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

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Agni's obvious fluster was the perfect reward to her jest, though maybe she had pushed a little too far. The man's halting reply belied his discomfort, and Jade moved to smooth it over a little, hoping her chuckles weren't counterproductive. "I apologize. Too much, too fast? But you certainly are an earnest one..." There was no more time for idle chatter however, as the round had begun.

More than Lavinia losing her head--Jade remembered how bloodthirsty Snake had been, how he probably would have disemboweled her if she hadn't got a lucky shot off in time and managed to put a stop to him--what really took the zombie aback was Marina's scream. It was, honestly speaking, a pleasant surprise. A human--a living human--was so emotionally invested and worried over an undead that she would lose her mind like this, thinking something dreadful had happened. If that wasn't a stark contrast to the reception the merchant had gotten when she'd snuck across the border to try to visit her family...

So, how could she repay this genuine display of emotion? What way was there for her to comfort and calm the distraught hero? Marina had been so excited she hadn't been able to keep to her seat, had been practically hanging over the rail, to get as close to the action. So pure, devoted, worried... and now, nervous laugh broadcasting it clearly, so shaken. When the Hero turned to face her and Agni, almost without thinking it Jade rose, took a step forward, wrapped the girl in her arm and pulled her close in a hug.

Not sure how much adding words would help, the zombie offered some anyway. "I'd be surprised if this was the first time for her, she'll be fine." Pulling back far enough to unfasten the ribbon around her neck, revealing the scar that hid beneath it, she continued. "I almost lost my head my first year," a bit of an exaggeration to be sure, but for a good cause, "If there were anywhere for it to happen, here in an arena is probably the safest. Clean sharp weapons, nothing dull or rusted, healers on-hand."

No, this probably didn't do anything to assuage. Still holding the ribbon she'd removed in her hand, she pulled Marina close again, offering her her shoulder to rest her head on, hoping that the smell of her latest tobacco, mixed with some cedar shavings and lemongrass, would overpower any fouler odors, of wet clay or worse--Jade was always self-conscious.

But in the back of her mind, as she was trying to reassure the woman, she couldn't help tugging at strands and unraveling her efforts.

Marina and Agni had been entered disguised as vampires. Same as Lavinia. Then... wasn't Agni lucky Snake hadn't taken his head? Wasn't Marina lucky she'd backed out early?

...Neither Agni nor Marina fought like Lavinia. Like an undead. Was it obvious? How many people realized they were a sham?

When Agni suggested they reunite with all possible speed, Jade couldn't help but agree that was the right call. "Of course. Let's on our way then." The merchant kept quiet about her concerns, saving those for a talk with Lavinia, in private. Was it still safe to stay in town, if their cover may have been compromised, and for this, a little light fun?

Edited by Balcerzak

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It was a sudden surprise, as Jade wrapped into a hug around Marina. In Marina's mind, she didn't understand why Jade was hugging her. Was it too comfort her? But the zombie was undead too. To a degree even worse than Lavinia from what Marina understood about the two races. And along with the hug, words attempting to comfort her? It wasn't anything that made Marina feel more freaked out in regards to what happened, but it was more... The fact that something like that was actually common in Xensat.

She responded by hugging Jade herself, it was the best she could do for herself right now. It wouldn't do if she was the one panicking the most. It got her thinking about a lot of things though... It was been very possible her or Agni could've died had their fights gone any differently. If Agni lost to Snake. If Marina got that far... It frightened her to know even in a place meant to be a fun sport...

She shook her head, as she started to let go, wiggling herself out of Jade's hug. "T-Thank you Jade, I'm... s-sorry." She took the lead, nodding to Agni who had suggested to get to Lavinia quickly, "Let's go get her and just..." Well, this part was more of what she wanted, "I'm... done with all this action, today."


It wasn't long till Marina brought herself to the reception area and spotted Lavinia. Seeing her fine... Marina was unstoppable in a current sprint as she ran and hugged her guardian. Holding back tears was tough enough, but her grip on the vampire was tight, almost afraid to let go. "You... you scared the crap out of me!" She spoke as her face, buried within Lavinia's armor looked up to her neck.

Soon, Marina softly touched around where Lavinia's neck was, unable to keep herself from touching around where her head had recently been severed. She remembered Jade point out the scarring on her neck, Is there...? Is there...? Marina didn't spot any scarring, but the concern in her eyes was still there

"Y-you're okay right? Like, it's on straight, no cricks, no..." Marina's words paused but she still continued feeling around her neck regardless.

Edited by Silver Gallade

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Lavinia couldn't help but continue to touch her neck as she passed through the arena's entrance into the lobby. She'd stopped when she arrived, but she hadn't been expecting this... It would definitely end up scarring. A reminder of her immortality, but also of her weakness. "A helmet. I need a helmet..." Something to hide this and keep her safe in battle. She'd been a fool to think that every arena member would play the ranged game with her. That no one would aim for the only unarmored part on her, simply because it was all for sport.

"Oi, miss, yer gold." She had still won several rounds, so her reward was moderately hefty, but it was difficult for her to smile at the zombie over the counter. He grunted, shook his head, and sighed. "First time losin' yer head?"

"Ah... Y... Yes."

"I ain't gonna say y'get used to it, but... It ain't killed me yet. Ye'll be just fine, miss. Vampires're made of sterner stuff than the rest of us undead." He smiled, and she managed to calm just a mite. Calm enough to receive the Marina that came barreling into the room, immediately molesting her neck to check for issues.

"Ma-- C-Cianna! Goodness, I-I'm fine..." She had to force the girl down a bit, red again, not at all used to having anyone touching her neck. "It's fine, I'm fine. Everything attached properly, I highly doubt I'm the first undead to lose their head here... Thank you, for your worry." Gently petting the girl's hair, Lavinia sighed, hoping Agni and Jade's reactions would be less severe. "We can head back to the inn and relax the evening away, alright? You must be exhausted, after all."


"Oh, Bladen... The only mess I want to make, is out of you~ But that can wait for later. Until then!" Asami giggled, the arena coming into view, "I'll have to dance with some fools to make a bit of coin~" Hopefully Bladen did enjoy... She hadn't exactly been taking combat seriously so far, there had been no overt threats. Her clothes and body were on the line here, though. She'd be dodging as if her life depended on it... Scars were only attractive on someone meaty like Lavinia! Soft needed to stay soft~

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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She didn't take her eyes off her cousin, but she did hear Gaby's offer to open her room for them. "...thank you." She responded. "Then let's not waste anymore time." With that said, she pulled Ren off toward the inn. This was not a gentle stroll between family members, it almost looked like a prisoner escort. At least in Ayane's mind. Though don't feel too bad, Ren. She wanted the opposite deep down.

Edited by TheRoon

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She heard a thank you, but before Gaby even had a chance to say anything back, they were already off. She looked at Taliyah. "I'll be back here in a minute, please wait a second!" to which she gave a small wave with her hand. She then ran after Ayane and Ren. When they got to her door, Gabriela went to the door to open it. She then looked at Ayane, and gave her the key to her room. "I'll give you this key for now, you can return it later when we see each other again." she then left them alone to talk. They would surely they had a lot to... 'catch up' on. And it probably wouldn't be a pleasant conversation. Tonight was the time for fun, and Gabriela was certain to receive it!

Edited by Michelaar

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Itchy. Uncomfortable. Somehow watching Marina run, hug, shed tears for Lavinia was hitting Jade in a way that it hadn't when the Hero had done the same for Agni. Maybe it was because it was hot off the heels of her attempts to reassure her having fallen short of the mark? The human had seemed confused, finding the zombie's efforts awkward, yet Jade wasn't sure how she could have done it any better.

Or maybe it was because Jade could see herself in Lavinia's place more easily than she could imagine herself as Agni, and doing so hurt. Was she... jealous? She shouldn't be. While the merchant didn't know the full depth of Marina and Lavinia's bond, it was obviously not something she could compete with, to have hoped to achieved. She was just a random traveller, met a little over a day ago. ...And even if Marina had been inclined to giving her such a show of affection, Lavinia had already beaten the hero to the punch, having swooped Jade up in her arms almost immediately when she'd returned from her foray in the arena. It's not like she hadn't been exuberant in her own way, cheering and clapping. So why couldn't she just be happy for the vampire?

There was also the lingering worry that an excess of concern being shown like this would just further underscore the abnormalities of the group, further betray the act. So Jade's smile may have seemed more wooden than she meant it to, and her congratulations may have fallen slightly flatter than they should have, perhaps. "Snake was a tough opponent, you did well to get there, to give him a fight," she nodded as she caught the archer's gaze.

Agni would surely have his own words to give, and the zombie could feel things stretching out longer than they realistically should. It wasn't fair to the vampire, to cut her celebration shorter than everyone else's, but having realized they may not be safe, the zombie was feeling anxious. She needed to calm down. Maybe a smoke would help?

"I'm going to step outside and light up, I think," she excused herself, and bringing the bit of her pipe to her mouth, began to make for the exit. Just pressing it past her lips, feeling it between her teeth was already having an effect. Comforting. Tasty.

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Undead really were something... Agni couldn't say he envied Lavinia's position, but the real issue, now that they've ascertained Lavinia was fine, was how much Marina would be affected by something so graphic... thankfully, Jade was already trying to comfort her. In a way, that was comforting for Agni as well.

As they walked into the lobby, Marina ran first to run Marina, while Agni kept observing as he walked closer... she was checking out her neck, huh? It was probably a bizarre experience, even if one were undead. "That was a rather dire opening... I didn't expect him to be that resilient, from our battle. Perhaps I left a deeper wound than I thought." Agni had some courtesy not to berate Lavinia after all she offered them. Besides, it was true --Agni was expecting the last opponent to go down to Lavinia much quicker, from personal experience.

Perhaps he misjudged, which would be concerning in a real combat situation.

"It's good to see you in one piece again." Agni nodded, a faint trace of a smirk in his lips, it was best to keep looking at the situation with some levity, to keep Marina's concerns low, and keep Lavinia from feeling judged. "Still, your battle style it quite impressive... I couldn't hope to emulate it myself, however." Not to mention he could very well feel pain, he just lacked the bulk to take hits like she did in stride. An enemy could easily damage his body with a few proper strikes, and wearing thick armor was quite counterproductive to his training and body frame...

Whilst lost in thought for a moment, Agni had not missed the way Jade excused herself. That was... quite hasty, perhaps something was bothering her. "Of course, Jade."

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Bladen was bright red by this point, but for once he let her comment go by without comment, figuring his face was enough of a tell that her comment had hit. Instead he stared up at the arena, before quickly grabbing her hand. "Dance with them well, but be careful, alright? I... I don't want to see you get hurt out there, so you need to do a great job. A-and here. For good luck." He quickly leaned in and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and quiet whisper, "I'll be cheering for you."

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'So what you're saying, is that can't hit ghosts, but someone who could already hurt them would be able to? But if you had more power I could do that anyway?' Xalrei questioned her sword, trying to sort though it's almost cryptic words. She scratched at her chin with her free claw as she thought on it, the other taken by Nessraya as the succubus led her out of the tavern. Perhaps to Nessraya's disappointment, the act didn't fluster the dragon, though that was decidedly only due to fact Xalrei was more focused on the cursed sword at the moment.

Once they were back out into the square proper, Xalrei shifted her focus back onto the succubus. "I know I suggested the library, but... How are we actually going get into it though? Erephis said her friend wasn't around, and I think they run it."

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"Well, Erephis still managed to get inside to read... we will need to see if it is open despite. If not, then perhaps we shall employ her assistance, or find another source of information. We may as well take a look." Nessraya replied, continuing to lead the dragonewt along until reaching the library. Deciding to attempt the simplest solution first off, the succubus came up to the door and gave it a knock, resting her hand on the door knob to see if it turned.

"Hello? Is anyone home...?"

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Embarrassed herself, Marina started lowering her hands once Lavinia attempted forcing her down; catching the redness in her face. She backed up a bit, head down and nodding. "O-Okay. Sorry I, just got scared..." And then a smile, "I'm glad you're okay," Looking back up after Lavinia's request, she brought up a welcoming suggestion, and Marina was happy enough to oblige, "That'd be nice, yeah. I'm... ready for some rest too."

Soon after, Agni and Jade came in and brought some words too. "Yeah, you did great, Lavinia," she agreed as she still kept up the smile she had. "It was awesome watching you fight."

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'You understand,' Requiem replied, glowing again in lieu of a grin, 'Then you know what you must do.'

Whether or not Xalrei would opt to find that special individual or simply give the cursed blade what it wanted, Requiem wasn't sure, but the time was soon coming when she couldn't rely on other solutions. Sooner or later, the mere act of possessing the cursed blade would force her hand.

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"Ooh, there's that bravery... I'd like to see more of that." She was decidedly red in the face, but it hadn't broken her stride yet. "I will do everything in my power to stay pristine~ Wouldn't want me getting damaged before you can get an eyeful, right?" She'd almost been about to hike the slit in her kimono up slightly, when she caught sight of something much more amusing. "Looks like we weren't the first there, today~"


Lavinia had to hold back a sigh. She'd been about to apologize for her performance, but in the face of everyone praising her, she couldn't let them down like that. Not so quickly after her performance in the arena. "Y-Yes... Well. Thank you." It was difficult to swallow without disagreement, but that would likely upset them more than they already were, especially Marina... And, perhaps Jade? The zombie had beat a hasty retreat, apparently to get a small puff of her pipe. Perhaps, perhaps... Was something bothering her? It couldn't have been Lavinia's own recklessness, could it? They were both undead, surely Jade understood how effective such an unyielding way of fighting would be for their kind... Was it something else, then? Maybe. Or, maybe, Lavinia, in her awkward state, was looking too hard for something else to focus on, lest she delve back into the small stone of self loathing swirling in her gut.

"We'd best be off, then, Marina, Agni." With a small smile, she approached the counter and retrieved her winnings, the attendant giving her another thumbs up. She tried to maintain that smile and swiftly left, hoping to catch up to Jade... Who had already managed to get her pipe going. Perhaps stress, Lavinia finally thought. They weren't quite alive, but their minds still worked, and so the phenomenon could weasel its way in. Smirking lightly, Lavinia idly picked up a strand of Jade's hair, bringing it up to give a gentle smell. "I did see you using that pipe while we were traveling on our way here. Perhaps the smoke has found a way into your natural scent? Whatever you're burning, it's certainly pleasant."

"Lavinia~" came a voice, singing out to her, "if you tease our poor merchant like that, she's going to get the the wrong idea." Asami chuckled, hand at her lips, eyebrow cocked at the vampire as she approached the arena, Bladen in tow.

"I... I was merely enjoying her pipe. Please, do not imply--"

"Oh, Lavinia, hush. You flirt far too much, you simply don't pay any attention to it. Not exactly a very good habit, you know?" Asami was relentless, even stopping to smirk up at the vampire.

Lavinia sighed. "My apologies, Jade, if I am getting too close."

"Yes, your apologies~ What would Roman say--" Asami had but a second to react as she was hoisted off the ground by a gauntlet, a good foot between her and the dirt under her sandals.

"Do NOT. Speak his name. I will not allow your idle chatter and pointless badgering to include him, you demon." The vampire let her go just as roughly, Asami stumbling back into Bladen. She didn't quite look offended, brushing off her kimono and trying to fix the new wrinkles.

"Right, right, I'm so sorry... Been decades and you're still... Well, whatever! Bladen, let's go and have ourselves a fun time~" Content with her disturbance, Asami passed the undead and headed inside.

Lavinia's smile was gone, looking down, pensive. "Jade," she began, not glancing her way, "please, lead Agni and Marina back to the inn." Lavinia turned and began to head off towards it herself, not waiting for their company to catch up.


For a moment, the house was still, but all of a sudden-- "O-Oh! Hello!" Erephis! Popped up in the door's window, gently opening it for Nessraya and Xalrei. "H, Hello again, you two... Did you n-need something?" She left it open and slithered back inside, towards a stack of books she'd been seemingly reading through. "Uhm. Eugene isn't h-here, I don't really... Know, exactly where he's gone. But, well, I-I have a spare key to the place, and it is, unofficially th, the town's, l-library. So, erm. Please, make yourselves at home. Or, if you need, anything." Erephis had come back here after dinner erupted and the vial had been given away. Whether it was for something specific to read, or just to find a nice quiet place to hide herself away, who knew?


"Phew... Okay." Taliyah watched the onis walk off, flopping down onto the ground for a moment. "Wow... That, was stressful... Geez..." She glanced over at Gabriela and quickly picked herself up, trying to smile again. "Uhm! Th-Thanks Gabby-- Er, G-Gabriela... Is, Gabby fine...?" A nervous laugh, the ruffling of some hair. "So... Er, I was gonna... Buy some clothes...? You can come with me, i-if you want, but... If not, I can handle myself. Probably... I-If anyone thinks I'm a half breed, I'll just lie and tell them I'm a young dragon. Seemed to work at the arena!" She flipped the Siren a thumbs up, and nodded once me. "Never had this much gold before... I think I'll... T-Try and get myself something nice to wear."


"... Oh? Hello?" Geoffrey glanced at the oni that brought themselves into the inn, trying his best to smile. One of them had almost set his precious establishment on fire, after all. "I see you have borrowed miss Gabriela's room key," he mused, eyes keen as ever. "This is fine, of course. Please, feel free to make use of her room, room seven, upstairs." He didn't dare to pry, he would simply provide service to them as best as he could.

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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The hesitation in Lavinia's was similar to Marina's when she had left from her arena challenge. Maybe Lavinia was feeling similar to how Marina was; just different circumstances. Marina didn't finish her fights, but Lavinia lost her final round. It was better to not press on it, as she simply nodded and followed along with Lavinia out the door. She gave a smile, almost a giggle as she saw Lavinia sniffing Jade's hair. A fitting pair, I think.

It was then that suddenly Asami and Bladen had come along to the arena as well. Oh good, maybe this would be--

And soon Asami when into her usual duties of teasing the rest of the group, targeting Lavinia tonight. Expected, as it seemed the two had been working alongside one-another for awhile. "What would Roman say--" And suddenly Marina saw a different side of Lavinia immediately. This was different than the fierce attitude she'd have in battle. This was... more. The way she hoisted Asami without warning, her words, her face...

Roman... That's the someone, isn't it? Marina had thought to herself, and almost without warning, Lavinia stormed off on her own.

Marina honestly didn't know what she should do. She could tell from looking at Lavinia how bothered she was. Could... Marina do anything? Aside from get in the way...?

"Jade," Marina lightly grabbed the zombies shoulder. "I'm... I'll follow her. I'd, rather none of us travel alone," Secretly, she did just want to try and help Lavinia feel better; though she didn't know how much she could, from what she understood. "I'll see you back at the inn."

She started, but Bladen was also there, wasn't he? Marina didn't really want any interaction with Asami, but she could at least acknowledge Bladen. Walking towards Lavinia, she nodded towards him. "Good evening, Bladen," then suddenly, a pause. A different sort of pause than just ending a sentence. Marina stopped moving, a more focused look, her voice in a more serious tone. "I'm in a hurry right now, but... If you can, I'd like to talk with you, if that's okay," then, she lightened up a bit, "Anyway, have fun and be safe." She nodded again, before she quickly ran to catch up with Lavinia.

That same lightened expression unfortunately turned into a more serious tone again. She wasn't sure how to act on what she has learned about, but she knew she was best at listening to her gut. "Lavinia, wait up! Please!" Eventually catching up, she took a few breaths. "Let me... walk with you, please." 

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When Gabriela came back, Taliyah seemed characteristically nervous. She was actually quite adorable, probably didn't even realize it herself. "Yes, of course you can call me Gabby, we're friends! I'll call you Tally, is that alright?" Shopping with Tally sounded fun, finally some time to unwind after all the stressful situations that happened today. "Yeah, i'll go with you! I'd like something nice for myself as well! Shall we?"

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Well, it wasn't the old vampire, but Erephis herself was inside... that was easy enough to predict, really. A place devoid of people and flush full of books was a veritable paradise for the introverted snake, after all. Squeezing Xalrei's hand and leading her inside, Nessraya took a quick look around as Erephis explained the place a small bit, telling them to make themselves at home.

"Well actually, we were looking for information. You seem familiar enough with the place, even without Eugene you might know something... or perhaps could lead us along to a clue of sorts. I heard an interesting rumour at the tavern, you see. Haunting wails and glowing in the woods to the South of town... the patron thought it a witch, but my gut tells me that it's more likely a spirit than that. One of them felt as though they remembered a sort who might have clung to the world of the living, but couldn't recall whom through their drink... I was hoping to see if I could find out anything on the matter."

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Ayane took the key and pulled Ren off to the room after a quick glance at the number. She opened the door and pulled him to the bed, then she closed the door and locked it. "..." She stared at Ren for a good minute. Ayane had steeled herself for a lengthy, almost brutal interrogation. But she regretted looking Ren in the eye, seeing a hint of sorrow. It really hit her that maybe this was genuine...only one way to find out. "...if you truly are Ren then prove it." She spoke and eyed the lance behind his back. She took out her katana, the Orochinagi. The blade was very well crafted and beautiful. Despite Ayane using it a lot these days it remained taken care of to a point where one could almost believe it was brand new. It was a family treasure, one of three. "Show me your weapon."

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'Yeah, yeah, I'll get you your meal. I didn't forget.' Xalrei mentally grumbled at the sword, if such a thing was even possible. She knew Requiem's needs and its (basic) wants and, by asking Jade to use it, she had accepted the responsibility of providing for the cursed sword. She wasn't going to let it starve. Honestly...

Only Erephis was here, apparently, the Lamia inviting them inside. Nessraya once again leading the dragon along, this time forcing her hold on Xalrei's claw into the her awareness. A slight tinge of pink took to her cheeks but, given that it wasn't as brazen as her touch at the bar, that was all that happened. As Nessraya explained the reason behind their visit to Erephis, Xalrei glanced around the unofficial library. For what she assumed was a personal collection there were quite a lot of books around. Simply the result of living a long life? "...What happened to your friend, anyway? Did he leave a note, or anything?"

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His kiss didn't have the devastating effect that the first one had, but it was ok. He wasn't trying for that right now. He just wanted her to be careful. A wish that he maybe should have applied more generally, as he watched her teasing of Lavinia end with her lifted off the ground a good foot or so. He didn't even have time to react before she was tossed down, but she hardly seemed disturbed. He was slow to follow her, still trying to process the scene that had just occurred, when the Hero stopped by him, saying hello and... "Uh... yeah, sure?" His response was mostly to her back as she quickly headed off again, leaving him to give a small shrug to Jade and Agni and then chase after Asami wondering what in the world the Hero wanted to talk to him about.

Catching up to the fox, he raised an eyebrow at her. "You know, I wouldn't have thought I needed to worry about your safety among our group... Must you poke at the weak spots of everyone? I worry that if you push Lavinia too far, you may end up with more than a few ruffled clothes..." He shouldn't be worrying about her this much. She could clearly hold her own and yet... He had been too slow to try and help her. She didn't need his help, clearly, but that didn't mean he still felt a lingering sense of failure after all of that...

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Even though it looked like he was off to the gallows, Ren felt relief wash over him as well as dread.  What did his dear and cute have for him to prove that he was who he said he was?  If anything, it would deal with his weapon...

After all, their weapons were one of a kind, impossible to replicate.

Once they reached the room and went inside, he let out a small breath as he heard the door being locked.  Closing his eyes, he steadied himself before opening them and looking back at Ayane.  He could see the uncertainty in her features after meeting eye to eye, but it was hidden behind firm determination and the usual fire in here eyes.

As she took out her blade, Orochinagi, his eyes drifted towards the glint of the blade.  It was breathtaking, always making him feel like he was seeing a piece of art that shouldn't be marred by blood or death.  One of the three sacred treasures of their clan, Ren was glad that it hadn't left her side.

"Show me your weapon."

Should I be thankful to Suzume, for bringing me back Tonbokiri before my meeting with Ayane...?

A sudden shiver ran down his spine, pushing away thoughts of what would have happened if he hadn't arrived with his weapon.

Nodding, he silently and gracefully pulled out his sacred weapon.  There was a vast difference between the simple yari he had and this spear; how sharper the blade was, the craftsmanship of the pole handle, to the markings etched into it as well as the engraving on the steel.

Without a word still, he presented the weapon towards Ayane with a small bow of his head.

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Jade didn't have her portable fire pot with her, a small earthenware thing she kept a few coals going in for easy access when driving her wagon, but that didn't leave her without the necessary means. A couple of them, in fact, but the zombie wasn't in the mood for striking flint against steel and catching the sparks on charpaper. So instead she withdrew a thin wooden spill from a leather holder, and coaxed Deep Vermilion--whom she had collected in preparation for the trek back to the inn--to snort a little fire, allowing her to light it and transfer the flame in a controlled manner. Only once had she attempted lighting a pipe directly from Nightmare fire. Never again.

The merchant had then been puffing away, lost in thought. Bladen and Asami were out on a walk, leisurely coming this way. Perhaps some time in the arena was in their future? Or maybe just out for a night stroll, a casual date. Thinking if anyone was keeping closer watch on her, Lavinia, and the humans, it might be best to not transfer any suspicion to the other pair, Jade opted not to call out to them.

When the three Jade had left behind had wrapped up their congratulations, and the vampire had finished her business with the bookkeeper then stepped out to talk with her, well, any traces of the fox and the bird were pretty well banished from her mind. A light tug on a lock of her hair, and the sound of in-drawn breath. The zombie froze, a curious tingle seemed to have run up the length of her hair and into her scalp. Surely it was pure fantasy, but there it was. The idle comment afterward too... Jade's brain was screaming, That's the point, but too embarrassed to actually say it, she merely mumbled, "If so, that would be nice." She paused then, not sure whether to elaborate on what exactly was burning, but just as she'd decided to go ahead, Lavinia did seem interested, it wasn't going to be just her prattling on to an unlucky victim...

Asami had closed all distance, and started in on teasings of her own. The merchant's eyes quickly pivoted to the kitsune, trying to gauge how serious her jests. If Lavinia was in the habit of accidental flirts, then that probably explained everything, solved all the mysteries. It was maybe disappointing--wait it was? Had she really been hoping...? The thought surprised her a little--but it made more sense than the alternative. But then the fox struck a nerve. One that was clearly raw and exposed, as the response was immediate and violent. Jade could merely watch in stunned silence at the exchange: kitsune lifted like a ragdoll, lectured, then thrown at unsuspecting Bladen.

Lavinia then strode off, clearly upset, in the direction of the inn, her longer legs, better build, and manner of undeath buying her a speed Jade had no hope of matching. Not without riding her down on horseback... which would definitely be out of place. Removing the pipe from her mouth, and rubbing out the embers with her thumb, the zombie pressed her lips into a thin line.

"Well, Agni," she began to speak, still processing ongoing developments. Marina hadn't waited, and instead had taken the path not available to the zombie, had begun chasing the vampire down on foot. "I guess that just happened. Are you going to rush off after M... after Cianna too? It's fine if you want to. Understandable, even." Truthfully, Jade expected her 'mission' to fail before it even began, and was preparing for a slow walk back all alone.

She was used to being alone though.

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Lavinia visibly stiffened, upon hearing Marina's voice. Without answering her request, she glanced back at the Hero, not a glint of happiness on her face. "Marina." Lavinia turned to face her, eyebrows tinged with anger, the smallest crease in them, distinguishable from her typically soft resting gaze. "I'm going to be polite once. Leave me be, return to Jade, and come back to the inn with her and Agni. If you refuse, I make no promise of what comes next. I am not... Alright, right now." Hoping Marina understood, Lavinia turned away once again, and made for the inn anew, her pace increased certainly to leave Marina behind.


Asami waved at the humans as they passed, sighing a bit, having fixed her outfit. "Hmmm... It's for her best interests. Lavinia is, hmm... Not like me, she, doesn't quite flirt with the intention of getting a raise, or even enticing someone. It is simply an old habit of decades past with someone that she can never get back. Roman Vasilia... She's hopelessly attached to her dead fiancé, yet continues on like this with any party she finds herself close with. Surely you can understand the issue, yes?" Asami glanced at Bladen, hoping he could. "While I have every intention of getting you into bed eventually," she teased, brushing him with her tail, "Lavinia will flirt with people like Jade, like Agni, maybe even Marina without her knowledge... But if pressed for more, she'll deny it happening, push away their attempts, say she isn't interested. She wants both; to continue how she was seventy years ago, yet remain alone, some sort of, silly punishment for being unable to save him. Frankly, that's not fair for the victims. How do you think Jade must feel?"

Asami didn't say much as she approached the counter, signing her name as a participant, the zombie gawking at the kitsune's brazen approach. "What, you? Really?"

She smirked, and let him gawk. "Imagine being some little merchant, and suddenly, this tall, powerful, imposing beauty of a woman starts getting close to you, touching you, smelling your hair, lording compliments... Jade gathers the courage to bring it up, and whoops, Lavinia denies it all. Like the horrible person she has become. If I have to get more than my clothes ruffled to bring her back to reality, so be it. It's time for her to move on, or stop this habit. She can't have both..."


"A witch? A spirit... Probably a, a wraith th-then." Erephis fetched a book off the shelf without looking, flipping it a bit more than halfway through, and handed it to Nessraya. The page she'd opened up was on the deceased and their spirit's hold on the world of the living. "When s-someone gets too attached to, their life or h-has, regrets... Uhm, if, the, they, were strong enough in lll, life... L-Life, they can return as a gh, ghost, or a wwwraith." Stuttering as she was, Erephis was clear in her explanation. "As for who... In, th-this area? I... Well, there, a-are too many, it could be. Any more d-details...?"

When Xalrei asked about her friend, Erephis shook her head. "Eugen wa-wasn't here when I, first arrived, earlier, t, t-today. I don't really... Know where, he could've g-gone. I just hope that he, c... C-Comes back, soon."


"Wha, really!?" Taliyah was all smiles, she'd even jumped up and down for a moment. "Yes! Ahh, th-thank you, haha... Today's, just, great." She quickly wiped away a forming tear, too pleased with things to stay completely stone faced. "Uhm, l-let's go, then! Woo!" With the siren in tow, Taliyah headed off towards the nearest clothing store... Luckily for Gabriela, a different one than earlier, seemingly close to closing. Taliyah still pushed inside, really wanting to get something nice for herself... Her appearance was met with several sets of eyes, making her squeak.

"Oh! My apologies, little one." The woman on the ceiling, quite apparently a spider, swung herself down to the floor, and gave Taliyah a small curtsy. "I just wasn't expecting a customer this late. Two, at that! By all means, feel free to look about the store~" Retreating herself, and all her limbs, to the counter, she began to knit... With what looked like her own silk. How curious.

"Whoaa... A real, Arachnid... I've never... Uh, r-right! Clothes... Th-Thank you!" Glad she hadn't needed to use her excuse already, Taliyah stormed in and started looking over clothes, picking out things she thought would match her red scales.

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Marina was taken aback by Lavinia's attitude. It wasn't like the guardian she had known. What Asami said... it affected her a lot, didn't it? Marina could see that. And she knew deep down, she could feel what Lavinia may do. For the first time, Marina's initial thoughts were clear in her mind; she truly did fear Lavinia. More or less, something from stories brought to her from her time in Coteon, something that always poked at her, but she chose to ignore.

This Roman, this someone, that Lavinia deeply cared for was killed by the last hero. Someone whose legacy kept creeping back up on Marina every time she tried to do something. How truthfully, Marina wanted to just... comfort Lavinia in her sorrow, but it'd be for naught. As much as Marina wanted to make words, nothing came out. As much as she wanted to keep following, take whatever Lavinia had to throw at her, her legs refused to move. Her gut told her to act, but something else deep down was telling her not to.

As Lavinia continued walking away, Marina just stood there. Almost motionless, with only a solemn look in Lavinia's direction. The only real motion was Marina's clothing against the wind picking up as the night progressed. Even when Lavinia was far enough away for Marina's body to loosen, she still stood there. Her face lightened up, but only so that she had a more... neutral look to her than what it had been initially.

"...She hates me, doesn't she?" She had quietly asked herself, as she only continued watching the vampire walk away.

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Upon hearing the Siren's answer to her query, Taliyah literally jumped for joy. It was quite a sight, and Gabriela herself became a little emotional at seeing her so happy. It appears that she was not the only one as Tally was wiping away at her eyes as well. Is this what friendship is? If so, then Gabby was happy, and she felt like jumping for joy herself, but composed herself. She IS the mature one here, after all. On their way to the tailor, it finally sinked in that Tally wanted to go to a tailor.... most of them would be closed.... please let Jezebel's be one of them. It would be better if she and Gabby never met again.

Luckily, her fears were proven incorrect, as they entered a different tailor. It seemed like this one was about to close soon, so they would have to make it quick. Tally was quickly given a start by a spider-looking monster. An Arachnid, was it? She had never seen one before with her own eyes. It would look intimidating, but this woman looked very friendly and gentle, not to mention talented, as she began to knit with her own silk. "Thank you for letting us shop this late, ma'am." Gabriela gave a slight smile, before following Tally. "Hey, Tally, I'll go look on the other side, and i'll be sure to find something that would fit you fantastically!" On that note, Gabriela headed off to the opposite side of the store.

There were a lot of different types of garb. Dresses, plain shirts and skirts. They had different colors, so there was simply bound to be something Tally would like. She didn't exactly seem like someone who would wear dresses often, so maybe she'd prefer a nice top instead? As she looked around the cute shop, she found something that gave her an audible gasp. "Oh my! Look at what I got here, Tally!" Gabriela then proceeded to hold a shirt with short sleeves in the air. It was mostly red with some blue stripes mixed in. "This would fit you perfectly! You should try it on! I just bet you would look simply adorable!."

 

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There it was, the proof.

Creating counterfeits of these weapons is something that wasn't in the realm of possibility, there was something about them that seemed drawn to one another. As soon as Ren showed the Tonbokiri it began to resonate with the Orochinagi somehow. Like it was a musical instrument part of a family set it belonged with it's sister weapon. Both weapons almost seemed to let off a faint glow that could go unnoticed. But Ayane noticed it. "....." Without warning, she lunged herself toward Ren before he could even react. But it wasn't a lunge born of malice, as evidenced by the fact Ayane simply dropped her katana as soon as she did. No, it was...a moment of weakness.

"Ren...oh...Ren..." She sobbed through her tears. Yes, sobbed. Yes, tears. With that sudden realization Ayane had broken down. All the tension, anger and hatred harbored within her over these past weeks had suddenly been lifted. For a few brief moments, but lifted nevertheless. She had thought she was the only one left, the lone survivor of a now lost kingdom. Just knowing that another was here was enough to give her some hope. "Ren...Ren..." She sobbed some more, hiding her face in his chest as she clenched his shirt with her hand.

Edited by TheRoon

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