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Famous Last Words [private]

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"Bite Me Bite Me!" She sang out annoyingly.
"Maru you do not ask people to Bite you."
"But I want to be a vampyre!" The red-headed child curled her fingers and let out a little howl.
"Aye Maru, werewolf- that is a werewolf. Not a Vampyre."
"Yes! Wolf!"
     X'yros flinched lazily when she started tugging on his beard. Fortunately her grandfather had stood up and scooped her off the resting bear-of-a-man.
"Your mother will be teaching you manners later. Now go, shoo- I need to have a talk with him."

     He set the four year old down and she scampered off after a cat and disappeared around the corner of the building. Now that he was no longer being used as a jungle gym, X’yros stretched out and leaned back into the chair until the wood creaked on the deck. Both of their eyes turned to watch the little traffic that there was in the small village of 70, guarded by a well-built wall of trees that he himself had helped the people construct. It was their only defense, besides him of course. He reflected back when he had first ventured to a small village that rumors had told was haunted… Outsiders never came, the people never left. 
It wasn’t much of a haunting problem as it was a Werewolf problem, that had been dealt with. 
The only problem was that the village had dubbed him a skin-shifter as well, and named him Hero of their home. The timing had been perfect, it was a perfect place to lie low and take it easy, take any joy that life had to offer. He was no longer a drifter along the continents from place to place looking for odd jobs to work. Money? He didn’t need it, at all actually. But he did need a firm distraction. This village offered just that, they needed a strong pair of arms to help them recover from their few years of loss. These people had no money, no goods to trade for work, they could only offer the clothes off their back and a place to sleep. 
It was good enough for him.

     Above them the sun was beginning to reach its height in the sky, temperatures were soaring today- a mere 30 degrees Fahrenheit, the warmest it’s been in a week. Everyone was outside taking advantage of it getting as much work done as they could. X’yros had been helping them do winter repairs, haul goods, and logging since the early hours of the morning. Sweat had beaded down his dark, dirty skin. He had been shirtless, as usual when he worked, his facial hair overgrown, and his body steaming.

Thank you for the work done today.
     He nodded while watching a woman struggle with a basket full of freshly baked bread.
I’m glad you decided to choose this territory as your own, we would be at a loss right now.”
     Ah- there it was. Even the Village leader always reminded him- they all thought he too was a werewolf. A lycanthrope, skin-changer, a dog. They just thought he was a good one.
No need to thank me, I was just passing through.
     There was a long draw of silence again, some chickens crowed in the background and cried out while they were chased for a while.
     Then finally, a break in the quiet as the elder man leaned forward in his chair. X’yros could tell that he was concerned over something.
My wife told me that she heard talk from the other women in town, their husbands say that there’ve been Monster hunters, hired mercenaries, combing the nearby villages.
     X’yros was quiet while he spoke.
And, I am assuming you are concerned that they will come here?
     The Village Leader cleared his throat.
“As far as I have heard we have been the last place with any problems.
     There was an air of silence again before the pale blue eyes turned to him.
I’m just concerned about you, is all. Will you be safe staying here?
     The corner of X’yros’ mouth turned upwards in a crooked little smile.
No need to be scared of boys swinging their swords and magic wands around.” He paused and picked some lunch out of his teeth. “I have been through more than you might think possible.” 
"Well... anyone means you trouble, we will try to help."
"I promise- whatever these people are after, it is not me. Or this village."

Famous last words.

Edited by Gr8ves!

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The sun was well into the sky when the woman and her companion pushed passed the tree lined border surrounding the town. It was bright, which only served to irritate the two further. They had been traveling for some time, picking up random bounties and mercenary work to pay for their food and lodging. Their nomadic existence was not new. They had not remained stationary for more than a few days in the last year, unless injury or illness ordered them to longer.

The woman, Phedre, slid a finger down the back of her neck to swipe through a trickle of sweat. They had been traveling since the dark embrace of night, the early morning hours before the sun claimed victory over the sky and rose its way back upon its throne. The duo preferred the darkness, it was cooler and... quieter. Phedre’s lip curled up in a weak snarl as she made eye contact with a local.

“Why did we leave the horses,” the man asked, taking his turn to swipe at sweat that had begun to dance upon his brow.

“They needed their own rest,” Phedre mumbled back, tugging down on her shirt and straightening out her leather gear, “I thought the town was... closer.”

Diocletian stifled a laugh and offered a rough shove to the woman’s shoulder. “The town hasn’t moved,” he said with his stereotypical wry grin, “you were just a bear to rouse tonight, and we didn’t get moving for quite some time.”

She shoved him back relatively pathetically and held back a yawn that had begun to tug at the back of her jaws.

The town, if you could call it that, was minute. She doubted they would find work there, but at the very least, their services could be offered in return for some warm water to bathe, or perhaps even some foreign spices. Their hunting game was plentiful, but they were running low on flavor, and it was always a welcome luxury.

Phedre continued to fuss with her gear, her head low, trusting her companion to act as their lookout should trouble come their way. It often seemed to sniff them out, trouble that is. They had been chased out of their fair share of villages after upending a rude citizen or two. But they stood to gain nothing from tolerating the harassment of others... and Phedre was quick to anger.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Dio rumbled, his voice suddenly low and growly, losing the playful tone that it carried moments ago.

He had stopped advancing, and Phedre did the same, looking up to follow his line of sight to track the nuisance. There, resting upon a chair, sat a familiar face, and indeed, a more familiar sight, steam rising from the dark skin of the beast of a man. Dio heard Phedre’s breath catch momentarily in her throat, then snuck a glance out the corner of his eye at her. She struggled to process her emotions, and they came in waves, crashing into her  as though she stood centered in depths of a typhoon. Black, feminine brows knitted together in confusion, then flew upward in surprise. He let go of a breath that he himself had been holding when he saw them slowly lower down into their resting scowl, and not turn up to give way in a show of contentment.

This was the man they had been journeying to find. Not a bounty, not a job for which they had been hired, no this man was one that Phedre held a closeness with, one who vanished so suddenly that she had thought him kidnapped, or perhaps, as the time had passed, even dead. To see him lounging lazily on his behind, brought forth a well hidden rage that boiled deeply in the woman’s belly. Had her travel companion not known her so well, he would be unaware, for her cheeks did not even bare a flush, but beneath her linen and leather, he could almost feel her gut tighten.

This could go well for precisely neither of them.
It was unclear which two this thought was addressing.

Phedre had frozen, and suddenly when faced with the man whom she had tracked for endless months (years?) she realized that she had no notion of what to do when he was found. In all of her many hours trekking through the wilds, all of the moments of imagination, the times picturing their reunion, it was never like this. He was never lounging in a chair, comfortable as a clam in a warm pool of water. He was bloodied, beaten, sometimes enslaved or imprisoned. He was never... just... fine. The sight was disturbing and brought a rush of doubt into her mind. The notion that he had made the choice to leave her, that he had kept his distance of his own accord suddenly became a very real and heartbreaking possibility.

Dio read the signs and saw a brief opportunity to escape unscathed. “Perhaps we should head back to the horses,” she said softly so that only her ears could hear. He started to step backward, one foot slowly at a time, as if to coax her in the direction from whence they came.

She did not follow.
He knew what was coming next.
It was now his gut that clenched tightly in discomfort.

Phedre inhaled slowly and opened her mouth to let loose what was sure to be an impressive, and loud, string of impropriety, but was caught short by an older man who had stepped in front of her, hands on his hips. “Can I help you,” he asked, not really asking, but trying to block the hulking figure on the porch with his gnarled, elderly body.

Dio made the sign of a god that he did not worship and sent a kind thought for the man, who, knowing Phedre, was about to meet his maker.

Edited by Phedre

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"Other than that- what chores do you have left for me today. You haven’t really give me much of a list as you usually do."
X’yros shot a grin to the man beside him who returned it with a laugh at X’s attempt to move on from the conversation.
"The ice still needs to be hauled in from the river. They got one load brought back and the older mare collapsed again."
"You need more horses."
"We need more money."
The darker man nodded and thought for a little bit while the elder had taken out his pipe and filled it, lit a match, and leaned back to blow smoke out into the wind. The light creaking of the wood told X that the elder had leaned forwards and was looking at something specific.
"Hmm."
His own amber eyes had been glazed over in thought but they lifted from staring at the dirt into the direction of where people were beginning to gather. Something had stopped the villagers from their daily rounds and left them all curious and muttering. In the past he would have known exactly who and what it was, sometimes even why they were there, but because of his lazier tendencies his predatory senses were rarely used.
When the people parted X’yros saw something more rare than a bar of gold walking through the village- Outsiders. 
"I thought they were in the nearby villages."
The deep voice rumbled out lowly with a mild set of annoyance. His paler skinned friend slowly stood up and arched his back with a few popping joints before he removed the pipe from his cracked lips.
"Well… now they’re here. Let me handle it.”
The elder's voice had grown rather defensive- but X'yros was still reclined comfortably and at his friend’s words the tension in his muscles relaxed.
“Holler if you need help.” He said sarcastically.

As the elder stepped down from the wooden porch and left him sitting there to greet the Adventurous people, X’yros watched and felt uncomfortable as they walked right towards his direction. Only two of them, which didn’t register anything special in his memory. But the closer they got the more detail was spread out. A man and a woman, both armed rather heavily, both wearing dark clothing, both had dark hair… dark expressions. Everything about them screamed dark omens. During his travels over the past few months he had seen many people like these two, but usually they all traveled in large groups. It took more than two to slay some of the World’s monsters for riches.
Something about the expressionless woman made his heart stop. Something about the way her eyes burned through his skull made the very hairs at the back of his neck stand on end. Something was off.
When the lightbulb finally went off in his head he sat up so fast that the chair actually broke beneath him. He was able to push himself off of it in time for the legs to give out, but now the world slowly dissolved and melted around him and he was aware of nothing but those two people. 
He had seen something like this in a dream-- maybe it had really been a nightmare. Could he be dreaming right now? The pain in his backside said no.
His eyes began to glow when he lumbered forwards like a lost dog recognizing an old owner. The amber light began to radiate from their depth until they looked like pits of swirling flames, as they had normally done a year ago. Whatever had fallen asleep inside began to wake up, when he breathed in again he was hit by a perfuming scent that blossomed in his brain and made his nose tingle. 
Yes he was awake.
His voice was subdued and laced with confusion, but memories flooded his mind in that instant that their gaze locked.
Phedre.
 

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Diocletian knew that he had lost his chance at a clean getaway. She had seen Him, it was over. Now all he could do is keep her from making decisions that she would regret when her head cleared. “Excuse us good sir,” he said politely to the town elder, his eyes soft and kind in a way that made his large stature seem smaller and less threatening. “You may want to give these two some space.”

The old man sputtered and looked back and forth between the dark skinned man and the dark haired female. The man still steamed, but so did the woman in her own, more noxious way. “They-,” he stammered, “they know each other?”

Diocletian rubbed the back of his neck, remembering some of the not-so-family-friendly moments of the past. “Oh yes...,” he mumbled back, walking with the man toward the side of the road, “intimately.”

The elder couldn’t quite articulate the next several thoughts he had, and instead gobbed like a fish out of water, cheeks growing red and mouth opening and shutting with some regularity.

“I know,” is all that Diocletian could manage, before Phedre’s voice boomed across the town. He swore even the dead could hear her at this volume.

“YOU. HAVE. BEEN. HERE!?”

Her fists were clenched, as was her jaw after she spoke, and her violet eyes darkened into near pits of black. She bloomed waves of violence, even her exhale shuddering with its own force. He lumbered toward her and she felt her body freeze, thaw, and boil in a matter of seconds. Her hand itched for the hilt of her sword, but when she made a move for it, Dio had suddenly reappeared back at her side, and stayed her hand. “Let go of me or I will gut you next,” she growled lowly to him, teeth still clenched tightly.

Although he knew this an empty threat, he almost wish it were not, as the slow bleed of evisceration may be less painful than what he may receive if Phedre were to ever find out the truth of the matter. “Regret,” is all he had to say. She knew from many mistakes that, at time of particular emotionality, she benefited from some assistance with... restraint.

She listened. Wrenching her arm free from Dio’s grasp, she looked back at X’yros, who now spoke her name. She stared at him with daggers in her eyes, the very look searing and haunting. How dare he say her name, after all this time, with him just sitting on his rear and soaking in the sun.  She let loose a guttural roar and launched a trained and powerful strike to his jaw.

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Mmm, you still smell light.” A smile beamed down at her as if he were entirely oblivious to whatever rage consumed his old companions. X’yros was happy to see her again to give much thought into anyone else’s emotions at the moment.  “Here? Only recently. Well, three month’s recently.
And then she launched.
Having an easy height advantage could have been all he needed, but she jumped at him with fire burning deep in her spirit. S0 once her fist fell into contact with his face, and yes it did hurt, he used her momentum against herself and scooped her up, then swung her over his shoulder like a sack of wheat. There Phedre could kick, scream, hell even stab him if she wanted while he rubbed his throbbing nose. Other than that he was unaffected. His eyes fell over to the closest man- Dio. 
The smile on his face was still there when the massive hand patted Dio on the shoulder but it all seemed rather superficial--- and then he grabbed him by the back of the neck. 
Let’s all go somewhere quiet and talk, eh?”
X’yros’ grip was firm when he gave Dio a bit of a shove to go onwards back the way that the pair had come, past the gathered group of people that were now whispering and gasping watching this ghastly sight before them pan out.
Out of the entrance, X’yros stopped and made sure they were well away from the people and hopefully out of ear-shot. He had been flinching and keeping his head as far from Phedre as possible to keep from any kicking. 
Back when they were together it was very rare for him to ever manhandle this woman, she reminded him a lot of wolverines. He had been afraid that if he swung her around like he would with children, he’d be waking up the next morning missing something important. Apparently that fear and respect for boundaries had been lost.
The giant grunted and heaved her back over his shoulder and paused right as he set her down. It was probably the only opportunity that he’d have if he moved with speed--
So he stooped low and wrapped his arms tightly around her to give her a giant bear hug with a tinge of a vibrating purr when he nuzzled his fluffy bearded-chin between the crook of her neck. He could feel the heat radiate off of her- she was pissed.
X’yros let go and took a step back… and then another half-step. At the moment he wasn’t sure what the proper question was to ask-- but had a fear of her ripping him in half with words so he forced himself to speak.
So--- Either you read my letter and a year later decided that you didn’t care--” a burning gaze turned to Dio, “or you never received a letter.”
Before he had left suddenly he had scribbled out a farewell- and a shitty reason for his departure. His excuse was that she would not be living her life to fulfillment with him, that he was nothing more than an animal, and that there was more to a Human’s life than hunting things down for a few coins. He had wanted her to live a good life and spend it loving someone the same as her.
 Dio had told him it would piss her off to the max, but he wanted it to be semi-truth at least. He did remember very specifically that both men had agreed to keep her away from him by any means possible, but for as much as he had missed her he believed in what he wrote, and what they had discussed.
Had Phedre stayed with him she would likely be dead within the year. She needed to be with a human male, not- whatever he was. A mess. 
So he was curious to see what her reason was for being here.
 

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It was in one obnoxiously graceful movement that Phedre found herself transferred from position of aggression to posture of... wheat sack. His shoulder bore into her belly and she did all that she could to make the position uncomfortable for him. Tensing her abdominals she roared in protest, pounding at his back with her closed fists. She wished she had unsheathed her dagger. She would be slicing it through all kinds of viscera by now.

The rage hid her hurt. It was the jagged armor that protected a softness that she rarely let show. Diocletian watched it all with wide eyes, his mouth firmly closed. He reached his hand half-heartedly to retrieve her before meeting X’yros’s eyes and opting against it.

The words that flew from between the woman’s lips would have made the strongest of sailors blush. She held nothing back and words blended into roars and growls as she turned more animal than human. After a solid fifteen seconds of this she came to the embarrassing realization that she was not going anywhere, and let out a long and sorrowful sigh, resigning herself to her current position, folded atop her one-time lover. From this new position, she was unable to see X’yros grasp firmly to Dio’s neck and usher him back in the direction that they came. Phedre drew her head up to look around her and saw the entirety of the small village watching. She let loose another string of obscenities, this time directed at the onlookers. Then, she drew back an elbow, lined up her shot, and clocked X’yros squarely in the back of the skull. “Put me down or I draw a hidden pointy next, and make your death one of perpetual arse bleeding.”

He placed her gently on the ground, and before she could draw any sort of implement, pulled her up into a tight hug. She roared once more from within his confining arms, and moved to stomp hard on one of his toes. She did not understand why but her eyes began to water. When she felt him purr, a solitary tear broke free and slid quickly down her cheek. She wiped it away the second he stepped back, too distracted by the thing to consider more violence.

He spoke.

The two of them turned to Dio, who looked suspiciously at the ground. He did not speak.

“What letter,” Phedre said quietly, “you left me. Disappeared. Gone.”

She drew up a chin that she had let fall as she spoke, and turned to look at Dio. “What is he talking about?”

Dio’s eyes looked sorrowful, pained, but for just a moment. He spared a glance toward X’yros and tried his hand at a lie, desperate to not disappoint the woman who he adored most in the world. He drew himself upright and tightened his jaw, suddenly strong in posture, “he lies. There was no letter.”

Phedre looked between the two men and shook her head. “What in the seven hells is going on here?”

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X’yros had grown so accustomed to the woman’s fiery mouth exploding a rainbow of expressions that he had never flinched in the entire duration of her outburst, even during their hug. Sure she had threatened to stab him but he hadn’t been expecting to get his foot stomped on. He flinched a bit when she crushed his toes and then decided at that moment it might’ve been easier to just take a partial step back out of her reach.
I’d rather fight an entire pack of werewolves than make you angry, any day.”
He was comfortable for the time being, he hadn’t realized just how much he missed having company as close as her until she had strut into the village. Having them back made him genuinely happy. His voice had been amused at their exchange but died off when she expressed never having received any letter. It caught his attention and suddenly his lazy year broke like ice and brought that wild edge back to his eyes. He gave Dio the time he needed to collect his thoughts instead of pouncing upon him and shredding him like a toy doll. The lack of response was making him itch to wrap his teeth around his throat.
There was a look of guilt on Dio’s face as his eyes dropped like a dog about to be beaten for committing some heinous crime… and he was right to feel so. X’yros was dumbfounded by the idea that Dio would have been so incompetent to one simple thing that he would rather have let Phedre suffer all that time… or, maybe he had lost it- or the letter gotten destroyed for some reason. The small group was always getting into trouble. The next sentence would declare the man’s fate.
Apparently that guilt had been for Phedre, not about what words were about to fly from his mouth. 
Very slowly the towering dark man folded his arms and glared at him from under his brow, Dio straightened and the words he spoke chilled his boiling blood into ice.
He lies.
They were the firing pin striking the bullet in a loaded gun, X’yros was the bullet. Dio was on the receiving end.
Diocletion, son of a whore, you're a dead man."
His voice began to change and deepened as he unfolded his arms. Something primal snapped in his brain that he hadn’t embraced for nearly a year. Whatever warrior inside of him decided there was a time for being a law-abiding citizen and a time for being him
There was no warning for the black fuming smoke that warped his body into a shape double an average man’s height, and no wall between him or Dio that would be able to shield the man from a bear-like mauling. 
He was free. All two thousand pounds of him.
Butcher knife-sized teeth bared in silence when his eyes locked with someone that had evidently forgotten what sort of person they had been dealing with. Someone that was genuinely pissed at being accused for lying, and even more so when there was any discomfort made to the woman that he had protected. Dio was about to be made an example.

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