Monsters (Red & Sarre)

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Sarre, Dec 13, 2014.

  1. Kitlyn hated the elusive ones - The ones with vague tracks and docile habits. She liked the aggressive ones - that's where the real thrill was. If they weren't, she could leave the glorified meat chasers after it. That wasn't real hunting, that was just pointing and aiming and checking traps. Child's play. But nope. This thing was eluding her completely.

    The poster on the board had described it as "unpredictable." It was said to look like a large, but incredibly thin deer, with forward facing horns. It had been gentle, even shy when he had first appeared, wandering the outskirts of the village, but then one night it had suddenly begun to charge in with a fury. First, it had taken a goat. It carried it with it's horns, as if picking up a meatball with a fork, and then it had started to take street children. They'd written that it was fast - twice the speed of a boar, maybe three times. Thin and fast, Kitlyn had thought, Difficult target practice!

    So now here she was, sitting lethargically in a large purple tree on the edge of a wide clearing. She had a crossbow on her lap - big and heavy - equipped with a wide, steel-tipped, and poisoned bolt. She could shoot it through a tree if she wanted to, and it would fly out the other side. Hanging over her arm was a regular bow. It was much faster to reload, and much lighter - for when she wasn't guaranteed a clear shot.

    Tracking the thing had proved impossible - it's tracks were tiny and far apart - so she had set some of the best bait she could get (sure, it hadn't been cheap, but anything to hurry this job up) and was waiting for it to show. Waiting. Waiting. Damn it, she hated this.

    Apparently, she wasn't the only one. "How much longer?" Bait called to her, from a high net in the center of the clearing. "I'm hungry."

    "You can eat all you like when we're done," Kitlyn called back. "Have a great feast. You'll be able to afford it."

    "But it's taking so long," he wailed, voice dragging and whiney.

    "Keep whining, Maybe it'll hear you," she replied, rolling her eyes and pulling her hat lower so that it provided some measure against the sound. Perhaps she'd take a nap, just to pass the time. If it showed, the boy's screaming would probably wake her.
    #1 Sarre, Dec 13, 2014
    Last edited: May 15, 2015
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  2. Admittedly, monster slaying was not the best job in the world. Even if one didn’t happen upon the creatures that were unknown or only appeared once in a millenia, just about all of them were downright unpredictable. One hunt was never like the next, or the one after that, or the one after that. The consequence was an young, gruesome death, but it was too addictive a loop for anyone to escape. The thrill of the hunt, of winning, was like the biggest gamble that Seren Ath’Keli had ever been a part of, because if you didn’t win, you were something’s lunch. Most people that ended up in the business were young and easily excited foals, and she couldn’t blame them. The people who did well were beautified and stuck on a pedestal, if not on a platter to feed the unfortunate and coax them into the guilds. The ones who didn’t were brushed beneath the carpet and left forgotten in their visceral graves.

    Seren was not persuaded to join the ranks, but birthed into it when she was a child. The process left her without a family and a right arm, but gave her a tally mark to start her count and a demeanor as sharp as a blade. Seren, if anyone, was meant for this awful business, but left her little for anything else. Slaying was her foundation, and she’d built a sprawling existence within herself.

    Where she was today was where she always was meant to be. The guild leader, Revyn, pointed her in the direction of a job that she normally wouldn’t grab, if only because she’d faced a similar creature long ago. The things were nasty to deal with. Their nature was fickle, lending villagers a false sense of security before things went to hell. The one she’d dealt with before took its time with livestock before it started spearing human beings, giving it many more days to bide its strength. This current one was a little feisty, scooping up children faster than she expected.

    Having left the company of the village some time ago, Seren carefully combed the forest for the hunter she’d been sent after. Kitlyn was the name that she’d read on the boards before, a name that she saw often on some of the busier jobs. Seren wouldn’t have paid it any mind, but Revyn made it a point that the hunter knew the girl was not qualified for what she was getting into. Knowing the nature of the beast, Seren felt that few were qualified regardless.

    It didn’t take as long as she was expecting, hearing disembodied voices drift through the crags of the scraggly, oddly colored trees. Seren wasn’t alarmed by the male voice, as she’d heard from one of the villagers that the hunter left with a boy in tow, probably as bad. It wasn’t a bad idea, if the plausability of danger wasn’t so high with such a creature.

    By the way that the trees spaced away from one another, as though they couldn’t stand to touch, Seren was sure that her approach was no less camoflauged than if she’d run screaming through the wood. A scarlet red cloak, scarred about its edges from years of weathering the elements, draped itself upon her shoulders and rippled down her back and slightly off to the right side, disguising a lack of limb. Brilliant blonde hair framed her tan, angled features, two small, beaded braids lining next to either side of her neck amidst the restless locks. Intent, mercury blue eyes were faceted above high cheek bones, completely contrasting the richness of her attire - with both red cloak and black blouse, trousers, and boots.

    The signature of a hunter was slung around her wide hips, full of any number of strange and accumulated apparati that aided her with her work. A large, unorthodox gun glimmered on her left, flanked by silver daggers with bone handles. Beyond that, Seren was not adorned with pretty trinketry or cluttered cloth. She was a simple woman, as far as others went.

    The boy saw her, she thought, long before the hunter did, if only due to the leaves that clouded the branches. There was an inquisitiveness to his gaze, but he was unexpectedly silent. Not paid to alert his employer to anything but the monster, she was sure. “Kitlyn?” She called out before she managed to startle the woman. Alarming any hunter, no matter their training, was always extremely unwise. She approached closer when she was sure she had her unarmed attention. “Revyn sent me,” she explained before any question was asked.
    #2 Red Sinfonia, Dec 14, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2014
  3. Kitlyn opened her eyes calmly and glanced down, searching for the source of the new voice. The red was impossible to miss.

    The name Revyn automatically sparked some irritation in her. In fact, she visited the hall in the night or before dawn just to keep away from him (well, him and everyone else) and she never stayed long.

    This was the third time he'd sent someone after her. The first two times she'd effectively flicked him on the nose by having already killed the things before they arrived.

    In fact... This encounter was a little bit embarrassing...

    Still, she was friendly. "Hi there!" she called out. "I recognise the hood. You're supposed to be good. Come to help?" She smiled warmly. "I was just about to try splashing fresh blood all over my bait, here."

    "Wait what?" the boy said, suddenly awake from his bored stupor.

    Kitlyn laughed. "I'm kidding."

  4. You’re supposed to be good. The statement made Seren want to chuckle. She hadn’t known that she’d built up any sort of reputation, beyond her brilliant red hood. She almost figured it was gauged by her ability to survive some of the nastier beasties that she, and the guild, had encountered. Either way, it worked in her favor and she offered Kitlyn a quick nod. The opposing hunter had built up a reputation herself, though she felt Revyn deemed it for the wrong reasons. Seren felt that the woman had obviously survived and made it through some of the more awful, pit-hell jobs - that was a good enough reason to have a stretching reputation.

    The situation at hand had her examining the boy and his rather helpless situation. She did admire the effort, but she couldn’t applaud the possible bloodshed to come of it. “What will happen?” She questioned, her hand resting momentarily on her hip as she calculated the details. “When the beast gallops it and tears the boy from his trap?” She asked. It was more words than she normally offered, but it was a valid point that she needed to pose. The creature was fast. It was nimble, and would dart amongst the trees long after it had taken the boy. They would be helpless, even with their ranged weapons.

    “You will lose bait and beast,” Seren finished, looking up at Kitlyn. Nothing in her demeanor spoke of challenge, but she wasn’t beyond healthy questioning.
  5. "Tears the boy from his trap?" Kitlyn laughed, "You say that like it'll be easy."

    Unused to criticism (or failure, for that matter), she could feel the unfamiliar burn of indignance rising inside her.

    "He's too high," she insisted, "and if you're concerned I could always pull him higher. The thing will have to pause - either stopped by confusion or focused in aim, and that's all we'd need." Despite it's slow and complex reload, heaviness, and size, she preferred the crossbow over the bow - simply because it was more powerful. Everything else just wasn't important if you only needed one shot to finish the job.

    Eying the woman's impressive-looking gun, Kitlyn couldn't help but smirk a little. "Don't worry," she said to the nervous child, "it's not like either of us will miss." She looked back at the face in the red hood. She had a good amount of successful contracts on her belt. Successful people with big guns didn't miss. "We won't, right?"
    #5 Sarre, Dec 14, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014
  6. Kitlyn’s posed question ushered a very faint twitch to the corner of Seren’s mouth, a semblance of a sly half-smile, but it was gone too quickly to be sure. Her left hand rested easily on the gun holstered with a grim serenity at her hip, feeling the unadorned sleekness of the metal. Once she’d learned just how to handle the perfectly weighted beauty, it wasn’t often that they missed, but she constantly pushed the boast or pride from her heart, like a curdled poison. It would infect the mind and alter the aim one day, leaving her disemboweled due to an emotional folly. Arrogance like that was something that Seren saw all too often and she wasn’t prepared to go out like that, but she allowed a sliver of confidence to pour from a quick nod at the young boy. I won’t miss, it said, though she acknowledged the probability that they full well could.

    If it was anything like the last one had been, the fucker was fast.

    The rested hand took leave of the gun and Seren fished an odd-looking whistle from her belt. The shimmering thing was opalescent emerald and seemed to be shaped into some sort of curling creature. A beast of wind, the old Whisperer had told her. They whipped these creatures into an impossible fury.

    While pissing something dangerous off was not usually high on Seren’s to-do list, she found that its incredible anger made it considerably less graceful. So much so that the beast had buckled more than once over its own legs.

    “Don’t need him,” Seren motioned with the instrument towards the boy. “Pull him high. This will call to it. Will make it clumsy, but quick.” Tucking the whistle to the back of her hand, she used two fingers to pop the leather snap on her gun, freeing her access to it. She motioned to her forehead. “Nail it here. Don’t give it a chance.” It won’t give you one. “Tell me when you’re ready.”

    Seren didn’t know if Kitlyn trusted her, but she hoped that would be the case. Biting gently onto the whistle, she climbed nimbly into the tree next to Kit, perching on a low-hanging branch. It wasn’t safe so close to where the swipe of its antlers would be, but it would give her a pre-emptive shot. She wrapped her fingers around the whistle and turned her gaze to Kit.
  7. Kitlyn grinned at the sight of the whistle, but the reaction was more automatic than it was sincere. "How fancy," she said. How unfair, she thought. Talk about a shortcut... If she'd had something like that, she'd be well on her way after a much more interesting creature.

    The more Red Hood - Kitlyn couldn't remember her name - spoke, the more she irritated her. She was too much like the other elite hunters, with their extensive arsenals, casual orders, and their certainty that everyone below them was still a green recruit.

    She reluctantly hoisted the boy - now mostly quiet - a few meters higher, and wrapped the extra loop around the branch a few times before hooking it against the stump of another branch lower down. Good enough.

    "Alright," she called, when the rope was sturdy and her crossbow was held to her shoulder. She maintained her cheerful smile and playful dispostion. "Whistle away!" Her trigger-finger itched hungrily.

    She couldn't wait to be done with this. Then she could grab her payment and set off to leave Revyn another silent fuck you on the billboard; her signature in black ink.

  8. After Kitlyn signaled her chipper preparation, Seren returned it with a sharp nod. The girl had a sugary sweetness about her that she couldn’t trust, but she pushed the distaste from her mind. Now was not the time to doubt her partner, no matter how temporary. Doubt gave way to an antler pierced clean through the gut. She examined the way that the girl held her crossbow, the sure grip of her fingers on its design. She didn’t fumble with its awkward weight as a fresh child-slayer would. She had to trust in that, if nothing else.

    Seren lifted the whistle, taking a breath to watching the breeze ruffle the trees. She didn’t think she was going to have to use this so soon and the thought gave her a slight shudder. There was something within her that burned, that threatened to ripple through her, but she pushed it away. It was her desire, her passion, her love of hunting, but it was too fierce, too eager to cloud her senses. She had to temper it with reason. But I can’t say I’m not happy to blow this whistle again… Sick as the thought was, she knew it true.

    After gathering herself, Seren blew into the whistle. It released quite the pleasant sound, a soft, melodic noise that seemed to grow with the gale that shook the solid trees. Seren sat steady in her perch, trusting that Kitlyn did the same without sparing her a glance. The boy in the net was tousled considerably, but Seren didn’t see if the branch would break loose. A creature called out in the distance and Seren’s whistle was replaced with her gun.

    The supposed wind spirits summoned by the instrument did their dirty work, infuriating the beast beyond their sight and leading it straight to the source - them.

    The patter was so quite that Seren could have missed it if she so much as inhaled too loudly. The sight of it bursting from the underbrush just to the right of her stirred her to life. The boy in the netting let out a sound between a shout and a scream, distracting the creature as it whirred on them. Its deadly antlers were so close and would be closer if they’d waited a second longer. The hunter took quick aim and pulled the trigger, almost positive that beneath the thunderclap of her fired gun, she’d heard the thudding release of a bolt.

    The beast buckled and tumbled to the forest floor, kicking up dirt and debris beneath its violent collapse. Seren released the breath she’d been holding steadily, though she didn’t yet climb down from where she’d knelt. She watched it carefully, hoping that it was truly dead and not simply able to hold its breath for a significant amount of time.
  9. The sound of the gun shook Kitlyn. It wasn't as if she hadn't heard a gun before, but never this close, and never while her eyes traced the ridges of her crossbow's scope. The air seemed to heave, and the rhythm of her breath rushed forward to match it.

    The creature had appeared in as much fury as she had anticipated, perhaps even a bit more (only a bit). There had been only a single moment where there was an obvious linear pattern in its movement - when it first saw the boy and skidded to slow down. Both of the hunters fired before it could make the full turn.

    Her hands moved with a familiarity pounded into them by repetition. First, a jerk of her right index, then the lowering of her arms. Then the automatic clip, crank, load, all without the aid of her eyes, which were glued to her collapsing quarry. She always reloaded after every shot. An unloaded weapon made her vulnerable.

    She knew that Red Hood had fired first because she'd felt the gunshot while she had been shooting. She'd felt the startled twitch in her elbow; the unsynchronised puff of her breath.

    Eleven seconds after she'd pulled the trigger, the weapon was reloaded, and she was shuffling out of the tree. Seventeen seconds, and she was on the ground. Only four seconds after it had stopped moving, she was standing over the bloody remains of the creature.

    She had to know that if she hadn't beaten Red Hood in reflexes, she had at least beat her in aim. The lifeless head revealed little, though. There were simply two bloody patches in it. One of their shots had smashed perfectly into its cheek, and another had nearly missed, and tore off a chunk of its lower jaw. Their ammunition had shattered through the bone like rocks through glass. It was impossible to tell who had hit what - they looked identical. Yes, that was it. There was no way to know. She told herself that, but she'd felt that shot, and it hadn't felt like a good one. Red Hood had screwed her up.

    Kitlyn closed her eyes and made a soft scoffing sound. When she opened them again to look up at the boy in the net, she was smiling again. "See, you're fine!" she said. "What did I tell you? We're professionals. Now do you think this thing will taste like more like rabbit deer or tiger elk?"
  10. Faster than Seren had expected, Kitlyn was on the ground and standing over the beast. After it hadn’t lashed out and kicked her in the gut, she was satisfied that the creature was sufficiently dead. When she nimbly climbed to the ground, she could see how truly definite it was, the line of its great throat drenched in a column of blood.

    As to what the beast tasted like, Seren only shrugged. The first time she killed it, she hadn’t eaten it. While she’d certainly wanted to make some jerky out of it, she instead gave it to the villagers. There, they traded her quarry for supplies she’d needed. She did, at least, know one thing about it. Retrieving a small, jagged blade from the vortex that was her utility belt, she knelt over the creature and began to saw off its horns.

    Due to the thickness, and the smallish size of the blade, she had to start with the smallest blades. The antlers felt like smooth stones beneath her palms, belied only by the glittering points that bespoke death.

    Having broken down one antler, she picked up the pieces and handed them peacefully to Kitlyn. Her brow rose, wondering if the serpent girl would strike her with that all-too-sweet smile again. “Grind it up. Makes a good poison,” she said, before setting after the other antler and gathering the spoils of that for herself. They were tucked away into a small pouch on her right hip. Seren wasn’t much of a person to utilize poisons, though she thought that Kitlyn might with such a manual, ranged weapon. Sometimes, she used them on her traps, but the poison could be sold for a high price or traded for useful goods, like the herbs that she used to roll her nostril-burning cigarettes. Worked great for werewolves, or any trackers, truly.

    After taking her piece, Seren rose and stuck out her hand. “Seren,” she said, wondering if Kitlyn would remember the name or only Hood, as others seemed to.
  11. "Poison, huh?" Kitlyn said, rolling the pieces between her fingers. It annoyed her that Red Hood had known that, and she didn't. It had also annoyed her that she'd started cutting without saying a word, as if claiming the body. "I'd rather gold."

    Speaking of gold, it wasn't just the horns that could be expensive. She had a pocket book for this sort of thing. It was a dry read, but she flipped through it after every kill to figure out what was worth gathering. She was loath to pull out a reference book in front of some self-assured veteran, but if Red Hood contunied the dissection, she'd would have to find a moment to. Partially to make sure she wouldn't be cheated, and partially so she wouldn't look like a fool.

    As she was carving away at the other horn, Kitlyn returned to the violet tree and began to work at the rope holding the net. It lowered in careless segments, eliciting several ridiculous squawks from the boy. Kitlyn's attention flicked frequently back to Red Hood, in case she began to gather other parts. Eventually the net thumped to the ground, with the boy landing on his feet with an admirable amount of grace. "Finally," he said, throwing off the net with the agitation of a trapped animal. "I'm going back. And I'm not doing this again! Not for any hunter!"

    "Then you'd better make that money last," Kitlyn replied with a wave.

    When the other hunter introduced herself, Kitlyn took her hand amiably. "Hey, you have a name," she grinned, "Not just Red Hood. Nice to meet you. Revyn's already introduced me, I assume."
  12. [ Baahhh, it's small. Dx ]

    A smile briefly flickered across Seren’s lips. Introduce probably wasn’t the word that she would chose at all. ‘Runt’ and ‘damn brat’ didn’t at all seem like a proper introduction, regardless of whether the words had been said beneath the breath. “Kitlyn,” she assured, before retracting her hand. She glanced towards the brush, watching the boy make his way through the verdant greens and back towards the village.

    “For gold,” Seren started, moving back to the corpse and hefting it lightly, testing its weight. “Take the heart and probably the brains.” It wasn’t anything that she knew definitely, but it tended to be a tried and true thing. Most Whisperers, Shamans, and medicine makers tended to find the heart and brains vital for whatever it was they wanted to sell. The other pieces of the body didn’t sound as impressive, unless it was the genitalia of a rather gifted creature. Seren wasn’t one to check and see. Instead, she stuck with the organs and meat.

    “I would like the liver and bladder,” Seren said, gently easing it back to the ground. It was heavier than it looked, bigger than the one she had killed before. The last one she had been able to drag back to the village without a hitch, but this one… the beast was sizeable and would take some sweat, unless they cut it up beforehand. Thinking of that, her thoughts switched back to what Kitlyn had said earlier. “And some meat,” she said before looking up at Kitlyn, watching as though she was waiting for confirmation or denial.
  13. "Meat. Hm," Kitlyn said, painting a thoughtful expression on her face. She kicked at one of the deer's legs, testing its weight. "This has got a lot of meat, hasn't it?" It was heavy. Without giving Seren a chance to reply, she continued, "I'm going to go get someone to bring a boar over. We can figure out the details of cutting this apart when it's been dragged to the town." She flashed a grin. "Fresh monster meat for everyone!"

    Then she was off, stomping through the crust of leaves of the forest floor. The path to the village, while wide enough even for a carriage, was crooked and full of loops. She pulled a small book out of her coat pocket as soon as she turned around the first bend.

    The chapter concluded that the entire creature, named the White-Pronged Elk, could be yield anywhere between two-hundred and four-hundred gold marks in the hands of a specialsed butcher, depending on it's size and age. As an unprocessed carcass, it was sold for a little less, but Kitlyn could work with that. She hadn't expected the job to be this good, and she was glad. If she had known, she would have paid the bait boy triple of what he had gotten.

    To her irritation, the book went on to confirm that most of the value was in the horns, and the organs Seren had mentioned. It said very little about what things were used for, but the liver and bladder were worth almost as much as heart and brain. Almost... not quite. The revelation made Kitlyn suspicious. Why be given the more expensive stuff? In any case, she wasn't in the mood to barter with her, and she definitely didn't want to ask questions. Someone else could deal with Seren. Kitlyn would find her own answers in a dusty library somewhere.

    When she found the apothecary, he was already talking to the butcher in hushed whispers. It was a rather interesting sight: a plump, young woman with a big cleaver on her waist and old blood on her beige apron, and a gaunt old man dressed prettily in violet and black, talking as if there was some dastardly plot between them.

    Both of them looked up when she approached.

    "Did you get it?" the apothecary asked.

    "Indeed I did. I was trying to decide which one of you to sell the carcass to, but it seems you two have already come to some sort of agreement."

    They looked at each other. "Well, yes," the apothecary said, "We're sharing."

    "So where is it?" the butcher said.

    "Too big to carry," Kitlyn replied, "but bring a boar and some rope, and it's yours." She handed him her share of the horn as well, wrapped in some cheap wool. "If you wanted to see a sample," said.

    The apothecary took it the small pouch, weighed it in a hand, then unwrapped it. "These are alright," he said, though his eyes were glowing. "I'd say the creature in it's entirely would be worth... two-hundred marks, if you're lucky."

    A tough bargainer, Kitlyn thought, And arrogant too. Perfect. Her own guesses had put the price at two-fifty, at least.

    "I've been told it's worth at least three-hundred, at least," she said, "I mean, as a guild we know very little about why, but that's what we've heard. Three-hundred."

    "You're hunters, not trained in this," he said.

    "Well, maybe, but it's good advice. Another member showed up and insisted on helping, so I'm only asking for half, anyway - We were trying to figure out who'd take more meat - dried meat is good for travelling." She softly emphasized the next sentence. "The organs smell far too strong to possibly taste good."

    The apothecary looked at her, blinked, and a predatory smile crept into his face. "Oh, yes, the organs of that elk are certainly putrid," he said, the lie rolling off his tongue. The butcher was glancing at both of them incredulously, but Kitlyn pretended not to notice.

    "So I thought - I'd just sell my share of meat for one-fifty, and have some more variety in my meals, but if you're paying two-hundred marks then I'd only get a hundred..."

    "I'll meet you halfway, then - maybe even a bit more" he said, "A hundred-thirty. It's generous."

    "How kind," Kitlyn grinned. "That will be enough, I suppose. Those horn pieces, and half your share of meat for one-thirty. You have a deal."

    The boar was brought out and loaded quickly. It was rather small, but both the bloody woman and scrawny man clambered onto its back. As she lead them through the woodland path, the boar's great head seemed to appear beside her, fall back a little, then appear next to her again. It was following closely, no doubt urged by the beady-eyed chemist's enthusiasm.

    The money was thrown into her hands even before they were at the carcass. The apothecary jumped off as soon as he saw its body in the fallen leaves. "Bring your knives and the oiled bags!" he called to the butcher. To Seren, he simply pointed to the carcass and called out, "your friend's sold me her half of that!"

    "Well, I suppose I'll be off. He seems pleased," Kitlyn said to the butcher, who was filling her arms with the supplies. "I guess I'm off."

    "Mhm," she said. Then she paused, "you know, I'm fairly certain the organs do have value..."

    "Do they?" Kitlyn said, "Well, I suppose he's got a good deal, then." She flashed the butcher one last grin, then strolled off, with the intention of being gone before either Seren or the apothecary could track her down.
  14. With a cigarette rolled between her fingers, Seren was leaning against a tree, and she almost wasn’t surprised when Kitlyn returned with butcher, by the sight of her apron, and a brightly dressed man in tow. Her eyes were steady, calculating, and she watched them serenely oggle over the carcass. Sticking the cigarette in her mouth and striking a match with her boot, she lit her herbs and puffed slightly. A mild, dull mix, it was too soft for the effect to make itself known to the others present. In her mouth, however, she could feel her nostrils burn as the smoke filled her airways.

    After Kitlyn made her way out of the woods, Seren pulled out her gun and pointed it at the brightly dressed man. Narrowed eyes watched him with a grimness that she reserved for prey and he scampered away like a mouse, beseeching her with pleas that Kit had sold him her half. “Hunter gets first pick,” she said gruffly around her cigarette, before splitting the corpse, pulling out the choice organs, and stripping it of a fair amount of meat.
    Leaving them with some of the lesser valuable parts and half a brain, Seren had nonetheless made sure she’d left them a little more meat. They couldn’t argue with her leaving half. The organs and meat were tucked away in her pack, safely within several sealed bags. The bladder, being of decent size, would be made into a new waterskin later. The liver was for dinner. Having seen the apothecary’s greedy talons claw at the body, she decided to take the heart and brains herself. These, she would rather see in the hands of the Whisperers and shamans - her contacts - along the road to the guild.

    Along the way, Seren thought about when she would dry the meat for the jerky, and if she would roast some later alongside the liver. She’d need to do some foraging, to complement the meat, and find the spot she’d eat at. For some time, her mind was on food, even as she traded off the heart to one and brains to another, both of which offered her supplies instead of coin.

    By the time Seren had made it back to the guild, she’d stopped somewhere along the way to cook some of the meat and had found herself impressed. There was an easy likeness to beef, along with a certain sweetness to the taste that seemed as though it had been stuffed with herbs. Yet the day was far from over, and Seren was not yet ready to give up the ghost.

    She found herself in front of one of the many hunting boards, idly nibbling on a piece of fruit she’d pulled from a branch along the way. Seren knelt to see the bottom. The newest jobs were placed on the top, so she was curious as to what wasn’t getting done. ‘Siercha’ one yet. Seren shuddered. Water beast...
  15. The sound of her supply chest slamming shut was immensely satisfying. The young hunter's job today hadn't been hard, but so very tedious. She'd brought four traps, and she'd used all of them at least three times, dragging them here, and then there, until she had managed to capture the required nest of fifteen ratcoons. The payment had been decent, but she swore some of the higher ranked jobs - the ones she wasn't allowed to take - looked easier. Well, the ratcoons wouldn't have been so bad if she had been allowed to use poison. The estate owners had insisted that she didn't, for fear of any of the residues affecting their rabbit herd. So she had hauled traps and herded the tiny hissing demons all day.

    When she returned, she had spent an hour sitting in the waterfall under the hot springs (with her gear with her so that they'd be rinsed off as well), and now she was feeling much better. And the guild would have dinner out in an hour or so!

    Automatically, her eyes scanned for familiar faces to chatter with. She had her pick. Her first week had been spent doing little but flutter around to anyone with even a flicker of friendliness, asking for advice and finding connections. Now, there were comfortable threads of community around her, and it was simple to find a random clique to burrow into.

    At some point during the evening, the young hunter found herself behind one of the veterans with a red hood. She was eyeing the Water Beast job. It was amazing. So far, everyone she respected had certainly lived up to their reputation, and she was always giddy to meet another one. The hooded one noticed her so quickly that her observing may as well have been a glance.

    "Hey! Sarah, right?" she chimed, holding out a hand. "I've only seen you from a distance. I don't think we've been introduced!" Equipped with glowing, chocolately eyes, a vivacious smile, and a posse of newfound friends hovering a little behind her for social defense, friendly jabs at veterans - even the sterner ones - had become easy. All about confidence, she'd been told, once. "I thought a month would settle me in, but I still meet new people every day. Name's Shena."
  16. Feeling the hairs on the back of her neck tingle, Seren turned to see the girl watching her. She had that look about her, that lively aura and that entirely genuine smile that made something twist in her chest. Then there was the small pack of puppies at her back, scrambled together and threaded with whispers and knowing frowns that almost made Seren sigh with the utmost exasperation. Oh, no.

    Despite every desire to stalk away or overexert herself with too many words than was necessary, Seren turned her head away and let the girl introduce herself to her braids. It was, at that moment, that she knew she would have preferred the snake’s companionship, with all her false smiles in front of a rattling tail. Instead, she had a fox youth nipping at her heels and yapping excitedly. She didn’t want to play, but she knew their type. They would not let up. It was easier to face the nightingale’s song and just let it go.

    With a sigh, Seren turned from the board, temporarily ignoring the job that was jumping at her. She hated the water. Fucking despised it, but it was good paying. It was the type that the village was upping the ante for every week that it went undone, but most wouldn’t touch it. Sierchas were nasty and gods did they smell. Like rotten fish and the breath of Death Itself. She was going to take it. Of course she was, but perhaps this was a momentary distraction. Perhaps she was meant to be caught in this little spider’s web.

    “Other hand,” she said gruffly, offering her left hand. It was a common thing, as most people she noticed primarily used, and gave, their right hands. Having none to speak of, what was left hid beneath the flowing scarlet garment. Liquid eyes moved sharply up to the girl and she observed her carefully. “Shena,” she said, with a modicum of respect, a hint of friendliness glimmering in the sound. “It’s Seren,” she corrected. Not that it would matter. The name would probably be forgotten beneath the weight of her clothing choice.

    The siercha called, like a thorn in the back of her brain. This annoying, frightfully terrible thought made her nearly snort. It seemed, despite her desire to walk away, it would be best - and she would be willing - to stay a moment longer. “A month, hm?” She wondered if the two words and a sound were provocation enough to get the foxling talking. Depending on how long she talked, Seren would feel less guilt leaving, and perhaps once the girl felt she’d established their ‘bond’, she would flutter away in the breeze.
  17. "Seren! I'm so sorry, I must have heard it wrong," she flipped her hand without comment - in case the topic was sensitive. "I'll remember that," she promised instead, both out loud and in her head. Red Hood. Seren. No right arm. Doesn't like talking, I don't think. "About a month, yes. Learning the ropes. Anyway," she looked at the back of Seren's head, at the Red hood that was crumpled over her neck, then at the board, "I guess I'll leave you to go deal with all our biggest nightmares," she said, "Nice to have met you."

    When she returned to the group, she looked at them all with playful suspicion. "Why didn't any of you tell me she was missing her right hand? I offered her a handshake."
  18. A pair of slate grey eyes watched the short, if hilarious, exchange between an exuberant young woman and the stoic creature that was Seren Ath’keli. Erya Namoth chuckled to herself, long fingers pressed to sharp, pale lips. A weighted bag was still resting in her other hand, which she was quick to tuck away into her things once the sound of her giggling had rested away some neighboring attention. It was a lot of dough for the task of fishing a seccada from a lake, which was little more than a petulant mer-thing, but Erya recognized her ability to be generally likeable and have a way with charming the men-folk - and some women.

    Tucking away a strand of errant black hair and just ending up tossing the mass over her shoulder, Erya stalked gracefully to the job boards. Her stature was tall, but her figure was feminine, accentuated by the leather and cotton clothing upon her. Mostly simply things, including a simple pack and simple riding boots and simple utility belt. The only thing peculiar on her person was a leather thong about her neck attached to a cerulean blue orb that glimmered green beneath the light. With occasional freckle, gently tanned skin, and narrow, almond eyes, Erya was a simple woman, if a little exceptionally pretty when she smiled.

    Carefully brushing past the group of girls that gathered around their friend, assuring themselves of their survival after her courage with the Red Hood, Erya turned cheerfully on she who braved the veteran. “I think Seren liked you. She normally just ignores people,” she said with a smile. Sticking out her hand, she utterly grinned. While Seren, an old friend, didn’t like introductions, Erya loved them. “Name is Erya. I’m a bit new to the guild, like you, if I heard right.”
  19. Shena matched the newcomer's expression with tame enthusiasm, and took the handshake warmly. "Nice to meet you! It's Shena," she said. "Funny, that's exactly what he just said." She motioned over to a man with slick black hair that was grinning with his thick arms crossed, "Every time I try to talk to one of the veterans, actually."

    "Only the dark, brooding, mysterious ones," he said, grinning on one side of his face. "And not yesterday, when he practically-"

    "Yeah let's not," Shena said. Through the circle of stifled giggling, she motioned them, one by one. "Thorne, the asshole that looks like a tanned, hairy, vampire, Lisette, who is somehow a stick despite her bottomless stomach, and-"

    "Dalton," the last one said, holding out a calloused hand as an introduction, and pulling out a pocket watch with another, "I gotta go though. Nocturnal job."

    "He works too hard," Lisette said, "And you've already met Shena, the drunk."

    "Oh shush, Lis, I don't get that drunk." She turned back to the newcomer, "Are you staying for dinner, Erya?"

    "There's spiced wine," Thorne said, "Which means you'll either have an amazing time, if you drink enough, or," he leaned over and plopped a heavy elbow on Shena's shoulder, "This one will just become the most annoyingly happy person you've ever met."
  20. “Shena,” Erya responded to the introduction with a genuinely glittering smile. “Thorne. Lisette. Pleasure to meet you all! I’m a veteran, but not here, and I’m certainly not dark or brooding. Maybe a bit mysterious,” she said with a wink.

    “Oh, you bet your ass I’m staying, if there will be spiced wine. Do you know how long I’ve been drinking the cheap stuff at taverns and inns?” Erya pantomimed vomiting with her finger pointed at the back of her throat. “That stuff is so washed down with piss and water, I don’t know if it ever was alcohol.” She placed an easy hand on Shena’s shoulder and peered down at her, a mischievous grin on her lips. “We could be drunks together. I’m a fun drunk, I swear, and paired with your happiness, we will light up the hall! Hopefully not literally. I did that at my old guild by thinking I should light a long table on fire. Thought it would look pretty.” Erya winced at the memory of her past transgression. The silent glare and biting anger of her guild leader was a painful memory, if a very old one.

    Leading them off towards the mess hall with stark enthusiasm for food, Erya pivoted to quicken their pace. “I heard that they’ll also be serving pork butt rubbed with herbs. If my ass tasted that good with dried plants rubbed all over it, I would be walking around with a gods damned fortune and no ass.”