It’s very early in Vesper and Ardul waits by the Dimensional Transit hub in the Forum. It’s an interesting place with Rifts that are opened and closed by mages employed by the City. Some of the Rifts are opened on request but others are more permanent to common locations. Well, ‘common’ might be a misnomer.
The Winged Warrior is wearing her gleaming silver armour with that cylinder hooked to her hip and is talking to one of the robed mages as she waits for others to join her.
Hunter is in his trademark duster. He’s probably got his revolver as well but it’s hard to tell under the crimson jacket. He’s waiting. Not nervous. He’s no stranger to rift travel. It’s not something he’s done often but it’s something he has done and had not go horribly wrong. On occasion. This should be fine.
Running along from the market area, Kaji’s backpack bounces behind him as he weaves his way towards the Forum. His usual olive green anorak coat has been thrown over a set of designated travel clothes in place of his favored jeans and t-shirt, his own light armor strapped across his chest, his knife-spear sheathed and strapped to a thigh.
“Arduuul~!” he calls, waving as he spies her, not a difficult thing to do when she’s wearing such armor and the wings at her back. Hunter also gets a wave as he jogs closer, the past months’ training with Ardul having paid off as the young necromancer’s not even winded when he comes to a stop.
Despite what’s prompted their little trip he looks eager to get going, not that smiles are often far from his countenance to begin with. “So, where we headed?” he asks.
Ardul casts a glance at the Wolfen by her side as the mage withdraws for a moment. If she’s nervous it doesn’t show, but dimensional transit is not something that’s common amongst the Iyesgarthians and her first and only trip had been impromptu and dangerous.
Her attention is drawn though by her name being called and she smiles as the youth runs towards them. “He’s come so far, my Lord, he might handle a … light … sabre … yet.” She murmurs. Her Lord, she’s been doing more and more since Hunter showed her that video of her people. Those nanites had certainly done something to her.
“Are you ready, Kaji? My Lo– Hunter, knows a marketplace where we might find what we need.” She gestures to the robed Mage when everyone says they’re ready and the Rift activates, a glowing blue portal that they just walk through.
On the other side, is a big open bazaar type area that has a roof supported by columns. They’re greeted by a tall, spindly legged, one eyed creature. “Welcome to Grewoth! May your shopping be fruitful and your bags be full…” It intones as they appear.
There’s all manner of creatures of here and all types of stalls. Clothing, Technology, Food to name a few. Some of the smells coming from that food stall right near though, causes Ardul’s nose to wrinkle.
The area they’ve arrived in is a large circular room with ‘gates’ lining the walls like the one they’ve just come through. Past that there’s what looks like a sea of pop up stalls and more or less ‘temporary’ shops. Past that is the actual market itself. A multi-level open air affair – covered from the sun and weather but otherwise very al-fresco. All manner of creature moves about, some beings familiar on rifts earth, many of them not and bearing forms that almost defy natural law. The difference in sizes is also staggering. Some of the shoppers are no bigger than Miss Frizz… others have to stride carefully through the bazaar, lest they splinter a stall.
“Don’t wander off here, Kaji. You may end up for sale.” Hunter mutters.
Practically vibrating in place, there’s really no question as to whether or not Kaji’s ready as he looks anxiously at the mage in anticipation. He’s traveled via rifts before, but apart from the one that dumped him here in the first place and perhaps an accidental one or two during missions, it’s always been within this world. Going somewhere outside of this place and on purpose?? Well, to be fair it could very well just be another part of this world and he wouldn’t know for sure, but– oHMYGOSHWHATISTHAT
Really. You’d think that he hasn’t lived in a place like Vesper for the past year where it’s chock-full of alien-looking citizens.
“Huh? O-oh, yes’sir!” he says, bobbing his head at Hunter in understanding. He’ll stick super-close by!
Hunter’s mutter gets a sideways look from the blonde before she gazes with concern at Kaji. His response gets a snort before she salutes the greeter, right arm across her chest “May your day be prosperous as well.” she intones before gesturing the group onward.
“Stick close, Kaji. They’re less likely to bother my L– Hunter and I.” the blonde says, splaying her wings a little to make room for them.
Leading them out of the circular area, goodness it’s busy here with all the comings and goings, they make the first set of ‘pop up’ stalls. More temporary by nature, the reason soon becomes clear as many of the places are hawking furs, skins and foods. Hunters and Trappers by the looks of things.
“Ho, Lord Wolf,” a piglike D-Bee snuffles at Hunter “try some barbecued swamp rat, caught fresh this morning on Pulo.” It’s beady eyes settle on Kaji and then back to Hunter “Is that your’s?” he gestures to the youth.
Hunter pulls some cash out of his pocket. While the coinage is relatively meaningless here, precious metals are not and one can usually trade in gold, silver or gems regardless of where one is especially in places like this where the shoppers all tend to come with their own currency.
“Sure. On a stick if you like. And yes he is. Going to outfit him. Tech ward in the same place?” That means Hunter has shopped here before and probably he has.
Interestingly enough Kaji may spot a trio of wolfen moving through the crowd. Not in their direction but still, he’ll get a good enough look at them to see that they’re dressed very differently. Sleeker kinds of uniforms – and they are uniforms – that suggest ‘sci-fi’ at least to someone from when Kaji is from.
“Either of you want a bite to eat?” Not too far away a spider looking creature sells dreamcatchers made of its own silk and further down there’s a shop hawking ‘faerie dust’.
“Also, where does The Finder set up shop these days?”
Nodding at Ardul, Kaji falls in step after them, shifting his pack to a shoulder so he can rest his arm over it where he can keep a better eye on it as they move along.
When they’re stopped by a food vendor, he keeps his mouth shut mostly because he doesn’t want to laugh at the irony of a pig-looking fellow selling barbecued anything. The question as to whether he’s ‘their’s does have him puffing his cheeks out a bit.
Kaji glances at Hunter as the Wolfen moves to pay for a rat-stick while he asks questions, making sure they’re not moving on just yet as he lets his gaze wander a bit. There’s so much to see! He blinks as he spies another group of Wolfen some ways off.
“Huh? Oh, um. Nah, it’s okay. I had breakfast,” he says distractedly. Rat isn’t exactly his idea of a snack either, especially when he’s got a talking psychic mouse as a friend and Gran’s had only a month ago been under attack by droves of the things.
What he’d really love to do is have a look around, but there seem to be very little actual humans about, not that he’s going to neglect Hunter and Ardul’s warnings either. Anyway, they’re here for a reason.
Ardul looks at the rat and nods slowly “I think so. That seems similar to the dormousiour we used to eat.” It probably doesn’t surprise Kaji that the Valkyr isn’t too worried. She takes one of the rats and starts to eat “Oh. This is good. Are you sure, Kaji?”
“Tech ward is on the first level, east wing, where it’s been for while.” The Pig creature snorts, eyeing Kaji with an avarice look “I could use a good human in my party. If your equipping him, I suppose you don’t want to part with him, hmmmm?” Ardul shifts slightly, her wing curling around the youths shoulder. Nope. He’s theirs, as Hunter said.
“The Finder is just down the ways a bit. You can’t miss her. I guess you know your way around here, hmmmm?”
‘Just down the ways a bit’ means several stalls and Hunter can see the profile of The Finder. The stall is in the direction they need to go and Ardul glances at Wolfen as she guides in them in that direction.
The Finder is a woman with feathers for hair but other than that she looks fairly normal. Attractively exotic even. There are ravens sitting on and around her stall which seems to have a lot of odds and ends about it.
“Have you ever shopped here? She can find just about anything you want. And her deals are fair. It’s her nature. That doesn’t always mean that they’re good though. Be careful.”
“Rawk.” The woman actually croaks like a crow or raven. “Well what have we here? Step right over dearies.”
The pig’s phrasing makes Kaji automatically start wondering what the typical stats of a human are in a place like this. He shakes his head and the thoughts out along with it, trying not to sneeze at the nearness of Ardul’s wing, grateful that the two are keeping close tabs on him.
“So who’s the Finder?” he asks as they make way for their next destination.
The answer is revealed within short order once they manage to drift further down the crowded lane of stalls and shoppers. Kaji looks absolutely fascinated by the woman and her feathered entourage. He’s startled only mildly by the harshness of her voice, which he decides is fitting enough that it isn’t weird. It’s probably also better not to try and pet the ravens. They’re kind of big and might think his fingers are cocktail wieners.
Best not pet the ravens, Kaji, good call. Ardul glances over her shoulder at the Piggy merchant as they descend on the Finders Stall. The avian theme isn’t lost on her and she glances at the Wolfen once again. “I haven’t. This is my first trip through a Rift, not including the one that me to you.”
She nods though at the warning and turns a stern look on Kaji at her side. Her wings fold back a bit, no longer stifling the necromancer. “Greetings Finder. I am Ardul and this my Lord, Hunter and my Charge, Kaji.” So formal. She’s reverting to the soldier she used to be. What had those nanites done to her?
The odds and ends around the stall are indeed interesting and there seems to be something like a brown robe hanging just over there. It might look a little a familiar to Kaji. To Ardul, it’s just that… a robe.
“Hello Finder. We’re looking for parts for a plasma sword.” Hunter nods.
“Right to business, mmm wolf? You’ve not introduced me to your friends yet.”
Hunter sighs. “This is Ardul and that’s Kaji. We’re making the plasma sword for him.”
“Hello to you both dearies. They call me the Finder for that is what I do. I can find anything for you, for a price and my bargains are always fair. Have a care what exactly you wish for and what you give away. Now, tell me why you need the blade, hmmm and I’ll send my flock to wing.”
The ravens are all staring in that avian way that involves turning their heads at odd angles. They’ve sort of crowded to the front of the awning and line the Finder’s table as if forming an audience. Or looking the new arrivals over for potential snackage.
As Ardul speaks, Kaji’s gaze trails back towards her, his brow creasing in concern. He looks past her towards Hunter as the Wolfen gets down to business with the Finder, his attention wandering to look at the variety of things strewn about her stall. The old robe hanging off to the side gets a bit of a headtilt, but he’s looking back towards the feather-haired woman again as she asks the reasons for seeking out parts to make a plasma sword.
Once again the young necromancer looks between his two companions then. Is he supposed to answer? What’s all right to say? He looks at the ravens that have gathered in curiosity, trying not to think of old horror movies.
“Hoping rather we don’t need it, but things have come up where that might not be the case,” he says carefully, glancing out of the corner of his eye at Ardul. “So it’d be better to be prepared than not.”
If Ardul notices the concerned looks from Kaji, she doesn’t bat an eyelid. Instead she takes up position to Hunters left, just behind his shoulder. Sensing the youths hesitation though, the stern blonde bends a look on him “This is part of the process, Kaji. You want the blade, you have to earn it. You may speak of our concerns.”
She’d told him that making her blade had been part of her initiation. Why wouldn’t she expect the same of him? He hadn’t asked the whole details.
As the youth finishes speaking, the tall blonde nods as wings move restlessly. “What my Charge does not say, Finder, out of deference to me I believe is that my people have been enslaved to a usurper and are mounting an invasion on his world.” and look to Hunter “And my Lord has bought here so Kaji may complete his Trials.”
Noting the ravens that gather around them, the Valkyr tears flesh from that rat-on-a-stick, carefully holding pieces out to each and every one of them.
“Is that sooooo?” The Finder looks first to Ardul and then to Kaji. Since Kaji seems to be the one empowered to bargain she focuses on him.
Kaji may just hear Hunter murmur, ‘That’s cruel.’ with a chuckle. It is from his point of view, but then he knows the Finder quite well.
“So… you wish to build a plasma blade then? How badly do you wish it? You’ll need the parts. You don’t need to give me a list, I can find them. The question is, really… what are you willing to trade?”
He’s pretty sure Jedi don’t go talking to slightly creepy bird women. They built them out of things they found, made it their’s. Their initiation was in seeking a power source for their lightsaber, a kyber crystal that spoke only to them. It’s likely that none of these things matter in whatever place they are now, but given the odd formality of their current situation and the pressure now upon him with the Finder’s focus, if it hadn’t been obvious before that he was going to have to go through some sort of initiation process then, it certainly is now.
Part of him is still slightly geeking out about the whole thing. Another part is trying not to panic. Don’t say anything stupid!
He draws in a breath through his nose, lets it out slowly through his lips. Tries not to frown at Hunter’s low words.
Reaching into his backpack, he pulls out a small silver, flattish rectangle with an odd logo of an apple with a bite taken out of it on one side. He depresses the narrow button on the top until the screen lights up, swipes it to unlock and then taps his thumb a few times before music starts to play from it, strings and brass swelling in a brilliant opening bar that continues warmly as a bass line keeps the march-like theme moving amidst the varying instruments as they have their different parts to play as only John Williams can manage.
Finish feeding the Ravens, Ardul looks at Hunter and smiles slightly. “It might be but he will be ready.” she murmurs, turning that cold grey gaze to the Finder.
She waits patiently as Kaji decides on his price and nods at the offering, once shown. “And as his Sponsor, I add my own offering.” she murmurs, sweeping the head piece of her armour from her brow and holding it out. It’s not the whole armour, but it’s as finely worked as the rest. Hunter and Kaji will see the sigil engraved on the inside, like the one that’s engraved on the gauntlets. “This marked me as an advisor to the Royal House of Iyesgarth. I surrender it in support of my Charge.”
The Finder leans forward to look at the helmet and the piece of technology offered. She smiles.
“You have offered things dear to you. I appreciate the value to you. But that is not what I’m looking for. It would not be a fair exchange.” Fair for whom she does not say.
“What are you going to want for this?” Hunter cants his head.
“Effort. I can find it for you but I shall not fetch it for you. To do so would cheapen what you seek. And that… demands different value. The act of finding it for you is less than what you are going to put into it. So instead… I’d like a taste of your charge’s Aura…”
Will Ardul allow that? For that matter… will Kaji?
Kaji glances at Ardul as she also offers something. He hadn’t expected that, but he says nothing as he looks back to the Finder, blinking when she responds.
“…then…” Hunter asks instead, the necromancer looking between Wolfen and the woman. What she clarifies makes sense enough to him. He nods, although at mention of a different value, he pauses, head tilting.
“Er…a…taste?” Of his aura? He glances at Ardul and Hunter. Is this like the whole blood thing again ooor…
It’s not surprising that Kaji hadn’t expected anything, Ardul hasn’t been all that forthcoming about her life back on Iyesgarth, seeming to eventually slide into the every day life of Rifts Earth. Now, with the changes that the Nanites have wrought, she seems to be reverting to more of the soldier she once was.
Giving the Finder an even look, the blonde eventually looks to Hunter, questioning him with that look. “My Lord, it is not a custom I’m familiar with.”
To Kaji though, once he gets her attention “It’s your Quest, Kaji. Your trial. It is not for me to say yes or no. I am your Sponsor and will be by your side throughout. I do not intuit The Finder means you harm, though.”
“Your Aura. A bit like… your magic. Sort of.” Hunter says.
“Indeed.” The Finder nods. “Yours is unique. You’ve garnered the attention of an elder being and she has left her mark on you.” That… there’s really only one being Kaji has met that matches that description and he’s only met her twice. If she’s left such a mark on him in that time then… what does she want with him.
It’s not that he thought the Finder means any harm either, as per what Ardul believes, but he just hadn’t been quite sure what she’d meant.
“….oh.” Things like that, you don’t quite forget, but it has been a while since attention has been called to the whole thing. Kaji chews on his lower lip, shifting a little uneasily.
Drawing himself up, he looks back at the Finder, trying not to seem so hesitant as he nods. “Um. Okay then. How are we doing this? Do I needa do anything in particular?”
Ardul’s cold grey gaze assesses the Finder and her words have the blonde looking at Kaji. “It sounds like there is a story to tell there,” she murmurs.
“I believe, you just stand there, Kaji.” Magic is not something she’s familiar with, though she’s not sure what The Finder is going to do really is magic. She does have a question for the woman though. “And what will you do with this sample?”
“Yes. Just stand there dearie.” The feather haired woman reaches out. Something congeals into liquid color around Kaji and the Finder carefully coaxes it into a vial. The young mage may experience a small feeling of loss or emptiness.
“There. Paid in full. Now as to where you find them. The hilt construction components you can find here. The power source resting in a Cathedral on the planet of Wormwood and the focusing lens you will need to get from a tomb in the deepest void looking over a dying star.”
So… a quest. Hunter sighs at the mention of Wormwood. “I hate eating worms.” He mutters to no one in particular.
There’s a flicker of a smile at Ardul, one that hints of how terrible the whole ordeal had been. “Oh, there’s definitely a story,” he murmurs, his eyes sliding back towards the Finder.
At her direction, Kaji nods and stays where he is after switching off his iPod and dropping it back into his backpack. He watches as the Finder reaches out towards him, blinking at the color that seems to solidify around him. His breath catches as she eases a bit of it away into that vial, swallowing at the lingering sensation, his arm tightening around his pack just a little.
It takes him a moment to refocus, although he has no idea where these places are that she mentions. Bits here, then some cathedral on another planet and a tomb in a void? Sure sounds like pleasant places. He can sympathize with Hunter.
“…sounds like we got a lot of traveling ahead of us…”
Ardul watches as The Finder takes that sample, wings shifting slightly the only thing that betrays her agitation. Though Hunter might sense it. “Where is this Wormwood, my Lo–” she takes a deep breath “… Hunter? And worms are necessarily that bad.” Says the avian woman.
“It does Kaji and a riddle to unravel, for I don’t know where the ‘deepest void looking over a dying star’ may be.”
Still, it seems like at least some of they want to find can be found here. “My thanks, Finder.” she nods to the woman and gestures the group onwards. “The Tech Ward, I believe.”
As Ardul turns, Kaji and Hunter see giant Grey Black wings passing down one of the aisles.
Hunter bows slightly to the finder and turns to follow Ardul. “It’s a world locked in a constant battle of Light versus Dark. The Cathedrals of the Light are some of the safer areas but… you’ll find that ‘Light’ does not mean ‘Good’ or indeed always ‘Nice’. The people running the Cathedrals can be… difficult.”
The wolfen’s eyes narrow at the wings and as they move his hand drifts toward his weapon.
“You’ll have to convince them, Kaji, that you mean well enough for them to give it to you. As to the other… a tomb in the void overlooking a red star. Since the Finder clearly means us to find it, it must be something people know about…”
When they look at him, they might find a strange look on Kaji’s face again, if briefly. “Err, right. Yeah. That sounds reasonable.” About the ‘light’ not necessarily being something positive. He nods at them both, turning also to bow towards the Finder in thanks. When he straightens, he catches a glimpse of wings, frowning faintly as he pulls his attention back towards his two companions.
“I’m going to assume space travel’s a thing here, then. If that’s the case, then our best chance at finding out about any place that matches what the Finder said about a dying star is to ask spacers or traders.” Maybe pop into a local cantina.
He glances back where he’d seen the movement of wings, then to Hunter. “You saw them, right?”
“Space travel?” Ardul glances over her shoulder, completely missing the Wings, “No, it’s all done by Rifts.” If Kaji thinks on that for a moment, that might sense. No space travel, exactly, Rifts that go planet and dimension hopping. “Saw what?”
She continues though as they move through the markets, there’s a lot of people and creatures here. “The concept of Light being good and Dark being bad is a fabrication. I read something not long after I got here that indicated there demons who are made of Light – the things they do are terrible and then there are mages who work with shadows and perform miracles that are lauded as good and right.”
They did indeed see the wings, and they can still see the tips of them every now and then. Very, very much like Ardul’s, paralleling them in another aisle. Just up ahead is an intersection though and they might cross paths.
“My Lord is the best to answer that, Kaji. Though I don’t know what you mean by spacers.” Ardul has forgotten again – it’s Hunter, not her Lord.
Hunter glances over at Ardul. “Some species ply the voids between the stars. My people is, or was, one of them. This world… couldn’t tell you. They seem pretty comfortable with magic here but I’ve never been past the market. There’s a lot of humid forest out there. It never particularly appealed to me.”
“At any rate it could be that. Or it could be something else. Dead worlds exist as well as living ones. Some of them could well be described as tombs. I shall ask around while you and Ardul get the handle parts…”
Another glance, this time off to the side. “I see them. We might have trouble here in a moment. Be ready.”
Boy Kaji’s glad he’s not just sounding crazy to at least one of them. He’s still working out the varying levels of tech-familiarity between people he’s met. And maybe he looks a tiny bit disappointed when Ardul says that travel is done by Rifts here, but on the whole, that might be a better, quicker way since as cool as space travel and stuff might seem in sci-fi, Kaji has never aspired to be an astronaut because space does not seem like a fun place to be. Kind of like out in the depths of the ocean. Scary.
“There’s always gonna be people that think that their way is right-er than others. And unfortunately if they’ve got the power to back it up, it doesn’t leave people who don’t much choice. And then when you have other worlds and creatures thrown into the mix, it just makes things more complicated,” he agrees. Their concepts of good and evil can be completely reversed, for instance.
As they continue to move again, Kaji keeps an eye out, as well as he can, anyway. There’s a whole lot going on around here, and it’s more than once that he loses track of the wings. “Got it…” He nods slowly at Hunter, reslinging his backpack to loop over both arms, his right hand unfastening the strap over his weapon at his side, his left hand sliding into his jacket pocket for a quick inventory check.
“Oh?” Ardul blinks at Hunter and nods slowly. “Those ships we were looking at, they came that way didn’t they?” She’d known that but she hadn’t connected to it to what Kaji was saying. “If you could my Lord, ask around, that would be good. Help us achieve the Quest a little quicker.” She hasn’t seen the wings.
As they make the intersection a tall, muscled Iysegarthian appears. Not in armour, but in a uniform, black top, black pants and black boots. “Knight Commander Trasinger, you are commanded to return to Lord Hyfil with me.” He sounds so certain that she’ll just obey, but then again, he has a small device in his hand. That he operates. And no, he’s not noticed the 8 foot tall Wolfen or the necromancer who were following her.
It’s never going to not be weird, hearing Ardul defer to Hunter as ‘lord.’ That she’s slipped with it consistently ever since they’d set out is concerning, and if they’re potentially going to run into those of her people-
Okay, there’s no if’s about it. The appearance of the other Iysegarthian is nearly missed if for the fact that Ardul’s wingspan, even when folded, still blocks most of Kaji’s view past her as he follows. He nearly walks into those wings when she stops, raising a hand to brush feathers from his face as he peers around them when he hears the voice. His eyes widen when he catches a glimpse of the wings, the uniform, the… Well, what is that? Not a thermal detonator, at least?
Something spins into Hunter’s metal hand that isn’t a gun. The wolfen had clearly been anticipating the angle of approach because he steps around Ardul on the Iyesgarthian’s blide side – the side of the arm he’s using – just as he brings that arm up. Metal flashes as he lunges in without a word, without a sound.
A knife. It’s a large knife in Hunter’s hand. Either Ardul or Kaji might recognize it as a vibro-knife. The sonic field that surrounds them does much more damage than a simple blade could ever hope for.
It’s not a thermal detonator in the Iyesgarthian holds, but Kaji might be forgiven for thinking that. As the youth walks into her, Ardul’s wing protects him, he might get the feeling it was going to push him behind her, but she stopped.
The muscled Iyesgarthian points the device at the blonde and presses on it, a frown creasing his brow when she says “I will not. I will remain with my Lord unless he directs me otherwi–”
Hunter’s there and yes, Ardul recognises the blade. He’s used it before and does so now with great efficiency. The Iyesgarthian clearly wasn’t expecting it and it slices into him. What’s interesting, perhaps to the two with the blonde, is the Avian doesn’t try to fight. He … starts to retreat.
Once the device is raised and a button depressed, Kaji can guess at what the intent of it might be, especially given the uncertainty that mars the other winged one’s face when Ardul ignores those orders.
The movement from Hunter draws the necromancer’s eye then, brows lifting at the large blade and the odd glow surrounding its edge as it’s suddenly flung. Fast!
Kaji looks back towards the other Iyesgarthian again, stepping around Ardul’s wings as he sees him move to try and leave. He digs a hand into his pocket, something grasped in his fist of which he flings after the retreating figure. A tiny black form flitters and continues to carry itself on its wings to try and catch onto the Iyesgarthian’s.
“Can you stop him Kaji?” This is going to draw attention and no mistake and probably not the attention they want. Hunter sincerely hopes that they can continue shopping here when they’re done as he draws his weapon to the dismay of everyone nearby and takes careful aim as the Iyesgarthian starts to fly away.
“Stay right where you are, Ardul…” The grey wolfen half growls.
The Iyesgarthian is moving slowly enough. Hunter wounded him badly. Those around them saw him ‘attack’ the blonde winged woman and as they take cover, one of them throws a dagger at the black clad man.
Kaji can probably do something. For if he gets away, whoever is after the Valkyr will know that she’s free of the nanites.
“As you wish Lord.” Ardul’s blade has hummed to life in her hands and her wings have flared but any movement is arrested, promptly, by Hunters command.
“Hopefully!” Kaji squints after the little origami ladybird he’d tossed, keeping the Iyesgarthian in sight as he counts down, mentally. Ten second delay. It’s not a big explosion, not on such a tiny thing, but he just needs to keep the guy from getting too far. And then what? Try grabbing his soul? That’s not something he wants to do. No, he needs to halt the guy, not kill him!
His eyes fall to the blood that had been spilt from Hunter’s attack, brow furrowing. Another paper removed from his pocket, he stoops down, swiping a finger across the blood before applying it to the paper in a quick series of lines to make up the Kanji for ‘stop’. It might be a long shot, but he grasps the paper tightly as he looks back up at the attempted retreat of the winged figure, focusing.
Hunter hadn’t quite thought through that his instruction would root Ardul in place. He’s too busy aiming. Aiming. Aiming. Aiming…
When the explosion goes off – to the gasp of everyone who can see it and the alarm of the marketplace’s security forces’ Hunter fires. His shot is aimed for the fleeing man’s wing. Getting away on foot will be much harder and Hunter’s quick. He can run the man down if Kaji doesn’t do something more decisive.
It’s been like that for Ardul since the nanites infected her and somehow Hunter managed to take command of them. The blonde remains where she is, blade humming in her hand, wings outspread as the other two try to stop the fleeing birdman.
The explosion when it comes, damages a wing, causing the Iyesgarthian to list precariously. The remaining good wing beats down powerfully trying to right him just a Hunter takes aim and fires.
It might seem that Kaji’s efforts are for nothing, as the projectiles from Hunters gun lance the grey black feather. The birdman drops, clearly meaning to run but … freezes. Right where he is.
“Got him. Nice work Kaji. Come on Ardul.” Never knowing that he’d frozen the blonde, Hunter jogs forward to knock the frozen winged man right back down and place a foot on the back of his neck. Hunter’s feet are… paw like. The fact that he wears boots – shaped appropriately – might look a bit odd to people like Kaji.
“Where is Hyfil!” That’s the first thing the wolfen snarls.
There’s little else to be done but wait. Their efforts take the fleeing Iyesgarthian down, and once he touches ground, Kaji’s moving after Hunter to close in on him. Seeing the winged man falter to a halt surprises him, but he lets out a breath in relief as they reach the other.
The bloodied origami sheet still clutched in hand, he keeps to the side as the Wolfen begins his questioning, only throwing a glance towards Ardul to make sure she’s with them.
The Iyesgarthian snarls, his wings a bloodied mess. He can’t stand against Hunter as he’s knocked to the ground and his head can’t move, not with that pawlike boot there.
“You’ll all become loyal servants of the Empire.” the voice is gravelly and deep and his eyes, now bloodshot look at Kaji. “And the likes of you will be leashed.” It’s no secret that Ardul was uncomfortable around magic, but this seems something more.
“High Lord Hyfil waits for us in the place where the Fords Lake points to the Burg.” They know that the Iyesgarthians were ‘stationed’ at Lynchburg and Hunter knows there’s a lake not far from there.
Ardul does indeed follow, extinguishing her blade as she stands behind Hunter watching.
Seeing her, the Iyesgarthian snarls again. “She will join, just like her Princep-elect has …”
Hunter would like to just shoot him. That’d be less troublesome in the long run. Alas if he does that there’ll be a lot of trouble. So he just leans down and hauls the man to his feet, holding him by the ‘scruff’ of his shirt.
That last gets a low growl. If they have Nina then the coup has all but succeeded. He rather suspects Ardul won’t take that well. He can’t focus entirely on it though because he he’s looking for security so he can turn this guy over to their tender mercies. Attacking the mind of another is illegal in the market. No one would trust anyone else if it weren’t.
Kaji glares back at the uniformed Iyesgarthian. “Empires shouldn’t need to force people into loyalty,” he says. “Just be glad I only made you stop moving temporarily.”
He’s not sure how long the blood writing will last, although he doesn’t tear up the paper just yet. Best they make sure he’s properly secured before that. While Kaji has no idea where this Fords Lake is, at least it seems they have a location, although the rest of what their captive says obviously isn’t good news for Hunter’s reaction.
“Where’s that device thing? Probably a good idea to take it with us.”
There’s a shock gasp from behind the pair as Ardul stares at the traitor. “They can’t have her …” she breathes quietly, Hunter was right, it’s not sitting well but due to the slight complications of the nanites her reaction probably isn’t as strong as should be.
Security for the market isn’t too far away and all three of them are getting ‘Looks’. If it hadn’t been for some of them near them jabbering about how the blonde had been accosted, things might have gone a lot worse. They’ll take the birdman though.
Ardul bends to pick up the device and hands it to Kaji, her eyes cold as she looks at the Wolfen. “Control device.” Hunter might explain more, if he wants to.
For now though, they should go shopping. If they can.
“Give it to me.” Hunter holds a hand out to accept the device. He knows she’ll hand it over. He’ll have a look at it later before he destroys it.
“Alright. You’d best get what you need with Kaji. I’ll meet up with you soon. Just going to go ask about that tomb. Be careful.”
With that run in here, it’s pretty clear they’re being tracked. Best to get what they came for and get gone.
Kaji lifts a hand for the device, lowers it when Hunter asks for it instead. Probably better he keeps it anyway. It will also free his hands up so he can tear the written character and piece of paper in half now that the local authorities have the Iyesgarthian. Now he just wants to wash his hands as he tries not to think too much about what he’d just done.
“Okay Hunter,” he says, nodding at the Wolfen’s suggestion. He looks at Ardul. “…you all right..?”
“Of course, my Lord.” Ardul answers, bowing her head in deference to Hunters command. “I will do as you command.” She’s slipped again and that might worry him. The Doctor from the Restorium had said that there might be side effects, maybe this is one of them.
Watching as the Wolfen leaves, the Valkyr finally turns and gestures to Kaji. “I am fine, Kaji. Worried for the Princep Nina, but Lord Hunter is correct, we need to complete our trading if we are to aid her in any way.”
Is she alright? He’ll have time to work that out as they shop.
Traveling via Rift, Ardul, Hunter and Kaji start their trip off in a busy bazaar to see about locating components to make a plasma blade, and not without reminders of a closing threat.
March 28, 2411