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

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"Yes, isn't he the cutest-" the former human started, before suddenly realizing the situation he was walking into.

Eh...

EH?!

Ren startled, eyes widening as he was accused by this semi stranger of lies and slander.  To prove his connection with Ayane, he would've done so easily with his family weapon...

If he still had it.

"Y-Yes, your wings are quite lovely miss..." he still couldn't help but notice, and if it were under different circumstances he would've complimented them more, but...

He felt his stomach do a flip as the two girls turned against him, not believing his story (which was definitely true!) after he told it.  Suppressing a groan, he let out a stressed sigh instead as he tried to stay calm.  "Please, ladies, there's no need to cause a commotion," he cautioned, all while Taliyah slammed her claws against the table.  It startled Ukogi, ruffling his feathers as angry chirps left him.  "I-I would be glad to come with you and prove my familial connection towards Ayane.  After all there was nothing to hide, but..."

At this point he looked over at the common Yari innocently leaning against the table next to him.

He was really, and truly dead.

"I...I wanted to at least have some time..." he muttered, before sighing dejectedly and turning back towards the other two.  "Ayane has...quite the temper.  Even before being turned, she was quite the spirited one," he started, not helping the fond smile appearing on his lips.  "If she found out I had foolishly gambled one of our family weapons, I'd have more than Ouka to worry about..." he finished with a nervous chuckle.

"That being said, it's understandable that you two would want proof.  Just...make sure my death is a swift one," he ended in a more detached tone, already accepting his impending fate as he rose from his seat and took hold of his weapon.

"Now...shall we ladies?"

Edited by sweet podado

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"But you're so cute when I play with your tail... I ever so adore those squeaks and moans of yours~ But if you insist~" Nessraya replied playfully, sticking her tongue out at Xalrei, before her eyes drifted back to the other half of their little party. Things seemed to be somewhat escalating, the man the two had been accosting now standing and grabbing his weapon... although he didn't appear to be making moves to use it yet.

"Mmm... though our fun may be cut short... it does appear that those two have riled their little friend a tad... perhaps it is not yet time to intervene, but certainly to keep an eye out."

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"...Keep it about her." Agni stared at Jade at the pull of his arm. A blank expression, merely puzzled at what she was implying. "Certainly. Marina did great of her own merits." Perhaps she was afraid he would take credit for how good she was doing? Agni didn't think that was overtly rude, but it'd be unfair, for certain.

After all, he never taught her to fight with a shield.


"You went quite far with a style of fighting you weren't used to. I'd say this counts as proof of your skill." Having followed Lavinia to congratulate Marina, Agni was rather please, a brief round of applause to his esteemed Hero. "You have much talent for combat, Marina. I'd expect no less." Like a proud mentor, or relative, Agni showered Marina with praise. His face seemed serene... perhaps that was just how he'd looked when truly pleased.

"Now... I believe it is my turn to try, if you'd like to watch." He crossed his arms, "I'm sure you could pick something up from my fighting style, Marina... if you'd be interested, of course." He planned to put on a good performance, at the very least.

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"I just... I don't know if I've ever heard that before," Marina gave a small chuckle, "It um... it's a nice, lighthearted way to put it. I like it." She soon affirmed. Her grip tightened a bit at her arm, still numb, and could still barely move. Her chuckled continued on for a bit, unsure if she's just modest, or if she really believed she could've been so much better.

Agni approached, throwing praise her way, too. Now she was starting to feel like she read from Jade. Oh no no, please don't, I'm not-- And she pushed those thoughts away again, she was able to perform better than she expected without Myrithali. Maybe this was improvement, and soon she'd be stronger than ever. Perhaps I could wield it again...

Then another comment, her seemingly innate talent to fight. How much did she like that? She never wanted the ability to fight. She only wanted it because Coteon needed her help... Or at least that's what she was told. At this point, it was more... a necessary evil Marina had to partake in for the sake of her goals. Give it time, she could go home, and hopefully she wouldn't have to fight again. It was already an overwhelming thought that so many were already caught in her blade's path...

Stop this, Marina! God, you don't have to be so negative about everything! She shook her head, how much did they see in her face of her current inner conflicts? Hopefully not too much. Agni made a comment, preparing to go in after her. "Oh, um... of course. Sure Agni, I'm sure you'll do great!" Once again, giving another affirmation as she went to pick up the shield with her non-incapacitated hand.

"You probably won't need this like I did, huh?"

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This bird lover moved fast. Too fast. Gabriela didn't expect Taliyah to actually believe her bluff but it seems Gaby overestimated her. So, he gambled away his family weapon? Big deal, right? Not. What use was a family weapon anyway? Just bringing him over to Ayane should be enough to prove his connection. 

"Don't worry, i'll make sure you don't get killed by Ayane.....at least until i'm done with you..." Gabriela laughed, but then went back to a serious mood. "But seriously, calm down. Family weapons or crests are worthless. I am, as far as I know and think, the last of my kin. I do not have any family weapon, it was all burnt away. The only way to make a living in this world is with actions, not some ugly piece of metal."

Gabriela stood up. "Now? I don't think so! The night is still young, and you're too! You will come with us AFTER we are done here. I will stay by your side, to make sure you do not.... run away." Gabriela laughed.

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Ayane left the inn and let the cold air of the night greet her. She walked toward a tree near the inn and got on her knees with a single breath. "...." She put her sheathed blade down on the ground near her and closed her eyes, trying to focus her mind. 'That fox...something tells me she has more. She wasn't phased at all by my burn...perhaps i should've put in more heat.' She paused for a moment. 'Hm, no. That Bladen was there, and this power...I couldn't risk burning the room down if I got too angry.' She let out a frustrated sigh. 

Life wasn't easy after she had left her homeland. Everything was gone, she was a princess of a dead country. Family and friends all gone, all that was left for her was a target. There's nothing left for her after that. That said she did make a deal with this group, one she'll have to uphold. So after that...well hell if she knew. '...dammit, i can't overthink this...it's just simple work...except my sister...Suzume...' She balled up a fist again, regretting not being able to burn her body. The chance of fighting a loved one is something she'd rather not think on. So she tried her best to clear her mind.

'Focus, Ayane. Focus...'

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"That's all is it?" Asami looked conflicted, but didn't say anything else. "They were headed to the arena... I suppose if, that is all," she said again, swishing her tail, and staring at Bladen for a good few seconds, "then yes, we should go and meet them, and let Marina know. I, probably... Owe her some sort of apology." One huff, another swish, and she was out the door. If Bladen didn't want to push anything, then... It wouldn't hurt for you to chase after me just a little bit.


"Quite," Lavinia added, nodding. "Perhaps you were born for a role like this, Marina. I don't know what sort of combat you were taught in Coteon, but it will surely aid you going forward~" Lavinia chuckled, Marina was young, but to be able to handle a weapon this well already, surely she would grow up to be quite the impressive commander. Maybe even a proper hero... One that would stop this nonsense.

"Right, it is your turn, isn't it Agni?" Lavinia couldn't help her smile widening, nodding along again. "Yes... We should get back to the stands, Cianna, Jade. I wouldn't want to miss this, myself." What exactly had put Agni in his position as a knight captain? Watching him fighting in the middle of an actual battle had been impossible, but now... "I'm sure it will be... Quite the sight~ Make sure you pay attention as well, Marina. Anything to help you on the field of battle can be useful."


"Huh, wait, so we're not taking him to see her?" Gabriela seemed to have other ideas, Taliyah nodding and listening along. "Okay!" she said with a sage look on her face, one claw smacking into the other's open palm, "then... Wh-What do we do with him? You're the experienced one around here, Gabriela. I'll follow your lead!" Taliyah ended up saluting and smiling, she was admittedly having a great time.

That was when the door of the bar gently opened, another woman stepping inside. Black hair, white cape, sword at her side... Nothing very suspicious, other than that Ren would recognize her, if he bothered to look her way. In fact, she was smiling towards him, a bit of a grin, before turning towards the bar, and sitting herself down... How curious, the lance she had strapped to her back. It looked so very, very foreign.

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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"Don't do it in public..." She grumbled, her tail still staying well away from the Nessraya as she kept up her guard. "Please." Xalrei added, pleading with the succubus. At her words of caution Xalrei turned to stare at the man, studying him for any sign of hostility. He wasn't leveling it at them, at least, and his stance didn't appear all that defensive despite his uncomfortable expression. Neither Gabriela or Taliyah appeared overly concerned, either. Things seemed to be alright, for now.

"It doesn't look like he's threatening them, at least. But I agree. Wouldn't hurt to keep an eye on him."

With the newcomer entering the inn, Xalrei's attention was temporarily directed towards her. She seemed to have her own eyes on the Oni as well. And that spear on her back, a potential acquaintance? Though that conclusion just didn't seem to sit well with Xalrei, for some reason. There was no reason why it shouldn't. Maybe she was just being paranoid... 

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D-Done with him? "Eh?  W-What do you mean by that..." he trailed off, cheeks gaining a tinge of color at the implications.  He did sober up though, as she brought up her thoughts about family heirlooms.  His brows furrowed, his feathery companion sensing his distress before nuzzling against his neck.  This time he did not pet him, the oni pursing his lips as he looked down and away from Gabriela.

"That may be how you feel, but...it's more than just a useless weapon.  I don't know and can't assume the relationship you had with your clan, but I was very close to mine."

He looked up then, face smoothing out into a gentle smile.  He didn't appear to be upset or angered with Gabriela, simply trying to understand her side of the coin.  "I'm sure you have your reasons, but please respect my feelings over this.  The wound is still fresh, and I need time to heal."  His words were soft, as if he was afraid of his voice wavering if he spoke any louder.  

Now having said his piece (for now), Ren focused on the matter at hand.  "Well, since we're not going to see my dear cousin yet, I can answer any questions or curiosities you have in mind?  Maybe have a spot to eat, since I am quite famished-"

The next words died in his throat, his attention having drifted just a moment to see around the bar.  

He hadn't meant to do so, just a slight distraction, but when he did his heart plummeted down to the pit of his stomach.

He slowly brought up a shaking hand, covering his mouth as crimson eyes widened, mouth dry

She...she should be dead...he saw Ayane cut her down....her own...his...

Staying silent, Ren slowly moved away from the two girls, and made his way towards her.  His movements were steady, but with a frantic anticipation with every step he took closer to the girl he had thought deceased and buried back in Izuna.

It was only when she went to sit down at the bar and turned her back to him that he noticed Tonbokiri.

His blood ran cold, fearful of how she obtained it...and...

He swallowed, gathered his bearings, and without much to say at the moment he took a seat next to someone he held dear to his heart.

Someone he had prayed for to have a peaceful journey to the afterlife.

"....Suzume."

His voice was just above a whisper, making no scene now as he simply held a neutral expression while facing forward.

He felt cold, chilled to the bone.

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The woman at the bar had ordered herself a small drink, paying no mind to Ren's approach. Only when he finally said her name, did she smile and turn her head some, letting out a bit of a chuckle. "Sorry, Ren... I just saw you having fun with those lovely looking ladies, and I didn't want to bother you." Drink in hand now, she took a small sip, still sporting that gentle smile and gaze. She took a moment to look Ren over, before slowly raising a hand to his face, smile widening... Her hand was surprisingly cold. "You've changed a bit... But I'm glad to see that you're alright." Her hand fell back to the counter, before humming quietly. "I suppose, Ayane is here with you? Or did you come all the way to another continent alone?"

Taliyah had been moderately surprised when Ren just up and removed himself to speak to someone at the bar. "Huh." Maybe an acquaintance? But he... He didn't really look okay. Following after him and peeking at the woman from behind him, Taliyah gave her a look over, and then glanced at him. "Your friend?"

"Yes. A good friend~"

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Gabriela looked at the strange woman. Just as she wanted to answer Ren again, he suddenly walked away when this strange woman entered the bar. Taliyah asked if it was a friend, to which she nodded and said she was a 'good' friend. "Oh dear me, Ren, is this your girlfriend? Why didn't you say so earlier?" Gabriela eyed the woman, who seemed to be utmost calm. 

"May I ask your name, and what exactly you're doing here? It seems like strange characters just keep appearing out of the woodwork..."

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"Very well, I suppose I can honour that request~" Nessraya giggled, floating over to Xalrei and taking her hand instead of her tail, gently pulling the dragonewt over to a nearby unoccupied table and sitting down, patting the chair next to her.

"We may as well observe from a more comfortable position, Xalrei... if not alcohol, then what should we have, hmm? I trust your judgment, do pick something nice~" Nessraya added, watching this new development intently... something seemed off about it at this point, but piling more people around wouldn't accomplish anything. Better to have unexpected help swoop in if needed than lay all one's cards on the table plain to see.

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Agni's puzzled, almost offended expression definitely set Jade on her back foot. Had she said something wrong? She'd just meant she wanted Marina to have her full time in the spotlight, had been hoping to avoid any 'out with the old, in with the new' by focusing on Agni's upcoming bouts instead of her completed ones. The human was so guarded, almost stiff, and his words were phrased entirely professional. The zombie had thought they'd all simply come out for a good time, but clearly this was something more to him, and she hadn't realized.

"...I'm sorry," Jade apologized, without really knowing why, or what she should have done, simply letting go of his arm, and slowly following to where they would meet the Hero. Lavinia was already fully engaged in congratulations, it seemed, and the merchant would have moved to follow suit had she not seen the girl grab her arm--her shield arm--with an almost pained look.

"Are you quite all right?" Jade asked a little worried. "The arena's healers didn't miss anything before letting you go, did they?"

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Her voice, still sporting the same gentleness from when she was alive.  It was hard not to look her way, Ren feeling his resolve cracking as soon as she showed concern for his well being. Her hand...a cold reminder of what had happened to her.

It took all his resolve not to lean into the touch.

"I did come here alone, yes," he answered, keeping calm even as his heart threatened to beat out of his chest.  He wasn't lying, when he said he came alone, but he wasn't telling the whole truth either.  "You...what are you doing-"

Ah, even when she had mentioned them, the former human had forgotten about his recent company.  Of course, it wasn't for long as he noticed Taliyah first when she spoke up, then Gabriela soon after.

"You...could say that..." he answered Taliyah, before sputtering as he heard Gabriela's question.  He quickly shot that down, shaking his head as he waved his hands in front of him.  "I-It's not like that!  Oh gods, that would be...please, no," he groaned, composure breaking as his flustered expression was covered by one of his hands.  "I-It's...complicated..." he managed to say, not wanting to explain more unless Suzume did so.

Suzume...

Ren didn't want to think about why she was here, but he was suddenly feeling a lingering dread in the back of his head...

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"Agni will be fine, he helped train me after all," Marina said with a strong dose of confidence. She knew he'd do well. He didn't need her to confirm it, he'd make it through anyway. He was tougher-skinned than he seemed on the surface. "Don't let us down, Agni, you got this!"

Grabbing the the shield and getting ready to follow Lavinia to the stands, she almost ran straight into Jade, almost... confused by the concern that came from her. She shook her head, "No Jade, thank you. I'm just sore is all." She lifted the shield up to hand to the zombie, "Thank you for the shield. It was very helpful. I might need to ask for it again," she followed along with a small laugh.

"Shall we get ready for Agni to go up?"

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And she was out the door, any chance gone. He slumped fully back down into the chair with a groan. "I just don't understand her..." It seemed like any decision he made with her was the wrong one. Except the kiss, but now he was even doubting that one a little bit. It was stupid, he knew that, but had he gotten himself in over his head here? It just didn't make a difference what he did, make a move, don't make a move, she was always going to expect something else. She'd wanted privacy but when he'd given it to her here, she'd seemed upset walking out, tail swishing, huffing... Ugh. And now he needed to move, go catch up with her, or she'd be coming back to find out what was wrong.

Pushing himself out of the chair, he grumbled to himself, "I'm just useless with girls, aren't I?" But there wasn't time for that now. He headed out of the room, following after Asami. The arena, huh? Well, if nothing else it would be interesting to watch her fight. He'd only seen a little bit of her in action, and one on one didn't really seem like her style. But she probably had a few tricks up her sleeves, if he knew anything about her at all.

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"Yes, healing magic may be wonderful in closing wounds, but her body will still be sore from the continued strain. There's no stamina restoring magic yet, not that I'm aware of, at least." Marina did seem fine, at least. "Well done, Marina, once again. Let's head back into the stands, and, Agni?" Lavinia winked over towards him, chuckling. "I'll be watching." With a swift turn, the vampire was back off towards the viewing area... Just how well would Agni fare?


At least he was still willing to go with her~ Asami turned around and stuck her tongue out at Bladen, smiling just a bit. "Come on then, Bladen~ I'm gonna beat some heads and make you gasp~ Ahah~" A chuckle, and a spin, her tail swished at the poor bird as she went for the inn's door... But she flung a smirk over her shoulder at him. Maybe I'm playing too hard to get... I don't want to talk about my past, but... Having someone there to lean on, isn't a bad thing, right? If it's anyone in this group, I'd appreciate someone as naive as Bladen...


"Girlfriend!" Suzume laughed and nearly spilled her drink at the notion, quickly trying to compose herself, but the giggles kept flowing as Ren stammered to cover things up. "No, no~ Ahh, hah, I'm his cousin... I just came by because... Well. I'm sure Ayane would be quite upset with you if you didn't have this on you." Her drink was quickly finished, and she picked herself up off the stool. Unslinging the spear from her back, she pressed it against Ren, smiling with a tilt of her head. "I ran into a curious little group of merchants, and, really, I'd recognize Tonbokiri from anywhere~ I don't know how you lost it... But, try to hold onto these things, Ren. It took quite the coercing to get it back from them. That goat girl especially... So fussy." Suzume bit the word out, perhaps too harshly, but she was all smiles a moment later.

She slipped past the small group and aimed for the door again, turning once more to smile at Ren. "Thank you for still being okay, Ren... Take care of yourself." The door opened, she left, and a woosh of wind later... She was gone. Not a hair left of her through the windows of the tavern.

Taliyah was rather gobsmacked, looking between the door, Ren, the bar, and then back to Ren, unsure of what to say. "Wow... What a lady."

Suddenly, the group playing cards started laughing. "Yer dreamin' George! A witch in the woods!? Pah, hahaha!"

"Oi, Brian, I ain't dreamin' nothin'. Big ol' green aura floatin' through th'trees. I was just tryin'a get some huntin' done. Freaked me out good it did!" The burly, leather clad bull-man fixed the bow that was strung around his shoulder, taking a hefty swig of his mead.

"Bawww, there's no way. Country's already gone ta shit, it can't get worse. Ya musta been dreamin'-- or drunk! Hess knows yer neck deep in mead whenever yer coin can afford it, hawharhaha!" The other man, a werewolf by the hair on his face, was laughing into his own mug. Three others chuckled with him, fixing the cards for another round.

"Iiiii'm tellin' ya-- hic! Urr... Somethin's goin' on 'round here. Ain't no one cares cuz we're so deep inta Vaia... But it's comin'." Another hiccup.

"Sure, sure... Just like yer win last round. Definitely comin', George."

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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"You can keep the shield, Marina. Don't worry about me. I have my plans." A shield was far from his expertise, and considering some of the fighters, Agni was sure he'd rather use all of his usual tools. "Now, take a breather to rest your arm well. My round will be soon." Agni was certainly not lacking in confidence, bearing a slight smile as he walked to the receptionist. "I'll do my best for my viewers." A nod of acknowledgment to Lavinia later, Agni had turned to face the ring's entrance. Very well...


The combat ring was spacious field, truly feeling bigger on the inside. The crowd seemed a bit expectant after the last couple challengers --to be expected, honestly--, now it was Agni's turn to show some martial prowess befitting his rank.

He drew the provided tome first, a simpler type of dark magic. It would do enough for the first foe, should his judging eye be working properly.

"Galahad? Well met." Always honorable to heed one's opponent, Agni gave his greeting before the book's page began to turn, dark energy convalescing at the tip of his fingertips.

The first hit was Agni's, a blast of dark energy landing true. The discomfort would perhaps be more noticeable were his opponent not wearing an iron helm (as Galahad's surname would strongly imply), but the stifled, bear-silent grunt escaping Galahad was enough information to belie the spell's efficacy. Still, it wasn't nearly as strong as predicted.

...Taking that moment to ponder how resilient his opponent was turned oout to be against Agni's favor, as Galahad took the chance to swing at him with his axe. Unable to dodge away in time, Agni was knocked over to a pillar, a notable gash now running around his upper torso. "Ghk!"

Dreadful, but not enough to take the fight out of Agni instead. Galahad was still slower if he tried, amd thus quick movements would win the match for him.

Another blast of energy escaped Agni's fingertips and pushed Galahad back, followed by a second volley, this time, Galahad relented, and his swing landed false, swinging against the air.

...Another chance to relaliate with dark magic, Galahad could not shrug off his pain as it were.

This pattern repeated one more time...

In the end, Galahad had exhausted himself giving chase to Agni's backsteps and pirouettes, frustrated and hurt, Galahad swung his axe overhead, aiming to end it all with one strong swing.

Of course, such a telegraphed attack left much room to evade. One sidestep and Agni aimed a spell at Galahad again, his red cape fluttering. That was the eight blast.

Brought to his knees in pain. Galahad had to yield, too battered to swing his axe anymore.

"You are very resilient... a fair match." Agni didn't like how close it was, but nothing to be done except to improve his magic affinity.

A quick bow, and Agni walked back to the healers, readying for the next match. Galahad made his leave promptly.

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Ren stayed silent, realization dawning on him as his eyes widened.  Taking back his weapon, he couldn't help the sudden flinch at the tone she took when talking about Efari.  He gripped Tonbokiri tightly, sending a silent prayer to the group that had helped him get here safely.

All he could do now was hope that their passing was quick.

As she left the tavern, and was finally out of sight, Ren let out the breath he had been holding in.  He shuddered, pressing a hand against his face as he tried to compose himself once more.  Barely catching Taliyah's words, the oni looked over at the young lizard girl with a guarded expression.

"Don't be fooled.  We just ran into one of Ouka's...minions," he warned, voice devoid of any positive emotion as he grimaced at the words.  To think that his dear cousin, Suzume of all people, would be brought back like this...

"We need to warn your group-"

His words faded away, suddenly picking up the tale of the drunkard that was talking about a "witch" he had seen in the woods.  He felt a chill run down his spine.  Suzume being here wasn't just a coincidence then.

He looked over at Taliyah and Gabriela, expression serious as he got up from his seat. "I need to see Ayane, now."

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Ayane continued her meditation, but her expression clearly showed she was struggling to maintain her calmness. Of course that was no surprise to her, with so much anger bottled up just waiting to be let out. "...." The oni girl stood up, but still had her eyes shut. She took the Orochinagi by the handle and gripped it tight. 'Kill Suzume...is that something I can do?' She was a moment away from slicing the tree down in anger. But before anger could completely take her something echoed in her mind...

"See you soon, Ayane."

"!" A brief memory of someone close to her, a voice that remained with her since her days of peace. She wasn't sure why they came back to her now, but she was grateful. 'Yukari...' Serenity had finally returned, if only for a brief moment. Just long enough to bring Ayane back to reality. "...the situation is what it is, I'll complete my duty here and go search." She had hoped her friend was still alive, wherever she was. She put her hand on the tree and leaned on it with a breath. "I have to remain calm, there is far too much to do." She held her position for a moment longer, thinking on the past a little. It seemed to distract her well enough from thoughts of revenge, anger and smoke...wait smoke? "...eh?" She sniffed the air a moment and lifted her head just in time to view her hand burning the bark of the tree ever so slightly. "!" She pulled her hand off and started to pat the burning wood with her other palm before it was set ablaze. Luckily for her it didn't. After she was sure she prevented a fire she took a sigh of relief. That would have been quite embarrassing.

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Ren looked awfully serious, and understandably so after the shocking info he just revealed. Not only is Ouka close, the girl that was just here was one of her minions. It was time to go. "Understood. I'll tell the general." Gabriela approached General Nessraya, who was talking with Xalrei. "General.... this is Ayane's bodyguard. We have to return to where Ayane is, now. It's urgent. Ouka may be nearby. Isn't that right, Ren?" Gabriela looked back at Ren, hoping he'd explain himself to General Nessraya. The sooner this incident was resolved, the sooner Gabriela could have some fun... preferably if Ren was involved. And, Agni and Bladen didn't look too bad either. She was, in any case, very much done with this witch, and her interrupting ways.

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Just sore...? Oh. That was just what fatigue looked like. It had been a long time since Jade had felt it herself, and she'd been traveling alone for most of the time since her change too.

"Oh." It was a short simple sound, not much to it aside from conveying the quick dispelling of misconceptions. Well, and maybe the tiniest hint of disappointment? The zombie's gazed lingered at Marina's shoulder a little longer, then travelled down the arm, noticing the shield being held up, being returned to her. "Well, it's good the equipment I lent you didn't cause any problems, aside from your muscles not being used to working with it then. I know, it worked for me, but I suddenly couldn't help worrying over nothing..."

Jade took the offered item back, carrying it almost effortlessly in comparison to Marina as they made their way back to their seats. This was a fact that bothered her--upon realizing it as she went to set it down beside her, as she settled into place to watch Agni's matches. She would have to do a better job making sure to dampen her strength. Especially now. If she didn't... somebody might end up getting hurt.

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Marina gave a nod and a smile back to Lavinia as she made her way back to the stands. Listening to Jade, it made her feel comfortable. She gave a smile, "Well, I appreciate your worry. Thank you, I'm... not as good at worrying about myself." And she gave a nervous laugh. Giving a quick glance at how easily the zombie held the shield, it made her admittedly jealous, but with it a bit of admiration for Jade. The woman was incredibly tough, and Marina respected that.

Quickly following along, she went in, and sat next to Jade. She shuffled around a bit, not sure how to start conversing with the zombie, but she did the best she could; Agni's first round soon beginning, "U-Um Jade... I, uh, mmm..." Why was this so hard? There was a pause in what she tried to say, her attention focusing into Agni's fight once seeing him take a dangerous wound. Seeing that he soon got himself together and won the first round, it gave her a feeling of relief.

"S-Sorry, um, Jade. T-thank you for loaning me your clothes, by the way... I-I forgot to tell you earlier today," She smiled, finally getting her words out, "I haven't given them back yet, cause I... I want to clean them first. I feel like... returning them would be... disrespectful, I think that's the word, unless I returned them the say way I was given them." She shuffled again, squeezing her still mostly numb hand, "I hope that's alright with you."

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"You'd better..." The dragon grumbled out a warning, squeezing the smaller woman's hand, a bit harder than she needed to, as Nessraya led them to their table. She sat down with a tiny huff, resting her arms, but not her elbows, on the table. "Mn. I suppose so. And how about we get some cider? How does that sound?" 

Near immediately after she posed her question, a trio of drunks decided now was the time to get loud. She would've just tuned them out if not for the topic of their conversation.

"Oi," she hollered over towards the card playing trio. "Where were you when you saw the 'witch'?" Her interest was entirely professional; due to the hungry cursed blade at her side and the lack of magical development on her scales part. She couldn't afford to get blindsided by a magic user. It was not out of some curiosity born from rumors she'd heard about witches. Absolutely not.

Speaking of witches, apparently the mysterious woman was an agent of one: ouka. What was she doing here delivering a weapon to Ayane's bodyguard then? Was Ouka nearby? She sighed. "Looks like this 'date' is getting cut short, Nessraya."

Edited by Ursali

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Well, so much for that. Apparently they were already knee-deep in this Ouka nonsense... Nessraya had really been hoping to spend some time with Xalrei, and learn a bit more about these witch stories that appeared to be floating about the tavern. Oh well, some things just couldn't wait, it seemed.

"And we were supposed to be here to relax, how unfortunate... Taliyah. I have an interest in the tales the patrons are telling about strange phenomenon... try and find out what you can for me, would you? I'd love to do it myself, but duty calls~ Do we know where Ayane has gotten herself, at the moment?"

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