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The Hummingbird

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The Hummingbird last won the day on April 28 2018

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About The Hummingbird

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    Penguin Overlord

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    Writing, drawing, reading, sleeping
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    Expert Charcoal Wielder, Conte Crayon Adept, Surveyor of Acrylics

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  1. Tired of these broken promises.

  2. It was to be expected – even so, Rhyklo’s sudden outburst had been so long in coming Kaige was surprised. The demon hunter turned to stare at the boy, a silent unblinking stare that lingered into the uncomfortable silence that followed. When Kaige raised a hand, it looked like he intended to give Rhyko a literally hard-hitting lesson in respect and proper gratitude. Instead, he patted Rhyko on the shoulder. “All right, we get it.” He turned to the other pirate and bowed politely. “My horse is stabled at the Red Abalone. It’s the blue with a black mane. Answers to Westwind. I thank you,” he added as they were escorted out. To the captain then, “Raven’s Landing. I need to get there as quickly as possible.” He didn’t elaborate on why, but it wasn’t her business anyway. She had been paid and a future favor offered; that was enough. His reasons were his own. In due time, Kaige followed Rhyko down below into the kitchen and dining area. It was rough and a bit wild, but the galleon offered plenty of room and there were cabin boys busy attending to whoever wanted food, drink, and a second or even third servings of breakfast. It looked be standard fare; sea-salted biscuits, salted meat, flatbread, some dried fruit and other things that kept well for long journeys at sea. Kaige sat down as far away from the other pirates as possible; he was sociable, but not that sociable. Nor so stupid as to acquaint himself with what others might label as criminals. He found himself seated at the other end of a table occupied by what he took to be siblings, flamboyant ones at that. A cabin boy ran to him quickly with a plate full of the food, which was surprisingly delicious for being so simple. Left alone then, Kaige ate quietly, thinking.
  3. As suddenly as it began, the assault of the wolves ceased. There were thirteen of them left now, and their sleek forms, some of them spattered with fresh blood, circled their intended prey – no longer victims – slowly. They snarled and snapped, their fangs glittering in the reflected light of the snow, as their crimson eyes searched for an opening, a weakness to these things who dared to fight so hard. Then it was heard. A howl, different from theirs; deeper, somehow harsher. It sliced through the wind like the keenest of blades though the weakest of flesh. The wolves’ heads lifted, their ears turning to catch the sound. Teeth bared, they backed away from the hunters. And as they backed away, something in the distance came forth. They might have heard of him, the monstrous thing that approached with silent steps that swept great ravines through the snow and ice. They might have heard legends, myths, or fanciful tales of his teeth, of his claws, of his vicious cruelty. Now they would see that those stories, so often steeped in blood and the bodies of fallen heroes, were true. Stygian black was his fur, so dark it seemed to siphon away and destroy any light that touched it. His eyes were red, but whereas the white wolves’ eyes glowed, these burned, seeming to drip blood from their sharp corners. And he was huge, four times the size of the other wolves. The Greater Direwolf towered over his brethren, and looked down with contempt at the little people who dared think to hunt them. All those who feared him, and rightly so, called him Ebonvine. He stopped before them, his eyes sweeping over them to stop on one; Marcellus. Kassandra followed the wolf’s stare, and she wondered what sort of secret the man was hiding that warranted Ebonvine’s attention.
  4. While the captain might sit, Kaige remained standing. His hands were folded across his waist, much like a disciplined solder at attention, and his green eyes were solidly upon the captain with a rather disturbing intensity and focus. They didn’t waver when she informed Kaige and Rhyko that she and her crew were pirates, nor did they soften when she assured them they would not be harmed unless they too were a threat. His gaze shifted only once, when the woman wielding only a wooden leg and a tankard took up her position. Kaige listened closely to every word the captain spoke. When she held out her hand, there was an uncomfortable, awkward pause before he took it and gave it one firm shake. “Kaige Severos,” he said, then looked at Rhyko, inviting the boy to introduce himself. “I understand your terms,” Kaige said sternly. He slid off his pack and set it on the table, unbuckling the flap. He reached into it, and then set a handful of coins on the table. They were all of solid gold, and quite a bit more than even a greedy person would charge for passage to Raven’s Landing. Apparently, Kaige was a wealthy man. “I have a horse,” he continued. “I would bring him along with me. And if you can arrange that my nephew stays with me, I will not only pay you this, but give you your favor as well.” He finally broke his stare, looking around at the cabin. When he next spoke, it was with a smile. “What is her name? Your ship.”
  5. Actually I hear about young people having to pay their parents rent all the time. Imo if they're in college and home for vacation or younger, they shouldn't have to pay rent. But if they're old enough to maintain a job and live on their own, they should contribute.
  6. On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me FIVE MONTHS OF BIIIILLS
  7. Just as Rhyko took in the city around him, so too did Kaige. However, the latter’s observation differed in purpose and intent; his eyes swept over the streets and buildings with a curious intensity, reading signs carefully and thoroughly, marking places and even people – hawkers and shopkeepers especially – in his mind. When the three had reached the docks, Kaige had made a quite detailed mental map of the route. He had noticed Aquila looking back at them more than once and had gathered the notion that she might be afraid of them, or very suspicious… or, perhaps, measuring them up for a possible assault. Whatever it was, he kept her well within view and fed her furtive glances with a simple blank stare of his own. He had no true intention of fighting anyone here if he could help it. After all, he was a demon hunter, not a mankiller. They reached the ship at last, and Kaige allowed himself a short, quiet, impressed whistle. The galleon was huge, well made and well kept. It looked to be state of the art, not rusted or worn like ships of other port cities. Its sails and rigging were in sharp condition, and it looked ready to set sail at any moment. The crew looked to be preparing for a journey, adjusting ropes and chains and inspecting the ship’s general health and safety hazards. He acknowledged Aquila’s instructions and advice with a polite nod. “Thank you, milady,” he murmured as she hurried off. He looked back at Rhyko and smiled. It was good he had come. “I wager you don’t remember ever being on a ship?” Do wolves get seasick? Kaige wondered as he boarded the galleon. The double doors were not hard to find, and so Kaige stood before it in short time. The windows were, as Aquila had warned them, normal glass. It was hard to resist not looking inside them, but Kaige was practiced in decency and respect and knocked hard three times. He wouldn’t stop Rhyko if the boy chose to take a gander, of course. One’s curiosity had to be sated at times.
  8. So the lady was a captain. Kaige smiled and nearly laughed at the startling coincidence. Perhaps they would be able to find transport to Raven’s Landing sooner and more easily than he expected. He bowed respectfully the captain’s – who was she? Perhaps first mate? – and adjusted his armor as he straightened. He turned to Rhyko, and spoke in a soft voice, a murmur only the boy would hear. “Whatever you choose, kid, there’s no turning back.” He said nothing more, but in the back of his mind, Kaige hoped Rhyko would choose to accompany him. Part of it was out of worry for the young man, true, but Kaige had already started to feel affection for the wolf who had battled bravely in the ruins. Even if Rhyko was human now, Kaige felt that the wolf’s courage and strength could follow Rhyko in whatever form he was in. He turned back to the captain’s lady. She looked strong, capable, a soldier more than any dainty handmaiden. It was good reflection on the captain and the ship she sailed for; capable sailors had to be tougher than the regular man or woman. “I’d appreciate it if you could show me the way to the ship,” he said clearly. “And my nephew too, if his business here is concluded,” he added, gesturing to Rhyko. Kaige stepped back into the room, gathering up spear and backpack before nodding to the soldier that he was ready to follow.
  9. Unimpeded by the snow and ice, the wolves surged towards the group. Though savage beasts, what marvelous creation they were – a near sparkling white, white as the moon at full height with eyes red as fresh blood. They moved with a grace that could be granted only to masterful dancers, and a ferocious speed that for years struck fear into the greatest of warriors. As they neared their latest prey they let loose, all together, a haunting, vicious howl that cut through the searing wind. Twenty separate voices, twenty wolves that spread into an arc as they began their assault. Only twenty? Kassandra laughed, a light, tinkering sound. Truth, she had expected more. It seemed that her companions were just as ready as she was, as a wolf went down before the one she knew as Sikkoran. It was a grand feat he had performed, but now it was her turn. She smiled as two wolves bounded towards her; she was a female, surely she would be the weakest and easiest to take down. “Hello darling,” she murmured as she brought her hands together as if in prayer. The temperature, already cold, dropped sharply around her. The wind, already fierce, kicked up at her feet, circling around her like an intangible, rancorous serpent. Suddenly a black light washed over her petite body, and lashed out at the two wolves, covering them with blackness. Their alabaster fur sparkled in the magic light. They were beautiful as they were lifted into the air by an unseen hand. They roared in fury as they struggled against the invisible chain that held them fast… And then in agony, gorgeous pain as they were ripped apart like wet paper. Fur and flesh imploded, entrails and blood and bone followed one after the other, painting the air and landscape in blood. All that was left were the heads, jaws wide open in silenced screams, red eyes dull in death, lying in the ground. Smiling brightly, Kassandra released her hands and regarded the rest of the wolves. They had stopped, growling and snarling. Already, with three of them dead, they knew to respect their adversaries.
  10. Idly turning the pages of the book, Kaige didn’t look up until Rhyko was fully dressed. When the boy spoke, though, Kaige silently closed the book and smiled up at the shapeshifter. “You look good,” he said mildly. “Much better.” Kaige stood and crossed the room, sitting next to Rhyko, again opening the book which turned out to be a collection of maps, lists of cities, and a small atlas of the world. He showed a map of Northern Genesaris to Rhyko, fingers tracing over roads and landmarks as he spoke in his soft voice. “I have to go to Raven’s Landing to pick up a letter, and after that, I have to head to Aelindra to see to some new assignments. If you want, you can come with me. Aelindra is known for having a strong basis in magic and scholars who might be able to help you.” Standing and shutting the book, Kaige picked up his backpack and slid the book back to its proper place. Then he drew out what looked like a sizable pile of… leather. Plated, scaled, and studded leather that belted and locked in place over Kaige’s lean body, a full, light body armor that all demon hunters wore. It was as black as the wolf had been, perfectly formed and fitted to Kaige’s exact size and weight. He hadn’t worn it on what he thought would be a peaceful expedition before, but now… Better safe than sorry. “The quickest way to Raven’s Landing is by ship,” he said as he opened the door. “I think we’ll see if our benefactor can help us as well as she fed you last night.” He stepped out into the hall and knocked on the door to the Lady’s room. “My Lady,” he called. “A word to me and my nephew, if you are there?”
  11. Truly altruistic people did exist, but Kaige had encountered few of those. There were more demons than saints in the world, and he sensed this generous lady was perhaps more than she seemed. When she moved toward them, he tensed, holding an arm out to guard Rhyko from any attempted strike, which of course never came. She merely shooed them out and in an instant was in an entirely different outfit. A pirate’s outfit. Kaige shoved Rhyko back into their room as the pirate lady dashed down the stairs. “Don’t talk to strangers, kid,” he snapped. He regarded the boy for a moment before his demeanor softened. “Sorry. But, look, for now you’re mine to look after. Genesaris isn’t kind right now, but I can make it a little easier for you to figure that out.” He ran a hand through his hair irritably as he sat down and picked up his dinner plate, noting with a touch of disappointment that the pie and ice cream was gone. Whatever. He ate efficiently, not too fast so as not to be sick, but eating right now was a necessary chore, and in due time he slipped the platter out beyond the door to be picked up by the barmaid later. “Go to bed, boyo. Get some rest.” The night would pass quickly, without incident. The moon rose to its peak, then slowly fell, renouncing its place to the rising sun. When Rhyko woke, he’d find a pile of clothes on his bed – a tunic, trousers, foot wrapping and boots, all fresh and new. Kaige was sitting on his own bed, reading a small book, evidently having gone out early to barter for the clothes.
  12. How greatly Genesaris had changed since the barrier had fallen! It had first been a land of city-states, small territories ruled by a capital city and council members voted for by the majority. Then it had changed into separate countries, all sizeable, vying for power over the other. Wars had begun and ended, and now it was a feuding land holding empires, dominions and kingdoms ruled by rulers of varying capability and ambition. When, Zenahriel wondered, had the government failed the continent so greatly that this is what it had become? When, he wondered, did it come to need one such as this Empress before him? He observed the Empress silently for along moment as they strolled through the market, coming to a pause before a stall of masterwork swords. She appeared young – she was surely not as old as he – but he sensed a maturity and growth that few could claim. Not only that, but he sensed a room for growth that would turn this lady into a great beauty indeed. he imagined what she would be when she came fully into her power, when she brought what she called the Fury of the Sun to bear. It would be fearsome, indeed. “Your Grace,” he began, but what he intended to say would forever be unknown. The small group of young men and women had names. Some had families. All had reputations as peaceful, moral people, all in good standing with their peers and associates. They had no enemies, but none of this meant they were immune to the talk around them, and the corruption that spoiled their minds. They had reached the city before Raveena, and had planned and prepared for this occasion. They were men and women from the Rising West, and they had learned of Hyperion and the Empress who intended to spread her rule over the rest of their homeland. This could not happen. It began with a single strike, a blow to the face to one of Raveena’s soldiers. It was a ploy to distract, and it worked. Shouts and flurries erupted as a group of anonymous people fell on Raveena’s retinue and any witnesses. There was a scuffle, a scream, and the red of blood spreading on the ground. Cries of horror spread through the market, and no one saw the woman snatching a sharpened blade from the stall. No one saw her as she charged though the milling crowd and swung it back, intending to plunge the blade into the Empress Raveena’s back, in the same moment as two men, with swords of their own and not wanted a Lord who supported the Sun, swung at Zenahriel in a fury of rage and hate.
  13. Kaige is an awesome name






  14. Frowning, Kaige considered all that Rhyko had said, though all in all it was fairly little. The boy didn’t appear to be a demon, and his reaction appeared to be honest; he really couldn’t remember anything, nor explain his odd transformation into the intimidating black wolf Kaige had fought beside. Neither did the boy appear to be a killer –in fact, he looked harmless. Almost helpless. At last Kaige sighed. “Well, kiddo, I don’t know what to say. We’ll figure it out later, okay? Keep a grip on yourself; chin up.” Reaching behind himself, Kaige took hold of his spear and spun it around once, before leaning it against the wall adjacent to the doorway. It was just in time, for an instant later a barmaid pattered up the stairs, balancing a tray with three steaming plates. Standing aside to let her in, Kaige frowned again as he recognized something he didn’t order. Two plates were filled with the tavern’s daily special; a seasoned pork chop glaze with honey, apple sauce and a side of sliced green beans, all in generous portions. Two glasses of squeezed juice completed the order. But the third plate… it was a cherry pie, piled with a rare commodity; chocolate ice cream with a little silver spoon. “Compliments of the lady across from you, sirs,” the server told them as she set the tray on the table within the room. Bowing, she left promptly. Kaige wasn’t worried about poison or sedatives or anything of the like. He nor the boy had done anything to warrant that kind of animosity, not yet. But he was concerned about motives and unearned favors. And so, displaying the ownership of acute awareness only a demon hunter could have, he looked over and stared at the woman, a tad more harshly than he intended. He glanced over at Rhyko. “Enjoy the food.” He stepped outside and closed the door. He crossed the hallway and stood in the doorway to the lady’s room. She was a lady of sorts, so he showed the respect one deserved. He cleared his throat and bowed graciously. “Thank you for the dessert, my Lady,” he said mildly. “But if I may ask, what did we do to deserve such a favor?”
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