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Fallen Joy

Witching Hour, The Return [Dark Forest]

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(A revival thread of The Witching Hour)

 

Instead of it merely stealing her sight, it festered on her skin like a disease. Against such darkness, once rich buttermilk tones paled into ghostly vein tinted flesh. The aphotic world ensnared Luna in its lustful talons, burdening her breath and crippling her to her knees. She felt the long sinews of her dress fatigue and tear as she dropped into the sodden underbrush. With the gravity of weakness plastered on her back, she hunched and planted her hands into the dirt. 

How did this happen?

Her face grimaced, curtained by sweat bejeweled tresses of jade. She squinted through the hot clouded drawl of her breath, watching her fingers drain of life and white spread up her wrists like frost. Her life seemed to siphon into the rotten roots surrounding her; the grotesque peduncles engorged and throbbing like the veins of a heart. 

How did I let this pass?

The air suddenly screamed and wailed; so high and horrid that the darkness itself seemed to vibrate on the brink of shattering like glass. White ghostly creatures flashed across the woman's peripheral like haunting spirits. Their voices pulled crimson pain from her ears but enticed a seductively pleasant cold to her heart. How she wanted to plunge herself into that sweet numbness. To be with them and feel nothing.

No.

Her ostentatious mind tensed and tightened with her face. Those mauve irises embraced her dilated pupils and illuminated with showers of arcane magic. Though tremors rattled down her arms, straining to maintain her weight, a different strength rose in the depths of her core. It spread warmth back into her chest and color to her hands. Luna's hair began to float and swim around her. 

"I will not... become one of you," her voice came low and rasp.

The brightness of her eyes intensified. The white of her hands now retracting to her knuckles. Then, between the screaming creatures, a low rumble and violent snarl echoed around her. She tilted her head up, gaze shining like stars through long bangs.

"And I will not let you have them."

A monstrous figure shifted between the thick trunks of the trees, deep carmine eyes flickering in and out of view. Its obsidian scales blended impeccably into the shadows, contours only revealed through the luminous nature of the witch's eyes. It, too, reflected the woman, its optics and malice danced around the image. 

"You may have taken them," she said with the sweetness of poison on her tongue. "But I will return...And I'll make you suffer."

The creature lunged at her, ripping  trees from their roots in bloody sprays of black liquid. Before its talons could touch the witch, she burst into a great nova of pure white. The energy kissed the clutches of the creature and instantly cremated the tips into ash. It hissed and withdrew. When the light settled, the woman was gone, and the beast left seething at the empty spot.

---2 weeks later---

Luna opened her eyes and closed her mind's reflection on the past. She rested on the outskirts of the Dark Forest, settled on an old boulder patched with moss and cracks. She brought her eyes to her gloved fingertips; the fingers were still ashen and white underneath. The curse nearly inflicted upon her had refused to settle. She tried every remedy the lore offered. Nothing. Her body was naturally resistant to magical curses, but still, this managed to tattoo itself upon her like a mark of shame. The demon of indifference was still her chest, the sweet desire to abandon all her emotions and lose herself into a world of apathetic bliss purred enticingly. Her fingers curled into a fist, and she inhaled deeply. The only thing that fought through it was the pain she felt in the Coven's Soul. Of her sisters. Left behind in their tortured state. She had to rectify this.

Her heart tore at what she may have to do. 

She sent two witches in on their own were lost. The next two with herself and she barely escaped. This would be her third entry, and this time she would not risk any more witches. The seductive pull of the Dark Forest seemed to allure the nature of her kin too well. Even now, she felt the intoxicating bouquet of its breath flow through the trees and caress her beating heart. But no amount of temptation could stop the daunting shame. She should have been able to protect them.

What was worse was the time it took her to return for them. She searched for a cure, but then was forced to Dougton. So many events happened at once, and she had to lie to her sisters that all was well. Finally, after celebrations of their recent victories, she returned to the forest. 

This time she sought different help. Three days ago, she sent off a magical beacon to the underworld, Valucre's underworld, littered and infested with dark mercenaries, the undead, the unnatural, and other near-dead and grotesque fiends. She promised a great reward to any who answered and assisted her. She was resourceful and enriched enough to do so. Today was the day to meet if any responded. She would put her prejudiced opinions of Nature's greatest abominations aside to complete this mission.

"If not," she whispered to herself. "I'll do it alone."  

Beside her, two orcs sat cross-legged beside a fire pit. Beyond them, two-rider dragons of red and hazel hues curled up like felines. In the air at her temple, the partially invisible familiar Chubbo floated silently. The creature stared at his witch, its serpentine figure showing concern. Luna ignored all of them, her sharp eyes focused on the caliginosity between the tree lines of the forest. 

She'd only wait so much longer. 

Edited by Fallen Joy

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There was a foreboding feeling as they landed, and the thickness of the veil of darkness made that feeling even worse. Alexandria frowned as she tried desperately to see in the thick mist only to find her eyesight hampered. As Natasha seemed to have the superior eyesight, Alexandria nods to her findings and focuses instead gathering the dragons to her as she grasps ahold of their reigns.

Syvos sniffs indignantly as she is pressed closely against Durzol, and swings her head before snorting at Alexandria as she leads them forward, following Natasha’s footsteps. Alexandria takes the torch hesitantly.

“You’ll be fine without it?” She questions as unease settles in her stomach at the thought of Natasha being bereft of eyesight. Natasha is a valued warrior, unmatched among her peers, and yet Alexandria can not help the feeling. She takes the torch only if she has affirmed and holds it high in attempt to peer deeper into the thick boroughs and brush that  impede their advancement.

“It’ll be hard to find her among all of this.” The witch offers in a hushed tone as anxiety settles like a steel ball in her stomach, the darkness was too close. There was something unkind about it that left the air on the back of her neck stand at attention. She does not voice this, however. It is likely that Natasha feels the same, and Alexandria peers amongst the trees for a moment. With as thick as the forest was, the path the dragons cut should be easy to follow, but it is like the very corrupt nature swallows their presence whole.

“Syvos.” Alexandria calls her dragon forth and pushes her nose to the ground. “Find your fellow dragons.” She commands.

Syvos swivels her head briefly before sniffing at the ground once more and crooning quietly as a quiet warble begins in her throat before rising in volume. Syvos moves ahead of them, attention rapt on the scent that has caught her attention. Now flanked by Durzol, and with Syvos in the lead, the orc and witch were sandwiched between. Alexandria would have preferred taking the lead, but she had not the eyesight nor the sense of smell of her companions.

“I’ve heard rumors of this place…None of them are pleasant.” Alexandria sighs, finding the silence unbearable. “We should move to find her quickly and leave. No good can come of lingering here.”  

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"You'll be fine without it?"

Even as Alexandria said it, Natasha pressed the torch into the palm of her hand. Her lips flatlined at first, as Alexandria once more burdened herself with Natasha's safety, but then the corner of her mouth curved into a confident half-smirk. She wasn't even sure why it made her grin.

"Yes." Her clawed hand left the torch handle and grasped firmly on Alexandria's wrist. With impressive strength, she yanked her just a hair closer. "You're more important." She finishes in orc before releasing.

Even if Natasha were utterly blind, crippled, and deaf, Alexandria would always get the torch. Despite the strange developing tides of their personal relationship, in the grand sea of facts, the she-orc was still her muscled soldier and disposable slave. This fact instilled into her soulless vessel and rattled its imprisoning chains throughout her mind. This crimson-haired warrior had the unique ability to temporarily paint the fantasy of passionate allies in war and battle. Still, the obligation to sacrifice every ounce of her entity to her service would always be there. At times she lost whether her actions were responsibilities or decisions.

Her eyes shifted to the side, watching as Durzol responds to Syvos' closeness by curling his long neck over hers. He is careful not to brush his underside on his alpha, smooth with his domineering size, as it is not an act of dominance. Deep oscillations with admonitions escape his chest, amethyst eyes protectively leering into the forest. Natasha exhales a long misty breath into the night through her nostrils, thoughts of her dragon's unexplained obsession with Syvos biting at her mind once more.

"Uncertain if dragons followed Luna into heart of forest." She does note that some of the branches seemed in disarray and broken from the movement of large beasts. "It will get thicker."

 Natasha brought one her five serrated-blade gauntlets in front of her face, crimson eyes analyzing the integrity of her weapon before cleaving a populous borough from their pathway. As the wood splintered and broke, crumbling to the ground in oozing amber sap, the trees around them seem to sway ominously, increased moans riding the cold wind. Natasha ignored it all and progressed forward.

"Will use them while can."

So they ventured into the darkness of the forest, passing through the treelines like black curtains of a stage. Moonlight adequately pierced through some patches of canopy from the sliver of crescent light above. Durzol's scales shimmered the light gold hues of the torch as he eagerly pushed to be close to Syvos. The Dark Forest was misty and gloomy, but still strangely visible on the outskirts.

Natasha listened to Alexandria's warnings and worries as she trudged beside her.

"Rumors spread by scared children." She says curtly, "Orcs have no rumors, only tales of victory." She swings and snaps another obscuring limb, amber sap licking her blades. "Never tell what scared of, only what was conquered."

Essentially, the prideful orcs never told each other of the scary things that go bump in the night. It suggested they were fearful. Fear was a weakness, and orcs never admitted to it. This, too, was ingrained into Natasha. She arguably didn't experience fear because she didn't apprehend death. Her life was war, chaos, and blood. She welcomed it. The orc snapped another branch and looked at Alexandria, flushing irises traveling along with her features for a long moment. 

But some things had changed.

"Do not worry," she suddenly adds. "We'll kill anything we cross, and tell more tales of victory."

Abruptly Durzol stops; it is about a mile into the forest. The moonlight hid behind more opulent canopy, and now shadows lurked heavily around the torch flames. The armor on the dragon's body shivered as his spine arched, and fangs revealed with smoking serpents escaping the gaps. Syvos likely too became agitated; before them was a dead dragon. Only the tattered wings spread among the understory, and scales scattered like broken glass revealed its identity. Entangled around the body were pulsating roots of trees. Covered in mossy fungi and the smell of wood rot, the roots embraced their victim grotesquely and slithered like a ravenous ball of lustful snakes. 

"What the…"

Natasha walked intrepidly closer to the tragic and disgusting sight, pushing the dragons out the way. As she steps, the unfed roots slither from her stride, pulsating around the metal boots like hearts. Her crimson eyes saw the detail in the woodland monster—tiny suckling holes. She imagined they latched onto the body like leeches and drained away liquefied insides. Yet, the trees from which the origins birthed were completely stoic and still. Their leaves trembled in the zephyr but nothing more. 

The dead were apparently not wasted here, corpses scavenged and digested by the very plant life. The burning question was…what killed the dragon? A sudden loud disturbance in the distance, trees bowing to weight, drew the orc's attention. She snapped her attention to the left density and in the far distance, burning blood red of almond optics shone in the shadows. Before Natasha could even tense her muscles for battle, it was gone and the trees once more still.  

Edited by Fallen Joy

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Alexandria wanted to argue but knew it would only halt their progress. They could spit ‘no you’s until they were blue in the face. So she trudges forward, following the unseen path as vines and boughs threaten to pluck at her lengthy tresses. Unease trembled through Syvos, and Alexandria frowned as she sensed the anxiety rolling from the creature.

However, Natasha’s assurance brought a tugging smile to her visage.

“Aye.” She offers after a moment, letting out a deep breath of air. IT relieved her of the tensions she had been holding and honed her attention instead on the matters at hand. Oh, how they would take matters in hand. “We kill anything we come across.” She murmurs in assurance, giving a curt nod.

Their adventures are cut short, however, by the sight of a dehumed dragon. Syvos snarls loudly at first, before craning her head downward as she bobs it back and forth before letting out a mournful croon. For something to kill one of the dragons implied a greater danger than they had previously considered. Alexandria hisses at the plant-life that suckles from the beast’s flesh and shoos the foliage away as she contemplates the corpse. It’s too far gone for her to consider following it into the River of Death. The encouraged decompose of the body made it difficult to discern the actual cause of death. Furrowing her brows, Alexandria shifts the torch to the side as she contemplates their next move.

“Let’s leave the dragons.” She states decisively. “If something can harm one like this, they are likely better off without us throwing them into danger.”

With that said, Alexandria removes Syvos’ bridle and sets it in the pack attached to her saddle so it doesn’t catch. Instead her attention turns towards the path that it seems the dragon was laying towards. There was evidence that a few bodies had proceeded in that direction. She frowned, before swaying on her feet at the monstrous noise that enveloped her ears and made her shudder to her core – and then, like a fleeting thought – it was gone. Concern for Luna knotted her stomach as Alexandria bared teeth, gnashing them together briefly before spitting at the accursed ground.

“Let’s head that way.” She points in the direction to the left, where the surge of …whatever that had been originated before dying off. Without waiting, Alexandria shifts the torch towards the encroaching branches and forges her path in that direction, torch held high in hopes of shedding light where footfalls were made. Sword rang true from it’s sheath after a moment as Alexandria used it to cut away some of the ‘friendlier’ bits of foliage that dared upon them. Swinging this way and that, the brutish witch finds herself slowly grinning at the idea of another grand adventure. Each swing brings joy as it slices a piece of the forest away – before Alexandria is laughing quietly as she chops a particularly large piece of vine out of her way.

“Take that!” She spats as it falls into the dirt, writhing and wriggling as her boot steps upon it as she continues her trek.

Kamal peeks out of her armor, just beneath the golden mask and flicks his tongue into the air. He huffs a bit after scrunching his face as much as he can.

“Smells bad here, too. Why do we always go to stinky places?”

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Alucard. Castlevania Symphony of the Night artwork by nell-fallcard on DeviantArt

The idea seemed casual of a witch seeking others to fulfill her dirtiwork however, selecting the undead and dark variety felt a bit weary in Cervantes opinion well aware of these dwellings that formulated in his mind. Other than being at a constant battle with the Dolos vampires that fled the Miasma of Tia invading parts of claimed territory in The Glen, the Cervantes was more than willing to meet the witch and her summoning yet the timing had been a little late for certain. How could he have missed such an undeniable beacon of Goetic magic as it connected with Martis on a personal level, in cynosure? So be it if these People were inconnus to the House and their respected Master. His half-human weaknesses felt it was more than that, potentially that could come from this request of help persay and he'd only discover that out for himself. The Dark Lord, The Pureblood Redeemer and Matriarch had yet to return from their sojourn to Neon City and Talix-Engine. While the Kronos Lord Choisel was spreading his lifeforces across the continent to amass his numbers, the administration of an Elixir created by his Doctor Nash was no doubt his most efficient and effective tool. There was no falsity to the fact that their stay was a little longer than intended. This job, however. Three days was how long this trip took on foot for travelers coming from not-so-close areas of land neighboring other regions of Terrenus. Luckily for the Dhampir a supernatural healer and chemist, he was to mortals considered an undead of nearly three hundred years. His walk alone held the framework of nobility. However, his intents were as unknowing as his featureless expression abroad his soft look.

The Amnesia of the Forgotten Woods while there wasn't a way to escape it's inducing effects after a minimal of three hours, partially undead ... in his awareness of such, the exposure was short-lived.

 Martis’s countenance in the perpetual darkness glowed of youth with alabaster skin on an angular face and thinned lips, commonly mistaken for a female with his sun-kissed blonde locks in chalk make-up. One thing was sure, his shoulder-length Shirley-temple curls were luminous in the reflection it casted an aura from his form coiling about the tendrils of his hair, covering his body in a glorious radiance of energy. Standing to about a solid 5'10 and 150lbs he was average appearing the most least threatening of the Coven. Solivagant, the Dhampir’s fine dark leather boots stopped to scan the distance from a brush of trees. A frisson shocked through him with excitement and thrill as he touched forth an utterly sick white hand flatly to the base of a tree. While there had been travelers sometime around prior his nose could finally detect the scent of serpent's blood one dead, another alive in his proximity. He'd adjust to the umbra's mysteriousness, sniffing further at eerie surroundings. The area was silent, evident the ways the trees brushed with the wind nobody was near the longer he listened as a night predator. Then, without warning Martis disappeared as so fog was created of him. Towards any onlookers he'd just vanished into thin air as with the wind only to reappear seconds later several yards away, behind another brush of trees in an entirely different location than his last. His blue orbs also seemed to transition from their icy hue, the further any bystanders looked the more they felt drawn to his supernatural glamour and not bare notice his eyes had become swirling bulbs of gold. An intricate royal blue and gold trim tailcoat hung itself to his knees with golden trinkets in the white cuffs at his hands from an obviously expensive tailor, a golden belt fasted to his hips securing his matching velvet blue slacks, standing in the immediate silence Martis examined deeper into the nightfall with his golden visage in a riddle lowly to himself.

"Where, oh where has that pretty beacon went, where oh where can it be?"

@Fallen Joy

@Lacernella Rubra

Edited by Etched In Stone

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"Let's leave the dragons."

 At first, Natasha didn't answer, for she continued to glare into the dark void. Her veins bulged on the curves of her tight muscles, and her pale yellow tusks began to salivate and grind with a lust for murder. Like a lion that missed its strike, she breathed heavily in the chest, nostrils flaring for a scent. A long exhale released her primal tension, and she straightened up to turned towards Alexandria.

 "You're right," she agreed. "Durzol."

 The dragon immediately flared up, snarling at Natasha in utter protest. She ignored him, walking closer to the beast. The dragon growled louder, seeming moments from mauling her. The orc knew the dragon was simply rebelling his expulsion. Her battle hunger was tattooed upon him through the empathetic link, and he acted as she would if she were dismissed--pissed off. However, Natasha already knew exactly what to say to him.

 "You need to make sure Syvos gets out of the forest safely. We'll meet you at the end."

 Immediately the dragon pacified, turning his head towards Syvos for a moment, and then lowering his head in acceptance. Natasha gripped his snout hard and pressed her forehead to his. Her carmine eyes blazed wildly at him, a silent goodbye transitioning before both the dragons turned back.

 "Let's head that way."

Natasha smirked over her shoulder at Alexandria. Straight into danger--she loved it. After a curt nod, the orc followed and resumed her foliage hacking as well. To Alexandria's outward enthusiasm, she resisted the urge to crack a grin. She found it absolutely ado--No, no, she would not allow such a word to cross her mind. She cleared her throat and continue to cleave away. 

"Smells bad here, too. Why do we always goto stinky places?"

Once more, Natasha would have perfectly content with ignoring Karmal. Suddenly, however, there was a response.

"Fleshys always stinky when they deadsy."

The voice was small and high pitched, leading up into the darker canopies.

"But deady fleshys don't chop my treesy. You're better off a stinky deadsy."

A pair of cerulean orbs twinkled in the shadows of the canopy. Natasha glanced up. A small tap tap, like wood pecking wood, came. In an instant, the tree came to life. It bent and curved as if broken by the wind before one of its gnarled branches came slamming down towards the duo. Natasha leaped out of the way, tumbling into the roots of another nearby tree. Assuming Alexandria too dodged, the tree impacted the ground, sending leaves dancing the air and a dent in the earth. 

"Tehehehehee."

Tap Tap.

The exposed roots against Natasha's back suddenly slithered into animation and grasped her body like great claws. As it attempted to entangle her, the orc immediately struggled like a ferocious beast, roots splintering and snapping like cords at her vigorous fight. One of the origins slithered to a point and shot at her neck. Her newly free hand caught it inches from her skin; she twisted her wrist and cleaved it with the gauntlet blades. 

"Deadsy fleshy deadsy fleshy!"

The living tree rapidly bowed, a bulky, bald, and knotted end seeking to crush the orc's head against its trunk. Natasha's hand shot up, breaking the new roots attempting to ensnare her arms and caught the bough. Her body sank into the earth, and the she-orc released a string of curses as the roots wrapped slowly up her legs.

"What the fuck!" She yelled in orc, temporarily releasing the tree with one of her hands to stab it with her gauntlet. Black, bloody sap rained from the wound. 

 ......

Meanwhile, for the illuminating newcomer of the Dark Forest, he'd find signs of the witch elusive. It seemed Luna would not wait for an uncertain alley when someone so precious to her was in danger. However, the old and intricate witch was thorough and full of forethought. She would not dig into a grave without ensuring her sisters would, eventually, learn that she could lie in it. So littered throughout the outskirts of her beacon's direction, inscriptions were craved into wood, rock, and earth alike. They would not trigger to the ubiquitous presence of Alexandria, despite her kinship, for they were not written for her.

However, when the touch of the undead came into their midst, the blossomed into a bloody carmine hue. As the vampiric man transpired deeper in the forest, aura reaching with his bouquet for attention, a rune inscription engraved onto the very oak tree he so lightly brushed, awoke.

The rune, no larger than a fingerprint, shone with the bright essence of a sunset; from its core, a woman weaves into existence. The transcribed image of Luna played with the uncanny valley of her natural beauty. Conjured by magic, she was ghostly and esoteric, but the witches' youthful and surreal aesthetics melded with it, offering an angelic loveliness. Her jade tresses were dyed into a minty green from the veil of carmine magic encasing her body, and her mauve eyes now a dark plum hue. The witches' rune and spell work flaunted all its artistic glory in the illusion and held Luna's imprinted memories. 

The woman gazed upon what was before her, strange sentience twinkling within her eyes. Her face was solemn and analytical, as still and stoic as a porcelain doll upon a self. A few seconds drifted, the magical image processing thought in sophisticated manners impossible to explain. When she finally spoke, her British accented voice echoed around them.

"Are you the one answered by my call?"

It waited patiently for him to answer. When he did, the image paused, the magic processing before speaking once more.

"My name is Luna, high witch of a coven of No Man's Land. I've brought you here to assist me in destroying a beast that lurks these woods. This creature has captured four fellow witches and transformed them into something unthinkable. I believe them to be some form of a Banshee.

"I've never known such afflictions to be cast on living witches, but this creature holds abilities I've yet to encounter. It offers sweets temptation to the soul, twisting emotions and thoughts to torment, and then promises the release into apathy. I will not risk any more of my witches. I need someone…"

The image pause, advancing a few steps towards the man. She came within a few inches with a small smile rising in her glimmering coral lips. 

"Soulless, to help."

The image glissaded away, turning towards the deeper parts of the wood.

"If you do decide to help, I will reward you. I can do a great many things, and it's not often I place myself in a position be to in debt. This magical imprint will fade soon. If you wish to journey into the Dark Forest and find me, place a drop of your blood on my inscription. The others will activate in your presence, with more imprints of my memory."

She rose her hand with a finger pointing to the west.

"This is the way."

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Syvos snapped her teeth in the direction of Alexandria in protest, nipping at the witch in what could be construed as concern. Her teeth snagged the bells that hung in the bandolier across her chest, and Alexandria gently cuffed her upon the snout.

“None of that. I need you to go and wait for me so when we get out of here, we can make a quick exit.” Syvos let out a low, rumbling croon before conceding as she turns and instead snaps her teeth at Durzol, as if hurrying the other dragon along.

Once they have disappeared, Alexandria resumes her hacking of the various flora. She does keep an ear out for the sound of Natasha’s blades coming down on the foliage as well, not wanting to lose the orc to the forest. Not only had Alexandria become fond of her – in a purely innocent way, of course – but she knew that Natasha was as valuable as one of her own kin. The voice that suddenly mocks them is given only heed for a moment, before they are attacked by the very forest itself. As the large, bare branch comes travelling down towards them, Alexandria arches the freshly sharpened Sable sword into the air to meet it, backed by her generous strength.

The blade passes cleanly through the branch, however, it sprays the surrounding area with the dark ichor that can only be assumed to be it’s lifeforce. Alexandria growls as it stains her visage and darkens her hair. Wiping free her eyes, so that they might see once more, the witch notes that her companion in dire straits. Dodging incoming tendrils finds her at Natasha’s side as she swings her sword in effort to free the she-orc. Her sword lodges into the tree as an arm slithers around Natasha’s waist and jerks upwards as Alexandria puts the muscles of her legs to use. Twisting to the side whilst pulling, Alexandria finds her strength just enough to free Natasha onto the thick loam of the forest floor whilst she barely holds the branch above her own head, finding that her own feet are sinking quickly.

It is while in this position that she finds herself off guard when a root wraps around her own ankle and jerks her forward. With a rather thunderous collapse, the witch finds herself on her back, the same bough coming racing down for her face. Once more her sword comes up, and her hand falls behind the bladed portion in effort to keep it from slamming into her body. She manages just barely, struggling to keep the branch from spreading her innards about.

Alexandria looked frantically around, seeking inspiration as to what might free them from this messy trap. Surely if they were to get rid of whatever creature summoned the plants to life, they would be free. But where was said creature? Alexandria knows the risks of what she is about to attempt, but knows that it will likely help in the long run. She draws air into her lungs briefly.

“Natasha, get down!” She grunts, before drawing in a deep breath as she calms her mind and imagines herself a swirling vortex of fire and rage. Her body heats with it as her golden gaze opens once more, swirling with the fury of flame before her mouth opens and words burn their way through her throat, scalding and cauterizing all in one as the witch cries her next phrase.

“Naur An Edraith Ammen!”

The words poured from her mouth, angry and writhing like a den of snakes as fire spread from her body in a sudden tornado of flame. It shot upward first, and then outward, seeking to burn everything it came in contact with. The warmth of the fire was overbearing and Alexandria felt as though she was melting inside of her armor, but she voiced no discomfort, mostly because she could not. The words of power had scorched her and her voice had fled in retaliation for using such a powerful spell that she was not accustom to. Sure, other witches might have had no trouble creating a spell of this magnitude, but Alexandria had always focused on the physical and summoning aspect of her powers, and thus suffered the retaliation of the spell in full force.

 

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The longer he persisted himself to gander Martis felt inclined to believe this bloody place was uninhabited by earthly beings. In fact with the Chthonic energy he could feel the night creatures of the region scrutinize him, recognizing his half tainted vampiric blood and fearing it. The spruce varon scanned the vicinity from behind the cover of an overgrown pine throughout the lushness of what seemed nearly a hundred trees in a twenty foot radius. Only the peaking rays of the moon find itself exposing the backside of his blue tailcoat and his golden cascading hair.

 

Quote

"Are you the one answered by my call?"

He was wronged. Splitting the airy silence of night was a woman's voice, a natural heir for leadership as she questioned the noble Keeper. The mysteriousness from the forest no longer felt foreboding in it's brokenness. Cervantes had been discovered conviently on his own lack in this moment of time, the predator became the prey or was it vice-versa? Bat-like sonar felt almost everything in his radius scanning as far vision permitted him the details around from what little to no light couldn't provide. However, he seemed to have missed the scent of blood blossoming into the air shortly after his shadow-step. Chasing the sound of the voice almost concomitantly, the spirit of the woman erected from her conjuration. The glimmering man seemed compelled to this calling, some eerie coldness that crawled human men spines however, this particular authority felt to be no threat persay. Not to a Dhampir. 

"I am. Martis Cervantes, may you call me. "

He spoke, so eloquently and confident. Beyond the mortal intelligence of man and in his own sense of pride. It was then staring into the ghostly image of her sage tresses and carmine changing eyes, he found himself listening far more than intended, coming to grips he truly had just begun his journey. In between her breaths he went following in his slight not so perfected Spanish-English accent. 

"Then it is for you, I've traveled from the Glen in search of. Four witches? A banshee spirit"

Quote

"Soulless, to help."

As she bled her words further for the need of his help, fruition struck. She was the beacon. Now in front of him she was,  resting against the very base of the tree he sought coverage behind his golden eyes conspired with her own, his angular expressions denoting an agreement words no needed to openly express. The supernatural stared further into her plume eyes, their need of urgency and his existence there with her was nonetheless reassuring. He was not a Pureblood as he served his master, but surely there was something the Keeper could do in his mind control and art of suggestion.  

"I am glad, the hiding and seek is now over. Don’t worry, I do intend on giving you my full aid from hereoin, Luna. Representing in the behalf of the Choisel vampires."

As she shifted her direction speaking on reward he nudged himself from the tree and began to follow slowly in step and into the darker bowels of the forest. Pointing in the way of the West beyond what his eyes could see, soaking as much information into his memory storing it as it was received. Finding an inscription was next if he'd wish to seek any more clues on discovering the Sisters whereabouts, or atleast he assumed it to be the way. One step closer he felt more obligated than ever to seeing this through. 

Edited by Etched In Stone

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The moment Alexandria freed the furious she-orc, Natasha set her full wrath upon the tree. Blood boiling and eyes leaking with carmine tinted animosity, the she-orc used her newfound freedom to dig her metallic boots into the earth and load her thighs with tension. Clenching a fist, she viciously punched the knobby end of the branch; it swung like a pendulum, creating a window for her to spring and grasp the thick midsection on the trunk. Clamping her powerful thighs upon the wooden shaft, she then buries the base of her gauntlet blades into the root of a branch. With a violent cry, she thrusts her arm out and severs the whole damn limb and all its children from the tree. The tree thrashes like a wild bull, spurring black blood from it blown gasket, but even the raging Natasha had positioned herself intelligently. No matters how the tree curves and lashes, its more massive boughs could not hit the orc. It had no choice but to whip fiercely at Natasha's half armored and half exposed back with thinner more flexible cords. The pain means nothing to the orc, and the whips barely mark her marble skin. 

Snarling and cursing furiously at the tree, Natasha goes straight wolverine, cleaving the base of each branch one or two at a time. Like a hand with severed fingers, it gushed wildly with obsidian tree blood, much to Natasha devilish and sadistic pleasure.

However, in her venomous storm of violence, Alexandria's situation was temporarily missed. A peripheral toss of crimson hair drew Natasha's attention, the she-orc glancing over her shoulder to see the other tree pinning the witch. Urgency suddenly tossed into her salad of fury, she immediately releases the squirming tree and lands in a newfound puddle of black. The orc rushed towards the witch with tunnel-vision blinding her. An opportunistic root jut forth and easily pulls the same move to her ankle as the other did to Alexandria. Ensnared, she face-plants her into the dirt whilst the blood gushing tree bows its head to crush her.

"Natasha, get down!"

Already there, the she-orc only covers her face. Through the windows of her forearms, orange and flames flash and flicker, soon spreading a wave of heat down her spine and sides. The root around her ankle instantly releases her.

"Noooo! What is the fleshy doing to my treesies!?"

The living trees erupted in flames, the black liquid beginning to boil and smolder with a horrid smell of dirtied oil. The moist flesh of the trees seems to absorb the fire, preventing widespread destruction of the forest. They thrashed like living bodies burning alive.

"Stop, STOP! AUGH! IT BURNS!!!"

a8a7eaec320735d0428187835a77f968.jpgNatasha peeked through her arms toward the squealing voice. The magical flames providing sight, she sees the culprit leap from the canopy of a burning tree. With fire on its butt, the creature rolled with wails on the ground, abandoning a curved staff to pat its smoking rear. It was a small, wooden gremlin-like thing, no taller than a foot. The beast finally sat in a pool of liquid, sibilant sounds sizzling underneath its ass. It only had a moment to sigh in relief before Natasha came rushing into his peripheral. The she-orc was practically on all fours like a wild tiger; the creature released a mousy scream and attempted to run, but found its head caught in the bear trap grasp of her hand. Lifting the flailing thing in the air, the only reason the she-orc didn't crush him into the splinters was that her attention turned immediately to Alexandria. 

The she-orc's tribe lived in a world of volcanic heat for generations with consequent evolutionary changes to their hide. Thus, she was quite unscarred to the flames. The smell of burnt hair told her she had lost some length to her new dreadlocks. The bare black ground smoked at her feet, and the trees' pale bodies turned into ashen white colors before flaking away into nothing. The other trees were darkened, small flames caressing their gnarly surfaces. However, as if the very darkness resisted such obnoxious light, the remaining stragglers of ember died off in the night's breath.

"Unhand me filthy fleshy!" struggled and screamed the creature in the orc's hand as she approached the witch. "I releasy the wrathy of my—" The beast paused, realizing in horror that its weapon was still on the ground.  "STAFFY! Give me my staffy, give me my staffy, give me my—"


Natasha released the creature, but not before punching it right on the noggin on the way down. Glowing orbits now swirling in utter disarray, the thing stumbled drunkenly around them. 

Natasha placed a hand under and between Alexandria's shoulder blades, lifting her to a sit.

"Are you alright?" 

……................................

The spiritual sylph lowered her long lashes as the vampire spoke, merely nodding her head once at his conclusion. However, when Cervantes began to venture to the west, the image dissipated and reappeared in his pathway, occluding the progression. Her hand drifted in direction of the rune as she repeated herself, this time slower with a drawl as if making sure he understood her words.

"Place a droplet of your blood onto the inscription rune, Martis Cervantes, or the ones deeper in the forest will not activate to your presence. It works through blood magic. If you so choose to proceed without doing so, know that you will not have my further guidance."

The implanted memory waited with the same stoic expression upon her countenance. If and when Cervantes complied, her image temporarily brightened its crimson hue and then settled, registering his presence. If he did not choose to do so, Luna's memory did not request it a third time, nor would she comment further to the defiance. She stepped out of his way.

"Good luck Cervantes, Martis. Do not perish and I shall meet you with a reward. Blessed Be."

And she vanished. 

Due to the benefit of Luna's guidance, Cervantes would find navigating through the dense nature of the forest less obscuring and rebellious than Alexandria and Natasha's path. Foliage and understory had been cleared by Luna's trek, even the archways of the trees seemed bent uncannily from his pathway.  Under the lingering influence of her magical imposing stride through the darkness, his way was clear.
 
Eventually, with his likely acute and sharpened unnatural senses, he'd catch the whiff of the decomposing dragon corpse. This rotten to the core smell paraded with the singed bouquet of burning lumber and scorched earth. These olfactions lurked in the corridors of the forest, slithering in the cold zephyr whisking between the trunks.  As time passed and the scent became more poignant, a moss-covered rock suddenly glowed—upon its crown, another inscription. 

If the vampire so placed his blood on the sentinel rune, its sisters would immediately activate in his presence. Luna appeared once more, sitting cross-legged upon the rock as if solid with flesh. She leaned forward with plum eyes focused on his form, and gloved fingers lapped over her knees.

"Cervantes," she spoke with her echoing silk voice. "In the clearing north of here, my orcs and I battled with minions of the monster we hunt. They are, by my understanding, a sort of druid in the forest. They are capable of manipulating the trees into soldiers by inspiring a life force. Perhaps through the essence of those previously perished. A dragon was fatally wounded, and you will discover its carcass soon. Continue north from here, but be wary as some of the druids fled, and may still linger in the forest. Blessed Be."

With that, the magical beacon once more vanished. 

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Alexandria remembered the day that Luna had recruited her for the coven, why that memory flared with the flames that threatened to melt the very witch in her armor, she could not fathom.

It had been in a dingy tavern, full of mead and meat that Luna had first approached the golden clad elf. Alexandria had immediately been taken in by the charismatic leader, unable to help being spun into the words that Luna offered. More than that, Luna had offered the very thing that Alexandria had wished for so long.

Kinship.

As a rogue witch, Alexandria did not realize the very missing bit of her core was a collection of like-minded individuals that helped one another. From time to time it was still remembered with bitterness, the lonely ache of her heart and soul. Luna’s invitation had thawed the icy chill that had encased her. Alexandria had taken a leap of faith to join the coral-lipped witch, who had spoke such sweet nothings that she could not resist.

As the heat begins to dim around them, Alexandria’s lashes flutter briefly as a deep breath fills her lungs as though spreading life throughout her body once more. She stares up into the ashen area, trying to regain a sense of herself as Kamal huffs his indignation from somewhere inside of her armor.

“Hothothot! You idiot! You nearly boiled me alive!” He hisses, slithering from the confines of the armor and across the ground. His white scales were a stark contrast to the now scorched embers that lay about the immediate area, though Alexandria isn’t surprised to see the lack of overall damage that the forest has taken – there is something gravely unnatural about the place, afterall.

She coughs a few times through blistered lips and grimaces at Natasha’s question. She cannot produce a strong enough voice to assure the She-orc, so she settles for a mere nod. She is alive, afterall. Moving to stand, Alexandria brushes off the thick loam of the earth that had been beneath her before peering at the strange tree-like creature that is still rubbing its head from Natasha’s assault. Stalking forward with a slight gait imbalance, Alexandria scoops up the staff that had fallen from its grasp. Twirling it expertly with one hand, she examines it for a briefly moment before grasping both ends with her large hands. Bringing an armored knee up, she breaks the staff in half over the plates that protect her thighs. It snaps like a twig at her brute force, and she holds the remains in her hand as she glares at the creature.

Not feeling any remorse about the damaged forest, nor feeling remorse for the creature who currently is still soothing its own wounds, she moves over and places a boot firmly upon it’s back and draws up the sable sword. The obsidian blade swallows the light that tries to reflect upon it, as it’s brought down onto the creature, splitting it from head to toe. Rage burns inside Alexandria, much like the firestorm she had called upon them.

Provided this dehumes the creature, her gaze turns to Natasha and she makes a motion towards the she-orc.

“She wants to know if you’re ok.” Kamal translates from the ground, “Since she burned all her vocal cords with that spell.” He huffs, before deflating with a sigh as he moves to slither back up Alexandria’s leg before perching himself beneath the plait of hair at the nape of her neck.

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On 11/17/2019 at 11:07 PM, Fallen Joy said:

"Place a droplet of your blood onto the inscription rune, Martis Cervantes, or the ones deeper in the forest will not activate to your presence. It works through blood magic. If you so choose to proceed without doing so, know that you will not have my further guidance."

Her guided words traced him to an selcouth bed of orange and white flowers Martis had never once witnessed before. As a Terrenus vampyre he was seldom impressed for lack of better words. Out of all life that grew here in the Dark Forest, he'd produce a wide interested grin at these flowers the only sight to capture amongst this supernatural obscurity. The Dhampir plucked a few of by their purple and green stalks as he produced a small jar from the confinements of his oversized navy blue tailcoat. Popping open the glass jar's cap with a twist of his hand, he stuffed them into the cylindrical container. Luna's phantasm words stuck with him like glue, simple instructions they were. Of course this venture was for the name of Choisel. A good deed from the Keeper it'd seem in the Patriarch's return.

As he passed the first checkpoint further into the caligo he stepped a heavy boot into a splattering pile of dark ichor. His eyes narrowed further and he halted observing the area around him. Luna was right, he spotted clearings, more than ever. The scent of burning soot and flesh accompanied his vampiric senses deeper in the corridors of the Dark Forest. He pushed from the ground again until the sight of the moss-covered rock was plain in view radiating with a mystic carmine hue. Propping a foot against the surface he exposed his wrist to his front fangs and sunk them deep a stream of viscous crimson fluid began seeping from the wound. He tilted his wrist so the flowing lifeforces rolled from his hand towards the covered rock. The blood began to course itself into segmented archways up the small boulder, glowing luminously in the effect of the witch's blood magic. Running it's course up the bold rock and glowing a miraculous blinding light appeared almost suddenly, shielding his eyes from the irritant with his arms. Luna remerged from the grandiose array of magic, he listened and nodded carrying himself beyond the pitch black darkness. 

 

Quote

"In the clearing north of here, my orcs and I battled with minions of the monster we hunt. They are, by my understanding, a sort of druid in the forest. They are capable of manipulating the trees into soldiers by inspiring a life force. Perhaps through the essence of those previously perished. A dragon was fatally wounded, and you will discover its carcass soon. Continue north from here, but be wary as some of the druids fled, and may still linger in the forest. Blessed Be."

"You have my attention. You can be certain that there is nothing I fear, dear lady. But thank you, once again."

@Fallen Joy

@Lacernella Rubra

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Natasha watched silently as the crimson witch recovered from her taxing spell. Her claws kneaded into the sweltering gold armor upon her back, mind wondering how the witch survived such vicious consequences. Countless times Alexandria had proven herself a different class of woman from the other witches. Her brutal, intrepid animosity and attraction for tactless destruction fell so easily into the barbaric culture of the Tyrtrol tribe. Natasha's acute awareness of every single sway, action, and motion this particular witch made it impossible to ignore. She dropped her hand as Alexandria gathered her own weight and stood. Then, in perhaps the most seductively cruel way possible, Alexandria set her merciless wrath upon the gremlin druid with a punitive strike of her blade. 

For the first time, Natasha finds herself feverish. As blood leaks from Alexandria's blade and drips down onto the split corpse, the she-orc could see the sweet satisfaction of revenge in the witches' eyes. The dominant demeanor, accentuated by a confident and vindictive stance was further decorated by the powdered ash of her own destruction. It uncaged Natasha's primal instincts. Suddenly she wanted to ravage that soft fleshy skin flushed carmine by the smoldering air; to expose every possible inch, mark it with her tusks and tongue, grasp it within her claws, and claim it for herself. The she-orcs fingers twitch, and her breath husks heavily between her fangs. The violent licentious thoughts battle her enslavement. For in her world, her uninhibited savage culture, such feelings were enacted immediately. There was no sense of intimacy; it was aggressive, passionate, raunchy, and oh so intensely satisfying. The worse part was that she-orc was very aware of what she would do to this witch if she gave in, it flashed vividly in her mind, but despite this, her enslavement failed to pacify her. 

She clenched her eyes tightly closed and drove her sharpened fangs into her lip to taste blood. It hurt to control herself. Her locks fell over her shoulders as she bowed her head, digging her claws into the earth. Alexandria was not an orc, despite her tendencies. Furthermore, she was a witch, the hands upon her reigns. The she-orc fought to seal this once more into her mind. Though her mouth salivates with ravenous hunger, and every ounce of her savage mind wants to ignore it, she manages to not act. Oh, but the next creature they see would feel the full wrath of her consequent frustration.

"She wants to know if you're okay."

She wasn't.

"I'm not hurt," she says with internal praise of her own ability to find loopholes to obedient answers. Upon hearing the exact consequence of the spell, the she-orc deeply frowns and comes to a full stand. Natasha stares for a moment, searching for an answer to an unasked question. She crosses her arms and pfts .

 "Your voice is not needed for battle." She says. "Only for cries of victory."

She walked over to the corpse of the gremlin, stomped harshly on its split head, and released a great cry from her own lungs. Her voice rings with the intense and violent pleasure of their triumph and echoes far into the distance. For that moment, the Dark Forest is not silent and creepy, but a place of victory and satisfaction. The sudden flutter of wings sounds around them, startled birds taking to the skies. When she finishes, inhaling deep, the newfound coils in her stomach are loosened. She grins at the witch.

"And I can cry victory for us both."

She places her hand on Alexandria's shoulder and gives her a firm squeeze. The touch unexpectedly starts to swell her previous feelings, and she quickly releases. She turns away from the witch, rolls and pops the tension in her neck, and then carries on forward through the forest. 

"Why," she suddenly asks with genuine curiosity. "When so strong in body and fight, why do you use…magic? I don't understand. Does it not feel better to experiencing your enemies' skull crushing underneath fist? Or flesh cut away to sword?"

--------------------

Luna's reflection has little to say to Cervantes's intrepid words; he perhaps only gets a flicker of a rising and entertained smile before the image vanishes. He is close to Natasha and Alexandria, so close that the loud piercing war cry of Natasha oscillates easily through his mind and potentially rattles his eardrums like a booming speaker. The roar of the orc was massive and imposing. 

A newfound smell of charred dragon meat drifted in the wind, affected by Alexandria's recent spell. If he crept long enough to the source of sound and smell, he'd see the charred dragon corpse within the clearing of burnt trees. Just beyond it, Natasha and Alexandria were advancing further into the forest, and behind them, the body of a woodland creature sank into the black earth. 

It was as the vampire closed in on the general vicinity that Alexandria would perhaps sense something strangely familiar. Like the remnants of a nostalgic perfume, an arcane aroma abruptly drifted between her senses to trigger memories. It was Luna's magic, something she would be very familiar with. Cervantes' blood was a lure to the runes of Luna's mnemonic imprints planted throughout the forest, and they consequently reached out for him. This created a fragile river of Luna's magic between the two, undetectable to most, but well perceived by a coven witch whose soul was bonded to the source. If Cervantes placed himself in a position where this rivulet crossed Alexandria's path, it would be almost impossible for her not to notice it.

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The battle that wages within Natasha is unknown to the witch, lest they both might find themselves succumb to passionate embraces instead of seeking Luna. Harsh breaths ravage her nostrils as she desperately tries to calm her breathing as the burning in her throat grows for a few moments more. Only when it feels as though it will burn her to the core, does it settle and begin to die down. Alexandria squirms briefly within the armor, the only sign of discomfort.

Her golden gaze, previously full of mirth, is slanted into a focused sort now. She had been too lenient on the forest, too absorbed with the enticing sway of Natasha’s hips. It was not a mistake they could afford again. Alexandria turns her thoughts inward – desperate to ensure that she has not missed any clue or sign of Luna. There is a tingling sensation of déjà vu, but she cannot place what causes it. Her head twists this way and that, peering around the now ashen earth before she becomes startled by Natasha’s wonderful warcry.

Alexandria’s gaze rivets on the She-orc, admiration and desire building within as the witch thinks in that moment, Natasha is most beautiful. Her victory cry into the void resonated deeply within the golden paragon of a witch, who wished desperately to join her. To see how their voices resonated together…could they even? A slow grin spreads along her visage as Natasha places her hand ‘pon her shoulder and Alexandria gives a curt nod, oblivious to Natasha’s issues as she battled her own desire to simply draw the she-orc in for another blinding kiss. But alas, her desires and aching wants must wait. Locating Luna was their upmost priority, and any tumultuous emotions that Natasha brought forth could be examined later, behind closed doors.

Alexandria turns and points with the sable sword back on their path, motioning for them to continue as she contemplates how best to answer Natasha’s question. Instead of speaking, it is Kamal who peeks from beneath a crimson plait and flicks his tongue at Natasha.

“I was born with power. My blade and body are weapons, my magic is no different. If I did not train it, it would turn against me. I prefer using my body and blade – but I cannot deny the usefulness of the magic. It is ….difficult, sometimes, to remember that my magic is only an extension of my arms, not unlike my sword. You are smarter than the others, I have seen it. You wield your mind like a weapon, you choose how and when to fulfill your obligations. I have noticed that you find loopholes that others would not think to exploit – it is not unlike my magic. I wield it because I have to, and you cannot deny it’s usefulness.”

The last is offered as a crooked grin touches her visage once more. Kamal sighs and shakes his head as the bond that allowed her to speak through him fades.

“Bah, she just likes having power. Don’t let her fool you.” Kamal states as he slithers back within the depths of the tresses. Alexandria snorts at this as she pokes at a tree with the sword, marking it with an X to show that they had already passed it. She does not want to get stuck going in circles in this deity-forsaken forest. With luck, they will not find themselves the victims of another druid.

It is far more likely that they will come before another nasty that the forest is home to. Alexandria shudders as a hand goes to the bandolier across her chest, the bells that are stored there seem to strain against the leather, desperate to be released. The golden witch's attention is now rapt upon the forest as they delve deeper. She has a stray thought as to why Luna might have come, but her hasty departure from Mount Ariadne left her with more questions than answers and the witch offers a sigh. 

 

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Rupturing the silence the she-orc's tree shaking roar wasn't one of terror, danger .. It sounded triumphant strangely enough. Still whatever it was she stirred up or was challenged in, Martis had to make this quick and pick up the pace of things. She hadn't been too far from her reverberation through the trees locating the direction of her voice, the spruce man took off to a slight burst of blurring speed, a front leg jutted forth and from the ground as a rear suited behind. The scent of once living wood now charred dead in ashes wafted through the air, a tempting flush of fresh ions flooded sensations in the pale Varón’s nostrils pungent enough, he gritted his teeth and slowed his pace. The Dhampir's gaze presumed sweeping the perimeters in a wary approach left-to-right, his golden bulbs brimmed the outlining trees, stalking the very sight of surroundings again. 

Luna's runes illuminated the route cleared of obstruction, but he chose the latter veneering off to a dead-end. 

Wide eyed in flabbergast at the sight before him, he couldn't believe the truth behind his discovery never in his existence. As a Terran vampyre he has never witnessed such a creature and was thrown aback in his concluding; did the hollering woman slay the creature? His parched thirst for power yelled at him, mocking the obedience that ultimately made him weaker the less he fed, halting over the dragon at a complete stop. Calmly his hands reformed to the sides, his face grew insanely dark as his maw stretched slickly from one side to the other. An idea struck as he drew into a knee would he squat down low, the glorious reflection of light casted by his hair shed over it's mystic scales. Aware of the powers gained if he consumed the mighty beast entirely in it's dead state and without it's soul, as well as how durable it's dragon bones proved itself for the forging of weapons useful for the Coven; possibilities were endless if he could transport the massive dragon from the area.

Dragon blood never absorbed or dried out in the ground, but remained in tact and in a large amount; even if the remains were no longer in place. In his knowledge of this Martis was safe to return on another day with the Dark Lord or a number of undead, which ever was preferred, but in the current moment nothing further was done. From within the Keeper's hands a small vial was produced, scooping a sample of the violet fluids into the container without any thing else to be done in the area. It glowed violently, staring at it's contents once again before quartering it away with the selcouth of flowers. Seems this trip was coming handy after all, the hard part was still underway. Up ahead no further than fifteen meters, he spotted the fallen woodland creature and a pair of shadows slightly beyond the brush of more trees. Underestimating the sisters's power greatly, he's come to comprehend in the little time of exploring, these Charmed sister's had a lot of strength whomever slain the dragon and they were a force no matter their size to reckon. Picking up on his pace again, trees and brushes behind the two travelling ahead of him rattled and if they paid close attention, they'd feel that they've been followed from the rear almost the entire time. Only thing was, the Dhampir closed the gap with each moment and that their troubles into the Dark Forest made passage for him at most without a sweat. From the distance of the unnatural forest they stood, only if they felt his nearing presence and took a gander to their hind did they see what the glowing approach of a moving silhouette; a man holding a torch light perhaps. Yet, who was this and why did he come here? What was he searching for?

@Fallen Joy

@Lacernella Rubra

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Natasha listened intently to the pearl serpent as if its sibilant syntax spilled from the lips of Alexandria herself. When he finished, she placed her claws to her chin in tapping contemplation, ignoring how the blades of the gauntlet nearly sheared her locks. 

"And here I thought," she says with a sly grin, "It was secret.

"So… Magic is like orc anger. Must be fed or becomes explosion." 

She empathizes this feeling well. Her vicious, barbaric temperament was a voracious beast within her core. It growled and coiled with tautness by the second, only fed by the fiery sensations of battle. If she didn't sate it, many brethren were killed or maimed from her lust alone. 

"I understand." 

With the action ended, the eerie silence of the Dark Forest was rekindled. Outside of their own crunch and rustle through the willowwacks, nothing shielded the noises outside their unmistakable cadence. The vampire stalker appeared stealthily unnoticed by the two at first, because they seemed to tread forward as oblivious silhouettes. Yet, unbeknownst to him, there was a whispered conversation between them.

"It took a moment to separate the stench from the dragon corpse, but now I'm sure," the orc muttered with a dangerous undertone. "We are followed."

Her sinews tighten firmly, an angry snarl oscillating through her lower plethoric lip. Fingers curled into crushing fists over her gauntlets, and adrenaline ignited flames began to cascade the coals of her fury. Cowards, like the fleeing druid, took the crown her vexations, but right underneath were the creepers lurking in the darkness for vulnerable opportunities. 

While Natasha wasn't an honorable nor virtuous warrior, she had values on the commencement of battle. It should always be looking into your opponent's eyes, intrepid, and enthralled for the bloody brawl.

"If I may…" she began, expecting Alexandria to understand her request.

Upon Alexandria's word, something instantly changed. The witch and orc passed through a particularly obscuring and dead understory, their silhouettes curtained then revived on the other side. Except now, it was only Alexandria's that remained. 

The thump of something heavy landing upon a nearby tree would give Martis his only warning. If he tracked the sound quick enough, he'd see the brief moment of the orc crouched upon the wailing bend of a branch just above him. Her metallic boots were planted on the wood, thighs loaded, and crimson eyes dilated into vast abysses of primal bloodlust. This demonic imagery, saturated with malevolent intent, lasted for as long as a blink before those loaded thighs sprung lose. Natasha shot down upon the vampire like a hawk from the skies. 

His undead nature hopefully granted him the reflexes to dodge, for if he didn't, he'd be met with the she-orc's gauntlets thrust so deeply into his cranial and chest cavities that he'd tear into two gruesome pieces of undead flesh; she'd rip his head clear from his shoulders if her blades met their mark.

The most likely result was that Martis found a way out of death's reach and Natasha's blades instead collided with the soft moist earth. She lifted her head to his new position, tension rolling in waves from her body, instantly ready to strike again. If he didn't explain himself immediately, he'd be treated like every other creature they'd encountered in this forest—a threat to be slain. And Natasha didn't ask questions.

Edited by Fallen Joy

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