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

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She'd deflected instead of answering... So she does know something... As she turned to leave again Xalrei wasn't letting her go that easily, still not done yet. Rather than grab her again and risk a disappearing act, she followed after her, keeping pace along side her. "If all I'm good for is keeping my father from rampaging then maybe I'd rather be dead!" She answered with an indignant huff. First Lavinia, then Laselia, now Asami... All of them had said the same thing nearly word for word. She was getting sick of hearing it!

Already riled up again, something about the way Asami phrased her comment rubbed Xalrei the wrong way. With a quick step, Xalrei was in front of the fox, a snarl on her lips as she glared down at Asami. By some miracle she hadn't grabbed at her yet. "Laselia is my mother. My mom is dead. I didn't even get to meet her! But I bet you knew that, too! Who the Hel do you think you are!?"

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"And who do you think you are!? Go and die for all that I care! Some ungrateful little bitch that you are, honestly, why did I bother? You'd think you'd simply say 'thank you miss Asami for making sure I got to see tomorrow', but NO! You're just going to harass me for things you aren't ready to hear yet! Leave me alone!" Asami shoved past her this time, angry steps, heading towards the group. "Stop bothering me! I'm not answering your questions because you're too stubborn to wait!"

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Listening to Lavinia's mini-lecture was... nice. Jade wished she could just, lean back against her and pay full attention, but, sadly, riding a horse needed more attention than that. Doubly so when said horse was of a breed that could sprout and snort fire, if startled. Still, she nodded, and made some active listener grunting noises in between keeping track of where Gabriela was flying, and steering appropriately.

The zombie decided against dignifying the vampire's continued worries about her height with another reply. Was probably just a brain worm at this point. Not literally, of course, the knight had better hygiene than that. But if the issue was still eating away at her tonight, she'd apologize sincerely. Until then, continuing to legitimize it by engaging in speculation felt like the wrong play. Luckily for Jade, Lavinia had only circled back around to it--at least, out loud--right as the rest of the crew were coming into sight. If anything was ample excuse to put such triviality behind them, this was it.

Shouting out first, to signal their arrival, Jade called to the Hero, as her steed slowed down on the approach. They were still probably going to overshoot a little bit, and have to walk it back after dismounting, but sometimes that just comes with the territory. "I was told you were seeking me, specifically, Marina?" Then, after DV had fully come to a stop, she gave the Lavinia a light slap on her cuisse before swinging down. The looking back up at her passenger, she inquired, "Need help getting down? Or are you good?"

Edited by Balcerzak

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The Gathlain, as she referred to herself had backed off from the wraith. Good, she didn't have to put up with that. She wasn't ready for an argument with someone; she was exhausted and her head still hurt. She kept to the wraith's side, watching her intently and despite everything, she could feel her hand still on her sword. Ren backed away over to Ayane, so it left her and Agni with the wraith. A sigh left her lips.

A voice caught her attention. It was Jade's voice. Finally... "That's her, I'll go get her for you," She softly spoke to the wraith, "Hold on just a little bit okay?" She stood up and made her way over to Jade and Lavinia riding atop... DV, as Marina recalled Jade calling her nightmare. A bow of the head in greeting, "Yeah, um... this wraith is asking for you. I didn't know what to do, but... I hope you knew something."


Taiyute simply replied to Bladen's first comment with a pat on the shoulder. It was an unfortunate time for all of them, considering the circumstances. Even Tai herself, despite her realm not having any issue at the moment.

"No worry Bladen," She spoke, calmly. "I have assurance, everything will be fine enough soon." There wasn't much she could really say yet, this was barely her first day along with this crew, and it did seem from first glance it was quite... a mess, for a lack of better term.

"Unfortunately, the problem will be the waiting. I hate the waiting."

Edited by Silver Gallade

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"What the fuck did you just say to me!?" If Xalrei wasn't so enraged by what she'd just heard she'd have been stunned. Instead, she was hot on Asami's heels and then quickly in front of her again. This time the fox was not free from her grasp, Xalrei roughly grabbing her kimono and hoisting Asami up to eye level. "You have one fucking second to take back what you just said! Or I'll... I'll...!" Xalrei didn't know what she was going to do to the fox, didn't have any real plan either, but she was angry enough that it didn't matter. For, unbeknownst to Xalrei, what she was going to do to Asami was already in motion.

As soon as she'd grabbed the kitsune, Xalrei's eyes had begun to glow. Vivid pink 'flames' emerged from her eyes and slowly spread across Xalrei's face as she continued to glare death the captive kitsune. Asami seemed to have realized what was happening, her arm raised in between her and Xalrei's faces. Unfortunately that only seemed to have stoked the flames, Xalrei growling out more demands. "Look at me when I'm talking to yo--" However, before the dragonewt could even finish, the building flames flashed and Asami's arm--

Xalrei blinked, unwilling to believe what she'd just seen. Asami's arm had been... No, how could that have... Only grim reality awaited her when she opened her eyes again. Asami's arm had been turned to stone. She rapidly glanced between the fox and her arm, doubt and panic racing through her mind. How!? I'm a dragon, dammit. I can't do that! A desperate, accusatory cry escaped her lips. "What the fuck did you do to me!?" 

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"Xalrei, put me down-- Don't-- Ahhh!" Asami cried out as the magic was unleashed, arm coated in sudden stone. "You... You, idiot! You absolute moron! Look what you've done-- What did I do you YOU? What did you do to me!?" An angry whimper left the fox, glad it had just been her arm that had suffered the situation. "Fine! FINE!" Picking herself up and sniffling back tears-- having a part of you turned to stone hurt! --she glared knives into Xalrei.

"You're not Xalrei Idreis! Are you satisfied!? Are you bloody satisfied!?" Another angry grunt, her arm wasn't going to be unpetrified without actual attention. Nessraya would see to this or she'd throw a damned fit! "Your name is Tundyssa Adozosi, you're Thesephine's sister, your father was the late demon king, your mother that you never met was his wife, Helvena! You want to know why you can do what you just did!? Your father was a gorgon! You're not even all dragon! How pathetic is that!?" Trying to fight back as best she could, Asami sneered and stepped away from her, slowly walking past her.

"Now leave me alone! Go ask Laselia! You wanted to know this badly, now you know! No Hess damned point in keeping it secret after that childish display... Rrrhhhgh! Damn you, 'Xalrei'!" With a wounded and more than upset look in her eye, she tried to move on. Whatever questions Xalrei had left, she didn't care. If it got her completely stoned because the girl couldn't control herself, she wasn't giving her any more than this. "This is why I hate dealing with this damned family..."


Lavinia slowly got off of DV after Jade, following after her and trying to keep an eye on--

"Jaaaade...? Jaaaade! JAAADE!" The desperate moans of the wraith become louder and louder, having spotted the zombie! "My perfect creation! My best, creation! JAAAAAADE!"

Her body crumbled as she desperately tried to crawl towards the zombie, collapsing into dust... As her spirit burst forth and flew into Jade!

"Jade!?" Lavinia was on her immediately, hands on her shoulders, checking her, trying to see that everything was alright... But not a moment later, the now ghost had left her again, smiling down at her from the air just above. "Begone, spirit!"

"Jade... You are almost perfect. I have done what I can~ It is... Delightful, to see you so healthy and put together. Ahhh..." It appeared she was going to fade. Physically, Jade seemed fine. Whether or not she was...

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Bladen was close enough to the group surrounding their fallen enemy to see what played out as their zombie... companion arrived and no matter his feelings on her, he couldn't help the anger at what happened. "Dammit! That's why... That's why you don't leave an enemy alive, dammit! Either they're dangerous or suffering, and in this case it's sure looking more like the dangerous one. Maybe the Hero will finally learn something from all of this!"

The zombie seemed fine, but there was no way to know. Not really. The wraith was a magic user, there's no telling what she had done in the few seconds that her ghost had inhabited the zombie's body. Even if things turned out fine, there was absolutely no way the Hero could have known that. She really was just an ignorant child, wasn't she? Why did he bother to stick around with her as a leader...

Edited by scorri

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"Who's to say she wouldn't do the same thing when killed?!" Ren suddenly snaps at Bladen as his eyes narrow.  "No need to take out your frustrations on the Hero;  how would you feel if someone went after you for a mistake you've made?" 

How can no one see the stress they put Marina in by just complaining and reprimanding her?  There are ways to discipline and educate someone, but this was not one of them.  Damn it all, even Ayane and himself knew of this...

Were things just that different on this side of the world?

"Either way, what's done is done.  More use in warning her so it doesn't happen again, instead of getting angry at the poor girl."

"Unfortunately, we can't help but to agree with him."

His head whips to the side, eyes widening at the Pureblood who simply looks on with a cold expression.

"No use in making her feel even more useless; it's better to just focus on the emergency at hand, which is figure out what has happened to Jade," Bridgit responds in a meticulous manner, moving away from Nessa and going over to Lavinia and Jade with a worrying expression.

"Do you see any difference dear sister?  Does your friend feel strange or..." and the others can see her whole persona change, genuine worry marring her delicate features as she hovers around the two ladies.  

Ren just sighs, looking on with indifference.  Quite the mother hen that one...for those she cares about.  Which he could relate to, looking over at Ayane respectfully.

 

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With the shock from the current situation, Asami's info bomb on top of it all stunned Xalrei into silence. At least, long enough for the fox to finish her rant and begin to move past her. "You're lying! That can't be true!" Was the dragonewt's immediate cry. "Why would they lie to me all these years!? Why not just tell me!? My father wouldn't do that!" Although she was screaming her denial at the fox, Xalrei was making no move to impede her retreat. Deny it as she might, Asami's words had shaken Xalrei to her core. The truth, as much as she didn't want to believe it, was right in front of her. No full-blooded dragon could turn someone to stone with nothing other than their own power.

Was everything she knew just a lie, then!? If Ralsvelgr wasn't really her father then who even was he? Some dragon who'd taken her in after the previous hero slaughtered her family? But then why did he care so much? Xalrei had come for answers and was being left with more questions. Growling, Xalrei turned away from Asami, stomping deeper into the forest. The kitsune had been spared from the coming storm, even if she hadn't gotten away entirely unscathed.

"Laselia! I know you're watching! Come out!" Xalrei demanded, scanning the trees for any sign of the Naga.

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Gabriela sighed as she watched the wraith become deranged and seemed to attack Jade. She didn't expect the wraith to vanish into thin air though. Lavinia clearly didn't either as she was at Jade's side immediately. Those two clearly love one another. It was a moving sight. Some noise and infighting was unfortunately, inevitable.

''Bladen, shut up! You can blame Marina all you want, but it's not like you did anything about it, right? You could have killed the wraith too. Your attempt in putting the blame on the Hero falls flat.'' Really, how was Marina supposed to know the wraith would get violent anyway? The wraith clearly seemed to have something to do with Jade, and the siren's curiosity was slowly getting the better of her.

''I am curious though. What did that weird thing mean by 'creation?' Who are you really, Jade? And do you know who that wraith was?'' Jade probably couldn't even hear her, but asking wouldn't hurt anyone, perhaps someone else knew the answer? Gabriela turned to stare at Lavinia. ''Do you have any idea? Aren't you curious about who just attacked your girlfriend?''

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"Hmm... I knew it was an odd occurrence, but for even the Gathlain to get involved... I suppose it may have been more dire than I had initially surmised..." Nessraya pondered for a moment, floating in place as Bridget questioned her further, the General taking a moment to pat the young vampire on the shoulder.

"She has been well, insofar as I am aware. She seems to be getting along quite well with Jade, and has yet to come to me with any grievances." She answered, although speaking of Jade, the time for small talk seemed to have left almost as briskly as it had begun, with the wraith immediately gunning for Jade as soon as the merchant crested the treeline and dismounted... it seemed that this was indeed the same one the wraith had been asking after.

She had been too quick to really do much of anything about, but... the spirit's brief entrance into Jade's physical form didn't appear to have caused any outward damage. Lavinia was already asking after her condition, so it seemed the best course of action was to approach, ready to assist if needed. The wraith, at the very least, seemed sated from the short meeting, but they would have to keep close watch for anymore tricks.

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A wailing call of 'Jaaaade! JAAAADE!' quickly displaced the zombie's attention from her 'mare and passenger, and even from the hero who'd apologetically come to explain the reason she'd been called. Twisting around to face the voice, it finally struck her just how much she had never expected to see the old gathlain's weathered face again. And even though Lavinia had just been raising it as a possibility, it had still seemed so impossible, so unthinkable that she hadn't even been close to mentally ready.

"I never meant for you to die," Jade began defensively, though that fact would have been clearly obvious even without her saying it. She'd been nowhere near, there was no realistic way for her to have had any connection to the men... yet when confronted with an spirit from beyond the grave of unsure intentions, presumably angry, it felt like the first and most important thing to lay out on the line. "I'd never seen those men before, it'd been months since I'd seen anyone. One tried to kill me too! When I finally made it to you it was too late..." Sure she'd alternated between hate and feeling indebted to the hag, to the witch who'd caught her up in stopped time, bound her up in unlife. But not like that. Even the occasions when she'd fantasized about her dying, daydreamt an early end to the period of servitude, yearned for being set free, she'd never wished it happen like that.

Jade had been about to continue with how she'd buried her respectfully, or whatever other appeasing words might have come to mind when the wraith's desperate moans changed to triumphant crows about her 'perfect creation'. And if that hadn't been enough to stop her, the fallen fey discorporating, shooting spectrally across the space separating them, and sinking into the merchant's body... well that certainly would have shut her up in seconds.

What... was this? Spinning slowly, looking for where the spirit had gone, not finding her, was quite a disquieting experience. Hearing the voice from above finally reminded her that flight dealt in three dimensions. By this time, Lavinia was now by her side, hands on her shoulders, stancing protectively. Combined with what now seemed obvious, that the wraith had no intention of harming her, Jade's concerns had faded into bemused acceptance.

"What are you up to, Morwen? Is this another one of your tests?" She called up after the departing spirit, a twisted, suffering smile sliding across her lips. She didn't expect a real reply: a riddle at the best. But given the current aspect of the ghost? Probably just disappearance amidst haunting laughter. And of course, with everything that had just happened, even if a reply was in the cards, a calm continuing conversation would be impossible. The rest of the group was already bombarding her with questions. The small vampire, of some connection to Lavinia, had quickly swept up close, clearly more concerned about her 'sister' than Jade herself, not even addressing her directly as she aired her concerns. Still...

"I don't... feel, any different," Jade conceded, a bit of worried frown transforming her features as she closed her eyes and tried to sense any change. Gabriela's questions were a bit more accusatory, and a small flash of fire came to her eyes, disliking the insinuation, however reasonable it may have seemed in the circumstance. She managed to quiet her momentary anger quick enough, though, giving the following grumbling answer. "I'm Jade. The zombie merchant. I had been Jade, the human merchant, and but for Morwen there I would now be Jade, the decomposing corpse. No... just bleached bones by this point, I'd have to think. Any other questions?" She ended the explanation with a bit of a sneer, not entirely happy with how this was all turning out.

Edited by Balcerzak

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As Asami limped off and Xalrei was once again left with being alone, a call for Laselia was made... And despite a moment's silence in response, the naga did slither out from behind a tree, a troubled expression on her face, staring at Xalrei. "You... You really shouldn't have pushed her for all that. Not right now. Not this early... Not... Ugh..."

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Suddenly the wraith jumped at Jade. Marina wasn't fast enough to stop what had happened, but... she seemed to enter and leave. Just like that. Whatever occur--

And then just as suddenly, more yelling, this time, something actually insulting. From Bladen. She was right there, she could hear. Why could he not address it directly to her as opposed to the actual dismissive comment he just made? It wouldn't have angered her so bad if not for how he decided to express it. And more yelling, but a bit more of Ren standing up for her. Then followed Bridgit, who also stood up for her (sorta), but a comment in particular that just infuriated her more:

No use in making her feel even more useless.

Useless? Who the hell even are you?! Marina oh so desperately wanted to call her out, her fist balled, her body temperature spiking just from pure rage. But she couldn't. Not because it was the better thing to not do, but because Lavinia would probably chastise her for not being herself.

Gabriela then also called out Bladen, which Marina did at least appreciate a tiny bit, but the yelling only made her headache that much worse.

And with all this random crap that's gone on, nothing seemed to be wrong with Jade. All of this was literally for nothing. No, it wasn't just nothing. It'll be another talking to.

Oh Marina. We want you to be you, but you can't do this. You can't do that, and Marina wasn't in the mood for a lecture like this today. Not while she felt like she was ready to strike out at someone.

A look at Lavinia, one unfortunately showing how drained and angry she looked, "I'm going back to the wagon. If there's anything important that I need to be informed of, just let me know." She spoke, a clear bitterness to it. Not towards Lavinia directly, it was unfortunate she was the first one who had to witness Marina fighting all the negative emotions going through her head.

As she walked, she happened to be in the direction of Bladen. This time, there was at least one person she wasn't gonna let walk away. She looked at him, directly, and spoke soft enough between the two.

"It must be really nice. Standing where you are, not having any responsibilities, looking down on me, who has to be held responsible for everything I helped do and more." There was no emotion in her voice, she was drained by today. "Do me a favor, next time you have an issue regarding my actions, say it to my face. Or just go back to silently judging every move I make, cause that seems to be what you're best at. Don't think I don't notice it. If it bothers you that I want to be better, to show a bit of mercy to my enemies if I can, then deal with it." And that was all she needed. She walked away without another word.

She had better things to do. She had to check on her jacket and shirt. She had a sewing kit in her pack, she'll take some time to-- suddenly, a near trip on the ground. It only annoyed her more. A helmet, probably left over from one of the skeletons. An angry roar, and she punted it, clean into the wall several feet from her. Then she started moving faster, not noticing how she had kicked it so hard it lodged itself into said wall.


While she was not going to respond to the oni's retort on Bladen's actions, it was what the siren had spoken that caught her mind,

"Miss Siren, Bladen's non-action was my intrusion. I had stopped him. It was not his move to make." But of course, he still wanted to mouth off in regards to it. It was quite clear he shouldn't have. It didn't seem like anything was wrong with this Jade, even she didn't feel anything of notice.

The Hero approached Bladen, and once she started speaking, Taiyute backed away, not wanting to intrude on what Marina had to say. However, it was clear it was nothing good. And she couldn't help but wince at Marina's display as her frustrations skyrocketed, luckily not on anyone, but a helment and a wall.

And now, the only one next to Bladen, there wasn't anything Taiyute needed to say in regards to what he had done. However, she did serve a firm open palm into the back of his head.

{Bloody damned fool.} Was all that flew from her lips in response. She felt no need to translate herself, there was no need.

Edited by Silver Gallade

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Whoops, apparently he had been speaking just a tad too loud. Just enough that the others could hear him and respond. And respond they did. He couldn't help but roll his eyes at Ren and the new vampire who had showed up. There was no sense in arguing with them. Sometimes calling someone out on their poor choices was the right move, but since they didn't agree, it wasn't worth fighting over. He couldn't help but scowl at Gaby though. He had intended to do something about it, but he'd been stopped by Tai and if she hadn't stopped him, he knew the others would have. Tai had interjected, but he couldn't help but add in his comments. "Her doing something dangerous wasn't even all of it. Either you're leaving someone to slowly die a painful death, or you're leaving a dangerous enemy alive! Either way, giving the killing blow is justified. And I would have, if I hadn't been stopped."

And then came Marina. With her whispered lecture, standing there, seemingly emotionless, but he knew there was hidden anger. Acting like she was the only one with a burden, acting like she knew everything about him. Well so be it. He glared right back at her, with only a short whisper back, just loud enough for her to hear it as she started to walk away from him. "Don't act like that was mercy for her. It was to make yourself feel better about what you did here. Maybe you got lucky today with nothing bad happening, but you had no idea that it would end well. Just as you'll have no way of knowing the next time you risk your companions lives. But if you want me gone, just say the word, Hero."

He turned away from the group, intending to put some distance between him and the others who seemingly could not understand the concept of a merciful death when he was suddenly smacked hard across the back of his head. He couldn't help it as he turned to see one of the few people he'd seemingly been getting along with, standing there, words he couldn't understand getting tossed at him. Emotions; grief, pain, anger, hurt, all started to well up inside of him, the dam he had so painstakingly constructed starting to crack, as tears began to well up in the corner of his eyes, not from the pain of the smack, but from the shock and the emotions he was starting to lose control of. "... Fine. Good to know where we stand I guess." He couldn't take it anymore. Wings unfurled, battering Tai with air as he jumped into the skies, trying to put some distance between himself and the others as all the pent up emotions finally started to escape the box he had locked them in deep inside his heart.

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As Laselia came into sight, Xalrei grit her teeth, clenched her fists, and glared daggers at her mother figure; the dragonewt was on the verge of another explosion of anger. Silence fell over the pair as Xalrei processed her words. She's not denying it. It's true. It's all true... As she continued to stare at the Naga, Xalrei's features slowly began to soften. Her glare lessened to a stare, her teeth unclenched, and she unballed her fists. She didn't want another fight with Laselia. She didn't want to be left alone with the doubts Asami's words had brought to her head.

Eyes cast on the ground, Xalrei finally spoke. "Why didn't anyone tell me? Tell me who I was...?" Her tone wasn't accusatory, or even aggressive. Just confused, vulnerable, and tired. "Who am I, Laselia? I thought I was Xalrei Idreis, daughter of Ralsvelgr, but I wasn't even right about that. Father isn't even my real father... I didn't get to meet him either." Try as she might, Xalrei couldn't even find it in herself to get mad and curse the humans for taking yet another thing from her. Not right now. "How am I supposed to be strong if I don't even know who I am?"

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"Xalrei," the naga spoke, coming close enough to gently raise the girl's head, "you're still you. Listen to me, please." She opted not to hug her, the newt's emotions were likely running rampant enough already, she didn't need another source of attention. "What makes you 'you', is not your name, or who your parents were. It's everything you've gone through up to this point, alright? This isn't the place to really... Be discussing this, but I suppose it's safe enough, given how dangerous this area was." Highly unlikely that anyone else but Dorian would be listening in, at this point, and whatever magic was still in the air could disrupt any scrying well enough.

"Please. Keep in mind that everything you've gone through as Xalrei is what matters. And it's not like Rals isn't family. He's not your father... He's, your grandfather." That was probably a good place to start, hoping it would ground Xalrei. He wasn't some stranger, some friend of the family, he was still her blood, just, one extra generation. "Your father was... As Asami said, Tharasonis. The last, demon king. You were... How do I even begin." Laselia sighed and placed a hand on her face, looking away for just a moment.

"You were a baby, the night the hero attacked the castle. Your father and mother went to fight off their forces, and they won... At the cost, of their lives. Your sister, Thesephine--" She suddenly paused, and smiled. "Yes, that's a good thing, isn't it? You have a sister. You've already met her, in fact... Focus on the positives, right?" A small clearing of her throat, Laselia didn't want to keep this brief, but she couldn't explain every detail. "You were a baby. Thesephine's life was already at stake, from the church's forces and assassins... We had to keep you as safe as we could. Ralsvelgr took you in as his daughter, gave you your name, raised you to be his successor... We... We were going to tell you, but then this business with another hero started up again, and... It just... It wasn't, what you needed. You're already struggling so much." Laselia couldn't help herself, gently bringing a hand to Xalrei's face and caressing her cheek.

"I'll answer anything else you want, but only when we get to a proper place of rest. Promise me two things, okay, Xalrei? You... You can't tell anyone else here about this, until we get back to the castle. Until you can meet Thesephine face to face again, alright? And two... Promise me you'll still love Ralsvelgr. He may not be your father... But you are, his daughter. He raised you with so much love and care, you, were all he had left after that night. He truly loves you. I do too... Even if I'm not your real mother, even if I never was, I'm still here for you. You are still you."


Asami was still dragging her damaged arm back towards where the group should have been, when--

"Oh no." She looked down, spotting a crack. A look of terror spread across her face, as she gulped hard, and stopped. "Oh, nooo nonono, I like this arm! Uh... H-Help!?" It didn't seem like anyone was nearby... "I shouldn't have send Aithlin off, Hess dammit, ugh! Uhh..." Perhaps lucky of her, perhaps lucky of him, a black shadow in the sky with a gentle red dot attached brought a whimper of a smile to her face. "Bladennnnn! Heeeeelp!"


What a right and true mess this had become. The spirit breathed the words, "My magic is a part of you, now," and disappeared with a cackle... Jade had said she felt alright, but, what magic? All of this? Something else? Now accusations were being thrown about, questioning Jade, Marina, Taiyute had even struck--

"ENOUGH!"

Lavinia erupted above the din of the rest of the group, eyes scowling around at everyone present. Marina had stormed off, and while she wished to attend to the girl, things were falling apart enough as it was. It seemed like someone had already taken it as their issue to deal with, anyway.

"Things have been dealt with, have they not!? The undead are back where they belong, the wraith has disappeared, and the safety of the nearby villages and towns has been secured! Why are we fighting with each other?" Lavinia shot Bridgit a stern glance, her comments of concern had been laced with more than enough bother, especially towards Marina. She'd been to be given a talking to, for this, and to discern why she was here at all. At the very least, the cause of most of the commotion had flown the coop, so to speak. Perhaps things would diffuse from there...

I'll talk with Bladen later. Whether or not he would care was another thing, but Marina had the weight of the country on her, and for better or worse, Jade seemed fine from the encounter. Perhaps something to talk with her over, perhaps not. Mercy was a difficult subject on the battlefield. "We're all clearly tired! Very, tired. That was a long battle, and it won't be our last, so perhaps discussion of what's happened today needs to wait until we are all more calm and composed, yes?" Hopefully people would agree, they didn't need to be arguing out in the middle of nowhere, still soaking of what was left of the wraith's magic.

"If we can contain ourselves long enough to make it to Tepel, I'm sure warm beds, warm food, and a place of proper discussion can be found. Right now, is not the time for any of this. I do hope you all understand." If they didn't, they could be left here. Jade looked well enough to walk at least. "Can we... All, simply head back to the wagon, and continue onward?" Lavinia had of course, included their new fairy friend in her question. They needed to discern why she had been here, after all. Assuming she didn't just fly off now that the problem had been handled...

"Jade, can you walk? Do you need my help?" She'd said she was fine, but...


Taliyah had escaped the group before Lavina's voice boomed out over the trees, causing her to flinch, and almost collide with who she'd been chasing after. "Ah!" The lizard squeaked as she collapsed next to Marina... The girl continuing on her pace. "M-Marina! Wait!" Scrambling to her feet, she tried to keep pace. "Uhm... I-I-I, can, do you, uhm... Nnnnn, need anyone to talk, to...? I, I can be a good wall, I don't... I-If I can, help... I know... What it's like, to be yelled at..."

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Just what he didn't need in this moment. What he wanted to do was pretend her didn't hear her. Keep flying until he could be alone. But that wasn't an option. He knew that. Not when she sounded so distressed. So there was only one other choice. Clamp the lid down on the emotions. Wipe the tears quick, pretend they were never there. Straight face on, no sign of what was going on in his head and heart. Then dive down. He could deal with it all later.

Feet touched down, wings folded in and shrunk. Give her a quick look over and ask, "What did you-- your arm! What happened??" All plans, all thoughts, everything else flew out the window as he looked at her cracked grey arm. It was stone? What had happened in the woods? What sort of enemy must she have faced to end up looking like this? Had they just left her alone??

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"Oh... Haha, uhm... One of those, eye creatures. Used some rather nasty magic on me... I'm lucky it was just my arm! I send our new friend to get help for me, but... I suppose she hasn't hit the main group yet. Thank goodness you were flying past..." Something was off, he wouldn't just take off on his own. Maybe she could figure out what was going on... And I'll have to make sure that Aithlin shuts up, or agrees with my story. "I, well, uhm... If you could, help me hold it up, until we get to the wagon. Or carry me... No, I'm probably too heavy now, that this is all stone. Erephis or Nessraya can help me... I'm... Sorry, for being a burden. That wasn't supposed to happen!" At least that part wasn't a lie.

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He frowned. That didn't seem quite right. She had been with Lavinia and the zombie and the others... Why hadn't she been brought over by nightmare? Still, she didn't want to tell him and he knew better than to pry. He wouldn't get any answers anyways. So instead, without a word, he switched his position so that he was behind her, careful to position himself so that he didn't jostle her arm further, and then swept her up bridal style, only a slight grunt escaping as he settled her weight. She was heavy, true, but not so heavy he couldn't lift her. 

"Keep care of your arm, I'll handle the rest." It meant returning to the place he had just fled, but he could drop her off with the General and then be on his way again. He doubted any of the group wanted him around right now anyways. He could just scout ahead or something, staying away from those he didn't want to.risk dealing with just now.

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The unfortunate thing was that in truth, maybe Taiyute didn't need to smack Bladen like she did. Of course, it's all an experience thing. Much like how he yelled at the Hero, you have to learn what makes other people understand by doing it. Of course, unlike her slap, Marina didn't need to be yelled at like she was. It was clear, she had fallen in battle, and taken a very bad hit in the process. She clearly wasn't in the right mindset, especially once she was already yelled at once by the wood fairy. Taiyute wasn't sorry for hitting Bladen, more sorry for not saying anything worth anything in response after doing so.

Lavinia's yell and follow-up were clear and concise. She herself, wasn't tired, she didn't really feel that sorta thing until much later, but the point was clear. There was simply a bow to Lavinia, "Forgiveness for making things even less good, Miss Lavinia..."


Someone was following and bothering Marina, something she didn't need right now. As she turned around, her face still seething with anger, quickly died out as she saw Taliyah fall over. She couldn't be mad at her, she didn't deserve that. She followed up with the lizard, hands on her shoulders, checking around to check for injuries.

"T-Taliyah, are you okay?"

And she came to try and cheer her up. Marina's stomach churned. She knew Taliyah really couldn't help with what she's feeling, "I-I don't know how you could... I don't want to pile my problems on you, you don't deserve that... To hear me complain, because I don't like where I am, or what I did. I deserve where I am..." Without a second after those words, she wrapped her arms into a hug around the lizard. The shaking from her frustrations was clearly still there, it was clear she was still fuming.

"S-Sorry, I shouldn't have said anything, I'm just, so tired."

Edited by Silver Gallade

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"Wah!" Not expecting a hug, Taliyah threw her arms up and froze, glancing at Marina, wondering why she'd deserved such attention. "Uhm... U-Uh, I, well... Mm..." Didn't deserve it? Weren't they friends? Taliyah hadn't had friends before, but in everything she'd read, all those old stories, friends helped each other. "I-Isn't, that what friends are, for? I think... Be, besides, I'm good at listening. S-So... Well, er... If you wanna say what's bothering you, it's okay. I don't mind. If you're, comfy, saying it. Oh... Is it secret? I'm terrible with secrets... Dad always said that I shouldn't, b-be told any of his." Why did he tell me about the secret entrance to the fort, then? I don't get it...


"Whoa, B-Bladen!? Are you sure you, can... O-Oh my..." Despite the extra weight, she was hoisted up in a jiffy, leaning close to him. "Wooooow... How manly~ Going so far beyond what I asked for... What a gentleman." With a giggle, her worries calmed for a moment, she sighed. "Wanna tell me what's wrong, Bladen? Didn't expect you to be so far away from the group... Did something happen? Did you come looking for little ol' me~?"

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Poor Taliyah, Marina had been reminded of who her father was, someone they were going to fight soon. It sucked, thinking about it, Taliyah said this whole thing about they were friends, it was hard.

She didn't want to spill so much, still feeling like she's just being sorry for herself cause she wasn't strong enough before, but...

"Ever since I got here, all I've been taught was how to train, how to fight, so I'd be strong enough to strike down the Demon King... Resiliency, swordplay, combat tactics, drills... All these things that just ran through my head because it was practically beaten into me, for three months. In truth, all I wanted was to kill the Demon King, and that's all, even then, maybe... find a way to get both sides to peacefully end this, without all the fighting, I felt like I had a strong will and I could figure something out..."

Tears started to run down Marina's face, as she ran into some nearby trees, still holding Taliyah, not wanting to be seen by anyone. After the running, she fell to her knees, unfortunately dragging the poor lizard girl down with her.

"I couldn't stop them... That whole month we ran through Vaia, no matter what I tried, or what I did, I couldn't stop the men under me from slaughtering people... At first I was told it was treason, not wanting to fight, then eventually, I was just told if I didn't have the guts to do it, sit back and let the soldiers rally off my n-n-n-name..." The shaking got worse, her words getting mixed into the crying that began,

"I can't stop thinking about it... People screaming in terror, screaming for help, begging for their lives, and I couldn't do anything... For a month, we ran through, destroyed everything we came across. I can't sleep without pushing myself into exhaustion, because the silence just makes the screaming in my head l-louder... I wasn't as strong as I thought I was... I-I'm less than a human, less than a monster... I'm a wild animal, cause e-even after a-a-all of it..." She started coughing now too, choking on her cries and words, "I'm still fighting, still killing people... I hate it, it hurts..." 

Marina gripped Taliyah's shirt tight, "I don't, want to fight anymore. But I know I have to... Cause, I wanna fix what I've done, but... It's so much to bear, and I... can't just say it. I've hurt most of you i-in some way..." Marina couldn't even words anymore after that. Panting for breath, barely getting anything out of the crying that had just poured out.

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"Yes, it must've been. We take potential disasters like this very seriously." It wasn't actually as bad as you think. At least, not compared to everything else going on right now... Sollowy kept the truth to herself; the succubus was welcome to believe what she wanted. Especially if it wasn't the truth. She still didn't know who these people were actually. Probably not a band of mercenaries, even though they had the variety to be a proper band of such misfits. They lacked a clear leader and, from the shouting and bickering that was going on all around her, that she may have had a hand in starting, they did not appear to be all that close-knit either. The black-winged one, her only ally in this argument --although she had wanted the wraith dead for different reasons-- had thrown out the word Hero... Was the blue-haired girl the one responsible for the mess Vaia found itself in? But then why in Yggdrasil's name was her head not on a spike?

Whatever the reason was, it wasn't that important. While Morwen had made a scene out of her passing, Sollowy wasn't that bothered by it. Whatever the wraith had done to the zombie was of no concern of hers as long as she was gone for good. Cold? Yes, but she wasn't here to make friends. She could probably get some information out of them if she played her cards right. For example, the fastest route to the Demon King's castle...

That thought was put on hold rather suddenly, one of the group finally having had enough of their squabbling. Perhaps she was their true leader, the Hero merely along for the ride for one reason or another? That was who she'd need to talk to if she wanted to further her own goals. She'd caught the woman's gaze directed at her once she suggested returning to their wagon. So now I'm a part of your merry little band? Not for long if I can help it... She gave the cloaked woman a nod. For now she'd head back with them.


Gaze lifted back up to Laselia, Xalrei stared hard at her mother, beginning to sniffle. She couldn't help but feel completely overwhelmed by the life changing information that had been dropped on her head, even with her mother so close by and trying to offer comfort. She felt so powerless, so frustrated, only being able to listen as her life was explained to her. Without the energy to channel said frustrations into some form of aggression, she was on the verge of tears, only barely managing to hold the flood back.

Thankfully, she was able to find the comfort and reassurance she'd been seeking with the questions she'd vocalized to Laselia. The reaffirmation that regardless of the name she wore, she was still herself, deep down inside. Whether that was Xalrei or Tundyssa didn't matter. She wanted to believe that nothing could change that. Likewise, she was still Ralsvelgr's daughter, much as he was her father. Whether it was by blood or no, he was still her family. Family that she had more of, Laselia telling her to focus in on that.

She had a sister. Thesephine, the current Demon King, was that sister. It hard to come to terms with it, even being told the second time. She was the Demon King's little sister, in line for the throne of Vaia. Perhaps that was what she could strive for? To be a proper princess of Vaia despite her more than long absence? Could that be her reason to keep going? Would that do right by everyone who had put their faith in her? In the very least it was a direction she could walk in.

However, this 'positive' came with equal parts negative and unpleasant. Her parent's had been slain by the Hero! Not some random faceless humans, but the Hero! And now it had happened again! Marina and her soldiers had slaughtered her people, destroyed her country, all in an attempt to kill her sister! To finish what the previous Hero started! Xalrei shook, hatred building and bubbling but still not able to manifest in it's usual manner. Instead, Xalrei burst into tears at Laselia's touch, wrapping her arms around the Naga and burying her face in her chest, finally overwhelmed by the storm of emotions within her.

She stayed like for a while, crying out her emotions until she couldn't cry anymore. Sniffling, she raised her head to address her mother. "I... I Understand. I won't tell anyone..." She still had more questions, of course she did, but, even if Laselia would have answered them, Xalrei was no longer in the mood to ask them. Waiting, was a good idea for more than just Laselia's reasons. "And," she wiped at her face with her arm, trying to remove her stray tears. "I-I do, still love him, and care about, y-you..."

Edited by Ursali

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Well....as one would put it, "that happened". Ayane's mind had been miles away for a little while, as she pondered on her next move and Marina's in fact. Then, without warning, shouting brought her back to reality. Ren and Gabriela's voices against Bladen's. Why? What was going on? Well her eyes had shot over to the zombie, as the crumbling prisoner before them had turned into dust her spirit had latched onto Jade. A last ditch effort at life? Either way, she had to agree with Bladen. She knew leaving the enemy alive would be dangerous, and now she's let this happen a second time. 'Again...no. If only my eyes kept on her then...' She clenched her fist, as her blood boiled in frustration.

But for once, Ayane's anger was suddenly eclipsed by another. The anger of the hero herself, Marina. She turned to hear her words directed toward Bladen. Words that were sharper than edges. She could hear the loss of emotion in the words, yet behind them held tremendous anger. Ayane had known all too well what it was like. Knowing comfort in victory, yet it only takes one moment to let it all instantly change. The two seemed hell bent on getting away from the group, perhaps even with Lavinia's sharp words to clear the fighting. Ayane took a sigh to herself, along with a quick shake of the head. "If my mind hadn't been preoccupied I would have beheaded that witch long before...dammit..." She mumbled quietly to herself as she looked toward Ren. "...I'm going to Tepel then. If you need a moment then take it, either way I'll go on ahead." With nothing else to say, Ayane walked off. It was enough to deal with her own burdens, but now she felt partially responsible for something that could have been prevented.

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