Rising Blood (Kokuhyo x Wister)

Kokuhyo

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A peaceful morning sunrise was only troubling to those who knew the truth. That each sunrise was a mockery of the Gods and the divine agenda they oversaw. Few knew the truth that each day the rise of the sun was dictated by the men and women who forced the world into natural order through occult magic. An order given at the behest of the lords of the lands. Tyrants who seized and retained their power against the wishes of the Gods. The one true heir to power was never acknowledged even by the holy priests who pretended to serve their Gods. And so 3 years had passed since the destiny of the One True Sovereign was called for. The Gods were done waiting for their faithful to produce results peacefully. Now it was time to stir events into action through direct intervention.

Genevieve Aarden. A former dabbler of pottery and current apothecary was the untold sovereign the Gods had demanded... Her simple life was over... The ground shook as the dawn rose over the town of Fargarden. Decorations were loosed from their shelves, ripped off walls, and knocked off of surfaces as the young lady was awakened by a searing pain in her head. Five voices bellowed in her mind, thundering voices that physically thrashed her body around in her bed and caused her ears to ring.

"Your destiny is now child. No longer can the world wait for your kind to answer our call. Awaken the elder blood within you and come to us. You must journey to our shrines and acquire the divine rites of The One True Sovereign. When you have gained the power of kings you will be ready to bring the lands back into order. Oust the mad kings and purge corruption from your realms. You will rule all under our patronage... Or the world will descend into darkness and it is evil that will write the future of these lands... GO NOW! There is no time to waste!!!"

The shouts of the divine deities ended and with the silence came a new serenity of peace and warmth in Genevieve's soul. She could feel the magic latent in her blood activating and granting her amazing abilities she never knew she had. She could also see in her mind the location of each ruined shrine. The knowledge would allow her to navigate to these places without the need of a guide or a map despite never having been there. This was a lot to take in for sure, but it was the first sign of the Gods since the great darkness three years ago and the sunrise that mankind had apparently faked all this time. Genevieve now knew the truth about what had happened and what was happening to the world. This knowledge was a final gift of clarity from the Gods.
 
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Wister

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The young woman lay still for a moment, eyes wide open staring at the thatchwork ceiling of her bedroom. Despite the peace and clarity in her mind, her body was still catching up, and as a result, she was trembling under her wool blanket. She slowly gathered herself and sat up, looking outward at the sunrise that she now knew to be a crude application of magic on the part of high priests and lords.

Despite the extraordinary nature of her experience of the last five minutes, she believed it wholeheartedly. Should it have been some deception of the mind - well, it couldn’t be. She would have been able to detect that form of illness, and psychosis of such sort seemed incredibly improbable, she determined, as she stood and surveyed her belongings which had been all flung onto the ground. No, she was mentally sound, and this divine revelation was truth. She could feel it in her veins.

Genevieve would have to leave at once. She felt the urgency of her task beckon her to make haste, but the voice of reason remained steadfast, calming her excited heart. She changed out of her nightgown, wondering what to take with her and what she could possibly do to help the old maid understand the reason for her sudden unexpected journey.

After taking a moment to straighten up her room, she went downstairs and into the kitchen. There stood the woman herself, or rather, shuffled, as she swept up shards of porcelain. “The damned Earth is such an unruly fiend, isn’t she?” the old woman grumbled, not bothering to make eye contact with Genevieve. The girl only shrugged in response and proceeded to slip out of the room and into a pantry area, where she gathered food for her journey. She wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to say to dear Agatha, and was beginning to feel some guilt over leaving the woman alone to take care of the town’s ill and injured. Genevieve scurried by and up the stairs to pack an extra set of clothing for her journey, but there wasn’t much else to take. They didn’t live particularly luxurious lives, rather the opposite: in helping all those that they could, the pair lived simple lives.

Coming back down the stairs, prepared for her journey, she addressed the other, who was moodily hunched over a cup of hot tea. “Agatha? I…” Genevieve paused, almost unwilling to continue, but then said her piece. “I’m afraid I have to be out of town for a long while, and I’m not sure when I shall return. It might do you well to seek a new apprentice.” She studied the face of the old woman as emotions played across it. A flash of anger and disbelief was quickly quelled by sadness.

The woman asked no questions aloud, but the air was filled with silent inquiries from either side. Alas, if Genevieve had wanted more to be known to her, then she would have said something. They had a close enough relationship; they were, after all, on a first name basis with one another and were practically family, especially seeing as the elderly woman had no living blood relatives. “Well, my dear, I wish you would have told me sooner, but very well. I wish you safe travels and hope that you may return to me.” It occurred to her that this young lass might simply need a change from this small town, and the day in and day out of seeing countless folks who were unwell was taking its toll on her. She was now -- twenty, no, twenty-one. Today was the girl’s birthday.

Agatha stood and embraced the girl, then held her hands in hers. “May this anniversary of your birth bring you a new perspective of this world.” She kissed her hands, then took Genevieve’s pack from where it lay on the ground to offer it to her, and said nothing more.

Genevieve, now full of whirring emotions, met eyes with the woman as she took her things. “Thank you for everything. I do hope that I may return to you.”

Stepping out of her home and place of work, she looked out at the town which had been pretty much the only place she’d ever really known. I thank you, Gods above, for your guidance. I am coming.
 
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Kokuhyo

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There was much chaos to the sudden departure of the young lass. The haste in which she had packed and prepared herself for this journey had be great. There was still the matter of finding some means to protect herself on this very lengthy and dangerous journey. Whether that be by equipping herself or finding some hopeful mercenaries or adventurers who would accompany her for a very cheap price.

Yet there was something more pressing to be dealt with before Genevieve could think on how to deal with such a matter. As fate would have it there were unexpected guests approaching the old home on horseback. The local parish priest and a rather surly looking gentleman were making haste on their steeds far up the lone cobblestone path that led to the home. The distance did well to disguise their expressions but the priest had never before traveled with an armed companion before. The man was no sickly peasant or church knight. Not with the dark colors and outlawed armaments he possessed. The crossbow was the weapon in question, outlawed years ago due to its common use by assassins and rebellious upstarts to defeat fully armored knights and loyal kingsmen.

It was almost too obvious that they were coming for Genevieve. Somehow the old priest knew what the earthquake had meant and that Genevieve could no longer be ignored. The man had always seemed to be around quite often as if checking up on Genevieve regularly
 
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Wister

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Fear beat her hope and confidence into the corners of her heart as she slowly recognized the weapon the man carried. Heart pounding, she quickly stepped inside the house once more, expression clear. Agatha, still by the table with her tea, looked up, about to ask what the other forgot, before seeing her expression. Before the elderly woman could comment, Genevieve spoke. “I’m sorry Agatha. I’m afraid that I’ll be taking Lucy. You may very well have unwelcome visitors soon, and I’m not certain what they want with me, but pray, I do tell you, I am innocent.”

The other’s lips pressed against each other, forming a grim line, and she replied. “Make haste then. Do not worry about the horse. I have faith in you, child.”

Genevieve exited out the back door their home -- the pair only had one horse, and she had hoped to purchase one from a local farmer, as to not strip Agatha of their trusty mare, but her panic prompted her to quickly tack the horse and flee away from the center of town and away from the approaching men. The simple dirt road would make less noise than the cobblestone, and despite the fast gait, might be nearly inaudible under the canter of the other party. At this point, where she was headed, she wasn’t sure, but she disappeared quickly into the wood. Tightly clutching the reigns, she prayed for Agatha’s safety and for her own.

<><><>​

Agatha stood and walked over to the window, drawing the blinds back and casually gazing out at the oncoming men. She is in some mighty trouble, now isn’t she, the old woman thought. Shuffling over to the counter, she took a small satchel and bottle from a locked drawer that likely hadn’t been opened in some years. Dumping about a quarter of the contents of the bottle into the still hot pot of tea, Agatha stirred the contents around with a wooden spoon, wafting the sweet smell to her nose with her other hand before setting the spoon down onto the counter. She capped the bottle and placed it back in the drawer.

Sitting again at the table, she awaited the arrival of the men, crafting her tale and hoping that the fading sound of Lucy’s hoof beats would not be pursued for some time.
 

Kokuhyo

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Genevieve's escape had not been noticed by the duo as they approached the house. She was quite a distance from her origins as the priest and assassin dismounted. The elderly man approached the front of the house and knocked firmly upon the door. He announced his identity and intent innocently as his ally wandered to look at the surroundings. He noticed nothing out of the ordinary thankfully.

"Hello my dears. It is Father Archerd, I have come to visit and check up on you two. I also have something of grave importance to discuss with you both."

His words and demeanor seemed calm and pleasant as always, though his presence with another person was unusual. Especially a person as shady as the crossbow-wielding mercenary. Father Archerd never traveled with even the church knights who guard the chapel and monastery. He always spoke about how being seen with such barbarous tools of death was an ill-fitting representation for a many of holy cloth such as himself.


Meanwhile, Genevieve had found no trouble taking the backroads out of town and into the nearby forest. Though she made her way to a traveler's path it was not one of the main roads and it was unclear which way this dirt road would take her. It was unlikely for her to run into anything more dangerous than ordinary wildlife given how close to civilization she still was at this point. Later on though there was always the risk of running into actual monsters with how much more active they had become nowadays. Still the slight chance of death was a much more promising outcome than seeing what Father Archerd and his new friend wanted this morning. Given what Genevieve learned it was likely that the corrupt man was coming for her head after such a mysterious event rocked the town. Should Genevieve decide to continue her journey using this path she would eventually notice the unusual sight of several wounded men lining the path quite far ahead. They were equipped for battle but much of their gear was torn asunder by what was quite clearly a brutal attack by a beast of some sort. There were also no signs of any steeds meaning these men were likely poor or local mercenaries
 

Wister

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“Hello Reverend, give me a moment. My bones are getting old, you know.” Agatha stood again, feeling her tendons again become tight and her back muscles ache. She was indeed getting old. Leaning against the door frame, the woman opened the door with some effort. Standing in the doorway still, she looked up with an appropriately concerned expression. “Now, pray tell, what is this subject of grave importance?” She noted the absence of the other man, and a chill set in her bones, but she kept this out of her voice. This was not a difficult task; she did now have the slight rasp that many older people receive as a gift of age, which masks many slight shifts in tone.

She moved aside to allow the priest into their kitchen and dining area. “Do seat yourself so that we may discuss this matter.” Uncertainty as to whether to mention Genevieve tipped in favour of waiting for the question. There were numerous cards still held in each of their hands that need not be revealed so soon. Wishing to further scrutinize the pastor’s intentions, she offered no tea, and instead merely made her way to the table, deeply interested in his reply.

<><><>​

The beat of a gallop on the ground almost matched her racing heart. Genevieve, after some time, slowed to a trot, continuing to follow the dirt path she had chosen, and finally chanced a glance behind her. No one. No one within sight at least, and the thought of the crossbow and the dark garb reentered her mind. This man had been trained well and had the funds to support such ventures. Surely he could be hiding still and trailing her?

Her thoughts were redirected upon the sight of men up ahead, though she couldn’t quite make out their activities. Still, they seemed to not be to active, and, with the most direct threat to her life some distance behind her, she wagered that it would be safe to approach.

Upon drawing nearer and seeing their status, she called out. “Greetings, travellers! I am a wandering apothecary. Might I be of assistance?” She didn’t have much for supplies with her, but perhaps her skill could still be of some use. It would do her well to make some allies.
 

Kokuhyo

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The old man gracious accepted the invitation to sit and entered the home in a slow and deliberate manner, one that gave his companion enough time to rejoin him and enter as well. The hired muscle said nothing but proceeded much further into the home without invitation to do so. Rather than explaining his companion's actions the holy father sat at the table and folded his hands together neatly.

"Agatha... It would seem the Lord of Kaldrus, the capital of these lands has requested the presence of you and Genevieve. He has heard of your apprentice and her skill in alchemy. Such a summons is a great honor so please. Tell me where she might be this morning?"


The wounded men look at Genevieve with hope in their eyes. The leader of the band staggered forth and held his gut wound gingerly.

"We would greatly appreciate the help milady... You should avoid going this way miss. The forest is crawling with brigands. No ordinary brigands either! They fight with the ferocity of feral beasts and ask no bounty. It's as if they are simply out for bloodshed with no mind as to why. We barely got out with our lives..."

It would appear this path led to quite a ferocious danger but not from some creature. It is not unheard of for people to come down with a dark ailment that twists their minds into unfathomable violence. However the cause is usually blamed on sin by the church. Perhaps there could be another reason behind it that Genevieve could ascertain upon examining such a person
 

Wister

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The assassin came back into view, only to stride by the old woman. Her gaze followed him irritably, but she was wary of repercussions from calling out a trained man of lethal arts. Instead, she sat down and looked the priest in the eye. She spoke in a low tone, though the other man was likely within earshot. On the ground floor, there were three rooms: a kitchen and dining area, a sick bay with four cots, and a preparatory and storage room. On the floor above were Agatha’s and Genevieve’s bedrooms and a small sitting area.

“What is the meaning of your company? Do you fear danger?”

She felt that his question could be easily ignored, for the moment. She too had unpleasant images of the priest’s companion in her mind. She wanted to believe the good pastor, but his hypocrisy undermined his words and anxiety amplified her doubts.

<><><>​

The horse slowed to a walk before Genevieve dismounted and tethered her to a nearby tree. Brigands… and many of them? She had come this way a few times in her childhood, but not in recent times, and she never remembered any danger.

“Thank you for the warning.” Quickly surveying the land around her, Genevieve collected some moss from nearby to tend their wounds and staunch any further bleeding. “What were you men doing out here?”
 

Kokuhyo

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The old man sighed and shook his head as his fingers drummed on the table nervously. His words came out heavy and ashamed almost. He was completely insincere in his acting but he was clearly trying to maintain a civil front at least. Archerd looked into Agatha's eyes and spoke a half truth for the reason behind the man's presence.

"Assassins have been targeting members of the church as of late. As you know I am not found of the knights our organization trains nor have they been effective against the villains that hunt us... Now please we must all be going. You should go pack and tell me where Genevieve is. A carriage will be here shortly to take us to see our leige..."

The assassin returned with a disappointed scowl on his face and his crossbow raised. As the priest opened his mouth to shout the man pulled the trigger. The bolt loosed and tore through not Agatha but Father Archerd. It had shot straight through his neck and sent the man sprawling to the floor with blood pouring from his wound like a geyser. He would be dead in moments from the damage the bolt had done and his excessive bloodloss. The man turned to Agatha and spoke with a grave intensity

"Where is she?! The idiot is in danger if she ran off on her own! She is the last hope this world has, please don't tell me she did something stupid like go on her pilgrimage on her own!"


The men will definitely live if the bleeding is stopped and they keep up the slow and careful pace as to not worsen their wounds. Most have deep lacerations but none so serious as to warrant death. Their armor at least did somewhat of a good job. The mercenaries are grateful for the treatment and the leader explains their mission as Genevieve treats them one by one.

"We were paid by the town governor to thin the predator population in the area. The great wolves of the forest are supposedly getting more numerous and brave but we haven't seen any in this area. Just those brigands. Maybe they wiped them out on their own to set up a base around here... Miss you have been very kind and helpful. Is there anyway we could repay you?"
 

Wister

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Agatha only paled and stayed still for the passing moments, watching the life drain from the form of the priest. She felt a smidge of sympathy, though indignation and panic dominated her emotions. The blood rushed back to her face, and she snarled back at him like a mother bear, fearful yet outraged with his intrusion: “What do you want with us? You do have some self awareness, no? You realize how easily you may frighten someone off with these toys of yours?”

Taking a breath, and exhaling slowly and audibly, she continued in a more measured tone, matching the intensity of the assassin. “I may have information for you if you do truly wish the best for her. But we must be able to trust each other. Don’t you agree?”

<><><>​

“Hmm, perhaps.” The world was such a dark place, as of late, despite the cycle of sunrise and sunset having been restored. Genevieve supposed that she knew the reason for the chaos now, but to imagine that the gods has chosen her was nigh unimaginable, were it not for her vision that morning. Hoping the leverage their gratitude, she continued the conversation.” And which town do you hail from? I’m heading north and could use some company.”
 
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Kokuhyo

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The assassin snarled at the elderly woman and slammed his fist on the table after striding to stand right in front of her. The loud rattling caused by his angry outburst was matched only by the anger in his voice as he shouted. He seemed like he was in a rush and that this small delay was physically affecting him.

"Listen here you old coot! I don't have time to explain myself! The further the chosen one gets from me and my fellows the more of a chance she gets butchered and the world is doomed to wither and die! Damn the misplaced righteous protectiveness you have for the girl! If she dies while you flap your dusty gums I swear I will end you!"

The man was most peculiar as he got angry. He seemed to twitch and his eyes shifted color to a sickly yellow before returning to their normal brown color. He suddenly recoiled and dropped his weapon as he fell to his knees. His breathing was ragged and the twitches were accompanied by painful groans. He began muttering to himself with his fists clenched. A prayer to the gods mixed with curses and what sounded like pleading. Pleading to not lose control, whatever that meant.


The mercenary leader looked towards the direction Genevieve indicated and spoke the name of Visetta, the city closest to the shrine, practically bordering the lake. He nodded and gestured towards Luagrum.

"We are from Laugrum. If you want to head to Visetta I would suggest a better batch of mercs to take you that way. We are hardly experienced enough to take you there with any guarantee of safety. Though we do owe you our lives and livelihood. If you insist we would happily agree to take you that way. Alternatively, we could always suggest some much better-equipped friends of ours and recommend them to give you a good price. Though you may still find them expensive as they are former knights of the province..."

It would definitely be better to have trained and well equipped warriors as an escort but Genevieve would definitely be unable to afford them unless the discount was extremely generous. It would also mean heading back to Laugrum and risking the whole church and all their knights being after her. Of course Genevieve didn't know if they were actually after her or not.
 

Wister

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Impressed at the interest he appeared to have in the survival of Genevieve, the woman conceded. She was relatively unperturbed by his anger; it wasn’t the first time she had been yelled at by an angry man of arms, and she was still fueled by some sort of protective confidence. But before she could reply to the intimidating man, he suddenly became much less intimidating. “Dear gods,” she whispered, before standing over the crumpled man. She considered touching him, but given his apparently unstable state, she decided against it, and instead only stood by him, placing a hand on the table for support.

Hoping to soothe the man with the little information she had, she spoke gently. “She only just left when she saw you and Father Archerd approaching.” Agatha considered offering more information, but she couldn’t bring herself to upon watching him twitch and curse. She was afraid of this behavior, and she whispered a prayer to herself for the man’s wellbeing as well as her own.

<><><>​

For once in her life, Genevieve was disappointed to hear the name of her town. There was even more disappointment surrounding the idea that she couldn’t return anytime soon.

“Could you possibly escort me only to Greyvir?” she asked. Even as she voiced this suggestion, she wondered if she could return to Laugrum, but just with a different set of clothing and something that shielded her face. Perhaps if she made as if she too were a wounded mercenary, with a bandage about her eye -- but no, that seemed too wild for the moment, and the man with the dark armaments was still a present concern.
 

Kokuhyo

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The man writhed further and the sound of his bones stretching and cracking was so audible Agatha could almost feel it as if it was her own body undergoing such a vicious change. The man's face stretched into a snout as fur started to form all over his body. One of his arms elongated and his hand widened, gaining large beastly claws. This clawed hand gripped the table and dug deep gashes into the top before the man let out a scream that was half human half beast. His remaining human appendage reached into the pouch on his waist where he pulled a vial from. He quickly popped the cork out with his thumb and devoured the purple liquid within. He thrashed around some more and dropped the glass to the floor where it shattered. The effects were rapid as the changes that had begun to take over his body reversed quickly and the man was left sweating and panting. He took a moment to collect himself before he cursed loudly.

"Damn it all! That was my last one... Agdaen is going to be pissy about this. Look... I am sorry to have caused you distress old woman but the stakes are high for all of us. I need you to tell me where she is so I can take her to the shrines of the gods and she can gain the blessings of the Gods. She is supposed to be the ruler of all the lands... she was supposed to be the one true sovereign years ago but the greedy bastards in charge refused to even pass on the will of the gods. Now it would seem the gods have taken things into their own hands. So please. She is going to need help to complete her journey and the messy cleanup that comes after. Killing tyrants takes a special kind of help ya know..."



The mercenary leader smiled and extended his hand in an offer of a shake without a second thought. "Of course. As I said we owe you. My name is Renold and these are my old friends who foolishly decided to follow me into a lifestyle of dirt and blood."

Renold laughed and looked back to his men with a smile. He made an announcement to them that surprised them and made them a bit concerned given their current health. "Change of plans lads. We should be fine with the treatment our traveling friend gave us. As such we are going to help her get to her destination. Grab your balls and tuck em back into place, we've got a job to do. I'll send Gully back to town to collect our pay for the wolf job as I can safely say those crazy fuckers handled it for us. The rest of you get ready for a hell of a walk. A day should be all we need, or two if you drag ass like a bunch of weak bellied fools."

Genevieve had allies at least, wounded as they were it was still better than nothing. They would at least keep any enemies at bay long enough for the woman to flee if she absolutely had to. It would be rather wicked to abandon them but they were good as dead before, without her treatment they would have perished shortly after making it to town. Plus the odds of running into anything serious on the way were slim in this stretch of the country, strange brigands were hardly a common occurence.
 

Wister

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Whatever game the gods were playing, they were using pieces more powerful than pawns. As Agatha watched the transformation of the man, a new seed for distrust was planted. Still, in seeing this show of mystical power, it dawned on her that if he had wanted Genevieve dead, he needn't have been so visible from afar.

Making eye contact and speaking sincerely, she gave all the information she had: “She’s riding a russet colored horse with a white blaze and white socks on its hind legs. Wearing a simple light frock. She likely went in the direct opposite direction from you, meaning she went northeast, roughly.”

The old woman wasn’t quite sure that she believed every word that the strange man said, but she put her faith in this knowledge being sage in his hands. After all, it seemed that he was an ally, and even if she hadn’t been aware of a war, Genevieve seemed to have known something, and the girl’s best interests were also her own.

<><><>​

Genevieve shook the man’s hand and gave a slight smile. But even as she did so, she felt a twinge of hesitation. “Jennifer Thompson,” she said, a slight change in intonation possibly betraying the alias, but she maintained a grateful and hopefully suitably trustworthy expression, and continued. “I appreciate your support and that of your company. May we face no danger.”

Such folk could be trusted for the time being, having little to do with the higher politics of the indignant gods, but she had no confidence in their morals should it come down to trading her for a pretty penny. And if the church was after her, they certainly had copper to spare. She mounted her horse, feeling the comfort of having fellow travellers, and some that were indebted to her, no less. While she wasn’t about to completely rely on their abilities to protect her, safety in numbers seemed to be preferable to solitude at the moment, especially considering that she had very little experience defending herself.
 

Kokuhyo

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The man smiled at her with a strained expression as he managed to stay on his feet with strength in his body now that his transformation was halted and his body had recovered from the shock of such a supernatural affliction. He repeated the information seemingly to himself, but in the next instant a small bead of light grew into the size of a small dove and flew off to find an exit to the house and make its way to deliver the message it had received. The mercenary assassin gave the woman a hard glance and spoke in a low voice, not in an attempt to intimidate her but rather to be discreet.

"Look. I'm an assassin, a murderer, and a beast. My captain would want me to make sure you never spoke of what you saw today. He would also be concerned that I left you alive as a loose end to lead the tyrannical bastards of the false kingdoms to our new sovereign. As far as I'm concerned I left you for dead with the priest and your alchemical knowledge saved you while I pursued the girl. Just don't make me regret this choice alright? I have a good feeling about you so I'm willing to place my trust in you to keep your trap shut about everything..."

With everything said that he needed, the man left Agatha's home and proceeded to track down Genevieve's path.



Renold showed no sign of having the slightest clue that Genevieve was using an alias, either that or he didn't care. He merely rallied his men and lead the way along the roads without another word. The journey would be quiet for the most part, with a few instances of wildlife wandering too close out of curiosity and hunger, only to be scared off by the armed mercenary party. It would be dusk before anything of import would happen, it only having the chance because of the commander's insistence on making camp to allow his men to rest and get well fed for any potential dangers that may lurk further along the journey. Little did he expect for his roadside camp to be found by a petite woman in a worn down traveler's cloak and what looked like hand-me-down riding clothes for a noble lass. The girl approached just as the men had started to get a fire going and had begun to lay out the sleeping arrangements with many bedrolls
 

Wister

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The old woman only met him with an expression of grave understanding, even though her actual knowledge on the matter was very minimal. She had, however, seen enough in her life to be thankful to be spared but also not to be so expressive on that note. She remained standing a while after the assassin left, eyes fixed on the place where she had last seen him as he disappeared out the door and out of view. Blood from the murdered priest soaked her slippers, and still in a state of half-repressed shock, she did nothing. Only stood, with thoughts coming and going, but all very transitory. Not one was truly acknowledged in a conscious way.

At last, she moved her hand to her pocket, finding the satchel she had retrieved earlier. She reflected again on being spared - if she had been spared death but not torture, she had had an answer prepared, but so it was with those of alchemy and medicine. Even when there is no answer to be found, one can be given.

<><><>​

Genevieve also was feeling gracious, finding the woods to be much less intimidating when travelling in a group. Upon stopping to set up camp for the night, the young woman found that her legs were sore, and she smiled wryly to herself. This was certainly going to be a long journey to meet the gods, particularly given her level of fitness. It wasn’t that she was incredibly out of shape, but she also didn’t ride all that often.

Upon spotting the girl’s approach, Genevieve said nothing, not wanting to be the first to engage. After all, she was not the leader here, and she wasn’t particularly interested in calling more attention to herself. As the only female and the only unarmored, she was likely to stick out, but maybe she passed as belonging to the group as their commissioned travelling healer... or perhaps also not. In any case, she waited for Renold to engage, and was truly hoping not to have to speak at all.

The girl was certainly a mystery, but no where near how mysterious that morning had been, with the earthquake and the assassin, and so the one true sovereign simply chose the passive route.
 

Kokuhyo

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Renold, of course, called attention to this unexpected guest, though his shouting was not truly directed at the girl who had approached their camp unchallenged by the sentries who were keeping watch.

"Well who is this stranger who waltzed right into the heart of our camp?!"

He strode towards the girl confidently and with a swagger in his step that indicated he didn't find her to be a threat. His manner also made it clear that he didn't intend to be hostile to the traveler and that she should be at ease. He was still armed and armored as he had not yet taken the opportunity to get comfortable for the night as he handled working out shifts for the men to have one or two people on watch at all times. Renold shouted at his men in a scolding tone as he stood in front of the young woman with his hands on his hips.

"Well boys, she's gone and killed us all! No one told us a deadly assassin was walking straight in here to kill our leadership then the rest of ya. So good job. Who's on shift?! We need to have a talk about what exactly the details of sentry work entail!"

The young woman let her hood down and revealed long brown hair that was very well-kempt and decorated with a small crimson dragon hair-clasp. Her eyes were a soft hazel and she stared at Renold like a grown-up patiently awaiting a child to pay attention, an odd trait considering the girl was no more than 16 at the very best. Another interesting feature besides the jewelry in her hair was the makeup she donned to keep her appearance pristine including a light application of lip gloss. She was no commoner nor a mercenary for that matter, she was likely of nobility. When Renold looked down at her and noticed these features he surprised to see her unveiled face and the gives that revealed her noble or at least her wealthy status. The girl did not give the man a chance to change his tone or speak further, she rose her hand and spoke before he could. Her voice was strangely soft yet her every word seemed to pervade through Genevieve's ears as clearly as if she was whispering into her ear loudly despite her speaking to Renold.

"There is no need to be alarmed. Continue with your duties and allow me to join you."

She gave a gentle smile as Renold stared at her blankly for a moment or two before he turned away and spoke to his men without any further hesitation. His voice was its usual high energy and commanding tone as he went to retrieve the roster he had written up. The other mercenaries seemed oddly out of it much longer than Renold was but the voice of their captain returned them from their reveries.

"Get back to your posts or get some shut eye! I'll be passing the roster onto the current watchmen so they can wake the next shift. Stay vigilant people, we still have quite a distance to go before we make it to our destination understood?"

The men gave various grunts and shouts of acknowledgment before many of them went back to relaxing, talking, sleeping, or keeping guard. The woman looked over at Genevieve for a long moment before she pulled her hood up and walked towards her. She didn't exactly seem hostile, yet she gave off a feeling of mystery and an odd sense of danger about her. There was something about how intensely her gaze burrowed into Renold when she spoke that made her seem out of the ordinary.
 

Wister

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Genevieve couldn’t help but study the newcomer. Her wealth and probable social status were noticeable, almost obtrusive in light of her current companions, despite the young woman saying very little. When Genevieve noticed that her gaze was returned, she made certain not to make eye contact with the new member of the group, and instead rummaged through the few things she had brought with her, finding that the thin blanket she had brought provided very little comfort and separation from the uneven earth.

She spoke with one of the many men, who offered her a pillow, all while being unnervingly aware of the new female among them. Genevieve tried to brush it off as paranoia, but found herself taking glances at the woman, trying to determine her purpose or intent in joining the group. It was likely merely paranoia and lurking suspicion, but the depth that this girl had almost made Genevieve feel that she was the one out of place, despite the careful elegance of the stranger clearly being the more strange in this group of rag-tag soldiers.
 

Kokuhyo

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The girl seemed to watch Genevieve rather often as she sat in silence for several moments. Her eyes swept over the entire camp as if observing the layout, the guard shifts, the sleeping arrangements, and their equipment. She was practically judging the entire company's worth with a glance. The times that she looked at Genevieve though it was less judgemental, less of an appraisal and more along the lines of ensuring that Geneviene was still in sight and accounted for. The woman's silence did not last long nor did she keep her distance from Genevieve. In a purposeful stride, she came to the young woman's sleeping area and spoke in a gentle tone.

"These are hardly suitable bodyguards. Most of them are injured and none of them possess great skill or attentiveness. Their posture and mannerisms suggest they have seen only the basest of skirmishes against enemies that are none too powerful. It would be wise to seek better help on your journey. It is lucky that my associates and I have managed to find you before your enemies. From the shadows and forest, your foes will meet their death before they ever see us. You should meet the rest of us later on tonight when the majority of the rabble are asleep. When the time comes I will guide you to a safe spot for you to meet us all at once..."
 

Wister

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What a kind voice the other woman had. Genevieve took her in -- an ally? So much for being lost in a company of amateur mercenaries. But perhaps this wasn’t such a bad turn of events after all. Genevieve opened her mouth to respond and heard words come out without her being particularly conscious of what she was going to say: “Thank you. May I ask who you are?” There was plenty more on her mind, but she supposed that looking like a blubbering fool wouldn’t do her much good either. Her plentiful thoughts that were almost loud enough to be spoken were apparent in her expression, and she wondered how much knowledge they had of each other -- and of each other’s knowledge.

This said, it was hardly a question of how much Genevieve knew. “Why do you want to help me? How do you know--?” she asked, before stopping. This wasn’t particularly the best place to be chatting about such matters, she supposed. Also on her mind was telling the group, since she didn’t want to just disappear on them. Or telling Renold, at the very least. There were still more things to be said, but she held her tongue, and waited as patiently as able despite lingering cortisol and wondered how she was ever supposedly fit to be the one true sovereign.