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Hero, Don't Kill The Demon King! Chapter 1: Lives Not Yet Thrown Away

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"What's this? I'm right?" Lavinia had finished with her clothing, getting her armor's harness setup now. She was quite used to messing with and fitting the armor onto herself at this point, twisting to standing while getting the straps fastened over her tunic. "Already giving in? I'll take it, but I won't lie, a small part of me is disappointed that this was so easy... Well, it's not bad, of course." With a further chuckle and  her chest plate properly hoisted onto the room's table, Lavinia turned to face Jade with a cocked eyebrow, gently taking hold of the zombie's chin. Giving her the most subtle turns and shifts, Lavinia finally nodded, humming softly. "You certainly turned my head..." Fingers slowly slipped off the merchant as Lavinia went to address her armor. She kept humming a small song to herself. "You really should, Jade. Perhaps you dislike the color of your skin, but as I mentioned before, it definitely suits you. Perhaps you think your scars unwelcome, but they tell plenty of tales, and give you and your body a rather full history. Whatever it is... You at least have my vote. I do think you're quite beautiful." If Jade took no issue with her compliments now, she wouldn't hold them back. Chest plate fit, gauntlets were next, and Lavinia went back to her little song.

"Just try to live your life... The sun goes down with all my faults. So where's your feeling, and where is your life..." Mumbled words escaped her mouth and she systematically fitted the armor onto her hands and forearms, flexing them just a moment, before moving onto her greaves.


"Hwah!?" Taliyah froze up as the ground left her and Xalrei's arms met her. "I... O... Okay... Geez..." There was no fighting it at this point. Any scrambling to escape would either hurt Xalrei on accident, or make her headache worse. "S... S-Sure, Gabriela... Siren, s, singing, sounds... Superb..." Wh-Why is she so focused on carrying me? Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!


So many questions... Questions that needed very complicated answers, ones she didn't want to get into right now, especially after slipping up like that. Her frustration had gotten the better of her... Maybe she could be vague and get away from this for now, but--

Bladen was helping, now? Better late than never... And it seemed to have worked. Asami calmed down considerably, sighing. "Yes! Later. Won't go skipping town, of course~ Come to the inn-- not the tavern, the inn, this evening. Okay? I'm sure the group will have all gathered back together to eat, and we can discuss this over... Dinner. I suppose." Retaking Bladen's arm, Asami glanced up at him with eyes that seemed to scream 'thank you', gently leading him along.

"You just saved me a world of mess... Not that it'll be better later, but... It's not right now. That's a problem for future Asami..."


"A traveling merchant group... Ah, Ms. Vasilia, of course~ Though... She didn't mention any other vampires in her care... Ah, well, it must have slipped her mind, why else would you have her name? Yes, a moment." Geoffrey left them for but a moment, returning with two keys. "These are the last two keys I was able to afford your group, so make sure you split them up as necessary once the rest arrive. I've taken the courtesy of writing your names in the ledger, so worry not. Dinner is around five sharp, and to further assuage your worries, yes. We have fresh blood available. I do hope you enjoy your stay." With another quite proper bow, Geoffrey left them again to return to his station.


Le 11 Avril, Samedi à 17 heures - The Old Moon Inn

It has been quite the day for most of the group. Lavinia and Jade had made the rounds to Aensbrook's wares and weaponry stores, purchasing what they felt the group would have needed, especially some extra sets of clothes and towels. Asami and Bladen had spent the day on their little date, the fox dragging him around after they'd put food into themselves. She had a certain fondness for clothing shops, but especially for jewelry, spending most of her time ogling things she knew she couldn't afford, and didn't expect Bladen to. It was enjoyable window shopping, for her, at least. Taliyah ended up resting at the inn for most of the day, telling Xalrei that she would've been fine. Gabriela's singing had been especially pleasant, enough to help her nap.

Now that the day had gone by, evening was slowly coming upon them, and the group had managed to return to the inn in time for dinner services. As their group was of a much larger size than normal, a full table had been set aside for everyone, enough space for all of them-- except for Erephis. She'd been given her own table to coil around next to the group's, and she was content with that. She'd also found out what exactly the vial contained, and if she had a moment, she'd let them all know. She hadn't spotted her friend, Eugene, though... Maybe he was out?

"A toast!" Lavinia started, holding her glass of... What looked like wine, was definitely blood. "To none of us making fools of ourselves and causing trouble in Aensbrook. I do hope your stays have been enjoyable so far, and that you've managed to work some of that traveling stress out. The evening is young, though, so if there's anything you need to take care of before we depart in the morning... Once food is done, I highly suggest you do so. I, will be making my way to the arena... The sun will soon set, and I will be able to partake in that rather obnoxious festivity. Money is money, though~" Taking a hefty sip, Lavinia leaned back and crossed a leg, free of her armor for the moment. The inn's dining room was free of large windows, leaving her more than safe from her eternal tormentor.

"What a barbarian," Asami whined, rolling her eyes. "Though you are right... Money is money~" She was lazily picking at the chicken leg that had been a part of her provided meal. Everyone had received a cut of the bird they'd asked for, a bit of salad, a drink-- either mead or water, and dessert would come soon after they were all done. Truly sublime service for the cost. "So! Everyone! What did you all get up to, today~ I'm dying to hear what everyone did with their free time~ I spent all of mine with Bladen... It was wonderful, mwah~" At this, Lavinia coughed, having laughed while trying to drink her 'wine', shaking her head.

"Already have your claws in someone, Asami?"

"He enjoyed it~" I hope...

"W... Well, I, got myself tossed around the arena. Heh... It was n-nice to hang out with Xalrei, though." Taliyah was surprised she'd been given a meal as nice as everyone else, and had promptly destroyed it already... Almost afraid to ask for more.

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Xalrei seemed intent on convincing Gabriela to go into the arena to fight, even saying things like 'There will be many people watching you!'. The nerve of that girl! If Gabriela was that easy to get rid of, she would be long gone by now, seducing men out of their money and being, as Lavinia would put it, a 'crook'. Ridiculous. She would go with them and that was final, wherever they planned to go. Taliyah seemed pleased at the suggestion of hearing her sing, but it seemed like she had a little bit of a situation right now.... "Well, it seems like a better idea to sing a little later.... i'll be right behind you!" She ignored Xalrei's provocations and simply followed along, hoping the dragonewt didn't have more things to say.


Gabriela enjoyed having the first real classy dinner in quite some time. This is the life that she was dreaming of all along. The last time was about a year ago, when she was invited by one of her.. suitors, to a dinner party after she... entertained him. Truth to be told, Gabriela doesn't even remember his name, he only remember that they were a family of Nekomata, and were quite intent on their personal grooming, which was fine, but they were also quite arrogant and vain, and Gabriela couldn't stand it. It's not like the food was spectacular anyway, she had better. This food on the other hand, was quite exquisite! The wine too, was just perfect! Gabriela couldn't help but look at Lavinia, who was enjoying a wine-colored glass of blood. Just when she was starting to enjoy herself, Lavinia had to make a toast and talk about people making trouble. Like she needed any reminder to the huge mistake she made earlier. Luckily, the conversation quickly became interesting, when talk about money began. Money is money, huh? While that is certainly true, Gabriela could think of a few nicer ways of earning cash than by swinging blades at one another. It was just then that she was reminded that she still didn't have her money. Now was the chance to get it back before Marina would head off and do something else. From her seat, she spoke to Marina. "Hey Cianna. You still have my money, right? Could I have it back, please? There's not much I can do without my precious cash." Gabriela gave a smile, but it was clear that it was a pretty forced one. She doesn't forget easily and that definitely includes what happened earlier. 

Edited by Michelaar

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Luckily, by the time Nessraya had found Marina and Agni, they had already been shown to their rooms by the inn-keeper, and had kept out of trouble for the most part. The vampire disguises were... well, if they kept them up it would be a fine idea, but were they to slip, then it would have been prudent to be upfront with their status as human from the start. Only time would tell at this point... the inn staff already thought they were vampires.

At some point in her free time, the General had moved to peruse the town's wares with the coin she had won, and stumbled upon a little curiosity in one of the shops. A fairy wing... an interesting little trinket, one could absorb the magic from it to make themselves feel lighter. It had been a tad expensive, but they were rare to come by, and she had never gotten to properly study one before.

That little pastime had gotten her to the inn's dinner table, her inspection and study of the little thing coming to a close. Squeezing the glimmering wing against her palm, she felt it break under the pressure, it's magic absorbing into her body. For her own purposes, the light feeling was accompanied by the infusion of magic practically doubling as a small meal, though the inn's contribution would be appreciated as well, if not more for the flavour than the nutritive properties it provided her.

"Well after the arena, mostly just studying that little trinket... I didn't think I would find a Fairy wing in these parts, so it was a welcome little diversion."

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After they'd escaped the oni, the day had brightened significantly. Bladen had truly enjoyed just spending time with Asami, eating, window shopping, everything. He wished he had enough money to buy her a trinket, but the prices in this town far outweighed what little he had. It had almost caused him to consider entering the area for a moment, but he had given up on that after giving it more than a second's thought. He had his way of doing things. She wouldn't get upset with him for not buying her anything, that he was pretty sure about.

And now they were back all together, seemingly without any problems during the day. Thankfully the humans had managed to stay out of trouble when they were on their own, so that was a relief. The others all seemed to be in good spirits as well. The oni hadn't shown up yet, so it seemed that for now they were safe of that specific brand of trouble. However, he wasn't exactly safe, something he was reminded of as Asami's subtle teasing made him blush, though Lavinia's comments didn't exactly help. "It was a lot of fun, really. It's hardly a claws situation..." He'd been the one that had pushed things past teasing first after all. Not that he was going to say that to the whole company but. Food. Food was interesting, right? He directed his attention to the chicken on his plate, hoping that this line of conversation would fizzle out.

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Geoffery's note of not mentioning vampires admittedly embarrassed Marina, she was ready to say it was a ploy, but she held back, knowing it probably would make her seem sketchy. Graciously, she took the keys into her hand, giving a small nod, "Thank you, sir. I'm grateful," And soon, he was gone. Turning to Agni, she gave a small smile, "I guess we should quickly meet up with Lavinia and figure everything out."


Before even considering a room to stay in, Marina was lucky enough to run into Lavinia and Jade on the way out; hopefully everything went fine with them. She even made a quick reunion with Nessraya as well! Making her way to the room she was given, her first mission was simple: Bath. Before then, she at least took a look around the room she was given. It was nice, homey. Better than any tent she had recently been in. And with the private bathroom, she didn't have to hide anything. She could bathe to her heart's content, free of doubts, fears, for as long as she wanted...

She declothed, folding up the clothes from Jade and setting them to the side. She took a sniff, she wanted to make sure her body odors didn't make the clothing need to be cleaned. It smelled fine, but... she should probably get them washed anyway. Minutes go by, and Marina plummeted herself into the bath. She made a relieving sigh. It was something she always knew, a bath, shower, whatever always made you feel better when you were down. Despite everything, Marina let go of her thoughts and lived in the brief moment of peace...

Then, she dropped her head into the water; she hadn't swam in a long time either. Another feeling she missed that this bath wasn't going to help her with, but she made it work. Emerging from the water, she rested her head on the edge of the bath. A smile; a genuine, real, full-blossomed smile was on her face. A sigh of relief, she looked up to the ceiling, "I can do this..." And there she rested, not even sure about the time as she let herself rest, the warmth of the bath soothing her spirits, as she let the day go by...


"Cheers!" Marina suddenly gleefully called out in response to Lavinia's call for cheers, standing out with her glass of water in her hand. Sitting back down, she barely even noticed the light smile she still had attached to her face. Looking around, it made her happy to at least see most of the group in higher spirits than before. What really caught her attention was Bladen and Asami, suddenly she didn't feel as terrible about not keeping them apart like she intended to do.

What came next was surprisingly unexpected. She had remembered requesting a full chicken but she didn't expect to actually get a full chicken. Her eyes widened in amazement, "Wow..." I'm being so spoiled, I don't... nono Marina shut up, don't talk like that! Enjoy it, embrace it, you may never get a chance like this again.

Picking up a fork and knife, Marina cut a piece from the chicken. Slowly, she ate the first piece, and her heart raced. It was... So good! And before she knew it, she was already digging through the chicken like she'd never been fed before. More than likely a combination of her being starved from barely eating like she should've for a month, and from being stuck only eating jerky and bread for that amount of time. It was entrancing, and Marina was trapped in her little happy place, as she ate and ate, almost completely blinded to everything else around her...

Edited by Silver Gallade

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Agni chuckled, "Yes, that's the group. Thank you for your hospitality, sir." He allowed their welcoming werewolf to step away before turning to Marina again and chuckling. "We should've checked our stories first. Ah well. We'll make sure Lavinia knows." He echoed her sentiments, shaking his head.


Dinner couldn't come sooner. Compared to jerky and rations, the local cuisine was a more than welcome change. Still, etiquette drilled into him, Agni enjoyed his meal slower than most. "Well; 'Cianna' and I had a bit of an encounter with a shopkeeper in our little mission to buy a change of clother." Agni caught a lock of his hair between fingers, holding it in front of his face. "She gave us this idea. Also, she was a fan of you in particular, general Nessraya." Despite their attritions in the past, Agni had no reservations addressing the general as the need made itself clear. "In fact, she'd like to meet you. It'd be nice if you could --for what she offered Cianna over here."

Goodness, keeping that pseudonym in mind was hard.

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"Ah, she must have been the one to cast that spell on you two... well, I suppose there would be no harm in saying hello while we're in town." Nessraya replied, not bothering to elaborate on what the spell was... Agni and Marina would know well enough it was their disguises, and anyone who already knew they weren't actually vampires could easily enough infer. Hopefully it would remain at that, with no further issue. After all, with her first trinket well and dealt with, Nessraya still had one more purchase to put to use. Floating out of her chair and lazily over to their resident dragonewt, the General lazily rested her chin on Xalrei's shoulder, placing her hand on the newt's tail and bringing it up into her vision proper.

"You're being quite quiet, Xalrei. Mmm, you seemed so thrilled at the arena earlier as well. She put on quite a show... several quite close calls." Nessraya noted, pulling out a scarlet silken ribbon, and gingerly tying it onto Xalrei's tail now that she could properly see what she was doing.

"I knew it would look good on you as soon as I saw it~ It matches your hair, see? Your eyes are a bit darker, but I do still think it accents your scales well."

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After Taliyah had fallen asleep to Gabriela's singing, Xalrei had left the two alone lest she be lulled to sleep as well. While a nap wouldn't have been a terrible idea, the arena had worn her out plenty, she had other means of relaxation in mind. The sauna, in particular, captured her attention; the thought of melting away her soreness from the fights and her fatigue from traveling was more than appealing. Of course, she couldn't go unbothered now could she? Laselia had chosen to drop in on her and wouldn't leave despite her attempts at shooing the Naga away.

In the end, Xalrei relented and they conversed while her worries melted away. First about her father, Ralsvelgr, and how he was fairing with her surprise departure. Laselia said he was worried, but fine, which helped her guilt some. From there conversation drifted to the dusty old council and how they were still respecting Ralsvelgr's wishes for peace. That had sparked a mini-argument between Xalrei and her 'mother', the young, hotheaded dragon not agreeing with her old, wise father on staying out of the war. The argument didn't last long, Laselia cutting it off before Xalrei could get too heated.

The final topic only worsened her mood, occupying her thoughts long after she had parted from Laselia. Her guardian had run off once there wasn't a Xalrei to guard, to the opposing side at that. Laselia said it wasn't her fault and that Ralsvelgr was working on a solution, but she couldn't help but feel guilty and responsible for it. The feeling had lasted well into dinner, leaving her uncharacteristically quiet at dinner and picking absentmindedly at her food.

She didn't even notice Nessraya until the succubus had grabbed her tail, jumping at her sudden touch. "Wh-What are you doing...?" Her question was quickly answered as Nessraya tied a ribbon to her tail, in front of the entire group. Her cheeks tinged scarlet to match her new accessory as she struggled for a response, eventually deciding on a default reply. "...Thanks, Nessraya. I, really like it." This was an unexpected, but extremely welcome, pick-me-up.

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As soon as dusk fell Ayane made her way to the inn. She had just arrived into town, so she didn't have a place to stay. Fitting that the meeting place was an inn, she can kill two birds with one stone. "...hm." She took a good look at the door of the establishment, worried about what that fox girl had in mind. But despite that she had moved toward the door with confidence. If she didn't move forward the souls of her family wouldn't be able to rest. She opened the door and approached the desk. "Greetings. I am looking for a fox girl dressed similarly to me, she told me to meet her here. Do I have the right place?"

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Of course. No sooner than she tries to take the advice, and the compliments, then she begins to get teased for it. There had never been any way for Jade to make it through unscathed, had there? Lavinia had an answer for ev-- oh.

The zombie was caught by surprise when the vampire took her face in her hands, holding it gently, firmly, and slowly moving its position... for reasons Jade could only guess at. It was a similar feeling, yet different, to when Marcus had touched her, near the start of their date on the night of the autumn festival--gosh was it almost ten years ago now--before the comically unfortunate event that had cut things short. This was bad. If she'd had the slightest inkling the vampire saw her in such light she would never have been so casually intimate. Would never have invited her along for this, even by accident. But hindsight aside, what should she do now?

The zombie was frozen, paralyzed. She couldn't bring herself to push Lavinia away, but she certainly wasn't going pull her in and initiate anything herself. Confused by everything as Jade was, that was at least one thing she was sure of. Should she just... close her eyes and wait for the coming kiss then?

And the spell broke. With the archer pulling her hands back, returning their attention to her armor, the merchant found herself free to move once again. Muscles relaxing, weight settling back comfortably on her heels as she no longer found herself leaning up, looking up at the taller woman. Fingers uncurling and--

The crash of the cuisse she'd been holding falling to the floor caused a small squeak of surprise, and several stammered apologies. And that ended that.

 


 

Thankfully things hadn't gotten weird... weirder between her and Lavinia. Their shopping trip had gone smooth enough, and though it had taken most of Jade's remaining liquid reserves, in addition to the vampire's funds, the merchant felt much more secure about their holdings. They'd acquired a bevy of basic weaponry, a heftier spear, and a sturdy shield. Most of it just went straight to the back of her wagon, but she was holding onto the lance and shield personally, at least for now.

"A toast," Jade agreed, lifting her glass to her lips. "To a productive day, and more productive night." Unlike Lavinia's, the zombie's turned out to actually be wine, a delightful red frontloaded with hints of fruits and a spicy aftertaste that lingered. Sure, it was tasty, but that fact almost soured her on it more. Her inability to get the true effect of the poison, that is, just its surface flavors.

A glance to her right, and she saw Marina was toasting with her... water glass. Oh boy, well. With that disguise, wherever she'd picked it up, that kind of served to figure. Luckily the two were seated together, with Agni on Marina's other side, so just a little swaperoo, and nobody need be the wiser.

Blood didn't do anything special for Jade. Nor did food exactly, if she was being perfectly honest. For a time she'd thought that eating helped to keep the urges, the Hunger, at bay, but well... then there'd been that one standout counterexample, and now it was only really something she did when she didn't want to stand out, it was simply to blend in. And accordingly she'd asked for and received a smaller portion. Just one large drumstick, and none of the leaves. If it wasn't animal based, it was a rare exception that didn't taste as ash in her mouth.

 

Edited by Balcerzak

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"Is that what that hair is about?" Lavinia hadn't asked, simply assumed something to do with Agni... But a shopkeep helping them with a disguise? Had they told Geoffrey? If not, that would mean-- Ahh... Lavinia gave Jade a wink as thanks for swapping the drinks, Marina seemed far too absorbed in her food to notice. Agni was probably aware enough to notice that his glass was full of a particularly thicker substance than wine. Hopefully if they wanted to keep this ruse up, he was fine with just water... "So long as you two are comfortable enough keeping the ruse up until... Well, the sun will be going down quite soon, so the spell will have to go with it. The hair doesn't stay like that when it's night, after all~" Even Lavinia's hair was slowly regaining its color, back to the vivid deep green, almost onyx it normally was. She much preferred her natural color to that washed out, magic faded white the sun produced, but... Such was life.

Asami scoffed at Bladen's comment about it not being like claws, pawing at him across the table and giggling. "Not yet~" It seemed she wasn't the only one getting cozy in the group, Nessraya was already buying Xalrei gifts. She sipped at her wine and chuckled into the glass, before leaning back. "Was she that good, Nessraya? You don't get this attached so quickly, not normally..." She was a dragon, so perhaps she simply was that good. Magically, that was. Xalrei had spent her whole life training to be a soldier, it was likely she knew next to nothing about the bedroom arts.

"Uhm, a-a moment, if I can..." Erephis had raised a hand like this was a class, Lavinia setting her drink down and waving at her, chuckling a bit.

"Yes, yes, Erephis. What is it?"

The lamia uncurled herself from her small table enough to lean over the main one slightly, holding the vial out. "W-Well my friend wasn't in, b, but his books were, and... So, er th, this is vampire blood. Pure, v-vampire blood. Uhm... N-No one drink it."

Lavinia was glad to have set her glass down, else it would've likely shattered in the curled fist she was now making. "I do not mean to ruin the festivities, but take that as a serious warning... Unless you wish to join me in being a specter of the night, keep your lips far, far away from that. To make a long explanation short, that, will turn you into a vampire. Straight out, and it will not be a comfortable experience." Lavinia shot Taliyah a scowl, wondering why the girl had something like that. The lizard shrunk and shrugged, probably understanding why she'd been looked at. I suppose it was just a coincidence, then...

"S-Sorry to bring down the mood! I'll, hold onto this, s, so no one makes a mistake." Erephis shrunk back down to her table with a sigh, and Lavinia took hold of her glass, downing the rest of the blood in it. She needed the shock to take her mind off of that nonsense.

"Right, well! At least we know what it is, don't any of you get any smart ideas, now~" Hopefully they were all intelligent enough to keep themselves how they were... What else was there? Right. "Cianna? Hello?" Lavinia had watched Marina not only ignore Gabriela, but seemingly ignore... Everything, diving into her meal. "Agni, get her attention, if I can't, would you?"


"Hello... Miss...?" Geoffrey was taken aback by the look of the... Monster? In front of him... Horns like that, they didn't match anything he'd ever seen before, not in all his years of aiding patrons at this inn. Still, they were definitely not human, so there wasn't a problem, but... "Er, yes. That's... Like you, that would be miss Asami in miss Vasilia's group. Ah, they are all dining currently, if you can wait. If not... So long as this isn't going to get violent, the hall is to the right."

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Despite Marina being invested in her food, she did catch bits and pieces of what was going on around the table, she'd input when she'd finally stopped eating. However, that did get interrupted pretty quickly in by a familiar tone,

Cianna? Hello?

"Hm?!" Marina's head popped up as Lavinia's voice snapped her back in, she had at least a couple faces watching her. Right, right. A small bit of mumbling behind her food, attempting to say 'one second', but she wasn't sure what actually made it out as she swallowed what she had just shoveled into her mouth. Wiping her face with a napkin, she gave a shy laugh "Sorry, I uh... the chicken is really good." Then she noticed Lavinia's hair back to normal, Marina motioned her head to where she could see her hair still white? A silly thought, but... "M-Maybe I uh... Could pass off as an albino?" Marina made a small chuckle in her attempt to keep the disguise as long as she could. She knew how to 'turn off' the spell, but then what would she do if she needed it again? Maybe it'd be better if she did just turn it off, but she instead waited for some sort of input.

Just then, she noticed Gabriela, a smile directed at her, and Marina clicked. "O-Oh!" She scurried into her satchel, Come on, there's not that much crap in here... ah-ha! And she pulled out a small pouch, a 'G' written on it. She handed it to the siren with her own smile, "Thank you Gabriela, I didn't need any of it." And she retreated to her seat again. And she noticed that chalice of blood she was given earlier seemed less thick than before, and Jade; sitting next to her, seemed to have been drinking blood? At least, that's what she could guess from seeing a tiny drip escape from either the cup itself or the zombie's lips. Marina took the chalice with a quick sniff.

Wine... eh... Marina wasn't big on alcohol. It was even weird that there wasn't even a drinking age on Xensat. She gave a smile and a nod with a mouthed 'Thank you' to Jade as she sipped the wine, a bit of a small, almost inaudible groan as the taste of wine never really hit her well. At least it's not blood.

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"To the right? Thank you, good sir." She didn't pay any other word of his any mind, she got what she wanted. With that she quickly turned to the right and approached the dining area. In a hurry too. She quickly (and roughly I might add) opened the doors to the group, and after she did she scanned the area. It was certainly a colorful group, she recognized some of the faces here too. But the only one that mattered to her was the fox. Speaking of... "...there." She spotted Asami and quickly approached her. The oni was certainly on a mission.

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"Heehee, I'm glad~" Nessraya cooed, leaning in and gently kissing Xalrei on the cheek, her lips lingering as her attention was drawn away by Erephis' announcement, slowly pulling from the dragonewt's face as she turned to look at the lamia. Pure vampire blood? Well, that was dangerous... luckily no one had been exposed to it. Of course, in typical fashion their meal was to get more and more exciting as opposed to less so, with a new arrival making herself known... their little arena interloper from earlier. Rather than approach any of the actual arena-goers, she approached Asami once again. This one truly seemed to have a bone to pick with their evasive fox.

"Ah, it's our feisty friend again. I do hope you aren't planning on any more duels, hmm? I wouldn't call this the proper venue~"

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Getting away from the meaningless conflict of the arena should have been a good thing. It might have been, mused the cursed blade, if only this collection of individuals hadn't opted for yet another peaceful stop. Requiem was still contemplating quietly to itself, trying to find some effective path to a bloody conflict. Anything. Even the group turning on itself over some minor misunderstanding was far, far preferable to starving while they nourished themselves. The nerve of these cretins ...

There were options for turning this odd adventure into a bloodbath, but very few that could be acted on right now. Requiem had to get to know this group one soul at a time, and through that, learn how best to manipulate them. What little energy the cursed blade currently held was enough to form purely rational thoughts between bouts of fighting to retain that same energy, and it was obvious even in this sorry state that the game was over as soon as an incident led back to the shape-shifting sword itself. Requiem's options were indeed limited ...

Time seemed to march on in mind-numbing fashion until Requiem sensed something familiar, a presence that was almost comforting in this atmosphere. It approached, coming closer, and closer, and with each passing second, the cursed blade's anticipation of a fight grew. Was this strange, almost alluring soul coming in the pursuit of blood? Was there a chance Requiem could take in the lives of the fallen? It didn't matter who wielded it in the end, as long as it could finally feed and grow. There were no allies or enemies here, only potential victims. If there was ever a time to nudge these creatures toward the edge without being seen as a liability ... it was now.

'I sense a hunger for conflict, pure and marvelous ... and this is no arena.' Admittedly there was something highly restrained about said aura, but this wasn't about accurate assessments of the situation, it was about giving its arrogant handlers the nudge they needed to converge, weapons drawn, caution abandoned. 'Prepare yourself, Xalrei. You will need this power to prevail.'

The cursed blade couldn't grin ... but its barely perceptible crimson glow told its own story.

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Asami's response to him had resulted in a blush and the chicken in front of him suddenly becoming the most interesting thing in the room. At least until their bespectacled friend brought up information on the contents of the mystery vial they had found during their previous battle. "Vampire's blood, huh..." He'd heard plenty of rumors on how vampires were created, but this was a new one for him. Worrying though, if there were just vials of that out and about. Where had it come from?

"How..."  Whatever question he had been about to ask was cut off by the arrival of their friend from before. Her name was... Ayane. Right? Maybe. Something like that. She was bound to stir up something as she headed straight for Asami. The General seemed to be taking the first stab at keeping things under control, so for now, he just kept an eye on Asami. He wasn't going to be able to do much to help her, but he would be supportive for her if he could. "You've got this..." It was a whisper, but he knew that if Asami could hear his mutterings halfway across a battlefield, she would hear this.

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Nessraya's kiss had caused the dragon's cheeks to blaze completely scarlet and for her to fumble her carefully held fork, the dinnerwear falling onto her plate with a noticeable clunk. Though, with the news Erephis had given them about the strange vial Taliyah had had on her, perhaps it wasn't as noticeable as Xalrei thought. At the very least she certainly hoped that was the case; she didn't want to draw more attention to her embarrassment. It was a bit concerning that Taliyah had been in possession of something so dangerous, though. She opened her mouth to ask the lizardgirl where she'd gotten it, but before she could multiple interruptions got in the way.

Firstly, Ayane had appeared again, making a beeline for Asami. Near immediately after Requiem was already whispering into her mind, prompting her to prepare to fight. It was a good thing the Oni's blade wasn't drawn like when she'd done the same to Xalrei, else the dragon may have been more willing to heed the cursed sword's urgings. Had it picked up on the supposed curse on her blood? Or was Ayane just itching for a fight? Either way, the cursed sword wouldn't be getting what it wanted. At least not here. Hopefully.

'Yeah, it's an inn. Even worse place for you.' If Requiem thought she was going to be the first one to draw steel the blade was sorely mistaken. Though, it had succeeded in putting her on guard, a claw resting on its hilt. 'Slow your roll, it's just the woman from before. Unless you noticed some other source of that hunger.' Thinking about it, with Requiem so hungry for blood it would warn her of potential threats, the demon blade could warn them of ambushes, couldn't it? As long as it was feeling hungry at least. 'If you're so hungry I'll go stab you into a deer or something.'

Edited by Ursali

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After Lavinia managed to snap Marina out of dreamland, she finally gave Gabriela back her money. Didn't need any of it, huh? Gabriela counted the money to make sure she wasn't lying, and surprisingly, she wasn't. "Thank you, Cianna. And thanks for keeping quiet." She gave a wink to Marina, not actually knowing if she saw it or not, and then continued the feast. So much good meat... the chicken, the beef, even the pork! They were eating like kings, and it only took a little bit of fighting! Had Gabriela known it was this easy to eat this good, she would have become a mercenary immediately. She is not used to the fighting, but there's nothing wrong with traveling like this, and visiting all sorts of places. The wine isn't too bad either, but she had better. 

Just as she was enjoying herself, a strange woman entered the dining hall. And she was making way to... Asami?! Seeing that, Gabriela had a thought. Isn't it a mercenary's job to protect their employer? Asami was the one paying her, so she counted as her employer. The woman looked faintly familiar, but didn't exactly look very friendly. So, out of her seat she went and to Asami's seat, ready to defend Asami from this woman, who looked like a monster she had never seen before. "Excuse me, lady, what business do you have with Asami?" She stood half in front of Asami, but didn't block the vision completely. Truth to be told, it was quite intimidating actually standing in front of this woman, but this too, was part of the agreement, right?

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"Thank you, Gabriela. Really... It's very nice to see just how far you're willing to go for your employer~ But! I'd rather not see you get hurt, and this is something I have to deal with." Asami glanced back at Bladen and smiled, gently getting up, and shuffling ahead of the siren. "Alright, oni, sit down, and we'll get to talking." Asami remained standing, arms folded, a mild frown on her face.

"What... What's this all about, Asami?" Lavinia was a bit surprised to see the fox so suddenly ruffled... And... She'd said oni. What, was an oni? This new guest didn't resemble anyone, or, any monster Lavinia had seen before. Whatever she was... An oni... Are there truly monsters we haven't discovered yet?

"It's... Complicated. Marina!" Asami forewent the girl's disguise name, glaring over at her. "Pay close attention. If I catch you stuck in your chicken, I'm rubbing your face in it." Hopefully that was enough of a threat to make sure the hero paid attention, this was going to quickly become her problem. "Alright... Everyone, this is Ayane. She's a princess from a far off continent called Izuna. Her family lived in the country of Nanbu, and considering she looks like this, now... Ouka finally did it."

"Ouka?" Lavinia was incredibly confused, glass set down, own armored arms folded, staring bewildered between the fox and the 'oni'. "This is a lot. Other continent? How did she get here? The seas eat all our ships if we venture out too far. And, Ouka? Izuna, Nanbu? What? What are all of these?"

"Princess can explain if she feels the need to... The important thing is, she used to be human." A clawed finger slowly pointed towards Ayane's head-- her horns. "Ouka is a... A witch, sure, that's understandable. A witch that was causing the continent and especially Nanbu no end of trouble. She'd been around for a few centuries... I kept my head out of that business because while I was living there-- and I'm not answering questions about that up here --I was quite preoccupied. The last thing I needed was sticking my ever so sensitive nose into some other magical being's problems. Now..." Asami sighed, ears drooping, tail falling with them.

"Now, Ouka is here. So it's your problem." The same finger made its way over to Marina, Asami resting her gaze there. "As I pointed out, Ayane used to be human. She isn't anymore, which means Ouka won. According to our little princess, she's chased the woman here, with plans to kill her. That means, as much as I don't care to get involved, it's a Xensat issue, especially for Vaia. I have to get involved... And you'll be leading us towards it, Marina. There's still all of this mess with Ithraxl, and Hwein, of course... But before she can raise a fullblown army of her freaky cultists, we'll have to find, and face down with this witch at some point." A heavy huff left the fox, glancing back at Ayane.

"I hope that was enough for you."

Lavinia had no words. Dinner wasn't going back to light and fluffy any time soon, and this... Was something that needed reported immediately. "I'll, send a message to Thesephine. Nessraya, contact your family, as well... What... Utter nonsense."

"It is nonsense, but what can we do? Not like we can politely ask her to leave and expect her to listen." With all that said, Asami went back to her seat and flopped into it, sighing. "Ask the oni any other questions, if you have them..."

Lavinia sighed with their magical advisor. "I suppose my first question is, will you be traveling with us? Asami, Nessraya and I, we're the closest attendants of the demon king, and Marina... Has a purpose here greater than most. It won't matter to you, but if any group is going to be intervening against this... Ouka. It will be us."

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Marina was caught off guard when she was called by her real name outright. Luckily she had already intended to go for some of her water before attempting to eat at her food some more. As she listened, she felt more of her chipper mood fade away again. Oh so quickly, after just getting it back too... But not for the comment of Ouka herself, but something else Asami haphazardly threw her way.

So it's your problem.

The girl could feel her emotions flaring. She was ready to immediately start with shooting back. My problem?! This wasn't part of my orders from Thesephine. I can barely tell if I can trust her after Erephis, now suddenly someone else's problem is mine? Ouka has nothing to do with me. She felt her grip on her water glass tighten, Marina stand up for yourself! You don't have to take this, you have no reason to...

She felt a crack in the water glass, very audible to her, now seeing the damage she actually did to the it.

I became the Hero to help people... not to help Thesephine... My fight was for Xensat, not it's leaders, and her emotions subsided as her grip loosened on the glass. She wasn't sure how much emotion actually drew from her face. She gave a sigh,

"I don't have any questions as of right now, Princess... Ayane(?), but I'm sure I'll have plenty in the future. Just... let me have this night to not worry about this sorta thing... I've got enough on my mind as is." She plainly replied. She didn't want to act like she deserved any of this, given her situation, but if Asami was going to bark extra orders at her, she would take advantage of any moment of peace she could get now.

If she didn't feel like Coteon's tool before, now she was starting to feel like Vaia's...

Edited by Silver Gallade

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That was... a lot. Things had already been complicated enough, but now they had to deal with some sort of witch who had been transforming humans into... what had Asami called her, an oni? Perhaps that explained the battle lust she had displayed earlier on... but that wasn't near the top of their priority list, at the moment. 

"Right... I'll make sure to send a message to them... Asami. Do you know anything about how she is transforming people into... oni? Anything you can tell us would be helpful... else Erephis and I will need to perform some tests and examinations to see if we can learn anything..." Nessraya chimed in, looking from Asami to their bookish lamia, before turning her gaze back to Ayane. It didn't rest on her for long though, the sound of cracking glass swiftly drawing the General's attention to Marina. Even more to pile onto the hero's shoulders, was it? Sighing slightly out of sync with the other two prior, Nessraya gave Xalrei's shoulder a parting touch before floating over the table to Marina, touching down next to her and running the tip of her tail against the girl's neck, gently pulling her chin upwards from below and giving her a sympathetic look.

"Gather any information you can on the matter and have it ready for me to go over, Asami. Marina... if you wouldn't mind coming with me, for a moment."

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As soon as Ayane got too close to Asami she was approached by several of her friends. She recognized one of them as the general she heard before from Xalrei, the other a brief glance from the same arena. They were all one big group, how interesting. But Asami managed to reassure them that she was invited. Before she could start explaining she gestured over to Marina, and by gestured she more or less called her out and told her to pay attention. Then she started introducing Ayane...which was supposed to be her move. She even knew she was a princess, and that Ouka had finally done it. This fox woman knew so much, perhaps even more than Ayane. "...you know far more than I expected..." She mumbled, in a fairly upset tone. "It's quite uncomfortable knowing that someone knew about Ouka's plans and didn't warn the capital as far as I was aware...but what's done is done."

She took in the rest of her explanation with closed eyes. "You say it's her problem now, the problem of Xensat and Vaia?" She shook her head. "I'm afraid the fault rests on my shoulders that I could not take her head. This is my problem and mine alone, I will deal with i-" But before she could finish it appeared that Nessraya spoke up and questioned her, along with Marina introducing herself. Not to mention another one asking if she would join their group and that they will handle the issue. It seems they were insistent on this. "..." She didn't buy that Ouka could raise an army so quickly, it hadn't been that long since she left Nanbu with the princess on her tail...was it? "...I am uncertain how far she got but..." She held up a red, sorta spiky gourd with the face of a demon on it. "She transformed my people with cursed sake. She has the ability to poison alcohol, and those who drink it are cursed to walk the path of the oni. Just like me. This is also the very thing that keeps me in check oddly enough." She lowered the sake. "Also please do not call me princess. My kingdom is dead."

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Like Lavinia expected, Agni had taken his cup and shook it lightly, taking note that his cup was filled with a substance he didn't quite wish to drink. He put the cup down in time to hear Lavinia's request to whisk Marina's attention, but the girl got back to her senses right after.

Well then.

Agni figured it best to just sit in his corner after that. Enjoy his meal. There wasn't much he wished to talk with anybody... save Marina, possibly. It would be a good idea to track the shopkeeper down and ask her about the spell. Were it simple enough, Agni could surely replicate it.

It took Asami's announcement to interrupt his thoughts again, pausing his meal. "From another continent, and now she's Marina's problem as well? Goodness... she'll never get her work done if Vaia keeps piling on her." Agni offered light protest, eyes scanning the figure in front of them.

Definitely a monster, nothing like he'd ever seen, however.

"If this 'Ouka' becomes a problem, surely the kingdoms will have to halt their war. We'll worry about it as things fall in place." Perhaps their newcomer would not appreciate it, but Agni believed they already has their future days planned ahead of them. He'd rather not change it.

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Asami seemed to be happy enough at Gabriela's intervention, but it proved unnecessary. Then, Asami began to sum up yet another scenario to worry about... for Marina. The poor girl couldn't catch a break. Gabriela wasn't really in agreement that it was Marina's problem, but was she to protest? Asami sounded quite forceful about it, it's a tone Gabriela hadn't heard of her before, it was a little frightening, but at the same time, it was nice to know that Asami had a serious side as well. A witch named Ouka, huh? What would a woman like that be like? Clearly this princess was quite angry with this witch. She was that which made her lose her humanity, it's only understandable. Now, she's... here? On Vaia? Gabriela has gone to many places before, but never had she heard about any Ouka. Where would such a person even hang out? Surely they wouldn't just be fighting in some arena like they were.

Gabriela kind of liked Ayane. They were not too different. Both of their homes are 'dead', albeit due to entirely different reasons. Gabriela could symphatize with Ayane's predicament. If Gabriela found out some weird person killed her entire kin or something, she would want vengeance too. "Hey, your name is Ayane, right? My name is Gabriela. I hope we can get along.. and help you defeat the witch you speak of." 

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A deer? A deer?! Was true power a joke to Xalrei? Regardless, the notion, while incredibly insulting, was somewhat tempting, if for no other reason than the fact that any sustenance would do at least stave off the slow drain of Requiem's power at this point. The cursed blade wasn't convinced that trying to instigate a conflict wasn't the better option, but at the very least, Xalrei seemed willing to do something about the cursed blade's minuscule reserves of energy.

Deciding not to tip its hand for now, Requiem said, 'You were warned.' No point in dignifying the deer suggestion just yet ...

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