Chosen of Talas

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Corvus Corax

Original poster
"Chosen." This was all the voice said.

Alexia felt herself being pulled deeper into sleep, literally. Half falling, half being pulled. It felt terrifying and surreal, the wind making a whistling noise as she fell. She swore she could feel each digit on the hands that pulled her down faster and they burned into her skin. Thou painful, strangely enough, they calmed her like a sedative would. Visions flashed in her mind and she felt that she'd hit bottom soon. The water seeming to rise up to meet and swallow her body in one of the flickering visions that followed. The sky growing dark just before she hit.

And…then…white. It was all around her. Walking forward a few steps, panic rising back into her chest, she looked about herself…and…She knew.

She understood somehow, that she could walk forward forever. Never coming to a end.

Wait, she hadn't hit the water. What was going on? Why…

Each second dragged on and Alexia was about to scream when her body felt it was being torn in pieces. The scream came out silent as she fell to her knees…and woke. Sitting above the pond in the old oak had been a mistake and Alexia scrambled to grab hold of a branch, missing and falling the short way to the ground with a UMPH!

Standing, looking quite annoyed with a twig stuck in her hair, she dusted herself off. The hairs on the back of her neck were standing from her dream and with a sick feeling in her stomach she realized that it wasn't just her backside that hurt… She looked down to find large bruises covered a good part of her lower arms, finger shapes being barely discernable in the marks. Her eyes began to tear up as she bent over the water to dunk her hands into the cool pond, trying to ease the burn of the marks. Trying to hide their existence from view to spare her panicking mind. Her breathing came out in a shudder and she closed her eyes shut against everything. The ripples stilled on the waters surface while she took a deep breath to calm herself, opening her eyes to see if the marks were still on her hands…and she saw her forehead.


Every hundred years. The chosen is marked and they must make the journey to make a sacrifice. A sacrifice to renew the land. Doing so by jumping off the edge of the world and into the unknown that lies below.
This is the year…the day…the chosen has been marked and the kings men are in search of her, determined to carry out the cycle. A sacrifice hasn't been skipped yet and no one knows what will happen if its skipped. The king will not tempt fate and the chosen will be taken with force if needed. His men look, knowing nothing of what she looks like or where she is or even that it's a woman…just knowing that the time is now.


Drunk, wild and staggering, Menevol reached for another drink. He clasped his hand closed where his glass should have been, but his fingers caught nothing but air. He squinted his eyes, zeroing in on the shaking bar keep standing behind the counter.

"Where's my glass, you whore?." A strong smell of liquor fumed from his mouth as he spoke. It seemed that Menevol called everyone who he was displeased with a whore - man or women.

"Y.y.y.yo...…you drank it sir." Said the bar keep, obviously frightened by the Drunk Knight.

Menevol, or Menevol Mayhem as he is more commonly known, Has very little to lose at this point in his life. His mind is a tormented hell, seeming to grow more and more demented with each breath he takes. He is constantly haunted by his past. The years he had served as a Knight under the King, and all the horrible killing that he had taken part in, had severally warped him. Menevol believes he can talk to some of the people that he has killed. He thinks that they follow him constantly and are waiting for him to die. Really its no more than a figment of his imagination, created from a deep hatred of himself and his actions. Sometimes the alcohol helps him feel at ease, but it always returns soon after he sobers up. On this particular night Menevol had been having a vicious argument with the Dead and if there was one thing he needed it was more alcohol.

Menevol stood, towering to a daunting six foot seven inches. His greasy, shoulder length, black hair fell down around his chin. A long scar curved itself like a snake around his chin and down to his neck to his chest. His eyes were little more than red slits on a gnarled, unshaven face. A cut jawline gave way to cracked lips that quivered, at this moment, with hatred. Menevol was a behemoth of a man that would strike fear into even the bravest warriors, which is why he was the King's number one henchman for many years. Gaining the Kings respect once again was the only thing that he cared about in his life.

He kicked his stool aside, hearing it break to bits against the near by cement wall, and grabbed the bar keep by the neck. His massive hand nearly reached all the way around as he began to apply pressure. A low 'gurgling' sound could be heard from the bar keeps mouth. Honestly the alcohol wasn't as big of a deal as was the rage he was feeling currently, it just so happened that the bar keep was the first person to take it out on.

"Do you want to die?" Said Menevol, spraying mead flavored spittle in the face of the bar keep as he spoke, applying more pressure. "I'm gonna crush your F******* Neck you Whore."

A small smile began to appear at the corners of his mouth as he squeezed, feeling the bar keeps pulse pounding against his hand. His eyes were bugging out to the point of almost being comical. Just before the bar keep passed out, Menelov let go and left the bar. He swatted at invisible bugs as he exited the building. The nights air outside was cool and refreshing on his skin, he took a deep breath, trying in vain to rid himself of the voices that haunted his skull. They swirled around like endless echos inside his head, taunting him with visions of the dead and inflicting him with pain.

Two stable boys passed by, looking at the Knight as he conversed with the shadows.

"Thats Menelov Mayhem, they say he's killed hundreds of men with his bare hands." Said one boy to the other. The children hurried off into the night, narrowly escaping the Evil Knights gaze.

After a moment, Menelov realized that he should probably find somewhere to sleep for the night, as it was he wasn't anywhere near his quarters at the Kingdom. Often times he would just wander off, aimlessly, endlessly seeking redemption. Now that the King had all but stripped him of his rank, he had much time on his hands. Haunted time, cursed time, where the moments seemed to sink by, slowly, like a man drowning in quicksand. In Menevol's mind, the only thing that mattered was redemption in the eyes of his king.

The Knight, Menevol Mayhem, walked off into the darkness, drunk, hating everyone and everything around him.

When he woke there was something licking his face, it was a stray cat. He grabbed it around its body hearing a deep 'snap' and a "merrrrrooowwwwww" as he did so. He threw the broken carcass aside and stood up. It appeared he had slept in a hay loft the night before. Next to where he lay was the beaten body of a women. Had he done that? It wasn't uncommon for Menevol to beat his lovers. He shrugged it off, kicking her body before walking out into the early mornings light.

With his head cleared he was more focused on the task at hand. He was on a mission of great importance, a mission of the kings will. After he was betrayed by another Knight, he had lost all respect in the king's eyes. His status in the Kingdom was lost, and now he was little more than a common Knight. In order to regain his place in the Knighthood he must complete this task: To find the marked one for the king, it was a mission that Menevol suspected he would not return alive from, as it was, he was pretty sure the King wanted him dead. The task of locating the chosen wasn't something Menevol really cared about either way, he just hoped that if it was in his future to die it would be soon, but until then he would carry out his orders.

……Find the chosen at all costs.
It was good to be back. The forest slid beneath him it's familiar sights, sounds and smell lending the dragon comfort as he flew great leathery wings supporting his mass with ease. The forest parted ahead of him on a clearing, several forms bounding away in fright at the appearance of a flying predictor. One however kept its head down in the grass and rolling over in the air he dove wings folding close to his body tail guiding him until in the last second extended his arms and legs brought all his weight onto the doe.

The creature screamed for a second before the dragon bit down, ten stepping off of the shattered kill hi lifted it and pushed off of the ground wings carrying him skywards again. Back over the forest with his meal, if he had been human he would have chuckled. The animals here were fat and not used to a dragon hunting them, he had even slotted those white things the humans kept for their hair. Coming over the pond towards the grotto where he lived, to spotted the form of one bending over the water, humans! He could stand them so long as they left him in peace, but one so close to his new home... practicably on his doorstep.

Swooping down he dove at her pulling up and flying over the water circling around the tip or his wing skimming the water. It would have been enough to shake even a knight but this girl hadn't taken to her heels. With a snarl he landed on the bank spreading his wings and standing raising his snout in a show of size, fire erupting skywards before he threw the deer against a tree with a sickening crunch impaling it on a branch. Any peasant would be running to warn his fellows to warn them to avoid the forest. But she.... different tactics were called for.

The wind was blowing across them and over the pond, but he could tell something was off, a mother protecting her hidden child? Desperate? Or just a simpleton. No matter, he was loath to kill a human, too bony to eat and there were always so touchy and had numbers and weapons. But he could still get her to leave. He changed form, shrinking down to her size and shape yet retaining make of his inhuman features he walked towards her wings folding back slit eyes scanning her and the clearing always walking closer.

"Leave." he demanded, stepping closer. "This forest is my home and trespassers are not welcome." he eyes narrowed, just a few more steps. Then there was a change in the air, the wind shifted and her scent reached him. She was not human, his muscles tightened, but it was not in preparation for an attack by a naga.

Battling the impulses he stopped wings opening as he saw her in a new light. All else he hid, despite the certainty he got from her scent. And there was one sign he couldn't hide.
Lilly Medina was not a Naga. She'd been taken in as a child, yes. But her true identity was of a mere-maid. She had long flowing black hair, violet blue eyes and pale skin. She almost looked like a normal human girl, except for when she got inside a large body of water. Then her legs would melt into a pair of silver fins. She had a good life in the home of her adopted family. She was taught all of her capabilities, and somehow ended up as the village healer. She often used her own hair to heal deep injuries, mend broken bones, even soothe those too far gone into a more peaceful form of death. At the moment, she was weaving beautiful blue quilts for all three beds. One could never have too many blankets or covers during cold winters. As she wove, her hair replaced itself instantly with each thread she used. But the problem with sewing her own hair into fabrics, was the fact it changed whatever color that piece of cloth ended up. Sighing, she finished sewing the quilts, laid them on each bed, and gazed at her hair. It had turned bright blue, almost the same shade as a sunny sky.

Rolling her eyes at her image, she listened to her adopted family talking about gathering extra supplies soon, and went back to her chores.
Mesmerized by the mark, she stared down at the water. She knew what it meant. It was a death sentence. Alexia was to be the sacrificial lamb of the land and her family would have honor. If you could call it that, she doubted even having a chosen from the nagas would gain any respect for the creature-folk of Talas.

This was wrong, all wrong. No one was going to choose her fate. "I will choose my death not have it chosen for me." Her voice came out a whisper, and in her mind a scream. Alexia struck at the water as if it would erase the mark, not being able to see it. How would she show her face in the village…Literally. Just how?

Wind swept her loose hair into her face, her hand automatically moving to sweep it back. That… Wasn't wind, wind didn't block the sun. Looking up a bit and then over the water, she realized just what it was. A dragon. Her day had just gotten worse. Baring her fangs she stood her ground, watching as he showed off like he owned the place. This was her spot damnit. Besides…she was going to die anyway. A bitter laugh spilled out of her mouth, the dragon landing and upping his scare tactic.

"Leave." A soft hiss escaped her mouth, her fangs hidden this time. "This forest is my home and trespassers are not welcome." No it wasn't thank you very much. Alexia stepped backwards as he stepped closer and then hissed again, when he found out she was a naga he would be liable to attack her. Wait…maybe she could… If she was to die she would do it how she chose. There was no honor or glory in jumping off the edge of Talas, no matter what the wise men said. They were fools in her mind, outdated and ignorant in ways. (Thinking that she kept to herself since her parents were so obtuse.)

Sidestepping, Alexia moved into the wind as it shifted. "This is my area." An open challenge, before she lost her nerve, her nails growing as she unclenched her hands.

Alexia sized up the dragon in the moments before he responded. Looking up and down him and pausing with a tilt of the head at one very vital area. She was egging on a horny dragon?

She was disarmed for a second and her mouth dropped open, snapping shut quickly as she acted as if she hadn't noticed. Useless. It was obvious she had, but typical of the mind to try and block things that made it uncomfortable. Her legs spread out in the soft ground as she took on a fighting stance and continued ignoring things: The red on her cheeks, the marks on her arms and forehead and last but not least, the horny half of the dragon.
His eyes never left her though a low growl rumbles in his throat its intensity defying its current human-like proportions. Not this... snake was laying claim to his forest, his pond. There was a line and she had just kicked sand on it as she crossed. His eyes narrowed, adrenaline building as the duel desires to feed the pong with her blood and to take her battled within.

"You little...." even enraged and aroused he couldn't possibly miss the marks on her body, though the foolish practices of humans and their king were only a passing curiosity. She was backing away under his advance, though she seemed unwilling to turn and flee, a wise move as a running back has an easy target. Her back touched the bark of one of the bark ancient trees surrounding the pond. Unable to back away any further his strides closing the distance a clawed hand shooting forwards to closed around her throat tightening as the effects of touching her washed over him making him step closer his eyes scanning her his grip loosening after a second.

He hated himself for not killing her right there, but he couldn't, and he couldn't leave her marked for death like she was, protective instincts compelled him to make her an offer, or was it an order?

"You don't have to die." Though still hard his voice had lost its venom. "Come with me and I can protect you."
Lilly finished her sewing for the day, her hair turning from bright blue to a mix of rainbow colors. She spent the rest of the day cleaning the house while her adopted parents went to work. They usually stayed gone well until nightfall, so she had the house to herself until then. More than anything, Lilly loved healing people. But her second favorite thing was singing, which often went with healing. Peeking out the windows to make sure no one would hear her, though the glass was mostly sound proof, she still felt self-conscious as a soprano. Her voice had shattered mirrors once after all. Smiling a little at the memory, she kept sweeping the floors, humming to herself. She wondered if she'd have time after house work to go to the lake near the house. All mermaids needed water sooner or later, and it had been a few days since her last trip. She'd just sneak out of the house later that evening and fix that problem. For now, there was an awful lot of house work to do! She checked the house hold supplies and realized she had better go to the village to purchase a few vegetables to stock up on. Grabbing her basket and sandals, she hurried out of the house to run her errand. But something told her this was going to turn out to be more than an ordinary day.
<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> The waterfall was beautiful, a perfect torrent of clear blue that scarcely foamed at its lip before it dropped into a large wide clear pool that was gently disturbed with ripples from the falling brilliant blue stream. Moss covered rocks surrounded the naturally beautiful place, and trees bent elegantly over the waters edge and shaded the low, comfortable shores. Gold and blue flowers bloomed at amongst the roots and trees and poked their delicate heads up from the saw grass near the waters edge. They painted the scene a bright shade of happiness.

A man lay against a tree amongst the flowers, their blue and gold matched and complimented the colors of his dark blue tunic. His chest rose and fell with deep haggard breaths, a wide toothed grin sat across is almost to perfect lips, and joy flittered across his deep walnut colored eyes. He stared intently at the beautiful scene before him while he caught his breath, his hands took turns rubbing the other's wrist, slowly wearing away the marks left behind by heavy metal cuffs. The second he had caught his breath, he began to laugh, a full hearty laugh that bordered on the insane, but was still pleasantly within bounds of normal. It rebounded off the waterfall and echoed through out the surrounding forest.

He stood from his seat and strode towards the water, he was careful not crush any of the beautiful flowers that populated the forest floor around him, and knelt amongst the rocks at the lightly sanded shoreline. Gentle ripples lapped at the surface in an almost loving manner. His laughter had subsided down to a thin smile that seemed to flaunt the near perfect symmetry of his well-cut face. He reached into the folds of his tunic and withdrew a small ink black rock that sat comfortably in his palm. Its base was rounded but it quickly came to a point at its opposite end. An impossible number of miniscule runes were carved into its surface, but were just about unnoticeable against the pitch-black stone they were carved into. The man held the object so that the pointed in faced the water fall, directly away from him.

"Actividos Sercharia," he whispered mystically. The runes on the small pitch-black stone suddenly glowed blue and the rock lifted from his hand and hovered just above his palm."Sercharia, findet Gideon." The man commanded with out any of the emotion that had been present in him moments earlier. The glowing blue device quickly spun so that the point faced the man, who smiled at his magical compass. "Goodst, ye stelt werket."

The device's runes flashed red, as if to say what he had said was an invalid command. Gideon chuckled and shook his head before he issued his next command, "Sercharia, findet Gweneth." The magical device flashed red once again, and Gideon furrowed his brow. "Hew curesta…thet most hat emprestoned hert ast welst…" The device flashed red again, and Gideon issued a final command, "Sercharia, findet markt." The device turned slightly to the south and pointed down a meandering stream that ran out of the oasis before Gideon.

He stood and snatched up the device in one fluid motion. The runes instantly faded back to their normal jet black, and Gideon dropped the stone back into a pocket within his tunic and turned south, where his magical compass had directed him. He strode forward and plucked a gold flower from amongst the rocks, he was careful not to crush its delicate head. He brought the flower up to its nose and brought its sweet smell into his nostrils with one breath and exhaled happily, "I shelt findet thee, me lovet Gweneth," he stated, starveling along the stream, "thent we shelt havet our revenget." The flower wilted in his hand and slowly turned to ash which a gentle breeze carried away.
He wouldn't stop coming forward. He just wouldn't stop. Her feet took her away from him automatically, with out her even thinking to, step for step she moved. Too close. Alexia panicked as she realized she had backed herself into a tree, the dragons hand rushing forwards. The air around her seemed charged instantly as his hand touched her, closing about her throat.

How was this dragon…hers? Though there it was, the feeling was undeniable. The creature folk of Talas knew instantly by smell and/or touch just who their mate was to be. Occasionally a human would become the mate of one, but between other species? No.

This is all wrong…She was supposed to die, according to these marks. Death was her intended, not this….man.

"You don't have to die." She didn't want to die and honestly, she didn't want to move away from him. Her eyes squeezed shut to reality again, trying to shove feelings away so she could think. "Come with me and I can protect you."

"My things…" Her voice was weak and forced, her eyes opening to stare off to the side, ashamed at what she felt. Just let me get a breath…stop touching me so I can think damn you… "I-I'll go with you…just. Can I get some of my things…"

This is all wrong. Alexia groaned inwardly, if he didn't move his hand HE'D be the death of her in a sense. Was that really all that bad…
Her throat vibrated against his palm with her every word. She was asking to be let to retrieve her belongings. He smiled as unknowingly he slid his hand down her neck as he pondered simply carrying her off and marking her as his. His hand slid across her shoulder as he stepped forwards tilting his head to the side his lips pealing away from his teeth as they parted and moved towards her soft skin before he checked himself expelling the desire in a hot breath that rolled over her body.

Forcing himself under his control he stepped away his eyes dropping from her face taking unintentional advantage of his more distant perspective. If you try to run you'll never make it as far as throwing yourself over the edge." there was nothing threatening in his voice it was a simple promise. They were bound together and he knew she knew.

He stayed close even as she left the tree he stayed within a few feet for her, his eyes never leaving her. His feelings for her were strictly possessive. Instinct driving him to not let her out of his sight even though all he knew about her was her species was a rival to his, and the was marked for death.
The King sat upon his majestic throne deep in thought and listening to his council speak to him. He'd had many advisory sessions, but his mind was wandering as it was. He was a king in a long line of great kings. Revered, perhaps feared by some, but still loved by his subjects. He liked to think he ruled with a fair and gracious hand over the kingdom. The time had come for the sacrifice to be made, he knew this all to well. His council was interrupted as the doors to the throne room opened quickly and a robed figure appeared, muttering things under their breath and glancing about almost fearfully. Like a snake, the person wound their way to the front of the throne, all eyes turning toward them. The King sat up curiously. One of his councilmen opened their mouth to speak, a few guards standing alert, but the King silenced them, "Leave us alone..." he ordered, the order extending to even his guards. All remained where they were bewildered, but he nodded his head and made a sweeping motion with his hands, "Now" he said a bit more firmly. The council bowed respectfully and made their departure. The guards saluted and hurried off with soft clangs from their metal suits. The doors closed, and it was just the King and his seer. The seer bowed before the King's feet, and the King slowly stood, "Get up...what news have you?" he asked with a firm and yet calming tone. The seer scrambled to their feet, wringing their clothing a bit with a faint smile, "By sight and vision the chosen has been marked..."

"Do you know whom it is?"

"I cannot tell you whom it is, just that the mark has been given"

"Where can this 'chosen' be found?" He said stepping toward the seer. The seer staggered back a moment and drew their eyes to meet the King's.

"Location is tricky...but there seemed to be trees and water nearby, perhaps a lake or pond of some form."

The King rubbed his chin in thought trying to figure out where the chosen might be located. A few spots came to mind, but he didn't have time to scour each individually. No, he'd have to guess for now. At least close the gap if he could. "there is nothing else you can tell me as of now?" The seer paused a moment in thought trying to scour their memory for anything else that might help. "There is...a great beast of some form there...but that is all I can see. Fleeting shadows...but it could mean anything, your Majesty." The King nodded and turned, "You are dismissed, come find me should anything else occur. While you're at it send in my messenger" he ordered. The Seer nodded and left. Soon after a young man appeared, "I was summoned, your majesty?"

"Yes. Send word to Menevel the chosen may be lurking in the Eastern Forests...have him start searching there. I will send more information when it surfaces."

"Yes your majesty" the messenger said with a bow and quickly left. The King took his seat again as the council was beckoned back in and business began again per usual. The fate of Talas rested in finding the chosen.
Lilly found herself at the edge of the village market before long, she was finding plenty of good tomatoes for the evening dinner. As an after thought, she knew the birds around this area loved using mermaid hairs to make sturdy nests, so she wandered just a bit further away from the noise of people after paying for the tomatoes, carrots and celery. With her basket over one arm, she took her strands of now-midnight black hair she hadn't used for weaving today and scattered them across the ground, some landing in bushes. She then turned to head home, but not quickly. She certainly felt she needed to take her time.
Menevol Mayhem carried little equipment. Other than a water skin and a light bedroll he only had his weapons. A two-handed sword, which Menevol has dubbed "The Reaper", was made especially for him by the King's highest appointed blacksmiths out of rare metals harvested from deep within the earth. The hilt of the sword has a serpent engraved across it, and a matching one runs up the length of the actual blade. It is a fine sword and more than a few men and beasts have met their fate to it. It was held, as always, in a sheath slung low across his back. For protection, Menevol wore a full chest plate and studded steel leggings. Gauntlets covered both his arms. Even with all this he moved with great agility thanks to two magically enhanced rings he wore. One was a strength ring that gave him a constant boost in physical power, the other was an agility ring that made his balance and speed second to none.

As the sun made its slow decent towards the top of the sky, Menevol walked to the east towards whatever may await him. Thoughts of revenge and malice swam through his head as the constant voices blared in his ear. If he had been feeling better he would have yelled back at them, but a deep depression had encased him. He was feeling hopeless about his mission. In the back of his mind he felt there was no way hew would ever find the chosen. He felt that his life would end without the recognition from the king that he deserved. His worst fear was dying the lone wanderer he had become.

Menevol stopped suddenly and turned around. In the distance he saw a messenger approaching. It was a messenger from the King. When the young man got closer, out of breath from running so fast, he said nothing, but rather kept his distance and handed Menevol a note that informed him about the chosen ones whereabouts.

Without a word, Menevol changed his path towards the Eastern Forest.
<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--> Thomas Hillsboro was a traveling merchant, a rather traveling merchant at that. He had just about accumulated enough wealth to purchase a permanent storefront in a major city, a prospect he had dreamed about since he had started his mobile business. It was all he could think about on his current trip; one that he hoped would finally allow him to leave his life as a lone wandering salesman and settle down and, if he was lucky, find a woman to love.

His wagon, a large and heavy oak monstrosity that serves as his home, goods storage, and store, was pulled along by two powerful looking horses who moving it along at a comfortable pace. Thomas, never having been a lazy man, walked in front of the two horses, one a brown specked white bodied creature and the other a solid comforting cream colored one, humming happily to himself and thinking joyously of his future.

It was about then that Gideon entered his life. Thomas had come to a bridge that spanned a shallow stream and a man, dressed in a gaudy yet rich looking blue tunic, jumped up onto the path from next to the stream, and blocked Mr. Hillsboro's passage. For a moment, Thomas feared he was about to be robbed, but he quickly noticed the man was unarmed. He let loose his breath, which he hadn't realized he was holding, and smiled at the blue tunic wearing fellow in a welcoming way.

The man stepped forward and, in some tongue of English the merchant had never heard before, said "Ye be est a mechont?"

Thomas arched an eyebrow inquisitively, and the man repeated his question. If anything, Mr. Hillsboro understood him worse the second time through.

"I'm sorry, mate, I can't understand a blasted thing you saying!" Thomas replied, his words were accented, having grown up in the north, and they mostly grew from the back of his throat. However, he had learned English in great depth and his pronunciation was perfect, almost artful.

The man stood still for a moment, obviously as confused as Thomas had been when the man had spoken moments earlier. The traveler clenched his jaw for a moment, as if in great thought, and then spoke up again.

"Are you a merchant?" the words sounded awkward and the man looked as if something unfamiliar had been thrust into his mouth. Thomas was surprised; to say the least, but found himself curious to hear more from the stranger.

"Yes, I am, mate. Thomas Hillsboro, trader of many simple and curious devices, at your service," he bowed, a smooth practiced motion, and waited anxiously to hear the other man speak again.

"I am Gideon," he paused for a moment, contemplating his response, "A traveler. I am new to these lands and its language." The more Gideon spoke, the more natural it sounded, yet his words retained a classical twang to them. Thomas smiled in wonder, all thoughts his shop to be gone from his mind.

"It is a pleasure traveler Gideon! Mayhaps I have something you require?" Thomas motioned candidly towards his cart.

"Yes, language and a map?" Gideon replied, he stumbled over the word 'language'.

Thomas smiled and began to lead his wagon forward, "I carry no map traveler Gideon, but come with me. I know a man in the village that is my destination that can help you. The place is not far and a traveling companion would be most welcome!"

Gideon looked down the stream in the direction he had been heading, arguing whether he should continue on towards the marked one or head into town and reacquaint himself with the world. He turned to the merchant, his decision made.

"Thomas Hillsboro, I accept your offer. Do you have any swords in your cart?" the sentence more fell out of his mouth than he spoke it.

Thomas laughed heartily and clapped Gideon on the back, "Unfortunately, lad, I d o not. But, I can get you one in the village ahead. Now, about your English…"

The crossed the bridge, discussing sentence structure, and headed towards town.

Was that really all that bad…? The question repeated in her head as they made way to the village. Maybe its starting to be…

She felt his eyes on her back with each step, the hairs on her neck rose with agitation at the fact. Alexia was sure if she slowed her pace that she'd feel more than his eyes at some point. "Alexia…I-I'm Alexia." She unwillingly broke the tension, her tone of voice screaming out loud and clear that she wanted no conversation other than his name in return.

They'd talk more in-depth. Later.

For now she had a creature that had the potential to be about two tons in his full dragon form, stalking behind her. From his last facial expression he was walking on a razors edge as far as control went. She knew she was…Gods that fact scared her. The urge to turn around and jump the man behind her was infuriating at the least and it confused her even more than the marks on her body, when it rained it poured. Apparently.

Eyes on the path, she willed her legs to go forward. They were close to the village anyway, in fact they were close to the outer market. She knew she'd have to find a way to get to her things without being seen. Maybe she could get close enough to get ahold of Lily. Alexia bent her head to think as she walked, only looking back when she heard a noise, thinking dragon-boy had decided to tell her his name. Right away she felt as if she had ran into a brick wall: How had she forgotten that he was basically naked? Skidding to a halt, she spun about. Pointedly keeping her eyes level with his, she glared at him, quickly pointing.

"You cant go near the village like that, what about the villages children! NOT TO MENTION IT'S A VILLAGE FULL OF NAGA, THEY'D GANG UP ON YOU!"

Her voice rose as she spoke, and she felt like she was becoming a nagging wife in ten seconds flat.

She hadn't meant to sound concerned at the end, really she hadn't. I'm losing it. I'm talking to him as if we are already mated and he probably doesn't even like me.

Talas be damned, why me. If he hadn't felt the bond, he wouldn't have liked me to begin with. These feelings are purely instinctual, nothing more to him. Alexia's head and shoulders slumped with the last thought, going silent as they did. She was 'just' a baby machine for a dragon (Something her mind was warring with seeing as the two species were still a bit haughty with each other over a old feud.) and she was meant to die to "save the land."

What do I do.…So much was happening in so little time.

Yes, when it rains…it pours.

Neigh ancient intelligence though constrained by a battle with instinct was still glowing behind his green eyes trying to bore into her head to read her thoughts. She had felt it too when he touched her, or she would never have agreed to go with him, beyond that she was impossible to read. Wanting nothing move than his name one second and the next....

His mouth opened and moved but the sound that came out was at the same time light and musical and yet with a harsh ring to it and the end of which he smiled almost as if challenging her to replicate it.

"Though most call me Methodius."

It was only after her reaction to his name that he allowed his eyes to leave her face and take in her marks. "And they wouldn't expect you to kill yourself?" On the surface his tone was lightly curious but there was an undercurrent that suggested in they so much as breather that she should the village would burn. It was a simple matter for him to pass the protective meaning off as protecting a creature of magic, no matter how estranged to his own kind against the machinations of humans. Even if the excuse was flimsy.

"And I'm afraid if you don't have a spare set of clothes....." Not that clothes would mask his scent, though it would take several Naga to gang together to be able go beat a full grown dragon even more to stop one escaping if he needed to.

Near the village outskirts of the village when His ears picked up the sounds of movement and alerted his eyes spotted a blue head of hair rounding a set of bushes. In one quick movement he enveloped Alexia in his arms pulling her against him and holding his wings over her hiding her form while retreating into hiding with green hide camouflaging his in the undergrowth.

In his awkward grasp Alexia squirmed moving against him until fr managed to pull his wing back to see who was approaching.
"Its alright I know her." She struggle to say as his grip tightened, his mind slipping. In a last effort to maintain control even as his teeth parted to mark her his wings parted and his hand whipped around her to push into her back, half shoving and half throwing her into Lilly's path.
Lilly felt a shock. Was that her friend Alexia? She hurried over to her friend, hugging her fiercely. "Alexia! What -has- been going on?" She asked, worriedly. She had a feeling she wasn't going to like the answer at all. But this was her best friend here, and she'd do whatever she had to in order to keep her safe. Even if the whole world proved to be against them. Alexia probably already knew that. Then she saw the mark of the chosen on her friend and sighed heavily. Yes, things were as bad as she thought. Well Lilly had a dark side too, and if anyone of ill intentions tried to approach, she'd be ready to stab them with her dagger or rip them apart.
Menevol made his way to the edge of the forest and stopped, looking a bit dazed. The sun was high in the sky, but he knew that the cover from the trees would block most of the light. This was a good thing as the Knight preferred the dark and shadow. His mind was beginning to rebel against him. It told him that the mission was a waste of his time and that he could care less about the Chosen, or any of the kings biddings, for that matter.

"I Am a Knight, not an Assassin!!." He yelled into the forest, for the moment, not caring about being heard. His own voice jerked him back into reality. He was a knight! And the only way to regain his notability would be to kill for the king. To hunt the chosen. To kill the chosen.

Leaves and small branches crunched under his massive boot clad feet as he walked into the forest. The tall trees that dominated the sky made Menevol feel small. For a moment he thought back to a time when he was just a child, tagging along behind his father. At 5 or 6, the young Menevol was full of life and laughter, nothing like the monster of a man that now strode through the thick forest. Sometimes thoughts of his life as a child would bring him great sadness, but in his post drunken, slightly crazy state it only made him curse his dead father.

After walking for what seemed like hours, Menevol decided that he must stop. A slow dark was drawing across the sky, it could only mean that night was soon to come. A small smile showed signs of forming around the edges of his mouth, but they were soon gone as he realized that he had forgotten to pack any extra booze. It was a damn shame, that meant there would be no way for him to drown out the constant voices that plagued his thoughts night and day. They were vicious and unrelenting, and constantly called to him. Telling him that his efforts were a waste and that he should end it all……..but he wouldn't let them win, not tonight.

Menevol found a spot that looked good to camp. He cleared a spot and began stacking wood for a fire. He piled some brush on top of some sticks and sparked it to life with a piece of flint and steel. The flame roared and made the shadows dance against the many trees that surrounded the camp. Menevol leaned up against a large tree, with his sword drawn across his lap. He dozed off, surrounded by the faces of men he had killed.

"Alexia! What has been going on?" Alexia hugged Lily back fiercely, she needed her friends comfort after all that had happened today. She waited till they stepped out of the hug to glance back where Methodius had been. No wonder Lily hadn't shrieked out. He had already vanished into the greenery around him, quickly and silently. Alexia gulped down the lump in her throat as she turned back to Lily, determined not to cry in front of her.

"I…well you can see why I was late today. Lily, I need a favor, could you bring my things to the pond and leave them under my favorite tree? You know my parents and the others wouldn't understand if they saw me. I promise I will fill you in more when I can." Alexia embraced her friend again, squeezing her tight and kissing her cheek in reassurance. If she could count on anyone it would be her Lily, this part of her day had worked out at least. "I'll see you, if I can, when you bring my stuff. Lily, I better go before I'm seen by one of the villagers. Cover for me?" Alexia broke away, even though she didn't want to leave her friend. Easily she disappeared out of sight and started going towards the pond, knowing Methodius would be behind her.

"What now." She sighed. The wind picked up and Alexia looked up at the tree branches rustling above her, waiting for Methodius to pop out of the woods and to start breathing down her neck again.

Between his wings a single eye peered. So she was sticking to her word, even having a friend bring her belongings. Two people now, neither human. A village had t be close and where there were buildings, even belonging to a Naga and one of the merfolk there were usually humans making this forest less than ideal. Still the though of being reduced to the subservient role of mount for Alexia and her belongings as they searched for a new home make him shiver.

He left his hiding place moving through the trees parallel to the path, following Alexia for a short way before jumping onto the trunk of a tree using hands, feel and taloned wings to climb to the lower branches sanding on one and looking back at Alexia's friend as she headed back to the village. He had had a glimpse into her life. A look that told him almost nothing but a look nonetheless. Turning to face Alexia's back he fell forwards wings snapping open tail and legs working to keep him stable pulling up to skim the ground fallen leaves stirred up in his wake.

"Alexia.." he warned giving her time to turn before his arms caught herm his wings beating taking them higher above The forest opening up below them like an ocean. Alexia hid her face trying not to look down. "Beautiful isn't it?" he asked wings still beating against their combined weight. Over the pond now, the still waters shining like a mirror, turning towards his home the trees forming a continuous blanket from this altitude, "Its my favorite way to see the world, from a distance."

Her head turned against his as she stole a peek of the world below immediately hiding her face again. Her fear wasn't helped by him backing and swaying in the crosswind of the way he pitching on time with the strokes of his wings. He didn't say any more as he searched for landmarks going onto a shallow dive once he got his bearings. Usually he'd plummet to the ground pulling up at the last second swooping all the way into the cave but holding her it took a few minuets before his feet hit the bare rock outcropping marking it's entrance.

He set her down. Swinging her onto her feet and making sure she was steady. "Here we are, where I live, at least for now. The land changes, but this place is the same as it was three hundred years ago then I was last here. And only those with wings can find it.