The Tiran Wars: Liberty, at all Costs


Unfortunately, the rest of the world did not care that Gwyll had had a long day and wanted to rest. Despite not being able to hear anything over Joshua and Mei or smell anything over the smell of rot and decay, she felt like something was out there. Her fur stood on end as she growled quietly, hoping to ward off whatever disgusting thing might be threatening her and her pack, but there was no reply or reaction. Not, at least, until the door began to creak open, fingers around the edge revealing that it was something human, or at least human-like. That settled it for Gwyll. Scrambling upright, Gwyll barked once, twice at whatever was pulling the door open. She crept over toward Mei and Joshua's door as she did so, growling steadily. Her packmates would be here in a moment and they could deal with this... thing before it did any harm to them. No more need to think about silly, awkward human things. It was time to hunt.

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
Mei was convinced Gwyll had wanted more than simple petting, which was intriguing to Joshua...he had no idea how his fiancée could be so sure of that, but...all the same it wasn't a point worth arguing, all things considered. She went on to say she didn't think Gwyll knew what kind of trouble she could get in if she were the wrong people, which gave Joshua pause. True, the wild girl wasn't the best in social situations, but when it came to being intimate..."She approaches most social things like a wild animal, right? Specifically a wolf or similar pack animal...I don't know those all that well since I grew up in a desert, but if you know...that's probably how she's going to approach it. Though she does seem to listen to us, so we might be able to get through to her that way..." The Swordmaster's train of thought was interrupted by an animal barking outside their room, an angry, alert noise. Jumping, Joshua moved to shield Mei from any immediate threat on reflex before taking a second to think about it. "Kramen kayle, that was Gwyll...something's wrong!" He jumped out of bed and grabbed Audhulma, mindless of the fact it started glowing when he took hold of it or the fact he was still in just his smallclothes, moving for the door. "If she's being that noisy, it's something bad, come on!"


Sync snapped a look at Lucy as she insisted they were good people and just didn't like people knowing, scowling, though his mask prevented any of his expression aside from the scowl from being seen. He'd literally choked the girl just a little while ago...where was she getting the basis for that theory? It seemed she was regaining some semblance of her old personality, and it was snarky as all getout. Wonderful. His scowl deepened as Glasya informed him he might have competition, which..."Don't even joke about that..." he muttered, mood darkening and heading off down the trail. They didn't have far to go, though the macabre sight that greeted them turned the construct's stomach. Killing people was all fine and good, but the corpses here had been butchered, morphed into some sort of sick, twisted...altar. Indeed, that was what was going on here, with a horrible excuse for a man shambling out and rambling about some Hemomancer and demanding they pay tribute or some nonsense like that. Revulsion drove Sync into action almost before Glasya had asked him to kill the sad excuse for a human. He drove himself forward as fast as he was capable of, throwing himself at the person, feeling the strength of the earth behind his fist...he'd kill the shambling wreck in a single blow...and then he was going to burn this horrifying effigy to the ground.


Why was this happening to her? She didn't deserve this, she wasn't a bad person, she didn't even want to be here in this war torn land, but once again events out of her control like the ones that had brought her here in the first place had placed her within mortal peril. With her boot heel still firmly depressing the pressure plate Alia listened as Daner spoke whilst examining the trap; it certainly sounded like he knew what he was talking about. But all the same she found herself squeezing her eyes shut and whimpering at his mention of her being torn in two by the blades hanging above her head with her feeling the wetness from a pair of warm tears as they rolled down her cheeks.

"We might be able to prise some of this masonry out of the wall, though not enough to completely counteract her weight" Tywin spoke; examining the crumbling brickwork that made up the passage walls. Like Daner had already surmised it would prove impossible to gain access to either the traps mechanism or the spears hidden with the ceiling meaning that their only hope of saving her was to get her out of the way.

It was after studying the ceiling that Taranis would lean in to whisper into Tywin’s ear with the Soldevi gesturing up at the four by three grid of holes above Alia’s head
“are you sure?” Tywin asked in a dubious voice with Taranis vigorously nodding in reply “Taranis reckons that if you move quick enough that you may be able to shove her out of the way before those spikes hit” the warrior intoned still sounding rather sceptical about his friend’s observation. A quick glance at the ceiling himself would indicate that the trap was designed to hit somebody as they walked through and so by stopping Alia was no longer within its ideal striking area. The only downside with that particular plan being that whoever tried to shove her out of the way would run the risk of being hit themselves, not to mention the fact that they would still be racing against several rapidly falling spikes. All things said though, at least they had something to work with.

For Mei the idea of Gwyll approaching relationships of any kind as a pack animal wasn’t entirely encouraging, not that she really knew how wolves and other wild animals actually went about that kind of thing. Do wolves mate for life? Or is it a harem sort of thing with one alpha male? She wasn’t sure, but either way Joshua was right in that they would probably need to have a talk with her.

Suddenly Mei found herself being pinned beneath Joshua’s body as a wolf…no…Gwyll, started barking and growling in the next room “Joshua what are you…” Mei started but before she had chance to finish he had leapt out of bed and was rushing for the door dressed only in his small clothes. A sight that she’d normally find quite amusing and just a little alluring, with all those toned muscles on display just asking to be touched and caressed, however between the events that had caused her falling out with Gwyll and the oppressive atmosphere surrounding this place all amorous thoughts within her head had been killed dead. Besides which Joshua was right, if Gwyll was making that much noise then something was seriously wrong!

Finding herself somewhat less eager than her fiancée was to go running around in only her underwear, Mei tentatively climbed out of the bed and followed Joshua to the now open doorway; summoning a small ball of flame with which to light the room with. Upon reaching the doorway however she kind of wished she’d hadn’t for the sight that greeted her was one that would haunt her for quite some time to come.

Hearing the growling coming from out of the darkness the fingers paused in what they were doing as if the owner was hesitating before then throwing open the door and rushing in.

Though her eyes were keener than that of a regular human’s whilst in her current form, Gwyll could tell very little about the creature that came rushing towards her having to rely on what she glean from out of the shadows. The creature was humanoid in shape and roughly the size of a short man, it ran with an awkward gait as if it was unused to walking on dry land and it stunk of fetid water and decay, like it had lain mouldering in a stagnant pond for a very long time.

It was just as the creature was closing upon her; its fist raised to strike her that the door behind her burst open and Joshua clad in only his small clothes and his sword entered the room, though it was only with the arrival of Mei with a ball of flame that they’d be able to truly see what they were facing.

The creature, for want of a better word, had once been a man; its skin was pallid and slimy, and looked like it would melt from off of its bones at the slightest application of pressure. Its eyes were milky white and completely lacking any form of pupils, its long stringy black hair was falling out it head in great clumps leaving its skull pale and patchy, its fingernails were long, yellow claws and its mouth was filled with sharp inhuman teeth, teeth that by rights belonged within the mouth of some kind of sea creature.

Were Gwyll or anyone for that matter to attack the creature they would find it to be horrifically strong despite its apparent decay with its flesh smelling and tasting rotten yet completely lacking in any form of blood as if something had sucked its veins dry.

Meanwhile through the open door through which it had entered the trio would be able to detect movement out in the darkness beyond.

Syncs blow hit with bone shattering force, sending the…thing…flying across the clearing to land in A heap upon the ground like a thrown rag doll. And yet it continued to laugh in its hideously cracked and hoarse voice, laughter that seemed to claw at your very senses and drive the listener mad.

A further two blow were required to finally kill the thing, its body or at least the one it had taken possession of now shattered and mangled beyond all recognition. However it had been as he was delivering the final killing blow that Sync would witness a shadow of some kind leaving the body and then disappear into the smoke, a shadow that he could have sworn had stared directly into his eyes before it had finally left.

Turning his attention away from the sprawled mass on the ground he would find Glasya cradling Lucy within her arms with the girl gripping on tightly to the Ifrit as she violently trembled; her face buried within the other woman's chest “Sync, you’re going to have to take her…she won’t respond to anything I say to her and she’s too heavy for me to carry” Glasya spoke in a panicked whisper clearly concerned for the girl’s well being “…you get her out of here and I’ll make sure that this…blasphemy…is properly destroyed!” she finished with a disgusted snarl. They said her people were v evil but this…this was something else entirely and she would tolerate its presence no longer!


The short walk to the lakeside eating spot was, for lack of a better word, pleasant. Yes, it was quiet, but it was nice sharing the journey with someone for a change. The lake itself was beautiful in its own right, very similar to the crystal clear glacier lake that Oak Village had once wrapped itself around, though it seemed to be somewhat slightly hazy and the fish were strange and probably not nearly as tasty as the Maurangerian salmon, but it was still similar enough to home to give Red some comfort, even if it was slightly bittered by sorrow. Down by the shore, suitable rocks were found, and Red and Loolayannie took their seats and began eating. As Red unwound the scarf from about her face, Loolayannie left a strange comment hanging in the air about her appearance. “I have happiness about my skills of disguise,” Akana replied, letting a small smile temporarily interrupt her consumption of the tasty stew. “I must everyone to fool. The world has guarantees of equality for the genders not. Women encounter difficulty common and simple tasks to perform. I have time those difficulties not to overcome.” Like every rule that humans had devised, there were a few exceptions that Red had run into. But for the most part, pretending to be a man got things done much faster. After a quiet while of eating and smoking Loolayannie spoke up again, wishing for some way to thank Red for being good at keeping a secret. She shrugged her shoulders. “I require nothing. I would like revenge against the person the order my village to issue to destroy. Mauranger had desire war not to wage. We had knowledge only to desire. I was an instandsetzunger. I can many things to repair. I can many things to create. I desired my city to improve. I design weapons now. I believe the man of Bâloné both good and bad to be. He did my life to change. I did a warrior to become. I can my home to avenge.” Red allowed another pause to hang in the air for awhile, before speaking again. “Sorry. I had not to intend to ramble. Less us pleasanter topics to discuss.”


As Red voiced her desire for revenge against the person responsible for the destruction of her village, Leilani would grow increasingly quiet as she studied the smouldering tip of her cigarette, like she was trying to divine the answers she required from its ashes "I'm sorry" she quietly mumbles in a sad voice that would barely travel if at all. It wasn't her fault, and other than her fruitless search amongst the ruins she'd had no involvement in the other sides machinations, though she feared she knew the target of Red's wrath only far too well.

Her sister; Liu Han had been responsible for the army of Clay soldiers, years she had spent researching them and the spells required to control them, to command them to do her bidding. Leilani merely prayed that her beloved sister wasn't the one responsible for the death's of so many people, not her sister who had told her the stories of Tazeko Kensei and how to weave flowers into a crown so that they could pretend to be princess' like in those stories. Surely she couldn't be responsible...could she?

"I not wanting to fight either" Leilani spoke up; eagerly seizing Red's suggestion that they talk of happier things so as to drive the dark thoughts of her sister far from her mind "...I just wanting to learning of magic...and... and fighting of swords, and languages so I can telling of stories" she said with a flush of embarrassment coming to her cheeks. She hadn't intended to tell the other woman about that, not that she feared that Red would tell people about it after all she was keeping a far bigger secret than that! But rather the fact that it felt kind of...childish...for a woman to spend her days writing stories and drawing pictures instead of raising a family like she was supposed to.

With her cheeks still a most unbecoming shade of pink the girl continued to talk in a low wistful voice as she stared out across the lake "Don't telling of anyone Akana but...I having...erm...thoughts when sleeping?...of finding pretty girl and running away together, live in little house and spending of days drawing, and painting, and writing stories in peace...I being silly I know" she finished rather bashfully, fully expecting the hardened warrior woman to scoff at such childish notions and like Red had already pointed out life was unfair on a girl, especially for a girl living in Khitai.

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
The thing was a monster, Joshua could tell that much. Whether it was always such or if something had corrupted a person, he didn't know, and didn't want to find out. He hurried to interject himself between it and Gwyll, paying no mind to his lack of clothes. He didn't wear armor, this was no different to any other fight. He didn't like looking at the thing, let alone contemplating how to kill it because that would mean Audhulma would need to touch it. However, as he became aware of there being something else out there, the Swordmaster knew he had no choice. "Mei, didn't come alone. I'll keep this one busy, you two figure out what else we're dealing with and act it? We can't afford to focus everything on one if there's ten out there." Without waiting for a reply he launched himself at the monster, eyes widening in shock as it took his blow without much concern, prompting him to dance away from it as it counterattacked. This wasn't going to be a trivial fight...the lack of blood was testament enough to that. always came down to magic...those who had it were superior, those who didn't, like him, just had to muddle along as best they was frustrating to contemplate, but...for now, he'd need to hold up his end of the plan...keep moving, strike when he could and move back before it hit him...he couldn't afford to take a hit from this thing...


It took three solid hits for Sync to kill the man...or whatever it had been. As it finally died, something dark and without an aura escaped from it, fleeing. That more than anything else unnerved him about this situation...possession was not magic to be taken lightly, Riev had drilled that into him. Shivering as he considered the options of what he'd just put down, he turned back to see Glasya holding a traumatized Lucy, telling him to take her and go, that she'd destroy this place and be right behind him. He let his mask vanish as he approached the pair, nodding. "Destroy it all...this place makes my skin crawl..." He kissed the Ifrit, a quick, light gesture, then knelt next to them. "Lucy...I'm going to pick you up now, ok? I'm not going to hurt you, just relax...we're going to get out of this place." So saying, the construct hoisted the girl in bridal carry fashion and hurried off back towards the path...the sooner he was out of this accursed place, the happier he'd be...and he figured the traumatized girl he was holding would agree with that sentiment...


As her Fiancée dealt with their murderous intruder; his sword cutting and slicing like a hot knife through hot butter, Mei ran for the door, her eyes momentarily scanning the darkness beyond before sending a jet of flames arcing out into the night. However despite her pyrotechnics the scantily clad Khitain girl still gave a terrified whimper as she slammed the door shut and pressed her body against it in an attempt to keep whatever was coming from getting in. An ultimately futile effort as after only a few blows she was thrown to the floor as another of the creature burst into the room.

Doing her best to escape the vile thing, Mei hurriedly scurries across the floor only for it grab hold of her bare ankle and drag her back towards the open doorway as she screamed "Joshua! Help me!" her nails frantically scrabbling against the bare wood of the floor as they failed to find any kind of purchase as she was slowly and inexorably dragged towards the waiting darkness.

Despite its apparent strength and resilience, Joshua had little trouble in avoiding its clumsy attacks even if his own seemed to have little effect on it. However it was after side stepping yet another lumbering blow that he was able to open its throat in what would normally be a fatal manner, only for something far more horrific to happen to it.

Thick, red worms that were the colour of clotted blood began to squirm from out of the wound, squealing with pain as they made contact with the air around them, the creature seemingly struggling to move now that the parasites within it were now exposed.

Meanwhile the other creature continued to drag away a terrified Mei, despite Gwyll’s fangs worrying its arm to tattered flesh. The taste of its meat within her mouth would be sickening and putrid. She’d be ill later, even as a wolf she knew that this meat was bad for her but she had to stop this vile thing from dragging away Joshua’s mate. A sudden blow to her head would send her reeling away as she released her grip. The blow had caused her no lasting damage and she’d be back at the thing in no time, she just needed a few moments to shake off the stars currently dancing around her eyes and regain her balance, meaning that Joshua for the time being was on his own.

With a little coaxing Lucy would transfer herself to Sync; burying her face into his chest and clinging on to him as he lifted her into the air with her entire body trembling within his grasp as he does so.

Thankfully the girl weighed very little as the pair of them went crashing through the undergrowth in search of their original trail through the jungle. After travelling a comfortable distance away from the altar and its bloody paraphernalia, the pair would stop and wait for Glasya to catch up with them. No matter what Sync did or said to Lucy, the girl would refuse to respond in any shape or form with her simply clinging to him like she was drowning and he was the only thing keeping he head above water. Then again maybe she was drowning if in a more psychological sense of the term.

Glasya would arrive a few minutes later with her stating “its done…lets go” in a grim voice and with a look in her eye that said she didn’t want to talk about what she had done. The magic she’d had to employ to eradicate all trace of the place had been brutal and she was starting to feel the effects though she had little choice but to power through it and keep on going as Sync was incapable of carrying both her and Lucy.

The trio would follow the trail just as they had before, albeit without Lucy to guide them; the girl still refusing to let go of Sync or respond to anything said to her, though she was eventually coaxed into walking to save Sync from having to carry her. Yet despite this they made slow progress with them settling down early, under a rocky overhang to consume the small quantity of fruit they’d managed to forage along the way, though Lucy ate very little of what was given to her, instead choosing to fall asleep with her head within Glasya lap; the Ifrit gently stroking her blond hair “The poor girl…she was messed up before but that…thing…really did a number on her” Glasya quietly spoke, fearing that whatever damage it had done would prove to be long lasting if not permanent. Truth be told she too was feeling the effects of that place lingering within her mind, flashes of grisly images appearing and disappearing at random in a manner that she found most unsettling. If she was to ever fall asleep this night then she would be requiring a distraction in order to take her mind off of it all “Baby boy… you remember that offer I made you? The one concerning your true hearts desire?” she asked in a low and suggestive voice “well I was thinking that perhaps now would be a good time to take advantage of my kind offer….”

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
The creature wasn't quick, but neither was it fragile, as Joshua'a blows didn't have the effect he wanted them to have on the Kraemen thing. Sure he tore flesh, but he might have tickled it for all the good it did. In his peripheral he saw Mei go flying as a second creature entered the small room, wasting no time in dragging her away. "Kraemen Kayle, hold on, Mei!" he called after her before finding the opening he had sought and cutting open its throat. With a cry of victory, he made to move off, only to gag and stare, horrified, at the creature. Rather than blood, red, wormlike creatures appeared at the gash, displeased at being exposed. The Swordmaster had no time to deliberate about what this meant, nor did he want to look at it more than he had to. Another slash to the thing's throat in an attempt to finish it later and he was taking off after his fiancée. Gwyll had been after the one taking her, but she looked to have been stunned, removed from the fight on a temporary basis. She'd succeeded in slowing it down long enough for him to arrive though, prompting him to call, "Good job Gwyll! Keep it up!" as he passed. With an angry snarl, he finished closing the distance between himself and the monster with Mei, and he launched at it, aiming for its throat. He knew where to strike now, and with his fiancée back up they'd be able to finish the two off...


With Lucy clinging to him as though her life depended on it, Sync took off as best he could, with Glasya joining them after a few moments. They moved in silence for most of the day, each battling their own thoughts. Lucy fortunately recovered enough to walk on her own, but she remained quiet and almost lifeless. Their camp was subdued, with dinner being a sordid affair, no one with a regular appetite. The Ifrit mentioned after a time that it seemed the creature had caused more trauma to their charge than she'd already been carrying, which was unfortunate, but probable. Which meant they'd lost their guide and we're going to have to guess their way back to the resistance unless Sync could pick up on an aura he recognized. With a sigh, the construct leaned back, shaking his head. "The world is a lot more complex than my f...than Riev made it out to be. So many factions, so many different wills exerting on it. Even if I've seen mostly horrors to this point, I'm glad for the experience." He looked over at Lucy with a frown. "Is there anything you can do for her? You came into my mind and saved me from losing myself...I know you're still regaining your magic, but if you can do might help." It seemed though that Glasya's mind were on...different...uses of her power, however, which derailed his thoughts enough he couldn't remember what he'd been talking about. With a smile, his aura starting to shift towards baser desires, he replied, "I would need to be a fool to say no to that..."


All things considered, Brahmoth’s day was not getting any better. Taranis and Tywin had come to the same conclusion as him, assessing that the best way to get her out was likely to be to shove her out. They’d likely thought of the other method but also likely had a similar aversion to it. Brahmoth paused for a second, mentally consulting Daner before receiving a despondent affirmative. “Well I guess that doesn’t leave us with much choice then. Elders help me. Budge up.” Brahmoth motioned for the girl, Alaina or whatever it was, to make room on the pressure plate for his foot. Working his foot alongside hers, he talked her through slowly lifting her weight off of the pad as he replaced it with his. The transfer complete, Brahmoth chuckled as the girl swiftly retreated from the plate. Now that the first step was complete, he spoke to Taranis and Tywin. “Right, my arms are longer than hers, so the plan is that I will crouch down and reach out, and I want the two of you to pull me clear by my arms. You’ll need to do it in sync if you’re going to have a hope of me getting out on time, but it’s our best chance. Thankfully, I’ve lost a lot of weight recently so that should make it easier. Oh, and if you’re thinking of leaving me because it’s easier, just remember that I’m probably your best chance of getting through the rest of the traps here alive.” Brahmoth added the last part with a shrug. He didn’t have any hard feelings, he’d been with mercenaries before and as much as he’d like to hope this could be different, he knew that explaining what was in it for someone else was usually more effective than relying on ‘human decency’. Here was just hoping he hadn’t ended his life to save an impetuous Jehennan noble girl. He really was getting soft in his old age.


Glancing down at the girl currently asleep in her lap Glasya considered Sync's question as to whether she could do anything for the poor girl's sanity "Possibly...after the two of us are a little stronger and we're all somewhere a little safer, I may be able to see what I can do" she said; softly stroking the girl's pretty blonde hair with a tender look in her eyes as she did so. Going into peoples heads was...risky… especially if they were somewhat unbalanced such as poor Lucy was, and there was no guarantee that she'd be able to repair any of the damage done to her even once she was in there, either way she was willing to give it a go but first she had more enjoyable matters to attend to.

Gently moving Lucy's head from out of her lap, Glasya turned to face Sync so that they were both crouching opposite one another "OK Baby boy, I want you to close your eyes and relax, and don't open them until I say so else things are liable to be a little jarring for you, now you may feel a little groggy and confused tomorrow morning, a bit like being drunk...have you ever been drunk?...actually never mind we'll do that another time, now close your eyes" Glasya spoke in soft voice, waiting until Sync had carried out her request before proceeding to weave the illusion around him. When he opened his eyes they would no longer be sat within the jungle but somewhere out of his fantasies, and she would be in the form of his deepest carnal desire. Glasya had to admit she was more than a little curious as to what that would be as it could be anything or anyone; man, woman, Elf, Demon the possibilities were endless.

With the illusion now firmly in place Glasya would take a moment to steady herself before speaking to him with her voice no longer sounding like her own to him; the Ifrit feeling both fear and excitement over what she was about to discover about her lover "ok Baby boy you can open your eyes now...what do you see?"

A look of terror passed across Alia's face as Daner walked towards her to transfer his weight over onto the pressure plate "n-no you can't" she whimpered not wishing to see somebody else get killed because of her mistake; her nerve not helped by the clanking sounds coming from overhead. Soon enough however she found herself no longer upon the plate and so quickly got out of the way so as not to risk both of their lives any further.

Watching the transfer with an amused look on their faces as if they thought Daner a soft touch for doing so the pair of mercenaries listened as he explained the rather basic plan to them "don't worry boy, if we were going to cut and run we'd have done it already" Tywin responded as he moved to take hold of Daner's left hand with Taranis taking his right "Ok, one, two three, pull got it?" the older man said waiting for each of them to nod their head in understanding before calling the count.

The trap descended with alarming speed despite its age with Daner finding himself sprawled across the flagstone floor and unable to move his right leg "Oh hell! Daner...I've some bad news for you" Tywin spoke in a low voice upon moving to examine the young thief's leg "...your boot's ruined" there was a sound of tearing leather as Tywin ripped Daner's leg free of the trap revealing a huge rent in his boot but thankfully not his foot...that was a close call.

The rest of the day was spent wandering the dark rooms and corridors with a rather quiet and subdued Alia acting as Daner's shadow; her previous arrogance seemingly gone for the time being at least with her following his every instruction to the letter.

It was as Daner was taking his watch; the group having decided to get some sleep within a small tiled room that may have once been a temple judging from the mosaic's and faded mural's covering the walls, that Alia would quietly approach him "Daner I...I just wanted to thank you, you risked your life for me when you didn't have to and...Well..." the girl stopped, seeming to hesitate for several moments before leaning in to kiss him.

Another blow to the things throat severed its head from its body causing its body to crumple to ground in a lifeless heap as the worms continued to writhe and squirm from out of it's neck, not that Joshua had much time to watch as he tore after the creature currently dragging his fiancée away into the night. With his sword glowing bright within the darkness the thing had just enough time to turn and look at him before its head left its body.

Scrambling back onto her feet Mei took just enough time to readjust her nightdress so that she was decent before dousing the pair of twitching bodies and the worms living within them with fire; filling the room with the stench of roasting flesh "I want to leave, Joshua, Now!" Mei stated in a trembling voice no longer feeling safe within the house. There were more of those things out there and she'd only managed to get two of them before the one Joshua had killed had come charging from out of the night "Please Joshua, Please I don't want to stay here I'll sleep under a bush I don't care I just can't stay here" she babbled in a terrified voice with tears beginning to form in the corner of her eyes.

Meanwhile behind them Gwyll had reverted to her human form and was currently being sick in a corner, clutching her stomach in pain as the vile flesh she'd inadvertently eaten went to work on her body.

A quick glance out the open door would reveal the burning remains of two more of the creatures and with the movement of others just visible within the darkness meaning it was all a question of whether they were able to slip past them in the darkness and leave this place before they noticed or whether they would be safer to remain where they were and hold out until morning?


Sitting on the rock, eating this tasty stew, listening to Loolayannie talk about her own desires from life, all this was relaxing; it was a refreshing change of pace from the fighting and the diplomacy. If the rest of the winter turned out to be like this, that would be perfectly fine. Akana knew that the rest of her life couldn't be all peace and bliss, but reminders that there could be such a thing were more than enough to satisfy her desire for a life radically different from the one she had chosen. One thing, nearly the first thing the magician had said slightly surprised Akana. Why had she apologized for the destruction of Oak Village? "Apologize not," Akana responded to that puzzling apology. "You have fault for the attack in Mauranger not. That person has evilness. You are evil not." As Loolayannie spilled out her plans for the future, she seemed to grow ever more embarassed, the color on her face shifting ever more towards that of an apple. Akana didn't quite understand why the magical girl was getting so embarassed over expressing her desires. This lake was a quiet place, a place devoid of tension, perfect for letting out such secret things into the open. As the meal was finished, Akana brought out a nickel copper alloy flask, a survivor of the now lost Maurangerian metallurgy, filled with karsk, a mixture of coffee and moonshine, a survivor of the lost Maurangerian drinkology.

"Drink," Akana ordered, offering Loolayannie the flask. "You will well to feel." After handing over the flask, Akana walked down to the lake. The water was clear, yes, but it wasn't quite as clear as Lake Oak. Perhaps no body of water would ever be as clear and pure as that lake once was, until the Steintøysoldater attacked, that was. Now that lake was almost black with the ashes of burning buildings and bodies. Not even Maurangerian science could have cleared up that lake completely. "Loolayannie, you have good ambitions. I have envy, almost. I have no desires, after my revenge." Akana paused for a moment to allow herself a better seating position on the cold shoreline. "I have one impossible desire. I would like Mauranger to reestablish. I miss the science. I miss the art. I miss the people. I have training in art not. I can paints to make. However, I require an industry of manufacturing. Maurangerian stories were plentiful. However, they were similar. They required people variety to introduce. Maurangerian houses were comfortable and small. Uh..." Now words had left Akana. Of course, there was much to do to set up a country from scratch; the Steintøysoldater hadn't left much behind. But then there was also the more present issue. The Khitain magician girl had been like a breath of fresh air into Akana's life, offering her a choice that hadn't truly been available since that Bâloné. But what did that mean for Akana at this moment? There was much to think over. But Loolayannie needed a response, didn't she? So, after a pause that bordered on the unnatural, Akana finally spoke again. "I have feelings of romance not to know. However,,, I believe myself you with your desires the ability to possess to help with. I know not." Akana finally turned to face Loolayannie, half smile on a face that was quickly turning as red as the magician girl's had been just a little bit ago.


With Akana's attitude towards the one that had destroyed her village being much as Leilani had feared it to be, she chose to remain quiet on the subject, for despite what she had done Leilani didn't want her sister to die, no matter how awful an act it had been, she was still her sister and she loved her. Thankfully though the two women were soon speaking of other things with them leaving the troubling topics of Oak Village's destruction and Liu Han's possible involvement please don't let my sister be involved! far behind, much to Leilani's relief as she didn't want to lie to somebody who had been nothing but nice to her since they'd met...well...aside from the initial trying to kill one another part of their meeting anyway.

Taking the proffered flask Leilani would take a mouthful of its contents as her friend wandered down to the edge of the lake to stare across the tranquil waters, sparing her from the sight of Leilani screwing her face up in response to the strange liquor she'd just been given By the ancestors what is this stuff? She silently exclaimed as she felt the burning warmth spread through her body as the drink’s bitter though not unpleasant taste filled her mouth. She’d never been much of a drinker having only ever had one or two small cups of rice wine on special occasions meaning that she was pretty soon feeling the effects of the strong liquor coursing through her.

With Akana returning to sit beside her once again Leilani would take another drink from the flask, in a somewhat more cautious manner before passing it back to her; reluctantly admitting that it was actually quite nice once you got used to it, not to mention the warm, glowing feeling it produced.

As her friend talked it rapidly became clear that Akana was seriously homesick as she spoke of the art, stories and even the houses that they had lived in back her village in a wistful voice; longing for the things that were now long since destroyed. She wanted to help her friend but Leilani knew less about building a village from scratch than Akana did, and there was no magic that she knew of that was strong enough to help. Nor were there any words she could say to comfort her, with all the usual phrases and responses sounding crass and insincere in her head, after all what did you say to someone who had lost everything they had ever known and loved in a single night?

It was at this point however that things began to take a strange turn as her friend was suddenly struck dumb for such a long period of time that Leilani was on the verge of asking her if she was alright before her friend broke her silence and proceeded to speak to her in a jumbled and halting manner as if she didn’t really know what she was saying herself. Is…is she coming on to me? Leilani silently wondered, shocked that that was even a possibility with her finding the idea more than a little tempting.
Even at the best of times the words Akana spoke to her were hard to understand but what she'd just said was downright cryptic meaning that Leilani just couldn't be certain of their meaning, but that blush... surely that lent those words a far more intimate meaning than a simple offer to help her paint? Leilani wasn’t sure and she dared not openly ask lest she was wrong as Red was nicest person she’d met in a very long time and she didn’t want to risk losing her only real friend by pursuing something that simply wasn’t there; a stupid misunderstanding brought about by a language barrier neither of them could help.

After a few moments of hesitation Leilani moved over to sit a little closer to Akana before gently taking the older girls hand in her own; searching her rather attractive features for any kind of reaction to the gesture as well as its nature before turning stare across the lake once again “Akana…you thinking it to be snowing up here soon?” she asked, picking a nice safe topic of conversation as she waited to see how things between her and Red would develop.
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Brahmoth flashed Alianza a smile as he stepped onto the trap. She moved off of the plate and he found himself chuckling at Tywin’s comment. He knew he probably looked soft for doing this, and that probably was an element as to why he was doing it. The other reason, though, was that it had pretty effectively shut up Alianza-aina. This way, presuming he made it out okay, she was definitely going to do what she was told. Still, no point in letting that slip to her and there wasn’t really a way of telling Tywin and Taranis this without also informing her that this was his motive. As he placed his hands into Tywin and Taranis, Daner grew increasingly concerned and Brahmoth felt the emotions begin to bleed over as he struggled to keep a firm grasp on his breathing. Suddenly, even though he was prepared for it, he found himself being jerked forwards and the trap proved him right. As he lay there, he could still feel all of his body parts but he found himself only able to twist his right leg. Panic began to set in and he turned around just as Tywin announced that it had ruined his boot. A sigh left his body and he pulled himself to his feet, brushing the dust off of his clothing. “Now then, stick behind me in future, okay?”

The rest of the day passed cautiously. Brahmoth led from the front and Daner perked up, taking an interesting in keeping them alive. They passed tripwires, more pressure plates, and a nasty magical trap that had taken the duo a while to figure out how to bypass. They saw neither hide nor hair of the peasants who had fled but Brahmoth reasoned that they would probably be dead by now, especially with the density of traps within the dungeon. Now they had come to rest in a small room and Brahmoth had volunteered to keep first watch. He thought the rest of the group had gone to sleep but he noticed as Alia (was it Alia? He had to pick something, especially if he was going to talk to her. Alia it was then) quietly got up and made her way over to their body. The girl quietly thanked Brahmoth for saving her life and as he went to tell her it was no trouble and she could repay the favour by making sure she didn’t further recklessly endanger her life, she leaned in to kiss him. The pent up lust of a dead man swelled up inside Brahmoth and as he leaned in to kiss her, suddenly feelings for Lucy sprung up, flowing from Daner, stronger than he’d been at all recently. Daner stumbled backwards from Alia, pressing himself against the wall. “Uh… Alia, that’s um, really sweet. And you’re a lovely girl and other other, um, circumstances.” Daner was aware that he was blushing furiously and he wasn’t even sure how he’d accidentally wrested control of the body back from Brahmoth, but he was in full defensive drive now. He was determined, even though he didn’t know where she was, if she was still alive, or even if he’d be able to save her now that he was stuck in here, he was determined to save Lucy and to remain faithful to her, even though he didn’t even know if she loved him… if she could love him. As these thoughts ran through his head, he continued to speak. “I’d, uh, I’d love to… yeah, with, um, you. But I’m, uh, I’m kinda already promised to someone else.” Falling quiet, Daner shuffled nervously before looking around the room, scanning the exits, anything to keep his eyes off of Alia. Brahmoth, meanwhile, was laughing in the back of his mind that this was what had brought Daner back to the front. Not the life threatening danger boy, not the being kidnapped, not the being shoved in a dark dungeon or losing the key. His laughter boomed around Daner’s head. Oh you never fail to surprise me. As Daner asked Brahmoth to shush, he waited to see Alia’s response. He hoped he hadn’t upset her, but when it came to the noble girl, he just wasn’t sure.


It had been a long time since anybody had gone out of their way to help her, or at least not without expecting some kind of reward from either her or her family in return, and although he was nothing like any of the boys she'd met back home Alia found herself strangely attracted to the young thief. Maybe it was simply because he'd saved her life? Or perhaps it was because he was the first person to be genuinely nice to her without some kind of ulterior motive driving him to do so, either way she wanted to get to know Daner a whole lot better. Besides why shouldn't she have somebody? She’d already spent far too many nights cold and alone, too many nights where she'd cried herself to sleep with no one to comfort her or tell her it was all going to be alright, that she'd get through this and that things would get better for her.

Sadly however it would appear that Daner had other plans as he hurriedly backed away, practically causing the young noble girl to fall into his lap as she over balanced as a result of his unexpected retreat "" Alia replied in a confused voice clearly not expecting the target of her affections to turn her down causing her to momentarily flail for an answer for this unexpected predicament before deciding on a course of action. So he's playing hard to get? That’s ok I can play that game if he wants me to Alia thought to herself with a lazy smile upon her pretty face "Well...that's alright, I won't tell anyone if you don't" she whispered eager to resume where they’d left off; a spark of excitement appearing within her eyes as she once again leaned in to kiss him once again.


Uh oh. It seemed that Alia had not grasped Daner’s gist and was now on the offensive. As she leaned in again for a kiss, Daner held her back, his arms keeping her firmly at distance. “Alia, I’m sorry if there’s been a misunderstanding on my part but I’m not… I don’t… I can’t go there with you. I’m happy to be friends, I’d like to be friends. But I’ve already promised my heart to another girl, Lucy. I don’t mind whether you would or wouldn’t tell anyone, what I care about is that I would know I had broken my promise to her. I’m sorry. I’d, uh, I’d like to be friends but we can’t, um, yeah. We can’t go any further than that. Sorry.” Daner awkwardly tailed off as he finished speaking, trying to ignore Brahmoth’s guffaws of laughter at the girl’s seeming lack of understanding of Daner’s intentions. He felt bad, Alia was pretty, she really was. Under any other circumstances, he probably would have said yes to her. But his mind was made up. He wanted Lucy, he wanted her stern feistiness, her strong spirit and her tenacity and determination. And he wouldn’t let himself settle for anything, or anyone, else. Still, he felt bad for Alia and like it wasn’t her fault, so he awkwardly tried to move the conversation on. “If you wanted to talk, you could tell me more about your homeland. I’ve only met two people from there, Joshua and Khalid, and I’d like to know more.” Daner shifted against the wall and, as he spoke, his eyes continued to scan the room, alert for the slightest sign of danger.


It was clear from the confused look on her face that this was new territory for Alia; with the girl obviously used to getting what she wanted from boys, using either her looks or her family's name to achieve her chosen goal, though it was rapidly becoming clear that neither of these options would be working on this occasion " she prettier than me?" Alia asked; flailing for a reason as to why anyone would reject her in favour of another girl.

Her mind however was quickly dragged away from the horrifying possibility that not all boys would drop to their knees and do as she asked, by Daner asking about her homeland; mentioning a pair of friends he had from the region with one name in particular standing out " in King Joshua of Jehenna?" she asked clearly flabbergasted that a common thief was friends with not just royalty but royalty from her homeland "if we get out of here could...could you introduce me? Its been so long since I last saw him, in fact I was only a little girl but I'd so love to meet him again...could...could you do that for me?" she continued in an excited whisper that threatened to boil over into full on conversation as she shifted her position from atop of him to sit beside him, though by the way that her hand gently rested upon his leg it was clear that she hadn't entirely abandoned her pursuit of him.

Regardless of how he responded to her request the pair of them would sit and talk of her homeland and how she'd spent her days riding and hunting with her family using either a bow or a hawk to do so; describing the local countryside and its people. Though any mention or questions about her family were quickly dismissed with her electing to speak of an entirely different topic with no amount of persuasion from Daner convincing her to go anywhere near the topic of her family.

With his watch long since over Daner would be awoken by the sound of blood curdling screams echoing down the corridors around them as if some poor soul was being torn limb from limb by some horrific beast. A quick glance around the tiny room would reveal an alert Taranis crouched down by the single doorway, peering out into the darkness and holding his spear in readiness should the source of those screams appear, with Tywin meanwhile trying to calm down a sobbing Alia; her hands pressed over her ears as she cried "Make it stop! Make it stop! Oh gods its happening again, Make it stop!" the screams obviously having some kind of effect on the poor girl "p'raps it'd be wise for us t’ moove orn?" Taranis quietly suggested "...them screams are noowhere near but all t’ same p'raps we'd best be somewhere else"


She’s hurting on the inside. As Daner noted the astute observation from Brahmoth, he dropped the topic of her family. The speed with which she’d cut him down implied pain, and a fair amount of it. Still, the conversation had moved in a better direction than Alia’s romantic pursuit of Daner, as she happily reminisced of her home country with his casual name drop of Joshua having been enough to distract her. Daner probed her about Jehenna, learning of its culture and how she had spent her early days a noble hunting. A life of nobility didn’t feel like it would fit Daner. He could imagine himself successful, leading his own, reformed, guild but he could never imagine himself a noble. Good. You wouldn’t look much good in a suit anyway. A thief’s robes suit you best boy. Daner couldn’t help but inwardly chuckle at the comment, feeling content in the moment. He was still wary and slightly on edge, but he felt more at peace with the world. You’re finally learning to let go. Maybe you did find something of yourself in these past months. As Alia returned to her current tale of blood pounding racing and heart stopping action Daner dismissed his wandering conversation with the former guild master, instead opting to listen and ask questions about Alia’s story until their watch ended and Tywin rose to take over. With a nod to the mercenary, Daner lay curled on his side as he tried to get some sleep on the cold, hard stone floor.

The screams that awoke Daner rang through the hallway and he was already on his feet, duelling knives in his hands, as he scanned the room. The danger, it seemed, was far off. Tywin, meanwhile, was trying to console Alia who was a gibbering wreck at the noise, sobbing and crying for them to make it stop. Daner made a pained expression. He knew that, were it not for Brahmoth, he’d probably be in a similar state right now. He could feel the older man battling off the intrusive thoughts that threatened to overwhelm his head. He lifted his head and glanced over as Taranis spoke, the first time he’d heard the other man speak. His accent was strange, but it was certainly Common he was speaking. “Not a bad thought. I’m certainly not going back to sleep anytime soon after hearing that.” He made his way over to Alia and tapped Tywin gently on the shoulder. “I’ll take care of her if you gather up the stuff.” Positioning himself in front of Alia, he squatted down. “Alia? Alia. Look at me. We’re going to go now, we were almost about to move off anyway, so we might as well leave now that we’re all up. I know that that noise wasn’t pleasant, but you’re going to have to keep moving.” His voice was calm and level, not betraying the level of minor panic he felt within. To be honest, he just wanted to be on his way as soon as possible. Not only because of the creature, but because he was aware that they had almost no supplies down here, and they weren’t likely to find a source of food anytime soon (though with any luck they’d find some water). Although they were alright for now, the clock was swiftly beginning to click for the group and if they didn’t find what they were moving and get out, they were going to be done for fairly quickly.


That wasn't quite the response that Akana was expecting. Or maybe it was? Akana didn't know. She was as confused as a person could get over what was going on right now. If there even was anything going on, that was. That part of Akana had been left behind at Oak Village when she departed on her journey. But, if she was in uncharted territory now, then maybe that meant there really was something there. But that led to the question of why Loolayannie? Why did this young magician cause all this confusion? Well, maybe those questions didn't really matter; it seemed like there wouldn't be anything going on anyway; her words brought forth only confusion and a question about snow, and a handhold, which might be something, maybe. She allowed herself a small smile at that gesture before she said anything. “Snow?” It was such a random question. The answer should have been obvious; it always snowed on tall mountains. If they went farther up, or if you looked high enough, you'd see the snow line above which snow would always be present. They had arrived at their new camp probably a couple weeks before the snow migrated down the slopes. They'd see snow alright; possibly get buried in it if they weren't careful. But if you hadn't even been near mountains before, then how would you know any of that? Akana took a pull from her flask before answering. It was important to remember that not every place in the world had snow and mountains. “The snow will fall. It may very much to fall. It could above our heads to rise.” There probably weren't that many people in the camp who had grown up in this kind of terrain, but Akana could teach them how to survive. Might even be able to teach a few of them how to ski. “It is fine. We can on schi over the snow to travel. I can you the method to teach. You can on planks of wood over the snow to travel. It has much fun.” Akana could still remember fondly the times she went skiing around Mauranger, racing, sightseeing, bow hunting (though she wasn't much good at that one) and overall having some good times with her family and friends. But the ski could also be used to greatly improve mobility in winter combat, giving the wearer an almost insurmountable advantage. Akana suddenly got up and offered her hand to assist Loolayannie off the ground. “We must this place now to leave. The strike group will for us to have worry.” Akana didn't want to leave; it was much too pleasant here by the lake with the Tiranian. But the afternoon work needed to get done and there would be paperwork well into the night.


Listening as Akana spoke of snow and skiing whatever that was, Leilani quietly watched the other girl from the corner of her eye she really is quite pretty...especially when she smiles the young mage girl thought to herself making no attempt to hide the tiny smile that crept upon her face "being snowed in wouldn't be too bad if you were trapped with the right person" she quietly murmured, glancing up at Akana in way of a subtle indication as to who she felt the right person to be snowed in with might be.

Unfortunately like all good things it would appear that their time together by the lake was drawing to a close as Akana released Leilani's hand and stood up ready to leave; stating that the rest of the group would be missing them soon, not to mention the work they both still needed to do. Despite the mountain of books and scrolls she needed to study before Mei’s return Leilani didn't really want to leave just yet, but with Akana already on her feet and with scarf in hand ready to re-don her disguise she knew that she had little choice on the matter and would have to return to the real world once again.

With a disappointed sigh Leilani pulled herself back onto her feet; taking a moment to dust down her breeches before turning to speak with Akana, or at least that was what she had intended to do, what she actually did was to gently kiss the other girl on the corner of her mouth. Maybe it was the way the sun hit the other girls face, or the fact that they were alone together in such a picturesque location or probably more likely the strong liquor she'd just consumed but either way kissing the girl had seemed like a very good idea and she instantly regretted doing so " you for inviting me to being here, I be having of really nice time" she whispered with downcast eyes and cheeks the colour of fresh tomatoes. Why had she done that? Why had she gone and done something as stupid as kiss the girl just because she'd smiled at her! What was she thinking Akana would never be interested in her, she was several years younger than Akana was she probably just thought she was a stupid kid and was being nice to her "Studying me needing to being done to now sorry" Leilani quickly muttered in horribly garbled Tiranian as she turned to flee, hoping to be gone before Akana decided to scold her over her foolish actions. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Feeling the young man’s hand tapping his shoulder, Tywin half considered refusing his offer to deal with the distraught girl as he had experience with dealing with his own daughter’s nightmares before reluctantly agreeing. The lad was around about the same age as she was and after having saved her from that trap she’d rather taken to the young thief so perhaps he would have a better chance of getting through to her?

Looking up at him with pretty brown eyes that were brimming with tears Alia tried to focus on what Daner was telling her; cringing as yet another scream ripped through the darkness “ok, just make it stop…its like he’s killing them all over again!” she whimpered in a pitiful voice before cautiously getting to her feet and following him; once again becoming his shadow.

Travelling down the dark stone corridors once again they were eventually able to put enough distance between them and whatever horrors were taking place deeper in the ruins so that the screams faded away to nothing.

It was during their travels that they would begin to discover the long forgotten artefacts of whatever ancient civilisation had resided here; pieces of pottery, bronze sculptures, ancient coins and murals of long forgotten gods and goddesses, all of it hinting at what this place may have once been though none of it looked to be what they had been down here to retrieve. Their journey however would be brought to an abrupt halt however when the corridor ended at a spiral staircase. The ancient and highly decorative wooden steps leading both up and down with no indication as to where either direction led, though with no map and no idea where either the artefact or the exit lay, then surely one way was pretty much as good as another?

Lord Regal

Well-Known Member
With the monster that had tried to take Mei away dead, Joshua felt himself relax. She was safe...Gwyll was retching nearby, but they were all safe. His fiancée was almost hysteric, wanting to leave yesterday...and as much as he was inclined to agree, leaving wasn't a simple task either. Beyond the burning corpses Mei had got, there were more of the grotesque shapes moving about in the darkness...right now at the very least they had a defensible position in the farmhouse. Gritting his teeth as he weighed the options, the Swordmaster focused on calming Mei down for a moment before voicing his thoughts. "If we leave we're going to have to fight more of them, almost for sure. We'll be in the dark, and I don't think Gwyll is going to be doing much fighting for the next while. It'll be risky, but we should be able to do it. The alternative is matter what their tendency as far as hunting is, they had to have seen the four we killed's possible they'll leave us alone if we don't engage them. Even if they don't, the farmhouse gives them fewer entry points, meaning they're not able to overwhelm us so long as we fight smart. They're likely nocturnal from what we've seen so come day we'd be safe to rest and then leave prior to nightfall." Joshua sighed, shaking his head and squeezing Mei, who he was still holding. "Both options aren't great, especially if I'm wrong about the others being discouraged from attacking us. You've got the stronger opinion of this place, I'll let you pick and I'll follow your lead." The area made his skin crawl too, but saying that wouldn't help anyone...he'd take his strength from being near the love of his life and let himself fret about the fate of those who had lived here before later. For now they had to save their own lives.


Sync was obedient and closed his eyes as Glasya asked. He'd never been under a spell like this before, and had it been anyone else doing it he'd have resisted the concept. However, since the Ifrit was the one casting, he felt curiosity above all else, though he had no idea what she meant by being drunk, though she moved on before he could ask for clarification. Instead, he felt himself relax further as she worked, sensing the magical energies moving around him, though he didn't feel any different. It was a little surprising, then, when she had him open his eyes. Obeying, the construct frowned as he took in his surroundings. They were in a lavish bedroom, in what had to be the Jehannan style since that was all he knew of that kind of luxury, but... "Did...did it not work? You changed clothes, but...". Glasya was wearing one of her dresses that he'd seen in her trunk when finding the one actually practical for travel, but...she looked the same. "Don't get me wrong, the change of scenery is're still you. Did I interfere with the process somehow? Am I not able to see illusions on people? No, that can't be it or your clothes wouldn't have changed..." Sync continued muttering to himself, brow furrowed, his expression and aura reflecting that he felt he'd done something to interfere with the process and that he felt guilty over having ruined Glasya's plans for a special evening. After a moment he looked up, looking ashamed. "I'm sorry, I screwed it up somehow..."