fully functioning are couldn’t give.
Evin flew through the area, dodging workers as he tried to get away from his follower. Evin saw his chance. A large tree had been cut and hollowed out. It was the perfect spot to hide away.
His attempt was to blend with the crowds. He grabbed hats and coats right off workers. He even managed to steal some tools. When he was well enough blended, he made a straight for the hollowed-out trunk. He reached up to get inside of it, but someone from inside grabbed his hand and yanked him up. With one swoop, Evin found himself inside the trunk and held up.
“Pretending to be someone you aren’t isn’t becoming.” The voice of Franklin said to Evin.
“I’m not pretending.”
“Then you’re lying.” He said starkly. “Quit hiding behind something you aren’t and stop running. Do you run away from your targets?” Evin shook his head, ‘no’. “Then why would you ever run from your killer?”
“He’s my killer!” Evin exclaimed.
“You fear Death? You can’t fear Death and dedicate your life to Death all in one. Why even train to be a killer if you fear to be killed? All you are is a liar.”

Present
The camp was back to normal. It was as if nothing had happened. People around the campfire told stories of both lore and what they ate for breakfast that day or how their sleeps were interrupted by the commotion from the wolves howls the previous night. Some workers were coming back with firewood, completely unaware of what had just happened. There were some other people walking by as if they didn’t know what had gone on. Evin knew they knew exactly what happened.
Evin and Franklin observed from the branch of a tree. While Evin was holding Franklin there under duress, Franklin didn’t try anything, like yell for help. He was rather complacent, given his situation. Around his neck a very thin wire tied as a noose. The two of them just looked at the camp. It was the last time that the camp would ever be like this. Today, it was either Evin or Sean. Either way, the camp was going to fall to shambles after. He knew that and Franklin knew that. Evin hid his feelings towards it all well, but Franklin knew. Evin could just feel it. Franklin knew.
“Evin,” Franklin interrupted the silence. “I believe in the Wolfpack. I don’t necessarily believe that it is in the right place right now. That doesn’t mean, however, that I thought everything was in the right place when Dani ran things either. One day it may find its roots again, but I don’t think we’ll ever see that. It will be long after our death. It can only get worse before it gets better. Are you sure that you’re ready to see what will happen to the Wolfpack after this?” Evin nodded, ‘yes’. “I know I’m not. Let’s just get this over with.”
Evin fell silent. The features of his face well defined by the shadows created by the lines he had created. He didn’t want to do this, but it was going to be done. He had to uphold himself to the same standard he had before or he was just a fraud. Franklin himself would agree.
With one movement, Evin pushed Franklin from the branch and jumped off the tree. He only knew something was wrong when his feet didn’t hit the ground. In fact, they did exactly the opposite. Still in air, his legs swept up from under him and he found himself hanging upside down by his legs. Then his back hit something. Franklin’s dead body whacked him with a force of dead weight that felt almost like being hit head on by a house. Then, the cool sting of metal against his neck. The assassins were quick to react. Three blades were right against his neck by three different assassins. Then two other assassins stood there with blades drawn, but backed away in case Evin tried anything funny.
“That bastard.” Evin chuckled under his breath, but he knew the rest could probably hear him. Franklin had managed to tie the wire around Evin’s leg while he was distracted by the goings on around the camp. When he pushed Franklin off and jumped down, Franklin’s weight was used as an anchor to keep Evin suspended in air with him. It was such a brilliant way to win a fight, even after death.
The assassins had been talking, but Evin had been distracted. “… no! He is Sean’s to deal with.”
“We’ve got him here. Let’s have some fun. Grab some sticks and we can get started.”

Two Hours Later
Evin took off his shoes and rolled his pants up to his knees. For some reason he had the urge to walk into the icy waters of the lake. The numbing pain surged through his body, giving him chills up and down his spine when the icy water contacted his toes. He didn't worry much about Sean behind him, even though he was in no condition to fight, he knew Sean wouldn’t attempt to strike him. There was so much to be expected from this place, yet it was sort of a letdown. Evin tried to stretch out his arms wide as if he was ready for a big hug, like he would do in his happier moments when he was alone by the lake back in his glory days. This only caused Evin to let out a deathly grunt. Hunching in defeat, he let the blood sink from his mouth, into the lake.
"You know," he said, slowly turning around, "there was a time where it was so refreshing to go down by this lake. I could really find a deep place to meditate and I'd always feel ten times better after spending time here. Now there is something different. I can't explain it."
He coughed and took his feet out of the frigid water, drying them off as best he could with the bloodied sleeve of his coat. He unrolled his pants and put his shoes back on. He covered his mouth with the same sleeve and coughed a few more times before continuing. "You know what's really funny? This entire time, we've been at war with each other. I focused so much on Heart while you focused more or less on Mind, but neither Heart nor Mind can find wisdom. Mind is too focused on information to ever think about knowledge and Heart too focused on passion and love. If I can't find wisdom from this damn lake anymore, where will I find it? Without this wisdom, I can't find a reason not to continue to fight. We—no everyone—everyone is a damn fool in this conflict. Wisdom is just another shadow that can be forgotten in this fucked up conflict we created and for that, one of us will eventually have to die. If the other ever wants to find real wisdom, that is what needs to be done."

Sean stood silent, leaning into the trunk of a tree as he watched Evin go into the lake. His expression was stripped of any distinguishable emotion as he stared at the man, there was no room left within his eyes not even for the usual rage and contempt at this point, only an emotionless void. He remained silent as Evin spoke, only responding with a weary sigh as the man turned to face him, but eventually breaking his silence, his voice soft as though it took him effort to raise his tone above a whisper. “Wisdom... Is that actually supposed to mean something, Bana? I doubt there’s any real wisdom left to be found in this Land... 'Wisdom’ is just another word we use to make our crap justifiable; or rather the lack of it, but can we really lack something we never truly had? No, I don’t think so. You can’t find a reason to stop fighting because you don’t want one. People like you, like me, it’s what we do; we fight, because if we don't then what else is there? No amount of wisdom could ever change that. At least I never fooled myself into thinking Death would bring me anything other than itself. I think that’s something you never understood about me. That’s why, last time we spoke, you couldn't figure out my motives... I wanted revenge, yes, but I never expected it to bring me anything, I never hoped it would make me better... I wanted it because, in my opinion, it was fair. Not even actual justice can change the past though... Neither can wisdom. I've made my peace with that early in life.”

Evin put his hands in his pockets and allowed his slouch to take over. Leaning into his slouch, he let his head lower to even things out causing his uncouth hair act as a drape for his eyes. Evin couldn't see Sean and so the opposite seemed only to be a fair assumption. He was pretty heedless in listening to Sean, only really taking time to catch the main idea of what he was saying. "Stupid." Evin whispered. "Fucking stupid." He wiped his face and looked up.
"Are you telling me that you killed Crystal for no reason other than your own satisfaction? I always said it Sean Fletcher, but I will never mean it more than I mean it today. You are crazy. Did you ever feel remorse for the people you assassinated? Did you feel remorse when you thought you'd killed Crystal?"
Evin sat himself down on the cold and damp forest floor. The snow was all nearly gone with an exception or two where tree cover would protect some patches of the earth from the some more than others. Placing his head just on the line that marked the top of his head and his forehead, he sat there, slouching more than ever with his pointy elbows seeming to penetrate his crossed legs. His hands clenched tightly around causing his hair to fall victim to the sudden pull. He looked up again, this time everything about him said he was fighting back anger. "With me here, as vulnerable as I am, why haven't you done it yet? Why haven't you killed me?"

Sean heaved a weary sigh as he listened to Evin, a trace of a chuckle escaping under his breath, although completely unamused. "No, Bana. That's the opposite of what I said actually. I've tried to kill Crys knowing it wouldn't bring me peace, or enjoyment, but because I felt her life was as important to Dani as Theron's death was to me... So at the time it seemed only fair to take it away. In a moment of anger I may have felt some level of satisfaction in watching her suffer, I won’t deny that, but once it seemed as though it was over... It really brought me no enjoyment.”
Going silent for a few moments, Sean slid his back down the tree trunk he’d been leaning against, crouching as if meaning to place himself in Evin’s eye level, as though he was addressing a small child. “If I was still the same spiteful boy I was three years ago, Bana, you’d be dead for sure right now. If I still cared to hurt Crys... Then maybe that would matter... As is though; your life has never mattered less to me than it does right now. Beside... If my life these past years has taught me anything, is that dying for some things is not nearly as painful as living with them.”

Evin couldn't agree more with what Sean had said. Death was an escape from Life. "Three and a half years ago I promised you hell. You said I couldn't do it, that I didn't know what hell was to you, but I promised myself that I'd find out." Evin tried to laugh, but it only came out as a hampered and depressing cough. "I think I figured out what hell is to you now. Wanna know how that makes me feel?" He waited for the response that wasn't coming. "Like hell!" Evin final answered in Sean's absence.

“Hell is filled with good intentions.” Sean muttered darkly, his hazel eyes staring at Evin as though he was transparent and Sean could see right past him. “You want to know something funny, Bana?” He asked, simply moving on without expecting any answers; his tone nowhere near amused. “Dani was the only one who knew what I wanted to do... She figured me out as soon as the thought crossed my mind for the first time, but you can’t really punish someone for their thoughts, right? So she simply told me to reconsider, she said I should think of the path I was about to take, that once you let hate rule your every decision you’ll eventually become what you hate. I see that now... True enlightenment, it seems, always comes just a moment too late, doesn’t it?”

Evin found himself stuck like a fly to honey paper. Lost for words and unable to even open his mouth. He nodded, but then shook his head before he finally said something. "Are your intentions really good though?" Evin completely ignored the rest of what Sean said. "I'm Sebastian and you are Dani at this moment. You can choose to kill me now or you can forgive me and I can possibly continue to terrorize the Wolfpack."
He lifted himself off the ground in a haggard way and stood, still slouched over at them. He lifted his arms to his side and then quickly let them go limp and cocked his head forward. "You think enlightenment comes too late and maybe that's true, but it is never too late to start searching for it." Evin walked towards Sean and wretched the messiest weapon that he had on him from his coat. He dropped it on the ground in front of them. "Do it now or drown your sorrows much like you've done to the Wolfpack."

“Good is a relative term, Bana... Lena once told me that she believed no man truly chooses evil, rather they mistake it for happiness.” Sean replied simply. “For the purpose of this conversation, however, it’s a lot easier to say that the nature of my intentions doesn’t really matter. I’ll save my explanations for someone who may actually care to hear them, if you don’t mind.” Sean stood slowly, still leaning against the tree trunk as though it was the only thing keeping him on his feet. Evin’s next words causing him to shake his head all the while he spoke as though simply being forced to hear them was an insult. “You’re always trying to end things on your terms, aren’t you? Last time we spoke you gave me two choices basically, I should challenge you or you would give me hell... Now you’re giving me two choices again, but the difference this time, Evin, is that you are in no position to do so. I’m not giving you death nor am I giving you forgiveness, because the way I see it you don’t deserve either one. So now I’m giving you two choices Bana, you can find a way to drag your pathetic carcass to where Crys can hear you and tell her to meet me here in four weeks’ time to settle this in a fair fight, or you can sit on your ass and die of your injuries right here. I don’t care which one you choose, all I know is that my little sister died today, and I sure as hell won’t allow her death to be forgotten, brushed aside, or shadowed by the end of your pathetic life.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Thomas Sidin Character Portrait: Lamya

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The canopy of the wood completely blocked the sun from reaching the floor. It was a place that was constantly in a state of night time, which reflected itself in the way the wildlife had grown. There wasn't much foliage and that which did exist used their vines to climb the tree trunks and reach the light. Other plants worked in an opposite way. They would root themselves at the top of trees so they could take advantage of the sun's light. These plants would then create bioluminecient vines that would hang from the canopy—the only constant source of light in these woods—that created the appearance of low lit chandeliers. These vines, which glowed in a low blue light were used to attract incests which appeared to get stuck to the vine's fine hairs if they got too close. Other sources of wildlife were scarce in these woods. They did exist, but the woods didn't produce ideal conditions for any large animal to live in. The one animal that seemed to exist in abundance were birds, which ate the fruit produced by the vines.
Because of its almost surreal appearance, many people avoided it. Most people in general didn't have much reason to even travel near the woods. It was a small area across the waters east on Newhaven. It wasn't even on most maps as many people didn't actually know of the woods, but historically, they were famous.
In the final couple of decades of the Twins' life on Valcrest, many people feared what would happen when they were actually gone. In preparation for the separation, many people looked to the Twins to fix as many problems as they could before hey were gone forever. The Twins, however, couldn't handle so many requests and isolated themselves completely from the people to live their last days harmoniously. Each of them found their own place to hide away. It was believed that Moon found herself these woods to hide in. Only the oldest of histories had maps that actually placed this kilometre stretch of woodlands on them.
The Moon's Woods was the place that Simon found himself residing in the past two months. It was a fair distance from his target, but it allowed himself a safe haven from anyone else who may have been looking for him. It was his continuing effort to track Rick down and figure out exactly what he was up to.
It was finally time to leave the woods however. He had settled down for long enough and it was time to actually take some action. It seemed like Rick was about to take action of his own. There was that and then there was Ella, who was due to give birth any time now. He wanted to be as close to the political world of Newhaven as possible to be able to place Lazurus in a political advantage. He hadn't exactly followed the politics of Newhaven too much in the past couple of months as he slowly isolated himself from the rest of the world, but he knew that with all of the recent corruption and the civil war, a possibility of a coup d'etat was more than realistic as long as he could get his opinion out there. Technically, Ella was still a living member of House Page.
It had been a while since Simon had attempted his powers. He was getting rusty so it would seem and with all this enlightenent scare, he was worried that he was experiencing it too. With some people symptoms weren't as sever, but they seemed to die just as quick as all the others had so far. Simon didn't spend much time worrying of the unavoidable. He had no control over it, but he did have control over Rick and the goings on in the political world of Newhaven. Simon was going to attempt it though. He had to. He needed to be in Newhaven as quickly as possible and if he could use his powers to take advantage of a quicker way to Newhaven, he was going to go right ahead and do it.
Simon closed his eyes out of habit and attempted to find the mind he was looking for. It was a force of habit to close his eyes. Most of the time, when he was looking for a mind, he was able to tap into it without the need of anyone attacking him and closing his eyes allowed him to really focus on his task.
He was looking for a specific person. Someone he had contacted several times before with ease, but now that Rick's mind skating on the edge of crazy, he wasn't sure how easy it would actually be to find him now. On top of that, there was the illness, but again, Simon couldn't think about that.
It only took him about ten minutes to find Rick, but the moment he did, he didn't even bother to let him know that he was in his mind. He just compelled the insane man to follow Simon's will.
What Simon willed was rather clear. He wanted Rick to transport him from the woods to into the council room of Newhaven. What better way would there be to make a grand entrance than to just appear out of nowhere? And how would the council react? Simon didn't concern himself with that. He could escape if need be. The council wouldn't attack him on sight... but given the way that Newhaven was at the moment, any threat to to sovereignty of Newhaven would probably be an immediate risk to them.
Let's see how this goes.
And with that thought, Simon was able to compel Rick to transport him. In an instant, he was flashed from the dark woods to a dark corner of the council room. Somehow, Rick was sane enough to actually put him in a relatively safe spot. It allowed him to get over his initial nausea that was associated with Rick's enlightenment. The entire council wasn't there; only the important ones it seemed. That was all that mattered. Simon a justed himself to look presentable to the council and then took the first steps out of the shadows.
“His name is Rick.” One of the councillors said.
Simon stopped himself before anyone could see him. He crept back into the shadows very slowly and listened into the conversation.
The man who spoke was older in his years, but seemed sharp enough in his wit to be able to keep up with the rest of the council. “No last name.”
“Lowborn?” Another of the members said.
“Quite the opposite actually. He—”
“Then he's an assassin.”
“Not all assassins are Lowborn. I also wouldn't call a meeting about a Lowborn assassin. Now let me finish.” The gangly old man slowly took his seat around the table and out of sight from Simon as the man's chair was behind a pillar in the room. “The man who was found wandering the halls of the Black Knights' chambers was Rick, the King of Blackpond.”
The entire room became heavy. Many of the councillors looked around at each other, exchanging looks that would only be able to be interpreted by a person fluent in the nuances of Newhaven nobles. An entire conversation of subtle facial gestures made its way across the room. Maybe it was more than one conversation? Everyone member in the room that Simon could see helped in this conversation and made the heavy room even weightier.
“Then he isn't a Lowborn, he's of a Royal family!” The man blurted out again.
“Do you ever shut up? During our first session of torture, despite the fact that he was laughing the whole way through, he revealed to the torturer that he was not a member of the Gallach family through blood or marriage. He passed out before we could get many more answers out of him.”
One of the council members spoke up. A younger member of what seemed to be mostly senior members. “What could we do with this information?”
The room remained silent. No one, it seemed, had an answer. They all sat and stood there with the same dumbfounded expressions as they did before the blabber mouth had broke the tension before.
Simon himself was dumbfounded. Rick was roaming through the halls of the Black Knights. He understood why, but it just seemed reckless the way he went about it. A man who could teleport anywhere he desired could have just gone right into the exact room that he wanted. Why risk a hallway which would have likely be busy?
“Now is our chance to take claim on Blackpond. They are week.”
“So are we.” Pipped up Thomas. “And personally, taking care of Newhaven is work enough.”
“We should do what is right. There are still people who wear Gallach's crest. Rory had blood relatives still living. We could attempt to bring a rightful King back on Blackond's throne. We may even see an end to war if we could unite the two cities under a single fact.”
“What is that?”
“If we could show the people the weakening quality of royalty through war. Both Newhaven and Blackpond have seen false Kings in recent years.”
“And show the criminals that they could easily manipulate the royals if they continued to fund the war? It is already obvious that Newhaven is weak, we cannot afford to show the people how weak.” Thomas said, again.
“If we do help to place a Gallach on the throne, we may improve relations between Newhaven and Blackpond regardless.”
Another member spoke out. “We are jumping to conclusions here. We are assuming that the living members of the Gallach family know that Rory is a pretender without a proper claim. It is possible that we will just create new enemies if we go about with this option.”
Thomas stood from his place in the table to address everyone in the room. “We will adjourn to allow some time to think about it. Please look over the documents we discussed in that time and we will meet back in three hours to pick up where we left off. I'll see you then.”
All the men silently began to stand from the table. Simon took this as his chance. He didn't move from out of the shadows. He just tapped into the people's minds and said, “Please, sit back down. Ah! Don't worry, I'm not here to hurt anyone. I'd just like to talk. You spend time talking of planting the rightful king in Blackpond, but you seem to refuse to do so in Newhaven. Ella Page is still alive. You recognize her as alive as you seem to believe that her son is the rightful heir to the throne. You cannot bear a child from the grave. You have usurped the throne from a living member.”
“What do you want?”
“All I want is to see in Newhaven what you want to see in Blackpond.”
“Ella no longer has faculty over her own actions. There is someone else who is under her control. While she is alive, she is barely living.”
Simon examined the room of people. Some of them had left. The guards were on edge, some even holding their swords. The ones who were actually interested in his proposal respectfully payed attention. The rest didn't bother to pretend to care about the crazy man in their head.
Simon smiled and walked out of the shadows. The guards jumped to attention, drawing their swords in a challenge to Simon. “Relax. If I was going to attack anyone I would have done it from my hiding place. I want to make a deal. I want to directly help you get the right people back on the throne.”
“How can you help? Who do you think you are?”
“My name is Simon of Blackpond. I am 4th in command of the group who is directly involved in the continuing control of the city of Blackpond. Formally a personal assassin of King Rory and directly involved in the assassination of Commander Hastings, the man responsible for the murder of the King. The new King, Rick, has gone mad, due to a battle of minds between an attacker and I that battled with in Rick's mind. He is no longer valuable as a King, but he is valuable for reasons which I can respectfully not indulge. All I want is the immediate and safe return of Rick. I will leave it up to you to make a decition about Ella or I will make the decition for you.”
The council member who had been quite vocal in the meeting before was quick to speak out to Simon. “This is in no way a help to Newhaven. It is only beneficial to Blackpond.”
“Ah, but you are wrong. You see, most of these people who have placed Newhaven in civil conflict are doing so under the direct orders of the real person in charge of Blackpond. You see, Rick, even before his decent into madness, was merely a puppet. A new ruler could stop this civil war.”
“We will need some time to think about this.” Thomas said.
“There is no time.” Simon scorned. “I could do this all my own way and continue to watch Newhaven fall into descent. I, however, believe I am a decent man. I want to see Newhaven to be as healthy as I want to see Blackpond, but I don't have time to wait for diplomats to disagree. This is why I like monarchs. They know what they want.”
The council fell silent again. They did that a lot. They seemed to enjoy their facial conversations. All of them seemed to come to the same conclusion. They all looked at Thomas expecting him to have the answers. It seemed that even the council preferred a single leader. Thomas let out an audible sigh.
“I believe you when you say that you can free Rick by yourself and if what you say is true, he is no use to us. You can have him as long as you follow some rules. I will speak to Mageria and arrange for a Black Knight to accompany you around the city. You will not be allowed to leave the city as long as I say and you will check in every day at three in the afternoon to report personally to me. If I am not available, I will arrange for you to speak to someone else. There is no compromise.”
“You are thrifty indeed. You have a deal.” Simon said quite contently.

Woods-Just Outside the Wolfpack

Evin had thought about visit the White Shadows like Crys had suggested, but he just couldn't. He had to keep on going. He had to make sure that everything that needed to be done was done. The White Shadows might have been able to help Evin slightly, but all that they were going to do was contain him in a tent and ease his pain until he peacefully passed. Evin didn't know how to peacefully pass by anything.
Despite Evin's fight, he was really sick. His bloodshot eyes were shadowed by dark rings, only to be accentuated by his ghostly skin. His hair was course and brittle, greying nearly to the point where there was no longer any black left. He no longer carried any fat on him. Everything was muscle and bone. Although, people who never saw him before would not be able to tell that he had lost weight. People who had seen him would still be quite frightened of his appearance.
He needed to figure out what to do with himself, but there was something about the air that was unsettling to him. He sensed this inevitable, impending sense of helplessness in the air and it reflected in the way that the Wolves interacted, whenever he took the time to go see what they were doing. He needed to be there when things blew over. He needed to know what was happening.
This made Evin think. What was it about the Wolves that made him keep coming back? Why did he see the need to obsess over it? He could have been doing better things with his time. He could have gone to help Crys in Blackpond. He could have gone to Newhaven to assist in the ongoing war. He even could have gone to the White Shadows, not to ask for help with his sickness, but to see if he could figure it out for himself. All of these were far more productive then sitting around the camp and doing nothing because he had a feeling. Maybe the sickness was effecting his mind too.
Today, Evin was going to get closer to the camp. Not to get a sight on the things going on in the Camp, but to attempt once more to gain some peace of mind like he used to.

Blackpond

The morning air was clean and the sun, strong. The birds chirped in the surrounding trees. Each of them making their unique sound to add to the music of the morning. It was going to be a nice spring day, but everything about the day also warned of an unusually warm spring day. Being well aware of all of that knowledge, Rita stood in front of her lines, looking towards the lines of the enemy. Surprisingly, at the head of the lines, Lamya stood proudly on top her horse. She looked just as good as ever—bitch.
There was no afflictions to her body, no deterioration or anything of the likes that would indicate sickness, but she had to be sick. Everyone else was sick. How could she get away with it? Just like everything else in her life, things just seemed to pass her by.
“Sargent.” Rita shouted. A burly man rode up to him on a horse and acknowledged her. “Move the cavalry behind the lines and use the cover of our men as away to get to the line's left flank. When our men start charging in on the cavalry, run into their flank and intercept them. Got it?”
“Yes ma'am.” The sergeant answered and then shouted orders to his cavalry fleets.
Hopefully, if things worked out to plan, the opposing army out suspect something, but not enough to be concerned. Rita's second line consisted of pikemen, which could hold their own against Lamya's horsemen. Pike men usually wouldn't charge against the cavalry, however. This would be what was odd. Rita was about to see if her plan would work. As she could see from her aerial view of the battlefield, her cavalry was almost in position.
Rita turned to her armies. “This battle may not be one that will turn the tables of war, but it isn't without purpose! Today's battle is a message to those who wish to see Blackpond fall completely into the shadows! We will not be forgotten!” Rita turned and pointed her sword towards the opposing army. “Charge!
With near immediacy, a wave of bodies flocked past Rita. She could feel the cool air as they ran by and the warmth of the bodies when they would hit her. It was a unique feeling when coupled with the knowledge that this sensation was being caused by something hat was going to end in blood. All the while, she watched things from above. Her pikemen moved forward while the cavalry on the other side waited. When the pikemen got close enough, Lamya's cavalry charged. But it was too late by then as Rita's cavalry caught the flank of Lamya's off guard, allowing them to charge five men into the line before the men on Lamya's side could prepare themselves. It also made enough of a dent that the pikemen were far more effective when they finally reached the front lines. So far, things were going according to plan. However, after the first few moments of a battle, like a game of chess, anything could happen. It was clear, though that Rita had momentum and she didn't want to give it up.
Rita turned around to face her next line of men. With one swoop, she moved her vision to about five feet above her head, in order to see he entire group of soldiers. They mostly consisted of men carrying heavy and light swords, mace and axes. “Follow me! We shall try to take their other flank!” She yelled loud enough for the first few lines to hear. The rest would follow.
She turned back around and began to march her men, not too quickly—there was no need to tire out her troops just yet. They marched to the left. They started to move around the battle and into the flank of the enemy. If she could get Lamya surrounded o three fronts, she might be able to finish this battle quicker than even Rita expected.
While Rita arched, she heard a small whistle from her side and almost from out of nowhere, a swarm of men came from the trees and began attacking Rita's foot soldiers. Rita hadn't even anticipated such an attack. She was caught completely off guard as two men rushed her, one slightly in front of the other. Rita, parried the first attackers sword right into the second attacker so that it would penetrate the weakness in the second attacker's armour. This only left Rita with the one attacker standing. The second one was still alive, but he'd be lucky if he could stand.
Rita took the moment, it took for the attacker to take his sword out of his friend to make her counter. A series of swings centring around the waist. She just needed one could strike and she would have him. One false move and the man would be dead. With her third swing, she got just that. He had over predicted force which she swung her sword. His sword deflected just a little more than he was expecting, giving Rita the chance to get her sword in.
When he fell, she finished him with a sword through the throat. The gurgling and splashing blood that came up made her know that she didn't hit the jugular like she intended, but rather the wind pipe. There was nothing worth doing for the person now. He was either going to bleed out or choke on her own blood and she had no time to be merciful. Rita observed the battlefield from where she was. She didn't bother changing her point of view yet. She wanted to see if she was any immediate danger When it didn't look like it, she swung her view up to the sky to get a good view of the entire battle and see where things were.
Before she got a good look, she felt something hit her side with incredible force. She hit the ground and stumbled for what felt like several feet. She immediately changed her view to see what was going on to her. All the while, she attempted to gather breath back into her chest, but all in vain. It was as if she had a whole in her chest or she was breathing through a small hole. Nothing she did allowed her to get any breath into her. When she somewhat got her bearings and her vision wasn't so blurred, she could see the culprit. It was the only person on the entire battlefield who wouldn't have immediately went for a killing blow. For whatever ridiculous reason or possibly for no reason at all (she didn't really know), Lamya didn't just kill her.

Newhaven

Simon had been waiting outside of Thomas' office for a long time now. Mageria and another Black Knight accompanied him in the room. It had been nearly an hour now, but it seemed longer. Any time when Simon had to wait on other people, he found that he would tend to get frustrated. He hated the incompetence of most other people in almost every aspect of living. No one could ever truly live up to his standards. Maybe his expectations where too high, but without high expectations nothing would ever get accomplished. Things like a simple meeting to discuss how to deal with something that had already been discussed before seemed pointless to Simon.
About half way through his meeting, he started o play games with himself to pass the time. At first, it was a game he was playing with a fly he found wandering the hall. He watched it and gave it tasks to do. If it flew to different places, it would gain points. He knew that the fly had no idea it was plying the game, but it was still enough to entertain himself. Eventually, however, the fly was killed by one of the guards standing about the hallway.
The next game he played was with the guard who killed the fly. He would get into his mind and say things to him. At first, he made it seem like they were just intrusive thoughts like crude thoughts about a woman walking by or a desire to just do something that would probably get himself in trouble. Slowly, he made the thoughts even more intrusive until even the most evil of men would be scared by the thoughts. The entertainment of the game came from watching the poor guard contemplate his sanity. Once that game was over, he was out of ideas for games. That didn't matter. It was only another minute or so after he stopped playing that the door opened. Mageria was the first to leave. She continued down the hall with the guard, not even taking a moment to look at Simon. Then the Black Knight and Thomas came out. They both looked at him.
“This is the Knight who ill be accompanying you until the Knight that we've agreed upon next visits the city. When the other Knight arrives, you will be given a few more liberties. We'll discuss them when he arrives. I'll see you here tomorrow. Dominic here will show you to the dungeons.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Dominic Adams Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Sean Fletcher

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Simon could easily get to Rick himself, but respecting the will of Newhaven, while not necessarily simpler, was tremendously more beneficial. This pact with Newhaven gave Simon added protection from the people who may wish to stop him. It also meant that Newhaven would have to try a lot harder if they wanted to be one of those people who wanted to stop him. As f they even knew what he was doing though. The number of people who even knew of what Simon was after was so insanely minimal that the fact alone made protection that much more important.
“They didn't tell me much about you.” Dominic, the White Knight said. “Think they thought it'd be fun for me to figure it out myself. Not fun if ya ask me.”
The two continued to walk through the courtyard and around to the back of the castle. Despite Dominic's attempt at conversation, Simon didn't speak. He wasn't as up to the conversation as the White Knight. Yet he continued.
“You know, when I first became a White Knight, I thought I'd be understanding a lot more of the things that go on in this city. It has more than enough surprises. I probably understand less now than when I was infantry. Though, I didn't have the job for very long. It wasn't soon after that that I was taken in by the Knights and taught their ways...” Dominic stopped to mull over a thought. “Not much is different between the Knights training and all other training. We're a little more specialized and put more hours into the work we do, but overall, I guess, its just a matter of talent. You either have what it takes, or you don't and if you don't, it isn't really your fault. Well, maybe it is.”
Dominic stopped, Simon stopping right behind him. The Knight turned around. He lifted his helmet and looked down at Simon. His vacant stare read like a story about a questionable reality. “You don't like to talk?” That was it? The face of a thousand questions, confused about a simple observation? It was no wonder that he went on about the little he understands. “If I'm going to have to follow you around for the next few days I expect to at least be graced with a small conversation from time to time.”
Simon rolled his eyes and opened his mouth as if to say something. He raised his hand inquisitively, but quickly shot it back down and closed his mouth before letting any bit of air escape. As if he could actually say anything to Dominic anyway. Being telepathic mute had its advantages. Being able to play pranks like this was one of them.
Dominic shut his helmet with a loud clanking and turned away from Simon to continue the walk towards the dungeons. “That's alright. If you don't want a conversation, you'll just have to deal with me speaking to ya all day. Where was I?” He continued. “Oh right. Training isn't all that diff—”
“By the Twins, I'll speak with you if you promise to shut up after!” Simon exclaimed.
Dominic stopped in his tracks. Simon knew why. The man of confusion was confused once more. This time, however, it was for a fairly good reason.
Simon said, “I'm a telepath. I don't speak because I can't speak. I was born without vocal cords. Now quit mulling over this discovery of yours and bring me to the dungeons. I'll talk to you along the way.”
“Interesting. Never stops being amazing, the things you see on this job.” Dominic spoke.
“You do realize that you don't actually have to say things aloud. You can speak to me in complete private through thought.”
“I'll speak aloud. I'd prefer it that way.”
“Suit yourself... what do you ant to talk about?”
“I don't know. Got any ideas?”
Simon cuffed his shoes as he walked along the cobblestone. “I wasn't the one who wanted a conversation.” He remarked.
“That's alright. I can keep talking to myself if you've got nothing.”
“No!” Simon quickly jumped in. “No! Please”
He looked around the path to give himself inspiration. The dungeon was a little ways away from the far side of the castle. It was a part of the city that had seen better days, but had also managed to avoid poverty. This made for an interesting little dynamic. Being close to the castle, it was pretty well kept and beautified. A privilege that few part of the city probably had. Its people, weren't as well kept. They were nothing like the slime of the earth either. The people's mostly wore things in the brown ad grey hues, with a few more fortunate adding simple colours such as red sashes or green-feathered hats. Nothing extravagant, but rather, humble.
“I've got a question for you.” Simon finally said. “You've got a duty to uphold as a White Knight to remain lawful. Surely, like all good men, you lose your way sometimes. What's the worst thing you've done as a White Knight?”
“As a White Knight?” Dominic chuckled. “I'll tell you right now that I follow the duties assigned to me by Newhaven perfectly.”
“No one is perfect.”
“I'm not calling all my actions perfect, but as a White Knight, I do my job properly.”
“Don't play games with me.”
“Do you want the truth. Not that observant I guess. When I walked into Thomas' office, I was wearing my Black Knight armour. Guess you never saw me change.”
“So the White Knights are Black Knights in disguise?”
“No. Just me. Both the White and Black Knights saw interest in me for the job and they didn't want to fight over me. They just decided that it would be useful to have an ambassador of sorts. The two roles have never been useful though... Now, as a Black Knight, I've done things that are questionable, but not beyond my call of duty.”
“By the Twins, you are annoying. Just tell me what in the hell are you least proud of?”
“Killing children. Only had to a few times, but never gets easy.” Dominic stopped. They were at the entrance of the dungeon. “Now hold on a second. I've got to speak to the porters.”
Dominic motioned with a hand to for Simon to keep put. He then walked away towards the porter to speak with them. In the meantime, Simon had a chance to reflect on what he was just told. A knight that was both Black and White. It almost defeated the purpose of his White Knight title all together. And what actual purpose could a “Double” Knight actually serve. No matter what, if the need arose for a Black Knight while in a White Knight uniform, Dominic would still have to change into his Black Knight armour or risk spoiling the image of the squeaky clean White Knights. Maybe, however there was an administrative purpose or someone was too frugal to want to have to pay for ten Knights and opted for a loophole that would allow them t pay for only nine. Maybe it was the doing of the False King as a way to weaken the infrastructure of Newhaven's front line of defence against its enemies; namely, himself. Although, that possibility was only really viable if Dominic had joined the Knights during the False King's Reign. There were so many possibilities that it was almost pointless to mull over every single one of them.
Simon looked around at the place. It was a door built right into the ground. A little rocky cliff that had been reimagined. It was probably a cave before and was just expanded upon. There was nothing near it, save a few shops farther down the road. The reason for that was probably how cold, damp and musty it was. He wasn't even in the dungeon yet, but the entrance almost radiated its reluctance to welcome people near it as if it were a warning to people. Whether it was intentional or not, it was very effective.
“Come.” Dominic spoke from the entrance. The large, iron caste door had been opened and the two guards standing at the watch moved aside to let them through.
They stepped through the doors, which were quickly shut behind them. “If anything remotely bad happens down here while we're under, we might be stuck here for a while. Be prepared.” Dominic said as they passed though the first corridor. “Seeing as you are being supervised by a Knight while you stay in Newhaven, I reckon that you aren't so perfect either. You must've done some things that's made a reputation of yourself.”
“I've got a story for you, but don't be alarmed by how I tell it to you. Being telepathic has its advantages when it comes to telling stories. You'll be able to see it exactly as I remember it as if it were your own memory.”
In an instant, Simon started to plant the memories into Dominic's head.

-----

Blackpond- Eight years ago

Alone, Simon sat at the base of a large rock. From what he'd been told, the rock had been there for several hundred years. It had been moved from a battlefield and into the castle on orders of one of the many kings that he had neglected to study. Legend had it that a great enlightened man sat on the rock, much like Simon was and killed an entire army using just his mind. He had made heads explode, made caused people to kill themselves instead of suffer the mental torture that they were experiencing. Some even became convinced to murder their fellow men.
It was all exaggerated tales though, and Simon knew that. There was never an enlightened man that powerful. If there ever was, one of the two cities would no longer exist and Valcrest would be under one ruler. Never the less, stories had to come from somewhere and that meant that there was someone, once with rather impressive amounts of enlightenment that were later embellished on to encourage the troops. To give them something to aspire to.
“What are you doing?” A voice said. It shocked him and he looked around. He couldn't see anyone. He couldn't even pinpoint the voice. “What are you doing?” It said again. This time, however, he realized it wasn't a voice, but a thought. “You don't actually believe those stupid stories, do you?”
Simon ignored the thought. Ever since discovering his enlightenment, he never used it to speak with other people. He had lived his entire life before without ever being able to speak. He didn't see the need to speak to anyone still.
“I understand. Poor Simon was so hard done by without a voice and doesn't want to speak, even to another telepath. For the Twins, I'm speaking your damn language and you wont even speak with me! Don't say I didn't at least try to help you hone your skills. You'll end up like all the rest of them. Your useless without your enlightenment.”
“So you think.” Simon finally replied.
“And finally, I prove that Simon actually has intelligent thoughts. Everyone always thought that you were like a dog. We could tell that you understood us, but couldn't tell if you were just doing tricks for us. But finally—”
“Have you ever considered finding a hobby?”
“Observing humans in their natural state is hobby enough for me. All he other guys like to pretend to be animals and play games around that. I don't get the fascination with simple animals and the way they act. Humans are far more interesting.”
“Its all about wish fulfilment you dumbass.”
“Ah, it knows how to swear.”
“Fuck off.”
“You know, with only 30 of us left, you might want to start making friends.”
“I said fuck off!”
“Ok! ok.” Suddenly, Simon could hear where the voice was coming from. He looked over to pinpoint the voice and noticed it was coming from the next room over. “I was just trying to help.”
As he listened to the footsteps go on, he grimaced. Some help that was. Insulting Simon and then telling him what was wrong with him. For someone who claimed to 'know' how humans worked, he had little sense on how to actually apply his theories.
Ural was one of the several kids who had been picked to be in the Royal Assassin Program. Like Simon, he had the gift of Mind and as always, Ural felt superior to Simon. It wasn't hard to feel superior to a mute, but Ural always liked to push it to the next level. Out of all the kids, Ural was the most pushy and annoying. Never leaving him alone, even before they were aged enough to be enlightened.
“You should kill him.” Another voice. A girl. “Or don't. It doesn't really matter, but if it matters to you, I think you should kill him.”
Simon jumped off the rock and looked around the room. Around him was a plethora of different mythical objects. Claims of magic and unbelievable abilities from armours, chandeliers, cloths and objects. It was the hall of phantasm. Again, he couldn't find the voice. This time, however, he new it was a voice. He walked towards where he thought it was though. As he walked, he covered his eyes as the twinkling glare from the sun passed through the chandelier.
Instead of looking for the person, he pinpointed he thought. “If you don't think it matters then why even give the advice.”
“I'm not giving advice. I'm just telling you what you should do. I'm just evaluating your values and telling you what the best course of action given those values are.”
“That sounds like advice to me.” Simon turned around to the other end of the room. That was where the voice was really coming from.
“Call it what you will. I'll call it what I will. Thought that someone knowing more than you could be helpful is all.” The voice emerged fro behind a cabinet, only a foot away from him. She sounded so much further away.
Simon blinked and cocked his head backwards as if he's just been spritzed with water. He placed one foot behind him, but didn't follow through and back away. Instead, he crossed his eyes to look into hers. Their breath just reaching one another to be shared. “Lamya. Uh... hi. How are you?”
“A telepath stuttering. Interesting. Anyways, I was spending my free time listening in on the conversations of Rory and Hastings. Turns out they're cutting you... your throat that is. That's what they do with the kids that don't make it, you know. They don't want anyone to know about the program, you know.”
“I uhh... wait! Why me?”
“There are two telepaths. They only need one.”
“They picked Ural then? It figures that they'd pick that degenerate.”
“You do nothing to prove yourself to them. At least, that's what they say.” Lamya winked.
Simon ignored the word and just looked at Lamya, really looked at her. Her face was a calm lake that washed across her smooth almond skin. With Hazel eyes looking to him; long dark eyelashes waving at him with every blink. The dark lips that exhaled a candy aroma as if she'd just eaten something sweet. All of which was framed by her red hair. Along with her curvaceous body, which he dare not glance at for more than a second, she seemed perfect.
He put his escaping foot back under him and grabbed Lamya's waist. Simon leaned in and closed his eyes. A warm fleshy stick stopped him. Confused, he opened his eyes and crossed them to the point of strain to see Lamya's finger reaching above the horizon of the view of Simon's nose. He then looked up at Lamya, who was closer to him than ever before. Even up close, her features were perfect. Simon heard a ting and then a whistle as something flashed past the corner of his vision.
Lamya looked over to her free hand. Simon followed her gaze to see she had flipped a coin.
“I would love to Simon, but luck isn't on my side today.” She said in a tone longing to defy the coin's decision. She removed her finger away from his mouth as Simon backed away a step to be at a more comfortable distance.
“Is this why you warned me? Because you have feelings for me?” Simon said softly.
“No. I flipped a coin and it made the choice to tell you for me. Do what you will with what I said.” Lamya kissed her index and middle finger and placed it on Simon's lips and then ran off to the room opposite her.
Simon felt a sudden rush. He felt light and overwhelmingly happy. His face heated up and he let out a large sigh. Then he quickly looked around to see if there was anyone else in the room with him. He didn't want anyone to know about what had just happened.
Simon then went to the next room over, where Ural had been talking to him from. Whether it was from a coin flip or not didn't matter to Simon. His life was safe only if Ural was dead. They saw him as the better asset to the Conflict and therefore, he had to be eliminated. Soon, Simon would be the only choice and it would guarantee him a chance at being one of the chosen fifteen.
Through the next few halls, Simon looked inside every room to see if Ural was there. Eventually, he was lead to the hall of the castle where the potential assassins' bed quarters were. A hall full of fifty rooms that was once cramped with hundreds of kids. Now, only left with thirty, the halls were much quieter and now that there were so few, there was a room for everyone. Ural's room was the second on the left, marked by his favourite coat sitting on the coat rack outside the room.
Simon stepped into the room. He was caught by a stale stench as he walked in the room. Scrunching his nose, he tried not to think about it. At initial look, it didn't appear as if he was there, but he heard a sniffle and looked closer. He walked further into the room and saw Ural under his desk. Rotting food—likely the cause of the smell—, papers, quills, books and other such items were scattered about the floor. One such item: an ornate letter opener.
He picked the letter opener up. It was ivory with a stained sandalwood handle that had been carved out to look like a person's head. It was so detailed that the scars and each individual hair could be made out. An impressive work of art finer than anything that he had ever seen before. Not even the King had such beautiful art made for him.
Simon felt that the letter opener would be as good as any weapon. Better than most improvised weapons too. It was practically a blade. He gripped it as best he could and approached the desk, but heard a loud snort and stopped. Looking down under the desk, he noticed that Ural was crying. He didn't even notice that Simon was in the room with him.
'You idiot, just end whatever misery he's feeling and get this over with.' He thought to himself. He gripped the blade even tighter and took another step forward. Despite his desire to slip under the desk and plunge the letter opener through his heart, his body compelled him to sit atop the desk. 'Your so weak.'
“What's up? Why are you crying?” Simon asked.
“I don't want to talk Simon.”
“Just let me know.”
“How about you follow your own advice and fuck off!” Ural blurted.
Simon thought about it for a moment. 'Fuck off or kill the poor guy. It's that simple.' “I'm just taking your advice and trying to make friends.” 'Now you're lying to the man your going to kill. Great.”
For a moment, Ural was silent, but he soon said, “Fine. If you really need to know, I'm crying about my parents.”
“I get it. We all had to kill our parents. But it was kill or be killed.” Simon said remorsefully.
“It's not only that, Simon. It's about the life I could have had. The life I left behind was so much better. I come from out of Valcrest. My Father was the High King of Terra and my mother, the Duchess of the three cities Duchy in the Kingdom of the Crescent Islands. I, as their child, was a symbol of their trade alliance and Heir to the Empire of Terra. My life could have been that, but now I'm destined to be a glorified sell-sword.”
“Wow.” Simon said. “I can't even imagine. My parents were abusive slummers.”
“Do you know how hard it is to kill a High King and Queen-Duchess? Even when they are your own parents, it isn't that easy to assure that you will escape with your own life. It doesn't help that most of the time, they are on two sides of the continent. After being gone for several years, they'd thought I was dead. When I returned, the entire Empire celebrated. Even dignitaries from the Three Cities came to send their regards. It was such a big deal. Little did they all know, I'd just returned to betray every last one of them.”
Simon had to hold back tears of his own. He couldn't handle how sad his story was. How guilty the guy felt for what he had done and what could have been. It was truly heartbreaking.
“When I finally brought myself to do the deed, I went up to their room and quickly finished them in their sleep. I broke down almost instantly, but knew I had to get out of there before anyone found out. I had to leave for Valcrest immediately. The only thing I took with me was the clothes on my back and my father's letter opener. It's on the ground somewhere if you want to look at it. Do ya see it?”
Simon looked down at the High King's letter opener. He loosened his grip after realizing he'd nearly been crushing the head. “Yeah... I see it.”
“The face on it is my father. I'll always remember what he looked like. So relaxed, so stoic, even in his sleep, the moments before I murdered him, he looked like that. A blessing and a curse, that letter opener is.”
Simon's eyes were damp. He placed the letter opener on the desk, gently. 'Simon, you sympathetic bastard! Just do it! It's him or it's you.'
“How about you come out from under the desk?” Simon said. Ural did as Simon asked. Slowly he emerged from the desk. Looking at Simon with his swollen brown eyes. “How does some fresh air sound?”
“That sounds good.” Ural said.
Simon grabbed Ural's hand and lead it towards the door. On the short walk to the door, he thought about what he had to do. How could he do it? Take a life of someone while in such a miserable state. That was the job of the assassin, but this wasn't going to be an assassination. It was going to be murder. It was only for Simon's personal gain and nothing else. He couldn't swing it any other way. There was no contract, no target. No one to sneak by; no skill required. It was nothing but murder. It had to be done.
When they reached the door frame, Simon grabbed the back of Ural's head and smashed it as hard as he could against the stone wall. This only dazed him and so Simon took the chance. He looked for the closest thing to him, the coat on the coat rack, and tied the sleeve tightly around Ural's neck. The other end of the coat, he tied to the rack which in turn was bolted to the ground. Ural flailed uncontrollably, trying desperately to free himself from the deadly bind that the coat had on him. He flung until he found Simon's shirt and he grabbed onto it tightly and pulled. It was as if Ural thought that he could take Simon down with him, but a strangled man never thought straight. Slowly, his face turned deeper shades of red and eventually blue. Simon had never seen such a thing. He never thought it to be possible. Ural's grip began to weaken and he flailed far less. With his last moments, Ural looked at Simon with his fading, swollen eyes. A look forever burned in his mind, much like Ural's dead father to him. The look which silently said, “I trusted you,” and then he was gone.


Newhaven- Present time

“That is the type of thing that keeps me up at night. The only time I've ever killed for personal gain. Ever since then, I've only done it for duty. A man like you must understand.” Simon said to Dominic.
“What happened with you and the red head?” Dominic asked.
Simon took a moment. “I tell you a story of murder and betrayal and you're interested in the dame? Anyways, I'm too tired to talk any further. Whatever it is that is getting the enlightened is started to get me too and I need to save my energy for talking with the crazy that we're releasing, so if you don't mind, could we spend the rest of our short trip in silence?”
“As you wish.”
The rest of the journey to Rick's dungeon room was spent in a peaceful silence. This gave Simon a chance to rest. He used to be able to send several memories to multiple people and not even sweat. It was no longer the case and it gave Simon perspective that he didn't have before. He was inevitably fallible. He was going to die one day and it was going to come about sooner than he was hoping it would. Simon finish what he was put on earth to do. It didn't matter how long he had to do it, he needed it done.
“Stand aside soldier.” Dominic said, interrupting the silence. “Direct orders from the highest authority require me to release this prisoner.” It was the most well spoken the White Knight had sounded since Simon met him.
The guard stood aside as ordered and handed Dominic the keys. Dominic fumbled a little with the keys before finally getting the right key. He unlocked the door and opened it, making an ungodly screeching sound as he did so.
Rick sat at the very back of the room, over top what appeared to be old, rotting hay. It was cold, damp, completely unlivable. The walls had a tinge of green and black from moss and mold and moldy moss. Was that even possible?
Rick had fresh wounds across his naked body. Some other wounds looked to have been festering and possibly infected. None of these wounds had to be a problem, but they became problems due to improper care. Rick didn't know any better. Not anymore. He probably wouldn't even be able to recognize himself in a mirror anymore. Not because he was so badly mutilated, but because he was no longer capable of coherent thoughts. Rick was an animal that could speak human now. He was only useful in the sense that his animal tendencies allowed him to pursue what he wanted without any distractions that hindered humans. The only problem was that he couldn't be tamed.
“Go get clothes for this man immediately and when you bring that back, fetch a medic that will meet us at the entrance of the dungeons who will be prepared to care for him. Be quick about it. I'm a busy man.” Dominic order the guard. He immediately followed the order and rushed off.
Simon walked up to the beaten down man sitting in front of him. “Its time for you to prove your worth.” He grabbed Rick's arm and pulled him up. “Now come with me.”
Simon started leading Rick to the exit. Dominic chimed in. “We have to wait to clothe him.”
“You might want to wait, but I don't. You can follow your orders and supervise my stay in Newhaven or you can stay here and wait for clothes like an idiot. Take your pick.”
Simon didn't bother to look back to see if the Knight was following him. He assumed that he probably was.

Blackpond

The pair stared each other down as the battle waged on around them. One with a vendetta to settle and the other, an agent of chaos. Rita had little to gain besides satisfaction from a kill such as this. She knew well enough that even with Lamya dead, there would be someone to take her place. Maybe they wold have a more direct motive, but in a way, that could prove to be even worse. At least a woman without reason could be clouded by other thoughts. A woman with a direct goal, like Rita's, would prove to be more effective.
“Lady death doesn't have all day, Lamya. Choose to be the first to strike or not to strike at all!” Rita yelled over the roar of battle.
“The void doesn't work in binaries.” Lamya replied rather calmly. Rita had to strain herself to hear it.
“The offer still stands.” Rita's reply was simple, but she felt it was appropriate.
The two stared each other down. It wasn't a matter of who was going to strike first anymore. It was Rita's choice to walk away or not. A choice that was important to decide. She could move on, hold the vendetta back and fight the fight that would properly depose Lamya. However, the fight might take too long and with Lamya's unpredictable nature, there was no saying what she would do if left in control of Blackpond for any period of time.
Patience was not one of Rita's virtues. She knew what she had to do. It was more about what was best than it was for the vendetta. That's what she told herself at least as she charged towards Lamya. Her sword raised high in the air as if to call upon the Twins to give her strength in the fight that was about to come. But as she neared, the sky grew dark. At first, only mildly, but it quickly became nearly pitch black as if the light of the world had completely gone out. Lamya, who was only about two meters in front of her was now a very undefined outline. She swung into the space that she thought she saw her. Rita's sword dug deep into the shadow. It didn't feel like flesh. In fact, she couldn't even pull her sword out of what she had just dug into. With a few tugs at the sword, she gave up. Letting go, she heard a thud right in front of her. Something heavy had just came down exactly where her arm was only moments before. Even at such a close distance, she couldn't tell what it was, but she didn't take the time to analyse. With such a big reliance on her sight, she was almost helpless, she had to back away. And she did so as quickly as possible, stepping at a brisk pace to give herself some distance. Her line of sight shifted from side to side, behind her and adjusted to make sure she was catching as much information as possible. Despite the death of the Sun, Rita could still hear the waging war going on. Not being able to tell what way the battle was going was even more unsettling to her than knowing that in her individual battle, she was at a significant disadvantage.
Without a weapon, for the time being, she was going to have to play it extremely defensively. Rita did all that she could to settle into her new environment, but despite all of that, her muscles just couldn't relax. Never did Rita think that sensory deprivation would be a problem for her. She couldn't ever be properly trained to deal with it because her enlightenment allowed her to see even when she was blindfolded. Quickly, what had been an advantage for all these years was her worst nightmare as again, she was knocked right off her feet by a blunt object. The wind completely knocked out of her, she struggled at the ground to compose herself, but with the onslaught of attacks that rained down on her with such little time to react, she couldn't even do that. In the struggle and with each shaking thud on the ground, Rita decided to pinpoint exactly where the attacker must have been coming from. With one strategic doge, she laced herself right around where the legs were probably placed. She swept her legs around and was met with a hard, muscley wall that barely even stumbled. The surprise was enough to allow Rita to get back on her feet.
Now that she knew where the attacks were coming from, she listened carefully; a skill she had let slide past her as something not as necessary, but now that necessity called, with the adrenalin kicking through her veins, she was hyper aware. A shift in the attackers position. It was enough to indicate the attack would be coming from her left most likely. She jumped out of the way of what she believed was most likely a war hammer and dived towards her attacker. With nothing but her hands to attack with, she quickly frisked the body in search of a weapon, but was pushed away before she could find any. A shift, this time from behind. Another attacker was closing in on her. This one had to be about five meters away from her. Rita side-stepped two paces to avoid whatever was coming from there. She heard nothing, but knew that something had to be beside her by now. As she reached her arm out, she came in contact with a pole of sorts. She quickly grabbed the pole and tugged the attacker towards her, causing the attacker to let go of the pole and stumble towards Rita.
While he did that, she heard the first attacker come closer to her as well. The second attacker's body hit Rita's and Rita, with her free hand grabbed the body and threw it towards the first attacker.
Then relief as the Sun started to appear again in the sky. At first, a crack of light, but quickly cascading into a warm glow across the bloody field. Now Rita could see her attacker. The first attacker was a man about twice her size, holding an equally large war hammer. The large man's eyes quickly changed colour as the sky came back to its original glow. It was obvious to Rita that this man had an enlightenment that allowed him to see in the dark. Nothing else could explain it. The second person who had attacked Rita with a pole—which she now realized was a spear—was Lamya, smiling contently as if she had won a prize as she lay in the arm of the enlightened attacker.
Rita adjusted her spear to allow her to properly use it and with a fast step, lunged towards the man. He dropped Lamya on the ground with a thud and parried the blow, breaking the wooden pole attached the spear. Rita took the opening that the perry had given her to run right towards the man. When she got lose enough, she grabbed the back of the man's head and jumped in the air, ploughing her knee right into the man's chin. A loud crack could be heard as the man's jaw shattered like glass. The man screamed, splattering blood across the ground in front of him.
Rita turned to face Lamya, who had managed to crawl away from the area she'd been dropped. A small scrape on the back of her hand was all that was visible. Rita tried to move towards Lamya, but her knee was stuck. The impact from the jaw on her armour had made it impossible for her to move the knee joint of the armour. Upon further inspection of her armour, she noticed that her chest plate had sunken in from the blow to her body she'd taken from the war hammer. Luckily, it wasn't significant enough to cause her pain, but she did wonder how hard it was going to be to take it off later.
“You might want to look at the battlefield, Rita.” Lamya said. Rita's view soared to the sky. “Isn't t funny how something as predictable a solar eclipse can create chaos. Chaos out of order... how strange.”
The battlefield was riddled with hundreds of bodies on either side and all semblance of battle formations had gone to hell. The entire battle was now a clump. A clump of scared men and boys. Men and boys who wanted to escape. Escape from the mess that they created. There was no sense of who would win or who would lose. In the end, no one would win. It was a cascade of death from people who didn't want any of this to happen, but didn't know what else they could do. They were the blood of War gone wrong. A stark reminder of what Valcrest had become. A clump of scared men and women fighting for an escape. No ideals, no principals. Just escape.
Rita couldn't let this fight go on any longer. She needed to cut her loses and head home for the day, with a head held low in mutual defeat. What a shame.
Rita brought her view back to see Lamya, who just stood there, staring blankly at her. Rita let it go and grabbed for her horn to call the retreat.
There would be another battle. Hopefully that one would hold less of a surprise for her.

Wolfcamp

Evin had spent his entire morning waiting for Sean's meeting with Crys. The entire reason he had woken up that morning was to wait for this meeting. He'd made a promise to Dani to keep her daughter safe. He'd done a pretty bad job at it until this point and he wasn't about to let the last four years of his life go down in smoke because he decided to let Crys deal with the Wolfpack problem by herself. There was no use in trusting Sean and anyone who wished to support him.
The way Evin looked at it, the meeting between Sean and Crys would go one of two ways. The first, and most likely scenario in Evin's mind was that Sean would use this as an opportunity for an ambush. Allow him to finish what he had started and gain even more control among those loyal to him. Surely Crys would expect such a thing, but Evin knew from experience that taking on an entire Wolfpack wasn't an easy feat.
The second scenario involved a deceptively peaceful atmosphere where Sean and Crys would talk out their differences and come to an agreement only to have whatever agreement they make come crashing down on both of them and causing even more conflict. The tendency for this to happen was potent among the Wolfpack and those who associated with them. Evin didn't want that to happen. He had to make sure for himself that this never happened.
And so Evin found himself sitting atop a tree branch, overlooking the lake he had once saw such beauty in. Those days were gone now more than ever. With the stark reminder of his last meeting with Sean so palpable to his mind. A stark reminder that no matter how hard Evin fought, the unexpected would always come to bite him in the ass.
Evin stared down to Sean, who had been there for a while. Obviously, he was preparing himself for whatever was to come. As far as Evin could tell, Sean believed he was alone. The poor bastard didn't even know that a single misstep could cost him his life. Not a single thing would stop him from protecting Crystal. Beyond his obligation, there was the knowledge that Crystal intended to do what her mother did. Crystal would make an impact much bigger than Sean's in the world. The only thing that was still n the way of making that impact was Sean.
Then, the light went out. It was as sudden as a candle being blown out. Evin and the surrounding area was darkened into a pitch blackness...

... It was true. He was really dead. No longer did he have to carry such a burden on his shoulders knowing that the man who tore part his life was still living. Evin's life would never be quite the same, but the slightest bit of satisfaction came from knowing that the thing that once consumed him was gone. He could no longer be consumed by it. He could no longer be haunted by it.
Yet an emptiness was put in its place. A chasm as deep as any cave and as dark as once blotted out sky. Was this what victory truly felt like. What was won after a game of chess? Most games come down to a major piece or two and a few pawns at best for the winning side. All the winner is left with is an empty board. No moves can be taken back and no pieces can be regained. All that Evin was left with was a bitter condolence.
He knew that this was the feeling he would have. He always dreamt of the tingly feeling that such a death would bring, but he always knew. It just couldn't come to that. Such a big art of anyone's life, the moment it leaves becomes like a chess board at the end of the game. Nothing else matters and then it is on to the next game, if you are lucky enough to have a next game.
Evin wondered if anyone had found the body yet. He contemplated staying and speaking to Crystal when she arrived, but the area would be too dangerous to sneak around by the time she arrived. A person walking into the camp, even under the aid of shadows would be walking in there with a target placed right on their head.
Now that Sean was dead, he had other business to attend to. More important business that would keep him away from the Wolves for good. As well as spread the news of Sean's death, he had to figure out exactly what Helena was up to in the mountains and that meant heading to the Whites for some answers. Hopefully Helena's daughter would be able to shed some light on the whole matter. If Evin was right, Lena's final works before her death would lead to something interesting.
In late afternoon, as he arrived in the White's camp, he went to the nearest White he could find.
“You look sick sir. Come this way and we'll do our best to assist.” The White Shadow said.
“I'm not here to await my death. I need to speak with Annie. I have urgent news from the Wolf camp regarding Sean. I need to speak to her right away.”