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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 
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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