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Wanderlust

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High above a forest of ancient oaks, a dense canopy spread its limbs to the sky. Leaves swayed with a gentle breeze, creating patches of jade sunlight that mottled the spongy ground. Scents from the foliage danced through the air, mixed with dampness and decaying leaves. Birdsong mingled with the rustle of animals in the undergrowth, creating a melody that floated over the crunch of footsteps. A feminine figure wove between the trunks and stepped over gnarled roots, swathed in green that nearly matched the leaves above.

Days of travel in the dappled sunlight had turned Violet's fair skin from cream to honey, providing a lovely contrast between it and her unnaturally pale hair. The long locks had been woven into a thick braid that fell over one slender shoulder, keeping them from snagging on branches as she passed. Against the deep green of her dress, the silver strands could be mistaken for white. Some of the shorter pieces, wisps of shimmering thread that caught the light, had escaped their confines and were arrayed around her face as though framing a painting.

The sight would have been straight from a fairytale, were it not for the dark expression on the woman's lovely face and the muttering of curse words under her breath. Pale eyebrows were drawn together, the crease between them deeply furrowed. Her delicate lips were drawn down in a frown, and every so often she kicked at an errant bush with a muted cry.

The route through the Arcane East was proving to be trickier than Violet had hoped. A kind stranger had directed her through the forest, claiming it a shortcut to Mageside City and the wonders that lay there. Only the man's warning had given the fae pause.

“There be dark creatures that lurk hereabouts, missy. I'd be watching myself, if I was you.” The gruff drawl of the stranger’s voice was still present in Violet’s thoughts. Despite his warning, her excitement had prompted her to take the shorter route.

When first entering the expanse of trees, the silence had been suffocating. Every snap of a twig or rustle of the underbrush had made her jump, icy eyes scanning wildly for the monster come to make a meal of her. Once several days had passed without incident, she found herself relaxing into the calm of the forest. The shadows were not monsters, but welcome spots to rest when the heat became overbearing. The sounds of movement weren't hunters, but friendly creatures coming to greet her. Violet would have been happy to spend eternity under the protective reach of the oaks.

Would have been happy, were it not for the ever shrinking rations in her leather satchel. A few days worth of food had seemed enough at the beginning of her journey, but now she was cursing herself for not bringing more. Here beneath the trees, where little sunlight could filter through, it was hard to tell the time of day or which direction the fae was going. Though she was loathe to admit it, Violet was lost.

@King

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It wasn’t long before Violet found herself on an untraveled path. Months of undisturbed humus lay thick upon the forest floor, swallowing the sound of her feet. Unchecked branches reached out across her in the manner of a shrill, scarcely-leafed fence that sought to bar her progression. And the dappled sunlight she’d become accustomed to on her journey dwindled into little more than irregularly placed columns here, where the Abyssal Enclave’s reach was closest, bright and powerful that penetrated the otherwise seamless darkness.

It was in one such illuminating column that a solitary figure stood, tall and lean if the weathered cloak he or she wore was any indication of their physique. It was dark in color, almost an earthy brown, that seemed to blend in with the shadows whenever a strong enough breeze pulled it far enough from the edge of the light. That’s when at least one of the twin ornate hand axes dangling at the hips became visible, the glint of their blade as they caught sunlight sharper, and brighter, than usual in the unnaturally thick darkness of their surrounding.

More interestingly, however, was the mote of light that loomed over his or her left shoulder. Small enough to occupy the space of a dainty palm, it blinked in and out of view, vanishing whenever it strayed too close to the center of the luminous column, but sparking brightly whenever it skirted out into the inky darkness. A short trail of bright, glittering dust always chased after it.

“No, I haven’t forgotten.” The voice was smooth as polished steel; sharp with its masculinity. The cloaked figure regarded the mote of light as it lingered near his shoulder again. “I’m sure she hasn’t forgotten, either.”

The mote twinkled.

“Well, we woke her up. It’s our obligation to put her down.”

It twinkled again, leaving a trail of dust on his shoulder as it zipped around him.

“No need to be so sassy. We made it out last time.”

More twinkling, more dust.

“No, not just barely. Besides, think of the coin we’ll pull in with that. And all that hide—”

Whether or not Violet had continued her approach, it seemed the cloaked man and his little light decided she was ‘close enough.' He turned his head toward her, cautiously placing a hand on the back of a single axe. The deeply drawn cowl of the cloak did well to hide his features with shadow, but could not hamper the fierce glow of his emerald eyes. “Well, hello there,” he said with the friendliness of a long-time acquaintance. “You wouldn’t happen to be one of those marauders from the other day, would you?” If he was genuinely concerned with her affiliation with the deceased troupe, it didn't show. “Or a bandit, or shifter, or anything that might… try to kill me in the next few minutes?”

The cloaked man shifted his weight in a most subtle manner, widening his stance for quicker response. “It’d be wonderful if you weren’t.”

Edited by King

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Kinaaz made hold for a few moments, closing her eyes. Quiet. She welcomed the silence, took a deep breath as if to inhale it. Running a hand through her raven-black hair, she then moved on, her steps light. She was in no rush. The ground here was almost untouched, the path not one commonly used. The soft substratum was a pleasing change for her bare feet. She usually chose to fly when traveling along uneven roadsides. Her feet made close to no sound for every step she took, but otherwise she made no efforts to move quietly; what did she have to fear in a place like this? 

She had been too far gone in her own rarely peaceful mindset to notice that she wasn't alone. She stopped abruptly, pulled suddenly out of her daydreams, when a male voice in a cheerful tone addressed her. She turned her head to locate the man to whom the voice belonged and finally noticed him, standing in a ray of light that shone through the forest roof. He was wearing a brown cloak, the hood of which was mainly covering his face. She could only catch a glimpse of the man behind it. 

The fae stayed a few moments in the shadows, considering how to respond to the stranger's confusingly friendly, chatty tone. 

"I am no marauder," she finally said, slowly taking a few steps forward to reveal herself in a beam of light. Her sword, Kin's Blood, was secured in its scabbard and strapped to her back, in between the large wings in which the veins currently pulsated in gentle, deep green colors. A dagger was visibly strapped to her right thigh. Dark fur formed a primitive skirt, more for appropriate than practical reasons. Fur covered her shoulders, as well. The rest of her skin was bare, revealing the white tattoos that curled from her thighs to her stomach and further up her hips and back. A necklace split in two mainly covered her breasts, and the jewelry clinked every time she moved.

"... I am no bandit or shifter, either." She continued, placing a hand on the hip and tilting her head in a curios, animal-like way. Her face remained expressionless, cautious if anything. "I can't make any promises in regards to not killing you, though. Perhaps you should give me a good reason not to." Her voice was soft and carefree, not mimicking the seriousness of her words. In reality, she was joking. Partially, at least. 

Edited by Tia Dalma

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“Well, then...”

There was an abrupt severity of his voice, the friendliness drained almost completely. What remained was little more than the inviting lilt of his accent, easily traceable to the shores of Orisia, if one knew their world. Whereas she tilted her head with the curiosity of a wild animal, testing foreign territory, the elf dipped his chin – lowering the tattered hem of his cowl, deepening its made shadows – in critical appraisal of the approaching woman, like a weaponsmith inspecting his craft, accessing its lethality.

Exotic, aren't you? It would have been easy to leave the inspection hanging on that singular note, even for the dutifully suspicious ranger. Her beauty was a natural one, easy. The same enchanting splendor you saw in the rolling hills, the snow-capped mountains, and the dense forestry, you saw in her curves, the swells of her hips and the peaks of her breasts, in the thickness of her mane. But there was something else, his well-trained eyes noted: she was a predator, unpredictable and untamed, and she did not walk so much as she prowled. Dangerous, too, the elf reasoned; there was no doubting that.

“... That's better than the alternative,” he replied, voice still mute of enthusiasm.

Though she could not see it, his gaze had settled on her green-pulsing wings. She could probably close the distance with a single burst, he suspected. Might be able to knock her out of the air with a good throw. The thought had him thumbing the back of his hatchet, groove lightly scuffed from years of the habit. But, it might not come to that. She seems reasonable, and judging from the tats, she's tribal—of some sort. Might be another hunter out here looking for the beast.

I can't promise anything,” the elf teased. “But, I'm sure I can manage long enough for us to have a short conversation.” As a gesture of good faith, he produced both his hands into the light from under his cloak, and likewise made himself more easily viewable, stepping closer to the illuminating column's center. Still, his face remained a mystery in the shadow of the deeply-drawn cowl. “What's got you far out? You looking for the chimera?”

The mote of light that had been in his company just moments ago was nowhere to be seen.

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Kinaaz' golden eyes wandered from the face that remained in shadow to his hands when he held them out. A gesture of good will, perhaps, and she saw it as such. At least he hadn't yet drawn weapons against her. The fae took a step closer to the stranger, not moving entirely out of the light, her body language still showing a primitive form of open curiosity. The friendly tone was as good as gone, though there was a natural softness in his dark voice.

"How short do you think that conversation needs to be to convince me?" She teased, taking another step forward. Her eyes fixated once again on the darkness beneath the hood. Her gaze was intensely direct, almost shameless due to the fact that she did nothing to hide that she was trying to get a better view of the person in front of her. No glancing to the sides or occasionally looking down. 

With a shrug, she continued. "No, I'm on the hunt for... other monsters." A small, secretive pull in the left corner of her mouth. She abstained from elaborating further and decided to indulge him in the short conversation he had started. "I assume that's what you're here for, then? Out on a little beast-hunt all alone? Is that why you're all covered up - because you're afraid that the monsters out here may recognize you?" The crooked pull widened to a small, ironic smile, matching the tone of her voice. 

Edited by Tia Dalma

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The fae's directness was a favored mannerism, making it easier for the elf to not regret his decision or parlaying, as opposed to instigating a conflict. Her curiosity – or rather the simplistic sincerity of it – however, ignited the spark of his own inquisitive nature. Why, he wondered, was she so determined to unveil his face from the shadows (as she'd made her intent quite clear, what with her pointed gazing; her tilting and adjusting of the head)? Surely, she could not have believed him to be one of the 'other monsters' she found herself hunting – else, that dreadful sword laced to her back, between her beautiful wings, would have been drawn long ago.

Ashelewyn stood straighter, the motion chasing away enough of the shadows on his face to reveal, at the very least, the lower half of his face. The long, elegant slope of his nose; the sharp, hawkish edges of his stubbled chin and jaw; thin, sensual lips. But his eyes, shy as they made themselves to be, remained hidden in the abyss of his hood.

Who can say? Everyone is different,” he replied.

Other monsters, the elf mused. I've heard that before...

After living so many years, and spending a great deal of them in the wilds, moving place to place, you picked up certain catchphrases that stuck with you. It was in the lodge of a small outpost at the foot of the Cold Mountains when he'd heard it first, “hunting other monsters.” The speaker had been a tall, imposing beast of a man, his leathers, and furs expensive but weathered. On his back was the largest sword the elf had ever seen, and a number of other weapons dressed his thighs and hips. But also, dangling from his hip, was a large burlap sack—dark red at the bottom with day's old blood, and the outlines of several faces pressing into the fabric in mute horror.

“Well, you could say that,” he confessed lightly. “I was out here a while ago, maybe a fortnight, on another job. I hadn't realized it then, but I woke something up – the chimera – and it's been causing problems for some of the locals. Making it difficult to get from here to there; killing livestock; that sort of thing. I made a mess, so it's only right that I clean it up.” To the rest of her inquiry, though, he couldn't help but allow the ghost of a smirk to grace his lips. “But no, I'm not concerned about the monsters recognizing me. Others, perhaps, but certainly not the monsters.”

They both had a business, it seemed, best left unsaid.

“So, there we have it,” the elf continued, finality touching his tone. “Short and sweet, no?” For the first time since their meeting, Ashelewyn moved, stepping away from his island of light. He moved toward her with a strange delicacy and grace, as if he were close to dancing. He scarcely left a trace of his steps in the damp soil, the foilage overrunning it, nor the humus layered thickly over both. “I wish you good hunting,” he murmured in farewell, pausing at her western flank, just long enough, to give his offer. “Unless you care to lend a helping hand, that is. I'd certainly repay the favor. Or is the destroying of your monsters urgent business?”

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The fae tilted her head to the other side, observing the stranger when he straightened his back. His eyes were still hidden which annoyed her greatly, but she ran her eyes over the part of his face that had been revealed to her nonetheless. 

What a righteous morality... Kinaaz wouldn't have been bothered with such a creature if she had been the one awakening it. Not unless she would need it for a specific purpose. 'Others, perhaps, but certainly not the monsters'. She smiled vaguely, taking note of this comment. Seems someone may be both the hunter and the hunted... 

The fae turned, mimicking the stranger's movements to be able to keep observing him when he began walking. She didn't shy away; she had enough confidence that she would be able to react quick enough if he suddenly chose to attack her. She nodded once and was about to bid him farewell when he offered to lend a helping hand. 'I'd certainly repay the favor'... Would it be helpful? Perhaps even needed? Kinaaz bit her lip lightly and finally turned her gaze upwards, towards the thick roof of leaves and branches, considering his offer, contemplating whether or not this chimera would be a match for her own hunting. Or if it would be worse... 

She finally clicked her tongue and looked back at the stranger, her tone practical and straight to the point. "Very well. I help you with your hunt... You help me with mine." She reached her hand forward in order to both shake on the deal and introduce herself properly. When he would reach for her hand, however, she would instead grab his under arm to squeeze it firmly and say, "I am Kinaaz." 

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There it was again, that itch to reach for his hatchet. The fae's grab of his forearm was unexpected—harmless, as time revealed, but unexpected. Ashelewyn's hand remained sprawled in the open air, stiff as a corpse stricken with rigor mortis, unsure of how to respond. If she wanted to kill you, she would have tried by now, the ranger reasoned. Or, perhaps, you'd already be dead. He couldn't keep straddling the fence – either trust her (or, at the very least, the idea of her that he'd formed in his head) or don't.

Finally decided, the elf adjusted his forearm to grip hers, mirroring the greeting.

Ashelewyn,” he replied, soft but firm. “And that—” the mote of light sparked into view at their side, blinding white, ephemeral, and quick as lightning “—is Crysta, my Starguide.”

Untangling his arm from Kinaaz's grip, the ranger followed the pulsating orb of light with hooded eyes. He nodded to Kinnaz, then started walking. “It's a pleasure to meet you, by the way,” he added almost absentmindedly. “It isn't often that we meet other hunters out here, let alone those willing to have a conversation.” Even with the abundance of contracts and work to be found following the Whispernight, the hunters seemed more territorial than ever. Worse than the beasts was another hunter, fueled by greed and bloodlust. “I had a rather nasty rendezvous with a pair of dark elves not a fortnight ago.”

That he still breathed was a testament to the pair's fate.

As they traversed deeper, the light piercing the canopy above them became scarce. The space between each column widened into small ponds of inky darkness, and the light, itself, weakened into fragile, flickering husks. “I don't doubt your skills,” he continued. “But, as I said, we might encounter problems outside the chimera. I hope you aren't the type to hesitate.” For all its progress, the Genesar wilds had become a savage domain. Kill or be killed – and that suited the ranger just fine. “But, just in case...” He glanced back over his shoulder, the motion nearly invisible in the thickening shadows. “... Are there any specific burial rites your people have that you would have me enact, should your hand prove slow?”

It was the only kindness Ashelewyn could offer her.

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Noticing his hesitance to take her arm at first, Kinaaz' eyes wandered observantly over his face. Distrusting. Careful. She noted to herself these things about him, deeming his behavior wise in a place like this - or in any place, really. 

She shied away when a small creature became visible beside her, a glimmer of light flashing past them. Frowning, she tried to identify the light, but she couldn't make out what was behind the fast moving little... thing. 

"Starguide..." She mumbled the word to herself as they started walking beside one another. Then a small smile graced her lips as she decided to be satisfied with simply knowing that there were things in this world unknown to her still. 

She looked up at the much taller man and tilted her head lightly while listening. Dark elves... She had always stayed away from elves, seeing as most of them practiced magic and a life style far different than hers, but she wondered if this type of elf would be more similar to her own type of fae. 

9 hours ago, King said:

“... Are there any specific burial rites your people have that you would have me enact, should your hand prove slow?”

She was surprised at what she considered consideration when he asked about her people's burial rites. She had always expected to die alone and thus sending a magic signal to her people, ensuring that they would be able to find her and offer her soul to Him, but perhaps there was a beautiful irony in the thought of a stranger from another race, another religion, being the one to send her off.

"We have complicated burial rites," she said, hesitating while lightly wetting her lips with the tip of her tongue. "My heart must be removed from my chest... and buried in the place where I fall. If you mark the place, my people will be able to find it and do..." Her voice trailed off. She practiced dark religion, the arts of dark magic, something most people viewed as pure paganism. She continued without elaborating further. "... My body must be burned." She glanced up at him to view his reaction. "And you? Should your hand prove slow?" She smirked, teasing him back with the careless sentence she deemed unlikely to occur when it came to her own ability to both react and fight. 

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“Cut out your heart, huh?” If the elf found the deed disturbing, or even uncouth, he didn't show it. There were far stranger things one could do with a freshly deceased corpse in the name of “ritual”, and from his tone, mute of any repulsion or awkwardness, he'd seen—or at least heard—of several. “I heard that there's a tribe of orcs in the deserts of Terrenus, the Bloodsong, that actually eat the heart of the deceased. They believe that in doing so, you gain the strength of the fallen. Strength being the most valuable thing a person can have, to them.”

The path drew narrow before them, cluttered with dead foliage and large, gnarled roots arching themselves up from the soil. The golden rays of the sun were almost gone now, replaced with the eerie, grey-green light filtering in through the canopy like a haze. Ashelewyn's gait slowed as he carefully picked his way through the forest.

As for me, well, it's not really a ritual. More of a preference,” he explained. “We're nomads, where I come from; all the forest is our home. So, when we died, there wasn't a need to do anything. The forest took us – pulled us back to our true origin.” The ranger paused, pressing a gloved hand to the trunk of a tree. “But this place is different from Ceyana. It speaks, it lives, but—I'm a guest here, you understand?” Even in the darkness, she'd feel his hidden eyes on her. “So, just bury me beneath a sturdy tree.”

The mote of light sparked into view again, the flash of her radiance almost blinding in the dense darkness. Like a solar flare, it illuminated nearly thirty feet all around them, before settling into the comfortable globe of steady white light.

Have you ever fought a chimera before?” he asked inquisitively. “This one is, well, an older one. It's much larger than you or I, with paws big as our chests. Three heads—a lion, dragon, and ram—with ugly, scaly wings.” Ashelewyn paused, smiling. “Nothing like your lovely pair, of course. Some claim to have seen it breathe a blue fire from its dragon head; magic, if I had to guess.” Of all the traits he'd listed, the last seemed to bother him least. “You can take flight, yes? While it might be difficult in all of this-” he gestured to the dense canopy about them; branches weaving between each other into a thick, impenetrable blanket of brown and green “-it would be beneficial to have both aerial and landbased options available to us.”

While Ashelewyn awaited the fae's confirmation, there was the distinct impression the mote of light at his shoulder – still shimmering and white – was staring at her.

Edited by King

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Kinaaz kept her eyes on the path before them, squinting slightly while adjusting them to the sparser lighting. His short tale of his origins awakened her curiosity. She quickly glanced up at him, noticing that he was looking at her, too. She reminded herself to ask him about this later; given that there would be a 'later', of course. Turning her attention back to the intricate grounding, she was distracted and momentarily blinded by the little, flashing light. Her eyes followed it intently, fascinated by its speed. She realized that he had asked her a question, blinked the dancing spots away from her eyes and looked up at him again.

"Fought one...? No. No, I've never fought a chimera. And I can fly, yes." She batted her wings lightly, raising herself a few inches above the ground before resuming her walking beside him. "I don't believe it'd be that much of an issue with all this." She mimicked his gesturing towards the untamed forest surrounding them and sent him a crooked smile. "I'm not very big, I can maneuver around a bit better than you'd be able to." Then again, most male faes wouldn't be as tall as you, she added in her mind, looking now at the little light glimmering by his shoulder. She could almost catch a glimpse of a little figure behind it, but eventually had to look away before she was completely blinded. "What is that... starguide of yours?" She gestured vaguely towards the thing, this time without looking directly at it. 

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"What is that... starguide of yours?"

Ashelewyn smirked, coming to a pause as he visibly turned to look at her. The mote of light followed, staying just above his shoulder, flickering with-- curiosity, was it? “Crysta, she wants to meet you,” the elf spoke in the light's native tongue, a soft, eloquent sound that flowed like a gentle stream. “What does it matter if she won't be with us long? She's our company, now.” A frown creased his lips. “There's no need to be rude – just say hello.

The light pulsed.

Sighing, the elf shook his head. “My apologies, Kinaaz. She can be... shy sometimes.”

Pushing an upturned hand toward his company, the elf presented his palm almost like a stage in the space between them. “Come along now, little light. Say hello.” The mote shimmered, then dimmed, and reluctantly scaled the length of his arm. Like the setting sun, the light sank into the valley of his palm and with a soft hum of magic, the luminescent sphere shattered into warm, twinkling bits of dust. In its place, a nude fairy stood.

She was a small thing, maybe six inches at her peak, with the sensual figure of a matured woman. A waterfall of blueish, silvery hair poured down her salmon-colored body, covering her pert breasts, ending at the slight curve of the small of her back. Behind her, two sleek wings beat shyly, shimmering as they reflected the ambient light. The fairy's sapphire eyes, bluer than the purest ocean, gazed up at Kinaaz in the darkness.

“A celestial fairy,” the elf explained. “My faithful, life-long companion.”

At this, the fairy visibly smiled.

“My people say that when one of us are born, a star falls from the sky to greet us.” Ashelewyn raised his hand in gesture, elevating her. “She was my star. The stars are witness to many things, and their knowledge helps my people navigate the world. She's saved my life more than once. Her name is Crysta.” Edging his hand closer to the fae, bringing the fairy into better view, Crysta reached forward with a small, dainty hand.

“Crysta, this is Kinaaz.”

While she may not have been able to pinch the underside of the fairy's forearm as she'd done the elf, the shaking of hand-to-finger would suffice.

Edited by King

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Kinaaz observed the man's interaction with the light with a frown, crossing her arms over her chest. He spoke in a language she couldn't understand in a soft, gentle voice that didn't at all resemble the man she had spoken with only minutes earlier. He held out his hand, and the light almost seemed to melt away, revealing a little, nude figure. A few heartbeat's time passed. Kinaaz blinked a few times, as if she couldn't believe what she was seeing.Then she suddenly smiled surprisingly wide, revealing a set of even, white teeth behind the full lips. The little woman was beautiful with her silver hair that glowed in a gentle, blue tone, delicate, pink skin, and wings that seemed almost transparent. The fairy's eyes seemed midnight blue in the darkness. A type of creature - of fairy - she had never encountered before. Kinaaz raised her hand and offered her a finger in greeting when Crysta reached her hand forward. 

"Hello, Crysta." She tilted her head and observed the fairy with the intense, open curiosity that every now and then struck her eyes, removing completely the otherwise reserved expression. 

"A celestrial fairy..." She shook her head slowly in disbelief. Over four hundred centuries in this world; and yet here she was, completely struck with surprise and in awe of what she was seeing. What a marvelous thing. 

"I have never seen your like before. I'm a Dark Fae, or fairy, if you will. But I'm afraid I don't have the advantage of your dainty size." She smiled fully at the fairy again, lowering her hand and taking a step back, now turning her gaze towards the elf. "I'm glad I met you, Ashelewyn, even if you are leading me to an early death." She then looked at Crysta again. "A marvelous thing indeed..." She mumbled the words more to herself than any of them. What a contradiction. A fairy made of light... and me.

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Crysta shook the fae's finger intently, soft but firm. They'd both—the elf and fairy—heard the term “dark fae” before, but neither placed much stock in it. Too many were too quick to align themselves with the more colloquial uses of terms; the stigmata of dark being “evil,” and light, “holy.” Like Ashelewyn, the fairy had seen her fair share of horrors carried out by the hands of those deemed righteous – and alternatively, acts of courage and selflessness by individuals branded monsters for their heritage.

Kinaaz proved herself good company, and that was enough for them.

“You're the largest fairy I'm come by,” the elf noted, amusement accenting his tone. Bouncing Crysta up from his palm, the starguide sprung into the air and surged with light. It rippled from every inch of her, encasing her in that familiar white sphere. She zipped ahead, weaving between branch and brush, before vanishing into the dark. “Though, it's certainly not a bad thing. Fairies, or fae, as you say – you're all exceedingly beautiful creatures,” he confessed shamelessly. “Not that it's hard to appreciate the beauty of small stature, but, well... I like that I do not have to squint to see you or how appealing you are, Kinaaz.”

Ashelewyn was not the most eloquent of men, it seemed. Blunt, perhaps even a bit rugged around the edges, but such was the way the frontier fashioned those bold enough to make it their home. Surely, the dark fae knew of her appearance – how lovely she was, and how her attire (no matter how practical) did nothing to conceal it, but instead accentuated her exotic allure. But neither was he a mindless savage, and while she commanded a look, perhaps even two, he did not linger; the ranger's attention swiftly turned back to their darkened path, and he continued forward.

It was a while before he spoke again. “When we find the chimera, I, grounded as I am, will lead the attack,” he said decidedly. “We'll use the advantage of your flight to attack its blindsides, whenever they make themselves apparent. Its hide is durable, but it looks like that blade on your back is made of good steel—spellforged, I would imagine, with you being fae and all. You should make short work it.” Ducking beneath a mildewed branch, Ashelewyn pushed it up high on the other side, granting the fae safe passage. “I'll do my best to distract it, giving you as many chances to terrorize it as you can. We'll need to be quick.”

A long, drawn-out battle with a beast of this caliber was not something either of them wanted.

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Kinaaz snorted, amused, at his comment about her size. She looked up at him with a slightly raised brow; a man of his height, telling her that she wasn't small? That had to be a first. She fluttered her wings lightly, though without raising from the ground, with a curious look on her face. The compliment thereafter rolled off his tongue with no hesitance, though it lacked the soft, amorous tone of someone whose intentions were seductive. Ashelewyn said it simply as though it was a fact as certain as the grass being green or a rock being hard.

"Living amongst elves, I'm sure you've learned to appreciate the beauty of your own kind, as well," she simply commented, not thanking him, and not swooning over the compliment. He didn't tell her something she wasn't aware of; he was right, the fae kind was one with appealing features. There was no need for lingering on it or pretending to be a blushing young maiden to whom the attention of men was new or unexplored. 

She crouched down slightly, though it wasn't necessary, when he held up the branch for her, nodding at his plan. "Distract. Terrorize. Quick. Got it. Any idea where to find it?" She flew the few steps over a large rock blocking her passage, without thinking twice that she could have stepped over or past it. The ability to fly had to have its little advantages. 

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