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Zenith Rising

The Smuggler's Cove

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a part of Zenith Rising, by Exodyus.

Perched on the western edge of Exodyus, the Cove provides a stay for those who are under the Pirate's Code. It is a port for incoming and outgoing airships and sea-worthy vessels.

RolePlayGateway holds sovereignty over The Smuggler's Cove, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

245 readers have been here.

Setting

The water's lap against the shore gently. A massive port has been erected beyond the covering of mountains and sheer cliffs where ships may only come in and out of. Bottlenecked and cozy, the cove provides perfect cover for operations and the odd-fact that clouds always hang in this area keeps them well hidden from the Exodyus World Alliance.

Much like a small fishing village, the Smuggler's Cove is also filled with loots, hundreds of weapons, pirates, and a few dozen slaves to keep things moving quickly and to work the place and keep everyone fed and happy.
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The Smuggler's Cove

Perched on the western edge of Exodyus, the Cove provides a stay for those who are under the Pirate's Code. It is a port for incoming and outgoing airships and sea-worthy vessels.

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The Smuggler's Cove is a part of Exodyus.org.

4 Characters Here

Kalenis [16] The face of innocents. A calm calamity. The Saint.
Abigail [13] Ruined innocence
Serah "Marlin" Peratta [7] The blade of Justice.
Cpt. Jerrod Rottsan [3] NPC; Pirate Captain

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Character Portrait: Kalenis Character Portrait: Cpt. Jerrod Rottsan
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#, as written by Exodyus
A swift hand crossed my face and I fell to my knees, ivory hair hanging loosely over a rosy mark. The master was angry. A violent smuggler and I'd been caught on the ass-end of yet another drunken tirade and again, I did nothing to defend myself. I remained resilient and silent while he stormed around the lofty tent. His frustration was evident and my empathy knew better of it. Having sent ships out over a week ago, only one had returned in pieces. The World Alliance, an executive group claiming rights over Exodyus as a World Police, had ... interfered this time, and divided his crew severely. Rightly so he was angry, but when Captain Rottsan was, he usually took it out on me as some sort of sick, dominating feeling he got from it -- and always plastered.

Storm clouds rolled over the camp ominously. They always had since the first day that the camp was settled, some seventeen years ago by Rottsan and his crew. Since that moment it had become a brooding, festering cesspool of villainous acts. Rape. Murder. Drunken fights. Something that on one foresaw was that the storms that had followed us, the coverings that had always taken place around them, around this cove had all started when they took my from my parents. A Perrata trait, gone unnoticed forevermore. I knew not why the clouds hung so low, but I felt such a connection with them and always looked upon them gratefully, as if knowing that my parents were always near by...

Wiping the blood from my split lip, I sighed softly. Rolling back onto my haunches, resting most of the weight of my frame upon gaunt knees I awaited to be hit again. Eventually he would tire and then pass out, leaving me to do whatever I wished, which is why I returned to my once-abused position again. Swollen and red, the right side of my face had plumped up a shade, but after years of this, I'd grown accustomed to being the drunk's punching bag. What he was running from. Why he was masking his fear was beyond me. He'd done something in his past that he obviously wasn't proud of and it haunted him to this day.

"I've lost ... over a third of my crew." He ranted drunkenly.

I remained silent, as always.

Do you know what this means?" Dark red eyes glared upon me with anger and rage that only brought froth to the corner's of his lips. A thousand-yard stare penetrated my face and he snarled angrily, throwing his hands around like a child confused. He spat at the ground. Kicked over furniture in the overly-elaborate tent. The place where he'd spent most of his time planning and preparing was the same place I was chained to. I had my ways and dared not to divulge them, but everything in this place was a temple to the Captain over years and years of success. Goods brought from all around, fine trinkets of gold and silver, weapons of the most ornate and gorgeous construct, given as gifts for his sacrifice to his men -- and here he was, acting like an insolent toddler.

The shit I have to put up with for a moment's silence...

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Character Portrait: Kalenis Character Portrait: Cpt. Jerrod Rottsan
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#, as written by Exodyus
With the captain finally passed out due to his poor health and habits, I finally had time to myself. It had been quite a long day and I was truly in need of some peace and quiet. The day had started off like any other -- being Rottsan's only personal slave, I readied his breakfast and shower, his shaving needs, and laid out his clothing for the day. Needless to say, I never wanted kids after taking care of this ridiculous douche bag and couldn't wait to be rid of him and out of this place. But ... who was I kidding? I was stuck in this place forever, as I had only known this life for years and years, and now I was simply catering to the leader and still being beaten on a regular basis.

Crawling silently to the rear of his tent, I grabbed the pole that my chain was lanced through and slid it to one side, and pulled the loop out from beneath the pole. My temporary freedom. I didn't even know where to go if I had gone. To escape would be a short-lived journey and a rude awakening in the light of pain on the other side. Rottsan and his men knew these woods like the back of their hands -- the only knowledge that I had, which could compare to something like that would have been the inside of this damn tent. I could tell you where anything in this tent was at any moment's notice.

Tucking myself under the rear of the canopy, I exited into the night with a soft, refreshing sigh. The air was clean and smelled of surf salt, which lapped against the shore beneath a large, but indistinguishable moon. The clouds which hung so low to the ground seemed to fill the valley as they always had, yet when I looked toward where the moon was -- the spread, allowing the large orb to smile down upon me with it's wondrous, pale face. I'd made my way through the trees to sit on a rock which was half-slid into a small pond. I knew of this place well and came here often. My own secluded bathing pool. It hadn't been more than a minute before I'd stripped down and was relaxing silently in the cool water. The sounds of the forest surrounding me and nothing on my mind but washing away depressing thoughts of the day.

I'd been wading around, spreading out and laying flat on the surface staring up at the moon that stared back. I loved to float. To enjoy the silence of the water and dreamed of being able to breath in the cool liquid, so that one day I could escape this place by swimming off into the oceans. It hadn't been more than a few minutes when I heard something slosh at the water's edge and sat upright, kicking my feet to tread water. Dark curious eyes darted around as I surveyed the surroundings but really saw nothing beyond the blotchy ebony of the surrounding shrubs and trees. Instinctively, I made my way toward the rock where I usually sat and spun around, pressing my rump to the slippery stone and gliding up the face. As I did though, I felt something prick me in the side of the leg and reached down, only to feel something slimy disappear ... into me.

The confusion of this incident was only coupled by the striking pain which caused me to convulse hard. Throwing my back to the stone, my head pushed off the rock and my lungs gasped. It felt like I was inhaling fire. My veins were engorged with venom and my eyes had grown hazy at best and then foggier until suddenly, I was unconscious. The last thing I had remembered was the whisper of a voice, echoing throughout my head with a hissing sound.

Relax, dear child... rest now.

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Character Portrait: Kalenis Character Portrait: Cpt. Jerrod Rottsan
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#, as written by Exodyus
Vivid dreams of monsters and more clouded the darkness that might have been construed as my mind -- an abyss of trouble that I couldn't awake from, the pain and agony of watching my family burn alive. Such horrific events only seemed to be replaying once, without sequence or reason, my past came back to haunt me. And in the end, a light at the end of the tunnel. It was a beacon and so I ran for it, with all my strength, my might, my will alone and with a gasp, I threw my arms out and jumped for the blinding white essence.

With a shriek, my arms flew out and grappled the small desk that sat to one side of my bed and the other arm a chair cast of fine weaved woods. I flailed for a moment without barrings or sound mind, frightened by the dreams into the prime reality where the morning sun blinked through a small slit that I'd put in the tent to signify morning for me at the appropriate time. The wind fluttered the hole, allowing light to flash and blink -- it was the only way I knew to wake myself before my master dared to beat me to the punch... or just beat me, in general.

It's shot upright in my fear. Hands gripping and groping the tattered, filthy pants along my legs and then down to my ankle where the beast had come in the night. Unsure of it, I groped and looked, searching for my nightmare, but found nothing. I sighed heavily with a weary brow, wondering what I'd gotten myself into, to have such tremendous night terrors. I replayed the day before and could remember nothing that I'd eaten differently than any other day and sighed, wiping the beads of sweat from my brow. Glancing about carefully, I found the Captain passed out in the same place that I'd left him and decided to arise and get his day ready for him before I decided to figure out what to do with my own.

I stood wobbly and stretched. Gaunt arms arose and lifted the putrid shirt from my lean abdomen to find nothing but skin and bones where my fingers kneaded. I sighed, shrugged at my own personal looks and hygiene and moved on to get the Captain's things. Fresh-ish clothing was set out for him -- something that was cleaner than most of his stuff, but by no means perfect. It was hard keeping things clean without the proper tools and they never seemed to want to steal a washboard or some scrubbing stones, so he got my best, which sucked in comparison. Cleaning and shaving kit set out, I moved to the stove and whipped him up some breakfast. No sooner had I started and prepared it, did the smell arouse the foul beast and he snorted and stumbled toward me, after standing. He'd gone to slap me up the backside of the head as a good morning ... and that's when the first odd thing happened.

Instinctively, I felt the hand coming. The weird part? I was looking at the make-shift stove, eyes locked on the eggs that were boiling around the bacon fat. The man's hand came swinging loosely -- not too hard, as this was his morning greeting, probably bestowed upon him by his father and his father before him. A ritualistic beating of affection. Regardless, my body acted instinctively and the hand was pushed away by my own will. I didn't want him to strike me again, and so he didn't. The hand was effectively evaded by an unseen force and the man's unreliable weight had shifted throwing him off course and to the ground with a great groaning noise, and a crashing, busting chair. I gasped, spinning around quickly. I took him by the arm and pulled him to his feet with a look of shock and awe and to my astonishment, he didn't strike at all, but stared puzzled.

"Are you alright, Master?" I questioned.

"I ... I ... give me my breakfast." He pulled away angrily embarrassed. Not wanting to admit his own fault or accuse the boy of something his mind surely couldn't comprehend this early he snorted and took up another chair, kicking the pieces of the broken one aside. I served him humbly with all that he asked and cleaned the wound on the back of his hand while he ate; a piece of the chair that had broken had took a bite of the man's flesh as a souvenir. As I cleaned it, I kept silent about the feeling I'd had seconds before he fell and Rottsan said nothing. My mind whirled with questions around the event and how it had come to be. After a few moments, it was the Captain who broke the silence.

"The men and I are leaving for a few days. You will stay here and clean. Keep the peace. Make sure things get done."

"Yes, Master. I will do as you command." I said quietly.

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Character Portrait: Abigail
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Abigail

It was early yet when she began her way out of the makeshift tent. The sky had opened up some, allowing the sun's warm rays to tickle her skin. Though, the darkness of the clouds threatened rain, it was something she could easily overlook. A day in the rain beat any time spent at home. Sure, she would be questioned later on, but interrogation had become routine and as long as she kept things in check, it was something she could handle. She tip-toed carefully through the opening, careful not to add unnecessary noise to her escape. Quiet as the world was, every tiny motion seemed to scream of her actions. Once outside she allowed herself a sigh of relief. Sneaking off was something she'd rather apologize for later than get caught in the act. Unfortunately, things didn't always run smoothly.

She yelped as a firm hand fell upon her shoulder, causing her to jump and twist violently from the grip. Her stomach dropped as she immediately recognized her attacker. She pursed her lips as her step-father edged closer, dragging his eyes in amusement across her body. "What's this?" he asked, feigning bewilderment, "A bit early to be out yet, ain't it?" Fidgety fingers plucked at her clothes as she met his gaze. A time before, he had been a face many adored. He was tall, strong, had a firm, square jaw, an odd appearance when one knew of his profession. However, bad habits were not a friend and the milky-white cloud obscuring his right eye was a constant reminder. She swallowed, retreating a few steps back, "I-I was just going out for a walk.." She managed to mumble, her voice trailing off when she noticed two of his friends approaching. "Oh?" he continued playing dumb, "Just like always, eh?" He stepped closer and pulled her to him before she had a chance to run. She stiffened in his grasp as he ran a hand gently through her hair. "Guna come home when everyone's in bed too, I suppose? Surely, there's a reason you're out all day. Maybe you have a man-friend out there somewhere, eh? Waitin' for ya?" He jerked his head towards the tree line, pulling her face close to his. "N-no.." She stammered, struggling against his grasp. He put his lips to her ear and whispered, "Come now, everyone knows you're a whore."

She wrenched herself free and raced for the tree line, tears blurring her vision. Her step-father's laughter booming from behind, along with the friends who decided to partake in the amusement. She knew she had nowhere to go. Nature was a false sense of security, but it was at least something she could hide away in for a time.

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Character Portrait: Kalenis
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#, as written by Exodyus
It was an interesting sensation that I'd acquired. The master, Captain Rottsan and his band of misfits had left nearly an hour ago to do a few dastardly raids on some poor city to the north which left me a day or two to find out exactly what this was -- this feeling, this energy, this intense excitement. I'd unchained myself as I had before and escaped out the back of the tent, as I always had before, but this time I felt liberated. Whatever that feeling was, I wanted to feel it again. It worked so well with not being hit for the first morning in years, I think that my mind raced with anxiety and wanton for the taste of empowerment. I longed for it's saturation, yearned for belonging and desired such power to right the wrongs against me and those who were devilish. The cold steel against my ankle ached as it always did, pinning me to this damned place. I stared down at it's taut, grindingly-cold reminder that I was a slave regardless of whether the Master was present or not. My rage boiled. Small fists clenched. I glared at the chain and it mangled and snapped from my foot, crumpling the cuff of iron as if it were paper.

I toppled onto my rump and stared in astonishment. And that's when I noticed it. The inside of my left leg. The mark that my attacker had left that night was much, much larger now and spread across scrawny, half-starved bit I called a calf muscle. It was wings, spread wide to wrap clear around to my shin where the tips of the wings touched. A black bird -- looked like a Raven. I stared in wonder and awe, reaching down to touch it with cautious fingers. The skin -- it gave a subtle ripple beneath my soft glance. I took in a breath and that's when I heard the voice again, ebbing into my being carefully again for the first time, however I knew it to be inside of me now and not just someone near me, or around me.

Hello, Nis.

"Who ... is? This?" It was an odd question I presented to myself. For all intents and purposes, I knew who I was, but suddenly felt very violated and not alone. I questioned myself with the point of addressing my parasite, my symbiote, my intruder. It chuckled within my cerebrum, which left a trembling numbness down my spine and I cracked a grin, trying not to laugh at the sensation it caused. My skin had pricked up into goose flesh by now and my curious fear had waned to interest.

I am you, now. We are one. Your heart is strong and your mind, powerful. Things I crave. Things I need to survive. We are bound forever immortal now. I live within you. We thrive and grow. Breath and eat. Think and exist. Instead of talking to yourself, think to me...

You're ... inside of me? I questioned it's logic with my own. It didn't make sense to me, but at the same time it was much more vocal and stronger than my own subconscious.

Yes. Yes I am. I am apart of every fiber in your being.

What is it that you want from me then? I was beginning to understand.

Power. Learn from me and grow. Do you think your abilities are your own doing? Your slave driver missing his assault? Your chains, breaking free of your leg. Your mind is your weapon now, Nis. Control your thoughts and control the world. You will see better, think clearer, hear further, notice things you have never noticed before and you will do so, because we are one. Fighting me, fighting us, will only slow your progression. Our life. Our goal.

What is our goal? I wondered.

Before it could be answered, my head snapped to the left. Acute hearing picked up sobs coming from about twenty-five yards from me and I pushed off with my hands, coming to my knees to peer through the bushes. I couldn't see what was making the noise, but the nasty laughter that ebbed beyond that came from three taller figures, shoving their way through the trees.

Feel them out, Nis. Use your mind, see what your eyes cannot. You know what's there. You can hear it. Now, ping ... like this.

A reverberation crossed my mind. It was as if the world around me was a massive pond, and the sound was rippling from the thrashing feet and crying of a young girl. The men were making their own waves and by the intents of their mind, their auras cursed a deep, blood-red hue. From my own person, a ping was sent out and as if all at once, I knew their distances from me. Sizes and strength that they possessed, and it was nothing to the power I felt within myself. It raged and boiled within like a tempest. I pushed off, making my way towards the girl much faster than the men were moving, trying to intercept her before her demons arose...

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Abigail

She raced forward through the brush, ignoring the thick foliage which seemingly attempted to ensnare her. Thankfully, during her short stay at the cove, the forest was familiar ground and though her tears caused her to stumble here and there she still had a relatively good sense about her. Behind her she could hear her step-father's voice screaming through the trees, backed up occasionally by one of his friends. "Get back here! Don't have me remind you what happens to bad little girls!" Her stomach jumped up her throat upon realizing they were following her. She wiped her eyes and whimpered aloud. She needed to find a place to get away. She didn't care if she ever came back, she just needed to get away.

Taking shelter behind some bushes, she stopped to catch her breath. The men were still a ways away, but they would gain ground. Her mind raced as she looked about the forest. Terror driving her attention everywhere, searching for any nook or cranny she could possibly hide in. She turned, crouching low and peered through the brush and allowed herself to relaxed a bit when she didn't see her pursuers. Just when she thought she had lost them, her step-father's voice broke her from her revery, "Don't think you can hide from me, Abby! Me and the boys know these woods! I brought you here! You're on my turf!" She crunched lower to the earth, breathing in the sweet, musty aroma with each ragged inhale. He was right. He knew this area far better than she did. Hiding would be futile, she'd take her chances running. She was younger, smaller, maybe that was all she'd need to escape through the thick brush. Taking a breath, she launches herself up from the ground and takes off through the maze of trees. Her presence was detected, she assumed from the various hollers, but she wouldn't make her capture easy. Sticking to the thickest part of the wood, she blew through the branches, her size and grace gifting her easy passage. Her throat was raw with exertion, but it seemed to be working. Angered grunts and screams, bellowed behind her, becoming fainter as she continued on. A wicked grin graced her lips as she fed off her adrenaline. She whooped, jumping into the air celebrating her escape. Sure, they may continue their search, but she would be far away by then.

Eventually, the trees thinned out, brining her to a rocky riverbed. The swift rush of water sang in her ears and she allowed herself some time to sit down. The water was cool, but she was happy to rest upon the larger rocks and watch the current pull the smaller stones down-river. A small gleam caught her eye and she squinted into the rapidly moving water. Caught amongst the weathered-down pebbles sat a beautiful, semi-transparent, purple shard. Carefully, she edged her way towards it, doing her best to stay above water. Once close enough, she leaned down and fished the item out of the river. She gasped, as her hand griped it's sharp edges and instinctively pulled back when she felt a sting spread in the palm of her hand. She didn't think it was that sharp. She looked over her palm and was shocked to see that a dark, purple sore had infested upon her, looking more like a scorch mark than a cut. She clenched her teeth as the pain spread from her palm into the rest of her body. It was like a wildfire had taken to her veins and no amount of pressure she applied to her wrist or arm could stop the spreading infection. She cried out, slapping at her arm, but quickly fell, writhing and contorting in agony. Inside her mind she could hear what sounded like distant laughter, but her confusion was ebbed out as she slipped into unconsciousness.

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Character Portrait: Kalenis Character Portrait: Abigail
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#, as written by Exodyus
Whoever the girl was that was in trouble would have eventually been caught, had it not been for me. I came into this scene, keeping rather quiet and stealthy, listening the man's taunts to this little girl. The acts that they might commit as a group would have been horrendous on her small frame. As she vanished out of sight, they had slowed and spread out, fanning in a linear fashion to cover more land to the point that each one was barely out of sight of the next. They were in a draw of three, trying to flush out their prey that had suddenly manifested a new aura. I watched through unseeing eyes as her innocents shifted it something entirely different, but ever-so more familiar. The scent of her psionic essence drove me only more to help her now than it ever had before. The first man, one of the friends was no match for simple leverage and physics.

I'd taken up a log and whispered softly. Nothing in particular, but it was enough to get the man's attention and he turned slowly to survey for the noise only to find a busted log cracked against his face. Clean across the ridge of his brows, the log split his forehead open and the blood instantly clouded his vision, like a curtain of crimson draped over his face. The stick had busted in half and the man toppled to the ground, crawling back towards what he assumed was his companions who'd seen nothing and were far from ear-shot. I snarled, standing over him. I'd been a slave -- all my life. I was taken young and beaten often. Horrible things. Burns. Bruises. Cuts. Rope burns and more -- I'd seen my fair share, but being a young male, I was never molested by any of the men. Only once had it happened while the Captain slept and some whore stole the advantage of fresh meat. The imagery replayed in my head as it would have happened to her, except these men would not have been so gentle...

White knuckled fists clenched and I grew bitterly angry. Rage consumed my frame and the zenith merely egged it on from within, building power on power and piling the emotional tempest within into a tangible power that gleamed from my frame. Rolling waves of heat poured off my head to my shoulders, waterfalling into a mystic splash against the ground and the world around this raw potential illuminated in a shade of plum, as if an amethyst filter had been cast over the sun. Unintentionally, cries from the other two left them hurrying in my direction due to the show, but with a brutal kick to the abdomen, the man flew through the air a few feet and crumpled into a broken heap, groaning and coughing. I felt the crack of ribs beneath the punt, I saw with astonished, glad eyes at the power that I could possess and I watched as he landed, bleeding from his mouth, nose, and forehead. I could have nearly just killed a man and I hadn't ever felt so liberated in all my life as I did right this very moment. My adrenaline was pumping hard. My arms were fatigued from gripping so hard. The lactic acid build up ached for more sweet pain and surrender as I dared him to stand. Instead I fled.

My mind whispered to me and it was enough for me to merely leave. It told me something rather clairvoyant, but more so strategic. It was the voice within me this entire time. The one who fed the power, the anger, the rage and hate, but it was also the one who told me, we would forever be intertwined. It was me. The voice of my sub conscious, mayhaps, but truthfully -- I didn't care who or what it was, as long as it kept up this powerful end of the bargain. I would kill anyone it asked me to, just so long as I could defend myself with such ... incredible strength that I never had before...

Tucked behind a log, I watched this hunter and his friend approach the other, looming over their broken compadrè. They seemed at a loss for words, standing and looking around like prairie dogs for the suspect and culprit of this assault. Surely the girl couldn't have done this, the thought crossed my mind oddly and I furrowed a curious brow. The man squinted and then turned around to grab his friend. As gently as they could, the crew left with battered partner in tow and I turned quietly to make my way to where the beacon was calling me to. I stepped to the banks and there she was, silently laying on the river bank and now that we were in the clear, the voice spoke to my psyche once again.

I told you, didn't I? You fled instinctively because I said they would take him and leave. He needs a doctor more immediately than they need to wet their whistles... I saw the truth of it's words and nodded slowly while clearing the bank to creek bottom, sloshing through the shallow waters.

And did you hear the tone of thought-voice? The man's thoughts touching your mental network? We call this the Mental Grid, or Neural Network. A vast array of Astral properties on a Corporeal level. I heard it chuckle as my brain tried to process what in the hell it had just said to me. These were things I knew nothing of as a humble slave, but what I didn't understand I would surely learn if it mean growing stronger and more powerful. I'd made my way to her and knelt, touching her hand to see the same inky mark that had appeared on my leg. It would soon form into a blackish tattoo of a raven as well, I assumed. We were fatefully intertwined. I scooped her up into my arms and took her head to my left shoulder and my right arm beneath her knees and cradled her small frame close before moving up the bank back toward my tent, taking the long way around.

So what is it that I call you? I wondered.

Hm, let us suggest that we are colors, shall we? You may call me Plum. That is the aura color of our power, and my name is so complex that your native tongue cannot fathom. It would fall out of your head before you got it right. I laughed at the thought of this, but nodded interested. Alright then, Plum...

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Character Portrait: Kalenis Character Portrait: Abigail
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Abigail

She was trapped. The fire she was feeling screamed across her body, rising in intensity, seemingly rolling with the laughter which surrounded her. Nothing she did could stop the horrible sound, the slimy, guttural words, filling her up, making her feel like filth. "And that's what you are," the voice said, his voice said, "Filth." She screamed, flailing against her 'father's' overwhelming presence, but no sound came out. No amount of strength could lift this violation from her. She was hurting, suffocating and no one was there to help her.

Calm, Girl. I am here.

With those words everything stopped. The pain, his wretched voice, the feeling of overwhelming filth, everything had gone. She looked about, both curious and terrified. Everything was so bright. Each way she turned she was met with the same strange, blinding void. Pale yellow flooded her vision, but not only that. It seemed to creep into everything as well. Nothing on her body remained hidden or held shadow. Whatever this..aura was, wouldn't allow such darkness to taint her. Though, unaware of her exact location, combined with the lack of sight she felt..safe. The light seemed to bathe her within a pool of pleasantries. Her memories, her pain, her fear, they meant nothing. Nothing could reach her here. She smiled, curling within herself, content just to float within this new sensation.

Better? A soft whisper caressed her through the light. She furrowed her brows, but didn't resist. The void swam around her,
through her, but she felt no threat, only tranquility. "Yes." She whispered back, her smile growing wider as she sank further into the pleasantness of the void. I can make you feel this way forever. Would you like that? "Yes," she whispered again, nearly giggling from the overall wellness of how she felt. Good.

Her senses were returning slowly, but she managed to lazily open her eyes. She was moving, she could register that much, but who was holding her and where were they headed? She lifted her gaze to her carrier taking in the white locks of his hair. Though she was shocked upon waking in the arms of a stranger- and a male at that- she didn't panic. Something about the boy held a curious familiarity and she found herself whispering calmly to him, "I..I can walk." Why she was whispering she wasn't fully sure, perhaps it was because of the strange dream she awakened from. Regardless, that was something she could contemplate later, for now she was struggling the rising embarrassment plaguing her cheeks.

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#, as written by Exodyus
Her small body trembled beneath my hands. Whatever was happening within her mind was causing something awful to replay more than once it felt, however as soon as it had started, it seemed to stop -- rather abruptly as well. For this I was thankful, not only for her mental health and the curiosity of whatever was happening, it was for the better, but also because I didn't want her to be squirming in my arms. It would be a pretty bad deal to be the savior of her day, only to drop her unconscious body in the forest, because she wiggled and I tripped over a log or some stupid foliage along the forest floors.

She stirred in my arms as we neared the rear of the Captain's tent and I slowed to a stop and smiled, looking down at her freckled face. I knelt slowly, forming something of a seat for her to gain bearing on before standing again beside me and I nodded softly. Hands coiled before me nervously, I hadn't ever been near or with a woman alone, save for one solitary time which had turned out badly. With my new-found ability, I felt as though she could do me no harm, yet the anxiety still flared within me, as though I were a child. "I'm sorry for ... handling you. I ... I didn't touch you ... y... you know, like that. Like ... those men wanted to." Communication wasn't my strong point with others, but for some reason I felt safe with her small, tiny self.

"Who were they? Why were they after you? Why are you around such nasty people?"

I questioned it as if she had a choice, unaware that she -- like me, had no choice. Prisoners to our own lives. I crouched and rested against a fallen trunk that was nicely shrouded behind some large, fluffy bushes that blocked view from the village, though some shouting could be heard in the distance. It couldn't be made out, sounded quite a bit like hollering for a priest or something. I thought for a moment, somewhat realizing that the man hadn't truly seen me and most likely wouldn't be conscious when he got back to the town and then looked to the young girl before me. "I ... I think we should stick together ... I ... I might have gotten you into some trouble if they think you hurt that man..."

There is no trouble that we cannot handle, you do realize... I merely smiled at my inner reflection speaking to my mind with a calming voice. He meant well, surely -- but it was still such a weird sensation to be had. Someone else speaking inside of your head and you're totally aware of it happening and that the voice in question, isn't yours and isn't your thoughts. A completely surreal endeavor, and yet so real that it could potentially drive one to insanity, should the zenith dare to use the host in such a way. Thankfully, Plum seemed to have a decent mindset and we got along. I hadn't a clue what I was in for...

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#, as written by Marlin
"Marlin..."

"Marlin..." The voice slithered around her consciousness like a greasy snake. It constricted, squeezing thought from her mind until all she could concentrate on was that whisper.

"Such a lovely, lovely thing..." The whisper grew louder. She caught the faintest flash, like the glimmer of golden light upon an imagined pond.

"MARLIN!" The voice roared; became a lion whose claws scraped against the inside of her head. Suddenly he was there. Would she never be rid of that horrible face? That smirk? Those eyes that bored straight through her heavy armor? She hadn't dreamed of Captain Luthar in weeks. Why now?

Luthar laughed, driving rational thought from her mind. She rounded on him, axe held firmly in a two-handed grip. They danced; the lion was quick on his feet, brandishing a dagger in one gloved fist. She felt slow and clumsy by comparison, swinging her weapon with both hands until her shoulders heaved and her arms began to tremble. They fought in silence until Marlin finally made a mistake. Her weapon was on the ground, Luthar somewhere behind her. She bent and fought to pull the axe from the dirt, but her arms wouldn't cooperate.

Pain, sudden and sharp, lanced through her back. She tried to turn, counter her enemy, but found she couldn't straighten from her bent position. Metal grated against her spine and she bit her teeth against a scream.




Marlin's eyes snapped open. She tried to bolt upright. Felt the muscles in her abdomen and arms clench. But she was paralyzed.

Relax. This will go easier if you don't fight it.

Her eyes widened. The voice had been inside her, but spoke with a sound like a handful of rocks grating together. It was the voice of something alien. Something ancient.

Who—What—the hell are you? Unable to speak, she threw the thought into the void of her mind and hoped it would reach whatever had spoken to her.

I was right about you, the voice continued. Her question lay ignored in the emptiness. You're strong. A fine blade, but unhoned. There is a wildness within you, chained and hidden away. Something we can harness. I like it.

With a violent heave of breath she hadn't known she'd been holding, Marlin could move again. She jumped up and felt the swaying of the ship underfoot. Not a dream, then.

Someone in the hallway pounded on the door. It couldn't have been that loud but she felt the beat in her gut. In her bones. As she turned her attention outward her mind opened up, peppering her consciousness with tiny pinpricks of light. Feelings; intentions; sounds. It was too much. Her brain wanted to crawl out of her ears. She fell to her knees, gripping her head.

Wait a moment. There.

The mental image coalesced. Somehow she knew the dots of light were people—everyone on the ship. Their exact locations. Many of them ... were panicked.

The pounding continued. Marlin lurched to her feet and nearly ripped the door from the hinges as she opened it.

"What?"

The man outside took a step back at her disheveled appearance and angry glare. "A storm. We're goin' down. The Captain wants everyone on deck. We need all the help we can get." He glanced at her, assessing her strength. "Come on."

The boat rocked violently as she tried to make her way to the top deck. Men and women pushed past her, some trying to get back to the passenger rooms, most fleeing for the top of the ship. Panic and chaos beat down on her until she hunched her shoulders and forced her way through the crowd.

She'd lost sight of the sailor that had dragged her out, but as she emerged she knew they were beyond help. The boat was half submerged already—how had she missed that? Rain beat down on her skin; soaked through her clothing. The sky was black though it was early morning.

She ran to the rail. Considered diving for it. She wasn't a strong swimmer, but the ship was about to become a death trap. Something cracked overhead. Marlin!

Pain blossomed against her shoulders and then she was falling, tumbling over the rail and into the dark, cold sea. Into the waters of Smuggler's Cove.

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Character Portrait: Kalenis Character Portrait: Abigail
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Abigail

She kept her arms pulled tightly to her chest, not out of fear, it was just an instinctual reaction of being close to anyone. She tried to keep the heat from rising to her cheeks, but it was very difficult considering her current situation, especially when the boy commented on her step-father and his friends. She took her time to stand, making sure her feet were planted firmly on the ground before attempting to walk on her own. Her brows furrowed as she recalled her latest excursion with Edward Thatch. It had been a while since he last made an attempt at her, but this time it felt like he was out for more than just 'a little fun'. She shivered and wrapped her arms about her. She could feel the tears welling up as she looked to the boy. Obviously, he had taken some part of helping her escape, she didn't want to be the kind of girl who suddenly blabbered her life story to a stranger. He rescued her, she owed him more than that. She quickly wiped the tears from her eyes, using her anger to compose herself, "The men chasing me were my step-father and his gang of degenerates, obviously out for a 'good time'," she spat the words, remembering Edward's use of the phrase for more than one occasion. She met the boy's eyes and paused for a moment, mesmerized by their duality, then offered a wicked smile, "Can't choose family, ya know?"

She watched as the boy fumbled about, his attention seemingly split between her and something else. She listened to distant shouts, but was lost upon their importance. She couldn't make them out anyway, but her curiosity spiked back when the boy revealed he may have gotten her in trouble. She perked up, and stepped toward the brush, attempting to see what lay beyond, but was unable to get a clear view. "They think I hurt someone?" Though she guessed it was one of the men chasing her, she wanted to hear it directly. Her eyes locked onto the child's face. Did the he really hurt them? Looking at him now, seeing him fidget like he was, she wasn't sure he could handle being around girls, much less take on a full-grown man, especially one as ruthless as Edward. Though a rising panic was beginning to blossom, thoughts of returning home and dealing with the consequences of her supposed actions were quickly put out.

Relax. They got what was coming to them. The voice caught her off guard, but she calmed as the familiar feeling of serenity became present. She absently nodded, pushing the thoughts aside for later. Though, she wanted to talk with this..presence, she wasn't aware how to, or even if it truly existed. Hell, for all she knew she was finally losing it, but that wasn't exactly something she'd prove to the stranger before her. "I guess I will. Um..thank you, by the way.." she said, plucking at her clothes, "I might have been in even more trouble if you didn't happen by."

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#, as written by Exodyus
The sounds were varied in the distance. It was like being at the bottom of a well and hearing the echoes off of everything in between the top and bottom. The distance didn't bring clarity, even with their powers -- not this early on, but I dared to listen and tried to discern something that might be being said. The anxiety had built up within my frame and without even concentrating, three small pebbles lifted up off the ground at my feet and began to spiral about my ankles slowly, revolving in perfect circles around my entire frame since standing. I hadn't a clue it was going on because I was staring through the bushes, listening to the girl as I tried to listen beyond our range.

Allow me... The voice probed softly and chuckled. A mental ripple ebbed from our location. It was such a bizarre thing to see, as a ring of light, a shade brighter than whatever it passed spread out through the small village and lined everything along the way. The tent walls and pegs, the billowing entry flaps, the small makeshift huts, sheds, lean-to's, and even homes further down toward the banks and to the port. A tavern acted as the pub, the inn, and the shop for anything the crew needed and across from that was something of an infirmary; this was where all the commotion was coming from and the waves of sound came back to the small girl and I with but a few snippets of conversation. Something explaining the girl in the forest. The men had found their friend broken and bloodied. A hunt would need to be rallied. Pirates...

I turned to her slowly, rubbing the back of my head, which now pulsed and thumped with a bit of pain from the exertion of energy. The ring had faded in the distance of the port waters and suddenly my mind flared like a balloon of alerts. The ping had barely just finished when it had fallen on something that had been floating toward the shore and whatever it was, our zenith were highly interested. I tried to decipher and the best I could come up with was that ... it felt like us. I glanced to the girl and nodded, "You... you're very welcome. Did ... you feel that?" I was leery of even asking her because I didn't want to sound like a retard, but the worst thing she could do was mock me or look at me like a lunatic. I felt something within her though -- something that made us related now...

I sighed, looking down with a nod to answer her question only to find these three rocks spiraling me lackadasically without any effort or reason. They revolved slowly, rotating in space and I reached down toward them and they reacted, climbing my body and pivoting like a serpent to coil and spin about my wrist instead of my body now. I held out my hand, watching with interest and confusion before taking a glance to my new friend. If she thought I was weird for asking bizarre questions, surely this would instantly nullify our friend status... "I ... I uh ..."

Before I could say anymore, a voice spoke between us, for both she and I to hear and it came from the rocks about my wrist which were resonating a sonic frequency.

"You two have been chosen for your strength of will. Your abilities are small right now, but will be vast with practice and discipline. We do not care whether you chose life or death for those around you, only that you grow stronger through us and survive. In time, you could be immortal. Take whatever you want. Earn your keep. Pay the Gold Cost."

I stared in astonishment and looked to the girl. I knew now that she was like me without a doubt in my mind. I held my hand in open palm, face up and the rocks hovered above it with nothing more than a thought. I laughed softly. It was stifled. Amazed, really, but what I told them to do, they did. I looked to the girl and gave her a somewhat sheepish grin before mentally tossing a rock in her direction. "Think. Fast. Catch." They were words that I felt would register simply and she would cognitively react without even using hands. Or at least I'd hoped ... otherwise she'd just be gently pelted with a rock... ha.

What is the limit to my lifting?

You have one? Retrain your mind and you can lift more than pebbles, dear boy. I blinked. Such a hard concept to learn, but I was headstrong. It couldn't have been more than a few moments until I heard people coming up the hill toward us. I would have turned around except my mind had already spread out a grid of their course direction and where they were at exactly. I pointed and motioned for the girl to follow me, crouching down and moving to the back of Captain Rottsan's tent, lifting the edge of the heavy tapestry flap for her to crawl under and whispered, "Come on..."

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Character Portrait: Kalenis Character Portrait: Abigail
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Abigail

Immediately her eyes were caught by the orbiting stones. What most would have frightfully donned as witchcraft, to Abigail it was a curiosity. The noise below was now unimportant, instead this new little miracle had her entranced. She watched in slight envy as the small things twirled so splendidly about his body. She smirked. Was he causing it? If so he didn't seemed to notice. Again the familiar presence creeped within her mind. It's laughter coming in waves. A parlor trick. Are all children so easily amused? She furrowed her brows, growing frustrated with what she was now hearing. Regardless if she was going mad, she didn't like being talked down to. She wasn't an imbecile. It's not exactly a common sight. She mentally snapped, hoping her features wouldn't display her mental distress. The laughter died down to a light chuckle, it's amusement still tainting her mind. My apologies.

Before she could comment back a sudden awareness became apparent to her. Everything became so clearly pin-pointed. Trees, animals, insects, everything seemed to radiate a strange energy about themselves. The commotion which was lost before now flooded upon her and she whirled back towards the bushes upon hearing the townsfolk plans. Panic and hatred blossomed forth. Hunted? Was she an animal? They knew nothing, only whatever lies her step-father's friends had fed them. What would they do once she was discovered? Would they punish her? Kill her? Bring her back home? Let them come. The voice flooded back, it's excitement adding to her fright and rage. Let us show them what kind of animal we can be. She began shaking her head slowly back and forth. She wanted some sort of justice yes, but she wasn't a predator and somehow this thing within her...it was as if she knew it's intentions. And they weren't good.

She looked to the boy, thankful for his interruption. She didn't know what was going on, but apparently they were going through the same thing together. Did he hear the voice in her head too? She opened her mouth to ask, but was cut short when the stones circling him began to speak. All she could do was stare in awe as an other voice presented itself and explained what was happening. She felt the thing within her sigh and grumble, Drama Queen.. Did her presence and the other know eachother There was so much to take in. She wanted answers. They were chosen? What made them so special? Her thoughts halted upon seeing the little rock dart towards her. Instinctively, she clenched her eyes, but was pleasantly surprised when the pebble flew sideways away from her and embedded itself within the bark of a nearby tree. Obviously, the boy adapted quickly. She glared at him, somewhat annoyed at being the test subject, but it quickly transformed into a grin. That was ok, she could adapt too. Deciding to put the questions aside until a better time, she followed the boy to the tent. She'd take things slow, explore these gifts a bit. Answers would come sooner or later. At least she hoped so.

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Character Portrait: Kalenis Character Portrait: Abigail
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#, as written by Exodyus
Inside the tent was extravagant to the umphteenth degree. A lavish lifestyle built and fit for the Captain of the Smuggler's Cove, Captain Jerrod Rottsan. A ruthless hack, who currently was off pillaging and raiding, leaving a boy and a girl to a vast wealth of useless junk that he'd accrued over his years and years of pirating. Beautiful colors of gold and crimson lined nearly everything because he sought to feel like a king. Caches of gold in chests from sailors bidding safe passage and their blood still dried and sticky on the coin, for he'd take it and their lives.

I crept silently through the tent, not fooled by the luxuries within because I was his personal slave. I'd seen this stuff for over fifteen years and it wasn't all that spectacular to me anymore. I saw what harm it had on men. I saw that no matter how much ruthless plundering and worthless stuff the Captain had, he was still a miserable, cold soul -- filled with sorrow of his own wrong-doings and those he commanded. Peeking out of the main entrance to the tent, I saw one man laid out on the porch of the infirmary and the others, a total of ten had banded together, with her step-father in the lead.

Scooting back, I sighed, looking to the girl who was staring at the rather extravagant spectacle. I couldn't blame her, because it was all the stuff that dreams and kings were made of, but hollow and soulless as one. I whispered softly, "I'm Kalenis... what's your name?" It donned on me that we'd been together for nearly a half-hour and still hadn't introduced ourselves. I felt a bit nervous about talking to her and I could feel the blood boiling beneath the surface of my cheeks. A sigh escaped as relief that I didn't stutter, spit, or fall on my face.

I crouched for a moment before remembering what the zenith said as I'd spied a sword before my very eyes, "Pay the Gold Cost..." I whispered. Looking to her, I nodded softly, "I am a slave. I will not steal while another man is away. I will only take what I kill... and I will kill to be free." As nervous as I was talking to this girl, the stern pride that I held in my voice declared that I would fight to the death if that's what it took in order to be a free man like the rest of the world around me. "I will get us out of here, if ..." Incoming shyness. She was cute. Kind to me, more so than anyone else had. And she hadn't hit me since we'd been together. "...if you want to come with me. We will take ... lives." It sounded crazy, even as it came out of my mouth, but I felt confidence in the zenith within me and the taste of power that my soul had earlier was now festering like a dark desire.

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Character Portrait: Serah "Marlin" Peratta
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#, as written by Marlin
"Now what's this?"

Marlin drifted. Water lapped at her feet. The tide rose, filling her mouth with wet sand. Consciousness flared in fits and spurts.

"Not the one we're looking for. Leave her. Looks half dead anyway."

"I dunno, mate, she's awful cute..."

Hands grabbed at her. Turned her over. The sun was a harsh glare that assaulted her eyelids.

"Figures you're interested in dead girls."

Marlin blinked. The sun only poked harder, boring into her eyes. She raised a hand. It weighed more than the axe she usually carried.

"Look, see, she's alive."

She coughed. With great effort, pushed herself to a sitting position. Two men kneeled nearby, one with his hands hovering near her chest. "Who the hell are you?" she asked.

"Don't worry about that, love. You're coming with us." Both men pulled daggers. They held them loosely, as if not really expecting her to fight back. The threat would be enough.

But it wasn't, not for Marlin. She was already analyzing the best way to disarm them, and wishing to the Guild that she still had her axe. Her boot dagger. Anything. "I don't think so," she said.

The closer man's grip tightened, but Marlin was already moving. Guild, it was painful; she'd been battered against rocks, debris, and who knew what else drifting in the cove. She kicked up, the toe of her soggy, ruined boot impacting the man's wrist at the joint. He dropped the dagger with a curse.

Take it. Destroy these honorless men. The voice from earlier was back, and was exactly what she didn't need right now.

She found she wanted to. Anger fueled her. Justice called for these two men—brigands at best, attempted rapists at worse—to be dealt with. She didn't want to kill them. Never did. But it had to be done. The fallen dagger found its way into her hand and she fell upon the first man. He was surprised to find that she was taller than him, well-trained, and deadly efficient. When she plunged the dagger into his chest the other man ran, a panicked shout falling from his lips.

She left the weapon sheathed in its owner and stumbled up the beach. Towards some sort of encampment of tents and campfires. Towards unfamiliar voices.

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Character Portrait: Kalenis Character Portrait: Abigail
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Abigail

Rich was the only way to describe what she was seeing. Never in her life had she seen so much wealth in one place. Was this boy royalty? Some sort of prince, perhaps? Then she remembered where she was and the kind of place she now lived. "Pirate," she whispered to herself. A sickness rose up her throat as fear crept in, sending her mind ablaze with horrible images of her step-father's ideas towards pirating. Her eyes continued to slowly graze the priceless items, catching some of the dried blood spilt from some poor sod. She let the boy continue forward, putting some distance between them. She didn't want to think of him as one of those..beasts; those disgusting, pillaging scoundrels. He saved her life, but she also knew the mind of a pirate. Edward Thatch had boasted tales of betrayal on more than one occasion and though she didn't want to believe it, she couldn't keep the doubt from creeping forth. Her eyes burned, as she stared upon the boy. She was afraid to blink. Already, he had shown his..powers, who knew what he was capable of. She didn't know him that well, afterll. They only just met.

Stop thinking you're special.Her rising fear had derailed upon the annoying snickers of her mind. He aided you. He's of your blood. Get over your fears, girl. Your enemies are outside not in here. Her lips pursed as the boy made his way back towards her. She could feel the hostility outside. The energies threw themselves at her like waves. This presence was right. She was being an over-emotional child and thanks to the snide remarks she couldn't help but feel guilty when looking upon the boy. "I'm Kalenis.." She gave an awkward smile. She had forgotten neither of them gave their names. "Abigail." She whispered, noticing the red tint in his cheeks. Kalenis then had her full attention as he revealed his slavery. She frowned, feeling even more guilty for doubting him. She followed his gaze to the sword and swallowed as he explained himself further. He was willing to kill, something she wasn't so sure about. Pay the gold cost. The voice repeated, making her fingers itch and her senses heighten.

His voice was outside, the man who had plagued her all these years. She could hear the lies flowing forth from his mouth like sickness and spread to the eager ears of the people. Gossip was what they fed off. They wanted punishment. They would hunt her, hurt her possibly. They were nothing more than vultures. Let me help you. A new rage swept through her body, filling her to the brim with hatred and ideas. She looked back to the boy, a wicked smile twisting her lips. Though, the idea of killing the unsuspecting filth outside did terrify her, this new emotion the being within her was fueling her with seemed to awaken her. Everything was slowly becoming clear. No one cared before. No one would care now. She'd seek her own justice. "..I'm with you.."

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Character Portrait: Kalenis Character Portrait: Serah "Marlin" Peratta Character Portrait: Abigail
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#, as written by Exodyus
"What the fuck is going on down there?" Edward grumbled.

As the ten moved up the embankment toward the forest where they'd last seen the little whore who'd already killed a man, their efforts were suddenly halted by the screams of someone from down the way. They all paused slowly to turn, wondering if in fact that maybe Abigail had tried to escape into the ocean by boat and something had gone wrong. Otherwise, it was just a lunatic racing up from the beach with a bad case of crabs? Who knew. Edward waved a hand and two men moved from the rear of the pack while they other's stood around waiting to see what exactly they would report.

The two that separated caught the man by the arms who was now breathless and waited for him to speak. He seemed worried and frantic. He gasped and then spoke, "Down by the water. Dead girl. Or ..." he huffed and the two looked at each other with confusing glances, " -- we thought she was dead. She wasn't. She killed Jessup."

This caught their attention and one barked, "Who killed Jessup? What did she look like?"

"I dunno -- some wash up. Tall woman. Red hair. Apparently a fighter. Never seen her before." The man swallowed and looked over his shoulder. Marlin could be seen less than a few hundred feet away and the second man lofted a brow, looking at their scared compadre. "You ran from a girl? Lemme guess -- that fuck Jessup copped a feel and got what was comin'?" The other man laughed and the scared runner nodded slowly. "Serves the fuck right. But Captain isn't going to like an outsider killing off his pirates. We'll haul her off to the cells. He can deal with her later. You're comin' with us, bitch-pants." The two laughed and turned their friend around, moving back toward Marlin. Now there was three.

On the other end, this diversion peeked my interest. I had watched the discussion between the runner and the two and noticed that they'd separated from the group completely. I glanced to Abigail and smiled at her response. I was happy to have someone along side of me, however this woman needed our help as well. The eight remained outside of the tent and were given a wave from the three moving down the banks. They shuffled off into the forest.

"We can't be in two places at once... I need you to go after the three men and help whoever this woman is. I ... I feel like she's one of us." I watched the mixed emotions, but knew that two versus three would be easy for them and I would do as I had done before, and being snatching men one by one until no one was left except for Abigail's assailant -- and I would let her have the honors of defeating her personal weakness. "I'll head into the forest. Come help me when you get finished and your father ... he's all yours." I winced a bit and sighed, "I'm sorry for getting you into this. I hit a man with a stick ... in the face. And kicked him." I mauled it over in my head a moment before continuing, "He's the one dead in front of the infirmary. They never saw me..."

I moved to the rear of the tent where we'd entered and looked back at her, to see if there was anything else she needed. "The gold cost..." I said with a smirk.

Are you ready to hunt? It questioned and my anxiety was proof of my desire.

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#, as written by Marlin
Marlin stumbled up from the beach with a groan. She could see a group of men up ahead, but she could feel them, too. Like it had back on the ship, her mind opened up to reveal the locations of every living thing nearby. It was giving her a headache.

But it's also giving you an edge. If you allow yourself to embrace it, you will know exactly where your enemies are, and their intentions.

"What have you done to me?"

I've made you powerful. The voice spoke with infinite patience.

"Like hell!" She didn't care if the men up ahead heard her talking to herself. They were scumbags. She could see it in their clothes; their weapons; the way they held themselves. "I want you out."

I can't do that, Marlin.

She was so angry; she knew it wasn't like her, but she didn't care. This creature had somehow invaded her mind. Violated her. And the men on the beach had tried to do the same. The desire to see them put to justice burned even more within her now than it would have during her years as a Justicar.

The three men seemed to come to some sort of consensus. They turned as one, brandishing swords and daggers, and trudged her way. Her dagger felt insignificant faced with these odds, but she concentrated on her advantage. She could almost swear she could hear the three of them breathing; the displacement of air as they moved their arms and legs and weapons.

She took a breath, watched them approach with her mind as well as her eyes, and set her feet firmly against the rock below.

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Character Portrait: Kalenis Character Portrait: Serah "Marlin" Peratta Character Portrait: Abigail
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Abigail

Her body seemed to pulse with every heartbeat as the creature's anticipation became her own, it's power sweeping through her veins. It was out for blood. She could smell the prey which waited outside. She could taste them. They were all unaware and ripe for the taking. A familiar pale-yellow aura seemed to take over her vision, becoming something more. Just as it had in the forest, everything took on a strange glow. It was like her own little targeting system. The voice within snickered at her comparison and she smirked back. Suddenly, she could feel an other presence, female, one very familiar, much like her and Kalenis. It seemed to intensify against the others, it's glow brighter, purer. It seems we've found another stray.

She glanced to Kalenis when the three dispersed from the group. She could feel their intentions with each breath, it flared within her with such a primal urge. It was difficult not to act right then. She nodded as Kalenis laid out his plan. Apparently, he too felt a kindredship towards this woman. They needed to act fast. Time was of the essence and the men were already making their way back towards the woman. She placed a hand gently upon him. "It's alright, Kalenis. You helped me, remember? Now it's my turn to return the favour." She understood his remorse for creating their current situation, but amends were already made. This thing within her wanted to act, badly, and it was proving more and more difficult to contain her own state of mind. It was as if her thoughts were getting pushed to the side. She furrowed her brows as she followed Kalenis to the back of the tent. What are you doing? She didn't like not having control, it reminded her too much of being around her step-father. I'm helping you, Abigail. The presence cooed, apprehensively. Act now. Pay the gold. She stopped behind Kalenis and nearly spat, I've about had enough of this 'gold cost'! Stop pushing me aside!

Suddenly, it was like she was boiling from the inside. Her mind seemed to grind against some unknown force. She stumbled over, releasing a pathetic whimper of agony. She couldn't move, she wouldn't dare. Her body seemed to scream in rage and the voice within her echoed it. LET ME LOOSE, GIRL. YOU WILL PAY THE COST. Internally, she slinked away, terrified. It was as if she were re-living her time with Edward again. This beast was in her, controlling her and she was too frightened and angry to do anything about it. YES. The voice laughed, Use it. Feed from it. It then took her emotions and twisted them within her. He's out there, girl. The one who took everything from you. Exact your justice. Let me help you. Her thoughts blinded by rage, she slowly stands. The being within her fuels her forward, twisting her emotions for it's use. Hurry. Our sister awaits. Swimming in this overwhelming fury, she looks down to Kalenis and shyly smiles. Whatever he took from the display would surely be confusing now. The fear, the pain, all her mental anguish was spilling forth and being intensified by the creature within. It would get what it wanted, regardless if it needed to toy around a bit. "We'll see you later." Abigail and the voice spoke together before carefully exiting the tent.

The men were spotted quickly as she stood behind the tent. She wouldn't bother hiding. Kalenis would keep the others busy whilst she had her fun with these pieces of shit. Swiftly she raced forward, each rock and brush used to her advantage to speed her way towards the small group. She moved like water, quietly, fluidly. Her thoughts ebbed out, like ethereal tendrils, taking up several large stones on her way. Using, Kalenis' trick she circles them about her. Once she reached a satisfying distance, she planted her feet firmly upon the gravel and shouts to get the men's attention. When they turn she allows them a moment to stand in awe of her, their confusion and panic bringing her great amusement and joy. Then before any have time to react, she spilts the rotating stones equally and sends them smashing into two of the men's face. The presence within her cackles and she falls in with it's laughter. See? Nothing stands in your way. She giggles as the presence surrenders it pleasantries upon her. The other man, she would let the girl take care of. She was feeling too good at the moment.

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Character Portrait: Kalenis
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#, as written by Exodyus
The turmoil that festered within the girl was more obvious than she knew. The sensation of her own psyche battling itself between her own mind and that of the zenith was something that I'd experienced before, but the companionship between my zenith and I seemed to be completely different than how they were doing. We were more cohesive and a stronger bond early on, but different personalities and different people might find that transformation harder.

Being a slave all my life, maybe I was more malleable? Agreeable to the core, perhaps, but the things that it told me now were beyond anything anyone had ever invested in me. The potential to do anything. The growth of my powers could be exponential, if only I acted upon them. I felt the surge as I slipped beneath the tent's heavy exterior and vanished into the dark green underbrush. Evening had been setting in to the cove as this progression came about and I took a glance to the skies, noticing the erratic cloud configurations and yet they stopped when my eyes fell upon them. I was connected to these in by some unknown soul-based force that I couldn't explain, yet I commanded and they performed like vast puppets. I tilted my head with a bit of intrigue and curiosity while commanding and they reacted.

A heavy fog fell upon the cove. It was so dense that one couldn't see beyond two arms lengths in front of them and the alarm that this caused in the forest was rather amusing to me. I watched them through my Mind's Eye, witnessing their flailing arms, trying to find trees and each other as I approached from the south under the cover of the clouds and the silence of their own cries. Before you strike, Nis -- feel them out. Focus on their anxiety and tell me what you feel? The voice echoed inside of my head and like a good little puppet I paused, nearly ten feet from the first man who hadn't a clue I was there.

I feel ... his pulse. His heart is racing.

Very good. Feel out his vein-network due to the motion and flow of blood and you can determine his movements from this. His thoughts betray him openly. You can read his mind to discover more, if you wish. These are all things you must master as though you were breathing. Putting on clothes. Blinking. It should come naturally -- instinctively.

A surge crossed over my body with the zenith's words and without hesitation I stooped to snatch up a stick and with a powerful speed and strike, I buried the fractured stick into the man's juggular, pinpointing the pulsing artery, filled with blood pumping to his brain. After stabbing it in, I'd rode him to the ground and with a gentle thump of silence, he struggled for only a moment. I had jerked out the stick and the hot, sticky blood spurted all over my hand with one blubbering gush of his pumping heart. I hung over him like an animal in the shadowed fog, looming in a squat over his lifeless form and stared at his surprised face and puncture would with a malicious gaze. The zenith was hungry within -- and I fed him necessity.

I had dropped the stick and took a few steps back to kneel over the man's legs, searching his pockets. I found a small shiv in his hand that couldn't have been more than four inches long, but that was plenty long enough for what I would do to these men. I'd paid the gold cost and took the my reward from his corpse, crawling over a log toward the west where the fanned out line was drawing across the forest rather noisily. They called out from one end of the chain to the other. It passed from person to person, and when it came to the end guy, I grinned and made a guttural bellow which they bought without question.

The zenith within me had created a monster. I was faster. Stronger. I felt the rage within my veins and dared to use it without question. The next man in the line broke the silent streak I was half-assedly trying to maintain, when I dashed at him like a jaguar, thrusting the shiv with swift strikes in my bloody, right hand. The first caught him square in the middle of the calf muscle, which buckled his right knee to the ground and he cried out in pain. Latching onto his head with my left hand, I grabbed onto his nose with grubby fingers and dirty fingernails, clawing and wrenching his skull back as I thrust again. A kidney puncture. Again, a lung puncture. And then with a spin, I put it into his esophagus and jerked it to the right, shredding the flesh into ribbons with a dull blade.

I held his body to mine, feeling the warmth of his life spilling across my chest and legs. I grinned and whispered in his ear, feeling the his soul leaving his body with convulsions and throaty gurgles, "You're all going to die..." I could hear them hollering for the man who cried out. They were bunching, my mind told me and moving toward me. It was all I could do to keep my composure and excitement. The kinetic energy swamped my frame like a squall, the atmosphere around me was so thick that it felt like sweat -- tangible and energetic.

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Character Portrait: Serah "Marlin" Peratta Character Portrait: Abigail
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#, as written by Marlin
Two points of awareness flared brighter than the others as Marlin stared down the approaching men.

My brethren. Marlin she felt a tint of anger in the creature's mental voice.

She took a step forward, about to attack, when her attention was drawn away. One of the bright spots in the neural net shot forward, toward Marlin's location. She looked up to see a girl running at the men. No, she wasn't quite running; she moved over the stones and debris underfoot as if floating. The girl shouted and the men turned around, startled. Before they knew what was happening, rocks smashed in two of the men's faces. The strange girl stopped and laughed in a way that made Marlin's skin crawl.

Be careful, the creature in her mind warned.

The girl was so caught up in her amusement that she seemed to forget about the last man in the group. He stood with wide eyes, unable to understand what had happened to his companions. Marlin didn't understand it either—some kind of magic?—but she didn't let her confusion keep her from acting.

She grabbed the man in a head lock and twisted his wrist viciously with her other hand. He dropped his sword and whimpered. "I—I'm sorry! Please!"

Marlin's heart thumped at her chest. It would be so easy to break the man's neck. Plunge her dagger into his gut and watch the blood soak the ground. Your emotions are in a state of flux from the Joining. Fight it. You must learn to master your mind. The voice and its lecturing tone made her angrier, but somehow she was able to pull her stray thoughts under control. We are powerful. But remember what you've stood for. You're not a killer.

Marlin released the man. "Go." He stumbled off, into the surrounding forest, and disappeared. The girl was still standing there, a distant look in her eyes. There was something familiar about her; as if they had met before, long ago. Marlin approached cautiously and waited to see what the girl would do.

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Character Portrait: Serah "Marlin" Peratta Character Portrait: Abigail
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Abigail

She swayed slowly in her ecstasy, her feet dancing lightly atop the rugged terrain. She never wanted to stop feeling this wonderful and each time she replayed the men's deaths a new wave of pleasure flowed forth. She smiled and hugged her arms about her frame, giggling to herself. Liberation feels wonderful, doesn't it? "Yes," she replied, shocked at how easy the deaths had been. It was amusing, her previous hesitance on taking life. Ah, her presence happily corrected, but you weren't just taking it. Those men got what they deserved. It was true! She helped that poor woman, her sister, from those wretched creatures. She new first-hand what men were capable of. Never again, would she allow something so hideous to go unchecked. This thing within her was teaching her so much in such a short amount of time. It gave her the power she had always desired and helped her exact the justice this disgusting world needed. Who are you? She finally asked. This thing had given her so much, but she didn't even know who to thank. It doesn't matter. You wouldn't be able to process something so..complicated. "I need to call you something.." she pushed, trailing off in thought before declaring, "Bowie." ..Bowie? "Well..you do have a yellowish glow about you..and honestly..it's a name that I like." The presence within her remained silent for a pause before sarcastically accepting the title,I suppose that'll do. Humans..so creative.

Her lips once again twisted into a shy smile, before turning towards the remaining man's pathetic blubbering, "I—I'm sorry! Please!" She was curious how her sister would finish him off, perhaps she'd learn a new trick or two. Though, instead of the wonderful performance she was hoping for she was horrified when her sister relinquished the creature into the forest. "What are you doing?" She cried in unison with Bowie as the man disappeared into the foliage. It wouldn't be hard to locate him. His frantic movements and breathing were like tiny insect bites in her psyche, an annoyance that would be dealt with. She would find him later, right now she was curious why her sister had let him escape. It was something she couldn't fathom. "Don't you know what they were coming do?" She asked in angered bewilderment, thrusting her fingers back towards the men she killed, "They were going to kill you and you let them go?"

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Character Portrait: Kalenis
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#, as written by Exodyus
Two were bled. Separated from one another and buried in the dark bedding of the forest, masked by the daunting fog that grappled with the trees, bringing on the nastiest web of blindness and confusion for men. I sat, crouched on this man's corpse, still warm with blood and life, which was now all-but escaping the vessel, awaiting the last six to approach me. I could feel the anger in the camp between Abigail and the stranger -- something about the new girl seemed ever-so familiar, but in the same tense, she'd released a man meant to do her harm. What was she thinking? What would become of him?

The shouting and discussion of the approaching individuals was that of fear. Talk of ghosts, spirits, and karma getting the best of them. Traps set by goblins, aimed to behead them and serve their brains on silver platters taken from the treasuries in the camp. Their lungs beat like day-ridden horses. Their blood coursed through tightly wound veins as an avalanche of mountain water through narrow spring passes. They were petrified, and none-more than Edward. His thoughts gave way to the fear of his step-daughter finally snapping. Seeing vengeance for all the wrongs that he'd committed against her and her family. Little did he know that she would be the least of his worries.

Feel out the essence within - it is of the Astral plane. It is mental focus. It is within you and you will wield it like a stolen blade and destroy those who wrong us...

Narrowed lids closed away ruby eyes from sight, as I smiled and smirked to myself, using my mind instead of my eyes to take full advantage of my power and this moment. Human's rely too much on sight -- something that can fail them within moments of the right [or wrong] circumstance. The fog clouded mortal sight and when my eyes rested at last, I found the most beautiful display I'd ever witnessed before in my life. Life abundance is what I could see, but outlined by the aura that it possessed. Trees and vegetation were varying shocks of green, lifting all around me and pinged beneath my feet. As if I was standing in a clouded world, anything and everything within what felt like a hundred meters was known. The men were shades of red, varying on their intentions, surrounded by hazes of various hue, depicting their mental health at the moment ... which was more yellow than any other shade.

I felt the warmth of energy coating my youthful frame and with their final steps, the energy within me resonated like a bell, and exploded outwards in a cataclysmic wave. The heat waves rolled off of gaunt, pale shoulders and only seemed to feed my enraged status. Without warning, the wave rocked the men like a typhoon in the darkness; swept from their feet and battered against trees and one another, the group was scattered and separated. In the chaos, screams could be heard along with their cries of help and dazed senses. One of them had stumbled upon another friend who was now lifeless and impaled on a broken tree branch. His spine severed and body hanging limply from the nub which stretched out like the reaper's arm from the trunk of a thick oak. Poltergeists, they cried.

They fled for the village -- or at least three of them did. Two ran deeper into the forest, separating the group once again. Edward moved with the group in the right, the smarter of the crew heading back for the cove. The other two, I hunted.

And then there were five.