Episode 1: Atrophy.

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by The Fox and The Spider, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. “Beware of the viper, insipid and venomous creatures who wearthe skin of men. For where ever they may be found, only death can abound. They're harbingers not of safety, but of damnation. From them all omens are wrought and by their hand only seeds of despair are sown. For cursed are those which are of their house.” –Testament of Numara, 1217 Saint Gerald.-

    Saito De Vante.

    <o:p> "Episode 1: Atrophy."

    Rumors abound of a house where children are taken against their will. Their flesh altered through vile sorcery and alchemy as their souls fornicate with the devil himself. A black ritual and sacrament, in which the souls of the innocent are forever defiled. The truth behind their birth or creation is a well guarded secret. Though such tales sound whimsical, throughout the land it is considered truth. Any child of the house of vipers who dare to traverse these wretched realms will find only solitude. For the lowliest of beggars are held with higher regard by their fellow man than these mutants.

    Like a mechanical shrill, the harrowing of tragedy’s past still echoed within Saito’s dream. Every time he closed his eyes he recalled only pain. The truth behind his creation obscured by a blanket of swarthy magic. That he himself was powerless against. The only thing he could recall was what his body told him…that being it was immensely painful. The bumping of the carriage had finally awoken him from this state of torpor. This sudden jolt served as a catalyst for momentary confusion. His golden eyes frantically searching the cart before peering over the railings. There e saw a lush array of wild flowers and monstrous tree’s scattered across the scene.

    For three weeks he traveled with little rest and food. Hoping to prevent unnecessary bloodshed and perhaps line his pocket with gold. The Millen forest, rich in natural resources but home to many conflicts. The elves and man constantly at war with each other. With the other races caught in between. Being a viper he was not permitted to directly influence the affairs of nations. His business for being here was not to end the civil war; or grant rights of nonhumans. Instead what he sought was something far more implausible.The truth…

    For within the shadows of these towering trees, deep within the caverns and caves which adorn the distant mountains. Lurked an insidious blight, one no king would recognize. Those who live behind stone walls and sip on their honeyed teas refer to them as legends. While those which live within the forest without the illusions of safety know the truth. That something vicarious and maleficent by nature preyed on those foolish enough to call this land their own. A heavy sigh parting from his lips as the bouncing of the cart had begun to give him a headache. That or might have been all the whiskey he consumed on his way here.

    The clanking of these empty bottles would come to a halt as the cart passed through the mouth of a nearby settlement. A hunting and fishingtown praised for their quality furs and fish. As the cart came to a stop Saito would jump from the worn wooden cart, to the earth. Turning to face the driveras he tossed him a bag of coin. “Thank you.” He spoke with a smile. The driver shaking his head before rushing off. Knowing something bad was bound to happen. Even now the locals stopped and stared at Saito. The golden haired and eyed man stood out. The massive scar on his partially exposed chest was proof of his heritage.

    Without so much as a word or glance he would press onward, making his way toward the elder’s house. Waiting outside for their elder to greet him. For few welcomed his kind into their homes. The locals would gossip amongst themselves. Adorning him with such kind words as monster, an omen and a whores son. Such flaccid words were void of influence for he had grown accustoms to such treatment. It came as part of the job.
  2. Strikingly light blue eyes slowly opened and peered at the scene around her; a hotel room with one window, a single bed, small bedside table, and dresser. She'd been deep in meditation, gathering her thoughts and planning her day. Going over to the mirror, the young woman fixed her dark hair into a pony revealing pale pointed ears. Humans were quite easy to fool, which was the reason she hadn't been found yet. Not that it mattered one way or another to her. Though she was elven in blood, she by no means felt the need to partake in the petty squabbling of the elves and humans. She was merely in the area on business, but she knew better than to allow herself to be seen for what she truly was. Humans could be spiteful creatures who were easily gripped by gossip and lies, and their hatred could run deep; yet at the same time she knew too well the differently complex emotions of elves.

    The young elf was known as Araia, and her profession, as she liked to call it, was to seek whatever adventure she could. She'd left home long ago because of this, and had yet to return to face her father, who never did accept her decision. Either way, she explored the areas searching for her next adventure via rumors and legends. She'd been hearing quite the rumors and stories about the forest nearby this village and what may or may not occupy the hidden caves. Araia had traveled for some time now with a companion who, like her, had a taste for adventure. His profession, however, was more to record the adventures down to be regaled for the future, and create a map of their adventures. Warren, her companion, was a scribe and a cartographer as well as a human. Proving that humans and elves could still work together if they put their differences aside. Granted their first encounter was a bit rocky, but they patched things up and were quite good friends by this point. Soon after arriving in the city, however, during one of their explorations within the forest Warren was taken by some sort of creature and Araia hadn't seen him since. That was a few days ago, and she needed to find more answers in relation to the legend they'd come seeking.

    Making sure the hood was secure over her head, she gathered her belongings and slipped from the hotel to walk the streets of the hunting/fishing village once again. She wanted to speak to the village elder about what he knew of the forest and of any recent events occurring within the city. She moved with a purpose through the streets but eyes were not on her this date. It seemed that she wasn't the only one to attempt the company of the village elder. A golden haired male with a mark that quite easily distinguished him as a member of the house of vipers stood outside, waiting. What could one of the house of vipers be doing here? This was indeed an interesting sight, and one that poor Warren would be quite tickled about. Knowing him, he'd run right up to the male and start asking questions of him. The fool. The thought made Araia first slightly smile, but then quickly frown. A sense of missing her friend sweeping momentarily over her. Letting it pass she awoke as if from a dream and continued.

    Whatever the reason for the golden haired male being there, she too wanted a company with the elder. So she moved along and made her presence quietly known to the male with a slight nod of her head. No words were spoken.

  3. The people were congregating around the scene, their whispers becoming a concert of bantering. Some were frightened while others were so scared that they’d even accept help from one of his kind. Which only meant one thing, the situation must have been dire. Though he couldn’t say how many people have disappeared due to the elves as oppose to the monsters. Saito’s gaze drifting from the door to the strange woman who now stood at her side. His eyes taking note of her jet black hair and unnaturally blue eyes. Yet no words would he share with her, after all her business was her own.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The door to the home would creak open, as an old man with a wooden walking stick stepped forth from its mouth. His old eyes barely able to make out his surroundings, even navigating down those few steps seemed a chore. Saito’s eyes would narrow as thought began to course through his mind. Most who have been blind for sometime could move with ease about their home. The fact he couldn’t must mean he lost his vision rather recently. A soft chuckle parting from the old man’s lips as he finished closing the distance between them. His attention drifting from the young lady to the fabled monster.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “A ravishing young lady and a viper; the old beauty and the beast story incarnate.” He spoke with a subtle smirk, his sense of humor failing to rub off on Saito. Saito could sense something was odd about this man. He was hardly disturbed by his presence, furthermore the wounds surrounding his blindness seemed to reverberate a strange familiar aura. “And what can I do for the both of you eh?” He inquired into, the old man stroking his beard as he leaned a bit forward. Saito’s gaze drifted from the old badger and to the strange female before speaking first.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “The lack of shock you hold toward me is concerning…” Saito expressing his own disposition with the old man’s approach. “That is because you are the second monster I’ve seen this week. The other was filled with burdens, strong with eyes like an animal.” His reply caused the muscles in Saito’s face to shift to that of concern. “where Is she?” He asked, hoping it was his sister. “She? No it was a he. Unlike you he did not have such a soft voice. And judging by the reaction of my people you do not have his feral like face or demeanor. He came searching for a way to get into the tunnels. When I asked him why he only whispered it was God’s work.”
    <o:p> </o:p>
    This puzzled and concerned Saito greatly. But perhaps this man he spoke of, this monster was after the same goal. The fact his sister hadn’t arrived yet was also another matter for concern. Still for the moment he would focus on the mission. “And where can I find these tunnels? I have been sent by the house of vipers to end the infestation that haunts your land?” His word’s causing the old man to burst out laughing. “Which one? The elves? The monsters? Or our own bigot nature?” Saito would shake his head. “I care not for your politics, being a neither human nor elf I don’t see any need involving myself in your silly war.” The crowd would gasp at his words.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “You would dare insult our wise king? What of our wise God?”The old man would retort. “No king is wise, that is an oxymoron. Seeing how war by nature is foolish, void of any wisdom. Than what does that make your God? But I do not care to argue the validity of this war. I need only directions…” The crowd would murmur amongst themselves, the old man listening to his words. Allowing a moment of silence between the two to settle in. “Follow the eastern path to the mountains. Through the elven ruins , then head north to the base of the mountain. Look for the only tunnel covered in moss.” Saito would listen to the old man’s directions. Offering him a nod. “Thank you.”
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Waging his finger the old man would conclude with, “Please do not touch the treasure within the tunnels. We have lost them, but if we can reclaim them that resources and precious metals there can help save our village and aid in the war.”
  4. Araia listened to the conversation between the two men, her eyes carefully scanning between the two of them. She kept the hood up while they spoke, knowing full well that eyes were upon the group. Feral like demeanor? Another monster like the viper? There was more to whatever was going on. Her ears perked at the mention of the war, her gaze shifting a moment. At the mention of the viper's reason for being there her interest was certainly piqued.

    The eastern path was where Araia and Warren had been when he was captured. She wasn't aware of any elven ruins in this area, but she'd never been one to pay attention in the history classes. As her father would say, her head was always in the clouds. Treasure within the mountains? In her opinion the mountains belonged to no one so the treasure shouldn't be seen as property, least you were the mountain itself. No matter, it wasn't her place to talk about such things.

    After the old man finished there was a moment of silence before his eyes fell upon her next. She met his diminished gaze as she bowed slightly, "With all due respect, elder, one cannot lay claim to something that isn't theirs. Do you have ownership of this mountain? I would not think you'd want someone to come within your home uninvited and claim your belongings as theirs. Such is what you speak of in the case of the mountain. Resources are the property of the mountains."

    More whispers arose as she cleared her throat some, "I have come seeking your knowledge on the legends surrounding the forest and the caverns you speak of. However it seems that the legends may stem more from truth if there are indeed this many disappearances." She sensed the growing silence between them, surely the old man and everyone else nearby wondering what her purpose was here, so she continued. "I am but a simple traveler, seeking to find out the truth of things along this land. I traveled with a companion but they have gone missing in these very woods. I seek to retrieve him back and solve this mystery for you, if you'd be grateful enough of my services?" She gave a pleasant smile with another bow, awaiting the old man's response. Should he say yes, she'd bargain a price and then make her way. Should he say no, well...she'd still use the directions she'd overheard to at least find her friend. Either way, she would be traveling the forest again. Her eyes momentarily watched Saito while she waited as well.
  5. It would seem this stranger finally spoke, taking opportunity of the gap in between their conversation to express her own thoughts. Saito’s golden eyes drifting from that of the old stubborn man now resting in her general direction. The way she posed her thoughts, the subject manner itself; all served as a testament. Luckily for her both Saito and the old man were far too preoccupy to connect the dots and expose her true identity. The old man in particular found her words to be troubling. For it wa sin complete opposition toward his own wishes.
    <o:p> "</o:p><o:p></o:p><o:p></o:p>You sound like those bloody pointed eared savages. The mountain isn’t living so who cares if we claim it as our own? Next thing you know you’ll advise we start scalping like them bloody bastards. If you’re looking for your friend then by all means go find him. But you’ll see no coin for recovering him. His life is of no import to me.” Th elder frigidly posed his words. His reaction causing a frown to formulate on Saito’s face. Casually the viper would shake is head, permitting a heavy sigh to part from his lips. “Leave her alone old man. Ma’am if you wish you can accompany me. If he has disappeared and is still alive you have my words we’ll find him.”The golden haired man would retort. His words causing the elder to chuckle, for he found it amusing.
    <o:p> </o:p><o:p></o:p><o:p></o:p>“I didn’t know your type were capable of kindness mutant. If you resolve this issue I’ll offer you some coin. It is as I said I won’t give this wandering freeloader a single copper. Now if you’re going to help us then be gone. I am done conversing with your kind.” The old man concluded before returning inside. The gathering masses would also dissipate one by one. As Saito turned to face the troubled woman. “Let us be on our way. If you seek wealth you need only take a sizable withdrawal from their treasures. I am sure that will be more than adequate enough. Though I advise you refrain from following me. I cannot guarantee your safety after all.” The mutant concluded. Making his way toward the town’s exit. Not caring if the woman followed him or not. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p><o:p></o:p><o:p></o:p>
    From there he would head east, following the overgrown path until reaching a clearing. Those golden eyes of his observing his surroundings. Taking note of the distant mountains before drifting earthward. The viper would drop to his knees as he observed several tracks. “Elven scouts no doubt. And some of that of our monsters.” His eyes drifting toward a nearby tree. “Claw marks..Some dried blood. It seemed there was a battle here. There must be a decent population if it wandered this far. Nice to know it doesn’t discriminate between elven or man flesh. Luckily the elves were able to drive it back, but not before one of them was wounded. The tracks themselves are fresh, meaning it can’t be far. For a necrophage it is abnormally bold.” Saito whsiepred to himself before rising to his feet.
    <o:p> </o:p><o:p></o:p><o:p></o:p>
    Making his way toward the end of the clearing. “Human prints...and our monsters. The human was being dragged. Seeing how there was no blood he or she must still be alive. Why would the monster kidnap its prey? Something about this smells foul.”
  6. Somehow the reaction from the old man didn't seem to surprise her. Humans were a difficult breed sometimes, but again their depth of emotion still amazed her. Her face showed no emotional reaction to his harsh words, though in her mind she imagined a few ways to 'deal' with the old man. Respect for this particular human elder was not something in great quantity at this moment. Regardless, she remained silent to allow the man to finish his rant. Arrogance was simply ignorance.

    She glanced up as the blond haired male stood up for her. The old man made his mind clearly known to her, but she was quick to keep her temper at bay as the man returned to his abode. When it was all done and the crowds began to scatter, she remained. The male made an offer for her to join him and take what she wished as her payment. She didn't respond initially to his offer, but watched him travel toward the forest. A soft sigh escaped her lips as she stood now alone in the middle of the street. Her thoughts needed to be calmed, as she did have some annoyance from the entire ordeal. Feeling these emotions was only going to delay retrieving her companion, however, and it wasn't worth it to dwell on them. With a heavy sigh she turned on a light foot and followed after the footsteps of the male Viper.

    Araia kept her distance from Saito initially allowing him to track at his own pace. She wasn't weary about protecting herself if need be. She wasn't inept. She listened to what the man quietly said from a close distance. Her footfalls nearly inaudible to normal ears, though he may have sensed or heard her approach. She moved forward and took a glance at the tracks and then the surrounding area.

    "A few days old. I was here with a companion when we were ambushed by some beast. He was taken away through the forest and I was left momentarily unconscious. You have a good eye for tracks, but I am no scout." She felt no need to be hidden to this man. Reaching up she drew back her hood to reveal her full features and her race to Saito. Her light blue eyes peered him over once, "I wanted to gather some information on the creature and legends before I attempted to raid its lair. Perhaps food isn't as plentiful as they'd hoped but they are delayed in leaving to find more bountiful prey."

    Her head shifted as she scanned the area a moment. She felt they were being closely watched. Quickly she pulled her hood back up, "can you tell what direction they headed in?" she wasn't a great tracker but she had basic knowledge.
  7. It was as she had presumed; Saito sensed her approach before she removed her guise. Not due to the faint sounds of her elven stride, rather due to her unmistakable aroma. For long before she thought about revealing her true nature, the viper had already known. So no shock would plaster itself on his face as he turned to face her. His eyes unwavering in their resolve and purpose as he peered into those frigid cerulean eyes of hers. A heavy sigh parting from his lips as they drifted down toward the scene. The smell of the necrophage beast still heavy in the air. A disturbing sign as it hinted toward a rather recent evolution within the species.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “No, Necrophage class monsters consume the corpses of the dead and living. Often seeking nourishment from the marrow within the bones of their prey. They lack intelligence of any degree and tend to hunt alone. But there are a few problems…” Saito crouched as his finger moved about the scene. “There are two tracks here. Belonging to the same species, but different in overall mass. Your friend was dragged off, they don’t capture prey ever. There have been no known documented cases of such behavior. To make matters even more strange they returned to the scene. This shows a degree of intelligence not present in their kind.”
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Saito continued to ramble on, unsure if she understood his jabbering. Clearly displaying his knowledge regarding monsters. “Your friend is alive, I am sure of this. So are the others they’ve kidnapped. It seems they continued north, not toward the mountain but an old elven ruins. My guess is that there are systems of tunnels running under our feet. A vast network almost maze like.” He paused for a second before rising to his feet. “Consider yourself blessed, if they were normal your friend and most likely yourself would be dead. Why they left you alone eludes me? But I intend to find out.”
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Saito’s words were cold in the manner in which they were posed. A sign that the rumors of these mutants being unhuman and soulless may hold some extent of truth. “I suggest we hurry, if my theory is right I doubt they’ll remain alive much longer.” Heading north the mutant would make his way down the foliage covered pathway. A sign that few humans or elves traversed this path. The golden eyed male would turn his head, looking toward the elven female. “Why go through all this trouble? Correct me if I’m wrong…but don’t both the human and elven races despise each other? Is he some sort of lover to you?”
    <o:p> </o:p>
    His inquiry bold, and the way he spoke about humans reverberated unique vibes. Almost as if despite his human appearance he didn’t consider himself one.
  8. The man was knowledgeable in the creature that had taken her friend. That was good. It was what she was seeking from the old buffoon elder who seemed to have little to no sense. She listened quietly to Saito explain, all the while keeping her senses on high alert. If this was not the typical creature pattern, perhaps it wasn't the 'real' creature. If so, what was it and what was its purpose?

    Luck had never been something kind to Araia, otherwise she would not have left her family and clan. "I am far from blessed. I am still much to young." she calmly stated to Saito, not initially picking up on his meaning. If the beast were not discriminating against human, elf, or otherwise, then it was true that it was strange she was to be left alone. She quickly and quietly followed after him, examining the way he moved and processed his thoughts.

    At Saito's question, she only shrugged her shoulders, never stopping.

    "He is a companion. We had our quarrels, but not everyone hates. i personally do not affiliate myself with the war between humans and elves, I find it a sad waste of time. There was a time long ago that humans and elves did not quarrel, but lived in peace with one another. I prefer to try and remember those times. I suppose to the human's I would be considered a 'radical'. However despite the bad, which everything possesses, I find humans interesting. As for my companion. If by lover you mean are we in an amorous relationship then I can only say that upon the long and lonely road one finds comfort in a companion to travel with. I suppose you could say we are friends, but we respect one another."

    Certainly on some nights Araia and Warren would share a bed together, passion was best satiated with someone you trusted and cared about. Love, however, wasn't something she'd consider their relationship. Which was why she often referred to Warren as her companion instead of 'lover' or the sort. The thought that Warren might be harmed soon did not sit well with her. He was still a dear friend to her, and she would protect those who were friend with her own life if need be. Her demeanor never changed from a curious determination as they traveled. Her footsteps suddenly stopped as she listened around. Something wasn't right about this. Something was terribly wrong.

    A frown came to her lips as she listened to the sigh of the wind and the creek of the trees around them. Her eyes shifted as she drew her swords, "We are being watched." she said quietly, "there is a great danger near. It's not the same as when I was last attacked, but it's similar. Slightly weaker, but still a threat."

    A strong gust of wind blew toward them at that moment as she frowned deeply.
  9. Saito abruptly came to a halt as this strange even woman began to spew forth her hatred for the war. And it seemed she had a lot to say on the subject. Silently he would listen, permitting silence to brew between them for a moment. Casually those golden eyes of his would once more find themselves wandering toward the she elf. His lips contorting to grace her with a grin, finding her to be at the very least amusing. Which was a blessing seeing how it seemed they would be traveling with one another for some time.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “I am neither human nor elf. Their affairs are of little interest to me. Perhaps this is frigid of me? Perhaps not? Ultimately I consider all wars to be foolish, void of wisdom. It matters not if it is waged under a banner of justice or a king trying to reclaim his bastards. In the end it generally amounts to one thing, pride.” Saito words seemed both cold yet honeyed at the same time. Almost as if much like the elves, he had seen far more years than his physical appearance let on. With a heavy sigh he would raise his hand, gently scratching the back of his head as he turned to face her.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “I am sorry for your friend. Whether you know it or not you’re both blessed. If things had played out differently fitting the norm most likely you’d both be ded right now. Your carcasses being digested within the belly of these beasts. But I feel as if we’ve wasted enough time. Let us proceed less we dawdle for too long.” The viper truthfully couldn’t relate to her plea. This became quite apparent as he failed to even attempt to comfort her. Though he doubted very much that she required or desired his sympathy.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    But before they could advance much further a foul wind twirled throughout the woodlands. Bringing it with it a familiar scent, though he doubted very much it was that of the original monster. For it smelled far too clean for one who breeds only death. Shortly after his keen animal like senses picked up on the odor, the elven female would declare what he perceived as obvious. Turning around to face her, his eyes would attempt to lock and peer within that of her own. “I know, friends of yours I take it? I have yet to make any enemies in these parts and it is unlikely the scent is that of our target. For one it smells somewhat clean and for two I hear wheezing. It is either mildly ill, out of shape or addicted to some sort of drug which interferes with its lungs capacity.”
    <o:p> </o:p>
    How Saito could deduce this much would in all likely hood elude his new companion. Though whether or not she understood the extent of his perceptions would remain irrelevant. Seeing how her knowledge or beliefs failed to alter the reality of affairs. The arches of his lips would be tugged, permitting a sly old grin to now adorn his rugged face. His dominant right hand drifting ever so slowly toward the hilt of his blade. A sword which in its own right seemed far more alien and perhaps monstrous than that of the wielder. “Try not to get it’s blood on you. It’ll make you easier to track and serve as a form of Aphrodite for these creatures. Hough if you were to attract some more whom would be focused on you, than I could capitalize and take them out whilst they are distracted.” He concluded.
  10. Blessed. The thought amused her slightly. She was far from blessed according to her father. Still. Saito was a curious individual. She listened carefully as her elven ears flickered some, "I haven't been here long enough to make enemies, unless some humans got wind of my race" she gave an innocent smile. As he continued to speak about getting blood on her she calmed and shrugged as she drew her own sword. It was a carefully crafted long blade with intricate runes and enchantments engraved along the steel. "Lets play this one by ear" she simply responded.

    The bushes rustled as the creatures came closer. They were chatting about one thing or another, but Araia could not understand their dialect. Soon they would appear and come face to face with Araia who stood there quietly. There were three of them. One was tall and skinny with green skin and a crooked nose. The second was short and stout with a pig-like nose. The third was rather large with tusks jutting from his lower jaw. Goblin-like creatures they weren't pretty to behold. Probably nothing more than peons sent to scout the area for some other creature. The three stopped their conversation, filled with grunts and growls, and stared at the young elf woman who stood before them. They began to speak in their own dialect once more trying to hush their tones.

    "Eh, what's this? A woman?"

    "An elf woman! I can smell her scent! *snort* Ha. Disgusting."

    "Disgusting or not she's staring at us. She could be useful."

    "why don't we just kill her? I'd much rather eat her bones. I'm so hungry since we last gathered..."

    "In due time. We have to be careful how we approach this or its our hides instead."

    The last to speak, the thin crooked nosed one approached Araia who had been standing and simply listening. Her sword was drawn and at her side, the blade faintly glowing as the creature approached. As the thin one approached she extended her sword, the tip pointed gracefully at the creature's throat. He hesitated and glanced at the blade then up at her, "Hostile much are we? We are passing through, no need to harm us." he spoke with a sugary tone that was almost soothing. He was trying to enchant her, pull her emotions into his favor and get him to trust her. She wasn't going to be foolish enough to fall into his trap.

    She didn't speak to the creature instead she took a side step as a small knife embedded itself in the tree behind where she'd been standing. Her gaze never left his as the creature gave a sly grin and his nails extended into talons. With a hiss he made his second move as Araia easily evaded and brought her sword gracefully around. It sang as it moved through the air and sliced into the tender flesh of her attacker. The creature howled in pain as his arm fell to the ground with a soft thud. Araia brought her sword back around into a ready position as the other two took a step back watching. A fire burned in their eyes, they were angry. Good. Her lips finally curled into a grin as she beckoned them to come closer in a mocking way, their friend simply writhing on the ground as dark blood sprayed from his missing limb.

    The other two looked at one another and then at Araia as the short one drew a crudely made spiked mallet and the larger one wielded a large blade (large being a relative term as the largest width of the blade was about half as wide as Araia herself). The smaller one would go for Araia while the larger would set his sights on Saito. The short one took a swing with his mallet as she easily evaded it, but she was taken off guard as the mallet suddenly extended and the blunt end slammed into her side sending her backwards. Staggering on her feet she held her side and coughed as the wind was momentarily knocked from her. The short one grinned, his pig nose flaring happily, "Not bad, but you'll have to do better than that" he spoke. Preparing for another swing.

    Of course they weren't going to play fair. Regaining her senses she dashed forward and around in a zig-zag pattern before jumping into the air and hurling her blade down toward her opponent. Using his mallet he swung to knock the blade away, which was what she'd hoped, as it landed upright in the ground. The blade then extended toward her as she carefully calculated her movements and shifted faintly to allow her hands to hit the blunt tip of the mallet so she could push herself off into a flip. Once in the air again she drew two thin needle like weapons and threw them down. The short creature shifted his weight and brought the mallet over taking another swing at Araia while she was mid air. Beneath her cloak she wore special crafted armor that was thin but flexible. As the mallet came toward her she drew her arm up to take the blunt of the spiked force. She was thrown toward the ground as she shifted her weight once again for a safer landing. When she hit with a rather loud thud the force would once more knock the wind out of her.

    The entire while the short one laughed but as soon as she hit the ground he also began to scream. The thin needle objects Araia had thrown had lodged themselves into the creature's head. One stuck through an eye and the other in the ear. Getting herself back to her feet, Araia held her arm close to her body, some blood trickling from a wound. While the short one pulled out the thin needles, she quickly moved for her sword, pulling it out of the ground and approaching the short creature from the side. With quick movements she thrust the sword through his chest, slaying him. Pulling her blade out she turned to see how Saito was fairing. Her injured arm throbbed some, but she'd live.

  11. The events which had transpire did so relatively quickly. Which was ofttimes the case in Saito's experience. Though the viper was unable to hear their exchange of words, he could pick up their scent. Though it would seem the elven woman's ears were far more keen than his own. His eyes would narrow as the monsters crept from the foliage, standing before them. Sadly these beings were far too weak to be their main targets. Nor did they seem worth the effort of disposing. These insects were but a symptom of the necrophage not the root of the problem. They could hack away at these weeds all day only to have more creep out of the wood work. The golden haired male doubted very much that such simpletons would let them pass unchallenged. Though challenge was not a word he would liken to them. For such a compliment was far beyond their level of merit.

    "I hate pointless battles. I don't suppose you'd be as kind as to let us pass? After all I just got this new coat and I'd hate for it to become stained so quickly."
    The mutant grinned as these words spewed forth from his abominable mouth. Mildly taunting them already knowing any pleas would inherently fall on deafen ears. Things regrettably would transpire as predicted, the lot of monsters would engage them. The smaller of which focusing on the female as the larger made it's way toward Saito. "What a chore..." Saito would whisper under his breath, his fingers drumming against the hilt of his sheathed blade. With a single fluid motion the hoarse whisper of metal friction against steel pierced the normal clamor. A harrowing tale of the death to come. A morbid muse to his ears which he both relished yet detested.

    Assuming a proper stance the blade would remain balanced, pointed outward toward his target, His left hand resting behind his back as the mutant rocked back and forth. His left leg sliding forward, kicking up a thin cloud of dust. Which would dissipate quicker than it was birthed. It seemed his partner preferred the use of acrobats, needlessly jumping throughout the scene. Vibrant display of her endurance and flexibility, a style which resembled that of his sister. Though Saito was more than capable of doing so himself, he was far too slothful. Waiting for his prey to make a move, using their own momentum against them. Far less flashy but just as efficient in his own opinion. It came as no shock that these mindless monsters would assume such a simple tactic. Foolishly presuming that the female was weaker than the male, or incapable of defending herself. Something this viper knew was naught always the case.

    A lesson regrettably it seemed the smaller of the two would learn far too late in life. As the elven female tended to her opponent Saito would hop backwards, dodging each strike his opponent sent his way with a sense of efficiency Minimizing his movements whilst still possessing a sense of elegance in his foot work.
    "Stand still!" The being would bellow, it's voice raspy. The arches of Saito's lips would contort subtly, plastering a grin on his rugged face. "Now that wouldn't be any fun now will it? Plus I rather enjoy life so I'd prefer not to die. How about you drop your weapon and walk away, I promise you no harm if you do so." His words only seemed to further rile the beast up, his attacks become more violent and disorganized as it swung at him in every which direction. Occasionally in order to prevent harm to either himself or his coat Saito would deflect the attack with his blade. The clashing sound reverberating across the woodlands as sparks flew skyward.

    "Never human! I will kill you and feast off of your bones."
    Such a crude and vivid thought now floated around in Saito's mind. "That hardly sounds pleasant ..I suppose you leave me no choice than. I'll have to half ass some amount of effort." His retort bordering on pure egoism. "You talk big for a human. But all you've done so far as hop backwards like a scared hare!" The being would reply, thrusting forward as his feet dragged against the ground. Leaving a subtle mark on the soil. Saito would sigh, now seeing his opening. Rather than jump backwards the viper would permit his feet to remain planted. Shifting his weight to endure the coming impact. Blocking vertically with his blade before altering his feet ever so subtly to the right. Pushing his blade to the left so that the creatures weapon was sent mildly in the opposite direction. For a fraction of a second their eyes would lock.

    Those once vibrant eyes of his became frigid like ice. The beast could feel the cold touch of death wrapping around it's throat. In a fluid motion resembling a waltz, a waltz of death. The mutant would quickly lower his blade before jumping forward, spinning in the air. The monster's eyes could barely follow his movements, what appeared to be a second seemed like minutes in his mind. As Saito hurled through the air above him, his head pointing downward. He would make three quick slashes. The first of which would connect with it's right shoulder, the second its throat and the final it's left shoulder. If one wasn't paying very close attention they would see but a single strike.

    Landing gracefully across from the beast Saito would flick his blade. Sending the blood which adorned it earthbound. Permitting the crimson fluid to decorate the woodland's floor. Staining the few leaves his impact caused to twirl in the air. For but a moment they would linger before once more nesting on the ground. Turning his back toward the monster who seemed petrified, frozen with fear. Sighing heavily as he sheathed his blade with grace and respect for the monster.
    "B-B-but how? No human can move that fast?" The beast would question. "What waste of your final words..." He paused as he turned to face the creature, their eyes locking for the last time. "You made one dreadful error, you assumed I was human and underestimated me. To make matters worst...you were simply too slow. Even now you seem unaware that you're already dead." He concluded.

    The monster would chuckle, finding his words to be amusing.
    'Nice bluff, but no mere human can ki..." But before he could finish those words Saito would snap his fingers. His wounds now exploding causing a spray of crimson mist to spew across the scene. The monster would fall to it's death, a puddle of warm blood forming in deaths wake."Luckily for us both...My coat remained unstained." He would retort, watching as the ghost vanished from the beings eyes. Turning his head just enough so that his golden pools could lock onto the frame of the elven woman. Not truly caring if she had witness the events. And willing to lend any medical or combat aid, should she request it. After all he had no interest in wounding her honor.
  12. Araia watched Saito work with a slight sense of awe. The viper was indeed skilled, as the stories had told, but there was more to it. Most tales regaled a brute-like animalistic quality in the vipers, but there was something almost poetic in his movements. By the end of it all, Saito cast Araia a glance. She stood there calmly, leaning on her sword some with her good arm. The pain had dulled to an ache, but she'd probably still have to look at it. The creature's spikes were harder than she'd anticipated, but her armor was strong. With two dead on the field and a third slowly dying she drew her gaze away as she set her sights on the crooked nosed one who had staggered back to its feet in a pathetic and feeble manner.

    Her eyes were emotionless as she stalked toward him and swung her sword around as it pointed once more at his throat. Events had come full circle and they once more stood as they had. Hatred spewed from the being as he seethed at her. She only stared him down, "Who sent you?"

    The creature snorted and laughed, his breath rancid with a slow death and his intentions clear as day. He began to curse at her in his foul tongue of grunts and snarls. She could pick out a few choice words from his broken dialect, but she remained unfazed. Un-amused by his stalling tactics she kicked him over onto his back and once more pointed the sword at his throat. "Who is it you're working for you filthy scum?" she spoke in the creature's tongue. If nothing else she'd always been quick to pick up languages, and it came in handy. Traveling so long, it was easy for her to simply combine what she knew of similar languages to get close to whatever tongue this creature spoke. He looked up at her momentarily surprised and then began to laugh.

    "You're accent is as horrible as my mother's face!" She rolled her eyes some and pressed the heel of her shoe down hard into the creature's sternum as he squealed in pain. "I would not say! Kill me now for all I care! It won't matter! You'll be dead anyways! Everything here will die!" he continued to laugh, spittle coming from the corners of his mouth. Having quite enough of this creature she thrust her blade down and through his throat as he fell lifeless. Pulling her blade back she shook off the black blood as she looked up at Saito.

    "Well that was fun, shall we be on our way then?" Cleaning her blade on the creature's clothing she sheathed it and moved toward Saito. Pulling back the sleeve of her tunic, the shimmering armor was seen. Dents in the armor were seen from the impact of the mallet and a few small puncture holes, but all and all she seemed fine. "Great, I'll need to get that fixed." she said with a sigh as she removed the cuff and began to examine the wound beneath. It was bruised and slightly bleeding but she'd live. They still had a journey ahead of them, and she wanted to cover as much ground as they could.

    Though she didn't necessarily outwardly show it, she was quite concerned about Warren. She'd be gravely upset if he were killed from all this due in part to her lack of protection. Perhaps the run-in with these creatures was nothing more than a mere co-incidence, though somehow she doubted it.
  13. Saito cared not for the gargled banter this creature called a language. The viper knew this would inevitably wind up a waste of their time for it was doubtful such a pawn knew anything of import. Let alone would it be willing to soil the last thing it possessed these fleeting moments...it's honor. With eyes drifting from Araia those heavy golden pools of his would venture into the tree line. It wouldn't be far now before they reached the jaws of the tunnel. Whatever it was which lurked within it's swarthy shadows would prove far more menacing than these insects. Which only meant Saito would actually have to work harder than usual. What a bother, the very thought causing him to shrug his shoulders as a heavy exhale parted from his lips.

    Snapping back into reality as the elven woman referred to the recent events as fun. This notion alone evoked an arch of the brow as once more his eyes found themselves her way. Arms casually folding against his chest before glancing over at the carcass.
    "You know most women find walks on the beach to be fun...This not so much." Saito proclaimed, the muscles along his lips tugging, gracing her with a faint smirk. As if he found something humorous. "But I suppose that makes you one of a kind...I suppose this Warren fellow is one lucky man." He'd jest, poking fun at her concern for her friend.

    Though she may have tried her best to guise the reasoning behind her desire to rush. It was painfully obvious what her motives were. Even a blind man could see this much and last time Saito check he still possessed his vision.
    "Mask it as you will..it is only natural to be concerned for your boyfriend. Its okay though we all need a damsel in distress I suppose. So let us be off to save the charming prince!" Saito retorted sarcastically, one of his finer traits. Albeit also one which often landed him directly into trouble. Though it wasn't as if he was incapable of defending himself however. So in the end it probably just balanced itself out.

    The two of them would continue their journey, pressing onward down the foliage covered path. The distinct harmony of the birds echoing throughout the distance. A promising sign that nothing insidious lurked around the corner. The sound of leaves and twigs snapping beneath the influence of their weight would puncture the wilds clamor momentary. The shade from the tall tree's provide comfort from the beating rays of the sun. A good sign that the birds of the air remained ever vigilant. As they made their way toward the Elven ruin Saito's mind would once more begin to drift, this time he would voice his concern.
    "Do you remember the old village elder you were so fond of? He mentioned another monster requesting information regarding these tunnels. I know it wasn't my sister for she leaves quite the lasting impression. What do you suppose he means? I sense no one of my kind in these parts..." Unsure of what she thought of the matter, if anything at all.

    Turning his head to face her as they walk, his eyes attempting to lock with her own as a goofy grin decorated his rugged face. His right hand gently rubbing the back of his head.
    "Sorry it's probably enough. Whoever this other man monster thing is I am certain is dead. That would explain why I can't sense this other viper." He'd conclude, not sounding fully convince. For the mutant wasn't the type to simply rule something out due to improbable circumstances alone.
  14. She quickly bandaged her wound and replaced her gauntlet as they walked and she listened to his words. Her eyes met his with an amused glint in them, though no smile or smirk came to her own lips, "We are each one of a kind and unique. Warren is no more lucky than the next human." she said with an off hand shrug. As Saito continued to refer to Warren as her boyfriend she tilted her head slightly and gave him a sideways glance, "He is merely a companion. Though a good one, and I fear that his folly may be due in part from my lack of ability to properly protect him as we'd established. I am young and still foolish in my own ways."

    They drew closer and Saito continued to share his thoughts, much to Araia's amusement. A the mention of the old elder her lips thinned out to show her displeasure of the old man. Saito seemed to have a sister, but he also seemed concerned about the individual who had tried to gather information prior to either their appearances. "There are many stories about this land and the creature that inhabits it. Surely the man has a great sum for whomever can rid them of it. Probably nothing more than another traveler after a reward."

    Saito continued and she sensed some unease in his voice, but did not comment on it. It wouldn't take them long before the scenery began to change. The naturally occurring rocks would start to take form of carefully crafted walls that had long since eroded. Araia would pause and lay her hand on one of the moss covered rocks that had chipped away to show old runes upon them, "Long forgotten and drifted away. They've gone to the better realm to live out their days I'd imagine. This is not a place that was destroyed but abandoned" she brushed away some moss to look at the runes a moment. A different tribe but they were elven all right. They were headed in the right direction.

    "So you have a sister then?" she decided to strike up idle conversation now to fill the gap as they shifted their direction northward. They were making good time, but she still pressed onward, "Are you two close?"

  15. The two were dawning closer and closer to their target it wouldn't be long before they reached the Elven ruins. Where the elder informed them a possible entrance to the tunnels might be. The foliage which once littered the pathway had begun to be more and ore crushed and brushed to the side. A sign that recently life had passed through these parts. And not that of your typical wild nature. Unless of course there was some sort of mas migration he was ignorant of. But seeing how they still had sometime Saito felt it necessary to answer her questions. They wouldn't make it out of the darkness if either of them expected an arrow in the back. And so as the viper came to an abrupt halt, he would crouch down his fingers tracing around the brush as he addressed her comments.

    "I suppose that makes sense. I was only poking fun just to kill sometime." He paused for a split second as his eyes traveled ground ward. Noticing how the grass and been pressed into the ground. But not with enough weight to leave a solid print. An odd sight, but one of comfort. It meant that whatever made most of these tracks were small. Most likely a band of Kobolds who were forced out of the depths of the tunnels by the necrophage. "My sister eh?" Saito chuckled briefly as he once more rubbed the back of his head. Ruffing up his hair as he looked back up at her. "We're not related by blood, we sorta just fell into each other and have considered ourselves family since. Let's just say that she would kill me if I hadn't stricken down that monster back there right off the bat. She is frigid, calculative direct yet a bit whimsical in her execution. I do love her, and she loves me. But she's handed me my own rear plenty of times."

    Most might find the way he spoke of her troubling as if she were some sort of hard charging power crazed maniac. In truth this was accurate but he left out her softer traits which seldom reared their heads amongst strangers. It was at this time that Saito noticed boot prints, rising upright as he turned to face her.
    "It seems the other monster hunter was here...I can't tell if he was being chased or was chasing something. He's big, heavy most likely 6 foot and 230 pounds. My sister may e fat but not even she's that big." He murmured the last part under his breath. making his way once more down the trail.

    "Let us move on. I feel as if the entrance isn't far and most likely near the ruins. Trust me I never miss a thin...." But before he could conclude this thought Saito stepped onto some soft ground, which instantly gave way to his weight. A sign that something was digging here recently...and with much haste. Even the ground beneath the elves feet would collapse like a deck of cards. Into the abyss they'd fall, and fal, and fall. Until they slammed against a bright blue overgrown mushroom which illuminated the tunnel. The sponge like material deferred and consumed the momentum as it fell apart. Spore dancing across the scene like fire flies. They had stumbled into the entrance it had seemed. Or at least a new one.

    "Are you ok?" Saito inquried into as he slowly forced himself up. His old back cracking due to the strain. "I am far too old for this..." He whispered under his breath his right hand massaging the back of his neck.
  16. Araia listened carefully to Saito's words but seemed more focused on her surroundings. The ruins were old and she stepped carefully as she went along. Saito was saying something about the entrance when suddenly the floor beneath them gave out. She attempted to try and escape the fall but the ground gave way much to quickly as she felt herself free falling into the darkness below. Even her heightened senses did not allow her to see through the dense darkness as they fell further and further into the ground.

    Their fall was broken by a spongy spore that seemed to give off light. Shifting her weight some as they landed she managed to roll to the side and land in a crouched position. Saito hit with a loud bang that made even her cringe some. The poor guy. He asked of her well being and then seemed to whisper something about his age. Araia came closer toward him, making sure her belongings were still upon her, "I'm alright. Also you do no seem too old to be falling through weakened ground. Perhaps too heavy, but never too old." she grinned some as she looked around. The spores still lingered in the air giving a faint blue hue around them, but there was still more light source.

    Araia moved toward the nearest wall and placed her hand against it closing her eyes a moment and listening, feeling, sensing. It wasn't so much the earth spoke to her, but that she felt through it. "These walls are very fresh, perhaps no more than a couple months old. They were crudely carved out as well, they were in a hurry." The tunnel seemed to branch off into three different directions. Faint light could be seen down each one, but the source was unclear. Even in this dark room the spores had settled but a very faint shimmer still remained. "So three choices, which one do we pick?" she asked curiously as she turned toward Saito. These tunnels gave her a bad feeling, but she wasn't about to turn back now.
  17. The dampened air was rich with the aromas of various Fungi. These Fungi seemed magical in natural, giving off a radiant light and gentle warmth. Even now as the spores danced about both Saito and Araia there was an almost awe inspiring beauty about them. Light shards of light which for a moment did dance and linger. Only to be swallowed by the far more potent darkness. These tunnels gave off an alien vibe, a vibe that reverberated ill for the viper. Almost as if something insidious lurked within the curtain of shadows. With eyes filed with a deep and vicarious hunger. His nostrils would widen and ears twitched as he picked up on a faint wheezing.

    As if this being could sense his awareness towards it's location, the breathing would abruptly halt. The subtle clamor of talons clanking against the stones wall for a moment echoed throughout this network. Only to give birth to an eerie silence.This was a hostile land, surface beings such as themselves had no place in. It had seemed that both the elven beauty and the scruffy old man found themselves being cast deep into Salem's lot. A den of lions all to eager for an easy meal. This epiphany evoked his face to become scrunched together, as if something was squirming within his gut. The mutant would find himself being yanked form his meditative state.

    The notion of Araia poking fun at him caused the muscles along his lips to tug. A sly grin now plastering itself on his rugged face. His right hand gently stroking his five o' clock shadow. A soft chuckle parting from his lips, finding her sense of humor to be refreshing compared to their current situation.
    "Ouch, I admit I haven't worked out of late but no need to be so cruel." He'd jest, patting his abdomen. Those golden eyes darting from one wall to the next. Taking note of her observations, finding them to be quite sound. It seemed that he wasn't the only one with a keen eye and perspective mind.

    "Ahh you noticed it as well? The only question I find troubling is why...and for what reason? But I suppose our mission lies elsewhere." He'd reply, noticing the multiple passage ways which was problematic to say the least. if only his sister was here, she had a way better sense of direction than him. "Well don't you have the woman intuition or whatever?" he'd inquire into shrugging his shoulders. Suddenly a rock would fly through the air, hitting Saito in the back of his head. Falling face first for he was caught off guard.

    Show Spoiler
    Show Spoiler

    "Idiot! You're just as useless as ever!" The voice which pierced the darkness was feminine, frigid yet stern. From the shadows she would leap with uncanny speed and grace. Landing on top of Saito's back, placing her right foot on the back of his head, forcing his face into a filthy puddle. This woman was strong, she wielded an unbridled sense of authority. Her eyes shielded by some sort of cloth, which emitted some sort of magical energy. Her coat identical to Saito's except instead of clinging tightly to her frame, it dangled ground ward wrapped tightly to her hips.

    Her upper body adorned in some sort of chest plate that exposed the deep x shaped scars. Something about this newcomer seemed odd, despite being visually impaired she seemed to have no trouble navigating her environment.
    "Hello sister...Good to see you too." Saito replied, chuckling weakly. Mitsusawa's attention darting toward the elven woman confused why such a beauty would be traveling with an oaf like her brother. "I'm sorry you've had too put up with this buffoon for so long." she'd state. "Hey sis which way should we go?" Saito would interrupt, his sister jumping from off his back. her fingers now drumming against the hilt of her twin sheathed blade which remained fastened to her hips.

    "Really? You can't sense them through the darkness?" She'd scold her brother once more. "I suppose I should of expected as much...the middle path." She would answer his question as Saito lifted himself from the ground. Patting the dirt from off his new coat. "How long have you been here?" Saito would ask, Mitsusawa shaking her head as his words reached her ears. "For awhile now, up until now I remained undetected...until your clumsy footing stirred up the hive." Saito would brush off her scolding tone, finally recalling his manners. "Where are my manners? Araia this is Mitsusawa my lovely sister." The viper finally introduced them, the other mutant however would say nothing. As if her attention was focused elsewhere.
  18. Araia was awaiting Saito's answer when suddenly he fell forward from a rock thrown from the shadows. Araia herself had prepared to fight another monster when the newcomer jumped forward onto Saito. Though her guard remained up, the interaction between the two told Araia they knew one another. Finally Saito remembered his manners and introduced the spry woman as his sister, Mitsusawa. Relaxing some, she nodded toward the woman, who seemed focused on something else.

    "The oaf isn't so bad. He was kind enough to assist me in the village and become a guide. It is a pleasure to meet you, mitsusawa, Saito speaks fondly of you" she gave a polite smile before turning toward the middle path. The breathing that had stopped before seemed to radiate once more from that tunnel. Her focus came to the tunnel as she seemed almost in a daze. For her, it was as if the earth itself were breathing and living. The deep bellows of air from earlier were simply the tunnel's way of saying 'hello there..I'm watching you'.

    Finally she came back to her senses as she turned toward the two, "Shall we?" She didn't wait for an answer before she moved forward toward the middle tunnel. Once more her mind began to wander toward her companion Warren. What was happening to him, and was he still alive? If harm comes to you, I will avenge your passing She thought to herself.

    Where the blue spores gave off light from their landing, embedded within the walls of the tunnels themselves were small flecks of gems which glimmered softly and gave off a very faint warmth. The vast amount of them within the earth gave enough light to see by. Stranger yet as they walked passed the gems their light seemed to grow brighter, as if they somehow fed upon their movement or energy. For as they passed the light would once more dim and behind them would be the engulfing darkness. There was an irresistible curiosity that lingered in the tunnel. What were these strange gems within the ground itself? What gave this earth a sense of power? There was something more going on with these tunnels and the monsters than was let on.

    Despite the curiosity one felt, there was always the underlined heaviness that followed as well. Mitsusawa had called this place a hive. But a hive of what? "What have you been able to find out of these caverns in the time you've been here?" she asked at length, the heaviness growing more the further they traveled. She had a bad feeling about all of this.

  19. Few surface worlders have ever set foot under the heartless stone ceiling that is the Underdark. Those who do find themselves embracing the frigid firm grip of death, while those few who survived to see the light of their world, find their perception warped. Their being forever morphed by the darkness and the horrors that do lurk under its swarthy guise. A realm outside the reach of their near limitless cerulean skies, and warm kiss of their precious beating sun. Here the Drow thrive, a society built around conspiracy and betrayal, an endless mire of struggle. Houses constantly battling for Lolth’s favor, the dark spider queen who weaved a web of power within this belly of stone.

    <o:p> </o:p>

    Such a realm did not welcome their kind, even now as they made their descent whispers traveled of their trespassing. The Drow have known for some time the identity and nature of these beasts that plagued the surface. But cared not to lift a single finger. For the affairs of the other races were seldom in alignment with that of the Drow. A Xenophobic and reclusive race harboring resentment toward those surface faeries who betrayed them. Casting them into this dark abyss in the blind hope that the Drow would succumb to her cruel and only rule, that being survival of the fittest.

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    But the Drow survived, adapted and evolved to coup with this world of shadows. In part due to the blessings wrought by their Spider Queen Lolth. A nefarious entity that remained the center of drow religion and culture since it’s conception. It had yet to cross either Saito or Araia’s mind where exactly they had fallen to, however Mitsusawa was more than aware of their location. Partly the reason why she remained on edge, for the Drow are far more terrifying and imposing than any beast.

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    Silence would greet them, as the hive stirred beneath their feet. Awakening from their state or torpor due to the disturbance birthed from the two newcomers sudden entry into their world. But as quickly as they stirred, the rocks would utter their abrupt halt. Silence embraced them, as if they were terrified of another’s presence. At first Mitsusawa would foolishly assume that the increase in their party size was the reasoning behind this. Soon to discover such assumptions were conceived out of ignorance.

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    “You must have unique taste in company.” She would jest, her words evoking Saito to arch a brow. Though he knew better than to protest his sister’s words. A soft chuckle parting from her lips as she admired this elven woman’s formality. “My how refreshing, someone who shows monsters such as ourselves some respect?” She’d question out loud, portraying her admiration if nothing else. Saito offering a sly grin as they continued down the dark and narrow passage.

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    “That’s a rather bleak way of describing us, wouldn’t you agree sister?” Saito dared to question, Mitsusawa failed to be amused by his words. “Clearly not.” She retorted, her mind now flirting with the inquiry posed by their guest. “Indeed, I know where we are…” The female viper paused momentarily as they made their way out from the narrow passageway into an open field. Adorned in various glowing fungi and large stalagmites that reached all the way up to the ceiling. Though the lack of light kept such observations hidden from their sight. “Are you going to tell us or not sister?’ Saito questioned, meaning to do so to himself. Accidently posing it audibly, earning a swift and cold glare from his sister.

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    “Of course!” Mitsusawa bellowed, her voice stern obviously differing from her brother in many aspects. She seems strict, cold, calculative and always thinking ahead. While her sibling seemed lazy, free spirited yet still possessed a quite strength in his swordsmanship. And unlike her, he didn’t seem to relish combat, nor have a hunger for blood. One might even begin to wonder if these two were actually related in the first place. “We are in the upper levels of the und—“

    <o:p> </o:p>


    But before she could finish the thought, from the shadows a voice did creep. It purred with insidious intent, feminine in nature, yet insipid. Her words a toxin corrosive in nature that seemed to devour the resolve of even one as unwavering as Mitsusawa.
    “Underdark, A land fit for only the Drow.” Saito’s ears would twitch as he turned toward the darkness, hand’s resting along the hilt of his sheathed blade. His caution necessary, only earning a chuckle of amusement from the female Drow. Oh how ignorance was bliss…

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    “Stay your hand viper! I am not here to kill you…” She proclaimed, her words unconvincing to Saito. “What proof can you offer?” He dared to inquire, if he were a male Drow she would have ripped out his tongue by now. But seeing how he was of the surface, she would pardon such transgressions. “If I wanted you dead I would have done so from the shadows. The fact I melt into the light is proof positive I harbor you no ill intent.” She explained, her words seemed to possess some merit. Enough to evoke the straying of his hand. Not much was known of her kind, aside from the fact they preferred the shadows. Acting in the light in an aggressive manner did not fit what little he read on their people.

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    Mitsusawa had seemed convince long ago, taking note of this beings strange attire. She was clad in a robe, adorned with spider webbings designs. The robe was casually open in the front, partly exposing her cleavage and defined abdomen. A red and purple attire fit for a noble. A sign of her status within Drow society no doubt. On her hips rested two blades, cured in nature composed of adanimite, the strongest and most durable metal in all the land. Heavily enchanted and decorated with the engravings of spiders from the hilt to tip of the sheathed blade.

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    Mitsusawa took note of the glare she sent Araia’s way. No doubt a sign of their distrust toward surface elves.
    “Then why do you bother us?’ She inquired into, genuinely enthralled with her sudden interruption. Her fingers would run through her snow white hair, those crimson eyes of hers averting from aria toward the other surface woman. Her face picturesque and well modeled proof of the Drow’s fabled beauty. Her demonic tail coiling itself around her slender waist. This Drow stood only 5’5” but undoubtedly possessed more strength than her physical frame seemed to hint at.

    <o:p> </o:p>

    “Why? Let us just say we both stand to benefit for the removal of this blight.” She responded, telling half the truth. Failing to go into specifics which was probably for the best. “My name is Valerna, my house and rank mean nothing to you. So I shall spare you my full title.” She concluded, those luscious lips of hers contorting to grace Araia with a smile. Those crimson irises of hers peering at her, as if to observe her every move.
  20. As the group convened to discuss their possible location, the feeling of heaviness returned to Araia. As Mitsusawa was preparing to reveal their location a new voice chimed into the conversation. Araia's ears twitched a bit as her eyes averted towards the voice only to fall upon the form of a Drow. The Drow gave her a look of contempt and displeasure but soon let it fade as she conversed with her comrades. All the while the two seemed to keept heir eyes on one another, sizing each other up.

    Araia, of course, knew of the Drow race. The two seemed to always harbor distrustful feelings toward one another. The Drow's gaze lingered on Araia a moment before averting to the others. Araia kept her gaze, however focused on the woman. She'd grown up being taught not to trust the ways of the Drow. Still, true to her nature, she had always held a slight curiosity over their subspecies. She harbored no ill feelings, per say, against the woman Drow, but she certainly wasn't going to trust her either.

    Valerna introduced herself stating that her house and rank meant nothing, her lips curling into a smile at Araia. Her own lips remained stern. Her usual slightly cheerful air replaced by a more untrusting appearance. Araia didn't bother to introduce herself to the woman, she felt that the woman found her inferior as it was. Perhaps that was true, but names were of no importance at this time to her. The woman could help or hinder and she would find out which before introducing herself. "This blight has taken hostage of a male. I do not recall tales of such acts from the creature. Why are they extending your tunnels down here?" she said calmly. The defeat an enemy one must know the enemy.

    Araia was an elf of the land, and she enjoyed the light. Here in the Underdark she was the foreigner and at a disadvantage. Surely Valerna knew this, which probably attested for the glances she kept receiving. There were rumors that the Drow were forming alliances with the humans anyways, but surely that was just rumor. As far as Araia knew Drow kept mostly to themselves and out of the business of the land dwellers. The two locked gazes as if in a mind game of chess. Trying to size one another and find who might be the victor.

    The silence was broken only by the voices of Saito and Mitsusawa.