The Bronze Zombie: the gameplay starts here!

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Sinful Feline

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Anna
The Bronze Zombie. A dangerous place, in the most unpleasant section of Ninecross Bay, which by some is considered to be one of the more treacherous cities on Bakarne. Like most other pubs on Bakarne, The Bronze Zombie serves a standard menu along with average quality ale and liquor, and above-average quality females.

The owner, Traven, claims to have bought the pub over 20 years ago for a fair price, but rumour has it the last owner is well-preserved in one of the wine caskets in the cellar. However, no one has ever bothered to check before ordering the house wine.

As the Festival of Anreill comes to a surprising close, and the resident population of Bakarne has suddenly increased, The Bronze Zombie begins to fill with regulars looking to gossip, and visitors looking for a place to stay....

Rhysis
The chance at finding someone in the line of those to be interviewed proved to be a bust. In his searching of the surrounding area, he caught on to the gathering of people at The Bronze Zombie. If the people there had managed to stay calm enough to not be taken in by Dragoth’s forces and still show themselves in a public establishment, then perhaps they would be interesting enough to pay some amount of attention to.

Fang positioned himself atop the roof of a nearby building in a manner that had all the earmarks of a stereotypical watcher. But this watcher was not on the lookout for crime. That would be an undertaking even he would rather avoid in this place. Primarily, he was attempting to locate people of interest. Most likely, that would mean people who, like him, had nothing in common with the majority of the population, and been stuck here inadvertently. But, there was also the chance that he would come upon someone who the Exile Initiative very much intended on keeping locked up here, who the elder would find intriguing enough to give reason to keep an eye on.

Either way, there he sat, less than a silhouette against the Bakarnian skyline, awaiting some inkling of activity that would perk his attention.

SinfulFeline
Tala wasn’t totally sure what had just taken place a few hours back, she just knew that she was stuck and wasn’t thrilled with this setting in the least littlest bit. Wandering about but keeping mostly to the shadows and away from the eyes of others, she caught bits and pieces of the conversations, not enough to tell the full story, but enough to paint a bleak picture. Following the flow of creatures, she found herself outside The Bronze Zombie.

Having never been much of a pub dweller, more a wandering loner, she hadn’t heard tails of this place, but she could tell by the smells and sights of the building and those entering that it wasn’t her kind of scene. She debated whether to just walk in among the crowd and find out more of the pieced together tale, more like the hot second hand gossip, but just the thought made the tiny hairs on the nape of her neck stand up.

No, she thought outside would suit her much better and if the need to take flight happened, it would be far better to already be half way to a safe distance, then trapped inside among others.
She found an empty 3-story building across the street and a few doors down. Entering with ease and silence she made her way to the top floor, found a window facing the pub’s entrance, she debated awakening a shadow creature to spy for her but decided that for the moment she needed to gather energy by resting. So for now she seated herself on a discarded couch cushion in front of the window and settled into the shadows to watch, listen and wait.

Lowthor
"Traitorous bastards", he said out loud as he pointed his rifle at the door. There was a vampire outside, and it seemed determined to exact revenge for the death of its woman. She'd died easily because of the state she was in. These festivals always made for easy kills. The vampire outside, he thought would be much, much harder, as the door finally gave way.

There was a flash, a bang and then the room filled with smoke. The vampire was hit hard in the chest with the musket ball, and Arthur dropped his rifle, pulled out his pistols and fires each of them at once. Three lead balls were lodged in the vampire's chest, and should slow him down.

"Incendius", Arthur shouted, and called on the faint vestiges of fae power that flowed in his veins. An apple sized ball of fire formed in his right hand, and he threw it at the vampire. There's a reason that vampires hate fire. The vampire went up like dry hay, and tried to charge through the smoke at Arthur, but the monster hunter had jumped up and scrambled onto a roof beam, then quickly moved across it away from the vampire, who would shortly be dust.

"Thats three vampires and a wolf. It was not that hard then." He said to himself as he collected and reloaded his weapons. The pistols went into his belt under his black coat, and the rifle he simply carried. He could do alot of damage here, but that didn't change what those bastards at the Initiative had done to him. They'd told him what they planned, but they'd said he would have time to get out before they cast the spell. Now if he ever did get out he'd gut the bastards, he decided as he approached the door of the Bronze Zombie.

There were enforcers on the streets now, and he'd covered his tracks from killing the vampire. As for the other three kills, the two vampires had just turned up dust one morning, and the wolf was found with two silver musketballs in its head and a slit throat. There were no clues as to who'd killed them. He should be safe in the pub.

He was wearing a long black woolen coat that reached to just past his knees, and a slightly tatty bowler hate. He looked like he'd not shaved in a few weeks, and was sporting a substaintial beard. His eyes were the real distinguishing feature, one green and one blue. He walked up to the bartender and rested his rifle against the bar. "Large whiskey mate", he said and dropped a few coins from his pocket onto the bartop. "They still worth anything now?" He asked and lit himself a cigar.

Colvin
He had witnessed it all, the sudden combustion of pathetic creatures by some man and the annoying din of the multitude that congregated together just to drink and chit-chat their lives away. A look of disgust would have been seen if his head wasn't so deeply submerged in the darkness offered by the hood of his cloak. He was part of an ever-growing crowd that seemed unhindered by the fact that it was not truly safe anywhere within this separate realm. It seems that some meddling idiots decided to thrust what they all considered threats to their civilized society into a place that was far from normal. He was just a few feet behind Arthur while he made his way toward the Bronze Zombie, a place that had not escaped the many rumors that were spread throughout this land of Bakame. The clamorous sounds of men chauvanistically demanding companions for the night and taking large swigs of their alcohol assaulted his senses.

He wouldn't bother entering, knowing fully well that he'd receive more attention than he wanted to. Though he was not aware that this had become a quick theme on this day, he suddenly emerged on top of the tavern itself, standing far enough away from the edge of the roof to not be seen by those that wanted to indulge in petty alcohol and loose women. Reconnoitering the area around him, a scanning gaze would have slid over the buildings across and around this establishment. Whether or not he caught sight of Tara or Fang was up in the air as no acknowledgment would be given. Misty energies seemed to swirl around him as he prepared a simplistic illusion. Feet placed themselves at the edge of the roof and in one huge cloud of smoke it would seem as if he disappeared.

Such things were not uncommon within a world full of talented individuals that seemed to all hold one thing in common. They were all threats to some intrusive organization. The smoke would clear but he'd remain their cloaked from the sight of anyone now, though he was still very much up there, staring down at the people entering, waiting...just waiting to see if anything caught his attention. Analytical eyes glazed over everyone that passed by. Not all of these creatures were worthy of their own lives, and he'd be sure to find someone soon enough.

Corey
The gray skinned male hid away in the darkness, his bright red eyes glowing from the shadows as he looked to the main street. He was near the vicinity of the Bronze Zombie, watching the havoc that was happening along the street and also in the allies and roof tops. He could hear the screams of those humans dying, being fed upon the notorious creatures that frequented here, he could also hear the pains of those immortals dying by the hands of the humans. This festival was meant for carnage, now it seemed it would be a never-ending war between those already dead, and those about to be.

The blood-like eyes watched as Arthur moved by the alley and stepped into the tavern across the street, the eyes also watched as the darker presence of a man stalked out behind him, as if he was targeting his prey. There was a certain power behind this dark man, something that interested the strong Gangrel bringing him to pay more attention to him as he jumped to the roof. This predator might make a great ally in this war to control the city, to survive the city, which the vampire had no fear that he would not survive, it would just be more fun to terrorize with someone just as evil as him.

Malek did not move from the shadows, but the deep red eyes glowed hard and long, no doubt that the man atop of the roof would find the glow in the alley across from his position. And when the man atop of the roof blinked from the vision of the mortals, the vampire still stared to the roof, as if looking at the man’s energy rather then his psychical form. The vampire wonder if the other would attack the tavern, or wait for that man who entered earlier, Malek decided he would wait also, and when the bloodshed commenced he would add just enough surprise to the tango. Then Malek notice another atop the roof, looking down just as the other stalker was. The vampire had a stint of glee in his loathsome form, bloodshed would come.

Daelan
Morgan walked. It was a quiet walk, the way he did most things. He was softspoken; his leather boots were soft, and so was his step. Even when his feet hit the crossboards of the steps, the sound was so faint that it was more like the suggestion of sound.

Morgan had a way about him. A way that was generally unassuming, but when he spoke, people stopped and attended. He made people move in a little closer, stop squawking so loud, listen. And when he played...

He slipped into the Bronze Zombie. If he caught sight of anyone watching, whatever their intent, he didn't respond. He simply walked into the pub and went towards the bar.

Halfway into the room, Morgan was noticed by the barkeep, who simply nodded and waved towards the humble stage (more a section of corner floor a mere three inches higher set than the rest). Morgan liked Traven for that. It felt like familiarity, but didn't require it.

There was a woman on the stage already. She was small and white and playing a woodharp with an ill-tuned sound. Morgan set his violin on a tabletop in the nearest row and sat, his hand never leaving the handle of the violin case. Halfway through her song, the woman hit a foul note and lost her nerve, ending the song quickly and leaving the stage abruptly, flushing. Someone threw coins for her, but they were copper, maybe tin, more insult than payment.

Morgan frowned. Disrespect was uncalled for.

There was a man with a lute and what must have been his son holding a skin drum behind him. The son started for the stage as the white woman vacated, but his father put a hand across the lad's chest and nodded towards Morgan, muttering something. The boy appeared unimpressed, annoyed.

Morgan flipped open the twin latches on his violin case. This new violin had been a lucky find. His old one had been smashed in a riot following the Exile announcement. It had upset him terribly.

He had thought he'd never find a good violin in a place such as this, that he would have to craft one himself. The process took months of painstaking effort, and that was assuming he could find the proper materials.

So he was thrilled when he discovered the new instrument in a broken shop window. He had walked by the place once already and missed it. What luck to catch it the way back! The owner of the shop was nowhere to be found, and in this town, what difference would one more theft make? He left some gold all the same, as nothing freely gained can hold value.

Removing the instrument from the ermine-lined case, he stepped onto the stage. The din of the room lowered, if only a little, and he began to play.

Emotion! Pouring from his violin, a thrumming, quickening trill of frustration built from a mess of dischordant notes, faster and faster still until the sharp squeak of a final note, only to cascade down into a quieter, somber dirge. He continued to play, venting the frustration, the rage, and the hopelessness that filled him. He was trapped here, with no other option before him. But life went on, and Morgan played. For that is what Morgan does, and one can only do what one does if they are to remain themselves.

Rhysis
The elder made no movements to anything. Not even his eyes shifted their gaze. His more reliable senses were what he used, instead of the standard five that most being possessed. He was well aware of every being throughout the entire city, but found the ones he sought, the more interesting crowd, right here. So many different emotions and alterations in powers flowed from this area. There was even one creature, atop the roof of the pub itself, who shared his affinity with mental powers. However, the antediluvian had an edge. Aside from having several centuries more experience in the particular field, he was blessed by the very essence of dreams. The illusion did take hold. However, he had the capacity to both view the illusion, as well as see directly through it.

Though it was within his power, he did not bother to alter his appearance or aura in any way. He was not trying to hide, but simply taking a position away from the crowd to revel in the solitude. The beastlike vampire would see an aura possibly never before seen from him. Human, though the shape may have been, it had a faint hint of vampirism, though it was obviously not of a true vampire. It also had the near blank aura of an elder dragon, something most children of Cain had never known to exist.

He remained silent and unmoving, hidden from straight vision amidst the mass of various shadows in the eternal night's sky.

Yes, eternal night. The realm they had been transported to, thanks in great part to his own doing, was one of forever darkness, as opposed to the realm of eternal light the Exile Initiative had attempted to send the city to, in an effort to immediatly slay any of those such as the vampire here, now. This would mean trouble for those the blood-suckers would choose to turn into prey, for they would have no time of safehaven. Within a matter of days, their sleep schedule would be altered to the point where, regardless of the display of the clock, there was a chance one such as this would be nearby.

SinfulFeline
She watched the building across the street in what could be perceived as a catatonic state tell something of interest finally caught her eye. At the buildings entrance a man stood then seemed to vanish in thin air only to reappear at the buildings top. She watched with now intent interest as the mans image shimmered into smoke, and when the smoke dissipated the mans form was no longer viewable. She quietly Hmm’d to herself, she knew he once stood atop the building and now seemed to no longer be with in her sight, but for some reason she highly doubted he was no longer really there.

Turning her gaze away from the room’s top, she carefully scanned the surrounding area once more. a flicker of red caught her attentions this time, vampire she muttered under her breath, she’d have to stay awake and watchful now more then before.

Once more she debated awakening one of the tribal, this time she thought the use of the energy to awaken and control one would be well spent. Drawing her gaze from the window, she licked her lips and drew in a soft but deep breath. Upon exhaling her lips moved as if speaking but the sound released would go nearly unheard by even the keenest of ears, but not by the sleeping ink creature upon her forearm. She ran the tip of her index finger over the form of a small black rat tattooed just below her elbow, and then trailed her finger down her arm and to the ground.
The inked form shifted, and then slid, following the path her fingers tip hand made tell it pooled upon the floor and once more took the shape of a slightly smaller then normal sized city rat. She nodded to it, and then tilted her head to the windows ledge. The animal followed her directions and once perched upon the window seal she whispered once more.
" Gather,return"
The small rat slipped over the window seal and nearly vanished into the night’s shadows.

She then once more settled into the discarded couch cushion and gazed out the window to scan the area. However, the night seemed to have become a tad more pleasant as the sounds of a violin drifted to her ears. Music to sooth the night boredoms, but she reminded herself not to let this music lull her into a feeling of warmth and safety. For there was no warmth or safety in this place, not now and perhaps not ever.

Lowthor
Traven poured whiskey into a glass for Arthur, and then set it down on the bar in front of him. He went through the scattering of coins, then took out enough to cover the drink. Arthur nodded "Cheers mate", he said and scouped up the coins which he dropped back into his coat pocket. Then taking his rifle with him he sat himself at a table near the middle of the the room, where he could keep one eye on the door. His rifle he rested on an empty chair, and kept his coat on. The sight of the myriad of blades under it would require explanations he was simply unwilling to provide.

To say the music was not to his taste was an understatement. Then when Morgan started playing, he silently swore and tried to blot the dire sounds out. It was easier said than done, but fortunately there was a table of steriotypical vampires nearby, that he could listen in on. It turned out that they had just lost two of their number. Arthur knew exactly how, when and where, but he was as likely to tell the vampires that as he was to buy them a drink of fresh virgin's blood.

Colvin
This land of Bakame held many people with many different talents. It was no surprise to this man that had placed himself so comfortably upon the roof of this establishment that they had attempted to restrict him to this land of wretched beings and useless whelps. It was not a feeling of superiority that made him believe such things about the inhabitants of this land and he was sure there were more than a few exceptions but they did not understand the precious gospel he offered to the masses. Their lives were meaningless the way they were and vampiric beings were among those that were already enlightened though they depreciated what they had been given and sought to seek the best of both worlds. The sweet escape that death allowed needed to be delivered and his zeal was more than appropriate for such a tasking endeavour. He saw the petty drones entering the establishment, seeking ephemeral joy from vices that were unbecoming of their potentials. Eventually they would all understand their faults.

Metallic appendages slid along his cheek, scratching flesh which only made his presence all the more obvious. He had not disappeared to fool anyone though if he truly wanted to hide from them he could easily do so. Even the antediluvian stationed not too far from him did not know the extent of his illusionary prowess. It had become obvious that the man could see through this party trick of his but it was none of his concern. Fang, while talented, had done nothing to spark this man's attention. Instead, the other two beings that had been singled out by this versatile being were each analyzed rather acutely. Narrowed eyes first saw glimpses of a woman within the building, positioned as if she intended on simply watching the pathetic displays of those beneath him. Oh she'd feel his mild fixation on her form or at least the area she decided to reside in. The other one, seemingly attempting to act covertly just as he was, also seemed to see him. There was something entertaining about the hidden entity within that shadowy haven that was a blatant mockery of this entire land. No place was safe around here.

Xanatos had noticed Morgan enter, an unexpected chill running down this man's spine as if he should prepare himself for something. The exhilirating rush had caused him to ram one of the sharp appendages on his fingers into his side, the pain allowing him to focus once again on what he had initially intended on doing here. The sounds of the Bronze Zombie below provided perfect cover for the beginnings of an ancient incantation. He'd continue with it, suddenly realizing the dischordant offering of the man that had caused that chill in him before. This was almost too perfect as the chaotic sequence of the man's music would allow this large-scale illusion to become far more effective. An intrusive series of energies soon seeped in through whatever orifice imaginable within the building. Mingling with the emotional sounds originating from Morgan's talented tool, it would enter those distracted enough, sowing a seed of lies that would soon manifest itself visually.

Everyone inside the Bronze Zombie was susceptible to the effects but that did not mean that it would reach all of them. What would result from this action would be a simple show for the ones who positioned themselves so comfortably infront of the pub. The loose women would be transformed into moving, rotting corpses to many and the entire environment would shift into a graveyard decorated with skulls for those affected by the illusion. Sharp objects would 'whizz' on by and pierce those who were unlucky enough to fail at evading them. The pain would feel so real, but what would really spark interest in the victims of this lie would be the sight of a large portal beckoning them forward with the promise of escape or freedom. Its location was random depending on the location of his victims. Some raced for the entrance to the pub...others raced toward the doors that led to the alcohol supplies. Their fellow patrons were transformed into gruesome monsters guarding their path to freedom. Bloodshed would commence and the environment would soon prove lethal to those inside. Weapons would lunge out at their enemies, though many had just shared drinks with those they began to attack. Utter...chaos.

The euphonious sounds of women screaming and men slashing out would add sadistic harmony to the dischord delivered by Morgan. Boots tapped along the roof and it was at this time that he jumped down, starting to walk away from the establishment only to step right into the abandoned building that Tala was using for her little view. There was no point in hiding his ascension up the stairs which would inevitably lead him to the floor he assumed she was on. His mind was still very much focused on what would occur in the Bronze Zombie but he assumed he'd get a much better view of it where she had been. For some reason, the fact she kept herself

Corey
The vampire’s curious red eyes still beamed up at the roof, where certain powers seemed to be gathering, it was dark and confusing to the Malek’s mind, but his interest was peaked more then ever. He lost interest in all the other emotions in the area, and he waited for what this man planned. He moved his shoulders from the building’s edge to get a better look on what was happening, and just as Malek moved, the man atop of the roof was jumping down and heading across the street, it seemed like he was entering a building just down from Malek. Seconds later, someone was thrown into the side of Bronze Zombie, followed up by all sorts of chaos, men fighting, women pulling hair, and those with weapons - spilling blood. Malek wonder no more about the man who was on the roof, his instincts for battle and blood lured him from the shadows with slow steps.

He didn’t realize the carnage along the main street, but once he reached the sidewalk and the dim moonlight came upon his skin, he found that the people were going nuts. The smell of blood enthralled Malek, his mind was almost beyond control, thoughts of humanity kept him sane, but his blades called out to him – the snake blades called the Spineshanks, and with simple movements of his wrist they came alive within his palms. The tips now hung low by his feet; one occupied in each hand, a poisonous substance loomed over the metal gleaming with the moonlight.

His grey skinned tensed as he moved closer the carnage, walking as if he was stunned and drawn to the bloodshed. His eyes growing brighter and his face becoming pale, and then an uncalled for scream came from his lips, as if a wolf howling to the moon, a scream that alerted a few of his presence, three were coming for him.

The first came straight for him with a sword, stabbing at his chest. Malek brought the blade in his right hand up with a simple roll of the wrist. The blade came up vertical and blocked the attack away, and just as the human realize his attack had missed, the left Spineshank sunk into the lad’s right side, inducing the poison throughout the body. Malek only watched for a second as the man began to convulse, then the man’s body went limp and fell the side in a coma like state.

Malek’s eyes found the second man not to far behind the fallen, and in an instinct moved his entire body down into a crouch, and just as Malek moved down, a pair of illusionar splinters came flying towards the man's chest. The man couldn’t believe it and quickly dropped his weapons, soon finding himself on his knees holding the splinters, trying chaotically to pull them free. Malek approached with a grim look down the man, not seeing the splinters he was trying to pull and with yet another swipe of his wrist, the man’s head rolled down to the street, blood spraying like a fountain upon Malek and those around him.

The taste of blood frenzied Malek, the veins along his arms shooting out from his skin, and as the third man came at the vampire in a running attack with a sword held high above his head. Malek got to him quicker, a frenzied dash of celerity sending his form out of sight only a second. When Malek came back into view in front of the man, the man never knew that a blade had been rendered into his gut. His face twisted as he tried to chop down at the vampire, but like a rabid dog Malek lurched forward with a mean bite, tearing away at the man’s face. When nothing was left of the man’s face, but the outline of what a human used to look like, Malek sheathed one Spineshank then grabbed the poor soul by the neck. By now the man was very limp, his nerves frozen by the deadly venoms passing through him, he was like a rag doll when Malek tossed him back into the darkness of the alleyway he had come from. Malek then turned back to the carnage and made sure no others were after him. He then would find a place back in the darkness of the alley, and have his nightly feast.

Daelan
This isn't right. Often the music that came from his violin was dark. More than he would like, Morgan found himself playing wild, dischordant melodies and counter-melodies, interlaced with a frantic edge...

This is something else... With an effort, Morgan lowered his violin. It hummed a moment, an unfinished note hanging listless in the air. With a nervous look, he realized what had made him so uneasy.

There's a magic here. Something mad... He shifted his bow into his left, his right hand moving towards his eyepatch. He kept the patch over the Demon Eye.

When he looked around, the patrons were staring wide-eyed at nothing. Their faces, a moment ago swaying with the music, were now glassy-eyed and stunned. Somewhere someone smashed a bottle and a heavy weight hit the floor. A woman screamed, more cries of rage joined, and Morgan could only stare in horror as the boy with the drum leapt at his father like a wild animal, his face stretching out into a mess of tentacles and moss, his hands erupting into claws.

Morgan froze, ready to lift the patch. He hated the Eye. It showed things he was never comfortable with, things he hated knowing, things that...

Morgan was knocked into a table. His long legs moved to react, to right himself, but someone shattered a chair over the head of a frog-faced man next to him. The frog thing fell into Morgan, and the musician went down face-first into someone's wine-bottle. The bottle shattered and Morgan tasted blood mixed with the red wine.

He shoved the frog thing away, harder than he had intended. The thing (maybe it was a woman?) sprawled hard across the floor. Morgan thought he heard something snap, then it's throat ballooned out and it made a shrill croaking sound. Something wooden smashed into the back of Morgan's head, splinters everywhere.

Morgan stood, turned, and clutched the shirtfront of a green orangutan. With a foaming snarl he hurled the thing. It shrieked as it soared over the crowd, which was now in a frenzy, clawing and smashing at itself.

With a look of horror, Morgan realized he was fast losing control. This wasn't his magic, but it was certainly rousing that darker part that he struggled with. He shut his good eye tight and stood his ground. Lifting his violin, he set his bow to the strings and played.

It wasn't much, really. Just eight simple notes played in a variety of rhythmns, a Canon of order keening through the screams and panic. Illusory knives turned to ash as they flew at him. Real patrons charged at him in the forms of grotesque beasts only to revert to themselves and collapse as they crossed into the threshold of his music. The sphere expanded and contracted with the volume of his playing, but it generally formed a 10-foot sphere of Normal in the madness.

Morgan was feeling sick to his stomach as he realized there was a gnawing part of him that wanted to play something much, much worse. Using the music as cover, he retreated quickly into a small anteroom and slammed shut the door behind him. The room was pitch black. Morgan could hear the riot in the Common Room, see shadows fleeting across the floor.

He slumped against the locked door, feeling the cold of sweat dripping down the small of his back, across his forehead. He felt as though he were about to vomit. His face was burning with wine and injury. The back of his head throbbed.

And he started to laugh. A chuckle, a cackle, then a mad gale of shrieking laughter.

Gods but this isn't right... part of him whispered in the dark.


Rhysis
The elder watched with an emotionless glare as he saw the strands of illusionary power weave into the crowd, and observed the effects they had before their creator departed his rooftop and moved to enter a building nearby with the strong sense of totem magic inside. Some of the people had strong enough minds to fight the effects off. Even some of them were intelligent enough to get out of harms way before everything erupted into a cataclysm of mayhem. Most, however, were not so fortunate.

He was the continuous overwatcher as the magical sounds of the violin broke off part of the illusion's hold.

He found it interesting to note the strong concentration of vampiric creatures in this city. It seems the stereotypes for kindred were not all the inaccurate, afterall. Still, even with the mass of similar creatures, he concentrated on one, in particular. A female vampire, accompanied by a demon, was a particularly odd occurance. Demons, for the most part, would not willingly interact with anything not of their own plane. Certain types of casters were, perhaps, the only exception for the general populace. Still, approaching the scene of chaos at the pub, was Anna, with a willing demon traveling right alongside her. It would be something of note to see what she made of the particular situation.

SinfulFeline
The shadow rat made its way down to the street and traveled along the ground close the buildings edges. It paused several feet from the vampire in the shadows, just long enough to get a look at him, knowing his mistress would want this information.
It then traveled across the street, pausing beside the Bronze Zombie to sniff here and there at the pieces of blood soaked flesh that adorned the sidewalk, before seeking out a crack in the wall. Once located the rat slipped through a hole and traveled alone the inside of the wall, pausing every once in awhile to peer into the main room and the chaos that was taking place. The rat knew this information would be of use as well, but only a little was needed to convey that fact that few inside the building would survive the on slaught of what ever being had let loose the deathly chaos with in.
The rat traveled onward through the walls tell it reached the anteroom and like before it peered into the room and found but one individual who seemed to be lost in the utter madness of laughter then began speaking to himself. Perhaps he had information the rats mistress would need. The rat slipped into the shadows of the room, curled tightly behind some discarded trash and waited with listening ears.

Something in the room where Tala sat changed. The fine hairs upon her arms and the nape of her neck stirred as if brushed by something unseen. Her eyes narrowed as she scanned the outside once more, knowing she must be missing something, her eyes flowed past the vampire, witnessed his gathering of a meal, with disgust she turned her eyes away and scanned the rooftop. It looked empty just as it had after the man seemed to have vanished, but now it felt empty as well.
The sound of footfalls on the stairs below her chosen room brought her to her feet. She knew there would be very little point in hiding, who ever entered sounded like they knew where they where going, straight towards her. She turned to face the door, the light eerie green of her eyes framed by long midnight hair stood out in the nearly pitch black room and there was little she could do to hide that. She readied herself, standing at her full height of 5’3", she did not look to be much of a battle, but looks are deceptive.
Clad in knee high leather boots, a leather loin cloth and strips of the same soft black leather binding her breasts, she might look like an escapee from the jungle if it where not for the tattoo’s that adorned almost every inch of bared flesh below her neck line. The adrenaline now pumping though her system awakened the ink upon her flesh, causing each tattoo to move, shift, or slide across her skin like living shadows.
All but one tribal was awakened and in movement, one however awaited words of release, her hand rested over this mark upon her upper thigh and the words where ready upon her lips. She had learned over the years it was better to be ready for a battle, but not wise to jump into one before knowing if what came for her was one she needed to battle or hear out.
Perhaps who ever this creature was could shed light upon all this endless darkness, perhaps the creature meant to make her into a meal like those the vampire had slaughtered on the streets below. Either way, for the moment she would wait.

Daelan
Morgan had a stupid grin on his face. Laughter had left him, but its evidence remained after the emotion (madness?) had fled. He felt his face smiling and willed it to loosen. For an instant he missed the feeling of it, the wild freedom. He regretted it immediatley.

"Gods. What the devil is wrong with me..." The question was it's own answer. It's the same thing that's been wrong with him for a century and more. It had a name better left unsaid.

He heard a scratching to his left. He lowered himself, sat on the floor and sighed. Morgan cradled his violin in his long arms like a small child. He narrowed his eye, peering at the rat. Had he heard it, or felt it? Magic again. Was this the magic that was making the others insane? That had made him insane?

He reached for the eyepatch. His fingers froze against the intricately tooled leather. "I must be losing my mind." With a deep breath he steeled himself. If this magical rat were part of the spell, and there was a way to stop it... Well, the only way to know was to look.

He lifted the patch.

Lowthor
Arthur saw both the illusion, and reality, and a part of him managed to work out which was which. The fact his great grandmother was a fae generally caused him trouble, but today it seemed to be helping. When the vampires at the table he was watching started to fight the others around them, he seized the opportunity. In a rapid motion he pulled out his pistols and fired. The lead balls hit the two nearest vampires, each in the neck. They went down, but he knew they would be back up, so he tucked the pistols back into his coat, grabbed his rifle and after climing onto his table he leaped at them.

One of the three vampires still standing spotted him and took him for a giant wererat. It tried to catch him, but he smashed the butt of his rifle into the vampire's face as he landed, span it around and fired point blank into its chest. It too went down. He now wielded the rifle like a club and smashed it into the face of one of the first vampire's he layed out, then put his boot through the leg of an upturned chair. The chair leg made a perfect stake, and the first vampire died.

The next vampire he took the easy route with and set it aflame. A bottle of whiskey and a candle did the job, and removed the need for magic. That left three, and only one of them was actually aware of him. He dropped his rifle and drew a pair of wicked looking knives, the largest he had. As the vampire turned and threw a punch that knocked the beast hunter back, he swung at it with the blade in his left hand. It almost lost a hand, the appendage only attached by a scrap of flesh. A one handed vampire is still dangerous, and it leaped at Arthur. He was thrown to the floor, under its weight, and his bowler hat landed next to him.

"Not the hat. Ye'll pay for that ye filthy c**t" He jammed both knives into the vampires neck, and twisted. The head almost came off, and he managed to roll so the vampire was beneath him. There was another chunk of wood, and he jammed it into the bloodsucker's heart. Three down, and the other two didn't know he was there. They were battling with what they thought were a pair of trolls, but which were actually just women.

He extracted his knives from the corpse on the floor, sheathed them and put his hat back on. A man behind him tried to hit him with a chair, but he dodged it and booted him in the gut. The last two vampires he finished off with relative ease. He just grabbed two chair legs and staked them at once whilst they were wrestling atop the two "trolls".

"Not bad Arthur. Have to buy whomever did that a drink." He picked up his rifle and lit another cigar, before heading towards one of the back rooms to avoid the rest of the battle. It just happened that it was Morgan's door. He tried to open it, then put his shoulder to it, before he tried shouting. "Open the door mate. I'm not a gorilla, or a troll. Nowt like that."

Colvin
He had ascended these stairs, believing he'd encounter just another worthless person who preferred to watch instead of involving herself in the antics of the inebriated flock of sheep below. The slaughter sent a pleasurable chill down this man's spine, a feeling of accomplishment making him smile though his invisibility would not allow Tala to see that just yet. Blood trickled down his cheek, completely visible to her if her eyes were quick enough to catch it hovering before her. He had stopped himself, looking at her attire and suddenly fixated on her entire body. His eyes stared directly at the swirling and moving figures along her body, intrigued by her defensive stance and marvelled by the primal allure she exuded. Her clothing would have easily set her apart from the rest but since he didn't think wasting time admiring her excellent choice in attire was best, he started to walk past her, searching for a good view of the carnage he jumpstarted within the Bronze Zombie.

The cloak he had been wearing slowly began to come into view. His illusion faded, hardly revealing anything important until he let the hood of his cloak slide off of his head. Dark follicles waivered in the air, tawny flesh glistened in what little light was provided and blood still trickled down his cheek and sides. Metallic appendages tapped along the windowsill and he suddenly decided to speak, his baritone voice spilling out rather nonchalantly given the tension that Tala seemed to feel. "What a wonderful sight dont you think? Pathetic whelps had it coming." His eyes closed and he inhaled, taking in the pleasurable smell of death and meditating in the wonderful sounds of agony that wafted through the air. Malek had been noticed, taking advantage of the gift he had been given. He was unsure about Arthur or Morgan nor did he even care. Their deaths would only prove the worthlessness of their lives.

His head snapped back to look at wherever Tala decided to place herself at now, complete white staring at her body analytically. Oddly infatuated with the tribal decorations along her body, he'd listen to her response though it would be unknown whether or not he was staring at her face or at the rest of her body. There was the slightest hint of a sardonic smirk along his face, while he continued to enjoy himself, a small breeze wafting the smells of burning flesh and charred structures. The veinous structure of his body pulsated with a certain high that he held no shame in hiding. Had he truly wanted to ensure the deaths of those within then he would have entered the establishment on his own but something brought him here. Though he was not sure what, he could not say that he wasn't enjoying himself.

Corey
With each step back into the alley, the blood that colored the vampire’s skin slowly drained from his face and extremities, leaving his body a certain pale. His bare feet grabbed at the sidewalk, with claws extended from each toe that ripped through trash and scaled through the blood that now overtook the alley. The body was not hard to find, perched up against a building’s wall, completely enveloped in darkness. The bright red eyes of Malek found the form instantly, and the blood found his nose before he even came back. Certain calmness seemed to flow around the vampire as he stalked closer to his dying prey, and once he stood directly above the carnage, fingers extended and a cracking sound muffled from the bones as claws pulled out from under the skin of his fingers. His head pulled back in almost painful type expression, convulsion sent his neck rolling followed by a muffled moan which turned into a deadly roar once an animal like nozzle extended from his face. Unsure and lost with rage, the now beast like vampire bent down low quickly, and sent the fangs deep into the neck of the faceless prey, and would continue to completely devour the body, something uncommon for many vampires.

SinfulFeline
The rat made no move to run from Morgan, nor towards him. It simply uncurled and stood on all fours seeming to look the man over and take in his details. As soon as the man stared to speak, the rat balanced upon its back legs and chattered back at him as if trying to make its self-understood, to make its reason for invading the man’s space clear. Whether Morgan understood that it was saying, it was only gathering information for it’s mistress and truly meant the man no harm, would be up to Morgan. The sudden banging and yelling at the door however frightened the sensible rat into scrambling to the farthest wall of the chamber, where the hole it had entered through was. It now glanced between Morgan and the shaking door.

She felt the air with in the room change and knew she was no longer alone. Tala’s eye where very keen and she caught the sight of blood drifting in the air and turned her body to follow the path it took to arrive at the window. She watched as the illusion the man had in place vanished, catching as many details as she could, but made no move to neither flee nor alter the look upon her face, which was one of no real true emotion one way or another. Once he spoke however, her left brow arched then lowered as she glanced past him for a moment and out the window to catch a glance at the slaughter going on outside. When she spoke her voice was soft but held no fear or glee, it was more of a matter of fact kind of tone.

"An interesting sight perhaps.... The lost always flock together, as if asking to be slaughtered all at one time...."

She did not flinch, nor step back as he turned to face her. Instead, she stood where she had been, her stance changing very little, with her hand still resting upon her upper thigh and the other now placed upon her hip. She assumed he was studying her form, this was something she was use to; she knew she was of interest, an oddity of the flesh. So instead of trying to hide her form she simply looked into the dead whiteness of his eyes tell she felt they must have returned to her face before speaking again in the same tone as before.

" The energy flowing in this place has awakened them, so yes, they move with life of there own."

She then became silent, waiting for him to either speak again or move once more. At this moment she was still unsure of his intent and until she knew she would not act.

Daelan
Woman. Face over beast. Beasts over form. Form over soul. Woman and rat and more, the Beastess. Outlined in red and yellow, like a photo with its colors intensified, overcontrasted.

For a moment, Morgan saw the tattoo that had been the rat. Then the nature of its magic setting it into the world. Then, as in reverse, the sights it had seen on its way from the woman to where he saw the creature here. It was not part of the Chaos spell.

"You're an avatar. An ink golem, for lack of a better..."

WHUMPWHUMPWHUMP!!!

Through the door, over the din, came a voice: "Open the door mate. I'm not a gorilla, or a troll. Nowt like that."

Morgan winced as he reached up to his eyepatch. He would like to investigate this creature, and the woman it came from. He should play for it and see if it would dance for him as it did for her. But more pressing concerns. He looked through the door and saw the man behind it. This one seemed not to be lost to the magic. A glow somewhere in him looked mystic, probably forest magic?

Seeing through the Eye was like being God for a while. You could take in so much, absorb so much knowledge. Effortlessly... But the secrets followed. The hate, the pain you saw in people. God, is everybody miserable? Do we all secretly wonder why we bother with any of it..?

Lowering the patch was like corking a bottle of Sun. Suddenly he felt blind. He sat the violin on the floor.

"..."

He opened the door, grabbed at Arthur's collar, and would jerk the man inside, slamming the door immediately after.

"You have killed hundreds without taking life," Morgan said, as if that were a greeting. He suddenly felt like an idiot. Sometimes he said things like that, things that he shouldn't know. It felt like a confession, but inevitably it put people off. In a hundred-plus years, he could only count his friends on one hand because of stupid things like that...

He lifted his head, catching the scent of smoke. "Fire. This place is burning." He picked up the violin and held the bow to the strings once more. "I am Morgan," he said.

Colvin
Once Tala explained her tattoos he could care less. What had intrigued him about them was the simple notion that her power resided in her superficial decorations and it seemed to suit her rather well. He shifted to look through the window, spotting the spreading fire and shaking his head. The premature death of everyone within that area would ruin his attempt at prolonging this almost euphoric sensation that trickled down his spine. If such a minor illusion caused this much destruction he could only imagine what else he could create. Yet, when he realized what he was conforming to, he had to let out a sigh. Placing such volatile elements into one system would surely have some sort of finalization now wouldn't it? Was he now a pawn within some spectator's grasp? The fact Tala was behind him still seemed to elude him for a few seconds.

The self-sufficient illusion would remain but its creator suddenly grasped his head. A mixture of anger and disappointment tainted his mind before he snapped his gaze back toward Tala and prepared himself to speak. A knee would be placed on the furniture she had used to relax before he had arrived, eyes blatantly staring at her face. "Do you not enjoy what is transpiring within that conglomerate of filth and vices?" He inquired, readily awaiting her response while his hands now fidgeted within his cloak. A flash of black ooze shot across his eyes, temporarily blinding him until it receded back into his body. Eventually he'd begin to move to stand directly infront of the woman, simply out of habit while speaking. Metallic boots tapped against the floor audibly now and he'd let his eyes move down her form again, taking great note of the positions of her hands.

"This land must be purged just like any other....I was brought here for that reason."

His expression was entirely fanatical now. He moved even closer now, inclining his head forward to look at her face, almost searching for any semblance of understanding. Digits fidgeted within his cloak before those metallic appendages on his fingers emerged once again, snapping in a way that might have made her think he was going to attack. His cloak opened up to reveal black silk, arms crossing at his chest. Fixated on her upper thigh, his imagination suddenly got the best of him. What thoughts were brewing within his mind were completely up in the air. He was no typical male....

Rhysis
Neutrality was an odd sort of existence. Those of a more chaotic alignment swore you were a being of holy devotion. Those who leaned more to the side of light would view your actions as corrupt and pitiful. Fang had no concern for it, either way.

As he looked on the scene of chaos created from the intricate illusion, and witnessed the death that resulted, he waited. He waited for a time when the actions of one, and the resulting actions of many, would even out the balance of that place, if even for a short time. Finally, as the hunter attempted to take the lives of the vampires, it happened.

Fang descended from the roof with no more showboating than what was required to simply drop to the ground and land in complete silence, quite a feat considering the armor he was wearing. He strode into the establishment and immediatly lifted his arm to stop a wooden keg that had been thrown at someone across the doorway. It shattered against the enchanted armor but, surprisingly, had no effect on the seemingly cloth overcloak.

With a flash of yellow in his eyes and a forced thought, the illusion shattered. Raving manbeasts and enraged ogres once again became washed up rogues and street vendors. Artifical flames were extinguished in a blink and authentic ones were put out with a secondary effort of elemental summoning.

Fang looked around to the dead and dying. Those who could have their lives saved without intense concentration on his part, he did. They were considerably few, as healing was hardly one of his more extreme talents. Still, through use of his weapon, SevenStars, there were some who would live.

He found it interesting to note that the hunter believed that staking a vampire killed it. Such was a common misconception. Still, such an act merely put the undead creatures into a state of torpor, a sort of unwaking coma. But, while in such a condition, they could also not use the power of their blood to heal. Thus, the vampires who had been wounded before having the wooden stakes shoved into their chests would likely go into a rage from lack of blood if they were revived. Fang finished them off via decapitation. However, the two who had simply been staked were easily enough revived. He pulled the wodden parts from their bodies, and held them in place via a weight of air until they regained their composure enough to not instantly attack the first possible victim they saw.

Fang looked around. There was a great deal of distressed emotion. But, through the odd combination of deserved and undeserved death, the equal measure between light and darkness had been reached. Fang departed the pub, once more, and reappeared on the roof. As if in response to the reaching of a light and dark balance in this place, the realm's sun began to peak over the horizon. It would seem Fang had been mistaken in his thoughts that this place did not have daylight.

Those sensitive to daylight would feel the need to seek shelter. Luckily, it was not yet high enough to cause them any harm. However, there was no question that the time they had before it would be in such a place was short.

Corey
The human body was nearly devoured from the waist up to leave fleshly legs and a skeleton top, before Malek realized the heat moving into the alley way. It was just a simple flinch of his head, and all humanity returned to the vampire’s own face, his face was struck with clarity and his memories seemed to be in order for the time being. He shook his head to clear away the confusion as he stood, blood dripped between his fingers and clotted amongst his clothes. His forearm wiped away his lips and cheeks, leaving spots upon his face that he did not get to. Malek looked like a child after eating ice cream, only the ice cream was spots of blood.

The red eyes went back down to the bones and flesh, and instantly his face turned sour, savage thoughts of himself entered his mind, how low had he become? How lost was his soul?

The heat came again, pushing him to look back out into the street where the orange glow of flames sparkled and the heat waved like a fan. He dared to take a couple of steps to the corner of the building, leaning his head out to collect the sight. For a second he forgot where he was, the fire bringing much confusion to his fading memory. His eyes then found the roof, and he remembered the man on the roof, then the slaughter and his beast like carnage. His conscience felt terrible, a conscience molded by ideas and morals, but feelings were long departed with those that molded his conscience.

The warmth alerted him once again, and a clawed hand went to coaxing the matted hair upon his head. He needed to stay ready and stay away from the weak thoughts. He was alone in this place where keen spirits would survive, but the vampire looked back to the roof hoping to catch another glimpse of the strange man, hoping to feel more connected to his conscience by finding acceptance in this strange existence.

A gnawing began to tear at his mind, the thoughts raging his frame into a fit, his arm wails and flings around his side smashing into the brick wall of the building. There was no pain as a piece of the wall rocked to nothing, dust mixing in with smoke of the fire, rocks creating their extra sounds to the mix as they smacked to the alley ground. Humanity had lost him, his body needed to move with each passing second if felt as something would burst and wouldn’t slow. He looked down to his hands, claws extending further from the nails, and without a thought he turned to face the wall sending the claws within the brick. His feet were bare, the claws also gashing out, helping him to scale the wall with spider like grace.

The top of the building was peaceful, a nice view of fire and the constant variety of smells that kept the animal within him to rest. He leaned back, and came to sit against a ledge, if he thought about anything, he thought about himself. He then caught a glance of Fang returning to his own roof, Malek did not make an attempt to get up and speak, it was out of his nature, but he did stare, his primal auras showing no heed of an attack, something the other probably felt as a peaceful type call between the same species.

SinfulFeline
The rat pressed its self against the wall, frozen; only its eyes gazed from one man to the other. Unlike any normal city rat, its stare was one of great interest, not fear, at the commotion this new being brought to the tiny room. However, the moment Morgan brought his bow to the strings the rat once more became animated and perched upon its hind legs to stare intently at the man who held music with in his grasp.

Tala stood stock-still; so far, nothing this man had done or said had shocked her senses. The world outside was chaos, those foolish to believe everything they saw with out questioning their visions deserved none of her pity. When the man spoke his questions and invaded her personal space, she still did not move back, nor change the expression upon her face, instead her tone remained the same and she answered with exactly what she thought.
"Those who play with death find it hard when their own time is up. They struggle to evade but in truth they only prolong the pain they bring upon themselves."

She paused for a moment, slightly cocking her head to the left before righting it once more, her lips pursed in thought for a fraction of time, even as her eyes noted his movements. The only change in her stance was the hand upon her hip; it simply dropped to lay its fingers over a shadow form upon the other thigh.

"Brought here to judge each and every, Or to just wipe the plate clean? Many now trapped here may make that job a tad easier with their blood lust"

She gave a slight nod of her head, more to herself then to him once she was done speaking the last words.

Her strangely tinted eyes narrowed faintly as his jacket opened to reveal what lay with in. These same strange eyes took each feature of this man before her in with interest that barely showed upon her delicately featured face. Even when the coils moved and another being might have taken it as a sign of impending danger, she still stood her grounds. The fine ink upon her flesh had so far not given her any reason to take action, and they had always been her protectors while she theirs. Instead of fright, she showed interest in his odd fascination of her form and followed his eyes to her hand, then stated matter of factly.

"You wonder....? "
Her fingertips faintly tapping the ink beneath them.

She left it as a question; she thought that he must wonder what lay beneath her hands, for she felt no lustfulness in his stare. Had he had that sort of action in mind she would have reacted in outrage of one form or another. She felt the air grow warmer and thought perhaps what would pass as day was awakening, so she wondered as well if this man would flee the coming sun or stay and continue this oddly intriguing half staring contest, half conversation.

Lowthor
"Fire might de some good" he said in response to Morgan, then looked down at the rat. He'd never seen anything quite like it, so he just took a puff of his cigar and waited to see what would happen. There was a small window at the other end of the room that he might be able to get through if he needed to. He was slightly annoyed that he'd not been able to really finish all of the vampires off, but hopefully the fire would take care of them.

Colvin
The white void continued to stare at the curves of this woman's body, taking great note of the mobile images that slid across her alluring frame. Lust was not something that did not exist within this man, but he did not need to be so blatant like the others. His intrigue lied partly upon her beauty though the fact that her skin seemed to come alive with those movements caught most of his attention. Would she have noticed the fact that he was bleeding upon his side as well? The pulsating sensation of the pain was comforting, yet teased him to no end. One with enough analization would wonder why someone so obsessed with delivering death did not simply kill himself. He was not dead to these world's vices and primal attractions, and such was obvious in the way he had moved so close to her. This kind of proximity was not needed to observe what lingered along her body.

Nevertheless, she seemed comfortable with it all, not moving away from him and responding rather lucidly to him. His head snapped toward the window again, noticing that the illusion had been removed but noticing something far more important. There was a sort of kindred sensation lingering in that direction that he was unsure about. The familiarity he felt along with the instability of it all caused him to stare rather blankly there, too far away to take a good look through the window but sure that someone over there was worth investigating further. It was a rarity when there were beings who understood each other completely. His head slowly turned to look at Tala again, an almost infantile curiousity fixating upon the ink before he started to speak. "I am simply here to purge the filth of these lands, purifying it and destroying those who are not worthy of what they had been given. What is your purpose? Does your blood lust tempt you to make your cause parallel to my own?"

He continued to stare at her thigh, even as he spoke, a right foot moving just one step closer while he inclined his body to get an even closer look. It had been at that time that she asked him if he wondered about it. He remained silent, observing the ink until a hand thrusted outward with massive speed, palm aiming to plant itself right on to her thigh. His proximity to her might have aided his success in this action. The reasoning behind it was not truly perverse though the obvious repercussions of such contact would cause him to hesitate just a little. Fingertips would aim to rub along the flesh he came in contact with it, wanting to understand the texture of this ink-tainted flesh. If his bold action was denied, then he'd simply skip his perusal of her form and speak in response to her question. "Perhaps...." The fact that the sun was rising was ignored though he very much preferred the cool breeze of the night. His interest in her had not diminished any, but that didn't mean anything positive most of the time.

SinfulFeline
The mans closeness to her form agitated the marks more and more with each growing moment. Their movement increased tell they seemed to flow over one another in such a speedy manor that they where almost one solid mass. Still Tala remained unmoved, her eyes never leaving the mans face. She noticed the blood flowing from the wound, but she figured the man must know he was injured and either enjoyed the pain it brought or had the ability to block out the sensation. Once more he seemed to ask the same questions but phrased it differently, once more she answered with the same un-nerved tone.

"Why am I here, my purpose in the land of utter chaos?

She paused, debating the answer. She could give him a small half-truth or the reason she had been in this place when the boundaries became impassable. With an almost un-hearable sigh of disgust, she spoke once more.

"I came here while tracking one who has crimes he must pay for... But fate seemed to have thought it better another end the mans life, then allow him to die by my hands."

The second half of his questions once more left her at a loss, for she was unsure of what his blood lust truly was. Was he here to kill all and any, or to kill those who deserved to die because of their own actions? Rather then fumble an answer she thought it better to simply ask him.

"Are you here to take lives of any and all that come into your range, to seek out those whose deaths are warranted? Or do you plan to; just kill no matter whether the blood is of innocents or taint? "

She saw his movements; she had enough time in which she could have uttered words that would have made her form untouchable before his flesh connected with her own. Nevertheless, she did not do so, she did not feel he meant her harm, nor did she feel he meant to attack her sexually or with violence. No, instead she felt his curiosity and though his movements where swift and rather childishly bold she held her ground with very little reaction other then to try to tell him....

"I don’t think yo .... "

To late, her words unfinished as his flesh connected with both her flesh and the dark flowing ink mark that lay beneath her hand. Instantly the ink would flow over his hand, in fact it would flow over his whole form in a matter of seconds. It would gather information in deep detail in a flash of time, then just as quickly as it flowed from her skin to his form, it would flow back to her flesh. It would cause no more then a slight tingling sensation when it was connected to him and leave no trace that it ever had been there once returned.

She watched him, waiting for his reaction and fully ready now to depart should the inks invasion of his form cause him to become violent in any manor.

Colvin
As his hands came in contact with her thigh, eyes widened in surprise. Chills ran down his entire body at the sensation of her flesh against his own, the texture of her body entertaining him to no end. Digits pressed hard into what would be her inner thigh, sliding against the fabric of her attire before his brow was arched. His perusal of her form had become mechanical, involuntarily insinuating an attraction until he felt the ink start to flow over his arm and scan his entire body. The tingling sensation coupled by the excited feelings of his form caused his lips to part but nothing escaped his throat. His fingers only gripped on to her flesh even harder before the tingle was no longer present. The questions she had asked before had been left unanswered as he had become too involved in his contact with her. Eventually, he recalled them, his hand failing to leave her thigh just yet.

"The lives of the wicked are the ones that will end. Your reason for being here is no different than mine."

Fingers slid along her flesh until he lifted himself completely up, letting that hand slide hesitantly off of her leg. Complete white still stared vehemently at her entire form, tacit admiration suddenly infusing itself with his actions as he made sure to keep himself exactly where he was. To advance any further would ruin the moment. Instead, he stood exactly where he was and simply continued to stare. The chaos within the Bronze Zombie was starting to fade away, order soon ready to restore itself there though it was none of his concern. The initial sweep had been executed and now it was simply time to distract himself in something else. Tala was immediately considered an acquaintance of convenience, his intrigue allowing him to relax for the time being.

"What is your name?"

The simplistic question was followed by a shift in his stance, allowing his left foot to meet with his right and inadvertently come closer to her form. Arms crossed against his chest once again, blood slightly trickling down his side. His cheek still had that cut upon it as well but he was now oblivious to the marring effects of his own actions. This woman before him would not have received much about him after her intrusive ink trick. The only true news she'd uncover was the existence of yet another entity within him, blocking any true extraction of information. It protected its host with its own existence, selfishly ensuring its own survival. That parasitic ooze slid through every vein in his body only strengthening its bond with its host as each second passed. What that entailed was beyond Xanatos, but nothing bad has ever come from it...he knew that much.

StrAtiS
Krath walked the dark streets every night. Sometimes looking for "fun," and other times, to clear his throbbing head.
They were talking to him again. The voices. They told him to kill, they told him it was his destiny to destroy.

"No!" he said aloud, "not my destiny to destroy."

"Wa's s'at boss?" asked Jimmy, the skeleton clacking beside him.

Krath looked at the pile of bones. What did he know. If it wasn't for Krath, Jimmy wouldn't even exist. He owed it nothing, not even an explanation to a "random" statement.

"It shouldn't be so intrusive Krath," said one of the voices,"Make it understand will you." With that, Krath stopped.

Jimmy kept walking for a moment, then he noticed that his master was not with him. Turning around, he saw that Lord Krath had stopped. Why, he wondered. He walked toward Krath. He was just standing there, his head hung, and his face shrouded by shadow. This couldn't be good. Maybe he had found something that he was looking for. He did that alot, and for no reason. Jimmy didnt know what it meant, but every time Krath "found" something, someone ended up getting hurt.

Getting closer, Jimmy tilted his skull to try and look into his masters eyes, not that he had any of his own to see with, "Everything okay boss?" he asked.

"It's getting nosier Krath, see to that, or we'll make you do things you really dont want to do." said a voice. A different one from the first, this one was female, and had a venomous tone to it.

Jimmy kept getting closer, "Boss?"

Krath's hand moved to the small of his back. He lifted one of the coat tails on his suit, and grabbed a small metal cylinder that was clipped to his belt. Lowering his hand to his side, he loosened his grip, and the cylinder changed. The sound of metal scrapping against metal chimmed the coming slaughter. Destroyer was loosed, and destroy it would.

"Stop asking questions Jimmy." sneared Krath, bearing an evil grin. "Or a garauntee you will not care for the answer."

Krath and taken out Destroyer. This was not going to be good. Jimmy straightened himself and stopped walking toward the evil "cleric."

Raising his hands,"Now boss, I didnt mean nothin' by it, I was jus' conserned for ya. Ya know." He started to back away. Whenever Destroyer was out, something bad happened. Come to think of it, the only times Jimmy had seen Destroyer were just before Krath either killed someone, or something.

The large axe swung earily gracefully in its weilders hand, and when the glint of steel was gone, and the sounds of metal scrapping were done, Krath reclipped it to his belt, and started to walk away.

He turned his head,"Now get yourself together and catch up, or Ill leave you for a doggy treat." Then he adjusted his suit and strolled off into the dark.

Jimmy was looking at the ground. He never really could figure out how cobblestones could still hurt when he hit them, but it did. He may have even chipped a tooth this time. Now he was looking at his body, as he reattached his own head.

"Comin' boss." he said, snapping his neck, and brushing the dirt off his shoulder.

Moments later, two figures walked into The Bronze Zombie. A large man in a black suit. A preachers collar around his neck. He was followed very closely by a scrawny man, wearing a purple and black striped suit, with a matching top hat. The scrawny man walks into the center of the room, and clears his throat.

Raising his arms to shoulder height, he says,"Fine patrons of this establishment," his voice made of gravel,"Allow me to introduce you to Krath the Vicious, slayer of Kings, crusher of kingdoms, and crazier than any meatsack I know." He bows slightly, points toward the preacher, and removes his hat, revealing a skull with one very shiney gold tooth, and a very evil grin.

(((probably not the best, but Oh well...)))


Daelan
Morgan was feeling tense. Angry, even, and for no good reason, really, but there it was. He reached up and touched the spot on his face that had been smashed against the wine bottle. His fingers came away dry. The gash was gone, only a thin crust of dried blood remained. It still smelled of cheap red wine.

With a grimace, he played a few notes on the violin. "I could clear us a path out of here, but it feels like the magic has faded. I think," he played up a quick riff, plucking a string here and there for a different tone. "Yes, the magic has passed."

Morgan played again, a little dancing tune, more for the rat than anyone else. In truth, playing calmed him. It was an effective way to release tension without hurting people. Usually.

All the violence, the insanity of the last several minutes, left him feeling raw and wound too tight. A disconcerting part of him wanted to tear into the music and rip out a note to maim, to rend. A Song to bleed by. Tormente en Allegro.

Instead, he played a jaunty little dance, feeling the frustration slowly ebbing from him and into the violin. The Demon grew silent. Morgan smiled and closed his eyes. With a deep sigh, he continued to play.

Corey
The night sky seemed like it was about to go and the mornings smells of dew were coming to his nose. The vampire notice these things amidst all of the chaos, his form still sitting on a roof, mind seeming to come to sense as the area was sort of relaxing in the shadows. His red eyes would blink away, the lids allowing more rest as his mind thought of what to do. Malek had the sense that he was stuck here in this town, and that he should seek refuge.

He stood after thinking for several minutes, then his mind had an idea and he closed his eyes again. Malek concentrated hard, and the veins upon his arms began to churn with blood. Then a sudden burst of energy waved from his form and his body seemed to melt like wax into a puddle upon the roof. Slowly, like a salt falling through an hour glass, his liquid like form slipped through the roof, and dripped into the room underneath him. It didn’t take long for the liquid to drip into a puddle of grayish gunk, and then electrical sparkles of light shot through the air, the liquid waving up crazily and soon hardening into the form of Malek, standing in the unknown room. It was dark, and it smelled of human. Visions shot back to his mind, his red eyes swinging to both sides looking for anyone. He could only see two doors, a bed and table that seemed to be broken. Items were scoured every, bread and dishes mainly, as if the person took a quick leave.

Malek walked to the window looking out to the main street and the pub, the lower half of the window looked as if it had been busted out by a rock and glass lay scoured along the wooden floorboard. He thought the smell of human flesh was becoming stronger and his head twisted to the door at his side, and with melodically steps his hand soon found the handle, pulling it open quickly. Something stirred, and his eyes caught soon caught the movement. A child, near the age of five, and instantly and yelled at the top of its lungs…

Daelan
"I'm in hell. It finally happened. I'm dead and I'm now in hell."

Traven's head thundered. "Like to know who hammered my skull..." he muttered, standing up slowly. The room spun. He leaned up against the bar, only opening his eyes when he touched something wet and stringy. It was bloody hair, attached to what had been Sherinne. "You were a lousy barmaid anyway," he groaned as he shoved her naked body off the bartop. It rolled off the one standing stool and dropped into the shattered remains of an alekeg, arms and legs lolling in all directions.

Traven poured himself a drink, surveying the room. There was carnage. people dead and dying, embers and smoke, broken chairs, broken tables, broken bottles, broken glasses. The stair rail was broken. Half the wall leading into the storeroom was a gaping hole. Chickens, deer, beef, all strewn across the floor stomped, ruined, and wasted. And someone was missing about a mile of intestine. Or rather it was stretched out across the room.

The color drained from Traven's face as he looked around. He didn't see dead people or broken barstools. He saw gold. In every shattered bottle, every splintered chair, every broken glass, all were gold to him. Down to his last coin, Traven had invested in the Festival. Every year he'd made a small fortune and every year he'd wanted more. This year he meant to take it, all at once, and to do that he needed stockpiles of all the finest foods, the strongest drinks, the best whores. Ruined, spilled, dead. And with it his livelihood.

People were groaning, getting up, struggling to their feet. A skeleton walked in the door and announced some guy in a suit. Traven just scowled. "I'm ruined," the snarled, staring into his untouched firebrew. He hurled the glass away to shatter against the wall, only it flew out through the hole into what had been a storeroom. Someone cried out when the glass shattered.

Traven turned red from his mop of brown hair to the collar of his leather jerkin. Fists the size of small melons grasped at air and he would have screamed..! but suddenly it all left him. He slumped down below the bar and fell in a heap, leaning against what had been an ice chest, now shattered. Traven felt the cold of the wet floor seeping up his left leg. "I've seen worse fights. Worse injury, worse death and mayhem... but never such bloody awful timing! I'm done. Even if I could afford to repair the place, I've lost a good hundred thousand gold in stock. The booze alone was over 70-thousand..."

The enormity of it was sinking in, and Traven --who had not had a moist eye in well over 35 years-- let his face fall into a burly hand. He grasped his jaw, eyes gaping at the thought of being penniless, homeless (he slept upstairs for gods' sake! Something.. someONE?? was dripping down from up there. It must be a ruin as well...). He'd be a nobody again. Another mercenary, another nameless fool. The Bronze Zombie was his chance at living well for a change, and this festival would be his undoing.

He wished he'd had that drink after all. "I'm in hell," he nearly wept.

Anna
The Bronze Zombie had seem some pretty rowdy nights before, but the insanity of this particular evening almost took the prize. Almost that is, since many regular patrons still talked about the epic battle that was raged when the bartender ran out of olives the very same night that General Binto of Fik-Tara decided to visit. The only thing Binto liked better than olives was impaling rude bartenders over the horns of his riding-rhino.

Anna hadn't been there that night, but over the years she had certainly been told many different and conflicting versions of what had happened. One thing which was clearly fact was that the Zombie was almost completely trashed in the process. Another fact was that Liro, the owner at the time and fed up with the constant repairs, packed a bag, walked out the door and left Bakarne that very night. One rumour has it that he found a peaceful world on which he opened a bed and breakfast. Another rumour has it that to this day General Binto uses Liro's knuckle bones as dice.

And so when Anna literally popped into existence in the middle of the Bronze Zombie, upon seeing the carnage around her the first thing she did was quickly look out for a big fat lizard-man with Fik-Taran medals of honour dangling from his chest. Suddenly though, all thoughts of past bar brawls were gone from her mind, as all she could think of was the overwhelming desire to drink. The stench of blood was so thick in the air, it was as though she could already taste it, and it took every last bit of her willpower to maintain control and not just grab the nearest still-warm body and suck it dry. Pravus was not helping either; he stood at her side whining in the direction of some splayed out intestines.

A huge scaled hand settled on her shoulder. Lost in her hunger for a moment, Anna hadn't even noticed Alistair had also arrived. The break was all she needed to keep her sanity for the moment. She placed a small, pale hand over Alistairs clawed one, took a deep breath, and surveyed the room. She saw several strangers, most notably a walking skeleton, and then she spotted the owner having what looked to be a nervous breakdown behind the bar.

"Why Traven, what a fine mess you have here. I suppose requesting the usual glass might be a bit much to ask for this evening?"

Lowthor
Arthur had an ear to the door, mainly so one was safe from Morgan's music, but he was also waiting for the last of the fighting to stop. He heard Traven's rant over the odd groan from those still living, and laughed.

"Aye mate. You're in hell." He shook his head and tapped the ash from the end of his cigar with his middle finger, then put it back in his mouth. There were still five in his pocket, kept safe from damage in an engraved silver case. After that though he was going to need to find some more.

"Anything to drink in here?" Arthur asked, then spotted a box with the name of a good distillery on the side. Not the best, but far from the worst. He set about extracting the bottle, then pulled the cork out and took a swing. "Not bad. Had worse anyway." He nodded then opened the door and went back into the main room, whiskey in one hand, rifle in the other.

"Could be worse mate." He said to Traven and set the bottle down in front of the barkeep. "At least there's still something to drink". He kept his eyes away from Anna. He knew who she was, and he hoped to every god he could think of that she didn't know who he was.

Tifferzzz
The sweet haven of chaotic dreams left her in a slumber that she was pleasantly enjoying. The sounds of tragedy, death, and fear from below where she lay engorged her like a lullaby to a sleeping child.

But then the sounds ended and silence reigned once more.

Awakening from her dreams in a most dis-approving manner of the quiet that surrounded this place, the lids emerged to complete darkness. It was tolerable to say the least, and within the silence of one of the upstairs rooms, her own even tones of purring emanated across the walls. She was soothed and began to rise from the comfort of the bed.

Sheets fell from the nude form as she arose feeling a renewed sense of adrenaline course through her body, and a piece of something that she’d not experienced before. It was sweet, and she loved it…like a child with a new toy.

The sheets moved across the other slumbered form that lay beside her, but his slumber wouldn’t cease, for the pale body that remained beside her was frozen in the grasp of death.

Fluid movements had her rising from her state beside…him…and over to the mirror to admire the new sheen that captured her skin, the darkness of bronze that held a new kiss of richness to it, and the enhanced glow that captured the orbs as if a light were placed behind a vase filled with broken jewels. Indistinguishable in color, they were the danger that would lull her prey. Allow her to ‘taste’ them. To savor them.

Then she would devour them.

A spittle of blood lay on her cheek and she frowned softly feeling suddenly quite disgusted and almost ‘dirty.’ It wouldn’t take her long to bathe the stench of her victim from her body, to run a brush through the thick waves of mahogany locks. She wouldn’t wear her clothing that she’d arrived in. Instead, she had already pre-planned everything to such specifications that within the closet hung a dress of dark crimson velvet. The uniqueness in this dress was in the style that it presented. There wasn’t a single spec of visible flesh presented from beneath the dress. Yet, it held firmly enough to her body that should she need to move for any reason beyond just normal walking, then it was designed specifically to move with her, as if it were a part of her. It wouldn’t take her long to dress, and to conceal the two serrated daggers that she always kept on her.

With her shoulders back, and grace and poise that echoed a feline, she stepped from the darkness of the room, and closed the door. Laying her cloak over her shoulders and clasping it, she deemed it appropriate to take a leave from the tavern…

At least until the body was removed.

The sudden wave of alcohol, body odor, blood, and even urine slammed through her senses like a hammer. Still standing just outside her room’s door, she winced and closed her eyes for a moment as her body fought to regain control of the overwhelming sensitivity of her body.

All at once she felt powerful and fragile. She needed to find a place of nothing. A place without sounds or unusual smells, at least until her body re-accustomed to the new sensations that filled it like a drug.

Standing once more her lids parted to the hallway, and though the light was soft, to her it appeared as bright as if she were staring into the sun. Her pupils retracted to tiny pin-sized dots.

Her head began to throb.

This was definitely not the place that she wished to be at this moment.


The stench of the decaying on the other side of the door began to seep towards her like a mist sliding beneath the door. With a soft sneer of distaste she turned from the door as if it were an emanate danger to her and moved through the hall as silent as a ghostly apparition floating across it’s haunted corridor.

Descending the stairs, she knew the worst of the stenches was about to accumulate before her…for she had to move through the pub before exiting it, thus placing herself in the midst of the unclean and quite stench-filled patrons. With a mental nod, she prepared herself for the sounds, the smells, and even the taste of air that she was about to breathe.

Had that man’s life been worth it for what faced her at this very moment?

She didn’t have a doubt of it, for his life floated through her like a drug, sending all of her own abilities to their peak capacity. As such she needed to remain leery of forcing eye contact upon another. Her eyes, as such remained intentionally away from others.

She needed to control this new ability before she could gather another.
With a smile of sardonic satisfaction she savored the remembrance of vitae in her mouth and moved through the crowd…touching no one…thinking pleasantly upon the memory of last night - The gurgled attempt to scream as blood filled his lungs, the agony on his face as the realization of their failed ‘relationship’ finally came to a close. Although, Cassandra wouldn’t have called it a relationship, but a trial period. A testing period. A time that nearly exceeded a year for her to be able to find his strengths and weaknesses, and upon determining the usefulness of it…rip them from him. It was worth it. More than worth it.

She felt her innerself reaching for change, a change of flesh, a change of shape. But not here. No. Not in the pub, for it wouldn’t be appropriate.

She was nearly to the door.

The interwoven clasp locked the cloak around her form and she pulled the cowl over her head, bringing a shadow across her eyes and concealing them in the blackness of the cloak’s touch.

The power filled her more until all anticipation and anxiety interwove and manifested itself into an explosion that was momentarily held at bay. With a lick of her lips, and a shrug beneath the cloak for adjustment, she floated through the crowd towards the door.

It was time to play.

Daelan
Shit. It was her. He knew the voice, and he'd hoped to never hear it again. He'd not actually considered it when he heard they were all trapped here, but now that she was in his pub, he couldn't help but think of how nice it would have been for her to be on Ayenee Prime when they were trapped. Of course that would have been good luck.

"Anna," he forced a smile. It looked painful. "As you can see the place isn't really in the best shape right now..."

A man came strolling out from his storeroom holding an opened bottle of liquor. Traven scowled. "Seventy-five gold, 'mate'. And I'll thank you for your business," Traven said through nearly clenched teeth. Best start building back some time...

Even as he thought it, he looked around and... he sighed. It was no damn use. He couldn't afford this mess, this lost stock, this ruined, RUINED opportunity. Damn!

He realized his face was a hard mask of anger. "So no, Anna, no blood tonight. And if that will be all, I'll ask you all to find gold for rooms or places to stay elsewhere. It's been the longest damned night I can recall, and since my dayshift manager is lying over there with no throat I'm afraid we're closing the doors."

The finality of the words hit hard. If he couldn't come to terms with this loss, he was finished. The last thing he needed was some swaggering vampire hunter drinking his booze and an unholier-than-thou Aristocratic bloodsucker darkening his door. "Would someone shut that fucking violin UP!" Traven shouted, realizing suddenly that the buzzing in his ears was in part coming from some idiot with an instrument.

Traven glared around the room. For a moment he wanted to scream for everyone to get out. Instead he shook his head. He took the drink offered from the Hunter after all. He downed it and turned back to Anna. He was looking at the devil's handmaiden, he knew it. "What do you want, anyway?" It wasn't wise to taunt her, everyone knew that. But he was in a foul mood, and maybe she'd have her demon rip him open. End this shit now.
Daelan
Morgan lowered his bow reluctantly. Arthur had opened the storeroom door and Traven was screaming at him. Morgan felt an urge to tear a hole in Traven's important regions. How dare that man even... Morgan frowned. The place was a wreck. Traven was clearly not himself. And who was that woman..?
Morgan stared at Anna. Slowly he emerged from the storeroom, a vein in his demon eye pulsing a steady beat. He lifted his violin as though to play, but he stopped. For a moment, Morgan thought he heard the strings hum as if something had touched them. He wanted to play for her. Something made him acutley aware that he must make his violin sing for this woman. He was altogether uncomfortable with the notion, however, and so he walked over towards the corner where the remnants of the stage were, and began to search for his discarded violin case.

SinfulFeline
Upon the touching of bow to string, the rat’s eyes brightened as if to encourage the man to play. Once music began to flow through the rats mind it shivered with delight, so much delight it passed this single sensation on to it’s mistress before setting about at a task of it’s own. The music inspired the rat into working, and so it headed into the wall, chewing spots here and there in a 4-foot space, all the while weakening the walls structure. Once done it would emerged from the wall to stare at Morgan tell his attention was on the foot tapping rat and the work it had done in his behalf.But instead, the rat found himself staring at Morgan's back.

Tala’s marks relayed the information they had gathered and her mind stored most of it away for future use if needed, the only point that stood out to her at the moment was that this man was not one but two creatures and both enjoyed the pain they felt. She accepted this with out much thought, because she had learned all her life, nothing is exactly as it appears to ones eyes.

She wished to see what was happening beyond the room they stood in. So while analyzing, filing the information she had found, she walked half way around him to the seat she had before he had entered. Still she kept her odd eyes locked upon his gaze, glancing away from his eyes to his lips when he spoke then quickly returning to his gaze. With a small gesture of her right hand to the abandoned cushion, she spoke once more. However, just as her lips parted to speak the over flowing delight of the ink rat she had let loose, flowed into her. This sensation changed the tone of her voice from a flat nothingness to nearly a purred flow of words before she could cut off the feeling, as well brightening the color of her paled cheeks.

"I am Tala .... Tala Sorrow of the ShadowBound"

Swallowing hard she willed her tone to return to a calm one once more as well as attempting to diminish the blush upon her cheeks. She muttered an oath under her breath at the ink rat and only wished its little ears would burn in shame with her words.

"Your welcome to grab another cushion and have a seat as well, or stand, it’s up to you. But I’d like to sit once more and see what else has befallen what lies outside these walls."

Once her words where spoken she seated herself upon her cushion before the window. Turning her head to gaze at him ,half wondering if he would sit, stand or simply grow tired of her company and seek another’s, she spoke once more. This time her voice held a questioning tone to it, with purpose, unlike the slipped purr tone.

" I have given my name, will you do so as well ?"

Anna
As moments passed Anna was able to regain some of her usual composure. With an ethereally pale hand she pulled back the hood of her black velvet cloak. Her face was just as white, perhaps more so than usual considering the circumstances. Her lips though, were ruby-stained red, as she had only recently had a very satisfying meal. She let Traven have his say and vent his frustration and stress. She would let the man's rudeness pass, for now.

"Why Traven, when have I ever asked for naught but the pleasure of relaxing in your fine establishment and enjoying some of the best vintages that Bakarne has to offer." The vampiress spoke softly and with not even a hint of sarcasm in her voice, but the hellhound at her side made a little huffing noise that could have been a scoff if you believed a hellhound could do such a thing. Anna narrowed her eyes and looked down at Pravus, and then back towards Traven again, now also taking notice of the dark-haired man with the rifle.

"I only ever requested anything... personal of you once, and you refused me." She pouted after that, ever so slightly, and touched a slender, pallid hand to her chest in a gentle gesture. "Why a normal woman would be hurt, or perhaps offended. But I'm not usually inclined to making the same offer twice and so I never pursued the issue." With that last comment, she looked at Traven pointedly, all traces of the pout lost.

Throughout all of this, Alistair stood behind and to the side of his mistress, silent and watchful as ever. At some unapparent cue, but just as the vampiress reached up, the red-scaled demon stepped forward and offered Anna a huge clawed hand. Placing her comparibly small hand on top of his, she allowed him to guide her through the small maze of bodies and debris scattered about the floor, moving towards Traven and Arthur. As she stepped over bloody corpses, and in some cases half-corpses, several inches of the hem of her long black velvet cloak dragged gently along the floor and over these obstacles. Oddly enough, by the time she had made her way to the area where the bartender and the Hunter were standing, the smooth material of her cloak was completely dry and untarnished.

Anna was aware there were several other people in the room, but for the moment unconcerned, or perhaps just more concerned with something else. She did notice however that Pravus had suddenly bounded over towards the stage and the violin player with almost puppy-like glee. Why the damned dog's tail was even wagging!

Reminding herself to figure that one out later she turned her full attention to Traven, offering him a slight but very charming smile, "It seems as though you're in a bit of a.. tight spot. Perhaps you should let me help you with that. I had been looking for a suitable business venture and this one is... appealing to me. Give me partial ownership of the Bronze Zombie and I will pay for all your repairs, and have my associates help you in the reconstruction."

Anna smiled again, this time more fully and seductively, and concluded, "In less than three days you can be making coin again and we can all move on to more.. pleasurable activities."

Colvin
His arms pulsated yet again, veins allowing the parasitic entity within to be seen as it coursed through his bloodstream. Bulges slid through those channels until it crashed into his head. Darkened ooze slid along those white globes and then gathered together within his mind, amplifying his mental abilities to the point that he was actually surprised. Perhaps it had been motivated by the sensations that Tala had called or the feeling of success that the slaughter below had given its host, but whatever it was, his mind was far more in tune with his surroundings than he had ever imagined it could be. She motioned for him to sit beside her as she placed herself upon that cushion infront of the window that had allowed her to witness what he had catalyzed just moments ago. Would it surprise her that he immediately shadowed her every move?

Boots crashed against the floor until they stopped right next to her. He didn't bother sitting just yet as he took this time to look at what was occurring, realizing that there were several new entries but not realizing how. The sight of some bony visitor had been ultimately ignored though his eccentric presenter had caused an odd arch of the brow. Anna's entrance brought a smirk upon this man's face, her little entourage comical despite their practical use. Pravus made him remember something and Alistair just made him shake his head. Anna, however, made him reminisce to a moment that generated a genuine smile upon this man's face. He had ignored anything Tala had said in that specific time period of thought...if she said anything at all. The woman should already know that his mind seemed to cycle through several things at a time.

Lips parted swiftly and his tones were dulcet as usual "Xanatos X'ellotath....of the Order of Seryn" He hadn't even turned to look at her while he spoke, especially not after the sight of some cloaked individual exiting the remnants of disaster and chaos that had been created by his simple words. Despite the fact he could hardly notice her from where he was, she looked familiar. His mind immediately sensed a connection with that woman, immediately causing him to fixate upon her form for a few seconds before he moved and sat right beside Tala. His body leaned in a fashion that would more than likely cause further contact with the woman as he made sure to position himself so that he could see what was going on infront of the building. The fact she was blushing had not escaped his senses either though he did not think himself the cause of the decorative color in her cheeks. The fact he leaned in so close however might not help things at all. "Do you plan on staying here like the rest of the fools below or are you not a victim of complacency?" That was a random question if you ever heard one. Still, he was curious for he was not going to remain here, trapped in a realm full of visceral beings. He'd find his way out...even if he had to enlist help to achieve it.


Tifferzzz
Random thoughts of hate, malice, anger, and chaos seeped through her every pore as if it were a liquid being drenched upon her naked flesh. It wasn’t an unpleasant feeling, not to say the least – one could best describe it as a comfortable blanket lain over a sleeping child. A familiarity overcame her, and though she didn’t know it’s point of origin, it did pause her step.

The problem with comfortable recognizable people is that it brought trouble. A constant questioning would plague her mind if she didn’t know who it was that was present. Caution would arise, and had she hackles at that moment, they too would stand on end. Of all the people that she’d come across, only few had actually survived an encounter that would reap such familiar emotion through her body. She knew of this person, for the connection sang like…

That horrid violin that suddenly pierced her ears.

Tilting her head a bit to the air, ever so slightly, she inhaled.

And instantly regretted it. Beyond the intermixture of toxins she did ‘taste’ something achingly recognizable, but her senses were in such disarray that she couldn’t distinguish the owner. Her head turned to the right beneath the cowl, followed by her shoulders, just slow enough to scan the crowd. Her face would remain concealed in the blackness as if she were a shadow from within, but would stop on Xanatos’ form.

He had been captured in this horrific place? Well it seemed fitting, at least when everyone had died there would still be one chaotic symbol remaining that wouldn’t leave her destitute in this rakish hell. She would look upon him for no longer than the period of a mere moment, pondering only briefly the woman beside him and how long he'd leave her alive, before the screeching squeal of a bow against strings would agonize her to the point of turning and leaving the establishment.

She wouldn’t wait for anyone, for indeed to stay any longer within this place would undeniably drive her mad. In addition a need, a universal hunger barreled through her until she’d stepped outside.

Into the quiet. Into the icy air. With a shrug of her shoulders she listened to the door close behind her and stood on the stoop of the pub gazing into the unparalleled darkness of the woods….just waiting.

SinfulFeline
Tala glanced at him as he seated himself beside her, noting that he seemed to purposely sit in a manner that would cause him to brush her form, this caused a raise brow in silent question, but she did not bother to ask aloud. The ink marks upon her flesh however acted as they would to any touching of their mistress’s flesh. They quickly swarmed to cover her right side where his flesh met her own, leaving the left half of her body bared of all but the one mark that slept upon her upper thigh, the mark of two paw prints laid one atop the other in two shades, one just slightly darker then the other.

Once he spoke she pondered his words for a moment, and then raised both hands to the windows level, letting the morning sun play across both the ink covered hand and the bared one. Tilting her hands back and forth under this light she answered his questions, her tone no longer a blank but one of confidence.

"I’ve not played the fool in my life time, but then I’ve never been one to rush into action when unsure of what has befallen."

She paused a moment to think once more before asking a question of her own.

"Do you have a plan Xanatos X'ellotath ? Do you know what has happened to the borders and how one might exit this place with out causing their own death in the process? If so, enlighten me .... For I refuse to just wait for death..."

Once her lips closed upon uttering the last of her words for the moment, her eyes lifted from her fingertips in the sun to view the street below. The ire coloring of her eyes brightened as the light hit them, tell nearly no black pupil remained, these strange eyes then flowed to the tavern door as it opened and a cloaked figure stepped out, the door closing behind it. Tala’s nostrils flared slightly as she drew in a breath of the outside air, her sight had caught something and she wished for a scent to confirm it.

Tala lowered her hands and inclined her head towards the tavern doors direction, then spoke in a matter of fact tone once more. She was unsure if she spoke to herself or if the information she was, sharing was something that would be of interest to Xanatos as well.

"A shifter.... Female and well feed...." "Perhaps I should bring my ink rat back to see what information he has gathered...."

She then grew silent once more and waited to see if this brought something of more interest to the morning.

Colvin
He would have enjoyed this more if Tala had any objection to his proximity. It wasn't the actual contact that he desired but simply the complete destruction of whatever protective notion she might have had about him. Yet, if she trusted him this close to her then he would assume she would actually believe there was some foundation behind his words. The prospect of escape from this threacherous place was inviting to anyone and such a hope was enough to allow someone to ignore the idiocy and useless whelps that seemed to outnumber those of value around here. There was definitely a way out of here, and while he was no stranger to interplanar travel, there was never any harm in figuring out the full extent of their imprisonment. The fact that her tattoos seemed to move in unison to protect their owner only made him blatantly touch her leg with his hand yet again. Had he stepped over any boundaries?

It would seem as if he was infatuated with touching her but it was not his problem what she insinuated out of the whole affair. His mind shifted through possibilities while digits would trail blatantly up the side of her right thigh toward her hip. What was different this time was that his head snapped in the direction where Cassandra would be, those fingers pressing against her hip while he saved his answers to her questions for later. For some reason, he knew that what he sensed was no farce or trick. That woman had to be the one...the only one that had distracted him from his zealous endeavours. Anna's entrance had been rather timely, sparking a memory within this man of a woman that soon manifested herself in the near vicinity. This was no coincidence and he intended on taking full advantage of it all.

First things first, he'd respond to Tala beside him. "There is still much I don't know about the cowards who attempted to bind us here or the limitations that their small hinderance has placed upon us. What I know for sure is that there is always a means of escape. I will discover it....you are welcome to come along if you wish." For the sake of pure spontaneity and his decision to add as many minds into one collective group to successfully meet his goal, that invitation had been sent out but he would not stop there...not now. After the realization that he'd be stuck with the filth that roamed outside if he simply dawdled around this realm, he had no time to waste. His confidence oozed out of his words now. "I am well aware....These ink creations of yours will be of great use to me if you will allow it" He simply added on to his invitation from before.

Tala, however, was not the only one he'd contact now. His mind shot out to that familiar presence, aiming to delve in deep enough into her mind so that he could send her this message. If he was correct in assuming she'd allow him then he'd speak mentally. <We have been trapped here against our will, bound by the weak desires of others. If you seek vengeance upon them, then step forward by my side. I have longed to witness your beauty once again.> The way he spoke to the woman was full of familiarity. What history did they have? Yet again his mind shot out to one other individual. Malek had never been ignored and first impulses were things that this illusionist thrived on. <Chaos unites us....murder delights us...and freedom will be delivered to us....join me in my endeavour and indulge in your desires> Whether or not the message was received would be a bit shaky as Malek would be the most difficult to convey this message to. His heart crashed against his chest unforgivingly now. This intense beating of his heart made him realize that this had to be done. Bakame would not bind them for long!

Lowthor
"Anyone actually like that music?" Arthur asked when Traven took the bottle from him.

"I've a better idea mate. You drink it. I think you need it more." Traven shrugged and poured himself another drink.

Arthur had seen Anna once before, although he'd never gotten this close. The idea of being this close to her was a combination of exhilleration and pure, blood chilling fear. He would have loved to empty both pistols into her chest, then cut her pretty head from her shoulders. On the other hand he doubted he could cock the flintlocks before the demon, the hellhound or the vampiress herself killed him.

Smaller fish, bigger catch he thought to himself, and tapped the ash from his cigar. Then the newcomer with the skeleton caught his eye. He'd ignored the introduction, but something about the extravagent manner with which the man carried himself told Arthur that he was going to cause trouble. Trouble, as if he could be in any more trouble. Trapped amongst the people most likely to tear him limb from limb if they found out who and what he was.

Tifferzzz
The breath of winter chill seemed present in the rising sun of the morn. Regardless of this destitute of hell that she was trapped in, and the ugliness that surrounded it, the morning sun always brought a charade of colors to amplify the horridness of the world, and perhaps…for a second…give it peace and beauty. But raised higher in the sky, that moment of solitude would disappear like a breath on the wind and the grays and blacks and death and emptiness of the world would surround everything once more.

The temperature here was always chilly; whether during the night or day it didn’t matter. Everyone had learned to manage though, for most were used to that sort of weather and even preferred it. The rest couldn’t even feel it. For her, it was just a shrug beneath the cloak to shroud herself in the minimal warmth of velvet, but if it were to grow to icy, then her skin would reconfigure to suppress the blood flow, the vascular openings, and the nerves, until her flesh was thick and deadened enough that not even the ice or the arctic winds could touch her.

Either that, or she’d grow fur. Either was acceptable.

Then there it was. The rise and blinding glow of the sun careening over the deformed forest sent a sheen of light to dance against the multitude of colors in her eyes. The silence of the world left her to focus on this one moment of perfect solitude, the moment before she expected every vampiric body to come screaming from within.

What a foolish thought. Unless the intelligent ones had run about ‘turning’ the idiots of this world, then nothing of the sort would occur. Undoubtedly the only survivors, to this point, of the blood drinking race would be smart enough to either stay within, or keep themselves fully concealed in some manner.

Although… the thought of every moron who echoed the words, "I want to be immortal…I want to be your slave…" suddenly bursting into flames before her…did indeed set a smile on her lips.

The first smile of the day. But it would not touch her eyes, for it didn’t have the capacity or strength to achieve something so great. No, the smile would remain unseen, almost a sneer of enjoyment to the mocking ideas in her head of another race.

In truth though, she’d had thoughts of those about every race, including her own. She hadn’t a specific hatred to a particular group…

Well, no. That wasn’t true. Every hunter that emerged was someone that she wanted to kill, just for the purpose of killing. Why? Because of all of the hunters she’d ever come across, none had a specific purpose other than just slaughter.

What a pointless purpose in life. It wasn’t worthy for them to even exist for such a trivial ideal. Even the idea of revenge was so loathing that the very thought made bile churn in her stomach. Revenge was a lie. Nobody did anything for anyone that didn’t benefit them in some manner. If a person was to voluntarily try to die to ‘put things right what went wrong’ then they might as well just jump off a cliff. Everything should be for one’s self, and not for another. Why? Because everyone was selfish and wanting and greedy as they should be. Everyone wanted something for themselves, as they should. Otherwise there wasn’t a purpose to any existence.

But what of this? Being trapped in this place? Her purpose there, then, was to enjoy herself at the expense of others while always maintaining the respect and honor that she’d rightly earned and deserved.

Beyond that, she’d just remain here taking full exploit of the opportunities that presented themselves.

To escape? Perhaps that was an option, and a meager one at that. Whether her next victim was male or female, an honorable person or a villain didn’t bring any distinction in her mind. Her purpose was to benefit her needs her wants and desires. And regardless if she was here or another world, she would still continue to fulfill her own needs.

Just as she did this previous eve.

Speaking of which…

Her head lowered in the brilliance of the morning sun to the lining of the cloak against her body where her right hand had disfigured itself into a half-claw. Perhaps it had occurred in the realms of her thoughts. Had she began to transform before even stepping outside? That too…was possible. Silvered fur had aligned the fingers that ended with lethal silver daggers. With a smirk at the ease that she’d accomplished such a thing without thought, her hand folded itself gingerly, then reopened cautious not to impale herself. Leaving the arm beneath the cloak she captured another scent of perfect morning dew. Every sense was even more clear and sharp than before making every smell sweeter, and every sound crisper.

"Cassandra…" He had whispered in the passion of their lovemaking. "Be with me forever. We’re of the same breed, of the same kind…" But they hadn’t been. Cassandra had additional enhancements that had caused her to be greater than him. Stay with him? Hardly.
She wouldn’t even bat a lash in denying his request. His trust had caused his fatality and while he breathed his own blood with her hand across his throat, she had whispered in the silence of the room, "we are nothing of each other. Your…." Then taking a deep whiff of his scent as a prey would its victim. "Your powers will compliment mine and I will be greater than I am now…sleep tight Abaskah…." Before throwing him into the plunge of death and savoring her sweet rewards, which then drew her into a nearly instant coma. But not for long.

He hadn’t been as powerful as he had proclaimed. Which validated the point that everyone lies to make themselves appear better than everyone else.

With her tongue sliding across her lips she attempted to savor the vitae that was no longer there. Oh, but he had been sweet. Had she realized though that he was so pathetic in nature, than she’d not have remained with him for the period of time that she had. It had been a pity, for she’d longed for something great and powerful, something that she could truly sink herself into, but had settled for less…much less.

With the knowledge of that, she then pondered who…if there were a person that she’d not mimic to kill…who’d she respect enough to actually enjoy the presence of their company, without becoming so greatly annoyed that she’d be forced to behead them.

One name came to mind.

Xanatos.

With a scoff of amusement at the foolish thoughts of her mind, she also concluded with solemn notion, that he was the one person who could easily….

With a frown of disapproval and the quick recourse of distrust flowing over her she quickly concluded that relationships should never extend beyond mere respect.

Never.

Only in that realization did the impending voice of the familiar entity possess her mind. Though it was of a personable nature, she was still blatantly disgusted at having her mind suddenly open to others. Had she been so naive as to momentarily leave herself vulnerable?

~We have been trapped here against our will, bound by the weak desires of others. If you seek vengeance upon them, then step forward by my side. I have longed to witness your beauty once again~

Vengeance. With a shake of her head in pure amusement of the words of Xanatos, she couldn’t help but to laugh softly aloud. With a chortle finally ending she gazed to the sky as the moment of all sweetness passed. ~You had always been quite the dramatic…sir…~ She responded with a playful notion. While the winds lapped at the folds of her dress lightly tossing them about, she took a step towards the forest. She had been surprised at his request, and while she stepped beside no one, she was still lightly flattered at his request. Her beauty…or so he spoke of…he would not see, for she wished him not to. In fact, she wouldn’t be seen by anyone, for her identity would be concealed within the fur and folds, the muscle and sinew, of whatever creature would possess her within the next couple of moments. Xanatos had always walked alone, and as he should. The extent of his abilities…

With a pause in her mind she thought over that. Would, that she could, take his power…what a sight that would be. Perhaps the temptation of such a thing was the primary reason that she’s remained distant…though respectful of him. Her internal nature was to feed her own needs, and she had a notion that should she turn such a thing upon Xanatos…well then all hell would break loose.

Literally.

So for that reason, for that one moment of temptation, she’d remained in her own realm slowly building her capacity and varying her capabilities until she would become a worthy adversary of him. But would she then challenge him?

Something within her honestly spoke otherwise.

SinfulFeline
It was not that his need to touch her bothered her, nor did it arouse or amuse. She simply did not react to his touch because she herself did not feel the intrusion of his fingers along her thigh. Unless she willed herself to feel such things, for her true flesh to feel such things, the ink marks felt them instead. The ink was odd, there was no other word that fit what they where or what they could do. While they needed the words to release them from her flesh for tasks, they did not need the words when danger was impending. In addition, while she could command them to move or settle upon her form, they often moved with out her giving a thought, such as now.

The ink had grown use to the man’s presence for the time being, though it felt no danger at the moment from his close form, they where not trusting and preferred their mistress’s flesh go untouched with out her permission given. Since they felt no arousal from her blood flow, they acted upon their own notions. The dark ink the covered her thigh made the skin beneath it grow lighter in density tell the man’s hand would have been feeling, gripping, nothing more then a shadow of a shadow.

She listened to his answers, though her eyes never left the street below. She also felt his mind flow out to others, but her lips remained slightly pursed. Xanatos’s company was a pleasant distraction from the horrid things that had befallen the outside world of this trapped domain and having company kept her more alert to the total going on’s. Had he not been here she would have been tempted to expend more energy in controlling and guiding the loosened ink rat instead of allowing it to gather information as it came upon it. Nonetheless, she was not fool enough to fall for his every word hook line and sinker. She understood that she and her markings could be of good if not great use to the man.... For the moment. Later, however, a time might and probably would come that she would be dispensable to him in the time to escape.

Tala simply nodded her answer when he spoke of her and her skill being of use. Hiding her emotions was easy, had the rat not sent an over load of its own feelings, she would never have allowed her voice to change with out her willing it, nor the blush to touch her paled cheeks. Control, this was the key to Tala’s life teachings, control the marks, control ones self and actions, and with this control the out come of life could and would be enlightening. Some times, however, control cannot be had, like the death of the sinner she was sent to hunt. This thought brought anger running hot through her mind. The man was supposed to be hers to toy with then kill, not for another to take simply in hunger and toss away! He had stolen a ink mark and with his death she would have retrieved it, but no, now the marks was some where in this place, free and uncontrolled! She had so wanted to know how he had learned the one weakness of the marks control, but now...

Biting her cheek hard enough to taste the metallic tang of blood, she brought her thoughts in check, shoving her anger down and returning her mind to the present and what was around her. Finding her voice once more she turned her head and locked her eyes upon Xanatos face.

"The marks have many talents... Information gathering is but one, but it is one of great use at this time... "

"One of my marks, a rat in shape, is loose with in the tavern walls. I will give it a fraction more time in which to gather what it deems needed information before calling for its return."

She hesitated a moment before speaking again.Turning her gaze back to the street as a momentary facial change took place. A slight frown tugged at her lips and her eyes clouded over, then her face returned to it's normal expression of beautiful nothingness.

"A few moments ago something it encountered over loaded its sense, overloaded them enough for me to feel what the creature could no longer contain... Some form of extreme enjoyment."

She drew in a long breath and exhaled with a slight sigh of unease before continuing.

"Had it been a larger creature I would say it had killed, but it is a simple small rat who’s task is to gather information and return with it... So what caused it such an emotional overload both interests me ... and causes me hesitation in forcing its return this very moment"

With this said she thought now upon sending another ink mark out to survey the area outside the tavern walls.

Colvin
Xanatos himself was a being full of emotion...full of desires and tainted by his own goals. The thought of sacrificing Tala for his own benefit, however, was one thing that had never entered his mind. He had asked her to join simply because he thought her worthy of escaping this place instead of being trapped along with the cretins that now festered within this land. Bakame had been a tourist attraction for many individuals of a darker persuasion but the fact that most saw it as a haven away from the oppression of their opponents was pitiful. Hiding from them only proved their disbelief and loss of faith in their own stability. They were undeserving of their gifts and had he the ability to strip them of those gifts then he would have done so. He never understood why most individuals assumed that he only intended on using and abusing them to achieve his own goals. This man could feel that sort of hesitation lingering upon Tala but that was not the only thing that he picked up in this short time period.

Digits hooked on to the fabric that decorated Tala's waist...or at least attempted to. If his examination produced the correct result, then he doubted that it would matter any. Normally a swift hand would have found his face already had she been any other woman. A palm would hover over dangerous territory upon her thigh now, though he did not catch sight of what he uncovered underneath the loin cloth she wore since something else began to occur. He had received the response of Cassandra which not only distracted him but immediately catalyzed a flashback that ruined his focus on anything else right now. Even sitting upright had become difficult which only made his attempt to touch Tala in a most sensitive area look like a mistake. An immense output of mental energy burst out of his mind only circling his body as if it had never wanted to be released. What was he being confronted with?

Blood dripped along the floor superfluously and bones jutted out through flesh unceremoniously before him. He would have loved to be the cause of such horrific beauty but there was another standing just a few feet away from him. Eerie white stared through the darkness until he made an outline of one individual. The femenine structure of this artist caused lips to part as his jaw almost dropped in surprise. It was not because of some chauvanistic belief of superiority but in that instant...that very instant he felt excited. The prospect of someone else understanding the aesthetics of such wonderful art fueled a want inside of this man that had him on edge. For the first time ever, he found that he could not speak until the light uncovered the woman hidden within the darkness. The image he saw could not be explained in words. Pure elegance, not even scathed by the gospel she had delivered. The beauty of her entire aura coupled by the enigmatic truth behind what she was, intrigued him to no end.

Seconds of eye contact were more than enough to exchange information and this respect that has only augmented itself between every encounter was still very much intact. His thoughts had never strayed further than his simple want to share what he knew to be parallel beliefs. Perhaps this was what attracted him to Tala...or what he found interesting within the likes of Malek. The flashback had ended and his attention returned so quickly that a pulsating headache bothered his head. He hated when his internal companion forced these things upon him like this. The strength he held behind his grasp would return and digits would squeeze Tala's thigh. A mental message was offered to Cassandra swiftly <I only seek what is in our right to obtain. Don't stray too far...I wouldn't want us to part ways again so soon> Humor had been reciprocated right back, though his was a bit more forward. He could feel her distancing herself, but figured she had her reasons.

The ink wielding woman beside him was now his primary focus, and she definitely deserved it. "I'm sure you are very talented Tala, but I do not intend on objectifying you as a simple tool. I do not understand why you are explaining your abilities to me. What I intend on doing here is something I cannot accomplish on my own. You would be a valuable companion.... I am sure you do not think you can escape this prison on your own now do you?" He was now being too blunt for his own good. His hand remained exactly where it was, far too comfortable with touching her now that he knew she would not flop like other women would. His own limits were being tested here and he wondered if he even found pleasure in perusing her form. Unsure about his own intentions, he found Tala more interesting as the minutes passed. How far could he go....

Tifferzzz
I only seek what is in our right to obtain. Don't stray too far...I wouldn't want us to part ways again so soon.

A simple request and at the same time a most unique command. She would travel the distance that she wished despite the words otherwise uttered within her mind. Had it not been Xanatos, she would have instantly reprimanded the person for speaking in such a commanding tone, even though it was hidden with humor. Yet, because it was him, she thought it better to just continue forth into her desires and fulfill what her body longed for most…a freedom that this form couldn’t keep contained. Another step into the drudgery of the world would leave her in solace and in her own peace. The rickety limbs of the forest would be soon to encompass her and swallow her whole as if she were nothing more than a shadow passing within.

Shards of crimson fabric began to fall to the ground as the sweet emptiness of the forest captured her body and pulled it deeper within. The cloak fell behind her, fluttering to the ground as nothing more than an afterthought in a moment of pure revelation. What was the realization that barreled through her mind? Even though her ‘mate’ had deemed himself worthy of her attention, and she’d found him nothing more than a wanting servant of her own desires, his senses and abilities had heightened her own to levels that she couldn’t even imagine, which had become a benefit that she hadn’t thought of. Suddenly his view in her mind had transitioned from pathetic to useful. A surge of adrenaline, a palpitation of the heart…

The idea of increasing her own abilities and talents excited her beyond words.

Pain wasn’t a factor in the transitioning of forms. For her bone was nothing more than a compilation of molecules that were meant to move and shift. Had she felt excruciating pain in the movement, she would have enjoyed it. Indeed she would have cried out in pain, but would have enjoyed the process of her own bones shifting and reforming into something far greater than before.

However, currently, her adrenaline surged through her veins as if it were her very life force. Fabric began to lay in shreds as it was discarded from the moving form that seemed to want to lose itself in the density of the dead forest…in the hole that the shadows provided. Mutual claws grasped at the restraints until finally nothing lay across the flesh. The fleshen color would thrive to a deeper shade of bronze as the very life force within her began to expand until she felt the very feeling of what it would be like for her skin to explode with a sudden unseen force.

The explosion wasn’t of a deadly nature, but of increased muscular rigidity circling across every bone, and each strand of sinew strengthening. One configured into a mass of muscle, the being’s pores would separate and widen for the silvered gray follicles of hair to emerge, capturing a length reminiscent of a canine’s. She would remain upright, and move as a human, but the toes of her feet would curl into dangerously sharp talons for which to grab the ground and propel herself at an even quicker pace. The face was quick to contort from mouth to maw, from ears to triangular shaped sonars…from a meagar five feet and a half to a massive six foot animal filled with a flowing rage of power, and the hunger that followed it.

The sanity in which she would control herself would be minimal, for she wished not for the simplicity of such a thing, but to release all that she held…from the victim before…and allow it to fuel her in ways she’d never experienced.

With a smile curling the blackened lips, she flew through the forest like a bird on the wind, experiencing the sweetness of every enhanced color, every vivid shape, every specific…smell. Speed, stamina, awareness, and strength…an unyielding strength that allowed her to move as a being of the forest. Should anyone happen to see the animal, they would merely see a flash of what they imagined might be there.

Her mind in this state of wonderment re-captured the words that Xanatos had spoken.

~I only seek what is in our right to obtain. Don't stray too far...I wouldn't want us to part ways again so soon~

At this moment everything was her right to obtain. And this…this is where the instincts of the beings she’d possessed filled her. This is the moment when the mischievousness and playfulness and dangerousness and the sneakiness of each transfigured animal coarse through her. Was she escaping Xanatos’ presence? Perhaps that was a bit of it. Parting ways? Nay. Suddenly her mind shifted from the want to be distanced from him to that of a more dangerous nature. She wouldn’t part ways, but see that he parted indefinitely. In this moment of arrogance, she would follow her instincts and beyond her dark grin of thoughts that she could toy him with, and merely remain silent. Though her mind, moments ago, had decided to keep a safer distance from the ‘man’ for her best interest, there w
far sweeter than that which filled her mind at this moment, and as such every idea of attacking Xanatos merely for the pride of the kill flowed through her head. The human side of her knew better…but the animal’s side of her grinned with the utmost intent of devious intentions.

And became a ghost in the wild.

The high that exerted her form could be considered drug-like in the fact that it toyed with her mind, with her deepest desires, wants and needs, and expanded them more and more until thought disappeared, until all capacity of right and wrong disintegrated into the air. Until she was nothing more that a beast running on the primal urges of every beast that she’d manifested herself into.

In the course of movement, the body continuously transformed itself in a most repetitious manner. Not all at once, and not all into one being, but into parts of everything that looked as a jumbled puzzle of a mad scientists mind. With a loss of focused concentration, her mind opened and was flooded in the cries of anguish and pain of her own intent, and the screams echoed from wall to wall until she heard nothing other than the excruciating tones, pitches and falls in her victim’s pleas…it was only then that her stride stilled, and the forest spun. It was only then that with a rising migraine she began to gather her wits about her and know of the situation placed before her. The silver furred palm of the wolven hand pressed to her skull in an attempt to keep if from exploding. Her momentum quickly grinded to a halt at the cliff’s ledge. She should have continued forth. She should have spread her wings and flown. Instead, she remained stopped, with the taloned digits curled over the edge.

The ghosts that haunted her mind lessened in severity, and it was only with the extreme intent of control that she managed to overtake her mind above her urges, her true needs over her deep primal wants. The one attempted victim that she had found and begun to chase would disappear and live for on this morning. She had more pressing issues.

The first being that her ‘mates’ strength had induced her own until she felt what a human might feel in taking acid…a pure release of everything. This was most beneficial and detrimental at the same moment. A stronger power meant a more concentrated control until it became natural for her body to absorb and use…until she built a tolerance of it. Secondly she hadn’t a clue of what such a thing would have done to her ability to mimic others. In her ‘tasting’ of various species and persons, she had always captured a bit of their strengths and powers until she became a buffet of specialty. This was different however, merely amplifying her own inherent skills to another level.

Through a throbbing mind she heard the anguish of her urges being kept at bay…wishing…praying…pleading for her to just ‘let go.’ But she couldn’t. Not at this moment. Not with Xanatos here, not after last time. Suddenly seated on the rocky ledge, images of the past rampages her mind like a movie.

She was skilled with her powers to the point of being almost arrogant in her youthful age. Or at least what would be considered youthful for her particular species. She had followed THIS one. This one being that would bring her lust for power to an even higher rise. She wanted that high, but first, she wished to see what made him tick. Within her mind was the thought that every skill, every capability that anyone possessed was merely due to something within them that could be captured by another.

She intended to capture this one.

To the back room he had walked, but she didn’t remember his face. She didn’t remember the place, nor even who this man was. But there was something that she wanted that he had.

She had watched him as he played in the tavern. Played poker with ruffians who cursed and spat and argued and fought. Yet each hand he played he had succeeded highly over the others. She watched him, and for a moment she mimicked him. Yet it was only momentary, only to know if the hand beneath the table was capturing hidden cards, but there was nothing, no cheat, no lie…he was just that good.

And she wanted it. She wanted to be seen in awe for that one skill.

It hadn’t been as much of the slaughter that she remembered, but of the stranger who had approached them without word staring on her with wonderment. That one person who thrived with such an overwhelming power that it made her mouth water. Watching the craggy rocks below, her eyes closed, as she smelled the sweet stench of vitae, though it was only of her memories, it was as strong as if she was still there.
Ribs lay torn asunder with hands of impossible strength and flesh that had been torn, poked, prodded, sliced and gouged merely for the purpose of finding that one item that made this man greater than the others. She stared on from the shadows at the display of blood, pus, intestines and stomach, the heart, the liver, muscles and tissue that had each been disassembled slowly, excruciatingly slowly…for she wished not to destroy ‘it’ in the process of trying to find ‘it.’ One organ lay beside another in a line from one side of the room to the opposing wall. She had placed each item, with such precious precision and caution as if each was as easily breakable as crystal.. From one to the other she searched as a scientist would, but found nothing and stood now in the shadows thoroughly upset. It was as if she were looking for a toy that she could not find. Her frustration was overwhelming.

She was about to continue her search once more, but she suddenly felt an increased amount of something. Something that she couldn’t describe. At first she thought it emerging from the being and grew excited at the idea of finding ‘it’, but then the figure of black death moved across the door like a million liquid shadows pouring themselves into the room. Within the blackness, eyes that stared at the display with an appreciation that she didn’t expect. Then they turned to match her own.

She remained in silence as she analyzed this thing, this person of sorts for a mere moment. The strength that embodied this vessel went far deeper than the skin, and she knew exactly who he was. How? His victims had spoken of him. Worlds had screamed of his name, and while she was almost infatuated with even the idea of meeting him, now was not the appropriate time, for she wished to speak with him, not to try to overtake him. Which, in her cocky state, she would have attempted, though poorly. In addition, at the moment her frustration of not finding ‘it’ was still seething within her body which didn’t leave her mind clear but muttled with rants and anger. With a mere nod to him out of the respect that she would rightly provide to him, and not a word spoken she exited from the room, a flurry of emotions.

Had she ever actually spoken to Xanatos? She didn’t recall. In fact she’d only passed his way a couple of times, and for each moment the timing had been so poor that she had distanced herself such as she would now. From her partial knowledge about Xanatos, it wasn't hard to come to the conclusion, that in the wake of his destruction, he would need a playtoy. She didn't doubt that the desctruction and bloodshed that occured in the tavern was of his doing. Xanatos seemed to always be busy, whether it was destroying things or...destroying things....she knew him to be like a feline on the prowl. And she could hope that at this very moment he was entertained, and therefore his thoughts of her presence would disappear just as she suddenly had that night. How had he known her to be there though? She hadn't sseen him, but he had known of her almost the immediate moment from when she stepped out of the pub. Was he watching her? Tacking her? A small tingle of anticipation suddenly ripped through her and a smirk slid across her lips. What an erotic ideal. Perhaps it was just her aura, that in the morning of silence had announced itself as blaintently as if she had a foghorn that she'd blared into the night. She could, once again, place her mind on the idea that he was toying with someone other than her, someone who was keeping him company enough to wipe Cassandra from his mind. Should that occur, it would be highly beneficial to her. Rising from the ground amidst the pictures of her past and the promised lusted acts of her future…she would walk the path along the ledge, not to exit this world, but to find a place away from that tavern, and away from Xanatos...wherever he was.

It was never hard for her to disappear.

Her body began to re-structure itself to become something universal, something substantial, yet not…something black and empty, and with that her flesh darkened to shades beyond the color of ink. Her molecules stretched until she became as thin as a sheet and was no longer an actual shape. The mass that accompanied her mind curled into the shadowed base of the darkest tree…

And slept.

Daelan
So there it is, then, thought Traven. The bait. Traven knew Anna worked that way. Devils and demons and darkness. Always deals. But where is the trap? The snare? He'd heard of her and her deals. Nothing nailed down, but rumors were plentiful when it came to Anna. Seemed like whenever she was around she suddenly became the center of a maelstrom of mischief. A few years ago it was rumored she'd even been married. Probably ate the poor sunnuvabitch.

He looked around the room. It was a bad idea, and he knew it. Traven was never a great mind, but he certainly had a nose for trouble. He was painfully aware of his lack of bargaining position here. He needed everything, and he had nothing to offer. At least nothing he was willing to part with.

But you can't get something for nothing. Every businessman knows that.

"So what's the catch, lady? Whadda you want for your part?"
Daelan
Morgan's eyes went wide as the beast charged, bowling him over. It was huge! Larger than the largest dog he'd ever seen. Larger than any wolf, even, and with ghastly razorsharp fangs dripping with slathering... uhm... drool...

"Uhm," Morgan was holding his violin up with one hand, trying to fend of Pravus and keep his violin case in the other. "You have... Uhm... Excuse me, I..." he was wiping drool from his face with his shoulder. "You're uhm... giant dog, madam..."

At least it wasn't trying to kill him. The beast sniffed at Morgan, up and down, then his violin case, then his violin. The dog licked at the strings, and they made a queer sort of wet vip-vip-vllliiip noise. Morgan leapt to his feet. "NO. You cannot," He said, sterner than might be wise, he thought too late. This damned thing could tear him to pieces..!

Morgan held his bow to the strings and played one long note, nearly silent at first, then climbing in volume. Climbing, louder, louder... Then slowly he lowered the volume, softer, softer, softer... silent. It was intended to calm, to soothe. He followed the long intro with the first tune that he felt, which was odd as it was a song he seemed to be making up as he went along.

Morgan liked the song, and for every note he would add to it, his instrument filled in two more. It was exciting, a little bawdy, but mostly fun. And the song shifted every few bars to a different key. At first it seemed to have no rhyme, no real musical form, but as he played a pattern did emerge. A pattern in the shifting of the keys, in the change of rhythmns... And he stopped.

The song puzzled him. It must have been a tune he'd heard somewhere before... Had to be, but he would have sworn it wasn't. For a moment he feared it might be some influence of the Demon, but that didn't feel right either. This felt free. The demon was insidious and vile, and always made Morgan feel soiled after its taint was made evident...

At the moment, he had a very large dog to deal with. It seemed to have calmed quite abit, but it was eyeing him still. Morgan looked over at Anna. "Madam, your beast seems intent on me. Would you call it back..?" He tried to say it with decorum, as politely as he could, and hopefully without sounding too frightened by the thing. He hoped it worked.

SinfulFeline
The ink rat would have stayed put; simply viewing the room through the open door had not the sight of the man with the music once more set its feet into motion. It darted along the stage wall’s shadows, ducking under the fallen curtain to emerge a few feet from Morgan’s feet; it then froze in mid step at the sight of the dog like creature.

Then as quickly as it froze, it moved when the musical notes flowed into the air! Like a bolt of lightening, the creature scurried across the stage floor straight for Morgan’s back. Chattering away in its own language as it reached the man’s heels; it never paused, but scrambled up the man’s backside to perch upon his shoulder
.
Tail swinging to the same beat as the notes that flew from the violin, the ink rat stood upon his hind legs, arms waving as if attempting to carry on a conversation to the dog as to why it must leave the music man alone
.
So engrossed with the task the rat barely remembered what it was suppose to be doing, gathering information and returning with it to its mistress, it was not suppose to draw attention to its self. It now felt torn between leaving with much haste to its owner, and making the flow of music from the man’s violin from coming to a stop any time soon.


The air pressure change is what finally alerted Tala to Xanatos hands exploration of her hip and thigh area. She nearly had to muffle a soft laugh when she realized what the ink marks had done to "Protect" her from the man’s interest. Instead of laughing, which would have sounded rude, a rather fond look passed over her face as she gazed at the shadowy ink lay out of her lower body. She watched his hand move through the illusion, wondering what he made of it all, then voiced her thoughts aloud to him.

"Xanatos? They, the markings, think you are attempting to fondle with out permission. They often act and think on their own and this is one such time. They are entertaining themselves by practicing the art of shadow illusions as well as protecting my...hmm...virtue...yes, they believe they are protecting my virtue from wandering male lust."
She knew she had rambled her words and thoughts, but could not help it. The amusement from the inks reactions to the man where indeed something of a light humor. In this darkened place, anything that caused a good laugh in the face of darkness was worth a moment of her time.

She felt the atmosphere around them thicken with some unseen energy. Like a warmed wind on a cold winter day, so out of place that the fine hairs upon her flesh prickled and she nearly shivered before the feeling faded. She had been looking out the window when the feeling came then faded, but now she gazed at Xanatos. For a brief moment, she could almost see him fade out of this tiny room and away from her, withdrawing into an inner world of his own making. Then he was here, focused in this place and speaking to her with questions she had ready answers to.

"I will not pretend I can escape from here with out help, to not take the offer would be unwise of me. You ask me to be a companion, this I accept and ask that you forgive my mistrusting of your intents.... Being female, offers often have hidden meanings and at times I find myself to be overly critical of others words."

She paused a moment, the same strangeness finding her mind clouded once more with another’s emotional over flow. Brows knitting as a frown flickered at the tips of her paled lips; she crossed her arms over her chest and concentrated hard upon the source of this out pour. The ink rat, she knew it was from him, so she sought the mark out with her force. She closed her eyes and pushed her mind with her spirit, seeking to see and hear what ever was happening with in room the rats form was with in.
Sight was blurred, she could make out large teeth in the rat’s immediate view, but the rest of the room was a blur of shadowy shapes, the air with in the four walls was filled with old and powerful dark energy, this alone brought her unease, then a sound assaulted her ears. So much of a shock to her system was this simply sound combined with the heaviness of dark energy that it sent her spirit reeling back into her body in an instant.
She visibly shook off the strange sense that clung to her flesh upon her spirits return. Tala then turned and gazed at Xanatos. Her hand lifted then laid upon his own hand, perhaps stopping him from exploring the shadows of ink form, her facial features growing slightly intense as she then spoke.

"You wonder why explain my abilities? It is not what I can do that I seek for you to understand at this moment... It is what is going on with in those walls across the street."

Her gaze left him, returning to the door of the tavern, gazing as if she was willing the walls to grow thin enough to see through, or vanish all together.

"Something dark, powerful and old stands with in that place .... Something else enchants my rats attentions..... And both those creatures being in the same space makes me feel very uneasy about sitting here for to much longer...."

Colvin
What exactly did he want to explore? Would he lower himself to the primitive intentions of other men simply to graze upon flesh that intrigued him? Did he think himself worthy of gracing such flesh after simple moments of interaction with her? A being with his immense power could easily allow it to get to his head, immediately acting in condescending and arrogant ways that would simply shorten his life span in the end. What many were not aware of was his perspective on beauty and his uncontrollable urge to delve or explore it. The digits that slightly twitched with the idea of coming into contact with something tangible meant nothing when compared to what brewed within his mind as he looked at the involuntary protection that attempted to prevent him from touching her body. It was interesting how their want to keep their master well blinded them to the versatility of this potential threat.

It had become increasingly obvious to him that the markings upon Tala's attention-grabbing body would act on their own. As daring as his hands were at this point, if he truly wanted to harm her or take advantage of her in any way, then he would not be so cordial at the moment. He didn't care to hide anything from this woman simply because she was not deserving of some intricate illusion or facade. What this woman needed was truth and there was no greater truth than the one he offered her right now. He offered her companionship simply because she did not deserve to be alone. He offered Malek what he did because the animalistic being deserved unity with those that accepted his beliefs. It was Cassandra, however, that had been asked for her participation simply out of pure desire. The depth of that annoying feeling was as enigmatic as she was to him.

Pure white slid up from Tala's thigh to view her face, speaking frankly and very bluntly. "The illusions they create are easily seen Tala. What they have assumed is not too far off base, but rest assured...your virtue shall not be stripped from you so boldly" The heat he now exuded from his form was entirely noticeable. If she did ever come in contact with him, she would feel intense heat though no sweat was even visible. By now, this man was already used to the rising temperatures as this separate entity inside of him seemed to be acting readily in response to the ink Tala so readily wielded. "Your mistrust for my intents is only logical Tala. Yet, what I intend to do with you is not something I can cement or clarify. I will not pretend to hide the fact that you highly intrigue me...." The way he spoke suggested that he was being far more broad with his words than what one would normally think.

At her mention of what was going on across from them, he simply turned his head and then lifted himself up to a stand. A hand was extended to help her up and he quickly began to speak. "I suggested you extract your precious creature and come with me. Our presences here mean nothing to them, but wasting time with them is unnecessary. If we are to find a way out of here then we will have to force its revelation" News travels fast within places thriving on gossip and premature knowledge. How else could anyone survive in a place full of thieves, murderers, and other grotesque individuals. An arm would attempt to encircle around Tala to hook her waist.."Even the smallest illusions are beneficial...." This was obviously an attempt to justify the image they'd portray once they began to traverse the alleys and holes that housed many rodents and whelps. Where did he intend on taking Tala? Would she even accompany him or would her mistrust steer her away? Xanatos failed to dwell on those idiotic questions....he knew the answer to them all.

Tifferzzz
The integrated constant deaths of the forest mingled with itself until it provided an aura that might have been reminiscent of what a forest ‘should’ feel like. Eerie, haunted, and every imaginable beast that would fill a child’s mind, lurked there as if waiting for something. Perhaps they waited for the freedom that was so horridly torn from them and waited for a single being to release them from the confines of this world to roam free.

She was not that person.

In fact, though the forest was crawling with creatures, the silence would give one thought otherwise. Perhaps the frosty ground that should have foretold some sort of passing, only spoke of the vastness and emptiness that it truly held. Somewhere, within, lay a creature of the most demonic capabilities.

The silence of the air was broken with a quickened patter of steps. Shoe covered feet that wound through the forest. A pause here and there would foretell a jump or a leap over a fallen branch, perhaps even an entire tree that had collapsed upon itself. The person who had been in a hurry continued forward, glancing back every now and again as if being chased by something unfathomable. Another leap over the branch…

And his foot fell into a pool of inky darkness. He might have thought it merely a shadow at first, but the complexity of what he had done would indeed be his undoing. The timing had been specific in her listening, and when his body had touched hers, when his shoe had stepped upon the dark substance of her flesh, then quick as a strike of lightning the inky pool became a suction of shadows that would rise up the feet, curl about the legs, the arms, and the face until this person…this thing…became entrapped in a shell of black. He would scream and wiggle, but he would not be released, for her grasp was that of a Venus flytrap with the most intelligent of camouflage. Suffocation would raise his heartbeat to astronomical levels just before a million tiny thorns suddenly shot forward from the black nothing and sunk into the victim. They didn’t detach, but remained a firm connection between the victim and it’s hunter. The small black weapons would then capture the sweetened taste of blood as his heart readily provided it to her.

Fallen on the ground, the scene would be kept in the darkness of the forest. The wind would howl it’s praise of his undoing and her actions, and he would wiggle in this mass of blackness…in this shadow of death.

And he would die.

SinfulFeline
Her eyes once more traveled over his form, the eerie coloring growing to the lightest of greens, near reflective of any light that touched upon them through the veil of her dark hair. Finally she returned her gaze to his eyes and found her lips forming a hint of a smile as she spoke.

"I must say then, that in truth, I find you to be most intriguing as well Xanatos"

Tala rose from her seated position, taking Xanatos’s offered hand. She listened to his words and gave a nod of her head in agreement, for she knew it was unwise to stay in this dwelling any longer. For a moment she stood upon a shadow of a leg before the ink markings once more shifted into rapid movement and distributed themselves back into their proper places across her flesh. Her lips moved in near silence as she bayed them to sleep upon her flesh tell they where called upon or danger arose.

She allowed his hand to slide across her waist and for his arm to encircle her, this contact did not disturb her in the least, and it helped her. While it did not take any force from him, it seemed the physical contact of Xanatos body against her flesh gave her marks renewed energy. The ink marks absorbed the used and cast of energy of those they came in contact with, in this case it was Xanatos who proved them their refueling.

For a moment she stood there with his arm around her waist, her eyes closed and lips moving in silent words. Her lips moved faster and her free hand rose towards the window and the light beyond it. A fine sweat broke out upon her forehead and upper lip as her brows furrowed, tell finally her hand dropped and a scowl formed upon her paled lips. She uttered a curse under her breath, and then drew strength from with in to calm her self before speaking once more.

"Something distracts the rat. The degree of that distraction is strong and at this moment the willful creature will not return"

She paused a moment, debating, before continuing to speak.

"Something similar has happened before and the information later gather was of great use...I will leave the little beast be for now and call for him again later...."

She was frustrated at the rat’s refusal to obey at this moment, but she would let this go for the time being, knowing she would eventually be able to call the creatures return. Right now she had more pressing matters and someone else’s company in with to travel through this retched place.

"I am ready when you are Xanatos...."

Colvin
Tala was very unaware of the dangers that this being juxtaposed to the right of her posed for her well-being. Xanatos himself had always been a magnet for trouble beyond any comprehensible explanation as if it was some divine right of his to confront situations that anyone else would simply try to evade. There was one thing that this man tried to delve deep into the mind of Tala and that was the lack of any malicious intent toward her or her precious ink abominations. The ability to allow certain creatures to manifest from those designs was something he was glad he did not possess. Had he known that his proximity to them was of benefit then perhaps he would have exaggerated the contact even more but for the time being, this guise of companionship that he executed effortlessly along with Tala would continue. He pressed her rather forcefully against his form as if he did not intend to release her at all from his side, his expression serious but holding a hint of a smile as they began to distance themselves from the Bronze Zombie and leave the destruction he catalyzed there alone.

<I doubt you will have trouble finding me if you desire to heed my words....>

That last mental message was offered to Malek simply because it would be inappropriate to leave without doing so. Boots tapped along the floor without much sound, traversing through alleyways and streets as if he knew where he was going. Where did he plan on taking her? To initiate his plan now would be fruitless as the necessary pieces were not properly in place just yet. As they made there way to this currently unknown destination, he decided to speak. "Whatever information this rat of yours acquires will be of no use to us if we do not establish exactly what is needed." This physical contact he initiated upon her form did not feel earned or warranted in his eyes which is why his fingers began to weaken the pressure that he placed along her side. If Tala were to move away then it would not matter. Still...he gauged reactions and analyzed minimal changes just in case he caught something that would grab his attention.

His pace was calm as he was in no rush at all to get away from the Bronze Zombie, now sure that he was liberated from any sort of retaliation. Veins bulged slightly as the dark being that resided within him once again surged through his body as if it wanted something from its host. These kinds of shifts seemed to occur regularly as his contact with Tala increased, which made him wonder. What exactly did it want? No doubt he'd receive an answer soon enough though right now there was no reason to maintain any sort of silence. "To uncover the methods necessary to relieve ourselves of this dark prison, we first have to examine its walls. The perimeter of this land must have something of use to our cause." He finished there, wondering exactly how tedious the examination of the entire border would be. Was there even a border? This city held no infinite size.

Xanatos suddenly came to a complete stop infront of what seemed to be an inn. It was just like any other inn, but the only problem was that it was packed. Many of the people who had not intended on staying here had nowhere to shelter themselves, but the greedy owners did not even think of becoming compassionate. Profit was profit and now business was booming thanks to their imprisonment in this place. One look at the large inn and he began speaking again. "It seems we will have to improvise now." Though he could easily weasel his way into a comfortable room, he would not bother bringing attention to himself anymore now. The sun had already risen and he did doubt that the woman beside him was tired at all. Eyes snapped toward a path that skimmed the borders of the forest within this city and he would continue walking. Participating in idle chit chat with Tala was not something he'd force himself to do. He began to meditate in his own thoughts once again, until he felt the need to shift his attentions elsewhere.

Tifferzzz
Amber sweetness flowed like a river through her veins. An intoxicating drink of survival, of power, of needs wants and desires…of memories and pain and anguish and pleasure all wrapped into a single solitary drop of crimson.

The glow of morning would scarcely penetrate the interlocked decaying branches overhead, but enough would emerge to fall upon a river, or more a puddle of pure obsidian. It would appear much like if a shadow were able to survive with the hand of light. Yet the oddity was that it was the absence of light that created darkness, not the presence of it. Then again…in this place of hell…nothing was as it should be.

A stream of light, of golden color would break the barriers of the shadowy realm, of the darkness that the forest encased, and reveal that this puddle was indeed more than just a surmountable amount of black ink that had all been brought together. With the sudden appearance of it came a twitch, a ripple, and a shift of movement as if it had that capability. Upon further examination of this black…thing…one would notice that it’s not flat, nor thin, but elongated and round in the middle as if it were merely a blanket lain over something. A large rock perhaps? Tapping it would only reveal a satiny feel with the strength of leather.

Once the light exploded over this being, this out-of-place item in the forest, it began to contort as if it were liquid on a plate being shifted around. Yet, rather than merely slithering along the ground to retreat to the denser part of the forest, it began to go against nature’s will and rise. As it shifted and moved, left beneath its contortions was a withered decayed corpse. With translucent flesh, a mouth parted in terror, thin frail arms crossed over its chest to try to protect itself, and curled into a fetal ball for protection, this corpse indeed took on the shape of a rock, but was obviously a victim that had died a slow, long, horrid painful death. The mass would continue to rise as if it were a person standing from bed, and as it ‘stretched’ it’s shape would take on more meaning. The thickness of it would grow thin enough in places to begin to define arms, legs, and a torso. With the continued movements of the morning stretch, a face…feminine…flesh, hair, and other human attributes would come into play. She needn’t worry for clothing, for the coloring of her flesh would match the desired need for concealment, at this moment, black seemed to be her favored shade. Flesh would become fabric, and once more she’d be ‘whole’ again. Though her description of ‘whole’ and everyone else’s was of an entirely different nature.

Through multicolored orbs she scanned the forest, at first for present dangers, but suddenly, in knowing of her seclusion, she smiled and continued to waken her limbs. Her first acceptance was that her senses had indeed become more acute, but had lessened in the severity of their sensitivity…and for that she was grateful.

With a tilt of her head she took in the stench of the dead being at her feet, the broken limbs through the forest, and…two oddly familiar beings that resided quite a ways off.

One familiar enough to her that she moved forward to scan through the tree’s passage to the city.

Xanatos…

The sight of him from afar gave her a renewed sense of self-confidence. Why? She couldn’t speculate, but her intuition about his diversion had been correct. It seemed that he had indeed found a ‘toy.’ Quietly she wondered how long he allowed her survival. Perhaps she would do him a favor and end the torment of the woman right now. Should she interfere? Something reassured her not too. Perhaps this ‘toy’ was a friend of Xanatos? That was an oddly idiotic statement. Xan didn’t have friends…he killed them. But in her vision friends were nothing more than acquaintances that meddled and always got in the way. So then, who was this woman that Xanatos would stroll with in such a casual manner?

What was that then? A twinge of jealousy? With a quickened blink at her own response she had to ponder her relationship with him. She respected him more than anyone else she’d ever known, and had spoken to him less than everyone else. Is that why she respected him, because he wasn’t bothersome or intervening where he shouldn’t?

Perhaps that was part of it. But there had always been something about him that intrigued her, like a student to a teacher; she yearned to learn from him. What change had come over her in such a short period of time? Was it the teenager that she had killed? With a frown settling on her lips she quickly notated to herself that she needed to monitor who…and just what…she devoured. She was feeling oddly…playful…a bit more troublesome than her usual self. With a smirk she decided to play it off…for now.
Though her presence would be as hidden as a bug in the brush, she still knew of the mental communication that he’d allotted her previously. With a grin of mischievousness, her arms folded over her chest as she watched Xanatos and this woman walk beside each other.

~A toy of yours?~

Should he be smarter than she’d taken him for and be able to locate her…she would ensure that his…partner…did not. She wouldn’t move, but merely watch from afar, in her most inquisitive manner. She searched for answers like children searched for toys.

Lowthor
Arthur slid onto a barstool, placed his rifle against the bar then sat back and watched. Most of of the people in this room clearly deserved to be trapped, but that didn't make him feel any better about his own confinement. He'd done as much as anyone to fight back against the tide of vampires. As many had died at his hands as at the like's of Ranik's or Brengar the Hunter's. They weren't trapped in here though were they. From what he'd heard Ranik was fighting a war somewhere. Another hunter who gave up the path when something else came along. Who knew where Brengar was, something to do with an island called Sikarra he'd last heard, but that was months ago. Probably another masterstroke by the powers that be. He laughed to himself, no doubt drawing strange looks from nearby.

"Don't suppose any food survived the nights festivities?" He asked.

Mithrandirxx
Duke Radclif could feel fate playing with him again, he had come to the festival to sell wares as he knew full well that people even at festivals had the need to cleave others in half, yet it seemed it was he who was cleaved in half or at least felt like it. When he was entering the Bakarne territories he felt a barrier cut through him and found himself stuck inside the lands of Bakarne. So far he had dodged the majority of the more volatile groups and species but he needed to make some big sales while he was here in hopes of being able to open his own shop in this hellish place, and maybe buy some protection. So far the city of Ninecross Bay seemed to have few centers where talking didn't get you killed or at very least threatened. The Bronze Zombie seemed to be the perfect place to head as it was well known and more than likely holding up many of those now trapped.

His dirty boots and dusty cloak, which would better be described as a large rag, had both blood and dirt upon them although it was human blood and vampire that had streamed his cloak he was not the one who had killed them, but it certainly added to the reasons people wouldn't want to cross him. He had a large bundle tied on his back as he walked up the streets towards the Bronze Zombie Tavern. Pulling his hood back his green eyes looked upon the doors. Then letting out a long sigh before he moved up and opened them stepping in and looking around slowly. He knew crossing the owner of this establishment would be like licking a dragons tonsils so he would need to seek him out first.

He approached the counter slowly turning ever so quickly to make sure his back was either to a wall or an empty chair. He would have to ask the tender if the owner was in and if it was alright for the sales man to sell his wares with in the tavern. As he finally made it to the counter he waited for a service person to notice him as he leaned his back and bundle against the wall keeping a sharp eye out for those who may attempt to loot him or kill him .

Daelan
Traven watched as Duke entered, his pack across his back. He still looked sick, but the distraction was welcome, considering the choice he was being given. Anna was making him an offer he couldn't refuse, and worse, she knew it.

If he told her to piss off, as every mercenary's instinct in him screamed, he'd have to face the consequences. Being broke, having no home, no steady work. He'd probably have to go back into Merc'ing. Bounty hunting was a good way to make a quick bag of coin, but the risks were high, and he'd put on too many pounds tending bar and eating Agnes's stew at the Zombie. Agnes was lying on the floor in several places.

There was also that possibility. He'd refused Anna once before. Twice might be considered an insult. The demon was bigger than Traven had remembered. He frowned, looking to Anna for the catch he knew must come, which he must live with, probably for the rest of his days.

Vampires don't make short term arrangements... And what's the guy with the pack want in this dump, anyway?

"You sellin' somethin'?" asked Traven, pulling a bar rag from his apron without thinking, only to wipe down splinters and smoldering coals where half his bar used to be. He crushed the rag, knuckles white.

SinfulFeline
Xanatos would be correct in his assumption that Tala was not tired; she was far from it in fact. Tala needed less sleep then the average person due to the ink marks abilities to draw in energy. The transferred energy made up for the lack of sleep but not for the lack of food. So while she wasn’t in the least bit tired she was growing hungry, it wasn’t an urgent need at the moment but it was a need that would have to be taken care of with in the next few hours.

She put the thought of food aside for now and concentrated on the path they where taking through the disheveled city. Had she been alone she would have made her self unseen, but she felt that turning herself into a shadow while in Xanatos company would not only be a rudeness but also might draw more attention to Xanatos then he needed, that either of them needed, at this point in time.

Keeping her voice low, just enough for him to hear but for the sounds to travel no further then his ears she spoke in a calm but questioning tone.

"Do we head for some where known? Or are we simply moving for safeties sake Xanatos?"

While she waited for his reply she listened to the sounds around her, concentrating on them until like before, back in the building, she felt words unspoken aloud. While she was unsure if Xanatos was speaking with in his mind to someone or if someone was speaking to him, she knew there was an exchange of words that she was not allowed to hear. As the feeling faded she turned her head a fraction to view him from the corner of her eye, one brow slightly raised in wonderment before her facial features returned to one of perfect blankness. Tala figured if Xanatos wished her to hear the conversation or know if it, he would inform her of its nature.

Colvin
His hand lingered around her side as if it wanted to explore other areas, but it soon left her form altogether as he began rummaging around in his cloak. For what reason? Nothing could really be deciphered out of what he had just done but he continued to walk alongside Tala while he listened to her speak. One could only assumed he enjoyed her company if he had stayed with her so long right? The volume of her voice was taken into account but at this moment, he could honestly care less who heard them or even saw them. There was no hint of paranoia evident nor did he feel as if his presence needed to be cloaked from anyone. He actually hoped that they would pin him for the catastrophic event at the Bronze Zombie, but he did doubt that any judgment would be passed. "I do not move to be evasive Tala. I simply grew bored with our environment...and while coaxed by your sudden unease decided to leave." He almost chuckled after he said that but stopped himself quickly. "I will allow you to lead the way this time"

There was a reason why he allowed such words to escape him and Tala seemed to pick up on the mental disturbance almost immediately. That keen sense was taken into account but ultimately ignored as he'd begin to respond to Cassandra through similar means. <To objectify her in such a manner would seriously diminish her value wouldn't you agree? Now tell me Cassandra. Do you intend to stalk me the entire time or will I be graced by your presence soon?> He continued to walk, figuring that his conversation with the woman need not be discussed with Tala at all. He was not to be an open book to someone he has only recently met. If she was so bold as to ask what had just transpired then he'd make sure to express that point swiftly.

He truly wondered why Cassandra decided to even address him about who he was accompanied by. In all truth, it was none of the woman's concern now was it? She had always seemed so involved in her own elaborate plans to worry about trivial things such as who he juxtaposed himself to. He didn't bother delving into it any longer, finding it too much of a trivial thought to warrant his attention. Boots vituperated the floor before him and he made sure to remain as close to Tala as possible without physically touching her. Why? Did he have to have a reason for everything he did? His hand reached into his cloak again to emerge with a finely crafted bone dagger that seemed to be the product of someone's spine. A hint of some unknown liquid seemed laced into the sharp tip and he started to idly examine it before it went right back into his cloak. He waited on both women to respond now, fully intending to simply relax now that he was pretty sure what he was going to do. Bakame would not bind him for long.

Mithrandirxx
Duke turned to the tender a smile upon his face as he nodded slowly to the tenders inquiry " Aye, sir that I am, At least if I have this fine establishments permission to peddle my wares here" His eyes turning to the smoldering chips of wood that had evidently once been part of the counter. It was rather a strange site to see part of a bar counter just gone, but they were in Bakarne after all so maybe it was normal. Casting his look from the embers to the tender he smiled again " of course I am willing to offer ten percent of my cold sales to the house "

Sliding his left hand backward he smiled as he reached into his pack pulling a single short bladed serrated bastard sword with silver etching upon each of the miniature grooves of the seriation. The Hilt of the blade was pretty average but the blade itself was the art work of this piece and beyond that a weapon meant for hacking through undead and mystical creatures should sell well. " You see sir I have a supply of weapons similar and more extravagant than this most of which were made for killing the fouler of creatures , but they work just as well on the non-foul, and with as many guests from the out side as you have here I am betting I can get some good sales here, until a way around the barrier is found or till I can set up my own shop. So what do you say ? "

Tifferzzz
<To objectify her in such a manner would seriously diminish her value wouldn't you agree? Now tell me Cassandra. Do you intend to stalk me the entire time or will I be graced by your presence soon?>

Objectify her? Diminish her value? To speak, or rather think less of the woman was to merely think something of her. Did Xanatos admire this woman enough to seriously consider defending her amongst the mere banter of words such as 'a toy?' With a sudden pout sliding over her face Cassandra had to consider the ramifications of attacking this woman. This thing that would capture Xanatos' attentions. It had to be a farce, for Xanatos thought nothing of anybody who didn't benefit him in some manner...as well he shouldn't. The destruction in the Bronze Zombie would foretell the truth of that statement. So then, why would this falsery be occuring in plain sight? To mock the woman? To make her think something highly of herself due to having Xanatos in her presence? Well, she should think highly of herself for that exact reason.

With arms crossed over her chest she watched his movements, merely to remain in idle thought of what he'd spoken. A sudden glint of white captured her gaze as if she were a human who had found a vampire. Feline attention to the object would give her head a slight tilt to the right, the demeaning thoughts of this woman...this stranger...lacking to impose on her mind for this brief moment. Then, the focus of her attention was gone, captured by the cloak once more. Her menacing ideals were again running rampant in her mind. What skills had she that had turned Xanatos from a wanderer of his own to a couple that would stroll? Were they a couple? Was that even possible? No. She had to quickly conclude. She couldn't accept such a thing. Regarding Xanatos as a mentor was something that had always occured since she had heard of him. She'd observed his ways, and the intelligence he posed in disposing of others. The slaughter that had been displayed in the Zombie had to have been him, for there wasn't another soul that she knew that could wreak such havoc and destruction in one place without even being involved. He hadn't been there. He had been elsewhere, and there hadn't been anyone who had spoken of the massacre, and there wasn't a single body that gloated of it, which gave her the conclusion that the person...had to have the capability to do it without being present. Xanatos was around...he had been close...but not there.She didn't need to ask it, she didn't need to foretell of the sweetness of his brilliance to others. She didn't need to because knowing with minimal doubt was knowing. Thus, the evident truth was so delicious that she beamed with pride, as if it had been her...or an offspring of hers. She did sadden, though, that she hadn't been present when it happened. It would have been a fabulous display of gore and grief, of pain, anguish, malice, hate and torment. The very idea of being in the midst of such chaos made her giddy with delight. When would he again present such a glorious display?

Cassandra...He had thought her name. She had become most pleased with that fact, although she wondered how. She'd fashioned such a concealed demeanor that not many souls knew of her and lived to speak of it. Xanatos...was the only that she dare not approach for the mere purpose that she didn't think she could restrain from...taking what he had.

She watched them pass, and a twinge of jealousy bore it's head through her veins like a great disease. Her head tilted to the other side, and she concluded that she loathed this woman. What had caused this sudden plague in her veins? Why had she suddenly felt as a child, and yet began to act as one? With a sneer of her own actions she knew the immediate response for that. It was due to the corpse that lay not a hundred yards from her. That mere uncontrolable inhibitions filled her veins and nearly made her sick at the thought. Perhaps her distance from him was too cautious. Perhaps she could control the very aspect of feeding that she let her body fall into with each person she came across. Perhaps....this would be fun?

Bah. Fun? What a word that wasn't of her vocabulary. Anguish, pity, fear and torment...now THOSE were words. Should she interrupt the stroll of the two? Would she have so great of an effect on Xanatos that he would still to speak with her? To have one more face to face encounter with him would produce so much gratification merely from the 'feeling' that he emitted. With that thought, with that knowing, the shadows slithered from her form and she emerged a few yards behind them. With silent steps and a childlike curiousity she moved step with step behind Xanatos, as if she were his shadow. With a grin of devilish delight, her arms mvoed as his did, her right with his right, until she'd moved within five feet of him. He might know she was there. He most likely did, but this copying of him was just fun. Thus, she continued.

SinfulFeline
At his suggestion that she lead the way, she nodded and spoke aloud once more in the same quiet tone.

"If you wish....Perhaps finding the border and its extent would be good for the moment"

Tala moved along side him with sure but silent steps, keeping her eyes set on the path before them until Xanatos movements caught her attentions from the corner of her eye. Though her footfalls did not pause she did turn her head to view the object he with drew from his cloak. It was interesting in shape and manor yet she did not ask of it nor question why he replaced within his cloak as quickly as he had withdrawn it.

The ink marks upon her body suddenly awoke with renewed movements, swiftly swarming her flesh and giving off a warning sensation. The fine hairs upon her neck and arms stood at attention as well as her nose caught the sent of creature that stalked behind them. Tala felt a wave of hate at her back and knew that this creature, while a friend of some sort to Xanatos, found her to be an enemy unmet. A nearly un-hearable growl like sound passed from her lips before she used a power she rarely called upon and whispered into Xanatos mind.

"We have company at our heals.....The female shifter well feed but feeling hostile"

The ink upon Tala’s flesh swarmed faster, tell nearly none of her tawny colored flesh had not been replaced with the inks shadowy coloring. One word and the marks would finish their transformation of flesh to shadow; they simply awaited the command, but would move upon their own if they thought their mistress was in eminent danger. Tala would not make the first move to engage this woman in a fight for two reasons, one she assumed this female to be in some sort of friendship with Xanatos and two, because Tala was wise enough to know that haste can often make you a corpse before your movement is complete. Instead she would allow Xanatos first move to guild her next actions.
 

Lowthor

Idea Man
The bartender shrugged his shoulders in response to the Duke's question. "Knock yerself out", he said and then wandered back to what he was doing. Arthur tapped the ash from his cigar then walked over to the Duke. He lifted the brim of his hat.

"Names Arthur. Pleased to meet you mate. What're you selling there?" He eyed the bundle the man was carrying.
 

Mithrandirxx

The Administration Mage
Staff member
(My appologies for taking so damned long to post to this I was waiting for Daelan to show up and never checked here)


Dukes eyes lite up like a small child on Christmas morning as he heard the man Arthur speak " Well friend, I am selling some of the best bladed weapons in the territory, well I suppose world now as that barrier seems impassible. " He said looking a little disheartened before walking a little to an open table in the establishment and placing the heavy bundle down.

Licking his lips he slowly undid the bundle and displayed three swords that were on the outer layer of the bundle, each one was a bastard sword with a double guard and a solid pommel. The quality of the metals in the blades would be easily noticed as near perfection, as would the way the blades seemed to mesh in with the hilts.

'Theses are the most commonly requested blades I sell, although I do have a few Katanas, Rapiers, No-dachis, Kodachis, Wakazashis, Scimitars, one claymore, that I left back where I am staying, as its a bit large to move around with oh and some randomly assorted knives."

His eyes turned back to Arthur hoping the man may have had some need for such type of weapon before he spoke again. " Also the majority of my wares that I brought with me to this festival have small quantities of silver mixed with the steal to help drive off or kill those beasts that happen to be a bit more persistent than your average man. Of course these and the few I stashed before I came here are all I have, until I get a foundry, and materials to do custom jobs, but if you have a bladed weapon you want sharpened, or re-hammered, or enchanted, I can do a little bit in those fields right now as well! " he said in his normally happy tone.
 

Lowthor

Idea Man
Arthur glaced over the weapons. "Swords then. I don't suppose you have anything smaller? I've not used a sword in ages, and I've always preferred knives in any case."
 

Mithrandirxx

The Administration Mage
Staff member
Duke smiled brightly and nodded to the mans words " Oh I do indeed carry a collection of knives and daggers my good sir" His hand reached down to the bundles tucked in top and pulled out a smaller bundle about eight inches in diameter . Placing it on the table he undid the leather strap that bound the smaller bundle together.

As his hands undid the worn leather strap he slowly un rolled the bundled over the top of the three swords he had currently displayed. In whole there were about twenty different daggers and knives and two dirks. The craftsmanship was as fine in these daggers at it was in the swords. In the case of the two daggers at the front of the bundle the blades looked to be made of a black metal that shined similarly to moonlight on water when light touched them. The Handles were a wire mesh over a cedar handle. These two however had no guard attached to them and it looked as if the blade had grown out of the hilt.

"These are the majority of the daggers I have brought with me today, although I have others if you would care to see them " he said in a kind voice, his eyes showing his pride over his fine works of art.
 

Lowthor

Idea Man
Arthur tapped the ash from the end of his cigar and let it fall to the floor like burning hot snow. Then he took another puff of it and held it in place between his teeth. The guardless daggers caught his attention and he reached down to pick one up.

"Strange looking thing. What would it be made from?"
 

Mithrandirxx

The Administration Mage
Staff member
Dukes eyes narrowed a little bit looking upon the blades a moment, before he spoke his tone was slightly different than the jovial salesman talk that he normally spoke in. " Those are somewhat different from your standard blades, they are not made from what one would call typical metal, you see the hilts were forged cut from a tree that had a demon sealed with in its trunk, and after being cut the wood smoked , until I placed a mithril chip into it, then the blade of Reflecting darkness formed around the mithril chip in the form of the chip. They are some of the rarest weapons I have made, thankfully they never need to be sharpened as the true form of the blade is never in contact with what is being cut. However you will want to be careful, wounds from those are prone to get infected within an hour of the cut, oddly enough the infection only leaves the wound when a chunk of Mithril is applied to the wound. " He said slowly.
 

Lowthor

Idea Man
Arthur shrugged and set the dagger back down upon the table. "To be frank if anyone survives me stabbing them with a dagger, I'm probably too dead to care about what happens to them a week later."

He took another puff upon his cigar. "You mentioned silver earlier. Anything that might be suited to dealing with.. wolves?" He talked in a hushed voice and leaned in closer when he spoke the last word.
 

Mithrandirxx

The Administration Mage
Staff member
Smirking a little Dukes eyes narrowed upon Arthur a moment before he spoke calmly in his happy salesman tone " Well those daggers would due the trick, but if your looking for something with a little more bite, pardon the pun of course, then I would suggest these " He said dragging his hand to two identical daggers in the middle of the unrolled roll. Their blades seemed to shimmer a bit brighter than the rest of the blades although one could chalk that up to lighting if they didn't understand the purity of the silver added to them.

They were dual sided blades with a long nine inch blade and a six inch hilt, the guard which had two smaller blades extending outward was similar in metal composite as the main blade. The hilt was an ash wood wrapped with leather cord to ensure a decent grip, and a small unscrewable compartment in the hilt. " These were specifically made with the intention of hunting those creatures, sadly however the man who ordered their creation went hunting before picking them up, and never returned to my shop.
 

Lowthor

Idea Man
Arthur picked one of them up, checked the blade and then his eyes were drawn to the compartment. "And what goes in there?"
 

Mithrandirxx

The Administration Mage
Staff member
Duke smiled and nodded slowly " Well typically what ever one would want to carry around, however the man who requested them initially wanted a compartment in which to house Wolfs Bane. However I am sure you could fit a single decent cigar in each compartment if you so choose" He said with a smirk.
 

Lowthor

Idea Man
"Well I think the supply is a little limited now that we're trapped here. Wolfsbane might be useful though. How much do you want for the pair?"
 

Mithrandirxx

The Administration Mage
Staff member
Duke raised a brow slowly thinking over the price in his mind for a few moments before saying " Well I couldn't let them go for less than sixty gold pieces and two silver " He said with a smile he expected some haggling over the prices but if he could get sixty gold it would deffinitly help.
 

Lowthor

Idea Man
Arthur raised an eyebrow and set the dagger down then took another puff of his cigar. Time to haggle.

"Sixty sounds alittle steep, and as we're trapped here I doubt you'll find another buyer. How about say.. thirty five?"

He was willing to pay more, they were fine weapons, but he had no intention of paying sixty.
 

Mithrandirxx

The Administration Mage
Staff member
Duke Grimmaced a little seeing the man was at least somewhat knowledgeable in the field of Haggling. Taking a deep breath his eyes closed for a moment appearing to be in deep thought. As his eyes opened, his lips parted and he spoke thus " Thity five, for such weapons would be an insult to the weapons themselves, but I see you're in a position of lower standing than I had hoped, so I am willing to let you have them at a steal of fifty gold and three copper "
 

Lowthor

Idea Man
"You are clearly proud of your work, and I understand. I too seek to get the best price for my own, but we are in a bottled economy now. I'll tell you what. I'll give you sixty five gold for these two, and this.."

He reached out and picked up what was essentially a short sword with a wide cutting blade. It appeared to be one of the cheaper items in Duke's collection, based upon a lack of decorative work.

"..What do you think?"

((Thats alright isn't it?))
 

Mithrandirxx

The Administration Mage
Staff member
Dukes eyes narrowed a moment as he thought over the deal before he slowly nodded his ascent " That would be grand " He said. Although the short sword that Arthur had picked up was a simple sword nothing special or all that impressive about it. " I do hope they will serve you well " He said with a smile knowing full well they would.
 

Lowthor

Idea Man
Arthur extended his right hand to shake on the deal, and with his left reached into his coat for his coin purse.
 

Mithrandirxx

The Administration Mage
Staff member
Duke smiled as he too extended his right hand taking hold of Arthurs right hand and wrapping his fingers around Arthurs hand tightly but not attempting to inflict pain.
 

Lowthor

Idea Man
Arthur shook the man by the hand, and then let go and took out the coin purse. He weighed it by hand, then tipped half of the small golden coins into his other hand. Then he put the bag down and counted out another fifteen or so by hand.

"That should be sixty five I think. Feel free to count them yourself." He left the purse on the table for now, and picked up his new silver daggers. He tucked them into his coat, and secured them within his concealed bandoleer of knives and stakes. As he did so he wondered what kind of situation would bring about their first use.
 
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