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Val turned back toward the tavern, picking his shirt off the… 
6th-Nov-2006 09:54 pm
Matrix Style


Val turned back toward the tavern, picking his shirt off the ground. “That’s good. A simple life. I almost envy you.” With a far away glance that left him seeming almost vulnerable, he drifted back to the White Wing. “Occasionally, I wish my life were that easy.” That said, the cold shell returned and he looked at Daine. “If you’re finished, today we have a lot of work to do. I had Anne leave a large sum in your room and you have some time to prepare yourself fully. Today we infiltrate the Temple. I’ve already sent for a large party of bounty hunters who will attack in a few hours. We must give the Osia the warning and prepare them for battle.”

As he reached the door, his lips lifted in a mischievous grin, “I told you that you needed to play a role. I hope the one of wife won’t be too much to handle. You have the proper temperament for it.”
He left that hanging in the air as he disappeared into the Inn to prepare for the day’s tasks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Val entered his room with an air that could only be called authoritative. He moved quickly and efficiently, donning the articles of war. First a comfortable, long sleeved silken shirt went over his head, followed by a tight fitting leather tunic. A war harness brought the whole piece together, giving him the look of a warrior mage. An assortment of throwing weapons were pocketed within the harness, adding another deadly element to his already formidable arsenal. His arms were left free, allowing him the movement to cast, with his hands bare as well, negating the risk of spell failure.

His legs sported a loose pair of black trousers of a light material to keep his movement unhindered. The only armor he wore on his lower body consisted of a pair of shin guards, plated with steel. Instead of combat boots, he wore moccasins, light weight and serviceable.

Finally, Val reached for the weapons he preferred to all others. The trench knives he had used since becoming the man he was had served him on all occasions. To him, there were no substitutes. Strapping the sheaths to his waist, he smiled and closed his eyes. It was good to be back in his element.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reaching the common room, he noticed that Daine hadn’t yet arrived. He had no time to waste, so he left a note with Anne for her to meet with him at the temple, but by pass the hunters. Moving swiftly, he saddled his mount and donned the mask and white cloak that had made him legend. It was but a short trip from the capital to the temple, and he had work to finish.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He reached the bounty hunter camp in under half an hour, pausing for a moment before being identified by those around him. “You attack soon,” he said without preamble. “You have all been paid well for this mission, and any who brings back the head of a mage will receive double what I have already given you.” This brought a murmer of approval from all those in the vicinity.

“You have 1 hour to prepare. Do not fail me.”

That said, Val spurred his horse away from the camp to a secluded area of the woods. He removed his mask and cloak, burying them in the earth and solidifying them in rock. No one would stumble upon his tracks. He left the stallion where it was and sprinted toward the temple, getting caught up in the role of messenger until a part of his mind actually believed he was.
The temple came in to view quickly, and at about the time he figured he would be spotted, he tripped, falling face first into the ground. It was an easy ploy, but often gave the appearance of a rabbit in flight, making it seem as if he were actually running for his life. He scrambled back to his feet and continued on a dead sprint to the main entrance. His eyes had grown wide in fear, and his nostrils flared with mock effort. He stumbled quite a few more times, making his act seem more real to any of those who watched. In all, it was a flawless performance.

He reached the doors of the temple and all but flung himself at the wood, “Open up,” he screamed, viciously holding onto the act of prey. “Please, please open up,” he begged, slamming balled fists against the door.


Comments 
7th-Nov-2006 06:12 am (UTC)
Icthus was about to reply to Kea, when he heard a voice echoing from the outside. His ears perked, intently listening cautiously. "Please, please open up!" the voice implored.

Peculiar, he though frowning. How could anyone have wound up out here?

Curiously, Mortimus looked out the window. "You seem to have an awful lot of visitors tonight," he remarked idly.

"That's what worries me," Icthus muttered in reply.
7th-Nov-2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
Keaira looked up and toward the door as she heard the shouts, frowning. "Who in the world would that be at this time of night?" She looked back at her brother. "How would anyone have found the temple?" She looked out the window and saw what seemed to be a begger there. She looked back at Mortimus and Icthus. "What are the chances that it's a trap? This place is supposed to be hidden." She didn't want to say what she was thinking next, but it was something along the lines of the possibility of there being another bounty hunter besides Mortimus there on the day she had been shot with the arrow.
7th-Nov-2006 08:50 pm (UTC)
Liluael had been sitting peacefully, as usual in her corner of the temple when the banging began, quickly followed by the pleas for mercy. Her heart leapt into her throat and she rose to her feet in a fluid motion, taking a step towards the others. She was genuinely shocked by their suspicion. Liluael was naturally gentle and trusting, it was not in her nature to question such cries.

"Can you not hear the panic in his voice? How can you even suggest that it's a trap?"
8th-Nov-2006 02:17 am (UTC)
"Because that's how we stay alive," Icthus replied. "If it's really someone who needs help, we'll offer it; but we need to be especially careful."

He didn't like this; Liluael had a good point; it was awfully cynical to automatically treat any wanderer with such blatant mistrust and fear - after all, the simplest answer was usually the correct one - but, then again, that cynicism had saved his skin more than once over the years.

"Seems to me you'll have to make a decision," Mortimus said. "If it is a trap, I can't help you - my weapons are currently in the forest. Kea wisely warned me against trying to bring them in to meet you."

Icthus cracked a small smile. "That was wise of her," he said; but deep down, suspicion twitched. What if Mortimus had some connection to this character outside? Maybe the mercenary was only an advance agent sent to get the others in. But, no; why the second act? It seemed as thought Mortimus was innocent enough. And, if they were enemies outside, then at least the mages would have the advantage of fighting on their territory, surrounded by the power of the artifacts in the temple. This might be a good test for the seemingly-reformed merc.

"Alright, here's what we'll do," Icthus said in a take-charge manner. "Mortimus, sneak out the back way. Get out to the forest and get your weapons; then get back here and keep out of sight. If it comes to blows, you'll be a valuable asset. Kea, you show him the way out (insert: a little alone time for Kea and Mort, kekeke ^_^). Lil, you come with me to greet the visitor. Hopefully, this will all be for nothing; but if it isn't, then we're ready. Let's go."

He looked sharply at Mortimus, trying to convey in that one stare that the hunter's fate rested in his own hands. Mortimus seemed to grasp the meat of the matter and nodded. Icthus sighed to himself; this was going to be a long night.
8th-Nov-2006 03:41 am (UTC)
Keaira looked at Liluael as she entered the room and frowned at her question. "How could I not suspect that it's a trap? We're practically fugitives. We can hardly trust anyone, let alone some supposed beggar. It never hurts to be cautious," she replied.

Keaira looked back at her brother and smiled as her brother sort of praised her and said that it was wise of her to tell Mortimus not to bring any weapons. She listened as he took control of the situation and nodded once, giving him a smile. "Be careful, brother," she said as she stepped toward him and placed a hand on his wrist, looking up at him. With that, she looked to Mortimus, nodding for him to follow and quickly opening the door and leaving it open for him before leading the way out the back.

Once they reached the clearing, Keaira stood in it, waiting for him to gather his weapons anxiously.
9th-Nov-2006 10:47 pm (UTC)
Grabbing a hold of his bow, Mortimus grinned. He had felt overly vulnerable without it, at least in the temple. He could defend himself weaponless against a normal enemy, but he didn't like the idea of being at the wrong end of a mage's wand without something a bit more substantial. Luckily, it hadn't come to that. This Icthus person seemed to regard Kea's opinion highly and had decided, he thought, to trust the hunter for no other reason than her supplications.

"Alright," he said, returning to Kea. His rapier was strapped on his left thigh and his quiver slung over his back. "This should be everything."
9th-Nov-2006 11:09 pm (UTC)
Keaira nodded slowly, turning to look at him. "Good," she said. "I don't know how we're going to manage to get through this...how in the world would anyone have found the temple? No one's supposed to know about it..." She bit her lower lip, which was what she usually did when she was worried and nervous. She had only been in her first fight with someone the night before, and doubted it would do much good if she had to use weapons now.
13th-Nov-2006 04:47 am (UTC)
Mortimus smiled warmly and took her hands in his. In truth, he felt as concerned as she did. Ever since he had developed these...feelings for her in particular, a degree of sympathy for these mages had sparked within him. On some level, he wanted to see them win this one after so many years of being trodden down.

"I don't know," he said. "But if they mean harm, we'll stop them."
13th-Nov-2006 04:55 am (UTC)
Keaira looked down at their hands as he took hers in to his, her heart pounding fast in her chest. Slowly her eyes lifted up toward his as she stopped biting her lower lip.

"How can you be so sure?" she half whispered. "Half of the mages in that temple don't even know how to fight. If they're killed..." She swallowed hard, looking back down at her hands. They were small compared to his, and yet they seemed to...fit. "I'm worried most about Icthus. He'll let revenge get in the way of other priorities, and if he's not careful, he'll get hurt."
13th-Nov-2006 05:23 am (UTC)
His heart went out to her. "Don't be afraid, Kea. If it helps...I won't let them do anything to the mages. If it means my life, I won't. And Icthus knows what the dangers are."

He could see that she wasn't convinced. He faltered for a moment, unsure of what to do. Then, with unexpected resolve, he leaned in and planted a small kiss on her cheek. He paused for another moment...then kissed her fully on the lips.
13th-Nov-2006 06:21 am (UTC)
"No, Mortimus," she said, again in a half whisper. "I...you're all ready risking a lot by even helping us. It's inevitable that we're going to lose some mages, and no one can help that," she finished. As he leaned in to kiss her cheek, she felt the color in her cheeks rise, but it disappeared after a moment. And then it happened- his lips were pressed to hers once more, and she found herself pressing hers against his as her eyes slowly closed.
14th-Nov-2006 06:45 am (UTC)
"Kea," he said softly. "You have to understand...I have come to care very deeply for you. I don't want to see anything happen to you or the mages here." He smiled at her. "We'll save as many of them as we can," he offered reassuringly.

(Gah, BS post ;-p)
14th-Nov-2006 05:22 pm (UTC)
When he pulled back, her eyes lifted up to look at him longingly. She knew she had to ignore that feeling, though, just for a moment, and focus on what was about to happen. "I care for you, too, Mortimus...there's something I should tell you. Something I should have told you before you even met Icthus," she said. She looked down at their hands again before looking back up and speaking. "Icthus is my brother...he adopted me as his sister when I was sixteen." She waited for a few more seconds before continuing, giving a short laugh. "He caught me trying to pit pocket him, and we talked...I was one of the first few to join the Osia...do you understand why I'm so worried about him? Why...he might not like the idea of...well, this?"
17th-Nov-2006 08:39 am (UTC)
"A pickpocket sister," Mortimus chuckled. "Well, I always thought there was a special relationship between the two of you." He pulled away and turned his back to her. "If you'd like me to contain myself in the future, I will," he offered.

Silence for a moment; then he added, "Although I hope that is not what you want."
17th-Nov-2006 04:09 pm (UTC)
Keaira laughed, her eyes narrowed to the ground, "I wasn't exactly the best pitpocket either, but he was the only one who'd managed to catch me. And it was almost as though I wanted him to catch me. Pitpocketing and working at taverns, or doing chores around people's houses was the only way I knew how the survive. There is a special relationship between Icthus and I...he trusts me with a lot of responsibility with the Osia, and just in general."

She looked up and watched as he pulled away and turned his back to her, frowning slightly. She walked over to him and put a hand on one of his arms, standing at his side and turning to look up at him, "I don't, Mortimus. Because honestly, I'm not sure that I could contain myself...but we should keep it a secret and not let anyone else know about it, at least until after we've talked to the Elementals and dealt with Malfalcone. The last thing I want to do is stress my brother out because his little sister is...well, with a bounty hunter." She gave a soft laugh, hoping that he would agree with her about waiting to tell Icthus and the other mages.
20th-Nov-2006 04:47 am (UTC)
He smiled lightly. "I can understand that," he replied. His features hardened as he looked at the temple. "Something doesn't smell right here..." he muttered. Reflexively, he tested the bowstring, feeling it pull tight under his fingers.

He couldn't quite explain it, but he felt as though something...well, bad was about to happen. "Come on, we'd better get back quickly. And not just in case Icthus is considering flaying me alive for keeping you out here too long."
20th-Nov-2006 05:25 am (UTC)
"Thank you for understanding, Mortimus. I promise, we can tell him about us when this whole thing is over," Keaira said. She nodded, "You're right, something isn't right...I don't trust those people who were knocking at the door, despite what Liluael was saying." She started walking back to the temple with him at a quick pace, looking around for any signs of something they hadn't seen yet...
22nd-Nov-2006 06:45 am (UTC)
(I got nothin'; maybe have them show up at the Temple soon. If a post is required, then...)

Mortimus ran as fast as he could back to the temple, his senses telling him he should have been there long ago.

(Bleargh.)
22nd-Nov-2006 05:38 pm (UTC)
(I think I'm going to talk to Brent and see what he's planning, because I have an idea, but I don't want to do anything to ruin whatever he's planning. I don't know if Mortimus and/or Keaira could see any of the hiding bounty hunters or something and do a whole "It'S A TRAP!" sort of thing...so I'll have to wait and talk to Brent. >.>)
(Deleted comment)
14th-Nov-2006 06:51 am (UTC)
"We need to make sure whoever is out there really is a threat. As Lil pointed out," Icthus said, indicating the other mage, "it could just be a wanderer. But be prepared; I don't want us to be overly confident. Or overly trusting."

Nodding to Lil and Grace, Icthus made his way to the temple's front door. Taking a deep breath, he prepared to open it and face destiny...

(Cue t3h_rand0m)
14th-Nov-2006 07:34 am (UTC)
Val had to work to keep his face a mask. He had told Daine that she would play the role of wife, never revealing how she would do such a thing. To see the lengths she had gone to was very nearly enough to truly make him laugh. Continuing his play acting, Val threw his arms over her shoulders and drew her close, as if relieved to find her still alive. A quiet whisper snuck into her ear, “You look fabulous,” Val said with forced restraint. Keeping her close, he resumed his pounding on the door.

With the same frantic tone he continued slamming his fist into the wood, “Please, I have my wife with me. You must open the door!” Leaning back toward Daine’s ear, he whispered quietly, the sound of his voice drowned out in the noise he made, “It’s fine to get angry, and many of the women I have met have had serious tempers. Just remember that it’s only a role and you should do fine. If all else fails, simply follow my lead.”

~~~~

It was then that the door slid open. Still making an act, Val appeared to stumble slightly as the door moved inward, not expecting the sudden change in distance. His eyes opened wide in fear and relief, and his shoulders sagged as though a large weight had been lifted from his shoulders. “Oh thank the gods,” he whispered as slumped onto the door frame. His face appeared drawn and pale, with the look of one who had not slept in many nights. Taking a deep breath, Val looked up to regard the man who opened the door.

“Thank you kind sir, you may have saved our lives this night. There is a large force of hunters nearby who did not take kindly to being interrupted. They attacked us on our travels, and we got lost. This was the first structure I found, and prayed for refuge. Please, don’t abandon us this night. We’ve been traveling for a very long time, and while I am well to do without sleep, I fear for my wife’s wellbeing.”

Valadar’s voice was sincere, terrified and relieved at the same time. He appeared not to have any idea with whom he was speaking, plainly stating what seemed to be a very true story. “Please,” he continued, his eyes taking a pleading look, one of a man who looked as if he had lost his pride in the rush to safety, “Just one night.”
22nd-Nov-2006 06:44 am (UTC)
Icthus opened the door carefully, eyes narrowed slightly as if that would let him discern their purpose here. The heavy wood parted only a fraction from the frame, as he was not yet keen to let them into the temple if they proved hostile. "What is your business here?" he demanded of the pair he found standing at the threshold.

After the man laid out the whole sad story, Icthus felt himself growing increasingly wary. "I could let you in," he mused. "But that doesn't solve the problem of why you're here in the first place."

On the surface, they looked nothing more than what they claimed - a pair of weary travelers who befell some form of misfortune. But bandits on the road (what road, anyway?) out here? No one came here. Never. But what if they were telling the truth? These were clearly stranger times; there could be any number of explanations.

He hated being like this - never trusting, always looking around every corner for a dagger. But if he didn't do that, they died. Plain as that. So he may hate it; he may derive no joy from it; but that didn't mean he didn't have to do it.
22nd-Nov-2006 09:00 pm (UTC)
Liluael stood close behind Icthus, listening intently to the exchange of words. She was completely taken in by their story, being the sort of person who absolutely believes that humans are naturally good. She was overcome by an strong desire to help out these people.

"Icthus," she whispered "I do not believe they are tricksters of any sort but that they are truly just unlucky travelers. I beg you, open the door and let them in. If you have more questions, ask them inside. At least let them out of the weather."
23rd-Nov-2006 02:50 am (UTC)
Val closed his eyes in defeat. It was apparent that Icthus was a very distrusting person, and would not be swayed by a story such as this. So, instead, he did something completely out of character. Placing his right hand over his eyes he sighed, a tired sound, as though he was about to reveal something about himself that not many people knew.

"The ones that attacked us, they were not the hunters that hunt animals." He looked at Icthus with a very serious expression, wary, but seemingly determined to say what was on his mind. His right hand came down and began manipulating the air around it, forming a nearly solid sphere of wind in the palm of his hand. "They were the kind that hunt mages."

He cut off his power as soon as he spoke the words, apparently fearful of the reaction he would recieve. "I tell you this only because I need a place for my wife to be. Were it only myself, I would not hesitate to keep moving, but with her... You understand?" he asked quietly, shifting his eyes fearfully. "There were many of them, too many to fight, especially with my wife nearby. Please, don't abandon us now, not with them around here."
(Deleted comment)
25th-Nov-2006 06:14 am (UTC)
Icthus prided himself on maintaining a level head in most situations, unless Kea was involved. Thus, this feeling of frustration was relatively unfamiliar. On the one hand, if Lil was right, he would be a monster to lock them out. On the other, if his gut was right, then they would pay dearly for his trust. Behind the door, he fiddled with the fire wand a bit. He found a bit of solace in that; at least they wouldn't be unprepared.

Finally, he decided that they had nothing to lose in letting these strangers in - they were well prepared for any treachery, perhaps more so than legitimacy, he thought wryly.

"Alright," he said slowly. "You may come in." He shot a laden quick look to Grace: be on your guard, it said. I still don't trust them.
25th-Nov-2006 06:57 am (UTC)
Val sighed in relief, his arm tightening around the woman he claimed to be his wife. "Thank you for your kindness sir. I had heard the people of Yalin more tolerant of my... kind. You have my endless gratitude."

Stepping through the barrier, he eyed his surrounding warily, as though he also had very little reason to trust those who had given him shelter. After all, they could just as easily turn him over to the bounty hunters. At least, that's what he let them think. "My name is Tyler Wynburn, and my wife is Diane. I don't know if I have the words to repay such a kindness as you've shown us today."

He turned to Icthus and moved away from the door, his arm still protectively around Daine's shoulders.
(Deleted comment)
28th-Nov-2006 05:38 am (UTC)
Icthus inclined his head to the side. "Of course. Any decent human being would have done the same," he said. Does that include you, friend? "I am curious, though, how you came to be out this far from any settlements. We rarely get any visitors, you see, except the ones we invite. The forests around here tend to dissuade any trespassers."

Burden of proof is on you now, he said inwardly. What will you do with it? The man before him had better come up with a very good excuse to explain himself. He already knew Lil trusted them, but if they ushered in every bleeding heart that Lil felt pity for, the temple would quickly overflow.

The woman turned away when her name was given; he thought he heard a small sob escape. Or was it...a chuckle? Curious, if it was. In itself it proved nothing, especially since he wasn't even sure if she had actually laughed or cried. Still, it only served to heighten his guard.

They would not be caught unawares, not this time.
25th-Nov-2006 06:06 am (UTC)
Mortimus drew his rapier as he ran across the field. Something spurred him onward; some hidden threat. He couldn't explain it, but he knew that the situation had just taken a turn for the worse. He twirled the sword a bit in his hand as he ran, to make sure it was loose in his grip. Satisfied that he was prepared as well as he would ever be, he continued running.

He threw a glance over his shoulder to make sure Kea was behind him. For just a moment, he was struck by how beautiful she looked in the setting sun, her robes flapping behind her in the wind. Shaking that from his thoughts, he contented himself with the knowledge that she was keeping up.

A few paces later, he heard her let out a small yelp. Stopping to turn abruptly, he saw her sprawled out on the ground. He rushed back to her, taking her by the hand to hoist her to her feet. "Come on, Kea," he said. "We have to get back, or else-"

"Fox?! Well, I'll be damned! Barty, look who it is!"

Mortimus's blood froze. He snapped his head toward the sound of the voices. Two shadowy forms sauntered towards them, swords drawn hanging loosely at their sides. "Yeah, Grenth; thought he was killed a few weeks back. But old Fox has a few ticks in his sleeve, it seems."

"What's more, it seems he got the quarry before we did, the lucky dog. Some men just get it all, I say."

Suddenly, he understood. They had no way of knowing that he had joined forces with the mages. He looked to Kea for a moment and gave her a sly wink. Then he took on an air of arrogance - funny how peculiar it seemed to him, after abandoning it; he had never really quite grasped how much of a bastard he had been back then - and turned to his old friends. "Afraid that's the way it works, lads. The early bird...well, obviously you're not interested in cliches like that, my friends, but you get the general picture."

The other two chukcled as they approached. "Well, Fox," Grenth said, "it seems you get your chance at being the early bird more often than not."

"Preparedness, gentlemen; you should understand that well enough," Mortimus retorted with a sneer.

They laughed. Barty circled in, eyes hungrily on Kea. "So, what have we here? Not a bad catch; pretty enough. Should catch a fair price. Can't suspect why anyone would want to kill this one. The king should have...other uses for her."

Anger flared in Mortimus' heart, but he held his tongue. Oh, Barty, he thought, gripping the sword tighter. You have no idea.
25th-Nov-2006 06:21 am (UTC)
Keaira winced as Mortimus came back to her and helped her up, looking at her leg. There was a small rip in the pants she wore and she saw a bit of blood. Nothing more than a scratch, but it still hurt. But then she heard the voices of bounty hunters and her heart began pounding fast in her chest. Would they be captured? Had Icthus and the others been captured? Did they even know...? She watched as the hunters came closer and her eyes darted to Mortimus for a moment, just in time to catch the quick wink. She nodded ever so slightly, letting him know she understood. She had almost been afraid he'd betray her, but she knew...she trusted him. She looked back as one of the hunters- Barty, she thought he'd been called- loomed closer and she stepped back, turning her head away.

"You and your king are both stupid if you think he'll use me for anything," Keaira sneered before she could stop the words from escaping her mouth. She slightly winced, knowing that if she wasn't careful she could screw things up. She didn't dare risk sparing a glance to Mortimus, not wanting to give anything away to these hunters.
25th-Nov-2006 07:14 am (UTC)
"We'll let him be the judge of that," Barty bit back. "Word has it he's...very capable in these matters. Mages, you know; he's been dealing with your kind for years. Yes, they say he's quite a talent for this. As for us..." He shot a glance at Grenth, grinning evilly. "Well, we're not children ourselves. We know better'n to play with fire, so to speak. Better to...extinguish it, even if only temporarily."

Mortimus was becoming very annoyed, and even more cross. Still the charade was necessary for now and he would do what he could. But perhaps he could make them ease off. "Easy, Barty," he chided. "The king'll not like his prize overly disturbed."

"We can moderate, Fox," Grenth shot back. "Besides, aren't we entitled to a bit of the spoils?"
25th-Nov-2006 07:22 am (UTC)
Keaira rolled her eyes. Neither Barty nor Grenth looked the type to have any sort of talent.

"Well, if you gentlemen don't mind, I think I'll be getting back to my magely errands right now. Wouldn't want to spoil your conversation by staying around here," Keaira said, and backed up once more before turning to try and leave. She knew that Mortimus was just playing along, but she also had to get to Icthus and the other mages and warn them.

Play with fire...they shouldn't tempt me, she thought.
25th-Nov-2006 07:38 am (UTC)
"Oh, I don't think so, deary," Grenth snickered evilly. "No, I don't suspect you'll ever have to worry about these little errands ever again. Not that you'll be in any position to do so, anyway, not when we're done with you."

Mortimus hefted the blade. Almost time.

As Kea backed away, Barty lunged, grabbing her wrists, ignoring her struggles. Mortimus growled to himself as he hoisted his sword arm and ran Barty through. The hunter released Kea, sending her tumbling back. He gripped at the wound in his stomach where the rapier protruded. He gave Mortimus a look of pained shock. Mortimus paid him no mind, merely wrenching the blade from Barty's back. The other man grimaced on the ground, convulsing the life from his body.

Grenth stared on, wide-eyes, going for his own sword. He tried to turn and flee, but Mortimus removed a dagger from his cloak and flung it at the fleeing hunter. It stuck in his back, and the man was dead before he hit the ground.

Mortimus drew on Barty, intent on finishing him off. Barty gasped as his one time friend drew on him. "Why, Fox?" he wheezed. "Why..." He couldn't finish the sentence as Mortimus hefted an axe from Barty's belt.

"There's something bigger here than money, Barty. And if you can't see beyond your big nose to see it, then I can't be expected to point it out to you. You may have been a friend at one time, but I'm afraid something's come between us."

Barty thrust his hand up in a feeble attempt to block impending doom. Mortimus just shook his head. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "Goodbye."

With a thud, Barty's blood spattered across the grass. Mortimus watched the corpse for a moment. Then he dropped the axe and rushed to Kea. "Are you hurt?" he asked. "We need to get back to the temple, fast."
25th-Nov-2006 07:53 am (UTC)
Keaira had been half expecting the bounty hunters to grab her- it would've been too easy of an escape otherwise. She screamed as she was grabbed, only imagining what would happen next. She was surprised, however, when she found Mortimus stabbing her captor in the stomach and she fell to the ground as she was released. She looked up slowly as Mortimus spoke. What did he mean by something bigger?

When Mortimus walked over to her, she nodded slowly, "I might have a few cuts but I'm fine," she answered. "I..." she looked up at him, hesitant about what to say to him next. She felt many emotions at the moment, but knew that he was right. They had to get back to the temple. She gave a soft smile and narrowed her eyes. "Let's go. I just hope they haven't let those beggars in..."
28th-Nov-2006 05:43 am (UTC)
Mortimus cursed as they came upon the entrance to the temple: the door closed with a thud, and the beggars were nowhere in sight. "Well," he murmured. "We'll have to try something else."

He turned to Kea. "Is there anyway into the temple that we might surprise the beggars if they prove false?"
28th-Nov-2006 12:59 pm (UTC)
"Around the back," she replied. "Same way we came out. If Icthus let them in to the temple, he must believe that they're not a threat, which could be bad for us." She knew that her brother was willing to give mostly everyone a chance unless something proved about them that he should do otherwise, and so far these beggars had done nothing to prove themselves dangerous. "It's not going to be easy to convince Icthus that the beggars aren't who they say they are." She started to lead the way around the back of the temple and to the entrance they used to get outside.
29th-Nov-2006 12:13 am (UTC)
"Right," he muttered. "Well...from what I've seen, he'll handle himself as well as can be expected. Still, giving them the benefit of the doubt could be dangerous. I think we should probably be prepared to take action, quickly. If you and I can sneak in on them, then if they try to do anything...foolish."

He glanced around. "Come on; let's get to that back way."
29th-Nov-2006 03:39 am (UTC)
A shrug was all that the First Advisor was able to procure for an answer, still playing the roll of the unsure, under-confident mage. "Truthfully, I do not know where we are. I lost track of time and direction as we fled. All I remember is trying to get as far away as possible." As he spoke, his body began to expell certain feeling, similar to that of a father looking over his children. It was a protective feeling, animalistic in its nature, primal but giving the sensation of safety and trust.

"I panicked," Val continued, "I didn't want to see anyone hurt, especially not my wife." The feeling intensified as Val fed more of his earthen based magics into the spell. "I'm just glad there was someone here to answer our plea."

((Blah. Crappy, but it's up.))
29th-Nov-2006 03:44 am (UTC)
"You must be cold," Liluael said gently, moving away and returning with her threadbare blanket, one of her few possessions "The night air can be cruel." She shook it open and, slipping around behind the visitors, drapped it over their shoulders. She stepped back around infront of them and smiled.

"It's not very big, I'm afraid..."

She glanced over her shoulder and saw that Icthus looked very serious. She quickly stepped away from the couple and moved more into the shadows, not wishing to get in the way of whatever he had planned... unless, of course, it got out of hand. Interrogations could get ugly, she knew well.

((GAH! The layout of the posts is so confusing.))
29th-Nov-2006 03:50 am (UTC)
In the back of his mind, Icthus felt a small twitch. Something inside him screamed out as if to warn him, but the feeling was small, indistinct. The more he listened, the more he felt his could trust these people. He knew that was wrong. He knew he was making a mistake. But, on the other hand, wouldn't it be a mistake not to trust them? After all, they seemed so alone, so cold...

NO! What are you doing? You don't know a thing about them! They could be spies! They could be... But at that point he stopped listening. "That's fair enough," he said almost mechanically - at least, he seemed not to will it. "We'll obviously do what we can to help."

Lil gave the pair a blanket. She looked at him somewhat cautiously, and he knew his internal struggle must be showing on his face. With what little will he had left, he tried to summon a touch of magic to disrupt the feeling. But it was difficult; whatever magic this stranger seemed to have invoked had taken a deadly hold on him. For now, Icthus continued to struggle, but he couldn't help but feel that it would be a losing battle...
29th-Nov-2006 03:59 am (UTC)
Keaira led Mortimus through the halls and back to the entrance of the temple where her eyes instantly landed on her brother and the beggars who stood at the entrance.

"Icthus," she called. She waited until she neared them before looking from her brother to the two beggars for a moment, eyeing them carefully. She pulled her gaze away from them after a moment and looked at her brother. "I have to talk to you." She took him by the arm and pulled him off to the side, eyeing Mortimus to follow. Once they were to the side and out of hearing range- or what she assumed was out of hearing range- she spoke in a soft voice.

"When Mortimus and I were on our way back to the temple, we were caught by two bounty hunters. I was nearly captured, and Mortimus saved my life...something is not right with these beggars. I don't trust them, and we need to get them out of the temple as soon as possible," she said quickly, sending a quick look over to the two beggars before looking back to her brother as she waited for Icthus to reply.
29th-Nov-2006 05:04 am (UTC)
((I'm too lazy to switch names right now, so y'all have to deal with Vito Corleone being Daine for right now =P))

Daine shifted closer to Val as the blanket was thrown over them, and she lifted her head, earrings glittering softly, to give a soft smile in the direction of the female mage who had given them the blanket. As the girl moved back, Daine mouthed a 'Thank you' before her attention was turned back to the head mage it appeared.

When the mage was pulled away by yet another female mage, her emerald eyes tiredly moved over to the pair, before back to the girl who had slipped into the shadows. Her eyes remained on the head mage and she let her head fall to rest against Val, still attempting to look like the weary, travel-worn wife she was supposed to be portraying. She didn't have the magic like Val did, but for a first time actress wearing a dress and make-up, she wasn't doing such a bad job.

30th-Nov-2006 05:52 am (UTC)
I know, Kea! Believe me, if I could stop it... "They've done nothing to harm us," he said hollowly. "Why shouldn't we trust them? Most likely, they're just what they say. The simplest explanation, after all..." But I don't really believe that! He's...they've got me under some spell, I'm sure of it; but what can I do? I can only hope you will be able to see through this...

Meanwhile, around the corner, Mortimus, who had not revealed himself to the beggars, notched an arrow to his bow and waited; at the first sign of trouble, he would shoot them down before they could do too much damages...
30th-Nov-2006 05:59 am (UTC)
"What?" Keaira whispered in disbelief. "Icthus, how can you say that? After everything we've been through, after everything the bounty hunters are putting us through, you're just going to trust them for no reason?"

She stared at her brother for a moment, trying to figure this out. Icthus, what's happened to you? "We shouldn't trust them because we can hardly trust anyone any more. The simplest explanation could be a trap, Icthus. Please, tell them they have to go away. Something has come up and they have to leave. Please Icthus, you must trust me on this. You've always said you've trusted me, and you'd trust me with your life," she whispered. She felt like she was on the verge of tears. Her brother had never done this, not in all of the years she had known him...
1st-Dec-2006 04:28 am (UTC)
(I know we discussed starting a new topic, but I think we need to wrap up this arc first - at least get to the battle between the mercs and mages for continuity's sake.)

Mortimus twitched slightly as he listened in. Icthus sounded...peculiar for some reason. There was a ring to his voice that Mortimus couldn't identify. It was like the mage wasn't himself. He narrowed his eyes. A deep-gut feeling told him that things were about to get nasty. Subconsciously, he pulled the bow-string a little tauter, preparing the shot.

"We shouldn't trust them because we can hardly trust anyone any more. The simplest explanation could be a trap, Icthus. Please, tell them they have to go away. Something has come up and they have to leave. Please Icthus, you must trust me on this. You've always said you've trusted me, and you'd trust me with your life," she whispered.

"You just don't understand, Kea," he heard Icthus say coldly. "You can't understand, you hear? No, just don't; I don't have time for this. Don't bother me anymore."

That really didn't sound like Icthus, not from what Kea had told him nor from what the hunter knew of his former prey. He heard her say something, but he couldn't make it out; at that, she turned and rushed out of the room. Cautiously making sure he wasn't seen, Mortimus made after her to see what had happened.
1st-Dec-2006 04:42 am (UTC)
Keaira couldn't believe what she was hearing. Why was he acting like this? This wasn't right.

She shook her head slowly, feeling tears in her eyes as he spoke his cold words. "Icthus, what's come over you? How can you say that I don't understand?" A tear rolled down her cheek and she wiped it away defiantly as she watched her brother, her eyes fierce. "After everything we've been through together...I can't believe you're treating your own sister like this."

She turned away from him and quickly ran down the hall way, tears rolling down her cheeks as she ran. She ran in to one of the rooms down the hall, not bothering to close the door behind her, and lay on the bed, crying in to the pillow. She didn't know who's room it was, but didn't care. Hopefully the person wouldn't mind that their pillow would be wet with her tears.

She heard a few footsteps behind her and didn't have to sit up and look to know who it was.

"Keaira, what happened?" Mortimus asked, moving to sit down on the bed.

Keaira sat up, wiping her tears and not looking at him. "I told Icthus about the bounty hunters, about how I was almost captured. I told him something wasn't right with the beggars and they needed to leave. He didn't believe me, and...it was like he had completely changed, in such a short amount of time. He was so...cold. He's never treated me like that before," she said. "He told me not to bother him any more." Just hearing herself say those words was enough to make her feel like her heart was being ripped apart. After everything she'd been through with Icthus, and how close they had become over the years, she had never heard him speak so harshly to anyone, nevermind herself. She had always looked up to him, and hearing him say those words to her hurt more than she'd ever expected.
1st-Dec-2006 04:50 am (UTC)
He scowled grimly, filtering her words. He place a comforting arm around her shoulder, but his mind worked over her words, mulling the possibilities. He's never treated me like that before. Indeed...what a peculiar change of character.

"I suspect all is not well with Icthus," he mused softly. "It's almost as if...those beggars are the cause of it all. But how could we possibly prove that? Not until..." he stopped, cut off in mid-thought. Not until they kill him, or someone else. He left that part unspoken, however, for fear of further upsetting her. But if those beggars were lying...then someone would have to die.

"Kea, listen," he said. "I think Icthus may be in trouble - it's possible that even he knows it, but can't do anything to stop. I'm sure he didn't mean what he said...he was afraid, or something; I don't know. But if we want to find out, we need to make sure nothing happens to him."
1st-Dec-2006 05:05 am (UTC)
Keaira turned her face in to his arm and cried as he spoke. She had never been one to show so much emotion at once. It was surprising even to her that she was being this emotional, but with Mortimus it was...different. She lifted her head back up after a moment, thinking about his words. He was right. Icthus was acting too strangely for it to be natural when so little time had gone by between the time she and Mortimus left to get Mortimus's weapons and came back.

"You're right," she said. "But protecting him without him knowing it won't be easy. Especially after what he said to me." She looked up at him, her cheeks wet from tears and her eyes red from crying. "I'm so scared, Mortimus. I'm scared for my brother, for the other mages...for you. If the beggars somehow realize that you're a bounty hunter, you'll be in danger too." she said softly, her eyes narrowing again.
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