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Prestississimo

Eye of the Storm

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@Galen Wolfe

Anessa sat with as much patience as she could muster in the waiting room. She was used to waiting, but excitement had her more wired than usual, and she tapped her foot restlessly.

She looked about the space she was in, took in the lavish tapestries and the plush carpet. Whoever this mage was that agreed to see her, he was obviously rather well off. She was excited, things had been touch and go in Stormward, for a bit, trying to get in to see some of the researchers. Things had finally taken a turn when she had selectively revealed her condition in a bid to gain attention. Informing the right people had gotten her where she wanted, and a couple of interview later she found herself here.

She called herself, Karewyn, and apparently she focused her research on people of strange and unusual natures. While Anessa hated being strange and unusual, she was willing to milk it here to get what she needed. Like most mages in Stormward, Karewyn was specifically concerned with how mage-storms interacted with people of strange and unusual nature, so it was no surprise when Karewyn had been especially emphatic about Anessa visiting when she had learned that the girl's condition had manifested itself during a storm. Anessa should her head to clear her thoughts. Hopefully the woman would have the answers she was looking for.

Anessa looked around the waiting room once again, and noticed that a newcomer had arrived while she was spacing out.

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The slender, five foot tall frame of Aku pushed through the door and closed it behind her. While her brother normally wore the hood up, Aku preferred to keep the hood off of her head, leaving her almost depthless black fur that she did have left visible while hiding that which was gone with the full length of the cloak. Turning to face the chamber, Aku was surprised to see someone else in here, as it had sounded like this Karewyn didn't have many in the way of visitors. Though their particular malady had nothing to do with any of the local Mage Storms, their actual condition was rare enough that it bore investigating. They were warned that there may not be any answers for them there, but the Magess would do what she could to shed any new information on it.

With her softly glowing electric blue irises set on the other woman in the room, a quick sizing up before she made her way into what seemed to be a waiting room and sat on the couch next to the other woman. She ignored the wolf whistle inside of her head from her brother at the closer look he was given, but had to admit the other woman was definitely striking. The more she peered out of the corner of her eyes, the more she found she couldn't actually keep that up, turning her head slightly so as to see more details.

She had to keep her hands clenched under her cloak so that it did not open in the slightest, still afraid she was going to be run out of this town for the nature of their visit. She too had been selective in whom she revealed their nature too, both their twin souls as well as their... tortured existence. This had likewise led to the invitation to their current Hostess, and now in the company of this rather lovely and curious lady, even for her own mind, much less Galen's testosterone driven one.

But, finally, she couldn't remain silent, finding herself too curious about the nature off what she saw. “I'm sorry... I know I'm staring, but...” and her words failed her as she tried to find some polite way to ask the hell happened to you?

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Anessa looked up at the stranger's face as she approached and took her seat, taking in lupine features and piercing blue eyes. The woman was clearly a beastman of some sort, and Anessa found herself staring. Before too long though she caught the movement of the strangers eyes, how she in turn was looking Anessa over. Once, she would have appreciated the attention. Now she felt shamed by it.

She realized with a start that she had taken off her cloak, not expecting anyone else, and she quickly picked it up from the couch and threw it on over herself. "Sorry," she said hoarsely, "for uh, sorry you had to see that. I wasn't expecting anyone else to come in." She settled the cloak around herself, pulling the sleeves on over her gloves and making sure the hood was in place.

The silence was stifling, for a moment, and in a desperate bid, Anessa worked to fill it. "My name's Anessa. I'm, uh, I'm here to see Karewyn."

Edited by Prestississimo

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Galen was just itching to take over, but Aku did a mental smack to the back of his head and told him to settle down. Then, with a smile, and not a small amount of trepidation, Aku let go of her own cloak, slipping a hand out from under and offering it to the woman, “Please, don't be embarrassed. We weren't expecting company here either. I'm Aku, and, likewise, we're here to see the Storm Magess.” If the other took her hand, the grip would be warm, but slightly on the firm side, and not relinquished if the other didn't realize that the fingers, hand, and arm were completely denuded of not just her fur, but the protective skin as well.

“Possibly for he same reason,” Aku continued, shifting the cloak enough to allow the other woman to see that this was not limited to just her arm. “We didn't mean to make you self conscious, it was just so... unexpected to meet another person with as unique a situation as our own.” She was smiling demurely but her eyes shown with a genuine curiosity and maybe a little hope for someone to talk freely about such a thing.

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The extended hand and Aku's body under the cloak caused Anessa to recoil. Her skin crawled, and she had the phantom sensation of goosebumps on her arms. Of course this brought her attention to her arms, and with a start she realized just how rude she was being, in spite of Aku's politeness and obvious well-meaning.

Sheepishly, Anessa took off her glove, the woman had seen her arms anyway, and shook hands with Aku. Her sense of touch was deadened, but Anessa could feel the warmth from the woman's hand anyway. "It's, uh, it's nice to meet you, Aku." The woman's demeanor did miles at helping put Anessa at ease, and she found herself opening up a bit. "Yes it's, kind of surprising." She looked around the waiting room for a moment, before continuing on, "Well, less surprising here I guess. I mean, if you were going to run into people like, uh, well like us, this would be the place to do it." She gave a nervous laugh.

Luckily, Anessa was saved from further awkwardness when the door on the end of the waiting room opened. "Ms. Vert," a voice called, "the Mage Karewyn will see you now." The voice, as it turned out, belonged to a young man in pupil's robes, holding a magi-tech tablet. "Please follow me to her office." he continued, before turning around and walking away, clearly with no intentions of waiting.

Anessa stood up, disentangling her wooden hand. "It was uh, a pleasure. We should, um, talk more later. After our interviews. Good, uh good luck with yours." She quickly hurried away, regretful that she'd had so much trouble talking to the stranger. It had been too long since she'd had a real conversation with someone so, friendly.

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Hearing the door open, Aku turned her attention to the other, and even managed to nod to the woman as she stood and went. But the friendly smile dropped immediately to a frown as she watched the other's back. Something about what lay beyond those doors was off. A scent she could now smell had been completely absent until they opened. The smell itself wasn't the problem... but something as strong as it seemed to be with the door open should have been noticeable before they did. This brought attention to the other things that Aku realized were wrong here, but she was too late to move, the door closing behind the other woman and the pupil.

Standing, she went tot hat door and found, even though there hadn't been an audible noise to indicate it, the door had locked itself. And she had no spell immediately available, as it just wasn't something she needed to know that often. That's what you have me for... “Not yet, Galen, we can't go jumping to conclusions. Not yet at least... If I give you the body, will you behave and only listen?” And pray this all stays on this floor? Aku groaned as she had that worry as well. I'll behave, for now...

Aku had her reservations about that, but she honestly had no choice, needing his hyper senses now more than ever. Relinquishing the body to him, they both immediately were aware of the smell, it wasn't left over from when the doors opened, and it was a scent Galen knew all too well. “There's been blood spilled in there...” Great... he heard her think as he knelt and pressed his skull to the door. As good as the spell was at keeping the sounds from getting out to the room through the door, he couldn't hear anything, he smiled as he went to the wall next to the door and pressed his skull there. Footsteps, a pair of them... ignoring everything in the room he concentrated on the vibrations that he could feel. Not as good as hearing might be at times, being able to amplify noises this way definitely came in handy.

Galen, behind the couch! was all the warning he had, turning in time to see someone that didn't look very mage like in all black and wielding a syringe, apparently expecting them to have been sitting there still. Of course, the fact that the hood was down and revealed the skeletal skull for the other to see probably didn't help, etiehr. “That'll do just fine...” he snarled as he twisted, getting a foot on the wall before he pushed off with his strength and his ethereal wings, hitting the man's shoulders with his out stretched palms, pushing the man to fall to his back... at the feet of two more heavy set men that were probably there to help carry their unconscious body somewhere. Since he was already kneeling on the first man's chest, Galen simply did an uppercut that caught the next man under the chin as Galen stood up, carrying that chin up to the ceiling and then letting the body crumple on top of the third. Stepping forward, he then bent at the waist, punching the last one to render him unconscious as well.

Shit,” he growled as he realized the hall behind the three he'd just taken down curved downward in a set of steps. “Well,” he said as he straightened and stretched and twisted, cracking his lower back and neck before slipping his hood forward and beginning down the steps, “I guess I don't have to be patient now...” The steps were slightly steep for his height, but he wasn't about to give up on a chance to really bang some heads together if he could help it. At the bottom was a short hall that led to... If his teeth hadn't already been bare of any covering, they definitely would have been upon stepping into the next room. There were cages, jail cells, all manner of barred prisons for keeping anything small or large from escaping.

They were empty now, but the smell of the room said that when they weren't things in this room turned gory. One entire wall was covered by jars that held various organs and some smaller body parts in preserving liquid. Another wall was covered over by hides and bones of creatures, not all of them were animal either. Or, at least, they might have been human transformed into something else... He recognized feline and other animal-esque bones that were probably mostly like him, just anthropoid. “This Mage isn't interested in curing anything...” he said with a deep throated growl.

Galen, the other woman that was with us... Aku said, just as the far door opened, revealing another pupil dressed in scrubs, pushing a trolley with various medical instruments large and small, completely unaware of just how dangerous a situation she found herself in. Looking up, though, when the trolley was blocked by something that wasn't supposed to be there, that realization dawned in all its grim dawning. Before she could turn or scream or anything, Galen snapped his hand across her mouth, then carefully, but not too gently, lifted her up by this grip off the floor.

You won't scream, you won't utter a sound above a whisper when I let you go, understood?” The terror in the other's eyes clearly evident, and as she could move, or was too afraid to try, she murmured her agreement against the large hand muffling her mouth. Nodding, Galen very carefully set her back down again, the hand slipping to the front of the apron she wore, taking a very firm grip of that and tugging her around the trolley to stand directly in front of him. Taking a half kneel, half stoop, without moving away or loosing his grip, he brought his gaze level with hers, then used his free hand to lower the cowl.

If she'd been afraid before, what he saw now was stark terror as she gazed on the skull with fire like emerald flames in its sockets. “You're going to take me to this Mage Karewyn in the most direct fashion possible.” After a moment she nodded slightly, still in the throws of the terror she was faced with. “Are there any other guards?” Hesitantly, she nodded again, opened her mouth to say something, but her voice utterly failed her at this moment. “That's fine, just know if you lead me into any sort of trap, yours will be the first life taken, and once I start spilling blood, be it innocent or not, it will be on your soul that the burden lies.” The girl paled further, but she nodded again, shuddering now.

Shifting his grip to the collar of the outfit under the waxed leather apron, he gestured for her to lead the way. Surprisingly, the route she took was a little meandering, but they met no one else the entire way, going up a flight of stairs and through a couple rooms and another hall that ended in another door. Here she stopped, unwilling to open the door. “Is this it?” he asked her, and, upon seeing her nod, he set his thumb and forefinger on a pair of nerves on the back of her neck and pinched. There was a startled gasp and then the girl crumpled, caught and carefully settled to the floor. She may or may not be innocent in all of this, but he had a little difficulty in killing anyone that he wasn't sure were guilty of the crime he was punishing anyone for. Hired hands were just that, hired hands.

The Mage, on the other hand... he gripped the knob and opened the door...

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Anessa followed the pupil through the facility, eyes roaming the halls as she went. The building was well-furnished, and the pair passed by several other men and women, all wearing the same robes as her guide. There was no conversation, Anessa was loath to start it with the stranger and he seemed singularly uninterested, so the two quietly made their way until they arrived at a nicer door then any she had seen previously.

Her guide gave a polite knock, and cleared his throat. A severe voice called from inside, "Come in." Her guide pushed open the door, and gestured for her to enter. Anessa walked inside slowly, taking in the room as she went. She jumped a bit when the door slammed shut behind, her and she turned around to see that the apprentice had not followed her. Slowly, she spun around again. Facing her was an opulent office covered in bookshelves. Trinkets and tomes covered the walls, and led down to a huge window that overlooked Stormward's southern district. Through the glass, Anessa could see a storm raging through the city.

In front of the window was a massive wooden desk, with two plush seats in front of it and one behind. Seated at the desk was one of the most intimidating women Anessa had ever seen. She wore beautifully intricate robes emblazoned with lightning bolt patterns. Thick spectacles sat over a dignified nose, and Anessa had the distinct impression that this woman was very use to using that nose to look down at others. She was doing no such thing at the moment, however, and instead she was doing her best to make a welcoming expression. Anessa wasn't feeling particularly welcome, but the effort was obviously there.

The woman beckoned for her to approach, and Anessa followed the mute instruction, taking a seat in one of the chairs facing the desk. "You must be Anessa," the woman began without preamble, her haughty accent infusing every word with authority. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance at last."

Anessa nodded timidly. "Yes, uh, Ms. Karewyn, ma'am. A pleasure."

The woman gave a laugh that somehow put Anessa a bit on edge. "Please, call just call me Wyn. It's what my friends call me, and I'm sure you and I shall be great friends." Anessa managed another nod, but her mouth was rather dry for some reason and she couldn't muster a response to that. The woman eyed her for a while, not waiting for a response, just observing, before finally starting again. "So Anessa, why don't you answer a few questions i have." Karewyn pulled out a magi-tech tablet, and poised her finger over it, clearly ready to take notes.

"Ah, yes, uh, please. Ask away." Anessa responded. The woman smiled, and launched into her questions.


It felt like an eternity later when she finished up her questioning. The woman had asked for easy things at first, age name, birthplace, etc. But the questions grew more and more probing as time passed, and Anessa was glad to be done. "Now just please wait here a moment longer," Karewyn spoke to Anessa after putting away her tablet. "One of my associates should be here at any moment now," she spoke while checking her watch. Anessa heard the door opening behind her, but she couldn't really turn to look, buried as she was in the massive, plush chair. "Ah, I'm sure that's them now." Karewyn told her.

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“Unfortunately, Witch, I'm not one of your lackeys.” Galen stepped through the door, wearing the same battered cloak and cowl that Aku had worn, but he was covered from neck down in his slightly dirty white fur, and from the neck up? Well, a nightmare for those that had never seen such a thing before, the flames burning in sockets of his lupine skull. A very deep growl sounded from a missing voice box tht should have been contained in a throat. “I've had a very interesting tour off you basement, thanks to the ineptitude of the three men you had waiting for one of us to be alone and ambush whichever it was...” he said as he walked through and then shut the door, balling his fist and with a muttered request to his Goddess, punched the handle, smashing and melding it with the door itself, effective blocking that entrance.

“You've done some very bad things, and this will not go unpunished...” he was now past the chair that Anessa sat in, rounding the ornate desk. “You butchered the people that willingly came to you seeking help, making them your study materials rather than living to your promise and helping them.” He'd stopped just shy of being behind the desk, knowing full well he was dealing with a high level wizard and he needed time for any reaction he might have, including giving the body to Aku.

The Storm-mage bristled at this, a glint of anger shining in her eyes as she placed her hands on her lap, “You insolent cur, how dare you try and ruin what I've spent decades acquire in the terms of knowledge? Lied to them? I never promised a cure. I said we'd try, but I would gather as much information as possible to help further that cause... It just turned out that I had to do a more intrusive kind of study on their beings to ensure a thorough gathering of as highly a detailed tome of their various conditions as possible. Which...” and now Karewyn stood tall as she faced them, power seeming to crackle from her being, “you will also be participating in.”

She looked to Anessa with a bit of disdain, finally verbalizing a different anger, “I spend hours making the perfect potion that can't be tasted and will knock anything out in an hour, and you don't even drink a cup of the hot tea I made to hide it in...” The woman is more livid about this for some reason, than she is that the twin souls have been through her secret lab, strangely enough.

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The appearance of the fearsome stranger left Anessa confused and more than a little afraid. She was set even more aback, however, but Karewyn's cruel words. She looked at the mage in shock as the woman stood facing the pair. "Y-you'd s-said you'd help me!" Anessa stammered out.

A sneer appeared on Karewyn's lips. "I will be helping you. Either you will be cured, or you will die and no longer need to live your life as a freak." A manic gleam shown in her eyes. "In fact, I believe I'll alleviate you both of that particular burden right now!" The high mage's words were accompanied by a shock of brilliant light as lightning arced from her fingers towards Anessa and the terrifying skull-man.

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Galen had been tense to the point of trembling by this time, so when the mage threw her hand out to release the storm magic, he'd been a tightly coiled spring that uncoiled to the side, anticipating such an attack anyway. Hitting Anessa from the side, the fur bound brute was already in mid change, the weight carrying them sideways diminished by a full third of what it had been when they landed on the floor. Aku did a shoulder tumble off of the other woman so that she came to her feet, facing the mage, slipping a bar of iron out of an inside pocket. Whispering almost inaudibly, she polarized the metal to be more attractive to lightning and then threw the bar with all her strength into the stone ceiling. So long as the lightning didn't get any stronger, a vain hope at best, that bar would be proof against it.

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Karewyn frowned as her first attack missed, and the expression deepened into a glower when her second was deflected by the impromptu lightning rod Aku created. Anessa, for her part, was shocked by the skull-man's actions, and even more surprise when her savior morphed into Aku.

She didn't have long to be surprised, however, and she could already see Karewyn charging up another spell. She hustled to her feet and threw herself at the mage, hoping to close and make her magic ineffective. However before she could reach the other woman, Karewyn finished he casting. A massive blast of wind threw everything in front of Karewyn backwards, including Anessa. She didn't have time to right herself before she impacted painfully on the back wall.

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Aku, barely had time to react, herself, as the gust off wind chit her full body and forced her to twist and land face down on the floor, mostly in the hopes that the large desk that had been in front of her didn't hit her on its way across the room. She'd seen the attempt that Anessa had made to try and break the storm mage's concentration, but that was all for not. Galen actually commented on how he had missed that idea himself, but it was too late now. The problem was, the wind didn't seem to be letting up, despite the building pressure, and maybe that was the idea...

Rolling partially onto her side, using a hand to provide a little protection from flying debris, Aku looked towards the aged woman that was focused on maintaining the spell that was whipping up more and more objects to use as lethal flying objects. God, she hated doing math, but Galen was already catching on to what the diminutive wolfess had in mind. Helping her, the obsidian bladed, bone and lather handled blade was slipped form its sheath inside their cloak, then, as he guessed the air currents in the room, he told her when and how to flip the dagger at the Mage. But, the lady of the roll of the dice wasn't with them, a stray book deflected the blade mere inches from the woman's shoulder and the blade, instead, embedded itself into the glass of the giant window behind the woman.

This, however was not the bad luck it seemed, for with every second the spell was being maintained, the glass was warping in and out and now there was a stress fracture, and the pane began cracking in jagged lines. But would it shatter in time to save them?

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Anessa slid down the wall, pulling herself with her arms to the floor in an attempt to get out of the way of the incoming debris. She managed to avoid most of it, but the large chair that she had sat in earlier took its revenge, slamming into her and pinning her back against the wall. Anessa tried to make the best of the bad situation by hiding behind the chair, even as it tried to crush her. The furniture protected her from most of the rest of the debris, and she sat behind it, waiting for the spell to expire.

The distinctive noise of shattering glass enticed Anessa into a quick peek from her hiding place, but she ducked back down immediately as the remains of the back window came flying in her direction. Her glimpse of the room had revealed Karewyn, prone in front of the window, not injured, but taking cover from the broken glass. Unfortunately she hadn't had enough time to see what had happened to Aku, or the skull-man as the case may be.

Wind blew through the room once more, but this one was natural, and much less powerful, blowing in through the window and disturbing the liter bits of deleterious in the room.

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Aku shot to her feet in the trail of the glass blowing past, taking running steps towards the prone mage, she called out, “Mjölnir !” and a shimmering of spectral green energy flowed form her right hand to her left, then solidified itself in the form of a see through war hammer, glowing the same electric blue as her eyes, sparks of energy trailing along behind it. The initial aim had never been to cause the mage actual physical harm, at least, not initially, but now that the hand had been dealt, Aku wasn't going to take the chance of the woman standing and doing anything worse. The idea, now, was to treat the woman as a croquet ball, and she was swinging her mallet way back.

Here, the wolfess's mind focused on the end result she was after. This wasn't going to be a bloody mess, she literally wanted to send the mage flying through the air in the wake of the hit. A concussion would be fine, but no actual permanent damage, and definitely no holes. All this flicked cleaning through her mind in the span it took to reach the prone woman, swing with everything she had in her two handed grip, and connect with the top of the woman's head. Then the energy required to do this sang out through every fiber of her body as it was dragged in to her being from the surrounding air and focused on the woman. The hammer seemed to bend unnaturally in the wake of that swing, but the woman was pushed slowly, at first, then with greater speed along the debris strewn floor, before the magic really took hold and she was flung out of the room through the broken windows.

Then Aku groaned and fell to her knees, only barely keeping herself from face planting by her hands hitting the floor in front of her. If there was an onlooker now, the change form Galen to Aku would be visibly evident, their being melting and growing and shifting, white fur growing out from this mass, though the cloak seemed to remain the same with the exception of it growing to match the size of the male wolf man that pushed himself to his feet now. Looking around, he would spot Anessa's partially buried body and walk over, removing the chair from over her and some of the debris with it, then he would offer her a hand to help her up to her feet. “Are you okay?”

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The wind pressure and the impact of the chair had Anessa stunned, and she missed the next part of the fight. Hence, the proffered hand confused Anessa, for a moment, before her head cleared a bit. She grimaced, accepting the help and allowing the skull-man to pull her up. She eyed him warily, unsure what to make of the transforming beastman.

"What happened to Karewyn?" She asked, looking around the room. Before there was any chance to answer, however, the mage herself answered the question. Karewyn shot into the room, wind magic propelling her. She landed heavily, evidently disoriented, but that didn't stop her from charging up another spell.

Anessa grabbed the nearby door handle and yanked it open, trying to pull the beastman with her. "Let's get out of here." she yelled,

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