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 A Land of Trials

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:46 pm

Sakura muttered an awkward apology as Kero fully emerged after being seen. 

"People in our world aren't used to magical beings like Kero, so he often has to hide. We didn't mean to hide anything from you after you've helped us, but we just weren't sure how you would react if you saw him speak since most people in our world just see him as a stuffed toy," she explained and Kero nodded in affirmation with a certain amount of resentment.

"I could tell right away that something about this world was different from ours, but it's still surprising to find a place where the people are so predisposed to magic, even if it works different than the magic from ours," he said.

When told to sleep, Sakura and Syaoran both agreed and attempted to settle in after what had already been a full day of traveling. Syaoran allowed Sakura to have the bed to herself while he remained seated on the floor against the bed in a seated position with his knees pulled up to his chest and his head resting on his folded arms. It wasn't the most comfortable situation, but it would be better than laying flat on the hard floor and  at least this way Sakura would have some space. She actually tossed and turned in her sleep quite a bit when  her sleep was natural, though somehow Kero still managed to stay comfortable on the edge off the pillow Sakura was using once again.

Early the next morning, rain continued to pound outside. Sakura was the first of the three travelers to wake up and was careful to not disturb Kero or Syaoran as she climbed out of the bed. When Sakura turned around again Kai'tok was nowhere to be seen until she noticed that the shelter's entrance partially open. As Sakura peered outside she saw the elven woman sitting in the wet grass, but it almost looked as though she were meditating. Sakura cleared her throat softly as she stood in the entryway. 

"Good morning..." she said awkwardly, hoping to have not disturbed Kai'tok too terribly.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:26 am

Kai'tok had spent all night out in the rain and was soaked to the bone by the time the sky began to grow light.  Her long dark hair was matted to her shoulders and back and water dripped off just about everything she had to offer.  She sat with one leg drawn up and the other out straight in front of her so she could rest her chin on it while she scanned the forest.  Her ears twitched now and again as she listened to the various sounds of the forest while her sharp eyes scanned the road for any threats.  She normally would have spent the early morning hunting, but she knew the children would likely be alarmed if they were to wake and she was nowhere to be found.  Her sharp eyes settled on movement in the distance and took on a pale glow when she focused on it.  An elf dressed in green and white moved from behind some brush then scurried away with something clutched in her arms.  Any further attention to the matter was drawn away by the sound of Sakura greeting her.
 
She turned slowly and looked over her shoulder at the female child.  "Morning," she said in a neutral tone.  Her gaze moved back to the road again after she spoke.  Three men had appeared, dressed in brown and green clothing.  She observed the men for a bit longer before she turned to where she'd lost sight of the elf and her eyes glowed more brightly.  The elf was visible to her because she knew what to look for in the relative gloom of the forest, but if the poor thing stayed still the men hunting her had a good chance of missing her entirely.  When they neared the elf’s hiding place, however, the half-elf decided it was time to take action.
 
"Quiet," Kai'tok ordered.
 
The mercenary slowly rose from her seat and placed her feet a little further than shoulder width apart.  She pulled her bow from its mount on the side of her quiver and squeezed a switch on the grip that caused the limbs to snap out and lock into place, pulling the string tight.  The half-elf reached into her quiver and selected an arrow with quail feather fletching and tipped with a four-bladed razor tip meant for ripping through light armour.  She lifted her bow after she notched the arrow and slowly stretched the string back.  The bow’s limbs groaned softly under the tension and she took a long, slow breath while she adjusted her aim.  After a long moment, she held her breath.  The half-elf made another small adjustment then loosed her shot.
 
The sound of the arrow's flight was lost in the gentle patter of the rain and one of the men suddenly clutched at his neck before he fell over.  Kai'tok exhaled and drew another arrow identical to the first and notched it to her bow then stretched the string back again.  The men had moved while she reloaded, searching desperately for the person who'd shot their companion.  Kai’tok waited until one of them became still then released another arrow.  There was a few seconds of pause before the second man clutched at his chest and fell over.  His companion hurried to his side and checked him while the half-elf notched a third arrow to her bow and drew it back.  She breathed softly through her nose while she observed the third man.  Kai’tok adjusted her bow slightly before she unleashed her third shot.  The last man clutched at his neck then fell forward.
 
She squeezed a different switch on her bow and the limbs collapsed down and she locked it back into its mount on her quiver.  Rather than say anything further on the matter, Kai’tok reseated herself and watched the road.  The elf slowly moved out of her hiding place and looked around.  The half-elf whistled a short series of tones and the elf turned toward her then looked at the corpses before she turned and ran toward the half-elf and her human companion.  “We’re about to have company,” Kai’tok said.
 
Kai’tok watched as the elf ran toward them.  It looked as though she had something in her hands that was rather heavy, but once she got close, it was plain to see that her hands were bound together at the wrists.  The blond-haired elf looked much worse for wear up close; she had bruises on her arms and legs and there were older bruises on her face.  The half-elf motioned her closer and pointed wordlessly at her hands.  The blond-haired woman held her hands out and Kai’tok examined the shackles that encircled her wrists.
 
“D-did you kill them?”  she asked in elven.
“I didn’t think you were a slave,” Kai’tok responded in elven.  She drew her knife and swung sharply with it to cut through the chain that held the shackles together.  Once they were separated from each other she was able to look more closely at them.  They were made from soft iron lined with a thick layer of leather, which meant they were relatively simple to remove.
“I’ve been running for three days… I can finally escape thanks to you,” the blond-haired elf said.  She watched in awe as Kai’tok worked carefully with her knife and pulled the thick leather liner out of the shackles then simply slid them off over her small hands.  “Th-that’s amazing…” she mumbled.
The half-elf shook her head.  “They’re usually a size or two bigger than necessary to accommodate the leather that keeps them from cutting your wrists.  If you remove the leather they slide off relatively easily,” Kai’tok explained.
 
The grateful elf nodded at Kai’tok’s explanation then began to take in her surroundings.  She became aware of the smell of smoke in the air and soon realized they were outside a small, well camouflaged hut in the middle of the forest.  Her green eyes soon fell upon Sakura and she smiled lightly at the strangely dressed girl.  “Why are you travelling with a child?”  she asked in elven.
The half-elf looked over her shoulder at Sakura.  “Convenience, we have the same destination,” she responded.
“I’m Ly’rei,” she said in common.  Her accent was thick, but she managed to smile despite being rather haggard.
“Where did you come from?”  Kai’tok asked.  She tried to think of all the places within three days travel of where they were.  She knew there were a couple of inns along the road that were about a day apart on horseback, a day and a half on foot… for her anyway.
“I escaped from a caravan headed to Forlorn Peak… they left some guards behind to look for me and carried on,” she explained.
“We passed them on our way here yesterday,” Kai’tok responded.  “Where’d they pick you up?”
“Union, I was travelling to Aurora but stopped there for the night and they kidnapped me,” Ly’rei explained.
 
“Sakura, go inside and get some food.  Forest elves don’t eat meat, so leave the dried meat and bring her nuts and berries,” Kai’tok instructed.  She turned back to the forest elf.  “You’re welcome to anything on those corpses, I have plenty of money,” she said.
“R-really?  But… but you’re the one that killed them, rightfully-” she stopped when Kai’tok held her hand up.
“I told you, take it, I have no need for it,” she said.  Ly’rei smiled and slowly knelt down, her adrenaline high finally gone and her body succumbing to exhaustion.  “You okay?”  the half-elf asked.
The forest elf nodded.  “Yeah… just worn out…” she responded.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Mon May 23, 2016 7:49 pm

Sakura hadn't been able to understand anything Kai'tok and the other elven woman had been saying when they spoke to eachother, but the still gave a small smile back when the smaller of the two smiled at her. Whoever this second elf was, she at least seemed to have calmed down after whatever had happened to her before Kai'tok had come to her aid, though Sakura still wasn't sure how she had done it or even known of the other elf's plight.

When Kai'tok spoke in a language that she could understand again, Sakura straightened her posture in mild surprise. The sudden request had caught her slightly off guard, but she still gave a nod.

"Yes, right away," Sakura quickly agreed then turned back towards the hut to search the pantry as instructed. Inside, Syaoran an Kero were both still asleep. Luckily, Sakura had been able to spot the berries easily enough; They were stored by a window in a woven basket that had been lined with leaves to help preserve freshness. She would have to search the cupboards for the nuts, however, with resulted in some soft clatters that eventually caused Syaoran to lift his head.

"Sakura, what's going on?" he asked groggily before he began to scan around the shelter.

"Is it breakfast time?" Kero chimed in when the noise had stirred him as well.

"Where's Kai'tok?" Syaoran added once he had noticed that the three of them seemed to be alone.

"Outside," Sakura explained. "I'm not sure eaxactly what happened, but Kai'tok helped to save another woman who looked like she was in some kind of trouble. Kai'tok asked me to bring some food for her to eat, but Kai'tok never told me where she keeps anything. Will you help me look for some nuts?"

Syaoran gave a nod and stood to join Sakura in checking the cupboards until they found a clay vessel with a tight lid that held an assortment of dried nuts.

"What about food for us?" Kero moped.

"Later," Sakura told him sternly as the trio made their way back out into the open with the two containers in hand.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Wed Jun 01, 2016 4:41 pm

Kai’tok and Ly’rei spoke quietly in elven while they waited for Sakura to return.  The forest elf explained her purpose for leaving Felst and about her capture while Kai’tok listened quietly.  The blond-haired elf thought it was a bit odd the half-elf wasn’t badgering her with questions about her quest, but smiled when she was told that people were welcome to their secrets.  With their conversation finished, Ly’rei worked up enough courage to part from her savior and search the dead slavers for anything that might useful.  Kai’tok watched in silence from her place near the shelter, her bow across her lap with an arrow notched to it.
 
It wasn’t long before Ly’rei had returned with her spoils; a pair of short swords, a cloak, studded leather armour that, fortunately, didn’t have any crests riveted to it, and all the money the slavers had been carrying.  She also produced a piece of parchment that she offered to the half-elf with a look of grave concern on her face.  Kai’tok examined it then set it aside.
 
“Aren’t you worried?  That bounty notice has your name on it,” Ly’rei said.  She rung her hair out then pulled the hood of her cloak up.
“I do not feel fear and I will kill any bounty hunters that come after me,” Kai’tok responded flatly.
 
Sakura and her companions arrived before Ly’rei could respond.  At the offer of food, she was more than happy to give up the conversation and indulge.  The forest elf ate the berries of nuts ravenously… although given she’d been starving for nearly three days, it wasn’t hard to see why.  She stopped when the berries were gone and blushed a little bit because she’d been so selfish.
 
“I-I’m sorry…” she mumbled.  She looked down at her lap, her face a cute shade of pink.
“This is one of the shelters the Rangers created, the food is meant for any travelers who require it,” the half-elf said.
Ly’rei lifted her head and looked at Kai’tok rather incredulously.  “What do you know of the Rangers?”  she asked.
“They are tasked with keeping the roads clear but do not perform it, so they attempt to make amends for it by creating and stocking these shelters,” the dark-haired mercenary responded.
“You have no ties with them?”  the forest elf asked.
“Artemis Mir Gardua has attempted to kill me on several occasions, I no longer take jobs for the Rangers,” Kia’tok replied.  She continued to look away from the forest elf, her red eyes trained on the road.
“Then no… you would not have ties with them… good,” Ly’rei said.  Her green eyes remained narrowed for several moments before she turned and looked up at the pair of children.
 
The forest elf rose to her feet and smiled politely at them before she began to speak.  “I am called Ly’rei,” she began in common.  Her accent in common was rather thick but her words were clear enough to understand.  She bowed in a traditional elven greeting before she continued.  “You are very fortunate to travel with someone as generous as Kai’tok; many mercenaries do not work for free,” she continued.  Her sharp eyes scanned over the pair of children before they finally settled on Kero.  Her entire demeanor changed and she blushed furiously.  “Oh!  You have a familiar!  I was not aware that you are a summoner, miss!  Please forgive my rudeness!”  The forest elf quickly bowed in a different, more extravagant greeting.
 
“Please, tell me, what made you decide to travel with Kai’tok?  Surely someone such as you could handle anything on the road with ease,” Ly’rei said.
Kai’tok quietly changed position and the clicks of her bow folding back up filled the silence in the air.  The forest elf glanced down at her.
“Why did you not tell me you were travelling with a summoner?”  Ly’rei demanded.
“I did not feel it was important information,” Kai’tok responded.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Sat Jul 23, 2016 9:29 pm

The two children paid no heed to the voracious manner in which the forest elf had eaten. She had clearly been in need and both Sakura and Syaoran were glad to have been able to help. The only one of the group that appeared mildly disappointed that there was no food left was Kero, but he knew enough to no complain verbally at least. 

"Please, you don't have to do that, I'm really not all that strong" Sakura waved both of her hands in a flustered manner at Ly’rei's excessive politeness.

"Kero isn't a familiar, he's my friend. I don't command him, he's more like a guide and he's helped me a lot. The truth is, I'm not sure what I would do if Syaoran and Kero weren't here," she explained before Syaoran took over.

"The three of us aren't really from this land, or this world. We don't really know how we got here, but we'd like to get back home as soon as we can. It was just luck that we came across Kai'tok and that she agreed to let us follow her to the nearest town where we might be able to get some information or some kind of clue to getting back to our world," the boy said.
 
Sakura gave a nod in agreement before she spoke again. "If we could somehow repay her we would, but for now we're very grateful to Kai'tok for helping us get this far" she said with a sheepish glance towards the mercenary before she turned her focus back to Ly'rei.

"But what about yourself?" Sakura continued to ask. "I didn't see exactly how, but it looked to me like Ka'tok was able to help you before, too, so what happened? Do you and Kai'tok know each other somehow?"

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:17 pm

The elf blinked and tilted her head to one side at the girl's, Sakura's, explanation of her non-human companion.  It seemed he was a mentor of sorts, but she supposed stranger things had visited Illinara in the past and had done no damage to the local fabric of space and time.  "You are very fortunate then," Ly'rei finally said.  With her stomach full, her next task was to protect herself, so she seized the armour she'd pilfered from the corpses and pulled it on.

Kai'tok remained silent throughout the entire conversation, red eyes locked on the road as she scanned it much like a hungry predator might.

"My relationship with Kai'tok?"  she asked.  There was a pause while she fumbled with the armour.  "A simple matter of good fortune, really," the blonde elf finally said with a shrug.  She pulled the ties for her armour tight and forced it to hug the various curves of her body.  "I just happened to pass by at the right time; if I'd been a day earlier or later, Kai'tok wouldn't have been around to intervene."  The elf smiled at the half-breed, who said nothing in response.

Kai'tok slowly turned to face her travelling companions and seemed to simply gaze at them for a period before she spoke.  "It would be best if you were to return to Felst," she said to the elf.
"It does indeed seem to be the wisest course of action..." Ly'rei sighed.
The half-breed turned to the children next.  "Raid the shelter for what supplies remain, you'll need food for the next leg of our journey.  I'll be fine, I plan to hunt during nights," she explained.
"Can't I come with you?"  the blonde elf asked.
"I have no power to stop you," Kai'tok responded.  She rose to her feet and popped her neck loudly before she turned to the children and spoke again.  "We leave in ten minutes."

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:08 pm

"Raid?" Sakura repeaded with clear discomfort in her voice. Even if the shelter was there for the use of travelers like them, taking any of the supplies would be no different than if she and Syaoran had stolen them. The girl glanced over at her friend reluctantly, silently asking if either of them approved.

Kero folded his arms and tilted his head in an uncertain manner. When she looked towards Syaon he didn't appear to like the idea either, but he gave her a nod of reassurance. Even if they didn't like the thought of stealing the two didn't have much of a choice. They were stranded in a strange land with no way of knowing how long they would be there. They would still need food, steady shelter and possibly money at the very least in order to survive.

Syaoran turned back to Kai'tok and gave a second nod of understanding. "Ten minutes will be plenty," he assured as he and Sakura stood before making their way back inside of the shelter.

Kero quickly located a pantry where any available food rations would be stored. Sakura found a blanket and managed to hastily fashion it into a bag to hold whatever supplies they gathered while Syaoran looked for anything else that might be of use. There didn't appear to be anygoldcoins or anything else resembling money inside the shelter, but maybe they could work to earn some whenever they reached a town.

At least they wouldn't have to worry about taking any weapons. Sakura was lucky enough to have been left with her key and all of her cards while Syaoran still had his sword for protection as well as his compass board. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be much left in the way of armor either, but Syaoran was still able to find a rope and some other simple tools as well as some bandages as well as a few vials that contained a few different kind dried, crushed herbs that were labled as being medicinal. Sakura returned shortly after with as much food as she and Kero could find as well as some basic cooking utencils.

Once the three had finished gathering whatever supplies they could find they exited the shelter again to rejoin Kai'tok and Ly'rei.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:06 am

In the span of time Kai'tok had, she did some stretches and popped many of the joints in her body from her wrists to her shoulders to her neck and even down her back.  By the time the children had returned, the half-elf was bent over with her palms on the ground.  She rose back up and looked over her shoulder at them silently then began to move down the road.  The persistent rain was a heavy, soaking one that drenched absolutely everything.  Water pooled in low spots and encouraged travellers to stick to the road to avoid quicksand and quagmires.  Kai'tok and Ly'rei didn't seem to bothered by it as they walked in silence.

Upon reaching the road, the elf paused for a moment then smiled and began to follow after Kai'tok and the children.  The silence and patter of the rain seemed to bother the blonde-haired elf, so she turned to the children and began to speak.  "You're not the first travellers from other worlds to come here," Ly'rei began.  "You see, Illinara is part of an interconnected system of worlds and planes.  Angels inhabit the heavens, demons inhabit the netherworld, weird creatures come from the Void and Nothing, and familiars are summoned from the Other Place," she summarized.  Her words came quickly, but she spoke clearly in common despite her elven accent.

"Not all travellers from those places are friendly, however.  I'm a mercenary so I have a little leeway with them, but for the most part everything except angels kill things," Kai'tok chimed.
"Oh hush!  You'll scare them!"  the elf shot back.  The dark-haired half-elf didn't respond, as was her way.  "She is right though, a lot of what comes from the places I listed are terrible creatures more interested in eating you than being nice..." she sighed.  There was a pause before she spoke again.  "Gloom the Forgotten brings all sorts of weird things to Illinara and the Goddess is always sending angels to stop him."
"Not that she does a particularly good job of it... the town of Dusk, to the south, and the town of Forlorn Peak are permanently cursed by Gloom's magic," the red-eyed woman added.

Despite the heavy rain, the sounds of a fight echoed through the forest.  Rather than be on their guard, Kai'tok and Ly'rei continued to carry their pace as though everything were normal.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:14 pm

Syaoran let out a grunt of affirmation at Kai'tok's words. "I was afraid of that," he said said with a nod. In the short time he and Sakura had been in Illinara they had already seen a few of the dangers it was prone to, though Syaoran had hoped that it was only the swamp and remote open road. They would have to be even more careful if even some of the towns were unsafe for travelers.

The boy glanced over at his friend. The thought of being faced with anything tht could be called a Demon seemed to make Sakura a bit scared, but when she noticed Syaoran's glace she gave him a smile back in reassurance. As long as she had him, Kero and her cards there with her she could at least try to not be afraid.

Sakura turned back to Ly'rei before she spoke. "So who exactly is the Goddess you mentioned?" she asked in an attempt to bring the conversation back to a more positive subject. "Is there any chance she might know how people from other worlds like us could have gotten here?"

Kero tilted his head as he mused the question for himself. "Do you think outsiders like us would even be able to ask someone who is called a Goddess for help, though?"

"Well...it wouldn't hurt to at least try to contact her somehow," Sakura replied reluctantly. "After all, we don't have any other leads and if anyone were to know about traveling between worlds it would probably be a Goddess."

Syaoran nodded in agreement. "It's as good of a place as any to start once we have a safe, dry place to spend the night" he said. The dense trees and dark rain clouds that hung in the sky only served to quicken the fast-approaching dusk. It would become difficult to see before long.

"How long do you think it will be before we reach the next town?" the boy began to ask before the sounds of the fight taking place in the distance became loud enough for even the two children and Kero to hear. Sakura fidgeted uncomfortably with concern at the sounds, but Kai'tok and Ly'rei's indifference seemed to say that it was best not to get involved if they could help it.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Sat Apr 22, 2017 3:10 pm

"The Goddess is the protector of light and life in this world, she's not all-knowing, but she's powerful beyond even the most dangerous necromancer in U'rune," Ly'rei began.
"Dunno... Morathi's trying pretty hard to become a goddess..." Kai'tok interjected.
The forest elf, however, didn't miss a beat.  "She protects all of Illinara's living things from Gloom the Forgotten and the darkness he intends to spread.  Aurora is kind of... the Goddess's city, it's where she has all her focus right now and works to wrest it from Gloom's clutches."
"Not that she's doing a particularly good job," Kai'tok added.
Ly'rei sighed lightly.  "Gloom holds large sections of the upper city in Aurora where greed and corruption run deep... and there's such a disparity between the wealthy and the impoverished.  I don't mean in terms of wealth either... nearly all who are forced to live in the slums in Aurora are non-humans."

The forest elf grew silent when she spotted a dead machka by the side of the road with three arrows in its back.  She looked to Kai'tok and quietly cleared her throat.  "A-are you sure this is a good idea...?"  she asked fearfully.
"Would you rather take the smuggler's trail?" the half-elf responded.
"N-not really..."

Kai'tok continued to move, although she'd slowed her pace somewhat.  She wanted to have more time to react in the event someone decided they were equally valuable prey.  Her sharp red eyes took on a violet hue and narrowed slightly to see better in the relative gloom of the rainy forest.  "Machka... they probably figured they could attack the caravan and make off with the supplies..." she said.

"Are... are there any... y'know... surviviours...?" Ly'rei asked.
Kai'tok shook her head.  "The humans are mopping up, it won't be long before the road clears," the half-elf responded.

They walked in silence for another hundred yards or so, save for the echoes of combat.

It wasn't long before they came upon the primary battlefield.  Corpses, broken carts, and dead draft animals littered the ground.  Kai'tok picked her way across the ground, mindful of anything that might shift under her feet.  Ly'rei clasped her hands together over her chest and began to pray quietly while they walked.  The half-elf led them through the thick of things, past a ruined cart with its supplies spilled on the road.  Among the things scattered on the road, clothing, bolts of fabric, food, and even wealth, a large barrel of sand with swords in it caught Kai'tok's attention.

"The machka were probably after these," the half-elf explained.  The dark-haired woman knelt and picked up a straight-bladed longsword with a plain cross-guard and rounded pommel.  She swung it sharply a few times, making the blade hum while it sliced through the air.  She grabbed the scabbard from the ground and slipped it through her belt facing the opposite direction of her bow then moved to continue on.  A human who'd appeared dead lifted himself to his feet and gestured at them with a battleaxe.

"Thieves!"  he shouted.
Kai'tok turned and looked him up down then stood with one hand on the pommel of her newly acquired weapon.  "Going to stop us?"  she asked.
The guard charged forward with his weapon up and lunged for Kai'tok.  The half-elf moved to draw her new weapon to defend herself but Ly'rei leaped in front of her with her arms spread.  "NO!"  the forest elf cried.

A dull thud filled the air.

Everything seemed to stand still for a long moment before time suddenly sped up beyond its normal pace.  Ly'rei collapsed to her knees, an enormous gash torn in her chest.  Kai'tok yanked her new weapon from its sheath and swung hard with it.  The sword tore cleanly through the axe-wielding human's torso.  He died instantly and his corpse collapsed to the ground in several pieces.  The half-elf knelt and placed a hand on Ly'rei's shoulder.

"Why did you attempt to protect me?"  she asked.
"Y-you were... g-going to be harmed..." the forest elf wheezed.
"Trading a life for a life has never been fair..." Kai'tok sighed.
"It was... all I could offer you..." Ly'rei responded.  Her head turned to one side and she grew sluggish.  "It... hurts..."

Kai'tok dropped her blade and pulled the forest elf up into a sitting position.  "You've thrown your life away..."  She leaned in and bit the blonde-haired elf's neck.  Ly'rei twitched and her skin slowly grew pale until she was white as a sheet.  The bleeding stopped, but so did Ly'rei's movements and she soon was limp and lifeless.  Kai'tok pulled away and exhaled softly while blood dripped down her chin.  She wiped her mouth with the back of her glove then cast her eyes out over the battlefield.  The fighting had ceased, which meant the humans would return for their cargo soon... and that she had work to do.

"Run," Kai'tok instructed.  "Run and don't look back," she added.  She pointed down the road in the direction they'd been travelling before Ly'rei's death.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Sun May 14, 2017 8:18 pm

"But what about you?" Saukura began to protest. The thought of following Kai'tok to pursue the men that had killed Ly'rei scared her, but she was also did not like the idea of leaving Kai'tok to fight by herself.

Syaoran hesitated slightly as well, but he recognized the severity in the half-elf's voice. He took Sakura's hand and gave a gentle tug to encourage her to follow him. "Come on, Sakura. We should do what she says," he told her sternly.

Sakura continued to look at him with concern. She turned to Kero, but even he seemed to agreed that the three of them should go.

"Alright..." the girl finally submitted with a sigh.

The two children and tiny winged creature finally parted ways with the half-elf in the direction she had indicated. Kai'tok had told them not to look back, but it was an instruction Sakura was having a hard time following. Once the small group had run to a safe distance they slowed to a walk until Sakura eventually slowed to a complete stop with her head hanging.

"Sakura, what's wrong? We need to keep moving," Syaoran urged.

"I know, but I don't like this..." she said. "Ly'rei died because she wanted to protect Kai'tok, but if she gets hurt then Ly'rei would have sacrificed herself for nothing. I don't want Kai'tok to have to die, too!"

Syaoran lowered his head as well at let out a sigh as Sakura broke into soft sobs. This was exactly the sort of thing he had not wanted her to see. He wanted to get her back to their own world as quickly as possible, but for now all he could do to comfort her was to put his arms around her.

"Listen, I don't like it either, but that was Kai'tok's way of protecting us. If we tried to go with her we'd probably only end up getting ourselves hurt or be in her way. Leaving was the best thing we could do to help."

"But what are we going to do now? We still need to find a safe place for the night," Kero asked.

"We'll just have to keep moving until we find something. With any luck we'll find a town soon," Syaoran said.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Sun May 14, 2017 9:49 pm

With the children out of the way, Kai'tok knew she could fight without protecting anyone but herself.  She drew her bow and one of the magicite-tipped arrows from her quiver.  Her bow snapped open with the flick of a switch and she notched an arrow to the string.  Her pupils narrowed to serpentine slits and she drew her arrow back.  Once unleashed, it whistled through the air and hit its mark with a devastating explosion of flames that echoed through the forest.

-----

"Thbbbbt!  You can't catch me!"  a voice shouted in the gloom of the rainy forest.  A beast roared and the crash of a heavy body as it travelled through brush filled the air.  "C'mon slow-poke!"  the voice shouted playfully.  A young woman dropped out of the trees in the middle of the road.

She was dressed in a grey and dark grey top that hugged her chest firmly.  A grey/dark grey bikini bottom served as her formal covering but was accented by grey and brown leather riding chaps.  Boots with spurs stuck out from under her chaps and a gold buckle glinted on her belt.  Her gloves were made from brown leather and fingerless on the index and middle fingers on her left hand.  Silver cat heads accented the back of her gloves.  Atop her head was a grey, medium-brimmed hat with a water-logged red feather sticking out of the hat band.  Her sharp, starlight blue eyes glanced down the trail toward a powerful source of magic that had appeared from seemingly nowhere.

With its prey distracted, the massive creature finally found an opening to make its attack and struck the young woman with its massive paw.  She sailed through the air for nearly fifty yards then landed and rolled another twenty before she came to a stop.  Her hat lay a few paces away and revealed a beautiful swath of deep violet hair mostly cut short with a small pony tail that stuck off to the left side.  The young woman rolled to her feet and crouched on the ground.  Her right arm was drawn against her belly in a protective fashion while her left hand was braced against the ground to help her balance.  "Oh you are so dead~"  she laughed.

Her mind moved back to the source of magic and a smile formed on her lips.  "Let's see you follow this!"  the young woman cried.  She pushed herself just far enough forward to grab her hat then turned and began to run in the direction of the magic.  She pulled her hat on while she ran and her wet hair bounced with every step she took.  The magic grew stronger and stronger with each step she took and soon came upon a pair of children and a small yellow creature she'd never seen before.  The echoing boom of explosions radiated faintly from behind them, but she paid them no mind, the crashing of the creature behind her was of far greater importance.

She skid to a stop about twenty feet from the children on the gravel trail, her boots kicking up loose stones.  "Hey you!"  she shouted.  The young woman pointed with her left hand at the female child.  "Yes you!  Girl!  Help me take out this behemoth!"  the young woman cried.

The massive creature loomed from the gloom of the heavy rain about thirty yards from the young woman and unleashed a deafening bellow that shook droplets of water from the trees.  The creature was a massive, four-legged, tiger-like creature with horns similar to a bull's and yellow eyes that glowed with internal fire.  Its hide was covered in a reddish-purple fur and a mane of water-logged black hair travelled down the back of its neck to its broad shoulders.

The violet-haired woman drew a well-maintained clockwork bow from its mount on her quiver with her left hand and it unfolded with several mechanical clicks at the flick of a switch.  Rather than lift her right arm to trade hands with her weapon, she placed it in her right hand then drew out a simple bodkin point arrow with white fletching and notched it to the string.  "C'mon!  Don't hesitate!  This thing's gonna eat us if it catches us!"  she shouted.  She drew drew the string back, using the tension to pull her right arm up into position while she locked her elbow to keep her arm straight.  After she released the arrow, her right arm dropped uselessly to her side once more.  The arrow found its mark, although the beast seemed more annoyed by it than anything because it roared and scraped at its face to dislodge the annoying stick.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:56 pm

Despite being told not to hesitate, Sakura's jaw dropped and her body stiffened at being told to fight. "...Hoé?" was all she could manage to say in an awkward squeak as she stared at the Behemoth while it continued to struggle to remove the stick from its eye.

Fighting was not something she particularly enjoyed, especially against a ferocious looking creature like this. The threat of being eaten didn't help her nerves either, but whoever this girl was she was still clearly in trouble. This could be their chance to finally help someone in need, even if they hadn't been able to save Ly'rei or Kai'tok.

Syaoran gave a nod of encouragement when Sakura turned to look at him. "Don't worry, we'll be right behind you," he reassured while Kero gave a nod of his own.

Sakura nodded back reluctantly before removing the pink star-shaped key she wore around her neck. A magic circle appeared around her feet.

"Key that hides that power of the stars, show show your true form before me! I, Sakura, command you under our contract: RELEASE!"

In a flash from light from circle, the tiny key grew into into a staff. Sakura gave it a twirl as she removed one of her cards from her pocket and tossed it up into the air.

"Windy, form a binding chain! RELEASE!" she called as she touched the tip of her staff to the card.

The long-haired fairy depicted on the card emerged and swooped around the behemoth with a gusty trail. Windy managed to successfully bind the creatures legs and neck with just a few passes, but the creature continued to struggle and set its sights squarely on the children as it slowly began to break free of the windy streams.

"Windy isn't going to be able to hold him down much longer..." Sakura whimpered as she shrank back a step. Beside her, Syaoran quickly removed his sword from its sheath and readied one of his own spell tags.

"Dragon of Water, answer my call!" he cried, touching the tip of his sword to the charm. 
A powerful stream of water gushed forth from the tag, taking the shape of a Chinese dragon as it approached the behemoth. When the already cold water met with Windy's continued gusts it grew even colder until ice crystals began to form on the creature soaked fur. The ice slowly grew into a sheet that finally slowed the behemoth to a stop when it reached the ground.

When the dragon and fairy vanished the behemoth was left stuck in place by the ice that had from around its legs from the dripping water and covered in a thick layer of frost, but still alive.

Sakura let out a sigh of relief. She was glad that they had been able to stop the creature without hurting it, but they still needed to get as far away from it as they could before it freed itself again.


"Come on, let's get out of here," Syaoran called over to the purple-haired woman.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:38 am

Even as the children unleashed spells on the creature, the violet-haired woman continued to dance around and shower it with arrows in an attempt to keep its attention on her.  When the girl's wind sprite bound it, she gave it reason to pay attention to something else.  Even so, she took shot after shot until she was out of conventional arrows.  The woman landed near an old tree and notched an arrow with purple fletching to her bow and watched silently as the pair of children used magic, summoning magic no less, to bind the huge creature in place.

With the behemoth bound and struggling under a sheet of ice, the woman walked toward them rather calmly.  Every step she took oozed confidence and grace.  She tucked the arrow back into her quiver, but didn't fold her bow up.  When she reached the children, and their unusual pet, she turned and dropped to one knee.

"Now it's my turn," she purred.

A bright green magic circle with a five pointed star at its center came to life under her.  It stretched outward until it was around thirty feet across.  Three rings of runes circled the star and began to rotate slowly.  She grabbed her bow string and pulled it backward without notching an arrow.  After a moment, an arrow comprised of green light came into existence in place of a physical one and three more green magic circle appeared in the arrow's flight path.  The largest was ten inches across with a five-pointed star at its center, three rings of runes, and three sub circles orbiting it.  The next was seven inches across with a four pointed star, two rings, and two sub circles.  The smallest, a mere three inches, had a single ring and sub circle.

"Vorpal."

The single word echoed with deafening volume when the woman uttered it.  Droplets of water were shaken from the trees and a powerful gust of wind rushed outward and formed a void where no water fell.  She released the arrow of light and it collided with the iced over behemoth in the blink of an eye.  Cracks webbed through the ice and a green glow began to follow each one.  Rather than shatter into thousands of pieces of frozen gore, everything began to slowly break down and float away in a flurry of green feathers.  It wasn't long before the behemoth was gone completely.

The woman slowly rose to her feet and collapsed her bow much like Kai'tok had.  The bubble around them collapsed inward and it began to rain again.  The woman placed her left hand on her hip and huffed in annoyance.

"I expected something more spectacular from that spell too..." she said with a pout.  Her starlight blue eyes moved away from where the behemoth had once stood and turned to the children, her right arm tucked against her bare belly as though it were meant to be in a sling.  "That was a fun way to meet new people though!"  she laughed.  She stuck her left hand out for them to shake.  "Name's Natalie Barrens!"  Her voice was powerful and boisterous and she wore a smile while she spoke. 

Introductions completed, at least in Natalie's opinion, she began to walk in the direction she'd come from.  "I tripped over that stupid thing on the smuggler's tail and it chased me here.  I would have used a spell to kill it sooner, but @#$% me are they fast when they're angry!"  she explained.  She turned and walked backward so she could talk directly to the trio.  "Good thing I happened across you guys though!"  Natalie laughed.  "Thanks for the help!"  Rather than turn around again, she continued to walk backward as though it were the most natural thing in the world.

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:47 pm

The two children followed along as Natalie continued to walk backwards without missing a beat.

"My name is Sakura and this is Kero," the girl introduced herself before she turned to the small yellow creature hovering beside her respectively.

"And I am Syaoran," the boy introduced himself lastly. Beside him, Sakura fidgeted reluctantly before she spoke again.

"I'm glad that we were able to help, but did you really have to kill that creature?" She asked. "I know it wasn't exactly  friendly, but I don't think it was intentionally being malicious. After all, you said you tripped on it, didn't you?" Sakura insisted, but Syaoran shook his head.

"It might not have been on purpose, but that creature was still dangerous in its enraged state. Even if we managed to escape, there is no telling if it would have actually calmed down," he cautioned. "It could have just as easily gone on to chase after us once it got free, or worse, attack whatever else happened to be the first thing it saw afterwords."  

Sakura let out a soft huff in dissapointment with a pout. She didn't like the thought of someone innocent getting hurt, but she didn't like that a potentially innocent creature had had to die, either. Raher than protest any further she held her tounge while Syaoran spoke again.

"What exactly was that thing, anyway? I've never seen anything like it." he inquired.

"Whatever it was, it sure didn't look weak, but you managed to take care of it like it was nothing," Kero remarked. "That was some pretty impressive magic you used there."

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PostSubject: Re: A Land of Trials   Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:32 pm

"Your boyfriend's right, kiddo," Natalie chimed after Sakura had given up.  Her starlight eyes turned to Syaoran next.  "That thing is... was a behemoth.  They're savage creatures with a short fuse and whole lot of magic.  We're lucky that one was just a juvenile, probably around fifteen or twentyish years old, some of the adult ones are massive, like fifty feet tall at the shoulder, and they can use magic to do all sorts of awful things.

"I once saw one during an arena fight in Alzakam that must have been like a-hundred-fifty or something and it was fighting these two women.  It was casting all sorts of fire spells on them and this woman with a crazy-huge sword was using earth magic to protect herself and red-haired partner while her partner did all these crazy jumping attacks with a spear!"  the indigo-haired woman explained.  "And after they killed it, the chick with the sword used this huge spell to totally trash the arena and she and her partner escaped into Alzakam and probably crossed to the mainland," she added.

Without looking, Natalie followed the road while she spoke.  "Vorpal's a powerful incantation, but you can't use it without circles and voice... well... you can, but you gotta be seriously good without circles; I'm not so I have to say it.  It does a lot of fun stuff; in fact I'm kind of surprised the behemoth didn't explode when I used it," the archer continued.  "The big problem with circles is that you need to create them so spells can draw from them.  I probably could have just let it pull off my own magic pool, but using other spells isn't as effective plus I needed to be able to run at the same time."  She paused in her step to look at her shoulder then flexed her right hand.

"Huh... actually feeling this now the adrenaline is wearing off," Natalie began.  She used a spell to create some light to get a better look at her right shoulder, which was unusually mangled.  "See, this is why I couldn't fight it on the move, it hit me pretty early on but I pulled a roll and got away from it."  Her starlight eyes moved back to the pair of children her eyes settled onto Syaoran's blade.  "Say, could you do me a favour?"  she asked.

A bright and somewhat... unusual smile formed on her lips.  "I need you to chop off my arm."

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