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Hylonome The Forsaken

"My only friends are the ones in the stories I read. It's unsightly, but... would you forgive me if I said I envy the outside world a bit?"

0 · 530 views · located in Valderia

a character in “The First Valderian Expedition”, as played by Feyblue

Description



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"Even if I am a monster, I want to live. I want to exist. I want to be whole again. Is that really so wrong?"

░░░The Forsaken White Serpent░░░



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Name
  • Hylonome, pronounced "hih-lo-no-meh." Although formerly of a reputable Elven clan, she shed its nomenclature following her own disowning, as befits a disgraced exile.
Gender
  • Female. Despite her lower body's transfiguration into that of a snake, this remains unchanged, hence why she continues to clothe her waist area even in the face of the difficulties involved, given her new form.
Race
  • High-Elven. She has, however, made a contract with a particularly powerful nature spirit, known as the Great Serpent, Gaius. This entity, normally bound to an entire area of land, has converted her body into its host instead, leading to part of her body taking on the Serpent's form, and thus giving her the appearance of a mythical Lamia.
Age
  • 94. However, given her race's longevity and unique aging cycle, in physical development and appearance, she's somewhere around 19 or 20-ish. In personality, though, she's another story completely.

Skin Color
  • Her skin tone is fair, and, in fact, rather pale. Of note is the fact that in several places outside of just her lower half, she's grown small, elegant, silvery scales. These are most prominent in small patches above her hips, around the small of her back, below her shoulders, around her neck, and on her stomach, but if you look closely, there are also small interwoven scale patterns upon each of her cheeks. Although somewhat unsettling at first, upon a more close inspection, one may find her to possess a strange sort of inhuman elegance.
Hair Color
  • A very pale hue of platinum blonde, with tinges of pinkish-red mingling in their midst to create locks the hue of burnished white-gold.
Eye Color
  • Formerly bright blue, now altered irrevocably by the snake's powers to wine red. In addition to this, her pupils are vertically slit, like those of a snake, giving them a rather bizarre appearance if one looks closely enough to notice.

Physical Description & Clothing
  • Just by looking at her, one can easily tell that Hylonome's current form isn't the one she was born with. Her upper body is unquestionably that of a High Elf, with a graceful, curvaceous figure. Her narrow shoulders sit rolled back, with long, limber arms extending into delicate, dextrous hands, while her prominent bustline curves down into a flat stomach, rounding out into wider hips. Yet, even in this more "normal" part of her body, there are several anomalies. Least surprising of these is the fact that, although seemingly thin and fragile, she does have some noticeable muscle to her, as, before she'd fully mastered slithering with her new body, she often had to haul herself along at a crawl, forcing her to build up a similar level of upper body strength to what one might expect of a person confined to a wheelchair. She's no amazon, by any stretch, but she's certainly well built for an Elf. More unusual, however, would be the strange symbols inscribed upon her skin. Two long, wing-like lines of dark crimson frame her navel, running from there up across her chest on either side, while similar markings - pictured in the first reference image - adorn the backs of each of her hands, in addition to smaller sigils marking both her cheeks near her jawline, and appearing directly underneath her eyes. Most prominent, though, are the runic emblems on her back, right underneath her shoulders, forming a shape of four large red "wings" - although the upper leftmost of these bears a large scar carved across it, distorting it beyond recognition. Although at a distance, these crimson markings appear to be tattoos, if one inspects them closely, they would find them to be patterns formed by scarlet scales meshed seamlessly with her skin, further accentuating the elements of inhumanity that already exist in her body.

    Her face is, contrary to the somewhat angular visages of many elves, rather more rounded, with a dull jawline, slightly prominent, yet shallow cheekbones, but full, rosy cheeks. Her nose, chin, and forehead are all rather petite, causing most people who observe her face to fixate mostly on her bright eyes and her full pink lips... or upon her slightly disconcerting, fang-like canines, the serpentine slits of her pupils, and the unusual, diamond-like scales adorning her cheeks. As for the first, her unnaturally sharp teeth are not, technically speaking, the fangs of a snake, as they do not "inject" any sort of poison with their bite. That does not mean, however, that she doesn't possess a compound similar to a snake's venom. Her saliva is, in fact, similar in function to a poison, as, once inhaled or otherwise absorbed, it deadens the senses of the victim, oftentimes enough to render them nearly completely immobile. Contrary to what one might expect, however, it actually functions more as a benign healing agent than a dangerous toxin, accelerating the body's natural restorative processes by a remarkable degree. Most likely, this is due to her own tremendous vitality, caused by the nexus of magic stored within her as the vessel of such a powerful spirit. Although the clash between her life and the life of the person she bites weakens their control and perception of their own body, her burning desire to live and the overflowing strength of her own life creates an effect similar to an enchantment, granting that wish to live and be healed within the body her spit enters. Her eyes, similarly, do not function like those of a snake, despite their resemblance. This is fortunate, as it allows her to see color reliably. At the most, all their unique design gives her is an increased ability to see details in the dark and to perceive movements. Interestingly, she's actually very sensitive to bright lights as a consequence, and doesn't see quite so well during the daytime as most Elves might because of it. As for her scales, they, too, serve a unique purpose, although on the surface they appear to be merely aesthetic in nature. In a sense, she appears all the more inhuman if one realizes the faint color patterns in her cheeks are actually made up of scales. At the same time, though, the blush-like patterns their red shine creates in her cheeks appears almost like a delicate mosaic, adding to her already distinctive appearance. These scales are actually incredibly sensitive, not just to the touch, but also to thermal energy. This doesn't allow her to reliably recognize objects based on internal heat, like some sort of infrared goggles, but it does give her a sort of vague sixth sense for warm things in her area - usually living beings. According to her, rubbing her cheeks against something warm or cool creates a very relaxing sensation that isn't exactly easy to describe to someone who can't feel it. She's a little bit self conscious about this and other facts relating to more serpentine aspects of her being, however, as even after all these years, she hasn't fully accepted her new body.

    Aside from her blatantly snake-like aspects, her ears are also quite attention-grabbing, being distinctly pointed, a fact which is perhaps the only surefire indicator of what her race was prior to her transfiguration into a serpent - that, and her somewhat unusual shade of hair. The silken locks which frame her face are an uncanny silver-gold in hue, and run in straight, generally well-kept curtains down over her forehead and around her ears. Although usually allowed to flow straight down, stopping only at the small of her back, she sometimes alters her hairstyle to incorporate various characteristic hairpins and ornaments, a fact which can seem rather strange coupled with her body's more monstrous aspects. Although, even her hair isn't entirely free from her bizarre nature. If one examines its appearance closely, despite its tremendous softness, it almost seems to be metallic in nature, as though made from innumerable miniscule scales woven together, all too small to be seen. In fact, at times, when she's excited, it even seems to wobble or shake, seemingly of its own accord, mimicking the slithering of a snake. Regardless, it seems that she retains just enough of her old appearance and nature for people to realize that she'd probably be seen by most as rather cute, even for an Elf, were it not for the rather obvious issue that she no longer is one. Depending on your point of view, this can make her bizarre serpentine aspects all the more stark in contrast to her original form, or make them seem much less frightening than they otherwise might be. It just depends on whether one sees her as a monster or a maiden.

    Starting at her hips and curving downward around her more private regions, the line between her humanoid parts and serpentine ones is a little nebulous. Nevertheless, beginning near her waist, her skin gives way entirely to a much tougher snow white hide, coated in all areas save her snakelike underbelly with scales of a similar, diamond-like hue and texture. This appendage tapers away ever so slowly to form a small tail, which, like the scales on her cheeks and the similar, softer scales adorning other areas of her otherwise humanoid regions such as her hips and back, is actually rather sensitive to tactile sensations of all sorts. As such, it's not uncommon to see her feeling some unusual thing over not with her hands, but with the tip of her tail, so as to get a much more accurate sense of its texture. The creases in her underbelly, too, are also rather sensitive to touch, presumably meant to allow her to more reliably get a feel for anything she happens to be holding onto. Consequently, although it might be rather unbecoming for either a maiden or a monster, she actually may seem to be a bit ticklish in these particular places. In reality, it's not quite that simple. Rather, pressure to these areas creates a strangely soothing feeling, as mentioned above. While rather similar on the surface to the muscle relaxation brought on by a massage, the heightened, localized sensitivity of physical arousal or the itching, tingling sensation of being tickled, it's not quite the same as any of these. Regardless, it's rather embarrassing for her, and is a fact she isn't particularly keen on sharing.

    Her serpentine lower body, much like her more humanoid upper half, is also covered in strange patterns of dark red scales, forming intricate symbols all along its full length, most concentrated on each side, but also joining in several locations on her serpentine half's back. Although the scales that make up both her hide and these patterns are rather tough, they're actually somewhat brittle, making their utility as a "natural armor" somewhat limited in any matters save the wear and tear brought on by dragging herself across the ground like... well... a snake.

    Her upper body is roughly two feet, eight inches in height. So, given its proportions, it's quite likely that, in her old body, she would have been somewhere close to five feet, ten inches total in height. And, for the most part, she appears to be only a little shorter than that size, as when she moves, she now does so upright, like a cobra, propping herself up on her upraised tail in a manner reminiscent of sitting down upon her own serpentine coils. However, her lower half is actually significantly longer than a humanoid pair of legs - 18 feet or so in total length, to be exact - causing it to trail behind her. She moves by lurching her top half forward, and then slithering her serpentine lower body along in an S-shape, constricting it to push herself off the ground and move forward. Although she's much faster than one might expect, there are still several mobility problems that this entails. If she needs to go fast, for example, she moves in quick lunges, but then needs to draw in her coils in order to launch herself once again, thus forcing her to momentarily stop moving. She faces a similar difficulty when it comes to corners, as to turn herself around, she needs to swerve repeatedly in the same direction, forcing her to swing out her tail, constrict it, coil it, and then push once again in the same direction. As such, her maximum speed barring tremendous effort on her part is usually only about a normal Human's walking speed. Surprisingly, though, she's actually fairly good at climbing and slithering over obstacles, as her tail can grab hold of things and cling to them with tremendous strength, then uncoil itself to launch herself upward, allowing her to crawl vertically in a series of small jumps and lurches.

    Although her lower half is rather rounded and elegant, it's actually astonishingly heavy for its size, weighing over three times as much as her upper body. Yet, despite this, she moves it with ease, likely because it contains very little in the way of internal organs, aside from a large secondary heart located just a few feet down her serpentine abdomen from her waist, used to pump blood through the long, extended appendage where the strength of her own heart isn't quite sufficient. Even if her own, humanoid heart was damaged, this secondary organ might be enough to keep her alive for some time - fortunate, since her second heart is much harder to get at than her first, positioned as it is in the very core of her much tougher serpentine body. Aside from this organ, her nerves and blood vessels, and a much more flexible extension of her own human spine and vertebrae that runs down the center line of her snakelike body, pretty much all of her tail's internal makeup is muscle and sinew, giving her lower half the tremendous strength she needs to haul both it and her own humanoid torso along. Given this, it's quite likely that she could strap quite a load to her serpentine "tail" and carry it without being overly burdened. Someone might even be able to sit on her back and ride along with her, although the utility of such an action is questionable at best, given that her usual maximum speed is close to that of a normal person walking.

    Given her current circumstances as a hermit and the difficulties caused by her serpent half's large size and rigid nature, Hylonome's wardrobe is somewhat limited. Although due to her current place of residence, fanciful and elegant dresses are in no short supply, simply getting them on and wearing them is something of a trial in and of itself, and as such, she usually favors a fairly predictable few outfits - mostly side-slit dresses into which she can slip herself without going through the trouble of winding her whole snake body into them first. Given that her scales, while not covering her more private areas, do shield them from view somewhat, high cut garments aren't so much of an issue for her modesty as they might otherwise be. And, given the simple difficulty of getting dressed and undressed by herself, and her lack of company, she's taken to wearing some outfits that would doubtless be considered rather immodest and revealing by most people without thinking much of it. People are generally horrified by the sight of her anyway, so baring a little skin for convenience's sake is hardly the least of her worries.

    As such, she can most often be found clad in some variant of a qipao, dress, or robe, which she can simply open, drape around herself, and fasten, and which doesn't get in the way of her tail or drag on the ground as she slithers. Customarily topping these ensembles off with a matching pair of women's gloves cut open to reveal the red markings on the backs of her hands, she thus presents a strangely elegant image that clashes slightly with her unnerving and inhuman shape, the strange, swaying motions of her movement, and the unnatural scales adorning her flesh. Whether or not her monstrous form is beautiful or horrifying... that's up to the one looking at her to decide.

Face Claim
  • Kyara Akaro, original character design by the DeviantArt user BanyeX.


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Occupation
  • Forest Hermit.
Homeland
  • Alne. She was born in the capital.
Current Residence
  • Hylonome currently lives in an isolated grove in the forests of Sylvana, just beyond the holdings of the Wood Elves, within a small unused cottage hidden in the forest, where some long lost caravan was apparently abandoned. Although this humble abode was on the verge of collapse when she found it, she fixed it up using materials from the forsaken wagons to replace rotting wood and redecorate the interior, using some fanciful garments carried for trade by the forgotten caravan to fill her wardrobe, and cultivating crops in a small, overgrown garden in order to sustain her livelihood, or else preying upon the creatures of the wood. Although nobody's really sure where her hideout is, legends have recently been spreading around the area about a great white snake that lurks through the forest, snatching up local children and travelers who've lost their way and devouring them whole. Whether or not there's any truth to these stories... well, that's up to anyone looking for her to figure out.

Personal History
  • There are two legends fairly well known in the countryside of Alde. The first is that the daughter of a prestigious elven clan, a girl named Hylonome, envied her brother for his inheritance, his strength, and his skill, and forsook his kindness towards her, cursing him to death with black magic in a fit of jealousy. For her crime, she was tried for dark witchcraft, found guilty, and executed, although it is said that her hateful spirit still lives on, haunting the forgotten parts of the Sylvan woodlands in which she died. The second legend is largely viewed as being unrelated to the first. It speaks of a great white serpent, its body possessed and transformed by the spirit of a noblewoman who longed for eternal life, and who was willing to consume the lives of her people to get it. Cast out from her kingdom in exile, she became like a beast herself, and lives within the woods in eternal solitude, so that she may repent her sinful greed until the end of time.

    As with all legends, there is, perhaps, some grain of truth to these tales. However, the real story connecting them is one that few people, if any, are aware of.

    Born into an Elven noble family, Hylonome was largely overshadowed from early in her childhood by her twin brother, Afliss. Her father, a member of the High Elf Council, carefully groomed Afliss for the inheritance of their clan, while Hylonome was largely left to her own devices, as she'd been born with a rather frail constitution. She was taught how to cook and keep house, and only reluctantly instructed in reading and the arts, as, overall, she just didn't seem like anything would ever come of her, and so was mostly just expected to be married off to one of the other clans for political purposes.

    Yet, despite this disparity in their treatment, and although she envied her brother, Hylonome never disliked Afliss. Far from it, in fact. The two of them were inseparable right from the moment they were born. Whatever Afliss was taught, he would share with her, and when Afliss wanted to go play somewhere, he would always insist that his sister be allowed to tag along, even if it meant taking things slowly so that she didn't get left behind. If there was any risk at all, Afliss would take it in her place, always striving to protect the young girl from everything the world had to throw at her. And, for a time, even though her health was ailing, Hylonome was happy just knowing that she was important to someone.

    All that changed when, one day in her late twenties - closer to a Human's very early adolescence - she fell particularly ill. Only Afliss, her perpetual caretaker, insisted on remaining by her side, doing whatever he could to make her comfortable and treat her ailments, even though many people in her family already felt as though her fate was sealed. But, to her surprise and horror, when the dawn finally rose after a night spent wracked by fever and delirium, Hylonome awoke to find herself completely healed... and her precious brother completely stripped of his very life.

    As it happened, her "illness" was not one of the body. It was an affliction of the soul. Born with painfully little magic to sustain her life, her spirit had to make up for what it lacked through some means, and thus developed the ability to siphon the lives of others around her. The closer and more devoted the victim was to her, the easier it would be to make him give up his spirit so that she herself might continue to live. And, as fate would have it, Afliss was the most devoted, loving person that this dark power could ever have asked for. He had paid the price for that selflessness, and now, Hylonome would have to pay the price for her own soul's greed.

    Found guilty of using dark magic to claim the life of a beloved child of the nobility, she was disowned, arrested, and then taken in ignominy as a practitioner of forbidden Dark Magic to a great granite plateau, a shaded monolith in the woods on the edge of Alne. This spot had once been revered as the nexus of the power of an ancient land spirit who had existed since before the time of the Life Walkers, and was venerated accordingly by the local populace. Thus, offering her accursed magic to the spirit of the earth such that it might be purified and returned to the living, her own vengeful family denounced her and convicted her. Her pleas were never heard, and the penalty she suffered for taking a life infinitely more valuable than her own was, as was inevitable, death. A sword was driven through her body, and she was cast over the edge of the great stone and into the dark woods below, to be dashed to pieces on the rocks.

    Yet, impossibly, the girl did not die, even though her spine had been partially severed by the blade, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down, unable to seek aid as she slowly bled out into the dirt. Clinging desperately to her life, her ever-starving soul devoured the magic that steeped the earth, and, in doing so, called forth an existence far beyond her own, just as her own life reached its endpoint.

    The Great Serpent, Gaius, was indeed what the legends claimed he was. An ancient spirit that had dwelt within the converging leylines on that spot, he had thrived on the magic that danced beneath the earth, untouchable to mortal hands. However, in the time of the Elders, that power, which he had shared with them willingly, had been stolen from him, leaving him weakened and trapped beneath the earth. Infuriated by this betrayal, he had resolved never to offer his power to another mortal being. And yet, seeing a being similarly betrayed and laid low, he heeded the young girl's dying pleas, appearing before her, called forth by the desperate searching of her soul as she finally breathed her last. She, like him, thrived on the magic that existed around her, but had been slain because she could not control that thirst. In his eyes, she was just another victim of those who wished to hold magical power for themselves, and thus, as the enemy of his enemy, he was willing to accept her as a comrade in arms. However, even he, with all his power, could not bring back the dead, which by this point, she partially was. So, just as her soul began to leave her body, he took drastic measures. Ripping his essence and the magic that steeped it out of the leylines upon which they stood, he implanted that nexus of subterranean power within her, recreating her body from within to restore it such that its thirst for magic would at last be sated, giving her the vitality she needed to revive herself. However, he was nowhere near the pinnacle of his strength, and thus in pulling her back from beyond the boundary of death, he was unable to preserve aspects of her form that had been damaged beyond repair. It was for this reason that, when she awoke, her paralyzed legs had been replaced by the body of a snake.

    Horrified by what she had become, and fearing that the villagers would realize her survival and come hunting for her, she fled into the forest, crawling and slithering in the dirt like a common vermin. However, although she'd sated her hunger for magic, she still needed to feed her earthly body. Not knowing how to hunt or survive in the wild, she was forced into a risky situation, poaching food from local villages to survive. Of course, given her clumsiness with her new body, it was inevitable that sooner or later she was discovered. Reviled as a monster, she was once again hunted, and forced into the wilds to save herself. However, during this time, Gaius was not silent. Through her every waking moment, he tested her resolve to live, advising her of the best course of action to take so that she might live, and escape from her pursuers. It was through this means, and this means alone, that she managed to avoid being put to the sword. However, as she grew used to her new form, she began to realize the potential it held. As she was now, her very body was like a nexus of leylines of magical power, and her soul, which held the power to call out to other magic - namely, life - existed on the edge of death. Thus, she who had feared death more than anything began to give herself willingly into the world of Phantoms, calling upon their power with the guidance of Gaius, her mentor. She at last learned to control her abilities of Dark Magic, and thus gave them a new form: the ability to call on and command phantasmal existences. Confident in her newfound strength, when she found herself cornered next, she resolved not to run, but rather, to fight.

    At first, things seemed to go well. Although she'd been caught by two elven hunters, she managed to hold her own, calling upon the phantoms of their own weapons and wielding them to protect herself. Yet, although she could replicate their blades, she couldn't replicate their skills at wielding them. She pushed herself as far as she could go, stepping into and out of the Phantom World to escape death time and time again - and yet all this did was leave her drained. As a last resort, she called upon every phantom existence she could possibly think of. Her brother's arms appeared from her back to supplement her own, while phantom forces of fire and pressure made themselves manifest, battering her assailants without mercy. It seemed as though she'd won bloodlessly when she disarmed one of her opponents, only for his compatriot to strike at her from behind, damaging one of her body's "leylines" in the form of one of the scarlet markings on her back, creating a scar she still bears to this day, and disrupting her connection to the phantoms she had summoned. In desperation, she called forth all the spirits she could muster and gave to them one final order: "Protect me." Her powers eagerly complied. By the time she realized what she'd done, both the men hunting her were dead, skewered by phantasmal swords.

    She hadn't meant for that to happen. All she'd wanted was to show them she wasn't to be trifled with, that she could stand against them and wasn't to be pursued, and yet wasn't the monster people thought she was. Yet in the end, all she had done was prove to the world that a monster was exactly what she was. She'd taken three lives with her own hands, and no matter how much she told herself it had been an innocent mistake every time, she was yet wracked by the guilt of what she'd done. Fleeing into the forest, she resolved to never again show her face to the world that so loathed her, that she might live out the rest of her life in repentance. And so, leaving nary a trace behind, she escaped into the wilderness, into an area of the forest that was home to countless dangerous predators. Few people ever came here, and it was here that she would at last be left at peace. Finding a run-down old cottage in the woods and the supplies to repair it in an abandoned caravan, she made this place into her isolated sanctuary, and lived there for many years. Eventually, the hunters who had pursued her so tirelessly gave up their chase, and the tall tale of the monster born from the hatred of a woman possessing the body of a snake eventually became little more than a local legend. Hylonome the Forsaken had "died" in the eyes of the world.

    And so, the young exile grew and matured, learning more about her magic and the ways of the wild. For many years, she was left undisturbed in the heart of the woods, spending her days reading what books she had been able to gather from the outside world, and dreaming of what it would be like to live a normal life free from guilt, free from the accursed body in which she now found herself. But these fantasies seemed fated to remain nothing more than just that - futile daydreams. That is, until one day, she felt a great power emerging from underneath the earth. Intrigued by this, she left her home, following the leylines that carried this energy to their source, and discovering what it was that had held such phenomenal magic: a vault, a fantastic inheritance left behind by the Elders. It was then that she realized that, perhaps, her wishes might yet be granted. Were she able to find such a vault herself, she could lay claim to its magical power, and restore the full strength of Gaius, using it to return both her soul and body to their normal forms. She could become an ordinary Elf again, and lay aside the curse that had afflicted her for all her life. Hylonome didn't need to think twice. If it meant that her seemingly impossible wish might become a reality, she would do anything to lay claim to such power. No matter what it took, she resolved herself: she would restore her original body.

Personality
  • Although she's lived for almost a hundred years, Hylonome doesn't really act either her physical or her true age. Her contact with other people stifled and her development somewhat stunted, she tends to act rather more childish than anyone might expect. She enjoys the simplest things life has to offer: a nice meal, a warm bed, the singing of the birds, and sunlight on her cheeks. All of these things hold a basic appeal to her that, to most people, would likely seem strange or inconsequential. Having lived the majority of her life in the wilderness, she doesn't really remember what civilization is like very well, and as such, has little knowledge of society's goings-on, or of the progress of technology. All she knows is what she's learned from books sneakily obtained from nearby settlements, sequestered in her little cottage in the forest as she has been. Consequently, she finds much to marvel about in the modern world and its progression from the vague remnants of her own memories. Insatiably curious, she wants to know everything she can about anything she can get her hands - or, in some cases, her tail - on. As such, she tends to fixate on... well, pretty much anything that catches her attention, which is most things in general, since she, as previously stated, doesn't really remember much about anything.

    Kind at heart, in matters of ideals she is as fundamentally childish as she is in matters of worldly knowledge. People being inconvenienced or hurt is bad, and is to be avoided whenever possible. If somebody needs help, they should get it, and nobody should ever have to be lonely. This is all based on her personal experience with the world, and, given her own miserable life thus far, has founded the core tenets of her moral outlook. Although she views people as intrinsically good, she sees herself as an outsider in that regard. For many years now, she's been reviled as an accursed monster, and, over time, has come to agree with those who view her as subhuman. Having claimed the lives of three people in order to preserve her own, she views her own existence as worthless – at least, as it stands. She wants to help people, feeling as though saving or bettering other people's lives will allow her to atone for her sins. But she can't do that in her present form. People fear her, or are disgusted by her appearance, and are driven away from the moment they see her. Anyone who might sympathize with her would only feel pity for her wretched circumstances. Her very form seems to her to be a curse, and one she must be rid of before all else. Driven less by active malice and more through sheer self-loathing and hatred of where her life has ended up, she's willing to do some pretty questionable things if it means restoring her body. This ultimate atonement is an admirable end goal, but, seeing how far she's already come, if it meant lifting her curse, there are few additional sacrifices that would seem too costly to her. She's desperate to be whole again, and so despite her gentle nature, no blood is too precious to be spilled in the name of her restoration, be it her own or that of anyone who might make themselves her enemy, and no cost is too great to be paid save, perhaps, her own life. Perhaps it's because she's come to view herself as a monster, and therefore feels as though she shouldn't be too proud to act like one if it means eventually shedding that status, convoluted though that logic may seem. Regardless, she's ended three lives in the name of continuing her own, and in her opinion, has come much too far to turn back on her dreams.

    Even so, so long as one doesn't directly interpose themselves between her and her goal, treat her as something less than a person, or otherwise antagonize her, she can show herself to be a surprisingly kind individual, completely unlike the way she's depicted in the stories about her, and diametrically opposite the haughtiness and arrogance one might expect from a High Elf. She helps without being asked, does what she's told, and generally addresses people with the utmost humility and politeness. This last fact is likely because she remembers little else when it comes to interpersonal interaction than what she was taught amongst the nobility. Consequently, there's a certain dichotomy between her somewhat flowery language and her simple personality.

    This isn't to say she's a fool, even if in her childlike innocence she may act a bit like one. She catches onto the meanings of things rather quickly, and is more than capable of deducing many things that are far from obvious, just from observing their relations to other, more familiar objects. Although not well-educated in any sense, she still has a surprising sort of wisdom, especially when it comes to matters of magic. As she herself is the functional equivalent of a nexus of leylines, she possesses a sort of uncanny connection to the flow of magical energy. Even if she lacks the talent to cast them herself – her own abilities being limited solely to the realm of Phantasms – she can understand the spells used by others with shocking clarity, allowing her to decipher their mechanics and purposes just by seeing them used. If her powers were in some area other than Dark Magic, she'd probably have been revered as a prodigy rather than reviled as a pariah. In any case, her intuition is a great deal more formidable than anyone might expect.

    However, before one can ever hope to observe any of these aspects of her being, one must first obtain her trust, which is no easy feat. Hylonome has been betrayed, used, and discarded time and time again throughout her life, and has long since come to the conclusion that her own cursed existence is just a burden on those around her. As such, she's terrified of being noticed by other people and thereby earning their ire, and so largely avoids such confrontation by escaping notice entirely. Hiding herself away in the forest, if at all possible, she tries to never interact with a fellow sentient being face to face, a tradition she's kept going for many decades. Although she's caught glimpses of people during that time, she's never allowed them to see her, nor has she ever spoken to anyone save herself. Over time, her fear and loathing of her own visage grew and grew until she became utterly certain that anyone who looked upon her and understood her for what she was would surely try to kill her. The most she's used to interacting with other people is having a sword swung at her head. That's just what she's come to expect, and thus, when and if it happens, it's “normal,” and, arguably, easier for her to cope with despite her fear of death than is interacting cordially with someone whose motives and motivations she doesn't know. Consequently, she views any sort of contact almost like an attack, and is very, very secretive, trying any means available to her to hide her snakelike body for as long as possible, so as not to be recognized, and thus, she reasons, despised. Assuming somebody did see her form and didn't attack her or flee on sight, she'd probably have no idea how to deal with them. She would be wary at first, fearing that they were only luring her in to trap her and kill her when she let her guard down. Assuming someone actually did manage to convince her that they weren't after her life, she would still likely be on edge for quite some time, not wanting to trust someone only to risk losing them later. Hylonome is a terribly lonely individual, who desires nothing more than to be a positive influence in the lives of people around her. After the sins she has committed, that is the only meaning she feels her life has left. And yet, decades spent drowning in her despair and self loathing have made her second guess any hope of people accepting her as she is. It would take a great deal of effort to prove one's devotion to Hylonome, but if one were to succeed at doing so, they'd finally see the side of herself she'd been hiding.

    Overall, she's an easily frightened woman who lacks much in the way of self-esteem. Although kind, she's also very desperate, and prone to do things that would otherwise go against her ideals entirely for the sake of her own vision of “redemption.” She fears the world in its entirety, as she feels she has no place in it, and yet, at the same time, finds herself drawn to it, like a moth towards a flame. Depending on whether the people she meets after her long seclusion accept or reject her, her hopes might become a reality. Or, perhaps, they might be shattered completely, leaving her with nothing left to lose...

Likes
  • The Basics: Having spent most of her life as an ascetic exile, living off the land, she's come to appreciate very basic luxuries that most people would ignore. This is helped by her altered senses giving her a slightly different perception of the world from the people around her, drawing out the real beauty of the warmth of sunlight, and of fireflies dancing in the darkness of the deep forest. The usefulness of new inventions, also, is not lost upon her, and as such, many things most people in the modern era would take for granted, she finds miraculous, relieving, and wonderful. She likes to know things, so it's really no surprise that she takes such pleasure in discovering the meaning behind simple facts of life, and of her surroundings. Of particular note is her love of water and swimming. Due to the way her body handles heat – see below – she's perhaps most comfortable when drenched to the bone, as it keeps her cool and moistens her otherwise hard and brittle scales, helping clean out the pesky cracks between them. Regularly bathing in this fashion is actually vitally important for her, as, unlike a normal snake, she doesn't moult. Instead, she enters a state of semi-consciousness, and the magical crests spanning the length of her body begin to exude magical power in small bursts in time with the beating of her heart. Carrying her overflowing vitality in her blood, this spreads magic all along the span of her tail, utilizing a sort of built-in regeneration mechanic to restore cracked and broken bits of her hide. However, although this process does purge any parasites or fungus that may have accumulated on her underbelly, there may be some leftover residue clinging to gaps between her scales that must be properly cleaned off in order to avoid discomfort while moving.
  • Children: They remind her of herself when she was young, and did not know how cruel the world could be to those who do not belong in it. As such, she can't bear to see them hurt, and delights in their smiles and laughter. Although she has never appeared before any directly, many children lost in the woods have spoken of being protected from predators by some unseen being concealed within the darkness, which guided them back to the safety of their homes, yet never showed its face. Although adults fear the forest, and tell stories of the White Serpent that lives within it in order to scare their children away from it, the local youth hold a somewhat different opinion of that forbidden area of the wild. Many refer to it as “The Sacred Wood,” and revere what they assume to be a benign nature spirit living within it, rather than fearing the much more well-known “monster.”
  • Reading: Even before she was exiled, Hylonome loved to read more than almost anything else. Now, in her self-imposed solitude, it is her main means of passing the time. “Borrowing” books from several local towns, she has amassed quite the collection, a small library all her own to peruse at her will. She's read most everything in it at least seven times over, but certain favorites are capable of captivating her just as easily even after she already knows their stories by heart. The characters within these books are like her close friends, and help her feel less alone, living all by herself in the middle of an isolated and empty land.
  • Singing: It's rather surprising, coming from one who most people would fear as a monstrous beast, but actually, not only does the serpentine maiden greatly enjoy this activity, she's quite good at it. Her voice is soft, high, and clear, projecting tones that lilt throughout the forest groves. Although few, if any have been blessed to hear her singing, it's truly a wonderful sound to hear, rare though it may be.
  • Gardening: Another hobby she picked up after moving into her new home. As a lover of beautiful things, she decided she would brighten up her sanctuary a little bit to cheer herself up. Although surrounded by thick underbrush on all sides, the center of the clearing in which her cottage is located stands as testament to her continued efforts, with rows of brightly colored flowers swaying to and fro in the wind all around her somewhat shabby wooden house.
  • Perks of her New Form: Although she loathes her present body, and would never admit to finding even a single aspect of it useful, she does enjoy certain things about her transformed self. The most obvious of these is that she doesn't get sick anymore – although whether this is due to Gaius' regenerative effects or because she's technically partially dead, who can say for sure? - which is quite a far cry from her original frailty. Aside from that, she's grown quite accustomed to the augmentations and limitations of her five senses that her serpentine aspects provide, such as her uncanny ability to detect distant warmth by “touch,” or her intuitive perception of the flow of magic. Besides these things, there's also the fact that her coils can serve as a chair for her even if she has none, which is a lot more convenient than it sounds. Although she wouldn't hesitate for an instant to change back to a humanoid body were she given the chance, there are still some things she's gotten used to in the time since her transfiguration, things which she would perhaps find it difficult to live without were she to cast them away.
Dislikes
  • Extreme Weather: Gaius' serpentine aspects adapted themselves to Hylonome's Elven body when the two of them fused into one physical entity. As such, even her lower half is warm-blooded. However, despite this fact, for whatever reason, Hylonome experiences effects similar to those that an actual snake might undergo when faced by excessive heat or cold. In hot weather, she seems to speed up excessively, alternating between states of almost manic activity and somewhat alarming exhaustion, as she finds it difficult to deal with excess heat, given that most of her body is incapable of perspiring. Consequently, when it's hot, she usually tries to find shade or large bodies of water, basking it in so as not to overheat herself. Similarly, in the cold, she becomes sluggish and tired, as though every aspect of her being is slowing to a crawl. It's entirely possible that in either of these cases - heat exhaustion or cold-induced torpor – she might completely lose consciousness, thus making it important for her to keep her body temperature in mind at all times. Interestingly enough, she's actually capable of slowing her body's processes at will, controlling her temperature to an extent. This is one of the reasons why it was mentioned earlier that should she lose her mortal heart, she might still be able to survive for a time, as by slowing her body's internal workings down and going into “hibernation,” she vastly reduces what is “necessary” for her to continue staying alive. This also works in similar circumstances, such as when she doesn't have food to eat or water to drink, or in the event she's been poisoned. Maybe these reptilian features of her body are why she's so slim? Snakes don't store body fat the way people do, after all.
  • Hot Food and Drinks: Another hand-me-down from Gaius's body. Ever-so-sensitive, Hylonome's tongue is consequently easily burnt by the sting of hot refreshments. Given the way her sense of taste works, this is more than just painful and irritating to her, it actually deprives her to a certain extent of the perceptions she relies on, as, in as much like a snake as a person can be, she actually can “taste” scents, much like how a snake “smells” for prey by flicking its tongue out. She doesn't go quite so far as to stick her tongue out, instead simply opening her mouth and taking a deep breath, but nevertheless, this odd ability of hers gives her an incredibly good sense of smell, and as such, having her tongue get burned and that sense she's grown to rely on to identify things at a distance crippled – as said before, she doesn't deal well with bright lights – can be quite a predicament for her.
  • Being Touched: As mentioned before, due to her transformation, many areas of her body are especially sensitive to touch. Combined with the fact that most of her memories of people coming into contact with her involve them trying to kill her, this causes her an immense amount of discomfort when it comes to interacting physically with others. Consequently, it's a sign of a great deal of trust on her part if she actually doesn't draw back from the touch of another, or, if taken by surprise, actually lash out in “self-defense” against an illusory attack.
  • Surprises: On that note, she really doesn't handle sudden movements or loud noises well. Living in a forest populated by deadly predators would have been enough to hard-wire her mind to remain perpetually on the lookout for danger even without the experience of being hunted like a wild animal ringing fresh in her memories of her childhood. Consequently, it's very ill-advised to make any unexpected motions or exclamations near her. She's very easily startled, and very difficult to calm down when frightened, and consequently has a tendency to react rather violently on instinct.
  • Spirits: This is less of a choice on her part and more a reaction to how Spirits view her. As is obvious considering she's in a contract with one, she has no problem with Spirits... aside from the fact that, aside from Gaius, they tend to view her as even more of a freak of nature than most people do. After all, in their eyes, she is but a ghost of her former self, possessing what should be a corpse that is in turn wearing the flesh of a Spirit like themselves, imbued with a mockery of the latent magic that they thrive on in order to bind and house a now-homeless phantom. Even if both she and Gaius subjected themselves to this unnatural dual existence willingly, she is largely perceived as a mere object by other magical Spirits, who refuse to acknowledge a being that is merely living off the overwhelming power of one of their own kind like a parasite, and oftentimes are completely baffled as to why Gaius treats her as a compatriot and partner, and why he was willing to serve as a tether for her unstable new life, when all she offers in exchange is a mobile “territory” for him to occupy. You may wonder why this is so strange. As an ancient and powerful nature spirit, Gaius' nature is somewhat different from other, more basic Spirits, and his existence infinitely more vast. As such, his vessel needs to be equally as expansive. Formerly, he lived in the leylines carrying the world's natural magic. However, when he made a contract with Hylonome, he transplanted both his own essence and that of the local leylines which served as the boundaries of his spirit directly into her dying body, turning her, in effect, into a microcosm of the flow of magic through the world. As such, her existence has become less like that of a normal, living being, and more like an area of ground consecrated by his powers. Normally, this would be of little consequence, if not for two factors. Firstly, it allows her to serve as a tether not just for Gaius' spirit, but also for existences from the past known as Phantoms. See her powers for an explanation of why this is useful. Secondly, though, it makes her presence stifling to lesser Spirits, as being close to her is functionally the same as trespassing into Gaius' territory, over which he holds absolute dominion. Consequently, their own powers are weakened by proximity to her. On the other hand, Gaius is no longer anywhere near as strong as he once was, and as such, these effects are somewhat less than one might expect. However, the opposite also holds true. When Hylonome tries to enter the territory of another Spirit, she experiences immense physical agony, and, depending on the Spirit's mood, she might even die, as her life is tethered to Gaius' continued influence. Coming into contract with a Spirit's contractor yields a similar, if lesser effect, causing her pain and difficulty remaining conscious unless both sides consciously restrain their Spirits' clashing influence on one another. However, given how repulsive she is to other Spirits, it's entirely possible that some haughtier spiritual entities might not care to hold back their influence, viewing ending her unnatural existence, which stands as an insult to the very nature of Spirits on the whole, as its own reward.

Skills and Abilities
  • Hylonome's skillset is somewhat limited. She's a fairly talented housekeeper, having had decades to practice managing the affairs of her little hidden enclave, and has learned – largely through book reading and a great deal of trial and error – how to either grow or catch her food, and to prepare it. This second item has also led to her becoming a somewhat eerily skilled hunter, an endeavor in which she has been aided in no small part by the unique perceptions of her serpentine body. In general, her hearing is fairly average for an Elf, while her vision is superior at night but inferior during the day. Her senses of touch, taste, and smell, however, are unbelievably keen, even for an Elf, thus serving many different purposes as described previously, and making up for her somewhat poor tolerance for light. Sensing heat from a distance, picking up on scents by tasting them in the air, and combing the ground she crawls for any trace of tracks using the more sensitive regions of her tail all combine to allow her to seek out prey with great ease, while her mighty tail, sharp teeth, and paralytic saliva are enough to bring down most creatures, assuming she can catch them. Although given her limited mobility, this last part can be something of an issue, it's nevertheless one she's managed to overcome through a few handy applications of her powers. In turn, with the aid of Gaius and her own intuition, she's managed to become quite adept when it comes to weaving Dark Magic.

    She's also become fairly proficient at treating injuries, as on several occasions, she's been harmed rather badly by various predators on her nighttime hunts, and has had to patch herself up as best she could, given her limited knowledge of anatomy and medicine as taught by some of the books in her collection. Fortunately, in her case, “rub a little spit on it” is actually a legitimate means of treating a wound, as her saliva serves as a disinfectant, painkiller, and healing agent all rolled into one. Her knowledge of the forest's herbs and what they do has certainly helped her get by, however, despite the utility of her own unique physiology. She can identify and treat poisons, cleanse and bandage wounds, and aid in the recovery process afterwords. Similarly, she's also had a great deal of practice at sewing clothing for herself from the various fabrics she's managed to get her hands on, as well as altering existing outfits to accommodate her body and repairing damage sustained in slithering through the overgrown forest.

    However, when it comes to direct combat, she can be a little bit lacking. Although she can create and wield weapons, and possesses fairly respectable physical strength, she doesn't have any particular experience or training in the art of war, and thus usually just follows the guidance of Gaius, who, lacking limbs, isn't exactly the best swordmaster one could ask for. Consequently, her fighting style usually revolves around a crippling ranged offensive, with her keeping her distance from an enemy whenever possible. If someone does close in and force her onto the defensive, however, they'll usually find that she favors quantity over quality, utilizing phantom limbs in addition to her own body in order to wield the maximum number of weapons at once, striking from multiple angles and shielding herself as best she can. If it comes down to it, she isn't above using her more bestial qualities to give her the advantage in battle, viciously thrashing, whipping, and flaying enemies with her tail, or constricting them in her coils to hold them in place before biting them to render them immobile with her paralyzing saliva. It's a brutal, predatory method of combat that fits her image as a monster perfectly, even if it clashes somewhat with her otherwise mild-mannered personality. Regardless, she tries to avoid conflict if possible, for the simple reason that even given all her unusual traits, she's just not very good at it.
Equipment & Weapons
  • Aside from any weapons she creates using her powers and those built into her body, Hylonome is essentially unarmed. Possessing very little aside from her books, her home, and the food she obtains for herself, she lacks any distinctive tools or items.

Magic
  • Originally incredibly frail, Hylonome was born with very little magic of her own. To compensate for this deficiency, she subconsciously drew on the magic of others to survive, eventually developing fully into the power to siphon magical energy in small quantities from people she interacted with, using her bonds with those people as a vector. The closer they became to her emotionally, the less barriers were between her spirit and theirs, allowing her to leech their energy to increase her own ailing vitality. She never realized what she was doing, and paid for her ignorance with her life. Desperate to escape the death that was otherwise inevitable to her, she made a contract with an ancient spirit serpent of the woodlands, the Great Serpent Gaius, who bestowed upon her his remaining power to sate her soul's hunger for magic, thus suppressing the darker side of her abilities for the most part and reducing the danger to those around her. In order to save her life, however, he was forced to create a tether for not only his spirit, but her own, as her soul had already left her technically “dead” body. To bind them both and revive her, he mimicked the flow of magic through the earth he'd formerly inhabited - being a land-bound spirit - in her own body, creating arcane crests that mimic the function of leylines for conducting magic, allowing her to control her own ability to draw on outside magical forces by binding their power to these leylines independently of both her own and Gaius' existence, allowing them to retain an existence distinct from her own. And, as she must deliberately invoke the power of these leylines to draw in spirits, this means that, barring extreme circumstances, she no longer unintentionally drains the life of those around her. However, as she technically “died” once, her soul is now a distinct existence from her body, bound to it by the conductive power of the leylines, which in turn channel magic from her spirit into her body, regenerating it and keeping it from going back to being dead. Since this is the case, she can actually use her power to call to magic to draw on the existences of phantasms – recollections of things as they once were in a spiritual form – and bind them to the leylines running through her, or else reversing those same abilities to cast aspects of herself into the Phantom World, a realm beyond the confines of space and time in which transient existences are preserved in the form of phantasms.

    Her first "spell" is perhaps her most fundamental: namely, it constitutes the ability to separate her conscious awareness from her body, and to shift either or both across the boundary between the Real World and the Phantom World to the other side. By displacing her body – which, being a fusion between a mortal body as it once was and the body of a spirit, is technically phantasmal in and of itself in all aspects save its leylines - to the Phantom World, but leaving her spirit behind, she is capable of becoming intangible, passing through solid objects, becoming unaffected by physical forces such as gravity, and temporarily making herself immune to harm. However, while in this state, she's incapable of exerting any sort of physical influence on the living world, becoming nothing more than a ghost. On the other hand, as the concept of "time" does not exist within the Phantom World, by passing her spirit – which, as the essence of a person once dead, is also a phantasm - over to the other side, she can temporarily enter a state in which she can analyze the situation and plan her reaction according to whatever decisions she might come to without worrying about time passing in reality, allowing her to, for example, predict the course of incoming attacks and plan all her movements several steps ahead in the midst of battle by repeatedly displacing herself from time. Perhaps most useful, however, is her ability to displace both mind and body to the Phantom World, allowing her to move herself about freely, repositioning herself while time is "stopped" for her, and thus simulating teleportation, even though solid objects or the laws of physics might stand between her and her goal. However, although this ability is very useful, her ability of displacing herself has several limitations. Firstly, due to the somewhat delicate nature of the ties that bind her to the leylines at the core of her body, she has to take great care in order to avoid being pulled fully into the Phantom World. Since entering the Phantom World almost completely detaches her from reality, she cannot remain within it in any capacity for any more than about a minute – at least, from her point of view, as time is nebulous for phantasms - of total exposure of either of her faculties - body or soul - within any short time interval. And, when fully immersing herself, she only has about 30 seconds before she has to pull out. These deadlines aren't independent of one another, either, meaning she must be very careful when using this ability. Furthermore, she can only enter and leave the Phantom World when her body is not restricted by any major forces, as these serve as a tie binding her to reality. So, for example, she couldn't phase into the Phantom World, phase her arm through her opponent's torso, and then pop back into tangibility so as to shatter their body from the inside out, nor could she enter the Phantom World while being restrained by another person, or impaled by a weapon, or some similar wound. This also means that her momentum isn't maintained between her entrance to and exit from the Phantom World, meaning actions such as, say, swinging a sword, entering the Phantom World, slithering up to her target, and then emerging in front of them only centimeters away from her blow connecting wouldn't work, as she'd lose all the force she put behind her motion. It also means she can't carry objects or people with her when she jumps, as they are strictly real existences, and thus don't meet the criteria to enter the Phantom World. The one exception is personal items that could ostensibly viewed as an extension of herself, like clothing or items with great meaning to her – rather fortunate, since otherwise, she'd end up naked every time she jumped. Finally, since she exists so close to death, it's entirely possible that any damage to her body's internal or external aspects sufficient to undo the convergence of its leylines would be enough to cause her body to "fall' onto the far side of the boundary, as she'd lose the tethers holding her spirit within her physical form, and holding her body together. In short, destroying enough of the red crests on her body might be all it takes to push her into a state of death, although "death" for her isn't quite as set in stone as it would be for most people, as, if a sufficient amount of magic is provided for her to feed on and restore her leylines to functionality, her body could eventually restore itself like it did when she made her contract, and her soul could return once again from the other side. But considering that her initial contract was with an incredibly powerful land spirit, almost all of whose magic was used up completely in the act of "resurrecting” her, it's likely that nothing short of a vault of magical power would be enough to heal her if she really, truly died.

    Her second "spell" is less of a passive ability and more of an active manipulation. As a Phantom herself called to the living world by the power of magic, she bears dominion over some lesser Phantoms similar in essence to herself. As such, she's capable of calling on Phantoms from the other side and manifesting them in the living world, using her leylines as a tether for their otherwise unstable and intangible existences in a mimicry of the Serpent tethering her. Not limited to just once-living spirits, she can also call upon lesser recollections, such as objects, forces, or forms of energy. However, without exception, the things she can summon are limited to the things she herself has experience with. Spirits she knows nothing of, items she's never seen, or forces she's never experienced cannot be called upon, as she has nothing to connect them to her own being with. Furthermore, there must be a purpose for all things she summons, and once called forth, her conjurations can only fulfill that assigned duty, and nothing else, as that “command” is all that binds them to her leylines, and is integral to whatever existence she gives them. So, for example, suppose she summoned a phantom "shield" to protect herself from a given attack, then was attacked again by surprise immediately after. It would block the first attack, but the second would phase right through it as though it were intangible, because that wasn't what it was summoned to defend against, and thus isn't connected to its “existence.” As her summons draw on the same fuel as her own life to sustain themselves, this is likely a mechanism meant to conserve power. Nevertheless, being selectively corporeal causes her summons' utility to be a little bit limited.

    Starting with the simplest group of summons available to her, phantasmal forces generally take the form of gleaming blue "ghost lights." Whether it be fire, concussive pressure, or physical momentum, she can conjure it so long as its origin is from the leylines running through her body - specifically from one of the magical "circuits" grafted onto its surface in crests of red scales, the most often used of which are marks on the backs of her hands and upon her own back - and it is called forth for a specific purpose. However, due to the limited sustainability of vague things like forces, usually, the most she can do in this field is something like, say, commanding a force to push a locked door open, or to light something on fire. More often than not, she uses phantom forces to accentuate her own physical movements, reducing the friction of her lower body against the ground so as to ease the process of slithering, making up in part for her lack of mobility.

    Phantasmal objects, meanwhile, simply become transparent silhouettes of the items they replicate, constructed wholecloth from glowing blue light. For example, in the case of a sword, a side-by-side of the original and the Phantom might look like this. Note that the object she replicates need not be destroyed. It simply must be something that once existed, and which still exists within her memories as a Phantom to be actualized. Somewhat more versatile in their function, these phantom items must still be created with a given purpose in mind. Again using a sword as an example, she might conjure such a weapon to fight a specific foe. And, indeed, it would work both to cut that target, and to defend against his or her attacks. However, it would be unable to defend against or strike back at other enemies in the case she summoned it using such a command. Usually, the items she creates are also rather fragile, having a very limited supply of energy on which they can exist, granted them as a static “cost” when they are summoned, and which cannot be renewed by any means. Once that runs out, they break and disappear. The more broad the command used to create them, the less focused her creations are, the more energy they must spend to maintain their existences, and thus, in the case of phantom items, the easier they are to break, a price that must be paid for increased utility.

    The final thing she can conjure is either part of or an entire once-living phantom. In this case, the only things she can summon are the specters of lives she has assumed the responsibility for ending, and thus bound herself to the life force of. Furthermore, she cannot summon these phantoms to act autonomously, as she doesn't have enough power to support two lives. Instead, she simply creates them as extensions of her own body. A phantasmal "hand" might overlay itself over her own, extending or retracting as she wills to grasp far away objects, but otherwise mimicking the movements of the limb it is covering. Alternatively, she might use the tattoos adorning her back to grant herself up to three additional appendages. (Formerly four, but as one marking was destroyed, she can no longer use it.) Even if full-bodied phantoms are usually not connected to her body, the same principle usually holds for them as well, as they usually mirror her body's actions perfectly - a fact which presents a major difficulty when it comes to summoning phantoms with legs, since, as she no longer possesses such appendages, she cannot replicate or control them. As such, most phantoms she summon take the form of a floating torso, head, and arms, or else detached appendages of some sort. Oddly enough, she is capable of controlling basic, nonhuman appendages so long as they are similar in function to her own, however. So, for example, although she couldn't control legs by moving her tail, she could control a summoned pair of wings by flapping her arms. Furthermore, as usual, she still needs a purpose in mind when she summons these spirits, meaning that whatever she targets with them is the only thing towards which they will be tangible.

    Given that her body's leylines are limited in number and in capacity, it's possible for her to, with some effort, create tethers other than herself before utilizing a given summon. By creating crests that replicate her own leylines, she can essentially imbue the energy for a given summoning into an artificial crest, the shape and details of which in turn specify the Phantasm to be summoned, linking it to its target and leaving it solely waiting for her chosen command to fulfill the specific function she has given it – emitting energy to call to a Phantasm, bind it to a temporary physical existence, and fulfill the order she has given. On the surface, this seems tremendously useful, since it means she can store energy outside herself when she doesn't need any extra, and call on it later when that same energy is in short supply. The problem is that she can't actually reclaim the power she imbues into these False Crests – which usually take the form of small paper talismans adorned with red markings similar to her own, as shown in the images – meaning that whatever Phantasm she selects for them to summon is the only one they can ever be used to call upon, forcing her to predict what she'll be needing and prepare False Crests in advance, which, given the wide variety of summons available to her, is generally very difficult. In addition, given that the False Crests are inferior in design and efficiency to her own leylines, they can only store a very small amount of energy, meaning that it's difficult to use them to call on anything beyond very simple Phantasms. Complex objects and once-living Spirits are completely out of the question, limiting these items' utility to conjuring basic tools and fundamental forces. In addition to these factors, the False Crests are subject to the same limitations as her own leylines when it comes to actually manifesting Phantasms. They must be the origin point of what they conjure, and the broader the command used, the more energy they must expend for the same results. More often than not, she thus uses these talismans to store basic weapons or forces useful as traps, so that she can access them at a moment's notice if she's backed into a corner, and stores them in the gloves she wears.

    As such, although her ability to become one with and to control Phantasmal Existences is tremendously versatile, that versatility is severely hampered by several restrictions. The most crippling among these is without a doubt its reliance on her own life as fuel. By using this power, she ensures that her own tether to existence will be weakened, and she will be brought close to reliving her death regardless of whether or not she's actually injured if she's unable to take at least partial responsibility for the death of whatever enemy she should employ it against, or connect to some other outside source of magical power – an act which usually entails draining the energy of other people close to her, whom she fears hurting above all else.

    ...I'm really feeling sleep deprived, incidentally, which is why I forgot to add this when I copy-pasted this bio from my computer to this page. Derp.



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So begins...

Hylonome The Forsaken's Story

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Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken
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#, as written by Feyblue
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"Even if there's a chance I might be able to restore my body, I don't want to have to face another person ever again. To leave this forest and return to the outside world... is that really the right thing to do?"

BGM: Imagination Forest (Music Box ver.)


Location ✦ Sylvan Wilds - The Sacred Wood || State of Mind ✧ Excited, Uneasy




Two scarlet eyes cracked upon amidst an old wooden room. There was a faint scuffling sound as something large glided softly over the floorboards, kicking up a small cloud of dust that danced amidst the sunlight streaming between the half-open shutters of the window, shining like miniscule diamonds that soon disappeared, carried gently away on the soft breeze that flowed in from the forest outside. The shutters clattered together, then bounced back apart, allowing the light to fill the old room. The eyes that had only just opened to the light of day swiftly shut as their owner rubbed them tiredly. Brushing her hair back, the seemingly young hermit took hold of the corners of the blanket draped loosely over her form, pulling them up like a hood to shield herself from the brightness of the day.

"I overslept again," She mumbled, lazily uncoiling the tail she'd curled herself up amidst, taking great care not to bump into the patchwork walls of the small chamber. Her white scales glided smoothly across the floor as, straightening her body out, she pulled herself upright, slowly hauling her upper half up from where it had lain. Slithering forward, she pulled herself to the window, peering out from underneath the brim of her makeshift "hood." It looked like a beautiful day outside, with the sun shining down upon the large glade, illuminating the countless colors of the flowers surrounding her house. The vines encrusting the walls and the tallgrass surrounding her humble home swayed in time with the trees in a lilting, cool breeze that flitted through the windows. Taking hold of the windowsill, leaned her head outside, shutting her eyes to the as-of-yet painful light, letting the wind caress her face, the distant warmth of the sunlight striking her cheeks and setting her mind at ease. To her surprise, she felt a small weight on the back of her hand. Looking down, she found her gaze met by that of a small, curious-looking blue bird. She gave a gentle smile, the pinkish-red scales in her cheeks glittering in the afternoon glow. Doubtless, any sentient being who saw that expression, and the fangs inadvertently laid bare behind it, would have found it unsettling, but this creature, which did not know better, only gazed back at her with an air of curiosity, its attention fixated upon her bright scales. "Hello there," She said quietly, not wanting to make so much noise as to frighten the bird away. "Where did you come from, little one?" The small creature hopped off of her hand, landing on the windowsill and giving a quiet peep, tilting its head off towards the forest. She gave a quiet laugh. It was almost like the tiny being was trying to converse with her. "I see," She said. "On an adventure then. Well, I wish you luck on your journey." Another quiet chirp came in reply, and the bird fluttered its wings, darting up suddenly in front of her face. She drew back in surprise, momentarily losing sight of it, only to find it perched upon the blanket covering her face. Tilting its head down, it peered over the brim of this "hood," giving her a bizarre upside-down stare. She laughed again. "Sorry, but I can't go with you," She said, shaking her head as gently as she could, so as not to knock her unexpected friend from its perch. "I'm going on a journey soon, too. To somewhere very far away." A quiet peep again. Had it understood her? Almost certainly not, but still, it took some of the weight off her mind to feel as though something, at least, was listening to what she had to say. Cocking its head to the side, it took off, soaring back out the window and into the sky. Habitually, the young hermit raised her hand and gave a small wave, bidding her avian guest adieu as he resumed his travels to who knew where.

"My dear girl, might I ask what you're doing?" The sudden, echoing voice rang out unexpectedly in her ears, originating, it seemed, from a point behind them. She jumped slightly, her back momentarily going rigid as her tail hastily uncoiled itself. Breathing a quiet gasp, she swiftly calmed herself, slowing her breath and the racing of her heart. Contrary to what might expect of a serpent, this sudden address sounded quite human. And, unlike what one might assume of a powerful nature spirit, although her partner's voice consisted of a deep, reverberating baritone, his tone sounded much more gentle and fatherly than the sort of commanding roar many might assume a proud spirit of the earth would employ.

"Oh... Gaius... My apologies. You scared me," She said quietly, her cheeks coloring in embarrassment. "You know I don't like it when you speak up so unexpectedly. Mightn't you give me a bit of warning in the future?"

"That would be difficult, Hylonome, as to give you such a warning, I would have to speak regardless," replied the Serpent, sounding less offended and more vaguely amused. The hue of the hermit's cheeks brightened a shade.

"Right... of course..." She said, shaking her head at her own foolishness.

"In any case, my earlier question has as of yet gone unanswered. What, pray tell, do you hope to learn by conversing with a bird?"

"Erm... That's... It's kind of hard to explain... I suppose I simply felt like if I talk to a snake on a regular basis, and he listens to me, maybe there were other creatures who might do the same?" She responded uneasily. To be honest, she didn't know why she'd chosen to speak up herself. It had just seemed appropriate. The snake merely laughed, giving a mirthful sigh.

"I should warn you that most nature spirits likely wouldn't take kindly to your equating them with animals, my dear girl," Chided Gaius.

"Ah... That... isn't exactly what I was trying to say. Please, don't take offense. None was intended," She corrected herself all too late, hoping she hadn't insulted her only friend. The spirit merely chuckled again, his familiar laugh ringing in her ears.

"None taken. Still, I must say, I find your behavior rather baffling. If you wished to speak to someone so badly, you could always have called on me,” He pointed out, seeming puzzled. Hylonome shook her head slightly.

“Please don't take my actions to mean that I am not satisfied with our conversations," She said apologetically. "I enjoy speaking with you. You've saved my life, and kept me company for countless years, although I can offer you little in return. I'm grateful for that. I just... I feel angry at myself, sometimes. I wish I could speak to other physical people, instead of just to one spirit. Sometimes, I wish things hadn't gone wrong like they have."

"I understand," her partner replied. "Although I can't say I comprehend the thought processes of physical beings with any particular level of clarity, from what I gather, desiring contact with your fellows it a perfectly ordinary sentiment, and is a need that I, as a spirit, am not entirely capable of fulfilling. It is I who should be apologizing for my own inadequacy as a companion, rather than you for implying such."

"You're not inadequate at all," Said the young hermit, shaking her head as she turned away from the window, sliding gently across the floor into the next room. "You've given me everything that is within your power to give. That's more than enough." The serpent was silent for a moment, before his voice began to fade, leaving behind only one last remark before his presence faded from her awareness.

"I'm glad you feel that way."

Hylonome gave a wry half-smile, and returned to starting off her day. By the look of things, it was already afternoon, but such trivialities mattered little to her. She didn't have anywhere special to go, anyone to meet, or anything important to do. Whether it was day or night was of no consequence to the one who lived disconnected from such things in the heart of the woods. Running over a checklist in her mind, she pondered what it was that she should do. Foremost in her mind at the moment was tending to her basic needs. As she had always been since her resurrection, she was hungry, likely due to how much energy she had to expend to move her large serpentine body. Regardless, it didn't look like she had anything to work with in the kitchen, which meant she'd have to go foraging in the woods again. Probably best to do that while the sun was still up, so as to avoid running into some of the nastier predators with whom she shared her home. Although she didn't fear them nearly so much after having dealt with their presence for countless years, she nevertheless disliked fighting, and would prefer to avoid such an encounter unless it was absolutely necessary.

Aside from that, she supposed it had been a while since she'd bathed, and although the breeze was cool, the sunlight was rather hot on her scales. After she found something to eat, maybe she'd stop by one of the small springs deeper in the forest and relax there for a while? She probably had time, given how high the sun was overhead. Smiling to herself, she opened the door and slithered out onto the cool, smooth ground, carefully avoiding dragging her tail over her precious flowers as she ventured off down familiar paths, the grass of which had long since been trampled by her steady passage, and into the woods. It didn't matter whether she went fast or slow. After all, she had all the time in the world.

Or did she? For no matter how many times she told herself that, there existed an ever-present, nagging doubt in the back of her mind, a dream that begged her to action. Somewhere in the world, there might have existed a power that could restore her fully to life. She didn't know what it was, and she didn't know where it was hidden. And yet, simply realizing that it existed somehow compelled her to seek it, giving her hope where she knew there was none. It made her hate herself for lingering instead of seeking out this mysterious and wondrous magic right away. She sighed, trying to ignore the lingering fantasy that called her to a course of action that would doubtless lead to her ruin.

Maybe she'd have been better off not knowing.

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"If I am to take advantage of this opportunity, I should set out at once. If I leave the woods, though, someone is sure to find me sooner or later. I suppose I have no choice, but even so, I wish there was another way..."


Location ✦ Sylvan Wilds - The Sacred Wood || State of Mind ✧ Melancholy




Sinking her teeth into a ripe red apple, Hylonome gazed silently upward into the canopy of tree branches that gently swayed to and fro overhead, covering her eyes against the light that streamed between them. The water of the lake was cool upon her scales as she sat upon its edge, idly splashing her tail back and forth, creating miniature waves that rose up and broke against once another. There were thousands upon thousands of thoughts raging inside her head, but, for now at least, she was trying her best to relax and forget about all that. Needless to say, it wasn't exactly working.

She was torn. She knew that if there was a chance to redeem herself, to restore her body, then she couldn't afford to let it slip through her fingers. In order to recreate her old form, she'd need to recover what she'd lost from the realm of phantoms and tether it securely in reality once again. Given her abilities, this was possible. However, just because something could be done didn't mean it would be easy. It had taken the full power of an ancient spirit just to save as much of her old body as she had left, and even then, it hadn't been enough. Without a truly prodigious source of magic to fuel her attempts, warping the boundaries between reality and recollections of it would be a futile endeavor, no matter what her talents were. But there was hope. Such wells of energy did exist, just waiting to be utilized. The only problem was finding them.

Although she could rely on Gaius' powers to inform her - at least, to some extent - of the flow of magic within the earth, and of large areas of powerful magic in her proximity, this was simply the functional equivalent of having a compass when one was searching for buried treasure. She wouldn't get lost, but at the same time, it wouldn't be terribly useful for actually finding a vault unless she was literally on top of one. And, given that it had taken several centuries for the combined intelligences of all sentient beings left in the wake of the Elders to even find one such vault, it seemed unlikely that she, even given her tremendous longevity, would be able to just go out and find one.

But even knowing that, she still had to try. She grimaced, realizing that the nagging voice that pleaded her to restore herself would never go away until she either succeeded, died trying, or found the very endeavor to be completely impossible. Sighing, Hylonome cast off the blanket she'd wrapped around herself as a sort of makeshift clothing, draping it over a low hanging tree branch. She did have some attire she could have worn, but during her countless years of isolation, her sense of modesty had decayed somewhat. It was hard to put clothes on or to take them off when one's body was partially that of a serpent, and it wasn't like there was anyone in the woods to see her. So, during the warmer parts of the year, she often eschewed such things entirely aside from a blanket or some other simple cloth to drape herself with. It certainly made preparations to bathe easier, anyway. Slinking into the cool waters of the lake, she sunk beneath their surface, allowing them to wash over her.

If she was going to set out on the journey she'd awaited for so long, then she supposed she'd need to prepare herself. She didn't have any provisions on hand, but she could at least forage up some fruits and vegetables on her way home. Those would last for a week or so at least, and she could hunt for her meals along the way, as well, supplementing this meager food supply with fresh meat. After that period, though, she'd need to simply adapt as she went along. She didn't have much in the way of belongings, meaning she wouldn't need to bring very much with her. Just some clothing in case she went somewhere inhabited, her food, and a bag to bring it all in. She could tie that much to her tail and hardly notice she was carrying it. She'd make her preparations and set out that evening. She'd had plenty of sleep, so she could probably make fairly good progress - or at least, as good progress as she could possibly make when she didn't know where she was going and moved very slowly on the ground. She'd look for clues in the immediate area, and, if none turned up, she'd return to her home to reconsider her plans and think over her next move.

Hylonome had made up her mind. She didn't want to be seen, didn't want to have to live her days fearing for her life. But if she had to leave the safety of the forest to ensure that she could live without that fear, then she would do it. No matter what it took, she wanted nothing more than to restore her body.

She'd set out at once.

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken
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"A convoy? What sort of madmen would try braving these woods at night with so little protection? I can't afford to be discovered so soon... but I can't just let them die...! What do I do?"



Location ✦ Sylvan Wilds - The Sacred Wood || State of Mind ✧ Panicked




A lone figure slowly lurched its way through the midst of a field of tallgrass, parting the strands behind her beneath the weight of her tail as it snaked back and forth. Hylonome brushed aside a particularly large clump of foliage, peering out into the rolling plains beyond. She'd been following an old and rather unused highway, using it to determine her path while still not showing herself to anyone. She was on the edge of the woods, now, which meant she would need to be extra careful. While it was unlikely anyone would dare traveling at this hour so close to both the feared woods she called home and to Sylvana - which, last she had heard, was rather hostile to trespassers of any sort - she still couldn't risk being seen. As such, she kept her head low, using the tallgrass to hide as much of her body as possible, such that anyone who might happen to be nearby hopefully wouldn't see her, and wouldn't realize what she was if they did. Much to her surprise, this soon proved to be a tremendously wise precaution.

Fortunately for her, she'd heard the pounding of hooves long before the wagon had come into view. Lowering herself amidst the grass, she had remained completely still, while Gaius had reduced both his and her own magical presence as much as possible, so that in the event somebody in the unexpected convoy possessed either clairvoyance or a contract with a spirit, they probably wouldn't be detected. Luckily, the attire she'd chosen to wear for her expedition - a short, sleeveless qipao she'd modified to accomodate her tail - was entirely black aside for a few patterns in a dull gold hue, which blended well enough with the yellow of the grass, making it difficult to pick her out by color. She seemed not to have been noticed, at any rate, since the wagon passed along the nearby road without stopping, leaving Hylonome once more on her own. She'd stayed hidden for a few minutes after that out of paranoia, pondering to herself why, exactly, travelers were venturing near the woods at such a late hour. While she herself had lived within them long enough to know how to deal with the woodland's more dangerous predators, she doubted ordinary pilgrims or merchants could do the same. The wagon certainly didn't seem very well guarded, since she'd only counted their number as about a half-dozen or so when they'd passed her. Although they'd smelled unusually diverse, she couldn't draw many conclusions from that alone. While it wasn't any of her business, she still couldn't help but worry that these travelers might not know what they were getting into.

Regardless, she couldn't risk trying to warn them, and keeping pace with them in a wagon while she herself crawled on the ground would be difficult, anyway. So, grudgingly accepting that there was very little she could do to help them, even covertly, she turned away and was about to continue her journey in secret, when, flicking her tongue out on a whim, she smelled - or rather, tasted - a scent she knew all too well.

Atilgan usually made their homes near small pools or lakes much deeper into the woods, given that they, like herself, often needed water to keep cool. Although she'd encountered a few of the beasts while bathing, they hadn't given her much trouble, as they mostly stayed put and slept inside large caves or burrows during the day, and would only attack if threatened. The problem, quite simply, lay in the fact that it was no longer daytime. Once the sun fell beneath the trees, they'd begin to emerge, prowling the woods for anything that looked large enough to eat. They tended to strike at their prey regardless of whether or not it was alone, and when wounded they tended to fly into a destructive rage and attack anything that looked like an enemy, making them very dangerous enemies, even for experienced hunters. Even she, with the advantage of her powers, had difficulty fighting them. Although she'd found a few tricks to cripple them, actually killing one was incredibly difficult, given the sheer thickness of their hide and their tremendous resilience. Although there were certainly more dangerous creatures in the woods, there were few that could be said to be more persistent. And, just her luck, it was the distinctive musty, irony odor of one of these beasts that caught her notice. She grimaced. It had probably heard the horses and decided to come looking for prey. So long as the wagon kept moving, it might be able to outpace the Atilgan, but given the hour, the travelers would probably try to stop and make camp, which would mean...

Her earlier resignation flew out the window. She couldn't risk being found, but at the same time, she couldn't just sit back when innocent people were in danger. She wanted to atone for the sins of her past in any way she could. If, by helping in some small way, she could ensure their safety, then that was what she had to do. Steeling herself, she turned back toward the forest, and began slithering along the roadside in the wake of the carriage as quickly as her serpentine body could carry her.

"My dear girl, are you certain that this is the course of action you wish to pursue? If you are discovered by mortals so close to home, you may no longer have a safe place to return to." Gaius asked gravely. She nodded wordlessly, and the serpent did not question her further. "Very well, then. If this is a risk you wish to take, I will aid you in any way I can. My power is yours to command."

She didn't know how long it took until she drew close to the source of the scent she'd been following. It might have been ten minutes, or it might have been half an hour. Either way, the scent of horseflesh was now almost as strong as that of the reptile she'd been trying to head off, and yet, she couldn't hear any more hoofbeats, which meant her fears had been realized. These pilgrims had doubtless attempted to make camp, unaware of the Atilgan closing in on them. Focusing, she decided to take a rather large risk, reaching into the Phantom Realm and searching for something that might assist her. She found it in the form of the wings of a Kelmourn - a gigantic avian that crawled on two taloned legs and small vestigial "hands" adorning its black-feathered wings, or else flew upon those same appendages. They'd certainly be strong enough to carry her weight, but at the same time, might call unwanted attention to her. Still, there wasn't any other way she'd be able to arrive in time to assist the travelers, which meant that utilizing this Phantom was her only option. Calling out to one of the beasts she had tended to in its dying moments, she pleaded it to lend her its wings. The creature assented, and so flaring the mana burning through her body's leylines, she concentrated it into the lower, intact set of markings adorning her back. Spreading her arms in mimicry of her two new appendages, she gave them three mighty sweeps, coiling her tail beneath her and then springing upward with all her might, thus launching herself into the air. The dim blue glow of her spectral wings was soon lost amidst the trees as she glided over the woods, her tail trailing in her wake. Circling overhead, she searched frantically about for the source of the scent. Just then, however, she heard several loud crashes and shouts from a clearing on the edge of her vision. Hastening toward it, she lowered herself immediately back beneath the treeline, catching a branch with her tail and pulling herself into a large oak overlooking the clearing. Was she too late?

It seemed that way, for to her horror, the scene before her eyes was nothing short of absolute chaos. A human boy was helping a black-haired young man to his feet, while a human woman diverted the beast's attention for a moment, blocking two of its charges before a small shape - a kindred, perhaps? - moved in to intervene, casting some sort of nature magic to create a wall of foliage to intercept a third stampede. The beast was in a fury now, and tore through this barricade in seconds, its gigantic maw opening to devour anyone it might find on the other side of the wall. Hylonome's breath caught in her throat. If she didn't do something now, it might be too late for the mage who'd erected the short-lived palisade. She had no idea how she could assist without revealing her presence to those in the clearing. Still, there was no time to think, so she just did the first thing that came to mind. Calling upon the specter of an Elven-made bow and arrow - specifically those used by one of the ill-fated hunters who had pursued her following her transfiguration - she raised her hand, the red "eye" sigil on its back glowing faintly as phantasmal blue light coalesced within her grasp, taking the form of the weapon she remembered being fired at her all those years ago. Pouring her power into it, she took hold of the string, drew it back, and gave it one command to seal its existence.

"That Atilgan... silence it." With those words, she fired, aiming for the creature's throat. The arrow struck home upon its target, but instead of ricocheting off of the beast's hard scales, it simply faded into them, as though they were not there. Indeed, it would only take physical form once inside the Atilgan's body, piercing its throat. While normally, she'd expect this to be fatal, in this case, Hylonome held no such hopes. After all, given the beast's sheer size, her arrow would be about as effective as using a butter knife to try to slit the throat of a Nord. However, she hadn't been trying to kill the creature. That would draw too much attention to herself. What her real goal had been was to damage its vocal cords, keeping it from utilizing perhaps the most powerful ability it possessed: a powerful directional roar it utilized to stun its prey. This would also have the added bonus of rendering it difficult for the creature to breathe. Limping, in pain, and tired, without any means of immobilizing its targets, hopefully the creature would either give up and retreat, or else fall to the recovering adventurers. Hylonome would wait there in the treetops long enough to ensure that much. After that, she'd have no choice to jump into the Phantom World and get as far away as possible before one of the travelers noticed that somebody had ever even been there...

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken
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Uriel made sure to watch her steps as she prepared to maneuver out of the way - a thick wall of living branches and roots intertwined and rose to separate her and the lizard. Thinking fast, she took the time to charge a bolt of light in her hand. Normally she would have to rely on a quick shot, which would last a second or so at most, but the longer she charged it, the more effective it would be. Still, the barrier didn't last long and the Atilgan gained on her instantly. Something zipped by and struck the beast in the throat, hindering but not stopping the assault. She didn't have the time or concentration to spare to discern where the source of her support was coming from, but she would have to thank them later should she have the chance - the prospect of defeating it started to seem increasingly more likely. The crippling of the monster bought a precious few seconds of reaction time, the lunges and lashes of its claws becoming more manageable to dodge and deflect with her shield. She barely ducked under the swipe of its spiked tail and side-stepped its angled slam as the tail made a sharp curve and thudded into the ground where she'd stood only moments before.

The light spear in her hand now fully charged, she nailed the Atilgan head-on at point-blank range. Though the bolt of light wasn't capable of harm, it had the effect of paralyzing the area of impact, and the duration would depend on how long the bolt was charged for, and it was more than enough time for a finishing blow to the exhausted beast. Uriel took a step back and summoned her wings once more, launching herself straight into the sky. As she came diving down in a pillar of light, her shield glowed with a brilliant glow as she rammed it directly into the top of its skull, releasing a powerful wave of energy that likely scattered and temporarily blinded anything within a several meter radius. Being the direct center of impact of the attack, the Atilgan fell to the ground and, for the moment, did not seem capable of mustering the strength to stand again. It made a hoarse, angry hissing sound with its throat as if to summon another screech, but nothing came of it.

With the massive beast slumped over and in no state to be attacking anyone else, Uriel placed her shield on her back and turned to the stoat kindred, putting a fist into her open palm and bowing slowly as a sign of thanks. "I appreciate your assistance," she said calmly, standing up straight and looking down at the noticeably smaller figure in front of her. "I suppose you are traveling with the two men who left?"

Setting

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Claire Lucion
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April 9--9:54 PM
Forests on the Solarian Empire/Sylvana Border


Even as he burst back into their campsite, Kaus could still hear the sounds of the battle. As quickly yet carefully as he could, he put Miroch down, next to the fire. "Claire! Hey! Are you still awake?" he called, looking around, but not really making a great effort to find her. "Just...someone take care of Miroch for a while, okay?" With that, he dashed back into the forest, trying to find his way back to the battle.

Come to think of it, I think I saw something while I was running back to the camp...did one of the others join the fight? I hope they haven't died or anything yet... Shaking his head, Kaus forced the pessimistic thoughts into a corner of his mind and tried to keep running.

Unfortunately, he knew his enhanced vision wouldn't last much longer. He had switched it "off" when he ran back into the campsite, but he knew he couldn't make it back to that lady with the shield before he reached the time limit. Just gotta cover as much distance as I can before then...

Just then, something caught his eye in the air. There appeared to be something floating up there, preparing to fire an arrow from a bow...but before he could make out any details at all about the mysterious archer, his enhanced vision wore off, and everything around him seemed to be plunged into darkness.

Immediately slamming his heel into the ground to halt his momentum, Kaus looked around, quickly making sure that he wasn't about to trip on anything. He tried looking above the trees again, to see who that was, but there was no longer anything there. What the...was I imagining things...? Perplexed, he slowly walked a bit further into the woods, noticing that the beast's infernal roaring had ended.

At last, he arrived in the place where the beast had attacked. Snapped tree branches and roots lay everywhere, while the beast lay to the side, with an arrow somehow piercing through its neck. Not far away stood that lady with the shield, as well as Kav. So he had come to help as well. "Oh...you guys are okay," Kaus remarked, feeling quite relieved now.

Walking over to the beast, which could do nothing but hiss helplessly and glare at him, he could see the arrow wasn't one of his. The tail feathers didn't resemble any of the ones he had used to make his most recent batch of arrows, and he had already used up all others. Strange...wait a minute, is it transparent?

Bending down for a closer look, he found that he could, in fact, see through it. As if that weren't already strange enough, he realized it was giving off a faint blue glow--but before he could examine it any further, it abruptly "shattered" into dust.

Could it have been that mysterious archer? Had he been seeing things? Now, Kaus felt even more confused. How could anyone get up that high? Why did that arrow glow and then shatter? Where did that archer disappear off to after making the shot? Just what happened after his vision returned to normal?

I don't get any of this anymore... Deciding to put it out of his mind, he walked back to Kav and the lady with the shield. "Yeah...he's one of my companions," he cut in, gesturing to Kav before bowing at the waist. "Anyway, thanks for helping us, ma'am. But...if you don't mind me asking, what are you doing out here at night--in Sylvana, no less?"

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Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Claire Lucion
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#, as written by RCJJ23
Miroch staggered off with Kaus, offering no resistance as the Atilgan was distracted by another person. Meanwhile, as his outer spirit effects faded away, Gorrjen pumped magical energy into his body as a healing method, to quicken the recovery of Miroch's temporary condition. By the time Kaus had left for the clearing again, Miroch had recovered, though he had thrown up in the bushes just before. Gorrjen had been poking him in his spiritual side for the past five minutes, though Miroch ignored him for the most part, still trying to gather himself. Finally, he gave Gorrjen the opportunity to speak to him.

I've been trying to-

Just tell me what you want to tell me.

... Well, I felt something really, really strange. I felt him first. It was unnatural, like trying to fit something really big and flexible into a really small container. Something else was underneath it but even that unnerved me more. It was unnatural. A dead spirit living in a corpse, that's sustained by half of him.

Wait. Who's he?

A spirit that's very old. I can feel it coming off of the container, though I can't come up with why I couldn't detect him before. I say we go look for them.

Miroch nodded to himself, intrigued by Gorrjen's description. After waving off anyone's concerns about him, he headed off in the direction that Gorrjen was directing him in. He'd only spent ten minutes when Gorrjen violently jerked away in Miroch's mind.

No! I am not going there!

What do you mean, you told me to go look for this presence.

Now I'm telling you to leave it alone and lets go back to camp. I need to get some sleep.

You've been sleeping for most of the day. Lets go find it, we're not that far off from what you were telling me earlier.

It was unbeknownst to him that the container he was searching for, Hylonome was in the trees above him about a hundred or so meters away, her tail wrapped around the trunk of the tree. With Gorrjen refusing to track what Miroch was searching for, he'd have to rely on his own senses. Which while pretty good, weren't enough to see that far ahead nor that far high to properly see Hylonome.

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Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken
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#, as written by Feyblue
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"Oh no... another spirit is here? Don't come any closer... Please, just go back. I'm begging you. Don't look at me! Please, just leave me be!"



Location ✦ Sylvan Wilds - The Sacred Wood || State of Mind ✧ Panicked




Fortunately, it seemed that Hylonome's small act of assistance was all that was necessary to turn the tide. The Atilgan was swiftly finished off, and, fortunately, it appeared that none of the travelers had been hurt. She doubted the phantasmal arrow she had projected would last much longer given its limited energy supply, so she was fairly sure that none of them would find it before it dissipated. In any case, remaining in that place any longer than necessary would only serve to reveal her to these outsiders, which meant that the most important thing to do now was to get as far away as possible. If she tried to move herself physically, it would be hard to avoid notice from the people down in the clearing below, which meant that moving as a Phantom was her only option. So, diving into the Phantom Realm in both body and mind, the young hermit carried herself as far from that place as she could go, pulling out only when reaching the absolute limits of her power to endure the pull of the other side. Coalescing in a tree quite some distance away, she began to wind down towards lower branches, pulling herself slowly, painstakingly down, not wanting to cause enough of a ruckus to draw the attention of the band of travelers and blow her cover. She was around halfway down when she suddenly realized that they weren't as oblivious to her presence as she'd thought.

"Someone is coming. A Spirit, if I'm not mistaken, but one that seems strangely mobile. It seems we've had the misfortune of being perceived by a contractor." Gaius warned. Hylonome froze mid-climb, winding herself tightly around a large branch and then hugging it closely, making her shape as small as possible so as to avoid being seen. This was bad. If another spirit had sensed Gaius, then its physical contractor could just track her presence by locating where the Serpent's energy was bound. She'd be found for sure. Frantically, she began preparing to dive once more into the Phantom Realm, only to realize, to her dismay, that doing such a thing would be impossible. She'd crossed almost entirely over the border just moments prior, and was still trying to pull her existence back. If she dropped back in once again, she'd fall away from reality entirely, and be as good as dead.

She could sense the contractor's presence, now. His scent didn't quite smell Human. Rather, there was a certain freshness to it, like a crisp breeze through a grove of flowers. It was hard to describe in words, but to her keen taste, it was easily distinguishable as the odor of an Elf. Her cheeks tingled as she began to feel his warmth, distant at first, but moving methodically closer through the trees. As she'd feared, he was cutting a direct path straight towards her. If she allowed him to continue, he'd surely find her. Whether he attacked her on the spot or went back to tell his companions was irrelevant. Soon, the hunts would start again, and her once-safe haven would quickly be found and overrun by those seeking to end her life.

But what could she do? If she fired several warning shots, she might be able to drive him off without harming him, but then he'd probably just return with assistance. If she called out to him, maybe she could persuade him to turn back, but in the event he didn't listen to her, all she'd be doing is giving her position away. But maybe if she misdirected him, she could confuse him long enough to make her getaway? It was a desperate plan, but it was the best she had. Reaching into a small pocket inside the cuff of one of her long gloves, she pulled out a small square of parchment inscribed with a False Crest. As a gentle wind began to blow between the trees, she gave it a small flick, allowing the breeze to take it and carry it away from her. She waited several seconds, until she could see the black-robed man making his way towards her hiding spot in the distance. Then, activating the Crest, she utilized its pre-programmed effect to generate a phantasmal force in the form of a voice - her voice. Although normally she used these particular charms to trick animals into running right into her grasp, it would work just as well as a diversion, making it sound like she was somewhere different from where she actually was. She doubted the Elf's Spirit partner would be fooled for an instant, but this might at least give her time to talk them down without showing herself. Taking a deep breath, she tried to sound as calm and commanding as possible, not wanting the fear she felt to show in her voice. Speaking through the charm, she thus projected her voice from some point far distant amidst the trees, rather than from her own tongue.

"You, who is entering the Sacred Wood; turn back. Please, don't come any closer...! For your own safety, return to your companions. What lies within in this forest is not to be disturbed. I don't want to hurt you, so please, just go back!"

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Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken
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#, as written by RCJJ23
Miroch looked around for a moment, but without the assistance of Gorrjen, he was making no headway into finding the container of this ancient spirit.

Why will you not help me?

That presence I told you about earlier? The container, not the spirit. Well that has just hit me like that Atilgan's screech hit you. I apologize for my rash action but I am sure if you saw it you would have the same reaction. To me and likely other spirits, this presence is likely worse than your worst nightmares, fears and any other manner of horrid conjuring.

So does that mean you will be helping me now?

Perhaps.

That was when the voice rang out through the forest. He pondered for a moment. He knew little of the legends and lore of this place, as he had little time to stay here as his mercenary work did not last very long in the area. Still, he turned towards the voice and started to move towards the direction of where it was before Gorrjen stopped him.

Not there.

Then where?

Above. To the west.

Miroch nodded to himself, turning to the west and started slowly walking in the direction Gorrjen had directed him in. He tried to use his senses to see into the branches above, but they were too thick and it was too dark for him to get any real sense of what was up there. He had nothing else to try, short of climbing up, and he never was really a good tree climber.

"Hello? Is there anyone there? I don't seek to harm anyone."

As if to emphasize his point, he laid down his staff onto the ground, though he did keep a mental tracking of where it was. But as he walked in Hylonome's direction, he suddenly stopped, as if he had hit a stone wall. It was not him, but Gorrjen that had done it. He tried to inch forward further, but found that unless he consciously tried to push Gorrjen's influence on him down, he could gain no ground. He had experienced this several times before, the clashing of two Spirits when one tried to go into another's territory.

This... is unexpected.

And quite alarming. To produce such a strong barrier is no easy feat. How powerful is this spirit?

More powerful than Kule.

Miroch was surprised. Kule was an exceptionally powerful spirit, bound to an exceptionally powerful woman. Jino, the Flowing Dragon's creator. His surrogate mother. Kule was a Dragon spirit, one that Gorrjen had descended from and, from what Jino had told him, was very old, older than the temple he was raised in. Yet it had been unable to produce a territorial barrier that strong. This intrigued Miroch further, though he had to be careful to not let Gorrjen get too far out, despite Gorrjen's own personal restraints. He continued to trudge towards where the presence was originally, now once again without his spirit's help. He was only twenty five meters away from Hylonome's position, but he still could not see where she was, his senses slightly dampened by pushing Gorrjen's spiritual energy so deeply into his body.

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Claire Lucion
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April 9--10:01 PM
Forests on the Solarian Empire/Sylvana Border


At long last, Kaus finally failed to hide his frustration and slapped a hand against his forehead. "That idiot...we had to go and save him one time, and then he just wanders off again? Without being treated, no less!" At the same time, he wanted to point out that Claire could probably have grabbed Miroch's arm and prevented him from walking away, but he ended up not saying so.

Sheesh, just how much could go wrong on the first night...knowing he should probably start looking for Miroch AGAIN as soon as possible, Kaus decided to make his explanation brief. "There was a monster out there who attacked Miroch. She stepped in to help us, and came back to heal Mr. Missing Elf Guy."

Pushing away the medicine vials, since he hadn't been physically hurt in the battle, he mumbled, "Agh...I'd better go look for Miroch, I suppose. And after that, I'll keep watch in his place, too." With his mood significantly worsened, the young leader picked up a fairly thick branch and dipped it into the campfire, hoping it'd work well enough as a source of light. Then he stalked off in the direction Claire had said that elf had gone.

Even with his makeshift torch, he could barely see anything in the forest, so he had to move quietly and listen intently. Come on, where could that guy be... Right then, a gentle breeze swept up, momentarily disturbing the flames. Instinctively, Kaus flinched, thinking they might hit him. And abruptly, a female voice sounded out from the forest...

"You, who is entering the Sacred Wood; turn back. Please, don't come any closer...! For your own safety, return to your companions. What lies within in this forest is not to be disturbed. I don't want to hurt you, so please, just go back!"

Kaus froze. Who said that? He squinted to look in the direction from which the voice had come, but saw no one. Had that voice been addressing him? But he still had to find Miroch somehow, even if he could see just about nothing. "Miroch!" he called, hoping for a response. "Can you hear me? Where are you?"

He started to walk in the direction of that voice, not realizing he was going in the completely wrong direction.

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken
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#, as written by Feyblue
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"Why was I so foolish? I should have checked to see if there were any other spirits in the area before I intervened. Have I doomed myself for nothing?"



Location ✦ Sylvan Wilds - The Sacred Wood || State of Mind ✧ Desperate, Terrified




The figure stopped amidst the woods. For a moment, she breathed a slight sigh of relief, hoping he'd take her bait and either follow the voice in the opposite direction or simply heed her warning and turn back. But a moment later, she found her hopes dashed as the presence of the enemy spirit flared and collided with Gaius' own. Flashes of some great beast of glowing scales burrowed their way into her mind, an unintelligible roar and great fluttering of wings ringing in her head. A dragon? She drew back, unable to determine this being's intent. Its presence was cautious and defensive, pressing forward implacably as though it would force its way into her territory through the sheer power of its existence. She gave a stifled gasp, finding it difficult to breathe, as though the air had become stale and thin. Gaius immediately forced back with as much effort as he could effectively muster, trying to keep the enemy Spirit as far from her as possible, so that its presence couldn't interfere with her life. Unfortunately, with his energy effectively split between maintaining her existence and protecting it from this trespasser, his own push back would be comparatively feeble. The enemy continued advancing, and worse yet, Hylonome could sense another life form in the woods nearby, which, although it seemed to have been deceived by her decoy, might come running at a moment's notice.

Yet suddenly, the pressure on her faded, and the presence of the Dragon seemed to sink deep within the body of the approaching Elf. He was holding his companion back? Gaius slowly began to lessen his own defenses, not wanting to expend too much power maintaining his boundary when there was no threat to it, yet also not wanting to allow the enemy spirit too close.

"Hello? Is there anyone there? I don't seek to harm anyone."

"Please," Hylonome pleaded hoarsely, struggling for breath as she disabled her charm, addressing the elf with her own voice. "I'm not a threat to you or your companions. I just wanted to protect you all from the Atilgan...! Just forget you ever sensed anything... Don't come any closer...! Don't look at me! Just... leave me be! Please, I'm begging you...!" He was now close enough that she could see him quite clearly, down to the last detail, which meant that he, even with his inferior night vision, would probably be able to make out the shape in the trees. Given the sheer size of her tail, even if he didn't immediately associate it with a living being, it would still probably draw his attention, meaning he was sure to find her soon enough whether she tried to stay hidden or not. At this point, the most she could do was try to conceal her snakelike lower body as long as possible, in the hopes that she'd be able to escape into the Phantom World before the elf realized what she was. So, wrapping her lower half around the tree trunk behind her, she raised up her upper body, trying to obscure the tail protruding from it. It was a desperate gambit, but maybe, he would be satisfied with seeing that there was indeed someone there, and wouldn't look further. Maybe, he would heed her desperate plea. Maybe, he'd be satisfied that she wasn't a threat, and would just leave her alone.

"I'm sorry..." She whispered, her thoughts shutting down in fear and desperation. "I didn't mean to interfere with your spirit... I'm sorry... Please, don't look at me... I'm sorry...!"

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken
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#, as written by RCJJ23
When the voice he had heard earlier came from the trees in front of him, Miroch slowed to a halt. Who ever was speaking to him sounded scared. Terrified even. Still, his curiosity had been peaked by Gorrjen's descriptions of what this was. Perhaps this could be a lead on the vaults? So with a slightly heavier heart, he decided to let a little of Gorrjen's magic enhance his senses for a brief moment.

"I'm sorry if this causes you pain." he said to himself, and perhaps even she could hear it too. He let a tiny wisp of Gorrjen's energy seep into his eyes. They flashed a brighter orange, cutting through the darkness like a beam of light, brighter than when he used Gorrjen's energy for other purposes. His vision was enhanced ten fold, and for a brief moment the area around him, in his eyes, was if it were lit by a torch. It lasted for only a brief moment, but what he saw was burned into his memory.

He saw a massive white body, a tail which, in his memory, trailed upwards to a High Elf. She was quite beautiful, though he was sure that her lower half would put off many people. For the moment he had no time to think about that. Even the brief amount of time using Gorrjen's energy had given him a feeling as if a dagger had been driven through his head. No doubt it would have been many times more painful for the Snake Girl in the trees if she really was the vessel of the Ancient Spirit. For him, it would last for only a few more moments, but from what he saw, she was definitely afraid. He still had to ask one question, so he tried to send out signs that he was not going to hurt her as well as he could, from his body language and whatever lingering energy he still had.

"Who are you?"

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Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken
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#, as written by Feyblue
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"Why was I so foolish? I should have checked to see if there were any other spirits in the area before I intervened. Have I doomed myself for nothing?"



Location ✦ Sylvan Wilds - The Sacred Wood || State of Mind ✧ Pained




The elf stopped just short of the tree from which she hung, looking up. His eyes seemed to stare not at her, but through her, as though he couldn't quite make out what he was looking at. Momentary relief flooded her mind. Would he listen to her? Or at the very least, had he not seen her true shape? Maybe she could still escape. And yet, as soon as she thought this, she found her hopes once again dashed.

"I'm sorry if this causes you pain," The man said, his Spirit's power beginning to build within him. In an instant, Gaius flared his own power, trying to protect her from whatever attack might come. However, Hylonome had already realized what he was doing. He wasn't trying to attack her. He was trying to see.

"Don't do it!" She cried, frantically pulling herself backward and winding herself as far up the tree as she could. "Please, don't-" She tried to plead with him, but her words were silenced immediately as a wave of piercing, oppressing power slammed into her, feeling as though it would crush the air from her lungs. A stinging, singing heat rushed over her body, as though she'd been struck by lightning, left numb in the wake of this overwhelming wave of pain. She felt her grip on the tree trunk weakening as she tried to scream, only to find herself without any air. Only a feeble, choking cry escaped her throat as she found herself unable to hold on, her coils slipping from around her perch as she fell from the forest canopy, her body dropping with a dull thud and rustling of leaves into the underbrush.

As swiftly as it had come over her, the enemy Spirit's power soon faded. Regaining feeling in her body, she found herself almost wishing she'd stayed numb, as her entire form felt sore from the landing. Gasping for breath, she opened her eyes, only to find her assailant standing right over her. Panicking, she scrambled backward on her hands, her tail thrashing wildly around her, pushing her as far away from him as she could get. In an instant, a bright blue glow surged down her arm, flooding into the sigil on the back of her right palm and then expanding outward into the shape of a long, curved Elven blade. Leveling this glistening phantasmal weapon at her attacker, she lurched up from the ground, her tail straightening to hoist her body upright. "Stay back!" She cried, breathing heavily as she tried to reclaim the air she'd lost. "Don't come any closer!"

The man stopped, raising his hands, as though to show they were empty. He... he wasn't going to attack her? Even after he'd seen what she was? She didn't understand. This elf was the contractor to a powerful spirit, had come all this way and seen her for what she was. Surely he knew how twisted her existence was. Wasn't he horrified? Didn't he realize that she was a monster? It must have been a trick. He was just trying to lull her into a false sense of security. She gripped her sword all the more tightly, her serpentine red eyes looking like those of a wounded beast, backed into a corner and unable to escape. But the man simply stared at her, seeming almost piteous instead of disgusted or afraid - as though he was looking at something less than himself. If anything, that might have actually been worse than just calling her an abomination and running away.

"Who are you?" He asked. She merely stared back, her eyes wide with fear, but her hand firm on the hilt of her sword.

"My name is Hylonome. But why does it matter to you? You're just going to try to kill me anyway," She shot back, trying to sound brave, but ultimately only showing how scared she really was.

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Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken
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#, as written by RCJJ23
When the Snake Girl dropped down from the tree and summoned her sword, Miroch stepped back, unconsciously stepping into the form of Flowing Dragon, his right leg a little in front of his left and his arms slightly bent to give a force as he could swing his arms to deflect the phantom blade and counter by trying to disarm her. It was so casual though, that unless one had studied martial arts or had seen any particular style before, it would be unnoticeable.

"Well Hylonome, my name is Miroch. Besides, why would I want to kill you? You said it yourself, you were only trying to help us, to protect us even. Why would I want to kill a savior?" He continued to look at her, scanning her repeatedly, trying to figure her out. From what he could figure out, the High Elf portion of her was the ghost, sustaining on the Ancient Spirit's energy. Still, it was too early to ask her too much about herself, so he decided to "Well, to be honest with you, my first reason for trying to find you was really out of curiosity. That and considering how old your spirit is, I kind of wondered if it knew anything about what me and a few others are looking for. I'm part of an expedition, looking for Magic Vaults, one was discovered only two years ago and our leader has a plan to look for them. I was hoping that your spirit might be able to help, though I didn't really expect... well, what you look like now but I hope you can assist me."

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Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken
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#, as written by Feyblue
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"He... he really doesn't want to hurt me? Even seeing what I've become? And what's more, he's looking for a vault, too? This is all too convenient. It can't be true... can it?"



Location ✦ Sylvan Wilds - The Sacred Wood || State of Mind ✧ Surprised, Suspicious




"Why would I want to kill you?" The man, Miroch, asked. Hylonome's eyes widened, and she found herself uneasily lowering her sword. That was... that was a good question. She didn't know why most people wanted to destroy her. She wasn't like them, and she had power, so they thought she was dangerous and reviled her as a monster, she supposed. But in that case, she wasn't like this man, either, so shouldn't he have sought to kill her for the same reason? More than just that, though, he was contracted to a Spirit. In that case, he should have had more cause than anyone to be horrified by her!

"But... you have a Spirit partner too, right? Then... don't you hate me... hate us... for living this way?" She asked, baffled that, even seeing the twistedness within her, he was still treating her like a person - or at least making pretense thereof. "All the Spirits I've met have been disgusted the moment they saw us. They thought we were an abomination and wanted me to die so Gaius wouldn't have to protect me anymore...! Doesn't your Spirit feel the same way...?!" Indeed, whenever she'd encountered the Dragon's boundary, it had been suffocating to her - an overwhelming presence that stood contrary to her own. Such a being surely was bent on her destruction... wasn't it?

"In that case, if you didn't come to kill me, then why did you follow me despite all my warnings?!" She asked, realizing that she still didn't know his true motivations, even assuming his earlier statements about not wanting to kill her were true. Aside from that, she also simply wanted to change the subject from her own nature. The way he was looking at her, shooting glances at her unnatural lower half whenever he thought she didn't notice, sizing her up as though she was some sort of rare specimen... It was humiliating. She felt the scales in her cheeks coloring at the mere thought of it. Her very appearance was shameful, a vast deformity she couldn't possibly hope to conceal. Simply presenting herself before this man made it feel as though the whole extent of her body was laid bare. She'd have been less ashamed to be seen naked in her old body than she was at this instant simply to be perceived.

"Well, to be honest with you, my first reason for trying to find you was really out of curiosity," The man began, as though this alone was enough to exonerate him. She'd begged him, pleaded him to stop, yet he hadn't hesitated in his search even knowing it would cause her pain. Surely the only reason he'd hunted her like a wild animal couldn't have just been because he'd wanted to know what she was. And, if that really was his only justification, he couldn't have honestly expected her to forgive him for all the agony he'd caused her just because he was curious, could he have?! But before she could call him out on his perceived selfishness, he continued. "That and considering how old your Spirit is, I kind of wondered if it knew anything about what me and a few others are looking for," He added. Hylonome's eyes narrowed angrily. So that's what it boiled down to. He was willing to tolerate her unnatural existence if it meant he could use Gaius' knowledge for himself.

"Gaius isn't an 'it!'" She objected, raising her sword once again. She'd have thought that a man contracted to a Spirit would have more respect for them, but, then again, this "Miroch" probably didn't view her partner as a true Spirit now that he'd given himself over to serve as a tether for her own existence. It was no different than Humans or Elves who saw her calling her a monster, no matter how she tried to convince them otherwise. "And he's spent almost the last century here protecting me, so whatever it is you're looking for, he probably doesn't know anything about it!"

"I'm part of an expedition looking for Magic Vaults," Interjected the man, cutting straight to the point. "One was discovered only two years ago and our leader has a plan to look for them." Hylonome silenced herself in an instant, unable to believe what she was hearing. This man... he and his traveling companions were looking for the same thing she herself was? That didn't seem possible. There was no way a coincidence like that could come to pass, was there? Surely, he'd just somehow managed to figure out what she was looking for, and was trying to use it as bait to lure her into some kind of trap. After all, why would an expedition seeking a vault just happen to find her on the night she herself had determined to set out? It was all far too convenient.

"Actually, my dear girl, such an event may be much more likely than you might think," Gaius interjected, his voice resounding through her head, audible only to herself. "As I told you when last we spoke of this, the Vaults mostly likely have some sort of connection to the Leylines used by the Ancients, in which case this party may be searching for convergences thereof. They may have stumbled across you by accident, mistaking your new body's workings for the false Leylines the Ancients employed. While I most emphatically agree that this man is untrustworthy, he and his companions may be useful." Not wanting to respond and give away the subject of her conversation, or even that Gaius had made himself known, she merely gave a reluctant nod. It did make sense that having access to materials, supplies and protection would make her own search a thousand times easier. However, she sincerely doubted that any such arrangement could work out in the long run. For her part, she would need as much of the energy contained within any Vault they might find as she could get her hands on, in order to recreate her old body and resurrect herself. That sort of power, useful for innumerable infinitely greater purposes, something that such an expedition would be loathe to grant her. And, aside from that, there was the simple fact that no ordinary people would likely be willing to trust a girl reviled as a monstrous witch, who practiced dark magic and had been turned into an abomination because of it. More likely than not, if she did offer this expedition her services, they'd use Gaius' power to find what they sought, and then throw the both of them by the wayside once they had no further use for them.

I was hoping that your Spirit might be able to help," Concluded Miroch. "Though I didn't really expect... well, what you look like now..." He added, causing her face to flush with shame as he spoke all too candidly about her unnatural form. It wasn't as though she'd chosen to become what she was, but at the same time, that hardly mattered to anyone else. A monster was what she was, pure and simple, and protesting that fact, she had long since learned, would do her no good. "But, I hope you can assist me."

Hylonome was silent for quite some time as she sat there atop her coils, pondering what she had been told. This might have been her best chance yet at redemption. And yet, at the same time, by accepting this offer, she might be dooming herself to failure. She didn't know. However, without the assistance of ordinary people, it would be infinitely more difficult to make her way around the country undetected, to gather supplies and information, and to face whatever dangers might await her in the world beyond. So, even knowing that she might ultimately wind up betrayed, or having to betray others in turn, she at last made up her mind. The blade in her hand vanished, and she began to speak, her lost composure slowly returning to her.

"Were I to aid you as you ask," She said quietly, her eyes hidden beneath a shroud of pale, silvery hair. "What would be granted me in return? That matter aside, can you be certain that your traveling companions would accept me into their number, monster though I am?" The answers to these two questions would determine her response. If she could secure a boon in the form of a heretofore undefined "share" of the vault's power - to be decided once she knew for certain how much she would actually need to reconstruct her old body - then participating in this expedition might remain a viable option. However, that depended on whether or not she could actually join their group. If not, then there was no chance of such an alliance functioning.

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra
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At first, Hela just assumed that the reason she had almost lost her bearings several times was due to the fact that it was dark and she was more of a city girl, but gradually she became aware that something was altering her course, and going in a particular direction was much more difficult, like swimming against a current. Rather suspicious, she thought. Just then, she whipped round upon hearing the sound of something rushing towards her. Well, that was one of them found, but for a moment she thought it might have been one of those beasts.

"Damnit Kaus! Could've scared me to death there," she hissed, but quickly regained her composure now that the jump scare had passed. "I was planning to look for you after I'd found Miroch, but it looks like I found you first. Listen, there's something with magic in this forest, and it's fairly strong stuff at that. I reckon our elf might've been drawn to it like a moth to a flame. It's somewhere this way, we just have to keep going no matter how hard it gets." The Kindred held Kaus' hand and started walking towards the source of this disturbance. "And Kaus? If you're planning on taking a girl from behind, at least give her fair warning first."

The walk started off as normal, but it quickly became increasingly difficult to the point that Hela could've sworn blind that her boots had turned to lead. Eventually, this feeling lessened, then stopped altogether. The proverbial eye of the storm, perhaps. Together, Kaus and Hela managed to find Miroch, as well as... one very peculiar-looking person. An elf with the body of a snake from the waist down. Probably a sight that would send most running, but Hela looked more like she was admiring the snake-elf's figure than being rooted to the spot in abject terror.

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra
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April 9--10:07 PM
Forests on the Solarian Empire/Sylvana Border


"Magic...?" Recalling the voice which he had been following, Kaus wondered if the same person was responsible for repelling Hela. "Huh...then, maybe Miroch left because he wanted to investigate that...still, why would he do it while in--"

He didn't get any more time to contemplate before Hela suddenly seized his hand and resumed her stride, while shooting a remark that he should at least make his presence more apparent if he ever was "planning on taking a girl from behind". Quickly trying to adjust his balance, Kaus resumed walking along side her and nodded in agreement, completely failing to pick up the dual meaning of Hela's words. "Yeah...got it. Sorry for startling you."

However, as the two of them walked onwards, Kaus started to feel a strange pressure on his entire body. And the further they walked, the greater this pressure became, until it felt like he had to commit great effort to even slide his boot across the ground. My god, what could cause something like THIS? This magic sure is freaky...

Luckily, the pressure gradually receded and disappeared, and the duo were able to walk at full speed. Presently, Kaus saw a certain elf with black hair and black robes to match. But before he could say anything, he looked beyond him and saw something which made his body freeze up in utter shock. That "something" appeared to be an elven girl with pale, pink hair, but instead of legs, she had an incredibly long, white serpentine tail.

"What is...that?" Kaus whispered, utterly baffled by what he saw. He looked up at Hela, but the fox Kindred seemed fascinated by the snake-elf instead. Doesn't it...bother her? He glanced back at the snake-elf again. At the very least, she's not attacking Miroch...hm, how to go about this... "...you think we should try talking to her?" he whispered to Hela.

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra
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#, as written by RCJJ23
Miroch looked at Hylonome for a moment, slightly curious as he thought about what he said. Kaus never really said anything about what cuts the members of the expedition were going to get. He'd have to ask about it. He addressed her again.

"Well, I apologize for referring to your spirit as an it, but you must understand that my spirit is unable to sense a spirit's gender, and the fact that a spirit's gender identity is rather fluid in comparison to our standards. Well, if you aid us, you'd probably get a cut of anything we find, though to be honest we haven't discussed much about it yet. It was probably a heat of the moment decision for most of our members, but they seem capable enough. And for your other question-"

At that moment, he heard the crunch of soil underfoot and he whirled around, getting into the stance of Flowing Dragon, but relaxed after seeing it was Kaus and Hela, seeing the difference in their two reactions. Hela regarded Hylonome in a admiring fashion, while Kaus showed some measure of shock. Miroch turned back to Hylonome

"There are two of the reactions out of the number of us. That" Miroch nodded his head back to Kaus. "Is our leader Kaus, He is young and rather inexperienced, but he is the one with the plan. I think you'd want to really talk to him about your share and why do you think yourself a monster? A monster doesn't protect people, and from what you've said, you only wanted to protect us, and if it makes you feel any safer, if any of the other expedition members try to attack you I'll personally defend you the best I can. Anyways, go talk to Kaus. He'll be the one to decide about this."

Miroch stepped out of the way of Hylonome, though lingered close enough so that if need be he'd be able to deflect any attacks directed at the girl.

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra
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#, as written by Feyblue
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"How did it come to this? It seems I have little choice but to go with them now, or else face the consequences of being discovered. I'll have their alliance... for as long as such a thing can last."



Location ✦ Sylvan Wilds - The Sacred Wood || State of Mind ✧ Resigned




The serpentine hermit bit her lip, her unnervingly fang-like teeth glistening faintly in the dark. So it wasn't set in stone that even current members of the party would be allowed as much of the vault's power as they needed. In that case, it seemed rather unlikely that she, an outsider and lesser being, would be granted that boon willingly, which meant that, while they might be a useful stepping stone in helping her reach her goal, ultimately their success would be antithetical to her own. Nevertheless, their knowledge and resources were an advantage that far outweighed the threats they might pose in the future - especially since she could likely break ties with them fairly easily without either side having to commit to an outright betrayal. So, she wouldn't question it for the time being, especially since she still had no idea how much power she'd actually need to recreate her old body, and how much power the vault actually contained. While she'd have preferred to know all the relevant details going into this arrangement, it seemed she'd have no choice but to make things up as she went, and act according to her own intuition.

She was about to respond when something caught her attention. Her pointed ears perked up as a voice amidst a nearby thicket gave a murmured utterance of horror. "What is that?" An instant later, the elf, Miroch, seemed to notice the same presence, shifting slightly into a rather defensive posture. However, he relaxed a moment later, evidently recognizing the two figures Hylonome could now make out quite clearly amidst the wood. One, a rather scantily-clad female, seemed to possess some rather odd features of her own: namely, an odd set of bushy, triangular ears, and an incredibly fluffy-looking tail. Despite the hurt she felt at the words she'd heard, she found her curiosity rather piqued by this woman's strange appearance. She must have been one of the Kindred she'd read about. She'd never met one, but felt an odd sort of... well... kinship... with them. After all, they had animal-like features too, so they couldn't have been all that different, right? The woman's reaction seemed to lend credence to this logic, as she seemed curious rather than horrified at the hermit's serpentine appearance. The other, on the other hand, seemed to be an ordinary Human, and, given that he was undoubtedly male, was clearly the speaker. Hylonome's ears drooped slightly as she lowered her head in an apologetic bow, trying to hide the shame burning its way into the scales on her cheeks beneath her bangs. Miroch began to speak again, pointing out the boy and introducing him in particular as the group's head. The serpent girl raised an eyebrow, giving a quiet gasp of surprise as she realized exactly how young he was. This was their leader? Was he serious? Well, she supposed he didn't have much reason to lie to her, considering he wanted her help. However, oddly enough, he didn't ask her to explain her abilities. Rather, what he was interested in was why she had referred to herself as a monster.

"W-what do you mean by that? Please, such jokes are in very poor taste," She said awkwardly. "Just look at me. I'm not... I'm not normal, like you. I hurt and scare people just by being close to them. The fact that I'm even alive right now is wrong in and of itself. You should already have heard that much from your Spirit friend." Remembering the presence of the other two in the small grove, she realized that it was probably rather rude of her to ignore them, especially considering one of their number was the group's leader, and was already quite horrified just by the mere sight of her grotesque shape.

"Right... Um... H-hello..." She said nervously, half-raising her hand in a weak-willed sort of wave to let them know she'd seen them. She didn't really know what she should say, considering the one seemed horrified and the other bemused by the whole situation. "I... I'm very sorry to have frightened you all..." She stammered. "I was just trying to help. Since... Since you haven't attacked me, if there's anything further I can do to assist you, I wouldn't be averse to the prospect of joining forces temporarily... Gaius and I can sense the flow of magic, so... since your friend says you're looking for a vault, maybe the two of us could help?" She offered anxiously, hoping that they wouldn't turn her down just on the basis of her freakish appearance. She hadn't spoken to so many people since her "death" all those years ago as she was currently addressing all at once now on this most unusual night. It felt unbelievable, exhilarating... and terrifying. Deep down, she feared that at any second, they might reveal their ruse, and attack her the moment she let her guard down. Even if they didn't, they might scoff at her offer, mocking and deriding her for her monstrous existence. Or, worse yet, she might say something wrong, offend them, and lose her best chance at finding a vault, with only herself to blame. "O-oh, right. You probably don't know who I'm talking about..." She murmured sheepishly. "Gaius is my spirit partner. I would let him introduce himself, but he can't actually manifest himself anymore, since he's... umm... It's kind of hard to explain..." She trailed off, not wanting to reveal to anyone she didn't have to the fact that she was technically already dead. "In any case... maybe the two of us could be useful to you? We can help you search for the Vault you're looking for, and in exchange... you... umm... don't tell anybody that we exist... and... maybe... if it's not too much to ask... let us have some of the magic from any vault we may happen to find...?"

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra
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Hela watched and listened as this snake-elf very hesitantly asked if she could join the expeditionary group. She also mentioned having a spirit partner, which caught the Kindred's interest somewhat. While she herself didn't know as much about spirits as others of her kind, the prospect of having some kind of magic vault detector was one that strongly appealed to her. Combined with Hela and Ruth's skill as treasure hunters, that vault would be as good as found!

"I think you'd be a great addition to our little group, if Kaus allows you to join us of course," she told the snake-elf with an air of confidence, taking a few steps towards her and Miroch. "Hela Alyndra, pleased to meet you. And you would be...?"

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra
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April 9--10:09 PM
Forests on the Solarian Empire/Sylvana Border


For some reason, the snake-elf had mentioned "trying to help them." Does that mean she helped us defeat that beast who attacked Miroch...? Though he had been startled by the strange sight of a fusion of two species, Kaus' opinion of her had definitely improved with that detail. And it didn't look like she was about to attack them, at least...

Still...there were more problems. "Well...I suppose I wouldn't mind having another comrade on board," the young leader murmured, cupping his chin with one hand and putting the other hand on that arm's elbow in the classic "thinking" pose. "But, even if they knew you helped us, I just don't know what the others would think if they see you...and worse, what will happen when we enter cities? I've never seen or heard of...er...anyone like you, so everyone around us might also get scared."

At the very least, Hela seemed to be very in favor of having her join, and Miroch at least was on good terms with her. Even so, Kaus just couldn't shake off the feeling that something could go wrong. "I...suppose it'd be fine, but..." Realizing sounding pessimistic probably wasn't a good idea, he quickly cleared his throat and changed his tune. "...I'll try to make everything work. You're definitely welcome to join us."

Stretching his arms over his head, he continued, "All the same, we had better head back to our camp now. We've got some injured to attend to..." Right when he said that, he turned his head briefly to Miroch to give him a pointed look, before returning his gaze to the snake-elf. "Will you follow us, then?"

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra
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#, as written by Feyblue
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"If my appearance frightens him, he needn't dance around the subject so much... Well, he seems to be willing to allow me a chance, at the very least. That's better than nothing."



Location ✦ Sylvan Wilds - The Sacred Wood || State of Mind ✧ Anxious




The first to respond to her request was the Kindred, who, much to Hylonome's surprise, seemed all but overjoyed that she was willing to join them. She'd been expecting suspicion and mistrust, but this woman seemed instead to be all in favor of accepting her. The serpentine hermit gave a sheepish smile as the fox-eared lady, Hela, introduced herself. "My name is Hylonome. L-likewise, a pleasure," She answered, giving a small, respectful bow of her head, allowing her coils to loosen somewhat beneath her, lowering herself to the ground in a rather odd facsimile of a curtsey. Just then, however, the second of the two new arrivals began to speak, addressing her. At first, she was hopeful, considering the Kindred's welcoming manner and the young leader's initial statement. However, the longer he spoke, the more negative he became, seeming especially cautious about allowing her to appear either before the rest of his expedition's members, or in their midst in public. She seemed to crumple slightly, folding her hands and fidgeting uncomfortably. She hadn't overlooked that matter, persay. Quite the contrary, rather. She had understood full well what most people thought of her, and had merely volunteered her services because Miroch had posited that they would look past all that in favor of her usefulness. If it was that much of a problem though.

"I'm sorry..." She apologized again, lowering her head yet further in meekness and shame. "I know that the way I am is troubling to other people... That's why I hid here in this forest. I... That is, if it's not too much to ask..." Stammering, she averted her eyes, not really sure how to make what must have seemed a rather selfish request. I'd rather not have anyone know about my existence who doesn't have to, anyway. Since it's a problem for both of us... I could just stay in your wagon so nobody outside the group has to see me, and cover up my tail so as not to disturb any of them..." She offered weakly, seeming hurt, but not in a manner that pointed any sort of distinct blame towards Kaus for insulting her. Rather, her current manner seemed to be conceding that every single misgiving he'd had about her monstrous body causing problems was totally justified, and it was she herself who, just by existing, was in the wrong.

This seemed to satisfy the young leader, since he accepted her offer a moment later, and then made a motion to return to their camp. "Umm... right..." She murmured, giving an uneasy nod. She wasn't looking forward to this. Introducing herself to these three had been hard enough. How much more nerve-wracking it would be to be gawked at by their entire group! Nevertheless, it was something she was going to have to do, so, reluctantly, she assented, and began extricating herself from the underbrush she'd fallen into. Slithering back and forth, she pulled herself free. "I'll just... follow your lead, then..." She murmured, averting her eyes.

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra
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April 9--10:13 PM
Forests on the Solarian Empire/Sylvana Border


Not long after they started back to the camp, Kaus found his magic shutting off again after being active for five minutes. To say the least, it hadn't been easy for him to explain why he suddenly had to rely that much more on the others' senses after that.

Needless to say, this snake-elf had made things very awkward. Everyone else in the party would be freaked out by her, wouldn't they? And no matter how hard he thought, he couldn't come up with anything to convince them that this particular newcomer should come along. Would he just have to hope they'd accept her? At the very least, since I already agreed to take up the next watch, I can make sure no one attacks her...

It was probably best to think about something else for now. Remembering the armored woman who had also helped them, Kaus wondered if he should recruit her as well. Perhaps she had another protection job to go to, but...

A completely unrelated thought bubbled to the surface in Kaus' mind. He didn't even know a thing about the others, abilities or otherwise. He did say they should familiarize themselves with each other's capabilities so that they could cover for each other more easily, but...because certain people had urged him to have them set out as soon as possible, this hadn't come to pass. Which was a bit strange, because they totally could have at least exchanged a few words before leaving.

Maybe I'll ask them about it tomorrow, he thought. I'd best ask that armored woman about joining us tonight, though.

Luckily, nothing attacked the four until they could see the camp through the trees. However, it seemed quite a few people were still awake, if not a bit silent--and with good reason, considering the craziness that had erupted earlier. Crap, it looks like I'll have to tell them tonight...

"...what should I say to them about...about you?" he whispered to the snake-elf, his feet slowly dragging to a halt. The camp was around ten meters away, and their forms was still mostly obscured in darkness. "Hela? You got any ideas?"

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Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra
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With Hylonome seemingly content with the idea of joining the group, Hela followed Kaus back to camp, looking forward to a good night's rest after scouring the forest for both him and Miroch. Whatever magical force that had been interfering with their sense of direction had since dissipated, and it didn't take long for them to get their bearings and find the camp. Just before they came out through the trees, however, Kaus halted. There was still the matter of how on earth they were going to introduce their plus one to the others, which was understandable. When the team's leader asked Hela for an opinion, she made a show of carefully studying Hylonome and stroking her chin in thought.

"I don't see what the fuss is about. She looks like a perfectly normal snake Kindred to me," she said nonchalantly, a meaningful smile on her lips. "Probably from somewhere foreign, I'll be bound. Don't get many of her kind round these parts." And with that, she strode back towards the camp, waving to the others once she was in sight of them on her way to her tent.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra
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#, as written by Feyblue
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"Snake Kindred? Do such things really exist? ...Well, I guess even if they don't, it's still a viable explanation for what I am. It may deflect suspicion for the time being... but even so, I don't want anybody to know that I exist if it's not absolutely necessary."



Location ✦ Sylvan Wilds - The Sacred Wood || State of Mind ✧ Anxious




They then began the journey back through the woods towards where they had stopped their wagon. Hylonome allowed her tongue to flick between her lips, tasting the distant scents of the camp and locating them amidst the dark. Following the others towards the source of these smells, she tried her best to keep up, but unfortunately, it wasn't quite so easy to snake back and forth between the trees, branches, and underbrush without ending up tied in her own tail, while they, with the significantly greater mobility offered them by their legs, very quickly got ahead of her. Slithering after them as best she could, she nevertheless refrained from calling out. She didn't want to slow them down, for one thing, and for another, it would have been quite pathetic to beg them not to go so fast. So, not wanting to inconvenience them, Hylonome stayed silent aside from the occasional huff and puff of exertion as she glided in their wake.

As they walked, they began to speak, the leader of the expedition abruptly stopping and turning to face her. She blessed her good fortune, taking this opportunity to catch back up with the other three. "...What should I say to them about...about you?" He asked uneasily. Hylonome shrank slightly, her gaze floating slightly to the side of the serious young man, seeming ashamed. She had been pondering that very question, and still, she wasn't sure. It might have been best to just say she was the vessel of a powerful Spirit, and had become warped as a result. Yet, it didn't sit right with her to pin the blame on Gaius. Maybe she could claim that she herself was the Spirit... But then Kaus, Hela, and Miroch would all know she was lying, which might in turn lead them to question what else she was keeping of them. If they found out why exactly she'd first been driven into the wilderness, then there was no telling what they'd do.

"Well... that's... To be honest... I'm not really..." She mumbled, trying to say she had no ideas even as she fumbled about to come up with some sort of suggestion. But if she'd had something that could convince people she was an ordinary person and not a monster, then she wouldn't have lived the good part of a century in isolation. Even so, it seemed like they expected her to have some sort of excuse she could give to explain her unnatural appearance, and she hated to disappoint them...

Just then, however, the fox Kindred, who'd been looking at her for some time, spoke up. "I don't see what the fuss is about. She looks like a perfectly normal snake Kindred to me," She said, giving a knowing smile. Hylonome gawked for a moment, not understanding what the woman meant. Snake Kindred? She'd never heard of such a thing. Besides, from what she knew, Kindred were either almost all humanoid or almost all animal. Surely, a being who was half-snake and half-elven would go against that image? However, as Hela continued to speak, it suddenly dawned on Hylonome just what she meant. Probably from somewhere foreign, I'll be bound. Don't get many of her kind round these parts." The serpentine hermit found herself positively beaming. It was a slightly flimsy excuse, but spoken so casually by a Kindred, it seemed to make sense. The Kindred were, after all, a very diverse people, and however unlikely it might have been, an individual such as herself might be counted mistakenly amidst their number. If anyone would know, it would be Hela, and with her vouching for Hylonome, they might just be able to assuage the fears and suspicions of the others!

"T-that's it!" She said, nodding emphatically, as though to confirm that a Snake Kindred was what she really was. This was, however, somewhat undermined by her next act, which was to lower her coils beneath her, bobbing downward at the waist in a facsimile of a humble bow. "T-thank you very much!" She said.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra
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April 9--10:15 PM
Forests on the Solarian Empire/Sylvana Border


"...a snake Kindred..." Kaus repeated, before smiling and nodding. "Yeah, that sounds good enough. Good thinking, Hela." Of course, Hela was already walking back towards her tent, so he doubted she heard him. Oh well.

After mentally preparing himself to speak to the group as a whole, he looked in Hylonome's direction. "Right, then...if you're not too uncomfortable with introducing yourself to the others, follow me." Then he tapped Miroch on the shoulder...well, a bit more forcefully than that. "And you, sir, need to go get yourself healed up. Go to Claire or that lady with the shield, right now."

Once that was taken care of, he pushed back into the camp and cleared his throat. "Everyone...I'm back," he called, hoping he could get their attention (even though part of him didn't even want that attention). "It took a while, but we got Miroch back...and, as crazy as this sounds, I found yet another person who will be traveling with us from here on out."

Assuming the snake-elf followed him into the campsite, he gestured in her direction. "This is Hylonome. She helped us out when a beast attacked Miroch earlier, and is interested in joining us on our journey to find a Magic Vault. So yes, while it's a bit weird that we picked up a member here of all places, I hope the rest of you will accept her."

Now for the next item of business...Kaus quickly walked up to the lady with the shield. "Hey...thanks again for helping us out. So, I was wondering...would you be interested in joining us, too? As you just heard, we're looking for Magic Vaults. We could probably use your help, since you seem to know how to deal with monsters pretty well..."