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Teri Serizawa

A half-tengu assassin on the hunt.

0 · 350 views · located in The Horat-verse

a character in “The Great Guild Fortune (2014)”, as played by Rann

Description

"I hope you're ready for this, one way or another."

ImageName:
Teri Serizawa
Sex:
Female
Age:
21
Race:
Vahiran Human/Tengu Halfbreed
Physical Description:
She doesn't really look Tengu or Human, to be honest. Unfeathered wings, light colored skin, and a smaller wingspan stops her from being seen as Tengu, while the wings are a pretty obvious indicator that she isn't human, not to mention the red eyes or the spots of red skin on her wrists, ankle, and the stems of her wings, which eventually changes into black. She's got a small frame, and isn't particularly well endowed, two thing which irk her at least a little bit. Her eyes are naturally narrowed, and her skin is just a bit tougher than the skin of a human. Teri carries herself with a cool countenance; confident and aware.
Clothing:
A pleated leather skirt, something akin to modern-day shorts underneath; puffy shirt with a tough leather jerkin underneath. Ankle-boots with socks that reach the knee. Colors are usually dark on bottom, light on top, but can vary. Her tops are always modified to fit her wings, of course. To hide the red on her wrists, she usually wraps bandages around both of them.
Height:
5'0"
Weight:
113 lbs
Skin Colour:
White, with reddish tints on her wrists, ankles, and the stems of her wings.
Hair Colour:
Dark Brown
Eye Colour:
Red

Occupation:
Ruingaard Assassin
History/Bio:
After Leiya was formed, at the border of Yune and Tengu lands, there was a young woman named Shin-Yoo Jiang, who worked as a farmer. This was before the war began, and as such, relations between the Tengu and the Yunish peoples went along well. Shin even met up with a tengu named Haruki Nachi, and they grew up together, really. Life was calm; as war raged in other parts of Yune, this was one of the vestiges of peace. In fact, Shin and Haruki fell in love.
Until, of course, Yune started advancing in on Tengala, in which case the two races, once coexisting peacefully in Leiya, turned to hate and suspicion; once neighbors turned into enemies; old friends killing one another. It was a brutal time, and it forced Shin-Yoo and Haruki apart, for a few years at least. On an assault on Leiya, Haruki saw her again and was about to kill Shin when their love blossomed once again, and Shin convinced Haruki to take her back to Tengala with him. And so, he did.

The other Tengus looked at this action in distaste – she could have been a spy, for all they knew. So upon being an outcast, Haruki took his lover and they wed, in hiding; waiting until the war died down a little before impregnating her, and changing their names to Yoshio and Reina Serizawa. Of course, some Tengu had tried to hunt down Haruki for his actions, but none ever really managed to track them down. Eventually the couple would happen upon the village of Hatsuki, and make their stay there, after convincing the Mayor that Reina wasn’t a spy at all.

Although the first child they had ended up being a stillborn, the second child, a girl, was born healthily enough, was named Teri Serizawa, oddly with black featherless wings. Despite this, the girl could still manage to fly, although finding it more difficult and tiring than full born Tengu. As a child growing up in Tengala, Teri found herself subject to quite a lot of discrimination and distrust from the populace, seeing her as unnatural and strange. And, well, it was strange, especially for tengu children, to see a featherless tengu without the trademark red skin. So, Teri grew up with a feeling of isolation from her peers, despite the countless tales from her lovey-dovey parents about how love will always, eventually conquer all.

Once she could, Teri ran away from home, at age seven, tired of all the teasing and name-calling in Hatsuki, and ended up running with a band of thieves, known as the Kurobas - The Black Wing. They plagued the larger cities in Tengala, and that was where Teri eventually learned how to fight - her favored weapon being a dual-bladed katana, made of tempered steel. Teri quickly became established as one of the more innovative fighters, using speed and agility to get up close and quickly incapacitate the enemies if needed - usually not killing, but not adverse to it, either. It wasn't long before Teri became the second in command of the Kurobas, only behind a tengu named Fuuta Furude. She loved her time with the Kurobas. After all, they were her only real family. The only ones who truly accepted her.

This was when she got the attention of the Ruingaard, and was scouted by them as a prospective member. She got a message, one day when she was fifteen, that she was to join the Ruingaard under pain of losing her family. And not her biological ones. so during a heist against a rather rich noble from Yune who was passing by, Teri found a chance to escape - only being caught by Fuuta. It was a tense conversation, but in the end, after explaining her circumstances, Fuuta agreed to let her go, telling her to visit one day. Their parting words were "You'll always be a sister to me.", further solidifying the thought that they were her real family.

Despite the harshly regimented training, and even the gifts from the top - light plated armor for her wings to hide their featherlessness, Teri acted rebelliously at first, for being separated once again from the ones who actually cared about her, by refusing to kill her first victim, and often ignoring the superiors within the guild. As a punishment, they killed off every last member of the Kurobas except for Fuuta; that was enough to force Teri into utter submission, bottling up her emotions into her training. She eventually became a mid-ranking member of the Ruingaard, strong enough to hold her own in an actual fair fight, against most opponents she'd be likely to square off against.

One one of her jobs, she met Fuuta once again, but found herself unable to tell him how most of the old band died. Instead, she simply sparred against him - never being able to win before. With her new training, she easily won, and then she invited him to join her on this job. Together they killed off most of a certain resistance group from Leiya, with only a spear user, and a pregnant woman escaping from the onslaught. Then they caught up, and Teri allowed herself to reopen the bottle she had shoved her emotions into, and was happy for the first time in a while. After they separated, she met up with the pregnant woman entirely by accident and befriended her - Yaeha - and apologized for killing off most of their resistance. The friendship was cut short, though, when Yaeha disappeared, and the spear girl claimed that she was dead - going into a one on one combat with Teri; Teri only gaining the upper hand when Fuuta came to back her up.

A few years later, now 21, Teri's on a new job, teamed up with one of the more enigmatic members of the Ruingaard Assassin's Guild, for one objective: Eliminate the Great Guild Fortune.

Home Town:
Hatsuki, built near the ‘Hatsuki Goldmine’, which they mine and sell to prosper. It’s a bit off center, and often needs to exchange gold for food and water, since that is only sparsely available naturally there. The population as of now is 1200.
Home Country:
Tengala

Personality:
Teri is an emotionally stunted young woman - she's callous and apathetic at times, and has trouble displaying her emotions outwardly, even if she does want to. Because of this, and her general distrust of people, it's hard to get along with her. She can be sarcastic and biting, as well as cynical and pessimistic; but she does display clear intelligence. Despite being an assassin, Teri doesn't actually enjoy killing, and prefers to leave as many people alive as possible, though, if needed, she doesn't have any qualms in taking a life.

Getting underneath the surface, Teri's a sweet and loyal to a fault girl, who's willing to sacrifice herself to benefit those she cares about. She's also uncharacteristically naive about things like romance and boys in general, and will easily flounder at being kissed our touched by a boy, except for in combat. She's also pretty easy to tease, if you're one of her trusted few; as she view their opinions at a tantamount importance, making her possibly insecure emotionally, in some ways.

All in all, Teri's kind and caring, and willing to do what it takes to get things done, if need be. Even if what it takes is to take a life.

Fears and Desires:
She desires for companionship and belonging, and fears losing the last part of her true family left - Fuuta Furude.

Equipment and Weapons:
Teri wields a dual-blade katana, one on each side of the hilt, curving out in a slight boomerang shape, overall.
Metal plating for her wings that's enough to deflect generally weaker physical attacks, such as arrows, and lighter sword/dagger hits. It can also add protection from water, air, and earth chi. Attached to the edges of the plating is a blade, somewhat detached from the rest, allowing her to cause potentially lethal damage when dive bombing, or simply flying past her enemy. She sacrifices stamina and some flight maneuverability when wearing it.

Styles and Abilities:
Aircrobat Style- Teri fights in a fluid, almost dance-like style, always staying in beat and moving her body to continuously her offensive strikes against the enemy. When needed she can block hits with her wings, and when needed, blast her light chi to keep her offensive momentum. Because of her style, it's hard to get an opportunity to hit, and countering her is hard, because of her mobility. Brute force to disrupt her momentum is most likely the best route to taking her out.

Chi and Augmentations:
Teri can use her chi to boost reaction speed to threats, allowing for tighter turns while flying, or quicker dodging in melee range.
She also has 'Light Chi' that she channels through her swords, allowing her to stun and blind her enemy in a pinch.

So begins...

Teri Serizawa's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nee Me-Hyung Character Portrait: Amanhã Tiamat Character Portrait: Orion Shan Character Portrait: Teri Serizawa Character Portrait: Sainko Khasai Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Rann
Nee slapped herself once Gridiron walked away. what the hell was she thinking, talking to her friend like that? If they even were friends, if Gridiron even really cared about her. Still, people were paying more attention to Gridiron at the moment. And all of these people around her sort of... it really was suffocating. She didn't sense any truly malicious intent anywhere near, so chances are Moga was putting his bets on the blockade. So she left the bar to idly walk around; tapping Amanhã's armor to more or less notice her that she was heading out for a bit, feeling mildly like manure.

The crisp, mostly clean air of very Sudean-influenced Harad. It was refreshing, at the very least. Nee nodded just a tad at the guide, before turning down an alley way, making sure her chain was close at hand, and that she was alert of anyone even remotely approaching. Hearing a tinkle of water somewhere, Nee suddenly felt the longing to take a bath. Scrub away every part of her body that was sullied; maybe, just maybe become clean again. Seems like right now would make a good opportunity for that, right? There was something of a lull in the action. She'd keep the chain with her, however, close. Probably won't let go of it. And thus, Nee slipped out of the outskirts of Harad.

It wasn't long until Nee found the little spring just outside the almost-desert town, where the river ran to. Past that was more Sudean territory than anything. It was the only real greenery around, with this nice fresh scent wafting to her. To be honest, the Harad Spring looked almost out-of-place, a blotch of green on the border of a sea of sand. She slunk her way through the shrubbery, and with a moment's hesitation, slipped her kimono off of small, lithe, and bruised form, keeping the chain wrapped around her. Muttering, "Why not?" Nee stepped into the glistening water.

It was calming. It was really serene, too. Nee felt the liquid slide over her frame, washing over her like a wave of cleanliness. It was therapeutic. It was soothing. It felt like perfection. And Nee felt utterly out of place, with her dirty, ravaged body. She still felt it all, both externally, on her pale skin; fingers grabbing and mauling her body, roughly and intensely- and then even worse, inside, violating the most precious part of her. The part that she didn't want anyone else to know at all. Breaking through; pain and blood and foreign sensation awash. Nee shuddered and started scrubbing furiously, violently, in a frantic daze; scratching at her skin almost as if trying to peel it all off. She kept on scrubbing, but no matter how hard she tried, the fact remained that she was broken. Dirty. Disgusting. Sullied.

She was pathetic.

Finally the girl was sobbing desperately in the spring as little trails of tiny blood droplets lined every inch of her body save for her face; her heaped and sorrowful form trembling as the pain of her scratches started stinging. It didn't help. This didn't goddamn help at all. Exhausted, she climbed her way out, using leaves to wipe the wet off her body. Once dry enough, she slipped back into the kimono, and wrapped the chain around her. Might as well head back. Might as well bottle this down; hide it. No one was allowed to see her weakened to this extent. Otherwise she wouldn't be able to manipulate anymore, either.

She felt someone approach. Nee spun around, snarling, with her chain swinging in an arc in front of her, grazing the guide's arm. Nee stared in shock and lowered her head in apology.

"Hey." The guide muttered. "Just wondering if you were okay, miss."

"I'm fine." Nee answered mechanically, walking past the guide. "Just fine."

Overhead she saw a familiar flying creature- Valkar's pigeon, was it? Nee decided to copy the whistle she heard Valkar make back at Furoe, and the bird flew down to perch on her shoulder, with a note tied around it's talon. Nee then took the note off its talon, and tried to read it -it was, unfortunately, in code; no way she could understand it for now. She'd have to decipher it on her own once she had the time. Any information would be helpful. But considering it was in code- it had to be addressed to Moga. Nee went cold - did that mean Valkar was going to mobilize against her, and was aware of her plot? She had to make sure. Nee quickly writ down a message to Valkar in neat, flowery print, before attaching it to the pigeon's talon. She made sure to keep the note, though, along with the fur from Garrus.

"From now on." She whispered coaxingly. "Deliver all of his messages to me, okay?" She then let it go. Feeling a little lighter, Nee re-entered the inn, tapped Amanhã's armor again, and then walked up the stairs to her room, shutting herself off from Gridiron's troupe.




Was she morose? Was she really? Teri was still pondering this by the time Sainko melted into the crowds of Hanshan, and Teri gave rudimentary look in the general direction, and somewhat slumped her shoulders. It was time to get into another fight for the higher ups of the Ruinguard. At least it wasn't as if they were going to kill this Shan. That was probably the only plus. Even Sainko wasn't all that much of a bonus, really, only really benefit is that she could be a help in battle. Anyone that could be loyal to the Ruinguard.... well, Teri felt hard pressed to really want to know them. A little sigh escaped her again - wasn't she always like this, with everyone but Fuuta these days? Always being more or less completely disinterested in others, and she blamed it on her status of being half-tengu. Probably messed her up too young back then.

Nothing she could do about it now. Teri fished out her metal plates in preparation for the battle; an idea suddenly striking her. She ignored a few people staring at her - trying to decide if she were tengu or human, even hearing a mumble of 'hey man, should we murdalize her, bet she's rich' and then a terse reply of 'dem metal plates are scary dude lets not'. Teri shot them a warning glance - teenage bandit, apparently. Reminded her a bit of what she once was, except... well, she hoped her band of thieves were a tad bit more civilized than that.

With the illusion dispelled, Sainko felt something of a weight lifted from her shoulders-- freer, physically and mentally speaking. A light smile playing at her svelte lips, she proceeded, a hint of a carefree sort of spring to her step as she considered the best vantage point she could reach. Along one portion of the alley's wall, composed of the walls of the buildings that ran parallel along the main street of Hanshan, the bricks had degraded, leaving small chunks missing-- footholds, if one so made of them, interspersed across the decrepit wall, reaching close enough to the rooftop for her purposes. Sainko leapt up to latch onto the first pair with her hands, and gradually crawled, vaulted, and pulled her way up to the top using the various crevices in the brick wall, eventually leaping up to the rooftop with an unnecessary but tasteful little flourish.

The rooftops of these ancient, abandoned buildings were littered with refuse-- junk, assorted trash, furniture scattered about, a disarray of clutter, precisely what Sainko had chosen the rooftops for. Up from this vantage point, amongst the disorder of refuse, she wouldn't even have to use any illusion to obscure her presence-- she had only to stand, and watch.

Her eyes zeroed in on Serizawa, down on the ground-- this point would prove advantageous when Shan emerged from that inn, but furthermore, she wished to gauge the extent of Serizawa's combat skills in a manner which she had been as of yet incapable, having had little opportunity. From here, in the initial moment of the clash before involving herself, she could formulate a general idea of Serizawa's tactics, her methods of combat, her fighting style and martial prowess-- information that could, perhaps, become useful knowledge at a later point, if it came about Sainko would have to use it. For the time being, however, it was merely a process of observing-- watching, and taking meticulous mental note.

"Thanks." Heavy footsteps. Teri ducked to the side; the time has come, after all. No one else had footsteps like that; at least, not around Hanshan. unless there just so happened to be a giant living suit of armor walking around. Actually, that wouldn't surprise Teri, now would it? Well, nothing technically surprised her, but still, something like that is probably to be expected in this weird world. Teri's existence was a testament to that, after all. She took a cursory look behind her; okay, the teenage bandits were gone, thankfully, so she could focus directly on the combat. With the element of surprise, hopefully this'd be over quickly. Knowing her luck, it'd be a long, drawn out engagement, with all of Hanshan in ruins afterwards.

The orange armored - why the hell do you even wear armor that brightly colored? It just makes you an easy target, does it not? - with purple hair - and the hair, is that dyed? Would a man like Shan even be interested in aesthetics? Because surely it couldn't be natural. Perhaps it was just something, possibly a chi-reaction. Teri wouldn't be surprised. - walked out of the oddly named inn. It was time.

Teri wordlessly lunged at Shan with her double-ended blade, doing a graceful fluid feint at his throat before deftly spinning around him, and flapping her wings in his face; blowing her safely back. Hopefully while he was stunned, Teri then tossed her metal plates into the air, diverting any lightning chi from targeting her, and then used her light chi - dazzlingly bright, and more than enough to stun anyone looking, possibly even burn their retinas. The crowd seemed to stagger around them as she did this, and then stabbed forward with her katana, aiming for chinks in his tough orange armor, in such a way that only the deftest of people could dodge. She didn't have her usual style of divebombing to gain momentum of speed, but she could still build momentum of her own, in actual melee combat. Dodging a possible attack, Teri flipped over him and stuck at the nape of his neck, wondering why Sainko wasn't helping. Finally, as her plates fell down, she flew up to grab at them, using them to plummet down at Orion in a makeshift divebomb.

Sainko watched with a meticulous eye as Shan emerged from the inn, and began to proceed down the avenue; she also noted Serizawa delving away to the side of the street as Shan approached. Firstly, however, Sainko focused on Shan, committing to memory what her sharp eye discerned of the chinks in his plate armour, estimated from his range of movement and agility whether he was wearing chainmail or any other such protective garment underneath his plate armour (he didn't seem to be), calculating such vital factors in the battle. And then, the time was upon them: Serizawa was about to initiate her attack. And as she did, a subtle grin pulled at the corners of Sainko's mouth. Serizawa fought intelligently, efficiently, and ruthlessly-- she would make an effective ally for as long as that relationship lasted, or, if the course of events so shifted, an interesting foe to fight and kill.

But this was no time for idle reflection: it was time for the assassin to make her entry as well. Still grinning somewhat, Sainko reached back, taking up the shortbow slung beside the quiver on her back; her other hand reached for the quiver, her fingers, well acquainted with the division of the arrows therein, clasping onto one of the arrows with an oddly shaped, tapered head. The slender point of the arrowhead made it much more suited to penetrating plate and mail armour than the standard broadhead arrows that inhabited the other two divided sections of her quiver, tipped with various poisons-- at this range, should it have struck true, this arrow would pierce armour and flesh. After all, she had been instructed not to kill Orion Shan-- that did not preclude injuring him to see how he fought whilst wounded, however minor or major. And anyway, if he managed to die to the two Ruinguards' little trial, was that not evidence enough that he had never been powerful enough to be significant to the guild anyway?

When she placed the arrow against the cord of the bowstring, pulled back, and released, however, she produced from the other side of the street, from the rooftops of the opposite side, the illusion of an identical arrow, following an identical path as the one she had just fired, both surging down toward Shan, aimed for his leg. With the arrow off, Sainko wasted no time; quietly, she produced another mirror illusion-- just one, so she could manipulate it with a greater degree of finesse than simply having it mirror her every action. As she herself vaulted across to the other rooftop and then landed down in the side alley, this illusion hurled itself from the top, rolling as it hit the ground to produce the impression of attempting to minimize the shock of the fall, before lunging at Shan.

The illusion, the arrow, Serizawa-- all rather excellent distractions as Sainko herself unassumingly crept out of the side alley amidst the chaos that had engulfed the street, making for Shan with a veritably casual stride, as though out for an afternoon walk. And then, only once she was within a certain range, two things happened in quick succession: one of the daggers sheathed within Sainko's coat darted out into her hand, and she lunged forward, one arm swiftly snaking up to Shan's throat, pressing the dagger against it briefly, drawing blood but failing to truly injure the man-- if he was as much an experienced threat as the Ruinguard suspected he could have been, he probably recovered from such trifles effortlessly. Just as quickly, her hand darted away, the dagger was replaced fleetly, and she deftly maneuvered away from Shan with a backflip; as she did so, she reached for one of the throwing knives tipped with paralysing solutions, and aimed it at one of the weak spots in Shan's armour that she had perceived up on the rooftop before beginning her attack.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Orion Shan Character Portrait: Teri Serizawa Character Portrait: Sainko Khasai Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Orion staggered back from the bright flash, Orion blinked his eyes quickly trying to get a hold of what was going on. Oh, he was under attack, sure the attacker was able to hit him, but really just a poke to the neck? The girl launched herself into the air and Orion watched as she grabbed … was she grabbing metal pates? She was going to attack him with metal plates … this has to be some sort of joke. Orion grumbled to himself, “Oh, so it’s going to be one of those days.” Orion watched as the girl dived towards him to hit with the plates, sure the hit hurt a bit, but Orion had faced worse. Orion shot his hand up and grabbed the girl’s ankle as she tried to fly away, “I’m done playing here,” Orion slammed the winged girl onto the ground releasing her ankle a second before impact, allowing the body bounce up and then back down.

A second figure emerged attacking him small daggers, this one was a little better, doing all sorts of acrobatics and illusions and shit. Hell she even made him bleed, just a little bit though. The second assassin quickly jumped back as if she was expecting a counter attack and threw a dagger into one of the few chinks in the armor. This one stung a little bit, must be using some sort of drug on it. Orion pulled the dagger from his arm; the thing was covered in thick murky substance. “A paralyzing agent, how cute, you run out of the real stuff? Cause this shit is weak as fuck.” Orion licked the agent off the dagger and smirked at his assailant, “Don’t be surprised, this ain’t the first time someone has tried to kill me, hell I had to inject this into myself everyday to build an immunity for this shit. You’d be surprised how many champions coat their weapons with the stuff.” Orion jumped back quickly away from both of the assassins and dropped his bag of weapons. Orion pulled the two hand axes from his hips, stepped into a fighting stance, and smiled at the two girls, “Let’s get this over with, I have shit to do.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Teri Serizawa Character Portrait: Sainko Khasai Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Rann
So somehow the blades lining the ends of the wing's plating didn't really break through the skin, did they? Teri made to fly off and up - might as well go for the real thing, instead of just a weak version of it. Still, a hand then coiled around her ankle, slamming her a few times onto the ground. The half-tengu managed to escape that with minimal injury, patting her wings with some affection. At least they were a good shock buffer. She then flexed them - nothing broken. No real pain, just a bit of disorientation from being used as, essentially, a bludgeon. It was mildly irritating, but understandable. There were better ways to dispatch an assassin though. Not that Teri really minded that Shan didn't go for that. But that was when Sainko leapt into the fray - and ageless woman - and it ended with...

Teri had trouble from displaying her disappointed face. Why, exactly, did Shan lick the paralyzing agent dagger? Certainly, he didn't think they were amateurs? Still, the battle was more or less over now. They could proclude that, while Shan had some martial prowess, he was essentially, an idiot. Really. Licking the poison.

"I think we can conclude our operation here," Sainko said, almost tauntingly. "This one is about as much a threat to the Ruinguard as a lemming with mental dysfunction."

Teri nodded, suppressing a yawn of boredom. This really was rather... unsatisfying. Almost like a joke mission. The faster the better, though. She was perfectly fine with receiving the easy missions, such as this one. Did any of it really matter? At least to the generally apathetic half-tengu, it didn't matter in the least. As long as she didn't display her best in the training, then it benefited her just fine. Kept her out of the more tiresome missions, and gave her more downtime.

"Anticlimactic." The half-tengu said bluntly, pocketing the heavy bladed wing plates. "Nice try, though."

With that, the illusionist transformed into a youthful girl, and started bouncing around, for ice cream. This was also... a bother, wasn't it? She could just go and fly right now, return to Tengala and laze around all day with Fuuta. It'd be so easy. Sainko could obviously fend for herself, and Teri knew she was fine on her own too. And it wasn't as if they were friends. Just colleagues. People who happened to be in the same Guild. That's all. But then again... she supposed it wouldn't hurt too much to have some ice cream with her. Or him. Or it. Honestly, she had no idea. What mattered was that Sainko was someone with enough skill to merit some respect

"Sure." Teri muttered stiffly, not really knowing or caring all that much what ice cream was. She'd never heard of it in Tengala. "You're paying, though. And it'll be faster if I fly us there." She paused briefly. "...Unless you'd rather walk."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Orion Shan Character Portrait: Teri Serizawa Character Portrait: Sainko Khasai Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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As Orion raised his potatoes for battle when the fluffy unicorn wizard launched a rainbow cat projectile at his chest. Orion’s world flickered between Orange and Razzleberry drapes as his hands slowly began to melt into a gigantic foamy land shark. “Why hello there Orion. It’s been a while since we last talked, your flesh was quite delishis.” Orion’s beak opened and formed a gigantic vortex that sucked in the quosalt land shark. “Your cups and knives were quite moist.” The fluffy unicorn wizard walked over to Orion and pulled out a panda egg and glided it over Orion’s neck. “Buffalo buffaloed the Buffalo buffalo.” Orion’s purple blood dripped out of the egg and became the night sky that draped over Orion’s body as he frolicked through the daffodil and kitten tree meadow.

He was then halted by gigantically tiny tree dwarf who asked for his ice cream ID card. Orion slapped the tree dwarf who muttered something about how flying was faster than swimming, and how swimming through the land was faster than water walking and disappeared with a dusky flash and was instantaneously replaced with pile of marigold and pansy colored puppies. Just then a miniature giant came and knocked over Orion who fell towards a pool of black water that turned into the mouth of a manticore. Orion stopped falling and the manticore placed Orion on its back. “You must help the universe, the purple fluffy unicorn wizard is planning on destroying the universe and all the other places too. In order to prevent this we must slay the purple fluffy unicorn wizard and its accomplice the gigantically tiny tree dwarf.” “Does this purple fluffy unicorn wizard have anything to do with the fluffy unicorn wizard?” The manticore stared at Orion with astonishment, “Art thou colorblind? The purple fluffy unicorn wizard and the fluffy unicorn wizard are clearly one and the same.” A bell interrupted the manticore and in came an oversized scroll attached to a coconut which was attached to a sparrow and it wasn’t any normal sparrow it was an African sparrow, whatever that meant.

The manticore captured the sparrow with its cage tail and sent its primate helper to retrieve the letter. The primate proudly raised the scroll which then proceeded to unscroll itself. From the depths of the scroll emerged the face of the purple fluffy unicorn wizard, who was now wearing a ridiculous moustache on its face. “I am totally not the purple fluffy unicorn wizard for you see I have a moustache.” Orion and the manticore quietly nodded their heads, this being who was totally not the purple fluffy unicorn wizard had sound logic, “I am here to warn you, do not interfere with the purple fluffy unicorn wizard’s plans or the consequences will be dire. Also your friend Hyuna says ‘Hello’” The purple fluffy unicorn’s face disappeared with a pop and Orion and the manticore were left there in silence. “I think that was the purple fluffy unicorn wizard with an ingenious disguise.” The manticore place his monocle over his right eye, “I believe you are right my good sir,” “Quite so,” Replied Orion who was now wearing a monocle of his own. The manticore removed his monocle and crushed it in his paw, “But enough silly talk, we must destroy the purple fluffy unicorn wizard before he or she or it destroys the universal shrubbery.” Orion pulled off his monocle in shock, “He or She or It intends to destroy the universal shrubbery? How shall we stop the dastardly fiend?” “With THE ALLFATHER SERUM! With its magnificent power you shall be able to destroy the creature once and for all.”

Back in reality Orion sat upright and reached for his bag, almost mechanically and dug in deep. After a few seconds of searching, Orion pulled out three syringes filled with light blue liquids. “MANTICORE! I HAVE FOUND THE ALLFATHER SERUM!” Orion pulled off the safety caps from the syringes and injected the combat drugs into his body.” Orion stood upright as the combat drug flowed though out his veins. “I must stop the purple fluffy unicorn wizard.” Orion dashed forwords and knocked Hyuna and her brother back. Orion then grabbed the nearby fruit seller who staring at this oddity, “Come Slime King, we must go and find the purple fluffy unicorn wizard and his or hers or its accomplice the gigantically tiny tree dwarf and slay them.” The man squirmed in Orion’s grasp, “Please sir I have no idea what you’re talking about, I’m just a simple fruit seller, I can’t help you.” Orion gave a loud boisterous laugh that seemed unnatural, almost demonic. “That is a brilliant idea Slime King! Your body shall make an excellent weapon set! But first we must find the purple fluffy unicorn wizard! Tally-Ho!”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Nee Me-Hyung Character Portrait: Amanhã Tiamat Character Portrait: Cha'Valkar Character Portrait: Teri Serizawa Character Portrait: Sainko Khasai
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Orion was sort of mumbling and rambling about nothing, really. Hyuna just regarded him with mild annoyance - what the heck? He utterly ignored her! And like this... wasn't - oh, whatever. Hyuna gritted her teeth, thinking hard. If Orion was going to be all drugged up like this, then wasn't he a danger? She took a glance at the broken inn behind her - her sick father and big brother were still around, right? A drugged up orange idiot... well, there was only one thing to do about that.

Said thing to do about that was take a sideways glance and see Tuying. Hyuna instantly fractured the air around her, changing her into a crippled old man; hobbling over his cane. While she melted into the crowd, she kept an eye out for Painji. She had to try and make amends to him, after all. Although, just like it was with Lunan, it was probably too late for that. Once out of eyesight of the cop ranger, Hyuna dispelled the illusion, back in form. It wouldn't serve to get imprisoned right now. And she also didn't have to worry that her family would get hurt - Orion didn't stand a chance against the cops in his drugged state. Sure, there was some regret from leaving him behind, but what else was there to do? He was a possible friend... and Hyuna wondered if she'd see him again after his imprisonment time was over.

Don't fool yourself. There's no such thing has friendship, for someone like you."

Right. All he was was a supply for potential victims. Not that that mattered now. Hyuna wondered where to head to now.

Somewhere else in Hanshan, a red suited man received a letter from his pigeon, too early for it to make sense. There was only really one possibility. It had been intercepted. Cha'Valkar took a stealthy look around, before opening up the new letter tied to it. This was potentially bad, because whoever intercepted it must have the coded one he sent to Moga. And there was a chance of the code being deciphered. And if that were to happen, he'd have to develop a new system for secret messages back and forth between his second-in-command.

Cha'Valkar.

It's Nee. Surprised? I'm still alive. I'm doing fine. Hope you are too. Amanhã, Gridiron, and I are in Harad. Close to Furoe now. In a few days we should reach it, and then they'll be gone. At that time you can come pick me up again. Because we're friends, right, no matter what anyone says.

There's also a blockade in place, so we can't get to Furoe easily via the Najjiro road. I suspect that Moga is trying to capture me, and subvert your power. It's safe to assume that he's in charge of the blockade.

I'm looking forward to seeing you again! You're my very first friend.

Nee.


Valkar made strange face as he read the note. Ignoring how Nee managed to get ahold of it - which is obviously a big question mark - how could she still consider him a friend? After what he did? Guilt boiled up inside of him again, and for the upteenth time he wished that he had just quit and accepted her offer, way back in Furoe. But now he - and by extension the little Nee - were suffering for the mistake he made. On the other hand, however... she's smart. Wickedly intelligent. This could very well be a part of her wry mind.

After thinking it over, Valkar sent the pigeon away to Nee, before being bumped into by a girl with quite a fancy spear. Her face looked familiar to two people he'd seen earlier; met up with a little bit. As she murmured an apology and made to move away, Valkar grabbed at her arm sharply, not letting her get away.

"What is it?" The girl hissed. "I already apologized, let go of me."

Feisty. A fighter. Primal instincts rose inside the slaver lord.

"You're Hyuna Ka-Nan." He said bluntly, making her freeze in surprise and stare back at him. Well, this was going to be fun.

"I have business with you."




"You'd make a poor little girl pay for you?" Sainko whined in a very... convincing way, making Teri regard her with very slight surprise. Not that it really was that important. She was just a good actor; it was a part of being an illusionist, after all. Teri chose not to respond - was there any reason to, anyways? "Fly us away, then."

Teri put her hands around Sainko's waist, and with a flutter of wings, they jerked roughly into the air, off the ground; dust scattering beneath them. Teri flapped harder and brought them higher up, enough to get a good view of the Market District. It was nice, being in the air again. Teri was pleased. It felt as natural as ever, taking away the overall bitterness of being a part of the Ruinguard. "I know a rather nice establishment not far from this very town."

As Sainko pointed it out, Teri flew in that direction, wind rushing past the two women as she faintly heard, from below 'whoa, is that a Tengu or a human?'

Both, Teri thought sardonically. If Sainko really was a human. At the least, the illusionist was human for now.

"To celebrate, perhaps, the onset of our... partnership."

Eventually the pair landed at said establishment, and watched at a bit of a distance, a man with the oddest accent, giving customers strangely colored cream balls on top of a wafered structure. Was this ice cream? Teri shot Sainko a confused look. "I'm assuming this is it." She said monotonously. "Right... partner?"

Teri landed on the ground, with a bit of a sigh. At least the ride was smooth. Not far from them, was a figure slinking in the shadows, in typical Ruinguard fashion. Teri didn't feel the need to point it out to her co-worker. What this implied, though, was that they were going to have to work together yet again.

"Never had this before." Teri struggled to try to add more than just plain curtness in her voice, but failed. "...mind picking out one I might like?"




Okay. This was stupid. Nee was too restless to just sit around in her room in the inn. She couldn't just lay down and sleep. She didn't even really want to at all. What she wanted was to be clean again, innocent again. But that's simply impossible. Lost forever. So the demure girl left her room and went back down to the bustle of the troupe. And oddly enough, zeroed in on Amanhã's steel figure, also seeming alone and barriered from the rest of them.

Maybe it was a possibility to befriend, or at least open up a way to befriend her. Unlikely, but there wasn't a reason not to try.

"Amanhã." Nee murmured. "It really is pretty loud here. If you want, maybe we could check out the blockade at a distance, see if the situation's changed?" She offered a kind, inviting smile, and felt a bit reinvigorated that she could control her expressions again.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Nee Me-Hyung Character Portrait: Amanhã Tiamat Character Portrait: Cha'Valkar Character Portrait: Teri Serizawa Character Portrait: Sainko Khasai
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"The hell do you want with me?" Hyuna asked at last. Seriously, why was this badly scarred man here? Who was he, anyways? She ground her teeth in anticipation, tempted to just explode him into a fountain of gore and move on. This was just a damn waste of time, after all. she had a faint feeling that she wanted nothing to do with the red man - and wondered, what is up with men and being monochrome, seriously, Orange Orion and now Red...arm grabby guy. Distinctly different from old Red, back in prison, the damn asstard. But then, this Red seemed to have a similar level of annoyance. But one thing did bug her severely. How the hell could he know her name? Maybe that alone was worth some merit.

"Let go of my arm already, or I'll break you."

"You can try." The man said with an almost teasing tone. Hyuna's brow twitched. Damnit, she'd had enough. She wouldn't just try. She'd crush the hell out of this idiot. Hyuna, with an expressionless face, used her chi hand and started gathering wind to blow this red man away from her. Even if he knew her name, there was no reason for her to stay. Not as if she had any dark crippling secret worse than the one she currently suffered. And there was no way this guy could reconcile that.

The man let out a litle click of the tongue, before bringing his hand to wear the wind swirled. Before Hyuna had a chance to react - she was busy gathering up a large amount of wind in order to shear the man in half with pure torque, when suddenly flares swirled around and the inferno just nearly scorched her. From the man's hand, she saw a weak flare burst from the palm; but the wind seemed to feed the fire and make it roar with intensity; the head was incredible. Hyuna then put the fire out, with an angry scowl. Looks like that wouldn't work. And she wasn't looking to become a fried Hyuna. That'd just lead to her dying, and generally wasn't fun at all. She still had shit to deal with before dying. Before being allowed to see Yaeha again...

Okay. Maybe Hyuna didn't actually have much to lose by dying.

"Is that really all you can do?"

Hyuna stayed silent, brewing.

The man scoffed. "I was expecting a challenge too. Well, in anycase. Hyuna, you probably should say goodbye to your current life." He fished into his pack and reached for a dull green collar, dangling in front of the suddenly horrified girl. She stared, agape at it for a few seconds. Shit. This was bad. Maybe death really would be preferable. But the grip on her wrist was incredibly strong; she couldn't break out easily.

"I'm sure you know what this means."

Cha'Valkar didn't know why this didn't seem to help him as much as it usually did. Was it because Hyuna's spirit had broken rather quickly? He had no idea. But he suspected it ran deeper than that - that it was related to Nee. Sure, he'd get money and some power from enslaving the girl, but for some reason, breaking her in just didn't appeal to him. In fact, he felt almost disgusted at it. At the thought of doing it again. Was this also all of Nee's doing?

What was he doing?

"...Lucky for you, I'm not a real slaver." Yeah, some reason, she just didn't have the heart to clasp the collar around her throat. Her - very faintly scarred throat. "Employed by your father. Just make sure you be careful. A girl travelling alone isn't exactly the safest thing, these days. Real slavers." He released his grip on Hyuna's wrist.

"Wait, what the - How - hang on." Hyuna has suddenly confused. After hearing that this man was connected to her father - but also having her hand freed, she was torn. go for the kill, or just leave? It was a hard choice. But in the end, she wasn't even sure if she could kill him. Her spear hand was weird right now, and she had a figure his man wouldn't have too much trouble with her speed and mobility.

Even Hyuna new when to retreat.

"So... how is he?" She said, finally getting her thoughts together, doing her best to ignore the dark one. Funnily enough, when with people from her past - Lunan, people connected to her father, apparently, even Painji, the dark one was more subdued. Or maybe her own will was stronger. where did the dark one even come from, anyways? "My father. I heard he was... sick."

"He's doing well enough for his age." Cha'Valkar said almost dismissively. He really had no idea how to talk to a headstrong girl that didn't involve him breaking her. This was a completely new territory for him. "I must go now, though. Busy. Take care of yourself." Valkar turned to leave, under the afternoon sun of Horat, making a mental note to get his slavers to stalk and follow this girl. Sure, he couldn't do it in person any more, but his men certainly could.

He wasn't sure if he was disgusted or not.

Hyuna thought hard between going to check on her father, and simply leaving this town once and for all. But when her brother went into the calculations, it was high time to leave. And thus, with a burst of wind, the spear girl launched herself out of Hanshan, headed to whereabouts unknown.




Not for the first time, Teri wondered why she was putting up with this. Sainko had left to order the ice cream - whatever they were again, Teri didn't really know. She'd find out soon enough, in any case, right But in all honesty, she was tired of the stale Yune air; itching and longing for the fresh crisp air of Tengala. That was where she belonged, after all. Not in this strange, unknown place. The illusionist ordered a strange, multi-colored, almost toxic flavor, and then received a simple white one, presumably for the half-tengu.

Teri had the faintest idea that she was being mocked. Nothing she wasn't used to; not even when Sainko bent closer to the vendor. They exchanged almost familiar laughter and conversation - and Teri just watched impassively. Wouldn't be long until she could lower her mental guards. Few days at most. Back with Fuuta, she didn't have to be so reclusive. Most of the time. Teri idly gazed towards the Engara Peak, one particular mountain top of Tengala, and let out a wistful sigh. That one i particular had rather good air for flying and relaxing.

Few moments later, and Sainko was back, with both ice creams delivered. With an almost cocky smile, in Teri's opinion, she told the half-tengu to enjoy, and offered the white cream, and cold ball to Teri, who looked at it confusedly for a few seconds before reaching out and grasping at the treat with one hand - accidentally gripping too hard and breaking the cone. Teri instantly realized her mistake; ignored the mess, and decided to directly attack the cream ball. It was cold running down her thick skin, after all.

It was cold. Almost unbearably. But after that, it was oddly salty. And yet sweet. Peculiar. As if mystified, Teri's expression softened a great deal as she explored a sensation she had never felt once; almost looking as if she was enjoying herself. It was good. The cone was good. Crunchy. Would have been better if she hadn't demolished the treat. It was only after she finished - and cleaned herself off - when she realized what had happened, and brought her guard back up as quickly as she could.

"Thanks." She said. "It... was good. Might have to remember this next time the Ruinguard places me in Yune."

Unfortunately, her short and to the point conversation style was more or less ruined. This frustrated her. And in her frustrations, she temporarily forgot the homesickness she felt, losing at least some of her cold edge for now.

"Sainko. Right?"




A few seconds later, the living suit of armor with the oddly beautiful name of Amanhã stood up in her clinking armor, exiting the inn. Nee felt a little pleased- this wasn't going too bad at all. She still had her touch. Even if just a little. She had to make sure she didn't lose her only weapon... or else her dreams and aspirations would be all for naught. And that was bad. She thought briefly if she should thank Amanhã again for the rescue back in the dawn of the day - but if she mentioned it too often, it might also alert the steel enigma. So as Nee followed her out, she remained silent; wondering briefly if Gridiron even noticed that her sister and temporary protege had left.

As expected, as they left the outskirts of Harad, entering the Najjiro road, Amanhã was as silent as she'd ever been. The only sound was Nee's slightly labored breathing, struggling to keep up; and the incessant, almost hypnotic clanks and clinks of the plates rubbing against each other. It was strange, to say the least. Nee's thoughts drifted back to the guide from earlier. What was going on with him? Now that she looked back on it - there was something off about his smile. His inviting wave. The way he more or less knew on the top of his head, news of the Najjiro road. Nee had the faint idea that he was hiding something, but it was hard to tell what? Related to Moga? Possibly. Very possible, now that she thought of it. Despite looking rather Sudean, it wasn't as if the Ku'Rannos was only Gwanish men. There was proof of this in the now dead avian beastmen.

This was a conundrum.

"I'd like to become strong one day." Nee said idly; the pair now walking a bit slower, so as to not accidentally wander into the blockade's eyesight. While the road was mostly flat, there was a gradual upwards slope. This meant that the blockade, while having a better vantage view in general; wouldn't be able to tell who was where in a middling distance. And that was precisely where the slavey thing and the sociopathic murderer were. Theoretically, if they were careful, they'd be able to see the blockade first.

"You might not believe me." Nee's shoulders almost sagged a little as she said this. "But it's true. Relying on others, when I myself should be fighting... I don't like it. Not one bit. So I guess I might look up to you, even a little bit. Hard to believe it'd go like this, isn't it?"

A slightly sheepish grin; they were just out of getting a view on the blockade now. One more step from Amanhã and it'd be all over. Nee still had a bit more leeway, though.

"In a way, I'm glad we met." She turned her face away from the living suit of armor. "Though you probably don't think much of me at all... heh."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Nee Me-Hyung Character Portrait: Amanhã Tiamat Character Portrait: Rune Iyora Character Portrait: Teri Serizawa
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No one really likes you, you know.

Hyuna was flying through the air, not really paying attention to where she was going. Was she even in Yune anymore? She had no idea; above the clouds, above all the pain of life. Up here, she didn't see anything on the ground. Up here, she was free to herself. Up here, nothing else mattered but controlling the air around her, making sure she didn't screw up and plummet to her death. Not that it'd be a bad death - just somewhat disappointing. A master air chi user dying because she couldn't fly. almost laughable. She was alone to her thoughts - no Orion, no Yaeha, no Lunan or the weird red man, or ...Muna, or Terra or Yamato or even Yuwen, possibly most importantly of them all. She was completely isolated up here. Gone from everything.

Except for the dark one constantly nagging at her.

Hated by everyone. Alone. Aren't you?

Shut up. Please shut up. I've had it with this shit.

Course, the dark one was a pretty perfect enemy for her, wasn't it? No matter how much it burned at her, Hyuna was helpless. Like this, there was nothing she could do to drown it out. Maybe stab her head with her spear? Explode herself? Would that - no, if she was going to die, it'd be to the war. She'd fling herself into the war, get herself too deep, and die magnificently. A warrior's death. Nothing else would fit.

All you're good at is fighting.

Is that really true? Hyuna thought detestably. Couldn't she -

No. There really was nothing. She didn't even need the dark one to tell her that. Despair began swirling around in her mind once again as the taunts continued digging at her, ceaselessly. Hyuna didn't know how much more she could take.

Muna never liked you. You were just a pawn to her. Yamato forgot about you, your brother hates you. Your father's dying and you just up and left. Orion just thought of you as a tool. Yuwen only saw you as a sidekick to further boost him up. You have no ties to this realm, Hyuna.

Submit to me. if you give me control of your body ... I can fix everything. You have nothing to lose. And you'll keep on degenerating if you-


Shut up. Get out.

Of course, it didn't. And invisible to her, the very tips of her wind chi was laced with an almost misty darkness, and she was flying at a much faster rate than she was used to flying normally. And even if she did notice it, would she really care? She eased her way down, not wanting to be left alone to fend against the dark one on her own - she couldn't take it really. Or else she might just feel tempted to just let him take over.

That'd be a disaster for sure.

As Hyuna went below cloud level, she saw a familiar figure, someone left behind at the whole ball fiasco. What the hell, why was Millie just there? Wasn't she supposed to be with the rest of the guild? Hyuna, not wanting her to get captured by slavers, or murdered by teenaged bandits, landed down beside her with a rough swoop, just looking at her in puzzlement as the little girl sat at the bank, feet dipped into the river with a look of ease.

"Uh." Hyuna murmured, realizing that she was probably the worst person for taking care of a child. "Millie. Why aren't you with the others? What happened?"




A twirl of hair, and a warm seamless laugh emitted from the illusionist. Teri mostly ignored her as she looked almost longing at the ice cream. It had messed with her guard, sure, but it did taste good. Odd, but good - she'd never had anything remotely similar to that, being more used to salted foods and warm water than anything else. It had to be made with ice chi, right? The only thing that made sense. Why would people even use chi for - well, she couldn't really say anything. If she had something more conventional, it would be nice to be able to use them for whatever everyday purpose. But combat comes first, so she doesn't end up dying on a mission. And in this stead, she chose light chi for distraction purposes, as well as reflex. Nothing else would have fit with her style.

For some reason Sainko seemed almost pleased for some strange reason. Teir would have tried to discern it if she was someone else, like a rabbit beast-girl or perhaps a young revolutionary, but alas - it didn't really matter to her. Perhaps a happy coworker was better than one that was irritable. Not that they'd ever meet again, once she returned to Tengala. Team missions tended to be rare anyways - so she was pretty certain that it was going to be a big dramatic clash. Fortunately, it was really easy. And short.

"Sainko. It's as good a name as any."

Offering no further information than the bare minimum. Teri could respect that. There was a bit of a pause until the illusionist directed the conversation elsewhere. "That Shan... that was quite disappointing, wasn't it? I don't know if maybe you're the type who doesn't care as long as in the end they get it over with, but with all the big-talk the big names upstairs were making about the man, I was hoping it would be a little more... fun."

Teri nodded her head. It was true. Shan, for all the hype of seemingly single-handedly taking out the Yin family... was really nothing special. Too cocky, too proud of himself, and didn't consider a pretty basic thing such as a paralysis agent's potency. to Teri, any real fighter takes it seriously. Doesn't mess around with it. Because that's a disrespect to your opponent. Even if Orion did prove to be strong... she'd still refuse to respect his mannerisms. Just how he is, supposedly. Least it wouldn't have to be dealt with again.

"Rare for two to be sent." Teri said almost aloofly. "Expected something bigger scale. I ... was slightly let down, I suppose. Thought it'd be bigger."

Even just that much talking was somewhat exhausting to her. Teri wondered how dysfunctional she was in normal society, and then realized that normal society meant nothing to her. All she needed was the last surviving Kuroba. As long as they had each other, it'd be okay.

Still, she didn't want any... misunderstandings.

"Sainko." Teri said in a steady voice, hand digging in her back for no apparent reason. Just a habit. "I don't ... dislike you. Just not used to talking. So you don't get the wrong idea. Wouldn't be against a future team up."

Okay, maybe that last part was a stretch. But Sainko was preferable over others so she wouldn't have to remember any new names, just in case she was slated for another two-person mission in the future. Teaming with someone familiar saved quite a lot of time.




With almost hollow eyes, Nee returned to the inn. A bloodbath. Her kimono was drenched in the red liquid. All she could really think about was that it was ruined, and she'd need some new clothing soon. Hopefully something silky and light, but she doubted she'd really have a choice in the matter. Still, she felt a little better. Well, better was likely a bad term for it. Despite the blood all over her, drenching and staining her, Nee felt cathartic. Just a little bit more stabilized than previously. Still dirty, still a killer, but not as dire as she had been. At this point, she'd be willing to take any advantage. She was just glad that her chi managed to calm Amanhã down. If anything, she wanted to mention that to Gridiron. To point out that Amanhã wasn't necessarily beyond hope, and that trying to reform her wasn't a bad idea.

Reform. What an odd word. Nee thought briefly and figured that, to stand against the Imperials, she'd have to reform the Ku'Rannos into a merc unit, a massive mercenary unit, and have all the slaves be forced to fight. Anything to bolster numbers. Anything to increase overall strength. Reformatting and militarizing them should make them a force to be reckoned with. Enough to even challenge the mighty legions of Yune, especially if she played her cards right.

first step first, though. Take out Mog- wait. Wait a second. Where was the guide? She took a fervored glance around and saw nothing. Was he simply gone? Or were Nee's suspicions early actually hold weight? She hoped he just decided to head home. Because if not - he was probably one of Moga's plants, and is already informing him. Nee clenched her teeth and thought of her chain - she really should have gotten rid of him. Somehow. If anyone manages to find out their location, this would be disastrous.

Utterly disastrous.

Then they rounded a corner and saw the guide, darting up to Nee in shock.

"What- are you okay, miss? Are you hurt?"

Nee gave him a blank stare, before turning the charms on. "I'm... I caught myself in some trouble, sorry! My clothes! They're all dirty..."

And so, they entered the inn, with Nee a few pouches richer, of course - she had eventually cheated the guide out of some of his hard earned cash. Amanhã did her thing, plopping a severed bleeding stump of a head onto the table, making her one liner, then turned away. Nee looked back and forth between them, before approaching Gridiron, showing her the cash.

"Don't worry!" Nee said swiftly, hoping Gridiron wouldn't react badly. It was hard to resist using her chi to calm her down - Gridiron would probably be even worse off because of it. And that wasn't favorable at all, not to mention that it undermines the 'equals' dynamic. However, if it comes to it, she'd use it without hesitation. "None of them escaped. They were too cocky trying to grab at the bait - me - after all. Passage to Jiefong should be safe, and Cha'Valkar probably won't be aware of it for a while."




To be honest... she was stalking the guild for a while. And her father wasn't too far behind. Their smell was odd - seriously. Her wolf's enhanced smell and hearing easily picked up on words between the two guilds. A competition, in this treacherous desert? She took a glance to where she sensed her father to be observing, and since she didn't feel his will try to bend hers, she made her approach. Rune Iyora really wanted to join in the competition. Didn't matter which side - but a fight helped her feel alive. And a competition was probably an enhanced form of that. And so, the apparently 12 years old wolf beastman more or less trotted her way to one particularly Gwanish woman, keeping her hood up. Nothing to be done about the tail, though.

They had come to the Gangamai a while ago, father and daughter. They'd even gotten talismans - because it couldn't harm, certainly. And plus, her father had heard tales of the curse. Horror stories of people who never made it out. So of course, buying talismans to protect against that curse would be prudent from whatever it was. And they survived quite well in this fashion, despite Krawl - the father - going older each day.

"Uh." Rune spoke directly to the woman. She'd ask once, then give up -nothing to be done, and it wasn't really worth the effort of trying to change one's mind. "I'd... like to join. I'll -" She looked back and forth between one and the other, before deciding on the one with the gwanish woman, the tengu, the witch, and others. The one lead by that rabbit woman. "Your side, if you would. I believe I can compete well enough to be an asset."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Ann'Razul Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki
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#, as written by Rann
The gambit seemed to work out, Hyuna thought. The dark one wasn't constantly digging at her like it usually did. Where had it even come from, anyways? She didn't know, and although it seemed her chi was stronger and less tiring to use, still. That might've been connected. Whatever the dark one was though, it certainly wasn't a nice thing. Wanting to... take control of her body. Maybe to manifest in the real world. Hyuna had no idea how she was going to deal with tha- wait. Was this related to the enigmatic character named Magic? Did it start around that time, during the ball? In which case, Magic might've been the culprit. Perhaps.

This was frustrating. Now she had to track down Magic and kill him before things got even worse. Not that she could go on a hunt for Magic with this little girl here. Someone had to take care of her after all, right? And since no one else around, the probable least suited out of the entire Guild - if she even counted as a guild member at this point - had to take up the responsibility. And thus, Hyuna relaxed herself at the river bank, watching Millie.

"Wha... H-Hyuna?" The little girl stuttered, looking shocked at the pseudo-rocket's sudden appearance. The next second, the little girl rushed forward and pulled Hyuna's chest into a close embrace - the spear girl didn't even really get the chance to react at the sensation ... not that she minded. Too much. It's Millie, so it's okay, right? It wasn't bad... it wasn't uncomfortable... "Hyuna! Hyuna! Hyuna! I missed you, Hyuna!" The cries of 'Hyuna!' were interspaced with little sniffs and chokes and more clutching, to the point that Hyuna almost felt as if she was falling over backwards. She tried to fit in a few words here and there, beca-

Kill Her.

Godamnit. Hell no she wouldn't kill Millie. Millie's awesome. Hyuna frowned internally at the dark one's reappearance.

She's pointless, will just get in your way.

"Where did you go? I c-can't - I can't believe you came back! I-I almost thought that, I thought that I w-was going to be left behind forever! Please...don't leave me...don't leave me ever again..."

"Hey, I wasn't gonna-"

"I need you..."

And thus, Hyuna promptly felt like shit. She awkwardly looked around, and glad that no one was secretly spying on them, gingerly rubbed a hand on the little girl's head, ruffling her brown hair a little bit, fondly. This really wasn't so bad at all. She heard the dark one cry out for more blood and slaughter, but there was no way Hyuna'd let that happen. Not when Millie needed someone's protection. Not when at least one person in the world gave a shit about her.

Probably the only person in the world to remotely care.

"I won't leave you." Hyuna said gently. "Millie ... sorry you were scared and alone. I - " Damnit. She really did feel shitty. "Hey. What say we go an' try to find the others? I'm probably not the best person for taking care of a kid."

Furthermore, she didn't want to corrupt Millie with her own darkness. That'd probably be the worst sh could do. And she didn't want it to end the same way Yaeha's life went down. That'd be even worse.

She'd do it right this time.




At her admission of not disliking her, Sainko seemed further mollified for some reason. It was odd. Did she really care so much about Teri's own opinion of things? She didn't seem the type, at first sight. But then again, first impressions never tended to be accurate. She and Fuuta had gotten on terribly at the beginning, for instance. Teri leaned back to gaze idly at the children playing around, without a care in the world. It was almost sad. A few years from now, the half-tengu could be certain that those children would be jaded teenagers in the large scale of things. No one was really happy-go-lucky any more by that age, in her experience. Even the younger and more naive members of the Kurobas were pretty cynical compared to the idealistic lifestyle of children.

Pity, she supposed. Nothing to do with her, in any case.

"I'm glad," A deeper, more serious and grave voice. Was Sainko taking her more seriously? Did it really matter if she was? "I don't like to be disliked." Another cascade of hair, and Sainko approached. "Knowing how these things work," And it wasn't long until the illusionist reverted back to a voice that matched her form. "We'll probably end up working together again soon. Wouldn't put it past the higher ups, you know."

Teri then stood up, and took Sainko's hand. They still had to report in, after all, the details of how the mission went. That was the last thing, before it was time for her to return home to where she found some small semblance of belonging. And she wants to bask in that feeling now; she knew she had enough food to fly the hours required in one go, at least. Especially if she met with favorable winds. She grasped the illusionist, and meeting no resistance, leapt into the air, and swooped down to the lower levels of Jiefong; wind speeding past blindly; before using that downwards momentum to shoot them up into a warm current of air, further boosting their height. It felt amazing, and Teri almost glowed as she absorbed the feeling of flight.

"Comeradic Woods." Teri said, just for verification. "Right? Lots of bees. Might need to wear metal wings to shield us."

Those bees were legendary, even in Tengala, for being notoriously murderous. So the Comeradic Woods were a particularly good place to have a secretive rendezvous, right? Most people would, logically, try to avoid being there as much as possible.

Upon seeing the blotch of red trees, Teri then gently eased them down, falling through the canopy into the thick of the woods, instantly hearing a pulsating, hypnotic sound of buzzing all over them. Despite the afternoon sun shining down on them, it was dark, because the leaves and branches blocked it all out, except little steams floating down, almost majestically. And of course, the buzz of the bees instantly rose in tempo and volume. Once they landed on the soft, mossy floor, Teri quickly fastened the plates onto her wings, and spread them to cover both her and Sainko's bodies.

And thus, they waited for the representative of the Runiguard to appear.




The Sudean, as expected, reacted rather negatively to the whole thing, spurting out a "Wait, she used you as bait?" after struggling to even form a sentence together in a coherent, intelligent way. The explanation did nothing to really calm her down, and Nee once again felt the temptation to just resort to using her fix-all chi. She didn't, though, and perhaps that made things just a little bit better. It'd been a while since she tried to talk to someone without using the obvious advantage. A talk on true equal ground. So, Nee nodded mutely, and waited for Gridiron to continue. Saying anything else at this point wouldn't accomplish anything.

"...I'll have to mention to her that that was... not a wise thing to do." Gridiron looked exasperated, but the anger had died down. She still didn't look remotely pleased, but there was nothing to do with that. At least the problem was dealt with, right, and they could move on. Nee looked back to Amanhã, and shrugged a little. Perhaps the whole thing was a little much... Perhaps. She was drenched in the red liquid of death, after all. Nee made sure to buy some clothes as soon as she could.

"About the shit that went on before. I don't mean to overstep my boundaries or anything. I know I'm at best just some person in your eyes, and at worst a detriment to whatever nation-shaking plot you have boiling up in that fourteen year old head of yours. But, as awful as I am at phrasing it accurately, I... did sincerely mean what I said. Y'know. About wanting you to be safe and happy. I figure you deserve as much. I'm not too good at making this point without sounding like an idiot, but, uh... well, just know that much, will ya? I don't want you to return to Furoe thinking I'm only doin' this out of a sense of duty or some shit."

Nee nodded again, and took what Gridiron had said to heart as best as she could. She felt warm and fuzzy; and she wondered briefly if this was what friendship was all about. No harm if it was, right? In fact, it was rather pleasant. to the point that the usually verbose girl was rendered almost speechless, only managing to squeak in a 'thanks' in return, and couldn't think of anything else to say whatsoever.

"But that being said," Gridiron said, in a more authoritative and charismatic way, and started addressing her troupe about the situation, and about moving out. If they were going to, now would be the best time to do so. Nee saw the little gesture, and followed the cat out, keeping a safe distance away from him, then took the opportunity to wander off on her own into a clothings ship, after muttering to Garrus that she'd be just a sec. She had to change out of this shit, after all. In there, she purchased something rather simple - just a small, greyish tunic that more or less worked as a one piece, a leather belt letting the bottom billow out to somewhere above the knees. The also wore furred boots, and a black cloak with lilac lining overtop it all. Something more practical than a kimono, really. With that, she returned to the troupe on their march. She couldn't really hide the hain anymore, and it was more or less fastened to her belt, looped around in a way that trailed down her leg.

Time to head home. Nee didn't quite know how she felt about it.




The Gwanish woman was the first to respond, with a more or less neutral expression. "You're asking the wrong person." A smile graced her face. "The one in charge right now is Lo-Muna, though I imagine that there will be some opposition to that idea."

Rune glanced over at the rabbit beast-man. Someone that looked as weak as that, the leader? Well, to think that would be hypocritical, really, because Rune was hardly physically menacing. But still. It was more than a little surprising. It was then that the rabbit began to speak.

"It's dangerous, it's lethal in fact, this journey that we are taking. Should we get out of this alive, our road will lead to even more opposition whose sole intent will be to kill us, maim us, or leave us all separated to the far ends of this world. There will be times where death is a relief and where we will mourn one of our own." Rune struggled to keep a twisted grin off her face. She really didn't mind the idea of dying at all. Why would she? It's not as if it was a terrible thing, right? Right? She was eager too. To see what interacting with people other than her father was like. For the last few years it was only those two, wasn't it?

"If we fail, you will be trapped here with us for at least a year. I cannot guarantee your safety or permanent status within the guild. For now, I am a temporary leader as our permanent one was taken so when we recover him, I do not know if he will go against my word or not."

Lo-Muna. And the witch was Terra, apparently. Rune looked over with a bit of a shrug at the slightly taller girl, flashing a cool grin.

"A witch, huh?" She said. "Interesting." She then turned back to Lo-Muna. "And, thank you. I'm looking forward to fighting alongside you all, for as long as we're alive, at least.. We do have the disadvantage here, because I bet the other guild probably did this sort of thing before."

This was going to be fun. Exhilarating. And she could almost feel her father's encouraging sentiments through their little bond of necromancy. The wolf beastman listened to the others speak, and then peered at the two minecarts, ideas running through her head.

"A mix of weight and ranged combat." She said finally. "That would be the best. So, uh." She looked at the blue oni, who appeared to be the heaviest, and then at her own bow and quiver. Would it work? They'd have to see, wouldn't they? The bear wouldn't be bad either, but didn't appear to weigh as much. "Fat Oni for the weight to make the cart go faster. And then me to attack at range. That should work, unless you all disagree." She gave off this cool, almost savvy aura as she looked at her new, however ephemeral teammates. "Unless one of you has earth chi to control the cart, or wind chi. But what are the chances of that?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Sunaarashi Character Portrait: Suiken Character Portrait: Nee Me-Hyung Character Portrait: Terra Himene Character Portrait: Amanhã Tiamat
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#, as written by Rann
Teri relaxed when the ebb of the bees ceased their futile assault; escaping in a stream of hatred and rage to destinations unknown. That was mildly harrowing, and annoying as well. Unfortunately, the buzzing was still pulsating as loudly as ever, the humm screeching into their ears with merciless abandon. Everything seemed just a tad darker for a second as the Ruinguard emerged from the fauna and the flora, looking as if the bees didn't even remotely bother them. And the Ruinguard looked just as you'd expect, really, the whole black robes, hood, sorta deal. The almost self important cryptic air they carried themself with. The half-tengu felt a tap on her shoulder, and took that as a cue to open up her winds, revealing the illusionist back in what appeared to be their preferred form, greeting the Ruinguard.

Just as could be expected, the Ruinguard offered no real response, allowing Sainko to delve into her report on Shan's... well, you couldn't even really consider that to be a battle, could you? It was almost simply toying with someone who thought they were all powerful, before crushing them entirely as the truth of their power became apparent. It was pathetic.

"Overestimates his own ability." Teri said, almost flippantly, not even looking at the Ruinguard. Her face was twisted in distaste, remembering the battle. She really was kind of hoping for something even marginally more exciting. Can't survive as a Ruinguard if you can't enjoy a battle, after all, right? But perhaps it was better all the same, that it was quick and easy. Perhaps. Fuuta was waiting back at home after all. "Idiot. Not even worth fighting. Unsure why two of us were even necessary."

She wathed the envelope be exchanged from the Ruinguard to Sainko, as the figure more or less just left. Teri regarded it with a feeling of dread - goddamnit this meant she wouldn't be able to head home just yet. Another quest, probably for the both of them, and... well, hopefully it wouldn't be as easy as this one. If she was going to be mobilized, at least let it be worthwhile. Something of a challenge. Not like the let-down that Shan was.

"Perhaps we should read this in a less unsavoury location," Sainko murmured, and Teri just nodded wearily, clutching at the illusionist once again. With the exit of the Ruinguard, the bees were starting to act up again, and their throbbing buzzes warped the fabric of air around them with it's tenacious volume. Teri was already starting to get a headache from all of this, and as they tried to approach, the half-tengu emitted a bright flash of light - stunning the closer ones - and allowing her to take hold of Sainko to fly up into the air. Without an air current, it was harder for her to get up, but with enough effort, she managed it at long last.

It didn't take long for them to leave the vicinity of the Comrade Mountains, and with a steep nosedive, and a rush of speeding wind, the pair landed far below, at the base of the mountain. The air was particularly warmer now; and they could see a farm and some fields in the distances, separated from them by a thin, snaking river. The idyllic image of Yune's country side, according to the tourist pamphlets offered out from time to time.

"Open it." Teri said, referring to the envelope as she leaned against a pine tree with a slight frown. "...And you were right. They would team us up a second time."

Honestly. Well, and this time Teri lowered her guard just a smidgen - at least it was Sainko and not a whole other Ruinguard. Probably the only mercy in the whole situation.




Nee more or less completely blocked out the talk of this Muoy or whatever, and Võ. She didn't even know who they were, really, it was completely pointless. Honestly, the idiocy. She had more important things to worry about than fighting as a recreation. She had to try and plot more about Moga's downfall. Had to do it with very limited resources and knowledge. Hell, she didn't even know the general power structure of the Ku'Rannos right now, only thought Valkar was the head, and that power was probably inherited, and that Moga was the second in command. And all she knew about him was that he was an ambitious man, probably thought Valkar was getting too soft - of course he was, any slaver with guilt was unsuited for being a slaver, let alone a slaver lord - and wanted to seize power when a weak leader was in charge. The only possible weak point she could discern at is this Minayne. His own personal slave. If she could establish communications with her, then perhaps she'd get an opening. find out who she is. Find anyone who might've known her prior to her enslavement. Feed them the info; have them lead the charge of revenge and allowing her to, during the distraction, establish dominance over Moga and possibly even over Valkar.

If she was lucky, she'd have them both down in one swoop - Moga dead, and Valkar her faithful ally. And then -

Wait. How would she even keep Valkar's slavers loyal? They obviously didn't have enough goodwill to all be completely loyal to him, so simply winning his heart wasn't enough to have them on her side. And without them as her personal army, her entire plan fell flat. What could she do? Was there anything... yes. It made her shudder with self loathing at the thought, but this might work. She can threaten the slavers with death if they tried to desert; death by the noble's army. In that vein, she'd have to keep both armies separate from each other, so there was no back and forth communication.

Rule both of them with fear in what was overall an empty threat. It was all she could really d-

A bird flew overhead. Nee did the whistle and it came swooping down to perch on her shoulder. The noble girl quickly tore off the letter and read it.

"glad to know your fine.
it wasnt my blockade so mogas probably up to something
ill check it out
see you in furoe


Nee stared at the terrible penmanship for a few seconds, before letting out a small laugh. It was almost impossible to read, like, didn't he ever learn to write? Or did they not value literacy all that much in Gwan? In any case, Nee wrote her response, and sent the bird off, feeling somewhat better. At least she wasn't wearing blood soaked clothing, that was always a plus. She the sauntered over to Amanhã, who was also more or less completely ignoring the conversation, and followed her in silence. Maybe to alleviate the suit of armor's possible loneliness?

Or maybe her own?




The witch was the first to respond, stuttering, as if she was afraid, or something. Rune turned her head with amusement. "I-I have Earth Chi, a-as a matter of fact." Oddly enough, the witch- Terra -almost sounded unsure of herself. "W-well, what do you say now?"

What would she say now? it didn't really matter either way - not as if there was much to do in a mart cart race that pertained to combat, right? So Rune offered Terra something of a sarcastic, demeaning grin, meaning no real ill will; "So you do. Good luck then, Witch!"

This getting along with people was a little hard. She'd never really interacted with anyone other than her half-insane Father. The one that killed hundreds upon hundreds to bring her back, like, seriously. She didn't particularly mind being dead, though she didn't really remember any of it. It couldn't have been all that bad, really. Really now. She then heard Lo-Muna's voice waft to her in the sweltering heat.

"I really would prefer if you called your guildmates by their names," The rabbit beast-man said. "It is a matter of respect after all."

Respect? Really? They didn't do much to really deserve respect ... and what was the point of respect if it wasn't genuine? Just pretending to respect someone accomplished nothing. There was no point whatsoever. Rune let out a fake yawn, but nodded her acquiescence.

"Would if I knew their names." She eyed Lo-Muna. "I'm Rune, by the way." She then turned to the old Oni, and the wit- Terra, Terra the Witch. In a competition, anything goes, right? And she didn't want to be on the losing team. She spoke in a quiet, hushed voice.

"Don't be afraid to cheat." She whispered smugly. "Can't trust them to not try to take you out at first chance. Even if they say they won't, I bet they will.|

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nee Me-Hyung Character Portrait: Amanhã Tiamat Character Portrait: Teri Serizawa Character Portrait: Sainko Khasai Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Gridiron gave no reply to Turas' grumbled concerns, but a smirk was tugging at her lips, and it was only slightly because Võ was most definitely gonna kick Muoy's ass in the upcoming fight. Turas was... well, an amusing dude-- to her, at least. His whining bugged plenty of others on the crew-- not least of all the fire oni walking alongside him currently, still revelling in what he probably figured was his victory-- but she'd long since come to the conclusion Turas' whining had less to do with being a snivelling little shit by nature and more to do with being a highly cynical but otherwise fairly plain person. More specifically, an ordinary individual amidst a group of thoroughly extraordinary individuals.

Turas had never known the bitter sting of slavery, the indelible scars of the whip and the lingering vestiges of the chains. He'd never truly been a warrior. Hell, he'd probably never so much as gotten in a schoolboy scuffle with some other student as a child. All he'd ever been was a privileged kid from the capital of Yuna-Yae who'd had the fortune of being born into a particularly well-off Sudean family that had achieved essentially noble status in the Yune Empire-- a kid who'd grown up amidst luxury and affluence and then, for one reason or another, chucked all of it right out the window. Turas had never been real clear on what exactly had led him to Gridiron's gang, but the closest explanation Gridiron could extricate from his vague grumblings on the subject were that he'd looked at the institution of legal slavery, decided 'fuck that', and called it quits on being a part of the nobility that enabled it. And then, for several years, he'd just sorta drifted, because there really hadn't been jack shit he could really do against slavery: he had always lacked the cunning, the martial prowess, or the charisma to make any real impact. And then, he'd encountered Gridiron.

And now here they were-- the former slave and arena champion turned anti-slavery sentinel, the ineffectual, defiant noble turned ineffectual, defiant vigilante. In a romantic relationship of all things. Gridiron had never figured herself as much one for romance to begin with-- not with someone like Turas, not with another person like herself. She simply had too much shit she had to deal with now-- too much on her mind to deal with that kind of attachment. And yet, there was no 'but' involved in any of it. The feelings she had for Turas had nothing to do with any of that, because what she felt for Turas... really wasn't romantic in nature. Love had nothing to do with it-- not on her end of things. And it made her feel like shit, because she knew Turas did probably genuinely love her, but in the end, she had simply latched onto him, because he was completely, irrevocably plain. And in her weird as shit, upside down daily life, that was something... something comforting.

Is that really so bad?

Such vexed thoughts were they that caused Gridiron to remain blissfully ignorant of what was occurring behind her until she realised the others had slowed, or stopped altogether. Gridiron turned on her heel (and was then run into by the massive, metal-clad body of her half-sister just behind her, who had evidently decided 'fuck it, I don't feel like stopping anyway'), and upon picking her self up off the floor and muttering about 'goddammit Amanhã don't you have any brakes' cast her gaze over the ensemble of vigilantes to determine just what the hold up was.

Her eyes quickly fell upon Nee, who had... received a message via messenger bird? The shit? Gridiron's eyes narrowed: who the hell was the girl corresponding with? Well, that's something I intend to find out. Still a little irascible from getting knocked over by her ogre of a fucking half-sister, Gridiron strode over to where Nee stood, but the bird had taken off by the time she got there.

"What's that?" Gridiron grunted at the girl, nodding her head at the scrap of paper in her hand.

Nee flinched almost instantly as she realized her idiocy. In the middle of a troupe, and she - damnit. She was slipping. Either that, or shit was piling up too fast for her. Either way, she instantly crumpled up the paper in her fist; body going stiff and rigid as she saw the Sudean approach her. This was bad, she thought, this was really bad. Her first instinct was to unleash her chi - but that could only do more harm than good right now. At least, that's what she thought. Her mind spun quickly as she thought of various lies to feed Gridiron; just a message to her father, perhaps, or even correspondance with other nobles. But then, she didn't want to lie to the only person she never felt the need to lie to before. She didn't want to lose that only 'friendship', perhaps. So there was nothing she could really do but tell the truth.

But not with everyone around.

"...I'll explain." She said quietly, in a forced calm voice. "Where no one can overhear us."

The girl looked like the metaphorical deer before the headlights (Gridiron had never understood exactly where that expression came from-- what the hell were headlights?-- but the point was made). And immediately, Gridiron suspected that the crumpled piece of paper in Nee's hand was something the girl definitely didn't want her seeing for one reason or another-- an impression not helped by the way Nee simply stood by for a moment looking lost for words before Gridiron, who awaited an answer with her arms crossed across her chest and her expression a bit callous, though not deliberately.

Finally, Nee grudgingly forced out an answer, and Gridiron raised an eyebrow slightly. A part of her was convinced that in all likelihood the answer was naught but a ploy-- an attempt to put off the inevitable and afford Nee some time to conceive of an adequate falsity to mask whatever she was really doing with that messenger bird. However, on the other hand Gridiron did prefer to give the girl the benefit of the doubt-- how much of an asshat would she have looked like, telling Nee she was there for her only to then prove that she had absolutely no trust when it came to her?

"... alright," Gridiron at last murmured, but then she held out an expectant hand. "But give me the paper." She hesitated, and then added, "I'll only read it whenever you're ready to explain whatever information lies therein, okay?"

There was nothing else really about it. Nee dropped the scrunched up note from Valkar into Gridiron's hand, and as quickly as she could, marched herself farther ahead, presumably with Gridiron in tow. Nothing to do bt tell the truth, and hope it didn't blow over too badly. A small part of her wondered if a little girl like her should evne be bothering with a grand 'take over the world' plot if she couldn't even handle this, but she shut that part down, banishing it to the depths of her mind. It was pointless at this stage, to have any doubts. She was already too far in to back down. Too deep in this political bog to go back to being a happy, naive, girl, with not a care in the world.

Not that she ever really remembered a time such as that. She managed to take her and Gridiron out of earshot of the rest of the troupe, the two mysterious ones, the oni, the loudmouthm all of them. Just her and Gridiron. The only one she could really even almost call a friend, to be plainfully honest. and it was too early to really judge if she counted as a friend or not. She took a deep breath, and loosened her body; no more room for doubts, for anieties, nothing. Just the cold stone of reality. And she was prepared for the worst, whatever it was. She was prepared for it ever since she first roped herself in, wasn't she?

"...Earlier today, I saw and recognized a bird Cha'Valkar used as a messenger, presumably to his second in command, Moga." She paused, knowing that if she continued with this, it would further increase Valkar's chances of death before he could fulfill the role she had laid out for him. But... she had to make the necessary sacrifices. And for now, the slaver lord was one of them. "I called it down, and took his coded message - " Nee pulled it out of her pocket, and offered it to the Sudean, before continuing. "And I saw my chance to try to weaken the chain of command, and add more of my influence into his psyche. He's, right now at least, probably torn between allying with me or Moga, there must have been some sort of event to raise his paranoia. Whatever the case, Moga is trying to take over. Do you recall th-"

She shuddered, and stood there puzzled for a few seconds, wondering what had just happened.

"..Two bird beastmen. They were sent by Moga, to try and capture and use me as leverage to gain power against Valkar. My guess is that Valkar, who is rather weak minded, is an unfit leader for the Ku'Rannos, has gained some ire, and so some factions are starting to rise against him. With all the instability happening, me using what hold I have over Valkar, and stopping his communication with Moga completely, I'm trying to further weaken them, until... I can meet up with him again and more or less control his empire from behind him. Which is the first stepping stone to my revolution. I..., uh, I hope you don't.. hate me, or anything...."

Nee looked almost sheepish as she stared at her feet, almost afraid of Gridiron's reaction.

So she continued to fraternise with Cha'Valkar behind my back.

Gridiron... really shouldn't have been surprised. The girl had nearly taken her eye out in an attempt to protect the piece of shit slaver she'd had cornered at that point, and evidently Cha'Valkar was instrumental to whatever plan to dismantle slavery that Nee had in mind. She had indicated as much back in the cave, had she not? It was to be expected, then, that Nee would have done everything in her power to find a method of communicating with the slave lord, even under Gridiron's own auspices-- perhaps not expected that chance had so thoroughly played into her hands in that regard, that by coincidence such a method had all but fallen into Nee's lap, but it was anything but peculiar that Nee would have seized upon that opportunity to establish communication with Cha'Valkar.

What Gridiron did find peculiar was that... well, it sorta stung. That in a way she couldn't help but feel a bit betrayed. That Nee still insisted on seeking the company of somebody she knew Gridiron had a vested interest in putting in the ground-- somebody who deserved to be put in the ground. That Nee had continued associating with such a vile and cretinous stain of filth that deserved nothing more than his skull smashed to dust by the business end of her warhammer. The hell with plans to overthrow the system of slavery, anything that enabled the continued existence of somebody like Cha'Valkar-- somebody who had long since proven they didn't deserve to breath the same air as the people he tortured and brutalised-- was unacceptable.

And this... this too was unacceptable.

Forcing her face into a mien of inscrutability, Gridiron tore the paper into shreds without bothering to read it, tossing the scraps to the side of the road. Your revolution be damned. "Keep moving." Her sole responce came in the form of two terse words delivered in a cold, impassive intone, before Gridiron turned around and without another word continued to lead the way to Furoe, where Nee would be left with her family... and then she'd be none of Gridiron's concern.

Idiot girl. What the hell did she think her 'revolution' could do that Gridiron hadn't been trying to do for years now?

Feeling something between self loathing and revulsion, Nee stepped somberly after Gridiron, saying not a word as they made their way back to the others. It was foolish of her; but then again, that's what happens when you try to interact with people without manipulating them, isn't it? Sure, this one time wasn't exactly inalienable proof, but it was an indicator. Social interaction plain didn't work unless you could control how their minds worked. It was as simple as that, really, and the noble was embittered for trying to actually make a friend. The whole thing was pointless. Friendship didn't matter as long as you had emotional and mental dominion, or so she tried to think as she was surrounded by the oddest feeling that the troupe were all more or least close allies.

Pointless, she thought miserably. For people like her, the manipulative type, they had no chouice but to manipulate. Idiot. Idiot for trying t think otherwise. She should have abandoned any of that a long time ago. She stopped for a second, almist hearing something - the cries of battle? But they were still on the road, how could - who would be idiotic enough to attack a well armed group, including the liivng suit of armor, anyways? Nee unravelled the chain from her hip, more for some semblance of self defense, than anything. She knew she couldn't ride piggyback on anyone this time.

"...you hear that, right?" She murmured at last, at a fair distance behind the Sudean.

Gridiron scowled-- what the fuck now? She stopped short the second the distant noises-- the unmistakable ode of combat raging somewhere that was too close to the vigilante group. The others, needless to say, didn't stand by idly-- as Gridiron wordlessly pulled her warhammer into her hands, Lestari armed themself with the massive stone shield already strapped to one arm and the (no less proportionally fucking huge) halberd in the other, Kuroda brought his crossbow to bear, and Turas, grumbling about 'oh great more shit to deal with' and 'I bet these guys think Muoy could totally kick Võ's ass but hey what do I know' drew his longsword.

The attacking group, or to be clear, the slavers, were not of the same srength as the ones at the blockade. They were a part of Moga's own elite men; and moved in a much more organized, fluid manner as they assaulted the group of vigilantes. Tactically, this move would be a significant one, if it all went well. It'd eliminate one of the persistent thorns in their side, as well as hopefully result in Nee's capture. Heavily armored, and they knew how to use it, as well. And not to mention, at somewhat of a distance, protected by a ring of fighters, were chi users, raining ice and lightning down upon the vigilantes, as a third one did his best to keep everyone healed up. Nee gulped - this was very possibly quite bad, despite the skill of Gridiron's forces, they were outnumbered. A few things ran through her mind. she could write them off as dead and flee - ther was a chance that Gridiron and her team would die here, wasn't there? But on the other hand... could she really outrun the enemies? She looked at the bladed chain and slumped her shoulders; even if she did stay, she couldn't do much to help.

While the lines of agile swordfighters engaging in melee combat were certainly formiddable, Nee knew the protected chi ring up on that hill was the key to their streategy, with injured men being cycled to the back for healing, before returning to the fore. It was quick and rapid, and it effectively tripled their power, the way it currently was. Nee instantly released her chi - and feeling a disturbance in the pheromones, tugged Gridiron to the side in time for them to dodge a particularly large bolt of lightning streaming down at them, and scorching the grainy path.

"Um, um." Nee tried her best not to panic, but really; it was terrifying. And she could very easily end up a victim all over again. Although Gridiron probably already knew, she had to say it. Just in case. "Gridiron, the chi users, take them out right now, okay?"

Ah hell. Amanhã was gonna have to break out her sword.

The six combatants of the group were already scattering as the attack came, with Amanhã drawing her greatsword into her hands as she decided the threat was indeed sufficient to warrant as much-- their foes were many, well armed and well armoured, and naturally, they had those goddamn chi-users up on a hill, the cowards raining down barrages of various elements upon the vigilantes.

She also noted very quickly as the combat truly began to set in that the chi-users were healing the melee fighters, which made little difference to Amanhã-- after all, her general doctrine was to make sure her adversary was as dead as dead could be anyway, so no foe of hers was ever gonna make it back to those chi-users to get healed. And hell, for what it was worth, why not have a bit of fun with it? These degenerates were clearly of a somewhat higher calibre than the imbeciles manning the blockade, and to massacre they who would seek to do you harm was entirely justified, was it not?

As Amanhã, Lestari, Turas, and Gridiron crossed metaphorical swords with their foes on the front line (or, more accurately, crossed greatsword, halberd, longsword, and warhammer, respectively), Wu and Kuroda hung back, doing damage with their respective ranged combat capabilities. Wu initially aided Lestari in assailing whatever foe was facing the heavy-built, armoured vigilante at that moment, until Gridiron called upon them to target instead the chi-users on the hillside that were continuously healing anybody who wasn't killed by the vigilantes' attacks. The hooded chi-user seemed to hesitate-- a brief moment flitted by in which silent communication was conducted and wordless affirmation passed on the vessel of a thought, and then, with no further fanfare, Wu turned their attentions to the chi-users.

The onset of their assault on the slavers' ring of chi-users was heralded by the gradual lift-off of their form from the ground, drifting up several feet to have a more effective vantage point from which to assail the other chi-users. From there, Wu delivered precision strikes onto each chi-user with bolts of coalesced lightning energy, picking them off one by one as the melee fighters struggled to push the legion of slavers back further and further up the hill toward the withering ring of chi-users.

But with the forwards push, a surge of newfound energy struck and assaulted at a single spot - Turas - and with shields up and swords flashing, they split off from the main group, despite the losses, and went off in what appeared to be the north-west: towards the Yune-Gwan border. Before the vigilante group could do much else, the brief opening closed again, as ore from the rear lines made their escape, following the ones that had captured Turas. Nee watched with a pit of dread - did they somehow mistake him for her, or something? She herself had disarmed one sword, and didn't manage to do much else during the whole scufflle, and promptly felt more like shit thann she had earlier. Eventually enough, the ones that had remained behind were killed off, as well as most of the chi users from the hill, but the heart-print boxers wearer was gone.

Nee decided to just stay silent and hope no one called upon her for anything, somewhat wishing she had slipped away in the whole mess.

"TURAS!"

The bellow that came barreling from Gridiron's lips was more bitterly pointed than the sharp point of the other end of her warhammer, a vehement snarl of fury. The vigilante leader more than doubled the violence of her assault, letting loose all semblance of restraint and caution as she wrathfully hacked away at anything that stood between her and the slavers that were bearing her lover away.

But it was for naught. Amanhã beheld her half-sister's rapidly burgeoning despair with puzzlement as the last of the living slavers simply... vanished away, into the thickness of the surrounding foliage, carrying with them Turas Az'raus. "Fucking bastards!" Gridiron howled with impotent fury, swinging her warhammer in a wide arc that ended with nothing at all. And then, as she fell into a cold and miserable silence, all around them sank into a state of quietude. There was nothing. No sound of Turas calling out, no sound of trekking footsteps from the retreating slavers. Nothing but an abject, absolute silence that indicated to Gridiron loud and clear that they had made off with Turas.

But that didn't mean she was gonna just let it happen. Vehemently, Gridiron swept around to face Nee, approaching the girl with an acrimonious glint in her glare. "Do you know anything about this?" she directed at her in a bitter-edged whisper, attempting in vain to maintain a semblance of control, her decaying facade of composure betrayed by the rising volume of her voice. "Do you know where they're taking him? Do you know anything about this, dammit?"

Back with Gridiron's vigilantes, Nee shrunk back from the verbal assault; but although her physical form was terrified, her mind was already at work, hypothesizing. The slavers that had taken Turas were headed towards Gwan, that much was certain. Between Gwan and mainland Yune, there was quite a track of land, but the most reliable route to cross that river was the town of Leiya. It resided on an isle between mainland Yune, and the territories of Tengala and was near Gwan, as well. Of course, this meant, if they had to travel that far to rescue Turas, that they'd most likely be spotted and then attacked by the tengu border guards. And no matter how strong this group was, even with the living suit of armor, Nee wasn't so sure they could take on the tengu military. Strength had it's limits, after all. So the key to rescuing him was to stop the slavers before they even made it to the Leiya-Vahira bridge.

"...the easiest passage to Gwan is through the Leiya-Vahira bridge." Nee said grimly. "Heavily guarded by tengu, and I'm sure Moga must have paid his way past, while we'd be slowed down with the negotiations, or the fighting, knowing your sister..." She scanned mentally, the possible routes they could take. There was a small branch of Comrade Mountain in the optimal path - she couldn't be sure if the slavers would try to go straight through it, or through the cave system that sprawled the underneath, or even just circle around it for a possible safer route. No one wanted to face the bees, after all. She could try awaiting a message from Valkar, and then replying with a request to blow up the bridge - but that ran the risk of Turas already being across before Valkar's men could deal with it. Nee could also use her political connections to try and summon the Reckoning - Yune's massive naval fleet - to mobilize and stop traffic on the bridge. It could go any number of ways.

"Over mountains, through caves, or around the moutnain?" The noble asked bluntly. "And after that - shall I appeal to Valkar to explode the bridge? Or try and have the Reckoning stop all passages?"

The very second Cha'Valkar's name was brought up, Gridiron's rage became only all the more honed, all the more pointed. "Absolutely not," she spat furiously at the very prospect. "That piece of shit is the reason we're in this mess. And y..." The vigilante leader tore her gaze from the girl, unable to help blaming her just a bit for all this shit as well-- but only because it was easier. Because she was right there in front of her, an object at which to vent her loss and dejection, because she had also abused Gridiron's trust, and that made it so much easier to turn all her vehemence on the girl. But that wouldn't have done jack shit-- Gridiron needed to suppress that urge, and channel the vehemence that was tugging at every fibre of her being into doing something-- anything-- that would get Turas back.

"We're on their heels." When her hard rasp of a voice emerged once more, it had been forced into a semblance of reason and composure-- a mere hint of the violence it was struggling to contain betrayed. "We'll take the fastest route," she decided firmly, in a voice that implied any source of protest risked the brunt of her discontent. "Across the bridge. I don't care what it takes: I haven't spent my life and every drop of blood, my own or otherwise, that I've spilt trying to crush the system of slavery only to let it consume one of my comrades."

"Rumor has it that if you know the exact path to take in the tunnels..." Nee considered her words, then directed her gaze at the two enigmas - Wu and Lestari -- before she returned her sight back to her once friend. "If someone knows that route, and we're lucky enough that the slavers didn't take it, we should be able to corner them at the bridge itself." She shuffled her feet awkwardly. "...kind of my fault... so, I'll help, if youd like. A miniscule town is enroute, Menia, I'll drop off a letter to try and get Yunish forces to assist." She briefly considered if it was bad to feel slightly jealous of the bonds that Gridiron had with her companions; something that she herself would probably never feel, even after her campaign is complete. If it ever was.

Upon mention of the cave tunnel system, Wu and Lestari exchanged glances-- well, they appeared to, anyway. This did not escape the notice of the distraught vigilante leader, and Gridiron wasted no time in rounding on them in turn. "Well?" she ushered, unable to help a sharp edge to her words. "If anybody here would just so happen to be familiar with that tunnel system, it's you two. Do you know the way?"

There was a brief second's hesitation before the larger of the twins nodded their head silently. "Then it's settled," Gridiron decided straightforwardly, turning to face the group at large. "I'm going after him, and Wu and Lestari are going. Amanhã." She turned to face her half-sister, who returned the gaze with the impenetrable mien of her helmet. "I know it's only been a matter of a day or so that we've really known each other, and I know... that you really have no reason to come with me." Her words softened somewhat-- in a way, both deliberately, and unconsciously. "But your sword hand could be of invaluable help in saving a good-hearted person from a fate that they have never deserved. Moreover, as your half-sister... if it means anything to you... I implore your aid."

Then she turned her gaze in turn to Nee, her expression hardening once more somewhat. "You too have no obligation here," she directed toward the girl. "Turas has nothing to do with your revolution, so you could simply continue on to Furoe if you really wanted. Whatever you do henceforth is none of my concern-- I was tasked with bearing you to Furoe, and I've brought you enough of the way for you to make the rest of the journey on your own. I'm sure you've been eager to be away from me and my crew since we took you in, so I don't expect anything more of you."

And then, toward Kuroda, she shrugged and tossed, "As for you, you're a pretty minor character and I'm pretty sure most of the readers don't even know you exist, so I dunno, go masturbate in the woods or some shit."





Meanwhile, a certain Turas Az'raus struggled to turn his head toward his nearest captor, and managed to grunt, "So, uh... level with me here, eh? Muoy's totally gonna kick Võ's ass, right?"

One slaver shot Turas a dubious look. "Are you kidding?" He rasped. "Muoy doesn't stand a lick of a chance."

Turas merely sighed. Turas Az'raus-- ever the maverick indeed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lo-muna Vanhi Character Portrait: Hyuna Ka-nan "Falcon" Character Portrait: Millie Kiyare Character Portrait: Yamato Hibiki Character Portrait: Nee Me-Hyung Character Portrait: Amanhã Tiamat
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#, as written by Rann
The wolf-beastman sat back, alongside the rabbit and the tengu with something between interest and intrigue. Why did they need a map so badly? Did the guild somehow forgot to get talismans, despite being in this desert? They really should have known, right? It was borderline stupid, not getting talismans. How could they be unaware of the curse? She shook her head, watching as the mine carts went off - and Rune felt some mild affiliation with the one housing the bl- housing Suiken and Terra. They were her new guild after all, and Rune wanted to experience something like non-familial friendship pretty badly. And it's not as if this guild seemed to be bad people or whatnot - moreover, a lot of them seem kind. Though, the keyword is 'seem', and the fatalistic Rune wasn't going to overlook that.

In any case, she's here now, she's been brought back to life - what else could it be but fate? Any further effort wasn't really necessary, then. Although, when Lo-Muna did her cheer, Rune shrugged and kept looking - the witch seemed to have dealt with the interference rather spectacularly, with her earth chi. So she was also competent, right? You'd have to b, to be in a guild.

"Good job!" Rune cheered from where she sat, amicably, her tail whapping the seat. "I knew you could do it, Witch!"

Before she could get any rebuttal, she turned to the guild leader, Lo-Muna, with a slight shrug.

"It's a nickname, that's all. Those eyes, right?"




"N-No, It's...sort of my fault too," Millie's voice broke through the roar of the dark energy that was currently wresting for control of Hyuna's crumpled body. She could hardly hear it - yet heard it with absolute clarity at the same time. Her whole body was screaming and aching as she did her best not to give in, not to succumb to the dark one - fuck no, she was stronger than this. She had to be. Otherwise she wasn't worth living at all. Millie's voice shattered another vestige of the shadows, and Hyuna clung to it, as if it were a lifeline. "If I weren't around, you wouldn't have had to put yourself in danger for me. Hyuna...? What is it? Is something wrong? If you're feeling sick, we can get rest a little before we start moving."

That ray of figurative light was what Hyuna needed, and forced the dark one back to it's corner in her mind, and sighed in relief as the echoing roar in her ears dissipated, and she was back to normal, for the time being. Though, how long this would last was questionable. She shot some questions into her mind, and in receiving no answer, it seemed that the dark one was exhausted by the latest attempt, as well. Or perhaps... was it gone, completely? Time to experiment.

"It's fine." Hyuna said sharply, touching the claw marks on her arm and back, trying to gauge the severity of the damage. It wasn't as bad as when she had her chest clawed out, or when she got arrowed in the wrist - damnit, it still didn't feel right yet, how long would it take? - and decided that whatever injury she had was probably not serious. If it was serious, she'd have collapsed onto the grassy floor, crippled and dying. Anything less, and she was fine for pushing on, just a bit more. Just a bit more.

"You're safe, Millie." Hyuna said in a slightly strained voice, bundling the girl up into her spear arm, after hooking it to her cloak in back. "That's what matters..." She took the time to pat her head just a bit before using a burst of wind to shoot them up - and Hyuna made sure to see the dark wispy lines appearing with the wind, and scowled as she realized the dark one was still inside her - and set off towards the river where she'd last seen the guild.

"I hope Ann'll be surprised to see us again." Hyuna forced a bit of a laugh. "Yeah. That strange woman. Maybe she'll show an expression more than the one she always wore, huh?"




"With respect?" Valkar looked confused. "Wait, but-"

Riev let out a tired sigh. He'd woken up a while ago, but neither Lunan nor Valkar were willing to reveal that they'd seen Hyuna, not even to each other. Valkar, because he still wanted to capture her, and Lunan, because he didn't want his father to know how far she'd fallen. His daughter, nothing more than a thug now, a killer. A murderer. It had warped her to her very core.

Not that that's what mattered now. They were busy discussing on how to treat a woman they wanted to befriend. Lunan was more or less staying out of it; at times putting his palm to his face and shaking his head in the true expression of disappointment.

"Before she died." Riev said. "My wife really did enjoy it when I treated her kindly after being cruel to her." He smiled wistfully at his lost lover, briefly sinking into the fond memories. "The smile she gave... yeah. That's respect."

"...So be kind, after being cruel?"

"Yup. That's one of the ways I did it."

Valkar scratched his head, not really getting it. Moreover, could he? He always did hate the female sex, and how they were. Their whining, their complaining, all of it. The illogic they had at times, and not to mention during the moonflow week, when their negative aspects got even worse. How could anyone really try to understand them?

"It-"

A bird swooped in through the window, carrying a letter. Valkar quickly tore the letter off and read it, with Riev muttering, "ah, that Moga..." and Lunan looking in some curiosity.

That sounds like a plan. I'm glad to know it wasn't you, who set up the blockade. You don't have to use force to get me again. And don't think you have to use force, or the power of your empire for anything. Life doesn't necessarily work that way.

I am looking forward to being at your side again, so please treat me kindly!

Nee.

PS: Please learn how to write. It was hard enough to read your previous letter.


Valkar looked blankly at his two companions.

"Are my writing skills really that bad?"




Nee looked uncomfortable, but not unhappy, as she saw Gridiron and the others begin to mount their steeds. Even Amanhã more or less pulled her heavy form onto the horse Nee'd specifically chosen for her - not as if any other but the majestic Ashuran Thoroughbred would work, after all. She tossed the vigilante leader a bit of a grateful smile, before hooking her foot into the stirrup and propping herself up onto her own white stallion, petting it's neck once she was on.

She felt a little sorry for what she did to the merchant. But it didn't really matter, overall, did it? The ends justified the means. Otherwise she wouldn't be trying to embroil Yune into a massive internal war, right? Still, with the Yin family fracturing, Elan and probably Ukyo dead as well, she knew that her family now had dominance in all of northern Yune. IF she played her cards right, she could essentially enslave the other families economically - easily snuffing out most of the other northern families with no real effort. It was the perfect threat. Of course she had their loyalty, no noble wanted to lose their fortune. Though, in supporting Nee's ideal, they would end up losing their fortune in the end, anyways, would they not?

If any noble pieced that together, she'd have trouble keeping them reigned in.

As the five equines made their way north east, Nee more or less slumped down in her saddle. Why had she gone back for Gridiron? Why was she helping? She still, she couldn't think of any potential gain for all of this. None whatsoever. It wouldn't help her revolution - Gridiron wouldn't join her cause simply because of this, after all - and their friendship had already been snuffed out like a small ember being crushed underfoot. That's really all there was to it, at all. She had nothing from this venture - heck, she'd even almost directly killed someone. Nee shuddered as she realized that she really would have slit his throat if she'd had to. And this, somehow, was affecting her, while more or less baiting an entire blockade to their deaths was nothing to her.




The expression on Sainko's face made it clear, as she read the envelope. Teri sighed- yup for sure, she was stuck with more Ruinguard business. Why, she wondered, why her? She wasn't really showing off her real strength when any of them were watching, so how could - well, perhaps. Perhaps they somehow knew she never gave her all, ever. Perhaps they could calculate her actual strength, and perhaps they deemed it was strong enough to make use out of.

So tiresome. So irritating.

"Indeed," The illusionist said. "It would seem you are not so easily rid of me."

Teri grasped at the letter and gave it a cursory glance. At least, only for a few seconds. Because when her eyes glazed over the words scrawled upon it, she let out a slight gasp and made herself reread it. And then again. She still looked as if she was in disbelief as she handed it back to Sainko. That was their mission? Really?

What the fuck.

"Great." Teri murmured. "Let's get going, then."

The half-tengu once again took the form of the illusionist into her arms, and they made their flight eastwards, all the while wondering, exactly, how she could've landed herself in something deep like this. But... perhaps it was just fate. But she had the faint feeling she wouldn't be back in Tengala for quite a while. She sighed, preparing herself for the long haul.