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Outsane

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Outsane last won the day on June 24 2018

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  • Birthday August 25

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  1. Was it this hot before? Rae frantically moved about between the tents, weaving through them and avoiding the gaze of soldiers as best she could, but her movements were heavy, clumsy, and reckless. More than once had she tripped over a rope that held up a tent, causing it all to tremble and some of the voices to shout out in warning and surprise. As they looked out to see who was stumbling about, they only saw the fleeting image of a red-haired Miqo'te vanish behind another tent. It wasn't this hot. She was feeling fatigued. How long had it been since she had rested? She had gone more days without it, but travelling through time seemed to wreck havoc upon her body like nothing else could. She could still feel the itch of her skin at the joints where the trip through time had stretched at her, threatening to take her limbs off if she stayed within the warp hole for too long. Or maybe that was just how time travel should feel. Maybe she wasn't being stretched at all, but it made the skin itch like an allergy. After all this, she certainly did feel like she would be allergic to it. Focus. Rae needed to be somewhere away from herself, but close to Marishi. Where did Marishi go when Rae was off on her own? She grimaced as she heard the familiar sound of a young boy shouting. An auction. He had stolen her Dreadwyrm Rapier and was attempting to sell it off. Peaking from behind a tent, Rae spotted the crowd and... herself. She stared, wide-eyed and paralyzed. Never had she seen herself before. Sure, in mirrors and reflections, but never as a being doing movement that she did not initiate. It felt... strange. Strange to see her cross her arms, to see her tail swish back and forth, to see the expression on her face change to that of annoyance. Instinctively, Rae touched her own face, checking to see if she was making the same expression. She wondered how herself seeing her now would impact her memory. She wondered how her mind now would react. Before she lost herself in that thought, Rae darted off, chasing after the boy. Taking that as her queue, Rae darted out from behind the tent. Several people glanced in both directions, seeing one red-haired Miqo'te run one direction, and the same one run another. A few called to their friends to point out the strange scene, but Rae ducked out of sight and jumped into the water, diving in and swimming hard to reach the shadow of the bridge leading to Rhalgr's throne. She knew where Marishi was now. It wasn't too late for her yet... for either of them. Once she arrived at the tavern, Rae glanced around frantically. Marishi had yet to arrive, it seemed. Picking a dark corner to hide in, Rae seated herself, waving away the maid who came to offer her drink or food. She wasn't hungry. Her stomach churned. She felt uneasy. There was something that nagged at her, a little voice that bade her to leave, but she ignored it. Resolutely, Rae remained still, wide eyes staring at the soldiers. Him. He came in with is men. Laughing, swaggering, talking loudly. They were already drunk enough. Those bastards. Did they all have their way with her wife? Not tonight. Gripping the hilt of her Rapier, she thought to cut them all down then, but she paused, faltered. She'd be kicked out, Marishi, too. They'd be sent away and never make contact with Rowena's assistant--or worse. Killed. Relaxing back, Rae kept a watchful eye on them. The door opened again, and Marishi walked in. Rae's eyes darted to her, just as all the eyes in the tavern. Her wife. Beautiful, elegant, deadly... and in danger. Her eyes darted over to the covetous eyes of the ringleader of the merry gang of rapists. The way he looked at her disgusted her. The way he breathed the same air her wife was in, the way he was allowed to know she existed. Whether those men participated or not, Rae had branded them all already and they were going to die as a rapist should die. Before her, the events began to unfold. The men downed more drinks, Marishi waited patiently, glancing around the room once or twice, and each time, Rae hid from view. She couldn't jeopardize the meeting with the informant; however, she also would not be suffered to allow her wife to suffer. To avoid being branded a trouble-starter, she had to wait for them to start the trouble. Sure enough, as the tavern began to empty, the sun begin to set, and the sounds begin to fade, the man stood up, approaching Marishi. Immediately, Rae's hand went to the hilt of her Rapier and her foot to the table, readying to kick it over and strike at the men. She was outnumbered, but they were out-skilled. She'd have them burning in seconds, she'd have their blood staining the floor like lacquer. As the man's voice raised, Rae's heart thundered in her chest. As his hand rose up to strike Marishi, Rae kicked over the table. The other four men turned to look at her as she hurdled over the tables, kicking one man in the face while swinging her Rapier at the Highlander holding her wife. A hand caught her's, stopping her fatal blow. Another hand struck at her face, knocking her back. She held tight onto her Rapier and regained her footing just in time to be tackled to the ground by the hulking Highlander. He pinned her down, straddling her hips as he squeezed her arms. "Thinkin' of stabbin' me, eh? You gods damned queer cats gotta stick together in numbers because you ain't got strength alone!" He barked. Rae could smell the alcohol on his breath, she could feel the heat radiating from his body. As she squirmed, he sat up, reaching for his pants, but something struck the back of his head. A chair. "Marishi! No!" Rae screamed. The man doubled over, but quickly jumped to his feet. "Hold that bitch down! That one's mine!" The Highlander shouted. Two men obliged and grabbed Rae, holding her arms tight while one worked to yank her Rapier out of her hand. Marishi had shouted something, but Rae couldn't hear it. The pounding of her heart rang in her ears as she saw the man strike out, simply taking two blows from Marishi, then striking her back, knocking her into a table, then grabbing her neck and holding her there. Desperate, Rae managed to wiggle free her sword arm and swung at the man to her right, slashing through his clothes and biting deep into his skin. Blood gushed from the open wound and he cried out in agony, stumbling backwards and clutching at his stomach to keep his intestines from falling out. The other two men cried out and jumped on Rae, punching her in the stomach and face, then twisting her arm until she dropped the weapon. Blood dripped from her nose as she lifted her head and spat back at the man before her, blood and saliva staining his shirt. As he raised his hand to slap her again, the Highlander barked back. "Don't knock her out! She's going to suffer. But first... she gets to watch her wife learn how to love a man." Rae's eyes widened and she stared at the Highlander. His hulking body hunched over her wife's frail frame. "Shouldn't we be takin' Ogren to-" started one soldier, but he was cut off by the snarl of their leader Highlander. "He's good as dead now! We only gotta avenge his death." He roared, then turned back to Marishi. In that moment, Marishi and Rae locked eyes. There was a wordless cry for help in them, a fear that Rae had wished to never see, and vowed would never fill her wife's eyes again. The crimson hue of both eyes locked with her verdant orbs and in a moment, the world held still. In that moment, Rae prayed. She called out to Alexander, despite him killing her wife and trying to kill her now, she called out to him, begging to spare her this scene. The scream that ripped through Marishi's mouth rang sharply into Rae's ears. The Highlander slapped and punched her several times, blood smattering the table below her wife and covering his knuckles. Despite the assault, Marishi cried out and writhed until one last strike hit her. The blow that damaged her eye and silenced her. The sound of her wife's screams echoed in Rae's ears. "Put a gag on that one! She's gonna call the whole Reach in here!" Ordered the commander. Had she been screaming? Rae didn't realize until the gag covered her mouth. Her throat was raw, her lungs burned as did her face. She had been screaming, but she didn't hear it. She could only hear over and over the screams of pain and fear from her wife, the grunt that all but took her life. Tears flowed down her face as she stared on in horror, helpless to save her wife. The three men that held her down jeered and laughed at first, then, they slowly grew quiet. Their gazes averted and their body language changed from that of enjoyment to shame and horror, but the man did not relent. Despite his comrades not joining in, he would not finish with Marishi. Finally, he stopped, pulling himself from Marishi's limp body. By then, the men had completely let go of Rae as they crossed their arms and some covered their own mouths. It had gone too far for them. "What? You didn't think she was going to be the only one to have fun, did ya," the Highlander sneered, walking over to Rae. "Yer gonna pay fer killin' my man. He was a good man, an' now you get t'suffer." None of the others moved to stop their leader. They stepped aside as he approached Rae, grabbing her by the neck and holding her up. She dug her nails into his skin, grabbing at his arm and hand, trying to pry herself free, but his hand squeezed tighter around her neck, causing a dark rim to encircle her vision. "Don't pass out, cat. You squeeze better that way." He growled under his breath. Rae, unable to save herself, stared down at him, pure hatred and rage in her eyes. Her mouth gagged, she could not speak, but she screamed at him anyways like a feral beast. It was all she could do.
  2. She couldn't hear the twang of the bow string. The sound of war deafened her, but allowed her to hear all at once. It wasn't the pained grunt behind her that alerted her to the dying of her wife, it wasn't the physical touch. It was a feeling within her. Rae felt her body constrict. Her soul diminish, and her breath slip from her lungs. She could feel the shift in aether as one she was bonded with drifted away slowly. Being pulled to the ground, Rae collapsed without a fight. "Marishi," she whispered, turning her head, eyes wide and pupils shrunken. Her wife lay on top of her, blood spilling from her mouth in a small trickle that grew to almost a gush. Frantically, Rae turned around, still holding onto Marishi, mindful of the arrow in her back. She stared with wide eyes, mouth partially open. As the moon ripped open, her Rapier pulsed beside her. It reacted to the presence of Bahamut, and within her, the spirit of Bahamut reacted as well. The aether in which she attuned to and took within her began to pulse. Veins of purple and gold ripped across her skin, but she felt nothing. Nothing of power, nothing of change. She only felt Marishi. She felt the heat of her blood covering her hands, the breath she took laboriously, the trembling of her body. Marishi was afraid to die. She always had been. Each time, Rae guided her to her death. She should have stopped her, kept her from coming to the battle. Twelve damn the rest of those soldiers, they could die, but not her Marishi! Not her wife! A lump formed in her throat as she tried to speak, but it blocked her voice, even her air. Rae felt herself choking. As Marishi touched her cheek, Rae lifted her other hand and reached to hold her hand, but was stopped when a blade dug into Marishi's neck, spraying more of her blood onto her clothes and legs and arms. Rae could only gasp slightly, eyes widened further, her body terse, unmoving. She felt the tears flow finally as they spilled down her cheek like a river flowing down a mountain. Her gaze transfixed upon Alexander within Marishi's body. Her mind was a whirlwind until that moment, then nothing else mattered but ending the Primal that possessed her wife. Rae wanted to purge the being. She wanted to erase it from time entirely. Her rage surmounted all rationale and without a moment's hesitation, she dove at the possessed body of the one thing she had left to lose. Her clawed hands reaching out for her neck, seeking to rip it open, seeking to choke her with her hands covered in the blood of the one she loved. Just as sh reached her, however, and her fingers reached to curl around her frail neck, Rae fell forward, grasping at nothing but the warm, grainy sand beneath her. Scents changed, sounds changed, feelings changed. The overwhelming power and fury that guided her forward was gone and replaced with a soft, lulling feeling. Bahamat was dormant, it seemed. Shaking, Rae could do nothing to sit herself up, she could do nothing to move from where she was hunched over, keeping her hands buried in the sand where she thought a neck she would find. Rae exhaled, then gasped for air. She hadn't realized she was holding her breath. Tears stained the sand beneath her. Her own tears. Sitting back, Rae realized her hands were no longer covered in blood, her clothes were no longer blood-stained, and she was no longer in the middle of the battle field. She lifted her gaze to the sky. Dalamud had fallen at this time. She couldn't see anything passed the large, misshapen cliffs that surrounded the opening she found herself in. Behind her was a large statue of a god she had cursed and spat upon his feet. Rhalgr. The barbaric Highlanders worshipped that being. If ever Rae would deny a god's existence, she would deny his. His damned presence bolstered the ravenous, blood-thirsty ways of the Highlanders from Ala Mhigo. She wished Dalamud had dropped upon their land. Perhaps she should go back and change the course of its landing. No one would suffer from Gyr Abania perishing. Even her wife would be safe and her eyes- It was then that it clicked. Rae's ears perked up and she blinked rapidly. Rhalgr's Reach. She knew exactly where she was and when she was. She quickly scrambled to her feet, glacning around frantically. She needed to stop her wife from being raped and beaten within an inch of her life. The sun was in the sky. She wasn't certain the exact day, but she would find that out soon enough. Marishi would be there, or arrive soon... as would her past self. Rae did not wish to interfere with her own timeline, realizing that if she did, she would die, surely. The implications were far too great for her to chance. She would need to wait until Marishi is alone... until before she gets attacked... Until then, Rae would remain in the shadows to stalk her wife and herself.
  3. She knew it. Rae should have kept her mouth shut about the truth. She should have lied and lied and lied and denied the truth even if Marishi confronted her about it. It only caused problems, and now the only person she loved in this world thought she was insane. Perhaps it wasn't so much that they were meant to be together, but more that they were meant to meet, at least. From there, it's up to her where the rest leads. She'll dial back the time-travel talk. She'll never mention it again if it made Marishi happy, but she wouldn't give up on her just yet. As the shouting came from the encampment, Rae felt a pit form in her stomach as well. Her blind optimism may have cost her a bit of credence. As Marishi rushed back to the camp, Rae moved to go after her, but was stopped by two soldiers. As she was ordered to hand over her weapon, she paused, hesitating and weighing her options. They'd run her through, or at least try, and she'd never get this close to Marishi again. The con outweighed the pros far too much. Reluctantly, she loosened the belt that held her Dreadwyrm Rapier and held out the equipment to the soldiers. "And the other?" Asked one, eyeing her other sheath. "It's empty," Rae explained, showing it to them. "The rapier that was there is gone now. It's just a case." Her town was bitter and sad. Her optimism was slowly sapping from her. It seemed she wasn't making the right choices at all. One step lead to another pitfall in her plan. She'd need to be more conscious of consequences from here on out if she's to get the life back she lost. The soldiers seemed pacified with her answer and walked her back to the encampment, just in time for them to hear the news about Rand. Rae's heart broke, watching Marishi like that. If only she could offer her comfort, solace. She wished she could ease the pain she felt and negate the feelings of responsibility for Rand's death. It was, technically, Marishi's selfishness that got him killed. If she hadn't sent him on the mission, then he would be alive. Still, to live with that guilt was not good. Rae could see that familiar sad look in Marishi's eyes and wished wholly that she could take the pain away. Rae's lips pursed together and she dropped her gaze. Was there a way that she could have stopped that from happening? No, not likely. She never knew her wife had done that before. This was her first time learning that she sent one of her best men on a personal errand. It seemed she didn't know everything about Marishi, which she expected, but hated at the same time. As Marishi approached her again, dismissing the other soldiers, Rae lifted her gaze to her and spoke softly. "I'm sorry about Rand. You never told... nevermind." She turned away, brows furrowed and a frown on her face. Talking about the future to this Marishi might prove more problematic than beneficial. It was then that she was bombarded with questions. Rae's eyes widened and she turned to face Marishi again, mouth open to try and answer the questions, but she spoke too fast and did not allow a moment for her to speak. Before she got a chance to answer, Marishi already instructed her to not tell her the answers. Frustrated, Rae furrowed her brows and crossed her arms. "Do you want to know how this battle will play out or not?" She asked, but it was clear Marishi's mind was preoccupied, lost in her own thoughts. With a defeated sigh, Rae glanced to the horizon where the starting sunrise began to show its colours. This was not how she imagined her influencing the past would turn out. She felt more distant from Marishi now and every attempt she made at fixing time resulted in her making more problems arise. The sun was rising, but Rae went to rest beneath a tree. She hadn't slept that night and if she was going to be of any use in the battle, she'd need at least a bit of shut eye. As the sun rose higher, she was met by the soldier that held her weapon and he returned it, as Marishi promised it would be. She quickly equipped it to her side and fetched her Chocobo, then caught up to Marishi. There may be time to relay important information yet. She listened as Marishi spoke to her, feeling her heart flutter a bit as she mentioned possibly falling for her. There was hope yet. Despite all the mistakes she's made. "Marishi, before you go." She called out after her. "When the skies darken, pull back from the battle field! Order everyone back!" She was already far off by that point, but Rae shouted loud enough after her, hoping she'd hear. Maybe she could spare several lives with this information. The first thing that struck her was the smell of blood. Smoke flowed up to the sky, reaching like vines of slate-coloured smog that could choke you if you breathed it in. A foreboding crimson hue filled the sky. Whether from the fires of dropped torches or arrant fireballs, it was difficult to tell. The battle had begun and she was charging in on her Chocobo, keeping a close eye on Marishi while at the same time cutting down as many men as she could. Riding on a Chocobo and casting her spells proved difficult. She was much more capable at landing meaningful blows of magic if she was on solid ground. Instead, her lightning tore up the ground and her fire balls exploded beside men, causing them to fall forward, but remain otherwise unscathed. Rae hopped off her Chocobo, keeping it close to her while she cast a few spells, lobbing them into the clusters of Garlean soldiers, causing them to scatter. If they weren't together, then they were easier to pick off. A few bullets whizzed passed her head, causing Rae to duck down, dragging her Chocobo along with her. Arrows embedded themselves into the bodies of soldiers around her, or the ground just at her feet. They were aiming to maim and allow for a foot soldier to kill, it seemed. Rae moved forward, however, finding cover for herself and her mount. Once it was safe, she glanced around, looking for Marishi. She could see her still close by, which was a relief. If she and Marishi were in their usual timeline, she would feel unstoppable at her side. This was different now, however. Her wife was a different woman. She mustn't forget that. She would protect Marishi with her life if it came to it. A few soldiers charged up to Marishi's back, recognizing her as a healer and commander, and seeking to cut the adder's head from its body. Rae would not allow that, however. With a quick spell, she launched a gust of wind at the two men, knocking one off his feet and slamming him heavily into the ground while she ripped a blast of lightning at the other, electrocuting him, causing his hair to singe and his flesh to crisp. A group of Garleans advanced upon a pair of soldiers from Marishi's battalion, or maybe they weren't. It was difficult for Rae to tell the difference, but they wore the Gridanian garb. Turning her attention to them, she aimed a Verflare upon the group, causing a blast of fire to explode amidst the Garleans, slaughtering several of them, maiming a few others, and causing the remaining to duck away and cry out in terror. A pair of Garleans approached Rae, sword and spear drawn. They approached cautiously, knowing her range gave her the advantage. She watched them both warily, pointing her Dreadwyrm Rapier at them while holding the crystal to hover nearby. "Don't keep me waiting, boys." Rae teased, smirking at them. From a distance, another Garlean soldier notched his arrow, aiming it directly at Rae's chest. He drew back and held his breath, waiting for her to still before he let go.
  4. Rae remained among the other soldiers. She wasn't wearing traditional soldier garb of the Gridanian army. She stood out like a sore thumb, but she didn't make any attempt to fix that. She didn't anticipate being memorable in this fight. She was going to help Marishi. From what she remembered of the tale of the battle, Marishi aided Garlean soldiers after the battle was over, healing them so they did not suffer from their injuries. That was what caused her to be dishonourably discharged from her position, then she went to Rowena after that, then became a Samurai. It was somewhere along those lines that she lost her spark, that she became hallow, her spirit quelled. Perhaps if she stopped Marishi from tending to those soldiers then her optimism would remain? The Chocobo she rode upon squawked, coaxing her to reach over and gently stroke its feathers, digging her fingers through them and scratching at the skin, this caused the Chocobo to arch his neck and whistle happily, then shake his whole body and leap a bit with excitement. Rae clung on, laughing as her Chocobo elatedly showed her affection, then snipped its beak at her, beckoning her to continue. She noticed the stares she got from the other soldiers, and instead of cowering and keeping to herself, she offered them a smile. She was going to change things. The war wouldn't go as dismally. Perhaps she could get word to the national Leaders and explain to them what was really going to happen. She wasn't sure if there was anything that could be done now, perhaps the world must be scarred by Bahamut's rage? She paused a moment, thinking to Bahamut. She could still feel his presence within her, so he hand't left. As they marched, it gave her time to think upon things. She remained unaffected with the rollback on time. Her memories were in-tact, but Marishi's were not. Was it because of her fight with Alexander that allowed her to keep her memories untouched by the reversal? Was there anyone else who was unaffected? Would Alexander in this timeline know who she is, what she is? She's an anomaly. Her very existence should not be. Would Alexander sense that in her if she were ever to approach him? By now, Alexander had already made a pact with Marishi, and she didn't seem too concerned with her presence. At least, nothing out of what Rae would expect. At least in this time line Marishi still found her attractive... the thought made Rae blush a bit. It was almost like fate. Perhaps the two of them were destined to be lovers and no timeline would change that? She found that a comfort. She couldn't imagine herself with anyone else but Marishi. As the army set up camp, Rae wanted to make herself useful. She assisted with setting up tents, building fires, and even offered to cook. Her culinary skill was the crowd favourite, however. A simple stew with ingredients between them all filled their bellies and warmed them up. She did her best to appease the men, but appear to be unapproachable. She didn't want them to get any ideas, despite her being a Miqo'te that wore stockings and shorts and a form-fitting top that reached down to her thighs, but went farther down her legs in the back. It was a simple stylization of the Red Mage garb, Marishi made it for her a year ago and weaved enhancements into it, allowing her skills to become bolstered when she wore the shirt. Rae's attention was turned from listening to the men talk while partaking of her soup to Marishi as she approached, then shortly addressed the men under her command. She kept eye contact with her, never letting her gaze flicker anywhere else. She smiled to Marishi as their eyes met again. The command she held over these soldiers was awe-inspiring. Pride welled up within her. Her wife was powerful even now--especially now. After Marishi's inspiring speech, the men seemed more at ease, but not entirely relaxed. There was a sombreness that followed and, while others were more apt to let the grim reality that they might never go home settle in and sour their thoughts, others did their best to make the most of their last night. Rae kept to herself at that point, getting nearer to Marishi and waiting. She didn't wish to draw attention to herself by approaching Marishi, but she also wanted to catch her before she went to bed. Once the camp quieted down and most of the soldiers returned to their tents, Rae came up behind Marishi, arms wrapped around herself as she approached. She remained quiet as Marishi spoke, relaying her doubts, her fears. She told her about her past, which she knew a bit about. Marishi had told her about her father when Rae asked sometime before the wedding. She didn't know about the soldier Marishi had sent out to scout his grave. Rae frowned to the White Mage Miqo'te. "Don't feel guilt," Rae whispered, moving closer to Marishi. How she wished she could reach out and stroke her, to hold her in her arms, to kiss her delicate skin, to lick her lips, to smell her hair. She refrained, however. "Rand is a capable soldier. He wouldn't get captured so easily." She attempted to lift the spirits of her wife just as she did her own soldiers. She didn't know a Rand in her timeline. Perhaps it was possible that the soldier would never return, but she wouldn't tell Marishi that. When confronted with her questions, Rae went silent a moment, mulling over a story. She didn't think it would be necessary, but Marishi was far more clever than Rae could ever be. She should have known it would come to this. "It's like I said. I came to enlist. I've been indisposed before, unable to return home from my school, but now I'm back and I wish to... fight," Rae stopped, looking away from Marishi. Lying to her like this felt wrong, and she knew she wouldn't buy it. "I'm sorry for lying. That's not the whole truth, but if I were to tell you the truth, you'd think I'm crazy and send me away to be detained and held in a cell until my insanity wore off, but I can see there's no avoiding this. I'll have to tell you the truth. When you asked my name, I never gave you my last name. I am Rae Ten, your wife. "I'm not from this time, Marishi Ten. Well, I am, in a sense. I'm 15 right now on the island of Sharlaya being taught the magic of Red Mage. The lore is all but gone, with just one man left to carry on its legacy. He passed it on to me. After the Battle of Carteneau ends, I arrive back on Eorzea, and a few years after that, you and I meet in Ul'Dah. Purely by chance, but amidst the crowd, our eyes lock. I approach you first, however, since at that time, you've been... discharged by the army and are on an errand for a Hyur entrepreneur named Rowena. From that moment, we are inseparable and we get married a year later... ah... sorry, I get ahead of myself. You asked what I am doing here. Well, I made a mistake. A grave one. I thought I could battle Alexander. He calls to you. He urges you to become his arbiter and to smite the sinners of this world. I was a fool. I thought I was strong enough to help you stop Alexander, but I got you killed... I... I couldn't save you again, and this time it cost you more than just your sight." Rae's eyes formed tears and she squeezed them shut, her hands clutching onto her arms as her shoulders trembled and she bit back a sob. The vision of her wife being murdered replayed in her mind, causing her composure to slip. She sucked in air through her nose and calmed herself once more, then turned to Marishi. "I know about your pact with Alexander because you told me, 8 years from now when we are married and I ask you about the Gordian blade. You tell me a little bit, and I press for more, but you silence me by... erm... methods you enjoy employing." Her cheeks flushed at that moment and she smiled to Marishi. It was only a day for her, but she missed Marishi's touch. She missed the affection in her gaze, the way she made her feel like the person creature in the world. "I've come to undo what I did, to make things right. I can't lose you... I love you too much. So I came back in time with hopes to stop my mistake and to give us a better life." Rae told Marishi, her eyes looking directly into Marishi's, hoping she would believe it somehow, and wouldn't send her away or avoid her. She wasn't sure if she could handle that rejection.
  5. She remembered this time all too well. She was 15, on Sharlaya. A part of her wanted to go see herself, to travel to Sharlaya and tell her that everything was going to be fine. Rae knew her younger self would be awe-struck to see what she'd become. She'd be thrilled. The thought of going to see her old Master, too, appealed to her a great deal. What would happen, though, if she did meet herself? She would change things for her. What if she ended up getting her killed? Would she stop existing? A pang of dread struck Rae. Perhaps affecting her past wasn't the best thing to do. Although, what she was doing now was affecting it. Even her being here in the Shroud could lead to repercussions later that she could not fathom. Time travel was truly a horrible thing that could lead to disaster; however, if she played smart, if she worked around things, she might be able to create a future for herself in which Marishi was not a slave to Alexander, or rather, that she wasn't required to become the arbiter so soon. A familiar voice tore her from her thoughts. Jumping, Rae turned to face the young Marishi. Mounted upon a steed, Rae could not help but stare wide-eyed and mouth slightly parted. This was her wife 11 years before they met. She looked different, yet the same. She was just as stunning, but younger. There was a gleam in her eyes that Rae would only catch now and then. And her eyes... both a vibrant currant red. Her compliments were enough to cause her cheeks to burn red. It was strange hearing her wife flirt with her first. Usually, she would have to strike it up first. Seeing her wife like this was enough to overwhelm Rae. Tears sprang up in her eyes and she couldn't help but let them fall. She reached a time in her life when the reality of the world had not tarnished her youthful hope, that the poison of war had not stripped her of her enthusiasm for life. Rae's knees buckled and she fell to the ground, covering her face and letting out a sob. Not moments ago did she just watch her wife become impaled by the Primal that had promised her the world, all because of her foolish idealization that she could single-handedly subdue a Primal that lorded over time. She could save her wife. She could have a happy life with her. "I'm sorry M-" she started, but Rae hesitated. She couldn't let Marishi know what she knew, who she was, from when she was. It would sound too unbelievable. She needed to pretend she was part of this timeline. She can't act as though she knows more than she should. "My lady. I don't normally react like this. A... beloved friend passed away recently and I'm afraid I still ache from the loss. You remind me of her an awful lot. I was overcome by shock that I thought I had seen her once again." Rae apologized, lifting her face and smiling, tears still rolling down her cheeks. It was clear they were tears of joy. To see her wife like this, to see her again alive... Getting back to her feel, Rae brushed off the dirt from her legs and fixed her coat. "My name is Rae. You may find it a surprise, but I am from the Shroud. Southern, actually. My parents came here to be married, since they couldn't within their tribe." She smiled and wiped away her tears. Behind her, her tail swished in a lazy, happy movement. Her ears perked upward as she rested one hand on her hip just above her empty sheath and her other on the Dreadwyrm Rapier placed at her side. She needed to collect her bearings quickly. Marishi wouldn't be interested in some weepy-eyed damsel in distress, surely. "I came to enlist. I've trained afar to protect my homeland from the Primals, and now with the Garleans threatening invasion, I can think of no better way to protect Gridania than by enlisting." Rae let a brief moment pause between them before she bowed to Marishi. "Though, now I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage. You know quite a lot about me, but I know nothing of you. Perhaps you'd privilege me with your name?" Rae lifted her gaze a little, a playful smile on her face and a happy gleam in her eye as she watched Marishi. She could make this work. She could make this timeline right so she could have a lifetime with Marishi.
  6. Rae could only watch helplessly as Marishi combated Alexander. Perhaps bringing her here wasn't the best idea. The reality of the situation set in as she realized she thought she could confront and subdue a Primal whose dominion was that over time itself. Of course she couldn't stop a force such as that! Guilt gripped at her throat as she watched, wide-eyed and horrified as her wife was dragged across the floor and made to lay before Alexander's throne. As Rae moved to retrieve her weapons, she found her arms heavy, like lead bricks were tied to each wrist and elbow and shoulder. She couldn't move anything, only bear witness to the atrocity that slowly unfurled. As Marishi's body began to rise, Rae felt her knees jerk. She needed to move. If she didn't, Marishi would get hurt. She ripped against the imaginary chains that bound her arms and forced them to obey her. Rae lifted her hands to the hilts of her rapiers and unsheathed them, then darted forward. Time seemed to slow for her, and perhaps it had. Perhaps Alexander put a slow on time for her and her alone, which was perfectly within his capabilities. Each step seemed to take several minutes. She felt as though she wasn't getting closer. Eyes locked on the form she saw sitting in the chair, Rae was determined to break its concentration and fixation on Marishi long enough for her to get her wife away from the place. Before she could get close, however, the golden spears appeared, then impaled Marishi through. Rae stopped. Time stopped. Nothing moved for a brief moment. Her gaze flickered to Marishi's body as her crimson lifeblood flowed freely down the shafts of gold and light, dripping and pooling onto the floor. All was still. The world was quiet. Steam hissed from beside her ear, but no sound was heard, no heat was felt. The blood in her face drained, her hands and fingers ran cold and paled. It was like her own life was being drawn out of her, like she, too, was lanced and made to bleed out. At the back of her mind there was a howling. It was distant and caused the hair on her arms and the back of her neck to stand on end and her tail fur to bristle. The howl was a mixture of unbridled anger and fathomless mourning. It was a moment before she realized the howl was not from the back of her mind, but from her own mouth. Rae screamed incoherently, calling out to Marishi in her wordless plea to not die. But Marishi couldn't hear Rae. Her vision darkened, a faded ridge of darkness closed in over her eyes as she turned to face the distinct outline of a figure on the throne. To others, it was invisible, but to her, Rae could see it. Even in her fading vision, she could see the shapeless figure perched upon the gilded chair as its body attempted to blend with Marishi's. As Rae willed her body to move forward, it disobeyed. Her legs remained firmly planted where they were and her head dropped. For a moment, Rae believed herself to be almost passing out. She thought she was fainting from the sight of her most beloved thing in this world being murdered, and yet her body did not collapse. She felt... stronger. Her right hand raised, holding the Dreadwyrm Rapier, and she stepped closer, legs quaking slightly. Once close enough, her hand swung down with an uncontrolled motion. The attack was easily deflected by another lance that formed. Rae remained still a moment as she watched her body move of its own volition. Her hand raised again, this time her head did as well. Her arm swung down, this time with more precision. While it did not strike her mark, she could see Alexander turn to face her, acknowledging her as a threat. The spears left Marishi's body, dropping her to the floor, then aimed at Rae. Two darted at her, but her hands moved quickly, parrying the blows. Three flew at her, which she parried as well. Then more flew at a time. Two stabbed at her arms, which she caught with both Rapiers, then the rest flew at her body, attempting to impale her. Before they could land, she formed her own Aetheric rapiers, catching the spears with them. Every blade in the room was held in a deadlock, neither moving an inch. Rae lifted her head to face the entity that was Alexander, her eyes began to change. Purple veins formed across the whites and greens of her eyes while gold veins snaked across her skin. Bahamut was possessing her. "You can't stop me." She growled, then threw back the lances and charged forward, throwing Sanguinaire to the ground as she ran. Rae jumped into the air and held the Dreadwyrm Rapier in both hands like a broad sword. She then stabbed it downward onto the middle of the shapeless being. A pulse was felt throughout the room. The windows shattered, metal bent and groaned. The form could only try not to succumb to the sheer power that was Bahamut acting through Rae's body. It was ironic, almost. Here, Rae came to stop a Primal from taking over Marishi, only to have that very thing happen to her. She felt a clock tick. The snarl on her face lessened to that of an angry realization. Alexander was influencing a time change. They couldn't let that happen. Power surged through Rae and she pushed down harder. At the tip of her blade, a small clock appeared, no larger than the palm of her hand. Rae gasped as she saw it, and was instantly thrown into a time warp with Alexander beside her. He was going to dump her off somewhere in the web of time. She wouldn't let that happen. Reaching out, Rae pushed through the form of Alexander, then gripped at the clock. A metal, grating scream could be heard as she tugged back, yanking it free from within Alexander. The multi-coloured tunnel she was in flickered, she felt her body tear at itself, but she did not relent. Pulling back, Rae forced the clock within Alexander free, yanking it out from the form. Once in her own hand, the tunnel burst. She could feel her body being stretched. Her bones popped, her skin burned and itched at the feeling of it being pulled taut. No scream could be made as she squeezed her eyes shut. Suddenly, it stopped. Birds chirped all around her. She felt a gentle breeze and a tickle of something against her bare legs. Slowly, her eyes opened. She stood in a field. It was The Black Shroud. Gridania is not far, as she can see the Blue Badger Gates not far from where she stood. Glancing around, Rae tried to get her bearings. It was mid morning, a few adventurers walked passed her, chatting to themselves, seemingly not surprised at her sudden appearance. Rae spun around, trying to find Alexander. In her hand, she tightened her grip, but nothing was there. No clock, no Alexander, no Bahamut. Her vision was normal, her skin was smooth again, and her Dreadwyrm Rapier was back in its sheath. She paused, mind racing at what could have possibly just happened. Nothing made sense. Did she get dumped off somewhere in time? If so, when? She didn't wish to ask the people who walked by her what year it was, knowing they'd think her insane. She stepped back a bit before coming her fingers through her hair and looking upward. It was then that she noticed it. Dalamud. The red, angry moon loomed in the sky, drawing close to Hydaelyn. Rae's hand trembled. She knew this year. It was 1572. The year of the Calamity.
  7. Rae could almost sense the shift in emotion from Marishi. Casting a glance over her shoulder, Rae noted Marishi's dismal look and paused, taking a moment to turn to face her and clasp her hands onto her shoulders and look her into her good eye. "Marishi, it'll be okay. I'm here with you. I know enough about how Alexander works to keep us safe," she reassured Marishi. Truth be told, she wasn't entirely confident in herself, but she knew her own strength and at the very least, she could buy them enough time to escape if something terrible were to happen. Giving Marishi a smile, Rae turned back around, this time taking her wife's hand and guiding her along. As they scaled a few stairs and turned down a few hallways, Rae took note of every turn, of every passage they passed and entered. As they drew near a room with a large opening, Rae stopped their advance. "Wait a moment." She commanded, pausing at the entrance of the open area. As they waited, steam shot out from the walls, the hot air rising quickly to the ceiling. Gears cranked and turned, causing the door before them to move until it closed, then the whole wall itself began to shift and roll upward in a circle. As the door rolled up above the ceiling, another appeared and clicked into place where the old door once was. Then, with another hiss of steam, the door dropped down to reveal a small entry way that turned to the left. Rae walked into the newly-formed corridor, guiding Marishi along the way. Throughout the hour-long voyage through the guts of Alexander, Rae would guide the two of them through as if she had been there countless times before. Once or twice at an intersection, she would reach into the pouch strapped to her side and produce a book, then flip through the pages and read several entries before clapping it shut and grabbing Marishi's hand and walking forward with confidence. The Sharlayans purposefully made Alexander's innards a maze that one could get lost and die in if they didn't pay attention. This was to avoid thieves who would undoubtedly come in to search for treasures to loot and sell off. Intermittently, Rae would spot evidence of someone having been there before. Markings on the doorways, abandoned belongings, bloodstains. No corpses, however. Rae paused once more at an intersection and read through the book, but as she did, the door before them slammed shut. The typical gears churning and hiss of steam could be heard as the door shifted upward to be replaced by another that opened to reveal a straight hallway. Pausing, Rae's right ear flicked rapidly as she thought. That wasn't in the book. She glanced back down to it once more, re-reading and mentally retracing their steps. She had followed it to a T, but never did it mention this conjuncture turning into a straight hallway. In fact, the shifting doorways should be long behind them. "Straight it is, I suppose." Rae murmured to herself, walking forward. This lead them to a whole new area of Alexander. The book she had which mapped out the journey to the Heart of Alexander was useless, as no direction written down in it matched with the description of the hallways they were journeying through. Rae had to stop as she came to a room with five doors. Two on either side and one straight ahead. They hadn't made any turns yet and no doors had closed them off, so it was relatively easy to retrace their steps if needs be. Rae continued the trend, walking forward to the door opposite of where they stood. Before she could enter, however, a sheet of metal clapped down, sealing the door off. Rae jumped back, obviously startled by the sudden movement, then turned to the right door. Before she could even approach, it, too, slammed shut. She backed up a few steps, glancing around the room as the doors began to seal every doorway shut except for one. The first to the left. Sucking in a breath of air, Rae frowned. "It seems Alexander is guiding us to where we need to go, my Starlight." Rae stated flatly, turning to Marishi. "Do you need to rest? I have some provisions we can eat if you'd like. We've been on our feet for a while, so a break might be good." As Rae reached into her satchel, an angry hiss of steam blasted at her tail, causing her to jump and yelp in pain as the intense heat singed at her fur. She snatched up her tail while jumping towards the door and glaring up at the ceiling where the steam had shot from. "Fine! We'll keep going! Bastard Primal..." Rae spat, scowling while combing at the fur of her tail to brush it back into place. The doorway lead to a winding staircase. Rae walked up first, her speed brisk at first, until after the 50th step where she began to slow down. She could feel her lungs grow heavy as she struggled to take a breath. Her inner ears felt pressure that was relieved as she opened her mouth wide and yawned, allowing them to pop. They were going higher and higher, she could tell. Still, things within Alexander remained warm. That was to be expected, however, given that the primal was a giant steam-driven machine. As the end drew near, Rae felt a tug of urgency at her consciousness. Immediately, she shot a glance to Marishi, ensuring she was safe. She appeared fine, if not worry-stricken. There was something else, then, that caused her this panic. Her heart thundered in her chest, her limbs trembled, sweat formed in the palms of her hands as she forced her legs to move forward. Before her stood a door sealed shut. Standing before it, Rae waited for it to register there was a presence there, but nothing happened. Rae stepped towards it and pressed her hand onto it, pushing onto the sturdy metal, but it did not budge. Examining the sides of the walls, she looked for a crack in which she could pry the door open, but nothing. "Hmm... Maybe he was purposefully guiding us to a dead end?" Rae suggested, turning to Marishi. As she faced away from the doorway, it suddenly slid open, causing Rae to jump, startled. Her hands went to the hilts of her rapiers, and it was then she felt the heat emanate from her Dreadwyrm Rapier. She had to pull her hand back and look at it, shocked by the heat it generated. Nothing else on her created that heat and there was no steam. Was her Primal-infused weapon reacting to the presence of Alexander? She read somewhere once that Alexander was created to defeat threats as fearsome as Bahamut... Her train of thought was derailed as she lifted her gaze. Before them was not the heart of Alexander, but the topmost part, his head, where his brain would lay. A large glass window before them let in a blast of light from outside. Strangely, from this position within Alexander, the world looked brighter almost. Cautiously, Rae walked forward, looking around the open room with a scrutinizing gaze. It didn't appear to be an ambush. No Goblins were within, no thieves, no traps. "It's safe," Rae called to Marishi, waving her in while she approached the windows. She peered outside, taking in the scenery of the whole Hinterlands sprawled out before her. From her height, she felt as though she were a lord of the land, gazing upon it fondly. The barrier that kept Alexander's Aether-sucking presence contained slightly obscured her vision of the world outside, but it did not make it any less magnificent. "This is beautiful." Rae murmured under her breath, looking to the western part of the land where she had scarcely been. It was more heavily populated with kin than the eastern hemisphere, but just as beautiful. A large tree grew from the arboretum. It seemed to violently reclaim the land around it, if the Morbols that stalked around were any indication to what happened when the building's walls collapsed. Tearing her gaze from the awe-inspiring scene, Rae turned back to Marishi. "Do you sense anything, darling?" Rae asked her, focusing at the task at hand. When this was all over, they'd have time to explore the Hinterlands properly.
  8. The Hinterlands were as she remembered them. The ruins of the once proud Sharlayan settlement stood, but the decaying remnants lay slowly reclaimed by the land around it as walls crumbled or were blown out by the Goblins. Machine and monsters alike roamed the the abandoned settlements, prowling through the streets or stalking the open areas around it. Pathways were nearly completely demolished outside the settlement borders. From their vantage point, the bridges that connected east and west were blown out save but one that was guarded by some of the local adventurers who knew it would be impossible to get from one side to another if the bridge were to crumble. The Dravanian Hinterlands were lush, teeming with life, and most importantly: dangerous. Rae had visited the place once, but it was long after it had been abandoned by her people. Well, she could never truly call them “her people”. They tolerated her at best. The only ones who accepted her were a man she crippled herself, and another who wasn’t even Sharlayan, but a visitor to the island. The Sharlayans leered upon her with disdain. They took her from her home and forced her to stay among them to learn and attempt to make her into a weapon, but only two ever treated her as a human worthy of respect. The Sharlayans were as much her people as the Au’Ra were as much of the Dragons’. Still, she would be counted as one of them. These ruins were part of her legacy. The passiveness was part of her history. Their knowledge was her’s, to an extent. She had liberal access to many of their books and many of their studies. Even as a defector, she still held the keys needed to access some of their precious secrets. The Great Gubal Library was one of them. With virtually countless corridors and bookshelves that were once filled to the brim with their collected knowledge, Rae once could have spent her days within the darkened building, letting her skin and hair pale and her eyesight grow dim from having her nose pressed into a book for endless hours in the day. The other great landmark within the Hinterlands that Rae had rare access to was the very thing the Sharlayans created. A machine given a spirit by the Goblins that worshipped the craftsmanship. A machine made to defend the Sharlayans, but now no longer heeds their command unless it deems it so. A creation that all who know of it revere it with awe. Alexander. They stood at the base of the great mechanism. Many years prior, this construct called upon Marishi. As she ventured its bowels and came to the core where the Primal existed, she made a pact with the entity, and in return, she gained perpetual youth until the time came for her task to be completed. That day seemed to soon approach as voices rang in Marishi’s head. It grew increasingly worrisome day by day as her wife related to her the symptoms and her feelings about it. Marishi was not one to speak up about things concerning her health much, unless it was debilitating. This was why Rae knew her wife was gravely serious about what was happening to her. Rae vowed to protect her wife after that day. That day she failed, the day she nearly lost her wife. She swore nothing would befall her. Rae would move heaven and earth for Marishi. She would fight armies. She would forsake all she had, all she believed. She would do the impossible to save Marishi, to spare her from suffering again. Any trials Marishi faced, Rae would be beside her. Any victories she won, Rae would rejoice with her. A door opened, sliding to the side to grant the pair access. Rae turned to Marishi, a comforting smile upon her face as she held out her hand to her wife. “Let’s go. Let’s find a way to stop the voices. Whatever the answer may be, it’ll be in here, I’m sure of it.” Rae assured her, a confident tone in her voice. The sun cast a glow across her face. It was no longer noon, but not nearly yet evening. The weather was perfect for their adventure. It seemed almost a pity to go inside, but they couldn’t speak with the Primal that inhabited Alexander’s body from outside.
  9. Rae seemed almost apathetic. For some time she had been battling the emotions she felt. The bipolar swinging back and forth was nearly overwhelming, so to combat it... she simply chose to ignore it. Guilt gnawed at the corners of her mind, threatening to shed tears, but Rae ignored the impulse. She ignored the call of her heart to feel. It was just easier this way. There were few emotions she felt trust towards, those being her love and devotion towards Marishi, and her disdain of anyone else. She could put on a good show of emotion if she needed, but she never let them overpower her level-headedness. Time and time again, the world had proven that she could trust no one but herself and Marishi, for she was the only person in the world who looked out for her best interest. Rae listened to the melody her wife played, surprised that she could play the piano. Her wife, in all their years married, made no inclination that she played. Rae had a piano in the house for herself, but never did she hear Marishi play it. The connection she and Marishi shared pulled at her heart. Tugging it along for the emotional ride that Marishi conveyed through the piece. As the other Miqo'te called out to her, Rae approached closer, leaning against the piano. "That was beautiful, my Starlight," she murmured softly, glancing out the ash-covered window. As Marishi lamented the death of the family within the home, Rae grappled with her emotions and subdued them. As Marishi invited her to request a song, Rae thought a moment, then answered. "Twilight Over Thanalan." As Marishi began the song, Rae closed her eyes and felt the melody flow through her spirit and began to sing along. With Marishi's emotional rendition of the song, Rae was able to mimic her style. Their connection making it possible for her to predict when to crescendo and when to hold a note, or when to soften her voice or to harmonize with the piano. The song was not of her home nation, as she was born in The Black Shroud and raised in Sharlaya. Thanalan was where her life truly began, however, when she met Marishi. Rae recalled the time, the moment their eyes met and their hearts beat as one. Their first touch and the electric shock she felt through her soul from it. Their first kiss, their first hug, their first night... Her eyebrows knit together as she struggled to control her emotions, but the flow of tears could not be stopped. A stream of them fell from her cheeks as she sang and her voice shook, but continued the song despite that. Once the song ended, Rae relaxed and opened her eyes, tears still filling them. Something in her heart knew this would be their last moment together without the hungry wolves of Death circling them. They drew ever nearer, snapping their teeth, nipping at heels. Would the next moment she gazed upon her wife be the last she saw her alive? Would the moment after next bring a vision of her wife's death to her eyes? "This life was cruel, yet blessed," Rae murmured, turning to Marishi. "I'll be out of harm's way, so do not send me home, but I ask that you stay off the beach. We cannot hope to kill the fleet that comes for us, but I'll be damned if the last 9 years here are wasted. This land will ravage their ranks when you and I are long gone." Rae informed Marishi, then walked over to her, holding out her hand and cupping Marishi's cheek, then leaning in to kiss her lips with a lingering touch. As Rae pulled away, she whispered to Marishi, "I shall see you on the other side." before briskly walking out of the ruined home. The thick smog that blanketed the town did not bother her. She walked through it, eyes forward, determination on her face. A week. A week was all they had. A week was all she needed. She stopped by the corpse of a fallen Summoner and snatched up their grimoire, then made her way to the beach. Flipping through the pages, Rae uttered the incantations to summon the Egis to her. Titan, Garuda, and Ifrit. They were weak shades of their past glory when Bahamut favoured her. She didn't need them for fighting, however. "You, dig. You, fill the pits with spires of crystal to impale our foes. You, veil the pits with nets and sand." She ordered, pointing to each Egi and giving them a direct order, to which they obeyed without question. Titan was able to up-end the earth easily while Ifrit used its intense flames to turn the sand into something of sandstone and crystal to create jagged pitfalls at the bottom of the pits while Garuda was able to conceal the pits. Heaving a sigh, Rae turned and made her way towards the jungle, but stopped. Countless eyes were upon her. The Wendigo all watched, ravenous, blood-thirsty creatures. Her time with the Nyctalus revealed to her that they were once human. All of them but their leader, but no one could tell the difference now. "Stay here a while," she spoke to them, dipping her head in respect and kneeling, showing her reverence towards them as the Nyctalus had learned to show them. "Men shall come ashore and you will have plenty of game in a week's time. Those that do not fall to the pits of death will come to your jungle. They will be yours to tear apart and feast upon, or convert to your people." There was a silence that greeted her, but their answer came with action. One by one, the Wendigo withdrew from sight, leaving Rae to do what she wanted. The Wendigo would be enough to fend for the jungle, but should the humans somehow reach to the sacred hunting ground... Rae made her way through the jungle with a swiftness of some one who memorized every inch of the land, knew every knot of root and every clearing the dense jungle afforded. Approaching a large cave behind a waterfall, Rae slipped inside and made her way through the vine-covered lair until she came to a large opening. The sound of vines moving and the hissing of voices could be heard as dozens of large, arachnid-like women descended from the roof of the cave and crawled from the holes and walls. Rae stood there, eyes on the largest one as she cautiously approached. All were still a moment until the largest spoke in an irate hiss. "Mother Killer!" Suddenly, the cave was filled with angry screams and they began to descend upon her. A flash of blue light illuminated the cave and Rae threw her dagger into the shoulder of the largest Vilekin, causing her to screech in agony and hold at her arm. Rae then vanished from visibility, then reappeared behind the monster, ripping the dagger from her shoulder and holding it to the arachnid's throat, this caused them all to stop. "Turn. I would address your kin." Rae commanded, to which the Vilekin leader obliged, holding onto her shoulder to stop the flow of blood. As the two faced the small army of Vilekin, Rae spoke up. "I do not seek to kill you, but to tell you this land will be flooded by more like me if you do nothing this day. I have done what I can to defend the beaches and the forepart of the forest, but the sacred grounds, the place that holds the lake that all water runs through, will become defiled by man if you leave it unguarded. I tell you this for you are the strongest of the creatures on this land. You can stop the men from entering the sacred grounds and prevent their taint upon this pure land." One spoke up. "And why should we do what you say?" She spat. Suddenly, more light burst forth and the weapons flew from her body and darted to the throats of the others. All held still. "If not, I will kill you all now and find another group who value life more than their pettiness." "Stop, we will do as you request," the largest said, wincing at the dagger to her throat. Rae never took her eyes off the others, but addressed the one she held captive. "I will leave this cave, then. Tomorrow at dawn, you will make your way to the lake and fortify it by whatever means you desire. If even one man gets through, the island will be tainted." She instructed carefully. "What of the Nyctalus?" Rae paused a moment. "They will not be able to defend this island. They have left that in the hands of their Old Gods' blessings." She informed them after thinking carefully of her words. The Nyctalus would die out, as only a few remained. The Mamool Ja were dead. Once the Nyctalus were gone, the kin would all rule the land. This was the fate of the New World, and Rae was alright with this. The Vilekin sneered, but said nothing. She could read enough into Rae's words to understand what she meant. "Very well, Mother Killer. Go. Finish your preparation for the battle. Should I see you next, however. I will not hesitate to kill you." "I may take you up on that promise later, Spider." Rae retorted, sliding off the creature's back and walking away from the cave. Once she was at the mouth of the cave, the crystal weapons vanished, freeing the Vilekin to do as they pleased, and so they prepared for their journey. Rae stood on the bank of the shore and stared out towards the jungle. More traps could be made within the jungle. If they believed the jungle was too treacherous to live in, perhaps they would leave. With that, Rae set about creating invisible traps for the invaders that would come. Nests of poisonous creatures were moved, more pitfalls made, fallen trees would act as battering rams for any who brushed passed a low-hanging limb of a tree. Vines would whip about the legs of any who tripped the line. Her Egi assisted Rae throughout the week-long preparation to stopping the progression of the men from her old home. They would turn around fleeing from the land when she was done with them. Rae would ensure each trap was set off before they reached the sacred grounds. The pathway would be littered with them. If they walked outside the path, the Wendigo would get them. Once they got too close, the Vilekin would devour them. No one will survive. This will be their legacy. After the week had passed, Rae made her way back to the settlement. Fires had been burned out and no life resonated throughout the ruined buildings. It wouldn't be long before nature reclaimed what man stole from her. Despite the quiet peace, Rae felt anxious. She felt fear, she felt dread. Nothing appealed to her other than throwing herself into one of the pits created by her faithful Egi, or running back into the jungle to the murderous embrace of the Vilekin. She wanted this feeling to end, but she would wait and hope. Hope against fate that her wife would not die. Deep down, however, Rae knew that would never happen. Not in this timeline. "To the other side, my beloved." Rae murmured, looking to the beach as the shouts of those who were aboard the ships could be heard as they docked at the ruined docks. The battle will soon begin.
  10. After her recovery, Rae was back up and bouncing. She seemed to have more energy than what she had before she initially fell ill. Practising with Marishi to channel the magic through her, to summon the arminger, was a time she revelled in. Rae hadn't been able to spend much time with Marishi before when they landed. Both of them had grown distant, Rae out of fear of the monstrosities she witnessed and Marishi because the jungle's wild has imbued into her a sense of feral distance. Finally, the two were able to be close once more. They had to practice alone, which she was grateful for. Being the playful one that she was, she took opportunities here and there to casually flirt with her wife, to tease her. Sometimes earning herself a stern look, other times a swat on the behind. Not all day was spent practising, however, as Marishi would grow tired and they would need to stop. Rae could not only see the affects of training on her wife, but she could feel it as well. It was like channelling the magic through her wife linked them in an even more intimate way. Rae was used to being able to sense her wife's emotions, but now she could feel them. She could feel Marishi's burning desire to stop the Sharlayans as if they were her own emotions. Or perhaps they were? She could feel the instinct to attack first and ask questions later. She could feel the silent contempt she held for all others but her own wife. Now and then, she'd have to catch herself from glowering at people as she sat on the floor. It was as if Marishi's personality was dominating her own. Rae struggled to keep her own person. At times, she'd catch Marishi smiling and laughing at things that Rae would find amusing, but Marishi would not. This link created was more than just something magic-based. It was emotion-based. The two were practically becoming the same person. It wasn't long until Rae had easily mastered tapping into the power to summon the arminger set through Marishi, though she saw how exhausted it made Marishi, so she vowed to only use it sparingly. She had other weapons she could use and magic. If the battle called for drastic measures that she couldn't use her magic to fight through, then she would borrow Marishi's. That night as they sat around the fire, Rae relaxed while eating some of the food. With Marishi, Hime, and herself, they were able to gather more food for the Nyctalus since they could hunt during the daytime. The nocturnal creatures had come to learn that they were not safe at night, but now they were not safe during the day, either. This made them easy prey. "The Mamool Ja won't be too much of a problem," Rae stated after eating a chunk of poultry leg. "They respect magic-wielders, and I am one. Well, I suppose we both are now. I wonder how they'd react seeing you wielding an entire armoury of weapons?" With that, she smiled broadly. She seemed more herself again. Without the imaginary horrors haunting her, Rae no longer felt on edge, she no longer felt as though she were constantly being watched, she could look at things head on and not watch them deteriorate into a repugnant monster. It was like her sunshine was returning. The Nyctalus closest to Rae snorted. "Mamool Ja worship magic because it is power. Overpower Mamool Ja. Is only way." Rae could only frown. It seemed unnecessary to strong-arm the Mamool Ja into listening to them, although, maybe they wouldn't listen to her and Marishi now that they were with the Nyctalus. She was lost in thought a brief moment before a Nyctalus--the one who tended to her while she was ill--came to her side. "Come," she bade her, and Rae followed her into the darkness. Rae came to know this Nyctalus, her having been one of the few who came to visit her--albeit mandatory--while she was recovering. Her name was Csi'ha. She was the only healer of the tribe, and she was very proficient with it. Any manner of ailments she could treat. Whether it be a cut or sickness. She also tended to the young of the group, ensuring they grew healthy and strong. Rae had only seen two or three adolescent Nyctalus while there were about 12 babies. Csi'ha had told her about the babies when Rae asked. As Rae had laid upon her recovery bed, the female Nyctalus added. "Only few will live. Such is our ways. Without lands to hunt and glide, we are trapped coeurl in cages. Soon, we wither and die. The jungle has no breeze. Cannot glide. Cannot live healthy. I do much, but not enough... sometime not enough..." Rae's heart broke as she saw the female's expression drop. The sadness was palpable. "Are any of them your own?" Rae had asked. "No," Csi'ha answered. The reply came sharp, as if to end the discussion. A pause came between them before the healer added. "Prevents preference. Healers forbidden to have children. Birthing taken away as child, as virgin. Always virgin. Forever." The creature lifted her gown, but Rae knew what had been done to her already. She needn't look. But that was many moons ago. Now, the Nyctalus hopped across the jungle floor. She was excited to show Rae something, whatever it was. Rae came to a stop as the Nyctalus dug through a pile of leaves, then produced a box for Rae. Holding it out to her, Rae accepted it, then opened the lid. Inside was jewellery. Gold with precious stones set into them. Each piece had an individual indent in which it was held fast against a velvet-covered bottom layer. Within the stones swirled different colours. Some sparked when held at a different angle. Awe-struck, Rae examined them. "Gifts," Csi'ha told Rae. Gasping, Rae put back the bracelet she held. "Oh, no. I couldn't possibly. This is stunning, you should keep-" "No good, no good," Csi'ha explained dismissively, waving her long-fingered palm. "It is only decoration to Nyctalus. To Mamool Ja, it is treasure. Greatest gift was given to ancestors before driven from land. Peace offering. My mothers all kept them. We give to you. Mamool Ja may like. Do you sense it? Do you feel magic?" Rae glanced down at the bracelet for a moment, then recognition flashed across her face. "Yes, I do! This... these must all augment magic-use. I wonder why the Mamool Ja gave it to your people?" Rae looked to Csi'ha, who merely shrugged in response. Whatever the case, perhaps this would bring about a temporary peace to the Nyctalus and the Mamool Ja. "Thank you. I will use it to get the Mamool Ja to be at ease with your people. Perhaps we can yet convince them to-" "Rae," Hime called out, wandering down the path. "Oooooohhhhh Raaaaaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeee!" She sang. The Nyctalus scowled, then quickly closed the box for Rae, giving her a look that told her not to mention the contents of the box to Hime. Rae nodded silently, understanding the importance of secrecy in this regard. Hime burst through the bushes and beamed happily at Rae and Csi'ha. "There you are! I thought you both got lost- Ooo! What is that in there?" Without thinking, Rae answered with a lie. "A shrivelled head of one of their kin." "EW." Hime exclaimed, looking absolutely mortified. It was all Rae could do to not burst out laughing, but she managed to maintain her composure. "It's good luck, Csi'ha says. Y'know. For when we try to bargain with the Mamool Ja." Tucking it neatly under her arm, Rae walked over to Hime. "Do you want to see?" "No, no, no. Absolutely not. That is disgusting and you should be ashamed to even suggest such a thing!" Hime snapped, her nose crinkled with repugnant disdain. "Here I thought you two were going to go practice some healing. I suppose you can keep your dirty head to yourself. I don't think Wilson would much like knowing you people lopping off heads and storing them in boxes for good luck." Csi'ha snorted behind them, but Rae only smiled a nervous smile. "Yeah. But, I mean, we cut off rabbits' feet and consider them good luck charms. That's in the same vein, is it not?" "Not really," Hime countered as they walked up the steps back to the temple. "Rabbits are our pets. The Nyctalus are not." Rae paused a moment, but didn't say anything. She couldn't tell if Hime was being racist against the Nyctalus, or if her cognitive moments were having a lapse into insanity again. While she did not tell Hime the contents of the box, Rae did tell her wife. She ensured Hime was off studying something else or reading somewhere before telling Marishi and showing her, the hope that avoiding bloodshed could be met. "I think we can convince the Mamool Ja to join our side. With their added strength against the Sharlayans, we might be able to pull some semblance of a victory. Surely they will want to defend the lands against them?" Despite saying she wanted to avoid bloodshed, deep down, Rae felt it was necessary. The Mamool Ja had wronged the Nyctalus, and they should have to pay... but she couldn't tell if that was her own feeling or if that was Marishi's.
  11. "Quiet one, ain'tcha?" Murmured the guard posted to keep watch on her. He expected her to be screaming and thrashing still based off the story that was told. Rae was not one who went in quietly. Marishi was cooperative, but Rae had clawed the neck and chest of one of her captors, then bit the fingers of another who laid his hand on her, nearly snapping them in half. She had a wild look about her. Her braid was much longer by then, looking about ready for another plait. Her hair was down, having been undone by one of her captors grabbing her hair and dragging her to the guard who had shackles for her. Once chained, Rae began to calm down a bit. She felt Marishi's calm push at her, urging her tumultuous emotions to become serene. She had a mission--they both did. She couldn't let the Nyctalus down. Once brought back to the new settlement, Rae and Marishi were separated. Fully-armoured guards came to take Rae away at the bidding of the Scholars, and much to everyone's surprise, she went without a fight. They were in a different building altogether. Neither close to one another, but she could sense Marishi still, could feel her, could know she was safe and sound. The same for Marishi about Rae. Both were connected thanks to the power they both drew upon. Marishi was able to tap into it directly, but Rae had to use it through Marishi. Like a conduit, she was able to draw upon the magic that her wife housed within herself. She couldn't quite explain the reason behind that, but she believed it was because of their already strong ethereal connection that she is able to. It's why Hime couldn't do the same, despite knowing the magic. There was no connection between the two, so it was impossible. One guard was always to be in the room with Rae and now a Scholar. He entered the room briskly and seemed to float to the chair adjacent from Rae. His robes flowed like clouds in a breeze and his hair shone like sunlight despite the somewhat dark room they were in. She was to be always bound and her mouth covered, unless answering questions. She sat in the chair with her hands shackled behind her back, a cloth shoved between her lips, and her hair hanging all around her face., creating a crimson veil that blocked her face from the sight of the soldier and Scholar. "Remove her gag," the Scholar commanded, and the guard obeyed. He wore a gauntlet and had no fear of her nipping off his digits. Once freed, Rae lifted her head and worked her jaw, running her tongue along her lips to wet them and massage them as well. The cloth was not bound gently. "Now, start talking. Tell us how that village disappeared." "No torture tactics," Rae commented, flicking her head so the hair whipped out of her face, though it moved right back despite that. "No poisoning me to near death, then cleansing me? No cutting me and sealing my wounds? You think I'm so ready and willing to talk?" The Scholar seemed patient with Rae, which she found strange. "No, no brutal tactics will be employed to get information from you. We're giving you a chance to see the hospitality of the Sharlayans. The true hospitality. We are a patient people, truly. Despite what you've seen while growing up." That struck a visible nerve with Rae. Her lips twitched into a smile, but vanished. She then jerked her head, shaking the hair from her face once more, but it fell into her eyes again. "Ohhhh, I see how it is. You are the good guy, and he is the bad guy, right? He's going to start roughing me up if I don't play nice and give you what you want? Ha!" Rae rocked back in her chair and crossed her legs, leaning back and shaking her head again, her hair finally falling out of her face and staying there, but only because gravity worked in her favour. "Y'know. It doesn't make much sense to leave my legs unbound. I could just..." With that, she hopped up onto her feet, the chair knocking over. Immediately, the guard jumped to alert, moving from the wall and reaching for his weapon, although the Scholar waved him back, keeping his eyes on Rae. She shrugged a bit at the Scholar's lack of reaction, then crouched, bringing her arms down low and hopping into the air briefly, then swung her hands around from under her feet so they were no longer behind her back. She then combed her fingers through her hair and sighed with relief while scratching her nose. She then sat back down and looked to the Scholar. "What were we talking about?" Rae asked politely, smiling at him with a blissfully unaware grin. The soldier grunted in frustration, but was sent back to his post. "You were going to tell us what happened to the village." The Scholar reminded her. A flash of realization sparked across Rae's face and she smiled. "Ah, yes! That's right. Now, listen. Come close, I can't have the whole world knowing this," the Scholar did not move, but Rae crouched forward in her seat, glancing to the soldier, then back to the Scholar and whispered, "It was magic." There was a heavy silence in the room. Despite whispering it, the soldier had heard, and he was ready to take his sword and cut her down, but the Scholar only smiled back to Rae. "I figured as such, but what kind of magic. A settlement full of people doesn't just disappear in one night with no evidence of what happened, now, tell us exactly what happened." She could tell Marishi was winding down, preparing the finale they both discussed. Rae leaned back in her chair, smiling cooly at the Scholar. "Magic from the ancient Gods we all forgot. Marishi is the chosen one to be their disciple and rain their holy hell upon this world that forsake them and the children that remained true to their worship. Only those who are unworthy of setting foot upon this land will face that judgement. Marishi is their disciple and I am her follower. Weapons that can be spirited into existence is their gift to us. They cannot do their work on their own, so we shall do it for them." Rae smiled, having given the honest truth, but knowing no one would believe her. "I've had just about enough of listening to this harlot's shite," the soldier growled, drawing his sword and approaching Rae. She watched him nonchalantly as he grabbed her by the collar and lifted her up off the ground, her toes unable to reach even the chair where she had sat. "Start telling the truth, bitch, or I'll cut it out of you." "Oooo, good bad guy routine! Although you're coming off a little too forceful. Maybe try working up to it?" Rae teased, smirking down at the man. Before she was skewered, the Scholar firmly commanded the soldier to stand down, to which he obeyed by throwing Rae into the chair, causing her to fall over. No one made an effort to help her up as she got to her feet, fixing the chair, then sat back down. "How's about you tell me what answer you want me to give, hm? Since the truth doesn't seem to interest you." The Scholar sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose, then leaning forward, propping his elbows up on his knees. "Tell us about the creatures you are helping." Rae stopped, her face paled and eyes widened. "You know about the Nyctalus?" She asked quietly, her voice trembling. Both the soldier and the Scholar stared at Rae intently. Realizing he had to lay all his cards out on the table to get information, he began working to pry out what she knew. "Yes, we do. We know they exist, we know they don't worship Primals per se. We know they are the cause of the Wendigo. We know they hide deep in the jungles, but we don't know where, what their civilization is, how long they've been here, or what they look like. We want to know these things." The Scholar explained, watching Rae carefully to see how she'd react. Slumping into the chair, Rae stared at the floor. "You know too much, then. I suppose that's Hime's fault, though," she murmured. The Scholar only shook his head. "More scouts were sent besides Hime. She just happened to be the only one who lived. We had thought the Nyctalus, as you call them, to be a rumour, a hallucination conjured by the others. This confirms they are real. Now we just need to collect them." Silence filled the air then. Rae's head snapped up and she glared at the Scholar before her. In a second, she began chanting, casting a spell. Before she could get much further into it, the Scholar jumped to his feet, darted to her and slapped her across the face, causing her to stop mid-sentence. The soldier was upon her then, gagging her mouth roughly, causing her head to jerk back and she kicked and wiggled to stop him from gagging her, but it was no use. "We need to go tell the others. We'll have volunteers combing the jungle within a month. We'll find those beasts." The Scholar ordered, both he and the soldier walking to the door. As the soldier reached for the knob, they were stopped by a voice behind them. "Oh boys," Rae called. She was standing, holding a dagger in her hand, the cloth falling to the ground. "You should know. This new magic doesn't require words to summon." With that, a burst of blue light came from her chest. All manner of blades and spears appeared in a blue, crystaline appearance. The soldier drew his sword and the Scholar reached for his book, but Rae was faster. She silently ordered three weapons to plunge themselves into the Scholar's chest while she threw the dagger at the soldier's exposed neck. As the weapons flew, Rae disappeared from sight, then reappeared on top of the soldier as the dagger buried itself into his neck and the three weapons pinned the scholar to the door. With a spray of blood, Rae sliced the neck of the soldier, coating her clothes with his blood and the ground around them. The Scholar gripped one of the weapons and tried to free himself, but was unable to. Rae jumped off the dead soldier's corpse and moved to the Scholar. "Too bad you didn't believe me when I warned you." She murmured before wiling the weapons to dislodge from his body, allowing his dying body to slump to the floor. She kicked him aside unceremoniously, then yanked open the door. Guards. Many guards. All geared and armed. They turned to look at her as she yanked the door open. It took a split second before they all drew their swords and she smiled, her eyes glowing purple. Screams of the maimed could be heard from within the house. Rae delved into the malicious side of Marishi, choosing not to hinder herself by reasoning that these are people, too. They have no qualms with capturing and treating the Nyctalus as mindless beasts. So she will slaughter them as such. The door leading outside burst open and Rae stepped out from the bloodbath she created in the home. A few Scholars and soldiers had come running, but stopped when they saw Rae. She raised her hand to them and several of her armaments flew at them, stabbing a few, missing a couple. A soldier and Scholar charged at her, but she threw the dagger passed them and teleported to where it landed, causing them to skid to a halt and turn to look at her. Rae then sent the weapons flying at them. Only one managed to land, plunging itself into the Scholar's abdomen, but not quite killing him. A scream of pain echoed into the air as he clutched at the weapon, soon made into a gaping wound in his chest. Rae charged after them, causing the soldier to run into the jungle. She let him flee as there were others coming to the aid of the dying man. "No one leaves this place!" She roared, grabbing a sword and lunging at the closest person to her, slicing at him. This was what it felt like to Marishi. To kill those who deserved it, to blood-let so freely. It was glorious. She would do this and more to save the Nyctalus, to spare them from the perversion and abuse they will endure at the hands of the Scholars. and then marishi and rae totally banged -------------------------------------------------------------------- "We are Nyctalus," said the one who sat upon the chair in front of the fire. It was night time. It was the only time these creatures with large eyes were able to go outside without their sensitive eyes hurting due to the sunlight. Rae didn't mind. This was the first time in weeks she was able to go out from the dark room. Light couldn't hit her eyes, so Hime and the other Nyctalus had to work in the dark in order to cure her of her affliction. Even the light from the fire was painful for her, but she had to allow her eyes to grow accustomed to light again. "We were the first. When the gods made the land, they took mist and wrapped it with fur. They plucked stars from sky and put it in our eyes. They took howl of wind and filled our lungs, then breathed life into our bodies. We were born at night, and so we thrive. "Many years we lived on this land. We shared with the wild life and jungle. The gods smiled down upon us. We prospered and built cities. The land we cultivated and the skies we made our own. We owned this land and lived in peace. Then, creatures on ships came. From lands east. They offered trade and friendship, and we accepted. They were kind for a time, until they wanted more land. Our ancestors refused, for they wanted sacred hunting lands where our people were forbidden to hunt. Angry, they came at us with their magic. We knew not this magic, and could not stop it. In desperation, we prayed to the gods to save us. In turn, they ignored our pleas. Our people were driven back from the sacred lands, but these monsters wanted more. More and more and more. "So they came at us again, knowing we could not stop them. They pushed us into the deepest part of the jungle. Our people fled to this temple, where we prayed once more. We prayed for deliverance. It was not our gods who responded, but another god. He blessed us with knowledge of a spell to stop our adversaries. Our Shaman cast the spell upon their general and instantly he turned into a Wendigo. The Wendigo became ours to command, and so we ordered it to attack and kill. More spells were thrown, more Wendigo made. Soon, the army that gathered at our door withdrew. With their retreat, we mourned our loss. Many of our Nyctalus kin were slain. They spared none who were in their path. Children and elderly who could not raise a weapon were slaughtered. The grief struck our females deeply. Some that were bearing young in their bellies miscarried, some shrivelled and died. The men could do nothing, as we, too, hurt. Generations died at the hands of the Mamool Ja. Our people were driven into a land we did not wish to encroach upon, and so we called to gods that were not our own to save us." The elder explained. His tone sounded remorseful. The other Nyctalus hung their heads in solemn silence as they remembered their history and reverently prayed for those that had died. Rae was beside Marishi, Hime on her other side. She listened to the story intently, having never heard of it before. These creatures were new to her. No book on Sharlaya held information about these beings, which was both understandable, yet surprising. "This god your ancestors prayed to, what is his name?" Rae asked. "He does not give us a name," answered the elder. "He only gives us deliverance. As of late, we have been unable to survive. Our food supply is dwindling, and any attempt we make to expand our hunting grounds, the Mamool Ja intercept. Now, you naked ones appear. They all attack. No words, only attack. They killed one of our females, and so we killed him and offered his blood and body to our god. At this, the old gods became angry. A voice boomed in the heavens and through the earth, shaking us. It roared and scolded us like children. It reminded us who our true gods are and promised to send those who would save us, who would keep our people alive. They would come bearing the arms of our gods and would free us from the grip of the Mamool Ja and the furless ones." "Other came before? Probably prospectors sending their scouts to see if this land is worth inhabiting." Rae murmured. Hime, however, squirmed slightly, uneasily. Rae glanced to her, piquing a brow, but said nothing to her. "I can't thank you enough for saving me. I'm sure all you wanted to do was to kill me as you did the other furless ones." Rae said, turning to the elder. The elder nodded in response, then added, "We were wary, but I could sense something of you. Something powerful. When I saw your weapons, the arms of our gods, I knew then that you were they which they were sending." Rae dipped her head in respect to him. She would have long since gone insane from the hallucinations had it not been for these creatures, and Hime as well. She owed them her sanity and life.
  12. "Come, come," said one of the creatures, holding its gangly, webbed hand out to Rae. She held still, however, staring at it with wide eyes. To her, with the poison clouding her eyes, the being was a writhing mass of maggots with two eyes that blinked and spiders crawled from them and began feasting on the maggots around its face. As the maggots were pulled from the flesh, a pus-filled hole appeared and it oozed a putrid, yellow-green substance that the maggots wriggled towards and ate away. The appearance caused her to turn and vomit, her shoulders shaking violently. Hime gasped and jumped back, not wanting to get sprayed with the vomit, but the creature moved in, picking her up and slinging her over its shoulder. Rae could do nothing, however. Glancing back, Hime noted the large amount of blood in the pool on the floor, then chased after the Nyctalus, hoisting Wilson into her arms. They went to a room with a number of cots on it. The bedding was of large, flat leaves formed into a mattress and covered with a woolen blanket and a log with soft wood as the pillow. Rae was rested upon the bed while the bat-like creature skipped quickly over to the alchemist table not far from where her bed was. Glancing to Rae, Hime ensured she was alright to lay on her back and not about to vomit again before she glided over to the Nyctalus' side, watching it work. "Herbs cure, heal, fix. Burn poison from veins. Potent, very potent. Girl very sick. Maybe too sick..." "Don't say such nonsense," Hime said, reaching over for a dried leaf she recognized and handed it to the creature, who paused, considering the leaf and Hime, then took the leaf and mashed it into its pestle. "Honestly, what kind of doctor are you? You don't know if she's too sick until you try. Make the serum and we'll see if she's too sick." Casting a glance over her shoulder, Hime watched as Rae took a shaky hand and rubbed her eye, then pulled away and looked at her hand, then gasp and frantically, but weakly rub her hand on her pant leg. Hime frowned. She had no idea what sort of hell Rae must have been living through. She didn't say anything to anyone about what happened. She was so quiet. It took some freak bat-creatures to realize she had been poisoned. Hime had a feeling, but never asked. If she had only asked... The creature turned around, cradling the bowl that held the liquid, then carefully waddled towards Rae. "Open mouth and eyes, do not blink. Will sting, burn, ache. But will help." The Nyctalus explained to her. Rae, looking up at the creature with a delirious gaze, could only barely open her mouth and her eyes were half-lidded. The creature didn't wait much longer before pouring the substance over her face. Some of it went into her mouth, more went into her eyes. She winced and jerked her head away once the flow stopped and swallowed the substance, then quickly turned to the side and vomited again over the side of the bed, away from the creature. Her whole body trembled now. Blotches of redness formed across her body. She began scratching herself where the redness showed and her skin flaked. As she blinked, a few flecks of blood appeared in her eyes, but was gone immediately. The two watched Rae react to the medicine for a moment before the Nyctalus turned back to the table. "Needs more potent." It muttered before reaching for more of the ingredients, but Hime stopped it before it began. "Here, use Wilson. He has amplifying powers. You won't need to use as much to make it twice as potent." She said while grabbing the ingredients and pouring them into the opening in Wilson's top. She worked faster than the creature, plucking out the ingredients and crushing them. All the while, she hummed. As she began to add the filtered water, she sat on the ground, crossing her legs and slowly added it, the leaves and flakes of sand turned into a paste, then a soup, then a liquid. As she hummed and mixed, Wilson's exterior began to glow a faint, whiteish-blue light. Once it was ready, the light faded. She then got to her feet and walked to Rae and climbed onto the bed, straddling her chest, pinning her down. "Hold her head please, my dear assistant. Make sure she doesn't look away or move." As the creature obeyed, Rae closed her eyes and mouth tightly, cringing. Hime paused, waiting for Rae to open her eyes again. When she didn't, Hime looked to the creature. Without a word, the creature used its thumb and index finger to pry open Rae's eyes, causing her to gasp as she stared up at Hime and Wilson above her, though what she truly saw, Hime could only imagine. "Don't drown," Hime ordered, before slowly pouring the liquid onto Rae's face. Much went into her mount, which she choked and swallowed, more went into her eyes, which caused a burn that Rae had never felt before. She felt her eyes being eaten away by this acidic fluid, but it only burned her eyes, nose, and mouth. As it flowed on her skin, it felt like a cool liquid. It would almost feel refreshing in this stifling place if she didn't feel like her organs were being burned away. She let out a gargled cry, sputtering out some of the medicine. Once Hime was done, she quickly climbed off Rae, who threw her hands up to her face and wiped frantically at the medicine, drying her face and eyes, trying to rub away the pain, but it still hurt. "Swallow it, Rae. Don't throw it up!" Hime yelled at her, which Rae had to force herself to do. Once done, Rae cried out in agony as she felt tears form in her eyes and spilling down the side of her face and cresting over her nose as she rolled onto her side. The Nyctalus pulled away, watching as Rae writhed in pain. She continued it for a moment, sobbing, rolling back and forth,, holding her face, coughing and sputtering as she thought her body was being burned from the inside-out. Hime quickly walked to the table amidst Rae's agonized wailing and fetched some water. Just as she was about to return, the Nyctalus stopped her. "Do not. Any quarter you give her, you feed the poison. She must suffer, agonize, excruciate. Only then can the healing work." Hime frowned, watching as Rae stopped flailing about and curled into a ball onto the cot, clutching her face and weeping softly into her hands as the pain subsided, or she got used to it. Rae couldn't tell the difference, her whole world was pain now. Darkness and pain. She heard sounds, but not over her own screams. For a while, she laid there, tail curled around her, legs tucked up against her chest and her whole body shaking. She tried her best to stop the tremble, but it could not be ceased. Soon, she felt the pain ebb. Her breaths came jagged and deep, a few hiccups ripped out of her throat, but eventually she calmed down, only to drift off into slumber. Once asleep, Hime re-positioned Rae to her back. Blood covered her face and trailed into her hair. Trails leaving from her eyes and nose and mouth. Gulping hard, Hime checked Rae's pulse and found it low, but that could be because she was sleeping. She seemed peaceful now. Using the water, Hime wiped off her face and soaked Rae's hair, cleaning it out. She had to untie her long plait in order to thoroughly wash it all. Once done, she handed the bowl to the Nyctalus, who hobbled away with it, out of the room to dump it out. "Oh, you poor thing," Hime cooed, petting Rae's wet hair as she slept deeply. "I sure hope your wife didn't hear all that. I fear she might kill me if she did. Or maybe Wilson. We'll just blame him. This was your fault anyways, you glorified spittoon. If you had just told me about the poison instead of being all stoic about it..." Hime's voice trailed off. She paused a moment and carefully pulled upon Rae's eye. Flecks of the poison were still coating her eyes, she could see. Opening Rae's mouth, she noted the poison had vanished from the back of her throat, which was a promising sign. With a sigh, Hime created more of the serum and moved back to Rae, propping her onto her side, then forcing one eye to open and she slowly poured the medicine into her eye. Rae flinched, but did nothing more. it was then that the Nyctalus returned with the bowl and watched Hime work. "Excellent work, my splendid assistant. You know, if you keep this up, you just might get a promotion," Hime murmured while resting Rae back onto her back. "Help me with this other side. Just keep her on her side so I can pour more medicine. Might have to keep an eye on this all night. HA! ... No pun intended. This is a very serious matter, Assistant! No time for jokes. You should be more like Wilson. Wait, no. Don't be like him. He's a pervert. Did you know that he lures women into my house and strips them naked and stares at them? Revolting, isn't it?" The Nyctalus paid Hime little mind as she went on, but did as it was asked by holding Rae onto her left side and allowing the medicine to be poured into the other eye. As Hime flushed out the poison, more blood came with the rinsing, as well as the medicine changing colours from a light green to a sickly yellow-green as it cleaned out her eyes. "She sleep through this. Amazing, astounding, admirable. She must be very tired." The Nyctalus pointed out, examining Rae's blood-covered face. "Probably the most sleep she's got since coming here," Hime pointed out. They were well into the night by that point. She was creating more of the mixture, this time in a regular bowl. Wilson's potency was no longer needed and would be damaging if she continued with it. You can sleep now, dear Assistant. You've done well. I shall talk to the superiors about promoting you for your hard work." Hime stated while moving back to Rae and pouring a bit more of the medicine into her eye. The creature eyed Hime a moment, then spoke up. "How long you been lost?" It asked. Hime did not look at it nor pause. She answered flatly. "Long, but not long enough." Her tone held a certain intelligence to it. The creature snorted, noticing the change in her tone, but said nothing and simply walked away. Throughout the night, every hour, Hime ensured Rae was treated. She fetched for her assistant to bring in fresh water, which Hime used to wash Rae up with. She had began to sweat through the night as well as her skin peal. Hime scrubbed away at her skin, washing it down, exfoliating away the flaking skin, then cleaned off her face and her hair again. Once Rae was cleaned, she threw a blanket over top of her and placed her clothes off to the chair by the door, letting Rae rest. It was then that the Nyctalus fetched Marishi. Glancing to her as she walked in, Hime stepped aside, allowing her to see Rae. "She's like a brand new coach. Scrubbed, cleaned, and ready for... huh. Maybe I shouldn't have likened her to a coach... anyways. She's sleeping, so don't wake her up, or Wilson will show you the door." "It's too late for that," came a groggy, raspy voice from the cot. Rae's eyes were opened, bloodshot and slightly swollen, but she stared at the door, looking to Marishi. A hand slid out from beneath the covers and reached for her wife as a small, weak smile crossed her features. "Marishi..." she whimpered, her lips trembled as tears formed in her eyes. She could see her wife. There was no horrors, there was no fear, just her wife. It was like looking at her for the first time, like all her life she had been truly blind and could now see the magnificence of the woman she married and loved with all her heart.
  13. “What is this place?” Rae asked, glancing around, eyes wide and heart still pounding. She was acutely aware of everything happening around them. The sounds, the smells, the darting figures between the trees and behind dilapidated stone walls. Hime only shrugged, unable to give an answer as she walked in, clutching onto Wilson, Marishi in tow. There were walls that guided them into the monolith. Large steps that lead up to the opening of the triangular-shaped figure looked unsteady, even the walkway towards the steps had uneven stones, pushed up by nature reclaiming its throne. And yet… there wasn’t as much plant life growing up between the crevices as one might typically see. The walkway looked well-trodden, which put Rae on higher alert. Along the wall were gaping holes created by the passing of time. In each opening, Rae would see sinister figures standing at the end of the corridor formed by the other tall walls. She would pause now and then to stare at the figures. Their heads blurred by their violent and erratic shaking while their bodies remained perfectly still. They wore strips of clothing only, some not at all, but their bodies were so horribly disfigured that it was impossible to tell if they were human, animal, or kin. Rae would stare long enough for her heart to stop in her chest as she felt its eyes on her, then she would move onward, catching up to Marishi and Hime, only to stop again and stare at another horror. Each one different than the next. Excessively tall, lanky, stubs for hands, no eyes, a mouth lined with teeth that were blunt, but larger than the average man’s. It looked as if it wished to speak, but its tongue was made of its fingers, making it impossible to speak. It would only shake its head as if to try and loose the fingers and try to speak again. This process was repeated as it drew nearer, walking towards Rae. Her mouth went dry as she saw the creature, then chased after Marishi and Hime once more. This time, Hime glanced back to watch Rae catch up, her face pale and her countenance visibly shaken. She then turned to Wilson, then frowned. “Stop telling her to drink from you. She’s not thirsty. You pervert flower vase. You just want lips on you.” Hime then proceeded to ignore Wilson, despite her twitching her ears as if he was talking. The climb up the stairs was uneventful. The horrors ceased appearing. Turning around, it was evident that surrounding the pathway they took was a large maze of walls and corridors that lead to the intermittent building in between. No one pathway lead from one building to another. Turns had to be made in order to make it to that destination. In short, it was a maze. One that a person could get lost in for weeks and die. As the group reached the top of the step, the ground began to tremble and shake. Beneath them, the pathway shifted, churning, sliding. It was then that the walls began to move. The pathways interlocked, causing the straight path they took to get there to disappear. The three stared in silence as their pathway to escape obscured within the winding maze that was created before them. “It would seem that whatever is in this structure,” Hime said, turning around to the dark opening within. “Wants us to stay here…” Another silence passed between the three before Rae spoke up. “Nowhere to go but forward, I guess. We’ll find out what changed the maze and get it to change back… or die trying.” The three entered into the building, though Rae pulled out her Dreadwyrm Rapier and muttered a spell to it, causing the crystal to light up, casting a purple glow throughout the room. It was a small room with no other extensions to it. There was only one doorway, and they just used it to come in. Rae walked around, examining the plain, black walls before nearly falling down a flight of stairs that lead into an even deeper darkness. She called out to the other two, beckoning them to join her going downward. “Rae, maybe we shouldn’t go down there. Wilson doesn’t feel good about this, and neither do I. This isn’t my idea of fun.” Marishi and Rae were already on the steps at that point, ready to walk down, but Rae stopped, turning to Hime. “Would you rather take your chance outside in the maze?” Rae asked her, frowning a bit. The purple light cast a shadow across her face. Faintly, Hime could see the shaking of Rae’s eyes. It was then in that light she saw flecks of a strange, glowing powder coating her eyes. Hime’s eyes narrowed and she moved closer to Rae, trying to see her eyes clearly, but suddenly, she turned her head down the steps. Hands. Hands reached out from the dark abyss and grabbed at them. Rae stepped back tentatively, but their reach grew. Troubled, Rae turned to move upward, but the hands suddenly grabbed at her and began dragging her down. She cried out in surprise and fear as they pulled her into the darkness, but she was not alone. Marishi and Hime soon fell with her, seeming to slide down the stairs. Rae, panicked, screamed out, flailing, trying desperately to free herself from the hands that pulled her down, but for every set she freed herself from, another 3 hands grabbed at her, pulling at her skin and hair, threatening to tear it off. They descended faster and faster into the darkness as the hands pulled at them all. Rae waved her Rapier around, trying to cut the hands that pulled at Marishi, but she missed until finally it smacked against the stony wall and out of her hand. The Rapier sang a sharp, grating song as it slid down the slide that was once the stairs. They were moving at such a velocity that the hands no longer existed. Rae’s heart thundered in her chest as she felt them slide faster and faster until finally the sound of solid ground neared and they came to a nearly abrupt stop. The three rolled to a stop on the ground in the basement of the large structure they ventured in to. The light was gone, but a presence could be felt. Rae held still a moment, feeling around for where she heard her weapon fall, but couldn’t reach it before bright, green flames burst throughout the room, illuminating the creatures that were within. Horrors of all manners stood there. Those that had eyes stared at her, those without eyes still faced her. The breath slipped from her lungs and Rae fell backwards, sliding away from them as one approached nearer. Scrambling to her feet, Hime ran to Rae’s side, letting Wilson rest beside them while she threw her arms around Rae, which caused her to scream uncontrollably. Some heads tilted to the side, the beasts glancing to one another curiously. Hime watched the one draw nearer, she protectively held Rae close, brows furrowed and a frown on her face while Rae completely lost her mind, closing her eyes, grabbing and pulling at Hime’s arm, using her nails to claw at it, but she did not relent. “What do you want?” She barked at the nearing creature. Its eyeballs were large, but the eyelids drew over most of the eyes, leaving them an oval-shape. The colours of the eyes were different among the creatures from what Hime could see. There were three rings around the iris. Not unlike the Au’Ra, but not like them as well. Three varying colours for each ring, but all of them generally the same tone. The creatures had large, tall ears that rose directly above their head and met in points, like large leaf. Their noses were piggish and turned upward. Some had a point at the tip, others had two points. Their upper lips were pulled upward with the nose as well, revealing a few front teeth that were cone-like in shape, though on the sides of their lips were larger fangs that jutted out from the top lip. They had short snouts and small chins. Their necks varied in length, though it appeared they could grow, much like an owl’s. They had humanoid bodies, but their fingers were exceptionally long and webbed. Their feet were short and bent awkward angles and their toes were tipped with claws. They had thumbs on their feet as well, which allowed them to grasp things with them. Behind the creatures were fins that rose along their spine, but not a great distant upward, and a long, frilled tail as well. Short, oily fur covered their bodies, making it clear these were not regular beast men. The one that drew nearer crouched down, staring at Rae, who stopped screaming for a moment to stare back with one eye while her head was turned to hide within Hime’s hold. Her whole body trembled violently as she stared at the creature. No one could know what she must be staring at, as the infection of the Vilekin had set into her version so fiercely. Slowly, the creature’s eyes widened until the eyelids vanished, almost making it seem like its eyes were to pop out. “Sick child,” it said, its voice high pitched, almost squeaking. “Spider’s pollen. Sick, ill, plagued child.” “I know.” Hime retorted, drawing Rae closer to her as the creature glanced to Hime, then to Rae, then to Marishi. Its eyes settled upon her a moment before standing up and hobbling towards her. Its body was malformed, requiring the knuckles of its large hands to move around thanks to the small, crooked legs it had. Its tail dragged along the ground, sliding limply as it moved until it stopped before Marishi, its wide eyes examining her. “You….” it said softly, its head cocking from side to side, bobbing up and down as it examined her over. Suddenly it stood up straight, neck rising above to reveal its awkwardly round head while it stared down at Marishi. “Strange. Different. Similar. Familiar. Why come? Why here? Nyctalus home is sacred. Secret. Haven. Smell of Mamool Ja. Smell of Wendigo. Answer what. Tell us. Inform.” The creature then sat down, its small legs crossing behind it while its hands rested on either side of its legs, its long neck drooping down back into its shoulders while its eyes reverted back to its normal size. All the other creatures followed suit, sitting down on the ground, watching Marishi, expecting an answer.
  14. A fight. Of course. As the other two reacted to the sound of banging the second time, Rae searched her mind for spells. Spells she barely remembered. Fear had gripped her heart and mind with such a tenacious hold and would not relent, making it near impossible for her to think. Recalling words she had repeated many times over seemed such a trial. As the door flung open to the large, daunting arachnids that surely had come to exact revenge upon her for the murder of their sister, Rae felt all knowledge of magic slip between her fingers. No longer emboldened as she was before, Rae felt helpless. Terrified and helpless. As Marishi met the first, another slipped by to lay claim to Rae's flesh. It was all she could do to grab Sanguinaire and feebly hold it up before her, attempting to parry the arm that would surely knock the weapon out of her weak hold and sever her flesh in one swing. Rae had only moments to come to terms with her death, at which she could not do as her mind was empty. It was then the limb cracked against the invisible glass pane, snapping Rae from her loss of conscious thought. She blinked rapidly as she saw the Vilekin recoil and favour her injured limb, only to have Marishi teleport into view to impale the leader of the group with her blade, effectively killing her. For a moment, Rae thought it was Hime who had conjured the shield. She knew Astrologians had the capacity to do so, but glancing to her and seeing the shocked, horrified expression that matched Rae's as well, she knew it was not her doing, but Marishi's. Marishi, her wife of 10 years. The woman whom she had never cast magic in her life, but knew she was once a White Mage, but no White Mage nor Conjurer could perform acts as Marishi has. It almost looked as it her aether was manipulated to teleport her around, but it followed her weapons. Arms trembled as they all remained still a moment. Rae stared at the corpse on the ground, recalling the Vilekin she had killed. They would be back. They would bring reinforcements. They were not safe. As Hime threatened Marishi, power surged through Rae and she climbed to her feet, using Sanguinaire as her support while she drew her Dreadwyrm Rapier and held it pointing at Hime. "Not a hair on my wife will be harmed, Hime. She saved us with that magic. Whatever it is," Rae had never seen magic quite like it, nor had she ever read about it in Sharlaya's vast library. Of course, Rae had scarcely read the volumes upon volumes before being spirited away by her Red Mage Master. Rae could feel her skin crawl. Glancing down, she saw millions of spiders crawling up her legs. Panic set in and she was about to dance about, swatting them off her and crushing them as they crawled from the corpse up her body, but she noticed Hime not react at all, not bat an eye as countless spiders crawled up her as well, as too Marishi. 'I'm hallucinating.' Rae said to herself, forcing herself to stay calm as she could clearly see the spiders crawl over her own eyes and feel them crawl into her mouth. Her skin felt itchy. As Hime conceded, Rae sheathed her rapiers and began scratching at her skin furiously. "Stop, Wilson. You're speaking nonsense. Now isn't the time for tea!" Hime barked, withdrawing her Astralobe to her back. Rae whimpered as she tried her best to scratch and scratch, but the spiders continued on. Perhaps if she burned the corpse, if she burned the source, she wouldn't feel their tiny feet itching her skin... "Do you have fleas, Rae? Stop scratching and sit down. Marishi, you have a lot of explaining to do. A LOT of explaining to do! You come here to my house, under my roof and disrespect me-" Hime stopped as her ears perked up, Rae's as well. Thunderous footsteps in the distance. Screeching and howling. Judging Hime's reaction, Rae knew she wasn't imagining that sound. "We must go." Rae urged, grabbing her jacket and throwing it on. As the others followed suit and quickly darted out of the door, the forest seemed to turn black. Rae paused a moment, staring about wildly. She felt eyes on her. Through the darkness, she saw blood-red eyes leer at them, mouths that glowed a fluorescent blue with rows upon rows of teeth that looked more like daggers. "Where will we escape?" Rae asked desperately. Hime, holding Wilson tucked under her arm, pointed. "There's a safe place over yonder. Nothing ventures there because of the traps around it. I've seen most of them. Anything with a brain can see them, but these things in the forest aren't very observant. Let's go. We'll be safe there." With that, the three darted off, leaving the shack behind. As they were several malms away, Rae knew the small haven that Hime called Home was destroyed. Shrill cries filled the air of aggravation as they realized their targets were no longer in the shack they destroyed. The forest flew by in a blur. The path they took was not well-travelled, but there was one enough that allowed Hime, Rae, and Marishi to flee through the brush without much hinderance. Anyone searching for their tracks would be sorely disappointed, as the main trail was not even visible and the forest floor seemed unaffected by their trampling through. Every now and then, Hime would come to a sudden stop and make a random turn through the brush, Rae and Marishi staggering to keep up as they felt their lungs burn, their breath come as sharp, stabbing inhales and exhales, and their minds swim from fatigue. They began to slow their progress, not out of the feeling of being safe, but out of necessity. They could no longer carry their legs through the forest as swiftly as they had hoped. All the while, Rae's mind thought back to the magic Marishi had used. She thought back to the reaction Hime held. Was this the skill that came with Marishi's possession by the Wendigo? Was she even being possessed by a Wendigo? Maybe it was all in her head? Rae couldn't make reality and imagination make sense. None of this made sense. Something was in that plant that exploded its spores into her face, and she'd need to figure out what it was and how to reverse it. But first... safety. The sound of the pack of Vilekin chasing them had faded, but it was still a dull buzz in the many countless other sounds of the jungle. The trio reached a part of the thicket where the density of it began to thin and the trees became sparse and soon a large opening surrendered to them as they made their way towards a large building surrounded by walls in the shape of a pyramid. Rae fell to her knees, unable to continue onward. The adrenaline that pulled her through it had since run out, rendering her weaker than before. Hime had stopped, graciously giving them a reprieve from their unrelenting trek through the forest.
  15. As she slumbered, her body twitched, flinching, contorting to feign hiding or blocking an attack. Her knuckles were white, her nails dug into the ground beneath her. As her weak, unconscious body forced herself to rest, she dreamt of monsters entering her dreams, plaguing her thoughts, possessing her body. These were not the Wendigo that Rae saw Marishi becoming, but they were something else. Some had no form nor shape, some were like beasts rising from the sludge. Others were humanoid with other body parts from different people and creatures stapled to the main body. One chest, two chests, five arms, six legs, three heads, hands bursting from the stomach, arms growing from mouths, feet where hands should be. All manner of creatures pawed at her, reaching at her from the darkness. She remained huddled in the dwindling, waning shaft of light in the dying sunlight that filled her consciousness. No one would save her from these monstrosities. She would soon be their's. There was no stopping it... And yet, they paused. Footsteps echoed beside them. Hands stopped groping, mouths stopped gnashing, the scurrying stopped and the groaning ended. All was still as the footsteps drew nearer. Opening her eyes, Rae tilted her head to greet who approached. "Ma... ri..." She croaked. Her mouth was dry, her throat burning. She was feverish. "Silly girl," cooed the spider as it dropped its head to her. Her purple eyes looked familiar to her. They were large, glowing, with cat-like slits for pupils. "I told you to stay, but you had to go off. Tch. I suppose Wilson and I will have to take care of both of you." "Wil... son...?" Rae murmured. Before she could react, the spider woman was sweeping Rae up in her arms, but Rae struggled, wriggling out of her arms and falling to the ground heavily, causing the spider woman to curse while Rae gasped for breath, having it knocked out of her. "Hime?" She groaned. "Of course it's Hime! Now stop squirming like a worm and let me take you back to my home." The blonde-haired Miqo'te snapped, gathering Rae up quickly and dragging her along the ground back to the hut. Once there, Hime peeled off her cold clothes and wrapped her up in a thick hide, laying her next to the fire. The crackle of the logs caused Rae to flinch, the shadows the flames cast caused her to cower. The Miqo'te watched her with pity almost as she fitfully tried to get back to sleep, but even with her eyes closed, they were no reprieve from the visions of the monsters that surrounded her, grabbing at her limbs, tickling her senses, threatening to plunge her into the abyss they crawled from. It was a long while later before Rae woke up again, this time to the sound of screaming. Her eyes slowly opened, then snapped wide awake and she shot up, sitting upright and reaching at her side where no weapon awaited her. She glanced around, realizing she, too, was without clothes, and looked back to the screaming women. The situation was almost hilarious, had she not been scared for her life. Rae grimaced at the two screaming and covered her ears, waiting for them to stop. When it didn't happen right away, she spoke up. "Enough! Stop screaming, you two!" They both paused, looking to Rae with wide eyes. Hime then turned to the urn by the door and huffed. "I told you to tell me when they woke up! Now I see all you wanted to do was look at naked women! You pervert pot. I should smash you-" Rae glanced to Marishi, noticing she was indeed naked as well. As Hime finished her threat, Rae spoke up. "What's with you and having two naked, unconscious women in your house? Looks kind of bad when you think about it..." Without another word, Hime walked into the hut, closing the door behind her and urging Marishi to sit back down. It was then that Rae noticed a smell in the air. Something was cooking. Their clothes were placed down and she went to the fire, stirring a pot beside it, then getting on her hands and knees to check between the large slabs of rock for something within them. "You SHOULD be thanking me. I saved you both. This one from dying from fatigue, and you from freezing to death. I didn't want to, no ma'am. But Wilson kept telling me to! He told me to make sure you lived. Now I see he just wanted a free show. You pervert! You'll regret that, mister. You disgusting-" "Thank you," Rae said humbly. Hime stopped, glancing over to Rae, then snuffed and sat back down on the back of her calves and shrugged. "I... I shouldn't have left. You had every reason to not come out and help me, but you did. I thank you." Hime shifted awkwardly, then glanced back to Marishi, then scrunched her face up in a cringe. "Put some clothes on, woman! Over there. They're all clean now, so you can wear them and look somewhat decent." As Rae attempted to stand up, her limbs wobbled and gave out beneath her, causing her to fall back down flat onto the ground. Suddenly, the hide she slept under felt very, very heavy. "You, not yet. You need to eat. It's been days since you've had food." With that, Hime fetched a hooked stick from against the wall, then shoved it into the stone slabs and pulled out a hot, steaming loaf of bread, then fetched a mug from the cupboard and returned, plunging it into the broth she stirred. "Here. Eat this. Soup first, then the bread." As she handed the mug to Rae, she sniffed it and felt her mouth water. She wanted nothing more than to down the whole thing at once. Before she could, however, she noticed within the broth were... boiled bugs. Her mouth went dry instantly and her face paled as she stared at the up-ended bugs drifting in her soup. "W-What's in here?" She asked, glancing up to Hime questioningly. As Hime fetched herself and Marishi something to eat, Hime snorted. "What? Vegetables and protein, of course. It's a recipe I've known for just about always! Drink up, drink up! No, Wilson. She'll use the mug just fine!" Rae frowned deeply, staring back into the contents of her mug, then gingerly took a sip from it. Despite the insects, it tasted quite good. As she drank more, she felt her body warm and her stomach come to rest. She didn't know how hungry she was until she began picking out the vegetables and biting into the now warm bread. "This came from Sharlaya, didn't it?" Rae asked, glancing to Hime. The recipe for the bread was quite obviously Sharlayan. The loaf was round instead of oval like most rolls. Denser, and the top looked like the imprints of a wicker basket. "I remember eating this every day there. It's pretty good, it reminds me of home in a sense..." Hime was busy eating to answer, but she shot a glare to the urn, then glanced back to Rae and spoke with her mouth full. "It's the only bread recipe I know. I forgot a lot of things from Sharlaya, from home, but Wilson knew about them, and reminded me. He reminded me of a lot of things. It's too bad he can't remember to WARN ME when our guests woke up!" Rae smiled a small smile, then returned to eating her meal, finishing off the bread and the soup, but left the bugs inside the cup. As she placed it down, the Miqo'te glanced inside and frowned. "What are you, a vegan?" She asked, pointedly. Rae's ears raised up and she stared with wide eyes, shocked at the accusation, but Hime then shrugged and laughed. "More for me!" She exclaimed, then snatched up the cup and knocked it back, pouring the chunks of meat into her mouth. Rae murmured something of an apology while glancing away. Once everyone's meal had been finished and Rae was able to get herself dressed, not without the help of her wife, the three sat down, Rae situating herself closer to Marishi, her hand reaching out and touching her's, needing to feel the comfort of her contact. While they sat in silence, a knock came at the door. Rae turned to look at it, wondering who could possibly be knocking. Instead of answering the door, however, Hime began to speak. "Once the two of you are able to walk, I'll take you to the boarder of my home. I can ensure you have food and shelter and protection throughout your travel around these parts, but once you reach to the end of my territory, you're on your own." Again, a knock came on the door, a little more impatient this time. Rae glanced from the door to Hime, then to Marishi, who didn't seem bothered by the knocking. It was then Hime snapped her head to the door and her eyes narrowed. Rae watched her as she got up and walked towards it, three more knocks came, this time heavier, almost like club fists banging against it. Instead of opening the door, Hime fetched Wilson the Urn and returned to her spot beside the fire. Bewildered, Rae glanced to the door as it seemed to push inward, whatever was outside wanted in, but no one else seemed bothered by it. "No need to shout at me from across the room, Wilson. That's terribly rude. Now, you said you want to go with them? Well, that's just not possible. You don't have legs." The door returned back to its spot on the frame, but a loud, angry bellow was heard, causing the hair on the back of Rae's neck to stand on end and her ears to raise up in alarm. She moved closer to Marishi, wrapping her arms around her's and began to breathe deeply. A brow piqued from Hime as she questioned Rae. "What's the problem?" Glancing back, Rae realized that neither one of them seemed bothered by the animalistic cry that just came from behind the door. Forcing herself to relax, Rae shook her head. "I... I thought I heard something." She answered. Hime frowned, furrowing her eyebrows, then stood up and walked to the door. She opened it to reveal a large, hulking creature right outside. Tentacles wriggled and writhed from its back, teeth the size of Rae's forearm jutted out in every direction from its unhinged jaw that nearly hung slacked down to the ground. Its upper torso was bulky, lumpy, and covered with patches of fur. Where fur wasn't, there was shaved, bubbling flesh that oozed red and yellow pus. Its legs were hidden behind a curtain of the fur that grew thicker around the waist. One eye was larger than the other. The smaller of the two spinning around wildly, focusing on nothing while the other darted in opposite fashion, seemingly searching. The breath in Rae's lungs escaped as both the creature's large, blood-shot eyes settled upon her. She felt the world close in around her. She felt her blood run cold and her heart stop. Just as the creature began reaching out to her, the door closed quietly. "I think you're imagining it," Hime said simply, then turned and sat back down. Rae, who was visibly trembling, her nails digging in to Marishi's arm, sat quietly, not pushing the matter further. "So anyways. Wilson and I will be able to guide you off the property, but then it's up to you." "No," Rae blurted out suddenly, jerking her head to Hime. "No, you can't leave us. We need your help. You... You know more about what's out there. You can't leave, please don't leave us." Whatever was happening, Rae was terrified. Her hands trembled as she clung on to Marishi, not so much for the safety, but simply for the feeling of being grounded somewhat. At least with Marishi, she didn't feel like she was going to lose her mind. "W-Whatever's out there, you can help us. You can stop it. You're our only chance out there." Stunned, Hime stared at Rae with wide eyes. No one has ever said that to her before. Seeing the terrified, desperate expression on Rae's face, it softens Hime's heart a bit, but not by much. "There's nothing out there that I can stop." Hime replied quietly, glancing down and thumbing the lip around Wilson's top. "Maybe..."
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