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Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2008, 08:43:49 PM »
"That's some impressive fighting," Koln remarked.  They were back in his office, he pouring an amber liquid out of a crystal bottle.  He offered her some, but she declined the alchohol.  He shrugged and placed the bottle back into its cupboard and took the small glass back to his seat.  "Where did you learn to fight like that?"
"When I learned how to stay alive."  Her answer was flat, and she gave no sign of explanation.  Koln sighed softly and tossed back the drink, then set the glass on his desk.  He gave her a flat look, and she sighed in turn, rolling her eyes somewhat.  "If any of them went against what I'm used to battling, they'd be dead in seconds."
"And what, pray tell, is that?" he asked after a short pause.  Her pause was slightly longer.
"Demons."
"So you're a demon slayer?"
"Was."
"Was," he corrected himself.  "So what brings you here then?  We have had no signs of the beasts for years."
"Sixteen, to be exact.  Back then, Fyrehaven was my home.  But clearly it is such no longer.  I returned to see what had become of the town."  Her gaze turned down slightly, lost in her thoughts.  "It...was not how I expected it to be."
"So you have no intentions on returning there?"
"No."
"Might I ask why?"
"Again, no, you may not."  It seemed that Micah hadn't told him what happened there.  She'd let him sit in curiosity for a while longer.  Koln gave his empty glass a longing look, and rose to selected another crystal bottle, this time with a rosy liquid.  Again, she declined his offer.
"Well then, let me be frank, and I'll hope you'll give this offer more thought than my brandy," he chuckled and poured himself another glass.  "While my guards will not, I'm quite sure, come under attack by demons, I am aware that their skills are lacking.  We recently lost our main trainer in an unfortunate accident, and they have no one to show them the proper way to fight.  I am too often consumed by paperwork, and, I will admit, I am not the fighter I used to be.  That said, I would like you to take up teaching my men to fight.  I will pay you, of course, for your services."  He sipped his drink this time awaiting her reply.
She considered for a moment, or at least appeared to be thinking about it, but she'd made up her mind the moment he mentioned how unskilled the guard was.  "As much as I'm sure I'd enjoy beating the stuffing out of your whelps," she began with a smirk, "my answer is no.  I have every intention of leaving once Micah decides to leave me alone.  I have no further business in this area."
Koln frowned slightly, and rested his elbows, bringing his fingers to peaks and tapping them against his mouth a moment.  "Even a traveler needs money for supplies.  Perhaps for but a month?"
"I could not even begin to teach them what they need to know in that time.  Besides, I would be teaching them to fight demons, not foolish men.  You will have to find someone else."  At that, she stood and left his office, excusing herself with a nod.

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2008, 08:44:02 PM »
Ky'ria slept, or at least dozed for most of the rest of the day, emerging only for meals. The midday meal was simple fare, and most people came in, ate quickly, and left again, having some duty or another to tend to.  The evening one was a larger production, but still consisted of fairly simple foods.  She was slightly surprised at the number of people that showed up, and knew that still more were still on duty.  She was well aware of a few disgruntled glares cast in her direction, but opted to not return the gestures with a couple of her own.  She left the meat uneaten, instead wrapping them in a napkin and taking the pieces back to her room.  She placed the napkin under the bed and brushed her fingers against the soft fur huddled below, and laughed softly at the happy purr and sounds of eating drifting from below her cot.  With Xamos fed and happily preoccupied, there was little left to do but wait for the sun to go down.  He was becoming more tolerant of the light, but he couldn't stand more than the outter glow of a candle before diving back into shadow or hiding in ether.  He was getting better at ether walking, too.  Most Shadow Fox kits developed these skills a year or so after they were born, but Xamos was around ten and still as small as he was the day he claimed her as mother.  She laid on the bed, careful to not sink down so low as to squish her little friend, and closed her eyes.
 
She awoke a couple hours later to a soft pressure on her chest and a cold wet something nosing at her face.  Ky'ria smiled and lifted her hand to stroke Xamos' back, laughing softly as that strange purr greeted her ears again.  His little red eyes seemed to float in the darkness of the room, and they blinked at her as her own eyes opened.  "Ready to go play, lazy butt?"  She laughed as his head cocked to the side and he mewled at her, but he crawled up to her shoulder as her hand left his fur.  He was still light, no heavier than a house cat, so it wasn't difficult for her to sit up on the bed.  Once she was upright he crawled behind her neck a little more to hide under her hair until they got outside.  The walk outside was a short one.  There were a spattering of guards placed throughout the building, and a couple gave her wary looks, but none challenged her passage to the practice yard.  Which was good, because she really didn't have the energy to deal with the whelps.  Micah would be there the next day, and that would be troublesome enough.  She sighed, and went to the edge of the light in the field.  
"Down."  The single word brought a dart blob leaping from her shoulder out into the darkness, and two red eyes stared back at er obediantly, awaiting her commands.  "Warm up."  She smiled at the kit as he turned and bounded around, stretching his legs and generally playing in the darkness.  She took a couple minutes to stretch as well, ignoring the confused eyes of the guards placed at the armory across the field from her.  When Xamos returned to her, panting lightly, they walked over to a lone tree that sat at the edge of the yard.  Ky'ria pulled off a slender stick and waved it at Xamos a couple times.  He understood perfectly, and prepared himself to chase after it.  
She tossed the stick gently at first, lobbing it a few yards out to let him warm up to the game.  She was basically playing 'fetch' with him, but it was a good exercise in his agility, speed, and targeting skills.  He brought it back to her then sat next to her feet, awaiting the next throw.  The game went on like this for several minutes, Ky'ria varying her throws by power or arc, twisting her wrist at times to make it wobble and change directions in the air.  As the game went on, though, the leaves and little twigs sprouting from the main stick began to tear away, and so finally Ky'ria stripped it bare.  It shrunk the target some and made it harder to find, as there were no more brighter leaves to watch for, and it traveled faster and farther in the air.  But, Xamos was a little pro at this game, and so had little trouble adjusting to the bare stick.  This went on for an hour or so, and then Ky'ria called an end to it, settling down in the short grass with him and letting him have a rest, taking the chewed up stick in her hands and stroking his back.  He rolled to his back the way he always did when they rested, and she just laughed and obliged him with a belly rub, chuckling as his legs spread farter and stretched his belly out under her fingers.  Shadow Foxes were naturally playful, but one would think this one was pampered by the way he demanded his belly rubs, and almost always got them.  What could she say?  She was a sucker for the little guy.

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2008, 08:44:16 PM »
After a short time Ky'ria stood again with the stick, and Xamos rose with her obediently.  He sat in the grass as she stretched again, knowing the pattern of their workouts by heart.  Though it was more a game to the little shadow fox.  Ky'ria walked several yards away from the tree, leaving the kit where he sat.  She turned back to him, squared off with the small demon, shook the stick twice, then gave a short command:  "Sic."
 
Before the word was even completely out of her mouth the kit was up and darting over the ground at her.  Of course, she didn't just stand still.  The two of them darted across the open lawn, slowly gaining speed as they both loosened up.  The aim of the game was simple.  Xamos had to catch the stick, which Ky'ria was trying to keep away from him.  It was a game in agility, for the both of them.  Xamos could dart to and fro with little difficulty, and as he grew older, if not bigger, his speed increased as well.    Many times the demons Ky'ria fought were swift, and it kept her in shape to dodge their nimble attacks.  Xamos, on the other hand, learned to make such attacks himself, turning in the air the way rabbits did to land and jump in a new direction when Ky'ria changed her course.  The guards at the armory watched in fascination at the woman who played with the small demon, in awe at her abilty to move.  They'd heard about the earlier fights, but it seemed that she hadn't even moved like this then.  It was no wonder their comrades had been defeated so easily.
 
"Xamos, dark!"  The command reached little fuzzy ears, and the small red orbs vanished as the shadow fox closed his eyes, chasing after Ky'ria using only his other senses.  There were times when he would have to fight in the middle of a smoke bomb - she'd slowly worked him to be immune to them - and she wanted him to be just as effective without his eyes.  Though, it really didn't put him at much of a disadvantage; his nose was keener than any hound's, his ears several times sharper.  So, it became an exercise in silence for Ky'ria.  The young men, for a moment, thought that their ears had failed them, for hardly a whisper of sound came from the two, who before could be heard rushing through the grass.  Xamos also gave Ky'ria a work in hearing, as without his little red eyes as markers, she had to rely on her other senses as well to locate him, and keep the stick away.
 
The game continued for almost two hours.  Towards the end, Ky'ria had called "shadow," which sent the fox into ether to attack by surprise.  The demon huntress stood absolutely still in the field but for her breathing.  Now and again the kit would lunge from the darkness at her with hardly a sound, and Ky'ria would dodge, jumping to the side, rolling away, anything to avoid the small snapping jaws that aimed for the stick in her hand.  He'd come close a couple times, and had surprised her by going for her ankles from behind.  She'd jumped over him, watching as he sailed below her, then vanished in a dark puff of smoke, only to come flying at her from the side before her feet even touched down.  She let her legs collapse under her to duck under the small furry missile, and laughed in disbelief and pride.  He was getting clever with his attacks.
 
On and on they went, some attacks working, others failing miserably, but still they went without slowing.  The watch changed, and the new pair gazed on in wonder at her, having been told of the earlier hours by the two leaving for their bunks.
 
Then, suddenly, Xamos stopped attacking.  Ky'ria waited in ready, as he had tried this before, but the pause continued longer than normal.  She relaxed only slightly, and looked around herself.  Just the darkness met her gaze.
"...Xamos?"  No sound from the kit replied to her call, and she spoke his name slightly louder.  A moment later, from several yards towards the forest, came his soft growl.  It took a moment to spot him in the darkness, and Ky'ria slowly walked towards him.  He stared intently towards the dark of the wood, his fur bristled, muscles taut.  Ky'ria followed his gaze, but could see nothing with her inferior sight.  She listened to the trees for a time, tuning out the shadow fox's soft growls.  It wasn't demon, but something stirred the forest.  Something was wrong, but she couldn't sense what.  As suddenly as it was there, it was gone again, and Xamos stopped growling.  She'd hardly relaxed from trying to discover what had set him on edge when she felt a sudden weight on the end of the stick she held.  Looking down, she found two red eyes blinking at her, and a garbled mewl greeted her through teeth that were clamped around the stick.  She sighed, shook her head, and laughed.
"All right, you win.  Little cheater."  He gave an indignant mewl, and she released the stick, laughing as it and the fox dropped to the ground.  Whatever it was that had been in the forest, it had moved on.  Perhaps the kit had only caught a scent carried on the wind.  She looked once more to the dark trees, then snapped at the kit and started back towards the barracks, her little partner trotting after her with his trophy still in his mouth, looking mightly pleased with himself.

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #28 on: August 02, 2008, 08:44:32 PM »
Morning found Ky'ria sleeping peacefully in bed, at least to the casual observer.  Sleep hadn't been peaceful for years; a demon could kill you in your sleep.  So, while her body rested, her mind was at least slightly aware of what was going on.  It registered when the birds began to chirp, and then dismissed the noise, and even picked up the sounds of voices from outside as the town's guard mobilized for that day.  She did arise when the smell of food made it to her though, and she dressed quickly and emerged for the morning meal.  Micah shouldn't arrive until later that day, so she wasn't going to waste time hiding yet.
 
No.  She wasn't hiding.
 
Well... No.  No, she wasn't hiding.  Not from him, not from anything.  Her face set into a small scowl, which discouraged any thoughts of conversation, if any of the youth had even debated it in the first place.  Breakfast was eaten in silence, and again she saved the meat for Xamos, who remained curled up under her bed in the safety of shadow.  He could always go exploring on the ether plane, but he only really did that in the forest.  Despite his friendliness when Ky'ria was around, he was rather wary of humans as a general rule.  If Mom wasn't there, then neither was he.
 
Ky'ria took a short detour on her way back to her room, looking at the sky and figuring the weather for the next few days.  Light grey clouds were on the horizon;  she could probably be a few days away before the drizzle hit.  She gazed at the blue of the sky a short time longer, then went back inside, sharpening her blades by the hearth while Xamos ate.

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #29 on: August 02, 2008, 08:45:06 PM »
It seemed like Micah had just gotten back to Fyrehaven when the messenger from Hyvendale came cantering into town.  Of course, he'd been there over night, but was tired from the long ride both ways, and wanted a day off from everything to just sit with his thoughts.
 
He'd been stunned, to say the very least, when Ky'ria struck him and then vanished.  He knew he'd been foolish to hope that he could just apologize and that everything would be ok, but he'd still hoped.  And when the messenger arrived saying that a woman matching Ky'ria's description had been detained, he almost didn't know what to do.  Micah knew she wouldn't be happy with him.  Hells, she was probaby livid for being held there.  She never did much like being made to stay where she didn't want to.  He'd spoken with her in the forest, so he could tell the messenger to let her go.  But...there was a chance that he'd never see her again if he did that.  And that unsettled him greatly.
 
They'd set out shortly after, and camped on the road to Hyvendale.  Captain Koln met them outside the Guard building, and they spoke briefly about Ky'ria. Yes, it was her.  Yes, he's actually run into her on the way back to Fyrehaven, but no, he would not mind speaking with her again.  After a quick repast, Micah was directed to Ky'ria's room.  He knocked and swallowed nervously, and waited.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2008, 08:45:21 PM »
For a time, no sound came from inside, and then Micah heard the sounds of someone moving around.  The door opened a little, and Micah drew in a breath to speak, when the door was unceremoniously slammed in his face.  He sighed, and knocked again, a little harder.  "Ky'ria, come on!"
 
"Piss off!"
 
"Ky!"
 
Again there was silence, and he was about to bang on the door again, when once more it opened.  However, again, he didn't even get a chance to speak.  Ky'ria glared heatedly at him, and then threw a vicious punch that landed just to the side of his nose.  The force jerked his head to the side, and he could see a few spatters of blood go flying.  Again, the door slammed before he could even register that he'd been hit.
 
"Sunova...Damnit, Ky'ria!"  Micah staggered back against the opposite wall, a hand to his bleeding, and most likely broken nose.  He kicked at the door, not caring what kind of scene he made.  Finally the door crashed open, and he stalked angrily in, intending to have a word with her whether she liked it or not - and found himself swallowing against the edge of a knife to his throat.  "Ky..."
 
"You're pig shit, Micah."  She glared at him angrily, and more than a little hurt.  "No.  You're lower than pig shit."
 
"Ky-"
 
"Shut up!  What happened to retracting your order?  You say you want me to come back, but I arrive here to find to local guard waiting for me.  With a warrant, as though I were some criminal."  Anger burned in her eyes.
 
"Ky, I sent that before I met up with you.  Please, let me explain."
 
"You'd better, because I'd hate to have to kill you before I find out what idiocy is running through your head these days."  The blade pressed a little harder against his frail skin, and it passed through his mind that she may actually be serious about her threat.
 
"You're different, Ky..."
 
Micah hissed in pain as the dagger drew back, slitting the skin enough to draw a little blood, but nothing more than broken surface vessels.  "Don't you dare say that to me, as if you expected otherwise!"  She backed away from him, still holding him with that hating, hurting gaze.  "You just watched as they took me away!  All I had was your promise, your oath!  I finally come back, and I see not only have you forgotten me, but you threw that oath away like a peice of offal!  So don't you dare tell me that I've changed!"  Pain began to overrun the anger in her eyes, but she fought it off.  Her words stabbed at Micah, and once more he was reminded of how he failed her.  He turned away, seemingly to leave, but as he reached the door he reached out to close it, rather than to pass through.  
 
He turned slowly back to her, shame in his eyes and voice.  "Is that why you hate me, Ky'ria?"  The question seemed to startle her, and he walked slowly across the room to her.  "Is that why you'd rather punch me, or cut me, or even kill me than face me?"  He never looked at her, his gaze low, but still he neared.  "If it was my betrayal that caused this hate and pain in you, then I deserve to die..."  He stopped right in front of her, and took the hand that held the dagger and lifted it, until the point rested just above his heart.  "If I'm the one that killed the Ky'ria I loved as a boy, then kill me now..."  His gaze finally lifted to hers, and she could see the pain that he held as well.
 
She stared at him, eyes wide.  Tears welled up, and fell down her cheeks.  The dagger clattered to the ground, and she wrapped her arms around him, a tight embrace that Micah was only too happy to return, and she wept, finally releasing the tears she'd held for far too many years.

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #31 on: August 02, 2008, 08:45:33 PM »
There was a quiet dread in those who'd been near when Micah went to confront Ky'ria.  The raised voices were almost expected, but the silence after the door closed raised suspicions, and dread for the visiting Captain.  They didn't doubt his ability to defend himself, but this was a demon slayer.  They were widely known to be wild people, often crazy, and as brutal as the monsters they killed.  And this slayer had a black monster of her own, with glowing red eyes and sharp, deadly fangs.
 
In truth, Xamos was mostly harmless, Micah was sometimes too gentle for his own good, and Ky'ria was a trembling mass of tears and sobs.  Micah held her tight, almost crushing her to his body, murmuring appologies into her hair as the flood of emotion poured from her.  It was all he could do.  He could never understand the pain and desolation she'd felt for so many years, having been torn away from her family, her home, and thrown into a brutally honest society that had little desire for her to be there.  For most her life, she'd been almost a slave, her freedom gained at the price of their deaths.  He could never imagine how much his promise had meant to her, and how devastated she'd been when he didn't remember her.
 
Finally her tears faded, and he sat her on the bed gently, fetching a cup of water for her to combat the coming headache from so many tears.  She drank readily, going through two more before finally settling into a silence broken only by occasional hiccups.  Micah took Ky'ria's hand into his own and held it, his large hands warm against her skin.  "Ky...I'm so sorry...please, forgive me..."

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #32 on: August 02, 2008, 08:45:44 PM »
"So many years...  I've waited, and dreamed about this for so long...  I'd fooled myself into thinking I'd have some sort of triumphant return...  That everyone would be glad that I was back..."  She sighed, and looked to the floor, her hand tightening around the mug.  "I'm sure they forgot about me as soon as I was out of sight."  Her words were bitter, and anger crept into her expression.
Micah wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close, settling his chin on her head.  "Never.  Your parents were devastated."
"They seemed to get over that quickly enough," she snorted, and tried weakly to pull away, though Micah held her tight.
"I know for a fact your mother was heartbroken.  She hated herself for giving you up.  I heard later, from Laeren, that if was your father's idea to have another child.  He thought that having another would help ease the pain of having lost you."
"Did it?"
He sighed.  "Some.  But not enough.  They shouldn't have died when they did...  The illness that took them, it wasn't that bad, but they'd lost the will to fight it.  I'm sure they thought you dead.  You always were such a sweet girl...no one wanted to say it, but, not many people expected you to last long with the hunters.  Everyone knows what monsters they are."  He broke off suddenly as Ky'ria stood and walked away from him, folding her arms.  She stood with her back to him for several moments, then turned slowly, her eyes hard.
"Monsters?  Is that all we are to you?"  Sure, she had little love for the clan that had been so brutal to her, but they had also made her strong, and so she respected them.  There were even a few that had been almost friendly to her.  "Little better than the demons we kill, I believe the phrase is.  And what does that make me?  Am I a monster too, Micah?"
"Ky-"
"Am I?"  She was hardening again, and he knew he was about to lose her.  He looked away from her.  
"No, Ky.  You're not a monster.  Forgive me, I shouldn't have said that..."  He gave an inward sigh of relief when he saw her relax slightly, and he stood again, approaching her once more.  "Where will you go?"
She sighed, and looked out the window briefly.  "I don't know, exactly.  Probably north, north east.  Rain is coming in from the south, so I can be a few days away before it starts falling."
"You'd be better going east," he sighed, unable to believe he was actually telling her how to leave him.  "There's not much to the north.  Several days east is a river.  If you follow it, it'll eventually lead to a city.  Cyprine.  You won't find trouble there as long as you don't make any."
"Who said I wanted to go to a city?"
He looked up at her as she spoke, confused.  "Where else would you go?"
She gave him a patiently annoyed look.  "I'm a demon slayer, Micah.  We don't do well in cities."
"You don't have to be.  Not anymore.  You said you left, right?  So you could settle down somewhere-"
"What, and be someone's docile little house wife?"  She snorted.  "Unlikely.  I was independant even before I was sold off; who'd have me now?"
"I would."
Her eyes widened, and he slowly lifted his face to meet her gaze.

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #33 on: August 02, 2008, 08:46:10 PM »
The words were out of his mouth before he even knew he was saying them, but he meant it, and wouldn't take them back.  He stepped up to her and took her hand in his; it was callussed and scarred from years with the hunters.  Slowly his gaze rose up her arm, across her shoulder, and up to her face, meeing her own surprised expression.
"Ky'ria...I love you.  I always have.  Even as a boy, I knew I loved you."
Her expression turned sad, and she looked away from him.  "How can you say that?  I left and you forgot about me; that doesn't sound like any sort of love I know."
"Ky...how many times can I apologize for that?  It killed me to see you go...  You were my best friend.  You stood by me when none of the other kids would.  Hell, you even stood up for me against that crazy old woman with all the stray cats!  You were the most important person in my life, and you were taken from me...  I tried, but I didn't know how to go on without you, Ky..."
She smiled faintly at the memory of the battle with the old bat, but it faded away.  "That was sixteen years ago, Micah.  We're different people now.  You love the memory of the girl you used to know.  I'm sorry to break the news to you, but she died, many years ago."  She pulled her hand away from his and turned for the door with every intention of booting him out, in a less violent way than before, at least.
Micah, however, would have none of that.  He caught up to her before she reached the door and grasped her shoulders, stopping her in mid-step.  Slowly his arms wrapped around her from behind and pulled her close, pressing his nose to her hair.  "Then let me know you.  If that little girl is gone, let me know the woman she grew in to."

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #34 on: August 02, 2008, 08:47:51 PM »
Time seemed to move so slowly...  Micah turned her to face him, and in his eyes there was an emotion she'd forgotten long ago.  At least, forgotten what it was like to have it directed at her.
 
She'd seen looks of affection and love between others within the slayer's village, but never for her.  No matter how well she'd demonstrated her skills, she was never, and would never, be one of them.  Little more than an interloper to most, an adopted outsider to some, but never more than that.  She'd long since gotten used to the cold loneliness, and sustained herself on the undying love and devotion from Xamos.  For all those long years, he really had been her only friend and companion.
 
And now...  Now, Micah stood in front of her, with that look in his eyes that was so foreign to her.  And for once, she didn't know how to react.  His hand rose slowly to her cheek, cupping her face in a tender gesture as he closed the distance between them.
 
His lips were soft against hers, their press gentle.  Deep inside, Micah was afraid she wasn't really there, or that giving in to his need to hold her tight would frighten her away, once more gone from his life.  For many years, he'd thought about her endlessly, dreamed about her, prayed to any god that was left to bring her back to him.  And now she was, but she was so dangerously close to being gone again.  He couldn't lose her.  Not again.  His arm around her back tightened marginally, noting how well she fit in his arms, and his lips pressed just barely harder.
 
Time sped up then, into a whirl of color and motion.  Even after Micah had stopped moving, he was dizzy and couldn't quite see straight.  The tightening of his embrace had snapped Ky'ria's senses back to where they belonged, and she responded the only suitable way.  She pulled back from his kiss, turned in his arms to change position, and threw him across the room.  He landed with such force against the door that the hinges actually broke slightly free from the wall.
 
"What the..."  Micah tried to stand, and lifted a hand to his trobbing skull.
"Out."
"What?  Ky-"
"I said get out!!"
Micah slowly stood, using the wobbly door to hold himself up until his legs solidified beneath him.  "Ky, what are you-"
"Out!"  The exclamation was accompanied by one of her scythes digging into the solid wood door very near to his head.  
He stared at it in shock, then back to the woman who had thrown it, eyes wide in dumbfounded shock.  What had happened?  What had made her change?  He staggered backwards out the door as she picked up her other scythe, with every intention of throwing it, noting with a bit of amazement and dread, that the tip of the first scythe poked out of the other side of the door.  The look he gave her was hurt, and confused, but he left her be, his hand reaching out and swinging the door gently closed before he walked back down the hall in a sort of daze.  Why?
 
Captain Coln met him at the end of the hall towards the stairs, and motioned him to follow.  He led Micah into a well appointed room that must have been his personal quarters.  Micah gratefully accepted the glass of brandy, and the offered seat.
"So...  Did you find the answers you were seeking?"
Micah drank the entire glass in one swallow, and sighed heavily.  "I found many answers, but...none of them were what I had expected..."
Coln sat back after refilling Micah's glass, and said nothing.  He knew the look that the younger man in front of him now wore.  It was a look of abject shock and confusion, when everything a man has held dear to his heart has been irreparably questioned and disproved.  When life will not, cannot ever be the same.
"She was...my  best friend.  When we were kids.  But more than that...  I loved her.  I knew I did.  But, sixteen years ago, when the demons came...  Her family was very poor, and were unable to pay the agreed upon price for the demon slayers.  The whole town was poor back then, so many people were only just barely able to make payment.  No one could help her family.  There were terrible stories of what had happened to people who hired demon slayers, and then did not pay.  They had no other choice...  They gave her to them, as payment.  All I could do was watch as they took my best friend away in the back of a cart, as if she were worth no more than the goods or animals they recieved from the other families."  'We'll  be best friends forever, right?'   His words were painfully bitter, reliving a memory he had wished he could forget.  "The only thing I could give her was a promise.  That I would wait for her, and remember her.  That she would be my best friend forever." 'I'll never forget you!'  Tears came to his eyes at the memories that ate at him daily.  "But I couldn't even do that.  I was in too much pain from losing her, and so forgot her, to save myself.  I...  I was a coward.  I still am..."  He shook lightly, his gaze blurry from the tears that threatened to fall.  "And now...I've lost her.  Again..."
Coln just nodded in silent understanding.  It made sense now.  Why the dangerous looking woman who, by both of their accounts, had done no wrong, was being chased by a captain of a town's guard.  "Do you still love her?"
Micah's head snapped up at the words.  It was such a simple question, but the answer meant many things.  "Yes..."
"And you'll just sit by and let her go again."
He looked away at the gently accusing tone, hating himself even more.  "What else can I do?  She's so different, but I know she's still in there, that little girl I knew...  How can I have her, when she won't have me?"
"Then you are a coward."  Micah looked back up at him, confused, and hurt.  "You've waited most of your life for this girl to come back, and now that she has, you'll just let her go again.  Where is the justice in that?"  Again, Micah's gaze lowered, and Coln just sighed.  "We are men of the law, my boy.  But even higher than our human laws, are the laws that govern our hearts.  I learned that the hard way when my Emma died several years back...  The heart is a strange creature, and though often confusing, is most times right.  It's time to devote yourself to a higher set of laws, boy.  And if you let her go, you truly are a coward."  He stood, and started for the door, but paused by Micah's chair, and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.  "I'll leave you be for a bit.  I'll send up an orderly to show you to your room."

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #35 on: August 02, 2008, 08:48:14 PM »
Later that night, Micah sat alone in his room in the barracks, thinking.  Or, at least, he was trying to think.  But his thoughts and feelings kept getting so jumbled.  He loved her.  He knew he did.  Finally getting to kiss her had only proved that, despite her reaction.  But his feelings were at odds with that reaction.  Part of him rationalized that it was just the way she was now; where most girls would pull away from a threatening or intimidating situation, and some might bully back, Ky'ria was utterly different from any woman he'd ever known.  She was a demon slayer, and so, in a potentially dangerous situation, she stepped up and diffused that danger.  It just so happened that her 'diffusion' had given him a sore back and broken the door.  He'd heard that later, when one of the young men had shown up to fix the door, he'd been a terrified mess.  His nerves weren't much helped when she pulled the scythe from the door right in front of him, either.
 
Micah sighed.  She was undeniably different.  As a demon slayer, she was cold, and calculating, and could think plans through in an instant that would take others several minutes.  She was extremely dangerous, and had wrapped herself in a hard shell and forbidden herself emotions.  He would never understand how truly alone she had been, but he knew that it had been hard for her.  And he desperately wanted to find the woman that hid beneath that cold, hard facade.  Even if she still would not have him, he wanted to know what had become of the little girl he used to know.  He sighed again, and laid back in the bed, though sleep would be a long time in coming.
 
 
In another wing, Ky'ria sat in the darkness, holding her small furry friend.  Xamos looked up at her from her lap and mewled, and licked at the tears that ran silently down her cheeks.  He didn't understand what had happened between his mother and the other human, only knew that now she was sad.  He nozed at her cheeks again, and mewled softly once more.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #36 on: August 02, 2008, 09:14:31 PM »
Morning found Micah staring at the ceiling, much as he had spend the majority of the night.  Sleep had only come in fitful stretches of half-rest that lasted only a half hour to an hour.  He couldn't stop thinking about her, or about how to make her stay.  As if he could make her do anything.  Finally, when the sounds of life from within the barracks began growing as the others awoke for the day, he crawled from bed and made for the chow hall below.  He'd hoped to see her down there for breakfast, but, wasn't too terribly surprised to see that she wasn't.  Though he did hear whispered comments about his 'fight with the demon slayer' yesterday.  Murmurs to the effect that she'd thrown him through the door, then had tried to cut him in half.  Then corrections that no, she'd cut the door in half when she slashed at him.  Or that the door had been shattered.  Micah just shook his head and continued eating in silence.
 
Against better judgement, and possibly against everything sane, he went to see her after breakfast.  The door was replaced, though he couldn't help but recall the tip of her scythe that had stuck out from the solid wood.  He sighed softly, and knocked.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #37 on: August 02, 2008, 09:14:46 PM »
Micah didn't know what he was expecting to happen when he went to see her again.  Part of him expected her to just yell at him through the door, another part thought she may outright ignore him, while yet another warned him that she was more than likely just going to attack him again.  He was still sore from the confrontation the day before,  and his nose would be swollen for several days at least.  But, Coln was right; if he just let her go without trying again, he truly would be a coward.  He had to see her once more.
 
After his first knock, there was no answer, which tended towards his theory of being ignored.  He sighed softly, and laid a hand on the wall next to her door.  "Ky'ria?  Please...I just want to talk..."  He paused and listened, but no sound came from within.  Micah took a breath, swallowed his pride, and started talking.
 
"I'm sorry, Ky'ria.  For everything.  I was out of line yesterday.  I should have been more understanding.  I..."  He paused, and sighed.  "There's so much I want to say, that I should say, but I don't know how to say it with out upsetting you or driving you even further away.  I want you, Ky.  Even if it's just as friends, I want you back in my life.  I want to know what happened to you after you left Fyrehaven.  I want to know what made you so hard..."  He stopped again, and swallowed hard.  There was still no response from within, but  she had to be listening.  "Please, Ky...let me back into your life..."  He waited, but still no answer.  And it dawned on him that she might not be in there...  
 
"Ky?"  He knocked again, and listened carefully.  "Ky'ria...I'm coming in.  ...Please don't attack me?"  His hand lowered slowly to the handle, and carefully he pushed the door in...and saw nothing.  His throat tightened, and he looked around the room, but there was no sign of her, not even a wrinkle on the bedding to suggest that anyone had been there.  "No...Ky..."  Micah could feel his heart breaking as the reality set in.  She was gone.  No word, no hint of a direction.  Just gone.  He had to reach a hand out to steady himself on the door frame to keep from just collapsing on the floor.  So close...  He'd been so close...  But she was gone again, and this time...this time, he was afraid it was for good.  He had no idea how long he just stood there staring into the empty room, but finally he was able to gather himself together enough to turn and leave the room, not even closing the door behind him.  He made his way down to the yard in a daze, and looked distantly up at the sky, as if he expected answers to come shining down with the sun.  But no answers met him.  He sighed, and shook his head, turning his gaze down to the earth.  If she truly was gone...then there was nothing more for him here.  He turned, and started back inside to gather his things.
 
Micah was in such a fog that he didn't hear his name being called until a strong hand clasped his shoulder.  He turned around with a jerk, surprised to see Captain Coln looking back at him, his features concerned.
"You ok, lad?  You seem a bit out of sorts."
Micah swallowed, and nodded slightly.  "She's gone.  Left before I even got to see her again."
Coln sighed softly, and nodded.  "Then I guess that's the way of things."
Micah nodded dumbly, still unwilling to believe that she was really gone.  "Thank you, for your help.  But, I'd best be off soon.  I've been away from Fyrehaven too long."
The older man opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off when one of the young men came running towards them, looking very out of breath, and a bit scared.
 
"Captain!  The larder!  Someone's stolen a large amount of our supplies!"  Coln's face hardened, and he turned to face the youth.
"What's missing?  When did you find it gone?"
"Just now.  We were going in to take inventory after the morning meal, and a lot of it was gone!  It was all there when we started this morning,  I swear!"
"What's missing?" Coln repeated patiently.  
"Trail provisions, several loaves of bread, a few pounds of dried meat, dried fruit, things like that."  Coln pointed the boy out to lead the way, he following after to see for himself.  Inwardly, Micah grimaced, and he followed after the two.  They'd scarely gotten back out of the building when a chorus of yells came from the direction of the armory.  A short time later, two older boys came rushing towards the captain, the same look of panic that the other boy wore on their faces.  "Captain!  Captain!!  The armory's been looted!"
Coln repeated the same process with these boys, and Micah sighed as the list was read off; snares and other hunting tools, a long bow, several quivers of arrows, a couple long daggers, and a large whet stone.  Coln looked to Micah, who looked like he was going to be sick.  He sent the boys off to create a detailed inventory of what was missing from each location, as well as to find out if anything else was missing from anywhere else.  Once the two men were alone again, Coln just looked at Micah silently.
"I'm horribly sorry...  It had to be Ky'ria.  She's the only one I can think of that could have done all this so quickly and without being seen."  He sighed and hung his head.  "Send me a list of what's gone and the value.  I'll see that you're repayed for what's been stolen."
Coln looked at him for a few more minutes in silence.  Then, sighed, shook his head, and laughed gently.  "Quite a woman you're after.  Single handedly cleans out a guard compound without being seen, and all before breakfast."  Of course he was annoyed at the theft, but knew that Micah would come through.  "She can't be that far ahead, if she got into the larder after the boys started breakfast.  A few hours on foot is easily covered by horse..." he offered, seeing if Micah would go after her.
Micah just shook his head.  "I haven't a clue in which direction she's gone, and even if I did, I'd still never find her.  She's  a demon slayer, remember?  You don't find people like that unless they want to be found."
Coln nodded, and turned to calm the chaos that had overtaken his barracks, leaving Micah to continue his business.  Micah turned and went back inside, and was on the road back to Fyrehaven in little time.  After he'd left Hyvendale, he couldn't help but laugh a bit.  She really was something to have been able to pull that off.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #38 on: August 02, 2008, 09:15:06 PM »
Three days later, Ky'ria was comfortably situated within her trail shelter, sitting in front of her fire where dinner cooked, just as the rain began to fall.  She'd been lucky with how long it had held off; it had been threatening to fall since early the day before, but hadn't actually started to come down until earlier that day.  It only sprinkled lightly, and didn't start coming down more heavily until after she had her shelter up and fire going.  Xamos played near the fire, teasing and challening the embers that flew out with each crackle and pop.  It had been a good journey so far.  And the supplies she'd procured from the Hyvendale guard were proving very useful.  In addition to the food and weapons she'd relieved, there was also a large pack to hold it all in.  Half of the weapons would be eventually traded for other things as she ran out of them, but not until she was a good distance away.  The militias had a bad habit of spreading word whenever things went missing from their bases.  But, she planned on being several months away by the time she would need to trade anything in.
 
Which brought the question, where would she go, and what would she do?  As she'd told Micah, she was a demon slayer, and could never be anything else.  It was a way of life, not merely a profession.  There was no way she could ever be a house wife.  No way she could take up any other profession, and be happy with it.  No, she was a demon slayer.  So there was really little choice but to go on doing what she knew how to do.  Normally, whenever demons made enough nuisance of themselves to require a slayer, a message was sent to the slayers; but, as her own particular village was dessimated, and she had no desire to try and join another, her only choice was to wander about and see what there was to be found.  A sort of mercenary, except her marks would be far deadlier than any man.
 
Ky'ria sat back under her shelter and watched Xamos bounce and play, the little demon hardly caring about rain or fire.  She could see him phasing in and out of shadow as he danced with the opposing elements, avoiding the worst of the embers and the better part of the rain drops.  She smiled softly, almost sadly as she watched him.  The little kit truly was her only friend in the world.  And Micah...  She sighed, and her smile faded.  She didn't know what to think about him anymore.  The last few days had been very confusing.  Perhaps, just as he'd been expecting the return of the little girl he knew, she'd been expecting the boy she knew to race up to her and throw his arms around her and welcome her back home.  
 
She sighed heavily and laid all the way back, closing her eyes to the world around her, and just listening to the gentle patter of the rain and the soft mewls of her companion.  So much had gone so wrong...  When had everything changed?  Try as she might, she couldn't find an answer in her mind.  Sixteen years...it seemed so long...she almost couldn't remember what life had been like before the demon slayers.  She'd had a home, with people who loved her.  She knew that.  But so many years in so hostile an environment had erased almost all of those happy memories, and those that remained were bittersweet reminders of what had been lost, never to return.
 
A small weight suddenly landed on her chest, and two red eyes peered down at her, blinking curiously in concert with a curious mewl.  Ky'ria smiled and stroked Xamos' wet fur, then sat up to tend to dinner.  She would eventually have to contend with all these issues, and more, but first, she had to contend with an empty stomach.  And that was a problem easily fixed.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #39 on: August 02, 2008, 09:15:22 PM »
Ky'ria tossed the severed head at the village leader's feet with cold indifference, not even reacting as the man and his collection of followers scuttled back from it with soft exclamations as it rolled towards them.  "Here's your proof.  I'll be taking my payment now."  Ky'ria slowly raised her gaze from the boar demon's head up to the village leader.  To the men, she seemed as a demon herself; a lone woman, wearing a patchwork of skins and armor made from slain demons, had dispatched the demons that had given their village trouble for months, and badly injured or even slain those men sent out to kill them.  With a hard swallow, the cowardly leader motioned to one of the men beside him, who slowly stepped forward, holding a bag heavy with coin.  He held it out to the darkly clad woman before him, hands trembling, and nearly fell over himself to return to the safety of his group when she reached out and took it.
 
Ky'ria weighed it carefully in her hand, then shot a hard glare at the village leader.  "This is not the agreed upon amount."  A low chorus of gasps and murmurs went up from those gathered, and the leader quickly cleared his throat and attempted to speak.
"Ah...yes...well...you see...we, erm..."  He coughed again, and managed to pull a little more of his stones out of his stomach.  "You see, many of those here, they are master craftsmen, and have agreed to provide you with, eh, services and goods, to fulfill our contract."  He quickly turned to face those standing behind them and sent a desperate look.  It was clear to Ky'ria that they'd tried to cheat her of her price for slaying the demons, and hadn't thought they'd be caught so easily.  Ky'ria's expression hardened, and after a few quick glances between her and their leader, those that were crafters quickly nodded their heads in agreement.  The leader looked like he'd wet himself in relief, and turned back to her.  "So you s-see?  Anything you need, just speak to them, and they will help you.  A-are we agreed?"
Ky'ria just kept her hard look on them for a moment longer, allowing them to squirm for just a bit more.  She knew she'd be more than compensated for what was missing from the bag of coin, and in truth, she preferred payment in goods and services rather than in coin.  But she wasn't going to let them know that.  Finally, she nodded, and tossed the bag of coin behind her.  Out of the darkness, a set of teeth snapped at the bag, catching it before it hit the ground.  A pair of glowing red eyes blinked at them, then vanished as the shadow fox leapt up to the saddle of a nearby horse.  "Agreed.  I will visit the shops tomorrow.  Good night, gentlemen."  With that, she turned and took up the riens of her mount and led it back to the inn where she was staying.  Xamos blinked back at them from the saddle, guarding the bag of money.  The men only let out their held breaths and began to disperse once the demon slayer was back inside.
 
Back in her room, Ky'ria opened the bag to count just how much was actually there.  She wasn't as good at telling with just a feel as some, but she knew the weight felt wrong.  As the coins were dumped out on the bed cover, she found out why.  Most the coin was right, but there were far more copper peices than there should be, along with lead slugs.  Clearly these men had never tried to fool someone before.  In their inexperience, they'd over-padded with lead.  So the bag was too heavy, rather than too light.  Regardless, she probably could have gotten more from them, even if they had paid correctly the first time.  These village leaders were cowards, and most of their young fighting men were either dead or laid up with bad injuries.  Not that it would have made a difference if they'd been in good fighting condition.  
Xamos leapt on the bed and began playing with the shiny bits of metal, mewling curiously at them and taking pleasure in the way they clinked together.  Ky'ria smiled and scratched behind his ear, drawing forth that strange purr that better belonged to a cat, but came from him.  She noted that he'd grown a little bit since she'd left Fyrehaven several months ago.
 
Several months...  Had it already been so long?  She looked out the window into the darkness.  She couldn't see now, but while hunting the boar demons, she'd noticed that snow would soon be coming.  She was further south than her former home in the foothills, which meant that winter had probably already arrived there.
 
That led her to a thought that made her pause.  It was winter, or at least very close to it.  That fact alone should mean that demons were becoming less active.  Many of them followed the habits of regular animals, and slept through the cold winter months, or at least remained within their warm dens with a large cache of food.  But instead, she'd seen an influx of activity, and most of this erratic.  Even demons of the insect variety were becoming unusually active.  And large.  Just last week she'd destroyed several beatles that were easily twice the size of Xamos.  Normally they only reached a fraction of that size.  And instead of working in colonies, she'd only come across a few when she encountered them.  
The last time she was in a city, almost two months ago, she'd come across a former slayer.  The older man had provided her with invaluable information, and even a little training.  But more than that, he had mentioned, even back then, that he felt a change in the wind, one that to him was a bad omen of things to come.
 
Ky'ria looked back to Xamos when the kit knocked several coins to the floor with a clatter and sighed, bending down to collect the coins and push him away from the pile of money.  It was something she could think about later.  For now, she needed to figure out what she needed in terms of supplies.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #40 on: August 02, 2008, 09:15:45 PM »
That winter was particularly harsh, one of the worst in the memories of the elderly who had been around for a good many winters.  All over the country people hunkered down into their homes for days at a time to wait out the blizzards that passed across the land, the smaller towns and villages seeming to go into hibernation with the animals.  But the forests and fields were not so silent and empty as they should be...  Something was stirring in the land, causing demon and animal alike to behave...oddly.  
 
In one village, a boy was found slain after he'd gone for winter herbs in the forest, the only clue to his demise the tracks of a large creature, a sort of cross between a wolf and pony, the herds of which were normally protectors of the local forests.  The body was intact other than the wounds which had killed him, as if the creature had been enraged, killed the hapless child, and then fled the scene. In another town, birds that normally left for the winter refused to leave their temperate roosts with the coming of the cold, as if terrified of flying their regular path, until every bird lay frozen to death in its roost.  Rumors of strange noises in the night spread like wildfire across the land, sightings of a terrible beast stalking the forests...
 
If demon slayers were troubled at the change in activity, the regular folk were downright terrified.  And Fyrehaven was not immune to the strange happenings of the winter...

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #41 on: August 02, 2008, 09:16:02 PM »
The riders were exhausted as they came into the latest of a string of nameless towns on the last rays of daylight.  A young woman and two men, one hardly past his majority, the other a grizzled veteran with a crippled hand.  As their tired beasts staggered into the warmth of the stables at the in, they were met by an astonished stableboy, who took their mounts in and set to caring for them.  The three riders, despite their weariness, immediately fell into step as they made for the common room of the inn.  The movement of their cloaks showed that they wore matching uniforms.  The three all but collapsed at a table near the blazing fire, and the owner quickly came to their side with warm drinks and steaming broth.  A few coins turned broth into a hearty meal which was eaten slowly and without words amongst the travelers.
 
After the dishes were cleared, the youth cleared his throat, drawing the weary attention of the woman who apparently was in charge.  "How much longer, do you think, Mistie?  We've been looking for weeks..."
"Until we find a slayer.  Hopefully we'll find her..."  The older man frowned at the mention of the woman, but said nothing.
"We have to find someone soon, or the Captain..."  His words died off into silence, all three thinking the same ending to that thought.  The same ending that had been becoming steadily more likely every day that they were away from home.
Mistie sighed, and forced tired muscles to stand once more.  The owner looked up as she approached the bar, and provided her with a requested key for a room.  She almost turned to return to her comrades, but paused a moment.  "Excuse me, sir...but we're searching for a demon slayer.  Our town has been attacked, and we are without the resources to defeat the beast.  Do you know any in the area?  Even a trail to follow?"  The young woman normally would never abide by such a desperate tone in her voice, but they were truly coming upon desperate times.  
The owner thought a moment, then frowned.  "Can't say as I know any slayers, miss.  They tend to keep to themselves."  Her hope took another blow, but the man wasn't finished.  "No, don't know no slayers, but there is one person...  A woman, what came through here a couple weeks ago.  Keeps to herself out in an old shack several miles out of town.  She comes in now and again to trade.  She might be able to help.  She's far more than any trapper, too.  Brings in some nasty critters most men couldn't handle.  Thought she might be a demon herself, a few times..."
A tiny part of Mistie dared to hope.  "Do you know her name?"  Could it be her...?
"Can't place it," he shrugged.  "She don't speak much when she comes by."
"Thank you, sir.  Many thanks to you."  She returned to her companions and shared the news.  It was enough to raise their hopes just slightly.  Without even speaking it was decided that they would go to see this woman in the morning.  But, for now, it was all they could do to simply get to the beds upstairs.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #42 on: August 02, 2008, 09:17:16 PM »
Morning came far too early for weary bodies, but they had a trail to follow now.  After weeks of nothing, they may finally be at the turning point in their journey.  So rise the exhausted militia did, and set out from the inn in the direction the owner had pointed them to the lone shack and the strange woman.
 
It was nearly mid-day by the time the trio made it through the deep drifts to the shack.  At first there seemed to be no sign of life, and hopes were nearly crushed once more.  They stopped several meters off, looking for any signs of habitation, but again found none.  But Mistie would not be dissuaded so easily.  Dismounting, she trudged carefully through the deep snow towards the run-down structure, but stopped when a low growl echoed across her hearing.  The others heard it, too, and the horses shifted nervously.  Her determination rose, convinced it was the beast of the woman they sought.
 
"Slayer," she called out, remaining in place.  "We come seeking aid."  Silence met her call, and after a moment she continued forward.  Another growl, louder and warning, stopped her advance once more.  "We have no quarrel with you.  We seek your service."  Again no sound, though the horses remained ill at ease.  They knew something was there, and did not want to linger as their riders insisted.  With still no response, Mistie continued forward once more.  This time, however, the warnings were ended.  She just barely managed to dodge a barbed arrow, the hooks catching in her cloak as she dove to the ground.  When she looked up, she found herself staring into a pair of very unhappy red eyes, surrounded by black fur, of a very large dog-looking creature.  It had happened so fast, that the two with her had no time to react until the shadow fox was standing over their leader, bared teeth mere inches from her neck.  They began to draw bows when a voice finally called out to them.
 
"Stop, or you all die."  The voice was detatched and hard, seeming to come from all around them, and all three soldiers paused in whatever motions they were in.  After several minutes, a figure rose slowly from behind a snow drift several feet from where Mistie lay prone, wrapped in white furs and draped in a white cloak, all of which blended almost perfectly into the snow around it.  Held out from the body was a large bow with two arrows knocked, each trained on a body still on a horse.  Only a small patch of skin around the eyes was exposed to the cold, though those eyes were colder than the air beyond them.  Those eyes studied the trio, and at a motion from her bow, the two men slowly returned their bows to their saddles, holding up empty hands.  "What do you want?"
 
At first all were stuck in silence, fearing that, as the innkeeper had said, this person was a demon herself.  Slowly, carefully, Mistie swallowed, watching the shadow fox carefully.  It was a lot bigger than she remembered...  "As I said, we come seeking your aid."  The cold eyes turned down to her.  "We seek a demon slayer.  The innkeeper from town said that we should speak to you."
"What do you want?"  Again the question, each word punctuated as its own statement.
Mistie became impatient, exhaustion and a bit of a temper flaring up into a biting reply.  "I told you!  We're look-"  The retort was cut off sharply as the sharp fangs edged closer to her throat, and the bow lowered to aim at her, both arrows swiveling in to be aimed at her singular location.  Mistie swallowed hard again, and forced herself to calm.  "As I said, we're looking for a slayer.  Our town has been attacked, and we cannot defeat the beast alone."
At this, the figure almost seemed to laugh.  "Of course you cannot.  You appear to be little more than poor militia."  A harsh, bark of a laugh actually did come out then, and the bow lowered.  "Go back to your town.  You will find no aid here."  At that, the figure turned, and a short, high pitched whistle brought the shadow fox away from Mistie's throat, though he still watched her closely.
 
She couldn't believe it.  The slayer wouldn't help them.  There was one last hope, one last thing that might change her mind.  After that confrontation so long ago, she'd heard rumors from the townsfolk.  Rumors of a girl that had been sold to a band of slayers years prior when demons had attacked the village; a girl that looked strikingly similar to the woman that had passed through.  "Micah's dying!"  She waited with bated breath, and dared to hope when the figure stopped.  Slowly, Mistie returned to her feet, and tried again.  "You are the slayer who came through Fyrehaven before, aren't you.  You know Captain Micah.  You're friends, aren't you?"  
 
Best friends forever!  
 
"The Captain tried to defeat the thing that attacked us.  Most of the guard that went with him are dead, the rest are in really bad shape.  Whatever it was got him bad, and he's not recovering.  It's poisoned him, and we can't fight the venom."  
Still the figure remained motionless, though there was a tightening of facial muscles.  Ignore them.  Let them deal with it.  Let him suffer.  Forget him.  He forgot you...
"He told us to find you!  Ky'ria!"
 
I'll never forget you!
 
Micah...

 
Slowly, the figure turned back to her.  The eyes were still hard, but a little less cold.  "Xamos."  The word brough the shadow fox back to her side.  There was another moment of silence, then a simple, "Come."  The fur-clad figured turned away again and started for the shack.  Mistie let out a sigh of relief, and motioned for her comrades to follow as she started after the slayer.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #43 on: August 02, 2008, 09:18:28 PM »
The inside of the shack was surprisingly well kept.  Equaly surprising to the three militia was that, as they passed a window, it was completely dark inside, but as they reached the door, inside was a fire that looked like it'd been burning for hours, and a steaming pot that agreed with that assessment.  A look to the windows showed them to be hung with a fabric so black it seemed to be made of the darkness itself.  The shadow fox retreated to a dark corner across from the fire, half melding into the shadows there, and watched the three closely.  There was an awkward, uncertain silence as the woman began to pull off her white furs, furs that had now turned a darker shade of cream, as if trying to blend in with the darker interior.  The bow and arrows were set in a corner, as well as a small stash of bladed weapons the others hadn't even gotten a hint of.  As she turned back towards the room and sat by the fire, Mistie saw that it was, indeed, the woman who had come through Fyrehaven.
 
The young man, grateful for the help and to be out of the cold, spoke first.  "Thank you, miss, for agreeing to-"
"I've agreed to nothing," came the terse interruption, and he nearly swallowed his tongue from the sharpness of the reply.  The older man just frowned, seeing a distinct resemblance between her behavior and the behavior of the slayers that had come through before.  It was he who spoke next.
"We'll keep this brief, slayer.  The sad truth is, we know very little about the beast that attacked our town-"
"But you want me to go after it anyway, even with no information."
"But you're a demon slayer!" the youth piped up again.  "They're demons!  What else is there to know?"  Mistie slapped a hand to her own face at the kid's idiocy.  The man just sighed softly.  Ky'ria, however, turned icy cold eyes on him, and he felt like the ice in her eyes shot right through him.
"Tell me," she spoke gently, like a beast on the prowl.  "Would you go rushing into a den of theives and criminals without knowing who was inside, or how many, or what sort of weapons and traps they had waiting for you?"  He swallowed hard, and shook his head.  "No?  Of course not.  Then why expect the same from me?"
He looked like he was about to wet himself, so Mistie stepped in.  "Like we said, we don't know much, but we do know something.  Like that it's armed with several of these."  She pulled a small cloth wrapped item from her jacket, and pulled the fabric away, holding it out to Ky'ria.
It was a large, hooked claw, easily the size of Mistie's hand.  But there were a couple extra features about it.  First were the barbs, spread more or less evenly up and down the surface of the claw.  Those were the obvious parts.  The not so obvious were the small holes surrounding the barbs.  Holes that were no doubt tiny tunnels that lead up to the base, and further to some sort of venom sack in the hand or foot of the creature.  This particular one was severed shortly above the claw, a rough hacking off at a knuckle.  Ky'ria started to reach for it, then drew her hand sharply back with a quick intake of breath.  Even from a few inches away, her hand felt the lingering aura around this thing; it was almost pure evil.  How could this girl not feel it?!  "Drop it."
"What?"
"Drop it!  Now!"  The last command was nearly barked at her, and Mistie, in a bit of a confusion, let it and the cloth fall to the floor.  Xamos had been staring at the claw the moment it was brough out, and he now rose and growled lowly at it, his fur bristling.  Ky'ria looked briefly at him, then rose suddenly and moved to a cupboard, where she began searching through various bottles and cases.  A moment later she returned with a small pouch, and waved them all away from the claw.  When the floor was cleared, Xamos returned to her side, still growling low.  A pinch of white powder from the pouch was sprinkled on the claw, and slayer and demon pet stepped back a little as it began to glow with a faint red hue.
Slowly, the glow began to grow and shape itself.  They were lucky that it was fresh enough, or that the demon's aura was so strong.  As the apparition began to form more, she changed her mind to the strength of the aura.  The glow spread out over the floor, and began to spread up at four points, where feet met floor.  The paws were massive; each roughly the size of plates, the large claw was certainly not out of place on its feet.  Ky'ria's first assessment was that it was a strain of wolf demon, and as the legs shaped, it concurred with that.  But when it hit the body, it was something she'd never seen before.  Nevermind the shere size of it; it was easily the size of a small horse, so the vision took up a large portion of the room.  But the fur turned from fur to an almost porcupine quill.  As they went down the tail, they turned to outright spikes.  Along the spine they grew into sharp ridges, like those seen on some lizards, especially prominant in the lizard demons.  Up the neck they ran, changing slowly into horns that surrounded ears and ran along the brow ridge.  Several long, sharp teeth hung outside the lips, the longest at the front reaching down below the jawline.  As the image finished, stiffled gasps came up from the trio pressed against the wall.
 
Normally, the powder that Ky'ria used only recreated the image of the creature that owned the body part it was applied to.  So when the red eyes suddenly turned a peircing black, and the head began to move, Ky'ria knew that something was terribly, horribly wrong.  Xamos knew, too, and went from wary uncertainty to battle mode.  He snarled and snapped at the apparition, and Ky'ria began to slowly move back to her cupboard.  "Do not.  Move," she murmured to the other three.  They were clueless, but realized that something was going wrong, and so stayed put.  They hardly dared to breath.  Ky'ria continued to watch the image as she moved slowly, and froze when it's eyes turned on her.
For a moment, no one moved, and no one breathed.  Then the monster took a step, and the room exploded into chaos.  Xamos lunged at it, and to the shock of the three town guards, was batted away by what should have been nothing more than an image.  In that same instant, Ky'ria whirled and lunged for her shelves, pulling out an ancient looking dagger with one hand and a flask with another.  She bit the cork out and whirled around in time to splash the attacking demon with the contents, stopping it less than a foot from her neck.  It snarled viciously, momentarily driven back by the fluid.  It gave Ky'ria just enough time to pour some of the liquid on the dagger and drive it into it's forehead.  It let out a deafening roar that shook the shack, but the image began to disipate like smoke, and soon the room was back to normal, the only demon inhabitant the slowly rising Xamos.  Ky'ria slumped into the nearest chair, her heart racing and her body covered with a sheen of sweat, not just from the sudden battle, but from the things she had seen when the demon looked into her eyes...

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #44 on: August 02, 2008, 09:19:28 PM »
Ky'ria stared blankly into the distance within her small hut, still sweating and breathing hard, eyes wide and a tremble shaking her frame every now and again.  The three soldiers had no idea what had just happened, only that something had attacked.  Xamos limped over to where his mistress sat and nosed at her hand with a small whine, but she gave no notice of him
 
When the three militia had recovered, and Ky'ria still had not, they moved closer to investigate.    "What's wrong with her, Mistie?"
"How the hell should I know?  I don't fight demons, I fight people."  While the younger two argued, the man knelt by her chair and checked her pulse on her wrist.  Her heart rate was beginning to slow, but her skin was cold and clammy.
"Whatever happened, it scared her bad."
"Did it daze her?"  The youth approached now and looked into her eyes.  There were some demons, mostly smaller ones, that could numb someone's mind with a stare as a defense to escape.  It was while he was staring into her eyes and waving his hands at her that she snapped to, eyes going from dull incomprehension to razor sharpness.  The next instant she'd lunged at him with a growl, and in hardly a moment had carried him across the room and pinned him to the opposite wall by his neck, his feet dangling a few inches above the ground.  He was lucky that she wanted answers out of him, or she may have crushed his throat.
"What have you done?" she hissed dangerously at him.  "What the hell have you called on yourselves?!"
"That's what we're trying to find out," Mistie growled back as she and the man approached to pull the slayer off their comrade, who was beginning to turn blue in the lips.  Ky'ria tightened her grip on the boy's throat, and when Mistie was close enough, she found her neck pressed to the business end of yet another dagger the slayer woman had pulled from somewhere on her person.  The man stopped, seeing both of his partners in danger.
"Easy now, miss.  We're just as confused as you are by this.  We're coming to you for answers.  Now if you'll kindly allow the boy to breath, we can calm down and talk about this like civilized people."
Ky'ria glared daggers at him over her shoulder, but a moment later her hand released the youth's neck, sending him crumpling to the floor in a flurry of coughs and gasps.  A moment later the blade was also removed from Mistie's neck, and she turned from them all to return to her chair, where Xamos had been watching the entire thing.
"I am not a 'civilized person.'  I'm surprised you people hadn't figured that out yet.  I'm sure your friend on the floor will not forget."  She then knelt in front of Xamos and felt him over, looking for any broken bones or other damage.  He whimpered a couple times, but she could find nothing more than bruises, which was good.  She'd have hated for him to be hurt.  The shadow fox licked her hand, then laid down when she was done checking him for injuries.  Ky'ria stared down at the demon at her feet, the image of the demon she'd just faced burned into her memory.  She took a moment to gather her thoughts, then turned to face the three.
 
"Whatever you have done, you have drawn out something especially wicked.  Demons like these don't normally bother with people.  In fact they prefer to be as secluded as possible, such is their hatred for anything and everything.  But you've drawn it out, and gods protect you from it, because I will not.  I will not face this monster."  She would never admit it, but Ky'ria was terrified.  Never in all her life had she felt such all encompassing horror as when she'd met eyes with that thing.  It had shown her its black thoughts, its dark desires; she'd felt its drive to destroy, the glut of pleasure it felt when ripping through that which was living.  She'd seen the joy it took in destroying all those who came against it, and knew that it would kill again, and again, and would continue its rampage until its blood lust was sated.  And gods be damned, she could not, would not face this thing.  Even a clan of demon slayers would be hard pressed to beat this thing.  Alone, she had no chance.
Mistie rose sharply from where she'd been tending to the young man at Ky'ria's refusal, desperation turning to anger.  "You have to!  We have no other option!"
"Then that is your problem!  I did not bring this monstrosity down on you!  Deal with it yourself!"
"We can't!  That's why we had to haul our asses half way across the frozen country just to find someone who could.  And we found you.  You're the only one who can face this thing."
"You have my answer.  I will not tell you again.  You are no longer welcome here."
"What about Captain Micah!  He's depending on you!"
"Micah is a fool!  It serves him right for getting himself killed."
Mistie took the last comment like a slap to the face.  She was quiet for a moment, her anger dying back into desperation.  "Please...he needs you.  Fyrehaven needs you..."
Ky'ria was quiet for a moment, and eyed the girl in front of her.  "You love him, don't you."  Not a question, a statement.  Mistie didn't meet her gaze, and her cheeks colored slightly.  Ky'ria saw her answer in that simple response.  "Then I suggest you hurry back and say good-bye before you lose your chance."  She eyed them all hard, and there were a couple heavy sighs of defeat.  They were doomed...  The two men left, Mistie lingering a moment longer.  She opened her mouth to speak, perhaps something bitter and angry, but closed her mouth and turned sharply, closing the door behind her as she left.  Ky'ria continued to watch the door and listen until she was sure they were gone before slumping back in the chair.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #45 on: August 02, 2008, 09:20:02 PM »
Ky'ria was restless for the rest of the day.  To say that that demon had greatly unsettled her would be an understatement.  The fact that it had been able to track through such a simple spell and attack her frightened her, more so than she could remember feeling in many years.  There was death in its eyes, and nothing more yet at the same time there was so much more.  It was evil...  
 
Neither she nor Xamos had touched the claw since it had been dropped on the ground, though neither were moving around much, either.  When they did move around the hut, they gave it a wide berth, as if simply coming close enough would bring forth those snapping teeth once more.  It was several hours before Ky'ria was steady enough to cleanse it, and she doused the claw liberally with herbs and salts and variously labled liquids, until finally the paling of cruelty and evil left the hut, and she finally felt like she could breath again.  "By the gods, Micah...what have you gotten yourself into?"  She lifted the claw again, still using the cloth despite all traces of taint having been removed, and looked it over carefully again.  It was killing them...  She'd seen, though the eyes of the beast, that it had killed or badly wounded many of the men of the gaurd, both in Fyrehaven and Hyvendale.  As much as she wanted to leave them to the hell they'd brought upon themselves, a part of her couldn't ignore it.  It was more than just her job, it was her duty to slay demons that got out of control.  Little as she liked her old 'home,' she had taken their oath; that no matter where, no matter when, if there was a demon to be taken care of, she would do it, without hesitation or question.
 
Ky'ria had a cold supper late that night, still staring at the claw, which now sat on the table in front of her.  Her anger at having been bothered, and then attacked, had mostly faded into a calm state of recollection and reflection.  Down along the curve of the talon her gaze went, until it met with severed flesh and dried blood.
 
If it can bleed, it can die.
 
Ah, the old addage, one of the constants that had stayed with her in her life with the slayers.  It was true, after all.  Of all things, living or...otherwise.  One of those bumbling children had somehow managed to sever the claw, even if it was in all likelyhood a last effort to maim the creature before that claw was pulled back out of a chest cavity.
 
And then...there was Micah.  She'd meant what she told Mistie about hurrying back to him.  The bastard was lucky to even still be alive, even if he didn't think himself to be so.  It was probably a wretched, agonizing thing to have in the veins.
 
"You love him, don't you."
 
Ky'ria frowned.  Did she?  No.  Not love, but...not hate, either.  She sighed, and slumped back into her chair again, turning the claw over in her hands.  Damnit all...  For all the years and distance and hardship that had separated them, she still liked the dumb bastard.  Perhaps he really was her only friend, not counting Xamos.  And as much as she wanted to hate him for what had happened in Hyvendale, she couldn't.  And, really, she didn't want him to die...  He was a good man.  She knew that.  He always had been a bit of a softy.  And then...there was that look in his eyes, the words from his tongue, and the press of his lips...  Perhaps Micah had been foolish to expect her to come back unchanged, but perhaps she had also been the fool for not showing him the part that hid deep inside, the part that he knew existed, but that she had forgotten about, for having hid it for so many years.
 
~~~~~
 
Morning came as it always did, the sun heaving itself out of its warm slumber to cast forth what meager warmth could escape the cold of the season.  Slowly the shadows shortened and faded, and in time sunlight fell upon the empty looking hut bulwarked in drifted snow.  And just as it appeared on the outside, so it too appeared within, the hearth long cold and the shelves empty, no cloak of woven darkness hanging in the window.  Neither were there any tracks to show the direction that the two occupants had taken deep in the night.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #46 on: August 02, 2008, 09:21:19 PM »
Ky'ria found it somewhat ironic that, while it had taken her months to get so far from Fyrehaven, it took only a matter of days to return.  But then again, this time she knew exactly where she was going, rather than an aimless wandering.  She also knew the way better than that rag-tag group of soldiers that had come to her door, and was not hindered so much by such mundane things as snow and bad roads.  Neither did she exibit the same need for sleep as they.  She was a demon slayer; she outclassed those children several times over as a warrior.
It was...odd.  Staring down the road that led into the town.  Not the one she had come in on the first time, but rather, the one she'd been 'escorted' down when she left.  It was twilight as she passed the hill with the cemetary, the trees bare of leaves and seeming to be more twisted and gnarled than she remembered.  She frowned.  The entire area was tainted by this thing...  Xamos felt it too, and remained close to her back on his perch behind the saddle, keeping a close watch on the land around them.
No guard met them at the edge of the town.  The streets were empty, utterly devoid of any form of life.  There was a heavy feeling of fear in this place...  Her horse whuffed and shook his head, he too feeling the heavy press of dread.  "Shh...easy, friend."  Ky'ria stroked his neck, and the trio continued on through the empty streets.  Most the windows were dark, or only emitted faint light, the populace in hiding from the terrors of the night.  But there was one building that was well lit, one that she knew from her last visit here, and she made her way towards this.
Mistie must not have been lying when she said that they were in bad shape.  No one even stood watch outside the main doors.  Undermanned or not, they were fools, probably cowering inside like the people they were supposed to protect.  "Xamos.  Find him."  She waited outside the building, out of sight of any windows or doors and wrapped in darkness was the shadow fox leapt from the saddle, vanishing before he even touched ground.  If Micah was still alive, Xamos would find him.
She didn't have to wait long before a set of yips reached her ears.  She dismounted and followed the soft sound through the compoud until she saw his red orbs blinking at her from the base of the barracks.  He directed his gaze upwards, towards where a window was cracked open and the faint light of a single candle glowed through the glass.  Ky'ria could sense the sickness in that room, the same poisonous decay that she had felt in the claw before the demon had attacked.  She whistled softly, a sound that would fit a night bird from these parts, and in a matter of moments her horse came trotting around the buildings to stop in front of her.  "Good lad," she smiled and stroked his neck, then got to business.  She drew several items from the saddle bags, including a couple pouches and a set of gloves with small curved barbs on the palm and fingers.  A similiar set went over her shoes.  Then she walked a ways from the building, turned, and sprinted back towards the wall.
A powerful leap, seemingly stronger than a human should be able to acheive, sent her high into the air, almost reaching the second story on its own.  Then the hooks on hands and feet went to work as she scurried up the rest of the wall, sending bits of wood floating down to the ground in her wake.  She made short work of the wall, and was soon latched to the wall outside the third story window.  They really were making this too easy for her...  One hand slid under the window frame and lifted it all the way, the sliding pane making hardly a sound.  No one was inside with the ailing captain, just the single candle, a pitcher and basin of water, and an assortment of tried, and failed medicines.  It was a very spartan room, with no personal belongings.  She assumed that he had been moved here for care, since there weren't even any clothes or weapons.
Silently she crept to his bedside.  He looked like he'd been dragged through the pits of hell.  His skin was ashen and pale, the veins standing out in stark contrast as the poison festered in his body.  Pulling back the covers and gauze from his chest, she found the wound.  It was a small stab in the shoulder, on its own rather unimpressive and easily healed from, when one looked past the swelling and festering puss that ringed it.  But with the potent poison, it was a wonder he was still alive.  She honestly had no idea how he had lasted this long, but she knew that he didn't have much longer.  With that in mind, she moved to the table with the water and started reaching into her pouches for the ingredients that would make a salve.  It was a quick anti-venom, easily created to stabilize those hit by powerful poisons in the field until a better antidote could be created.  It just needed to set for a few minutes.  During this time, Ky'ria returned to Micah's side and sat lightly on the edge of the bed, drawing a knife from her hip.  His skin was hot to her touch, her own hands much cooler, and she paused when her touch brought a soft sound from him.  But then he was still again.  "Easy...," her voice was soft and soothing, and she brushed sweat-soaked hair from his face, running that cool hand across his forehead and cheek, before laying it back on his arm to steady herself.  "I'll take care of you, Micah..."  She carefully scraped at the infection around the wound, gathering puss and flesh and blood onto the wide blade, which was then wiped onto one of the many cloths that sat with the failed remedies.  She would have to analyze it to better know how to combat it, and without a fresh sample, this was the best she would get.  Ky'ria continued to scrape carefully at his chest until most of it was cleaned away, leaving raw flesh in it's wake.  She now traded her blade for the pultice, and applied it liberally to his chest, pressing it into the wound.  Again he moaned softly at the press of her hands onto tender flesh, but he remained asleep, for a bit longer anyway.
She had just finished with the salve and was covering it with clean cloths when his eyes slid slowly open.  "Ky..."  Her head jerked up, surprised that he was awake, but managed to just smile softly at him.  "Hey."
"I'm dreaming again, are't I?"  His words were quiet and forced, almost slurred as he tried to make sense of things through the fever.  Ky'ria furrowed her brows gently.
"Dreaming?"
"Mm...the healers keep telling me that I'm only dreaming you...that you're not really here..."  His eyes were cloudy, unable to focus perfectly, and she could tell that they went in and out of focus.  "I wish you were..."
She sighed, a soft, sad sound, and laid a cool hand against his cheek, which his face turned in to.  "You are dreaming, Micah..."  She smiled softly at him again.  "Sleep more, and dream of me.  I'll watch over you..."
He let out a deep breath, and once more his eyes closed, settling back into sleep.  Once she was sure he was out, Ky'ria went back to work.
She knew that she did not wish ill upon him, but now that she was here, and saw just how bad of shape he was really in, she was afraid for him.  She knew now, that she had to save him from this.  She had to try...

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #47 on: August 02, 2008, 09:23:50 PM »
Ky'ria was still sitting watch over Micah when the compound began to stir from it's fearful slumber.  Well before dawn a sharp whistle from the window had sent Xamos and her horse into hiding; or rather, blending.  Since most of her gear had been taken from the Hyvendale barracks, her mount would look like any of the other horses loitering in the corral near the stables.  Xamos would keep watch over him, as well as keep sentry for anything in the near woods.
 
She knew someone would come to check on him in the morning.  So when she heard the rhythmic step of feet coming down the hall outside the door, she slid silently from Micah's side to press against the wall, which would hide her behind the door when it opened.  And despite her typical urges, she remained unarmed.  She was here on a mission of peace, such as it was.  Besides, she didn't have time to be picking fights.  A moment later, the door swung inward, and an older woman entered with a pitcher and clean cloths.  Ky'ria recognized her as the woman who had been the assistant to the healer when she lived in Fyrehaven.  The assistant must have surpassed the master.  Or, and more than likely, the master had died.  Ky'ria eased the door closed as the healer woman looked with confusion at the new dressing, making not a sound as the latch caught, or as she walked steadily across the floor towards her.
 
The woman stiffened in fear when a flash of intuition told her that someone was behind her in a room that should have been empty.  But outside of the quick intake of breath, she made no other sound.  Even so...
"Do not scream."  Ky'ria spoke from right behind her, close enough to stifle the woman if she chose to do so.  "I am here to aid him."
Thankfully, the woman had some sense.  She remained quiet, and after a moment, even turned slowly to face Ky'ria, who took a step back to show her own commitment  to non-violence.  However, her features were still stern enough to provide warning against any rash actions.
"You...you're that slayer woman...the one that came through in the summer."
"I am."
"Why?  Why are you here?"  Then her eyes widened as her memory returned, and it was now the healer who took a startled step back.  "You were exiled...you were supposed to be killed on sight...  How did you get in here??"
Ky'ria just snorted.  "One would have had to see me in order to do so.  Your town is pitiful.  Since when have guards taken to cowering like those they are supposed to protect?"
The woman looked like she had had something else on her tongue, but it fell away when Ky'ria mentioned how miserably defended they were.  "The demon has killed of wounded almost everyone capable of providing any protection.  The rest are too young and inexperienced, or too old."  She then shut her mouth quickly, afraid that she had said too much.  Again, Ky'ria just snorted.
"I'd thank you for the information if it wasn't something I already knew."  She stepped by the woman now and back to Micah, assured now that the healer would do nothing stupid.  "Your little vanguard should return within a couple days, if the roads and weather have not waylaid them too long.  With luck, I can have this all cleared up by then."  Ah, but those were ambitious words.  She peeled back the dressing on his shoulder to check the wound, and the healer was shocked so see that it had actually improved a little.  
"How...what did you do?  How did you do it?"
Ky'ria smirked a bit.  "He suffers from demon poison.  It takes an anti-venom of a demon-slayer to combat it."  The smirk faded into a bit of a frown, though.  It was barely anything.  She would have to get a better sample.  "Do you have any of the venom saved?"
The woman looked at her like she was insane.  "Why in the world would I have any of that?"
An exasperated sigh from Ky'ria, and she laid the dressing back on Micah's chest.  "Because that's the only way I'm going to be able to craft a serum potent enough to actually fight this off.  What I did to him will only help a little.  By the end of the day he'll be back where he was, if not sooner.  I was unable to cull a sample from the wound."  Despite having worked at it all night...  "I need a fresher sample."
"We have nothing..."
She sighed again.  "Then I'll have to collect one myself."
The healer really thought she was insane.  "Are you daft, woman?!  That thing will rip you to shreds!!  It's already murdered half our guard!"
Ky'ria narrowed her eyes, and gave the woman a very dark look that had her voice catching with a quiver in her throat.  "Do not.  Ever.  Underestimate me."  She returned her attention to Micah, and then to her bag of herbs and the fresh pitcher of water, ignoring the healer for now.  She soon had a sickly-sweet smelling brew that gave off a slight etherial steam, and she poured a cup of it, and then settled by Micah and lifted his head into her lap.  "Micah...Wake up, Micah..."  It took some work, but she finally got him back to hazy conciousness, and he blinked blurry eyes at her.
"Ky..."
"Aye...  It's me again..."  She brushed sweaty hair from his face again; it had gotten longer since she'd seen him last.  "I need you to drink something for me."
His brows furrowed in hazy confusion.  "Will it work from my dreams?"
She just smiled at him.  "We'll give it a try."  She lifted his head a bit more, and gradually fed him the potion.  He was asleep again soon after, and she set the cup by the pitcher again.  "Give him a full cup of this at high noon, and again at twilight."  She rose, and straighted the table and her self, and then turned to the healer, who had simply been watching.  "Who else has seen this thing and lived?"
"There are...a few..."
"Take me to them."

Offline Shae Dravenmore

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #48 on: August 05, 2008, 02:05:07 PM »
A lone building housed the infirmary, though by the smell of it when Ky'ria and the healer first entered, it would soon be serving as a morgue.  None had crossed their paths the entire way down the stairs and across the courtyard from the barracks, though Ky'ria felt several pairs of eyes.  There was a guard at the door, though the boy was hardly past 12.  His eyes widened at Ky'ria, recognizing her from the summer.  However, any sound that may have issued from his throat was cut short by her frigid stare.  He merely stumbled back as the healer led them through the door, closing it behind with a soft thump.

Inside, cots lined the walls, small tables placed between each.  All looked used, though only a few now contained bodies.  One was on the verge of that exactly.  "These are the remaining survivors from the last attempt to slay the thing..."  The use of the word 'remaining' was not lost on her.  There were five in all.  One, a young man with curly blond hair, was lain furthest away, with several beds between he and the others.  She didn't know if it was because he was on the verge of death, or if the woulded between he and the others had simply died off first.  Regardless, if they did not recieve an antidote soon, they were all done for.  "How long have they been like this?"

"A week, roughly.  Their wounds were minor.  Those with the worse ones have already passed."

"And Micah?"

"A few days longer.  After his group returned decimated, one more went out in a fury.  They were met with the same fate..."

Ky'ria withheld her snort at the comment.  Of course they were decimated.  These here were lucky to even be alive.  Though by their suffering, likely those who had died quickly were the lucky ones.  "I will need materials."  The healer began to ask what she needed, but Ky'ria was already turning for the door.  Again the boy scuttled to the side when she emerged, and she noticed that several others had begun to loiter nearby, no doubt having heard of the slayer's return.  None were so foolish to challenge her, however.  Ky'ria took a few steps from the doorway and lifted her fingers to her lips, blowing out a series of three short, high-pitched whistles.  A moment later a whinny responded from across the compound, and her mount came trotting from the vicinity of the coral.  Xamos hadn't shown himself yet, but she knew he was there, and felt the cool brush against her skin of him nuzzling against her thigh.  "Good boy," she murmured, ostensibly to the mare, whose hide she stroked as she opened one of the packs strapped to the saddle.  "Keep good watch, you two."  Ky'ria returned to the infirmary, the mare and her invisible guardian walking off to the side of the building to wait for their mistress.

Inside, Ky'ria laid the contents of the satchel out on one of the bedside tables.  There were several bony scales the size of a man's splayed hand, each slightly curved to form a shallow dish, that shimmered with purple opalescence that flashed green in the the light as they were moved.  Next came a collection of vials and bottles, most empty, but some holding various substances, some liquid, some gelatinous, some powdered.  Next came a needle, fashioned from a long, spindly fang, the tip bearing a small hook.  This she threaded with the fiber from a reed, and then slicked it with one of the oils from her collection.  Her first stop was the dying boy on the end.  As she had done with Micah the night before, she scraped away the infestation around the wound on his arm until only raw flesh laid behind.  This was all collected onto one of the scales, and then set aside.  The knife was wiped clean, and then with surgical precision she opened a small slit above his heart, only barely knicking the artery there.  She let it bleed out at first, then wiped it away and began collecting the putrid blood into one of the bottles.

"Must you take so much?"  The healer had been hovering over Ky'ria's shoulder, a presence that was not welcome to her concentration.  "He is so weak as it is..."

"This one is lost," she replied with the cool indifference of one merely inspecting goods for sale.  "He will likely be dead by tomorrow morning."  There was a small, stiffled gasp, the smallest sound of a whimper in the back of her throat.  So, this one must be dear to her then...  Even so, once she had collected what she needed, she went quickly to work with the needle, stitching the wound closed once more.

"Then...there is nothing that can be done...?"

"No."

She did not regret her shortness as she moved on to the next victim of the demon.  This woman had already seen half of the garrison die, one more was not going to break her.  She did not need the demon slayer's pity, and neither did the slayer have any.  In time, Ky'ria had collected the fester from each of the five, and she set herself up on a table away from the door.  The healer had offered to help her move her scales, and had ended up with a hand suddenly about her throat before she even finished bending towards one.  "Do not.  Touch."  The hand released her neck, and Ky'ria continued moving them down the room one by one.

The healer was unnerved, but didn't say anything.  Eventually, despite how much she would have liked to have stayed and watched the slayer work, she had other duties to attend to, and left the slayer alone.  She spent the whole morning in the infirmary, never breaking to eat or even stretch her muscles.  It was early afternoon before she finally stopped working.  The fester on the scales had been treated with many of the oils and powders she had, attempting once more to distill the venom from it.  The closest she got, as she expected, was from the blood.  Next came the long process of creating the anti-venom.  It was crude, but it was the best she had to work with.  Of the pint of blood she'd taken, the final product was reduced to hardly a swallow of a thick, viscous liquid the color of pitch.  It smelled vile, but it was the best chance she had of innoculating herself against the live venom before she went to hunt the demon for a fresh sample.

Anti-venom had been her specialty with the slayers.  Few were brave enough to go into the field, fearing to lose what they had in life.  Ky'ria had nothing to lose, and so she took to the skill with gusto.  With each antidote, it was tested on oneself first, thus creating further immunity in the system against poisons.  If an antidote was poorly crafted, the result would be torturously painful, if not fatal, as the poison used to create it took its hold of the body.  Ky'ria never doubted her creations.  So there was no hesitation as she lifted the bottle, threw her head back, and drank the slimy liquid down.

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Re: Homecoming
« Reply #49 on: September 26, 2008, 01:06:33 PM »
At first, nothing happened.  Ky'ria's brows furrowed, and she sniffed at the remainants in the bottle.  No, it wasnt' a failed batch...  It still had the distinct smell and feel of potent poison.  So why..?
It hit her with such sudden ferocity that she was caught completely unaware, and the bottle dropped from her hand to shatter on the floor as she doubled over with a strangled moan.  The poison infiltrated her body in seconds, infecting every cell, and threatening to consume her very being.  Her strength failed, and she fell heavily to her knees, grasping at the table, before slumping to the side in fever and convulsions.  The boy standing guard cautiously poked his head in at the sound of crashing glass, and swore softly at the sight of her on the floor, curled in on herself, her skin nearly white and sweat rolling from her brow.  He took a step towards her, then stopped, and instead merely called to her, unwilling to get too close.  Kr'ria didn't respond, couldn't even hear him, only aware of the choking pain in her gut and the pounding of her heart in her own ears.  The boy turned and fled then, calling for the healer, or for anyone who could make sense of the demon slayer.
Somehow, she managed to roll to her stomach, and from there gathered her legs under her.  Her stomach churned, but any attempts at retching were refused.  Nothing emerged, and it felt like her stomach had shriveled and dried.  She tried to rise, to find the ingrdients of her trade, to do something, but her body failed, and she succeeded only in tumbling back to her side.  Her jaw was clenched tight, groans and grunts of pain the only sound she could muster.
Within minutes, the door burst open again, the older woman leading a small group of those who still remained within the compound.  They all paused a moment, briefly overcome by the vile odor that had permeated the space, and with covered faces they bore onward, until they'd reached the fallen slayer.  She was unresponsive, her skin cold and clammy even as she poured sweat, and her eyes were glazed and dilated.  They hefted her onto the nearest bed, one each on a limb, trying to hold her through her shaking, while the healer wracked her mind to find a way to battle whatever she had done to herself.  Their attempts were failing though; the healer had no herbs or cures for this, as was seen by her inability to combat the venom in the victims, and she was beginning to pull free from the hands holding her down.  It was then that the door opened again, but no one came in.  The men and healer were confused at first, but soon ignored the strange phenomenon.  Until the room began to darken.  Surprised gasps went up when a low growl rumbled from beside the bed at Ky'ria's head, and when two glowing red eyes appeared in the darkening room, they all released her and scrambled back.  Slowly the shadowfox appeared in the growing darkness, piercing eyes deterring any of them from attacking.  Though most were simply afraid that the demon had come to them this time, and had attacked their only hope of salvation.  But the dark beast did not attack.  In fact, once he was satisfied with their distance, he turned to the woman in the bed and licked at her hand, the way a loyal dog might lick at its ailing master.  He whimpered softly to her before turning that warm tongue to her cheek
Ky'ria's cries had softened, but she still battled the poison that raged through her body.  Unable to help his mistress, Xamos simply hopped up onto the bed and laid at her feet, red eyes looking gently towards her face.

 

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[May 17, 2018, 11:38:05 PM]


Re: The Tamber Saga by Lord Palatine
[May 17, 2018, 11:10:44 PM]


Re: The Tamber Saga by Milady Kim
[May 17, 2018, 11:06:29 PM]


Re: The Tamber Saga by Lord Palatine
[May 17, 2018, 10:33:01 PM]


Re: The Tamber Saga by Milady Kim
[May 11, 2018, 09:32:31 PM]

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