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Ileana Nicolae

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a character in “The Multiverse”, originally authored by Guest, as played by Tiko

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Though a relatively small clan, the Mistwood gypsy camp is a bustling place of activity and cheer; though, beneath the backdrop of color and prosperity lays something far more sinister. The Cursed Wood.
Registered citizen of the Terran National Government

So begins...

Ileana Nicolae's Story

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#, as written by Guest
For a year now, an unspoken pact had held between the gypsies and the denizens of the cursed wood. The territorial boundaries that had been established kept each to their side of the line. The gypsies forbade any of their number to tread upon the lands beyond, but as of late, the nature of those that dwelt within the wood had been shifting.

No more were the varcolacs, driven out by something larger and more frightening. Gone were the strigoi, departed for securer hunting grounds, replaced instead by the Vankoryth Détente. It was uncertain the nature of these new arrivals or if they would come to accept the boundaries established with their predecessors.

As of yet, no contact had been made and the gypsies were content to leave it at that. However, one gypsy dared to break the decree of the elders. One gypsy whom believed that two of their number dead warranted forsaking of the old pact. But her people were as always, victims of their own self-imposed traditions and superstitions.

And so it came to pass that Ileana breached the forest boundaries in search of answers and to ascertain the numbers they were faced with.

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#, as written by Guest
Ileana's efforts were not in vane and she quickly determined that the beast that terrorized the gypsy camp seemed to travel alone. A lone beast could be trapped, it could be driven out if she could rally her people to make a stand. Of course, they could well just banish her for going against the elders decree.

Within the eyes of the clan, Ileana was scarcely above the beasts that had plagued them a year past. For the time she was accepted as was one of their own, so long as the curse that lay over her could be kept at bay, but that could easily change if she did not tread carefully.

Upon her return as the daylight was waning and giving way to the evening moonlight something in the night air caused the hair along the back of Ileana's neck to stand on end. She couldn't place the catalyst, but a familiar surge of adrenaline and hormones had her staggering to catch herself against a tree. The herbal remedies should have been keeping the curse at bay she thought in a panic, but whatever chill had settled over the cursed woods seemed intent on drawing the beast out of her.

Resisting the change was futile and she soon collapsed to her knees clutching at the dirt. Fur sprouted along her skin and bulging muscles tore free from the confines of her clothing. Hands curled into claws and her face twisted into the snarling visage of a wolfish beast.

The entire process took only a matter of minutes and rising from the ground she gave herself a shake to rid herself of the remnants of her tattered clothes. Shapeshifting was taxing on the body and it required nourishment, and so the search for prey began.

The setting changes from cursed-wood to Gambit's Bar

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#, as written by Tiko
Ileana stepped inside almost bumping into NightBlaze as the girl fled the area. How strange. Oblivious to the werewolf hunter Razel in the room, she strode inside looking quite perplexed.

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#, as written by Tiko
A brief chill ran up Ileana's spine as NightBlaze brushed past. It was always much harder to keep her curse at bay in the presence of another werewolf. Instinct always struggled to draw it out of her, and with the full moon only days away, Ileana felt a familiar itch beneath her skin that left her uncomfortable.

There was a fight going on, but it was gambit's and there were always fights going on. The nature of the fight was lost to her as she stepped out of the doorway to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

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#, as written by Tiko
The scene was beginning to make sense to Ileana. The girl had been a werewolf, it explained the chill she had felt, and the man a werewolf hunter. And the one bleeding on the floor, a typical sap willing to toss his life away for a girl he had probably only met a few minutes ago. Your average day in Gambit's.

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#, as written by Tiko
.

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#, as written by Tiko
Ileana took a seat, to await the hunter's return. Should he return. If he did, then perhaps going against the elders decree would be worth the potential consequences. If he didn't, well this place attracted his sort often.

The setting changes from gambits-bar to Gypsy Camp

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#, as written by Tiko
The woman that answered the knock was young, like Ciara, though notably more wary. She was of similar characteristics and just as extravagantly clothed, though her skin was several shades tanner than the fairer skinned Ciara. However, the most notable feature that stuck out was her left eye. The tissue around it was scarred and the eye itself was a blood shot milky white hue.

“Uh... how can I help you?” the woman inquired as she stepped out, carefully closing the door behind her. Having been all but outcast by her own people, she was substantially less hostile towards outsiders, but that didn't mean she trusted them.

She didn't seem dressed for the cold, but she didn't offer to go back inside either.

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#, as written by Tiko
"New Vampire family?" Ileana seemed caught somewhere between perplexed and dismayed at the pointedly random question and bluntness of this strange visitor. “I'm not sure I'm following.. Mr... ?” she trailed off, as she didn't actually know his name.

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#, as written by Tiko
Ileana took the offered hand, though not in a handshake, instead she took it in her own and turned it over to inspect it with a furrowed brow. Her hands seemed rather warm, for standing out in the cold, but her touch was gentle enough.

“I'm not sure I understand the question. You speak to me as one who keeps track of the movements and habits of these creatures. I couldn't tell you one from another. What exactly is it you want to know?”

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#, as written by Tiko
"I have not."

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#, as written by Tiko
Ileana released Scar's hand at last, though she continued to converse with him on the matter.

“I'm afraid I don't know what Ciara spoke to you about. A lot of happenings occur around these parts, you really will need to be more specific. We keep to ourselves you see, and what goes on outside here, we rarely keep up with. As for this talk of a pact, I don't know where you heard that, but it was less of a pact and more of an unspoken truce. When our people first inhabited these lands, there were conflicts, but boundaries were established and that's a thing of the past.”

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#, as written by Tiko
Ileana raised a hand up to brush at her hair, letting the strands fall over her milky white eye. It was almost as if she had suddenly grown self-conscious of the scar.

“You are over stepping yourself. That is not a matter for a stranger to concern himself with.”

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#, as written by Tiko
“And what exactly is your line of work?” Ileana inquired.

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#, as written by Tiko
“You will find a lot of those around these parts. But I couldn't tell you one from another. Any questions you have will need to be specific.”

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#, as written by Tiko
"I don't see how that is any of your business, or how it will aid you in your pursuits."

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#, as written by Tiko
“It's personal.”

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#, as written by Tiko
“I think you misunderstand. I have no interest in discussing my personal life with a stranger, that has no relevance to your vampire problem at hand. You've overstepped yourself in your inquiries. I have no love of the vampires that dwell beyond our borders, and if I can aid you in that regard, I would be happy to oblige.”

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#, as written by Tiko
“I'm still not even sure what you are referring to by new family. The denizens of the forest have always been there. Before my people arrived, and likely will continue to be there long after my people are gone. As for killing them... that is I believe your line of work, not my own. If you want some charms and concoctions to ward your home, I can arrange for our Shuvani to speak to you, but we don't hunt vampires.

It was clear that Ileana wasn't really differentiating different groups of vampires, as her people seemed to view the wood as a single entity.

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#, as written by Tiko
“I'm still not even sure what you are referring to by new family. The denizens of the forest have always been there. They were there before my people arrived, and likely will continue to be there long after my people are gone. As for killing them... that is I believe your line of work, not my own. If you want some charms and concoctions to ward your home, I can arrange for our Shuvani to speak to you, but we don't hunt vampires.”

It was clear that Ileana wasn't really differentiating the various groups of vampires, as her people seemed to view the cursed wood as a single entity.

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#, as written by Tiko
Ileana pursed her lips as she contemplated the situation. “There's a castle towards the southern stretches of the wood, perhaps you'll find more answers there. But be warned, that wood is cursed, and so are all who choose to tread there.”

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#, as written by Tiko
Dawn was just beginning to break over the horizon, and the gypsy camp was beginning to rouse from its slumber. In the main camp the early risers were already out, preparing for the days work, though the chill bite of the air had the majority still inside, as was the case with Ileana. Not that the cold particularly bothered her, but she found it helped to ease her clansmen if she at least pretended normalcy.

As it stood, her vardo was located well outside the protection of the main camp, segregated off and shunned as cursed, like herself. Various trinkets and wards hung about the wagon, but as with most superstition, the results were frequently ineffective or based off falsehoods.

Though, that's not to say that all gypsy 'magic' was ineffective, but the trinkets likely would do little to dissuade an intruder.

The vardo itself was very small, though ornately furnished with vibrant fabrics and paints. It appeared designed to house only one, maybe two individuals. Within it, Ileana was at work over a mortar grinding up the stems and leaves of the toxic wolfsbane she kept supplied. It was difficult to come by with the weather so cold, and her supply was rapidly waning she noted with concern. Unfortunately, the alternative was simply not an option.

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#, as written by Tiko
Outside the restless snort and stamp of a horse could be heard rousing Ileana from her seat to go look out the window. Opening the shutters, the horse was still tied securely to a post and had resumed grazing. Putting it from her mind she turned around, only to find herself face to face with a stranger. Her heart leaped into her throat as she stepped back, her back hitting the wall of the vardo behind her. It was an instinctive reaction of panic, but quickly overcome.

“Who are you? I'll scream,” she threatened. Though her vardo was outside the main camp, it was certainly well within earshot.

Despite the fear that was clearly evident by her rapid pulse, she had a boldness about her, only accentuated perhaps by the scar that adorned her left eye. Beneath the scar tissue that surrounded it, the eye itself was a blood-shot milky white hue.

Her earthen skin tone and thick locks of hair gave her an almost exotic look, but the scar dominated her features.

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Character Portrait: Torrential Character Portrait: Ileana Nicolae
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#, as written by Tiko
(Post co-written by Tiko and NotAFlyingToy)

Ileana didn't move other than to point towards the small cupboard behind Torrential. The only thing he would find inside would be an assortment of herbs and vials of various alchemical concoctions, but she was subtly feeling around on the small stand at her side for her silver nail file. It wasn't much of a weapon, but if the man turned his back to check the cupboard, she was prepared to use it and make a run for the door.

He grinned at her as she pointed somewhere behind him, but he didn't really follow the direction so much as the movement. Through his predatory eyes, she was a meek and willing servant, pointing out her wares for her master to snack on. He realized that he was enjoying this scenario far too much for it to stop at food. He wasn't really that hungry, anyways.

"Actually, forget the food," he hissed out, taking a step towards her. His nostrils flared, breathing in more of that dark scent. Wolfsomething. Yet again, he pushed it to the back of his mind. "I'd love to see what you have around here. How about giving me the grand tour?"

His fangs, gleaming in the rapidly lightening day, stood out from parted lips as he said the words.

Ileana's breath caught in her throat at the gleam of fangs. Shaky fingers closed around the nail file, palming it as she pressed her back more firmly against the edge of the vardo. These new creatures that walked the night were different than the strigoi of the past. They weren't as easily identified, but those fangs marked him for what he was.

“But... the pact...” she offered meekly, her voice almost a whisper as her heart thudded in her chest.

For many years that pact had kept the gypsy clan and the denizens of the cursed wood from venturing across each others boarders, but the superstitious nature of the gypsies left them unwilling to truly understand the nature of what lay beyond. As a result, they had difficulty discerning one beast from another – or the capacity to understand that these new arrivals knew nothing of the old pacts, or of their predecessors.

Torrential paused at the mention of the pact, this little code word that the girl seemed to throw in front of her as if a shield. He snorted at the idea of some pact, some promise to stay away from fresh meat and bones that beasts like him so craved. How on earth would humans hope to hold off the tide of undead night-walkers?

"Pact?" he asked, with a quirk of a brow. He put his hands on his hips, half turning away from her. "I know of no pact. Even if I did, I would not uphold it. You were made for my fangs, human. Know this." His eye was caught by a particular carving across the room, and he turned to fully investigate it.

"What kind of carving is that?" He raised his hand to jab a finger, the menace in his voice still apparant. He wasn't worried by his full back turned to her; what could a mere mortal possibly hope to accomplish against his might?

It was the opening Ileana was waiting for. In a moment of boldness she choked down her fear and let her survival instincts drive her hand. A flash of silver glinted in the air as she drove the nail file down towards Torrential's now exposed back, so as to wound the creature and allow her to flee the premise.

Sharpened senses picked up on the rustle of cloth, the whizzing through the air as she speared something towards his back. He moved like he was the night, quick and efficient; his right hand flashed forward with blinding speed, catching the stab at it's highest point. Grinning at her to hide his gritted teeth, the nail file bit deep into his palm, going through the other side and-

Burning!?

Silver. Silver. Of course the fucking nail file that the seemingly random woman had just happened to be made of silver. What was next? Was she going to have a hairbrush that doubled as a flamethrower? Was she the goddess of the sun?

Grinning wider and hoping she didn't notice the sweat pouring down his neck, he unleashed a haymaker with his opposite hand, sending her crashing against the back wall. Far too quickly for someone who wasn't supposed to feel pain, he grabbed at the nail file, tearing it from his skin with a high-pitched squeak that he told himself was a manly grunt.

"That." He breathed out, "Was unexpected."

Fortunately for the vampire's manly pride, Ileana was still reeling from the blow he had struck her. She rested slumped in the corner between the stand and the vardo wall, thoroughly dazed, though astoundingly not entirely knocked senseless. Either she was hardier than she looked, or there was more to her than meets the eye.

Her eyes darted to the vardo door, but Torrential barred the way. She swallowed hard, but something stayed her. Perhaps it was the sight of him tearing her nail file free of his hand, or the assortment of weapons that he wore, or the knowledge that he could snap her in half quicker than she could bat an eye... but whatever the reason, instinct told her to stay down and stay quiet.

He liked the look of her crumpled on the floor, that was for sure. Tossing the file at her with a flippant motion, he paced slightly around the room, glaring at her darkly. "Well, well well. What to do with you."

"I came in your humble abode, looking for a tour, and you try and stick me with a nail file? That's not very polite." He grinned down at her, eyes and mouth a stark and striking contrast. "Could just kill you. And eat you, but that wouldn't be as fun. Or,"

He paused in his pacing, whirling to face her fully. "Or you could tell me why you smell like Wolfshard." He'd get the damn name right eventually.

Now, had Ileana been in a better state of mind, she may have made the connection to the wolfsbane that Torrential was asking her about. As it stood, she simply broached a question of her own. “What do you want with me?” It hadn't actually occurred to her that against all odds, this was simply a chance encounter.

He shrugged. "At first? A place to spend the day, and maybe a free meal. Now? I'm curious." He raised a knee, pressing his foot against one wall of the vardo, surrounding her with his size. "What does some random gypsy do with a substance like Wolfcane?" He was getting closer. Lane... Sane... Mane...

“Wolfsbane?” Ileana inquired hesitantly. Torrential's close proximity had her heart racing almost painfully in her chest, and she had the wide-eyed look of a frightened deer about her.

Her gaze briefly shifted past Torrential to the cupboard she had directed him to earlier.

He snapped his fingers and slapped his hand against his knee in a violent, sudden movement that caused Ileana to flinch. "That's it!" He roared, pointing at her, a finger inches away from her face. "Wolfsbane. That's what that shit was called. Been driving me crazy."

He moved away from her as he continued to speak. "Why do you have a supply of wolfsbane?" He sniffed. "Quite an amount of it, too."

“I... I studied with the Shuvani for many years.” It wasn't exactly an explanation, at least not one that Torrential would understand, but it seemed to hold some relevance to Ileana. “I keep many herbs...” she added with a nod of her head towards the cupboard. “In there,” she explained. The thought that he might be here for the wolfsbane had her heart skip a beat. Her supply was running low as it was, and it was so hard to come by this time of year.

"Interesting." He murmered, moving towards the cabinet and flinging it open. One of the hinges creaked dangerously under the force, his eyes scanning the shelves. Basic alchemy package, it looked like; herbs and plants, a turnip, and various other ingredients that he didn't bother to identify. What drew his interest was a small wooden box, lying near the bottom shelf.

Immediately, he snatched it up, shaking it near his ear. "What's this?" The sound of glass smacking off of wood met his ears.

“Don't!” Ileana began as Torrential manhandled the fragile contents of the container.

He paused in his shaking, and glanced up at her. "Why not?" He asked, all curiosity.

“It's fragile,” she replied weakly. Though, there was a spike to her anxiety that was poorly concealed. A quickening of her already rapid pulse.

"Fragile?" He muttered, turning the box over and over in his hands.

"Of course it's fragile. I haven't met something I couldn't break."

He held the box over his head in a throwing position, smiling at her. "Tell me what it is, or we'll see how fragile it can be."

“Please, you don't know how hard it is to come by some of those herbs...” Ileana tried to explain. “They're alchemical mixtures. It's dangerous.” The last part was a lie, but given her already heightened state of anxiety, it would be all but indiscernible at the moment.

"Dangerous? Lady, I'm a vampire." He said, drawing the word out. "If I didn't want dangerous, I'd walk into the sunlight and meditate for a day. Danger is my middle name. I laugh in the face of danger. On a scale of one to danger, I'd be... high on the scale!"

He lifted the box higher, shaking it experimentally. "A bit of danger could be fun, huh?"

“Please, what is it you want?” Ileana asked again.

"That's a question, isn't it." He muttered, opening the box with a flick of his wrist. "What do I want? What does anyone want?"

Peering inside at the assortment of syringes and vials, he came to an answer. "I want Wolfsbane." He declared. "You have Wolfsbane. Let's work out an arrangement."

Torrential's reply left a growing unease in the pit of Ileana's stomach. “What sort of arrangement?” she asked.

"Depends on you." He said, smiling. "If you prove cooperative, this could be the sort of arrangement that is a continued factor. If you prove uncooperative, then it'll be a one time transaction." He smiled wider, incredibly pleased with his own veiled threat.

"Here's the deal; a trade. I give you..." He paused, and then admitted that his vocabulary was exhausted. "I give you life, and you give me a steady supply of wolfsbane. You get to live, and I get to kill werewolves. I think it's a pretty damn good deal."

“You don't want that one then. Check the back of the cupboard, the vials there... on the top shelf,” Ileana explained. What Torrential held in his hand was too diluted to bring down a werewolf efficiently, and while the thought crossed her mind to send him away with that, so as to salvage her own supply, she decided the long term consequences wouldn't be worth it. “I can try, but you don't understand, it doesn't grow this time of year. It's very difficult to come by...”

Torrential was silent as he walked back to the cupboard, sifting through ingredients with acute carelessness, sending the ingredients scattering with his big palms. He pulled two of the vials from the shelf, inhaling deeply from them as his eyes slid closed. The scent reminded him of Varia, for some reason. He grinned.

"It's also very difficult not to kill you. I'm sure you understand." He didn't turn back to her, swirling the vials around in front of his eye. In his mind, blood flowed. Wolf blood. The savage grin spread, spearing his bottom lip with his fangs.

Ileana didn't have much of an answer to that. Turning her gaze away she pulled her knees up to her chest and hoped that Torrential would simply leave now that he had what he wanted. Of course, with the sun on the rise, that seemed unlikely.

“I'll do what I can.”

He turned to face her, the vials in his hands gleaming. He nodded at her - once, then twice, the first display of nerves that the hardened warrior displayed in their entire encounter. "That's good. Yes. I'll return every couple of months or so - or when I run out. Wolf killing is a delicate business."

"Now, your scar's suddenly unattractive, so I'm going to probably sleep for a while. Gettin' tired of looking at it. What did that, anyways?"

Ileana brushed her finger tips over the scar tissue around her eye, growing rather self-conscious at Torrential's words. “I don't remember.” It was an odd answer to say the least.

"You don't remember." He said, flatly. "Right. Don't need to be a bitch; was just making conversation."

He turned and headed towards her bed, cracking his neck by rolling it on his shoulders. "I'm going to sleep. Try not to wake me. I'm testy when I wake up."

He then folded himself into a crouch, his elbows hooking his knees close to his chest, chin resting on top of them. He slept curled, like a combatant ready to spring forward.

Within moments, his breathing deepened, he rocked forwards slightly, and he was asleep.

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#, as written by Tiko
Ileana was busy at work upon a small seat, grinding various herbs up into a mortar. The exact mixture would be difficult to place, though the pungent odor of wolfsbane stood out to Ileana. She had come to recognize it by scent alone as of late.

Resting behind a closed curtain was Gabriella, upon the small bed at the back of the vardo. The arrangement was cramped, given that the wagon was designed to house only one individual, but she couldn't take the woman to her kinsmen. She would be put out, or worse.

The unconscious woman's wounds had been cleaned and dressed, but it was largely unnecessary to check on them by this point. The affliction had begun to take hold, and the wounds would be healing on their own. Though, her regenerative capabilities wouldn't be in full swing yet, and it would likely be a few days before they were healed completely.

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