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Nuru Zuri

Let my arrows pierce the hearts of darkness and bring light back into this broken world.

0 · 239 views · located in Wiesenthal

a character in “To Find the Light”, as played by Xavirne

Description

Image


Name: Nuru Gero Zuri
Name Meaning: Filled with Light, fierce, and handsome
People Call Him: Nuru, Cat-man, Cheth, Kitten, Archer, or Wildcat
Age: Mid to late twenties (about twenty-six or twenty-seven)
Alliance: Now joins with the civilized, only he has no issues slipping outside the law to help keep justice and civilization afloat

Appearance:
Nuru has an unusual look to him, mainly because he's not quite what one would label… human. In fact, Nuru is of animal linage, an anthropomorphic feline. He's a cheetah, through and through. Only, as noted, he can stand on two legs (he's 5'-10") and can talk. This, of course, notes that he is of the Chethume race. Chethumes are, as the name suggestions, cheetah-humans. Much like a human, Nuru wears clothes. He is always seen wearing his faded red scarf and he opts to cover his "junk" with black pants that are torn off at the bottom. Belts and straps keep his blade holstered to his hip and his quiver of arrows strapped to his back. His paws (feet) are left naked as shoes feel weird against his paw padding. The remainder of his body is covered in golden, cheetah-fur. His large, yellow eyes are focused and experience and his ears as constantly on the alert for danger or calls. A long, tail juts from his spinal cord just above the hips, which aids him in his running at extreme speeds.

Personality:
Nuru is kind by nature but fierce by choice. In a world of desolation and destruction, the cat-man was forced to change who he was to survive. The sweet little bloke that once brought smiles to the faces of his clan vanished. His skills were too valuable to let go to waste. Born a hunter and a tracker, his skills became optimal for people who sought to hunt down others. He began as a mercenary at a young age and, only recently, decided to change his alliance from helping that of evil and self-greed. His arrows now fly free for justice and compassion. Never again does he want to kill to help line someone's pocket. Nuru's trying to rekindle his playful, kind personality. It's a slow change, but Nuru knows that in a world of darkness, only the light will stand brighter than the rest. He wants to escape the darkness and lead the way to a shining, bright future.

Background and History:
Growing up in a very close family, Nuru was blessed with being surrounded by his wildman-like kin. He was the seventh born to his parents and Nuru has a pair of twin sisters born a year younger than he. The Chethume species lives in a pride, much like lions, which is how Nuru was raised. He and his family lived on the flatlands of Htorm, but took shelter in the caves nearby the mountain range. Traveling into the city (Flore) about five times a year, Nuru's family would do their best to always bring the kids so that they could learn about the other races. Nuru loved visiting Flore as he found himself admiring the statue in the center of town, often dreaming that he would be like the statue Cheth.

Although living in a semi-isolated world his whole life, Nuru was tossed into a public school where he learned and played alongside other races, most of which were animal-infused races like his own. By the time he was sixteen, he was taken under the wing of his father and his dad's partner (Wolfman) where he learned how to become a "real man," or at least one that could hunt and protect his family. Unlike most Cheth, Nuru didn't want to leave his family. He wanted to learn more and knew that his father wouldn't object. In fact, his father seemed pleased. It might have had something to do with the fact that he believed no female Cheth was worthy of his son, but a part of him was glad that the kid stayed clear of courting and romance.

Even thought darkness surrounded the planet, it had yet to really shake the Chethume of Htorm from their roots. But then that day of darkness came. Everything and everyone was lost. Only Wolfman, his father's partner, survived along with Nuru. Wolfman did the only thing he could -- he sold him. Nuru, although heartbroken, knew Wolfman needed the money to travel across the land to find his northern brother. Nuru, now the slave of some wealthy corrupt humans, was enrolled in an army to serve the lord of the land. Serving for three years (until he was 20), Nuru eventually broke away with a band of humans to join the SoBH (Society of Bounty Hunters). It wasn't until four years later than he became a mercenary for hire and he served a dark, corrupt overlord. Even though he started as a being of civilization and light, Nuru was forced to succumb to the darkness, to the corruption. He was blinded by this madness, by the uncivilized, for many years. Then, he decided it was time to change....

Recently, Nuru decided he couldn't take blood and line his lord's pockets. Not anymore. Blessed to leave from the lord's wife, Nuru set out to find his own freedom and path toward justice. He's a lone traveler, but he's rarely seen. He would rather be a ghost than a player at this point, as he's still conflicted with what he's done. He knows the path to redemption will be long and hard, but he's willing to do such to prove that he's still that same little boy that clung to democracy and light. He still dreams of rising to hero statue and becoming immortalized in that faceless statue in Flore, Htorm.

Special Powers: Nuru is a cheetah so speed is his specialty. He's also a feline so his senses are very heightened. He's nimble and composed, but can easily be distracted by warmth and yarn. As a born hunter and catcher, Nuru knows all the tricks and can practically vanish, much like a cat can. He's very knowledgable and knows what flora and fauna to avoid. Being a cat, his constitution is strong, which allows him to take on his fair share of poisonous foes.
Equipment: Equipped with a bow and quiver of arrows, Nuru specializes in long-range battle. However, don't let that fool you into thinking he can't bring a fight to you. His teeth are razor sharp, as are his claws. He carries a small blade on his left hip on the off chance he needs to throw it. A ball of yarn is the only other thing Nuru carries on his person.

So begins...

Nuru Zuri's Story

Setting

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Character Portrait: Nuru Zuri Character Portrait: Analetta Lovel
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#, as written by Xavirne
He had been lingering in the forest for quite some time now, almost to the point of becoming one with the tree he was perched in. His paws ached for movement and his back was growing stiff from doing absolutely nothing. Granted, it wasn't doing 'nothing' as he liked to believe. No, no, there was a reason and a good one at that. You see, this hunter was stalking the foot of the forest for anything that might come crashing through it. He was hunting, if you will, for easy, unsuspecting prey. He didn't dare enter the city of Girau for he was just one man, if you could call him that, with little going for him. Sure, he was a fierce warrior who had slaughtered more than his far share of men, but those were men. Men weren't monsters, at least not monsters like ogres or goblins. Although man could be most unkind and very tricky, man didn't have the blood-curdling reputation that creatures out of lore and myths had. Why, had he written a book, he would have easily compared these dark walkers to dragons for they were just as vicious and just as greedy. They preferred chaos over order and gold over peace. Such things didn't bode well with him. There was a reason he avoided the city. During his younger years, he saw enough blood to last him a lifetime. Not to mention, he didn't have a death wish, at least not yet.

Hearing something stir not too far from his location, the man found his furry ears shifting forward to listen to whatever came his way. It was the clip-ity clop of a horse. Not quite the meal he sought but food was food, right? As he prepared his bow with a sturdy arrow, he found himself taken aback with what transpired next. Yes, he had seen humans before. Yes, his eyes had found human women to be truly beautiful. But never before had he witness one undress from her royal purple gown into something so bleak and masculine. Her transformation was so perplexing that he had to move in closer to see if his eyes were deceiving him.

Sure enough, his eyes were true. She was a beautiful woman who faded in beauty the second she donned herself in such dull clothes.

Still safe from her sight and noticing, he unconsciously let his tail fall from behind him and dangle over the edge of the branch. It would do no harm to him whatsoever thanks to his lovely spotted coat. He was born to blend in. Although raised on a flatland, he was still capable of hiding in the thick of the forest. His golden fur with black spots could easily look like it was part of a tree, or even sun-kiss earth. He was tall and slender like a tree, so he could hide behind one with ease. Even his faded red scarf could appear invisible if one were to hide properly in a currant bush. The dark pants that veiled his lower region further camouflaged him against the enemy for he looked as if he was one with the sweeping shadows that the great pines, spruces, and oak cast across the needled carpet below.

Watching her, he got a feel for what was transpiring. She was fleeing. But why? A beautiful woman like her didn't need to run or hide. Apparently, though, she did. This caused him to lean forward more. He was dying to know why. What was her secret?

Falling back into the tree, his paw-like hands stroked his slender jaw. Ever so lightly, he let his claws scratch at his fur around his mouth, which revealed his feline-like fangs. Golden orbs flicked from the woman to the path she emerged from. Who lingered behind her, he wondered. His tail twitched from time to time. He needed time to think, but it appeared that she was off and on the move again. Snapping to it, he chased after her, doing all he could to keep from her sights. He needed to keep back just far enough to avoid the flaring nostrils of her stead, too. Not an easy task, but, with the wind in his favor, he could manage.

As she approached the great city of Girau, his heart sank. If there was one thing Nuru Zuri didn't do, it was enter that city. Outside those great walls was his safety. He could blend. He could hide. He could stalk. He was able to leap and run within the safety of the leaves. He could also ready his bow without anyone knowing. And yet, she was dead-set on entering that city.

With a large gulp, the cheetah-mimicking man made up his mind. If she entered, he would follow.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Nuru Zuri Character Portrait: Analetta Lovel
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#, as written by Xavirne
A great joy overcame Nuru the second the woman and her horse crossed into the grasslands. Most would assume you would ditch your stalker, but such as not the case. As a Chethume, a human with cheetah qualities and features, Nuru was born to rule this terrain. As much as he loved the leafy canopy of the forest, he preferred the savanna. There was just something about it that really made him come alive. He could almost taste the freedom on the wind that road up from the dancing golden grass.

Once he sprung from the trees, he immediately shifted so that he could prowl along on all fours. It was a tad awkward at first, but this hunkered down position soon became second nature to him. Within no time, his front paws (hands) were silently snaking along the ground, carrying the rest of his body with them. Within no time, he could pounce on them and take them out.

Sadly, such was not the case. Dapple's perspicuous presentation alerted Nuru to his own quickness. He was far too hasty and seemed to have spooked the horse, or so he presumed with its jolt of energy in the direction opposite Nuru's location. To combat this, Nuru went about stalking in a more roundabout manner. He no longer followed directly behind the pair, instead, he ran parallel to them. It was hard to not pass the pair for no horse could ever match his speed, it was just the nature of the cheetah. Granted, Dapple could long outrun the Cheth, but where could the horse run that would really put much space between it and the cat? He wambled some, finding fatigue and hunger were starting to take its toll on him. With this new found data up front, Nuru knew he couldn't continue hunting these two like prey. No, he would need to change his tact yet again. Perhaps approach as a traveler, like them?

He came to a dead stop. Reeling back onto the balls of his feet, he let his knees push into the earth before him. His body was still tucked toward the ground, but his eyes and ears remained just above the thicker blades of the grass. From this position, he could watch the two find a snack just at the mouth of the city. Ears shifting to and fro, he tried to listen to the earth around him. He could hear the sounds of metal on metal as a mighty battle was had out in the streets of Girau. Not far from his left scurried a field mouse who was in search of the grain that the grass had produced. In that same tree where Dapple and Ana snacked, a crow ruffled its feathers and cawed before taking to the sky.

Cat-like instincts kicked in. He didn't even have a chance to register what he was doing. Before he knew it, his sleek body was busting out of the grass and flying toward the black bird that was passing above him. Forearm swinging forward, his claws latched into the spine of the bird. Pulling it down, the bird tried to fight, but Nuru's massive jaw clenched the sprawled feathers of the bird's wing. It squawked, alerting those in the area to its death. If luck was on his side, horse and rider missed his successful bird catch as they were blazing ahead toward the city, a cloud of dust and smoke being the only left behind.

Mouth painted red with the blood of the crow, the feline happily went to work mauling the bird. His constitution was top-notch, allowing him to eat raw meat. He left no part of the bird behind, save for the hard beak and its gnawed feet. Of course, feathers remained too, as a reminder of his successful hunt.

Licking his chops, he saw that the girl was already within range of the city's gates. Within minutes, she would enter the distraught city before her. Nuru's tongue lapped over his gums again, whisking away the last remains of the bird's liquid. Smacking, he found a bone at his feet that hadn't been dealt with. Popping it into his mouth, he blissfully bit into it. The sound of bone snapping was followed by a crewing, grazing sound. Moments later, a swallow. Again, his tongue cleaned up his mess, even licking away at his soiled paws this time. Satisfied with the light meal, he was ready to race forward again. Easing into it, Nuru zipped ahead. He soon became a blur against the golden field of grass and flowers. In no time, he too would be gawking up at the once great city of Girau.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Nuru Zuri Character Portrait: Analetta Lovel
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Dapple picked his way through the rubble outside the gates of Girau. His muscles were tense, his every breath cautious. Ana felt the fear in him beneath her hands. She stroked his mane and whispered encouragement.

The pair passed through the crumbling arch of the city entrance. They were on a main road of some kind. The pavement was light grey stone, the kind that city custodians loved to keep clear and clean for visiting ambassadors. Ana could imagine these streets strewn with petals, the noble civilized folk in their silk gowns stepping lightly down the middle of the street.

In some places the stone road was cracked, whole chunks missing or splintered. The buildings on either side slumped listlessly, their broken windows gaping like dark eyes. Even the city trees, planted to decorate the small corner parks, were stripped of bark and fruit. Nature could not reclaim this place, for even here, nature died.

Ana heard the echo of clashing metal. Dapple paused in his slow walk. The horse started to back up, and he reared his head to rip the reins from Ana’s hands.

“Calm down, Dapple,” she whispered. She kept the reins tight, no matter how hard the frightened horse tugged. “Quiet, stay quiet,” she urged him.

The sounds of battle calmed for a moment. They originated from somewhere else in the city, near the downtown main streets where the buildings of law clustered together. If Ana and Dapple stayed quiet and moved quickly, they could avoid the battling beasts and seek shelter.

Then Ana heard a door slap against brick. The sound was louder than a shot in silence. She swiveled on her saddle and saw behind her, and off to the side, two sleepy-eyed orcs. They must have been camping inside one of the business buildings. They were common highwaymen and bandits, dressed in rags and waiting in ambush.

“Maybe we should have taken a back road, Dapple,” she said to the horse, “I believe the main streets have eyes on them.”

The horse neighed loudly and reared just as the two orcs surged from their hiding places. They busted the door the rest of the way off its hinges and unsheathed massive cleavers from their belts. Ana kicked Dapple’s flanks and he rushed forward, propelled by the bunched power in his back legs. They turned a corner, hanging a sharp right, where another pair of similarly dressed orcs waited in the road.

Dapple stopped so fast he nearly tossed Ana onto her face.

“Calm down, boy,” she yelled, “turn around now, turn around.” The horse and rider both struggled for control of the reins. The orcs rushed her from the front while others screamed war cries from behind. In seconds, cleavers would be biting into the flesh of them both.

Dapple continued to rear and kick while Ana cried and tugged the reins. She felt hot tears on her face. The brutish orcs in front of her swung the terrible weapons in their fists. One of them reached forward and grasped Dapple’s worn reins, his face splitting in a smile that bared his rotting black teeth.

An arrow pierced his head. It entered his eye and busted from the back of his skull, spraying both Dapple and Ana with stinking hot blood. The orc behind him faltered in his step, his eyes wide. He was looking behind Ana, and he was about to turn and run when another arrow flew into his exposed neck.

The dead orcs collapsed. The one with a hand on Dapple’s reins slithered to the ground with a grin still on his face. The frightened horse backed up and finally Ana jerked his head around.

The other orcs that had chased her were dead on the ground, and there was someone standing next to their corpses.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Nuru Zuri Character Portrait: Analetta Lovel
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#, as written by Xavirne
Lady Luck was on his side today; he could feel her smiling down upon him. A warm breeze kissed his fur and the sun released all the anxiety that once ailed him. There was no way he was going to let this city stand between his success. Lady Luck seemed to agree with this, but was was that? Was it the fact that he was a handsome cat? Or did it have anything to do with his sparing of the girl and her horse? Being a woman, Luck clearly sided with the gypsy rider and her horse. It didn't really matter one way or the other though. Sure, luck probably played a small role in the grand scheme of things, but luck couldn't make up for perfectly calculated moves, an agile mind, or feline-like reflexes. Not to mention, it was his hunting nature that really aided him today, as he was still unknown to the pair. Neither horse nor rider had the faintest clue that he lurked in the tall grass behind them. Sure, they probably felt like something watched them, but they would probably figure it to be the city that was crawling with beasts that really portrayed humans in a much finer light.

Giving a smirk, Nuru praised the lass for making it this far. In fact, he respected her. No longer stalking them for food, Nuru would rely on the duo as protection. Yes, protection. Even the stillest of cities hide monsters of the dark in the cracks and crevices. Not to mention, it had been a long while since he ventured this far. How knew where these creatures called home now. Last he knew, they tended to keep toward the larger buildings, as they served as perfect cover. They could hide behind the tall walls or, better yet, fling from a higher story and completely surprise their prey.

A shutter ran down his spine. God, the last time he let his golden orbs fall on the ruins before him was probably a good month ago. He could recall that day so vividly too. It was the first time he came trotting into this general area. Having noticed the town's foul smell (the thick scent of decay and mold), he decided to avoid it. Not to mention, he remembered seeing streets littered with bones and skulls. Blood was splashed upon the walls and disease laid within each rotting corpse that tried to flee the grotesque curse of the city. Girau was a real life nightmare. It was the one place the little Chethume feared, which explained why Nuru kept to the forest. It wasn't an easy life, picking out poor passersby, but Nuru needed to eat if he wanted to stay strong. The forest was the perfect cover for him and, like most cats, he was graceful in trees. He climbed with ease and could linger on the weariest of branches. He knew his weight and how much stress the frail limbs could hold. It was this feline know-how that kept him alive up until the point.

Shaking the visions from his mind, Nuru Zuri decided it was time to slip into the city. His body hugged the faded gray bricks and his paws sprawled out against the dirty path below. He held his breath and forced his heartbeat to slow. Now was not the time to let fear rise. Fear would alert the enemy and fear would bring destruction. Or worse, death.

A slow exhale followed. Focused. He had to focus. Gingerly, he followed her. The poor horse she rode seemed spooked beyond belief. But why? The clashes in the distance were hardly enough to...

His nostrils flared. Pupils dilating, the cat-man silently swallowed the large lump that now blocked his airway. The fur on the back of his neck rose and his subconscious kicked into hyper-drive. Hand swinging over his back, his paws tugged out several arrows. Nuru still had the slip on the orcs that appeared and that, he smirked, would bring about their demise.

Nuru inhaled. It was a slow, deep breath in. Holding his breath and closing his eyes, his body listened to the world around him. Stepping out from behind the building he once used as a shield, the humanoid cheetah laced up his first arrow. Nothing could protect him now, save for his aim and accuracy. Pulling the taut string back, his eyes flicked open. The moment his orbs absorbed the world, the first arrow flew.

Ana seemed to be in trouble now, but Nuru couldn't aid her just yet. He had to pick off the last two orcs that were behind her. She was oblivious to them at the moment, but it was logical. She had to worry about the one that was going to rip her from Dapple.

Letting two more arrows pierce the unsuspecting orcs from behind, Nuru advanced. Swooping down, he retrieved his arrows. Why waste them? Loading them up, he noticed that the fletching on one was bad. He dropped it. This arrow would do him no good. He needed accuracy, not a liability. Finding another sleek arrow, he closed his eyes and latched its tail in place. Another inhale followed. Eyes opening, his exhale was released in-sync with the arrow. Hitting his mark square in the eye, the fiend met his death.

Not off the hook yet, the cat reached for another arrow. This one was probably his favorite for it was black and gold with an orange fletching. The tip on this one was still very sharp, due to much grinding and reshaping. A neck shot would be tricky, but it was really the only opening Nuru had going for him. Steady as could be, he drew back and prayed the Lady Luck would let his arrow gouge out the damned things jugular. Sure enough, it skewered the foe, dropping him almost instantly. Ah yes, the perks of a messy shot. As mentioned, this arrow was his favorite. Sure it was well-shaped, but it came with a tricky hook. The second the tip collides with something firm, a pin is released which triggers six small spikes (probably a half and inch in length) to protrude from the rod. It was his 'rose arrow' due to those so-called thorns.

With rider and horse now turning to face him, Nuru lowered his bow. Tiptoeing past the fallen orcs, he approached Ana and Dapple. Stopping about six feet before them, he dropped to a knee and flung his right arm over his chest. Pausing for a few seconds, he tilted his head up to look Analetta in the eyes. What would she do now, he mused. He was clearly at the disadvantage here. Would she strike? Or would she graciously accept his knightly saluting?

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Character Portrait: Nuru Zuri Character Portrait: Analetta Lovel
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Analetta (by missmacabre)


The tears had stopped, but Analetta still felt their moist warmth on her cheeks. The battle was over, and still her heart beat furiously, still her breath came in shallow gasps and her muscles tensed tightly. Dapple was gripped between her knees. Ana never thought her legs very strong, but she might just bruise the horse at this rate.

Dapple was aching to run. He stood still, but there was power in his legs on a short leash. He pulled a bit at the reins, testing Ana’s willingness. Both rider and horse were exhausted. Neither could afford to work against the other.

Analetta had traveled the country. Her family had visited its many provinces and cities. She had sold fortunes to every sort of person on the road, of every color and creed. But Analetta had never seen a Chethume.

Dapple sniffed the air. He sensed predator in this…man, but he also sensed personality. Analetta knew the horse was counting on her to make the right decision for them both.

“Thank you,” she croaked. There was a stiff pause. “I…I’m so grateful.” Here came the tears again, bristling at the lip of her eyelid. “I hope you understand if I don’t get down from my horse. We need to go. We need to go now, and I’m not sure if you’re coming with me, but I know there isn’t a way out of this city,” Analetta heard commotion from the streets near the gate. Ana also heard, even louder now, a battle that obviously included orcs raging in the heart of the city’s downtown streets.

“Please,” Ana began, “Let’s please hide. Let’s talk about this later. I don’t know who you are, but if you don’t like orcs, then I like you.” Ana grinned, but the expression merely twisted her face into a mad grimace. “I usually stop at the library. That’s where all the civilized folk gather. I’ve sold many fortunes there.”

Don’t ramble, Ana, she scolded herself in thought. Dapple began to snort and tug more furiously at the reins.

“We have to go,” Ana heard an orc’s barking laughter from just around the corner. “We have to go now.”



Nuru (by Xavirne)


His golden gaze watched her every move. Trained to see things the human eye couldn't pick up, he felt the pains of Ana and her horse. Although the majority of the feelings he picked up were those of fear and exhaustion, one did stand out above the rest -- trust. Looking from rider to beast, Nuru knew his rescuing was not put to waste. This woman had bonded with her majestic mammal and seemed to enjoy his companionship. Often times, people would cower away from an anthro race but this woman seemed promising. There was just something about her that made the Chethume trust that she wouldn't betray him. Of course, when she offered him to join her, Nuru purred inwardly. His assumptions were true; she was unlike most of the men of his era and came pure of heart and without prejudice. Perhaps it was the fact that she was woman and not man? Either way, he wasn't about to pass up this opportunity. For far too long, Nuru had been alone. The thought of passing this up was foolish. Together, their odds of survival doubled. She was not only the logical choice, but she was also the right choice, at least in his heart.

As Dapple began to beacon his rider to safety, Nuru nodded and gathered up his satchel. Ears flicking forward, he heard the sounds from within the city. Before the stairs of the library was a war between corrupt beasts. Should they travel that way, there would be no success. Nose pulsating from the sensation of something approaching from behind, the cheetah-man reached for the reigns of the horse and gave them a good jerk down a rubble-filled alleyway. A human might have a hard time walking down this littered alleyway, but a horse and cat wouldn't. Stepping over debris and crumbled walls of buildings, he tried to coax the horse to follow. At first, it seemed impossible, but Nuru's large golden eyes synced with the horse's pair. In their gaze, Nuru explained to the horse that he wished for safety and peace.

Paws sprawling to either side of the horse's muzzle, Nuru placed his own nose before the horse's large nostrils. Eyes closed, he gently rubbed the horse, stroking it into submission. "I've no desire to hunt you or your lady," he cooed sweetly before tousling the mane. "But you must learn to trust me if you wish to survive," he spoke.

Climbing up onto what looked like a collapsed pillar, his eyes scanned forward to ensure nothing laid before them. It was damn lucky that this darkened hollow was clear of monsters, but compared to the streets, it made sense that much wouldn't crawl through here. The walls were moldy and a puss-like substance was on the ground. It smelled of fecal matter and decay, a sure sign that this alleyway was abandoned now.

With the light at the ending being their guide, Nuru escorted the pair through the landmine of feces and what looked like vomit. Just before the mouth of the alleyway, Nuru raised a paw to slow his new travel buddies. A single finger raised to his lip, indicating to be quiet. Then, gingerly, he stepped into the light. His fur doing him justice as he blended in with the cobblestone wall behind him. Hugging the wall tightly, he moved toward what looked like a door. Head tilting into the door, he wiggled his paws at them. It was time to slip forward and enter this door. Based on its location and surroundings, it appeared to be a backdoor. But to wait?

Once inside, the trio would learn that this door was a passageway between the library and a connected antiques shop. How Nuru knew this was beyond him. Perhaps he learned about this back door from his spying in the forest? Or maybe his gut was far more educated than he? Either way, they weren't safe until the door was closed. It would be painful to close, too, for stalking the area was what looked like some wild hounds. Nuru was surprised the wild dogs hadn't picked up their scent yet, but knew that the feces had done well in masking their true odors.

The eyes of fear locked with Ana and he positioned himself across the doorway from her. If she could pull it shut without making a peep, he could latch it and prevent any intruders from coming from the back -- at least prevent a sneaky approach.

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Character Portrait: Nuru Zuri Character Portrait: Analetta Lovel
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#, as written by Xavirne
Analetta (by missmacabre)

Ana was surprised when Dapple connected with the Chethume. When the horse calmed beneath her, she knew that they would be safe with him. Either way, she didn’t have time to consider any alternatives. There were orcs approaching, and the Chethume grabbed Dapple’s reins and led them down a dingy alleyway. The horse would normally avoid rubble and…mess, but he soldiered on, following the Chethume’s lead. It was Ana who shivered in the saddle, her heart thumping loudly in her chest and her face twisted in disgust. The smell was so horrible she choked back a gag.

Quickly and quietly they walked the alleyway to its exit. After a fast survey of the danger, the Chethume crossed a doorway and beckoned Ana to come through. Analetta peered over the Chethume’s shoulder. She saw something moving in the passageway that he blocked with his body, but if he was willing to turn his back to it, it couldn’t possibly be all that terrible.

This was the point where the woman would have to dismount and abandon the safety and speed of her mount. Ana climbed down from the saddle and settled uncomfortably on the ground. Her legs and buttocks were weak and sore. She stopped a moment to stretch, then gathered up Dapple’s reins and pulled his gray head close.

“Listen Dapple,” she whispered. “We have to go through this door, and you’re a big horse. Well, a medium horse, but a big beast. You’re bigger than this door. I need you to squeeze on in anyway. Follow me.”

Ana stepped toward the Chethume. He backed away to give her and Dapple space. Ana went first, reins in hand. Maybe it was the fear of orcs behind him, or the comfort of their company, but Dapple complained very little on his way through the door. It did require a bit of tricky maneuvering on his part, but Ana knew it was possible. If her old aunt could squeeze a sick mare into one of the caravan trailers, Dapple could fit through a doorframe.

Once they popped through the other side, Dapple moved his body for Ana to shut the door. She grabbed the knob and brought it to a quick, silent close. Normally, she was very stealthy. Maybe she had spent all day proving exactly the opposite, but the woman still had faith in her own abilities.

Ana sighed in relief. She turned around to face the Chethume and crack off a quick jest when she saw what wandered the space they had just entered. Dogs. Big, mangy beasts, so starved their skin dipped into the valleys between their bones. Their lips peeled away, dripping slobber over the cracked yellow peaks of pointed teeth.

Ana pressed herself against Dapple. The dogs fell together in a trot, a gleam of malice and hunger in their eyes.

"They're coming," Ana croaked. The woman felt for the dagger at her waist. She grasped the hilt tightly, and waited for the Chethume to make his move.



Nuru (by Xavirne)

It was hard not to be impressed by this woman and her skill with her mighty horse. Dapple was wise beyond his years, too. Every muscle in his body contorted and finagled to squeeze through the narrow door. Had they entered from the front, Dapple wouldn't have had to make magic happen for those were double-wide doors. Still, that wasn't the case for them. They were forced to enter from the back. Had Nuru been thinking, he might have been able to use some lard on the door, greasing it up to make it less abrasive on the horse's skin. Perhaps he wouldn't reveal that tiny overlook just yet? In fact, maybe he would avoid bringing it up all together. Besides, the lard was excellent for starting fires. And fire? Well, it would be essential later on into the night. Wouldn't want to freeze now, would they? Nuru would be fine, but he wasn't sure how Ana would fair. Granted, he could just ball up beside her and Dapple, ensuring that she was plenty warm.

Hand crossing his heart, Nuru found himself releaved. Chops pulling back into a light smile, the Chethume was overjoyed that he hadn't decided to hunt these two. They were too perfect to devour. Ana was simply adorable. She was a real wild flower -- strong and capable but soft and beautiful. Dapple, like his rider, was just as skilled and he was extremely loyal. Not to mention, this type of bond between animal and human was rare. Most riders kicked, whipped, and forced their horses to do everything. Just by looking at Dapple, Nuru knew the horse was never abused or fearful of Analetta. His golden eyes closed into slender happy slits. It made him happy to know that someone could love an animal just as much as a human.

Reaching out a paw, he lightly patted Dapple on the back, a sign of approval from the cat man. A light purr even slipped from him when his fur collided with that of the horse's. There were an odd combo, but it wasn't unlike cats and horses to get along. Okay, so a cheetah was a bit of a stretch, but Chethumes had domestic cat mannerisms, too!

His lips pulled back to compliment the duo, but such praise was cut short but Ana's airy whisper. Ears flicking forward and eyes darting to the glass-less window, his golden fur started to stand on end. How much time could he buy?

Nostrils flaring momentarily, his tongue lolled from his mouth and lapped at his gums. He smelled something. It was nearby. It smelled like... freshly cooked rat meat. Collecting himself, Nuru suppressed the drool that would have surely come. Now was not the time to force on food. No, it was now time to give Dapple and Ana a running head start.

Muzzle curling up to reveal a rather long fang, Nuru's nose became loaded with wrinkles. Ears pinned against his skull, a low, light rumble came from his throat. It was time for the cat man to show these mutts why cats rule and dogs drool. Leaning onto his tip-toes, the Chethume instantly looked so much taller. His arched back and flickering tail were signs of warning for the dogs that would surely come crashing into the area. Sprawling out his hands, the retractable claws slipped out. Probably half an inch to an inch long, they would certainly scar anything that dared go toe-to-toe with the wild cat.

Just moments before the sharp, ravenous fangs of the dogs chewed down the door, Nuru flung his arms in a direction. "Concentrate on the scent of meat. I scene you're not the only one of your kind. You humans always have an... interesting smell about you." Eyes shifting back toward the door, his nose quivered before a loud, raspy roar broke into the air. Hissing, the door smashed in and the hounds were reeling back in surprise at just what laid beyond the door.

Seizing the moment, Nuru leaped over the wild dogs. Snapping at their hindquarters and tails, he was able to push them further into the hallway. Claws ablaze with feral wrath, the first of the hounds found himself howling in pain as its back oozed with blood. Not done with his first strike, Nuru lunged onto the back of the injured dog. Fangs exposed, he forced them into the rubbery neck of the dog. It shook quite vigorously for a few seconds, but Nuru's claws kept his lodged in the dog's back. The more the hound shook, the more damage Nuru's claws and fangs did. In no time, the creature collapsed on itself. Dead due to strangulation, due thanks to Nuru's iron-tight throat grip.

Kicking off the ground and flinging into the air, Nuru landed on a nearby stairwell. Hissing, he offered the remaining dogs a chance to flee. At first, the dogs didn't heed the warning. The second Nuru advanced forward, they went scampering away. One loss was enough for them, he supposed.

During the heat of the fight, Nuru hadn't noticed the injury his took to his paw. One of the dogs had managed to get its mangy muzzle around his arm. Eight large gashes were visible on his fur, all of which were in the shape of a mouth. Rolling his eyes at his own stupidity, Chethume ran his tongue over the wound. He would have to tent to it later, though. Right now, he needed to see how Ana and Dapple were. Had they gone the wrong way? Or had they managed to get lost?

Ears scanning the area for any noises, his nose finally caught a whiff of the duo. Slinking to all fours, he prowled down the hallowed halls. Eyes gleaming gold, he wouldn't make himself known until he was certain Ana wasn't in grave danger. If need be, Nuru would strike any foe that dared disturb Ana and Dapple's peace. As far as he was concerned, those two were a part of his family and he needed to do everything he could to protect them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Orthus Nahl Character Portrait: Nuru Zuri Character Portrait: Analetta Lovel Character Portrait: Lucatiel Maughlin
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Lucatiel Maughlin


"It seems we have a common goal," Luca said darkly. "This world... this is no place worth living. I seek to forge a new, stable world. Or at least some small stronghold against this chaos. Perhaps we migh-"

Luca's head snapped around, cutting off the reply he was about to make to the old hermit. He froze, warily peering back towards the rear of the room, trying to pinpoint where the sound come from. No doubt the minions knew. Their ears were far better than a human's. They had already drawn their weapon, blending into the shadows. They waited for his order. He held up a hand towards the old man to indicate silence, stalking towards the door. A single sword came unsheathed, held warily aloft in his right hand. The minions fell in beside him. Alert to any threat, he was always grateful to have their superior senses alongside him. He could not match their silence, due to the armor he wore. Fortunately though the fine cloth he wore for warmth served to muffle the plates as well, and allowed to often get by unnoticed.

Now that he was in silence he could just make up muffled chatter, growing louder as they approached. Suddenly it was replaced with vicious snarling, and the sound of an ensuing scuffle. He stepped up his pace, and was soon upon the corner. Left shoulder against the wall, he peered into the narrow hallway gingerly. If they were against a party of orcs, this would be the ideal place to fight. They'd be force to approach two at a time, max, whilst the smaller minions would each be able to fight beside him. To his surprise, what he saw was a woman in brown pants and a leather jerkin, followed by, of all things, a horse! And behind her...

"NO!" he roared, spinning out from the corner. But it was too late. The hounds fled, chased away by what seemed to be some sort of beast-man. A Chethume, he corrected, when it turned to face him. "You fools! Half the orcs in this damned city will be on us with those beasts kicking up such a noise!" He wanted to strangle something. Finally, after months of travel, he'd reached a grand library, and he'd had only precious moments to comb its knowledge. Reverence of writing or no, these orcs would not hesitate to scour it in search of them. They could not hope to hold them all off. The library was lost for now. Even his search throughout the rest of the city would now be pressured, with the enemy on high alert. Thrice damned curs!

"If you wish to live," he hissed through gritted teeth, "follow me immediately. Be absolutely silent. We have no time for questions." With that he spun around, flying back into the library. Ranagyz and Thump did not need to be told what was going on, and immediately gathered what books they had set aside, stuffing them into thickly woven hemp sacks.

"You have your deal," Luca stated as he strode towards the old man. "But we most be off, with swiftness and silence. Those outside will soon be upon us. The library is no longer safe. We must go to both the Grand Basillica and the Council Treasury Room. You know the way, you choose which we go to first. When this is done, I swear on my honor that their captain shall meet his fate."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Orthus Nahl Character Portrait: Nuru Zuri Character Portrait: Analetta Lovel Character Portrait: Lucatiel Maughlin
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Analetta and Dapple ran ahead of the scuffle and burst into the library. She tossed a glance back over her shoulder and saw the Chethume harassing the wild hounds.

"NO!" she heard a man roar. Ana snapped her head back around. Down the throat of the narrow hallway he stood, sword in hand. "You fools! Half the orcs in this damned city will be on us with those beasts kicking up such a noise!"

The man was obviously a soldier of some kind. He held his sword with care and balance. Ana couldn’t see his body, but he was broad enough to suggest muscles. His eyes were startling in color, such a frosty shade of blue that they threatened to mesmerize her.

"If you wish to live," the man growled, "follow me immediately. Be absolutely silent. We have no time for questions."

There was something undeniably predatory about him. This man was the last person in Wiesenthal that Ana could trust. With a sudden pivot, the man rushed deeper into the library, leaving Ana in the hall alone. She looked back for the Chethume again. At the moment, Ana couldn’t see the Chethume. She could only hear the pitiful squeal of an injured dog.

Dapple tugged on the reins, ready to leave the cramped hallway and explore the wider, high-ceilinged lobbies of the Girau library. Ana crossed her fingers that the Chethume was close behind. She didn’t want to be left alone to deal with the mysterious, cold man.

Woman and horse rushed down the hallway, sighing inwardly with relief when they finally squeezed out of the narrow neck of paneled wood. Ana was shocked to see another man, one that the solider was talking to. He had the look of someone old and wise, but also carried himself with the vitality typical of a young man.

Ana sensed more activity in the room. She heard muffled thumps and finally spotted two imps packing books into a sack.

“I don’t know what we walked in on, Dapple,” Ana whispered to the frightened, skittish horse, “but I wish it was an option to just walk right back out.”

Silence. There was no more yipping or yapping of dogs, no more injured yelps. Ana kept the hallway at the corner of her eye while she watched the two strange men interact. It felt a little weak, relying so heavily on a Chethume she had met only a half an hour before.

I don’t even know his name, she thought to herself.

Analetta had a stack of mental notes to sort through. Introduce self to Chethume, find out what those little imps are, get away from the orcs (it was quickly decreasing in priority) and find out who the men are. They were obviously men of power and ambition. Like any other traveler, Ana knew that knowledge was just as likely to save you as a weapon on the roads wandered and in the cities abandoned.

We’ll stick around long enough to get to safety, and then take the highway back out of Girau. And if we’re lucky, we’ll make it far, far away.

Ana wasn’t just thinking about her and Dapple anymore.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Orthus Nahl Character Portrait: Nuru Zuri Character Portrait: Analetta Lovel Character Portrait: Lucatiel Maughlin
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#, as written by Xavirne
Yelling. Oh yes, that was always a good way to go about unnoticed. Sure, cowering dogs posed a threat, but a full on scream down a hallway hardly seemed responsible. Not to mention, if the dogs were that much of a treat, Nuru would have dealt with them. After all, the Chethume could have put the last of the hounds out of their misery, but there was no point in killing the hounds. From the look in those manged eyes, these dogs didn't listen to anyone or call the orcs master. If anything, these dogs were wild and roamed as they pleased. Just like the orcs, these mutts sought blood and meat -- and orcs would make quite the meal, right? As you can imagine, to the cat-man these dogs were a valuable asset. The hounds would attack the orcs, thus delaying the grotesque beasts' approaching. Win-win, if you asked Nuru. Sadly, these others -- more humans from the scent of them -- seemed to disagree.

Not quite sure where their loyalties lied, Nuru moved to become one with the walls. Invisible to the untrained eye, his body moved without a sound. Ah, the perks of being part cat. He was a shadow stalker and a soundless walker, ideal for such dire situation. Dapple, if anyone, might be able to pick up on his presence, but there was too much fear for the horse to focus on just him. Danger lurked around every corner and who knew if the soldier and his comrade were going to keep Analetta alive. Or worse, if they kept her alive and assaulted her. Ears pressing against his skull, Nuru vowed he wouldn't let such scum defile the woman. Why, he would lay down his life if it would save Ana's body from undesired penetration. If given the chance, Nuru would reveal to Ana that he was nearby and keeping an arrow ready, should he need to save her.

A half-purr, half-mating call came from the shadows behind Ana. No words were spoken, so the cat-call would have to suffice. It was his way of saying, "I'm here, don't be alarmed." Had Analetta ever spent time with cats, she might have actually recognized the sound. It was one that was familiar with mothers and her kittens. It was the sound used to call and love the newborns. To the Chethume, this gesture was one of love and affection, a sure sign that he wasn't about to let harm come to his "kitten."

Falling back so that he could creep from the arches or doorways, Nuru took on the role of the back guard. Should anything come for them from the back, he would be ready. With Ana safely wedged in the middle, he trusted that Dapple would gather up his rider and dash to safety. Even though it would be a hard run, if he could make it to the forest, Ana might stand a fighting chance. But, from the sounds of it, these men were interested in pursuing another location. Just what were they up to? And why?

Ears peeled and ears alert, Nuru prepared himself for whatever laid in their wake.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Orthus Nahl Character Portrait: Nuru Zuri Character Portrait: Analetta Lovel Character Portrait: Lucatiel Maughlin
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Orthus Nahl


In every day Orthus had lived since the initial invasion, there was always some chaos to handle. The daily routine had picked up again.

Simply standing where he was, the old man looked out with one eye wide and one squinted, watching a woman mounting a horse and a Chethume come through the doors of the room, he began questioning what the best course of action would be. Luca was right in his assessment of the situation; the hounds would surely alert the creatures of dark. Hardly ever do they bark during the day for no reason. Going to the half barrel, he began stomping the fire out and eating his meal, which was somewhat raw.

"I'm just a single man trying to survive and at the first sight of other humans there's all sorts of trouble," he said out loud.

With the fire out, Orthus had to think of where to go next. The easy solution would be to go into the tunnel network many survivors had crafted over time. However, taking the opportunity to kill what orcs they could would be ideal. The tunnels were not the answer. Looking up to the windows, he began plotting. So he simply went. With unexpected agility, Orthus ran and jumped at a towering book case. Planting his foot on an empty space, he jumped up and a bit back. Staying with in arms reach, he grabbed the top of the bookshelf, and took a moment to get on top of the book case. Now the row of windows was at his height.

"So know what are you going to do?" he openly posed, projecting his voice. "You've stirred some hounds, some morphed creatures are going to be looking for you. Where do you go? I, your tour guide through hell, am going this way. The tour guide does not know about you."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Orthus Nahl Character Portrait: Nuru Zuri Character Portrait: Analetta Lovel Character Portrait: Lucatiel Maughlin
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#, as written by Xavirne
It seemed Nuru didn't have a choice anymore. Stepping from the shadows, the Chethume looked over the other men that accompanied Ana and he. Brow cocked, the cat couldn't help but joke at the comment about humans. "To call me a human is a bit of an insult. I might be half human, but I certainly can't abandon my spots. Besides, I've speed unlike you humans. Still," he tugged out his bow and readied it for battle, "I will gladly aid in your pursuits. I cannot sit back and let my fellow brethren die before my eyes."

Winking at Ana, he followed behind the man. A few steps in, however, he snaked to the back of the line and decided to be the rear defense. Ears alert and listening for noises, Nuru waited for what would soon encroach on their position. In no time, they would be swarmed and flanked. Of course, Nuru had a slight upper hand. Having a ranged weapon meant he could down the first wave, thus causing a pile to stammer over and around. It would slow the foes, at least temporarily.

"If you see something, please let me know. I will drop it with my arrow and give us a moment to flee elsewhere." He said it to no one in particular, but at least he was trying to aid these humans to the best of his ability. "Horse," he said in a whispered tone, "please whinny if you sense danger. Your ears and nose might be more honed than my own. I could use the help from my animal kin."