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

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Marina definitely semeed preoccupied with this wraith, but seemed well enough... sort of? That could wait.

This wraith spoke of Jade, over and over, it seemed like too much of a coincidence, but it was a possibility altogether. "If you wish, Marina, I can go call for Jade." Gabriella seemed best for the job, with the forest's layout, but Agni was confident in his abilities after that small detour.

Was that wraith truly related to Jade, though? How curious...

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"Well I'm glad you gave it to me, then. Cerberus aren't something you want to mess with, if possible." The fact she's handled one in a single blow couldn't have been anything aside from luck, even if she'd been wielding Requiem at the time. "Also, sorry for not paying attention to you, back there." Sighing, then smiling she raised her claw to Taliyah's head, patting her ruffling her hair. "She'll be fine... I think. She's a vampire, right? She has to know that the sun's coming back out..." She, she would be fine right? Surely she was just going for dramatics and would pull out some cover at the last second or something...?


"And just why should we do that!?" Sollowy had been watching Marina ever since the human, well, humans once Agni had appeared, had approached the wraith, at first out of caution, believing the wraith might be about to pull something. As the girl continued to speak to the defeated wraith however, and the wraith showed no sighs of a sudden reversal, she'd slowly drifted closer, finally into listening range. What were these humans thinking, listening to the wraith!? "Think about what would have happened if your group hadn't showed up! Not just to the people, but to the forest here too!" She yelled at the pair of humans, almost not believing her ears. The mist that had filled the area was now dissipating, likely due to the wraith's defeat, but if it hadn't the forest would've been dead and barren before long; that was inexcusable to one of Yggdrasil's agents. 

Edited by Ursali

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Gabriela gave her wings a good shake, now that it was all over. ''This was, without question, our longest and most tiring battle... yet. One can only imagine it's going to be much worse from now on...'' However, once she was done whining, she turned her attention to Marina and Agni. ''Agni, I believe I am much more fit to make it to Jade faster. For one, I can fly over the woods, while you have to make it through on your feet! I am curious about that wraith myself. Tell you what. I want to speak to Jade and Lavinia anyway, to check up on them. I can mention the wraith to Jade if you wish.''

She started at Agni. ''Alternatively, you can get your bodyguard to go tell Jade... I'm sure he'd like that responsiblity very much. What say you, Hero?''

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"No need to apologize! You have a reason to be afraid of fire, from what you're saying, and thus you would be scared if I'm talking about fire in a way you don't understand. And I think that if anything sounds wrong, it just means I need to learn more about you and your people. Just like if anything sounds odd from what I say, you should just ask. We're companions now, after all, we should be making sure we're understood."

His thoughts on companions and understanding were interrupted by a rather embarrassing failure on his part. "Oh. I'm so sorry. I can't believe I've been so rude. My name is Bladen. Bladen Eloy. I learned your name but never gave you mine... How rude of me." He shook his head, looking away in embarrassment. In doing so, the activity around the wraith caught his eye and he frowned. What was the hero up to now? "Mmm... It seems our enemy is not quite passed from this world. Her creations are dead at least, but... Perhaps someone needs to finish the job." Why were they leaving her alive? Either she was alive and still dangerous, in which case she should be killed, or she was dying and there was no saving her, in which case someone should just put her out of her misery. He pulled his sword back out of his sheath, and started towards the congregation around the wraith. "Sorry, we can talk more after this, but... something must be done."

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She feels like a child, Ness berating her (albeit lightly for someone like her) for bickering with one of their teammates.  "I know, I do apologize Ness," she mumbles softly while quickly letting Lestat transform back into his parasol form.  The daylight was fast approaching, and she didn't need actual physical burns on top of the other ones given to her by the general.

Like a pup she follows, but..."Shouldn't we check on big sister?  She was with th- Jade," she says, referring the other by name instead of her general term.  "I worry that something might come up once more..."


"Or we can give her one last wish before she parts.  Look, her hands have dried up to the point of blackened skin.  Surely you don't think she'll be able to cast any more magic?" Ren confronts the other before Marina is able to do so herself.  "How...heartless?  For people to think like you," he says, arching a brow at the elf.  "I thought elves were different, and yet here I am proven wrong!" he then adds, shaking his head as a sudden chuckle leaves his lips.

Edited by sweet podado

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Marina had just turned to respond, before being interrupted by... some woman who'd recently joined the fight? A second person today who's just barking at her. She balled her fist, ready to shout back, but thankfully... Ren stepped in and already posed her point she wanted to make. As he talked, it gave her a chance to cool her nerves. As much as she should probably snap back, that's not what she wanted. She had to maintain a bit of professionalism if anyone were to take her seriously.

She stood up, placing a hand on one of Ren's shoulders, as if telling him to stand down.

"She has one last thing she's asking for, before she dies. I want to fulfill that request. It's just that simple." She answered, turning over to Agni, "Thank you Agni, but I'd prefer if you were here, if that's alright," then looked to the siren, "Gabriela, if you could please? That'd be really good, thank you."

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Gabriela winked at Marina, a soft wink of genuine care. ''No worries. I'll get it done. Come find me if you have a problem, okay?'' Gabriela didn't forget to also wink at Ren before she departed. Such a snack can not be left without something to keep it nice and hot. After shaking her wings to get all the dust off of them, she took off to the skies, and flew over the woods to find Jade, who she found speaking to Lavinia. She landed right in front of them, bearing her signature smile

Gabriela waved to the two of them. ''Hey Jade, hey Lavinia, it seemed we got through that battle pretty good, didn't we? I do hope you're well.'' She was genuinely happy to see both of them were still in one piece, so much so that she almost forgot about Marina's message. ''Oh, right, Jade! Marina actually sent me to get you. I think she found some sort of wraith? I don't know too much about it, but the wraith seemed to speak of you. Or, a 'Jade', at least. To be honest, it's a little creepy. Would you... come with me?''

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"Regardless... it is dealt with. I can already feel her magic has dissipated... you should be able to see the effects in the air already. This sort of wraith does not tend to manifest without... pent up regrets. If seeing Jade will help allay them, then... I will allow it. And if she becomes a problem, I will promptly put her down. She will soon pass on her own either way." Nessraya interjected, watching Gabriela move to collect Jade... they would have to see if the merchant could make it through the thicker brush before the wraith fully left this plane, but there was little to be done on their side. Patting Bridget's shoulder gently as she floated closer to the growing group near the wraith, Ness looked over their new arrival.

"She should be back with the others shortly... in the meanwhile, who might you be? Given you've seen fit to so brazenly interject, I assume you provided some measure of assistance, for which I am thankful... however, it would not be good form to not inquire as to your intentions. It is not as though this is a frequently traveled path, especially not as of late."

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A last wish, hm? Well it was only appropriate. Prisoners of war with severe sentences tend to have a last rite before the end comes, as Ayane had learned from the history books of her homeland. It was of course beyond her own call, but Marina seemed to have made the right one in her opinion. Still, even in her current state the oni princess couldn't take her eyes off her. On the off chance she had one more trick up her sleeve. While it's highly unlikely that is the case, Ouka had proven that a cornered tiger is at their most dangerous.

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Jade smiled at Lavinia's behavior around her 'mare. It was cute, the sort of slight timidity, and especially at such a late stage in the game. Maybe it wouldn't have even merited notice if the royal guard had been a meek, wallflowerly type, like the librarian lamia... but in contrast to the more stoic royal guard atmosphere, the burden of bearing heavy responsibilities, that bit of gap there... the unexpected window into her femininity. It was cute. It was somehow different than the feeling she'd got being on the receiving end of Lavinia's earlier protective worry... probably because the zombie was slightly removed from the situation, not inconvenienced or belittled by assumptions there was no need to feel defensive. She could simply appreciate the situation as it existed.

Lavinia's smile was met back with a very genuine one of Jade's own. "Okay then, let's get you up first and situated, then I'll swing myself up after. In front of you, of course. You're so freakishly tall I wouldn't be able to see past you to steer if I ended up seated behind you," the merchant playfully teased, with a twinkle in her eye.

Very shortly afterward, the two of them were mounted up and ready to go. But there was the slight problem of destination. Obviously, the goal was to regroup, but not knowing where most of the group was... was somewhat of an issue. "Just to be clear," Jade asked straightforwardly, "When you said 'let's return', you meant, head all the way back to the wagon, right? The others ought to know well enough to group back there too?"

A flutter of wings overhead, and a friendly face alighting in the clearing before them was welcome interruption. Gabriela's comments, however, were confusing and concerning.

"Wait, the Hero was asking for me? Not for Lavinia," was the zombie's initial surprised reply, before the avian continued enough with her explanation to at least somewhat explain. Things still didn't really make sense though, Jade couldn't think of anyone who'd be asking for her by name. That being as it was, however...

"Well, no objections really. If you can lead us to where they're gathered, we'll gladly follow. Beats the original plan of just, heading back to the wagon and hoping everyone else shows up in a timely manner. Right, Lavinia?"

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"Oh, uh, uhm... It's a-alright, Xalrei. I know we're all, uh, busy. With all that, just... H-Happened, it doesn't bother me." Taliyah smiled and flinched slightly at the petting, glancing around at the group. Most people seemed to be focusing on the wraith... "Sh-Should we see what's, going on over there...?" There seemed to be some sort of argument going on...


Freakishly? Lavinia ended up turning the faintest shade of red at the comment, surprised Jade thought so... Was she really so tall? Sure, definitely taller than other women of her 'age', but... "Hmm..." She didn't say much else as Jade helped her onto the nightmare, about to clarify her meaning for heading back, when Gabriela flew up to them with news. "A wraith?" Perhaps their culprit. If the magic had dulled and the monsters were vanishing, the wraith had either been exorcised completely, or removed of their power. If it was asking about a Jade, as well... It wasn't a common name, but, who could have died and... "Jade, you mentioned a Morwen, before. You don't think...?" It would be a stretch, but... It also wasn't impossible there was another Jade out there, that someone had lingering attachments to. "How odd..."

"Yes, this does beat the original plan. Let us be off. Feel free to fly ahead, Gabriela!" Lavinia held on tight, ready for Jade to thrash the reins and let DV go off running. "Also... Jade, am... I really, that tall...?" A meek, little question, despite the urgency of their situation.

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''Well, follow me! The others are just a short flight... or in your case, ride, away.'' Gabriela ascended and had her wings carry her over to the others, making sure the zombie and vampire, who appeared to be getting rather close, were still following her. ''Heeeey, Marina!'' She appeared to have gathered quite the audience. ''I brought Jade and Lavinia. They should be right behind me.''

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"Who knows what she's capable of if she was able to call upon those dragons!" Sollowy immediately shot back at the... Wait, what actually was he? Whatever, not important. Floating up to his height she glared at Ren, barely restraining herself from poking a finger into his chest. "First, I'm not some random elf! I'm a Gathlain, an envoy of Yggdrasil! An embodiement of her will!" To a certain degree... "And call me whatever you want. If she hadn't been stopped, this entire forest would be dead. Do you even know... No, of course you don't." He hadn't even known what a Gathlain was, there was no way he'd understand the damage this wraith had almost wrought. Damage that couldn't be afforded.

Rather than continue with the humans and whatever Ren was, they were clearly going to honor the wraith's wishes regardless of how she felt about, Sollowy turned towards the other party addressing her: Nessraya. "I'm Sollowy Yggdrasil. And I can only assume I'm here for the same reason you are. To stop the source of this ghastly fog. It's only natural to expect a Gathlain to show up when nature's threatened like this."

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"Bladen Eloy. I will remember that very well. Thanks," She bowed her head in respect of the fallen angel. What an interesting and humble individual. Taiyute found herself already very fond of this individual.

It was then he turned his attention to the crowd surrounding the Hero. And how he was going to seemingly finish off their foe. She quickly rushed to him, taking his shoulder. It was a firm grip, to keep him from moving, and potentially making a mistake.

"Hmm... Bladen, perhaps... there must be something why the Hero left that one alive, yes? She seems not like, someone who'd leave someone in suffering, no?" The yelling made it very clear that individuals were already having conflicting feelings on what was going on. There was enough troubling this party already it seemed. There was no need to stir the fire any more than it was already burning.

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"As long as you're sure it's fine..." Xalrei trailed off, retrieving her claw to fold her arms across her chest. Try as she might, she couldn't get over what Laselia had told her last night; the sight of the undead dragons hadn't done her any favors on that front. Asami had been there on that fateful night, had helped her escape with her life still intact. How had she known about it? It couldn't have been happenstance, not with this fox. If even Laselia hadn't been there to help her, Asami clearly had some knowledge that the Naga didn't. If Xalrei was ever to face the ugly side of herself, to prove to Laselia that she had the strength to continue, she needed to know whatever it was the fox knew. 

"You can if you want, Taliyah. I, need to do something." Xalrei claimed, giving Taliyah a nudge towards the group as she moved passed her. As far as Xalrei was concerned, the wraith was taken care of. Dead, dying, it made little difference. If anything, it was all the more excuse for her to slip away. With everyone occupied by the wraith, there'd be no one left to interrupt her and give Asami an easy out. With a glance back at Taliyah, and a somewhat forced reassuring nod, Xalrei began retracing her steps through the forest in search of the fox.

Mom.

Xalrei hurried out of the arena after Laselia, urgency propelling the dragoness forward. She feared that if she hesitated anymore, didn't find Laselia now, the Naga would slither into the shadows outside of her reach, never to be seen again. She couldn't let that happen, couldn't afford to make that mistake. She'd lost too much already. Fortunately for her, Laselia hadn't gotten far; she was still visible, still within her reach.

"Laselia, wait!" Xalrei cried out, her facade finally beginning to crack. There were no humans here, no one she needed to hide her weakness from. Just her mom. "Please, wait! Don't leave me!"

"Why?" immediately met Xalrei, Laselia not turning to face her, but at the least, bothering to stop. "You're right... I messed up. If Asami hadn't been passing by, you'd be dead... I have no right to act like I am, when I made the most grave mistake of all. I... I should go back to watching after you like I'd used to. Watching after you from afar. Making sure nothing gets close enough to hurt you again..."

Xalrei stopped dead in her tracks, so close and yet so far from Laselia, and slowly retracted her outstretched arm. A mess of emotions slammed into her all at once; the Asami info bomb had her reeling and her rage bubbling, eager for a new target. Laselia conceding that she was right only drove the icy blade of guilt deeper, chilling her to her core. Strongest of all, the thing that had stopped her in her tracks, was Laselia's initial question.

Xalrei hung her head, now staring at the ground, stunned at how such a simple question, a single word, could hurt. Why shouldn't Laselia leave her, after what she'd just done? Xalrei herself wouldn't put up with it, so why should anyone put up with her? Even still, Xalrei still wanted to selfishly cling to her mother. "Because... Because I need you here! Where I can see you! Where I can talk to you! Please. Don't go..." Though she tried to keep herself together, the though of losing Laselia was too much, her voice wavering and water collecting at the corners of her eyes.

Feeling sorry for yourself is just going to hurt her more. Laselia let silence hang for a moment, before slowly turning to face Xalrei, sitting on her tail. "Okay... I won't go, then." She wasn't exactly sure what Xalrei wanted of her... She was constantly shoving her affection away, and now, this... Did she even care? Or did she just want this crutch here for her? She didn't know... It was so hard to read Xalrei, even after these years.

No reaction. Deafening silence. That was what awaited the dragon. Even if it only lasted a moment, it felt so much longer; every second feeling as though a full minute had passed. With every minute-long-second, Xalrei could feel the dam that she had made of her emotions cracking, threatening to leave her a bawling mess in the streets of Aensbrook. By the time Laselia had turned to look at her, to acknowledge her, the water in her eyes had overflowed, streaking down her cheeks to fall to the ground below, and she had to fight against herself to not sniffle; her pride, despite everything, demanded she at least wait until they were properly alone.

"I... I'm sorry, Laselia." Somewhat hesitantly, Xalrei wrapped her arms around Laselia in an awkward hug, only made more so by the Naga's current height, and rested her chin on her shoulder. Despite the years of, to put it bluntly, rejecting Laselia's attempts to act as a mother figure, Xalrei was now finding comfort in her embrace, rather than annoyance. Was she greedily clinging to a constant in her life, or had she finally begun to accept the care that Laselia so desperately wanted to give her? All the dragon knew was that, right now, in this moment, she needed Laselia.

Laselia wasn't expecting Xalrei to start crying... Nor hug her. It was too much for her to ignore, her expression softening, and her body relaxing. She slowly hugged Xalrei back, tightly, not wanting to let her go. A frustration fell over her, that she'd let herself react so badly, but it had hurt so much to hear Xalrei accuse her... A part of her had just wanted to give up, Xalrei kept pushing her away. This acceptance was foreign, but wanted. She'd been waiting for hugs like this, for Xalrei to want to be near her, just... Not like this. Not because they'd upset each other. Not because they had a fight.

"... It's okay, hun. It's okay... I'm... I'm not going anywhere." She could only hold on tighter, hoping she wasn't hurting her, she just didn't want to let go. "I'm sorry, too... I... I just don't want you to hate me. Push me away... I know, I know I'm not your mother, but, I just... I want, so badly, to be able to care about you. If you don't want me, to be that person, please... Just, tell me now. I don't want to give up, but..."

A not insignificant part of Xalrei had feared that Laselia had finally had enough of her, that she was going to reject her just as she had done to the Naga in the past. To have Laselia still accept her, still want to care for her... Xalrei could only cry harder as Laselia returned her hug, overwhelmed between her relief and sorrow, no longer able to restrain herself. This, she realized, was what she had been wanting for. To be unconditionally accepted and cared for by another person, and, while she knew that applied to her father, he wasn't here.

As she was held even tighter still, she clung to Laselia in turn, holding her tighter, desperate for the comfort she was providing her. Still sniffling, despite trying to get herself under control, she answered Laselia. "I-I don't, hate you.  And... I-I want, you to care about me. I, want to be able... To talk to you..."

"Then... Talk. I'm here. We can talk... I'll listen, if you, just... Just open up to me. Tell me how you feel. What your problems are... I'm really good at listening, you know? Your dad gives me orders all the time. I'm a great listener..." Hopefully the little joke would be well timed, Xalrei was falling apart at the seems. Was she going to be okay, on this trip? If she was already this upset... Was there more to this?

"I... I..." Xalrei had said she wanted to talk, but this was so much harder than she thought it'd be. The memories she'd bottled up were playing out in mind as if she was witnessing them for the first time. The muffled voices, the clanking of armor, then the shouting, the fires, the screams and roars as her friends were slaughtered while she ran. Like a coward.

When she returned to the present,  Xalrei could feel herself trembling, fresh tears on her face as she held Laselia in a death grip. She took a moment to wipe at the tears flowing down her face, momentarily freeing Laselia from her vice-like grip. She tried to get get her sniffling and shaking under control, but was met with limited success. Wrapping her arms back around the Naga, Xalrei finally found it in herself to speak again, her voice quiet and subdued, more so than before. "I... It's, my fault. It's, all my fault..."

"All your..." Her friends. The entourage that had been with her. It... It was her fault, yes. She'd run off without a plan, got caught, and nearly died. Saying so wouldn't help, but... Laselia couldn't find it within herself to say it wasn't. "Don't run away from the pain," she tried instead. "Understand, that you made a mistake... Learn from it. Use that pain and anger, and channel it towards those who started this mess. Those who continue it. Ithraxl. The church. Asphodel... There are so many people causing problems in Xensat, right now. You have power, Xalrei. The power to make changes." Gently petting her hair, Laselia smiled a bit.

"It's hard right now, and you may be shaken... But you're strong. Tough. Powerful. You can change so much. With allies like these by your side, I wonder if you even know how much you can accomplish. Once you do... You'll understand how important you are." A kiss hit Xalrei's forehead, followed by a tight squeeze of a hug. "One day at a time. You can feel the hurt, learn from it, and move on... One day at a time."

"I, I know that I messed up!" Xalrei managed, anger the vehicle by which she would be heard. "I know that I can't just sit here, and feel sorry for myself!" She did, truly. Had Nala been here, Xalrei knew the ice newt would've told her much the same as Laselia had. Just, with a rougher vocabulary. But she wasn't here. None of her friends were, nor would they ever be. "I know it won't fix anything, but I can't just stop hating myself, either! They're dead! I'll never see them again!" It hurt more than she thought to say those words, as if she had cemented the finality of their deaths with them. 

It took the fuel right out her fire, Xalrei nearly going limp in Laselia's hug, barely holding onto her. "None of this is fair..." She hadn't even had time to grieve, immediately thrown into this mess with Ithraxl. "What does it matter if I'm strong or tough or whatever... I couldn't save them. I couldn't even save myself..." Aside from Nessraya for her sleep, Xalrei had refused to rely on any others in the group, bottling up anything and everything that would make her appear vulnerable. Now, with Laselia here, everything was being laid bare for the Naga to see. "I'm tired of being important. None of this would have happened if I was just some random dragon..."

It didn't feel like there was really a solution Laselia could offer for Xalrei. Her friends... Even if they had been assigned to her at the officers academy, the had all become true friends. They were dead, and gone. Laselia let the newt melt against her, curling her tail as much as she could to become a sort of seat, letting Xalrei rest. Hugging her, trying to think of... Anything.

"You... You can't, give up, Xalrei. You can't..." Where to drive this... Where do aim this? She could say something expected, 'your friends wouldn't want you to give up', but with the wound so deep, and not healing any time soon... That wouldn't work, would it? Xalrei liked to put on a strong front, but she was definitely fragile, on the inside. "If you were some random dragon, you'd be dead. Don't you dare say that's better... I'm still here. Rals is still here. Dorian is still here... You're not alone. I can't, fix your hurt, but... It's so much better that you're still alive, Xalrei. It really is." More than you know... But... Adding that, to this fire, wouldn't help her. Not know.

"Why? So dad doesn't burn down the continent? He should do it anyway, or at least something... The humans deserve it." Xalrei grumbled, resisting Laselia's answer, no matter how true it was. The mention of her father had certainly given her a suitable hook. How he could just stand back after what they'd done to their family and preach co-existence... She couldn't understand it. Marina was fine, for the most part, but she hardly counted and Agni... Was, well, Agni. Nothing she'd seen from him suggested that maybe she should re-evaluate her opinion on humans.

Xalrei put more of her weight on Laselia as the Naga curled her tail around her, sinking further into her embrace. A large part of her agreed with Laselia that she couldn't give up; she owed it to her friends to live on, as well as everyone Laselia had just listed, and do something with herself. That was currently the majority of her; however, the rest of her didn't. Why did should she get to live, when her friends didn't? Because of her name, the chance of her birth? That wasn't good enough for her, wasn't acceptable, and it was slowly eating away at the rest of her.

She felt so lost, pulled in so many different directions by herself. If she didn't give up, what then? What would it even mean to do right by her friends, now? By her father? By Laselia? By Dorian...? Kill Marina, save the Demon King? But Thesephine was safe as could be, and Marina was on their side, at least, for now... "What should I, do, then...? Tell me, please..." Not a hint of sarcasm in her voice, just an urgent plea. If Laselia couldn't steer her in the right direction, who here could? "I just, don't know what I should be doing..."

"I--" Tell her what to do? The guilty response of 'Come home with me and be safe' made Laselia feel gross inside. Xalrei was still fighting to be here and be free despite all that had happened to her, so taking that away would've been nothing but selfish. "Just... See this journey through to its end. See why your father acts how he does. There's a reason he doesn't just set it all on fire..." Even if it's complicated and... Sad. There's still reason, so please, grow like he has. "Use this time away from the safety of home to grow, please. There are so many people here who can help you see the world differently. Even the hero and her uppity little friend, though you might not believe me. 

Laselia squeezed Xalrei one last time and leaned back a bit, giving her a smile. "If... It ever gets to be too much for you, Dorian and I will be here. Not to take you back, not unless you want to... Just... To talk. I'm really happy right now, Xalrei. So... Thank you. And please, keep being strong." Laselia could only hope the dragon knew why she called her strong, but giving her this answer wouldn't help things. She'd have to feel it for herself.

"So, I should just... Do what I've, been doing...?" It felt like a joke, to have felt so lost and confused when she already had the answer within her grasp. Xalrei couldn't help but wonder if it truly was the right answer for her if she was unable to see it. Or maybe that was just the part of her that wanted to give up. She was tired, and it was getting harder to distinguish the mess of feelings and emotions inside of her. "The others, and Marina, maybe..." She mumbled, still partially resisting Laselia's advice. "All 'her friend' is good for is his magic, if that..." 

"Thank you..." Was all Xalrei mustered as Laselia promised to remain by her side. Was she strong, though? Physically, yes, by definition; however, Xalrei knew that wasn't what the Naga meant. Time would tell if she was as strong as Laselia thought she was. Unmelting slightly, the dragoness turned her head to the side, sheepishly avoiding Laselia's gaze. "Can I... Sleep with you, tonight...?" A childish request, but, one she felt she needed to make.

"Heh-- Hahah! Ahh, hah... You're so cute, Xalrei. Sure. I won't leave you alone, tonight. Hopefully it'll help you sleep." At least she'd found a direction to keep walking in. Whether it would work out would be up to Xalrei, but Laselia would pick her up if she needed to, and take her home if she needed further. All she could do now was make sure the girl was alright. "Come on... No more thinking about things. You need your rest, Xalrei."

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Bladen initially resisted the halting hand on his shoulder, but eventually, his shoulders slumped, and he let his sword slide back into the sheath. It wasn't his place, wasn't his call. He was not the one in charge of this and if the Hero wanted to let an enemy suffer for some reason, Tai was right, she probably had some reason. "Ugh. I should have left this group when I had the chance..." He didn't mean it. Not really. But the Hero was just such a confusing mess of a being that he didn't know what to think about her. And the rest of their group wasn't exactly straightforward either. But still. He liked most of the group and he was being given plenty of experiences, both good and bad, he would have never had otherwise. He sighed and sat down on the ground staring at the group surrounding the wraith. "If things don't change soon, I will end this. But for now, you're right. It's not my place to interfere."

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"For an undead myself, I have to confess to knowing very little about some of the others. What exactly are wraiths, who can become one? I couldn't tell you that if you put a gun to my head." The merchant wasn't surprised, or concerned, or afraid, when Lavinia raised the proposition that Morwen might be involved. Mostly just confused. It was as good a speculation as any, though, because there were honestly no other convincing reasons someone would be calling for her. There were so many questions though. "If it was her... why wait? Why now, not years ago? Why here, not closer to the border? None of this makes any sense, there's probably some other Jade out there this wraith was hunting."

Gabriela didn't weigh in on the matter, which only makes sense. The zombie couldn't remember having ever mentioned her past to any of the others, and she couldn't even recall how much detail she'd gone into it when talking with the vampire, on one of their sleepless nights, or while passing some boring time in the wagon as they moved from point A to point B. If when the pair finally arrived to where they were being led, even if the wraith was Morwen, Jade couldn't imagine any scenario where Lavinia didn't have to immediately turn to her for confirmation. Certainly she wouldn't go jumping up and down saying, 'Aha, I told you!'

As DV kicked off, working up to a canter, and following along behind the siren as best they could, bound to land and not free in flight, a final, unrelated question fought the wind of their passage, scarcely making its way to her ears. Wait, seriously?

Jade fought back a goofy smile as best she could, even though seated as she was behind her Lavinia wouldn't see it either way? "Weeeell..." she drew out her reply a little, keeping her on edge. "You are quite tall. But I did overspeak on that. Don't worry. Someone once told me, 'You're only as freaky as you feel.' I think that's pretty good advice, don't you?"

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As she twirls her parasol lightly in her hands, Bridgit simply observes the commotion about the wraith with well hidden disdain.  She has half a mind to just Shade the soon to be corpse, but one look at the General makes her bite down on that desire.  With a petulant huff she looks away, none of this her business now as she patiently waits for Lavinia to return.

"Nessa...has she been well?" the Pureblood asks softly, still standing next to the succubus but somewhat hiding herself behind the other to block out unwanted attention.  Lavinia being the obvious "she" that is mentioned, Bridgit waits for the other's answer with a pensive look.


Not helping the soft color on his pale expression when the siren winks back at him, Ren simply waves back with a ditzy smile before focusing on one more person he needs to check up on.

While his cousin was of a sturdier build, he knew her better than most.  Making his way towards her discreetly, he manages to place a hand over her shoulder and squeezes in reassurance.  "Quite the battle, hm?" he asks, his tone on the surface playful and light...

Are you alright? is left unspoken, but his eyes have a way to convey the question as he looks back at Ayane.

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"H-Huh? Xalrei! Where are you going?" The lizard had almost started to follow after her, but some indecision stopped her. Was she close enough to pry into Xalrei's personal business? No way, right? They'd only known each other for a little bit now. Tali retreated back towards the main group, letting Xalrei off to deal with her business. She crept up to the situation with the wraith, peeking between people to get a better look.


"Whoa," Asami flinched a bit, as Jade's horse galloped past her. "I guess they've got somewhere to be... Hahhhh, just a bit more walking, then~ My poor feet, I'm going to need SUCH a rest later... You undead don't know how well you have it, do you?"

"Huh?" Aithlin didn't quite get what she meant.

"You never get tired. Sure, you can work your body to breaking, but... What I'd give for walking not driving my soles insane~"


Lavinia put Jade's comment on how one was supposed to judge their level of freak and focused on something she knew much better. "Wraiths form from unresolved things in life. Depending on how strong the feelings are, they can simply form as ghosts, but that also depends on the magic in the area. Some wander about until the magic gives up on them, and they simply pass on. Some are able to gain a physical form, materializing as ours seems to have done. As for why it may have taken so long... Regrets can burn and boil for a long time. Perhaps her soul wandered, and, here in these woods, found these ruins. It would certainly have provided enough of a conduit for an already powerful spirit..." There was still a lot that wasn't quite understood about wraiths, but generally, spirits full of regrets could cause problems from time to time. This was certainly a powerful regret, though...

That said, Lavinia had gone back to Jade's final comments, stuck on them until-- "And, well, I don't feel like much of a freak! I suppose... I've never given it much thought." Lavinia was stuck in her own mind now, wondering if she did anything truly worth classing her as a 'freak', whatever that entailed... She'd thought long enough to see the group start coming into view, snapping from thoughts that were devolving into 'was sucking blood something truly freaky'.

"There they are. Going to let you lead from here, Jade. If this spirit is after you... Best to let you do the talking." Not like Lavinia would be able to tell if they were looking for this Jade in particular. Only a meeting would tell.

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Xalrei resisted the urge to answer Taliyah as she called after her, continuing on by her lonesome. She didn't hear any footsteps running towards her, which was good. Friend as she was, this wasn't something Xalrei wanted Taliyah to be with her for; this whole issue was a little too personal for that. Asami would probably find a way to deflect attention onto the lizardgirl when it mattered most, too. It was better that she handled this alone. Then maybe she'd let herself open up around the others more...

Stalking her way back through the forest, the dragoness had plenty of time to reflect on her most recent actions. Namely, how she'd dealt with a certain human. As much as it pained her to admit, Agni had pulled his fair share of weight; even if he had to steal Requiem to do it. She, should probably, at least, acknowledge that, maybe... Sighing, she shook her head. Even admitting it to herself was difficult; saying it to Agni's face wouldn't be any easier. Especially if he's got a dumb smirk on his face... Another head shake. This was something to focus on later for sure. After the fox. After she had her answers.

Said fox was finally in sight now, too. With, someone Xalrei had never seen before? Approaching the duo, Xalrei couldn't help but feel almost like a bandit accosting travelers with the way she was moving through the trees. Stepping out in front of her theoretical targets, Xalrei did her best to look tall and give off a vaguely confident aura, a slight scowl evident on her face. With Asami she had the tall part down pat, at least. The only problem was the everything else. She hadn't expected a tag-along, and what she'd told herself she was going to say had flown right out of her head now that she was in the moment and there was an extra variable. "...You're going to tell me what you know about me, Asami." Was the the demand that came out of her mouth after a slight pause.

Edited by Ursali

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Oh, great. Another problem. Asami sighed heavily as Xalrei came out of the trees. Which idiot had filled her in? A scowl met the dragon, as Aithlin awkwardly glanced between the two of them.

"Uh... Should, I uh...?" What a suddenly serious situation. Asami wasn't readying any magic, or trying to hid behind the armored elf. This dragon was probably someone that she knew, then. "I can go if you need me to. Or stay if you--"

"Why would I need you to go, Aithlin?" Asami suddenly smiled, shrugged, and shook her head. "I don't have to say anything, right now." With a flip of her hair, Asami confidently walked past Xalrei and kept heading towards the group. You don't get to order me around, princess. Not because you've got a clue to who you are, not right now, not after all of this nonsense. Hmph!

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"Yes, you do!" Xalrei growled at Asami as the flippant fox passed her by, a full glare on her face. Before Xalrei had even thought about what she was doing, her claw had reached out and harshly grabbed Asami by the shoulder. She wasn't going to let the fox slip away, especially not with an exit like that! Asami would tell her what she wanted know, or-- Or what?  Xalrei suddenly paused as she heard what she was starting to say. Struck by the realization, her grip on Asami loosened a bit. Since when has getting mad and acting impulsively worked out, huh? You're in this mess because of it, you almost lost Laselia because of it... Think. How is this going to work out?


After a moment, Xalrei completely released Asami from her grip. She had come to the conclusion that Asami would get pissed, and poof away. And probably refuse to tell her anything on principle well after the fact. Swallowing her pride, she bowed her head to the fox. "I... I'm sorry. Can we just, start this over, please? I just want to know why you were there to save me. How did you know where I'd be, or that I'd need help? I'm Zreiya's problem, not Vaia's..." 

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Asami had attempted to wrench her shoulder away from Xalrei, surprised by the girl's grip and strength. Am I really going to waste my magic on this newt's stubbornness--

Surprisingly, Xalrei let go... And bowed her head. Asami sighed, heavily, growling a bit. "Aithlin. Go on ahead. I'll... Humor, her."

"Uhh, ahh... Y-Yes ma'am Asami ma'am." Aithlin didn't really want to get stuck between this dragon and the fox's problems, quickly heading past the two of them. Not getting into any more trouble today.

"Alright, then... You want to know? I was simply in the area. I saw Ralsvelgr's favorite little girl getting attacked by unknown forces, so I stepped in to make sure you lived. What exactly do you think would happen if you died, hmm? There wouldn't be a continent left after he was finished with it. Are you satisfied?"

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That was the answer Xalrei had expected from the fox. The answer that she didn't believe in the slightest. It was too much of a coincidence that Asami would have randomly been out there the night she had made her biggest mistake to date. One that somehow someone else must've known about, if she'd been attacked. Crossing her arms, she gave Asami an appraising look. "No, I'm not. No one knew what I was going to do, or where I'd go exactly. Not even Laselia. You have to had known something if you were out there when the Hero was so close to the Demon King..."

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"So, you don't believe me. Why should I care?" Asami scoffed, Xalrei's doubt not worth much in her mind. "I was there and I saved you. Shouldn't you be more grateful? I could've not been there, and you'd be dead. And then we'd all be dead. Now, I have better things to do than indulge in your suspicions, yes? I'm sure mommy dearest can clear anything else up for you." Satisfied in her deflections, Asami turned to leave again, smiling and humming.

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