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  1. The mutant arched his dark eyebrows with curiosity as he watched Isabella depart down the hallway towards her bedroom. She hadn’t responded to his words and permission to follow hadn’t been granted to the mage. And yet, Arthur felt it within his bones that his hostess wanted him to follow her. After all, why would she have offered the invitation in the first place? And why was she so quiet and coy as she exited the sitting room? Arthur grinned to himself, following after the dark-haired woman though he maintained some level of distance. He didn’t want to force Isabella’s hand by pushing his luck and catching up with the woman, especially if she eventually sought to bar his entry in another teasing gesture. Arthur also didn’t want to give the impression of desperation. There was nothing more pathetic than desperation and so Arthur walked casually in Isabella’s wake, watching with an amused smirk when the woman disappeared beyond her bedroom door but not before leaving it slightly ajar for the mutant. Arthur had never received such a coy invitation; the rate of his heartbeat increasing with the mage’s growing excitement. For a moment, he smiled genuinely, gladdened by the clear improvements in Isabella’s health and mood. It felt good to be needed and felt even greater to see someone under his care steadily recovering from their traumas. Feeling at ease, the mutant traveled the rest of the distance that remained between he and the door, following the beacon of light as he gently pushed his way inside. Arthur was greeted by a flash of pale flesh, his animalistic eyes watching admiringly as Isabella slipped a silky robe over her beautiful frame. His slow walk and the thoughts that raced through his head had afforded the woman enough time to disrobe without his prying eyes. It was just as well. Isabella was working fast, curating a little performance for Arthur’s eyes only, and it would have been rude to not accept his role as the sole member of the audience. Smirking at the doorway, the black mage leaned his broad shoulder against the frame of the door. His gaze met Isabella’s own when she finally regarded him with an unreadable look. The woman was playing quite the game and Arthur was starting to get the feeling that he’d fallen into Isabella’s trap. The idea only excited the mage further, his body subtly shaking with his usual mix of elation and anxiety. Much like poor Icarus, Arthur enjoyed flying closer and closer to the sun. He wondered what would happen if he kept pursuing the mysterious woman. Would us wings melt away? Would he plummet from on high? “You wound me,” Arthur laughed, pressing his free hand to his heart in mock-insult. He played it cool or tried anyways. Underneath his mask of joviality, the mage felt utterly ridiculous in his hotel robe and t-shirt and underwear. It wasn’t cool at all. “I’m not that incorrigible.” To make his point, the mutant closed the bedroom door and walked across the room, sitting himself on the chair she’d slung her robe from. Arthur adjusted himself comfortably in his seat and laid his day bag and scroll on the ground. He watched smugly as Isabella departed into the bathroom, and immediately began to rifle through his bag when the woman disappeared from sight. His fingers curled around the familiar leather-binding of his grimoire, retrieving the spellbook from its canvas prison. As Isabella showered, the black mage poured over his grimoire, flipping to the section on fleshcrafting and other grotesqueries, and began the tedious work of memorizing the spells he would need to treat Isabella’s image problem. Normally, he would have used magic from that family of spells to change his appearance if he wished to pass by unnoticed. Or, more viciously, he would have utilized fleshcraft to bind together the lips of an enemy mage, preventing them from calling forth their own arcane might. For Isabella’s purposes, Arthur’s magic would suffice. Whispering the correct Names, the black mage could bend Isabella’s very flesh to his will. As his hostess stepped out of the bathroom, Arthur’s head swam with a multitude of arcane formulae. The familiar runes crossed his vision in a dizzying array; his spells (or the concepts therein) were practically alive within the mage’s body. The individual Names pestered the mutant, tempting the black mage to say their Names and in doing so set them free. Whether for good or ill, it mattered not to the very forces of nature. In that moment, it would seem like Arthur was distracted in his occult trance. He heard Isabella bid him to make her scars disappear, and his eyes immediately rolled back into place to regard the woman fully. The mage arched his eyebrows curiously once more, watching Isabella closely as she pulled apart the sash that held her silken robe together. It fell to her feet and Arthur abruptly recalled where he was. This was a show, curated by his hostess. So coy before, only to shed her modesty now. She could have argued ease of access, but he was certain they could have reached each of her scars in sections as they teach in physick courses. If she was just being daring in an effort to begin a relationship, it would have been an innocent enough gesture as well. However, Arthur was beginning to feel that Isabella’s actions, from hiking up her dress in the sitting room to standing before him undressed in her bedroom, were calculated. Too calculated. He didn’t know for what but Arthur had the distinct feeling that Isabella was trying to string him along. Arthur played along, continuing to play his role as sole spectator. “Is this what you meant when you said you wanted to repay me?” the mutant whispered with a chuckle, walking the distance in short order before seizing the woman by the chin, straightening out her body with a gentle guiding motion. He lifted his free hand and flashed a series of mudras, lightning flashing in his eyes as the spells begged to be released. “They’ll be a memory when I’m done.” Arthur opened his mouth and began to cast spell after spell, transfiguration after transfiguration. An unknown tongue sprang from the mage’s lips, tendrils of smoke lightly slithered passed his mouth as his tongue burned infernally. As he did so, he continued holding her delicate jaw with one hand while the other explored her flesh. Wherever he touched, Isabella’s flesh vibrated pleasantly as otherwise uninjured muscles relaxed and tension loosened in her joints. When he touched scar tissue, the area spasmed as it joined her unmarried skin molded together at the seams until nothing remained but flawless pale skin. The mutant healed the wounds on her legs, finding cuts on her hips, waist and lower back. He rotated Isabella around as needed, applying his ensorcelled hand to any area that needed it and any area the mage saw fit to explore idly with calloused digits. “You’re brand new,” Arthur finally announced, backing away a step as he released the woman. His head glanced sidelong as if he wanted to stare straight through the wall. His beastly hearing picked up the arrival of Gustavo and the doctor. “Good timing, your assistant is here,” the mage grabbed his things and made for the bedroom door. “I’ll see your doctor now. But I’ll be back in a few.” He invited himself back to her bedroom, giving Isabella only a moment to reply before he departed. The doctor and Gustavo found Arthur seated in the sitting room. Donning a pair of sweat pants that Isabella’s assistant acquired, the mage was finally able to remove his ridiculous hotel bath robe and gave himself unto the doctor’s care. The mage received his blood transfusion and took the short course of antibiotics that the physician offered. Before long, the doctor departed and soon after Gustavo retired after a drink and a curt conversation. When Arthur was alone, he made his way down the hallway again, quietly dumping his things in the guest room that Gustavo had indicated. The assistant had prepared the room himself while the doctor treated him. Too bad his efforts were for not. Arthur turned the corner, furtively closed his door, and made his way to the furthest point of the hall where Isabella awaited.
  2. Arthur smiled genuinely, the tension lifting from his muscular frame. Though the last few moments had been pleasant insofar that the mage had been locked in an intimate display, stroking Isabella’s soft skin and massaging her scalp, he had certainly grown nervous at the thought that the woman would deny his alchemical aid and would remain in her injured, traumatized state. The mutant grew significantly calmer when Isabella drank the potion and began to feel the effects of the medicine. She melted against his massaging fingers and the black mage knew immediately that Isabella’s pain had been wiped away, replaced by a dull euphoria that dampened the dark-haired woman’s pain signals. The mage was fully at ease, his heart beat dropping to its preternatural and seemingly impossible slow rate. He was finally making some headway, not only in his attempts to calm and cheer up Isabella, but in endearing himself to the woman as well. It was a slow sort of seduction that Arthur was performing on his charming hostess. He wouldn’t be too assertive just yet, but the forwardness of his subtle touches couldn’t be described as anything other than daring. As he worked his fingers into her tense flesh, the mutant continued to watch Isabella with his fiery eyes, wondering what the woman was thinking inside that mysterious little head of hers. If he had known that she was comparing his nurturing nature with that of her previous lovers, Arthur’s self confidence would have swelled internally. After all, if he made her think of her exes, then it meant that his slow seduction was working indeed. Of course, Arthur knew nothing of what thoughts were racing through Isabella’s mind. So he only watched her curiously until she spoke up, complimenting him. “I doubt I’d ever become a father. My choice to commit myself to sorcery runs contrary to fatherhood,” Arthur replied with a nonchalant shrug of his impressively broad shoulders. It was a matter of fact that the mage’s mutations made him incompatible with a majority of mates, and it even truer that the life of a wizard was too dangerous to raise a child in. That said, the mutant took Isabella’s words well, no signs of hurt feelings crossing his features. On the contrary, he seemed fairly glad that she saw his protectiveness in such a light. Arthur chuckled as he continued to speak, interjecting in his forward manner as the mage was often wont to do, “But thank you. Though I’m not sure if I want you to view me in a paternalistic light, I’d rather you think of me in much more intimate terms.” His eyes darkened in a suave look, a dangerous half-grin curled the left side of his lips in a smirk as he flirted quite shamelessly with Isabella. The mutant watched his hostess while she was lost in thought. Like before, it seemed like Isabella was locked in a mental tug-o-war with herself, debating some undisclosed topic within the private confines of her mind. Arthur had theories though none he desired to mull over at length. He didn’t want to make any assumptions either. Once she did speak, however, it was clear that the mage wasn’t close to solving the mystery. Isabella had whispered quietly to herself, hoping that Arthur wouldn’t hear. The mutant’s augmented hearing picked up her whispered words, though he didn’t know what she meant by it being ‘too late,’ nor did he reveal that he’d been listening. Instead, he played dumb, continuing to thread his fingers through Isabella’s pretty locks as her mystery deepened. “I’m happy that you’re feeling better,” Arthur responded with an honest grin, and knew then that Isabella had cast quite the spell on him. A spell in which Arthur had no defense. Because of the mystery that surrounded the woman and the darkness that surely engulfed her emotions, it was impossible to trust the woman fully. Nevertheless, the mage couldn’t help but feel deeply attracted to Isabella. Perhaps the danger itself acted as a figurative magnet, or the mutant had a thing for broken yet beautiful creatures. Either way, Arthur felt as if he was stepping close to the precipice, and Isabella was acting to pull him the rest of the way off the ledge. “What can I say? My skill as an alchemist was renowned among my people. But nonsense, you’re not vain. You’ve dealt with a traumatic experience better than most would have,” The mutant responded, partly braggadocious of his own skills and partly encouraging of the woman’s temperament. His orange, animalistic eyes followed Isabella’s own gaze, staring at the voluminous folds of the woman’s dress that pooled around her legs. Suddenly, his hostess hiked the skirt of her dress, revealing the pale skin of her thighs that were healing but now marred by scars caused by the gnashing teeth of their attackers. “I personally prefer to keep my scars but I do have a spell that’ll return your flesh to their original state,” Arthur replied, a particular arcane formulae crossing his vision. Avenzoar’s Molding of the Flesh wasn’t a healing spell per se, but it allowed the caster to shape a person’s flesh as they pleased. The mage’s pondering was interrupted as Isabella stood to her feet, turning to stand directly in front of him with her skirts still held high. Arthur’s heartbeat picked up at the sight of her delectable flesh, knowing quite well that she was teasing him. After all, with its position, she could have hidden those scars during political functions and ritzy parties. Moreover, she could have lifted her skirts in a more careful manner, and just displayed her wound. She wanted to show him more than what the modesty of her dress provided. Isabella wanted to tantalize and tease. And it worked. Using her scar as an excuse, Arthur’s calloused fingertips glided over the soft flesh of Isabella’s shapely thighs. He followed the shape of the lovely woman before inspecting the scar tissue with his hand. The mutant looked up at Isabella as she spoke, nodding in agreement in regards to his compensation. He would have normally denied attempts at rewarding him, but after everything he had done to convince her to accept his help. It seemed wrong to deny her help in return. “After then,” he spoke, watching her as she drank her liquor and made to depart. But then came her invitation and the mage responded without missing a beat. “Your bedroom would offer us the most privacy, and I would see you fully recovered before the doctor arrives to help me,” Arthur stood to his feet as well, pulling his terry cloth robe around him tighter as he walked across the room to retrieve his day bag and scroll. “I also imagine you wouldn’t want the physician and your assistant to see you standing so close to me with your skirts hiked up so delectably high.” Regardless, Arthur would move to follow Isabella into her quarters once she granted her permission.
  3. Isabella was correct and the mutant eventually proved astute indeed. In a caring manner, Arthur continued to stroke at the woman’s soft features, tracing the edges of her bruises generally, though when he did touch her injuries (like when he wiped her tears, necessitating his calloused fingers grazing against her bruise-rimmed eye) the mage treated the woman even more delicately. At first, her beauty and the sympathy he felt for the woman had proved enough to quell any suspicion he might have had. However, as time lapsed and his physical exploration reached every corner of Isabella’s pretty (and injured) face, it became impossible to miss. He couldn’t explain it and didn’t want to pose a theory, but he couldn’t attribute the freshness of her flesh to an easy life and access to expensive skin creams and poultices any longer. Arthur smiled at the woman, brushing his thumbs gently over her brows as he admired her doll-like features. The descriptor seemed apt. It was almost like Isabella was a doll, only just removed from the woman’s packaging before she was attacked. Arthur wouldn’t pry. He was curious indeed. How could he not be? He was a wizard after all. But he was also a man and he had no desire to begin interrogating Isabella, forcing his way into the knowledge. It wasn’t any of his business but he imagined the mage would soon be privy to such information and more if he remained by her side, gradually peeling away from the mystery that was his hostess. The mutant would allow time and the building of familiarity between them to take its course, deciding wisely that it was a better plan of action than pressuring Isabella into elucidation. If he pressured her too hard, she would undoubtedly toss away his potion and spurn his aid. As the mutant attempted to comfort the grieving woman with his kind words and gentle stroking, he was met by silence, rather she spoke no words for Isabella still sobbed against the mage’s gentle grasp. He couldn’t pierce her true thoughts, still thinking that the woman was saddened by the possibility that members of her entourage were dead. If Arthur knew the truth, that Isabella cared not for her ‘friends’ but rather was saddened by the inconvenience of having to replace them. Arthur would have been disturbed, finally understanding that the politician wasn’t who she made herself out to be. He’d know that the darkness within the woman was great. Meanwhile, if he knew why she was so sad about Roen, there would have been little Arthur could do to prevent the tinge of jealousy that he would have certainly felt. After all, he hadn’t been around Isabella at the tail end of the party, and had nothing to protect her when the attack commenced. Arthur did and he had the scars to show for it. Just a tinge, however. The latter revelation wouldn’t have been nearly as jarring as the former. That said, Arthur knew nothing of the truth of Isabella’s turmoil. He only suspected what he already thought was the case. The woman was distraught by the loss of her entourage and the pain that undoubtedly assailed her in that moment. It drove the mutant’s feelings of sympathy, guiding him onto the couch and into the embrace he wrapped the woman in. For a moment, Arthur felt self-conscious as he brushed his lips against Isabella’s fingers and cheek. She didn’t reject his approach but she didn’t offer her approval either. Instead, she remained quiet, deep in thought and entirely unreadable by the mage. However, his doubts soon lifted as he grew to enjoy planting his kisses on her delicate skin. Each time, Isabella’s pretty scent wafted up Arthur’s nostrils pleasantly, and her preternaturally soft flesh practically urged his continued display of affection. If only he’d known what she was thinking, or that she simply voiced her concern. She was waiting for the other shoe to drop, dreading the violence that no doubt would follow the pampering Arthur bestowed upon the woman. If only he could prove, once and for all, that she had nothing to worry about. The mage met Isabella’s sad gaze with a concerned look. It was starting to become difficult, seeing his lovely hostess in such pain. The arm that wrapped around her shoulders reeled somewhat; his strong grip framing the nape of her neck in a gentle squeeze. Arthur worked his fingers into her tight muscles, moving upwards along the sections of Isabella’s cervical spine. When he reached the base of her skull, the mutant dug his fingers into her hair, massaging her scalp with his fingertips which moved in tiny, roving circles. Meanwhile, he leaned into Isabella, kissing her nearest temple before descending to her cheek once more. He continued to brush his lips against her soft cheek, hopefully soothing the woman as she provided her acquiescence and drank his potion. He chuckled lightly at her words as he pulled away, though he didn’t cease his gentle scratching of her scalp. “I didn’t say it was a gastronomic delight,” Arthur joked back. His words made him think of food, realizing just how hungry he was as his stomach rumbled somewhat. He’d only ate two sugary crepes before making his appearance at Isabella’s birthday party, after all. “Just that it would ramp up the healing process.” And it did! As he spoke to Isabella, the mage’s potion worked its wondrous magic on the woman. A warm sensation would spread from her core, moving every which way in a pleasant buzz that would hopefully put her at ease. In that instant, the physical pain that she was feeling would cease abruptly, almost as if it had never existed. It was nothing that a typical opiate wouldn’t have done; however, as time progressed, Arthur’s potion would display its fantastical capabilities. The woman’s swelling became reduced in real time, her cuts rapidly scabbing over and new skin beginning to form. The bruises across her frame would lighten, if not disappear entirely. The more significant cuts would heal as well, raw flesh covering the inside of the wound, and staunching any bleeding as yellow pus took its place. Nevertheless, the cuts remained open, parted by claws and rending teeth. She could let it close naturally over time, or Arthur could close it for the woman with a spell. Either way, the woman would have to wash the wound. He wouldn’t want to close it if some gunk remained. “How are you feeling?” Arthur asked patiently, running his fingers through her hair, attempting a bit of humor along with his caring questions. “Do you think you’re ready for your shower? I wouldn’t advise sleeping in such a state. Think of the poor sheets, huh?”
  4. If not for his honest concern, Arthur would have noted that his evening was one unexpected event after unexpected event. He’d thought it before but he had suspected a fun yet uneventful night when he accepted Isabella’s invitation to her birthday party. Now, the mutant had fought to keep her safe, had escorted her all the way to her rented quarters, and was now a guest in her most private sanctum and locked in an embrace with the distraught woman. His fingers continued to explore the soft features of the brunette woman’s face. At that point, no longer was he just attempting to soothe and comfort Isabella, the mage was enjoying the feeling against his calloused fingertips. His hands were hardened by long sessions of weapons training, pugilism, and even harsher grappling. Isabella, however, seemed kissed by the lavish conditions of life as a high noble. She was soft and splendid and posed quite the juxtaposition to his hard, muscle-bound nature. He would have never guessed that Isabella’s flawless skin was thanks to her rebirth. Arthur watched Isabella observantly, noting that while she didn’t push him away or denied his worry. She wasn’t quick to oblige him in imbibing the potion he’d given her. The mutant frowned though he wasn’t angered or annoyed by the woman’s decision. After all, he couldn’t blame her lack of trust of a stranger, even one so heroic, and he could understand her feelings of guilt. It was a universal feeling among those who survived tragedies, whether they were responsible for the carnage or not. In many ways, Arthur had expressed similar feelings of guilt within the privacy of his mind. He should have protected Isabella better, protected all of her guests. The black mage didn’t want to dwell on it, especially when Isabella implied that he’d already done more than enough to help her. “Well, for one, my potion could ease your pain and heal much of your bruising and scrapes,” Arthur answered in a matter-of-a-fact way, for it was more than clear how the mutant was intending to aid Isabella. Saving her life wasn’t enough for Arthur, not when he had more to offer the dark-haired beauty. “And I can close the rest of your wounds with my magic after you’ve thoroughly washed yourself and irrigated your wounds. Look, I know that I’ve already saved your life, and to you that seems like I’ve done more than enough. But if that were true, I could have left you with your assistant once we reunited outside. But I didn’t and you didn’t want me to either, so please accept my offered help.” Then, the mutant pressed his forehead against Isabella’s own; his heart breaking when his hostess leaned into him in kind and she broke down in tears. His thumbs maneuvered to wipe newly made tears, utilizing the tiny space between their faces to keep her cheeks dry. Meanwhile, he kept the rest of his fingers glued to the sides of her face, cupping Isabella’s cheeks with his caring grasp. “You have to accept the comfort,” Arthur replied after some thought, having grappled with such feelings during the war so long ago, “If your friends have indeed met their end, then you need to survive and continue living on their behalf. You need to live so they can continue to live on in your memories. You wouldn’t want your friends to mourn you so destructively. I doubt they’d want you to succumb to your grief.” Pulling his head away from Isabella, the mutant stood to his feet and seated himself next to the woman on the couch. Arthur pressed his right hip against her left, letting his right arm slip over her shoulders. He held the dark-haired beauty close, offering his warmth and concern for her well-being. As he held her, the mage’s left hand took hold of Isabella’s far hand, and lifted the woman’s dainty fingers to his lips. He pressed a short series of kisses to her knuckles before leaning in to press another pair of kisses to Isabella’s cheek. “You’re safe with me, my darling.”
  5. Stepping into Isabella’s quarters, the mutant took his time charming his ruined suit. The battle back at the nightclub had drained him, but he had finally recovered a decent amount of his mana. Arthur flashed a small series of mudras as arcane formulae crossed his vision. As he found the formula he needed, the black mage held his last mudra and whispered a short incantation. His power surged momentarily as his auric egg surrounded him, forming a multi-colored barrier that enveloped Arthur. His aura formed into tendrils that extended from the barrier, stretching out towards the clothing he’d laid out on an expensive rug (as he didn’t want to get blood on Isabella’s bed.) The tendrils of energy touched the various parts of his suit, erasing blood stains and causing tears to rejoin seamlessly. Fully repaired, the mutant folded his clothing and stored them in his day bag, then tied the belt that contained his scroll to one of the straps of the bag. Arthur tied his terrycloth robe together, obscuring his t-shirt and briefs as he lifted his day bag and exited out into the hallway. Crossing the hall, the mutant entered the sitting room and found Isabella on her own. Even from the hallway, he could hear the woman crying. She was as quiet as a mouse with her emotions, but the mutant’s beast-like hearing had picked up on the subtle noises the woman was making. He froze in place as he watched the woman, huddled in the corner with only liquor and her sadness as company. Arthur had no way of knowing all of the things that weighed on the woman’s mind, but he knew enough to know that any sane person would be devastated under similar circumstances. She was something of a social butterfly, had invited so many to her party, and only to barely escape with her life whilst leaving all of her guests and friends behind. Arthur didn’t have many friends but he knew that abandoning them would destroy him. A sense of regret filled the mutant in that moment. Had he invited his crew along for the ride, as opposed to leaving them behind in Chesterfield, they could have done more to protect the attendees and perhaps resolve the situation without having to escape. Isabella wouldn’t have been hurt. She wouldn’t be crying with worry, her mind wondering which of her friends were gone. Arthur had to become stronger. Strong enough to protect everyone around him. “Have you heard any news?” The mage asked, leaving his day bag on a table near the entrance before approaching the distraught beauty. He knew the answer to his question, but Arthur didn’t know what else to say. At least until he reached the seated woman, and crouched low so that his animalistic eyes were level with Isabella’s own gaze. He noticed that she was still bleeding. She still wore her torn dress under the warm folds of his mage’s robes. She’d done nothing to help herself. Arthur frowned sadly, his eyes softening with sympathy as he watched the broken woman. “It hurts me to see you like this, darling. Why won’t you drink my potion? It’ll ease your pain, let you relax before you clean yourself up. Please, let me help you...” As he spoke, Arthur’s hands slid over the woman’s own hands, rubbing them reassuringly for a few moments. Soon after, he lifted his hands and cupped the lovely woman’s cheeks, holding her dearly in an effort to offer her some comfort and warmth. His thumbs wrapped around to the front of Isabella’s face, brushing along the path of her tears to wipe them away. Meanwhile, his other fingers caressed Isabella’s cheeks gently, enjoying the softness of her skin even under those terrible circumstances. He wished the occasion was more pleasant, but he was pleased to be there for the woman in her time of need. “Is it okay if I hold you like this?” Arthur asked with some trepidation, realizing that his intimate approach might have been inappropriate. If she answered in the affirmative, the mage would lean forward, lightly pressing his forehead against her own. He stared directly into her eyes, continuing to caress her face. “I’ll hold you just like this until you see that all I want to do is help you right now.”
  6. Arthur took one last deep breath as he started walking, following after Isabella and Gustavo as they departed from the tiny park and made their way to the hotel. The mutant could hardly believe what he had gotten himself into, and what laid in store if he followed Isabella into that massive building. At first, he had only suspected a nice night out with a recent acquaintance. He never could have imagined that he’d be spending the night with his hostess, not that he was complaining either. However, Arthur did find himself wanting to complain about something. From behind, the black mage narrowed his wolfish, orange eyes on Gustavo’s back, his sights set like a predator lying in wait. If anyone was escorting Isabella by hand, it should have been him. Now, the mutant had to play third wheel to a strange man whose devotion verged on the fanatical. A more territorial side of him wanted to take over, wrest the woman from her assistant. Sanity prevailed. It would have been immature to muscle his way in, and he didn’t like his chances if he was rude to Isabella’s staff. After all, Gustavo wasn’t exactly a rival. Though if he was, he admitted, it would have made things much easier. Had that been the case, Arthur could challenge the man, render him unconscious in moments, and then..... Shaking his head, the mutant returned to reality as he continued following Isabella and her assistant. His eyes surveyed his surroundings, looking for threats with a grumpy look upon his handsome features. However, Arthur did manage to grin whenever Isabella spared him a glance during their trek, refusing to show any negative emotion. The mutant dug his hands into his pants pockets, and followed his companions into the hotel’s grand foyer. Arthur had expected luxury but he was floored by the extravagance before his eyes. His lodgings weren’t bad at all, very nice in fact, and the mage’s tastes weren’t exactly cheap either. Isabella has him severely beat. The mage’s jaw drooped ever so slightly, and his gaze explored the high ceilings in awe as he followed the other two towards the private elevator. He must have looked ridiculous. Homeless. Traveling wizard. Ever the tourist, staring all over in wonder and yet covered in dried blood and looking like he’d gone 12 rounds with a world champion pugilist. Arthur remained silent as they filed into the elevator, finding a wall to lean against as he watched his companions and stared up at the ornate numbers flashing while their lift ascended up the skyscraper. The mage observed with concern when Isabella began inspecting herself for wounds, feeling somewhat at fault for the amount of injuries she sustained. Perhaps she was alive because of him, but that meant that she was still wounded on his watch. To a warrior and mage that strives for perfection, the woman’s wounds and his inability to fully protect her only offered proof that Arthur had a long way to go on both fronts. The mutant pushed away those thoughts when Isabella finally spoke, and even managed to laugh at her joke. “Your wound would have festered, and you would have died and risen as undead by now,” Arthur shook his head with a chuckle, offering some of his own dark humor in return. His eyes darted to Gustavo as he offered to call a doctor before glancing towards the woman’s dress pocket. She kept his potion there where (aggravatingly) it could do nothing for her. When Isabella asked about his blood type, the mage met the woman’s gaze with a smile. “I’m actually O-negative, so your doctor might have his work cut out for him, but I wouldn’t decline your offer of help either. How about yourself? Please, take my potion. You didn’t bleed much but I know you’re in pain, and you don’t have to be brave anymore.” When the elevator doors slid open, the mutant followed his new companions into Isabella’s lavish quarters. Once again, Arthur’s eyes move to and fro, admiring the extravagant aesthetic and the enormous wealth. The mage has always hoped that his renown would lead him to contracts so lucrative that sights like these would be a regular occurrence. When he wasn’t neck deep in a treasure hunt or fight, that is. Sore all over, the mage walked across the entrance room and entered the sitting room with Isabella. “I’d hate to commandeer your bathroom first but I won’t deny your hospitality,” Arthur bowed slightly, his gaze turned towards what Isabella had indicated as the way to the bathroom. The mage had intended to clean the blood and repair his clothing by way of magic, but he wouldn’t turn the woman down while she was trying to repay him for saving her. “Thank you again. I’ll be right out.” Disappearing into the woman’s quarters, Arthur walked straight into the bathroom. Detaching the scroll case from the back of his leather belt, the mage envisioned his haversack daypack and the object materialized from his materials scroll. The mage disrobed gingerly (his clothes stuck to his wounds) and discarded all of his clothing into his bag, trading them for a fresh pair of underwear, a simple t-shirt, and his hygiene kit. The mage brushed his teeth quickly before he inspected his wounds. All three claw wounds had stopped bleeding and were just starting to close. In a matter of an hour, the mutant’s preternatural healing had turned a hideous set of wounds into a disturbing set of rakes on the mend. The flesh was still raw and pink, and was scabbing around the edges while green pus oozed within. At this juncture, it itched more than it hurt. He traced his wounds to alleviate that itch for a moment as he waited for the shower to get steaming hot. The mage showered quickly, taking extra care of his wounds and making sure they were clear of pus. Under his breath, Arthur whispered an incantation and worked the fingers of his right hand into a series of mudras. He worked his will in a fleshcrafting spell, his fingers gliding over his wounds as his flesh knitted itself back together in their wake. In the end, Arthur’s wounds were closed, leaving behind only nine new scars that joined the myriad of other scars and occult tattoos that covered the mage’s body. Arthur turned off the shower head and dried himself off. Out of the shower, he donned his underwear and t-shirt before adding an extra set of clothes that were set out for hotel guests. The mage pulled on a white, terry cloth robe and slipped his feet into a pair of slippers that didn’t quite fit him. Combing his wet hair neatly for good measure, the mutant gathered his things in his bag and exited to wherever Isabella decided to leave out his new clothes.
  7. Arthur’s fiery gaze observed Isabella closely, watching with a concerned look on his face as he attempted to warm the woman up. The turmoil within the woman was clear, and it seemed almost obvious to the mutant that the attack they just survived was only part of it. He had sensed it back at the party before the festivities ended in a bloody massacre. The woman before him was one of great mysteries and scars, and not just the visible wounds from the monster attack. She carried invisible scars of untold traumas, and the mage frowned as he wondered what she could have gone through to leave her in such a state. His expression only became all the more concerned when she laughed between her sobs. Arthur found himself quickening the pace of his stroking hands, forcing Isabella’s body to stop in its trembling. When his rubbing hands transitioned to cleaning and touching her face, Arthur couldn’t help but enjoy the process. Even through the bruises and blood, Isabella was a beauty of the highest order, and it hurt to see her in such pain. It followed that it felt quite good to sooth her. Not to mention how nice it was to feel her soft skin, feel her cheek melting against his rough hand. It was intimate and seemed almost cinematic with the skyscraper and cherry blossom tree in the background. Arthur didn’t protest when Isabella pulled away, moving his hands to his hips as the woman began speaking. At first, the mutant didn’t know how to feel about her rejecting his potion. However, as he thought about it, it started to make quite a bit of sense. Despite what he’d done until now, it didn’t change the fact that they’d just met. She had no reason to trust him and his elixirs. Nonetheless, the mage would still insist on it. “Please, I insist. I’ve drank one already and drinking another won’t have much of an effect,” Arthur began gently, lifting his vial carrying hand again as he offered it to the woman. “Honestly, the only things that would help me at this point is rest or a blood transfusion. A potion won’t give me back the blood I lost, but it’ll take away your pain within minutes.” Whether Isabella took the offered concoction or not, the mage wouldn’t fight it beyond that. Instead, he concentrated on the words the woman had spoken next. She was questioning his motives, unable to reconcile his act of heroism with her beliefs of the world and the kinds of people that lived in it. It was yet more evidence for his theory that Isabella was hiding some trauma from her past. Arthur kept his reply light-hearted, choosing to forgo the seriousness and perhaps make an attempt at humor. “Aren’t I the one that bored you with a speech on the true meaning of being warrior?” The mutant asked with a silly grin, dabbing his kerchief against her bloodied face, wiping away the mess with the cloth’s magic qualities, “What made you think that someone like that would leave you behind?” He awaited her reply but Isabella’s assistant entered the scene, practically personifying the concerned devotee. Arthur was still mad that he took so long with the drinks, although he admitted that the feeling was childish considering what had transpired. So the mutant said nothing as Isabella stood and walked towards her assistant until they were locked in an embrace. At first, Arthur didn’t think much of their relationship. It felt like a fairly typical dynamic. Boss on one side, personal assistant on the other. However, when Gustavo offered the mage praise for his handiwork, the mage sensed a devotion to Isabella from the little man that bordered on the religious. She is the savior? What did that mean? Arthur’s gaze darted to Isabella with an inquisitive look. Who the hell was this woman? “I kept her safe indeed,” the black mage confirmed with a curt nod, standing from his crouched position and walking over to the pair. Arthur turned his sights on Isabella when she mentioned that they should head inside. “Yes, I think that’s a good idea.” Arthur was about to begin his trek to the skyscraper of a hotel when the woman’s next request reached his ears. The mage stopped abruptly, mulling over the implications of such an invitation. Even so, Arthur recovered and gave Isabella a slight bow, “I wouldn’t dream of leaving your side.”
  8. Time elapsed in a blur in the aftermath of the horrific melee at Isabella’s birthday party. It seemed like one moment they were calming Sarah down from her drug-induced hysteria, and the next the entire room was in a tumult as multiple party goers underwent gruesome transformations. Though Arthur managed to keep Isabella near him throughout, there was little the mage could do (short of attacking everyone) to prevent the throngs that were shoving and rushing to escape the night club. Undoubtedly, both he and Isabella received their fair share of cuts, bruises and scrapes in the maelstrom of bodies, though they managed to prevent themselves from being trampled to death (which Arthur knew there had to have been many who befell such a fate.) Arthur knew he could have grabbed Isabella’s arm and rushed through the mob of party goers, using his preternaturally athletic form to cut a path through the crowd and filter through the exit before the monsters fell upon them. But he also knew that if he tried, he might as well have pushed Isabella through a juicer as she would‘ve assuredly been crushed being pulled through that sea of bodies. Instead, the mutant prioritized simply surviving as he wrapped his arm around the woman, holding her tightly to his body as they were jostled about by the mob like the waves of the sea. Arthur placed all of his efforts in simply not drowning. As the occupants began to squeeze through the exits in droves and many others were ripped to shreds by the beasts, Arthur and Isabella were no longer in danger of being trampled, but they were surrounded by six of the bloodthirsty beasts. The mage vaguely recalled summoning forth one of his javelins from his Materials scroll, using the shortened spear as a means to keep the beasts away as they slowly made their way to the exit. Arthur had done his best to stay between Isabella and the monsters, thrusting the javelin at-will as they came upon them from a multitude of directions. The creatures were more than senseless, rather they were cunning as they began to realize that Arthur was protecting Isabella, and the beasts adjusted their tactics to account for the mage’s weakness. Fortunately, he kept the beasts mostly away from the woman. However, he came away with deep wounds as their claws met the mutant’s flesh. The mage’s Nimbus provided effective protection from many of the beast’s strikes, his aura covering him like a roiling orb of power that absorbed the blows of his foes. Nevertheless, their claws pierced his magic armor on three occasions, tearing across his right pectoral, his left arm, and right hip. Their sharpened claws tore through his clothing, and bit deep enough that the mage’s suit was quickly drenched in his own blood. It was a nightmare. Without his magic, a monstrous roar that pushed the beasts away with a massive column of icy wind, they would have never found the exit. He recalled those first moments of freedom, wind buffeting them as they exited onto the street along with the rest of Isabella’s staff. His heart continued to pump adrenaline into every part of his body, even as the blood loss made it difficult to remain conscious. He had collapsed onto the steps outside the nightclub. The mage sat and rifled through his robes for a vial of healing potion. He popped the cork and knocked back the vial’s contents. The concoction, brewed himself, worked impressively fast. His balance and stamina returned, but the blood loss kept his heart rate low. As they walked to Isabella’s hotel, the mage recalled drifting in and out of consciousness as they walked. He recalled street signs, particular statues, but recollected little else of their route. His potion went into full effect once they were settled into the small park, his bleeding staunched and his heart rate stable. Arthur took deep breaths as he calmed himself, still angry that he hadn’t been prepared to do more, and heartbroken by Isabella’s state. The mutant approached the seated woman as she began to speak, forcing the words through loud and uncontrollable sobs. He avoided the woman’s vomit as he pulled off the soft and velvety fabric of his robes. In a single flourish, the black garment settled upon the woman’s tiny shoulders. The mantle and hood of his robes, constructed from a dire wolf pelt, surrounded Isabella’s (comparatively small) head like the wickedly long mane of a lion. His robes would allow her to begin conserving some heat, especially as Arthur knelt low and stroked along both her arms with his calloused hands. “That was no coincidence. It could still be dangerous,” Arthur replied, stopping his stroking motion to pull his pocket square from his dress jacket. Gently, the mage dabbed at the cuts on her face with the colorful cloth in his right hand. Meanwhile, he caressed Isabella’s cheek with his other hand, gliding the back of his index finger across her soft skin in a soothing fashion. Or, at least, he hoped that was the effect. “I’m sure they’re all okay. The only thing we can do now is stay safe. Drink this and let’s get you cleaned up.” The mage produced another vial of blue liquid. Another healing potion. He pulled off the cork and offered the elixir to Isabella. “It’ll help heal your wounds and numb the pain.”
  9. Arthur often wandered from job to job, seeking adventure and treasure as he might, and leisure whenever time and civilization permitted such luxuries. The mutant’s current happenstance, however, was entirely unexpected as he steadily dived deeper down the rabbit hole that Isabella so alluringly provided. In the aftermath of the woman’s birthday party, where the mage had fought and bled to keep Isabella safe, he had spent the night in the woman’s bed and knew that he had fallen into her web. Escape was futile. His attraction and curiosity (because he certainly desired to solve the mystery that Isabella presented) kept the mage in place, better than any trap. It wasn’t a surprise that the woman didn’t have to do much convincing before Arthur departed the hotel the next morning, making the trek to his own hotel to pick up his belongings. Now, Arthur travelled among Isabella and her politician’s entourage, acquiring boarding passes and making their way onto the lavish train. The black mage found himself caught between two worlds in that moment. On one hand, he was an employee amongst employees, serving as Isabella’s bodyguard and fencing instructor. But Arthur didn’t feel like a member of staff, and it was clear that the job titles had more to do with explaining his presence than it had to do with an actual employment opportunity. And it was clear that the staff didn’t view Arthur in that light either. For, on the other hand, it seemed abundantly clear that the mutant was a new yet special friend to Isabella. After all, despite their unflinching loyalty and near religious obsession with the woman, none of them could boast being a guest in Isabella’s own bedroom. Arthur was on the cusp of spending his second night with the mysterious woman; a fact that separated the mage entirely from the rest of Isabella’s staff. As evening descended upon them, the locomotive made its way down the tracks at a steady pace, and the mutant looked up from his book and stared contemplatively at a nearby wall. What would his choices bring him? Had it been smart to travel so far with a stranger? Was a romantic relationship even worth it considering the secret motives that Isabella was undoubtedly still hiding from him? And despite the questions that raced through his head, he knew the answer as his dangerous eyes glanced back towards his book, but only for a moment as his gaze turned towards the alluring woman. Seated comfortably in his chair in the corner, Arthur watched Isabella - both curiously and with admiration - as she applied her cosmetics and dressed for the occasion. It had been the mage’s idea to reserve a pair of seats in the train’s ritzier restaurant compartment. A date, he called it unabashedly, and the woman had accepted in her usual, puzzling manner. She certainly knew exactly what Arthur wanted. Arthur couldn’t say the same of the politician. Unlike his companion, the mutant had prepared for dinner quickly and without much ceremony. Arthur wore a finely tailored and magically pressed ivory-colored, three-piece suit which fit firmly against his robust frame. Underneath his waistcoat, the mage wore a light blue dress shirt and a green colored tie, though the latter contained a pattern of white dots along its surface. The pocket square that hung from the front pocket of his dinner jacket matched his tie. Meanwhile, his feet were clad in dark socks and a pair of brown leather dress shoes, while his jet black hair was slicked back and styled into a prominent quiff at the front. By most people’s standards, Arthur’s outfit was complete. That said, the mage sat in his seat with his robes of black velvet hanging from his broad shoulders like a cape. The mantle of black wolf fur that surrounded his head like the mane of a lion adding an intimidating flair to the ensemble. It didn’t match his outfit (though they clashed in an oddly fashionable manner), but it matched the black dress that Isabella had chosen, and the mutant’s culture demanded that Arthur presented himself as a black mage always. Arthur coughed into his free hand, spreading out his time between reading his book and starring at his date. As he did so, the mage glanced up at Isabella and closed his book with an audible crack. “Are you actually getting ready for dinner or are you just trying to torture me?”
  10. Arthur rammed his fist squarely into James’ guard, still grinning like a rogue despite the failure of his body punch. A layer of sweat glistened across his exposed skin; a welcomed fact considering how quickly and efficiently he had dispatched his opponents during the tournament proper. The mage was finally facing an opponent he could go toe to toe with, and in a format (hand to hand) that actually required Arthur to put forth some effort. When the mutant drew back his right arm into a defensive position covering his head and flank, he moved quickly to respond to his opponent’s assault. The first jab was deflected towards Arthur’s right (James’ left); the mage’s lead left hand moved forward and knocked the jab offline. In time with the second jab, however, the mutant leaned away, outdistancing James’ strike by a matter of inches. Keeping his hands up in protective positions, Arthur lurched forward from his evasive lean. As he did so, the black mage thrust his rear right leg up and forward, aiming to ram his knee into James’ abdomen as his opponent was weaving downwards. Arthur timed his attack with the hope that James would crouch directly into his knee, seeking to deal a blow to the master knight’s diaphragm/solar plexus as before. @Fierach
  11. The mage found himself in a sudden and forced retreat as James pushed him away, prying off the hand that grasped the back of the master knight’s head. Despite the loss of his clinch, Arthur continued to grin as he took a quick pair of steps away from James before rebounding from the momentum of James’ push. The mutant advanced once more, wasting no time to step back into range and maintaining his orthodox stance as he did so. He reacted swiftly when the master knight whipped a kick towards his lead left leg, lifting his knee in a ninety-degree angle and turning his leg to the outside (left, James’ right). Moving the tip of his left foot upwards in an incline, the black mage flexed his massive calf muscle as the knight’s shin collided with Arthur’s own in a violent bone-on-bone clash. The collision would hurt both combatants but it wouldn’t show on the mutant’s face. After all, it would have been far worse had his opponent’s kick had struck the flesh of his calf or thigh. When the master knight’s shin was finally deflected off Arthur’s leg, the mutant immediately dropped his foot to the ground, placing weight on it as his body twisted towards the left to empower his right cross. Arthur fired his punch straight, aiming lower while James leg was returning to its original position. The master knight’s movement brought Arthur’s target back in line; the mutant’s fist shooting underneath and in between James’ guarding arms (which protected his head) in an attempt to connect forcefully with his opponent’s solar plexus. Meanwhile, Arthur maneuvered his left arm to the side, maintaining a protective position over his head and the left side of his rib cage. If Arthur’s long range punch connected, it was likely to deliver sufficient force as to pull the air from James’ lungs, and making it doubly difficult to take a breath while his diaphragm spasmed involuntarily. @Fierach
  12. Arthur grinned savagely as he felt his fist collide with the side of James’ head. It was a satisfying sensation even if knew that it wasn’t even close to finishing his opponent; the master knight’s movement allowed him to roll with the mage’s punch, stealing some of the strike’s power in the process. It would prove quite the start regardless. Just like the master knight, the mutant had softened the impact of his opponent’s forceful advance, stepping off to the side and forcing James to weave away from his punch. In its reduced state, Arthur was more than ready to meet James‘ charge head-on. When Arthur’s fist collided with James’ head, the attacking hand wasn’t immediately recalled to the side of the mage’s head. Instead, it began to pull away from the knight’s face before attempting to hook around the back of James’ head in a single collar-tie, digging his fingers into the knight’s hair (or simply grabbing the back of his head if there was no hair to grip) as he pressed his left forearm into his opponent’s right shoulder and pectoral muscle. If the grab succeeded, the mage lowered his head and stepped forward with his left leg, closing the remaining distance between the combatants. Simultaneously, the collar-tie would have an effect on James’ own attack. With his forearm framed against the knight’s shoulder, which was the source of the motion behind James’ hybrid punch, it impaired the opponent’s swing. James’ shoulder would have difficulty rolling forward with Arthur’s arm serving as a barrier. Similarly, his right bicep would also find its path blocked by the mage’s arm, reducing the power of the blow significantly before it reached its unintended target. Having lowered his head in his advance, James’ strike landed on the left side of Arthur’s cheek. The strike stung but did little else in the face of Arthur’s defensive clinch. In return, the black mage turned his hips from left to right, chambering his right arm for a brief moment before looping upwards in a close-ranged uppercut. He aimed the blow for the underside of James’ chin, seeking to illustrate just how precarious of a position the knight was in. @Fierach
  13. Arthur’s eyes rolled slightly at his opponent’s words. The Master Knight was a cocky son of a bitch indeed. The mage would see the man humbled in this friendly sparring match, making words a useless distraction as the mutant prepared to fight. Saying nothing, Arthur maintained his bouncing lead leg stance, moving towards James until the knight began to move laterally. With the knight circling to his left, the black mage came to an abrupt halt, and stayed in place as his feet moved subtly to the right so that the other man couldn’t flank him. He kept his sharp eyes on his opponent, reserving his explosive movement and power for a counter. When James turned and lunged towards him, Arthur burst into swift and decisive action. His bouncing lead leg returned to the ground, shifting his weight there as the mage’s left leg took a diagonal stride forward and to the left. Immediately, Arthur’s right leg slid behind his left leg in a clockwise rotation, completing his own circling motion to the left (James’ right) as the master knight attempted to get as close as possible. The mutant’s quick footwork accomplished two things simultaneously. It allowed Arthur to circle off to the left like a matador, positioning the mage somewhere between James’ 1 and 2 o’ clock while the Master Knight advanced on Arthur’s original position. Meanwhile, it also allowed the mage to transition from a southpaw to orthodox stance, bringing his left hand very close to the opening on the right side of his opponent’s face. As Arthur slid his right leg behind his left, the mutant skillfully twisted his hips, turning his lower body from left to right as Arthur fired off a check hook at his advancing opponent. With his left arm up in a protective position, the master knight covered his face well. However, from Arthur’s new vantage, James was open to strikes that traveled over his right shoulder, especially with his hand held so low. If Arthur’s aim proved true, his enclosed fist would tense near impact as he attempted to drive his fist into James’ right cheekbone in an explosive first salvo. @Fierach
  14. The mutant grinned wolfishly when Saul revealed the magical enchantment of the sack he carried. The winds from the magic item buffeted the unfurled sails, pushing the dinghy along as it hugged the edges of the sand bar they used as a base of operations. The small ship picked up speed, reaching the end of the sandbar as Arthur pulled on the ropes and maneuvered the tiller to turn the dinghy to the left. “Move your weight to the right side,” Arthur called out to Saul, keeping his hands on the dinghy’s controls before seating himself on the gunwale to the mutant’s right. As he did so, the the ship tipped onto its left side as it made its turn, and the side where Arthur and Saul sat lifted off the ocean’s surface. Arthur gritted his teeth as the dinghy righted itself at the end of the turn; the mutant reorienting the tiller so that the dinghy was on the merchant vessels tail. His companion’s magic was allowing the craft to gain on the larger, triple-masted, though the latter craft still moved with enough speed to keep the mage’s craft out of reach for now. The black mage couldn’t have that. He couldn’t leave his allies about waiting for too long. Arthur whispered an incantation under his breath, letting his magic swell as he inhaled deeply. As the mage took in air, his chest and throat expanded in preternatural fashion, rising beyond normal human capability. Filled with the Witchwynd, the mutant roared thunderously, striking the triangle-rigged sails of the dinghy with a column of cold wind. The ship picked up even more speed in an instant, cutting through the waves with a force that no experienced sailor would have expected from a craft so small. Soon, Arthur and Saul would slide around to the starboard side of the larger vessel. ——————————————————————————— Meanwhile, chaos reigned on the deck of the merchant vessel. Though their captain’s precognitive ability had saved them from being wholly surprised by the pirate’s assault, there was no way they could have been ready to face such an arcane onslaught. Pirates were often brigands and warriors, capable of wielding a weapon well enough and nothing else. And though there were mages among the pirates of Valucre, it was incredibly rare to come across those with such command of the Art at sea. At their captain’s command, five men took cover behind crates, barrels, or simply threw themselves to the ground as Alastaire’s stone knife exploded forcefully. Due to the hammer-wielding captain’s quick thinking, the guardsmen survived the sudden explosion, though one of them dropped their sword to grasp their quadricep which now had a stone shard embedded within. Bellowing in pain, another guard ran over to attend to the wounded man, applying pressure as another five guards stepped closer to the port side of the vessel. The five men raised their swords towards the sky, aiming towards the winged mage. They would kill these mages now before they did any more damage. However, as their volleys of lasers formed and erupted from their swords, Elias’ spell burst in a colorful explosion of light, stealing their vision and sending their lasers into various vague directions. They needed to take the fight back to the enemy, but for now it was quite impossible with the array of spells at their enemies’ command. The crew of the merchant vessel had one saving grace, however. The sailor (non-guard) in the crows nest knelt inside, his eyes tearing and mind brimming with fear as he loaded his crossbow. His entire body shook as he peered over the rim of the nest, spotting the flying mages and the mages who were speeding along the opposite side of the ship. The sailor lifted his crossbow up to shoulder-height, training the weapon on Elias. “YOU BASTARDS!” Thwak! The sailor fired the crossbow, sending its bolt hurtling towards Elias. Lowering himself in the nest, the man called towards the guard captain. “Sir! There’s other attackers on the starboard side!” @Spooky Mittens @L E V I A T H A N @Damnatus
  15. “It’s no problem at all,” Arthur replied after he exhaled a long column of blue smoke into the air of the Charnel House. Shaking out the burnt remains of his pipe weed, the mage deposited his pipe near his luggage, then removed his pointed hat and robes. He stood from the stone bench in the spectator’s area and leisurely made his way down towards the arena in the center of the chamber. “But if you really want to thank me, I could use some brunch before I leave town.” The mutant settled his fiery, inhuman gaze on the Master Knight curiously. Did he just want some sparring match to gauge the strength of the Feast’s dinner, or did he want to fight in earnest and prove himself even greater than the Feast’s best? It was hard to tell but the black mage figured he would have to play it by ear. Arthur approached the platform of stone at the center of the Charnel House and leapt onto its heightened surface, joining James on the solid structure. “I would have assumed that the Order would provide its leader with many great sparring partners,” Arthur grinned wolfishly, moving his feet shoulder-width apart, and settling into a squared stance with his right foot forward. The mage didn’t raise his hands yet, however. “But I doubt none greater than me, so I’ll indulge you since you’ve been a most gracious host. Though lose the sword, I’m tired of winning duels with so little effort.” The mage rose his right leg onto the ball of his feet, keeping his lead leg up and his knee jutting outwardly as his weight leaned onto the mutant’s left leg. Arthur lifted his hands and began his approach casually, moving at a slow pace while keeping his lead leg bouncing on the ball of his foot. With such technique, the mage would be ready to check his opponent’s kicks and utilize kicks of his own. @Fierach
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