The Nature of Beasts (Tinder and Zeraj)

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    • Etain glanced up from the barrel of fish she’d been examining as a smile slowly spread across her lips. It seemed she’d finally found her lead. She had spent the better part of the afternoon walking around the city, listening to every piece of gossip she could catch. Most of them were trying to forget their current dilemma. Only a few of them were whispering about the beast plaguing the outskirts of their city, and those whispers mostly revolved around the failing crops and livestock lose. Though perhaps it was her appearance. She wore her hunting gear, the only clothing she’d taken with her; dark leather pants and boots with a dragon scale fitted breastplate and a wool shirt beneath that, with leather bracers on her forearms. It was thin and flexible to make her hunts easier while providing enough protection to keep her alive as long as she was careful. The dark colors looked odd though, especially when she walked tough a crowd. She turned and started toward the man who was chanting his call for aid, weaving through the crowd.

      He was a middle aged man dressed well compared to most of the men in the crowd; pudgy with the tuffs of a beard on his face he’d forgotten to shave that morning. In his right hand was a waded up handkerchief which he routinely swiped across his forehead, while his left aided his speech with elegant sweeps and flourishes. It was a shame no one paid him any attention, he wasn’t half bad. Etain dared say she would have found him convincing had she not already been looking for the job. She wandered to his side and his eyes were on her in seconds. He immediately halted his chant and turned his full attention on her with a forced smile on his face, grabbing her hand with both of his own, “My good lady, you look like a woman who can handle herself. Would you be interested in aiding our town?”

      ‘He’s certainly friendly,’ Etain noted, looking down at the hand he’d trapped in his grip. In the past, she received less than enthusiastic welcomes in the past when she’d shown an interest in jobs. That was mostly due to the caliber of work she’d been trying to take. Freelances with no past were rarely welcomed by towns who were facing anything greater than a small infestation of ghouls. Unfortunately part of this solo hunt meant she could not use the connections her name would have given her. One mention of Taggart and she would have had most any job she wanted, but that would go against the whole point of the solo hunt. She had to prove she was good enough to get a job and complete it without any help from her family. To be honest, they would have accepted a simple job like an infestation, but Etain refused. She would not return with a simple ghoul slaying as her first kill. This hunt would be one they talked about for years to come. She smiled sweetly at the man, hiding her discomfort, “I would be very interested. Is there anywhere I can get more information on this monster you’re dealing with?”

      The man’s smile widened into a ridiculous grin, “Yes, please go wait in the Sleepy Bunny. There you will be given the details later this evening. They will also give you free food and drink; just mention you’re there for the hunt. Good day, good lady, and bless your hunt.” He actually leaned down and kissed her hand before releasing it, waving her off and going on with his speech.

      Etain walked away, rubbing her hand on her pants. She felt like she needed a bath after that encounter. ‘I don’t know if I should be grateful they’re desperate or worried about it.’ Chimeras were a bit challenge to freelancers who tended to hunt alone, but not usually too much of a challenge. Perhaps they’d been having a hard time getting hunters out this far from the major cities.

      She headed for the tavern, deciding it would be easier to wait there and see if anyone came in before the meeting. She walked in the door, ignoring the sign over head which depicted a rabbit slumped under a table with a grin on its face. There was probably a long story behind the name, all very tragic and meaningful, but Etain thought it was easily the dumbest tavern name she’d ever heard. She headed up to counter and sat at one of the stools, rickety but usable. She glanced around and noticed a group of men playing some sort of chance game a few tables over, but otherwise the place was deserted.

      The barkeep turned around, her face set in a frown as she eyed the newcomer, “What’ll you have?” The woman looked like she could have been here for the meeting the man in the market had talked about. She was built like a bull, no doubt thanks to her years of keep an inn. Dark hair was pulled back behind her head, revealing hard lines on her face which accompanied her seemingly permanent frown. She didn’t seem to be too concerned with helping her customers relax.

      “What do you have here?” Etain asked, finding her tone a little flatter than before.


      Etain grimaced, “Anything to eat?”


      “Ale it is then. I can’t wait,” Etain replied sarcastically. The barkeep didn’t care. She poured the ale, dropped it on the counter, and continued her work. ‘Nice talking to you too,’ Etain thought, lifting the cup to her mouth and tasting the drink. She grimaced again, but swallowed. The tasted was terrible, but at least it was something. She’d run of water earlier that morning and free drinks beat hours spent searching for a well any day.

      “I heard this thing’s taken three hunters already.”

      Etain glanced over at the three men playing their game, noticing their weapons for the first time. It seemed the man in the square had found a few others besides herself, though they were far from the being the cream of the crop. The one who had spoken was still baby-faced, barely past his eighteenth year no doubt. He glanced at the old man sitting next to him, a veteran perhaps, but long past his glory days, “Are you sure we can take this, gramps? You’re still healing after that last incident with the werebeasts.”

      “Mind you own head, boy,” the old man replied, “I can handle myself.”

      “You ought to listen to your grandson, old man,” the third one said, his voice slick with a face that almost resembled a weasel, “This job ain’t your run of the mill game. They say beasty’s smart and angry. The past hunters screwed up and ended up in its belly. If you don’t want this to be your last hunt, you and your grandson had better skip town.”
      The veteran frowned, “Yet you think you can take the beast alone?”

      The man snickered, “I got ways and I don’t share them with others. Every heard the name Amos Reaper? That’s me.”

      “Should I have heard it?” The veteran replied dryly.

      Amos frowned, “Watch your mouth, old man. I ain’t got the patience I used to have. My hand might slip and land a dagger in your wrinkly gullet. Ah!”

      Etain started when a hand came down on the hunter’s shoulder. The barkeep stood behind the man with her hand planted firmly on his shoulder, “No fights.”

      “I was only joking. I swear,” Amos raised his hands off the table, smiling to hide the fear, “These men are my good friends. I wouldn’t touch one hair on their heads.”

      Etain turned back to her drink, staring into the liquid as she leaned forward on the counter. So this creature was proving to be a challenge. She frowned at her reflection. This job might be harder than she’d anticipated.

    #1 Tinder, May 26, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2016
  1. It was another long day of walking for Egil. He had been traveling for quite some time now. His leathers was completely caked in mud and dust. He sighed with another heavy step. Sleeping in the rain, beating up bandits, and killing a monster or two on his way. It was nothing grand. Nothing that would be fitting for the first major epic for his soulsong. He felt the comforting weight of his spear on his back. Ever since he first made it, he wondered what he would first engrave into the story that would be his life's work. Certainly not about sleeping in the cold or traveling through endless roads. His father apparently slayed a basilisk as his first song. Egil heard it was quite the piece. He was often told how unfortunate that his father's soulsong is still out in the world. Egil unclenched his hands. He didn't even know he was doing that. With a shake of his head he tried to refresh his mind.

    The city came into view a few moments later. It wasn't as large as the Crown Cities, but it was certainly respectable. Maybe he could find a job or two. The further Egil went into the city, the more stares he would accrue. It was certainly odd. He wasn't special looking. Redheads weren't uncommon in these lands. In fact, he spotted several passing by earlier. Perhaps it was the assortment of knives, and gear he carried. But that would be common for freelance hunters and mercenaries to have. Egil didn't even have anything that would remark him as a member of the Bloodsong such as the disntinctive red clothing and specialized insignia. He scratched his head in confusion, and his hand came way with a clump of dirt. A sudden realization came upon him. He was extremely dirty, passed the point any reasonable traveler would allow. Most would certainly wash after month or so, but Egil had postponed it for quite some time. He probably smelled just as bad. Perhaps they think him some wayward bandit. He looked at his reflection from a nearby polished vase. His hair couldn't even be considered red. Laughter bubbled from within, eliciting some wary glares. Egil had been traveling for way too long. He had stopped by several farmhouses, but this was the first major city he came across in a while. A bath seemed to be necessary now.

    With a goal now in mind, he walked along the marketplace, listening to the odd conversation, and overall enjoying himself. The overall atmosphere was pretty tense. There was apparently trouble from a monster. Egil wondered if this could be his chance. A loud voice broke him from his reverie.

    “Brave warriors, heed my cry! Come help our city and be hailed a hero! Fellow villagers, aid your neighbors and take up arms against the beast!”

    The voice seemed a bit tired as if it was this was what he had been doing for a long time. Egil looked towards the source of the message to see a man of middle years, standing and again repeating his chant. Egil came close to the man and tapped his shoulder. The man turned and Egil saw he was covered in sweat. It was probably hard standing out in the sun for this long. When the man noticed Egil, his face seem to scrunch up in some incomprehensible emotion.

    Egil spoke with a questioning tone, "You speak of a monster? Is that something I can help out with?"

    The man eyed Egil up and down once more, noticing the spear behind him, "Oh... I see you are a hunter." He seem to think for a bit before continuing, "Yes. There has been a great beast we need destroyed. It has ravaged villages and killed many of our own innocent folks!" The man's enthusiasm seemed fluctuate as he recited these words.

    "Well thats too bad! Where can I find this beast?"

    The man seem to remember, "Oh yes. Please go to the Sleeping Bunny. You'll get free food and drink if you mention about the hunt. There will be more information about this monster in the evening." The man looked at the sky, "Which should be coming soon. You better hurry."

    Egil smiled and clasped his hand onto the man's shoulder, leaving behind dust and dirt. "Oh, sorry about that," he apologized, "I'll definitely slay this beast.

    The man seemed skeptical and bit annoyed, "Anyway good day my good man, and bless your hunt." Egil began moving away and noticed the man shaking his head and staring at his back. The man then walked away. Egil guessed he was done with recruitment. Free food sounded lovely to Egil who had had dried rations and a bit of vegetables from kind farmers on his way. Certainly he would get his fill and learn more about this monster. So far he had heard the general sayings on ruined farmlands, dead livestock, and missing people. It would need to be something big to cause this much uproar in a city like this.

    Something bothered Egil. He had forgotten something hadn't he. After a while, he gave up trying to remember and found the tavern. It seemed obvious enough with a sleeping rabbit sign. It seemed like a good place. He certainly felt like he would sleep like a bunny here. With a unintentional flourish, he entered the building.

    Immediately, people took notice of him. There seemed to be the general workers scattered about, relaxing with games and drink. However, there was a decent size of armed men who was definitely not the ordinary kind of customers. Egil's sheepish grin came out and he apologized for the disturbance. Most of the people went back to their drinking, but a few hunters continued to watch his back. The barkeep seemed like a nice lady. She was properly built from long days working. Egil definitely thought she would be able to take on most of these men barehanded which made him feel a bit more comfortable. His aunts and cousins certainly had that air about them.

    Egil approached quickly and took a seat in front of her. She turned and grimaced, "We don't got any work for beggars."

    "Oh sorry, I'm not a beggar. I'm here for the hunt."

    Her eyes finally noticed the spear on his back, "Oh really. Well what'll you have then?" She couldn't seem to manage to hide the mockery in her voice.

    Egil wasn't bothered, "Well have you gotten anything to eat?"


    Egil smiled pleadingly, his gray eyes sparkling, "Are you sure? I haven't eaten anything good in quite some time. I'll take anything. Scraps, leftover stew. Whatever you got."

    She looked deeply into his eyes, and relented a bit, "Fine, I got some cold stew and bread. But I've only got ale to drink so make do with that."

    "That'll be wonderful! Anything right now would be quite a feast," He smile widening as his stomach growled.

    The woman seem to nod her head in a silent laughter, a small curve forming on her mouth, as she entered the back for the food.

    Egil felt pleased. To eat something other than dried meats and stale bread would certainly be a treat. She came back with a bowl, some bread, and a mug of ale. He thanked her profusely and ravaged the meal with a bit of vigor. The woman seemed mollified at seeing such a strange young man. After finishing the meal, he once again thanked her.

    Egil scanned the room once again this time feeling much more content with a full stomach. There seemed to be more hunters than before. They all looked somewhat professional. It wasn't exactly the best and brightest. He didn't recognize any Bloodsong or even Taggarts in the room. Most was probably freelancers with a few smaller guilds, families, or clans. He listened intently, absorbing the tension and buildup. People were definitely fearful of this beast. He had heard the name chimera passed around. That was definitely was beast to not take lightly. Depending on the breed and chimeric combination, they were terrifying creatures that would make even veterans sweat. Egil hadn't heard much about this particular kind yet, but it likely was a strong breed, capable of doing much damage and escaping when needed. He sized up most of the people here. Most will definitely die if they faced even a weak chimera. He could see it in the stance and movement. They definitely had not reached the level of Bloodsongs.

    A figure wrapped in darkness was sitting alone in the corner. He felt this person definitely seemed capable. Before he could move closer to greet this person, the door opened and it was the man from the market. He had brought an assortment of parchments and a ledger ready in his hands.

    "All hunters, please follow me into the next room for identification and instruction for this monster hunt."

    Egil felt excitement building. It was time to learn about what he was to slay. Along with several others who stood up, he joined them into the next room.
    #2 Zeraj, May 26, 2015
    Last edited: May 26, 2015
  2. Etain moved to a corner table later that afternoon when the regular crowd began to trickle in. With them came more hunters, few seeming to be anything special. A few looked like they’d seem some combat, but many looked like they’d never held a weapon before or if they had it hadn’t been against a monster. The crowd ranged from inexperienced boys to men that looked like they belonged on a roadside robbing travelers. Judging from the random assortment of clothing on them that might not have been far from the truth.

    Etain stopped paying attention to the crowd after a while, leaning back to continue sipping her mug of ale. She’d grown accustomed to the taste, though she’d still take any other form of drink over this mess. She nibbled on a hard crust of bread she had from her travel rations, wishing she hadn’t finished off her meat yesterday. If this job fell through she’d need to take another escort job for food. She sighed and turned her eyes towards the door. She was running out of options quickly.

    As darkness approached outside, the tavern grew rowdier and tenser. The hunters all clustered together, sharing tales and bragging about exploits none of them could have hoped to accomplish. Most had done the basic work; killed a ghoul horde or maybe a small beast of some kind. From the tales they told however, one could think they were all the best in the business, great enough to take down full-grown dragons singlehandedly. A few glanced her way, flashing cocky smiles when they noticed the bartender wasn’t the only woman in the place. One went so far as to try beckoning her over with a finger wave. She ignored them for the most part, choosing to study her drink instead. Most got the picture and left her alone after that, going on with their conversations though she knew she was far from forgotten. Even after the conversation moved on, she could feel their eyes on her. Let them try something. She’d see how they liked an arrow in their eye.

    Eventually she moved on to watching the barkeeper, studying the woman to keep herself from getting bored. Her ill-temper was constant and judging by the reaction of her regulars, that was normal. They all laughed and joked with her, despite the fact that she chose not to take part, most just trying to enjoy themselves after their long day’s work. The only change in the pattern appeared when a grimy young man entered the building and spoke to her at the counter. He somehow managed to get a meal from her and even got a smile out of her before she moved on. Etain couldn’t believe her eyes. Not even the people who seemed to know her had done that. What kind of witchcraft was that? She glowered at him from her corner, crossing her arms as she watched the man gulp down his food. She considered herself good with people, but even she hadn’t seen a way to get through to that woman.

    Her grumblings were cut short by the door opening and the man from the market shuffling in. He’d changed into clean clothes, perhaps even bathed since Etain had last seen him. The man had to be noble or at least wealthy. No one without money would bother bathing more than once a week if that. He began herding everyone into another room and Etain stood to follow. The eyes were on her again in an instant, though she made a point to ignore them, gliding confidently forward. In the next room there were several chairs and tables spread out in no particular pattern, most of which had seen better days. The man from earlier dropped his parchment onto a table near the front of the room and quickly organized his things while the hunters gathered around.

    Etain hung back from the crowd near the wall, preferring to keep as much distance between herself and the men as possible. While most were distracted by the briefing, some still cast glances in her direction. Though she felt confident she could defend herself from most anything, she didn’t want to make a scene and risk losing the job. Not like the incident she’d dealt with in Spiritend. That had set her back three weeks.

    A hush fell over the room as the man cleared his throat, “Greetings, my friends. My name is Reggie Bagley. I want to thank all of you for coming here tonight. Our town is grateful beyond words that you would all risk your lives for the safety of our citizens.”

    A few of the hunters near the back snickered at his remark.

    He frowned a moment before continuing, “For the past month and half we have been plagued by a creature of unfathomable ferocity. It has taken our crops, our livestock and even our citizens. In its latest attack, it took all our lord’s cattle and several of his servants, leaving little more than pools of blood behind it.” He paused, covering his mouth as though he were stifling a sob.

    Etain crossed her arms and leaned back against the wall. ‘He certainly likes to be dramatic.’ It was all a ploy from what she could tell. He was trying to get the hunters invested, to picture themselves as the champions of the weak. Most of the crowd seemed to be eating it up too. Etain, however, felt her anxiety growing. Why would he care whether they cared or not unless there was more to this job than he was letting on? She looked over the papers on the table, most of which were hidden beneath his ledger. One was sticking out of the bottom of the pile just a bit to give her a glance at a list of names. All of them were crossed off.

    “Forgive me,” he said with a sigh, looking up after he believed his performance had had its desired effect, “It has been a hard few weeks.”

    “Get to the point. What do ya got on the beasty?” A voice called out from the back as many of the hunters roared in agreement.

    Bagley picked up a few sheets of paper from beneath his ledger, hiding the list of names from view again. “Right to the point then. Good man. I’m afraid reports are vague at best. Few have lived who have seen the creature. For the moment we have identified it as a chimera, though we are still uncertain of the…variety. Some have reported it as a bipedal creature, while others reported it went on all fours. What is confirmed is that it shows canine characteristics though whether they are domestic or wild in origin are unknown. It has powerful hind legs, can run at amazing speeds, and has jaws that can rip through iron. It has destroyed multiple homes without much effort. No weaknesses have yet to be identified, though it is believed that it cannot climb trees. It is truly a foe worthy of great hunters such as yourselves.”

    The last comment quieted most of the nervous whispers that had begun to spread. Many of the hunters called out with a confident growl of agreement, though some of the more experienced and meek hunters kept quiet. They understood the danger that had just been described to them. This creature was not something to be taken lightly.
    “Wonderful. If you’ll all just come up and give me your names, then the hunt may begin whenever you are prepared. In the meantime, enjoy the hospitality of the Sleeping Bunny this evening. Everything is free so long as you sign up,” Bagley grinned as he sat at the table, pulling out an ink pot as the eager hunters rushed forward.

    Etain didn’t move, frowning to herself as she watched the spectacle. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea. This job was beginning to sound complicated, more so than she had anticipated. She wanted to impress her family, but she didn’t want to end up dead. Or like Roy. Maybe she ought to leave. There were a few other veterans who had backed away and were headed for the door, along with a few young hunters. It was the smart thing to do really, but she didn’t want to. She was tired of traveling and looking for a decent job. This would be a challenge, but if she was careful she might be able to pull it off without too much trouble. All she needed was a solid plan and maybe a bit of luck.
  3. Egil frowned a bit after Reggie's instructions. He had barely told any further information about the chimera that he hadn't already figured out from just listening in on the city. That definitely raised the difficulty of the hunt. Without knowing what kind of chimeric hybrid this beast was, he couldn't properly judge how to kill it. The weight on his back suddenly felt a lot heavier. He knew what he had to do. Egil was out here to become a true member of the Bloodsong. He must know fear, but embrace it for that is how courage is formed. This task may be difficult, but it would definitely be a tale to tell. A song that would ignite his soulsong ablaze. The burden was suddenly lifted from his shoulders and he walked forward.

    Around him he sensed the steps of the green, the untrained, the soon to be dead. It wasn't his duty to warn these fools that this would be too much for them. It may be too much for even him. The smart ones had already left. With another scan of the room, he noticed only a few hesitant hunters not lined up for registration. This included the person in the corner earlier. Now closer and in the light, he noticed it was a woman in dark leathers. She stood as if already prepared to strike, feet pressed firmly in place, legs parted, back slightly bent forward. Her bow was unstrung on her back, but Egil guessed she didn't even need to string it to be deadly. Her black hair suggested death and her golden eyes seem to be deep in thought. She was definitely a professional, but had no outlying appearance of belonging to a major family. Egil had definitely heard of great feelancers that chose to work alone without training from the major families or guilds. It certainly had it's benefit being the sole entity receiving the reward while groups have to split it in some way. However, it was much more dangerous and very few live long.

    Hunters are competitive by nature. Even in this kind of recruitment by the local Lord, the hunters are not likely to work together as a whole unless they were in a group already. The reward goes to the victor. Its as simple as that. First one to kill this chimera would be the one to claim the bag of gold. Certainly if everyone worked together like how most villages would deal with smaller creatures, this would be finished quickly. However the temptation and glory of being the sole victor was too strong. Egil admitted to himself that he wouldn't want to give such a bounty to another, especially those Taggarts, his Famlies hated rivals.

    "Hurry up boy! Its your turn," said a large man behind Egil.

    Egil looked forward to realize it was he next. It seems he spent too much time thinking. "Okay thanks," he responded with a grin. The large man didn't seem to care and just moved forward to fill in the space Egil left.

    Reggie glanced up after finishing up the previous entry and remembered, "Oh its you."

    "Yes its me," smiled Egil, "I said I would slay that beast didn't I? Surely you don't wish me to be a liar."

    Reggie shook away the comment with his hand. He didn't have time for pleasantries, "Name and organization please."

    "Egil and I'm a feelancer."

    "I see," Reggie jotted down something, looked up, and wrote some more, "Donna the innkeep will assign you your room for the night." He stopped to stare Egil in the eyes, "And please don't cause too much trouble."

    "I won't and thank you," Egil said.

    "Alright. Next!" Reggie's quill was efficiently refilled as he stared a the next person.

    Egil walked away and his steps passed the woman in dark leathers. She was in the line. It seems she had chosen to participate. He gave her another look and his gray eyes touched her eyes. The gold shone on her partially covered face. His own face reddened slightly and he quickly continued on. Egil scratched head when he left the room. Why did he move so fast when he wanted to greet her and learn her name. He shook away the emotions, calming himself in an instant. There was no need to rush. She'll be likely staying at this inn. He could learn more about her later. With that decided he approached the barkeep who apparently was also the innkeep. It seems she was a one woman show.

    "Hello again. I thank you for the food once again. It was truly delicious. I was told that you would show assign me a room here for the night," Egil said enthusiastically.

    Her grim demeanor lessened as she saw him. Perhaps he reminded of her someone. She spoke, "Yes, thats what the Lord's paying for. Lodging for the recruited hunters. But I've got to warn you. With this much people, you'll likely have to share a room with another hunter."

    "I don't mind that at all. It would be great to to share stories with another," a thought struck Egil, "Oh... can I also get water, soap and a bath tub. As you can obviously see, I'm not much to look at." He sniffed himself, "Or smell either."

    "Why of course. I'll send you up one right away," Donna chuckled. She checked her ledgers in front of her, "Your room will be upstairs and third door on your right." She passed him a key.

    Egil thanked her with a smile and walked up. The room was cozy with rabbit motifs carved in various places. There were two beds. He dumped his travel pack onto one of them and unslung his spear. It was surprisingly clean for the amount of travel he did. Egil gripped it and then felt along the shaft. The familiar symbols of his family was written on it by his own hand. There was his father's name Colt and his mother's Riyeria. Egil laid the spear against the wall. He was about to take out his flute to play a bit, but there was a knock on his door.

    "Your bath is ready, sir," a child's voice said. He opened the door to find two boys lifting a tub of water. Steam rose slightly from the top. He looked down into the tub to see a heating stone, glowing faintly. This inn must be doing quite well to afford heating stones. Not that he would complain. A hot bath would definitely soothe his travel aches.

    "Just set it down in the center," Egil directed with a hand. The boys didn't struggle much and got the small tub on the floor. They put hard soap beside it and some rags to dry off. "Just wait here a moment, boys," Egil stopped them before they left. He reached in his travel pack to pull out two sweets. Egil could never travel without a bit of sweets. He was often teased for his sweet tooth by the rest of the Bloodsongs. He handed them to the boys who seemed to be delighted. They left with content faces.

    Egil sighed in relief as he shedded his dirty leathers. He wondered if he had any clean clothing left in his pack. He realized it didn't matter. He needed to get clean first. The soap was in his hand and he was in the tub without a seconds delay. Thus he began the arduous task of clearing off the layers of his travel. Perhaps his hair would be noticeable as red once more.
  4. Etain made her way into the line after making her decision, mulling over the information as she waited. She needed to get eyes on the beast to get a better idea of how she could kill it. Maybe if she set a trap that could keep the creature still for a few minutes. She could watch from afar and get a better idea of what she was dealing with. After that it would be possible to make her move once she had formulated a plan. She needed to be careful with her trap however. If this chimera was part canine, wild or no, it would have sharp senses. Depending on the other elements of its form, it could be intelligent as well. The trap would need to be strong and her trail from it masked if she didn’t want to lead it right back to her.

    She was mulling over her current supplies when her eyes met another gaze. It was the man she’d seen with the barkeep earlier. The look only lasted a moment before he hurried on. She raised an eyebrow and glanced back after him. Had he been blushing? She was used to men looking at her, though more often than not it they were lewd glances. It wasn’t often she saw a man blush.


    Etain was drawn from her thoughts by Bagley, turning her attention toward him as she walked up to be listed. He looked up after he finished scribbling down the previous person’s information, smiling as he did so. “Good to see you again, my dear lady. Sticking around for the hunt, I see. The town will be better off for it, I’m sure. Could I get your name and association?”

    “Etain,” she replied, returning his smile, “I’m a freelancer.”

    Bagley nodded as he jotted down her name, “A female hunter and a freelancer to boot, you are a brave woman, my dear. Best of luck on your hunt. Accommodations have been provided, merely speak with Donna and she will give you a room for the night.”

    “Thank you,” Etain said, turning to go to the next room. She hated it when people cooed at her like that. The other hunters were received with respect, but most employers treated her like a little lost kitten when she tried to sign up for a job. It made her all the more determined to take the beast. Just seeing the look on that man’s face would make the danger worth it.

    “I heard we have to double up on rooms,” a man near the door remarked to his friend, his smile like a cat next to a wounded pigeon, “Maybe I’ll get lucky and win the jackpot tonight.” The exchanged a laugh, but Etain ignored them, brushing past without so much as word. They were short on rooms; wonderful. She wouldn’t be getting much sleep tonight.

    She located Donna, who was currently acting as more of a director than an innkeeper, pointing men to rooms and handing off the task of serving the regulars to a pair of young boys who appeared to be her children. Etain approached her, doing her best to smile and be friendly with the woman. “I’m looking for a room for the night. I’m with the hunt. I don’t suppose you would have any single rooms available, would you?”

    “No,” Donna replied, unimpressed by Etain’s attempt at civility.

    Etain cursed inwardly, her face falling a bit. She’d held out a small hope that it would be possible for her to get a room alone for the night. It would not be an easy feat to hunt this creature without rest. She forced her smile to remain, “Not even a small one. A closet would be fine as long as I can be the only one in it.”

    Donna seemed to pause for a moment before pointing to the stairs across the room, “Third door on your right. Your roommate will be in there already. Call if you need anything.”

    Etain sighed, but thanked her all the same, heading for the stairs after a moment. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe the man would be married or old or already passed out. Or she could just threaten him into leaving her alone. If she kept her bow nearby she would be fine. She marched up the stairs and down the hall, mentally preparing herself. ‘Just go in strong,’ she told herself, ‘Make him respect you and there won’t be any problems.’

    She reached the door and paused a moment, taking a breath to steady herself. It would all work out as long as she was confident. She pulled the door open and walked in prepared to set whoever this man was straight, but was stopped dead in her tracks. Her roommate was the man from earlier only shirtless now. And sitting in a tub of water. A moment of shocked silence was followed by panic as Etain felt her cheeks flash red. She quickly turned away; her hand going in front of her eyes, “Sorry! I was only…ah-sorry!”

    She slammed the door behind her, hiding in the hallway while breathing to calm down her racing heart. Did the innkeeper just hate her for some reason? Her cheeks were completely flushed as she leaned against the wall by the door, holding her abdomen. That…happened. She’d grown up in a home with three brother so it wasn’t as though she’d never seen a naked male, but…she was just thankful he’d been sitting in the tub. ‘Perfect, just perfect,’ she groaned inwardly, ‘It wasn’t bad enough that I have to sleep in the same room as a man, now I’ve walked in on him bathing.’ It seemed her luck was all terrible today. Though as awful as it sounded, she had to admit he had a nice face. In the moments of panic before she’d run back out she’d gotten a better look at it than she had earlier. His face was soft, unlike the men she’d grown up around, and his eyes were a nice shade of grey. She knocked herself on the head for thinking such things after that scene. ‘Focus, damn it,’ she growled to herself. She needed to apologize, but she was not about to go back in there. Maybe it was best to wait for him to open the door this time.
  5. Egil had almost gotten all the mud off his hair, when suddenly the door opened showing the young woman with the golden eyes for just a single moment. He immediately froze like a deer encountering it's predator. And just as fast the door closed, leaving him speechless. Egil didn't quite remember correctly, but had he noticed redness in her pale cheeks. Egil quickened his pace, scrubbing his hair down, hopping out of the tub, and drying himself as quickly as he can. After rummaging through his pack, he found a somewhat clean linen shirt, and some wool pants. He still felt her presence behind the door. "I should have locked the door," he muttered. He didn't expect to have anyone come into his room this quickly.

    He wasn't sure if he looked presentable, but it was a start. With red hair still dripping a bit, he opened the door. She stood there right next to the door which surprised for some reason. Egil awkwardly apologized, "I'm sorry, should have locked the door or perhaps told the innkeep to warn people." Curiosity growing, he asked, "So what did you need me for uh... I'm sorry I never seem to have gotten your name. I am called Egil." His hand stretched out in greeting unconsciously.
  6. Etain managed to compose herself before the door opened again. The young man appeared, wearing clothing this time thankfully. He was still wet from his bath, but he seemed far cleaner than he had been when she’d seen him the first time. His hair had even changed colors it seemed, from mud brown to red. It suited him far better than the dirt he’d been sporting earlier. Etain was pulled back to reality when he began talking, chiding herself for getting caught up once again in pointless musing. His apology seemed genuine for all the good that did her. As he spoke she went from embarrassed to annoyed, her mood shifting to try and regain some of her footing. Repentant or not she wasn’t going to let her guard down around this man just because he had apologized.

    She moved around him, ignoring the hand as she walked into the room, “Etain and I wasn’t looking for you. I happen to be staying here tonight that’s all. It seems there aren’t enough rooms to go around.” She dropped her pack onto the unclaimed bed and began pulling off her equipment, doing her best to remain composed. ‘If I don’t make a big deal out of staying in here then maybe he’ll leave it alone,’ she thought as she unstrapped her bow and laid it on the bed next to her bag. She would need to string it before bed if she wanted to be able to sleep tonight. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d slept with her weapon at the ready. She pulled off her leathers as well, leaving only her pants and fitted linen shirt she wore beneath. It felt good to be rid of the armor though a part of her missed it. She always felt a bit better wearing layers. She imagined it made her less of a target than when she wore ordinary clothing. She sat down on the edge of the bed, throwing a warning glare Egil’s way, “Don’t get any ideas. I may be sleeping in here tonight, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving you any sort of invitation. You stay on your bed and I stay on mine.”

    She would have paid Donna good money in that moment to let her sleep in a stable if it meant she could be alone and relax. She still felt embarrassed by what had happened earlier and now she had practically threaten this man just so she could get some peace and quiet tonight. He didn’t seem like he deserved the treatment either, but there was no other choice though. She knew how men thought. If she didn’t lay ground rules now she would have an easier time sleeping in the woods with the chimera.
  7. Egil saw her walk by him as if he was not even there. At least she gave her name, Etain. He couldn't quite place where it's from. Certainly somewhere far away. Perhaps further west towards the Crown Cities. But she didn't seem like a noble. Egil closed the door and sat on his bed. She was already dropping her things on the other bed. It seems he has gotten himself a roomate, albeit a somewhat cold one. Perhaps she was wary of strangers, maybe of just men. Certainly lone women hunters need to be much more cautious.

    When she began pulling off her leather's Egil turned around and pretended to mess around mess around with this things. It was an odd feeling for him. It just didn't seem right to be looking. His head returned towards her when she began to threaten him. Etain must be very strict about rules or perhaps she just didn't like Egil. He wondered if there was something he did gain her anger. There was the bath incident earlier, but that didn't seem to be it. He scratched his head in confusion.

    "I'm sorry if I did anything to offend you. But I assure you I hadn't plan on assaulting any of my roommates whether man or women, so rest easy. I'll just stay in my bed for the night. We'll rest and be ready to take down that chimera," Egil spoke earnestly. He hoped that calmed her down a little or even cleared up the tension at least. As he poked around some more, he pulled out his flute. Egil smiled now. Music always soothed any soul. Perhaps if he played, she'll be less wary of him. Egil didn't want to start make enemies of hunters. Certainly he wanted to beat them and get the reward, but he had no desire to harm or demean them in any way. Well at least if they weren't Taggarts.

    "Oh if you don't mind, I would like to play my flute for a bit," Egil said while lifting it to his mouth. The touch of it lulled him to play without hearing whether or not she wanted it or not. The flute itself was very simple, carved from some kind of bone and lacquered with a dark coating. Egil was reminded of his younger days playing with the rest of his family. The celebrations of a Bloodsong were truly legendary with majestic feasts, grandiose music, and dancing so chaotic most would wonder if it can truly be dancing at all. He drew from this memories and feelings. The sound that came from his flute were soft, breaking the tension he felt. He gathered the fear from the city. He gathered the loss and pain from the townfolk. He even drew from his own worries about the hunt. All these things, he gathered and dispelled them with the memories of fun and joy. The notes quickened and sped across the room. They grew more frantic like a battle between man and beast. Then finally with a sudden flourish he blew a single note, signifying triumph. The slow began to slow and then fade. It has been a while since he played. All that traveling had Egil drained Egil more than he thought. His body was already soothed from the bath, filled with the meal, and now his mind was cleared of worries from playing of his flute. He slumped further onto his bed, tiredness sapping all strength, and slept.
  8. Etain bent down to remove her boots, feeling a twinge of guilt when Egil responded to her threat. He really seemed like a decent man, though that didn’t calm her completely. She’d met many decent men in her time alone, many of which had proven to be nothing more than that. But that didn’t mean everyone was above suspicion. She slipped one boot off after untying it, frowning to herself. Still he didn’t seem to be a bad person. He seemed earnest, kind, and a little innocent even. ‘I should apologize,’ she thought, glancing over at Egil a moment. There was no point in offending others if they hadn’t done anything to her. If she explained herself, maybe he would understand her precautions.

    She pulled off her other boot and straightened up to say something when Egil pulled out a flute and began to play. She closed her mouth again, not wanting to interrupt him. It was odd to see another hunter pull out a flute on whim. Most of the people she’d met focused on their work…or on their pleasure. Egil continued to surprise her. She picked up her bow and began to string it, though her hands moved slower than usual. She found herself distracted by the music. He was actually good. Had she not known any better, she would have thought she’d taken a room with a bard rather than a hunter. The music was soft and soothing, enough so that Etain actually felt a little silly stringing her bow, though she forced herself to finish her task. His playing intensified for a while, ending with a slow fade.

    Etain waited a few moments, unsure of what to say. She knew little about music other than what sounded good to her own ears. Music, while not banned in her clan, was not encouraged. It took away from a hunter’s focus, they had said, and was time better spent practicing. Some of the others had played despite their words though, mostly the non-combative members of the clan. Etain’s sister, Maire, had actually had a rather accomplished singing voice or at least Etain had thought so. She’d loved to sneak out at night to listen to her sister in the tavern near their home where she sang to entertain the older hunters. There was still a part of Etain that loved the sound of music, though she did not have a talent for it herself. Well there were few ways better to apologize than with a compliment.

    She turned to Egil, “That was…” She trailed off when she noticed the man was already asleep. Well that hadn’t taken long. It seemed to she would need to apologize in the morning. ‘Too bad,’ she mused, standing up for a moment to blow out the candles that were currently lighting the room. She laid down on the bed after that, sliding beneath the blanket on the bed with her bow lying beside her. Her quiver she placed against the wall to keep from offending Egil further. She didn’t want him to think she’d been ready to kill him in his sleep. It took a little while to find a comfy position, but eventually she settled onto her side, curling her legs up next to her body and her arms beneath the pillow. Her muscles were still tense however and she slept lightly, readying to wake up should anything move in the room.
  9. The chimera once had a name or at least it thought it did. The smell of blood permeated around it. Corpses of it's last victims were scattered around, yet it still hungered for something. It didn't understand; it couldn't. There was something it needed to do. Something it had to do no matter what. It screamed in frustration. The sound was a screeching bark, but also contained something else. The muscles of it's canine legs bunched up in preparation. It's wing's stretched out, feathery but with fur tufts around it's shoulders. It was large as a bear and when it launched itself into the air, nearby trees swayed against the displaced air.

    The sky welcomed it like any other creature that entered its domain. The chimera's eagle eyes were sharp, scanning the ground for anything interesting. There were occasional dwellings with light, but overall the entire landscape was pitch black. Something then caught it's eyes. It flew closer and circled it. It was a dress hung to be dried. The dress had a light blue color. This kindled some kind of strange feeling or perhaps memory.

    The chimera screamed once more and came down. It's canine sense of smell easily picked up the dress scent and instantly knew it was wrong. In anger, the chimera began to claw at the nearby home, sensing the fearful prey within. They were probably woken by it's screams and arrival. The chimera's claws were extremely sharp and massive. They torn away the wooden roof with ease. The screams of it's prey pierced the night as it found it's way in. The blood smell encouraged it's rage and it killed without stopping. Once the cries ended, the beast calmed. The family that once lived here were now just limbs and lumps of flesh. It began to eat until it was physically satisfied, but there was something left empty. It could never satiate that hunger.

    It flew off into the sky once more, shaking off excess blood. A smell attracted it's attention. It was smelled of smoke, waste, and something familiar. The size of this dwelling was much larger, with buildings all over. The chimera easily detected the amount of prey below. The amount seemed staggering and it has often before stayed away from this much, but the smell was too strong and familliar like some kind of alchemical concotion. It had to seek and find it.

    The chimera noticed something strange. A song playing within it's mind. It didn't understand why it had not heard it earlier as if it was playing within the background, and suddenly decided move to the foreground. The song was melodic yet chaotic. Off in the distances of the chimera's beast mind, it heard laughter. It was pure and magical. It spoke the chimera's name three times and told it to enter the city to find what it seeks. The chimera felt compelled and flew down without hesitation. The screams of men followed as the light of the morning sun casually touched the landscape.

    The sound of horns awoke Egil from his slumber. His body drilled for unexpected situations immediately reached for his spear. He heard screams and smelled smoke. There must be something burning. His mind processed this quickly. The city was under attack, but by what.

    A loud voice boomed across, "The chimera is attacking! Please run away and stay indoors" Put as much walls between you and the beast!"

    Egil heard this message repeated two more times from different locations. He needed to get ready. It seems the hunt has begun. With quick efficiency he put on his leathers which gave some protection, but more importantly had several handy tools and weapons strapped onto it. He looked towards Etain, seeing she had already geared up and was ready to leave.

    Egil spoke calmly, "I guess its time to kill a Chimera. Let the better hunter get it's head." And with that said, he opened the window and jumped out. Two stories wasn't much for Egil and the stairs would take too much time. His senses sharpened and focused. It seems sleep had been good for him. Finding the direction of the monster wasn't difficult, considering all the screams and guards rushing towards it. He hoped he'll be in time before it killed anymore. The song of his spear was ready to claim it's first story.
    #10 Zeraj, Jun 1, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
  10. The first screams had woken Etain before the horns had even gone off. She’d grabbed her bow, drew an arrow, and nocked it in the blink of an eye, though she refrained from pulling the bow back. The first horn informed her that the danger wasn’t immediate though the announcement that followed got her up and moving. She moved to her leathers and strapped them on, going quickly as she could. She glanced over at Egil momentarily, noting that he too was readying for battle. After pulling on her boots, she slipped her arrow back into the quiver and strapped it on her back, slinging her bow over her shoulder as well. She took a moment to breath, willing her heartbeat to slow. She needed to be focused if she wanted to survive this. Her enemy had come to her and though the circumstances were far from ideal, she could work with it.

    Egil seemed to be full of confidence, leaping out the window like a madman. Etain watched him go, shaking her head as she headed for the stairs. There was no need to go running head first into things like an idiot. At this rate he was going to get himself killed. She sighed as she headed down the stairs to the tavern. Perhaps she’d been giving him too much credit last night. The room was deserted when she passed through. No doubt everyone had either hidden or already run out to the streets.

    Etain reached the streets in time to see the creature descend onto the town, screaming out in a call that was somewhere between the screech of a bird of prey and a wolf’s growl. A few of the other hunters were already taking aim at the creature, some still drunk from the previous night it seemed as they called out insults at the creature. The chimera dived at one and ripped them him with its claws. Etain stayed near the buildings, watching its movements closely. It was at least part eagle by the look of its eyes and wings, though there was definitely wolf or something like that there as well. It had rows of sharp teeth in its mouth and powerful hind legs, each equipped with claws that looked like they could rip through pure steel. The head bothered her though. It was covered with feathery grey fur for the most part, but the fur on the head was longer and shaggy, like hair rather than fur. What could have caused that?

    She came back to the present when she heard a woman scream. Etain looked to the side and saw the woman across the street, clinging to her doorway. Her hand was outstretched and tears were in her eyes, “Mariel, don’t!”
    A little girl was running down the street toward the monster with something clutched in her hands. Etain cursed under her breath and started running forward. She’d intended to hold back and observe the creature, but her conscious wouldn’t stand for her to watch a child run to their death. She ran faster when she noticed Etain, lifting up the flask she’d been holding as she neared the creature. “Over here,” she yelled, waving it to draw the creature’s attention.

    The chimera stopped and turned, dropping a hunter from its mouth as it did. The two stared each other down, the little girl showing no fear as the chimera inched forward, its nose twitched as though it seemed something odd.
    Etain didn’t care what the little girl thought she was doing, she was going to get killed. Etain flew in front of her, placing herself between the two. The chimera reared back and screamed again, seeming to be angered by her actions. Etain began chanting in the dead language, used only in incantations, “Light of the almighty Sun and his mistress the moon, I beseech thee. Protect thy children and fuse the scared lights before me.” Her hand moved in front of her, swiftly forming a hexagram. She felt a burst energy flow through her body. The creature screamed and swiped down. Its claws hit her barrier, bouncing off of it and caused it to shatter moments after. The chimera shielded away, growling as it raised its bruised paw. Etain turned and picked the girl up, running in the opposite direction, ignoring her protests. That shield had taken more energy than she’d bargained for, but there had been no time to supplement it. She’d relied solely on her own energy which was the least effective way to make shield though it worked in a pinch.

    The little girl had dropped the flask which seemed to distract the creature momentarily, giving the two enough time to get out of its reach. Etain reached the mother and pushed the girl into her arms, “Take her and get to cover!” The woman smiled through her tears and complied, ducking into the door they had come out of. Etain pulled her bow off her back and nocked an arrow, breathing hard. She’d hoped to avoid using magic in town. It drew too much attention to her and had served to blow her cover more than once. She looked back down the street to where the other hunters were still fighting and headed back towards them. They needed to get this creature out of town or it was going to be wiped off the map.
  11. Egil saw how the beast killed. It was strange. He had seen his fair share of monsters and heard about chimeras. This one shouldn't have even attacked the city, yet it had anyway. Chimeras should basically be animals with animal behaviors and instinct. A place with this much people should scare it off. There was much easier prey in the countryside. Plenty of farms, and homes outside. This was wrong. Egil wanted to understand, but this was not the time to think. There can only be action.

    The fighting was harsh as hunters fell and people fled. Egil hoped for something grounded, but this chimera obviously had some kind of bird within it. It was difficult trying to catch it when it would fly away by the time he reached there. However, all this chasing only spurred Egil on. His blood was slowly lit with the song in his heart. His spear felt light. He had been watching the chimera as he chased. There was a certain way Bloodsong's begin their hunt. Some begin with gathering of information, learning all they can about the monster. Others learned during the fight, getting to know each nuance in the monster's soul and forging a kind of bond with it. Egil was the latter. He felt for the chimera. He engrained it's movements within his body. All of the monster's movements were absorbed by Egil. Then there was a strange moment when he came down. A pattern than did not fit with it's maddened search. Egil instinctively knew the monster was looking for something. And now it seemed to found something.

    Egil finally caught up once more and he once again saw Etain. The was a strange brightness shielding her as the chimera struck. It came apart, but it seemed to have injured the chimera. Egil assumed it was magic, but he couldn't fathom how she did it so quickly. Something rolled from the little girl and Etain took the child and moved away. Egil realized it was a flask containing a light red mixture. The monster seemed mesmerized by the small flask. Egil guessed this flask was important to the chimera. He sprinted towards it and snatched the flask into his pack. The monster's attention was now fully on him.

    This was an extremely dangerous position to be in. Egil had something the chimera wanted. He felt the pressure in the air suddenly change as the the claws came at him. His body reacted smoothly, feeling the air from the strike. He instantly knew that no matter how much he wore, those claws were going through him. He changed stance facing his spear towards the chimera. It was time to be aggressive. Egil took it step by step, dodging the chimeras blow barely, and sidestepping closer. It's last attack slightly shifted the balance of the body, and Egil saw this as an opportunity. There wasn't a clear view of the neck, but he assumed underneath the arm would do some damage. With one step, a twist of the hip, and thrust of his spear, Egil struck the chimera, and was surprised at the toughness of it's hide. Certainly the spear entered, but not as deep as he intended. It gave the monster time to attack with his other claw. Egil pulled out and attempted to deflect this blow. It's strength was staggering. Egil was pushed back even though he had properly held on with both his hands. His arms felt numbed by the force of the blow. Suddenly an arrow came flying by and struck. He turned his head towards the source and found Etain readying another shot. This was fortunate for the chimera screamed out, blood trickling from both wounds. Egil saw the monster's eyes then. It stunned him, they were blue and utterly human. The madness of the monster seemed to have been staunched as it leapt into the sky and flew quickly off. Many bolts from the guard followed after, but didn't hit their mark.

    Egil relaxed, and spoke, excitement still evident in his voice, "Haha. It seems we scared it off." However, Egil didn't think so. The monster was doing something out of it's normal behavior. And those human eyes. That scared him more than anything. He wanted to understand why this beast would have them. He pulled out the flask, opened it, and sniffed. It was awful. There was definitely herbs within it, but this was something he would often find at an apothecary or mage's labs. There was definitely something off about this hunt.
  12. The battle had turned when Etain came back. Most of the surviving hunters had backed off leaving only Egil. He moved fluidly as he the beast turned its full attention to him, slashing savagely. She didn’t know what he’d done to anger it so, but it was amazing he was still alive. He hit it, but the blow was barely enough to phase it. He was in trouble. Etain pulled back her bow, the familiar tingle of her tattoos steadying her arms as she took aim. She held her breath and fired, cursing when she dropped her bow earlier. The arrow veered off, hitting the chimera’s shoulder just below the wing. She’d been aiming for the eye. She drew another arrow, though she didn’t pull the bow back. The chimera leapt into the sky moments later, alive but fleeing in the very least.

    Etain breathed a sigh of relief as the town gave a muted cheer. There was relief, but it was mixed with exhaustion and shellshock. ‘I don’t blame them,’ she thought as she put her bow back over her shoulder. The creature was gone, but it had left bodies in the street, strangers and neighbors alike. It wasn’t a pleasant situation for anyone. She walked through the battle field, heading for Egil. He’d shown more skill than she’d thought he would, remarkable considering he was a freelancer. After what she’d seen of both him and the chimera she believed it might be wise to form an alliance. That creature was more than even anyone should handle alone. Besides he seemed trustworthy enough.

    She stopped at his side, noting the bottle in his hand. It was the same one the girl had been carrying. She wondered what the girl had been expecting to do with the concoction within. “Good work out there,” she said, offering him her hand to make up for her actions earlier, “I’m sorry about last night. It was unfair of me to be so rude to you. I find it’s easier to air on the side of caution and apologize later though. Still I should have explained myself better.” She paused, unsure of how to continue. She knew asking him to cooperate with her was the best course of action, but it was still awkward. She didn’t want to appear weak by asking for help. No, he had shown skill in this fight. He had to understand that this was more than he could take on alone. She looked him directly in the eyes, “Listen, this hunt is more than anyone can handle alone. I don’t know what happened to that chimera, but its acting strangely as are the people in this town. We stand a better chance of getting to bottom of this if we work together. We can split the profit fifty fifty. What do you say?”

    Either way Etain knew where to start looking for the answer to this mystery. That child had gone forward fearlessly as though she’d known that creature her whole life. She had to know something and that something was probably more than what the public knew. Etain wanted information before she faced that thing again; a way to level the playing field.
  13. Egil accepted her hands with vigor, his blood still thrumming with the song of the battle. "Its alright. I was thinking it was something like that," Egil responded with a smile. He considered her offer. She was seemed to be a capable archer, and her use of magic did interest him. It was a quick decision. Egil probably had already agreed the moment she spoke the words. She was too interesting to not learn more about. He loved to uncover those old stories within the armory even the obscure ones. "And it would be a pleasure to work with you. I'm not sure if I could handle that chimera a moment longer if you hadn't hit it," Egil agreed cheerfully.

    His face darkened recalling his moment with the chimera, "That chimera is definitely strange... I swore I saw the eyes of a human behind that horrific face. That is no mere chimera. Theres more to this than we were told. Chimera's don't often spring up near large settlements like this one. You usually find them deep within wild nature or ancient ruins where untapped magical forces can make them."

    Before he could continue his reasoning, the girl ran up to him. Her face seemed to be so small yet there was a certain fury about her. "You hurt him. You hurt him," she wailed.

    Egil was confused and bent down, taking the little blows from the girl, "Who did I hurt, little one?" Tears were now pouring our of her eyes as she continued her futile assault on his body. She suddenly noticed the flask in his hand and she reached out for it. "Whoa now, this is dangerous. You can't be messing around with things like this," Egil spoke calmly, trying to soothe the girl.

    "That isn't yours! Its not! Its not! It's my... Its my..." emotions welling up within her unable to break free. She began to cry louder.

    Egil didn't know how to handle this, but it seems the child's mother had finally caught up. She was a young woman, not too pretty, but definitely had a mother's gentleness as she quickly caressed her child into a calm state. "I'm sorry for Mariel's actions. I hope she didn't hurt you."

    "No worries. I can take blows from a chimera. Your daughter although quite the fighter isn't at that level yet," Egil joked. The child seemed to cheer up at that comment, but there was a strange feeling coming from her eyes. It was like the reaction of a getting a compliment about being as good as your parents. That seemed odd to Egil.

    The mother spoke softly, "Thats good to hear. I am called Annabelle, and this is..."

    "Mariel!" interrupted the child.

    Annabelle chided her daughter and apologized once more, "I'm sorry. She takes after her father."

    "Papa..." Mariel's tears seem to be ready once more.

    Egil looked at Etain, his mind trying to sort this confusion out.
  14. Etain nodded in agreement with Egil as he voiced his concerns. She’d been thinking something similar, though his comments on its human characteristics made her frown. Something had been off, but for a chimera to have human traits…the implications were not pleasant.

    Her thoughts were interrupted when the girl from earlier came running up and began beating her fists against Egil, crying furiously as though he’d wronged her in some way. Etain watched the exchange, even more confused. First the girl had run at the creature like it was her pet, now she seemed to be chastising Egil from hurting it. Her mother appeared after her, comforting the girl after her outburst. Egil looked over, but Etain could only shrug back. She was just as confused by events as he was.

    The mother glanced over at Etain, a sad smile on her face, “Thank you again for saving my daughter, miss.”

    “It was no trouble,” Etain replied, “But why would she run out into the street like that?”

    Annabelle frowned and glanced around them as though she were worried they were being watched. She motioned for Etain and Egil to follow her before heading back toward the building she’d come from, her hand on her daughter’s back as she guided them in. Etain glanced at Egil for a moment before following. The building turned out to be a shop, alchemic from the look of it. Dried herbs hung all along with walls with several pots of fresh herbs dotting the countertops. Flasks and bottles filled the shelves, organized neatly for easy access. All in all it looked like a high class shop, one that Etain would considering visiting under better circumstances. It seemed a little dusty though, as though no one had used it in a while.

    They were led through the store into a backroom which looked to be part storeroom part entertaining area. Annabelle gestured for them to take a seat on some empty chairs near an old table. Etain did so, growing more curious by the minute. Annabelle brought out some tea, no doubt a pot she’d been brewing when the attack began. She poured three cups, leaving two for Etain and Egil while claiming the last for herself. She sat in the remaining chair across from them, cradling the cup in her hands. Mariel stood off to the side, her eyes still on flask in Egil’s hands.

    After a few moments, Annabelle spoke, “The chimera is my husband’s creation. He’s an alchemist, a talented one. He chose to set up shop in this town over ten years ago after he finished his schooling in the Crown Cities. I don’t know why he chose this place exactly, but once he’d settled he was determined to improve the quality of life. As I’m sure you’ve both noticed, we’re a long ways away from the Crown Cities and monsters have always been a problem for the town and the surrounding area. People die often to the attacks, especially when traveling outside of the city limits. My husband hoped to create chimeras to protect the town so that they would no longer need to fear for their lives every time they went outdoors.”

    “Quite a risk,” Etain noted, “Considering creating chimeras on purpose is taboo in most magic circles.”

    “He only wanted to help,” Annabelle whispered, gripping her cup tightly, “He was tired of watching people die. His goal was to heal people, but the monsters rarely left anything for him to heal. It’s not easy living this far out in their territory. He was doing this to help.” She paused again, staring into her tea, “Not that it matters now. Good intentions or no, that creature is still my husband’s doing. Well more than just his doing.” She sighed, looking up at Etain and Egil, “My husband is that creature.”
  15. Egil's placed the flask onto the table in order to take up the cup of tea. It was very pleasant after the encounter with the chimera. However, the feeling slowly dissipated as he listened to Annabelle's story. His tea almost spilled as he heard her revelation. He couldn't believe it. Egil learned the basics of chimeras and their creation, but he had heard of no stories about a human component in their mixture. He couldn't even comprehend the magic it would take for such a thing. It unsettled him greatly as his mind sorted the facts. That chimera did not act according to monster or animal behaviors during the fight and there was also the eyes. Egil clenched his fists and spoke quietly, "I'm sorry, can you please explain this." He had never taken a human life, and to fight something that was once human was disconcerting. He wondered if he was even capable of such a feat now. What song can he weave with such a tale?. He took another sip from his cup. It didn't calm his nerves.

    Annabelle didn't seem surprised at his reaction as if she expected it. She continued, "My husband's experiments were successful at first. He started with little animals. Birds, dogs, chickens. Even squirrels if you can believe that. They weren't as terrible as the what he has become. It was actually quite amusing at first." Her eyes glanced behind her as if peering through the wall at her child, a half formed smile almost curving up, "Mariel even had fun playing with his first creations." Her smile disappeared and she held her cup a little bit tighter, "They didn't live long though, and he said he needed something much bigger in order to achieve his goal. He became much more engrossed in his work then. We still kept the shop running, but he didn't take as up as many contracts as he used to. It seemed most of his day would be spent in his lab researching and experimenting. I was fine with this. I believed in his goals and supported them, but I felt something was still wrong. I was managing the shop, and taking care of little Mariel so I didn't notice the change at first. It started with him spending less and less time sleeping. I would often find him sleeping in the lab. His lab was in dissaray with notes scattered, reagents littering the floor, and half drawn sigils drawn all over. I've come to learn a lot about alchemy helping my husband, but the things I saw down there were beyond that. He was working with materials I've never even seen or smelled. And the amount of animals he had caught were growing. Some of them were even dead in the process of dissection. That day I disallowed Mariel to play close to the lab."

    Egil unease only grew with the telling but she had yet to reveal the cause, "So how did he become a chimera?"

    Annabelle was surprised to hear his voice, her mind still dredging up memories, "Oh, I'm sorry... It was a few weeks ago when it happened. That horrible day. The sun was setting and I brought Mariel into the house. I had an uneasy feeling in my stomach as if I was falling. All the lamps were unlit which was not too strange. My husband would often forget to do so since he began his experiments. I about to prepare dinner when I realized Mariel was not with me. I feared she may have left the house, so I ran to the entrance only to notice a strange glow coming from the direction of the lab. I thought Mariel may be there, so I hurried there. The lab's door was cracked open, the green light was spilling through. You may not believe me, but I definitely heard music, and perhaps singing. It didn't sound like Mariel's voice, but it was light and almost as high. When I open the door, Mariel was standing there. I was about to say something, but I realized there was something else in the room. It was my husband furiously working magic on animals within a spell circle. As I've told you he wasn't much of a mage. He could never conjure anything close to what men at the Tower could, but there he was performing what appears to be high level magic. I've seen those Tower mages reconstruct a bridge and it took seven of them. My husband was chanting words I couldn't understand. At this point I was scared to the point I didn't even realize Mariel was in my arms. She was just as scared, perhaps even more."

    Annabelle paused for a moment, her face barely contained the emotion welling up, "The animals seemed to be set ablaze in magical fire. The colors ranged from blue to red. My husband was now yelling. I could not understand them. He suddenly stood between the blazing monster and us. He turned his head towards us and spoke the clearest words I've heard from him since he began this nightmare, 'I love you, Anna and Mariel.' He tossed to me a potion." Her eyes turned towards the flask sitting next to Egil, "He said it was the only way to stop this. I didn't know what did or what was in it. The next moment the circle seem to shatter and the fire engulfed him. I screamed for him, but he couldn't answer. When the fire ended, there was only the beast, but I saw into it's eyes and saw my husband's lovely shade of brown. I knew he had become one with the beast. We locked eyes for what seemed to be ages, but he broke contact and crashed through the lab's roof. I believe he wanted to leave quickly in order to not harm us. I've yet to see him until today. But I've heard the stories and horrors told to me about the chimeras the following week."

    Annabelle's hands were whitening with the pressure on the cup. Her body slumped forward as if she finally unleashed all her pent up emotions. "I don't know if you believe me, brave hunters. By the gods it is the truth. You can check the lab in the back if you want further proof. I've yet to return to it since the event, but it seems Mariel had." Just mentioning the child's name seem to brighten her face. "But I beg of you please don't kill my husband. Please use this potion he made on him instead. I don't know what it will do, but if it even has a small chance of saving him, I will take it. I can't reward you with much, but I'll give you what I can.," Annabelle pleaded. Her eyes were locked on Egil and Etain.

    Egil's tension faded as he heard Annabelle's plea. It wasn't much of a choice. He was a hunter, and hunters were killer of monsters. However, this monster used to be man or perhaps is still a man. Egil couldn't justify killing the chimera, knowing that there was a chance he could be saved. He grasped the flask and replied boldly, "Of course we'll try to save him!" Egil realized he just made a decision without Etain's word. "I mean if that is agreeable with you, Etain. I know it's probably not what you envisioned at the beginning of this hunt, but don't you wan't to try?," Egil asked.
  16. Etain listened intently, her face showing little emotion. Creating chimeras without the permission from any of the bigger guilds was dangerous and frowned upon. It happened, but the results were usually not pleasant. However she had never heard of an incident where the magic backfired on the mage. The worst stories involved people being maimed or killed by their creations, maybe shunned by the magic circles. Something very wrong must have happened for the spell to backfire. Etain was far from being an experienced mage, but reading about magical theory was one of the few hobbies she allowed herself. From what she’d read about alchemy, creating chimeras was a highly advanced technique. Anyone could put animals together, but keeping it alive was the challenge. There were so many variables to account for when fusing lifeforms together, even masters had difficulties creating them successfully. That wasn’t even accounting for the added issue of keeping it under control once it was completed.

    Then there was Annabelle’s description of the ceremony. Singing, she’d said. Etain had never read about any sort of alchemy rituals that required singing or that created any similar sounds, though her study of alchemy was far from complete. She couldn’t perform any of it herself. Even so, she knew enough that the level of magic she was describing was not something a lone mage could create, especially not one as inexperienced as Annabelle’s husband. The potion made even less sense. From what Etain could see it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. How was that supposed to stop things? Chimera’s couldn’t be fixed by some concoction of herbs. They were magically fused to the point where their original bodies no longer existed. To pull them apart, flesh would need to be created, something which had been tried by very few and all of them executed for human experimentation.
    Annabelle pleaded for her husband’s life and Egil seemed to want to help. Etain shifted her eyes away from the two, leaning back with her arms crossed before her. “It’s not that simple,” she replied, her voice just barely above a whisper, “No one has ever successfully separated the parts of a chimera. Powerful mages have tried and failed; men with decades of experience.” She glanced at the vial in Egil’s hand, “I don’t know what your husband put into that potion, but I don’t see how he could know more than the masters of alchemy.”

    “But he told me this would help,” Annabelle said turning her attention to Etain, “That it would stop this. It has to do something. Please just try.”

    Etain frowned and met her gaze. This woman didn’t know what her husband had been doing nor what she was asking. Etain laid her hands in her lap, “And if it does nothing? What then?”

    “I don’t know what you mean,” Annabelle replied slowly.

    “If this potion does nothing,” Etain continued, never taking her eyes off Annabelle, “If it comes down to your husband’s life or the town, what then? Will you still plead for his life if it means the lives of your neighbors?” She was beginning to understand why this information hadn’t come up in the meeting. Even if the local lord knew about this man, he wanted him dead now. A grieving woman with a child would only complicate his hunt. Better to keep it simple and keep the town safe.

    Annabelle glared at Etain now, “What do you want me to say? That you should kill the man I love? The father of my child?”

    Etain took a breath before continuing, “I’m sorry to sound so heartless, but you need to understand what you’re asking. Trying to save your husband could get others killed. It could get both of us killed. We can try to use this potion, but it may not do anything. It may come down to him or another house full of bystanders. When you ask for his life to be spared, you need to understand that it might mean someone else has to die.”

    Annabelle lowered her eyes a few moments, the cup in her hands beginning to shake as she held back tears. She breathed deeply for a few moments before speaking again, “My husband wanted to save this town. He never wanted this. I never wanted this. Please save him if you can…but not if it means killing others. He wouldn’t want that.”

    “I understand,” Etain said, her tone softer now, “And I thank you for your understanding. This isn’t easy, I know, but we’ll do what we can. Would it be alright if I went to look at the lab?”

    Annabelle nodded, “It’s just through that hallway. The door’s unlocked.”

    Etain stood and followed the hallway to the door near the back of the house. It was sitting open, probably due to Mariel’s earlier entry. Etain walked in and started to survey the room. It was well-lit with glow lamps, simple alchemic light sources that most any alchemist could pull off. Judging by their strength, they would keeping the room lit for quite a while yet. So this man hadn’t been a complete hack. That still didn’t explain anything. Etain walked to the nearest desk and started shifting through the papers. The formulas were advanced to be sure, but nothing out of the ordinary. The reagents sitting around weren’t too odd either, though there were many empty bottles that had likely held whatever rare ingredients Annabelle had been talking about. Etain moved to another desk near the back of the room where another set of papers were sitting. Most were similar formulas and random notes about his research. The only thing that stood out was a single blank page. It was sitting on top of the pile of notes, yet it seemed untouched. She picked it up and examined it to see if he’d written on the back or perhaps used a spell to hide the information. Nothing. Why was this sitting here? It didn’t look like he had any other black pages lying around. In the back of her mind she heard something like a child laughing as she laid the paper down. She started, looking around for the source of the sound, but nothing was there. Must have been in my head, she thought before going back to sorting through the papers.
  17. Etain's reasoning was definitely sound and logical. Egil had no choice but to agree with most of it. The chimera was definitely a threat to the city still and many more lives than just this family. The flask in his hand felt heavy with the burden of the story. This one object could be utterly useless or be the solution everyone is looking for. Etain left to enter the lab. Egil decided he would join her. Even though he didn't know much about magic or alchemy, any information he could find about the man beneath the beast might be able to help. Before he followed Etain, Egil reassured Annabelle with a firm grasp on her shoulder, "As Etain has spoken, we'll try our best to use this potion first. Hopefully it will work and something good may come of it." He ended with a smile and told her to be with Mariel. She agreed and left promptly for her little girl.

    Family is everything to the Bloodsong. Whether by blood or bond, they overcome together. Annabelle's story had churned the fire within his soul. He would solve this problem with all he had. He did not wish for Mariel to grow up without a father or Annabelle without a husband. His mind burned with focus as he entered the lab.

    Etain was rummaging through various oddities. Egil barely understood what was in the room. There were many bottles, materials, and several herbs he recognized, but any parchment and page had incomprehensible symbols. Magic was not a topic a Bloodsong was comfortable with. Certainly they knew the fundamentals, especially concerning defense against incorporeal creatures and healing, but what was in the room was above anything Egil could manage to analyze. He refocused his attention. It seemed Etain knew what she was doing with that, so he let her deal with that.

    Egil would do what he knew. His senses were attuned now. He already saw what he could, so he closed his eyes. The smells in the room were pungent with animal sweat and blood. Beneath that layer was alchemical herbs, spices, metals, and various things he could not discern. With another breath he could detect something odd. It smelled of something fragrant like flowers. The overall sensation of it was soothing yet disturbing like something was about to leap from the dark. He heard Etain pick something up. It crumpled slightly in her fingers, a piece of paper. After she returned it, there was a faint sound building. Something Egil could have easily missed if he wasn't focused. "Cual'thain Methalu. Enterian men tag. Sin telefae. Tua'la akin. Chimeran Tesan!," sung in a light melody. Egil forced his eyes open as giggles faded from the room. He searched the room and saw nothing strange or different. Those words evoked something within the fire of his soul. It was dangerous and dark, old and new. It nagged his inner mind like a half remembered lyric. Had he heard those words before? It was familiar in a distant way. His mind now felt slow and his fire dimmed. Those words were strong within his mind yet they were difficult to hold onto.

    "Etain, did you hear something. A song? Someone laughing?" Egil spoke with words slightly slurred. He tried to hold himself upright but his legs were sluggish. There was something off about his body. Egil knew his body intimately, and this tiredness could not have come from the chimera's fight. He finally let go of the words within his mind and suddenly alertness returned. His entire body felt the tiny stabbing pain of numbness. He stretched his body until the numbness disappeared. Egil apologized, "I'm sorry, maybe the air in the lab has got into my head."

    Egil shook his head once more, and spoke,"It seems Annabelle's story was right. There is definitely an opening in the roof about the size of that chimera." He gestured above. "There are also many signs that animals were kept here and many have died. All of these notes indicates that much research was done, but I can't understand most of it. I'm hoping you know something about the magic that was conducted here." He remembered the potion within his pack, "Perhaps something about the potion he gave."
    #18 Zeraj, Jun 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2015
  18. Etain blinked several times as she tried to focus on the table in front of her. Her vison was fine, but she couldn’t bring herself to focus. The sound came back just as she heard Egil say something. She hadn’t even noticed he was in the room. He said something she didn’t quite catch. She turned around to ask what he’d said, only to have the word disappear from her mind. Egil looked…different. She couldn’t put her finger on what it was, but he seemed alluring if she had to put a word to it. His eyes seemed to draw her in and for a brief moment the sound in the back of her mind grew louder, drowning out the rest of her surroundings.

    Egil spoke again and snapped Etain back to where she was. She looked away again, going back to shuffling the papers though her eyes barely glanced at each. Until he’s said something she hadn’t even noticed she’d been staring. She rubbed her head as it began to clear fully. That spell earlier must have taken more energy than she’d realized. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d experienced odd symptoms after a rushed spell. It would probably be wise to sit for a while, but there was no time.

    She found her focus again and started going through more of the papers, “It’s nothing out of the ordinary. I mean these equations seem advanced, but they’re nothing that should have created a chimera like the one that attacked town. From what Annabelle was saying, her husband hadn’t even managed to keep his smaller experiments alive for long.” She dropped the papers and walked towards Egil, her arms crossed as she looked around the room again, “I don’t understand how he could have managed to find a way to make a chimera as powerful as the one we saw. If he really created it, even with the backfire, it should have died long ago. Only natural chimeras have ever survived longer than two weeks. Whatever this man discovered would be a breakthrough in the field, but I can’t find any notes that look like they could be the formula he used. No alchemist would do something of this caliber without detailed notes.”

    She turned to the nearby table with the empty containers scattered on it. The notes on it where the same as the others; nothing even remotely explaining the situation. “This doesn’t make any sense,” she said, frustration getting the better of her, “How did any of this happen? And how does this man expect a potion to help? No mixture of herbs is going to be enough to create flesh. If he’d left notes for a ceremony or something like that, I’d believe he knew how to reverse it, but just an herb mixture…”

    Something new occurred to her. In high level magical experiments it was common for a mage to keep someone with a weapon nearby just in case the spell backfired. It was a way to end things quickly and keep others from getting hurt. Could it be? She went over to the table where several reagents still stood. She picked them up and examined them, finally looking to see what they were. Crab’s eye berries, wolfsbane, white baneberries, white snakeroot; the list went on but it all had a common theme. They were deadly when introduced into any kind of body. She looked back up at Egil, “He was right. That vial may be the only way to end the chimera or at least the only way Annabelle’s husband knew to. Most mages who perform advanced spells that have potential to backfire on themselves or others will prepare a failsafe should the worst occur. I can’t know for sure without looking at the vial, but I think that potion was his. It might be a highly potent poison. He wanted to be sure there was a way to kill his creation if it got out of hand.” Etain looked at the reagents on the table again, wishing she could be wrong. There was always a chance she was. She’d never examined the potion though now she would be more careful if she did. Causal contact with most of these plants could greatly weaken a person if not kill them.
  19. "Poison..." Egil said with distaste, "If that is what you think, then its likely to be true. What you say does make sense." His head lowered slightly in dejection, "It will be then a necessary weapon against him. We'll use this flask on the chimera. It may be wishful thinking but I still hold hope that even though poisonous materials may make this flask, there may be a chance that by magic or strange alchemical reaction this will actually do something else. A small hope, but that is what the song of my heart speaks." Egil's head raised with newfound strength.

    "Lets head out of the city and get a better feel for the chimera. I don't believe it will strike again soon. The wounds it has gained were not superficial. It will rest at least for several days. Though I'm not sure of it's healing capabilities. Lets say another one ore two at most then. We'll need to look at the other attack sites. Figure out some kind of pattern to reveal it's lair. I would assume somewhere deep in the forests, due to it's closeness to the nearby villages and farms. But certainly it may retreat further in order to heal. It will be a difficult hunt, but we'll be able to fight it while its still fazed and injured. However, there is another option." Egil paused to think and continued, "It isn't pretty, but we can just wait and prepare in the city. The man in the beast seems to have some control over his new nature. That is probably why he returned to the city. Returned closer to Annabelle and Mariel. It is likely he will come back for them. The man's eyes seem to carry much confusion and rage. He may not understand he will ultimately kill who he loves if we don't stop it. I can't imagine what will happen after that. Perhaps the true rage of the beast will be unleashed. He will be back fully rested and healed, but we'll have time to prepare."

    Egil looked into Etain's eyes and asked, "What do you think we should do?" He noticed her as if for the first time again. The gold that shone through the paleness was enticing. Egil's mind replayed a whisper of the melody from before. The thought of the chimera was momentarily banished. The fire of his soul yearned something beyond the hunt. Something he felt before during his younger years training when his body were still overcoming the changes. He broke contact and looked at the hole in the ceiling and remembered his duty. He slowed his breathing and tried to calm himself. "Mind over body," he recalled. Once again he blamed the chemicals in the room for his strange behaviors of the day. He was taught better than this. He must follow his training. Within his mind he recited, "We are singers of our tales, but we must not let the song go astray. Our blood bears the fire. Our blade bears the story. Our hearts bears the soul. We are Bloodsong, weavers of the hunt, singers of the slain, and keepers of the forgotten. Let the soulfire of our stories etch into your hearts." Egil's mind belonged to himself. The song from earlier was purged from his heart. He returned his attention to Etain, waiting for her response.
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