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kick names, take ass [Airship]

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Through some clever maneuvering of his magibike, Winter had managed to put some distance between himself and the wyrms, and then mounted a stony outcropping. From there, he killed the motor on his bike and hopped onto the ground, kneeling and placing both hands on the ground. It had been many years since he'd had to use any of the fieldcraft he'd learned as a youth, but fortunately the skills had not been lost. With a relatively small effort of will and manipulation of mana, he was able to obscure his scent and the signature of his aura, and reduce the heat of his skin to match the surrounding air. That took care of heat-sensing, scent, and magical detection; thankfully the magibike didn't run hot. If his gamble paid off, he would now be effectively invisible to the eyeless wyrms. He stayed as still as he could, and waited.

The wyrm that had peeled off to chase him suddenly burst from the ground, but it was several dozen feet to his left, and did not turn towards him before plunging back into the earth. The elf grinned triumphantly.

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It was an off sort of happening, having Winter drop almost completely off any radar she had. Other than what her eyes told her, it was as if the white haired elf suddenly ceased his existence. He didn't go invisible or play dead- she could sense the dead in the same way she did the living- Winter's existence just essentially vanished. There was, quite effectively, no difference between him and the air next to him.

Despite herself, Lilith couldn't help but find the stealth ability particularly fascinating. And, much to her surprise, extremely impressive as it had fooled even her senses. If she focused extremely hard on spotting someone in the area, perhaps she'd have noticed a discrepancy near where her eyes said he stood. 

Still, though she could see him, her mind struggled to accept what her eyes told it. How could she see something that her senses said didn't exist?

For a moment she paused and lip twitched in something reminiscent of both a smile and a frown, giving the Wyrm chasing her just enough time, a fraction of a second, to catch up to her. It burst from the ground under her feat obviously aiming to swallow her whole.

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As the wyrm burst from the ground, a portal opened up between The Commander and the creature. The beasts velocity carried it completely through the portal, which then closed behind it. Immediately afterwards, another portal opened up beside Lilith, and out walked through her Second-In-Command, Ankou Lethe. The pale man turned to his leader and knelt down in front of her.

"My lady."

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Lilith slowed her motorcycle, eyes opened wider than usual as she brought it to a stop in front of Ankou. Having taken her eyes of Winter and unable to sense him, it was truly as if the elf had disappeared. 

"My lady," Ankou said, taking a knee before her.

"Good timing." Lilith nodded, a small grin pulling at the corner of her mouth. Ever since she'd obtained the Soul Stone's power, the Lunar Daughters of her past had been all but silenced. Lilith guessed it wouldn't last forever, but momentarily was just as good. "I'm heading over there," she said, waving a finger toward Strider City. "There's a man, Stephan Barlova. An ex-airship pilot that has information on a famous airship." As she started to rev up her engine again, she paused, "Oh, and I need him alive. Can't risk his memory being decayed by being brought back as an undead. So don't kill him." 

With that she kicked her engine into gear, bike launching forward. Ankou would get there without a motorcycle. Magic let them do many things, but she'd forgotten about the tools of mortals after her awakening. Using them again was proving to be rather entertaining.

 

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Ankou watched Lilith speed off on her motorcycle with a quiet sense of satisfaction. Ever since the acquisition of the Soul Stone she had begun to reassert her personality over that of the Lunar Daughter collective. It was something that he had long desired. The Commander of Death had become like a daughter to him, but until now she had been compelled to be cold and calculating. Now she was able to show her appreciation. She still wasn't exactly a warm person, but the change had been noticeable. 

Opening a portal, he stepped through and onto the streets of Strider. The transition was so seamless that no one seemed to notice his sudden appearance. Indeed, the masses continued on with their business, taking no heed of anything else around them.

Now he reached out with the Mind Stone, scanning the minds of the populace for a single name, Stephan Barlova. In minutes, he had located the mans apartment, and locked in on his mental signal. A quick put him in the middle of a cluttered living room, looking upon a man in his boxers, cradling a bottle of whiskey. Barlova looked up at him, confusion and irritation on his face.

"What the hell man?!"

A quick gesture and Ankou had pacified the mans mind. Once Lilith got here, he would let her determine how she wanted to continue.

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While easy for Ankou to track down Barlova, the task was not much harder for Lilith who'd marked the Captain's soul with her own stone. But, still, the actual airship was only something she'd decided to get on the side. As opposed to all her goals before, this was more about the journey than the destination. After all she didn't know when her thoughts would be locked again.

After they'd defeated the Wyrms, the remainder of her stretch to Strider City was quick and uneventful. Thirty minutes later she arrived at the city gate where a guard stopped her and asked for ID. 

While Lilith had vague memories have what an "ID" was, she hadn't suspected it was an actual object. 

She blinked and thought for a moment before shrugging at the guard and started to walk passed him. Before she could, however, the guard reached out and placed a heavy hand on her shoulder; an attempt to stop her movement, Lilith supposed. 

Normally she would have instantly killed the man, but considering the situation a less bloody solution might works best. Instead of sticking her hand through his head, Lilith simply blew a breath toward him as if sighing. The breath, laced with soul energy, washed over the guard and he dropped like a rock. 

She'd extinguished his soul like a candle. 

"He's collapsed," Lilith shouted, doing her best to imitate the worry and fear mortals around her generally spoke with. She even tried to copy the quiver in their voice, though she wasn't confident the imitation was accurate. 

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Enough time had passed that Ankou had become concerned about Lilith's lack of progress. He doubted that she was truly in trouble, but still had to wonder what was causing her to be so delayed. Soon he came to the decision to go and seek her out. The necromancer once again drew on the power of the Mind Stone to locate his leader, finding her at some kind of checkpoint. Now he turned his attention to the hypnotized Barlova.

"You will follow. Quietly."

The man nodded slowly, and Ankou opened a portal to a secluded spot near the checkpoint. Once he and Barlova were through, it didn't take long for him to find Lilith. He approached quietly, only speaking once he was close.

"I have found him."

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Had guards not come rushing toward Lilith and the felled guard, she would have nodded to Ankou. Unfortunately, she didn't have much time to acknowledge her Paragon's work. Within seconds, a rather fast response for guards compared to her experience in the outer cities of Terrenus, there were guards all around them. Four stood before Lilith, the expressions on their face confused. It was a struggle to keep herself from laughing. The soldiers didn't dare do anything; not sure whether she was victim or perpetrator. In the face of such half assed suspicion, Lilith simply looked at them with the most innocently mortal look she could imagine. 

Acting mortal was rather difficult. Their faces showed so many expressions and never kept them for more than a few minutes before showing a different one. No wonder these inferior beings were always attacking each other. Many of their expressions were incredibly annoying to see. An urge to simply kill them and continue on her way fired through her veins, but Lilith let it wash over her like a soft wave. Her want for mortal experience outweighed her annoyance.

For the moment.

"What happened to him?" Lilith asked, feigning frightened curiosity.

At first the guards didn't respond. They just looked at each other, then at the guard looking over his fallen brethren. "His symptoms look like he might have had a heart attack, but it's hard to tell without the coroner. Judith, call for an atopsy." The large guard turned to Lilith, beckoning her to follow him. "M'am, I'm going to need you to come with me as you're the only one who saw what happened. I hope you understand that I'll need a statement from you and will need to ask you a few questions."

Lilith didn't move and certainly didn't follow him. Rather, she tilted her head. Thinking. Why was it so hard to pretend to be a mortal? She'd simply wanted to walk into the town. Mortals always made things so hard. "No, I don't think I will." She'd been bothered enough.

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Watching Lilith try to act like a mortal was like watching a child try to imitate the actions of her parents. She understood how to go through the motions, what her expression should be, but didn't understand the emotions that were meant to go with them. The Lunar Daughter had never truly experienced fear, and her attempts to feign it reflected that. Naturally, the guards were suspicious and wanted to question her further. It was when she casually refused that he realized she didn't understand that beneath the guards polite demeanor was a firm order. 

Naturally the pair moved to stop her. Ankou stepped between them, his eyes flashing with yellow light for an instant, "Leave her be."

The guards eyes flashed with the same light for just a moment before they turned and walked back to the body. Ankou silently commanded Barlova to follow, and then went to walk beside Lilith.

"If you wish to blend in with the mortals, you must learn to stay your hand," he pointed out, his tone gently chiding.

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"Stay... my hand?" 

For a moment Lilith glanced down at her hand and wondered what Ankou had meant when he said that. She'd deliberately not used her hand to kill the guard, so his words didn't make any sense. Should she have not moved that at all? Looking around, however, Lilith saw nearly every one of the mortals moving their hands. Almost as if they wouldn't know what to do with idle hands. 

Then, slower than she'd admit, Lilith realized it was likely an expression. She could only guess at what it meant though. In any case, Ankou knew more about mortals than she did so it was likely that he was right. Meaning that she'd done something unmortal like, hence the attention she'd attracted. Although she had no idea what that something was, Lilith was certain she'd figure out the gaps in her knowledge if she observed more mortals in their daily habits. 

So, Lilith nodded toward Ankou. "Okay. Next time I will," she paused, remember Ankou's phrasing, "stay my hand." Saying that, Lilith stuck her hands into the pockets of her trousers and continued forward. It was certainly a good thing Ankou had appeared with her. When it came to destroying and death, if Lilith claimed to be second, no one could claim to be first. But she was not so blind as to believe herself omnipotent, especially when dealing with mortals. 

As the three of them walked through the city, Lilith's gaze lingered on one of the stores. A rather small, dainty little place. The sign above the entrance read "Qiao's Pizza."  

As a Marzanna, she didn't need to eat since her sustenance came from solar energy and the voices of Lunar Daughters had never even bothered to speak about it. Lilith couldn't even remember the last time she'd eaten something. But from the looks of the city, food everything, mortals must do it all the time.

Not thinking to much about it, Lilith entered the store and was essentially assaulted by a myriad of new smells. In front of her were a few mortals tossing a gooey looking circle into the air with their hands. 

Her eyes widened in interest. It was the first time she'd seen any mortal do something so bizarre. "Ankou, what are those mortals doing? Are they creating that smell?""

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Now that he thought about it, Ankou couldn't recall a time when Lilith had taken much interest in eating. She had treated it as simply another chore in her daily routine; and that was when she did so at all. It appeared now that the hold of the Lunar Daughter's had begun to wane that the girl had regained her appetite. He followed her into the restaurant, their captive following placidly behind them. Now Lilith turned to him with childlike curiosity in her eyes.

"It's called cooking. Mortals do it to make food more palatable, and it creates the smells you're experiencing."

Ankou approached the counter and ordered a slice of pizza. The staff quickly produced the ordered food, and he mentally commanded their captive to pay for it. He then handed the food to Lilith. 

"For you."

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Interestingly, the workers only handed over the "cooking" once the mind puppet had given them a handful of copper circles. According to her pre-awakening memories and that of her ancestral voices, the copper circles were what mortals referred to as money. Very interesting. So mortals, in essence, valued power or authority through a fiscal sense. Perhaps not all mortals; definitely not all of them. But from her knowledge, many of them did so. Mortals could be bought and sold, killed and revived with using coin. 

With a curious gaze Lilith took the "cooking" from Ankou's hands and stared at it for a moment, as if unsure what to do with it. Then she shrugged, bringing it to her lips and taking a bite. Very cheesy. Somewhere in the abyss of her pre-awakening memories, the taste was vaguely familiar. Not exactly the same but the cheesy taste and texture knocked on a buried memory. Not that she particularly cared of her time as an unawakened, fascinating though mortal behaviors were. 

When she'd finished with the "cooking" Lilith rested her gaze on the workers for a moment longer before turning to Ankou. "How does one get money that allow you to purchase such creations?" She could, of course, simply go kill a bunch of mortals and take their coin. However, with her plans to invade Nu Martyr in the following few days, angering the guardians of Genesaris would be overly troublesome. Since mortals generally become obsessed with revenge and protecting their own, it would no doubt delay her plans in Renovatio. Besides, finding a way to be superior to mortals while pretending to be a mortal could prove amusing. 

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The more questions she asked, the more Ankou realized that whoever had raised Lilith had done a poor job of teaching her about human society. She never spoke much about the woman who had served as her caretaker in her younger years. It seemed unlikely that the the collective Lunar Consciousness would care to teach her much. Perhaps that was by design instead of merely neglect. Knowledge enables people to think critically, and make choices. If the Consciousness could keep the Lunar Daughters from being able to understand the world around them, it would make the girls more dependent on it for survival.

It took a moment for Ankou to decide how best to explain the intricacies of economic theory in a way that wouldn't be confusing. Deciding to strip things down to their most basic elements, he was ready to give it a shot.

"Many mortals perform tasks for others with more money than them. These tasks can range from physical labor, to writing documents, or performing other services. For their work, they are paid a predetermined amount of money at set intervals."

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Although ignorant of mortal workings, even before her awakening, Lilith was quite clever. And, due to the mental acuity of Marzanna, Lilith's ability to absorb information was simply multiple times higher than most mortals. As such she instantly made the connection between how mortals treat each other during "business" and how she marks others. Loyalty for power in her case, was performance for coin in theirs. Contractual obligations. Mortals most likely also used magic to bind agreements. 

Fascinating that mortal civilization had developed in a way so analogous to the Old ways. 

Lilith clicked her tongue and snatched a coin from Ankou's mind puppet. She turned it slowly against her palm before closing her first around it. The material was malleable under her strength, quickly folding upon itself as if kneeling to her majesty. Still, where the Old ways dealt in loyalty and power, mortals had stopped at bartering for such useless objects. 

"Interesting," she muttered, dropping the crumpled silver coin. It bounced along the soft wooden flooring before coming to a halt against one of the restaurant chairs. Then, right as her mind began to wander to other mortal interests, an old memory came to mind. Lilith paused, a conflicted expression taking shape. Though neither her or Ankou had been here long, the Mind Stone was particularly useful in tracking down people. Or places. "Ankou. Does this city have a..." She paused again, finding the words, "an adventurers guild?" 

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The Lich wondered what purpose Lilith could have for an adventurers guild. If she had a task she needed accomplished then she had thousands of Paragons ready and willing to do her bidding. Perhaps she desired to take a quest from the establishment. But that once again led to the question of why? What did she have to gain from performing missions for a guild? Money was not an issue, the Cult simply took what it wanted or needed. Suddenly it occurred to him that the girl was simply trying to experience another facet of the mortal life. 

Of course, it didn't really matter. He would always help her to achieve her aims.

A scan with the Mind Stone quickly revealed the location of the guild, and he gestured for his leader to follow him. While he could open a portal to take them there, it would attract attention if he did so in public. Finding a private spot to do so in such a crowded area would also be a chore. Besides, the building wasn't far.

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