The adventures of Mitsusawa and Manish

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Lstorm, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. Manish Joshi would have gladly exchanged the last few days of his life for an eternity of torment. The only thing that prevented him from actually selling his soul to some mystical force he did not even believe in was that he knew everything was his own fault. He made his first mistake when he stayed in that blasted city for more than a week, because he wanted to thoroughly research its extensive library, even though he knew that he would eventually be recognised. His second mistake was that when the local military moved in to capture him, he took them head-on instead of just avoiding them like he always did. He somehow managed to send them running, but then, he made his third mistake, the one that nearly cost him his life. He decided to raid the library of the city and take some of the books they had on stock with him. Needless to say, the old mage that always visited the library did not take kindly to that.

    In his defence, Manish had no idea that an old woman like her could wield so much power, but in retrospect, he really should have just fled the city. Whoever that mage was, she almost managed to set the library on fire with her flurry of spells, not to mention that Manish could not attack her even once. Her spells were so powerful that he had to spend all of his energy on defending himself, but as he discovered, not even his golems could take more than a few of her attacks. Of course, he realised the difference in power within a few exchange of blows, so he chose to count his losses and flee the city, but then he discovered that the local army had managed to re-organise itself. With the support of the old woman, the army was more than a match for Manish. In fact, they were such a strong adversary that he had to play tag with them for days before he could somehow escape from the city, then when they noticed that he was gone, the army chased him right into the ominous mountains near the city.

    For some reason, the army did not follow him, but at that moment, he was glad to have survived that encounter. It did not occur to him that the army had a reason why they abandoned the chase, a reason which manifested in the form of skeleton warriors. Utterly exhausted from fighting the army and their helper, Manish was chased across the mountains for days until he finally managed to find an area that was out of their area of influence. While that meant that he could rest for several days, it also meant that he had absolutely no idea where he was because he was too busy surviving to pay attention to the surroundings. Of course, he still had his compass with him, but as he discovered, he did not have enough food and water left to last a journey. Therefore, he spent the last two days discovering the mountain and hunting for animals.

    But now, even though he was finally rested and he had enough food, he was on the verge of giving up. He has been trecking across the mountains for days, but he saw no signs of civilization at all. There were no paths on any of the mountains, nor any weapons, nothing. Even when he decided to climb up to one of the peaks, he saw only trees for miles without end. For the first time in his life, he was completely lost without a single soul or object to help him. He hoped that his compass would at least lead him out of the mountains, but he seemed to venture deeper and deeper into the wilderness.

    Fortune decided to lend a hand to him though, for he soon found a clearing that was filled with tree stumps. Jumping for joy, Manish explored the clearing thoroughly and found a path that renewed his resolve. With his willpower renewed, even his tired arms and legs felt like they could carry him across a thousand miles, so he started following the path to civilization. Eventually, he ended up at a small village in a valley. It was just a typical village, nothing more, but Manish almost jumped with joy as he saw it. It has been so long since he has seen other human faces and even if these small villages were absolutely hostile to outsiders, at least it meant that he could find out the name of the village and follow a road to the nearest city.

    He managed to reach the village at twilight, but he was dismayed to see a pair of soldiers standing at every entry point. Even worse, they were wearing the uniform of the regular army, meaning that they were not just some kind of local militia that the villagers drafted because they feared of the outsiders. His only hope was that the guards would not recognise him on entry, so he quickly pulled the hood down from his head and loosened the cloth on his mouth, hoping that being inconscpicious would prevent the guards from inspecting him closely. Naturally, that theory did not work.

    "Halt," said one of the soldiers to the approaching Manish. "We have been informed that a criminal is travelling in these parts. Please wait a..." said the soldier, then he looked up at the face of the mage. "You are him," he said, his hand already gripping his weapon. "Manish Joshi, you are hereby arrested fo-"
    "I hate you, Finagle," said Manish, interrupting the soldier. For a second, both soldiers looked up at him in surprise... Then they screamed when two huge spiders materialised right in front of their faces.

  2. News had traveled fast regarding the strange mage and his recent exploits. However the affairs of the local government were of no concern to Mitsusawa. A pilgrim who just so happen to wander into town at the wrong time. An all too familiar tale. Her attire and appearance proved alien, screaming the fact she was a foreigner. The young enforcer was confident in assuming none of the locals were aware of her vocation, let alone powers. Such affairs were well kept secrets within the house of vipers. Plus their dominion lied further south. Far from the reach of this realm. But what stood out the most was her condition. A handicap displayed for all too see due to the spirit wrapping which clung tightly over her eyes. <o:p></o:p>
    Her upper body was adorned with a pearl white overcoat and a black kimono. All of which grasped her toned frame tightly.

    On her hips could be found two blades sheathed but still bearing a rather odd shape. Despite her eyes being obscured this woman traversed the busy street with extreme grace. Hinting to her powers of perception which far exceed that of the physical realm. Her stride was as frigid as it was authoritative. As if inherently demanding one’s attention and respect. A fragment of the extent of military training she had received as a young girl. Her kimono exposed flesh around her bosom. Which though supported by the ame spirit cloths as her eyes, two scars could still be scene. Proudly she bore these wounds and saw no reason to hide it. The two disfigurements made an X shape across her chest. Though what came off as most odd was the fact one couldn’t tell if it was a battle scar or surgical.

    It wouldn’t take long for the brunette beauty to stumble on the scene transpiring. Normally she would never involve herself in the affairs of politics or local militaries. Yet for some reason she felt compelled to, the reason however would for the moment remain her own. The arches of her lips would bend, forming a smirk as she perceived the artificial spiders this spell weaver conceived. Without a warning or hesitation the oddly dressed woman would seem to dissipate from sight. Suddenly reappearing in front of the two petrified guards. Standing between the mage and the soldiers she would take a step back. Her wooden sandals leaving their mark on the dirt road. “I see now. I sense….4”This was all she would say before in a single fluid motion drawling out her blades.
    The hoarse whisper of metal fractioning against metal would shatter the normal banter. Reverberating from the walls, but the guards would react Mitsusawa would twirl her blade elegantly in her hands. Jumping backwards as she shifted her blade so the points faced behind her. Her swords would pierce the soldiers’ armor around their chest cavity. But not enough to penetrate their skin. At this point the local authorities would awaken from their state of terror. One of them would even go as far as to laugh at her. “Little wench! You and him will pay for this! Did you really think such puny weapons could penetrate our iron skin?” His words failed to influence her. With unwavering resolve and confidence she would raise her head. Her picturesque facial features greeting the spell caster.
    “Gnaw your teeth…” Such an odd choice of words; however it wouldn’t take long for clarification. Her once inanimate blade would begin to vibrate at intense frequencies. The once solid armor instantly shattered, her blades now penetrating their flesh and bone. Coming out the other side.”This will not taken long.” She spoke toward the wanted man. With a single motion she would pull her blades earthward. Flesh, bone, blood and organs erupted and decorated the scene. The locals screaming as a morbid sight now faced them. Mitsusawa’s weapons had literally torn his flesh apart as if it were some sort of vicarious predator. What was once solid meat resembled that of strings of flesh. The soldiers were dead. Casually she would flick both her blades which had ceased to vibrate. The blood which rested on them now hurling itself to the ground.
    A soft sigh parting from her lips as she sheathed her blades. “There are two more.” She spoke to the criminal. “Come with me. Your aura is tainted.”Mitsusawa concluded.


    From the swarthy shadows another woman crept. Keeping her distance as ordered by her mentor. This intoxicating beauty went by the name of Clare. A warrior who willingly kept her low rank despite having abilities surpassing her superiors. “Recently you’ve done battle with something vile. Do not speak…do not whisper or let your mind wander. All I want to hear from those pretty lips of yours is yes. “ Her arms nesting against her somewhat exposed abdomen. Despite being a member of the same group this woman would entirely different attire. Far simpler and local. She wore a white button up blouse and a black mini skirt. Similar in design as the kimono the other one wore..
    “You have become evidence…But do not fret. If you come with us you will live. And we will clear your name. If you refuse than…” Those bicolored eyes of hers would wander toward the knife now twirling in her hand. “We will take you into the authorities and watch as you hang.” It was clear Clare was the more talkative one. And the one who more closely resembled the embodiment of an enforcer. Yet desite this tough exterior she did possess a kind soul. Her free hand would casually run through her feathered short hair as she leaned her back against the wall. "So which will it be?" Arching a brow as she patiently continued to twirl her knife.

    Mitsusawa would only sigh. disapproving of her choice of words. However what she spoke was true. They had orders after all.

  3. The guards were terrified enough of the two spiders, but they quickly regained their senses and started fighting them off. Unfortunately for them, Manish was in absolutely no mood to fight fair, so he started to close the distance... Which was when a woman appeared out of nowhere, accompanied by a loud noise that made both the guards and Manish pause. He had no idea who was such an idiot that she revealed herself before actual combat, but he immediately changed his opinion of the woman as soon as he saw what she did with the guards. Flesh, bones and blood sprayed all over the place, covering the whole road in gore. What was worse, though, is that Manish could not identify the nature of the magic the woman used, meaning that he did not know just how much effort would that spell take, which meant that he had no idea about the power level of the warrior before him.

    However, she seemed to be on his side, but for some reason, she demanded him to follow. Of course, he was having none of that, but before he could speak, another woman appeared out of nowhere. She was a lot more talkative than the previous one, not that Manish really understood what she was talking about, but at least he knew that these two worked together. Or at least they were helping each other. Worst case scenario, they were partners who were put through a ridiculous amount of training so they could fight as one. Knowing his luck, Manish was sure that he was facing the worst case scenario, but he would not let himself to be intimidated. With a swift and well-practiced move, he took his bag off from his back to show he meant business.

    "Okay, first of all, I am not going anywhere until you explain the situation," said Manish. "Second of all, who are you and why should I trust you?" asked Manish, his eyes wandering from one woman to the other constantly. Although he was tired from wandering around in the mountains, his mind was at full battle readiness. He was ready to create any of his beasts of war at any given time and he did not recall the spiders, which now took position at his legs. Although he knew it would not be an easy fight if the two women attacked him, he was not willing to follow them just because they have said so.
  4. Clare glared at the man as he protested. In her eyes he came across as a whiny child. Still in the end both Clare and Mitsusawa would entertain his request. However to maintain operational security protocol they would be forced to refrain from disclosing certain details. The bicolored eyed beauty would remain still, arms resting against her somewhat exposed stomach. Still leaning against the wall as her eyes darted across the scene. Remaining ever vigilant as she permitted her superior the right of humoring this spell caster. Mitsusawa could sense Clare’s disposition with the situation, however she possessed a more level headed perception regarding the matter. With blades still sheathed the cloth wrapped brunette would step forward. Closing the distance between them as her hips swayed rather feminine despite her warrior exterior.
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    A soft and genuinely warm smile would greet this fellow as she now stood but a few feet from both him and his arachnid friends. Surprisingly these monstrosities had no effect on her resolve. Her bearing remained unaltered as she conjured a proper response. “Your request is fair. I apologize for Clare’s outburst…she is passionate and at times overly so…” Clare would make a pfft sound out of resentment as she turned her head away from them. Causing mitsusawa’s attention to avert for a brisk moment. “I cannot tell you much due to the security risk it may pose for our organization. But I will gladly share what I can if you only heed my humble request.” Her words seemed honeyed, almost soothing by nature. She spoke without deception, a skill she never saw the need to cultivate.
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    “It would seem that recently you came into contact with a powerful being. One which appeared to be a human but in truth is something else entirely. Judging by the signature still resonating from your aura I can only assume you found yourself outmatched. Being a man of reason and intellect you fled. In turn this action has left you in a bad position and somewhat drained. The being you exchanged spells with is a soul which jumps from carcass to carcass. Taking over one persons form for some time to extend it’s own life span.” Mitsusawa would abruptly stop as she turned to face Clare. A soft sigh parted from Clare’s lips as she removed herself from the wall. “I know, I know. I sense them too…even I’m not that blind. You continue with your conversation I’ll handle them.” Clare was confident, knowing these fools knew not the powers they were tempting.
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    Casually she would pass between the two, her eyes drifting down to the spiders. “Kinky friends.” She jested, still she admired his ability to conjure such creatures effortlessly. A display of both his power and potential in her eyes. “Thank you Clare.” Mitsusawa would reply, ignoring her previous comment entirely. “Do not worry she can handle the unwanted guests.”No doubt this recent turn of events would confuse the poor spell slinger. “We want you to take us back to this being. We will kill it, give you a payment and use our influence to clear your name. As a bonus I will even let you keep whatever it is you are seeking.” Her power of deduction was rather intimidating. To extract so much from his aura and spirit’s pattern was mind baffling.
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    At this time two more guards could be spotted on the roof, crossbow in hand as they prepared to take aim. Clare would place her hands on her hips, shifting her body weight in order to arch her right hip skyward. “Really? I was hoping for a bit more…well I’ll just make this quick.” She seemed genuinely disappointed. Her eyes would drift to a nearby stall as she grabbed a crimson apple. Rubbing it against her blouse before taking a bite out of it. This display or confidence only served to rile up the guards watching from afar. Peering through the corners of her eyes Clare would raise her knife, aiming it slightly to the right of one of the guards. “Slither…” She whispered as her once puny knife began to grow, slithering like a snake as it traveled a hundred feet.
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    The guards were frozen with shock, their eyes slowly drifting toward the tip of her blade, which was now slightly behind them. A bright smile adorning her face as the hand which grasped the apple waved a few fingers at them. As if to say goodbye. The juices from the fruit trailing down to her chin as she attempted this smile with a mouth full of food. With a quick jerk of her wrist the blade would travel, slicing both the men in half. Blood staining the once fair shingles as their lifeless bodies fell from the roof to the ground. Swallowing the fruit she would then tap her hilt. “Coil…” She uttered softly. The blade retracting returning to its previous state. Quickly she would turn to face the man.
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    “My name is Clare of snakes Blade. I am the 62ndseat of the house of vipers.” She’d offer him a bow. “And my name is Mitsusawa the crimson angel. I am the 3rd seat of the house of vipers enforcer division.” She too would bow. Clare would be the first to stand upright, Mitsusawa shortly following suite. “So will you come with us?” Clare would ask, tossing her knife from onw hand to the next. Twirling it within each hand before passing it off. A habit not meant to threaten the fellow, but keep her skills sharp.
  5. For Manish, it was time to recount the events he just witnessed. One, the warrior woman spoke with such excessive politenes that not even a noble of the highest order could find fault in it. Two, the same woman left him behind so she could take care of the town's remaining guards. Three, as Claire informed him, the mage he was fighting against in the city was actually a wandering soul, someone who had died a rather long time ago. He had heard of such beings, but he always believed their existence to be mere superstition. However, as he thought back to the battle, he realised that no mage was powerful enough to master so many kinds of magic in just one life, not to mention that they were almost absolutely perfect in form. Four, Claire just killed two guards without remorse, using a type of magic that Manish could not identify, not to mention she did it with such an absolute ease that left him speechless. Five, the two women introduced themselves and asked for his assistance.

    It took him some seconds to put the picture together and understand the connections, but then, he made his decision fairly quickly. The fact that Mitsusawa and Claire just demonstrated strength that was definitely comparable to his also helped, as he was not about to turn down an offer made by two equals. However, he could not help but feel uneasy about Claire's skill of uncannily deducting everything from just looking at him. If he knew what kind of magic she used to identify him, he would probably have felt less disturbed. But alas, the two women gave absolutely no clue as to the nature of their magic, or if they did, they hid it very well. From this, Manish deduced that these two were most likely professional assassins or people who have dedicated their a whole life to studying their own form of magic, unlike him, who only had so much practice with building creatures.

    "All right," said Manish after he took everything into account. "I cannot resist such an offer. Just tell me where I am and I will guide you to that mage," said Manish, letting his body relax. With a swift movement, he grabbed his bag and heaved it over his shoulders, then he fastened the straps to keep it in its place. He knew that as long as he had these two warriors by his side, he would most likely not have to fear from anything that attacked them. They were more than capable of defending him, and he saw no reason to use his own powers when somebody else could just use theirs instead of him.

    "I suppose I should introduce myself, though," said Manish as he adjusted the bag on his back. "I am Manish Joshi, but I have no rank to speak of," he said, then tightened the cloth around his face and pulled the hood over his head. "If you two are ready to go, then so am I," he added as he intertwined his fingers, then separated them quickly. As a result, both of the spiders that he summoned disappeared in the blink of an eye, turning into white petals that returned into his hand along with some of the magical energy his minions have used up during their relatively brief existence... However, as soon as he did that, he noticed the group of the guards advancing towards them.

    "I really do hate you, Finagle," said Manish, muttering under his breath. "I suggest we run. No sense in killing the weak," he added, then he turned around and started to run on the path where he came from. He really hoped that the women agreed with his views, or the town would be turned into a slaughterhouse in mere moments.
  6. Mitsusawa was unsure of his response to all this. However Clare knew all too well he was in no position to resist. For by doing so he would doom himself to a life on the run if not execution. And she knew all too well that a desperate human is always a loyal one. Being a woman of logic shecould at times not refrain from acting so frigidly. The arches of Clare’s luscious lips would bend, a smile now adorning her scarred face. The change in her patterns would evoke a puzzled look for Mitsusawa. The blinded warrior couldn’t help but ponder what exactly was coursing through that labyrinth of a mind. Still she wouldn’t permit her mind to wander for long. Returning her focus back toward this spell caster. Her only fear being that Clare’s bold nature and blunt attitude will sown seeds of dissent and disrupt their mission. Silently both women would wait patiently, tolerating whatever delay would meet them.
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    As the man spoke, both ladies would lend him their ears. His words came as no surprise to Clare she had already deduced this much. The smile plastered on her picturesque face did widen, pleased that once again she was right. At this moment Mitsusawa would take charge and weave together an appropriate reply. “We are in Ironswood. A small town south of the mountain range.” Quick and to the point as usual. Not permitting much silence to settle between her words. Her flavorless approach was like a bitter berry in Clare’s eyes. Still she would be forced to tolerate her rather dull approach. “It is a pleasure Manish.” As these words parted from Mitsusawa’s mouth, her once bland expression would become that of a more welcomed sight. Gracing him with yet another seemingly genuine smile. “While I don’t share the enthusiasm as Mitsusawa here, I’m glad to see you came to your senses. I would of hate to kill you. I despise lost potential and loathe wasted potential even more.”Clare did reply.
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    Soon Manish would understand the nature of their power. Whether or not he saw fit to accept the epiphany was another matter entirely. Mitsusawa would turn her back toward the man, facing the road north where the monolithic mountain greeted them with all its might. The tail of her Kimono twirling in the wind rather elegantly as her hands gently drummed against the sheathed hilt of her blade. “I see no reason to stay…do you Clare?” She’d turn her head, as if to peer at her from the corner of her obscured eyes. Clare would toss the corpse of the devoured apple against a nearby wall. Stretching as she yawned. Her movements flamboyant as ever. “Not really. I wouldn’t mind grabbing a few more of those apples though…” She replied as her pointer finger tapped against her chin. “Enough…you can be gluttonous on your own time.” Shrewdly Mitsusawa would retort. Showing her more authoritative nature. Bur a fragment of her true self. Though she possessed grace this spirit clothed woman had no problem beating a stubborn donkey brutishly.
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    “Fine. “Clare would shrug her shoulders before making her way to Manish side, bumping her hips against his own. “So tell me spell slinger….where can we find this yellow brick road at exactly?” She would jest.
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    Long before Manish could proclaim the arrival of the guards both Mitsusawa and Clare could feel their presence. But for the moment they would let him declare the obvious. “Wait you mean there were more than four guards in this town?” Clare would pretend to gasp as she covered her mouth. Unobstructing it before patting Manish on the back. “Ok than you run and we follow.” Clare whispered rather lightly. In the hopes that the guards would remain clueless of their brilliant strategy. Mitsusawa though felt as if she was babysitting a child. Clare was always the eccentric type. While she was the more reserve a graceful warrior.
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    “I agree sir Manish. I have no interest in crushing all these ants. For no matter how strong you are, or how much endurance you possess…crush enough of them and you will find yourself becoming fatigued.” Crudely the blinded warrior would reply. The guards becoming infuriated by their total lack of concern. “Such arrogance!” One would bellow.
  7. Finally, something that went according to the plan for Manish! While he still did not quite trust the two women at his side, they were far too powerful for him to fight, not to mention that even if they did not complete their end of a bargain, Manish could always flee. At least he had experience with that, he mused as he ran back up the mountain with the guards chasing behind him and the women. He was surprisingly fast, especially for someone with so much luggage as him, but then, he had faced worse before. He even had the time to open one of the pockets on his bag, get his map, align his compass with the north of the map, find Ironswood, then trace a path back to the town he came from, Shinlein. While running, he confirmed the route on the map a few times, then he put it back to its place.

    "All right," he said, turning towards the women that were following him as he evaded a large tree stump. "I know where we have to go. Follow me," he said, then he narrowly dodged an arrow. How he managed that, he did not know at first, but then he reminded himself that a small town's guard was usually not very well-trained. They were still annoying, though, so he concentrated and flash assembled a dozen or so spiders well beyond themselves. The guards screamed in response, surprised at the sudden appearance of the strange creatures, their advance grinding to a halt. Their formation crumbled, allowing the spiders to get in a few lucky bites with their fangs before they disappeared into nothing. Naturally, the guards were confused at this strange turn of events... But they were even more confused when they found out they could not move.

    "Guards should not be a problem anymore," said Manish, but he did not slow his steps down, jumping over bushes and evading trees expertly. He was going in a seemingly random direction, but his compass knew where he was going, and shortly, the alchemist and the two assassins ended up at a small trail. There, Manish finally slowed his steps down to catch his breath, but he did not stop walking. He just decreased his pace to a more even, comfortable one.

    "So... Why do you want to kill this soul?" asked Manish. "You two really do not look like heroes of justice. Nor do you look like saints," said Manish, then he realised something. "That was a silly question. Your goal is probably secret. Am I right?" he asked, turning towards Claire, who seemed to be slightly more hospitable than Mitsusawa. He really was not hoping for an answer though, after all, assassins like them were often trained not to reveal any details about their mission lest it be compromised.
  8. In truth fleeing was something outside of these women forte. However Mitsusawa understood that slaughtering a bunch of guards would ultimately create more trouble than good. While Clare thought of it more as advancing in a different direction. Following Manish’s lead the enforcers would keep up with his surprising haste Mitsusawa found herself pondering how a human with so much luggage could maintain such a fast pace over such a great distance. It would seem that turning tail was something this spell slinger was well versed in. This did not mean that the blinded warrior belittled the man, rather instead she found herself in admiration. She understood all too well that in the end the only thing which truly matter wasn’t whether you took a stand. In fact only one thing mattered in this hostile world, that being survival. And none of them could deny his uncanny ability to survive.
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    Heading away from town and toward the root of the mountain. The lot still found themselves under the ever enduring pursuit of the armed guards. “God…when are these fools gonna take a break?” Clare spoke out loud as they made their way up the incline which now faced them. “It appears when they’re dead.” Mitsusawa wittedly would retort. “How about we save our moaning till later Clare?” She’d inquire into rather frigidly. Clare would only smile out of amusement as her superior addressed her with such “grace.” This smile would become a chuckle as she observed Manish multitask. Fleeing, dodging the terrain all while navigating their course. “I bet you’re having fun aren’t you?” She’d ask, her gaze averting from Mitsusawa toward the spell caster.
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    Both Mitsusawa and Clare would watch as Manish weaved a rather devious spell. Birthing from seemingly nothing a group of arachnids. Clare couldn’t help but wonder why he possessed some sort of fetish for these creatures. She would choose to opt out of asking. Less she receive more information then desired. The blinded warrior needn’t even adjust her gaze to watch what happened next. For unlike most people, Mitsusawa saw the world in her own unique special way. Almost granting her a perfect 360 perception. Though she found the tactic of penalization to be bit cowardice for her taste. But not nearly as tiresome as actually humoring these armed baboons. The once insufferable sound of their armor clanking against itself would finally dissipate. It was almost like music to her ears. However the near mechanical shrills of his spiders was enough to give her a mild headache.
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    “You play dirty don’t you Manish? I think you and I are going to get along…” Clare would reply to the scene unfolding. “I’d say, I doubt they’ll follow us so lightly anymore.” The feathered hair beauty would say in response to the spell slinger stating the obvious. All the meanwhile Mitsusawa would keep her thoughts to herself. For just as he sought to understand and study their magic. So was she trying to study his movements and technique. Mitsusawa’s expression would waver a bit as he inquired into their mission. “I do what I am told that simple.” She had no problem displaying her loyalty to the house. Something these two women did not share. “I’m more of a trouble maker. Hence why I’ve been assigned to serve under Mitsusawa, so I don’t share her enthusiasm. The house of vipers is hoping that working with her will sedate my rebellious nature.” Clare would start to throw her own two cents into the matter.
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    Her tongue now traced over the arches of her luscious lips, as if to moisten them. The colder mountain air was already proving to be a bother. “Long story short we’ve been hired to kill it. This freak which kicked your ass is proving to have out stayed it’s welcome.” At first one might deduce by Clare’s words that they were some sort of assassins. Truthfully though they were nothing of the sort. “So if I don’t look like a saint than what are you saying? That I’m a bad person? I guess next thing you’re going to say is that you wish to spank me hmm?” She jested while arching a brow. Mitsusawa would at first only sigh, rubbing her fore head out of frustration. “Not everyone is a masochist, nor does everyone want to hear about your sexual fantasies.”Her words mildly rubbing Clare the wrong way. “We are not assassins. What we are varies from one story to the next. Some say we are abominations birthed from vile sorcery and alchemy. Other’s like to fancy us as touched by devils. A few even see me as a half human half monster. Whatever you wish to call us you may.” She would conclude.
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    “Clare would grin as she narrowed her eyes, leaning closer to Manish as she whispered. “Or just an old lady that talks too much.”
  9. "Yeah, I doubt that they would follow us after what I have done to them," muttered Manish as he followed his compass and the lines on his map. Without the distractions that the guards provided, it was so much easier to follow the roads marked on his map. He really did not expect an answer to his previous question, so he was very surprised when both Mitsusawa and Claire answered his question, though their answer surprised him quite a bit, especially that of Claire. When Mitsusawa deadpanned Claire, Manish could not help but smirk, hoping that the two women would not notice that he was laughing at them. Of course, that was probably a false hope as they seemed to be incredibly perspective, but at least he knew that they would not kill him.

    "I see," said Manish as he regained his composure and continued walking along the path. "You two are certainly interesting. Although, I guess I also have been called many names," pondered the scientist. "But I wonder which one of those facets are true? Surely, you must have one that you believe about yourself," asked Manish, his lust for knowledge taking over. If these two were indeed as dangerous as they had said and they really had so many stories dedicated to them, then they might prove to be an interesting pair. He had yet to figure out the kind of magic they used as well, but he was in no rush. After all, it would take them a long time to make through the mountains and they could encounter anything on the way which presented Manish with an opportunity to study their magic.

    Of course, he did not say that out loud. He knew better than to ask the question directly, for assassins never revealed their secrets themselves, and even if they do, the one told of their secret never lives long enough to tell others about it. That was even more true if they were contracted workers, but then, no sane person would willingly say what kind of magic they used. Like everything, types of magic had their own strengths and weaknesses, so if one knew what the other person was using, they would gain an an unfair advantage. With ordinary magic, like wind, fire, water or earth, that was not much of a problem since both parties could figure out what the out what the other was using. But for a mercenary that used an obscure method of magic, the relevation probably meant death.

    Suddenly, an oppressive presence started to loom over the trio and Manish grit his teeth. It was a presence that he felt before while he was in the mountains. It was the all-too-familiar aura of necromancy, of unbridled magical energy swimming in the air and giving life to everything. He nearly choked on the air alone and had to take short breaths to keep himself suffocating from the overcharged air. It was most definitely not this strong when he had arrived.

    "This is not good. When I last passed here, there was no presence like this," said Manish as he noticed that the air was actually getting darker as he went along the road, so he stopped. "We will have to make a detour. Unless you insist on fighting something that can generate an aura like this."
  10. With the guards scurrying away like cockroaches, the women finally felt free enough to catch their breath. They had spent days traveling on the road, fending off bandits and other nuisances. And once they reached their destination, still more bloodshed awaited them. Though both Clare and Mitsusawa enjoyed the ecstasy a good battle brought. Even the most war harden warrior still required some manner of respite. Clare's feet felt heavy, a side effect of her tendency to cling to acrobatic feats. Something Mitsusawa would take note of. Often as her superior mitsusawa told Clare sometimes the best approach was a direct one. However no matter how many times she scolded her, that stubborn child would never adhere her counsel.

    "Indeed, it seems for a minute we can enjoy the illusion of peace." Mitsusawa would reply, a sigh parting from her lips as she now made her way ahead of the group. Leaving a gap of only a few feet. Now while Mitsusawa seemed ignorant of his chuckle, Clare on the other hand wouldn't let such an obvious thing slip by her. Nor would she leave it void of discussion. "Yeah, yeah serenity delusions and lies. I for one like the illusion so don't go and spoil it Mitsusawa." The arches of her lips bending, permitting a grin to reside on her picturesque face. "How many times must I tell you? It's miss Mitsusawa to you." Her tone of voice like that of a mother scolding her children. Clare would react in her typical fashion, shrugging her shoulders before permitting her arms to nest against her defined abdomen.

    "At least one more time ma'am." She would retort, her tone of voice being that of sarcasm. Her bicolored eyes averting themselves from her superior. Now resting on the spell slinger, who had finally gathered enough composure to disperse his smile. "What's so funny spider fetish boy?" She'd inquire into, clearly never letting go of her spider fetish comment from an hour ago. A nickname that wasn't going to dissipate any time soon. "Interesting eh? Are you hitting on me? Cause if so...I may just hit back!" Clare would raise her hand, making it into a fist before clenching it. Obviously she was jesting with him. Still her attitude continued to give Mitsusawa a migraine. "...Children." She'd mutter under her breath before turning to face them. Waiting till they passed her before rejoining the group.

    As they continued to tread down the windy mountain path. The women found themselves musing over his interest. Most would ignore them or treat them like second class citizens due to their unholy union. But this man, this spell caster was different. He didn't seemed frighten rather enthralled. Not like that of a man harboring concern or genuine curiosity. Rather that of someone with a purpose. Which was something which did not settle well with the blinded warrior. "It matters not what I wish to believe." Frigidly she would reply. Hoping to end his game of questions there. Of course Clare would once more pursue a different approach. "No need to be all grumpy Mitsu....Miss Mitsusawa." Catching herself before she fully slipped up.

    "I know the truth. I know what I am and what I am not. I experienced the revelation you seek. And trust me it is something you're better off not knowing. sometimes ignorance is bliss right?" Clare would offer Manish a subtle smile. Mitsusawa however would promptly interject. "We are monsters. Is this what you want to hear Manish?" As she spoke, never once would she turn her head to face the man. Clearly this was a sensitive subject for her. "Yeah....right....about that." Clare would clear her throat before throwing her arms behind her head. Looking skyward as she pondered the right words to use. "We're humans. I'm no different than any other pretty girl." The spirit clothed woman would turn her head from Clare as she thought to herself. "Does she really think she's one of the pretty ones?"

    It was at this time that swarthy aura of undead bane swooped by them. It was heavy and clearly belonged to a powerful entity. And though as a team they might be able to contest it. Sometimes it is best to avoid needless confrontations. After all defeating this monstrosity was not part of their assignment. "Yes avoiding it would be best." Mitsusawa mustered a response without fear. Meanwhile Clare seemed excited by the new sensation. Pulling her arms down she would clench her fist. Practicing her footwork as she twirled her knife. "Finally some real fun!" But before she could jolt off Mitsusawa would grab her blouse by the collar. Causing her to fall to the ground." Which way?" She asked, keeping Clare from rising back to her feet. "Come on! Let me go! I just want to kick it's ass seebass!" Pointlessly she would throw a few punches, still pumped up. "I swear if you were this enthusiastic about another man you wouldn't be a virgin. So shut up less I be force to beat you into submission."

    Clare would make a tch sound as she folded her arms across her chest. Clearly disappointed with her superiors words.
    "Fine....You old people need to lighten up though." Her words only being melt with silence as Mitsusawa brushed them off.
  11. Manish had to admit that on some level, he enjoyed the banter of the two women, even if he could not add to it. He was never one who could make up witty retorts or comments on the spot, and from the looks of it, neither was Mitsusawa. She was the more serious of the duo, always disciplining the younger Clara from what Manish has seen, only that it did not seem to work at all. From they way they talked, he concluded that these two must be lifelong companions, forever bantering amongst each other in an amusing way. He was much less amused at Claire's spider fetish comment, though, but like Mitsusawa, he simply chose to dismiss it even if it disturbed him a bit.

    But the greatest surprise of the evening was the fact that they actually answered his question, and for what it was worth, they seemed to be content with their lot in life. Claire seemed to be a bit less accepting of it, but Mitsusawa already resigned herself to her fate. Manish could not help but wonder what kind of relevations they went through. He decided against asking, though, so he spoke his mind instead.

    "It is not the others who determine what you are," he said. "It is you, and I can not imagine that you would be content with being a monster," he continued, not even looking up at the pair as he tried to find a way around the oppressive presence to no avail. Each of the paths visible on the map he held either lead deeper inside the mountains, back towards the village they came, or into the territory where the terrible presence seemed to come from.

    "Great," said Manish as he frowned. "Give me a few minutes to do something. We will have to go through thick undergrowth," said Manish as he put his map and compass back into his backpack, then he put it on the ground as he took a small knife from his belt. It was a very well-known knife in those who studied alchemy even remotely: its characteristic, thin grip with its scalpel-like blade identified it as a tool suitable for carving, but the many symbols engraved into the surface of the ridiculously narrow blade pointed to its true purpose. It was a ritualistic knife for setting up alchemical circles.

    Without a second thought, Manish jammed the knife into a nearby tree, and with practiced movements, he cut out a large lump of it. He then placed the wood on the ground and started carving strange symbols into the ground around it, but he never ever completed them, knowing that the transformation would start if he did so. He worked carefully and methodically, paying attention to every single symbol, then when he was finished, he took a step back to seemingly admire his work. In reality, he was merely giving everything a once-over, but as usual, he found no errors, so he closed the circle with a single stroke of his knife, and the transformation started.

    Slowly, the symbols in the ground started to disappear and the wood turned into alchemical steel that was much stronger and lighter than ordinary steel. Then, the big lump of metal separated itself into three, even portions that shaped themselves into long, but not too thin staves with a comfortable grip at their bottoms. Nodding at the fruits of his work, Manish passed one staff to each of the women. He then put on his backpack, took out his compass, then he stepped off the path and started making his way South-West.
  12. The two would find themselves embracing silence as Manish responded to their words. His response was well posed and carried with it a genuine sense of conviction. It was this resolve which over powered the two woman and for a moment they felt as if he understood their dilemma. Though Mitsusawa knew for a fact there was no way he could fathom the gravity of their situation. Still she would find some comfort in his wise words. Offering him a faint smile. Clare on the other hand could only avert her eyes. His thoughts brought her out of her combat frenzy and back into reality. Something not even Mitsusawa could of done with such ease.

    Clare wanted to tell him the full story of their origins. She wanted to open up to someone and express the pain which came with their existence. However she would refrain from doing so, far too frighten that it would contort the image Manish had of them.

    "Thank you."

    Mitsusawa whispered, permitting her head to face earth ward as if she were ashamed. Though in truth she wasn't, she just didn't feel the need to look upon him. With a heavy sigh Clare would rise to her feet. Putting away her knife before stretching and cracking her knuckles. Yawning heavily as she turned to face the spell slinger. Who now pulled out a blade of his own.

    "For someone who loves the company of spiders, you have a heart of gold." She'd express the contrast of his image now on displayed before her.

    It was at this point that Clare would take note of the blade, being a knife enthusiast she quickly was able to identify the purpose of such a renown tool. This caused her eyes to widen as the tool brought back memories of her brother. One of the few pleasant child hood memories she could still recall.

    "I know that blade..." Softly she spoke. Mitsusawa turning her head to face her sensing Clare's disposition.

    "Are you alright Clare?"

    She'd inquire into her well being. The bicolored eyed beauty would offer her a simple glance and subtle grin. Placing her thumb on her chin before raising her head toward the heavens.

    "'s just that my brother was an alchemist and used a similar tool. I suppose that is your trade."

    As she inquired her gaze would sharply avert toward Manish. Who at this point had begun to carve some symbols onto the bark of a nearby tree.

    It is true that they both have worked with each other for sometime. But despite traveling together for so long it finally struck Mitsusawa how little they knew bout each others past. Most members of the house of vipers suffered a tragedy which in turn left them without family ties. They were then grabbed against their will and experimented on. Few members knew each others story, for it was considered a weakness amongst the house.

    "Do not be dismayed."

    These were the only words her superior could muster. Not wishing to pry less she cause offense.

    "I know, I know. I've already said too much like always.."

    She would bop herself on the forehead with her palm gently. A display meant to express the extent of her foolishness.

    It was at this time that Manish had finished his magic trick. Causing the once solid lumber to become three separate well defined pieces which resembled strongly a staff. Both women would remain silent as he passed them each one of these wooden stick. Mitsusawa would keep her's and offer the spell slinger a simple now.

    "Thank you..."

    Though honestly she was confused behind his reasoning. While Clare seeing the staff as an open wound would toss it. Not wishing to fully expose such old wounds.

    "No thank you. I don't need some stick....My legs are strong enough."

    She proclaimed. Her eyes avoiding Manish unaware if her reaction would cause offense.

    "Sorry but it brings back unpleasant memories." She would briefly elaborate before pressing pass him.

    There she would wait until such a time as both Manish and Mitsusawa passed her by. Comfortably she would join the lot keeping herself toward the rear.

    "She meant no offense. She has had a rough life. We all have but I feel as if her's has left a larger hole in her heart than most. That is probably why she is so witty. It's her shield."

    She would whisper at a volume that would escape Clare's senses.

    "What are you guys whispering about?" Clare would ask.

    "Nothing, just where we are heading exactly." She'd turn and offer clare a faint smile. Naturally the bicolored beauty knew she was lying and would only permit a Tch sound to part from her luscious lips. Not wishing to start a pointless argument.
  13. "It is not for your legs," said Manish matter-of-factly. He wanted to continue the sentence, to explain why they needed the metal staves on their way, however, Mitsusawa stepped close to him and whispered a sentence into her ear, a sentence that Manish understood all too well. Many who used alchemy were willing to result to inhumane experiments with unwilling subjects, not to mention that they often kept them as if they were slaves, not actual tools of research. He could understand why that would leave some sour memories inside the souls of people, so he chose not to continue down that road, even though the knowledge was really tempting. Clare's question, however, took him off balance as it indicated that she probably knew what was going on. Luckily for him, Mitsusawa deflected the question quickly.

    "Yes," he chose to lie through his teeth. "The road ahead is going to be... not ordinary," he said, not quite sure how to express himself. According to the map in his hands, their path would be obstructed by strange, millenia-old growths that expanded and grew around the trees, ensnaring a part of the forest in thick, ever-expanding vegetation that was impossible to get through without a huge machete. Or in their case, metal staves that were enchanted to have a cutting edge regarldess of their shape and their material was made immune to fatigue. They could use these staves until the alchemy in them faded, which would take a long time as Manish made sure to alter them properly.

    "And I do not have a heart of gold," said Manish, trying to divert the topic from alchemy and the sometimes inhuman experiments that people conducted... But as he thought more, he realised that it was probably not the alchemy itself that made Clara uncomfortable. She seemed much more uncomfortable at the sight of a metal stick, which made him think about all the countries he had learned of and their customs. He arrived at a logical and frightening conclusion, which was that Clara was probably nothing more than a slave. Metal staves were routinely used in the Liav Empire to discipline slaves or servants that did not obey every whim of their master.

    Manish shuddered at that thought. That was even worse than the alchemical experiments. He would have to be careful with his thirst for knowledge, lest he push one of the buttons of these two women and be killed. They were definitely dangerous, especially for his kind, the one that never rested until they found the truth. He came to the conclusion that he needed to get rid of them as soon as possible, or he would be likely dead.
  14. Clares past was complicated, a secret she kept well guarded even from Mitsusawa. Seldom would she ever discuss her history with others. Not even under the influence of alcohol would she tread down that path. The source of a member of the house of vipers power is directly tied to the three rings which make up our psyche. As theorize by their founding father. That being our shadows, past and moral compass. For a member to hand out too much detail about where they came from or what they've endured would in turn put their strength on display.

    This was something that Manish would soon come to understand. For the moment he would be left to theorize what he wills. For a member of the house to discuss such details is the highest form of trust, respect and love. None of which either him or Mitsusawa have merited in her eyes.

    "I am sorry...I simply can't." Clare spoke softly.

    Her eyes darting away from the spell slinger toward the earth. Clearly her heart was being weighed by some sort of tragedy from the past. For even these devilish bicolored eyes of hers could reflect sadness. With the mood becoming more and more depressing Mitsusawa would feel the need to intervene, in an attempt to retard the flow of the conversation.

    "Our party isn't ordinary. Do the road will suite us." Mitsusawa spoke offering Manish is faint smile.

    Suddenly Clare would pull out a notebook and a pencil, with haste she would draw. This birthed quite a few questions like, where was she hiding the notebook? Or how was she able to draw so fast. Mitsusawa knew what she was up to, an annoying habit of hers but one which oddly enough served as a method of release from her worries. And so this time she would tolerate this child like antic.

    Clare would turn the notebook toward Manish revealing several poorly drawn cartoonish drawings of all three of them. A wide grin now lingering on her face as she quickly pulled a 180.

    "Mitsusawa is right. See that's you the heart of gold alchemist with dashing good looks and a spider fetish. This is me, the beautiful warrior with grand intelligence who always saves the day. Did I mention beautiful? And this is the old hag. Together we make an odd team don't you think Mr.Manish?" The way she saw fit to address and belittle her superior was a bit too casual for Mitsusawa's taste. Clearly ignoring the spell casters insistence that he did not possess a heart of gold, nor did he possess a fetish for eight legged freaks.

    "Old...Hag...Nevermind." Clearly Mitsusawa felt wounded by such insults.

    Her exhale heavy as she rubbed her forehead. Quickly tossing aside her personal feelings in order to remain fixated on the mission. While Clare would simply toss the notebook near some foliage before throwing up her arms. Permitting them to rest behind her head against her feathered short hair. Seeming rather proud of herself, no doubt her artistic abilities...or lack thereof.

    If Manish desired to flee then he was free to do so. Worse comes to worse these women would find another way to obtaining their objective. However in truth they would much rather have him stay at their side. In Mitsusawa's eyes he kept Clare busy. In Clare's mind he was a refreshing sight from her normal scenery. She hated how strict and by the book her superior was.

    "And for the final time It's miss Mitsusawa." She'd utter under her breath.

    Clare's grin widening while she arched a brow. Making it obvious she was far too stubborn to kick aside her bad habit.
  15. Once again, Manish had to remind himself not to ask any further questions from those two, especially with his realisation that why Claire feared the metal staff that he gave her. He merely focused on the road ahead of him and forced his mind not to pay attention to the two women or what they were doing at all. He just buried himself in his own thoughts so he would not have to deal with his companions. He had no idea what provoked this sudden shift in attitude, but he was not going to think about that. After all, that would just set his mind back on track towards these two women, something that he knew he had to avoid, lest he get into too much trouble. True, these two seemed friendly enough, but he had to remind himself that they were assassins and that plunging into their past would likely resort in catastrophe for him.

    Thus, when Claire started drawing, Manish payed no attention, nor did he notice the rebuke that Mitsusawa gave her. He just focused on the road ahead, clearing his mind of any thought other than the ones that sought to assess the danger. He honestly had no idea what kind of area they were going to, much less of the threat it would represent, but nevertheless, he made an attempt to imagine how a forest corrupted by necromantic energies would look like. He failed of course, so instead of taking actual measures, he just gripped his staff tightly and advanced across the foilage which became thicker and thicker as the group went closer and closer to their destination. But it was not just the foilage that changed: the plants were starting to change as well, with vines becoming more common, not to mention that some vegetation started to form spiderweb-like structures in between the trees.

    Soon, the plants seemed to surround them in all directions, including above, but Manish just kept his heading, occasionally cutting a vicious-looking flower in half with his staff, or crushing the vines in front of him that seemed to ensnare everything. He did not even notice that the plants all around him were starting to change colour, slowly becoming the deathly pale, simply sick white that marked a strong necromancer's presence, so focused he was on not focusing on the two assassins. Whatever they had said to him, he just locked the words out of his mind, realising that it would be too dangerous to inquire further, and his own curiousity would likely mean his end if he tried to know more.

    His train of thoughts was interrupted when he heard the clattering of bones, followed by the unmistakeable dread that they had felt earlier. Clearly, the necromancer has traced their movements and had sent their skeletons to get them.
    "That is why I hate Finagle..." murmured Manish as he listened to the movements of the skeletons, trying to get a feeling for where they were in the thick vegetation. Of course, he quickly realised that this was the worst possible place for engaging the skeletons, for they would be not noticed in the thick undergrowth until the last second, giving the undead servants a huge edge, so he started cutting the plants around him. He really hoped that the two women who travelled with him knew some fire magic, or they would be dead within minutes.
  16. An eerie silence had stricken the group. And though no words would be exchanged for sometime, both Clare and Mitsusawa could sense that Manish was willfully ignoring them. Despite this epiphany the women would stray from treading down the common path of interrogation. For if he truly desired to express what was going through his mind, he would of done so by now. And everyone was entitled to their secrets. A truth even an assassin acknowledged and thus honored.

    Both Manish and Mitsusawa seemed to ignore the signs of foul magic displayed by the ever growing thick foliage. Clare was not so blind, she had seen such twisted plants before. Though they were not the same in appearance; the touch of frigid deaths call was unmistakable to her bicolored eyes. Like a ghost from the past she found herself being haunted by wounds once self deceived to be closed. Naturally she would refrain from displaying the discomfort now burdening her young soul.

    Mitsusawa could sense Manish cutting down this unnatural brush with the staff he conjured through some sort of vile alchemy. Following his lead the superior would hack away as well, but with each step they took Clare could feel the dark presence becoming more and more potent. Oddly enough reverberating with her own spirit like sound waves bouncing off of a wall. She would begin to marvel at both her companions lack of perception. It was as if a spell had been woven over their very eyes.

    "Do you not feel it?" She questioned out loud, being unable to keep such thoughts to herself any longer.

    Her words caused Mitsusawa to pause, before both her and the spell slinger finally felt the swarthy magic. No doubt hailing from either a really powerful necromancer or a young lich. The dark sensation coursing through Mitsusawa's perceptions would only be met with a faint smile. This feeling was like a drug to her; and everytime she felt it she lusted for more.

    "How did you sense this before me? it doesn't matter..." Mitsusawa replied.

    At this point they would hear the rattling of the bones. As Manish began to cut down the nearby over populating brush like some sort of rabid animal. This display birthing an arch on Clare's picturesque face. She was confused why he wouldn't simply cast a fire spell and consume these nuisances. She already knew Mitsusawa wasn't the type to cling to elemental magics of any sort. and seeing Manish swinging his stick like some sort of madman was a good indicator that he too knew no fire based spells. Which ultimately meant everything was up to her.

    "Unfurl..." She whispered while removing her knife from it's sheathe.

    Like before the blade would move like a snake, extending it's reach drastically. Grasping the hilt firmly she would keep it steady. closing her eyes as her fingers drummed against the hilt. Her free hand now resting against her bosom as she took a deep breath. Calmly she prepared herself for what was to follow. If Manish or Mitsusawa were paying attention they would sense the odd magic emitting from her body itself. The air molecules themselves would vibrate with extreme intensity. The friction would convert into energy, and that energy would becoming heat.

    "Like a flame all are drawn.
    Moths whom turn to ash.
    Aimlessly we wander into darkness flame.
    It's cleansing we pant for like a fawn.
    It's purity cause all too gnash."

    She chanted under her breath. As a fire as black as a starless eve would erupt around her blade. Consuming it in a flame no normal water could quench.

    "Duck!" She bellowed allowed before spreading her legs. Assuming her combat stance.

    With both speed and grace Clare would twirl creating a cyclone of swarthy fire. The tornado would consume all plant life within and around it's grip. Causing all of the brush within eyes distance to become consumed by it's unwavering intensity.

    "But all things must end.
    From stars to the flesh.
    Nothing can endure deaths flame.
    Everything it touch's,Let no man mend."

    The flames of darkness would instantly come to an end. Dissipating before their very eyes. Only ash and the charred remains of the skeletons who were within it's grasp remained. A frigid testament and reflection of her past. Up until now she refrained from displaying her true abilities to Mitsusawa. However their current situation left little in the way of options. And so with regret she displayed one of her true abilities. This regret and resentment gave the flame it's dark appearance and it's heavy nature. No doubt the heavy energy surrounding it would not elude either of her companions eyes.

    Sadly this was an ability she couldn't use often. For doing so put quite the strain on both her mind and body.
  17. (OOC: Sorry for the late reply. I was busy with RL stuff)

    As much as he hated to admit it, Manish Joshi was not especially strong and as such, his strikes were mostly ineffective against the strange, otherworldy growth that ensnared the forest around him, however, he was not quite ready to end the fight yet. No, he would not die like this, especially not with two assassins following him and with so much of the world left undiscovered, with so much questions left unanswered. Thus, he was cutting down the plants near him like a madman, using so much strength that he swore he could feel the muscles snapping in his arms, which was an illusion of course, but it was not a pleasant feeling nevertheless. He was so engaged in making a clearing around himself that he only barely noticed Claire's cry.

    Luckily for him, his instincts were faster than his thoughts and he managed to drop down in time, then he watched in awe as black flames consumed the vegetation around them. Not once in his life has he seen a spell like this, nor has he read of one, but before he could make any observations about the strange spell, the flames disappeared. They still managed to make a nice, completely purified clearing around the three travellers, giving them a chance to see where the skeletons were coming from. Of course, that did not help Manish's anger, however, he quickly got over his own incompetence when he heard the skeletons closing in.

    With a quick and efficient move, Manish dropped the huge backpack from his back and gripped the steel staff in his hand tightly. He would need it against the skeletons, especially if they belonged to such a powerful necromancer, but he knew that he stood no chance on his own, not to mention that just swarmers would not do in this situation. He needed something more powerful, creatures that could actually inflict harm upon his enemies. He would settle for nothing less than four hunters, and with this thought, he started concentrating. Magic gathered around the mage, at first into one big nexus, then that nexus split into four pieces. The four nexii of magic then started taking shape, slowly becoming huge, almost man-sized scorpions that had their head replaced by that of a dog. For many people, they would have looked ridiculous, but for those that knew their magic, these creatures were more than deadly in their own right.

    As if to prove their worth, one of the hunters noticed a skeleton at the edge of its vision, and leapt at it with uncanny speed, snapping the skeleton into pieces with its large claws, then piercing the skeleton's skull with its tail, making short work of its enemy. Of course, the thing could still reassemble itself at a later time, but for now, it was out of combat. Yet another dog started attacking the skeleton that was closest to it, and the hunters spread out amongst the ranks of the skeletons to wreak havoc. Manish simply shook his head at that, then with a powerful mental command, he called the beasts back to his side before they could even make it to the skeletons. They never obeyed him that well when he created them, but at least they were faithful to him after that.

    Under his command, the creatures formed a circle around him while he made it closer to the two women so they could defend themselves better against the incoming hord.
    "We should stay close. Damned things use swarm tactics," he said as he made an experimental swing with the metal rod he had in his hand. Now he regretted not making it heavier, but there was not enough time to use his alchemy on the field of battle. After he got a good sense of how the rod was balanced, he looked up to see the swarm of incoming skeletons and grit his teeth. This was not going to be easy.
  18. Beckoning forth and controlling the swarthy flames of the abyss was no easy feat. The strain it caused on Clare’s mind and soul was indeed grand. Most would find that the flames would have consumed their body and soul whole. But through sheer willpower alone she somehow managed to keep her corporeal shell and her mind. A feat which struck Mitsusawa as amazing, never would she have suspected her of possessing such power. No doubt this skill was birthed from her training sessions with that foul witch of the damned. Still at the moment her talents proved useful and her superior was grateful.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Breathing heavily Clare’s color would flush, her skin becoming as pale as a ghost as sweat formed on her picturesque face. Blood trailed down from her right nostril to her chin; as a few random drops fell to adorned the earth. Weakly her gaze would turn toward Manish who luckily was not caught in her attack. Despite what he may perceive, Clare did not view him as a mere tool. Rather as a welcomed member of their dysfunctional family, a notion presumptuous of her.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    In a lame attempt to portray the delusion of good health, Clare would give them both a faint smile and thumbs up. Something which was lame even by her standards. This caused Mitsusawa to shake her head, still thankful for her well being…all things considered at least.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “I’m ok…Just a bit drained.” Clare proclaimed to her comrades, in an attempt to reassure them.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “Good, hopefully you won’t have to use that technique for some time. Though you can use that ability it is clear you have yet to master it. Using it once was a dangerous gamble.” Her superior would express her concern like that of a scorning mother.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “Fair enough. But hey at least it worked!” She retorted with excitement, with knife still in hand she’d close the distance between the group; Joining them once more.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    With Mitsusawa and Clare by Manish side they’d form a simple but useful formation. Preparing to fend off against yet another wave of the dead. The clamor of bones rattling only being disturbed by the hoarse whisper of steel fractioning against steel. As Mitsusawa unsheathed her dual blades. Her attention drifting for a single moment as Manish somehow conjured forth more potent and complex organisms. Clare once more finding his abilities to be more beguiling than her own.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “You don’t have to tell me twice! Though I find their so called tactic to be quite dull. Seriously I would prefer some more ingenuity. Especially considering the master at work behind them power.” Clare relied to manish words. Once more dislaying her love for fighting as well as her bright spirits. A promising sign considering what had transpired moments ago.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Mitsusawa could sense Manish lack of trust, bordering perhaps on fear. And though she deduced all this from the fluctuation of his energy, she’d refrain from expressing it. There was no need to, if he fled they wouldn’t chase after him. Truth be told their laws forbid them of killing any human needlessly. In fact killing a human at all without undeniable cause resulted in death. A truth which for the moment was best guised with secrecy.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Clare would remain close to the spell caster as his minins began to ward off the initial push of the undead. Though she wanted to break rank and have at them, she knew the consequences from doing so. And so momentarily she’d find herself being contained. Which gave her some time to recuperate and rejuvenate her energy.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “Let me lend a hand for once.” Mitsusawa stated with a wide grin.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Stepping forward she would elegantly twirl her blade. Weaving and dancing in between a few skeletons. Her foot work revealing fragments of the extent of her swordsmanship. A dance of death which was as ravishing and awe inspiring to behold as it was deadly. With grace and fluid motion her blades would cut through the air at uncanny speeds. Upon impact the four skeletons would be sent hurling through the air. Their once connected bones becoming scattered and battered, decorating the scenery of ash and decay. Flattering them in a morbidly lovely way.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “It’s been a while since I’ve seen her dance.” Clare proclaimed to Manish, smiling as her eyes peered at him through their corners.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Mitsusawa would leap backwards, her feet dragging against the earth tossing up dust as she made her way back into formation.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “Manish would it be alright if we borrowed your skills? Your pets should be able to handle most of them. We can fend off any which seem to be getting through while Clare’s energy is restored.” She’d inquire into, putting him in control of the situation. A sign of respect considering her position of authority within her own circles.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    This display struck Clare as odd if not a welcomed change. It meant that though her superior would never admit it, she was warming up to Manish. Though whether or not he would interpret it as such has yet to be seen. Still in her mind’s eye it was encouraging…perhaps finally Mitsusawa would not seen herself as a monster. And just maybe through simple interaction she too could feel human once more. For most within their organization rarely saw themselves as anything other than an abomination or instrument. Something which oftimes turned this bicolored beauty’s stomach.
  19. While most of his attention was diverted towards his hunters, from the corner of his eyes, Manish did notice how the two women, especially Mitsusawa were fighting. He found that he agreed with Claire as Mistusawa was indeed dancing the dance of death. Her steps were all marvellous, stunning and deadly, not missing a single skeleton in her reach. Despite himself, Manish found that he was enjoying the sight even if he could not divert his full attention to it due to the hunters that he had to keep in line. It was not that Claire's magic was less magnificent to him, but it was more alien with its dark flames that consumed all. With Mitsusawa, he could guess what kind of magic she used, except that hers was not quite usual either: he saw no signs of enchantments on the blades, or the aura that always lingered around those who poured magic into their own limbs.

    Once again, he had to admit that to him, these two women were quite the enigma, not to mention that he would probably never be able to figure them out on his own. He would have to have the company of a library, his staff, his laboratory to understand them, but he doubted that they would ever agree to being examined by him. Especially Claire. The young woman with heterochromia seemed to be afraid of alchemy for some reason, so she would most likely slice him apart the moment he mentioned such a thing to her. She did seem to complain a lo-

    No. That train of thought would not do. He should not be attached to these two. Who knows what secrets they and their magic may hold? Perhaps their secrets are something that no one was ever meant to know, or if they knew them, all of them went insane, which sounded like a reasonable point to stop thinking, so he just did that, and focused on his hunters. The beasts were doing their job very well, almost too well as Claire has stated. If there was indeed a powerful necromancer behind this, then he was being lazy or he did not care about these skeletons. The latter implication was much more frightening for Manish, so he chose to go with that, which in turn meant that they were facing an incredibly dangerous necromancer.

    Manish was snapped out of his thoughts by Mitsusawa's query.
    "What do you mean, borrow my skills? I need to focus on the hunters so I can maintain their formation," said Manish, gesturing towards the creatures that just snapped several skeletons in half. He could not do alchemy and maintain his focus on his assembled creatures at the same time, which meant that either the quality of the alchemy or the creatures would suffer if he tried. He wondered if the two knew about that, but he decided to wait for their answer.
  20. The nature of their magical properties was a well guardedsecret. Something the organization seldom shared with outsiders. Theirxenophobic and reclusive nature when it came toward their secrets served as abarrier. Preventing their innumerous foes from ascertaining intelligence, whichcan in turn be utilized to impair the integrity of their foundations. BothClare and Mitsusawa understood the consequences that came with disclosing suchsecrets. If word reached their superiors ears they would both be hunted likesome sort of feral beast. However being trained to be as fearless as possiblethey had learned to stare death in the eyes. Never averting their gaze fromthose they kill or would kill them. For the dead will never forget those whichsnuffed the flames of their existence.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Neither should the living forget those who gave up the ghostso that they may live.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The extent of their ignorance regarding alchemy would becomeapparent as the spell slingers words reached their ears. Only to be greeted bya face riddled with confusion. Clare would clear her throat as a sheepish smirkadorned her picturesque face. “Sadly alchemy is one of those sorceries we aren’tfamiliar with.” She would proclaim. Mitsusawa offering a simple nod ofagreement.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “It doesn’t matter. If the need arises I’ll simply attackagain. What’s life without a gamble or two right?” Clare’s words provingdisturbing to her superior. Mitsusawa found herself in a state of disposition.She despised how recklessly Clare would behave. Particularly how it was oftenmet with a total lack of concern for her own well being. But due to theircircumstance she doubted there was any other solution. And so she would biteher tongue.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    “Manish…I would much rather not face this necromancer orLich behind these undead. It will only complicate matters and slow down our progress.”Mitsusawa voiced her thoughts for a change. Once again displaying only herprofessional input. Her twin blades pointed earthbound as she turned to face him. Clare however seemed deep in thought as she stared at manish new pets. A part of her wanted to poke and pet it. Curious if it was like a dog. Another part of her pondered where it is they came from? How they were made and what they were made of?