It was a new day, much like any other day. Across the land of Rennigar, the world was scorched in burnt woods and desolate buildings. Ancient capitals had been reduced to grassland and vine-infested ruins. Clouds of the dark and mysterious essence of hate known as Dread covered miles upon miles of broken land. Entire countries had gone silent. Even the oceans made little sound as the waves crashed against the sands of the continent. The world was a quiet place. But in Heinrel, behind the imposing steel walls that trapped square mile upon square mile of land behind a thin veil of safety, things were only beginning to wake. Smiths heated their forges and brandished their hammers. Fishermen arrived early at the ports to prepare for more trips into the Lost World in search of fish. The Yi'e crawled onto the docks of the Castilla River to join the land walking creatures of the day. The markets began the murmur of morn that would soon evolve into a chorus of voices where each would argue of fickle things such as price and value. The aristocrats awoke in their high towers in the upper districts, preparing to join the courts to discuss legal and political matters. Magicians prepped their magics, ready to begin a day of trials and testing. Slayers of the Heinrel Slayer School were already awake and prepared for their ordeals of the week. The Essence Engines that littered the big city hummed with energy as they provided their power to the people. Birds flew overhead, grass grew in the woods, the bugs chirped, the pigeons cooed, the dogs barked, and the world turned as normal.
It was a somber morning. There had not been a significant death or tragedy in recent days, but it was still somber. The fury and passion that once littered the lower classes, who were sick of feeling trapped behind their walls, had turned into a quiet, sorrowful acceptance of fate. Most had become accustomed to the troubles that littered daily life and attempted to work around them. The passion still boiled in political matters, but most lived their life without a peep. Complaints of rising tensions, of threatened rebellions, and of monsters at the gate were often met with glare and scowl. Few could stomach the talk of terror for more than a few minutes, and thus it was an ignored category of conversation for the people of Heinrel. Among fear and frustration, the people of Heinrel worked their work, tilled their soils, wrote their books, and the world turned as normal.
Little did the people know that despite the slow start, today was a new day. It was the beginning of great change. At Capital Station, a new train arrived with fascinating new passengers, some Slayers, some Magicians, some non-human. They lived their lives like any other, but they did not know either that their actions would be key in the creation of a new age. They worked and wandered, tilled and toiled, spoke and shouted as though they were simple folk, totally unaware of the game that life intended to play. They did not know because the morning was quiet, and much like any other morning, where little seemed to change. So they went about their lives like any other citizen of the world and accepted their fates, unaware of what the future held in store.
If the city was an embodiment of what the dread had done to world-kind on the inside, then Kendar was the embodiment of what the dread had done to the world on the outside. Many of these people had been affected in some way or another by the dread, the most obvious being the home prison they lived within. Others toiled on internal struggles brought about by the Dread. Fear that bubbled into anger. Anger that personified as hate. Emotions that were pushed down for the sakes of friends, families and loved ones. The internal turmoil of the Dread that stoked the cold flames within their souls. Heinrel was the interior machinations of the Dread. Kendar was the outer. A reminder, and a stark one at that.
People had often gave him strange looks. The black robes, mask, and hollow features. They gave him a wide berth at his approach. Kendar was an anomalous figure in their benign world that they complained of so frequently. He was a taste of those who managed to survive. Out there. They didn’t like it. It was too real for them. Looks of disdain until they realized that Kendar was a force of good brought about by the black of despair. They mumbled soft prayers at his approach until they realized he was the answer to those said prayers. Not that Kendar cared. If his gaunt appearance, strange clothes, and tools of trade would of brought others discomfort? It was a small price for them to pay. He paid the price so they didn’t have to. Kendar normally worked inner circles. Not for money, he had little use for that. Rather, so his name could be spread throughout the city in a quicker fashion. Word of mouth by the rich often traveled faster. Water flowed quickest downhill, after all.
So his appearance had slowly become a welcome one. Even if they didn’t understand the strange man from beyond who spoke little of his origins, or his strange machinations involving a language none of them knew. Popped vials of thick and pungent liquid that whisked away Dread symptoms. Glowing and brilliant white light that pushed back the miasma as he escorted slayers beyond the walls, and rich nobles who thought the taste of adventure suited them. He had shown his capabilities for dealings both inside and out of the walls of this outer depiction of the Dread. He wasn’t friend, though. He allied not with the other Druids who pondered him on his particular abilities, nor did he favor any rich man above a poor one. The slayers he helped ranged easily from veteran to novice. Kendar didn’t care for fame, but rather to be where the darkness was thickest. It rarely congregated in the rich homes of the politicians, or even in the poorer homes of the farmers. The darkness he hunted was a subtle beast. Much more subtle than the Monsters he frequently helped hunt.
So Kendar stood at a gathering of people near the market, a mass of black fur and leather holding a gnarled black staff with a shining white crystal embedded in the top. He pushed his way through the em with his free hand, many looking at him with curious or even fearful glances. Kendar didn’t need to see it to know what it was. The smell of taint was a unique smell to his nose.
“Back away.” Kendar said in his thick, almost unintelligible accent. “Back away, meskar!” Those who had crowded around a body of a large winged beast on the ground had begun to file back for Kendar to approach. The beasts had taken to the air before, but hardly had the black ones made it this far into the city. They were often taken care of long before now, and what more? It was fresh. “This beast did not fly this far in.” Kendar said as he looked around, searching the crowd with a stern gaze. “...it was smuggled in.”
Velma had been in the city for a few days now, picking up small jobs, though it seemed there was about just as much work in Heinrel as there was Alesteria. It was quiet for a few days, seeing as though there haven't been any attacks on the people since she arrived. She had been getting unusual looks from the populace, clearly not from around here. She wore a cloak that hid every inch of her body along with a mask and black goggles that hid her gold eyes. She didn't like showing her face to people she didn't know. They had no business knowing who she was. When she had her disguise on, everything about her was genderless, which helped in her favor as well. She was perfectly uninteresting, except the bow and quiver slung around her shoulder that screamed Slayer. If it wasn't for that, she would have blended into the pavement. It was a very exotic and expensive weapon, scales from some sort of sea creature covering every inch of it, as well as most of the arrows in her quiver. Every single one has a silver tip. If anyone around cared about slayers, it was clear that she was Alsterian, but everything else as unkown as she wanted to be. Velma was sitting at the town square on a bench as she held a half loaf of bread in her gloved hand that she was sure she payed too much for. It didn't matter, she was determined to pick up a job before she left this sorry place. Everywhere she went someone complained about the weather, or complained about their neighbor, or complained about complaining. It was overwhelming to her ears. If these people had to spend one night outside of their iron walls, they would last seconds. Velma tore a chunk of stale bread and slipped it beneath her mask, swallowing it whole. She was the kind of person who eats to survive, not enjoy. It was just in her nature. She would have enjoyed that quiet time too, if it wasn't for the screech in the sky. Instinct kicked in as Velma twisted 180 degrees while simultaneously equipping her bow and drawing an arrow. Her eyes locked on the beast, slowly exhaling as she released the silent arrow with a soft twang of her bow. The arrow soared and struck the bird right behind the jaw and through the skull, tumbling to it's death and crashing through the crowd. Velma didn't care who it hit, she simply made her way towards it. As she walked, she wondered just where it came from. She was at the town square after all, and no beasts made it that far. As she turned the corner, she growled lowly to herself as she saw an elder Slayer investigating the body, likely stealing her kill, until he spoke, returning her head onto her shoulders. She stepped on the beast's head, gripping the arrow with her gloved hand and yanking it as it squelched, sending surrounding citizens shivers. She stared at the man for a moment, taking in his character before speaking. "Whoever smuggled in sure wasn't that good at it. Why the hell would anyone in the city want Dread?" Velma's figure and voice remained ungendered, but still young. She seemed to have already decided that she was part in finding why this happened. She was a Hunter, after all. She went throught years of training just for this. She was glad this all happened near the Inn she was staying in. It gave her time to, well, get something. Tulik
A disheveled woman knelt on the ground by the train station, anxiously rubbing her hands together as she waited for a response. The woman had pale skin, with dark circles under her eyes and a red nose. Another train had just come to a halt at the station behind them, as did the noise that accompanied it.
"I see..." Mei began.
"Please, Marvelous Mei, tell me everything," The woman pressed further before coughing into her hands.
"I see that you're very sick." Mei declared from on top of her mat, sitting cross-legged. She slowly opened her only visible eye.
The woman was completely taken aback by her words. "H-how did you... That's amazing! You're truly gifted! I knew it from the moment I saw you! That's right. What do I do now? Tell me what to do, Marvelous Mei. How do I cure my sickness? Am I... am I going to be okay?"
"Going to the doctor would help."
"... You're right, I will go see one right away. Thank you so much, Marvelous Mei. You're absolutely amazing. I will tell all my friends about you, I'll even bring my husband next time."
"Thanks! That will be 3 Skil," Mei beamed. "You can leave it out in front of you... Yup, riiiight there. Okay, well, have a good day now! Bye!"
Once the sickly woman disappeared from her sight, a smug smile appeared on the seer's face. "Heh, too easy," she snickered to herself as she collected the coins.
If there’s one thing that had allowed him to blend in well with the surroundings--or at least, to fit in with the elderly man sitting next to him, it’d be the dark cloak that covered his body, and the hood over his head.
There’s something peaceful about this alley that they were sitting in, despite the air reeking of the smell of rotten grapes and garbage, though most obviously the smell of alcohol leaking out from broken glass bottles. The alley was located just behind the bar closest to the train station, which was now closed, a sign hanging on the door saying it would be open by nine o'clock at night.
To say he’s kneeling would be more accurate, as the ground here was still wet from the rain last night, tall walls preventing the sunlight from directly reaching here. As to the reason why he’s here in the first place--
The elderly man next to him burped, shaking a half-empty bottle of alcohol in his hand. His cheeks were flushed, almost as red as his swollen eyes still wet from the tears Eirwen had witnessed pouring down his cheeks earlier. The man ended nearly every sentence with a hiccup. It was obvious that the man was drunk, seriously drunk..and it’s not even nighttime.
Yet, Eirwen took pity to this man, or at least a peculiar interest. As a hunter in Heinrel, he was used to the attitude of people around him--standing always a couple feet away, their eyes filled with a mix of distaste and fear. Even if their works are acknowledged or respected, no one really dares to approach them directly...No one, except for this drunkard, perhaps.
It began pretty much with a “young man, please, listen to an old man’s ranting…” and Eirwen, who was just back from visiting the small weaponry store, was pulled into an alleyway and forced to sit down next to him (well, he technically could force himself free from the elderly’s grasp, but he would feel rude if he actually does so.) Part of the reason why Eirwen also obliged quietly is also by the way that the man’s seemingly not bothered by the fact that he has the appearance of a slayer…? Even against drunkards they would rather keep their distance.
Either way, here he is, watching an elder drink during the day. A rare and peculiar encounter, if it’s worth remembering.
As a serious listener, Eirwen remained quiet until the elder man was clearly done talking, each word dissolved into silent sobs. Then, after analyzing everything said, Eirwen took some time to think it all through carefully, before sharing his own input to what he’d learned.
“I believe you’re no better as a person, as you’re crying right now because you yourself is cheating on your wife with a woman who ended up cheating on you,” he nodded to himself. “As a matter of fact, I believe you should be more conscious of yourself, and not be blinded by a young woman’s breast size, as to end up giving away all your money.”
“B-But my wife..”
“Yes, I heard you. Your wife has been obsessed with random psychics lately on the street, no longer paying attention to your, as you stated, ‘poor soul.’ Worse, every ‘psychic’ she has been talking to is a scammer, with one example being ‘Marvelous Mei,’ which I’ll keep in mind of. So she ended up spending all your money away. However, it is important for you to realize that you’ve just spent all your money on a scammer yourself as well, so you’re no different.”
“She said she needs money for her gear!” The drunken man was eager to defend himself. “She’s a determined young girl who wants to protect herself! She said her family’s not willing to give her any money, but she wants to buy a sword to learn to use it. She saw my tough muscles, my wonderfully built body, and said she has fallen for me. She believes I can be her trainer, her hero, and I should give her the money for her to buy the weapons and gear she needs. Then, she’ll return to me everyday! For our one on one, personal training! Oh! The way she hugged my arm against her mighty chest! Her watery, innocent, puppy eyes!” The elder man exclaimed as Eirwen inspected the man’s figure at the same time. He was thin, tiny, and bony. Thick, long mustache covered his mouth. He felt as light as a feather without a hint of muscles.
“I see. So basically, you are an idiot.” Eirwen’s light green eyes stared firmly at the elder man. There’s no pity or mockery behind his words. The hunter sounded as if he’s merely stating a fact, and taking it very seriously. Now that he thinks about it, no wonder he’s married to a wife like that. Both are idiots. Idiots tend to go well together.
“No! You don’t understand!’ Visibly upset by Eirwen’s remark, the old man tossed aside his empty bottle of alcohol, which cracked upon colliding against the ground, and reached to grab Eirwen by his collar. “I saw...I saw sincerity behind her eyes! She is serious about protecting herself. Haven’t you heard about the rumors spreading around the people lately?”
Eirwen blinked, obviously hearing it for the first time. “What rumors?”
“The Dreads! People have been smuggling Dreads in. Apparently, there are people out there who want to see if it’s possible to control Dreads! Or use them for experimentation! I-I don’t know how they did it. But imagine humans able to wield a Dread’s strength and powers! Ooof, can you imagine it?” The drunkard rubbed his own arms as he spoke. “How terrifying, even I’m getting goosebumps from it.”
Upon hearing those words, Eirwen’s eyebrows furrowed into a frown. Smuggling in Dreads? That’s the first time he’d heard about it. Is that even possible? Even slayers themselves go through years of training just to learn how to hunt one down. They’re deadly and poisonous, a physical representation of a nightmare.
Eirwen’s expression is no longer a casual listener just wasting some time away with some venting drunkard, but someone who was reminded of his responsibility. Almost suddenly, he grabbed hold of the man’s shirt and yanked him close towards him. “Where did you hear that from?!”
The elder man seemed a bit uncomfortable at their close distance. He was yanked so fiercely it even cleared his head a bit. “The bar, ay, that’s where people talk.”
Eirwen was not satisfied. “And where did they hear it from?”
“....T-the marketplace I think..?...Wait…” Squinting his eyes hard as he was actually trying to remember where the source of the rumor, by the time he opened his eyes again, he stared right into the younger male’s light, green eyes. However, as if it was only then was he alert enough to start to inspect the rest of the male’s entire attire, and the hood on his head--to figure out who exactly he’s talking to, did he suddenly screech and fall backward.
“Y-y-you are a slayer!! What are you doing here?!” The elder yelled, crawling on his back, scrambling on his thin legs. But Eirwen paid it no mind. Standing up, he patted down his cloak, then stepped forward to the elder man. Ignoring his struggles, the young, rookie Hunter reached down and grabbed the elder by his wrist, pulling him up. “Let’s go,” he said sternly.
“Go what?! Let me go!”
“We are going to the marketplace.”
If a particular scammer was to catch sight of them as they passed by the train station, she’d see a duo of a slayer, hooded, holding onto a struggling old man. The slayer walked rather slowly, as if still paying attention to the fact that the person he was forcefully making him follow is one of a much older age. At that time, the elder was still mumbling.
“--Please, please dear Hunter, there’s no reason for me to tag along...I see, exactly, zero point--I am sorry for forcing you to talk to me---you could’ve just tossed me aside--”
Eirwen ignored everything the man was saying as he pushed on forward.
The duo caught the attention of multiple onlookers, but wishing to not get themselves involved in this matter, they all looked on forward. The elder realized his pleading eyes for help were gaining zero results. In the end, his wandering eyes for help landed on the black-haired girl by the train station. She sat there, a smirk on her place. A woman had just walked away from her with a bright smile on her face. Could it be...Could it be…!
“Marvelous Mei! Marvelous, oh, my dear, marvelous Mei! Please help this poor, old soul!” The elder suddenly called out, once again struggling fiercely to go in the direction of the black-haired woman. Eirwen’s eyes widened as he was caught in surprise.
That’s Marvelous Mei..?
Afraid of actually hurting the elder now that he’s struggling this hard, Eirwen’s hand was still grabbing onto the old man who was already dragging his feet toward the woman.
“Please, if you’re as magical and marvelous as my wife described you to be, then you must know why I must bear this cruel fate! And save me from it! Please, save me from this heartless, cruel slayer! He wants to drag me to hell! Ahhh, Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous Meiiii!”
Kendar has begun questioning those who had crowded around the dread creature, seeing if any had noticed where the beast had come from, and more importantly, who might had released it. He had followed a trail like this one on and off for the past year. Rumors of the black ones finding purchase in city grounds, in the halls of towns, somehow finding their way into closets of children. Almost all rumors. Almost. About three months back Kendar had found a poor woman whose pet cat had been liquified into nothing but black goo. Perhaps not a curious sight if someone in the home was an alchemist, but the woman was a farmer, and so was her husband, and her two teen boys. They all collaborated the same story of a small black and misty eyed creature, and even if they hadn’t? Kendar could follow the trail of a black one for a good mile before losing it, even in the thick black mountains of his home where the dread was the most thick.
...and yet the person responsible for this eluded him. Kendar turned around the sound of a person’s speaking, just catching them draw the lethal shot from the dead creature. He didn’t have to study them for long to realize what they were, though he wouldn’t draw attention to it if they weren’t already doing so themselves. Kendar knew the animosity held towards the Jaiken, or rather, the hunters, in this language. He gained nothing from making the people around them show this hunter disdain.
“Is a good question, Jai.” Kendar replied to the woman hunter. “Only two reasons any fool would be bringing in the black ones. Chaos, or Skil. Both equally dangerous endeavors.”
After discovering nothing from the the crowd of lookers Kendar decided its was best to dispose of the body. Reaching into one of his pouches he pulled a small vial, almost unnoticeable by its size and popped the stopped. As he poured the tiny amount of glistening silver liquid from the glass he tamped his staff on the ground once. The beast began to dissolve almost immediately as the silver touched its dead form, and Kendar then proceeded to draw a circle around the beast with a black stain from another pouch. Once done the dread that it’s body began to give off was absorbed into the shining silver crystal atop Kendar’s staff, and would slowly be dissolved into the silver mist flowing within it.
“Killing the eska good for the people.” Kendar said with a hidden frown behind his mask as he watched the beast slowly dissipate. “...but not good for my hunt. Hard to track a dead black one back to its lair, yes? Perhaps we can help each other, Jai? Talents such as yours would do well in my endeavors.”
It was early, but the marketplace was already wide awake. Customers swarmed in and out of shops, children splashed in the puddles, and vendors advertised their wares. The chatter, the laughter, the cold stares, it was all too much for Lyco; so many people, yet he felt so alone, so unwelcomed. They’re watching me. They’re talking about me.
“That’s him, isn’t it?”
“I heard he’s a murderer.”
He tugged at the hood of his capelet, bringing it closer to his face, though nothing could keep him from feeling completely exposed. He wanted the rumors to end. He didn’t know how much more he could take.
“Turn around,” an unknown man’s voice called out.
He flinched. Someone is… right behind me.
“I said turn around!”
He turned, gaze fixated on the road below. He already knew what this was about.
“Look at me, ye damned idiot!”
Lyco reluctantly lifted his gaze to meet the man's.
“It is ye!” he laughs. “I knew it!”
“Yer the one who murdered ol’ Warder’s son!”
“I-I,” he began. “I didn’t…”
“Don’t go gettin’ all nervous now!” he scoffs. “Yer awfully soft-spoken for a killer, ye sick bastard!”
“Why haven’t they thrown yer sorry ass in jail yet?” he questioned, pointing a finger in Lyco’s direction. “You bribe ‘em? Eh? Tell me!”
“Leave me alone, p-please...” tears flooded his eyes, and he looked away. “Those rumors… they’re not true…”
“Gonna cry about it now, are ye?”
He wiped at the tears with one of the sleeves of his coat. “L-Leave me alone,” he retorted.
“Ooh, yer a scary one!”
Lyco turned away from the man and began walking off, he had had enough. He tugged at the hood of his capelet again, bringing it closer to his face as he had a hundred times before.
He hurried his pace, and, without thinking about where he was going, headed further into the busy marketplace.
He was really quite lost. He took in his surroundings, trying to figure out where exactly he was when, all at once, a loud, harsh cry pierced through the air. “Wh-What?” he shuddered, frantically looking around for the source of the cry. It can’t be… That’s when he caught sight of it; the great, winged beast in the sky. He froze in fear and, before he could process what was happening, the beast tumbled to the ground. Thump!
Countless citizens crowded around the beast’s now dead body. Lyco watched in disbelief, his heart pounding in his chest. Never in his life had he seen a beast in the flesh. He hesitated before forcing his way through the crowd, muttering sheepish apologies under his breath as he pushed people aside. The centre appeared a short distance ahead, but… the beast was currently being reduced to sludge. He surveyed the area, trying to make sense of what had occurred. He saw them then, two mysterious figures; one clad in fur, the other covered head-to-toe. A Druid and… a Hunter? They’re not from around here. He stood there, awestruck. They reminded him of the heroes he had read about in books, the adventurers he had heard about in stories. Oh, the tales they must have to share.
"you pervert" an angry woman stood yelling at poor Zehir, "miss i didn't mean it like-" before he could finish the apology he was covered in fine wine as the woman stomped off.
"well you lose some you win some, amright" Zehir said with a fake smile to the bartender, as he sat down into the chair, "you mind getting me another drink?" he asked the bartender, "you sure you won't just drink the one that is on your shirt" the bartender laughed
as he said that a voice came on "Capital Station, final destination" zehir stood up and looked at the door as he said "welp i guess this is my stop" he walked out into the small narrow corridors as he grabbed his stuff from his room and jumped out
as he emerged from the train he knew his first stop, the market, he was here for one reason, and one reason alone, Heinrel sea salt, the best the world has seen,
but as he emerged from the train station he saw quite a scene before him, a young seer sitting a drunkard yelling for help and a slayer seeming quite tried with his bullshit
"im so sorry to bud in like this but, why is this man yelling at this poor cute defenseless girl to save him, dear slayer?" he said with a smirk to the slayer before turning his head to winked at mei
Velma watched as he absorbed the dread with his strange staff. She recognized the black wood from Palta Morem, or "Forbidden Forrest" in common speak. She slung her brightly colored bow onto her back as she listened to the druid call her "Jai." She assumed it meant slayer, seeing as he was a mage, but if she found it to be an insult this whole time she would have his tongue. Or at least try. Terrifying nonetheless! She returned her thoughts to the dissolving beast before them, her cloak billowing lightly in the breeze. She nodded once to Kendar. "Aye, anyone smuggling in dread is dread themselves in my eyes, they must be brought forth at once." She adjusted the goggles on her face carefully as she looked into the crowd of people. Useless, pathetic people. She was never one to think herself above someone else, but seeing all these sheltered people answer only with rumors was almost infuriating. How could your head be so far up your ass that you couldn't tell a bedtime story from evidence? She let out a low, unusual growl as she turned sharply in a direction, seeming to sniff the air a bit, but the breeze was too strong and there were too many people around to pick up where the creature might have came from. She did spot a man with potions hanging on his waist, finding him rather peculiar. Seeing him both awing and nervous, she thought calling for him might scare the poor sap away. She slowly entered the crowd, black googles staring deep into the man's eyes. "You're a medic, aren't you?" She looked back to the Druid and nodded towards Lyco. "We should bring this one with us if he's willing. I have a feeling we might find wounded where we'll be traveling. No doubt this will fetch a pretty coin from someone. I don't think I'm as generous as you, Druid. My arrows won't meet anymore dread until I have a contract to do so, so what say you to grabbing a drink and discuss who's payin', hmm?" It was bad enough this figure seemed to hate everyone around her except the two mages, but the fact was she needed to eat. Charity never put a meal on your plate, and you can't eat dread. She looked back to Lyco, looking him over. "You comin'?" She barked. Truth be told, it wasn't just the mission the medic would be useful for. Part of the reason she was in Heinrel was, well, a medic. One who didn't have a stick up their ass and too much pride to offer their services to all creatures. She was really hoping this shy fellow would entertain her with a drink, give her a chance to explain her situation privately.
Kendar listened to the hunter as she spoke. While in any normal circumstance he would agree with the concealed monster hunter, if the person he was hunting was who Kendar thought he was? The Dread stained man had no intention of seeing him “brought forth”. Kendar has different plans for that individual. Of course, it could be a coincidence, but Kendar was a druid. There was no such thing as coincidence to a man who had the ability to alter fate to a degree. The hunter wanting pay wasn’t unexpected, but seeing as Kendar was following this lead of his own volition that would mean the price would come from his own pocket. He had money, of course, but he spent much of that on his supplies for dread dealings, including making dread materials innate for him to work with and experiment with. Still, a hunter would be a good asset. A drink with said hunter could flesh that out.
As Kendar finished up the cleansing of the dread to prevent the afflictions from affecting the people in the area His vision was brought to the hunter once more once he heard their voice. Kendar focused his attention on the stranger the hunter drew his attention to. Kendar could tell with the way he held himself he was an aloof type. Either that, or something here rattled him. Perhaps the monster? Kendar approached, lifting the gnarled black staff to lean against his shoulder. Not a walking stick, it seemed. Simply a tool. Kendar wasn’t a frail old man behind the mask hiding a majority of his face. When he came to stand next to Velma he spoke.
“Do you always negotiate wages before offering your name, Jai?” Kendar asked in a playful, if thick accented tone. “Seems bad business practice.” Kendar looked over Lyco, his vibrant eyes taking him in. “You are a rough individual, Jai. Even a man of the wilds such as myself knows to approach the people with a tender voice. But I would like that drink, to discuss.” Kendar planted his staff into the ground with a soft clack of wood on stone. “I am Kendar, of the Infernium Circle. I deal in all things that plague humankind, though as you might of guessed, my expertise is dread. Might I ask the names of the Jai, and the...hm...what is your profession, friend?” Kendar asked softly, gesturing to the man the hunter had brought to his, and no doubt the rest of the crowd’s attention with her rather obvious proclamations.
The citizens talked among themselves, too focused on the current event to notice Lyco. Part of him wanted to leave and go home, though he couldn’t help but watch in amazement as the beast dissolved into nothingness, as the Dread was absorbed into the Druid’s staff. He studied the two of them while they spoke, unable to hear their conversation over all of the noise. I wonder where they’re from, where they’ve been. He winced when he noticed the Slayer looking in his direction. Do they know who I am..? Are they… coming to kill me?! He shrank back with fear as the Slayer approached him, but was relieved when he heard her harmless question, nodding in response. Bring me with..? Where to? The prospect of travelling out of Heinrel was rather daunting, but he’d do anything to escape the rumors. “S-Sure, I could tag along," he replied. Lyco turned his attention to Kendar, who was somehow less intimidating than the smaller, younger Velma. “O-Oh, my name is... Um…” he whispered, anxiously scanning the crowd. “Lyco Randbur, I-I’m an Alchemist. You two… haven’t heard of me?”
Velma took no insult to Kendar's words. She knew she was less than skilled socially. She was a different breed, after all. She turned back to Kendar. The Druid had a lot more experience with people than she did. She was more involved with the beasts that meet her arrows. She sighed lightly, looking back to Lyco as she watched his nervous posture. She didn't mean to startle him, but it was too embarrassing to admit she didn't know how to act any different. It just seemed so silly to her. Why pretend to be nice when you aren't? Doesn't that just lead to lies and deceit? "Velma, Slayer of Alestria. Needless to say I'm a bit out of place here, and if you couldn't guess, the gimmick is so people won't know I'm here, so how about that drink, eh?" Velma motioned to her cloak and mask, seeming to talk a bit more quiet so the civilians didn't know her name. She snapped her attention to Lyco as he said his name, chuckling as she turned to him. She had heard of a murderous alchemist during her purchase of bread as a morning snack. This was the oh-so merciless Lyco? Either he was lying, or Heinrel's citizens had their head farther up their ass than he thought. She raised her hand high above her head before letting it drop heavily on Lyco's shoulder. "Honey, I don't think you'd harm a fly, but if you did kill that sorry sap, well I'm sure he had it comin'." Well that was a dark perspective on the topic. She let her hand slide off the young alchemist before heading slowly towards the tavern. She wasn't kidding about not wanting to be known. It was bad luck for strangers to know your name, bad luck indeed. She turned to walk backwards, looking to Kendar. "Please? I'm parched."
Kendar hadn’t heard of the murderous alchemist. The man didn’t partake in the gossip or news of mankind turning against mankind. He had made his business solely on the hunting of a singular entity since he arrived in Heinriel weeks ago. At Velma’s words he cocked an eyebrow at Lyco. This man was a killer? A murderer? Well...Kendar knew better than to assume truth in that. The laws of the Dread Mountains were very simple. Act on knowledge. If this man was indeed a murderer how would he be waltzing around the streets without justice falling upon his head? Velma, on the other hand, seemed to have distaste for the people of the city. Enough so that she didn’t mind if one had been killed. Was it because of the disdain they showed her, as a Jaiken? Had the people of this land soured her towards them so much that she only saw the coin in their pockets? If that was the case? Kendar felt sadness for her. Though he would not assume anything.
“The pleasure isn’t mine, Lyco. The Jai and myself were just to discuss a proposition for her services in a matter I’ve been looking into involving Eska such as the one Velma had just slain. She seems to want you involved in the matter as well. However I’ll leave that to your own discretion. Know that there is no judgement from me. I have had to do much to survive my youth in my homeland. I wouldn’t dare to lay Kin upon you.”
The dread bird had almost completely dissolved by the time Velma had turned to walk away The process seemed quick, but in actuality it would Eva few more hours before it completely withered away. It was good they were staying close. Kendar would need to make sure none of the Vikkor, the black evil escaped to harm the civilians. Kendar nodded to Lyco and turned to follow the hunter. As he passed by the corpse of the Black One he lowered the head of his staff over its form, the hollow silver crystal atop it shining in response and pulling the leaking Vikkor from the Eska to dissolve it.
“You are very far from home, Jai.” Kendar said with a small smile that shown only in his emerald eyes. “Seems fate has brought strangers to a strange land. Perhaps this encounter was destined, hm?”
Wole are a bit of a secretive race. That much is to be understood by the masses. After all, when you have a race of shapeshifters that can change their form at will from what appears to be a normal human, to that of a large dragon like beast, t would be scared. Many wouldn't even realize that they can change their appearances, but it doesn't change their abilities. One would not suddenly get any stronger than when they look human than when they get larger. So frankly, it is something that tends to get perpetuated at times, to those that are uneducated or not in the know. But on the whole, at least within the bounds of Alsteria, they are a welcome and tolerated people. Unlike elsewhere. Which is why so many of their people had flocked to that as their homeland.
For Garland Tukuvma, he had begun his journey traveling around the world. Not just as a slayer, known as Thresten elsewhere, but as a Wole in training. What better way to train the arts of hiding in plain sight as they are oft to do, then by learning and experiencing the lives and cultures of a many different people. With the option to disguise appearances, you could learn about the highest and the lowest bits of a society and how they differ from place to place.
He relished getting into the roles, learning all of their nuances before moving on to the next. The more he explored, the better that he was able to blend into society, which in the long run, helped him be better at his job of killing monsters. Often, his kind might be denied simple information on a beast, but if he was disguised as a nobleman in a tavern, per chance, getting himself drunk? Why then the conservation starters would flow like water from a fountain.
In fact, that was what he was attempting to do right now as he was waiting at the bar for someone that looked as though they might know something juicy were to come along and then start buying them drinks to get them to talk while being in his current persona.
Alsteria? Lyco was surprised by Velma’s introduction, though he should’ve been able to guess her origin by the bow she had slung around her body. Alsteria. A fascinating nation, visited by him only through the countless books he had read over the years, “Kendar and… Velma…” he mumbled to himself. He wasn’t the best at remembering names, despite being able to remember hundreds upon hundreds of Alchemical recipes. “I-It’s good to meet the both of you."
He flinched as Velma placed her hand on his shoulder; he wasn’t used to being touched. “Please don’t believe those rumors, they’re n-not true…” he sighed, relieved. Even if she didn’t believe him, at least someone wasn’t accusing him of being a murderer. More and more citizens began to eye him as they lost interest in the beast.
"Stay away from that man."
He looked down, trying to hide his face. He considered saying his goodbyes and going home, but did he really want to stay in Heinrel? No one trusted him, or wanted him around. He was lucky he wasn’t behind bars.
He made the decision to follow Velma as she headed towards the tavern. They were his ticket out of here, and they seemed to want him around.
Mei cocked her head at the old coot and the slayer, her rabbit ears tilting with her.
"I don't need to be magical to know you're shady! Stop acting like I have anything to do with you!" She yelled back and started packing her things.
"Hey, thanks for letting me borrow this, mister!" Mei exclaimed as she tossed the rolled up mat she had been using, as well as a skil towards a nearby stall. The stall owner chuckled as he collected both things and waved at her in response. Mei proceeded to walk past the men from earlier, trying to tune out the drunkard's ramblings as she walked away from them. She couldn't get too far before she stopped in her tracks and turned around with a sigh.
Why did she have to feel bad for him?
"W-what did he do anyway?" She hesitantly asked the hooded figure, averting her gaze and keeping her distance. Before anyone could respond though, a passerby intervened.
Mei stared at the newcomer in bewilderment. "Huh?"
Velma heard the people's warnings and chuckled to her party. What low lives. At least Alsterians had the decency to bite their tongue. The people here were just scum, kalto, in Kaswit. She listened to Kendar speak of destiny, rolling her eyes behind her goggles. Destiny, tch, like this world could have an ounce of it. In Velma's cold soul she knew there to be no hope to this world until something extraordinary happened. Kaswit were realistic people until it came to supernatural discoveries. They believed those to be gifts from the animal spirits. Silly to some people, but all too serious for Velma. It was part of her reason to coming to Heinrel. If these blokes saw any sort of gift they'd scratch their head and wonder why it was glowing. Stupid, blunt people. "You can speak all the destiny talk you want, friend, I'm just here for the coin." As if she wasn't blunt herself, just in a different aspect. She turned to Lyco as she held the door to the tavern open. She was really hoping he'd be able to help him, if not, she didn't know how much longer her friend had. She'd pay him, of course, but it was the deed that she hoped wasn't a problem. "Lyco, friend, can you cure disease? I know it's a sudden question, but I must know. My friend is very sick, you see. He's upstairs..." There was a hint of desperation in her voice, her head turning every few moments to look at something different in the room. She hated being deceptive, but nothing about what she said was a lie, at least to her. She continued to lead them to a bar, offering a drink to her new companions as she ordered herself a tall ale.
Velma's Bow Tulikmauverie
Seemed there was some work to be done between this Velma and the alchemist. Since he was not asked his opinion on the matter of her sick friend, Kendar would not give it. He wasn’t the kind to insert his opinion where it was not required. His people may be logical in nature, but they also were keen to press their beliefs on people. His many years beyond the walls of his village showed him that only the most dire circumstances should come with that. So he gave Velma a nod as he walked past her.
“I’ll be at the bar when you want to discuss this coin you enjoy so dearly. I hope your friend finds respite.”
He moved past the hunter, and did as he said, the fur lined man moving to sit at the bar near a man who seemed to be keeping to himself. So Kendar did the same, and when the fellow behind the counter approached him he pursed his lips behind his mask. He would have to remove it to drink. As he lowered the face cover slowly the man gave him a low glance. Kendar’s skin was covered with thin black veins that stretched up from his neck and stopping just short of his eyes, hence the mask. The bartender didn’t seem frightful, though he approached Kendar with a cautious pace from the other side of the bar, as if he were approaching a wild animal.
“Whatever you have on tap is fine, keep.” Kendar said lowly as he reached into one of the pouches and pulled a few coins from it. It wasn’t his main source of his currency, just one where a few easy payments could be made without him needing to reach into his fur lined robe. He gave a short sniff, his sensitive nose picking up the smell of permeating wood and ale. “One of your taps? Might want to get it switched out. Wood rot and all.”
A stagnant smell of alcohol mixed with smoke hung thick in the air of the tavern. The interior was a mess of distasteful reds and greens, and bottles upon bottles of liquor adorned the walls. The low hums of voices were nearly drowned out by the shrill music of the hostelry’s ensemble. Ugh. Lyco observed the customers through the smog; drunken idiots having pointless, stupid conversations. This is where he spent most of his time..? The sight, the scent, the noise… it was almost enough to make him sick. He felt uneasy, dizzy, even. He shouldn’t have been there, but he couldn't leave. He kept his hood up and head low as he followed Velma to the bar, not wanting to attract any attention from the drunkards. He’d give an answer to her question once they were sat down, he was too overwhelmed to even form a sentence.
“Thanks for the offer, but I… don’t drink,” he said as he seated himself on one of the wooden bar stools. He wanted to apologize to Velma for not answering her sooner, but it was too late. “Um… Velma? About your friend…” he said softly. “I don’t work with people often, but… I’d, um… be happy to help…” a weak smile formed on his face; this would surely bring back bad memories, but he didn’t have it in him to reject her.
Velma took in a deep breath with a heavy sigh like it was fresh air. Now this was company. No one talking about who you are, just what you are. The good kind of blunt. The bartender would look to Kendar as he commented on the would rot, drying a glass with a yellowed rag, scoffing as he turned to pass that same glass to another customer. Velma was already halfway through her ale when Lyco responded, having pulled down her mask to drink momentarily, her sharp canines poking out from her upper lip a small bit. She smiled happily, revealing her set of sharp, inhuman teeth. If you weren't very wise in what happened outside of national borders, you probably didn't know what a Kaswit was and would think Velma was some sort of bastard breed of man. If you did know about Kaswit, you'd know calling them out for being one was like calling anyone by their race. Kaswit pride was not a force to play with. Velma slipped her mask back over her face, her goggles still secured to her eyes. "Great! Anything will help, I'm sure. Kendar, I could use your assistance too. My friend, he's been bit by a dread and well, let's say he doesn't take it as well as you or I would. He's sick, a black singe around the wound is preventing any medicine I try to give him. Would you please give a look at him? I'd say that'd be payment enough for this little quest." Kendar clearly wasn't a fool. He was older with wisdom, and probably saw right through her smile and cheery attitude to see pure desperation. Slayers were expensive, the fact that she was offering free work meant that this friend of hers was not ordinary in the slightest. She didn't look at him for too long in worry that he'd see her desperation, clearing her throat as she patted both of the men's shoulders. "C'mon, our ale will be here eh? The tender will keep an eye on them." Looks like he didn't have much time left either. mauverieTulik
Kendar has only taken a few drinks when Velma commented that he might be able to help. He hadn’t looked at her yet, though when she explained what had happened the man finally looked at her. He didn’t see her lower her mask, or her goggles, so if she had hoped for a comment on her appearance from him she wouldn’t get one. Not that he would anyway. Kendar had traveled extensively in his life, dealing with matters of the dread. That isn’t saying he would recognize Velma by her appearance, rather he’s seen the situation of most people. They all live with the threat of the dread. To him? That made them all the same.
“You must care deeply for this friend.” Kendar said as he finished his own drink in a single lift of the tankard. “You’ve spoken of coin since we’ve met. To forgo it for this favor? If they are effected by the Vikkor then I’ll be of assistance, though I would not get your hopes up. The Vikkor taint is one that is harder to recover from the longer it has resided within the body. How long has it been since this occurrence?”
So it was Kendar’s turn to be blunt. If this friend of hers was affected by the dread? Well it depended on the individual, of course. The strength of their mind and body would help determine how long they could last under the effects of the dread. Of course, a bite from some of the Eska he had seen could be immediately fatal if someone like himself wasn’t present at the time of the event. Kendar looked at Lyco before returning his mask to his face for the sake of the patrons, and possibly even his own companions.
“What is your experience with the Vikkor, Dremdai?” Kendar rubber his forehead after he had spoke to Lyco. “Ah...Alchemist. Dremdai is...hm. Nevermind. That isn’t important. Have you dealt with the dread before, Lyco? Perhaps we can discuss on the way to see this ill friend.”
Kendar gestured to Velma before grabbing his staff once more. “Lead the way, Jai. Not to diminish this dire situation, but this hunt of mine if of great importance to me.”
Lyco tried to hide his surprise as Velma smiled. Those sharp, almost inhuman teeth; he hadn’t seen anything like them before. Despite his Alchemical knowledge, he wasn’t particularly educated on the happenings outside of Heinrel. To say he led a sheltered life would be an understatement, but he knew better than to judge someone for their appearance. They were both people. He listened carefully to what she had to say about her and her friend’s situation. He felt deeply sorry for her. The pain of losing those close to you was something he knew all too well, but… Dread..? Kendar would surely know more about this than him.
Dremdai..? He wondered what that word meant. Was it an insult? He was used to those. He shrugged it off, it didn’t matter. “I... um... haven’t had any first-hand experience with Dread, but…” he leaned in to Kendar, his tone of voice was unsure. “I have something that... might help…”
He rose from his seat, head hanging low. “Let’s go... I want nothing more than to see to this friend of yours.”
Causing a scene--or at least, to be part of some dramatic scene that would catch many onlookers’ attention, is the type of events Eirwen usually would not get himself into. Therefore, he stood there, his composure as still and perfect as ever with his charming blank expression and stern eyes, except the cold sweat dripping down the side of his forehead would be evidence of the awkwardness he felt on the inside. As the old man cried toward Marvelous Mei, Eirwen had the urge to just let go of the man.
Now that he had thought straight, maybe bringing the unwilling man with him and causing this much unnecessary attention may not have been the smartest decision.
Marvelous Mei seemed pretty bothered by the situation, and very well unwilling to get involved too. Upon being begged by the drunkard she was very well prepared to go, even packing up her things. The lad sighed on the inside while the old man gasped, seemingly very shocked by her words.
“She called me shady!” He cried out, exasperated. “All women in this world are the same! And here I thought, a rabbit-eared woman would have a heart as gentle and soft as a snow bunny! Especially if it’s Marvelous Mei!”
Perhaps still a bit drunk, his words might have come off as a bit nonsensical. His one wrist was still held tightly by Eirwen, who decided that after this man had enough of an outburst and calmed down, he would ask him nicely this time if he’s willing to bring him to the marketplace. Green eyes followed the girl as she was going to walk away, Eirwen pondered on the inside if he’d caused some misunderstanding with this old man. It’s merely a task to follow him to the marketplace and guide him to the source of the rumors. Is such a reaction necessary, even if he’s a hunter?
He was quite surprised when the girl turned back around and hesitantly asked him what the old man did. She was trying to keep her distance, but the old man surely did not notice that!
“You came back!” His eyes sparkled as he leapt forward, words of joy escaping his throat. His one arm almost reached her leg to hug it if Eirwen had not pulled him back.
Eirwen stood straight, his expression blank and serious. He opened his mouth just as another passerby intervened. He had no idea who this man might be, but he gave him a smirk and winked at the girl.
Hm, looked like they did really catch too much unnecessary attention. He did owe them both now an explanation.
“He did not do anything,” Eirwen answered very directly to the girl. “However, from him, I was able to learn that the marketplace is the source of the rumors about Dreads being smuggled in for illegal usages.” He paused just momentarily. “I do not visit the marketplace much, so I would like him, who, out of the two of us, is more knowledgeable with this matter and familiar with the marketplace, to bring me there and guide me to where the rumors first spread so I can learn more about it.”
His eyes drifted momentarily to the new passerby who intervened and shook his head. “I do not know why he’s struggling so much, or acting like so for this matter."
The old man hissed next to him angrily, as if unhappy by the way the slayer worded the situation. "He forced me, grabbed me by the wrist, and dragged me to follow him! And like I said it’s my friends who told me about the rumors I-I don’t know much about it myself!!”
“Then where are your friends?” Eirwen cut into his attempt to defend himself and asked harshly.
“W-working at the marketplace,” The old man replied almost in a whisper.
Eirwen nodded, then re-focused his attention to the girl and the male. With a tone that was very much formal and serious, he said, “This is the reason you asked for. I apologize for disrupting your scamming business, Marvelous Mei. I am sure today’s event will not seriously hurt your profit. Please feel free to proceed it here or elsewhere. I hope I also answered your question, sir.” He turned to the man and gave him a small bow.
“With that said,” the lad grabbed hold onto the man’s wrist tightly once more, ready to drag him away. “Goodbye.”
“Wait wait wait wait, noooooooo!” A bit late to grasp the situation, the old man began to struggle almost three seconds when he felt his arms being tugged again. For once, he struggled just much harder, using all his might to free himself from Eirwen’s grasp then leapt forth to grab onto the girl’s thin legs. Disregarding the stares from the two men around him, the old man shamelessly begged. “Marvelous, angelic, beautiful Mei! Please save me!”
The door to the tavern flew open, and a cloaked man entered with heavy steps. His hood was down, as though to make his appearance known to any other Hunters within the area. He was dressed in Dune Gear, a dress designed specifically for hot climates and sandy deserts. This was practically unheard of in Heinrel, as the climate never reached degrees necessary for the outfit. This simple style was his calling card, which he used to stand out from the rest of his class. His name was Commander Amore Castello, a respected Hunter in Heinrel known for the speed by which he takes up each contract. All across the nation, Hunters knew him as the man to take any and all contracts he found interesting before any other had a chance to even look at them. He was also known to be prideful and had a personality that made many angry at his demeanor. Despite his disrespectful nature, many conceded that he was skilled in his craft, having risen to the rank of Commander in only a few short years.
He looked about the bar, scowling slightly at the curious faces that turned their gazes to him. He took a deep breath and stepped inside, his heavy boots thudding against the floorboards. Many turned away, fearing a wrathful response from him. His gun clicked and rattled with his movements, and the Slayer at the bar could easily hear the gear he was carrying, despite his careful movements. The rifle was loaded, and he carried a revolver underneath the cloak. The sound of extra ammunition jingled from somewhere, but it was impossible to tell where. He strode up to the front, where the other Slayer, as well as two civilians, had gathered. Standing only some feet away, his gestured to each of them, his face rather grim.
"You three," his voice broke the uncomfortable tension from his entrance. His tone was crass and impatient, as though he were in a hurry. "I wish to speak with you immediately regarding the Hell Hawk that appeared in town today."
Not only did this man disrupt her side business by sicking this homeless man on to her, he proceeded to insult her, publicly. A scammer?! Really? Well, she totally was one... but (A) he couldn't prove it and (B) it was uncalled for. Enraged, she took off her wooden sandal and tossed it in midair before roundhouse kicking it in Eirwen's direction. The sandal whirled past the old man and hit the slayer right on his hooded head.
The seer yelled out, while simultaneously hopping towards the slayer and his hostage. After retrieving her sandal and putting it back on, she shot the duo a dirty look, ready to give them a piece of her mind. She held herself back and started walking away from them instead, knowing she couldn't loiter any longer. "Huhu, I want to learn about dreads being smuggled in for illegal usages," she spoke in a deep voice, comically imitating Eirwen. "Well, you're pretty dreadful yourself, mister. You might not have to look too hard," she answered herself as herself. Onlookers watched her in confusion as her conversation with herself continued.
Mei entered the tavern, passing a cloaked man on her way. Her face lit up as she spotted Garland waiting for her. She immediately ran up to the wole and waved furiously at him, inches away from his face.
"I'm so, so, so sorry! I know I'm late, but there was this guy and... " She reenacted the whole scene from earlier for him.