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DANGEROUS GAME: ACT II

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WHEN SNOW FALLS

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KNOX "FROST" HADLEY

Tick- tick- tick, wrapped the branch on the window, sullen twigs swaying back and forth in the winter winds. Fire crackled in the corner as festive spirit permeated the air. The bar was full and lively, and Frost appreciated the noise, but his company was clearly anxious about something. Without fail, every minute, the man would look over his shoulder at burly men sitting behind. Clearly, closed spaces did not bode well with this one. At the note, he turned to his partner sitting beside — a man swathed in the tans, grays, browns, and the azures of a battalion that was no more.

"Snipe," Frost whispered carefully, timed at moments when they teen was not looking. "Maybe it would... be better if we continue our conversation outside," he continued, motioning towards the boy-skeptic to the left. "I'm sure the others will find us."

"Agreed," Snipe responded, catlike yellow eyes flickering in the firelight. While Snipe had the shape of his original human form, it was temporary, and Knox knew just how comfortable the man felt around these townspeople — his kind was less than welcome.

Turning back, Hadley tapped the zephyr on the shoulder, half expecting him to jump at the touch.

"Let's get some fresh air and finish talking outside," he said, getting up from the bar stool and walking towards the front door.

When he reached to turn the knob, he felt a chill emanating from the metal, and with a moment's hesitation, he turned it, cracking open the semi-frosted door. The sense warmth and festive feelings seemed to be sucked out as a cold wall of air rushed in and blasted him in the face. He knew that the Valjer City was renowned for its cold, but the difference in climate was always a shock to his system. The sayings were true: Northerners just weren't made for the South.

He hated the South, not just for its climate, but for what it had done to him — to his friends — to Snipe. It had only been a few months since the incident, but the events were still fresh in his mind. The betrayal of the second caravan — the ambush at night — the loss, the bite — all still salted wounds that wouldn't close. Aron, Wren, Berin, Dan, and Khakina were just lucky that they didn't have to suffer the same way. While they didn't save everyone from the third caravan, at least Knox was able to save a few. The battle in the sewers was particularly hard-fought, the alpha having almost torn the group to pieces. If Dan had not collapsed the sewers tunnels on the damn mongrel, they probably would not have gotten out alive. If only the had killed that one-eyed monstrosity as well.... The group barely scratched their numbers. Yes, the group was lucky to leave with their lives, but still, escaping the pack was not the same as revenge.

Revenge would be the only thing that would free him now.

"Close th'damn door, y'idiot!" yelled an angry voice from inside, waking Hadley from his momentary daze.

Despite everything that Dan had done for the group, it did not change the fact that Knox hated the cold, and going outside to satiate the boy was less than favorable. He did not want to go out, but situation deemed it necessary, so with a curse under his breath, Frost cast himself out into the snow, Snipe following close behind. These parts weren't like the temperate homes he knew in Kethlerin. These parts were a freezing hell that deserved scorn and spite. It would always be a mystery to Frost as to why any people would settle in these frozen wastelands.

Outside, the town lights lit the dark night, a light snow falling. Holding his hand out, Frost let a flake of ice fall onto his skin, watching the curious crystalline fractal melt in hand. Soon, the rest of the party would be arriving soon, and with their arrival, the journey back to Cobran would begin.

Spoiler

OOC: In case you'd like to rejoin, @Thotification @HollowCipher @Fennis Ursai @roboblu. I will be soon posting an interest check if other people would like to join later, but as for now, we are in Valjer City — about to discuss the journey back to Cobran. All secrets will be revealed shortly, so just make yourself comfortable with a few familiar faces while the gears begin to turn. Enjoy the ride ~

If you are new, and would like to join, please send me a PM so we can add you to the fold of bold adventurers. I give you a warning now though — this will be anything but easy.

 

Edited by Artificer
picking up the pieces

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Dan once again questioned why he was in here. He hated bars and taverns. First, he was underage, though he doubted they would care one way or the other. Second, the floors were sticky and gross. Dreadful for a barefoot teenage boy to walk on when he was trying not to stand out. Third, and most importantly, taverns always had sexual deviants in them.
Dan could feel them. Eyes staring at him. Two- no three people. He couldn't help that he was attractive, but that lot could contain their dirty desires and at least stop boring holes into him with their eyes.

I think the one in the corner there just likes your feet. He's been staring at them for the better part of 15 minutes now.

Oh, THATS a load off my mind. Thank you.

Despite how long it had been, Dan was still a bit salty. What was supposed to be a simple extermination mission turned into an unmitigated disaster. Nearly their whole party was wiped out, heavy injuries were sustained, and they'd only managed to get away because of his destructive abilities. What was only slightly worse than that was he was the first to check the basement. If he had indulged his curious tendencies they might have....
Dan shook his head. No point in thinking about what might have happened if they had caught HIM instead of Wren. His ADHD however thought differently. It forced the thought into his mind, and showed him the scenarios. All of which would have worked out better for everyone.

He forced himself to think about other things. After the explosion collapsed the sewers on top of the furries, they had to retreat. Those not heavily intoxicated would feel a strong draft out of nowhere as Dan again ran that through his mind. HE- Greece's Trump Card, the Great Titanslayer Dan Palmer - had fucking retreated. He knew it was a necessity from time to time, but it just didn't sit right. Dan killed monsters for a damn LIVING, a bunch of wolves and furries should NOT have been a problem.

Ever since then, Dan's paranoia had gone up a notch or two. Like he always expected the furries to show up again. They never had, of course. And now, they were making plans to return to finish the job. Maybe then Dan's paranoia would unclench its sphincter. It had been so long since that night. Dan realized yet again with a wince that Leo was going to bitch for hours about his boyfriend being away for so long.

He looked up and noticed the others were going outside, which suited him just fine. There was only one person who Dan had approved to look at his feet for this long, and that was Leo Perez.
He didn't even bother to blend in anymore, and floated above the floor and went out the door.
 

4 hours ago, Artificer said:

"Close th' damn door, y'idiot!"

Dan held out his left hand, and presented the owner of the voice with a lovely view of his middle finger before both causing a strong wind to blow inside from the frigid outside, and then another wind to slam the door shut.

Dan was no fan of the cold himself, but he had found ways to cope with it. For one, he never let his bare feet touch the frigid ground. For another, if he wasn't in contact with the ground, the wind was the worst part. Through hours of having fuck all to do but practice, at this point Dan had mastered his Tellus Seed powers, and had begun to invent new ways to use them. One that came in handy in all this cold was causing a wind dead zone around himself, so no piercing wind could touch him.

Dan scowled. He was NOT a good loser. He fully intended to wipe both the wolves and the furries from Cobran when they returned.
He made a small whirlwind, causing the snowflakes to swirl around him and his wind dead zone orb.
Oh. There would be a reckoning alright.

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KNOX "FROST" HADLEY

A static white was all there was beyond the perimeter of the lamplight, save for a sole standing silver fir whose silhouette was barely perceivable from a distance. The tree was easy to miss, having bark the same color as the snow backdrop of these arctic wastes. The time was most opportune that they find the secluded location at the westernmost edge of Valjer. The snowstorm was dying down, the clouds were starting to part, and the moonbeams were starting to cut through like light through pinholes. Looking back towards Snipe, Frost could see the nauseous look on his face coupled with his unbalanced gait. It would only be a matter of time before the inevitable occurred. "We'll discuss the rest out here," Hadley declared, pointing to the lone trunk. Whatever looks of protest came from the zephyr at this point would be duly ignored — Knox would not risk the town finding out.

Trudging through the ever-deepening snow, the archer led the two out to the other side of the tree. Upon arriving, Snipe sat down, resting on the tree, legs curled in to his chest as he began to quiver.

"Will you be alright?" Knox asked softly, putting his hand down onto his friend's shoulder.

"I'll manage...," Snipe replied, head peeking briefly from his knees, half-smile wavering. "Go on, continue."

Turning back to the zephyr, Knox lit his small, kerosene lamp, and took out a small notepad. "We were able to organize a small expedition party for Cobran. The party should be consisting of four to eight people, — four already confirmed. There's you, Aron, Snipe, and I for certain, but whether or not the rest who replied to the bulletins come is up to them. Regardless, we are leaving tomorrow night, so get some extra sleep in the day — its practically always night out here in the winter anyways."

"Snipe and I bought some supplies in town, and prepped two week's rations for four people in the main packs, sleeping packs, and some other tools. Aron said he bought some scrolls when he was in the capital, but aside from that, we only have the essentials. We'll be discussing the finalized the plan tomorrow when we confirm the people who are going, but since you were the first one here, did you have any suggestions?"

@HollowCipher

Edited by Artificer
changing a few tidbits

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Pack light.

Varda had spent the last half an hour asking for directions. She clutched a note in her right hand as she approached the group. Unfolding it, she showed the written recruitment notice to those present.

“Hello. May I know which one of you is Frost?” 

@Artificer

 


 

It had taken her seven days to ride from her home in the Midlands to Valjer. During that time, she had already consumed a quarter of her rations. 

Prior to departing, she had taken two full weeks to make preparations for the journey ahead. The land of the Cold South was an unfamiliar climate for the blind mercenary, requiring her to purchase specialized equipment just to withstand the cold. She brought along with her two sets of hide garment, along with four layers of fur jackets, two of which she would wear at a time. There was dry soap for basic hygiene, two pairs of socks, a pair of tight-fitting combat gloves, and enough MRE’s for a month. Most of these items were kept in a highly insulated duffel bag which she brought along. 

Of course, one could not forget her weapons for a mission as dangerous as this. 

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A modified sniper rifle accurate to distances of up to 1200 yards. It had no scope because she didn’t need one. It was made of aluminum alloy, a choice of light metal that didn’t compensate in durability. Personal modifications included a strap from the stock to the forearm for back carrying. 

 2d14f312de9e5a723fe6c979445fbbf4.png

For close-ranged combat, she possessed a military grade combat knife and a pistol with a built-in silencer. Although it was a little heavier and clunkier, the silencer would have obvious benefits if she was sneaking around in hostile territory. 

 df3e2eae456995dd26acfe2a392f6047.png

Six grenades were attached to her belt with keychains. The keychains were made from soft metal, and thus able to be broken with a quick snap of the wrist. 

For her journey to Valjer, she took a native horse from her father’s stable. Before reaching the meetup point, she entrusted the horse to a local shepherd, offering him money for its food and an additional tip for his services. 

Edited by Sleepy Seal

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KNOX "FROST" HADLEY

Ear caught wind of a voice, but to his surprise, Knox found that it was not the voice of Dan. Looking out, he saw a woman in the distance — fair skin, brown hair, and swathed in multiple layers of what looked to be warm, fur, coats. Oh how comfortable she must have been in that attire. His eyes threw daggers at the cloaked figure. Just think how warm he would be in that attire. Looking back to the Zephyr once more, he gave a devil's glare at the boy. It the kid hadn't been so jittery, they would not have left the bar prematurely, and Frost would have had time to get another jacket.

Turning to the newcomer, he couldn't help but notice the one peculiarity of her attire: the cloth covering her eyes.

"Uh- greetings. I'm Frost. Can I help you?"

His eyes were fixated on her seeming infirmity that he completely disregarded the note in her hand.

Why in the world was a blind woman out here in the middle of the night?

@Sleepy Seal

Edited by Artificer
making things consistent with recent changes

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On 12/17/2018 at 10:29 PM, Artificer said:

since you were the first one here, did you have any suggestions?

"Hmmm.... Is there an apothecary in town? Or simply an herb shop? I can make up loads of elixirs and potions for when we get there with all kinds of things."

Neeerrrrd.

Fuck you.

"I can write out a list if you need it or something."

Dan wasnt joking. Ever since he started in Bronte Academy, it had become clear that he was an alchemy prodigy. The alchemy teachers didnt like that very much though, as he often ended up showing them up right in front of everyone. Dan had eventually stopped going to alchemy classes altogether and decided to study and experiment on his own time.
And HOOO the experiments he was doing.
He fervently hoped that Leo was taking proper care of them. He had made significant progress on It, and it would be a tremendous setback if something went wrong.

Dan caught the voice of someone on the wind, but she was looking for Frost. Not him. He then caught the glare he was getting, and smirked. Even during serious time with freezing temperatures, Dan's Hermes blood always enjoyed irritating people.

"Get me what I need, and I'll have potions and poisons so awesome that doctors would order hits on me to get hold of them."

Edited by HollowCipher

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MARCEL "SNIPE" LANCASTER

"There was one I believe... just across from The Ice Dragon," Marcel answered, voice low, throat making a harsh gravelly sound with every spoken word. Looking up from his knees, Snipe tried to get a look at the Zephyr, but his vision was blurry, murky at best at that point. The only thing which showed true in all its vivid splendor was the circle of peerless silver peering out from the clouds, shining more of its ghostly light on the world below. It would only be a matter of time before the inevitable happened, and he figured that it would probably best that it happened somewhere private.

"Excuse me," he said, getting up, sliding up from the trunk, using it to balance himself as the world spun. It was indeed best that he go back to the shed for the night, he thought. "The cold's really getting to me, so I think I'll... take my leave for the night."

Taking a few steps, he looked back to nowhere in particular, and said, "I'll be at the shed, Frost."

And with that, he began his trudging journey back to the decrepit shepherd's shed.

@HollowCipher

Edited by Artificer

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Image result for mhx alter fgoNot even the horrors of that night can deter the little girl from returning to this frozen land once more. No longer the naive child she was back then, Khakina returns to avenge those that died that sorrowful night, especially Gingerbush. Khaki considered the female soldier a friend even though their interaction was brief. But so was the soldier's life that fateful night. When she got word that another punitive will be sent to deal with the same wolves, she came back for vengeance. Oh and she will not miss this opportunity to get alpha wolf fur for her coat collection. Yes, vengeance and fashion go hand in hand.

She had changed a lot since then. Other than her new hair color, the little girl that cowered that night was a public enemy now. Her actions has put her on the Terran government's watchlist as a terrorist and a criminal, which prompted for the sudden physical changes. She needed to be careful from that day on and any slip up on her part would only lead to her early demise. Oh, it was a sad life Khaki lived. 

The little girl shivered under the cold air. Ever since she became a paragon under the cult of power, she was becoming more and more human, leading the gradual loss of her resistance to cold. As she trudged through the snow, her yellow eyes landed upon a familiar form, one that gave her mixed emotions. It was Dan Palmer. She was happy that she could meet her friend again but also sad because she still hadn't told the poor boy regarding the god he supposedly killed. Still, a little white lie is better than hurting her friend's feelings.

Would Dan remember her? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But she can always ask. And so the little girl happily made headed for her friend Dan. When she closed the distance she would say, "Dan! Dan! It's me Khaki!"

@HollowCipher

Edited by Thotification

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4 hours ago, Artificer said:

"There was one I believe... just across from The Ice Dragon,"

Dan grinned.
"Wonderful. I think I'll go on a shopping spree. When I finish, I'll be in my room. In an inn, not a damn tavern. So, across from the Ass Dragon. Thank you."

I think I remember you eyeing a dirty toy called the Ass Dragon once.
You would remember that.

Dan was about to turn and leave when he sensed something. Since killing Havoc, Dan had noticed that he could, for lack of a better term, sense the power levels of others, along with their power signatures. Each and every thing had its own unique power signature, and this one was very familiar.
Dan drew his legs up into a lotus position, soles facing upward, and allowed wind back around him. And sure enough, he caught the scent he was expecting.

She didnt look like it, but the power signature and scent were definitely Khakis'. So she HAD come back.

Dan floated over and smiled. "Hey Khakis. Been a little while."
Then he noticed something. Something that troubled him slightly.

"...No ink demon this time?"

It was well ingrained in Dan's memory by this point that the members of the Black Spear Cartel all had little ink demon penguins, which Dan referred to as Bendy Gunters. His little birds had informed him that the cartel had disbanded, but that still should not have meant the demonic birds shouldn't be with the members.

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“Yes, I got your note saying that you needed people who could kill,” Varda settled the duffel bag on the ground with a soft thud. As she walked closer to the voice, she counted the soft crunches of her boots against the snow. Five steps. Stop. She handed the note to Frost, taking the chance to introduce herself as he read it. And infirmity? Perhaps he had missed the 60-inch-long sniper rifle that was strapped to her back. 

“I’m Varda Lomanet, ex-Genesar military. I’ve brought enough supplies to sustain myself for three weeks. However, I’ll need to borrow an ice pick if we’re going to be doing any climbing."

In the background, she heard the shuffling of feet and a break-out of chatter. She heard the heartbeats of several more. She paid them no mind. She was here to get the job over and done without any further hassle. 

@Artificer

Edited by Sleepy Seal

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KNOX "FROST" HADLEY

Taking the note from her smooth, battle-weathered hands, Frost skimmed through it twice just to confirm what he was actually reading. At the mention of her name, Knox felt a knot in his stomach. This was the very same Varda Lomanet who had responded in less than a fortnite to the initial posting. In her letter response to the bulletin, she claimed she was capable in shooting firearms — and the guns strapped to her were a clear indicator that —, but how could she aim a gun if she couldn't see the target? Having a blind woman join the party was unprecedented, and the archer hoped that the cloth on her eyes was just a strange fashion statement. Still, even if she was blind, he had no choice but to accept her into the party. Beggars can't be choosers. They needed every man and woman they could find if they were going to make it back from Cobran in one piece.

Pausing for a moment, Frost took the time to choose his next words carefully, taking care not to mention the woman's infirmity — that was the last thing he wanted to do. 'Be calm,' he reassured himself. 'She's just blind. Nothing too serious. Not a major liability.'

Finally, when he was sure he had the right words, he continued. "One of our party members is coming with extra equipment, and should be arriving on the morrow, but, I have a spare ice pick at the shed, so I can bring it when we meet."

Holding out his hand to formally greet her, Knox realized that she likely did not see his extended gesture, so instead he took the initiative and grabbed her hand with both of his and shook it like a madman. "Its a pleasure to meet you Ms. Lomanet."

@Sleepy Seal

Edited by Artificer
changing a few tidbits

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The freezing wind whipped at the edges of the hooded cloak Samuel wore as he approached the small town where he was due to meet the other members of his party. When he'd heard the details of the job, a group going after one badass pack of wolves, he had jumped at the chance to participate. His family, the Gareau had always been linked to wolves, with their most sacred ritual being the Rite of the wolf, which transformed the recipient into a powerful werewolf. Much of said ritual was known only to his father, but he had now been told that one of the materials used was the heart of a powerful wolf, much like the one that had been described as the target for this job.

Samuel had mixed feelings about undergoing the ritual, though he had told no one else about them. Of course, he was honored to carry on a family tradition that dated back long before he was born; but at the same time, he felt as if he had no choice. As the eldest son, he was expected to take the rite, and become Knight-Alpha. No thought was given as to whether or not he actually wanted the position. The Knight-Alpha was often preoccupied with diplomatic duties, keeping them from participating in actual combat except in dire circumstance. But he was most at home on the battlefield, and had no desire to leave. In the end, he had no idea what he should do.

Up ahead, he saw a small gathering of people outside the local tavern, and recognized his employer by description. He walked over, pulled down his hood, and offered his hand.

"Samuel Gareau, nice to meet you."

Edited by danzilla3

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KNOX "FROST" HADLEY

It was scarcely a moment between the second arrival with the next, and Frost wondered if all the individuals had arrived a day early. Strange that so many were trekking through the harsh tundra in the dead of night when a storm had been raging but minutes ago. Turning to the newcomer, Frost eyed him dubiously. Clearly, the man looked like a Northerner given his silver hair, but something about the man's accent threw him off. No one that Hadley had met in his battalion spoke quite like this one, and he was curious as to where the fellow was from. No sane Genesaran would brave the wastes of the South in weather like this.

"Knox Hadley," he responded, giving the man a firm handshake. "I received your raven three days ago, and I'm thankful that you're joining us on this expedition."

From the corner of his eye, he caught sight of an unmistakable, stygian green. Involuntarily, he subconsciously looked her way to confirm, and confirmed his suspicions were true. It was undoubtedly Lady Khakina of the Black Spear. Still, it was strange. From what he recalled from the last expedition, she had auburn hair, a strange, eldritch pet at her side, and a missing arm. Strange. Strange indeed.

With everyone arriving on such short notice, Knox wondered if another would be arriving shortly. Looking back to Samuel, he couldn't help but ask.

"By any chance, you wouldn't have happened to see a dwarf out there in a caravan on your way here, did you? Short — blind in one eye — foul temper?"

@danzilla3

Edited by Artificer

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Heroine.X.Alter.full.2080862.jpg "Hey Khakis. Been a little while."

"...No ink demon this time?"

Khaki frowned. It had been a long while since they last met. What with all the shit she had to go through after the events at Ceyana. And it had been a while since the ink demon were mentioned. Contrary to popular belief, the ink demons are actually homunculus with polymorphing abilities.  To be fair the ink demons had too much utility that Khaki sometimes forgot to make use of them in recent arcs. Still, she always kept her personal penguin in case shit happens and right now it is in the form of her scarf. Or maybe she's mature enough to not have a pet penguin following behind her every single time.

"Actually," she chirped, "I still have mine but I use it as a scarf for now."

With that she chuckled. Now that she's gotten better with her abilities, the penguin's remaining purpose is for changing her clothes. It's very important for a cute girl like Khaki to wear the right clothing during important occasions. Still 

Penguins aside, Khaki wondered where her friend is going? Should she ask? Right now Khaki is in a dilemma. Would it be too forward of her to ask Dan of his intentions or would it make her look uncaring for not asking? While her brain pondered the pros and cons, her mouth seemed to have a brain of its own as it opened by itself, "Da-Dan! Where are you going?"


 

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6 hours ago, Thotification said:

"Da-Dan! Where are you going?"

Dan smiled.

"Im going to a shop to buy herbs and alchemy ingredients. Im going to make us potions for our fight against the furries. That being said-"

Dan moved his arm in a circle, and his 'job clothes' appeared on him.

Spoiler

Related image

He had changed up the Dimfyre Soldier mask so that people could better hear him when he spoke. However, he could morph it back to normal in an instant to deflect face attacks.

"-This is technically a job. So, until I go to bed, I'll just wear this."

'Technically a job' my ass. You just wanted to show off your awesome outfit to everyone.

Yeah, so?

"Did you want to come or something? I gotta go now if I'm gonna get the stuff done in time, so follow me if you wanna."

Dan floated off in the direction of the apothecary, arriving within a few minutes. He opened the door, and dropped down, letting his feet touch the floor. Best not to freak out the owner just yet.
He walked about the shop, grabbing all of several items, paid, and left for his room.


Once he had made it to his room, he lit a fire, and started boiling water from snow outside as he worked; crushing, grinding, using his air manipulation to forcibly dry, mixing, stirring, boiling and simmering.
He got the same delight from doing this as he did cooking. It was just such a rush to put things together and turn them into something amazing.
Before long, the potions began to take form. Different colors, different flavors, different effects. Dan poured them into vials and bottles, capping and corking each one. He triple checked the amounts, and ensured that he had made plenty enough.

After that, at this point, Dan decided to take one of his pills, and induce sleep. He took a crystal in his pocket, and held it out.
"Peruggia. Come out."

In a shimmer of light, the Pumpkin Elite appeared.
"Good evening, my leige."
"Evening. Im going to bed. You know the routine."
Peruggia bowed slightly. 
"Yes, my lord."

Peruggia took his position at the window, facing the door. If anything tried to get in, Peruggia would cleave it in half.
Dan meanwhile, crawled into the bed, and took a white pill. Within minutes, he was asleep.

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