Little Silver Glass
The older, experienced Lunar Harmonious Ivory gather a cadre of Lunars to help him look into an esoteric book, The Chained Heart. Gathering them at a party in his Manse, his Hearthstone suddenly breaks, evidencing his Manse’s geomancy has been broken... and that has to be anything but good news! Splitting in two groups, Ivory accompannies those who are not combatants into sneaking out of the Manse with the book, while two of their warriors go evacuate the Manse and fight whatever is breaking within it...
The Lunars ran to the back of the Manse, Gin the Courtesan, Snowy the Sorceress, Ivory the Seeker, and Wrynn the Thief. They ran into the shadows, through the corridors... and could feel something was wrong. And then, when they got to the door to the back... it was broken. And covered with thorny crimson vines, as were the windows...
Gin had seen the vines before.. throughout the corridor, she had seen them sprouting on the ground, into the walls, from behind paintings... always trying to hide themselves, always trying to conceal themselves, but always there, breaking what they could as inconspicuously as possible...
Gin: "Hmm," the kitsune murmured softly as they ran, three tails unwinding from the rest to give her fellow Lunar's a gentle tap upon the shoulder. Her eyes shifted in a pointed manner once she had their attention, flickering towards where she had seen the vines at play. "Should I be assuming that those are yours, master Ivory? An experiment in gardening gotten out of hand, perhaps?"
- Snowy looks at Gin, shivering a touch "What do you see? Gardening gone wrong? I don't see anything wrong.. other than the usual.."
Gin: A delicate brow arched at Snowy's comment. Surely her fellow Moon Chosen would have seen... ? But evidently not. "Vines, mistress. Very... healthy ones."
- Snowy stops for a moment, preparing herself, a butterfly tattoo etching itself into her left forearm, figuring they may come in handy if ever the path was blocked. "Lets keep going then, before they become.. more healthy?"
Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn's head pokes up out of the neckhole in Snowy's robes. "Ooooh... don't mention vines to me, please. You have no idea what the plantlife around this side of creation thinks a girl goes for."
- Snowy looks down at Wrynn "I have a fair idea, yes.. lets keep moving"
Harmonious Ivory: "Not at all, Gin. I... have no idea what they are." He raises his hand, almost touching the ones barring his path... "... and I certainly would not bar my own path with them. I may be sounding like an incompetent, dear Gin, but I am not that incompetent." Almost touching the thorns... then stopping.
"I think I will have to remove those....” He says, and his eyes shimmer. Great Mantis’ claws appear around his hands, long and white instead of the brilliant green they should possess. Four come out of each sleeve, looking oddly like a flytrap... “Unless one of you has a different idea?”
- Snowy grins a touch and nods "Take a few steps back and I'm sure I can oblige.." then.. *sorcery!* thousands of pure obsidian butterflies simply coalesce out of her flaring anima, shredding the vines blocking their path, and likely any other ones that were trying to for a good ways ahead of them, and beside them, and above them. Not really too controllable unfortunately, and hopefully everyone has good shoes, cause you'll be walking on glass for a hundred yards!
Gin: "You would be surprised what I know, master kitten..." Gin answered, though mostly to herself and with a touch of distain, her nose wrinkling as she recalled a particular deprivation Leaf had attempted to subject her to. The matter at had was a good distraction from the memory.
"Most impressive, mistress," she inclines her head to Snowys display, keeping close behind the... sorceress now, was it? There would be much to learn about these new companions, however temporary their alliance may have been. "Though perhaps lacking on subtleness."
Wrynn Diermidis: "What the-- eep!" Wrynn's head dissapears for a moment, then peeks back out at the world through a sleeve. "Isnt' that supposed to come with a built in warning for delicate little critters like me to get the hell out of the way?"
Snowy: "This is not the sort of thing that leads to subtlety, now lets go before they regenerate and block our way again. I can't do that very often. And you were in the pefect place to avoid the effects, kitten."
Gin: "I am sure your perch is quite safe, master kitten. Unless she has need to draw in a deep breath."
Narrator: The butterflies come, cutting through all of the vines and clearing their path!
... and more...
Stepping out of the broken vines, and into the back yard... they see so many men, dressed in red clothes, from head to toe, only their eyes bared... slashing swords, daggers, shurikens and chains in hand. So many of them...
... and each and every one, cut apart.
Harmonious Ivory: A hundred yards filled with the corpses of enemies that waited to jump on them. Harmonious Ivory walked out, out of the dripping vines, and looked at his back yard... a short series of movements, and he adopted the Mantis Form, the one he was a consumate master of... and then looked down on the corpses.
"I must say, Snowy. I am impressed."
Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn gives a cute littly fluffy snicker. "I don't think I need to worry about that-- isn't a woman in creation that doesn't know something about fitting into a dress two sizes too small-- and believe me, this is quite roomy so long as this'n doesn't have a wereform-- ahh, you don't, do you miss Snowy? Tell me now, I can find cushier perch"
- Snowy shrugs a little "They were fools for hiding where they did. Now, lets go!" and she'd head off, looking down to Wrynn again "I do, but if you need to come along for the ride, you'll find yourself safely in my talons."
Wrynn Diermidis: "Oh dear." Wrynn says with mock sincerity, dissapearing from the sleeve and popping up once more through Snowy's neckhole, obviously illustrating what he meant by 'cushier.' "There. Should you now mysteriously and amazingly grow to twice your size-- ahh, not that you're small up here hon--" he jiggles his seat a bit. "--but should you do so, I shall manage."
Harmonious Ivory: "Oh, certainly. Anyways, we walk through here..." He says, walking out of the garden, a place between two ponds, a hedge maze somewhere far away... and then pointing to the Northwest... "The village of Sudoku is that way. Not much, we can get there in an hour, it won't be very lo..."
There is a bright crimson light.
Somewhere on the trees, far away... a hundred yards away.
And then, he was struck down, by nothing any of them could see! Red blood running...
Ivory falls... and into his heart, are arrows of glass.
And as he falls, on the last moment, more arrows of glass can be seen coming to Snowy and Gin...
Gin: The flash was what caught her attention. That sparkle in the distance. That bloody glow. After only just witnessing Snowy reap a path through a small army of ambushers, there could be little doubt that a blow could come from so far away. And when one had done nothing for their entire life but prepare for an ambush, you took no chances.
Ivory went down, a flower of blood blossoming from the arrow in his chest. Unfortunate, though there was a chance he yet lived. It would matter little so long as they remained under attack. Gin's body moved as it had been trained to do, without question or hesitation, defying the natural instinct to get out of the line of fire. She slipped out from behind Snowy and took up position over Ivory's fallen form. Tail's lashing about her in an energetic state, her arms crossed and waited as two delivered a pair of long, slender sticks into her waiting hands. With a flick of her wrists, the 'sticks' spread open into a pair of matching fans, their delicate surface shivering almost feebly as they imposed themselves into the path of the oncoming arrow.
Narrator: ... and Gin's fans scatter all the arrows in front of her!
Glass arrows, nearly-invisible at night but not to the keen eyesight of Fox and Owl break under the fans and fall to the ground, the crimson glow on the woods far away wavering, just slightly.... the glow of an Exalted anima.
Gin: Gin stood poised a moment longer, watching for anymore arrows from the darkness. When none were quick in coming, her guard fell. Kneeling down beside Ivory, she drew her face close to his own, watching his nostrils to see if they flared, then holding her cheek above his lips to feel for breath. The ever so limited extent of her medical knowledge.
- Snowy will simply put her staff in the way of the arrows, of course its not exactly easy with one arm clutching the book and a kitten in your bosom, but she'll damn well try, spinning the thing to knock the arrows out of the ways, not really able to do much else against ranged attacks, she was far better at dishing them out than she was at avoiding them!
Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn-- who is not a hinderance in any way shape or form, honest-- ducks into his bosom bunker as Ivory falls and Snowy parries glass arrows. "No! don't let the old man die!" he screams with heartbroken grief. "Not until he PAYS US!"
Harmonious Ivory: Gin checked... he was hurt, so severely hurt.
Such a powerful Lunar... but among his great abilities, those that allowed him to find and destroy so many of his pursuers so far, was not the ability to see what came for him. A Martial Artist, he was frail than most Lunars... and the arrow was a very, very good shot. It hit on the right places to kill him, then and there. Or least, to wound him beyond any healing Gin can possibly do even on his reinforced Exalted frame.
Not enough life, not to last... he coughed some blood, looking up to her...
"A nice... image... to see before... I go..."
Gin: "I am sorry," she told him, her hand closing over his own. The skin was so cold... "I should not have allowed this to happen."
Her gaze turned upwards to Snowy and Wyrnn. "He is dying. Can either of you do anything?"
- Snowy looks down for just a moment, shaking her head "I can't do anything spectacular, no.. not yet.. nothing beyond a skilled doctor.. "
- Gin dropped her eyes from Snowy's face to the kitten head peeking out from her bussom, a questioning but unhurried stare.
Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn sighs, hanging down over the collar of Snowy's robes. "Nothing. I'm a thief-- I don't even MAKE wounds, let alone put people back together."
Harmonious Ivory: He looks up... touching Gin's face... "Keep it safe, please..."
"Just hide it, bu... t... it... is impor... tant... I kn.. ow... it is..."
- Snowy just nods a little to Ivory "Yes, we'll keep it safe, but I think at this stage, if we don't do something, we'll all be needing a doctor.."
Gin: She nodded once to Wyrnn, then turned her gaze back to the man on the ground before her. The touch of his fingers on her face was like droplets of frozen rain rolling across her cheek, but she did not turn her face away. Instead she touched her hand to his neck, cupped his cheek in her palm.
"We will do what we can," was the promise she gave him, sealed with the touch of her lips to his. She did not know him, not truly well enough for so intimate a gesture perhaps, but a moment of comfort to a dying man was the least that could be offered even from a stranger.
Then, calmly, the kiss unbreaking, she slid her hand back down to his throat. Her body hanging over his, the others could not have seen what happened. Only heard the sharp crack and watched as Ivory's body went limp bellow her. "Go to Rei-Lai's Palace, gentle seeker. Feel no more the pain of this world."
Rising serenly beside the corpse that had been Harmonious Ivory, Gin smoothed down the wrinkles of her robe.
"You are correct, mistress," she agreed, holding out her hand as one tail delivered her fans to her waiting palm. "We should depart quickly."
Wrynn Diermidis: "Ouch." Wrynn winces. "That's not a religious thing is it? Mercy killing? 'cause I got nine lives to spend and I ain't selling 'em cheap.."
Gin: "So long as he lived, there remained a chance of our mysterious enemies capturing him and keeping him alive for interrogation. It was for our own safety as much to give him peace."
- Snowy sighs and looks around, trying to determine range to the unknown archer, and to that end.. ascension form! and real owl eyes, including the nightsight. Wrynn is okay, of course, her torso doesn't change, just a few extra feathers on her arms and legs.. and she has a set of wings, though they're kinda useless right now.
Narrator: They notice a little flare of red again...
And more arrows, coming straight towards them!
- Snowy interposes her staff again, and then ducks out of the way, looking around for cover, not that it would really do her any good, the whole area is saturated by her anima banner, and its bloody snowing, but it might be able to stop arrows!
Gin: "Enough of this," she sighed as the lights flashed again. Tucking her fans into the belt of her robe, Gin swept down, grabbing the front of Ivory's shirt and pulling the still cooling body from the ground. His body held between her and the on coming arrows, Gin shifted in front of Snowy before she began dashing forward, keeping as much of her smaller form tucked behind his as she could.
Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn blinks, looking about quickly as Snowy shimmers, shifting into her ascension form... Once things have settled, the tiny little head dissapears into the robes for a moment and there is a rustling, followed by a muffled sigh. The fuzzy head pops back up, strangely dissapointed and not even seeing the second volley of arrows until Snowy ducks, squeezing a little 'Hurk!' out of the kitty.
Narrator: The arrows all missed Gin, striking only Ivory's corpse, but one did scratch Snowy's chest...
So very close to Wrynn!
- Snowy gives wrynn the ride of his life! She dashes forward in a full-out run, looking for a statue or a bush or something to hide behind, preferably hard cover, not soft, soft cover would be fairly useless, hopefully in range to send butterflies at the target next round, or at least closer. She'd also look down at the kitten "Be a dear and bite the shaft of that arrow off?"
Narrator: She falls behind a great statue of a lady with great butterfly winds, dancing with two fans...
Large dresses and fans and wings, all cover enough....
As more arrows come for her, they are... more purposeful.
Avoiding the wind and the night, all in their path towards Snowy's heart!
Wrynn Diermidis: "Bite? What am I, a rat?" Wrynn cried indignantly. A single flick of his little paw dices the shaft into several little glass pieces with not even a crack between them. Pausing only shortly to lick his paw and pose, the kitty shoves the pieces of arrow out a sleeve and before Snowy knows it, she's less a cat and a book too.
- Snowy runs like the wind, but apparently thats not good enough, nor is hiding behind a statue, this is going to be a pain, she infuses her staff with essence, letting it do its work for her, interposing itself with the arrows as they seek her out, letting them shatter or deflect off her staff, feeling hte kitten leave was a bit of a relief, but she's worried about the book.
She looks around, trying to see range to the red anima, seeing if she can get off her spell and have it actually be effective..if not she'd head forward again, hopefully theres another statue.. damnable archers
Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn harumphs as he lands invisibly in the powdery snow with the ever-so-important book. "THAT'S a cat-fight I don't think I need to be in." he says, shaking his head and looking back. "Book too. Who ever imagined charging into battle with the treasure was a good idea?"
Wrynn drags the book a few paces then stands up straight for a moment, blinking. "Other than that crazy wolf bitch. I mean, you know?"
The woods fail to respond.
With another harumph, Wrynn continues dragging the book until he reaches a nice solid tree. He then proceeds to... walk backwards some more, dragging the book up the tree as if it weren't contrary to the 'law' of gravity. Law, hah! Wrynn thought it should be called something more accurate. "The 'Generally Good Idea of Gravity,' that's what they should call it. Yeah." he says, nodding decidedly to the trees.
- Snowy steps out from behind the statue, spreading her arms and wings out, her already intense animia flaring yet again as she points her staff at the anima, nodding off to wrynn, who has wisely backed away, she can tell from the voice. She calls up to the person in the trees, "You! Coward in the trees! Come out of the trees, since I am about to destroy any notion you've had of cover and hiding from us. We know what you want and we won't let you get it, its been entrusted to us for safekeeping and we intend to keep it safe!"
????: There is no reply to slowly.
Only silence... as the shifting crimson lights move about.
Narrator: The Obsidian Butterflies march forth, breaking through the woods, bringing so much of it down...
The crimson light is gone. Simply... not there, anymore.
And neither is most of the forest.
It is all silent...
- Snowy calls back to Gin "Can you go check out the forest? I'd prefer not to move in case i get shot at again!"
Gin: "As you wish," she nodded, letting Ivory's body fall. But as the corpse tumbled downwards, there was no woman waiting behind it. Only a fox, or something that much resembled one in outline. Hoping and bounding gracefully over Ivory's still form, Gin sped from sight towards the distant treeline, leaving nothing but a streak of white painted through the air behind her.
Narrator: Gin reached the woods, and heard the most absolute silence. Whatever animals of the night were there before ran with the crashing down of so much wood. She had to tread lightly, for Obsidian Butterflies were everywhere around the fallen trees... and even on a small clearing, one that shone in red. But not with a Chosen's anima banner. No, instead, it was... a single arrow of pure crimson light, imbedded on the ground, and liquid light poured from it to form... a warning.
You are marked. There is Nowhere To Run. Nowhere To Hide.
We Will Find You.
- Snowy sighs heavily and looks around "Kitten? You can come back now!" Then she starts to dig the arrowheads out of her flesh, knowing that she'd heal soon enough, and she'd rather have them out now than heal and have to get them out later.
Wrynn Diermidis: There is no sound, there is silence.
There is no movement, only stillness.
Unfortunately, Snowy experiences Wrynn's return with all three other senses in abundance. More than enough to make up for the other two to be sure-- though certainly if it were any other book or any other cat, a face full of book might not be highest on Snowy's list of things happen to her today. She did ask though.
- Snowy slowly removes the book from her face, trying to figure out exactly where wrynn came from "Ahh.. thank you kitten, though if you're that good at hiding, you maybe should be the custodian of the book."
Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn hops down from his temporary perch atop Snowy's head, landing once again into the shaman's robes. This time however... as soon as his little furry foot touches the cloth, his fur shifts to a dappled motley of matching color, making him nigh invisible. "You kidding? Do I look like I can carry that thing?" he asks incredulously. "Why, strap it to my back and it'll be the book that's wearing ME!"
- Gin skips across the landscape, silently approaching the other Lunars. As she draws near, her lean fox-body begins to elongate and then bulge. Each step closer takes her further into an ever growing blob of white, and then as details refine themselves from the emptiness, the more familiar shape of her human form. She crawls up from walking on her fingers and toes, standing upright for the last few steps. "Well, there was no assassin in the tree. There was an arrow however. And a message."
Wrynn Diermidis: Suddenly, Snowy looses sight of Wrynn and a little raspy tongue flicks Gin on the cheek. "--and I can think of much prettier things to be wearing me."
- Snowy pets the kitten's head with a couple fingers and sighs, still glowing, she nods a touch "Well, maybe you could turn into a form that can carry it, if need be?" And then she looks to Gin "What do you mean no Assassin? No chosen should of been killed by my spell, so that means they got away and will no doubt be back. And what kind of arrow, and what was the message?"
- Gin smiled, reaching up to scoop Wyrnn into her arms, cradling him against her chest in one while slowly stroking his fur with the other. "Escaped, perhaps. Or never there to begin with. I saw no trace of presence beyond the arrow. With what these assassin's have arranged thus far, it may be possible there was never anyone out there to begin with."
"As for the message," Gin shrugged and repeated what had been written beside the arrow. "An ambiguous threat at best, though at least it tells us we can expect more such attacks. The arrow was still where I found it when I left. Perhaps you may learn more if you examined it yourself."
- Snowy just nods a little and stands up, "Well, I guess i better check it out, then we should start on our way to the village, yes? Don't want to keep them waiting.. too much." *
Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn cocks his head to the side, "Them? Who--oooohh... right... Maybe we can pick up a leash on the way?"
- Snowy laughs a little, nodding a touch "I'm sure we can find something, lets go check out this arrow.."
Gin: "Whatever you wish," she said by way of agreeing, inclining her head to Snowy, then giving Wyrnn a wry smile. "One for whom exactly, master kitten?"
Snowy: "I think for the wolf-lady" she nods a bit as she heads to the arrow, a little wary of being ambushed again..
Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn giggles, "Well-- we can get one for you too if you're into that"
Gin: Laughing softly, she followed behind in Snowy's footprints. "I doubt she will consent, but if she does I am certain I have on in my luggage that would fit her."
- Snowy laughs a little and then grins to Wrynn "Well, you've already been in my robes, and i know you've done some exploring.. "
Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn nuzzles up against Gin and purrs. "You know a kitty can't resist exploration" he says with a wink.
- Snowy nods a touch, looking around at the arrow and the message as they arrive, examining them, nodding more "mm.. hmm.. most interesting. Though you're right, this is slightly cryptic, but it seems to indicate they know more than even we do, and we have the book."