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  1. "Uhn~! Hahn...~" The oni simply grunted and smiled at the elbow too her gut, squeezing Taiyou tighter for a single moment, before letting her go, hands in the air. "See? No threat~ You may not have met me before, Taiyou, but we'll be getting to know each other quite well, quite soon... Ahh, haha~ Taiyou~ What a wonderful name..." The oni slowly brought her arms down to hug herself, blush fresh on her face, trying to contain some unseen urge, before finally letting it go, putting her hands back down. "My name is Mae Utagawa. I wasn't much of anyone back in Nanbu, but I have become a rather well trained assassin through Ouka's magic and projects... If I'd wanted any of you dead, you, would, be, dead. Eheh~" A small tilt of her head, Mae giggled at the thought, eyeing Shizuka quickly, flashing her a razor sharp grin. "That one especially would've been an easy target... Eheheh~ So, please listen, yes? I've no other reason for being here, I assure you!" She cleared her throat, assuming no one would take issue with hearing what she had to say, enough of an ego to assume no one would interrupt. "Those of us completely under Ouka's control, live in a daze. Things look hazy and grey... I could feel the motions of killing those I was told to kill, but I couldn't bring myself to give it any thought. 'This is life, I suppose'... Then. Then~ Ahah! I had a wonderful dream! It was bright, and full of color! A revelation... A quiet home, a countryside, myself sitting next to a beautiful human that I'd never met... But I'll never forget her looks. Her clothes, her face~! When I woke up, the haze was gone. I could think again, I could feel again... And I was swiftly ordered to kill either you or Ren, miss Princess." Mae smiled, cold, eyes narrow, quite unlike how she had just been acting. "Your cousin was aloof... I could have taken him out, but you, youuuu, your wits were definitely about you. Of course I wanted the bigger fish... This was about a week ago... Yes, yes I've been following you all that time~ Then we arrived here, and amidst the chaos of the fighting, I wandered through the fort. No one was checking the jail, so I decided it might be worth my while to amuse my newfound freedom. See who's locked up... And who do I find?" Another lust filled gaze split off into Taiyou, a heavy breath leaving the oni. "I had a thought at that moment. A very dangerous one. With color back in my life... Why did I have to listen to Ouka, anymore? Was that more than a dream? Perhaps a vision~? It hadn't really dawned on me that I truly was free of her control... Yet here I am! Spilling the beans, eheheh~" Another glance at Taiyou... Mae couldn't contain herself, hands out, slowly approaching Taiyou again. "Another hug, p-please~ I'm begging you... I'll be good; the tongue will stay in my mouth--!" "Oh! Right. Secret. Ouka is poisoning the great trees of Yggdrasil around the continent, amassing their magic for her own means. She doesn't share those means with rank and file, but I'm sure you," she pointed at Ren, "and YOU," she then pointed at Ayane, razor like teeth smile wide, "know exactly who she's gathering this all for... She has three of the nine under her grasp. Luckily, Vaia appears to be safe... The same can't be said for the rest of the continent. Better work fast~ ... mm, now, Taiyou, where were we..." She began her slow approach, fingers wiggling in great anticipation. "Th-There's no way I'd want you to go anywhere, Agni! A, After all, I... I, uhhnmmm..." The words caught in her throat, her anger flushed away for the moment with a heavy crimson washing over her face. "Er, I, y-yes, thank, thank you... I don't... I won't, leave the group, but, I, I uhm... A-Anyway, thank you for listening!" Overwhelmed by the additional emotion, Taliyah pushed back Agni and rushed towards the camp's setup, hoping to find a tent to hide herself in. He, he never did answer me, I, uhhhggghhhh... I'm so... So stupid...! "Akira? White. She's pretty pale herself, as well... And her eyes are red. Blood red~ How fitting for a real monster." Asami sighed, shaking her head. "If you're not up for the task, I'm sure someone else here will manage... I'm simply making sure you know, there is no saving these ones; there will be no attempts at negotiations. They will demand Yui and I, and then if you do not comply, they will try to take your life~ How very... Exciting." Asami was clearly uninterested in some of her sisters, while Yui smiled softly, nodding along. "Do not worry yourself beyond what you can handle towards all of this, Bladen. Simply enjoy the time you have with my sister, and do your best to keep her happy... Though she is not difficult to please, hmhmhm~" "Yuiiii! Gosh, and you wonder why I get so bothered at you, so much... Guhhh... Bladen keeps me very happy, thank you." An indignant pout fit her face, turning her nose away from her sister. "Oh... Sure. I didn't realize... There actually is someone, huh?" Ariana was a little surprised, given what Marina had on her plate. She didn't expect the little hero to have time for romance. Then again, the oni had really forced herself onto Ariana, so maybe Marina's situation had been the same way...? "Mm. You don't need to tell me right away. This is just idle chatter, not something ur... Gent... Marina, I don't recognize that oni." Ariana had finally glanced towards the other group, having thought about Ayane, and the pink haired, new oni among them, wasn't one she'd recognized in the fighting or the group at large. Without waiting another moment, Ariana sprung up from where she was resting, hand on her hilt, running for the group. The last thing they could afford now was to be attacked by Ouka's forces...! "Arrange... ments?" Verah looked confused for a moment, before realizing exactly what was meant as Jade and Seilan continued talking. "Oh. Uh, oh, r-right, this is an actual, military group... H-Huh. I, uh, everyone was acting so casually after the battle, I figured, for a second, you were all mercenaries, but that... Sure is the Demon, King, over... Oh, Hess." The weight of her situation seemed to have finally dawned on her, the worried goat slouching a few inches. "Uhhh, h-haha... Uh, wh, who should I speak with, to see about getting those arrangements? I don't mind visiting Hwein, of course... No reason for me to stay around here, and you lot could use another mage, right!? Surely! Even, if I... C-Can only use ice and water magic-- but I'm very proficient at them!" Suddenly trying to sell herself, Verah smiled awkwardly, realizing how desperate she'd just sounded... "I... I figured that she'd be difficult. She's an old soul. That's why you..." Thesephine realized that Sollowy hadn't explained her duty to anyone else yet, clamming up, knowing Lavinia would zero-in on that. "... What exactly is her duty, Thesephine?" Lavinia crossed her arms again, sighing. "So many secrets with you lately. Secret partner, secret feelings, secret apparent alone time, now this... How am I meant to be your most trusted aide and knight if you cannot at least keep me in the loop of your goings on?" Her words were harsh, but Thesephine didn't falter, this time. "We'll... We'll tell you and everyone that needs to hear it after we speak with Yggdrasil. That much I will promise, but before then, I don't want to say anything." "... I... See." Lavinia was a little surprised. Seeing Thessy speak back against her like this was shocking, reassuring, and worrying, all at once and all for different reasons. "I will trust you to your devices then, my liege... Miss Sollowy." Lavinia was less kind in her addressing of the fairy, sighing quietly and walking off. Now was the time to see Jade. "Mmrrhh... Ugh. I've made her mad, haven't I...? Uggghhhhh..." "Wh-What? But, Xalrei... I, I..." Tenna felt herself huff, however quiet it was. "If, if we're s-supposed to be trying to be friends, then... How, how am I meant to keep watch over my nnn, nnn-new, friend, if you get hurt? And you don't, accept my healing...? I..." She was clearly distressed about this, but there was no way she was going to verbally beat Xalrei's trauma out of her, just like the only way her own trauma was going to improve was to keep pushing at it like this. "I'll... I'll, just keep t-trying. I'll make sure, that you can get used to this... Ennn, nno-nough, that I can heal you, at least. I... I don't, want there to be any more deaths... Than there nnn, nnneeee, nee, ds... Hhha, to be." Tenna swallowed hard, the lump in her throat over her anxieties getting worse. She was doing her best to speak with Xalrei, but... The dragon was still terrifying. Especially covered in blood as she was... "Oh... I not know what, mana... For magic? Er..." The concept of magic was completely lost on Suki. She had no special bloodline in her heritage like Amera, and was beyond reading any of the complex formulae that went into magical tomes. "But, you... say I help? Okay! Miss Nessraya, very nice, I want make feel better~ Er... Though, what... Sexual...?" "Something you're better off not knowing, Suki." Amera arrived right on time, sighing, arms crossed. "I'm right here and you're trying to proposition the dog? Seriously...?" "Not dog! Wolf!" Somehow, that was all Suki took from that exchange. It was enough to raise Amera's mood just above sour, letting her smirk. "Yes, good wolf. Anyway... You and I know both know I'll have plenty of magic to spare once we've setup a proper camp. Why not ask me instead, Nessy~? Hmmm?" Suki simply tilted her head. She was still stuck on what this 'sexual' was...
  2. "Y-Yeah! See? I'm getting a lot better! You know I used to lose my cool completely when it was just us sparring..." Thesephine pouted, holding her arm, seeming like quite the little girl in front of Lavinia, rather than a king of demons. Lavinia merely sighed. "Ugh... You need to do a lot more than 'get better', at it... Sincerely, it's incredibly worrying that you're... Like this. I realize that it's because of your magic, but..." Lavinia bit back another sigh, not wanting to seem like a broken record. It truly was Thesephine's magic that made her act like this. Gorgons and Medusas were unstable creatures when young. They would easily lose sight of their mystic eyes and wreak havoc were they not taught properly from a young age, or helped along with their magic. Lavinia could only do so much, without Thesephine's father here to guide her properly... The girl had almost stopped stoning soldiers in the castle. Almost... "Well... Progress, is progress. Speaking of... I'm sure you've been... Keeping away from her, while we were on duty, Sollowy...?" A pointed question, to be sure, and one that made Thesephine gawk! "M-My, love life is no concern of yours, Lavinia! Especially not with you making eyes at that zombie, honestly, how d-dare you lecture us about... Urgh!" Thesephine huffed, tail swatting the ground. Lavinia hadn't expected Thesephine to point out her own relationship, stammering for a moment, trying to find the words. "I, we... Are, very professional about not letting it get in the way of, proper fighting, and staying on guard. That's all I was, worried about... Mmn. Never mind... Do you know when you will be seeing to Yggdrasil?" Lavinia turned to a serious topic. "It would be best to get to the bottom of this... Ouka problem, right away, yes?" "... Yes. So long as it's on the way to seeing to Hwein's occupation issue, we'll make sure to stop in and check. I've yet to speak with Yggdrasil... Even if my father has, so it would do me well to learn, just what exactly the world tree is like." "I, I didn't... You're, nnn, n-not a monster, you're a p, person, I... X-Xalrei..." Tenna shrunk, having been well and truly denied by the dragon... It hurt, but the remarks weren't things she'd been surprised by, and she did her best to take them in stride. When she was offered the chance to so much as try to channel her healing into the dragon, she picked up, smiling gently. "A-Alright~ I'll do my best." With permission, this time, and making sure Xalrei was watching and aware, Tenna gently took hold of her claw... Slowly pushing her magic into the girl. There was immediate resistance... But not because Xalrei was a monster, or a dragon, or anything like that. It was almost as though Xalrei was focusing on denying the interaction, doing her best to get the incoming magic to leave her system, even if her capabilities were weak and couldn't stop it completely. "So... This, i-is a mental block..." It wasn't that surprising, for Tenna. She couldn't blame her, either... "I, I can work on, it. Get better... Try to make it and, you more comfortable. Promise..."
  3. "... Maybe." Ariana had almost agreed with Marina's request to return it, but that would've been a lie. The girl couldn't be trusted with such power as things were, so Ariana was going to do her best to be honest about how she felt on the situation. There wasn't much else to add, as Marina collapsed against a nearby stump, Ariana taking slow steps after her and sitting down near her. "Uhm... So... I, er, I told you about, Ayane. How do you... Do you, feel anything for anyone, here? I know it's only been a few weeks, b-but... Well, life threatening experiences bring folk closer together." It was true, even if she felt weird saying it. Being forced to trust the people around you to have your back made them closer than anyone could possible be. "Mrrrhh..." The wolf let out a tiny growl at being pet, but only for a moment, settling into enjoying the sensation. "Rest and recharge... Ma, na? That? What?" Suki had no concept of what magic was, other than something that fancy people did, Amera never having sat her down to explain the subject. She knew to dodge a fireball as best as she could, at the least. "How fix?" Was it like sleep? Some sort of spell? A ritual? Words she'd heard before in correlation to the subject, but once again, never had explained. "I like help... So, if can help... I help!" "Yes, Verah... Well met, Lucille, Seilan, Jade~ Ahah... Sorry for the prying and scrying, little miss zombie. I have a habit of looking into names before talking to folk... If I was looking into anything more, you'd feel it, know I was, and probably be preeeeetty angry at me. Worry not! Please." A bit of an awkward laugh followed; her bad habit had already left two of them on guard. At least this Seilan seemed amiable, despite that. "I'm from Vaia! I was doing my best to assist miss miko, over there, when she was assailed by Ithraxl's men, but... I'm just one mage. Overwhelmed and tossed into a jail cell for 'betraying my people and assisting a human'. Drivel, to be sure. I get what's going on with Coteon is a problem right now, but saying all of you are awful, like, did they just forget about an entire country? Honestly, nonsense. Like, this one time, I was doing my roadside gig like normal, some human comes up, all nice, asks for their fortune, probably traveling from Hwein, and halfway through some wolf dude gets all pissed, coming up to us, telling the guy to get outta here-- Heh, one good spell shut him up, and really, he deserved it, because... I, er... uh... H-Haha, rambling. Sorry." A huff and the spinning of a bit of their hair, Verah smiled, offering up a shrug. "Figure I'm either gonna go back to scrying or... Maybe find a more permanent gig? What's this group up to now that you've liberated the people of Vaia from civil war?" "We're not strong enough," Yui began, at Bladen's question. "Not strong enough to block each other completely. Even if we are our own personalities, we are still parts of a whole, and Tamamo is the center of that whole. While reduced in strength, she holds a certain level of dominion on us, and thus is free to open or block our connection to her at her whim... We do not share that ability. Perhaps... Well, no. That would be bad--" "Perhaps if a number of us were to combine, Yui?" Asami cut in as Yui tried to shift away, making the blind fox sigh. "You know none of us would ever agree to that. We don't want to be apart of her anymore than we want to be a part of each other. This sort of thing is permanent. It's not something we can do for fun and extra power." "I know... Still, if we need to--" "We will NOT, need to. I'll die before I give up my freedom. Hh." Asami huffed, looking away from Yui, arms folded. "... Some of them wish to rejoin with Tamamo because they wish to relish in her power and the destruction of things. We are not... Monsters, like you all. We are being of good, evil, indifference... Some of us were created evil, more than half of us, as part of Tamamo's true nature. They revel in it, so even if they were to give up their freedom, they would still experience it all through her eyes. The slaughter, the conquering, the death. It is an unfortunate truth, but it is one we must live with. Some of our sisters are... Twisted, in ways that cannot be untwisted." Yui finished with a somber look, turning her head away from Bladen. "Like Akira. Bitch. Kill her if you see her, Bladen, there's no negotiating with that murderer. I don't care if she has my face, or my voice, don't hesitate." Asami continued to be outspoken on the opinions of some of her kin, much to Yui's chagrin. "Heal myself..." Taliyah took a moment to herself. No words, no sniffling. She had to think on what Agni had said, and seriously. While she wanted comfort, his words were more than that. As the daughter left behind by her parents... She needed to be strong, didn't she? No matter how hard it was to get there. "... Okay." She was still crying, but as much of a smile she could muster had broken out on her face, nodding. "I'm going to leave, Marina alone, for now. I know she didn't do anything today out of spite at me. This wasn't a personal grudge, or something she could have avoided... And the talk... As much as, it angers me, she's right. My father... He... he was trying to destroy something that a lot of people hold dear. Even if it cost him, and me... A lot." Taliyah let out a sigh she'd been building. She still didn't accept her father's death. He should've been spoken to, she should've been let through, anything... But they went on the attack right away. Even if it was right, even if it was 'just', they hadn't tried, hadn't let her try... That pain would eat at her for a long time. "I don't think... I'll talk to Marina for, a while. A long while, maybe... Is... is that fine?" "Ah, ah, ah... Guard down, princess~" The luscious voice split the silence of the night, Ayane's ears and instincts right to have heard something. "I do not come on behalf of anyone. You're still alive, so I trust you'll believe me~ An invisible assassin could have easily taken a few of you out were they here on orders from Ouka, yesssss...?" Silvery words flowed out, but from nowhere specific. The grass rustled, the direction of the voice changed. She was clearly moving around quickly, trying to keep Ayane guessing at her actual place. "Now," suddenly, the voice was behind her, near the group, "I'm here for exactly one person. It isn't you, it isn't Ren, or either of the kitsunes... I'm here for you, my loving wife~" A hand placed itself under Taiyou's chin, as the rest of the oni appeared behind her, her other arm hugging Taiyou tight. "So pretty, so cute... Ahhhh, I was going to wait until later, but with miss Princess noticing me... The jig, is, up~" The pink haired oni wasn't presenting a weapon, not yet, though with Taiyou in her grasp, it was anyone's guess whether she was being honest or taking a hostage. "I'd prefer if none of you attack me! I really didn't come here to make any enemies, or hurt anyone... I just... Wished to see my destined lover, face to face, so very badly, that I broke free of Ouka's control, and made my way over here against her orders~ Shall I tell you a secret... To quell your worries?" As her words finished, her tongue ran itself along Taiyou's ear, the hug tightening. "We'll have plenty of time to get to know each other... Priestess~"
  4. "Marina..." Ariana sighed, closing her eyes. Marina was being stubborn about this, which was a given, but did she really understand the gravity of things? "I... Fine. But if it comes to blows, and you can't bring yourself to, I'm taking it from you. The church might've made it and given it to you to kill monsters, but that was their mistake... If you actually can get it to work for you. It doesn't have to kill monsters." That was all she had to say about the sword. Marina would succeed, or fail, and Ariana would be there to pick up the slack if the girl couldn't manage it. "Mmm... Sorry for such a heavy subject, but it's, very important. Thanks for listening."
  5. "O-Oh." Ariana hadn't been expecting that to go so smoothly, but taking a moment to register that it had... Only one hangup remained between her and completely accepting Ayane's feelings. One that she needed to overcome by herself, as best as she could. "Alright... That, that's really good to hear. Promise. Uhm. The, the next subject isn't as kind and happy, though." She cleared her throat, arms crossed, leaning against the table just a little. "Why don't you have the holy sword on you? And... Even if you did, would you have been able to use it?" A serious question and a serious stare, eyes locking onto Marina. "I understand not using it against monsters as they normally are. If you have to fight, they deserve to die fairly. That... I think the spell failed." Ariana looked away for a moment, swallowing quietly. "I've... Seen, similar magic before. Things that I don't want to speak about, not... Not yet. That spell failed too. So seeing this incomplete dragon... I know that whatever they're doing isn't perfect yet. What happens to us when it is perfect? Can you wield the sword? Because if not..." She unfolded an arm and held out her hand. "Give it to me. It'll attack me, because I am a 'monster'... But even if I have to hurt myself to use it, I can't sit idle with things beyond men and monsters coming to bear."
  6. "Yes... You do deserve some rest. I. Uhm. I had some things I wanted to talk to... Some of them are a little bit heavy. Is that alright?" She walked with Marina as she waited for an answer, getting into her lighter issue first. "So... Er, I... uhm, A-Ayane has, shown an interest in me. Physically..." She felt her cheeks reddening as she spoke, looking away from Marina. "Is... Do you, think that's fine? I, I spoke with Jade a bit, about it. She gave me a lot to think about... For us, and for myself. It hasn't been on my mind while the fight was raging on, but now that everything's dying down, I... Well..." A small station for rations had been set up, Ariana gently picking up a piece of jerky and tearing into it, letting out a sigh. "I had to speak with you about it because I have your face. Even if I'm not you, your... Likeness, was taken from you, and used for me. So I... I was uncomfortable, or rather, I felt awkward over the chance I could make you uncomfortable, being with someone else while, having your face... What, do you think? Are you okay with things?" Verah watched the humans begin to gather around the girl she'd been considering speaking to-- wait that one was green. So it was fine for the monsters to get all chummy and approach? Maybe she would, then~ Leaving them another few moments to talk among themselves, Verah slipped over, walking up behind Jade. Right in time for the mention of some Dorren? Not a familiar name, but names were good information. "Hello there! Apologies if I'm interrupting important conversations... but, with all of this group starting to get into comfortable little groups, you can't blame me for wanting to join one, can you?" A small bow, Verah then pushed a stray hair out of her face and gave them all a sales-worthy smile. "Verah's the name. I didn't quite catch anyone else's, save for the group that did the saving for us all locked up... You don't mind sharing, do you? Well, all of you, except for Jade, here. Pardon, I... Couldn't help myself, doing a bit of scrying and peeking as I walked over." "Bridgit?" Lavinia hadn't quite understood the girl's sudden aversion to being touched, having been approached first... Had she been too hard on her? It wasn't anything she hadn't needed to hear. Good intentions were only as good as the words attached, if she'd meant well with how she'd acted... Something to discuss later. Pushing her now would result in an argument, one that neither of them needed, so exhausted from the day's work. "Oh, my dear sister..." With a tiny sigh, Lavinia turned to scan for Jade-- but found her busy, so she'd leave the zombie for later. That left... "Mrrrhhh, I'm trying... That pendant Marina gave me kept me safe against the knights forces. Besides, you know how I get when I'm angry... It's... I'm working o it. I can't control myself completely, yet, but I'm working on it. At least I didn't hurt anyone I care about, today..." Thesephine sighed, letting the fairy hug her without any weight pressing against her, gently hugging her back as well. "We're gonna be in Hwein, soon... I hope everything with Yggdrasil goes well--" "As do I, your highness." Lavinia was suddenly standing behind Thesephine, the medusa squeaking and letting Sollowy go, before turning to face her vampiric caretaker. "I, hello, L-Lavinia. To what do I owe, your attention...?" Lavinia wasn't smiling, leaving Thesephine on edge. "I was informed by Nessraya that you lost yourself in combat, again. Have our sparring lessons helped you with anything...? You cannot take to the field if your swinging and magic can harm friend along with foe." "I, I'm working on it! Really! T-Tell her, Sollowy." It was a rather sore spot for the medusa, hoping that Sollowy would assist her with things. "Oh..." Tenna wasn't that easily discouraged, trying to take Xalrei's claw in her hand-- though it was swiftly torn away from her. "E-Eek! I'm sorry, I, I just... I wanted to t-try! I, if we're ever, in a battle together, and y-you get hurt, I... I have, to be able to fix you up... Please. C, Can, I... Xalrei?" She couldn't imagine that her magic wouldn't work simply because Xalrei was a monster. Was it psychological? Did her dragon magic conflict with the natural healing magic that Tenna had been blessed with? She said human magic, not all magic, so... "So curious. Well--" "Do you mind, Asami?" Yui started, interrupting the fox. Asami growled, but sighed. "Fine, fine... You'll explain it with less flirt than I will, anyway~" "Ah, heheh. Mm. Bladen, yes. Were we to all gather, including Tamamo--" "Yui!" Asami snapped, nearly wacking her sister across the head. "Asami, it's fine. For us, anyway... Do not repeat that, Bladen, as I'm sure Asami has warned you. Our connection to her is currently blocked, likely Tamamo's own doing. So long as it remains that way, there is no fear in our using her name." "... Wait, really?" Asami paused, shocked, closing her eyes... And finally chuckling, laughing even. "Wow~! What's she so afraid of!? Hiding are you? What a terrifying beast, hahaha~!" Yui merely sighed at her sister's gloating, continuing on. "Yes, if were to all gather, with her there, it would spell the end for this world, surely. However, those of us that harbor no intentions of ever rejoining with her won't cause any problems. I am quite pleased to see Asami again, in fact~" "Pfft." "As for how she knew I was there... We can all sense each other. The closer we are, the stronger the sensation, and the more accurately we can point it out. Being in the same fort, I'm sure Asami knew right away that I was in there." "I did, and it was frustrating. How did you allow yourself to be caught, anyway? Why were you even caught? You're a monster." "Mmm... That Verah girl they locked me in with took exception to how some of Ithraxl's soldiers were behaving at a nearby village's tavern. I tried to heal the wounded while they fought, but... They collected us all up with her, claiming some nonsense of running the area." "Well, that sounds about stupid... Hhhh... Does that at least answer your question, Bladen? And seriously, DON'T say that name. Yui is careless, even if she's right..." Suki poked her head over Nessraya, staring down at the general, who seemed to be beyond tired. "Nessraya? I, get help? You... Very tired. Exhaust. No look, good." The wolf hadn't done much back at camp, only train her swings and see to supplies when ordered. Now that they were free to walk around, she'd been about to find Nisha, but had spotted the general and gotten concerned. "Need carry elsewhere? Anything from Suki?" "... A-Alright, Agni." Taliyah took his hand and led him away from most of the groups, still within eyesight, and earshot if someone were to raise there voice. She didn't plan on talking loudly, a confused smile, still stuck on her face. "Okay... I... Uhm. Am... Am, I, s-still allowed to be, friends with, Marina?" She furrowed her brows, sniffling back more tears-- not that she had many left to let out. "I-I... I kind, I kind of hate her, right now. I know she didn't kill him. But she, she led everyone here, to kill my d... Hhhn... And... And they're all rejoicing, and she even, g-gave a speech. I just want to p-punch her. I feel horrible. We're supposed to be friends! I shouldn't... I'm, a-awful...!" All these nanbu folk, all gathered up... Ahhh, I could enact Ouka's ambitions right now. They all think they're so safe, but a quick knife... They're so lucky that I had my vision~ So long as they don't bring harm to the one I love... I won't hurt a single hair on their heads, no matter how many times that bitch orders me to. The silent watcher, mere steps away from Ayane and Ren, continued to look over them all, grin plastered to her invisible face. "... Heh." She couldn't help herself, letting out the smallest of chuckles while they spoke, taking several steps away, should they have heard her above the din of their conversations. Not yet... mghn, not yet~ Mae, you should really go... Ahhh, but they're right there... This is torturous.
  7. "Oi!" Thesephine nearly jumped up on the table and ripped Bridgit off of it, but the folk around seemed to take it well enough, even if some of them shook their heads and sighed at her. The medusa growled, scowling knives into the stupid little vampire, before biting back her anger and working off of the Hero's words, not the rest of the drivel. "You heard Marina! Rejoice and rest; you've all earned it! Break out the supplies, break out the food and drink." Plans solidified, the demon king made her way over to Sollowy, collapsing lazily against the fairy, making sure not to put too much weight on her. "I'm tired, Sollowy... Too much, today. Just, too much." She needed a rest herself, after having been made to chase off the church's forces and everything she had to deal with after coming back. Lavinia was less permitting, pushing the small vampire to an arm's length, and giving her a stern look. "Bridgit. You are not the star of the show today, nor were your words particularly helpful... Think before you speak in the future. Everyone is tired, exhausted, and needs rest... They deserve to get a little big headed, for tonight, at least. Don't take that away from them." Hopefully she would think on that and not repeat this performance in the future, Lavinia sighing and pulling her into a tight hug. "That said, I am glad you're alright... I knew everyone would take care of you, but it was still difficult to leave you all and split the groups as we did... I'm beyond glad that you and Marina are both alright... Physically." Stroking a tired gauntlet gently through Bridgit's hair, Lavinia gave her a concerned glance. "Shall we talk? Here or elsewhere? Or are you... Truly all fine?" She would've been pleased to hear that nothing was weighing on Bridgit's mind, but the girl was still young, in mind, and naive to the ways of war and bloodshed. It would have been monumental for nothing to be eating at her, now. Taliyah sniffled, feeling Agni's arms come around her again, glancing back at him. "I'll... I'll be okay, Agni. We can, bury my dad later. Thank you for helping me, take him out of there... Uhm... Can, can we talk, away from the group? I... I have some things I need to, get off my mind... Is that okay?" Marina's speech seemed to be over, Taliyah standing herself up and sniffling a bit. "Sorry, if I've been clinging to you a lot... I just... I can't bring myself to talk to Marina, right now." A weak smile, but a wry one. I don't know if I can call myself her friend with these feelings weighing over me... Asami yawned as Marina spoke. What a boring little speech, and Lavina's sister butted in, as she tended to. Asami rolled her eyes, Yui patting her shoulder, the more mature of the pair knowing that things were difficult at the moment. "Do not patronize me, sister," Asami yawned out, taking a deep breath. "It's just so typical, that's all... Nothing more, nothing less." "I understand how you feel... But, some of these words are needed for the people here, to heal and move on. You know that." "I do... Unfortunately." Asami sighed this time, letting her yawns go, before perking up at Bladen's approach. "Hey there, handsome~ Questions? About ol' tall, dark and boring here, I assume." "Asami!" Yui snapped, gently thwapping a hand against the pink clothed fox's arm. "Goodness, we reunite and you've nothing but bickering for me... I've always been kind to you." "Mrrrhh... You have. Fine! Yui is wonderful, my annoyed emotions aside. What would you like to ask, darling~?" "M-Marinnn-na!" Tenna was stuck at the edge of the crowd of monsters, trying to get in to see her friend, but... The panic from all of them being together was preventing her from pushing through to check on all of them. She'd tried to steel herself a few times to do so, but each attempt fell flat... Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Xalrei, the dragon she'd forced friendship on, looking rather annoyed... Maybe she needs some help...? I wanted to check on Marina first, but it would be better to, wait until all of these people clear out... "Uhm... X-Xalrei?" Cautiously, the princess approached the dragon, hand held out ever so slightly. "Are you, w-wounded? I can, try and clean up some of your w-wounds if you'd, like... I knnn, n, know you'd, probably rather wait for ann, noo, ther monnster to do so, but... I-I'm here! I'm, trying to help. Please... If it's okay." Ariana had no issues pushing through the crowd, first holding up a hand to shake, realizing the height difference with Marina up on the table, then tried to change it into a fist bump, a wave, before she settled on a very awkward peace sign alongside her blank face. She couldn't hide the blushing, though. "M-Marina. Uhm. Good, good work, today. You did well... Er, and, good words. Too. Uh... Yeah. Do you, want to eat something and, try to relax a bit...?" There were probably others that Marina wanted to spend time with, but, Ariana didn't want to be alone with the battle over and the fort cleared out, while at the same time, couldn't bring herself to bother Ayane while she was with her brother. She feared his judgement, less so after talking with Jade, but still more than enough... Verah was happy to finally be free of that cursed jail cell, idly walking around the group while the hero had spoken, looking around folk, before noticing the only slightly armored pegasi in the vicinity... With a collapsed rider atop it? "Oh, no... Is... she okay?" She wasn't asking anyone in particular, wondering if she should approach her at all... Surely, someone would notice, right...? Ahhh... There they were. There they were~! Her destiny. My destiny! Standing right in front of me! I could just, reach out, and... No. No, not yet. Not while they're all bunched up; an oni, like me, just presenting myself and offering surrender? I'd be locked up and killed, or worse, just killed on the spot~! I need a better place... A better, much better place, to make my case... Mmmm... So I'll follow you~ A whisper of a chuckle on the wind, the invisible oni was far too amused with herself. I'll follow you until I can show myself and get you all to accept me... And then we'll be together. Together for the rest of our lives, my destined lover~ Hmhmhm... So, very, very, cute... Ahh... I can't wait to eat you up.
  8. There were too many people surrounding her to address, especially not her in state. She didn't even have it in herself to tell them all to go away, about to lash on at the one kneeling next to her, before realizing it was Agni... "A... Ag, ni... I... Uuuuuh, hahhhhhh...!" Taliyah let out another sob as she collapsed against him, burying herself into him now, looking for comfort in the only place she could trust at the moment, biased completely by her emotions. "We did win, Dyssa," Thesephine began, letting Stholia turn back into its smaller form. She wrapped it around her neck, along with the one Marina had given her, shaking her head. "We just had to hurt someone we know to do it." Thesephine didn't really know this girl, but if Ithraxl really had been her father, she could feel this pain to her core. It meant plenty to her, and having felt such before, she knew she had no words worth Taliyah's ears. She'd just helped put the girl in her situation all those years ago... "Let's... Let's go, everyone. Agni, bring Taliyah out once she's had her time. If she wants to bury the body, I'll ask Lavinia to assist you." Turning to leave, she let out another sigh. This is the cost, sometimes... But it had to be done. Now we can start saving this country. Amera caught Nessraya as she started to fall, gasping and picking the general up without a second thought, eyes darting around for-- "Seilan!" It looked like he was already coming over, the cat hauling the general towards him in a hurry. "H-Help her! Please... I'm sure Nessraya would be more than happy to participate in the healing once she's patched up, but, I-Ithraxl hit her pretty badly... Please." "What? Oh... Er, thanks, I guess." Ariana wasn't sure how to react to the genasi's sudden want to be friendly, other than the awkward response and nod, so silence quickly fell towards the approach. Until Thesephine ordered everyone to go. "Maybe you can provide Marina with such a courtesy once we're out of this fort and away from this bloodshed... Th... Thank you, for the gesture, though. Taiyute." She pushed herself off the wall and took long strides towards the exit, in part due to her own awkwardness, and in part urgency to leave the mess behind. "We, uhm... Ahem. We should all leave. We're exhausted," Lavinia assumed of everyone else but herself, "wounded and need to recuperate; perhaps some of us need sleep. Jade, if Lucille's pegasus will follow after you, perhaps with a bit of coaxing, that would be for the best." There was nothing that could be said to Taliyah, nothing that would solve her pain, no matter what they tried. As she moved to leave, Lavinia caught wind of Thesephine's offer, nodding in their direction. Cautiously approaching Taliyah and Agni, the vampire took a knee behind the man, trying her best to smile. "I will do what I can to assist." "Two humans, is it? Well... I know who one of them is. Entirely because I know who's in this cell already... Sister." Asami opened the door, now that the soldiers had been pacified, and stared down the fox that sat inside. Unlike Asami's open and revealing kimono, hers was longer, worn properly, and nothing excess was showing. A prim and proper woman... Attire aside, she looked exactly like Asami. Shockingly like her, in fact... They had to be twins. "A pleasure to speak with you again, Asami. I hope you've been well?" She bowed gently, making her way to exit the cell. "You know exactly how I've been, Yui..." The pink fox sighed, letting her walk out. "You need a hand? I know you can't see where you're going..." "I can feel where I'm going just fine. Worry not... Verah, shall we?" The goat woman in the cell was already up, brushing off her dress. "Of course! I knew this would happen, anyway~ Verah, astrologist extraordinaire, at your services, miss... Asami, was it?" She did a tiny bow, before following after Yui. "... Charmed." Though hurt and wounded, the group did their best to leave the fort. Thesephine had gotten a few of the militia to gather her a table to stand on, needing to be able to see and address everyone. Or so the soldiers had thought. Thesephine moved up to it before turning and facing Marina, pointing at her in the crowd of tired soldiers. "This victory today is ours, but this campaign is not mine, King of yours as I may be. I'd love to get up here and give a few inspiring words for the victory we fought hard for today... But they aren't mine to make. Marina!" She motioned for the girl to come forward, stepping aside. "Get over here." Lavinia had finished assisting Taliyah and Agni when Thesephine made her declaration to Marina, the vampire quickly pushing through the crowd to place a hand on the girl's shoulder. "I know we're all hurting," she quickly muttered to Marina, "but hearing something nice couldn't hurt." Asami had her own things to deal with, but the floor could be given to the hero for a moment, at least. Yui wasn't running off, so that was fine... For the moment. Amera had managed to get Nessraya some proper healing, sighing as the general started dealing with the wounds of everyone else, wishing she'd rested just a bit longer... A speech now, was it? From the 'Hero'... Well. Unlike Ithraxl, she'd worked herself hard enough to get here. Prove that her apologies and efforts were more than a ball and chain due to Thesephine... So far, at least. Taliyah had eventually accepted Lavinia's assistance, and with Agni's help, they'd dragged her father's body out of the fort to be buried before everyone turned in for the night. She hadn't realized there would be a speech... It made her feel sick. They were going to celebrate her father's death... He had been an enemy to the country, but she could never bring herself to hate him. She looked away from it all, slowly sitting down and clasping hands over her ears. She couldn't bear to listen... And Ariana just stood there. It was nice to see Marina get the recognition she deserved, but was now the time? A rousing speech to raise morale after the campaign's end, did the girl even have it in her? Ariana could only hope so.
  9. "No! Let go of me!" Taliyah pushed Marina's hands away, clinging tight to her father... The panic worsening as Nessraya's healing didn't do anything. She didn't know what to do or say anymore... The realization was starting to properly sink in. "Heh. Glass the whole damn country then..." He didn't share Nessraya's outlook on things, not in the slightest. "What good, have the humans of Coteon ever done... For anyone? They'll even kill their own. Kill their own over something, that doesn't affect them in the slightest... Savages. Monsters. A blight, on this g-great continent. They all... N-Need, to burn..." His rage wouldn't subside, even if his life would. "My final gambit cost me everything... That kind of corruption. You can't heal it... Ask, the oni, when you find her. Hahaha..." One last cryptic remark, his eyes slowly closed. "Hero... I... F-Followed, my convictions. They got me killed, but... They. They w-were mine, and mine alone... What about you. Hero? What did you follow... Orders?" A final snicker, he left Marina with something painful to chew on. "Tamara... I'll... See...y...so..." The general was dead. Taliyah was crying. A victory had been won, and not at a cost too great... Save for the heart of one girl. "Are you going to be alright?" she offer Bladen, his answer to her request giving her some worry... It wasn't another minute before they were down the stairs and up into the cells, giving the knights guarding them a tired look. "Ithraxl is dead, boys. I'll give you one chance to stand down before the pretty birdy kills you all." Asami smiled, clasping her hands together. "Wh-What!? There's no way! There's..." One of the guards looked back over at Verah in her cell, the goat giving him a smile as she idly played with her ball of magic. "N-No..." "Wh, What, what do we do?" Given the state of the two that had just come into the prison, there had been a serious battle... The blood stains and damage done to the both of them was evident, but there was no urgency in how they'd come in, nor their words. Was the battle truly over? Had Ithraxl, really...? The archer dropped his bow, holding his hands up, shaking his head. "I-I don't want to die. I just, I wanted to get back... Get back at the humans for what they did. I-If he's dead, there's no hope for that anymore... Ju-Just, take me in." Asami smirked, clapping quietly. "That's a good boy~"
  10. "This isn't... Wha, what mom... Would've ww, ww-wan'ed...!" Taliyah cried the words out, Ithraxl's face softening, even at death's door. "She... She was, s-ss, so ha, happpyyyy... With us... W, With, you... Why...!?" "... Taliyah... I never, expected you, to understand. You're... You're too innocent. You've never, done anything wrong..." His voice was steady, but it was weak. "I saw her in you. Every day. You have your mother's, face..." A small choke, even the monster himself couldn't help tears, grinning at his weakness. "Damn it all... This is why I s-sent you away, Taliyah... I never... Never would've been able to..." "You, didn't have to! Stupid! Stupid stupid stupid!" Weak fists banged against his chest, Ithraxl coughing, Taliyah continuing her wailing. "... You. Nessraya..." Ithraxl urged his body to move, raising his head enough to stare at the general. He wore a scowl; he couldn't hide his hatred of her, despite everything. "You... Are everything, I have come to hate about Vaia... We're, soft. I was soft... Coteon, tore through us. Twice. We've done nothing... Nothing to stop the humans from destroying us. And then, you... Your, damned mother. Her half blood... It runs in you, and they choose, you... To lead our armies? Pfeh..." His body gave out again, collapsing against the floor once more, letting out a sigh. "My wife. She was a human... They took her from me. Coteon. Just... For thinking it would be alright. To try and bridge, that... Gap. They took, her... And I... Had to then watch, as another damned hero. Stormed the land... Killed, o-our people... And now, gets off... With nothing but hard labor? No. No... I couldn't..." "D-Dad... Just. Just, s-stop... It's... It's over, please. We, we have to h-help you--" "I'm... I'm not going to last, Taliyah. My... My beautiful, daughter. I'm, so sorry... I don't expect anyone to forgive, me. I don't want them to... I did, what I felt was right... But, you... You shouldn't have..." "N-No...! N-Nessraya! He, heal him, or, s-something, please! Please!! He's, I know he's done, terrible things, bu, but I, I, please...!" Her panicked face looked back at Nessraya and Thesephine, hoping for something, anything! "... Tch..." Thesephine couldn't believe his reasoning had been so selfish, so basic, so stupid... What good would more war have done any of them? They had barely recovered from the last crusade when this one was launched upon them, what could they have done? Marched on Coteon and lost even more people, in a vain attempt at revenge? Something had to be done, at the very least, he was right about that, but more death and destruction wasn't it... "Nessraya... If, you can save his life, do so. Without harming yourself in the process... See that your wounds don't make it impossible." Ithraxl could rot in a jail cell for all Thesephine was concerned, but she couldn't help her heart aching at Taliyah's innocent pleas. "So soft, indeed..." Asami sighed, as she came upon the scene, arms crossed. She wouldn't stop anyone from what they had to do, or felt they needed to, but she couldn't stand it all... Maybe she was irate from the feeling of her sister down the hall. We'll half to see to that, won't we? "Bladen, come with me. There's prisoners down that way... Don't ask how I know, just come and help me clear out the soldiers, if they try and stop us." Waving for the Fallen to follow her, Asami made for the nearby stairs, magic at the ready. Amera was far less sympathetic to the dying dracolizard. Despite Taliyah's pleas and her crying, she stormed up to him and spit on his face, the man smirking in response. "You killed good men for this stupid plan of yours. Just so you could try and get what you wanted. Disgusting. You're the kind of monster Coteon tries to sell its people on... Pray to Hess for your luck that your daughter is here, or I'd smash your face into the floor and be done with this." Her words said, she turned back towards Nessraya, a softer look on her face. "Ness, can I help? Your wounds look pretty bad... I can carry you out of her, if you need me to?" And Ari, Ari simply stood there, hand on her sword in case the man's magic wanted to spring up again. "This is why Coteon must be stopped. What a pointless insurrection... All for what? Pain and personal gain. Nothing right was done here, today..." She mumbled her complaints to herself and sighed, turning and walking away from it all, resting at the far end of the main hall. She couldn't help anyone, and part of her didn't want to. Ithraxl was reaping what he'd sowed. That was all there was to it... "Jade!" Lavinia had finally made it into the fort proper, having heard all the ruckus and roaring before, unsure of what any of it was... It had sounded like a large beast, but when she arrived, the room was nearly empty... Save for the scene playing out in front of them. Ithraxl was defeated... And his daughter had to watch his last moments. "Jade, wh-what happened? All that noise, and over so quickly, just... What... Gods, poor Taliyah." Lavinia placed a hand over her mouth, looking away from the moment. She couldn't help feeling similar to Taliyah. A long buried memory of her crying over the body over her own family... "We... If there's nothing to be done for him, we should let them be... I, I know he's done so much, and has so much to answer for, but..." Lavinia finally turned away from it all, holding herself, letting out a huff. Taliyah was far too young to go through this. No matter what kind of man her father had been, he was her father...
  11. Xalrei's cry was met with a roar, as the girl burst forth, driving the spear into the growing mass of almost-dragon... It struck true, but the beast wasn't done for yet, bellowing another cloud of magic and death onto Xalrei. Whether it was from determination, strength, or pure rage, the runt of the litter stood fast, stabbing the beast again. A hefty roar escaped what was once Ithraxl, as the dragon spear's magic began to erode the mass that was still growing, new scales slowly stopping, things starting to fall apart... With one final, weak, weak roar, the beast crumpled into a mass, dissolving, disappearing... Until Ithraxl stood there again, just as badly damaged as he had been before. "What... A waste..." A final gasp or words... And he collapsed. Xalrei gains +100 exp, +2 lance wexp! Level up! Level 17 99 67 4 18 66 21 61 37 +Skl! "D-Dad... Daddy!" Taliyah suddenly pushed past everyone, throwing caution to the wind, falling to her knees next to his still form. "D-Daddy! Daddy, please! Wake up! Wake up!!" Her shrill cries were enough to stir him enough, eyes cracking open. He tried to stand... But his body wouldn't move. With all he had left, he managed to roll onto his back, tired, nearly dead eyes staring at Taliyah. "Why... Did you, c-come back...?" "... Because, y-you're still, mmmmy, my dad..." Her dam burst, as the tiny lizard threw herself onto her father's hulking form, hugging him as best as she could. "Mrrrghh... S-Stupid, girl... Shouldn't... S, See me, like this..." The whole time the battle was fought, the jail cell had been shaking, the building had been rumbling, and those roars, the sound of fighting... It was a lot for Verah, who had been staring daggers into the guards holding her cell. "H-Hey! Are you three seriously gonna keep us in here after all this!? Do you even know what's happening anymore!?" She was upset, to say the least, and had half a mind to blast another one of them with a water spell... "Sh-Shut up, you!" One of the knights barked back, gulping in his tin can. "L-Look... Look, maybe we should go and check? There's seriously something crazy going on out there..." "I, I know that, but... If we abandon our post, we'll never hear the end of it!" "Uuuuuuuugh!" Verah rolled her eyes, idly forming a ball of water. "O-Oi! Mage! Put that down!" The soldier armed with a bow readied it, making Verah jump. "Calm down! Hess' sake! I'm bored! I'm bored and I'm upset because this fight is over, and we're still in this damned jail cell... Ugh. Well, I hope you're all ready to throw down your arms." She scowled at them again, though they were confused. "Wh... What do you mean? Ithraxl's gonna win! There's no way he'd lose to a group that small, no way!" Verah scoffed, before looking away from them all. "Yeah, sure... His chances were pretty slim, last I checked... And that roar means only one thing." I was right.
  12. "Th-This is more than a flesh wound! Wh, what, even is... Urrrghh...!" Thesephine cursed herself for not taking healing classes seriously, doing what she could with her magic to keep Nessraya at the least stable... Nisha looses an arrow! Roll: 22,57 18 damage! Nisha gains +14 exp, +1 bow wexp!
  13. Nessraya smashes and bashes! Roll: 79,35 24 damage! The dragon roars, snapping the tentacles trying to contain it, before BELLOWING a cloud of deadly breath onto Nessraya! Roll: 25,59 27 damage! Nessraya smashes him again! Roll: 21,15 Critical! 63 damage! Ithraxl collapses... Before a burst of magic invigorates him, the dragon roaring anew! Limbs repairing, scales healing, tentacles breaking around him! Nessraya gains +50 exp! Level up! level 12 7 16 19 65 41 83 45 91 +HP/Mag! "Nessraya!?" Thessy rescues Nessy! "T-Talk to me! Say something! Are you okay!?"
  14. "It, it's fine, Bladen! We all need to get out of here! Ithraxl, you bastard, what did you do? What did you DO!?" "Now is not the time for panic, your highness~!" Asami to 15,24, dance Ness! +15 exp "He's tough, but that's not a real dragon, and it's still forming! We can kill it just as easily as any other monster! Nessraya! Get in there!"
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