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 JADED HEARTS, Blazeh, Darkeh
  Quote
PLAYERS INVOLVED:
@Verridith (Blazeh)
@darkeh

SETTING: Kurai, land of Noshinka in Famine territory, on the other side of the Bloodsouls and heading south, towards Ōra Village along a little-used road.

WEATHER: Rather cold and somewhat breezy, coming from the north. The skies are clear and the moon shines bright, casting its red light upon everything down below.

TIME: Two days ahead! Late afternoon.

CHARACTERS INVOLVED:
Slain, Damien (Blazeh), If'rae (Darkeh)

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
  Quote
For a little while, Slain flew; it felt good to stretch his wings, and the freedom of the sky put him at ease, worries lessening somewhat about his little brother. Early on, the everdark sky held no light to sparkle off of his silver scales, and the dark clouds he ducked in and out of provided ample cover for him to fly unseen in, though he strayed from the speed he usually employed.

He looped around several times to check on Damien, who rode below on a horse from the Famine stables; a grey gelding with a long, spiked tail with a leonine tuft, and several dark red stripes along his shoulders. The green-eyed gelding loped along leisurely, covering a lot of ground with long strides. He wore tack that was minimal and made out of sleek black leather, emblazoned with the image of Famine's rampant lion.

The next morning, Slain had flown some ways ahead, then returned to land and walk briefly beside his friend, who rode on until they reached the end of the mountains. There, under the light of the moon, the half-demon hunted as his friend tended to his horse and set up a small, easily taken down camp. The fire was small, but warm; and as evening overtook them, they cooked a decent meal of darkdeer and some bloodrice Damien had brought with. Sleep was brief, but needed, and they took down camp before moonrise the next day.

It was just after midday on the second day after leaving the Fortress when Slain returned to land nearby, folding his wings to walk alongside the Faminehorse as it nickered a quiet greeting. "I still don't get why I have to meet with these Clan leaders at their villages," he complained, as Damien smirked down at him. "I'm a Lord, ain't I? Why can't they come see me?"

"Because, it's good for you to leave the Fortress," the noble replied. "Jarln is a good man. He would come at a moment's notice - especially if a Lord, or his relative asked him to. But you're glad to spread your wings, aren't you, Lord Slain?"

"Oh, cut it with the Lord shit," Slain grumbled. "Yeah, I guess. I'm still worried about Jekt, however. He could be waking up right now. They know to contact us, right? You told them?"

"Yes," the dark-haired noble sighed in response, "I did. With several of our ninja. I'm sure Vortigern knows this as well. Don't worry, Slain, we'll be there in no time. We've only been traveling for a couple of days now."

"Would've been faster with a Four-damned portal-"

"Lord Slain."

"Alright, alright, fine, let's just walk. All the time in the world. Fuck off, Damien."

The nobleman chuckled, and kicked the demonhorse into a trot. "Keep up if you can, my Lord," he called over his shoulder, as the half-demon scowled after him. He muttered a series of curses in Demonic, and then broke into a jog after the horse, intending to punch Damien at the earliest opportunity.

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
  Quote
"Are you ready, Lady?"

"Yes." Like most of their exchanges, the answer was short, containing nothing more and nothing less than was absolutely necessary. The wolf was unperturbed; he padded along, tongue lolling between his jaws, and stayed as close by her side as ever. He was such a monster of a beast that If'rae doubted anyone else would notice that he wasn't a true hellwolf. She had helped with the illusion, of course. Long night of careful touch and a few flame-resistant elixirs had given the werewolf dully glowing paws and a vixen tail of cinders. But for all the fire that tickled his hide, the wolf was disturbingly calm, his gaze straying to the demoness at his side only when her path diverted from his own.

She, on the other hand, was spring-loaded fury. A black cloak treated with fireproof spells still smoldered where it touched her bare shoulders underneath. Her face was half-hidden by a scarf, but it did nothing to soften the burning anger in her bicolored eyes - one orange, one blue as the heart of a bonfire.

"They're up head," murmured the wolf. If'rae pulled her cloak a little further over her head and shifted her arm underneath, gripping the hilt of a dagger tightly. The plan was simple, really, almost laughably so; they would encounter the Lord and his escort, engaging them in conversation, while If'rae got close enough to strike. They needed deceit; as the god-ordained ruler of Famine, If'rae would find it exceedingly difficult to properly fight Slain and not be called a traitor for it. Yet this was a matter far and above loyalty to the kingdom. This was a matter of blood.

Two figures appeared over the horizon.

"Hail!" called If'rae, lifting a hand in greeting. A beautiful smile transformed her mostly-hidden features, masking the intent within. "Hail, strangers! Oh - a Lord." As the rider and his liege neared, If'rae swept a curtsy, and the wolf at her side bobbed his head awkwardly. She shot him a look, but the werewolf merely straightened, bearing altogether too many teeth for a friendly encounter. She laid a hand on his ruff and squeezed.

"Headed to Ōra?" she asked. "It's still some ways out. We were thinking of breaking for food, and would be honored if you would join us." Four, If'rae thought bitterly, but these false words taste like ash in my mouth. What I wouldn't give to fight him face to face.

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user posted image
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
^
  Quote
Damien reined his horse in as soon as the newcomers had appeared down the road; the gelding snorted, watching the woman with ears pricked, as Slain paused beside them. "Hail as well," the Lord said shortly, watching both and analyzing the wolf closely - how odd... a Pestilence wolf, perhaps, here? It set him on edge, though he pushed the odd feeling away. "Yes, we're headed to Ōra. We're in a bit of a ru-"

"Lord Slain would be happy to oblige," the golden-eyed nobleman said with a smile, dipping his head in greeting. "We have traveled far, quite quickly, and are feeling quite famished." He ignored the glower from the draconic half-demon, and patted his horse's neck. "As long as we don't linger beyond what we should, a quick break won't do any harm."

"Sure," the Lord muttered, "delay it even longer. Fine. Good. Whatever. Why're you traveling with that in my Kingdom, by the way? It's not a Famine wolf. Who're both of you?" He was feeling less and less hospitable by the moment. He didn't even pay attention when Damien dismounted, sighing as he drew the reins up over his horse's neck. "You know, maybe I don't wanna stick around for a late lunch. Not real hungry."

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
  Quote
"He's a friend," If'rae said by way of answer, moving to assist with the horse. She felt, for a brief moment, a stab of guilt; but it was soon burned away by her excitement. She was near, so near. Slain stood on her left, while the body of the horse filled her vision and his escort dismounted on her right. She put out a hand to steady the gelding's flank while its reins were taken in hand but felt nothing. the beating of her heart in her ears drowned out every other sensation, and for a brief, absurd moment, she worried she wouldn't be able to feel the dagger. The demoness licked her lips. "Are you always so polite, my Lo-"

She heard a growl behind her. The blazing anticipation fell away at once, leaving her cold and sick. That fucking wolf! she shrieked in her head, pivoting. "How dare you!"

The "hellwolf" was snarling, its body tensed to leap. With an angry cry of her own, If'rae darted forward and seized it by the throat, showing a terrific strength disproportional to her size as she threw it into the horse and rider. The demoness staggered backward into Slain, seemingly off-balance, but the move was a feint; she had drawn her dagger and now she twisted, burying the knife in his upper arm. Realizing she had missed her aim, If'rae drew her arm back like a snake. Her eyes blazed into Slain's own. "You're mine to kill!"

The wolf, meanwhile, had closed its jaws around one of the gelding's forelegs, snapping it like straw. It spat out a mouthful of blood and grimaced, rounding on Damien as the horse limped out of the way, screaming hysterically. If'rae's magic burned brighter than ever, and each step the wolf took appeared to pain it slightly; in a rage, it leaped at the rider, seeking to rip out his throat. All calm deliberation was gone. It was time to kill, or be killed.

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user posted image
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
^
  Quote
The Lord snarled in pain and surprise, jerking his arm away; but his eyes were not on the demoness, no - the horse's screams as it flailed away, half-falling as it tried to gallop on the broken leg, before it stumbled and fell. Damien had no time to draw any kunai of his own, and hadn't yet recovered enough to have the speed he usually could muster. Though he was able to avoid the werewolf's jaws closing around his throat, he could not avoid it completely...

"Damien! Dammi-" Suddenly, the Lord seemed to remember that he had his own adversary to deal with, and his words turned into a savage roar. His whiplike wings flung outward to protect himself, as he summoned Visis - the darksteel sword he had gone far too long without feeding - to one hand. "You'll pay for this, you bitch!"

Again, he was distracted. Damien's shout of pain as the werewolf's attacked, fangs sinking deep into flesh, made him look away quickly. The nobleman was pinned to the ground, fighting to push the beast away with one hand while the other fruitlessly sought a dagger at his belt. The werewolf's jaws had clamped down on his entire shoulder, crushing the bone in a swift and brutal bite. Ripping his fangs away, trying to tear as much flesh as possible, the wolf snarled - then jerked back as the demon produced a kunai and swiped at his face.

He didn't think. Slain threw Visis as hard as he could, roaring, towards the hellwolf, fury burning in his scarlet eyes...

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
  Quote
The wolf sensed victory. Slaver sprayed from its jaws as it snapped again and again, each time closer to Damien and the blood that spilled from his throat. Even the kunai could only cause it to falter for a moment; the wolf made a strangled sound of pain and bloodlust as the blade flashed across one eye, blinding it. So - close -

Then the beast went slack, its weight suddenly deadening into a suffocating mass on top of the rider.

If'rae stared over Slain's shoulder, watching as her ally fell, impaled, to the ground. It mattered little; all she could think of now was that the Famine Lord lacked a weapon, and his broad back was exposed to her. His back was to her. There were no words to convey the impotent fury on her tongue as she rushed him, jumping onto his shoulders and slashing at his wing joints.

"Tit for tat!" she spat out, seizing one of his horns in her free hand. She wrenched his head back, seeking to expose his throat to her hungry knife. "Filthy creature - you don't deserve to be a Lord!"

Oh, Four... she could taste it, like iron in the back of her throat. No, she needed to get herself under control. She couldn't afford to Trigger here, that was too much. She never remembered what happened when that... side of her took control. And she wanted to remember this. She wanted to savour it.

"I'll make you pay," she hissed, swiping the knife under his jaw.

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user posted image
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
^
  Quote
And her knife sliced across the Lord's throat.

But he didn't fall; he barely staggered. Blood spilled from the gaping wound, cascading over his chest, even as he reached up to grab her with one long-clawed hand. Pulling her off of his back, Slain threw her off, as laughter raked from his blood-flecked teeth. Miraculously, the injury was already healing, but he had no time to wait. No time to hold his breath until he could breathe again. A single word, a name, came to his lips as he watched the kunai fall from Damien's hand, unable to push the dead werewolf off...

"Martyr!"

In a sudden wave of pain, Slain's laughed name twisted into a gurgling grunt, as the flesh of his left shoulder split and tore as if ripped by some invisible beast. His left arm fell limp and he gritted his teeth as a wave of weakness came with the pain - but Damien's shoulder healed almost immediately, as surprise replaced the noble's pained expression.

Only then was he able to free himself from the dead werewolf, clothes rent to bare the shoulder that had been broken and flayed, now holding only scars that could barely be seen. Slain smirked, but fell to one knee, still unable to breathe. "Lord Slain!" He didn't feel the werewolf virus already taking hold, as instinct drove him to pull three more kunai, taking a stance between the Lord and If'rae.

"You... alright?" Slain wheezed, as the gash along his throat finally sealed. He coughed a few times and looked at their adversary, anger washing over his draconic muzzle once again. Rising, he glanced at his shoulder and back again, flexing his wings as the dagger-sliced muscles reknit. "Gettin' almost killed by a damn dog and his girl. Fuck that."

Damien muttered a few curses, vision blurring suddenly. Then, the sensation went away. "You shouldn't have done that. Jekt needs you alive..."

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
  Quote
If'rae pushed herself up from the ground, searching blindly for her dagger - but froze in place, half-kneeling, at the bizarre sight unfolding before her. Incredulity suffocated her anger as she saw the rider's wounds appear on Slain's body, grotesquely cracking his own bones, before disappearing. It was only then that she understood.

He healed.

It made sense now. Her brother, as strong as she was and twice as disciplined, had fallen to this creature, not out of skill, but futility. How many times had he raised his hand against Slain to strike him down, only to have the wounds smoothed away to nothing? Did Slain laugh as he killed her kin? Did he smile now at the inevitable ending to this fight?

Something in her demanded she run. The pernicious little voice pleaded with her to go, escape, and come back with a better plan. Even if he couldn't die, she could ensure decades of pain in repayment of her brother's life.

It was tempting. But If'rae had too much pride to run.

She rose gracefully to her feet, meeting Slain's gaze with her own. She glanced briefly at Damien, and a spiteful smile touched her lips. "It didn't quite work," she said, pulling the scarf down so that she could talk better. The cloak hood had fallen, too, and she knew Slain saw the demoness for what she was - n'vaen. Would he recognize her brother's eyes in her own? She doubted it. "The healing. He's still doomed. That wasn't a hellwolf." A giggle, more stressed than anything, escaped her. "It was a were!"

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user posted image
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
^
  Quote
There was a moment of incredulous silence; now it made sense that Slain had felt no effects of Pestilence venom when he absorbed that injury. Damien's hands, holding the kunai, lowered somewhat as confusion laced through his eyes. But then, came fear, and the Lord spat as he began to walk forward. He had use of his arm once more; his shoulder's bones had healed, and now the flesh was knitting together, soon to be covered in fresh scales.

"You bitch," he snarled, closing the distance with each stride. Closer and closer. A walking mass of sharp silver scales and seething anger. "You came here to kill me, why the fuck did you throw your pretty fuckin' wolf at him? You're here for me, so attack me, and leave my goddamn bud outta this, you hear me?"

Something about her eyes, and her face, seemed vaguely familiar; but the Lord was too angry to place it. He lifted one hand and Visis wrenched itself free of the dead werewolf and flew into his grasp, gleaming darkly half covered in blood. Slain himself was covered in his own blood; had he been wearing his coat, it would have hidden much, but as it was the scarlet gleamed upon his scales, bright as wine in snow. "You're from the fucking Faction, aren't you?" he spat. "Couldn't kill me with any of your other fucking assassins, so they send you and your dog to get the job done? To make sure I had someone to fight to protect this time around? You're a Four-damned, fucking, Orphethas-tainted bitch-ass cunt!"

Then, he flung Visis at her, close enough to swing; after the sword, he surged forward, seeking to slam her against the rocky cliff that bordered the road...

...some ten-odd feet distant.

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
  Quote
If'rae braced herself, sliding one foot behind the other, as the Famine Lord approached. She spun to avoid the sword and seized Slain's shoulders as he drove into her, her heels gouging the dirt as she hurled all of her strength against his. "I'm... not... Faction!" she snarled into his face. "You killed - my brother!"

The burning in her calves spiked before they gave out, and she fell backwards with a cry, hitting the ground heavily. Kicking out at Slain's knee, she rolled back onto her feet, throwing the cloak - which had nearly strangled her in the grapple - to the side, disgust written all over her face. "Do you think I care about your idiot friend!" she yelled, turning to him with her hands balled into fists. "He's as important to me as that flea-bitten dog was to you! But you know what? Maybe he should die! Then every morning you can mourn him again and again, just like I had to!"

Her voice broke. Determined not to falter, If'rae pressed her palms together and pulled them apart. In the center, a ball of flame began to grow until it was as large as her head; she flung it at Slain, and the orb abruptly turned black before exploding into fifty identical ink-colored butterflies. If'rae smiled grimly as she ran to the abandoned sword and hefted it. Some of the low-flying insects were already colliding with the ground - and each one left a crater roughly the size of a horse in its wake. She made to follow with the blade, but her vision blurred. How hard did she hit her head?!

Frantic, she let the sword tip fall into the earth and rubbed her face. The blur was gone. She glanced at her fingertips and saw tears. Horrified, she seized Visis with renewed vigor, running straight at Slain in the midst of the deadly black cloud.

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user posted image
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
^
  Quote
That was not what he expected.

Slain's expression completely changed when she mentioned her brother; recognition flashed across his face, and he didn't react as quickly as he should have to the sudden swirling storm of reiatsu-butterflies. "You- You're-" One exploded next to his foot, and he cursed loudly; then saw her charge, and the hellflies part at her coming. Pushing off of the stone, he surged towards her and caught the sword with one hand, deflecting it and wrenching it free, before pushing past her and through the cloud into the open air.

He spun up, and up an up before flaring his whiplike wings to look down on the scene below; Damien had fallen back to where the dead horse lay, and... didn't look to be doing well at all. The Lord cursed again, banishing Visis before seeking out If'rae's position below. He needed to get Damien out of here, back to the Fortress before he changed. Before that damnable werewolf virus could progress far enough to make the first, agonizing transformation, to... to... was there even a cure? Damn!

"If'rae!" he snarled loudly, summoning reiatsu around him as he dove to the ground, so he might be protected by the hellflies if they came at him again. He landed hard, but stood immediately, eyes blazing. "Yeah, I know your damn name. I knew your brother. I never meant for him to die, not after what he told me! You wanna kill me to avenge him, go right the fuck ahead!"

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
  Quote
The demoness' eyes widened in shock at hearing her own name. For a moment, absolute silence fell - silence, that is, except for the fluttering of the butterflies' wings as they moved through the air in a confused flock. Meant? If'rae's mind was a whirl of thoughts. Kill him now! No, don't - he knew something about Jaeren. What did Jaeren tell him? Nevermind that - kill his friend!

She looked sidelong at the figure of Damien, who was slumped to the ground. Already struggling against the virus, she thought disinterestedly. Still, a prick of guilt touched the back of her mind, and she let her hands fall. If she hadn't thrown the Frostfang into him... Oh, what did it matter? This was achieving nothing. She was no closer to avenging her brother than she had been staked out on the roadside. At least Slain was distracted enough not to kill her in an equal rage. She snapped her fingers and the cloud of hellflies winked out of existence, save for one whose wings she stroked tenderly before setting it on her shoulder. The demoness strode to Damien's side and knelt to turn him over.

But as Slain neared, If'rae's head snapped up, and she put out a warning hand. "He's mine," she said coolly. "Until I decide if I'm going to kill you." She took the hellfly from her shoulder and placed it upon Damien's heaving chest. It fanned its wings and sat obediently. "Is there a quick way to move him?"

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user posted image
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
^
  Quote
"Get away from him and banish those fucking butterflies or you won't have the time to decide anything. Ten paces away. Now."

The half-demon's voice was cold, low, but it held all of the power and command a Lord possessed; he knew now that she was a Famine demoness... and as Famine's Lord, his orders could not be disobeyed. Normally, he would have taunted her about missing such a crucial detail. However, right now, there was little but anger in his eyes. Carefully controlled, smoldering anger, so different from the unfettered rage that seared mere moments before.

His arms were crossed over his chest as he approached, tail flicking back and forth like a cat's. "I can open portals whenever and wherever I want," he growled. "I can have him back in my Fortress in half a second if I want. I should kill you and leave you here for what you've done." His eyes narrowed. Slain debated how long to draw this out - they had a little time, but Damien was unconscious, and he would most likely change upon waking up. Unless he was one of the lucky moon-chained ones, but that was unlikely.

Then, the Lord sighed. "But I lost a brother, too. One that I spent years - literal fucking years - trying to find a way to either bring him back, or let him have a real fuckin' afterlife before he faded away locked in my head. He was murdered, and didn't fight back, and I had to live through every minute of it when I became Lord and was joined with the souls of my predecessors.

"So believe me, I'd rather not kill you, because your goddamn bro was gonna do anything to save his sis and was scared as fuck that they'd kill you if he didn't kill me. And I feel pretty fuckin' guilty that I couldn't save him."

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user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
^
  Quote
If'rae snarled as she withdrew, the hellfly reluctantly vanishing. Of course - he was the Famine Lord, and she was Famine. How could she have forgotten that crucial fact? Her desperate threats meant nothing. She couldn't even guarantee her own safety while this godforsaken dragon... man saw fit to judge her for her folly.

But he didn't.

She listened to his explanation with a mixture of confusion and incredulity. The implications of his words - that Jaeren was frightened and acting on her behalf - robbed the demoness of speech. She merely watched, folding her arms over her chest, as he examined the rider for himself. Gods, she felt about as dangerous as a candle flame. The helplessness narrowed her eyes, made her want to lash out at him again, but for once, she held the impulse in check.

"What can... be done?" She stood, ten paces away as per Slain's command, and reluctantly let her hands drop. She suddenly looked rather girlish, stripped as she was of any rational motive to continue beating the hell out of Slain. The demoness appeared even more lost as she contemplated the bleak future that awaited her if she left now, as the Famine Lord seemed to desire her to do. Traitors like her were hunted to the edges of Kurai for their sin, and her background as a n'vaen, even of one that was little more than a pauper, would be motivation enough for the other noble demons to track her down. If'rae was too impulsive to last as a rogue, and she knew it. She would try and burn them all before they took her head as a trophy. "I can't go back," she told him, and looked away, shamefaced. What she needed to do now clawed at her heart like a hungry rat. "I... I owe you for your friend's life, but you owe me my kin's. Let me live and... care for the rider... and we'll call it even." She looked back at him, wondering if it was a kinder fate to die than to beg for her own life.

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user posted image
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
^
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