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Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Homecoming
« on: August 02, 2008, 07:52:26 PM »
She didn't know how long it had taken, or when it had happened. Her clan had gone out to exterminate a den of the filthy beasts, but her memory faded sometime just after the battle started. As Ky'ria wearily traveled the road, her memories flashed before her eyes as they had so many times over the recent days.

The river had been nearly freezing, and she was surprised to find herself standing hip-deep in the cold mountain water. Even more surprised to find herself covered in spatters of blood, and her adoptive brother's dagger held tightly in her fist.

She cringed, still feeling the cold she felt at that moment, even now as she continued down the road, pale blue eyes staring no more than a few yards in front of her feet.

She heard the birds call, and saw the great winged ones circling in the sky above the forest beyond the river. Her legs, red and numb, were shaky as she waded to the shore, then further into the forest, following a path of snapped branches and footprints that looked oddly like her own.

She ignored the damp brown tendrils that fell in front of her face, vaguely aware that blood remained in her hair, not to mention her clothes. She still wasn't sure whose or what's it was.

The smell assaulted her before she ever found the bodies. No, not bodies. Not enough remained for them to be termed that. Corpses somehow seemed more fitting. The clearing that had been their battle ground was strewn with human and demon alike, limbs severed or devoured, the ground stained a deep, disgusting red. Her eyes widened, and she stumbled backwards, the contents of her stomach spilling on the unfortunate brush beside her.

Ky'ria faintly thought that she should be hungry. After all, that had happened....well, she didn't know anymore. But it had most likely been a few days. Or had this been one long, horribly hazy day? Her skin was a little pale, a great contrast against the dark garments she wore for hunting.

She fled. It was the only thing she could do; her mind refused to permit anything less primal that to flee and survive. Which led her to her present situation. On the road to somewhere, alone. Even her shadow seemed oddly empty. It was most likely a good thing she had not encountered anyone on the road. In her present state of mind, she may have attacked, thinking them to be demons seeking to finish what they started with her clan. Her weapons were carefully put away, though, her twin mini-scythes tucked behind her back in their clasps, her "brother's" dagger wrapped in cloth and slid under her belt.

It only now dawned on her that she could return home. Not home to the clan - that had never been home - but to her true home, where, up until sixteen years ago, she had lived a semi-normal life. Did she still even remember where it was, or what it was called?

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2008, 07:54:43 PM »
"Ky'ria...wait up!"
"You're too slow, Micah!" The little girl laughed and continued running as the boy, Micah, struggled to catch up.
"Ky'ria, wait for me!"
She stopped as laughed as her friend finally reached where she was on the grassy hill. He doubled over, trying to catch his breath, short, messy dirty blond hair hanging over his face. "Slowpoke! We're gonna miss it if you keep going so slow!"
Micah grinned, tugged on a lock of her hair, then raced on ahead of her, laughing as he went. "Not fair!" Ky'ria ran after him, catching him in no time and pouncing, sending both of them tumbling down the other side of the hill. They both struggled to gain the top, and in the end she won, grinning smugly. She eventually climbed off, and they both sat and laughed breathlessly, watching the night sky. Ky'ria's father came over from where the other family's sat and dropped a blanket over both their heads, smiling at them before returning to her mother and older brother.
The sky was particualrly beautiful that night, the lights that danced more brilliant than they had been in years. As they watched, Ky'ria leaned against her friend's shoulder.
"Hey, Micah?"
"Huh?"
"We'll be best friends forever, right?"
He grinned. "Yup. Forever."
"Forever ever?"
"Forever ever ever!"
She smiled. "I'm glad..."


Ky'ria woke with a start, and was surprised to see trees above her. She sat up, wincing a little at a new pain in her arm. She then realized that she was no longer on the road; rather, she was at the bottom of a small hill just to the side of the road. She must have passed out and fallen.

...Forever...

That dream again...she'd been having it for years. It wasn't unpleasant, it was just...unwelcome. She gained the road once more and continued on, ignoring the throb in her arm and the ache in her legs. The girl she had been all those years ago was gone, and forever didn't have the potency it once had. She continued walking, for how long she didn't quite know, unconciously checking her shadow every now and again, though she couldn't have explained why.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2008, 08:01:34 PM »
The slayers frightened her. They were ominous looking people, with dark clothing and strange weapons. She stayed by her family during the whole ordeal. They had been summoned out of necessity, however. A band of demons had plagued the countryside, killing animals, uprooting fields, and even a few villiagers had lost their lives to these monsters. The bodies of the beasts had been presented to the villiage elder as proof of the extermination, and at his nod, all the families began to bring out their share of the payment.

The price was heavy for the poor cluster of homes, and each family gave up a share of their crops or animals, while some had crafted goods to pay off their debts. None had been so hard hit as Ky'ria's family, though. They were unable to fulfil their debt with goods, and so, they were forced to offer their only daughter as payment.

The leader of the slayers examined her, and after a moment of deliberation with a few other men, accepted the payment. They pulled her unceremoniously from her mother's side and dragged her towards a waiting wagon, where the rest of hte goods had been lain.

"Mother! Please, I don't want to go! I'll be good, I promise! I won't chase the chickens or tease the cat! Please! Mother! Father!" Tears streaked down her cheeks, and her mother only wept, held tightly by her father as he looked anywhere but at his daughter. Her brother had vanished as soon as the payment process began. She was only ten...

The wagon lurched forward, and she leaned back over the edge, held fast by two women, in case she tried to flee. "Mother! Mother! She fell heavily to her knees, crying uncontrollably as her home slowly left her vision.

"Ky'ria!" She looked up at the familiar voice, and her eyes widened as Micah chased after the wagon. "Ky'ria! I'll never forget you! You'll always be my best friend, do you hear me? I'll never, ever forget you, Ky'ria! You're my best friend forever ever ever!" She reached for him, as if this small action could stop them from being torn apart.
The road turned, and the trees closed in, severing her from her home, her family, and her one true friend in the entire world. She was alone, and her heart ached.



"...Micah..."
"...she awake?"
"Miss?....okay?"
The voices were faint, hardly more than an echo in her mind, and she thought she was dreaming still, but for the bright light beyond her eyelids. As she became more aware of her self, she felt the gentle rock and bumping of a wagon beneith her. A sore arm raised gingerly to her face, and she felt a damp stream from her eyes to the sides of her face. Her eyes opened a crack to observe this strange wetness.
A boy, not quite three-quarter score years old, leaned over the bench and looked at her. "Are you awake there, miss? How you feelin'?" There was an exchange of soft words, and the boy dissappeared, to be replaced by a man with similar features. He climbed into the bed of the wagon with her, offering her some water. "How'r ye feeling there, miss? Kin ye remember anything?"
She blinked her eyes several times, trying to focuss. "Who...?
"Me name's Dan, an' that there is me son, Peter. We found ye on the side o' the road back a ways. Where were ye headin' in such a state?"
Ky'ria took the water and drank slowly, aided by his gentle hands propping her up. "I was...I was trying to go to Fierhaven...but I don't know where I am..."
Dan smiled and handed her a small chunk of bread, which she took and ate slowly. "Ye'r in luck, then. We'll be hittin' a crossroads mid-day tomorrow that'll take ye there. We're headin' the other direction, but ye'r welcome to ride with us 'til then." He gave her more bread and a chunk of cheese to eat, then climbed back over to regain the reins from his son, who promptly turned back to look at her again.
"Golly, you were a horrible mess when we found you! But you're lookin' much better now." He added this last part so as not to frighten her. "Where are you coming from?"
She slowly sat up, the small meal already energizing her. "I'm not sure..." She habitually reached for her scythes to make sure they were there, and almost paniced when they weren't in their holders. She then saw them on a small crate across from her, wrapped in a bit of cloth. The boy watched her, and explained, "Da moved them, so you wouldn't hurt yourself lyin' on them. They're all there, an even a bit sharper." He said this with pride, their new state obviously due to his efforts. She thanked him absently as she returned them each to their holders, the dagger back in her belt. She didn't know why she kept the dagger...perhaps more for protection than for any special connection to its former owner...

She spent the rest of the day in reflective silence, eating when offered food, staring out behind the wagon as the miles faded on, mentally wincing against whispered memories.

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2008, 08:08:12 PM »
They parted ways with the road, the boy more than a little upset to see her go. It was not often that they met such an interesting stranger. Ky'ria thanked them for their aid, and turned down the smaller of the two roads as the wagon continued down the main track. The man had told her to follow the way for a few days, until the river, and then to follow the current once on the other side. He had provided her with provisions for a few days of light eating and wished her well before pushing the team forward.

The days passed slowly, she finding various places off the road to spend the nights before starting off early the next morning. Little by little, nearly forgotten memories of the area began to resurface, and she found herself gazing in mild confusion at the stone bridge that spanned the river when she finally reached it. This was not supposed to be here...

"Everyone off the wagons. We'll have to walk."
She turned from staring out the back of the wagon, confused at the leader's words. She now saw that they had reached a river, and the land came closer together at that point that elsewhere within sight. She was shoved rudely from the cart and landed heavily on her side. "You heard him, on your feet, tiny wretch." One of the women in charge of watching her scowled down at her, then walked off to join the others who were in the process of removing their shoes and rolling up their leggings, a few of the men hauling the heavier bundles from the back on the wagon. The group then began their slow movement across the river, and she was chastised for holding up the group by a man who thumped her hard on the back of her head. Wincing, she knelt down and pulled up her trouser legs, having no shoes of her own, and started for the river.
It was high and moved steadily, the current pushing her to the side every few steps. It was cold, and she shivered as it moved through her body. As she moved, pair of anonymous hands pushed her from behind, she stumbling and struggling to regain her footing. When she almost regained her balance, her foot landed on a slippery rock, and in an instant she found herself under the frigid river, struggling in vain to reach the surface and the precious air. She couldn't swim, and it seemed like forever before several hands grasped her and heaved her back to dry land. She sputtered and sobbed as her clothes were wrested from her, hardly having regained the better portion of her breath when she was wrapped in a heavy blanket and nearly dropped back in the wagon. That woman glared at her, and Ky'ria curled in on herself, coughing lightly and putting up little defense against the tears that still seeped out.


She looked back across the bridge once before walking on, coming to yet another split in the road before the forest picked up again. One way continued strait into the trees, while the other followed the river, perhaps some twenty hards from the shore. A weathered sign pointed in each direction, the words barely legible, though she managed to make out "haven" on the one that pointed along the river.
Ky'ria looked along the leg she stood on, wondering what might lay that way, then back along the river path. It was definately more developed since she had last been here. Would the town that lay at it's end have changed as well? Would he have changed? She wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer to either question. She wasn't even sure if she would be welcome there. It would be easy to just continue on the road she traveled. To ignore the small settlement that had expelled her so long ago and the twinge of longing for a home once lost...
I'll never forget you!
Her eyes moistened, and, for the first time in years, a tremor or fear shook her lightly. Was forever really so long as it once had been? There really was only one way to find out...
She took the first step back towards her past.

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2008, 08:08:40 PM »
She was surprised at the sight that greeted her as she crested the last hill. What had once been a small farming village had grown to a large town. The fields still remained, but they spread farther out to accomadate for the structural growth. There was a gate, too. At first she believed that she must have taken the wrong road, or that she still needed to travel further, but as she neared the gate, the paling letters confirmed that this, indeed, was the place she sought. How things have changed... Would anyone even remember her? She nearly scoffed at herself. How could they? The girl that had left was innocent and happy. The woman that returned was cold, hardened, and jaded. Not to mention that she had seen more death than most of the citizens combined. She continued down the hill.

Two guards, who looked like they could care less about their duty, snapped to as she approached, and crossed their pole-arms across the roadway, effectively barring her path. They looked to be not even a full score of years. They exchanged glances, and the first spoke haughtily. "What do you seek here?"
"I seek entry," was her measured reply.
"There's a toll," added the second guard.
"For what? I bring no wares to be taxed."
That shut them up for a few seconds, as she had denied them of their ill-gotten coins that were "taxed" from all newcomers. The first took a step towards her, brandishing the pole-arm. "Now look here, you better not be making trouble little miss, or I'll be forced to-"
"Be forced to what?" Her tone had taken an icy edge, startling the two young men. The second drew a short sword and stood by his partner.
"I think it's best you continue on your way, woman. You have no business here."
"My business here predates your exsistance. Move aside, or be moved."

The idiots just had to have an ego, and they just had to attack her. She pulled her scythes before they had taken more than a step and easily cut through the staff of the first, thanks in part to the new edge. The second guard crumpled in on himself with the impact of the back of her blade to the side of his neck, the other taken out in a similar fashion. The entire ordeal had only taken a handful of seconds, and she thought bitterly that, had she been here to cause trouble, the two retards would be dead. The blades were returned to their sheathes behind her back, and she continued into town unchallenged. The altercation had gone unnoticed by any within the walls, and she set to the task of finding her former home, and any who may recall her face.

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2008, 08:17:33 PM »
The small house remained largely unchanged. It had certainly seen better days, but the effects of time were to be expected. The thatched roof sagged in a couple places, and it was clear were patches to the walls had been made. Despite its changes, this was indeed her home. Or rather, had been, once upon a time. The street was crowded with newer homes, and was further from the center of town than she remembered. She tentatively reached out and knocked.

A voice called out from behind the house, and Ky'ria slowly made her way around to the back, looking into an unfamiliar workshop at the back of a man bent over a woodworking table. "I'll be with you in just a moment." He set aside a tool and blew on whatever he was working on before straightening up and turning to face her; he gave a short gasp, and looked as though he had seen a ghost. "C...can I help you?"
Her features were schooled, but her emotions matched his. "I was...looking for someone. A family that lived here years ago."
"I and mine are the only who have owned this home..." He looked at her, taking in her features, the scars across her skin, the hilt tips sticking out from behind her back. His gaze met her own again, and he hesitantly asked, "Ky'ria...?"
She couldn't stop the mist from her eyes as she took a step towards him. "Laeren..."
He couldn't believe it. Here before him stood the little sister he lost so many years ago... "Ky'ria....but...but how?" For all his surprised happiness, there was also sadness, and guilt.
"I...left..." She chose not to mention the part about the clan being dead. There was no need for that here. Shaking the visions from her mind, she looked at her older brother and the man that he had become. He had filled out nicely, no longer the thin rail she remembered him as, and sported a short beard. His hands were callussed from wood-working, but held a gentle demeanor. Just like their father... "Mom and Dad...where are they?"
Laeren was silent for a moment before his gaze dropped away from hers, pain evident in his eyes. He opened his mouth to speak-
"Laeren! I'm home!" Both sets of eyes turned to the house where the voice had come from, and after a minute a young girl, perhaps a few years older than Ky'ria had been when she left home, came out. "Laeran, the leather worker said - oh! I didn't know we had company." She extended a hand to Ky'ria, blue eyes that matched her own shining, the girl's dirty bonde hair just a few shades lighter than her own. "I'm Kira, Laeren's sister. He calls me a kid, but I'm already fourteen."
It was like a slap to the face. "Si...sister? I...was not aware that Laeren had a little sister..." She ignored her brother's wince. "Tell me, Kira was it? Where are your parents?"
"They died," Laeren interjected. "About five years ago. I've been raising Kira on my own since then."
"I see." She saw many things in that moment, and took a step back, as if to leave. "Well then, it was nice to see you again, Laeren." Her voice was distant, as though speaking to a person who was just barely an acquaintance. She turned away from them and began to leave, pausing only to call back, "Do look after your sister. I never had a brother to look after me."
Ky'ria stared at her own empty shadow as she made her way back to the center of town. It was painfully clear now what had happened. Perhaps she could have dealt with being forgotten; it was a hard experience to lose a child, after all. But she had been replaced. And with the girl's age...they had tried to replace her almost as soon as she was gone. And now they were dead. Her once loving parents who had replaced her and then died, as if to escape what they had done. It hurt, and she was frustrated, but she could not - would not - cry for those who now obviously cared so little for her.

Ky'ria paused once back on the main roadway, staring at the sky. Oh, how life had changed...
"There she is! That's the bitch that tried to kill us!"
She sighed softly and closed her eyes as a group of those in the same uniform as the gate guards circled around her, weapons drawn.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2008, 08:18:00 PM »
She didn't bother moving as they surrounded her; she didn't need to.  From the pattern of foot falls and the unsheathing of swords, she had already discerned the group to number ten; seven swords, the other three most likely the same polearms the gate guards carried.  Her eyes slid open slowly, casually taking in the scene in front of her; she was right about the polearms, as one stood before her with said weapon.
"You're coming with us!  Now lay down your arms and come peacefully, or we'll remove them from you with force!"
Ah, the first guard.  She recognized the attitude and voice as it rang out from behind her.  Little coward, coming from behind.  She still had yet to make a move for her scythes when she replied calmly, "I told you I did not come here to seek trouble.  You merely brought it upon yourself."
"We are charged to protect this city and the people within it!  A threat to us is a threat to the people!"
This was a new voice, also from behind.  She replied to this one, "The only thing I threatened was your comrade's flow of ill-gained coin.  Honestly, do your superiors know that you are wrongfully taxing travelers, and keeping the coin for yourself?"  A light smile played across her lips at the astonished looks on a few of the faces of those she could see.
"She lies!  We asked her what her business was, and she attacked!  You all know as well as I that she is a criminal now, and criminals must be captured!"  There was a pause as those gathered seemed to be thinking about the words.  However, the first guard seemed to have some command over them, as his bark to "get her!" spurred them into action.
 
Ky'ria dodged the first two swords easily enough, throwing one young man over her shoulder to the opposite side of the circle, taking three momentarily out of the fray.  Her scythes destroyed a polearm and broke a wrist in the next movement; five now, but the polearm would draw a sword, and the three toppled would be getting up soon.  A roundhouse reduced the numbers to eight, and for a moment it was hard to keep the blunt edges of her scythes out as she battled.  As another boy, the second polearm, managed to get himself caught in the swing of another's sword, she noted that the two gate guards were staying back, probably to try and get a cheap shot in from a safe distance.  So, five.  A young woman actually had her sparring for a few swings before she was sent backwards with a swift kick to the gut, and Ky'ria felt a sting on her left arm before the swordsman was dispatched with a blow to the neck with the blunt side of her blade.  Four.  The last polearm managed to get a crack at the back of her head, and she was dizzy for a moment before he, too, was dropped, just as the shout of the two gate guards was heard, and the scythes were sheathed.  She grabbed the staff from limp hands and swung about, catching one guard on the side of his head, toppling him into the other, who was knocked cold by a jab to the face.  Two.  The woman from before and another girl were the only ones left, a fact that had her chuckling a little.  Ky'ria panted gently as they faced off, still holding the polearm.  The second girl charged, trying to get a blow in, but was deflected each time by the staff, and was eventually disarmed with a hit to the wrist; probably not broken, but at least sprained pretty bad.  One.
 
"That's pretty impressive, ya know.  Shall we see how well you fight unarmed?"  The woman sheathed her sword and folded her hands into fists, taking up a fighting stance.
"Fighting like men now, are we?"  Ky'ria gave a short laugh and tossed the polearm aside, also taking up a fighting stance.
"You could call it that."
The woman circled a little before darting in with a shout, trying to break Ky'ria's stance.  She failed, and the attack was blocked easily.  This continued for a few minutes, the guard attacking, Ky'ria blocking as she analyzed her fighting style.
"Why don't you attack me!" the woman screamed as she kicked high.
"Would you like me too?" Ky'ria jumped back, avoiding a boot to the face; as she returned forward, she pushed away the swiftly executed punch with her left hand and finished with an uppercut with her right, sending the woman flying backwards and to the ground with a hard punch to her sternum.  Blood oozed from the slice on her arm; luckily, it had not been deep enough to hinder her, but it was starting to become bothersome.
 
Ky'ria was just returning to her center form when an arrow struck her high and right on her torso, causing her to stumble back a slight.  She looked at it a moment, and then saw its source.  A man, several years older than these children, and by his dress, obviously a superior, held a crossbow at the ready, already loading another bolt.  Somewhere from the mass of moaning bodies, she heard a voice call, "Captain Micah."
Best friends forever!
"Micah..."  She looked at him with wide, startled eyes, and a pain deeper than any physical feeling lanced through her as a second bolt buried itself in her left thigh.
...never forget you!
"Micah..."  He stared at her with cold eyes, as though looking at a hardened criminal.  That one look almost broke her.  "Micah..."
 
She didn't know if he ever heard her; a blow to the back of her head had her pitching forward as blackness overtook her vision.

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2008, 08:19:00 PM »
Light filtered in through the tiny window far above her, slanted just right to land directly in her eyes, which closed quickly after fluttering open to receive such abuse.  A dull throb on the back of her head shortly made itself known, adding to the sting in her eyes, though when she moved to caress the offending bump, Ky'ria found her hands to be bound behind her.  Some novice detective work proved that her shackles were also chained to the wall.  "Great..."
Eyes still shut, she shuffled to the side until the light was out of her face, greatful for the fact that her captors had not bound her legs as well.  She let out a sigh and slowly eased her eyes open once more, to find herself faced with a pair of softly glowing red orbs.  She shifted back against the wall, surprised, and the small thing was nearly knocked from its perch on her legs.  It made a sound at her, a strange mix between a purr and a chirp, and climbed further into her lap, still staring at her.
"You..."  Ky'ria stared at the small black creature on her lap, no bigger than a house cat, trying to recall why it was so familiar to her.  She nearly groaned out loud when the memory returned, and she half glared at it, her voice chiding.  "Where have you been?  I've been looking for you, you know!"
The shadow fox, for that was what it was, lowered his head at the reprimand, its call softer, as if it were apologizing.  Ky'ria tried to glare at it, but gave up with a sigh, and shifted further away from the shaft of light.   She never could stay mad at the little runt for very long.  The kit knew this as well, and as soon as she sighed he began snuggling up to her and chewing on her belt, making happy little noises.  He must have been hurt in the last fight as well, to have remained hidden for so long...  Ky'ria looked at her pet ruefully.  "I think I've really gotten us into a mess this time, Xamos."  He cocked his head at her and chirped again, little red eyes blinking innocently at her.  She just laughed gently at him, and leaned her head back, staring at nothing in particular.  Ten years...had it already been so long?  Ten years, and he was still as small as a two month old pup...  He really was a little runt...but it made keeping him easier.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2008, 08:19:25 PM »
"The den is just beyond this brush.  Is everyone ready?"
The hunting party readied their weapons, and at the leader's signal fanned out around the den.  A smoke bomb was tossed into the opening, and after a moment several black forms darted out, the largest about the size of a large dog, the other five not quite a quarter of their mother's size.  The shadow foxes hudled close together as the hunters descended on them, hardly able to put up much of a fight.  The mother snapped at anything her maw could reach, darting about and causing several nasty wounds before she was finally put down; the kits followed their mother's fate, and soon the bodies were gathered to be carted away.  This was not the entire mission, however.  It seemed that the foxes had gotten ahold of some rather valuable possessions of the local lord's, and were stashing them in their den.  As it was, the entrance was small, and so, it fell on Ky'ria to crawl in and retrieve whatever was in there.
 
Ky'ria heaved herself through the small tunnel, marveling at how the shadow foxes could fit through here.  At sixteen, she was still rather small, having not yet had a major growth spurt, and much to her distain found that many jobs that required a small body or small hands were passed down to her, despite the abundance of children.  She coughed as she inhaled some dust, and grumbled about having no light.  It wouldn't have helped, however; once she got in, the flame would only use up precious oxygen in the tunnel.  So, she felt her way in darkness away from the surface and deeper into the den.
When her fingers brushed something metal, she pulled a sack out of her shirt and began to load up everything she could, sweeping her arms wide to make sure she retrieved everything that was stashed, and bagging plenty of dirt in the process.  Her fingers brushed against something soft and fuzzy once, but when she reached out again it was gone.  'Probably just a moth...or something...'  She finished gathering all the stolen goods and jerked her legs, tugging on the rope wound around her feet, and after a moment she was pulled slowly backwards by those waiting outside.  By the time she emerged and had the rope off of her legs, the wooden cart was already loaded with the carcasses and covered securely; once they returned to the villiage, the coats would be treated to stand the light and made into garments, and the teeth and bones would be used for tools and weapons.  She fell in step behind the group as they left, not giving the empty den a second thought.
 
That night, she had the wierdest dream about a tiny black cat with red eyes.  She awoke once in the night, and could have sworn that she saw it for real, but the vision vanished when she pulled a still glowing stick from the firepit to have more light.
 
A few days later, others in the villiage began to notice some of their food stores missing, and a several rib-bones and other incriminating evidence was found behind Ky'ria's small hut.  The suspicion turned from her, however, when a watchfull neighbor spotted a run-a-way chicken carcass in the teeth of an accomplice critter.  He began to chase after it with a candlestick, making enough rukus in the process to wake half the villiage.  Ky'ria, curious as to what was happening, stepped out of her door just in time to have a small black form with red eyes jump at her, and vanish.  After much yelling, finger-pointing, and general chaos, Ky'ria found herself in the middle of the villiage under the leader's harsh scrutiny.
 
"Explain."
"I...can't.  I don't know what's going on!" Ky'ria exclaimed as the familiar glare was given.  The leader closed the distance between them and reached out to grab her arm, when all of a sudden he drew his hand back, two fingers bleeding.
"What in all seven hells...?"  His question was answered as a small, rather pathetic growl emanated from the shadows underneath Ky'ria's hair, and red eyes glared out at him from atop her left shoulder.  Ky'ria, out of instinct, went rigid at the sound of a growl so close to her.  The leader faced off with the shape, and with no warning reached in and plucked it off her shoulder, holding it by the scruff of the neck.  He examined it as the kit tried to wrestle out of his grip and cried for its mother, casting pleading looks at Ky'ria.  He casually tossed it back to her, and as it's cries ceased once back in her arms, he laughed.  He laughed.  For the benefit of all those gathered and in bewilderment, he explained.  "The runt believes Ky'ria to be its mother."  A few snickers floated through the night air, and he continued, addressing Ky'ria now.  "You will repay what you pet has stolen from the other villiagers, and you will begin it's training at sundown tomorrow.  Am I clear?"  His eyes were hard again, letting no confusion about his seriousness occur.
Ky'ria looked down at the kit and sighed.  "Perfectly."
"Good.  Then back to sleep, everybody."  With that, he turned and left, the rest gathered doing the same, and she wandered back to her hut alone.  She recalled that, in a legend from her home, there was a michivous spirit called Xemos that always seemed to make trouble if given half the chance.  She glared at the kit and decided that it had already lived up to its namesake.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2008, 08:20:59 PM »
Xamos was occupying himself with a bit of straw opposite the cell from Ky'ria when he suddenly looked up, chirped at her, and vanished into the shadow.  A few seconds later a squeaky door opened somewhere, and the sound of booted feet on stone was heard approaching her cell.  She just leaned her head back against the wall and closed her eyes.
 
The boots stopped in front of her cell, and a deep, rich voice echoed slightly in the stone corridor.  "Why did you attack my soldiers?"
Her voice was weary, and slightly annoyed.  "I didn't."
"Then how do you explain the ten wounded bodies currently in the infirmary?"
Ky'ria gave a small, exasperated sigh.  "If I had attacked them, there'd be ten bodies waiting to be buried, not simply in the infirmary."
"What is your purpose in Fyrehaven?"
"A trip down memory lane," what her swift retort.
"What is your purpose in Fyrehaven?"  It was clear that he was becoming irritated, and she smirked lightly.  She almost bit back with another smart comment, but was cut off by a second pair of boots coming down the hall.
"Captain, I have been asked by the doctory to inform you that all those injured in the fight today have only sustained relatively minor wounds, with the exception of Brayas, who was injured by an errant swing, and Gorta, who has a broken wrist.  Mistie has a sprained wrist, but will be able to return to duty within a day or two."
"Understood.  Return to your-"
Ky'ria opened an eye at the voice of one of the first guards she knocked silly, and interupted the captain, recognizing him as the one who shot her.  "Your name is Micah, is it not?"
"That's Captain Micah to you, you worthless wench!  Show some respect!"
She looked at him fully now, struggling to keep the pain from her voice and features.  "Tell me, Captain, is it standard to lay a toll on travelers entering your town who do not come to sell any wares?"
The young guard caught his breath and glared heatedly at her from behind Micah's back.  "No.  Why?"
"Oh, no reason.  Just wondering if it was merely a misunderstanding on my part or not that started this entire mess."
"Don't listen to her, Captain!  She's just trying to fool you to get out of her punishment!"
She didn't know why she felt like making so many flippant remarks.  Perhaps it was the shock of how much her home had changed.  Perhaps she had no fear for what may happen to her; she basically had ceased to exsist to these people anyway, so what did it matter what they did to her?  Perhaps, she was just angry at the way that life had played out.  "I have nothing to hide.  You, however, have become increasingly agressive towards me.  Perhaps you know something you shouldn't?"
"That is enough."  The icy words shut the mouth of the young guard, who had been about to snarl something wholy unsavory at her.  "Kile, return to your quarters for the day.  That is all."  The lad looked as though he had more to say, but kept his mouth shut and turned on his heel, leaving them.  Captain Micah left shortly after, but stopped when Ky'ria spoke again, her voice much more subdued.
"One more thing, Captain..."
Something about her change in tone made him answer.  "...What is it?"
She struggled with the words, unable to keep all the emotion from her voice as she asked, "How long is forever?"
"What did you say?"  He faced back towards her cell, but did not move towards it.
"Nothing.  Nevermind."
He stared at her door for a moment, then turned and continued on his way, throwing the oddly troubling words from his thoughts.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2008, 08:21:35 PM »
It was some two days after her initial imprisonment that Ky'ria sat in a corner, gently stroking Xamos as he slept in her lap.  Outside of that first day, the only human contact had been the dull repetitive thock of boots on stone as the guards made their rounds, and the occasional meal brought in by what appeared to be one of a low rank on propation.  Which was completely fine by her.  She was drug out of her thoughts when the kit's ears twitched and he lifted his head.  He blinked a couple times before jumping up to her neck, vanishing in mid-leap.  So, they were coming again.
 
The footsteps stopped outside her cell, though she did not cast her gaze over until she heard the jangle of keys and the squeek of a lock.  A middle-aged man stepped in and released the chains on her hands before takin a few steps back towards the door.  "You will come with us."  She gave an inaudible hmph before rising slowly to her feet and sauntering out into the hall.  The one guard led the way while two others took up the rear; apparently they didn't trust her.  As if she would be foolish enough to make an attempt at escape now.  She was led back out to the main road where several others waited to escort her to the edge of town - everyone was mounted, except her, of course.  They took her half a mile from the limits before stopping.
"You have been released under the understanding that you are no longer welcome within Fyrehaven.  Your weapons will be returned, and you are expected to have moved on from the area by night fall.  After this period of time, if you are sighted within a mile of town, you are to be killed on sight.  Do you understand these conditions?"
"Hmph.  how generous of you.  Yes, I understand that I am not welcome here.  I did not need you to tell me that."  Her voice was bitter, anger slowly rising within her.  The group of mounted soldiers turned and began to leave, one dropping a bundle bound in leather and string.  She opened it after they were out of sight and returned her weapons to their respective places and turned away, walking in the opposite direction.
 
Ky'ria had not walked long before she stopped again, eyes focussed on a hill to her left which bore a single, flowering tree.  She just stared at that tree for a while, then started up the hill.
 
"Come on, Micah!  You wanted to see Puppy, didn't you?"  Ky'ria stood almost half way up the large hill, hands on her hips and called back down to Micah who stood fast at the bottom.  Their fathers waited on the road, some hundred feet from Micah.
"Yeah, but..."
"But nothing!  Come on!"  
She smiled gently as he climbed up after her, and she took his hand in hers, walking by his side as they climbed to the top of the knoll.  
 
The head stones were more cluttered together than they had been then, and tall grass and weeds sprouted up almost everywhere.  She walked slowly towards the tree as a strong gust blew small pink petals everywhere.
 
"See?  Puppy's sleeping peacefully, just like your daddy said he was."  The two children were crouched in front of a small headstone underneith the flowering tree.  "The carver even made it look pretty, too."  She ran her fingers under the delicately carved words as she read them; Micah had been struggling with reading, so she often read things for him when no one was around.  'Puppy - Beloved by many, Dearly missed.'"  She hugged her friend as he began crying over the loss of his pet.  "It's ok, Micah.  Puppy's happy now, I bet.  He's not sick or hurt or anything!  An' look!  Even the trees are crying for him, too."  She pointed up, and they both watched as the tree dropped a shower of petals, many landing on them and the grave they sat at.

 
"Puppy..."  Ky'ria brushed dirt and moss from the small headstone, revealing the words once more and ran her fingers over the lettering.  She smiled warmly at the stone, remembering the lively dog that had gone everywhere with her and Micah when they were kids.  She frowned at that memory and stood.  That wasn't why she was here...
 
She made her way through the graves towards what appeared to be newer additions, and after a while of searching, found the pair she wanted to see in particular.  The names didn't bother her; they meant nothing to her now.  But the inscription....damn them.  Even in death, they still denied her...  She pulled a scyth out and, with a twist of her wrist released the mechanism in the handle and sent the blade out at the headstone by the cord normally kept concealed within the handle, another flick bringing the cord and blade back into place.  Ky'ria didn't give the stone another look as she walked from the graveyard, a large gash left in the stone through "Parents of two wonderful children."

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2008, 08:22:17 PM »
Captain Micah sat in his office looking over some papers, several pertaining to their most recent jail-house guest and the incident surrounding her arrival.  He glanced up at a soft knock on his door and frowned.  With a sigh, he stacked the papers once more and set them aside to take care of later.  He wasn't getting much work done, anyway.  "Enter."
Laeren stepped in, eyes slightly down cast as he shut the door quietly behind him.  Micah's scowl melted away at the sight of his old friend, and he stood to greet him.  "Laeren, my friend.  It is good to see you again.  What brings you here today?"
"Ky'ria."
Micah's gentle smile fell at the mention of her name, and the pain of separation made itself known once again.  He cast his eyes down, not looking at her brother, the one reminder he had of the girl he had once, in his childhood years, sworn to himself that he would marry.  "What of your sister?"
"She was here, a few days ago.  She came to the house.  And met Kira...  Gods, the look on her face..."
"Why didn't you come tell me that she was here?"  He looked at Laeren oddly, his face a mixture of emotions that hadn't been seen since Ky'ria's departure.  Why hadn't Laeren come to him?  Why hadn't Ky'ria sought him out?  Why-
"You arrested her!  After she left the house, I had thought that she'd gone to find you, but it seems that you found her first.  I heard later that night about a darkly clad woman who, if rumors are to be trusted, attacked the gate guards, then brutally beat down a score of soldiers until you shot her with several arrows and dragged her off to jail."
Micah was in shock at what he was hearing.  It couldn't have been her!  He's have known her anywhere!  And now to be told that he not only ordered her arrest, but shot her as well?  It...it was too much.  How could he believe what he was hearing?
Laeren gave a short, self-laothing laugh.  "I thought that perhaps you two had a falling out or something, since she was escorted from town, but it seems that you truly did not realize that it was her.  Though it would have been easy to mistake her for another.  I myself almost did not recognize her.  It's been so many years, and she now wears many scars, and not simply those on her skin."
Micah quietly clasped his hands and rested his forehead against his fists, closing his eyes in thought.  "Thank you, Laeren, for this news."
He nodded, and turned for the door, pausing before opening it.  "Please, Micah.  Find her.  The news of our parents and to be faced with Kira has broken her heart, and your betrayal has wounded her worse than any could hope to dare."
"My...betrayal?  How have I betrayed her?  I did my duty to protect the peace in this town, a peace which she disrupted."  He was hurt, and confused, and did not know how else to respond in his current state.  Laeren just gave him a sad smile.
"I went to our parent's graves yesterday...she had been there.  The inscription about Kira and I had been slashed.  Honestly, Micah, I'm scared for her.  I know she can take care of herself; her years with the slayers took care of that.  But she probably doesn't think she has anyone in this world anymore.  I can't go to her; I wouldn't know where to start looking, anyway, and I can't leave the shop."
Micah looked up at him.  "Yet you said yourself that I have betrayed her.  How do you know she will be willing to see me?"
"Honestly, I don't know."  He opened the door and looked back.  "But you've got the best chance out of any of us."  He closed the door behind him as he left, and Micah was once again alone with his thoughts.  He didn't want to believe that he had done such a thing, but, as everything came together in his mind, he knew the painful truth.  He had betrayed her.  From the moment he tried to forget about her, had tried to heal his wounded heart, he had betrayed their friendship, and her trust.
How long is forever?
His heart shuddered, and he laid his face in his hands.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2008, 08:22:41 PM »
The smallest rays of early dawn found Captain Micah saddling his white stallion in the Guard stables, his aide standing a few feet away awaiting last orders, or some kind of explanation.  He rubbed his gloved hand fondly over the horse's nose before turning to the youth.  "I'm riding to Hyvendale on business, as well as to tend to a personal matter.  I'll likely be gone a few days.  Until I return, Jacobal is in charge as per usual, and any reports that go to him are copied for my review upon my return."  He made one last check over his gear and slid a stack of papers into a saddle bag before mounting up and riding out into the town.  
 
The sun was just barely reaching the horizon as he left the town limits, and his gaze passed over the hill with the flowering tree once before the road plundged into the forest.
 
It was an entire day's ride to reach Hyvendale, and the sun was just setting as he settled his stallion into the stables at the inn.  It was too late to meet with the captain of the local guard now, and so Micah resigned himself to wait until morning.  Once in his room at the inn, he laid the saddle bags by the modest bed and took a seat, staring at them rather blankly.  Within one laid a copy of the report written up about Ky'ria, which he had brought with him under the pretext of passing on a warning to the local authorities.  However, he had no intentions of bringing them out, and planned to meet with the local Captain only to see if Ky'ria had passed this way or not.  He knew now that it was imperative that he find her and, if nothing else, at least talk to her.  She deserved that much, in any case.
He opened a bag to pull out some travel fare, not being much in the mood to eat downstairs with the patrons, and Micah found himself faced with a dark woolen cloak.  That, as well as food, and any supplies she may need were carefully placed into the bags before he left that morning.  The nights were getting cold again, and she would need it, as he had a feeling that she would probably avoid towns for a while.  He wanted to help her, if for no other reason than to make himself feel better about what he had done to her.  What he did...  He frowned.  It was inexcusable.  He had hardly slept for the pain that he felt at what he had done to her, his dearest friend, and he knew that it would haunt him until he set it right.
 
It had grown late fast, so lost was he in his thoughts, and Micah blew out the candle, having hardly eaten, and settled in for another restless night.
 
The morning found him pacing anxiously in the office of the local Captain, awaiting his return.  Micah had been informed that the Captain had gone out on a night exercise with some trainees, and would not be back until late morning.  Rather than return to his room, he had decided to wait.  He needed to speak with the older man as soon as he returned.
Micah was standing by a window, staring out at the trainees in the yard, when the door opened and Captain Koln entered.  He wore muddy leather armor and tracked grass and dirt in with him, and a little still clung to his greying hair.  "Captain Micah.  It is a surprise to see you.  I appologize for your wait.  Had I known you were coming, I'd have made the proper accomodations."
"It is quite alright, Captain Koln.  It is a rather sudden business that brings me here."
"Oh?  What might I do for you then?"  He moved to the other side of his desk, removing what he could of his armor and dropping it in a pile, making himself at least slightly more presentable.
"I am looking for a young woman, about my age.  She's a little shorter than I, and has light blue eyes, and medium length brown hair.  She's wearing dark clothes, some light armor like a demon slayer's, and carries two small scythes and a dagger.  She left Fyrehaven two days ago, heading in this direction."
Koln regarded him carfully.  "Is this someone we should watch out for?"
"Well, yes and no.  I'm trying to find her to ask her some questions.  Has she come through this way?"
He thought for a bit.  "I don't recall hearing of or seeing anybody matching that description, and I'm sure that such a woman would have made it into the gossip circles by now if she had."
"I see."  Micah was a little let down, but, at least he knew that she hadn't made it here yet, unless she had changed direction and gone into the woods...  "Thank you for your help.  If you do see her, could you detain her and get word to me as soon as possible?  I don't think she'll willingly wait around if you just ask her to remain in town."  He smiled a little bit at himself, reminded again of how much she probably hated him right now.
"That I can do, laddy.  Are you sure she's not in any kind of trouble?"  Koln looked at him inquisitively.
"Yes.  Like I said, I just wanted to ask her some questions.  Thank you again, for your help, and I appologize for putting you out like this.  I'll show myself out."  With that, Captain Micah bowed slightly to the older man and left the office, returning slowly to the inn.  Well, if she wasn't here, he really had no excuse to stay.  He may even have the luck to run into her on his way back to Fyrehaven.  It was probably best that he leave now, anyway.  If she came into town and found him waiting for her, she'd probably be even more upset at him.  
Once back at the inn, he gathered his things and was ready to leave town in a matter of minutes, such was his training, as well as his eagerness to find Ky'ria.
 
The sun was hanging low in the sky, and Micah realized that he was still quite a distance from the town.  Damnit, why had he been in such a hurry?  He had to admit, he had not been acting like his usual calm, thoughtful self ever since he received word of Ky'ria's presence.  But then again, how often was it that a long lost friend was returned after so many years.  He stopped the stallion in the middle of the road and gave a sigh.  He really disliked riding at night, so it seemed that he would have to make camp.  He was several yards from the road, and about to dismount, when he reembered that there was a small lake not too far from where he was.  It was a few miles into the woods, but he should be able to reach it before the sun completely set.  Gauging his distance from his personal marker he had placed on the road from where he had turned into the woods, he started at a new angle, aiming for the body of water.
 
His angle had been a little off, though he found the faint game trail with only a little trouble in the dying light and corrected his course, following the path to the water.  He heard light splashing up ahead and dismounted, leading his horse along slowly.  He still was not in sight of the water, but there was definite splashing ahead.  He left the stallion and continued alone, careful to not make too much noise.  Not too many people knew of this spot, as it was rather secluded from the road.  He felt a small pang of jealousy at the thought of someone else being in their secret spot, but he continued on, keeping quiet as he passed through the brush.
 
As he passed the last tree and the lake came into view, he was presented a view that he almost had to face away from, and he felt the warmth rushing to his cheeks instantly.  There in the water stood a woman, her back to him, and the water rising to just below her hips.  Her hair was wet and laid over her shoulder as she stroked at it, and moonlight danced off the water that clung to her skin.  However, the feature that most drew his attention was her back, or rather, the scars that ran the length of it.  It was somewhat difficult to see, but the moon was nearly full, and reflected well off the water.  There were five parallel lines that ran from her right shoulder to her left hip, which almost could have been left from a whip, but for the fact that they were so perfectly aligned, and that they were fairly wide.  What struck him most was that, while four of the lines were more or less the same length, the fifth and left most of the lines started lower and ended lower, almost as if...  Micah glanced at his hand, and gasped softly at the resemblance.  Something with a very large clawed hand had left those.  
 
He took a step forward despite his better judgement, and found himself face to face with a pair of wide, red eyes as they lept at him, a small, high growl reaching his ears just before he felt small claws and teeth scratching at his face.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2008, 08:23:12 PM »
She had forgotten about the small lake that lay hidden within the woods, and likely would have continued to forget about its exsistance had she not kept away from the road in an effort to avoid people.  Ky'ria was not, at all, in a very social mood.  She only found it because she happened to cross the narrow game path and, at the insistance of a shadow of a memory, she turned and followed it, coming eventually to the clear waters.  She sighed gently to herself, then nodded.  This would do for tonight.  She had no urge to continue on towards the next town.  
 
Settling against a tree, she pulled her boots from her weary feet, giving them rest after so many days of walking.  It was a good rest, for her feet as well as for the badly bandaged wounds in her leg and chest, and Xamos was already bouncing around near the shore in the growing shadows.  It was a good thing that shadows were plentiful here.  He deserved a good romp after being holed up in that cell with her.  She laughed lightly as the kit came to close to the water and fell into a muddy spot, splashing about before finally able to free himself and come sulking back to her, tail and ears low, his displeasure clearly evident.  She stroked his fur lightly, flicking off some of the mud and water that clung to her hand before deciding that a bath would be a very good idea.  She rose and began the task of removing her garments and armor, setting them in a neat pile at the base of the tree.  The scythes and dagger were placed on top, with her shirt draped over them so that they would be easily reached should she need them.  
The moon was just rising as she padded gently to the water, Xamos following her as far as the shore, more careful this time of the water.  The silvery light made her all the more aware of the small scars that laced her body from years of battling demons, and a glance to the water behind her gave her a distorted view of the slashes running down her back.  She hated those scars; they were her weakness, her proof that she was not strong enough to take on anything and everything.  She had nearly died because she thought herself strong enough, had sought to prove that she could fight just as well as the others.  Her hatred of the others and her arrogance led her to lie in a pool of her own blood, a demon towering over her, taunting her, dragging out her torturous death.  She was alive now only because the group had caught up and slain the demon before it could finish her.
 
She sighed, releasing her anger.  It would do no good to think of it now; she knew it was there, that was all she needed.  Taking a breath, she dove under the water, coming up several yards away, still relatively shallow, so that the water only reached her hips.  She picked at her hair, wishing she had some of the cleaning salve from the demon hunter's village.  Perhaps she could find something that worked the same in another town.  As she slowly worked at some of the tangles and snarls in her hair, she heard something moving through the brush behind her.  She stopped still for a moment, then continued running her hands through her hair, to give the appearance that she hadn't heard, but all senses were tuned to where the noise had come from.  She didn't smell anything, so it couldn't have been a bear or a demon, and besides, Xamos would have made some noise had it been a demon.  So, that left the likely posibility that it was human.
 
She only smirked lightly at the high growl that was followed by curses and disrupted brush.  Turning slowly, she moved back to the shore, in no real hurry, seeing that the man trying to spy on her was only one of the town's guards.  She selected the dagger, making no move to don any clothing.  "Xamos."  The short command halted the kit's attacks, likely not a moment too soon, as his next target was behind the man's left knee.  The kit came bounding obediantly back to her, and Micah lowered his hands from his face, thinking himself safe, only to find a dagger shivering in a tree dangerously close to his face.  "I missed on purpose," she hissed at him, unable to see his face for the shadows.  She drew the scythes from the pile of clothes next.  "Explain yourself now, or I promise that I won't miss again."
Micah, despite his situation, could not pull himself to look away from her, she standing there so proud, so... "Beautiful..."  He caught himself just as the word whispered past his lips, and he turned from her swiftly, his face flushed hot at having seen her naked.  "Ky...please...put some clothes on..."
She frowned at him as he used her old nickname, but lowered the blades.  "So it's you.  What do you want?"  Her tone was barely tolerant at best.
"Your bother-"
"I don't have a brother," she spat back at him, her grip on the scythes tightening.
"Your brother," he repeated, "wanted me to come find you.  It was he, after all, who made me realize how much of a fool that I am, to have not recognized you..."
"That still doesn't explain what you want."  She slowly began dressing, donning only her pants and shirt, wincing slightly as the fabric pulled at the bandages.
Micah sighed.  "I wanted to find you.  To appologize.  For shooting you, first off, and...well, for everything.  I broke my promise to you."  His voice wavered, and his head lowered as he felt his shame.  "I swore that I would never forget you, that we'd be best friends forever, but I gave up because it hurt too much to remember you.  I always hoped that one day you'd come running back into town, smiling and laughing that you had gotten away from the slayers, or that they lad let you go, and we could be friends again, like nothing had chagned.  I watched that road out of town everyday for years...but you never came back.  I cried worse than I did when my old dog died, because it felt like you had died, and I didn't even have a change to say goodbye, or a grave to visit to tell you how much I missed you.  I..."  His voice broke, and a tear slid down his cheek.  "I'm so...so sorry, Ky'ria...I betrayed you..."
"Yes.  You did."  Her voice was right next to him now, and he jerked his head up to see her pulling her dagger from the tree and walking away again, a slight limp to her step.
He sighed.  "At least let me tend your wounds better than the medic did."
Ky'ria dropped the weapons in a pile and turned back to him.  "Can you handle it?  You seemed to have problems functioning when I was standing several yards away.  Could you handle it up close?"  She smirked wickedly at him.
Micah scoffed at her.  "It would be no different that if I were treating one of my sodiers."
She shrugged.  "Alright.  I suppose it's the least you can do for shooting me.  Twice."
He winced at her tone, feeling another pang of guilt as he whistled for his horse, which came to him obediantly, and he pulled out a couple rolls of bandages and a small bag of salve.  He walked back to Ky'ria, kneeling in front of her as she lowered her trousers and sat on the ground.  Despite his best efforts, he still blushed slightly at her nakedness; he should have known that he could never think of her as 'just another soldier,' now with the way he once thought of her.  Even so, he dutifully kept his eyes on his business, pulling away the old bandages and cleaning the wound, smoothing salve over the torn flesh and rewrapping her leg.
She leaned back on her hands while he tended to her, watching his face as he worked.  She smirked at his blush, glad that he was uncomfortable.  It was some little victory to her, after what he had done.  But still...
He finished with her leg, tucking the end of the bandage into the rest, and she pulled her trousers back up.  As she pulled her shirt off for him to get at her other bandages, she found herself looking away as well.  Not from any show of modesty; she'd lost that years ago.  Rather, it was the awkward silence that sat heavily between them.  For all that she felt hurt by Micah, she couldn't stay angry at him no matter how much she wanted to.  All she felt now was a distinct loss of what had once been.  "Micah...what's happened to us?"
He looked up from wrapping her shoulder, finding that she didn't look at him.  "What do you mean?"
She sighed heavily.  "How has life changed so much?  When did it all get so complicated?"
He smiled ruefully.  "We grew up.  You left Fyrehaven, and the town expanded."
She looked back to him, then down at the ground, smiling gently at the shadow fox who looked back up at her from her lap and mewled at her.  She stroked it gently with her the hand opposite where Micah sat, comforted by its odd sounding purr.  It was funny; the little creature acted more like a cat sometimes than a fox.
"Are you truly angry with me?"  She met his eyes briefly, then looked away again, unable to deal with the sadness in those eyes.
"I...I don't really know.  I had all these hopes and expectations of my homecoming, and when I arrive, I find only that I have been forgotten...or replaced..."  Her last words were full of hurt and anger, and Micah saw just how much this revelation tore at her.  He tucked the bandage end in and slid slowly behind her on the ground, wrapping his arms around her upper chest and held her to him, laying his head against hers.  It was almost funny once he thought about it.  When they were kids, it was always the other way around; she binding some scrape of his, and holding him when he wanted to cry.  
"Come back with me."
"I can't.  You know as well as I that I can't.  After all, it was your own order which banished me from Fyrehaven, was it not?"  Her smile was slightly regretful, and she laid an arm across his, greatful for the hug.
"I'll rescind it."  
"No you won't.  You know you can't.  If you do, and I come riding back into town with you, then your word as law is null and void.  You'll lose your respect, and with it your authority to head the guards of this place."
"But It was a mistake, after all.  It was never your fault, what happened.  All it would take was a proclamation of such, and everything would be fine."
"No."
"Ky'ria!  I won't just throw you out of your home!  Our home!"   He held her tighter, refusing to believe that she would actually have to leave because of his stupidity.  She just sighed and wore that same, sad smile.
"It stopped being my home the day I left sixteen years ago."
"Ky..."
She slipped from his arms then, pulling the shirt back over her head, noting that it didn't pull on the bandages as much as before, and stood, walking back to her armor and weapons, her back still to him as she spoke.  "Go back to your town, Captain Micah.  To your citizens who look up to and depend on you."  She gave a grin.  "To the soldiers who, more or less, follow your orders."
He grimaced at her use of his title.  It felt so alien to be coming from her, and he inwardly cried out at the distance growing between them after having found her again after so long.  "At least let me help you.  I have supplies for you with me; a cloak, blanket, food, and if you need anything else I can help you get it from Hyvendale."
"Please...just go.  I don't think-"
"I'm not leaving until you agree to my help.  You know very well how stubborn I can be, and I'll follow you around like a stalker if I have to."  He gave her a flat look, waiting for her to reply, or to at least face him again.  She did neither for a while, then finally hung her head and laughed helplessly, turning to face him once again, a lopsided grin on her face.
"Alright.  If you insist.  But it'll be none of my fault if you get caught in the company of a criminal."

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2008, 08:23:46 PM »
They sat staring up at the stars together, fingers laced together, the gentle sound of water moving beyond them.  They had gone out on the premise of gathering herbs for the medicine lady, who had sprained her ankle.  And they had, a little.  But mostly they wanted to go to their spot.  The small lake hidden within the forest.  It was so peaceful there, and on a couple occaions a deer had come to drink while they sat in the clearing.
"Micah?"
"Hm?"
"Aren't the stars pretty tonight?"
"Hm."
"You can say more than just a grunt, you know!"  She sat up and punched his arm lightly, he just laughing at the effort.  She never could hit very hard.  She hit him again for laughing at her, and he played along, pretending to be hurt, at which she gave him a sidelong look and snipped at him, "wuss."  Ky'ria laid back down beside him, putting her hand back in his, and laid her head on his shoulder.  He really was her best friend, because he always made her feel stronger and smarter than she thought she was.
"Ky?"
"Hm?"
"We should probably go back soon.  I'm sure everyone's worried about us..."
She sighed.  "Probably.  But I don't want to go yet!"  She rolled over on top of him, hugging him tight.  "We never get to just sit together anymore!  Your daddy's always trying to teach you to fight,  and my daddy doesn't like me to go out on my own much."
Micah smiled at her, laying his chin against her head.  "Alright, we'll stay.  We can deal with parents later."
"This will always be our spot, right?  No matter what?"
"No matter what."

 
Ky'ria sat on a rock by the water, scrubbing at the blood in her shirt.  She couldn't sleep.  She hadn't for the past few nights, either, likely from the shock of everything since coming back home.  No...it wasn't home anymore.  It probably could never be home ever again.  She looked up at the sky at the errant memory, and smiled slightly.  The stars were pretty tonight.  She glanced back at Micah, who still lay sleeping soundly, his horse tethered near by, and Xamos, the little traitor, was sleeping on Micah's stomach, about as happy as he could be.  The kit never ceased to surprise her.  He was a good friend, though, and somewhere in the back of her mind, she was happy that the two boys she cared about most were getting along.  She turned back to the water, scrubbing more before finally satisfied that the blood was gone.  She had since rebound her breasts, the wide bandages almost covering the smaller ones placed there by Micah.  
Laying the shirt over a low branch to dry, Ky'ria regarded him again, laying on his back with a cloak for a pillow.  He insisted that she use his bed roll, though it went largely unused.  Her sleeplessness and greater comfort on the ground made it unneccessary.  Though, with nothing else to wash blood from, she found that she had nothing to do but lie back down.  It was a little odd, lying next to him again after so many years.  There was still a rift there, but it felt smaller than it had when she first faced him in town.  It still hurt a little, that he hadn't recognized her, but she just could not remain angry.  Perhaps she was just too worn out from being angry at everything else.  Between the way life treated her, the way the slayers treated her, and the way her parents had treated her, she just wanted someone she didn't have to be angry at.
 
She slid her hand out slowly, taking his in her own while he slept, and stared up at the stars.  The stars always were prettier in their spot.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2008, 08:24:55 PM »
Micah was already awake and sitting in front of a small fire, his back turned to her as he cooked something, when Ky'ria began to rouse from her sleep.  Her hair was a mess, having slept with it still wet, and she gave it a cursory finger brushing in an attempt to tame it slightly.  She crawled from the bed roll and padded silently to where her clothes hung, oblivious to the fact that all she wore were her bandages.
"Oh, you're awake.  I made some breakfast."  Micah's back was still to her, and only now started to face her.  "Would you like so- Good lords, Ky, would you put some clothes on?!"  He turned back to the fire, his face blazing as hot as the fire.  Ky'ria just laughed gently and, after deliberating over teasing him with her nakedness, pulled on her trousers, followed by her shirt.  Her muscles were still stiff and sore from their injuries, but she had lived through worse.
 
She settled on a stone placed by the fire pit by some former traveler, across from where Micah sat on a similar stool, and gave him an innocent smile.  "You were saying something about breakfast?"  Micah's face still glowed red from his embarassment, and he was almost afraid to look at her, for fear that she would still be half-naked.
"You can't just walk around like that, you know?  People will think you're a...a..."
"A what?  A harlot?  Prostitute?  Whore, cheap thrill?"  Her voice turned from joking to a more serious tone.  "Let people think what they want.  I can't be bothered by their petty judgements."
Micah kept quiet and passed her a small tin that served as a field dish and a fork, a couple wild eggs that he had found in the forest steaming next to some rations he had heated up.  He watched her as she ate, contemplating just how much she had changed.  The girl from his childhood was still there, but she was fading.  She was hard now, and her smiles and laughter held a bitter edge to them.  Just what had happened to change her so much?  "How'd you get those scars?"
Ky'ria paused in her eating briefly.  "Which ones?"
"On your back."
She stopped in mid-chew, and a dark look fell across her features, making Micah regret his question.  Slowly she swallowed her food and lowered the plate, staring into the fire.
"Don't rush off alone, you little snot."
"It's fine, I can take care of a demon on my own now, you haggard old bat."
"Fine then.  See if I come rescue you when you're being eaten!"

"I...got it from a demon."  The air hung heavily with the lack of explanation.
"How?"  It was clearly not a comfortable subject with her, but it was too late to recall the question.
Ky'ria sighed heavily, the memory flooding back to her...

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2008, 08:25:11 PM »
"Why is everyone so on edge as of late?"
"There's been rumors of demons that survived the last raid."
"So?  Why is that such a big deal?"
The young man gave a long-suffering sigh and turned to the fourteen year old walking behind him.  "Because a lot of the time any demons that aren't exterminated get very very upset, and come looking for us."
"Well, we killed them before, we can kill them again."
Isaak just sighed and plopped a hand on Ky'ria's head, tousling her hair in the way he knew she hated most.  He was one of the few people even remotely nice to her, so he knew she'd allow him to do it.  "Look, snot-brains, if we don't kill them the first time, they get a lot more angry, and violent.  If we don't find them first, they'll either go on a rampage killing everything they see, including humans, to draw us out, or, if they're smart enough to track us, come straight for us.  And often times they get friends."
Ky'ria was about to ask another question, an annoying habit she had developed latley, when the horn blew.  They both turned towards the main gate, which was being swung open, and watched as the riders came racing back in.  A few excited gestures passed between the riders and the villiage leader, after which the call to arms was given.  Ky'ria and Isaak looked at each other briely, then raced down the dirt to the gate to get in on the hunt.
 
Half the villiage hunters had been chosen to go, and once the mob reached a designated area, split off into small her parties to track down the last of the demons that durvived the raid.  As luck would have it, Ky'ria ended up in the same group as the woman who had been nothing but mean to her since she was dragged into this mess.  She suspected it had been her that pushed her into the river that day four years ago...
After an hour or so of travel, Ky'ria started to fan away from the group, hoping to get a better view of the land.
"Don't rush off alone you little snot."
Ky's brow ticked, and she sneered back to Mara, "It's fine, I can take care of a demon on my own now, you haggard old bat!  Besides!  We're never going to find anything this way...we should fan out, we'll cover more ground that way."  Ky'ria stepped a few more paces from the group, but still traveled in the same direction.
"Get back here.  I was placed in charge of this group, and you'll do as I say."
"She does have a point, Mara."  A man with the group spoke up.  "We should fan out a little, but keep within a few paces of each other."  With nodded agreement from the other five, Mara could do nothing but allow the formation, glaring heatedly at Ky'ria's half-hidden grin.  
"Fine then.  See if I come rescue you when you're being eaten!"
 
The day continued in much the same fashion.  The eight of them walking silently through the forest, weapons drawn, all senses tuned to any movement or sound, but none was found.  They stopped for a couple breaks, to rest and drink, then continued on.  They finally decided to turn back and regroup; it was likely that one of the other parties had already found and killed the beasts anyway.  On their return, they fanned out further, and moved in a diagonal, Ky'ria, of course, taking up the rear.  So, no one saw, or heard very well, when she slipped and fell down a steep rise in the forest ground that they hadn't seen on their way in.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2008, 08:25:28 PM »
Ky'ria's vision slowly returned to her, and she found herself looking up at the trees.  She blinked a few times, looking around as much as she could in her prone position, and gave a low moan of pain when she sat up, holding the back of her head, imagining the huge lump that was beginning to form.  "Well....great."  She rose slowly to her feet, looking around more.  She was in a deep gully, at least twenty feet below the rest of the forest where she stood, and it went deeper the further it ran.  The rim was heavily covered with brush, making a handy disguise for the hole.  Ky'ria turned to the nearest wall and tried climbing back up, but even with the aid of her scythes, the earth crumbled out from under her, sending her back to the bottom time and time again.  She gave a small grump and sheathed her blades, walking around a little more.  It didn't seem as though much time had passed since she fell; the sun was more or less in the same spot, so she tried calling to her group, hoping that they were still near enough.
 
"Hello~?  Is anyone there?"  No reply.  She tried again, a litt louder.  "He~y!  Come back he~re!"  Silence.  Ky'ria sighed, then took a deep breath, yelling at the top of her lungs, "MARA IS A DIRTY OLD WHORE-BAG WHO FUCKS DEMON CARCASSES!"  Nothing.  She wasn't too worried yet, a voice only carried so far.  Facing where she figured the group had gone, she put two fingers to her lips and whistled shrilly, listening as the sound echoed in the near distance.  She whistled again and again, for at least a couple minutes before she finally blew herself blue in the face.
 
"Fuck."  Ok, now she was worried.  She'd never hear the end of it once people found out she'd gotten lost, and she'd catch hell from the leader for it, too.  No hunts for a while was a given, she was more worried about his other punishments.  A boy had messed up on an easy hunt once, and was made to stand on his hands until he passed out, then was made to sleep outside the gates for a week, not to mention the insane amount of chores he got.  Ky'ria began walking further into the gulch, hoping to find some more solid ground to climb up.  As she went her mind raced with more possible punishments, and she idly wished that the demons would find her and eat her; it was a fate far more preferable.
 
She stopped a little bit later, coming to the conclusion that no, the ground was not getting easier to climb, and yes, the climb was getting higher.  She had to be around fourty feet dow now, and the gulch showed no signs of rising again.  It had to drain out somewhere, though.  It couldn't just be a giant hole in the forest.  Ky'ria kept walking, and after a while saw brush in the distance, at her level.  Her pace hastened at the possible escape, but she stopped suddenly as a putrid stench filled her nose, and she coughed and sputtered as she backed a few steps away, throwing an over over her face.
 
Demons.
 
There was no mistaking that smell.  She'd retched the first time she got a good whiff of it, had nearly vomited many times since at its potency.  No matter the breed, demon blood had the same wretched odor, and she felt her stomach churn slightly.  Beyond the brush at the end of the small canyon she could barely make out the mouth of a cave.  Her pulse quickened, both from excitement and fear.  She'd found them.  All by herself, she'd found the demons they were hunting.  It had to be them; a couple of the monsters had escaped wounded; with any luck they'd died in that hole, and all she had to do was bring back proof of their deaths.  But...she'd never battled alone before...  Then again, no one really made any overtures about helping her on the raides.  She could do it.  She could take care of a couple injured demons.  She'd trained with the best of the young men, and was nearly as good as they.  
 
Ky'ria moved a few more steps back and pulled a half-mask from a pouch on her hips.  It was tied in place over her mouth, blocking the stench of blood and the bomb she was about to use.  A small ball with a wick was pulled out next, followed by a piece of flint and hammerstone.  Sparks sprayed until the wick caught, and in a swift movement the flint and stone were returned to their places, and she closed in on the lair, launching the small ball at the opening.  She watched as it sailed into the cave, and waited.  After a few moments a greyish smoke wafted out of the cave, and she drew her scythes, body tense.  She caught a small sniff of the odor of the smoke, and was grateful for the mask's protection.  She continued to wait, and her body relaxed slightly, beginning to think that the demons truly were already dead, when a low roar echoed out of the cave.  Her grip tightened, and found herself staring down a lumbering demon that resembled a bear, though larger and fouler.  And it was wounded.  And pissed.  And staring right at her.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2008, 08:28:27 PM »
Ky'ria faced the demon stoicly, her face set, hard, eyes firm on her foe.  As the smoke cleared somewhat, she could better see the festering wounds of the beast; blood clung to shaggy rends in its hide, and flies hovered near, feasting on the still living flesh.  She now noticed its eyes; glassy and milky.  It was blind, or nearly so.  It's death was imminent; her action would only hasten it's demise.  It roared at her loudly, spittle flying and saliva dripping from its gaping maw, and charged, lumbering slowly at first, but gaining speed as it neared.  Her grip tightened, and she watched it close the ground between them.
 
It was an easy move to sidestep the charge, jumping neating out of the way, turning after the dying demon and sending a scythe after it, loosing the rope mechanism in the handle.  Ky'ria braced herself as the blade buried deep into the rotting flesh, jerking back on the blade.  However, rather than return to her hand as it should have, it remained embedded in the demon, having caught on bone.  She was about to jerk again, when the sound of another demon bearing down on her from behind reached her senses.  She dove to the side as another, slightly larger demon landed where she'd been standing, eyes clear and maw gaping.
 
A trick...  "Alright you disgusting bastards, enough of this!"  The second scythe was lashed out at the new demon's face, the tip of the blade sliding deep into an eye socket.  The demon roared in fury and staggered before charging at her again.  Ky'ria ran forward towards the earthen wall, running a short distance up it and backflipping over the beast.  With a heavy tug, the first scythe finally came free, the demon keening in agony as bone shattered and blood spattered about it.  The blade was then directed at the healthier demon, landing in its chest as she landed behind it.  A quick glance showed the first demon on the ground, struggling against its own death.  So here she stood, facing a demon, each chained to the other by the blades in the demon.  It shifted, preparing to lunge, but before it could get much past a recoil the blades were ripped from its body.  The ropes coiled neatly back within the handles, and Ky'ria flicked them sharply, shaking off the blood.
 
Thick, foul blood oozed out of the torn eye socket as it stood there.  It didn't show any signs of moving, so Ky'ria glanced swiftly back to the other creature.  A mistake.  It was upon her even before she could focus on the demon again, jaw open wide, seeking her unprotected neck.  It pounced her, throwing them both to the ground, clas digging into her arms, it's blood mingling with her own.  Her neck was saved only by her swift reaction, shoving a scythe into the demon's own neck and using its momentum to throw it over her, kicking it over, the other scythe digging deep into its belly and gutting it as it passed over her.  It landed heavily, gave a shuddering breath, and lay motionless.
 
Ky'ria remained on her back for a moment, shock and nausea keeping her immobile.  This was swiftly overcome, however; she rolled to her belly, ripping off the face mask, and vomited, multiple times.  It was several minutes before her stomach ceased to heave and she could move on her own again.  Even so, she still just sat for a moment before crawling to the demon carcas and pulling her scythe from its neck.  She was covered in blood; on her body, in her boots and gloves; wiping at her face would only smear it more.  She even felt it dripping down her neck.  Rising shakily, she glared at the bodies, and kicked weakly at the nearest one.  Then again.  And again, stronger each time.  "Ha...haha...that's right...that's right!  You're nothing, worthless beast!  I killed you!  Alone!  You hear that, Mara?  I killed them!  ME!"  She continued yelling obscenities at the demons and the bain of her exsitance, shouting into the forest and kicking the corpses, her body quivering from adrenaline.  She finished with a loud, primal yell of victory over everyone and everything that had ever sought to defeat her.
 
A deafening roar sounded from directly behind her, containing a rage more primal than anything she'd heard, cutting her yell off.  Fear constricted her throat, and Ky'ria didn't even have time to turn around before she was thrown into the air, blistering white pain lacing through her body and mind.  She bounced off the gully wall like a rag-doll, landing hard on the earth below.  She couldn't move, couldn't speak; a massive shadow loomed over her as a thick warmth that couldonly be her own blood poured out from her back, over her body, pooling beneith her.  Tears welled in her eyes as a single thought cleared the haze of pain; she was so scared.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2008, 08:28:45 PM »
The village leader gave a long suffering sigh that bordered on annoyance.  The groups met back at the meeting point after making their searches, and questions were asked immediately once Mara's group returned without Ky'ria.  Groups that searched near hers had reported signs of demons, so the hunters were sent back out in larger groups covering the smaller area.  The leader went with Mara's group.  
 
"One more time...where were you shen she went missing?"
"How should I know?  The little brat kept wandering off and falling behind the entire day."
"I do not understand your hatred for Ky'ria, but it will cease now.  As the leader of your group, you were responsible for all members of your party.  I am holding you responsible for her fate until she is found, is that clear?"  His tone left no room for argument.  The group was about three times as large, and several hunting dogs also traveled with them.  The leader was about to ask Mara again where they were when Ky'ria went missing, when the dogs all stopped simultaneously.  One let out a low growl, and all stared in the same direction, bodies rigid.  The party followed the gaze of the hounds, finding nothing unusual within their sight.  The leader gave a soft command to the dogs, and they ran towards the scent, the hunting party following behind.
 
"Sir, what is it?  Do the dogs smell her?"
"No.  They've caught demon blood.  And unless it's one of the wounded demons that escaped, it's likely Ky'ria's work."  As they ran, the scent of smoke became apparent, thickening slowly.  The fastest runners nearly toppled into the gully when the dogs suddenly stopped at its edge, milling about exitedly, waiting for the humans to catch up to their hunt.  Several hunters looked over the edge, the depth somewhere around thirty feet, and pointed to the sporadic piles of earth on the floor of the small ravine.
 
"Leader, look at this..."  He joined the small group analyzing the ground.  "She must have fallen in..it looks like she tried climbing out several places, but the earth is too soft."
"Indeed...with luck she is still close."  The dogs became agitated again, growling gently and moving nervously, looking down the length of the gulch.
"KY'RIA!"  A few moments of silence followed before his call was answered by the echo of a roar in the distance.  The hunting party went rigid, hands going to weapons, a few actually drawing theirs.  "Go!  Find them!"  The hunters raced off after the dogs towards the sound.  The village leader let out a shrill whistle, calling to the other groups, before following the hunt.
 
~~~~~~
 
Time lost all meaning for Ky'ria.  She didn't know how long she'd been laying there; it could have been seconds, or hours.  But one thing was sure.  It wasn't attacking.  The shadow that had loomed over her had left, but she knew it was still close.  She heard whuffing breaths and low growls as the monstrous beast moved from one carcass to the next.  She wasn't even entirely sure she was still alive.  That could be the only explanation for why it didn't attack again, she had to have been dead.  Her vision was fuzzy and took on a red tint as blood seeped down her face into her eyes.
 
Voices...?
 
"....ria!..."
 
Here.....I'm here....
 
"Ky.......old on...."
 
Help me....
 
 
 
Please....
 
 
 
Dogs...she thought she heard dogs.  Had they come?  She whimpered as the shadow returned, bringing the searing pain again, blinding her to all else.
 
~~~~~~
 
The group watched in horror as they arrived at the end of the gully.  A massive bear-demon, easily three or four times the size of the other two, looked up from where it stood over Ky'ria, a heavy paw groping at her body.  She seemed dead; blood nearly covered her completely, her own rich red mingling with the dark, almost black of the demon's.
"Oh gods..."
"Ky'ria!"
The leader drew his sword and pointed it at the giant demon, face set hard.  "Kill it."  With those two words, the party sprang into action, sliding down the earthen walls and lunging at the demon with viscious yells.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2008, 08:29:04 PM »
"...So, they killed the demon and rushed me back to the village before I died.  It took a long time to heal; I'd lost a lot of blood, but, their healers are good at cheating death."
Ky'ria's voice faded as she finished telling the story of her horrible scars, her gaze fixed on the fire between them.  Micah sat in silent shock, his mind reeling at the pain she must have gone through.
"Oh, Ky-"
"Don't."  Her voice was sharp, but her next words were softer.  "Please don't.  I don't want pity, or sympathy.  I got myself into that mess..."  She gave a short, barked laugh.  "Actually, I got treated quite a bit better after that.  I'd found the demons when others could not, and I'd killed the first two before the third got me from behind."  The village leader had opted to not punish her after she'd finished healing.  He felt that nearly losing her life was enough to set her straight.  And it wasn't entirely her fault anyway.  Mara was demoted and left in the village for a long while, which only heightened her distaste for the outsider girl.  But, that was a different memory, one she didn't feel like reliving just now.
"So what about you?"  Ky'ria looked up again, shoving the memories aside.  "How did you become captain so young?"
"Oh...well...You know how involved my father was.  He got me into the guard while I was still pretty young...only twelve or so.  I started as an orderly, but I worked hard, to make my father look good and..."  He stopped, stumbling over the painful words.  "...and to help ease the pain of your loss..."  He sighed heavily, and now it was he who could not face her.  "I put everything into the guard so I wouldn't have to think about you as much...I thougth that, maybe if I just didn't think about it, it would hurt less, or that one day I'd wake up, or come home, and you'd be there again..." He sighed and slowly met her eyes.  "I missed you, Ky.  A lot."
They watched each other for a time, each searching for something in the other's gaze.  Ky'ria stood suddenly, setting the tin on the stone and walking back towards her things, giving a short, high whistle as she went.  Micah had expected to see the kit, who had been absent all that morning, come bounding out of the brush, but there was still no sign of the little shadow fox.  His attention turned instead to Ky'ria, who was dressing in her gear and weapons.  "Ky, what are you doing?"
"You should go back.  I'm sure your people are beginning to wonder about you."
"They shouldn't.  I told them I'd be gone for a few days." Micah rose and walked over to her.  "Ky, please don't run away like this."
"I'm not running."  She had to strain to keep the snarl out of her voice as whispered taunts and jabs drifted across her thoughts.  She sheathed her scythes forcefully, and reached down for the dagger, only to be stopped by his booted foot standing on the blade.
"You're not going.  Not until you let me help you."
"Don't be stupid, Micah.  Now get off my dagger.  I don't want to hurt you."
He grinned, and for the moment he made the mistake of thinking her to be still a weak little girl, like she had been in his memories. It was a mistake, afterall.  Ky'ria caught his grin and, still being stooped down, was given all the more force behind her fist as she rose up swiftly and connected with his jaw, sending him sprawling backwards to land several feet away.  It was her turn to grin now as Micah lay groaning and holding his bruising jaw.  The dagger was slipped in her belt, and she smiled at him as she donned the cloak he'd brought for her.  "It was nice seeing you again, Micah.  Really."  She turned, and vanished into the forest, and all trace of her was gone by the time Micah, Captain of the Fyrehaven guard and one of the best fighters in the realm, was able to sit up and see clearly again.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2008, 08:40:53 PM »
She didn't really know why she hit Micah...  There was something about his wanting to help her that set her on edge.  She didn't want help, because getting it meant owing someone, and she couldn't stand owing him.  The others, she dealt with; dealt with them holding it over her head, touting it for days, months even after the incident.  She walked in the same direction she was heading the day before, not entirley sure of where she was going, but the feel she got from the trees was good.  One thing she'd learned from her stay with the demonslayers was to listen to nature.  Many times the trees would speak of hidden dangers, from demon to feral animals to humans up to no good.  The trees saw everything that happened within their domain.

Some called it magic, what the slayers did when hunting.  But to them, everything held a certain amount of what common folk called magic.  Nothing in the fantastic sense of the word; people didn't go around flinging fire balls or levitating objects with an incantation or the power of their mind.  But if one were properly trained, and learned to use their mind in a way above the common applications, there was a higher level of awareness that  could be reached.  It was an obscure art that, as far as she knew, had completely died out but in the demon slayer's village.  It really was a shame; it was quite handy to know if the river you were about to cross held hidden sinkholes, or if a half-mad wolf was roaming the wilds within a mile of your location.  Perhaps it was the subconscious use of this talent that led her home when her conscious mind had forgotten the way.

Ky'ria relaxed her body and listened to the gentle rythm of the forest, smirking once as she heard an echoed yell from behind her.

~~~~

"Ky?"  Mica looked around and slowly rose to his feet, his jaw still throbbing from her blow.  He looked around, rubbing his face gently, and called a bit louder.  "Ky?"  He frowned, and walked to the edge of the forest, looking in as far as he could see through the shadows.  "Ky'ria!"  When the only sound that replied was the flapping of wings, he sighed and returned to the sparse camp, packing up and resaddling his stallion.  He thought about following after her, but there was no telling what pitfalls he may run into in the dense underbrush, and Koln knew to contact him if she happened to pass through Hyvendale.  With one last look into the forest that seemed to swallow her up, he sighed and climbed into the saddle, turning the stallion to the narrow trail and leaving the hidden lake.  He was pained at losing her again, for the third time, but this time he had hope that he would see her again.

At least, he hoped.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2008, 08:41:08 PM »
She didn't know about Hyvendale.  The town had been planted after her departure, and she'd never been on a mission in the area.  Likely to keep her from running off.  Once she was given to the slayers in payment, she was no longer her own person.  She was little better than a slave in their eyes, but only little better because they looked down on the practice of owning people.  But, regardless, she was unaware of the new settlements in the area, and so was surprised when the forest gave way to fields, and in the near distance stood buildings.  The town was a little larger than Fyrehaven had been when she left those sixteen years ago, so while there was an established guard, it was clearly less developed than Fyrehaven's.  Ky'ria would have rather avoided it, but, it was getting dark, and she needed to resupply.  She pulled the small coin purse from her belt, so generously, if unknowingly donated by Micah, and counted the coins.  It would be enough to get her a meal, and possibly a bow and some arrows if the craftsman could be talked down.  Normally she could live perfectly fine out in the wild, but, there was only so much game to be caught with a hand weapon and snares, and she intended on avoiding people for a while.  So, she reluctantly crossed the feilds to the town, ignoring the open-eyed stares of some of the folk at the outlying buildings.
 
Fortunately, the gate guards, despite their lack of gate to guard, were more courtious than those in Fyrehaven, but she noted a distinct suspicion in their eyes as they allowed her in.  She'd hardly gone five hundred feet when a gangly youth wearing the local uniform looked wide-eyed at her and darted in the opposite direction, disappearing into an official looking building that stood a full story taller than those to either side.  Ky'ria sighed heavily, but continued on her way, hoping to avoid another confrontation.  She had made it to the general goods store and was looking over the bare supply of weapons when a small group came in.  A handful of the uniformed men lead by an older man with salt and pepper hair.  They were all armed, and a couple of them looked like they were hoping for a fight.  The older man approached her, leaving his entourage at the entrance.
 
"Excuse me miss?  Might I ask a few questions of you?"
"Depends on what you're asking."  She lifted a bow and tried the string, frowning at the lack of proper tension.
"Well, you'd not blame a captain of the law for wondering why an outsider comes in to buy weapons, would you?"
"If you're asking why I'm here, I assure you I'm simply passing through, and have need of supplies."
"Indeed.  Might I ask what direction you've come from?"
"The forest."
He was getting annoyed with her answers, but tried his best to remain calm.  He wanted her to come with him of her own volition, especially since Captain Micah had left him so lamentably in the dark about his purpose with the girl.  He laid his hand gently on hers as she laid down another bow, catching her gaze with his own.  "I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to accompany me, peacefully, if at all possible.  We've recieved word from another town to look out for a woman of your description.  We were told that you were wanted for questioning."
Ky'ria's face clouded darkly, but she refrained from drawing her blades on him.  While she could dispatch all of them, it was against her better judgement to do so.  Her jaw was tight, annoyance clear in her voice.  "Whatever Micah told you, I have no further business with him.  Besides, we came across each other yesterday, and he asked all that he needed of me.  So if you will excuse me," she pulled her hand from under his, "I have business to attend to."  She started back up the aisle with intentions of leaving, but was stopped by his firm grip on her shoulder.
"That would be unwise, miss.  I assure you that you are not wanted as a criminal.  If you were, we would not be exchanging pleasantries.  Besides, you appear to be rather travel worn and in need of a good meal, and our barracks pride ourselves with having one of the best cooks in the realm."
She looked at him for a time.  "And I suppose you've already sent a rider back to Fyrehaven to fetch our nosy friend?"
Captain Koln chuckled and eased his grip on her shoulder.  "Indeed.  He'd be quite sore to have missed you."
It was her turn to chuckle, and she accompanied him back to the front of the store.  "I imagine he's quite sore for having met me."
 
She followed him back to the barracks and, true to his word, she was treated as a guest, though cautiously so.  She was given a room on the upper levels, normally reserved for higher ranks, but they didn't want her sneaking out so easily in the night.  A maid brought buckets of warm water for a bath, as well as an assortment of pleasant smelling soaps and a change of clothes, which she used gratefully.  Afterwards a large, hot meal was brought in.  She checked to be sure it was free of drug or poison, then ate ate the entire thing, which surprised the woman who later returned for the plate.  After she'd had time to sit and relax, Koln came by for a more private conversation.  He was dressed down, but still carried two boot knives.  Her own scythes and dagger were setting on the nearby table atop her usual garments.
 
"Captain Micah left some papers further explaining he reasons for wishing you detained.  Nothing official, mostly a letter to me.  However, I am curious about your end of the events which have led you here."  He leaned back in his chair, folding his hands in his lap and watching her eyes intently.  Her own gaze returned steadily.
"There were incidents in Fyrehaven for which I am no longer welcomed back.  I was following the suggestions of those who so kindly threw me out and was leaving the area."
"May I ask what those incidents were?"
"No you may not."  Her answer was swift and flat, and it threw him off guard for a moment.  He narrowed his eyes at her slightly, trying to figure her out, then chuckled with a soft sigh.
"Very well then.  As I said, you are not being held as a criminal, so please make yourself comfortable here.  I'll have to ask that you not leave the immediate vicinity, however, until Captain Micah arrives, which will not be for a couple days.  I am sure you are aware of how long the ride is."  He stood then, nodding at her and bade her good night.  There wasn't much of an option left to her at that point.  She'd stick around and play Micah's game.  He'd regret it, more so than she was sure he regretted standing on her dagger, but, until then, there was nothing to do but sleep for the night, and wait.  Besides, she conforted herself as she turned down the lamps and slid into the bed, she could have fun showing these poor fools how terrible they really were at what they considered fighting.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2008, 08:41:26 PM »
She let herself sleep in the next morning.  It was such a rare occasion that she did, but, when she woke up with he sun as she usually did, there really was nothing for her to do yet.  If any would chose to spar her, they'd not do it in the morning.  There was a tug of memory that hinted towards her sleeping in a lot when she was younger.  And now that she thought about it, she remembered getting in trouble and beaten for sleeping in when she first came to the demon hunter's village.  With that thought, she rolled back over and went to sleep.
 
When she did awaken, it was nearing noon, and she could hear the sound of metal agaisnt metal from the sparring ring below her window.  Ky'ria peeked out the window, and was quite happy with what she saw.  Twenty or so young men and women,  much like what made up the guard in Fyrehaven, were gathered around a dirt pen, in which two more fought with blunted weapons.  Several others, likely older than she but about as well trained as the youth, stood back in the shade of a small portico to what was probably a weapons room.  Ky'ria dressed quickly and gathered her blades to join them.  The whole way down she was regarded with suspicious looks, though no one openly challeneged her.  Which was good for their sake, she silently mused.  It was a rather arrogant thought, but, the demon hunters who took her as payment were rather arrogant people, and one had to assimilate to their standards in order to survive with them.  Put up a tough face and a fight, or get walked all over.
 
A dark cat sat lazing in the sun at the door to the practice arena.  It looked at her and blinked disinterestedly before stretching out to sun its belly.  Ky'ria chuckled, and was reminded of Xamos.  Except he enjoyed spreading out in the moonlight, and never gave her a disinterested look.  She felt sorry for the kit, likely hiding in a shadow under her bed today.  She'd have to do some night traveling and training so he could exercise.
 
Finally, she reached the pen.  When she approached, again she'd been the focus of suspicious stares, and even those fighting stopped to look at her.  "Oh, by all means, continue," she waved a hand dismissively to them, then crossed her arms and sat back to watch.  They all stared at her a little longer before turning back to the fight, and the fighters started again.  In just the first minute she found several opportunities for a kill shot in both their defenses.  It really was rather sad.  The next group to go at it was hardly any better, though the red-headed boy who won held good potential.  the third fight she watched was a mockery; even the others watching winced at the poor form and lack of strength or conviction behind the thrusts.  The fourth bout was about as good as the second.  It was a young man against a girl, and while the boy won, the girl could have easily defeated him.  She just lacked confidence in herself.  Ky'ria was slightly reminded of herself by the girl.  She remembered being young and unsure, and remembered well the sting of practice weapons and the bruises they left behind.  Another pair was about to start when a cocky young man, probably about a score of years, called out to her.  "Well?  Ya gonna sit there and watch all day, or join in, too?"
A light smile pulled at the corners of her mouth, and she fixed her gaze on him.  "Is that a challenge?"  Her voice was calm, almost friendly, but there was no mistaking the look in her eyes.
"Sure.  We'll have a friendly go at it."  There was also no mistaking the look in his eyes.  Friendly meant until someone was bleeding or too hurt to continue.  Ky'ria's smile grew, and she nodded in acceptance.  They approached the pen from opposite sides, climbing over the rails to enter the ring.  Someone called out that she had to use practice weapons, and she shot the voice an annoyed look.
"I assure you, I can control my blades."  She let her gaze return to her opponent.  "Unless you're scared?  You can use real blades as well, if you prefer."  She was rewarded with an angry look, and the young man tossed the dull sword away and motioned for his blade to be handed to him.  
 
He was already out of his center with just that one jibe; he'd be easy to defeat.  But Ky'ria had other plans than to completely embarass him right out.  Besides, she didnt want the others to be too scared to fight her. One of the spectators called the start, and the young man - Karl,  by the cheers that were called out - drew his sword and rushed at her.  If it was meant to surprise her, she was not.  She'd faced demons that would have closed that distace several times over in the time it took him to reach her.  She didn't even draw her scythes until he was within a couple feet.  Her left hand knocked the blade aside, her right lifting and pressing the back of the scythe to his throat.  She had to lift a leg to slow his charge enough to keep him from crushing his throat on it.  "Fight smarter."  She pushed him back with the foot on his stomach, and resheathed her scythes.  She was a perfect image of calm, hardly batting a lash, where as he was breathing heavily to contain his irritation.  She was going to enjoy the fight, to be sure.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2008, 08:43:09 PM »
The fight continued in much the same manner.  Karl feignted a couple times, then rushed in, only to be knocked aside by the dull side of her blades, or just plain kicked away.  The cheers for the boy continued, but she could tell they were losing faith in him.  He, on the other hand, was sweaty and red in the face, glaring deeply at her.  Ky'ria was actually beginning to get bored with their dance when one of the older of the gathering stepped forward, followed by his little entourage of admirers.  It seemed that every age level had one.
 
"Karl, that's enough, you're just getting smacked around, and quite frankly I think we've all had enough of the show."  The youth glowered, but complied, sheathing his sword and climbing out of the pen, shouldering his way past those that tried to console him.  The young man regarded Ky'ria with amused eyes.  He was handsomly built, light brown hair and matching eyes on an open face that held a ready smile, which he now turned on Ky'ria.  Some of the younger girls made soft sighs; apparently this man was used to having girls fall all over themselves with him.  She was having none of it.
 
"Take a tumble with me?"  Her words were innocent enough, but the sparkle in her eye and the smirk on her lips revealed that she knew what undertones she spoke in that phrase.  He laughed gently and drew a hand through his hair; again the girls swooned, and Ky'ria wanted to roll her eyes.
"Only if you'll let me take the upper hand now and again."  His smile grew, enjoying the innuendos.
"You'll have to earn it.  I don't easily roll to my back."  She took a few steps back and opened her arms, inviting him to the open ring.
"I enjoy a good challenge.  I don't often draw my sword unless it will be one."  He handed off his jacket to his comrades and ducked through the rails, squaring off against her.  The same youth called the start, but unlike the last mockery of a battle, Jeth, as his admirers called in their cheers, remained still, watching her intently.  Ky'ria smirked a bit.
"So they do teach you to be intelligent.  I hope you'll make me break a sweat."
"My dear lady, you'll be gasping for breath when I'm done with you."  He winked, continuing their subtle tease.  Ky'ria laughed and spun the scythes in her hand, renewing her grip.
"But such a big sword...are you sure you know how to handle it correctly?"  She returned the wink, and the older spectaters laughed low, at least picking up on that line of innuendo.  Jeth twirled the sword in one hand and stepped into a fighting stance.  
"I assure you, I am quite skilled at handling it."
 
The battle started then.  Jeth slowly circling, Ky'ria doing the same, each analyzing the other.  Jeth feignted to judge her reaction, but was poorly rewarded when her muscles hardly gave a twitch.  Ky'ria returned the gesture, darting in suddenly a couple steps, then stopping.  She didn't stop there, however, and after only a short pause she lunged in again.  Jeth had misjudged, thinking her feignt over, and so was relaxing his guard out of habit as she was upon him.  Her left blade came down towards his shoulder, blunt side forward, of course.  He swung high and blocked it easily with his sword, but her right came in and landed squarely agaisnt his ribs.  Jeth staggered back, holding his side, and cast her a surprised look.
"You'd be dead now if this was real."  Ky'ria was calm and relaxed.  "Don't underestimate your opponent."  She enjoyed the surprised murmurs from the spectators that their hero had been defeated so quickly.  "Come, again!"  Jeth shook his head, clearing his thoughts, and gave his side one last rub before stepping forward.  He watched her closer now, and Ky'ria took the fight a little more seriously.  Only a little more.
 
Again they circled slowly, drawing nearer, muscles twitching with held in power.  Jeth was the first to attack this time.  He kept his sword low and close, maintaining his guard until he reached her.  Something the younger fighters likely hadn't figured out would keep them alive.  The swift jab came at her left side, and she easily knocked it aside with one blade.  He came in with a fist to her face as his right arm swung to the side, and this, too, was blocked, though Ky'ria was forced to make split changes in her arc.  Normally the blade would have sliced through his wrist, and even the force of the back of the blade likely would have shattered the bones there, so she lifted her hand just enough that her fist impacted.  He was now turned sharply to the right, and a quick spin on her heel brought her boot around to his rear, sending him sprawling face first into the dirt.  "Handless and bleeding in the dirt."  She sheathed her scythes and walked over to help him up.  As she bent down, he had righted himself somewhat, and leapt at her, trying to salvage his shattered ego.  Regretably, Ky'ria was caught off guard, but she recovered quickly.  As she rolled to her back a foot came up between them, and she used his own momentum to send him arcing through the air behind her towards the rails.  There was a satisfying crash as he connected and slumped to the ground.  She flipped to her feet in the stunned silence that followed.
 
"Enough!"  All heads turned towards the voice, Ky'ria turning slowly to face Captain Koln.  He stood several yards off, watching the fight, and once he was sure he had their attention, he strode forward, eyes on Jeth.  "That's enough sparring for today...take him to the surgeon to make sure he's not broke anything more than his ego."  Slowly the crowd dissolved, and Koln motioned for Ky'ria to accompany him back to the building.  She dusted herself off somewhat and climbed out of the pen.  She'd hardly raised her breath in the short battle.

 

Untitled Document

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