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The Ancient Hues. (lasciel & CarelessWanderer)

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
We were never wrong.

Immortal, nigh-invulnerable, imbued with the wisdom of centuries and the unchanging appearance Va'lthuer'ane has seen yet another century pass by as his brethren imposed order and law to the lesser races. As he and the others of the Orokin line have "dragged" the masses kicking and screaming from superstition and given them something real to fear - His Judgment. Their streets no longer stink of blood and offal. Roads of stone connect even the most unworthy hamlet with towering temples and industries. By wisdom, by sorcery. By power. With agriculture, science, and order, The dragons have brought this land to heel.

And their little sheep repaid them with rebellion.

I was never wrong.

And yet. And yet...there, one of Va'lthuer'ane's greatest, broken before his old student champion with his flaming sword. Shaped by Va'lthuer'ane own mind. On the right flank, the remaining loyal guardians sound the retreat because it is the only way to prevent a total rout. On the left, the warlocks who ought to be drowning the traitorous troops in torrential downpours and washes of lightning are instead locked in conflict with their own brothers and sisters that too chose to throw away the promise of peaceful future under the rule of Orokin. At every turn, his old students countered his strategy. Every stroke he made was matched, even anticipated. They were every bit the genius old dragon tout they were, weren't they?


If he were to let them. They would actually win. Unaware of the consequences their rule could bring.


The great eye crowning the face of his lair, a soaring creation that would dwarf some cities, explodes. It draws every eye, as does his own. In the silence, men and women cease their struggles. As the gray dragon stalks the open air, speaking words of power. His grand wings remain still. His blood turns to fire. He feels his wards flaring. The veins. They scream. His students, both the experienced and new magic-weavers, at least, are wise enough to know what comes. They're terrified, but ultimately insignificant. He has striven greatly. First, to treat with them. To act as the diplomat. To give their uprising a chance to be heard. They chose this path. He silences all of the magi with a word. A single word. Their hearts burst within them, and both flanks surge in the grayscaled sage favor. He flings his clawed limb to the heavens. The sky darkens, and thunderheads flock to his beckoning claw.

The traitorous servant's uphill battle becomes impossible. As he pours rain and hail, battering unarmoured men and leaving the rest to struggle through thick mud. The winds howl, and lightning splits the sky in two, striking the magical constructs that have reinforced their advance and leaving smoking kindling and the unfortunate dead when their retina-searing flash dissipates. He dives, carried by the gale. He takes his students clear out of their mounts. Leaving their bodies drained of all life force...

"Yield."

His voice has driven men and women alike to give him everything they possess, before swearing their lives in fealty. He need not even imbue it with sorcery, though that he has in abundance. White-Gold armored troops rush out from the ruins of his tower. Races created by his fathers and grandfathers when he was still a little whelp. They remained loyal until the end. The mighty dwarves that have lived underground for generations, tending to the constructs and artifacts shaped from the flesh of the dragons. The elves. Still present during the creation of the Orokin, taught how to make use of everything they were given. But when humanity has been born, as the vein has given birth to their kind. As his brethren merged those two races of their grandparents...

They have begun their destruction.

His loyal servants remain stalwart, whlist the traitors howl like animals. This fight was lost from the beginning, as for the first time in centuries Valkon has sensed something else than disgust for the human race.

He experienced fear.

As tens of thousands. No. Millions of the human blight has come for him, with corpses of his kin, strapped to the pillars, carried on platforms. Their children. Their creations. All turned against them.

Something changed inside of him, at this mere moment, as his amber eyes widened in rage. For the first time, the dragon has allowed the emotionto control him. A new purpose. A new goal. A desire to end them once and for all.

With his mighty wings spread open the massive gray beast has flew up into the air. One final roar, one final order...As his skin shone red, the ancient writings and runes burning through the scaled skin, burning through the flesh. Nothing has mattered apart from the vein. He would reach it, even if it meant to destroy the one he was responsible for. It would recover after all.

He couldn't see it, but they ran. All of them. As the grassy land turned gray, as corpses have been flung into the air, drawn towards him, piling up on one another, debris, rubble. All of it was drawn towards him- No. Not him. A sphere of light that burned through all of it.

It wasn't a rebellion at this point. It was the last warning for humanity. Towards the world itself.

But even that wasn't enough. As it all was released in a singular moment. Turning his vision white...

***

For centuries to come. No. Longer. The concept of time became an illusion at this point. He was defenseless. Unable to see. Feel. Hear. It was just. Presence. Feeling of something. As kindlings of his power drew towards one another. An old trick he has mastered over the millennia. One could call it immortality. Other a second chance. Whatever it was, it took time. As ash, clung to ash, multiplying, merging. But it took too long. And when first signs of sentience, awareness, and sense have returned the dragon wasn't met with the gray sky nor the stench of burned flesh and ground. No. He was met with rocky surface, howling northern wind and a crater enveloped by mountains.

There was no magical intervention. No "divine" being interfering into the world of the living. It was him, an old forgotten and terrifying being. Perhaps last of his kind.

Finally coming to life.

***

It took years. Too. Allowing him to watch as the boiling rage within his soul died off, replaced by his old calculated and calm self. Wherever he was before he could begin his quest a body was required. A vessel one that could let him journey to the vein. Even now he could feel it's presence. Beating. Guiding energy into the world. But getting little in return. Horrified he knew what it meant. Humanity prevailed as they always did. Pests. Once again feasting upon the defenseless creature. Slowly killing it off with their filth.

He needed to stop it. It wasn't about the revenge at this point. It was about giving the terra itself more time. But how could he achieve anything in...

What was he? He could feel, listen and see, but the ability to control what he was has never appeared. Unable to tell he began this game of guessing. Using any faint hint to discover what he truly was. Humble attempts turned into observations and planned out actions. Soon enough he had enough power to cast spells. Only to witness the horrifying truth of the reflection in the water...Scaleless. The skinless frame of draconic flesh hung on the rocks like a rag. It's eye sockets emptied with gaping mouth, toothless and still in the process of properly forming. The organs too, were slowly coming together, visible from this angle.

A vessel in the making. A vessel he couldn't wait for.

***

Days. He has spent days, watching the horrifying reflection of himself. All that has remained of his form. Of his heritage. A ruined corpse that would never come back on time. Valkon was always quick to make a choice. Take action.

But not today. Still left on considering his options. Deciding. Planning. Only to come up with a single alternative. Just as his ashes merged with the stone here. So did the ones of millions of humans he has buried with himself. He could feel their faint essence embodied with the stone. The barely hearable whispers. Of madness over how long they were locked in their spiritual forms. Such frail minds easily guided against their masters now suffered the punishment that wouldn't end.

Unless he would take them. Absorb them and free them of this madness.

Was it surprising he didn't want that? Was it surprising the wise grayscale desired to have them suffer for eternity?

They have taken everything. Slaughtered his kin. Treated those that have taught them everything...

He will not grant them peace.

***
Unless madness won't grip him as well. As it did yet another night. But alas, did he even know when it was day or night? Buried underground. He could only guess. It was only thanks to his senses that he knew when the celestial bodies traveled. As sun rays penetrating the thick gray stone that eventually found it's way through the cracks to meet him.

He couldn't go on. He couldn't.

***

And on the third day, the stone finally shattered. Not some boulders, but the majority of the ruins he has left in his wake. All molten, transmutated and repurposed. Gathered, grain after grain. Clumped up together. It felt ironic as the sigils were drawn with his own blood that was still in the making. As the scaleless corpse performed an art he never believed he would. Giving the bundle an actual shape. Reconstructing the ash into flesh. Whlist his own faded in the process. The body of a man. Lithe, fit. Not strong and muscular like that one of the warriors he has fought. But not frail or ill like the ones he has seen after his curses has been cast.

With a sharp nose, ghastly pale skin and short black hair, he created himself a vessel. Naked. With limited ability in storing his power.


But at last for once. He could fix some of the mistakes done by humanity. As his essence was poured into the vessel. The rest returned to the Vein. Giving it more time to go on, while Valkon finally opened his new eyes. Gray just as his scales. Calm and full of wisdom. Now tinted with disgust and hatred. One that mixed with the mind of a man- Dragon that would do anything to achieve his goal.

***

The journey was hard, trudging through the snow as his body was reinforced with the coat shaped out of the flame. Shielding him from the elements that would normally end his journey even in that cave.


Human flesh was weak. Delicate. Irritating. Just like in the past he needed to eat, and drink. But now it felt much more apparent. Forcing him to use his gifts to hunt. Another task just as, tiresome and humiliating for someone like him. As bolts of pure white light pierced the hearts of thick-skinned beasts that were thrice (or more) his size. With it's meat cooked in his hand, he traveled forth. Out of moutains, into the woods.


Which brought more problems than he ever imagined. Humans were the first thing. First a group of lumberjacks. innocent and unaware of the sins of humanity. Slaughtered within mere moments. Their bodies ripped apart violently. Valkon couldn't say the new clothes that hidden the grotesque human body weren't a good addition. Nor was it wrong to see what he could do with his regained powers. Spending days..."Experimenting" both on the wildlife and unsuspecting human visitors. No matter of what age or gender they really were.

The shapeshifting abilities, while exhausting they too proved useful. Clearly scoring quite a few rumors of the mysterious beast stalking the thick forests of Velin fields. Well. For him at least, the forest must; 've been named differently given how much time has passed. Alas, it was another mystery he didn't feel that would help him accomplish anything. As for now, he simply trained. And prepared himself for the new world. Causing more and more ruckus. To the point where men and women were sent after him. Unaware of who he really was.

The niche for violence was far past him at this point. From ripping men apart and leaving their bodies scattered he began with immediate removal. Incinerating flesh, or closing it off behind the veil of arcane reality only (as he assumed) he knew about.

Then came the first captives. All weak. All begging for mercy. Begging. At first, he didn't understand them. So much time has passed that even a different language. Different writing style have been invented. Forcing him to get into the mind of one of his "Prisoners" only to take such (As it would seem in these times.) valuable information.

Another thing which proved that humanity was truly a mistake. Back in his times no man or woman was illiterate. And here? He has learned a lot. It was time to move on. No longer did he wear rags of a lumberjack. Replaced by a leather coat, with additional steel plates sewn into it. With a spear in his hand, it's spearhead removed and replaced with a simple crystal that served as a catalyst for him. Not as powerful as his old catalysts but it could get the job done.

He looked like them. From head to toe, just like a different mercenary. Worm seeking to survive on killing. He would teach them. All of them.


But first it was time to head out. Out of the woods.

***

Val' - Valkon stands just as he did few minutes ago. The trees that enveloped them. The men and women that flanked him and circled him like preying wolves. All lie down dead. Incinerated. Burned alive. Violently turned into a pool of flesh and red blood.

And yet. He stands. Without a scratch. With those same gray eyes, now facing her. The "Alpha Wolf" One that was strong enough to evade his incoming attacks. One that has withstood the wall of flames he has sent towards her and the main force that planned to gut him alive.

It happened just before the morning. As he journeyed down the dirt road, to arrive to the city known as "Ironwood" a simple name but it had to do. With a human name and a fake profession he has quickly sensed that he wasn't alone. With four or five pairs of eyes watching his every move. They were different from normal humans. Walking on two legs yet following a pattern similar to wolves. Whlist their blood felt...embodied, tied to the vein and to a normal animal. A wolf.

He could play into diplomacy. Just as he did in the past. But it was only met with violence. Without hesitation he has extended his hand towards one of the "Scouts" sending a bolt-shaped out of moonlight itself, piercing through her throat. Allowing her to choke on her own blood as the light burned through the flesh.

It was enough to get the whole pack emerge from the darkness. Managing to surprise him by the fact he haven't felt others. Hearing them. The steady breathing. Panting. Too similar to that one of a wolf. Muscled bodies, trained in the art of warfare and violence.

Pathetic.

The right flank is met with the same barrage of bolts. While left one manages to close the distance. Only to be met by a wall of blinding light which passess through them. Scorching the earth. Scorching the trees. Leaving not a single trace of those warriors.

But alas. Whoever lead them. Wasn't that stupid. Keeping the true numbers in check. Sending only around 10 at first. No. The rest. All of them. Circled him as he got rid of the first ten. Cruel. But effective strategy.


Sadly for them. This battle was already over.

Still in the same spot. He stood still. Allowing his enemies to follow their instincts. Their. Confidence.


Unaware that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer. Their distance closing off, steps becoming louder, howling of the wolves echoing.

And a ring of flames emerging...

***

Here she stands. With the equipment burned but not entirely. Whatever she has done, it was surprising to see her still stand. Was it her strength? Was it the inner wolf that seemed to be far stronger than in the rest of those "things"? As they clearly weren't purely human.

Still on two legs, still keeping a suitable distance between them. She was the first one that didn't just recklessly charge at him. She was the first one that chose to wait for his move. Wise. And finally worthy of his attention.

Able to end it here, he knows even a slight movement would send her going for his throat. He didn't need that. Not when he was in need of more information. It was time to talk.

"Forty-nine."

His tone wasn't as deep as in his dragon form. In fact it was quite plausible to listen to. Almost that one of a bard and an actor. While still having enough "bass" to keep it manly and fitting for his facial features."

"Forty-nine and you're the first one to stop and actually reconsider your actions."

The sun finally appeared in the horizon. It's golden sun rays coating the two and the scorched field around them. Showing his handiwork in a different light. Showing the actual distance from how far away some of her people died. How much destruction he could actually release.

And yet. He didn't sound mad. The hatred, he had reserved for humanity. It just faded. He was more impressed that a creature similar to human had enough reason to not attack him immediately. And enough courage to not beg for mercy. Two traits he has found only a small number of humans had. Which were often his students in the past? Or perhaps it was this human nature of the body changing him from inside? That he didn't get rid of her on the spot?

The memories he has absorbed. Which weren't really as much given he "Borrowed" only those most important to teach him how to speak, read and write. Couldn't tell him what she was. Where she hailed from nor where the two were exactly. And given such pack could scare off any other potential travelers she was his only last ticked out of this place. To the town of Ironwood, he caught a slight glimpse from the memories of his victim.

"Wolves tend to hunt in packs. But if the hunt appears to be impossible to achieve they simply run off to lick their wounds. It didn't happen here. Why?"

It was a question directed towards her. His dialect and accent were still a little off given he was using long sentences. Or any sentences for the first time. But he hoped she understood him. If not.

He actually was ready to repeat his questions. Almost surprised at his own merciful and kind decision.
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
Morwenth, least daughter of Haspir, least son of Hasphatupit, least son of Umbarsho (and thus a direct, if distant cousin of the emperor), had never aspired to much. She was her father's child, having inherited his temper, his stubbornness, and his wide and powerful warrior's build. From Haspir's blood, one of the carefully-matched branches of a family tree that had been cultivated for generations, should've also inherited the power to slip her skin and embrace her Wolf, in the way of all impisri nobility. But when Haspir's first wife had passed, the fool had remarried for love, rather than power. From the soft and gorgeous Ella, her daughter took only two things: her peasant blood, and her life. Fifth child of minor nobility, female, and emakwuru, Morwenth could not hope for a convenient political marriage. With no mind for books, no patience for the priesthood, and as much by the way of feminine wiles as possessed a rabid wolf, her choices in life were thus strictly limited.

There were few places outside noble life for women like Morwenth. Only one of the five emperor's Claws permitted women among their ranks, and their duties were mostly ceremonial. It wasn't as if the Empire had fought a true battle in decades, anyway. Nor would any have her in private protective duties, her status as emakwuru giving pause to any desperate enough to seek a woman's services. Manual labor made her Wolf pace restlessly in her mind until her blood ran hot and her work grew careless, and no artisan would deign to train her. Nor was Morwenth sure she'd be able to tolerate the submission an apprentice had to render upon their master. Even if she could never slip her skin, too much of the Wolf lived in her to be able to submit to a master she found lacking.

Thus, it was not that Morwenth had sought a life filled with death. As so many others at her trade would claim, it was a life she simply fell in to. The wild and dangerous beasts that roamed the mostly unsettled land the Empire claimed cared little for the sex or birth or standing of who sought them. Drakes and rocs and scrag-cats and owlbears and a hundred other monsters, none of whom knew the word emakwuru, none of whom would care that she fought them on two legs and not four. The challenge was, would always be, who wished to live the most. It was a contest Morwenth always won. And so, Morwenth, slayer of beasts, wife of death, apprentice to none but the Great Wolf in the Dark itself, had found her calling.

---

She had first heard the rumors two moons ago, of a great beast of shadows that took impisri and tore out their souls, leaving only twisted husks behind. A pup of the Great Wolf in the Dark, it stalked the mountains at night for the daylight would scour it's flesh. The heresies of the imperial family, a few had whispered, given flesh and form and fangs.

"They shall sing of our hunt for generations!"

The monster had many forms. It had one, two, three dozen limbs to grasp with, branching and twisting like ivy, deadly-tight like a python's embrace. It was made of fire, of ice, of living stone that flowed in sickening ways, of smoke that swirled and choked. It had grey eyes, usually two but sometimes more, slitted like a great cat's and just as dangerously enthralling. It had wings, feathered and scaled and in rippling multitudes, gossamer and rough and always sliding, playing chittering, eerie music. It could mimic speech in the way of some birds, a clever lure to call impisri to their doom. It could walk as a man, but it was not a man. Morwenth had heard all these things and more.

"And we shall walk from it's lair, rich as princes!"

It lived in a vast cave full of treasure. Gold dripped from the ceiling, and gems grew from the walls, for the monster's weird magic warped everything around it. It had raided castles, estates, an entire kingdom before coming to the Empire. It was a creature that sought wealth without purpose. It devoured treasure, and in it's gullet would be a king's ransom. When slain, it's body would turn to silk and jewelry. Morwenth believed none of these things.

"We are not obutu to cower and hide from the things that would devour us!"

But it was unique. And for this reason, Morwenth wished to test herself against it. The gods below had marked her emakwuru, a bringer of death. Others took such an omen as a curse. She had taken it as a promise. Could this creature offer a challenge? Quietly she'd prayed for such, even as she'd rounded up men and women like herself to form a killing pack, encouraging them with her infamy and prestige. They knew her as A'kwuru, wife of death, the undefeated slayer of beasts. They believed she could not fail them.

"We are impisri!"

Her pack roared. She had felt it then, almost, almost, that sliding of fur on the wrong side of her skin, a deep ache in her bones, a heat coiling deep in her abdomen. Her Wolf pressing at the edges of her mind, wishing, willing her body to change. She couldn't, Morwenth never could, and the desperate need left her, replaced by another. She felt her blood grow hot as the killing lust seized her. She watched a similar change ripple through her pack, men and women gripping weapons with whitened knuckles, bodies crouched and ready to run and strike and kill. Though too impure to ever assume her Wolf in the flesh, her spirit still called to theirs. Pack, Alpha, Hunt.

The growls, the snarls, the howls, all faded into silence. Morwenth gestured, and they moved as one, melting into the woods.

---

The creature had been nothing like any of them had ever imagined. He was neither scaled nor feathered, lacking horns or wings or claws, nothing but a man-shaped piece of flesh. They had followed him, curious at first, wondering if this was their mark or merely some lost and misled obutu. But there were signs, small tells that Morwenth's pack could read. Fifty men and women renowned across the Empire for their talents in death watched Valkon, all familiar with the differences between predator and prey. How his steps were too lithe, too sure, not a traveler's stride but a predator's skulk. They could smell him as they drew close, no sweat or fear but hot metal and ash. His presence made their Wolves snarl and raise their hackles. Morwenth felt her skin crawl. Power calling to power.

She sent out the first scout.

Valkon replied with god-like power. Hot metal and ash were overwhelmed with ozone and cooked flesh, and forty-nine pairs of eyes watched as the unfortunate impisri choked on her own blood. Morwenth felt doubt move through the pack, insidious and deadly. She responded with ferocity, and courage, and killing lust. Though she could give them no words, they felt her message all the same.

If he is a god, then today, we kill a god!

More hunters moved. One, two, ten slid out from between the trees, unseen, unheard, deadly-quick as they crossed the open space between them and their prey. They moved with preternatural speed, wearing only light leathers and wielding short swords with strangely hooked tips. Their hair was brown and black and russet, with eyes like topaz and amber and onyx, hard and fierce with the killing lust. Though they could not slip their skins, the Wolf moved through them, in them, giving them a swiftness and grace that no obutu could ever hope to possess. They snarled and screamed as they closed on Valkon.

They died all the same.

Morwenth pushed her pack. The air reeked of blood, and the killing lust came easily. This was a foe worthy of fighting. This was a hunt that would never be forgotten. Thirty-eight impisri formed from the trees, coming at Valkon like pincers made of steel and sinew and rage. She followed, drawing her own hooked swords but holding her own Wolf in check. Not cowardice but strategy. Bestial rage would slay this creature, but only as directed by a clever mind. Such a naive assumption, Morwenth had made. But it was the one that saved her life.

She had felt the first eleven die, more acutely than the rest. Each death culled weakness from the pack, as all impisri were taught. One she could lose with a shrug. Eleven she would suffer, but the pack remained strong. But more, more, more, deaths so fast and sudden that it made her gasp, each loss a streak of pain through her psyche. Her Wolf howled, snarled, thrashing and desperate to be free. Fire filled her vision. Did they burn or did she? Then there was nothing, no pack, no sound but for the soft sounds of dry grass burning.

Suddenly, achingly, Morewenth found herself alone.

Her body trembled like a leaf. Her Wolf strained against her, and she felt it come in waves, body on that desperate edge of a shift that could never come. She panted, sweat rolling down her face, down her body. At some point she had fallen, at another she had stood. Her bones ached with the killing lust, the join of her thighs slick with sweat and arousal. The battle had been too short, too sudden, too decisive, leaving her unsatisfied and needing. What was this creature? Not impisri, not obutu, not any monster she had heard of in history or myth or legend. It would kill her. It could kill her, and hadn't. Why hadn't it? The thought ground at her, even as her Wolf demanded she strike. Would it kill her, if she did? She tensed, preparing to attack.

He spoke.

He was mocking her. Or so she assumed, even if his pleasant voice lacked any hint of the biting sarcasm she would've used had their roles been reversed. But why? The thought was enough to make her Wolf stop growling in her head, giving her a moment of clarity. It was a moment she used wisely.

Those yellow eyes of hers, so much brighter than the dun spheres of the men and women Valkon had slaughtered, watched him. There was a surprising amount of intelligence in that gaze. And power, even if it skittered off his own ego like pebbles thrown at a dragon's hide. Even defeated, even alone, her expression remained fierce and feral, savage and beautiful with a wide sensuous mouth filled with too-sharp teeth and full lips that would've been alluring had they not been split and bloodied. Her face was roughly oval-shaped, with a sharp nose and heavy black brows well-suited to scowling, the left crossed by a scar that ran a curved trail from her scalp down along her chin like the trail of a lover's caress. Her hair, once bound in a wrist-thick braid coiled smartly at the base of her neck, had come free at some point during the fight. The ends were singed now, true black against the gray-streaked white of her tresses, frizzing and fraying in a faint halo around her soot-stained face.

She was taller than him, Morewenth had noticed, among many other things. Wider, too, though by less, as hers was muscle earned from and for use rather than appearance. Her thighs and ass and arms were firm and thick, feminine softness showing only in her bust and in her waist. And they dressed differently, even if both for battle. She wore leathers painted to blend in with the foliage, covering her from knees to elbows, though now singed or burnt or crumbling in places. Where the fire hadn't touched it, the skin beneath was darkly tanned. Unlike him her feet were bare, like all her pack. So were her hands, though somewhere along the way she'd lost her swords. It didn't matter. With a single glance, Morwenth knew if she reached this stranger, her nails and teeth could do the job her steel had abdicated from. He wore plates on his coat, like the underbelly of a wurm, but she had killed wurms larger than him before.

He spoke again. A question? She made a huffing sound, too baffled to form words. With her blood pounding in her ears, body coiled tight with the killing lust, rational thought was a struggle. Her Wolf strained again, and he could hear her strangled moan as her body shuddered.

"You killed us too fast." Morwenth managed, at last. Her voice was a low alto, thick and husky, her words followed by more of those panting, gulping breaths. The killing lust was supposed to end with death. Her Wolf urged her to fight, to see things to completion. She pushed it back down and felt need slither out from the squished thoughts.

"I wonder why you haven't killed me." She continued, taking a step towards Valkon. Blood and gore and sweat and death and hot metal and ash washed over her, a heady mix that made her head spin. She would reach him and she would kill him. It was the only logical thing. He would kill her, and it would be over. She needed release.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
More dust, more ashes, more disappointment.

Was this the outcome of this war? These nightmarish creatures that stalk the land?

He can sense it.

As more blood soaks the soil, feeding the evil therein. The veins feel different. As if unnamable blight has spread through it's form, causing the blood of life to quicken. Participate in this race where only one would come out alive.

And those, things.

She.

They were the inhabitants of Terra now? As he dared to look into her eyes, he has seen nothing but a beast. Strong. One that adapted both its body and mind alike.

But she was alone now. No longer supported by her pack. Bloodied, hurt. About to break.

"You killed us too fast."
The old birch-staff once again glistens with his power reserves. He has used too much for this display, he could feel how tight his veins were, how blood seeped through the skin, like infested spores that bulge out from his left arm. Thankfully he was wearing the coat. But that itself meant he was as weak to the exposure of magic as normal humans were.

"You've given me no choice. Following me for a single shift of celestial bodies. You've forced me to take action."

"I wonder why you haven't killed me."
"I do not seek bloodshed Wolf-bound. And I urge you to reconsider your next move."

The air seems to turn colder, chilly. Puffs of steam, emerge from their noses, their panting lips. Whlist hoarfrost envelops the grass and trees around them.

"Wolf-bound. Death waits for the slightest lapse in concentration. Take my advice and reconsider the desires of your heart."

He's still there, standing in the cold. Clad in the clothes of an unfortunate hunter, young lumberjack and a foolish robber. Heavy sturdy leather boots protect his feet from the sharp rocks and branches that now decorate Terra's skin. Gloved hands and aligned layers of cloth, leather, and silk shield his skin from the elements and most basic of attacks. But it's about his eyes that seems so unnatural. The shade so gray it could take away color, yet still full of unexplainable contempt.

Contempt. And anger. Not guided towards humanity, surprisingly. But towards himself. He has understood that compared to her he was no better, slaughtering the simple men, armed with the intention to gather wood rather than to battle. The bitter taste in his mouth soon gave birth to the feeling of shame upon his actions. His gaze once again softening as the blood seeped through the silk. For a vessel so vulnerable to the Orokin power itself he was truly a ticking bomb.

But questions arose even now. Those spore-like shapes on his left arm. He has never felt magic to give birth to such things. The veins themselves. They scream. Giving birth to those abominations.

The blood quickens. The ringing in the ears fades. There is no point in acting like a beast. He was and still is better than that.

The hoarfrost fades just as soon as it was summoned. The metallic scent of blood. Pure, draconic blood hangs in the air. As his piercing gaze meets hers. No longer bloodthirsty. No longer disgusted in her savage form.

As the great seer and stargazer of the old Orokin, he had to show why he was given such titles.

"I'll not kill you Wolf-bound. Nor will I let you to send me to the outer realm. How far are we from the Ironwood?"
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
The impisri were far from the only inhabitants of the lands, but in the small crescent-hollow of the mountains in which their Empire resided, they were the majority. They hadn't been around in Valkon's time, his prior time, but many strange races had risen up in the aftermath of the cataclysm caused by his people. By comparison to some of them, Morwenth's people were quite plain. And growing plainer, as with each generation the Wolf grew weaker, more dilute. The blood was maintained in the royal family at great cost, marrying cousins, sometimes brother to sister to keep the gift alive. Each emperor lasted a little less than the prior, falling victim to disorders of the blood, or of the heart, or of the kidneys and liver. They were far from the wild and savage people they had been in the Young Days, and their Empire had shrunk to little more than a loosely-ruled handful of cities huddling in the shadow of a mountain range.

These were not Morwenth's concerns, though she could've explained such to Valkon. She knew many things from her early childhood, when she'd been educated in the hopes of turning her to some use, as a wife or as a priestess. Until the first of her elder siblings wedded and bred, she had use, if only as a "backup". But once her eldest brother had borne two healthy, young pups, the lessons had become perfunctory. Soon enough she, too, had become perfunctory. It all led to the present, to this moment.

The stranger kept talking. This was good, as it kept her mind busy, kept her Wolf from seizing control. Not for a lack of trying. Every time the beast strained she felt something clench tight and low in her. Achingly empty, without her pack, without something to grab and kill.

It grew cold, and at first Morwenth thought it was her exhaustion. Where had the color gone? Those eyes of his seemed to devour the light around them both. The stories were right. This was no man. There was a vastness and depth to that gaze that made even her Wolf shy back.

He spoke in such odd ways.

There was too much blood and gore for even her well-attuned nose to pick up on Valkon's new injury. But the flicker of red in the corner of her vision, a break from the monochrome of his eyes, caught her attention. So one of her pack had bloodied him before they perished? The thought would've made those full lips of hers curl upward in pleasure, but the thought didn't feel right. No, she could not claim the wound. It was something else. A Price, perhaps, for what he had done?

The air warmed, but she chill remained within her. Exhaustion came in slow, pulsing waves, each beckoning her to the earth. Lie down, rest, sleep, die. Were those her thoughts, or the echoes of her slaughtered pack? She'd heard that, back when the impisri fought true wars, their Claw-leaders would hear such things. If those in the pack died too fast for their spirits to realize their bodies had perished, their presence could linger. Did forty nine spirits now inhabit her head? Fifty if she counted her own.

Belatedly she realized her thoughts had begun to wander.

"Half a day's march." Morwenth replied, brows knitting more thoroughly at the oddness of his question. "Who are you? What are you?" She took another step forward, inhaling deeply. More of that strange, hot-metal smell filled her nose and mouth. It overwhelmed her, even her own smells of blood and dirt and sweat and feminine musk. Could he see how much she needed him? To wrap her hands around his throat, to be consumed by his fire. "What do you seek," she huffed, "in Ironwood?" Another step, and she had to tilt her head slightly to adjust her gaze down at him.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
The nature of the human body. Every stimulus sending out a message to the muscle and nerve. Even if he wasn't born a human. Such "Ticks" have been awakened even for him. The tension as she got close again despite the sudden change in the weather around them. The unmistakable rush of adrenaline that seemed to course through her body. Yet without any target to unleash this stored energy upon.

Apart from him, that is.

Valkon found himself in a game where looking away would resort in their death. If he were to give her far more feral part a possibility for an attack. This millisecond enough to give her the element of surprise. It wasn't even about the fatal blow. It was about approaching him up close.

But for now, their conversation continued. As if the two were standing on thin ice, one that was about to break. His fingers wrapped tightly around the staff cut out from birch wood, feeling the familiar bumps it already gained after those few days...

"Half." The response was neutral. Sounding more like a statement. Devoid fully of emotion as if pretending to trick her inner wolf. Allow it to feel confident once again.

This blight.

It hung in the air tormenting his nostrils. A stench of rotten mana. Something he has never experienced in the past. Something. He had to take care of now. Given how the unpleasant burning on his arm, allowed the spore to swell with his infected blood.

"You may call me Valkon." The share his real name. The titles. The honors he was given. Secrets he knew...But what was the point? His achievements. Service. All of it didn't matter in this world. Here he was a nobody. "Valkon" A simple shortened version of his true name. One he was given by the starts, just like others of his kin.

"As for what I am...What I seek in Ironwood."

Without a shred of doubt, he breaks the eye contact, turning around just to immediately slam the ground with the end of his staff. Allowing the silhouette of a man to fade away. In its place fog. Hiding whatever was hiding behind it, only to allow his powerful voice to be heard. He didn't have enough power to take the form of a dragon or of any beast. Forcing him to resolve to simple trickery, assuming a form of living fog. Something that cannot be killed. Even if it cannot kill on it's own.

"I seek answers Wolf-bound. Answers you'll provide."

The vibrations of his voice, spread through the forest like wild-fire. Managing to scare off a fair share of wildlife around them. Only to have the so-called "Valkon" once again de-materialize. Allowing the fog to take the form of a human, before slowly particle after particle forming before her. He didn't look tired. Nor weak. But in reality, such display, even if a mere trickery of illusion and quick change of form have drained all of his reserves for now. Once again proving to him that humanity truly achieved the impossible to lead out a rebellion against his brethren while still being so weak.

He almost respected them.

Almost.

"But I'm no selfish monstrosity. Your warriors have fallen, but no one deserves to be buried without burial."

What would seem as an act of kindness was nothing but a simple strategy for Valkon. To see how an "Alpha" would react to such offer. Would she behave like a feral beast some of her soul aspires to be? Would she flee to regroup and strike again? Or would the human nature overcome her? To attack him as he's not looking? Or fulfill the honorable rites. Give her men a proper burial.

No matter what she woulld do. He had his next step already planned out.
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
"Valkon." Morwenth growled the name. It was a name well-suited to growling, and she liked that. Unbidden, a smile briefly flickered across her features.

That smile grew brittle as the man before her dissolved into mist.

That white braid of hers cut the air as she whipped her head around, searching for the source of his voice. It seemed to come from everywhere, as that strange fog rolled and curled outward. A low growl bubbled up her throat. It was not the sound of a Wolf hunting. It was the sound of a Wolf backed into a corner, waiting for death to come to it. Would that fog reach out, ensnare her, choke her? There was something intimate about it. Would he enjoy killing her? She hoped so. It was wrong to be so good at killing and not enjoy it.

The mist retreated. The man re-formed.

"Are you a god then?" She asked, licking her too-dry lips. For the first time she looked away, down and around at her slaughtered pack. A low chuckle escaped her.

"They fell in battle, and the Wild will reclaim them. Already their spirits are gone, and their Wolves run free. These?" She kicked weakly at a hand, detached from the body that it once belonged to. "These are little more piles of meat." She took another step forward, and new wave of exhaustion passed through her, bringing fresh cold sweat to her brow. She tried to take a second step but instead collapsed to one knee. Still the warrior turned the motion graceful, making it look like the wolf-woman had bowed. Strangely, her Wolf seemed satisfied with this. Either way, she was too tired to care.

The killing lust had begun to abate, leaving her achy and empty and sick. Morwenth knew this phase too well. The purity of her blood made her tend to extremes, and the lows were as bad as fierce as the highs. But always before she'd been victorious. The torpor would come with her with her belly full of food and wine, in the finest feather bed her winnings could buy, often with a man or two to keep her company. She would sleep for a night and a day, waking only to eat and to piss and to fuck.

Now she was here, kneeling in leaf litter and mud and gore. It was so wrong that she began to laugh. Not the amused chuckle she'd given before, but a slightly higher, more frantic sound. Had she craved death? No, she wished desperately to live. And now I kneel at the mercy of a foreign god.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
"Are you a god then?"
Was that the reason his kind has been defeated? All it took was some pathetic praise from hundreds of human lips and eyes? Was that the reason to turn them into acolytes? Guardians and servants? He wouldn't follow the same route. He wouldn't repeat the mistakes. He wouldn't seize control in this cursed world. But he needed help either way.

"I'm no divine, even if my fallen brothers and sisters perceived themselves as one. I just seek out to right the wrongs done to the earth humankind treads upon. Heal its wounds. And harvest the vein."

There was no point in lying to her. Nor would the wolf be able to stop him, nor would she or anyone else know what he spoke of. He was certain of it. The cold tip of his staff is quick to rest against her shoulder, the dizzying light which emerges from the frail catalyst, like a soothing flame washes over the sore muscle for just a moment. A momentary abatement. One to bring peace to the dizzied mind rather than to heal all of her wounds. After all. The list of questions he had prepared seemed...Endless.

The hulking pile of muscle, curves and twisted blood. The more he looked at her, the more sense all of it made. She is no true human. Born of a strong wolf which had the misfortune of twisting its shape with that one of a man. Question was. How? Such transmutations, changes, and even rituals were not only difficult to prepare but the sheer amount of power it took to allow one to be reborn after fusing two forms together- He has stumbled upon something worthy of his attention. Not a mere human. Then perhaps. Someone worthy of becoming an acolyte. Protector.

The shattered glass catalyst pulses with the dizzying gray glow, which Valkon was quick to press against the side of her throat. Allowing the heat to rise, his facial expression remaining unchanged. Plain. Bored almost.

"How do they call you?"

He was surprised in his own approach to the situation. In the past, he would've to blast her and move on. Seek answers on his own. But this body and it's limitations. He needed food. Sleep. His powers couldn't provide everything. Or at the very least, they couldn't provide it every time. Just like his students once, he had to refine himself. Strengthen the willpower and exhaust the flesh to the point where it's raw magical power wouldn't pose a threat for his skin. A difficult task, but one he had time to complete.

"I need a guide around Ironwood. Someone to do the talking while I wait in the shadows. Do not misunderstand me Wolf-bound. You're not my servant. I need your help, and in return, I'll reward you."

Greed. Desire. Lust. The human part of her. It craved those things just as any of them. Valkon knew it. Sensed it. All he had to do, was to have her agreement. Rely on her for days, and then set out into the world yet again. It was time to go incognito. Remain quiet, watch what happens. How this world operates. Reveal the closest vein and harvest it's power before this blight would do so first.

The heat from the catalyst weakens. He could blast her here. Even though in reality he was impressed by her reaction so far. No begging. No offers. Simple questions to define what he was. If he could be killed or not. Such men and women were a rarity back in his days.

Perhaps the destruction of his world has brought the desired effects in the end.
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
Half his words made no sense, and Morwenth wasn't sure if it was her exhaustion clouding her mind or if he spoke as a madman. Possibly both.

Her laughter hadn't stopped at his words, though it had grown a little quieter. Morwenth went silent as Valkon brought that strange, glowing crystal to rest on her shoulder. She'd seen what he'd done to her pack with that thing. She took one sharp breath, expecting it would be her last.

He didn't kill her. But as a wave of relaxation seemed to come over her, unbidden, she feared he'd done something worse. Her Wolf had gone suddenly and utterly quiet. But after one panicked moment, Morwenth determined he'd merely put the more bestial half of her soul to sleep. She hadn't even know that was possible. It left her head strangely clear and disturbingly empty. She didn't like it, but had no idea how to undo it.

The crystal pressed against her throat, and her head was forced upward to look at him. So much resistance in those hard yellow eyes of her. A few strands of gray-white-brown hair had escaped from her braids, and she swept them away from where her sweat had plastered them to her face.

More questions. Such a curious creature.

"Morwenth, daughter of Haspir, son of Hasphatupit, son of Umbarsho. I am of the impisri." The wolf-woman offered by way of introduction, and would've bowed her head had he not been pressing a jagged crystal to her throat. It wasn't that she feared getting cut, but that there was physically no room.

"There are some who call me A'kwuru. I don't believe you will." She added, a little dryly. Apparently, when her Wolf was not urging her to kill-or-be-killed, Morwenth could be quite sardonic.

She listened to his explanation, his offer. As much as the impisri could consider an offer under such conditions anything but a necessity. Oh, Valkon tried to make it sound a bargain between equals, but Morwenth had already felt the power shift. Had her Wolf been awake, she felt sure the creature would've encouraged her to roll over and present her belly. This was a greater predator than she. The heat of the crystal beat against her skin, in time with her heart. Or had her pulse come to beat in time with the crystal? She tiled her head a little higher, then began to push herself up from the dirt. It was not an easy thing, but she managed, standing under her own power.

And then she approached, swaying like a drunk as she held out a hand. A lopsided grin twisted her savage face. She'd seen what this Valkon could do to a pack of the fifty best impirsi she could find. Seeing that kind of power wielded again would be an apt enough reward on it's own for what sounded to be a short and easy job. She expected, of course, that he would pay for their mutual upkeep until he was done with her. It was the same way when she hired a pack, unless negotiated otherwise. Food and room over her head while she licked her wounds? It was better than dying, that was for sure.

"Valkon No-Divine," she turned his statement into a title, proffering a hand to shake. She would've licked it first, but suspected this stranger would've taken the gesture the wrong way. And besides, standing and walking had taken all her strength. If he asked one thing more of her, Morwenth felt certain she would fall over.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
Impisri. A'kwuru.

New names. Names he did not understand. This world has changed to the point where even the great wisdom of the amber star couldn't help him. Oh how he longed to gaze into the stars, seek the answers from the celestial brethren that must've survived this madness.

But they were behind the veil. Unable to reach out, unable to see or hear. They were worthless.

But Morwenth? A woman built like one of the ancient protectors his brother shaped from marble. Mimicking the musculature of a human body, pushing the thought and invention into a statue, allowing it to move and serve its purpose.

She was living. Breathing. Example.

Even if she were to fail. Succumb to the wounds inflicted by future battles, or from an attempt for his life. He could make use of her body. A cruel thought but he had to be ten steps ahead of everything. Including the worst possibilities.

"A'kwuru."

He quoted, careful to pronounce the word right, it's dialect far different from his own language.

"What does it mean. Head of the pack? Leader? Master?"

He asks, as his eyes scan her from head to toe. He couldn't deny she impressed him even with her attire. Bare feet, exposed skin. Strong healthy body. Durable limbs. A fighter that in his opinion didn't fit lands like this. Not with this look in her eyes. She was more than a mere wolf. Then a beast.

Perhaps that's why he has silenced this "Pure blood" inside of her. It was a different definition of blight. All of them seemed to be born with it. As if Terra gave it to them. Making them stronger, giving birth to beasts, owls and bears mixed into ones, humans born of the wolf. He could right those wrongs. It was his purpose, even if in the end. He desired to harvest the vein.

Carefully, his soft pale hand emerges, wrapping around hers. The grip on his staff remains tight. A single wrong move and he would incinerate both of them if needed. Her if needed. He was weak. Tired. But that didn't mean he was defenseless.

"Morwenth, of the Impisri."

He turned her own answer into a title. The rustling of the leaves brought his attention. Even the wind was different. Or was it just the centuries spent in darkness? That's why so much managed to draw his attention? After all. It was so long since he has seen so much. So long since he has felt something.

Cold, warmth.

And now. Skin. Pressed against skin. An inmate experience to some extent. Thoughts, emotions. Inner desires. It was all there. Reawakening with this new body.

"Let us rest. There's no point to head to the Ironwood now."

It wasn't a suggestion. A demand. One he hoped she would agree with.
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
Even if Morwenth had been privy to his thoughts, she wouldn't have known what to do with them. A spirit, riding her corpse like an obutu wearing plate? She had just admitted that her people thought little of their bodies after death. But there was a world of difference between leaving flesh to be scavenged by wild things, returning to the earth, and letting another use their body like a puppet. She would've found the idea inexplicably revolting, even if it was little different from what her Wolf did in the heat of battle. Thankfully, she knew nothing of Valkon's fallback plans, and so could not ponder their unnaturality.

"A'kwuru. It is not a leader, or an alpha. It is..." She paused, thinking. It was simply a word, a convenient contraction of two others into a nickname. "A wife," Morewenth settled on, "of Death. They," she gestured at the fallen surrounding them, "have been escorted to the Wilds by the Great Wolf in the Dark. Death incarnate." She felt Valkon's eyes take her in, and had she the strength she would've flexed and preened. Instead she fought to stay upright. So tired. And without her Wolf to bolster her... was this how it felt to be obutu? So wretchedly weak.

She took his hand, careful not to crush it. Morwenth knew she could, if she tried to. The shake was firm but not painful, her skin calloused and hot and tanned dark. Such a contrast to his, smooth and elegant, a scholar's hands with clever fingers and neatly trimmed nails. Hers were peppered in scars, nails ragged, the pinkie digit permanently crooked from when it'd once broke and not healed right. A warrior's hands.

She let his hand drop then, and looked up and around.

They stood in a small clearing, formed naturally when one of the great trees of the wood that the nearby city was named after had fallen and no new saplings had come to replace it. The remaining trunk, even half-rotted as it was, was massive. All the trees of the Ironwood were massive, wider than three men and with thick, bushy foliage that left many parts of the forest in permanent shadow no matter the hour of the day. Most were considered to be hundreds of years old, but here they grew wilder and stranger than anywhere else. Most of the trees dated to the Cataclysm, as far as any of the scholars of the Empire had been able to determine. When the impisri had first risen these had been saplings. Now they were giants, slowly dying as the ravages of time took it's toll.

When new ones grew they never came back quite the same. Morwenth had once wondered what would happen when the loggers took them all.

It was many decades away, however. Concerns irrelevant to one who lived like her. Each day was a gift, and a rare one at that, proven so today. Only a fool would've bet on Morwenth living to ripe old age. She cared little about the world beyond what she could enjoy from day to day.

"I could not walk so far besides." Morwenth admitted, after a beat. "We should not stay here. Scavengers will come." She turned, moving to leave, stumbling as she did. Again she went to a knee, and the world tilted sickeningly in front of her. Gray and black ate at the edges of her vision, but she pushed it away. Forcing herself to keep moving. There was a sword on the ground. Was it hers? It didn't matter, either it was hers or it's owner wouldn't bother her. She took it, used it to help prop herself back up. Exhausted, she glanced back at Valkon.

"Go this way a short while, then sleep. This will keep any predators occupied." Again she gestured at the dead, now with a broad sweep of her sword. She did not tell him that she couldn't raise it higher than that. Valkon could already tell she would present him no threat.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
His was a pristine universe.

Here he knew nothing of this blight...Impisri ...

Until the rift ripped a path between the veins...

...Injecting a blight that spread like poison.

Their old world of order and balance.

Could be shattered forever...

Dying, corrupted and consumed.

He had no choice...

He's an outcast in the chaos that is this new World.

...willing to do anything...

...to save the old.


Even the trees. The grass they walked upon. The cold stone itself seemed to reek of this filth. As the last one of his kind. It is his purpose to protect what is left of his world. No matter the price. No matter the destruction.

Despite the hopes of his brothers and sisters at the beginning. The trust and hopes put into the minds of men. All of them have left in sorrow, desperation. Agony. And while he slept through the destruction. The world itself stayed awake. Moved on. Continued it's an endless cycle.

Rotting. On the outside and inside alike.

"Enough Morwenth. In this state, you'll be of no use for me even if We reach Ironwood. I need you alive to guide me. A corpse will be of no use."

It felt easier to talk to her. This stench of blighted power, it wasn't as strong on her. As if her genes. The wolf half she kept with herself...it was pure. Given birth from the vein that haven't been touched by the blight back then. But the human side of her? Ignoring the sweat, gore and feminine musk of sweat glands mixed with all bestial scents. It wasn't that terrifying. Of course given the lack of reaction when he has cast first of his spells, was enough of a proof that people in this region knew nothing of his powers. Which meant that they couldn't even sense or see the mana on it's own. Free from their stench. Unaware that the ground bleeds due to the mistakes of their ancient few centuries old grandfathers that were lucky enough to survive. Only to breed and reproduce like insects.

Valkon couldn't truly understand what was the reason behind him choosing her. She had all the needed traits in becoming a worthy student under his wing but...He promised himself not to take another, especially as the last six of his students ended their career during the rebellion all headless after a single strike from their mentor. No. It wasn't about teaching her, he needed a pawn. Something- Someone that could serve as his eyes, as his shield while he would play the right cards from behind. That's why he chose not to end all of it here. That's why he was now, using his powers to soothe the pain...Oh how long it was? When was the last time he has done to let somebody recover from their wounds?

But he had no more power left, feeling as the spores finally faded, ate at his own power, he could do so much as to let her limp for another thirty minutes or so before both of them could faint from exhaustion. They needed a camp. A good one, hidden in the dark. Without obvious signs that could draw the attention of the beasts or looters alike.

The glow emits from his finger tips as he rests the hand over her temple, slow circural movement of his fingers, massaging the spot. Allowing the last of his energy, pure. Flow into her. Not enough. Barely a drop.

A drop of draconic power.

He could feel his own legs give in. Exchanging his strength with her. Madness. She could end him right here...

Yet something. Be it the Star Gazers experience or seer's instinct. Told him to trust her. As he leaned against her back. Panting, feeling as drops of blood gather in his mouth.

"Find us a safe place to camp in."

He mutters, feeling as his legs quiver, as his hand let's go of the staff.

He's not as powerful as he once was. But this body could be hardened. Allowed to use more. He just needed...

Time.
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
Even had he explained, Morwenth would've simply shaken her head. Veins. Magic. Rot. These were not things of the impisri. Her people did not dabble in magic, could not, for the Wolves that bolstered their souls were jealous and territorial creatures. Valkon could've taught her as well as a bird could teach a fish to fly. Even if she could learn she would've refused. Magic was a thing for gods, or not-gods, to play at. Morwenth had no interest in such things, unless they could make her a better hunter. But that would've felt too much like cheating. There was honor in a good honest fight. Though at the end of the day, honor mattered less than wealth.

"Walk." An instruction, both to move and to stop talking. She'd had enough talking, finding it surprisingly exhausting. It required her brain to work and do things, rather than the simple drive of pushing her legs forward, one in front of the other, one step at a time. That she could manage. A conversation she couldn't, not at the same time. Not if she was to pay attention to their surroundings, and take them somewhere safe. Safe enough, at least.

She felt him approach from behind, felt the heat of his body, the strange hot metal smell that marked him as neither man nor Wolf. Gods below, he smelled good. She'd trained her body so thoroughly: fight, eat, fuck, sleep, that her stomach burned with acid and her cunt felt flushed with need. And her eyes were so heavy, so deliriously heavy, that she could've slept where she stood and not woken for the end of the world. Her Wolf already slept, and her mind continued to remind her of the wrongness of that. One's Wolf did not sleep. It provided their edge, their protection, it was the reason a sleeping impisri was impossible to sneak up on.

So quiet, with that Wolf asleep.

"What...?" Morwenth started as something glowing moved into the corner of her vision. She went still, feeling something else push into her. Without her Wolf she was helpless to stop it, too exhausted to do more than moan weakly. She felt her pulse jack up, her skin grow hot, and a bit of the gray ringing her vision retreated. It wasn't much. But it was something.

"What did you do?" She turned, gripping his wrist before that hand could move away. The bulk of him fell against her, and she realized he was slipping. They hadn't moved far from the slaughter site, but she could still smell blood. Except there was something in that scent she hadn't noticed before. Something floral and sickeningly sweet.

"Valkon?" His arm was bleeding. She'd noticed that earlier but really saw it now. Yet his coat seemed whole, without puncture or slash. He'd gone limp against her, his face slumping against her well-padded chest. Was he succumbing to an injury? Except he'd taken none, not that she'd seen.

She felt her Wolf stir.

"Valkon!" With that newfound reserve of energy she shook him. But he'd gone quiet. She sniffed at him, then sheathed her sword so she could use two hands. One continued to support his slumping mass, the other pressed to the side of his throat. Sluggish, but present, his pulse beat. Well, he was alive. If a god could even be killed. He'd claimed a lack of divinity, but Morwenth knew better than to trust him on that front. Gods that walked on two legs were never to be trusted.

With a grunt, she hefted him over her shoulder. He was not so heavy to truly encumber her, though it was an awkward load especially in her current state. Using one foot she nudged his staff up from the ground, then grabbed that and tested it's strength. It would make for a fine walking stick, and she would need one. It wouldn't do to slip and risk breaking his head on a rock. What an unfitting end for a god. He'd bested her in battle and she would respect that until he was healthy enough to be challenged again. Until they both were.

Her Wolf agreed with this. He was stronger. He would make a good Alpha.

She walked for a time until the trees grew thick and close, newer growth with smaller trees that weren't so jealous of their neighbors. Here the trunks grew so tight that even a bear would have trouble navigating. There was a stream nearby as well, providing water and a chance to wash some of the predator-attracting blood smells from them. It would do, as Morwenth could feel her body flagging again, threatening to give out from under her. It had to do.

The impisri set her burden down, as gracefully as she could, rolling him onto the soft leaf litter. She turned away then, unfastening the closures of her pants before stripping them off entirely. With startling precision for a female, she urinated in an arc, then stopped, moved, and continued the arc, again and again until she'd formed a circle. Crude but effective, as few predators would cross a line that smelled so strongly of Wolf. Those that would, well, there was little Morwenth could do about that. She unclothed further, dumping her boiled leather armor into one pile, underclothes into another, belt and pouches into a third. All the while one eye remained on Valkon, to see if he would stir.

Properly nude, Morwenth inspected herself. She'd suffered several burns, but nothing life-threatening. The fight had been too short for that. Most of her exhaustion was from the march, setting up the ambush, and keeping so many Wolves in-check. There were better ways, but she was never in the Claws and thus never learned them. And losing so many impisri so fast... Morwenth turned her thoughts elsewhere. Dwelling on the past would do her no good.

Her clothes were filthy, as was she. She looked at Valkon and assessed him to be the same. Well, she could do a bit about that, at least. Carefully she stripped him of his coat, taking extra caution as she peeled the sleeve from his blood-soaked arm. It was fresh enough that it hadn't made a scab yet, small favors, but whatever had happened it would need to be cleaned. Could gods die of infection? She wouldn't put it past them. She spread his coat on the ground as a blanket, then rolled him onto it. Next came his shirt and pants and boots, then his smallclothes, until he was just as nude as she was.

He may be a god, but he has a cock like any man.

A large cock, true, but nothing startling by the standards of her people. Then again he was presently soft, and Morwenth knew how some men could go through drastic changes in size. It didn't matter anyway, as he was her employer, not his bed-warmer. And there were other things to notice, stranger things.

She had smelled rot before and now could see the source, bulbous tumors along one arm that had split and wept blood and other fluids. That clearly was nothing her people had done, but would need treatment nonetheless. For now she could clean out the worst of it, but... Against her better instincts she reached down and prodded one of the lumps.

It fell off.

That was enough for Morwenth's stomach, and she had to turn away before she grew ill. Gore and death didn't bother her, but this? This was unnatural. Even blind to mana as all impisri were, she knew wrongness when she saw it. And the smell... Fetid and sweet, like long-rotting flesh. Even if his skin beneath seemed smooth and pale and unmarked, she knew that something festered.

Or perhaps that was how all two-legged gods smelled? Even the Great Wolf in the Dark was purported to smell like fresh-turned earth, nothing like this foulness. Was he a god of death? Some foreign god come to their lands to... Well, whatever it was, it wasn't Morwenth's business. Not unless he paid for it to be.

She noted his smaller oddities. There were gray scales just below the lines of his ribs, though they seemed healthy enough besides their oddness. He was not nearly as hisrute as the males she was familiar with, but that didn't mean much. He didn't look particularly healthy, but then again he had passed out. Or perhaps the grayish cast to his skin was normal? She saw no bruises or cuts, but there was blood drying both on his coat and on his body. If she didn't want scavengers, she would have to do something about that.

With some effort Morwenth rolled Valkon off his coat and onto the floor, then piled everything with blood on it inside. She hefted the bundle, then trudged towards the river. All the while she cast glances back at the sleeping god. Hopefully the scent marking she had done would keep any curious critters away until she'd had them both a little less intetesting-smelling.

In the river she washed their things, watching as the water turned pink with gore, then flowed clear. Each garment was rinsed, then placed on the rocks off the bank nearby. The locale was remote enough she didn't fear theft. They could dry here, and should there be enough smell to attract animals, better here than by them.

She left everything to dry, taking only her shirt and a waterskin back with her. Morwenth had already washed herself clean of blood, but Valkon was still filthy. The woman knew she couldn't carry him here, not keep him from drowning as she washed him. So instead she brought water to him, rubbing down his body with her damp shirt, rinsing him with small trickles from her waterskin. She treated the arm with it's spores tenderly, but no matter what she did they seemed to fall off and break apart if she so much as looked at them. The rest of him was easier, or at least less-sickening to work with. Once he was clean she left again, to rinse and lay out her shirt and retrieve his coat.

The garment was still soaked with water and feindishly heavy, but she slung it over her shoulder and hauled it back to the campsite. There, Morwenth spread it out again and rolled Valkon onto it. It seemed improper to let a foreign god sleep on the bare forest floor. Their own, native gods were not known for being welcoming hosts. But he seemed no worse for the treatment, though Morwenth knew they would both need a source of warmth before long. The season was still young and the nights could be dangerously cold. A fire would also help to keep away curious or hungry critters.

Thankfully, there never was a lack of fuel in the Ironwood. The trees relied on fire as much as their choking shade to keep the underbrush free and clear of tangle, and to give their own saplings a chance to survive. There was always some amount of fuel to be found, though the loggers who used the forest were careful to not let it pile too high. Regular burns were important and a useful tool for maintaining a healthy forest, but were to be avoided when men were working. They would even start fires on occasion, when the litter grew too thick but the rains had recently come. Damp leaves and old trees made for poor tinder, but the dry leavings of dead things would burn away with ease.

Morwenth found such dead things aplenty, and was able to scrounge up enough for a small fire without too much effort. Which was good, as she had precious little effort to expend. Whatever Valkon had done to her seemed nearly gone, but she had one more task to complete before she slept. She dug down to bare earth in a small circle, then assembled her wood. Beneath it she shoved smaller pieces, tinder and kindling, before taking a few pinches of fluffy fire's friend from one of her beltpouches. Another pouch provided a firestarter, which easily ignited the fluff and, with time, the rest of the pile.

That was it, then. Morwenth took a long swallow from her waterskin, considering her situation. Not much to do until they'd both slept. She'd done as best as she could to get them somewhere safe, and her Wolf would keep an eye out for trouble as she slept. Whether Morwenth would have the energy to respond if attacked was another story. She looked at Valkon, then sighed.

It wouldn't do to let him grow too cold.

She dragged the coat he laid on closer to the fire, then curled her massive body around his. Her body ran hotter than his, and though her soul was weary there was technically very little wrong with her body. Morwenth had lost no blood in their battle, and the few burns and bruises speckling her would be inconvenient at worst.

Against his back pressed her firm breasts, the hard muscles of her abs, the thick meat of her thighs. He could feel the scars that covered her body, some small and paper-light, others thick and gnarled. There was soft hair starting just beneath her naval, snow-white in color and almost like fur, though it became longer and coarser and gently curling between her thighs. Another patch of fur existed between her breasts, starting at the center of her sternum and forming a diamond that tapered away at mid-abdomen. Similar fur formed a long stripe along her back, starting between her shoulder blades, widening mid-back, and narrowing again to disappear before it reached her buttocks. There was a small fur-covered nub at the end of her tailbone, and fur along the tops of her feet.

This god of hers seemed so much smaller, in need of protection.

She would protect them both.

It was the last thought Morwenth had before she fell into a deep and all-encompassing slumber.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
Void.

Oh, how he despised it. Forced to spend centuries in it, once again he has found himself in its clutches.

Experiencing the emptiness filling him from the inside and outside alike. As if drifting in the air while the whole body felt as if it was underwater. It was and still is difficult to explain. But in the past, he has viewed this torment as a gift.

After all this "Void" was nothing but the realm of dreams. Where the connection between soul and mind becomes one. Giving the world a twisted shape often introducing dreams without any context, sense. Reason. Humans or his past guardians suffered only part of this cycle. Random, twisted dreams. Sometimes nightmares, sometimes source of inspiration. Be it twisted or remarkable. They were free from witnessing the void. Unlike Valkon, who's now perceived his "Gift" more like a curse given the fact he has spent centuries in this place already.


Coming back felt like...Failure. Was he defeated? Was his trust put into the beast in the skin of a woman, Morwenth misguided? Men are cunning, traitorous. Selfish. But beasts? Hounds and wolves alike? They're loyal. Until the very end. On which side was she? But alas did that matter? Drifting through the void, bare, no- He could not sense nor see his body. It was just his sentence. Observing.

The concept of time was an illusion for him. Even now it did not bother him. Drifting for hours. Until the moment he felt her touch.

The half-blood. Pure of the wolf exposed to the vein. And of a human born with the blight. He has seen both, forming a spiral pure crimson and darker rotten shade, both competing against one another. He did not understand the sudden burst of visions that could only be experienced as a shift from void to the dreams. His Seer talents as always working on their own, guiding him rather than letting him use them as he sees fit. Such is the curse of sacrificing some of the talents to read the omens and receive the visions.

But alas, both remain still, unable to merge. Unable to become whole. Was this the reason she was still sane? Or was it the reason her mana didn't throw him off. After all he could see it with his presence there in the dream. The wolf blood coursing throgh her veins. It had this nostalgic scent to it. Pure, untouched vein, reminding him of the past.

He could reach it, just barely...

Only for the world to shift. From the clashes of her blood, he had sensed immediately to the visions far less comforting. Bare, back there in the field of ash. His own handiwork. Watching as a pile of the destroyed fortress of his collapses into ruin. The engrave runes, guard posts for his servants. All shaped and forged from materials that were meant to survive any medium to novice's magic. Still didn't manage to survive in the slightest from his eruption.

He has made a mistake.

A reckless move he finally regretted. Without preparation, he did not go into hiding but rather, chose to burn everything with himself. And now, he paid the price. Locked in a frail body. With his powers limited and blight affecting him, world treating him like an outsider. A cure that had to be stopped.

The scene shifts again. Images. Blurry and not related to what was coming next. Memories? Perhaps. But they often drift around a silhouette of a dragon. Clad in decorative veils, with one of the veins growing inside of it's body. Who was it?

He demands the answer in his mind. Charging forth. No longer as a frail human, but his past self. Powerful gray limbs, carrying the draconic flesh, rippling scaled muscle to keep the whole body in one piece.

But no matter how glorious, strong and proud he could be seen as. Even Valkon himself froze. Terrified of the glimpse his mysterious talent chose to share.

A heart. Living. Beating. Heart. Held by nothing but veins, pumping it's corrupted blood, into the Terra itself. The fear overcomes him in mere moments. Enough to throw him off balance. He paid no attention to what was around it, he sought no clues. This...

He had no words. He was speechless, unable to find a proper beginning even. It all took moments, but in reality, he slept for hours. Awakening with the first rustle of the morning wind. Held, cradled in arms of something strong, bare soft skin pressed against the skin.

So that was your decision.

He didn't feel at peace at all. Feeling how his heart continued to beat, terrified of the vision. He needed answers. But now. For the first time. The mighty and once wisest of dragons simply curled, allowing his weak, human self to press against her more. Share the warmth. Choosing to drift into the dream one last time. As long as his heart, body and mind allowed him to.

But there was nothing.


No heart. No ruins.

Nothing.

Whatever he has seen. Someone didn't want him to look further. Or was it Terra itself/ Finally becoming sentient. Starting a war to end all life that tormented her for so long?

No. It made no sense. But as much as he desired to focus, he felt drawn back to the warmth. Back to her form protecting his. Just then he felt the strong scent of urine still hanging in the air. And while not exactly disgusted, he could feel the urge to question if she has done it herself or...He stopped mid-thought, embarrassed at the thought he was truly wondering about such a trivial thing. But the urge to leave this little nest never came. He remained there, sharing warmth. Sharing sleep.

Allowing him to put everything together. From the fact he felt washed, undressed. It meant she has seen more of his body. Trouble. But something he had to answer. And the sheer fact she didn't go for his throat in his weakest? It meant he have found himself a perfect protector. One he had to mold into a being worthy of serving alongside him. His mind too terrified to command her or treat her as a servant, assuming she would turn against him just like they did in the past.

He couldn't allow it. Not now, not ever.


And so, he lied still, eventually stretching, unaware that whlist he felt still exhausted his body simply grew hard, member stiffening from the newly explained exchange of skin to skin contact. He was no sexual deviant, no lustful beast. But the feeling did feel...Peculiar, especially as he chose to roll to the other side. Facing her form. Closed eyes, of a beast taking a nap. More like a mother protecting a young pup.

Still. She was here, keeping him alive.

He had to tell her.. Just to get it over with, even if she was a human to some extent...

"Morwenth."

He finally calls out, trying to sit up, resting his hand against her meaty thigh just to cross his legs and ignore the obious mild sign of arousal from his member. Pale. ut not as ghastly pale as yesterday. With gray eyes not as foggy but focused and ready. And with the spores, gone from his body. Pure. Clean. Without the rot that made him twitch from disgust.

At last for now.
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
Morwenth's dreams were not nearly as meaningful as Valkon's. But that did not make them any less troubled.

She was the Wolf, as she often was in her dreams. Here, her flesh could match her soul. She was nearly the size of a horse with teeth as long as her littlest finger and as sharp as the swords she carried. White and gray fur rippled over muscle, four massive paws churning the leaf litter as she ran.

What was she chasing?

Nothing.

She was being chased.

Her and her entire pack, by a beast that wore a new face every time she turned to look. It was made of living fire, devouring her wolves up in a maw as wide as three carts. It was a drake, larger than any she'd ever seen, and snatched her wolves mid-stride to throw them into it's jaws. It was smoke, crawling and rolling and engulfing her wolves, and though she could not see their fate she knew in her bones something horrible had happened. It was light, hard and bright and furious. It was a wolf, great and black and smelling of loam.

It ran her down, it was upon her. It tore out her throat and she didn't die. It's long nails tore at her flesh, and she screamed. It engulfed her in flames, suffocated her with smoke, seared her away with light. She was then every Wolf she had lost, suffering the agonies her mind concocted their deaths to be. And then she ran again. Sometimes she was a Wolf, sometimes a woman. Every time she was forced to suffer the loss of her Pack. Every time the creature overtook her, no matter how fast or hard she ran. Every time she died not once but fifty times, and in the waking world her body twitched and trembled and her eyes rolled beneath their lids.

Eventually, dawn came.

Morwenth felt, rather than saw, her charge stir. She'd at first woken with the light, but finding nothing amiss, had let herself fall back into a shallower doze. Her Wolf had kept watch during the night, but nothing had come to bother them. Between her crude (but effective) scent-warning and the presence of the small fire (which had finally sputtered out an hour prior), they had remained an unappealing target. Now, what critters came looking could sense that the great predator in their midst was only shallowly asleep. The small space between the trees was silent despite the hour. No birds would dare sing in a place that smelled so strongly of Wolf.

"Mmm. Sleep." Morwenth mumbled automatically, shifting slightly now that the smaller body had moved out of her grasp. But he didn't leave; she could still smell him nearby and that prevented her from falling back asleep. That annoyed her, and she gave a low growl of warning to express this.

He replied with her name, then placed his hand on her thigh.

She slapped it away with one meaty palm, then snarled. A few other bestial sounds issued from her as she came fully to waking, rolling away from him to lie on her stomach, then pushing herself to all fours. Morwenth paused there, glancing at Valkon to see that the little god was in fact serious about this business of "waking up". When he gave no comment she gave a resigned sigh and rocked back onto her heels into a sitting position. She dropped onto her muscular ass, spreading her legs out before her in a "V" and resting her arms on her thighs, spine curved forward. Those bright amber eyes of her raked along his form, noting the absence of the vile tumors he'd grown before. Or had she imagined them?

"Valkon No-Divine." Morwenth finally replied, reaching up to run a hand through her hair. Though her brad still kept most of it tamed, several tufts had worked out through the night and stuck out at odd angles. She reached to one side, grabbing the waterskin she'd filled the night before, taking a long swig before offering it to Valkon. "D'ya eat? Drink? I still don't know what you are." She stood and stretched, listening to joints crack and pop as she moved languidly. If her nudity bothered her she gave no sign, though the Wolves of the impisri meant they had few body taboos. Besides being offered a full view of her impressive body, Valkon could see the limited extent of her wounds. They had begun to heal, but only barely, with mortal slowness.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
llValkon No-Divine didn't answer her immediately. With his unnatural gray eyes focusing on his hand, examining the small red mark left from the way she slapped his hand away. It felt good. Not in a sense where a masochist would discover joy in pain but in a way where he was truly free, able to experience things he was sealed from for hundreds or even thousands of celestial cycles. He couldn't help but smile weakly, it felt good to just experience something more than this constant buzzing as his mind tried to find an attachment with those corrupted veins. Ah how his heart ached and sorrow filled it to the brim whenever he has felt the earth cry in pain. Even its fumes or natural disasters brought this corruption. He needed only one sun and moon cycle to understand what some of the new anomalies appeared on the surface.

From uncontrollable storms to unexplainable magnetic explosions that sent the earth (Or unlucky travelers) flying in every direction, their pieces a reminder that Terra could no longer hold all of the mana they were extracting from it to gather materials.

Was their kind all that's left? The question was brought up as he eyed She-Wolf's form. Brutish and in a strange way still feminine. Untamed and yet disturbingly loyal enough to protect him for the night. What was her plan? What scheme did she prepare?

He could only assume, sticking closely to both human and bestial nature alike. Assuming. No. Believing she would one day desire to fight him again. In a clean fight? Or would it be a slaughter as he was in his weakest like yesterday?

Questions. Those unanswered and those he was too tired to ponder about. Exchanging his hand to accept the waterskin, a little hesitant at the idea of drinking after her.

Valkon, the star-gazer of the Orokin could stand the sight of a mutated human, but to drink something their lips have touched? He's graceful in the way of accepting the waterskin, supporting it's bottom with one hand, before jerking his head back and taking two large gulps of fresh water, feeling as they splash against the insides of his throat. Providing the much-needed hydration.

Wiping his mouth, presumably last of the Orokin answered.

"In this body I do. Be it water or food I need both. And if We wish to reach Ironwood We'll have to gather supplies at last until the scavengers leave as you have mentioned."

Careful he rose to his feet, shivering at the rustle of the wind, just aware that he was bare all this time.

"InIronwood once I'll get my answers the choice will be yours whether to stay or leave Morwenth,"

His soft pale pink lips opened once again, as if he wanted to say more, be it to scold, inform or simply wary her of something.

But he didn't. In fact he simply faced her, examining the wounds from afar. Hardened form of a warrior. She would truly make for a perfect sentinel if only she was born in the past, recruited, trained and prepared.

But Morwenth was none of those things. Trained? Never. Recruited? Perhaps. As he didn't know her price, demands..

Questions. So many yet so little time to provide answers.

"How long would it take for scavengers to leave? What tracks would they use to return home?"

As powerful as he was, in the wild, where secrecy and stealth mattered he was on the lost ground. Exhausted, powerless. He could bring only do so little before succumbing to the exhaustion.

And then there was Morwenth. Alpha without her pack. Beast with no connection to the past souls. And as it would seem. With no grudge at all. Something he needed the most. Not in numbers, but in quality. And Morwenth seemed to be just the right type.

"You've seen the spores. Haven't you. You've seen the blood. Felt it. But, do you have questions about it?"

His voice, tinted with this grim tone, maintained it's seriousness. After all. here he would reveal far more than he should've...But if it truly could provide him with protection.

He had to do it.

"Tell me Morwenth. He addedd. Finally allowing their eyes to properly meet. The amber glow of the wolf. The soul piercing gaze of the star gazer. One unlike the other. And yet. Right here, right now. He wasn't the equal. No matter how he desired to become one.

As it wasn't his moment. Not yet.
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
Morwenth studied the little god, and how he seemed to be pleased that she'd hit him. More business she didn't want anything to do with. Unless of course, he would pay her for it.

What a strange creature, she thought to herself, shaped like an obutu but clearly so much more. His words verified her suspicions: this was merely one of his many forms. But why choose this one, she wondered. To trick me and mine into believing him an easy target. To make his prey underestimate him. He was a strange god perhaps, but a clever one. Morwenth respected that, giving a grunt and a nod of acknowledgement as Valkon gave his orders. The same as the day prior, more or less. What he sought in Ironwood, she wasn't sure. The town was a place, sure, but it had little to distinguish it from the other mid-sized settlements that dotted the Empire like warts on a toad. She and her Pack had only come here in pursuit of him. And clearly Valkon already knew where he was, so what else could draw the god's eye?

She noticed him looking looking over, and replied with a cocky smile. Her body was her autobiography, speaking her history in the warrior's language of scars. One white-gray eyebrow rose, do you like what you see? Then she turned away from him to face in the direction of the little stream, where she'd washed their clothes and left them to dry. She had begun to move to fetch them, but paused as Valkon followed up with more questions.

"A week, maybe?" Morwenth replied after some thought. "Birds mostly, some small cats. Nothing dangerous." Though her definition of "small" likely differed from his, it was mostly a true statement. This close to the logging activity of Ironwood, few larger predators roamed. It was part of what had made Valkon's appearance and activity so anomalous. Usually Morwenth's quarries required a multi-day hike from the closest point of civilization. Though he was already proving to be quite unlike the monsters she usually hunted.

She started to walk away again, but stopped dead in her tracks at his second question. This time, Morwenth turned to face him, expression flat. She folded her arms under her bust, looking for a moment almost to hug herself. The hitch in her aloof, devil-may-care attitude. Though the impisri hadn't known what she had been looking at when she'd washed Valkon yesterday, something deep in her recognized the wrongness. But she considered it more of the business of foreign gods, and not something she wanted to have anything to do with. She expressed this with a vigorous shake of her head.

"Is it contagious?" Morwenth asked, in a tone that conveyed both her concern and lack thereof. Unless she could catch it, she wanted to know nothing more.

She gestured again towards the stream, and started walking. "Our clothes are this way. I believe it is a little cold for you without them," the warrior added with a chuckle. Her own skin was prickled with gooseflesh, but she took the cold the same way as she took pain. It was a sign that she still lived. And after yesterday, Morwenth no longer felt quite so assured of that fact. The fight, and the Loss, had been a sobering reminder of her own frail mortality. A wave of dizziness and chills passed through her, as the psychic shock of losing her whole Pack crept back up from where she'd carefully stored it. But her Wolf bolstered her, and she was able to push it away. For now.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
"Contagious? Not for your kind. Not for anyone with their blood impure. Corrupted by the filth of the human ancestry. But this wolf. It could suffer the same fate."

It was only a mere assumption on his end. He never gave it a long thought and selfishly assumed it was humanity's last desperate cry of hatred targeted towards his kin. To make sure that even if there were survivors within the Orokin, they would still fade from the blight. But how did they reshape the veins flow? A question he needed an answer for. One he could find at Ironwood. No matter how weak, the vein was there. A small part of it, alongside the small vault of secrets left by those of his blood. The members of the whispering gallery had a variety of such hidden places. Most pitifully small, as if prepared for Valkon to find them again. At that time, he truly wondered if it was the desire of stars to guide him and free Terra of human blight. Or was it merely a coincidence that he was still alive? Forced to live in this disgusting form, to bear the face of a worm that destroyed everything. But the gray star gazer felt everything but fury. He couldn't behave like animal only because he has experienced loss for yet another time. Even if it took everything from him.

At her mention of the clothes, he finally realized he was actually shaking, his nerves sending a painful jolt through his whole body as his bare feet moved alongside the soil, feeling the earth, branches and all other unpleasant or rough objects in the way. Something he has never experienced in the past. Or simply was too dizzy to notice. Feeling as the joy from feeling alive faded with every step he took.

He dressed up in silence, often eyeing her form, she was born with a body suitable for an animal. A strong alpha just as wild as her while the eyes spoke of experience and years spent at being lectured. He never believed humanity could establish a working society, therefore it felt insulting to him to assume she was a member of some "Noble" (If they could truly be called that) family. Yet, curiosity killed the cat.

"Where do you belong to wolf-bound. You behave like the animal you seem to have a deep connection with whlist your eyes and mouth shares the image of my disciples from the past. Taken from the wild, taught to read and write while also given the title and a goal. Yet you wander aimlessly, killing animal after animal. You live a life of endless feast that overshadows a destiny. Or is it merely an excuse to escape unwanted risk?"

The way he talked, sounded more and more as if he was talking to himself. Considering her options. The gray eyes glimmered weakly with an ancient gift, as he tried to play a god he was perceived as so much. Even if she called him No-Divine. Perhaps crossing the line already. A quirk that truly marked him as a narcissistic being. But he was changing, in the past, he would consider an offer to be her equal as an insult. Perhaps this human skin truly made him better to understand?

"No, it is not that. I cannot see it clearly. I know nothing of what you truly are. But don't you think it's a shame to end your ongoing hunt by dying in some pit during a hunt rather than reaching the goal you must've set yourself once in the past?"

He laughed tinted with pity and mockery at once. "You remind me of someone. But that doesn't matter. Let us head out for Ironwood there is no point to pester your mind only to tempt your bloodlust and emotions."

Slowly, walking away, gently smacking the bottom of his staff against the ground, allowing the ground to vibrate as he reassured himself they were truly alone.

"After all. We do not wish to end up as two bodies in the forest Wolf-bound. So let us set out once you're ready, We'll find the food on the way. Or perhaps even at Ironwood if the luck jade fortune will be on my side."
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
"Wish you'd told me that earlier," Morwenth grumbled, quickening her pace to put some additional distance between herself and the god. But her tone was irritated, not fearful. Her Wolf was not a physical thing, not for her anyway, and the impisri wasn't even sure how a disease could affect her. Still, she did take a moment to check-in more thoroughly with the other half of her soul, though the beast had nothing for her but a look of wry amusement. Well, if the Wolf was somehow sick (if spirits could even get sick), Morwenth would find out eventually.

"My mother was a peasant, not an obutu." The warrior added with a glare cast over her shoulder. As far as Morwenth was concerned, impisri bred with other impisri in the Empire. That the impurity of their blood stemmed from long-ago interbreeding with the far more plentiful humans was a fact she, like most non-shifting nobility, usually tried to forget. It had been a necessity, though, for her ancestors. Less than a thousand wolves had lived in the Empire when the Silver Goddess had first offered them the Choice. Given that only half their number took that Choice... They had not taken foreign wives, but they had planted pups in their bellies, then raised the children as their own when the time had come. Then, the blood had seemed strong, and all with the Wolf could shift regardless of parentage. An era of might for the impisri, with their Empire stretching from coast to coast.

Oh, they had lost so much.

Morwenth was content to dress in silence, pulling on clothing that was neither clean nor as filthy as the day prior. Her undershirt and jerkin smelled only faintly of sweat, while her pants, while dyed to the knees a deep brown from the gore and mud she had waded through, smelled mostly of mildew. There were additional pieces, smallclothes that went beneath, bracers and greaves and pauldrons and a skirt-like heavy leather wrap whose dangling strips protected her thighs and pelvis.

She looked up as Valkon monologued, uncertain if he actually desired a reply, or merely enjoyed the sound of his own voice. From how he went on, lobbing weak insults in among his own musing, she suspected not. By the time he seemed to wind down she had finished dressing, arms folded under her bust and gaze cast in the general direction of Ironwood. The only reply she offered him was an ambiguous grunt and a nod. Barely, Morwenth managed to keep her composure as Valkon sent tremors through the ground with naught but a thumping of his staff. She'd carried the object, and knew it's mass was far from sufficient to cause that sort of response.

More magic, then.

"I want my swords back. It's on the way, anyway." She announced, quickening her pace until she caught up, then lead. Back to their little campsite, where Morwenth extinguished the last smoldering ashes of their fire and gathered up what few things they had. Her gaze grew disapproving as she regarded Valkon's iron-plated coat.

"That's how we recognized you. Can you go without it?" The impisri had no clue if the item had special significance, or was merely symbolic to the god. She hoped it was the latter, and that he would be willing to part with it. Defending them against animals was easy, but against another Pack... well, she supposed he could simply do as he'd done before. Morwenth wasn't entirely clear as to why he was taking her along. As a local guide, she supposed. Though there were better choices, as he'd likely find in Ironwood.

She lead them then back towards the battle ground. Even before it came into view they could smell it, the copper tang of blood threaded through with a sweet undercurrent of rot and the fetid smell of shit from the corpses who'd voided their bowels upon their death. Unlike the rest of the forest it was noisy, buzzing with scavenging birds, small mammals, and thousands of flies. All but the last scattered at their approach. While the mammals disappeared, the birds, mostly large ravens and small vultures, retreated only as far as the trees and watched them with baleful black eyes. While the deaths had been, if not clean, at least tidy, the scavengers had made a mess of things. White tips of bones peeked out among fresh red strips of flesh and darker, oxidized portions gone crusty and dry. Nothing had been large enough to part out the bodies, but what pieces had been severed by Valkon's attack were now scattered far from their once-owners. The choicest bits were already gone, eyes pecked out and lips and fingers gnawed away.

Morwenth tried to not gag at the smell, which was a dozen times worse than the day prior for having ripened in the sun. It was a natural process, but still not one she enjoyed. Still, there were things there she wanted. She glanced at Valkon, before wading into the muck, using the point of her borrowed sword to flip over bodies and search beneath discarded cloaks and shields and packs. "I don't belong to anyone," she called, answering his question from earlier. It wasn't so much that she wanted to talk, but the silence, together with the stares of the birds, made her uncomfortable. The impisri had many stories about ravens and vultures, none of them pleasant.

"That's the whole point of it." She added, stooping to more completely roll a corpse off of what she thought was one of her swords. While all of the swords had the same general shape, a long blade with a crooked hook on the end, the precise weights and balances and the build of the pommels were all different, each as unique as their wielder. Her own were inlaid with ivory and gold, and she was loathe to give them up. From the gore she pulled the blade free, wiping it as clean as she could on the tidier parts of the corpse's cloak. One found, one to go. "I think it's a shame how many of my cousins live and die never going more than a day's march from their estates. This is a far better life than the one the gods dealt me." She continued, as she returned to searching the muck and the dead.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
The mention of his protective coat with a follow-up request to remove it was surprisingly answered with Valkon's silent cooperation as he took the recently adorned thing off, carefully setting it down on the ground, suspiciously eyeing his bloodstains left on it, wondering if anyone could have some use for it and turn it against him. "I never expected people would be so poorly armed. If I'd know I had to worry about swords and wild beasts only I would've never taken that thing off the foolish bounty hunter that tried his luck with me." If not the fact he was the first one that opposed him Valkon would be still vulnerable in this world. Unable to understand the foreign language or even feast on someone's memories, truth be told. If it would be Morwenth that would run into him for the first time, she would suffer the fate of being consumed to satiate his hunger for knowledge of this world. Even if brief. Her memories and skills would serve to let him adjust himself.

Still, he shivered, skin exposed to the chilly wind, but he didn't mention it that much. Eagerness to get out of the dense forest to see how their partnership would end left him delightfully curious. He already chose he would let her live if she were to take her prize and leave. Watching from the shadows for a single mistake where she would betray him. For in the end, she was a half human too. And their treacherous blood coursed through her veins as well. He had to be wary, even if his rage couldn't burn as it did in the past.

He was grateful for having her around as a guide and hunter that shared the details how he was found if the coat was one of such things she should lead them out of the forest without any prepared ambush. A skill his human form lacked, and thus he must've relied for her to be his true eyes and ears. As magic cannot solve everything. Not anymore.

So imagine his surprise upon the mention of the sword. Watching the field that perfectly reflected the might of magic against the unskilled angry mob. Or trained and experienced horde. No matter what the opponents were. When put against the wrath of stars they became nothing but defeated mush. In the past, he would mourn them and question his own cruel actions. But now? He didn't even flinch once he saw the rot. Simply rolling the corpse onto it's back with the lower part of his staff.

"Material items remain worthy only within the material realm. But they do support the resilience of the human mind and soul. My brothers often criticized humans for being so possessive over simple objects, but sometimes the tools measured perfectly for their hands appear to be the strongest allies."

He answered to continue this rather dry conversation as the two searched body after body. Useless piles of meat that were still in the process of the decomposing, feast for the normal blight and plagues. But he have found her sword, giving the blade she now held one more look as her response reached him.

"I think it's a shame how many of my cousins live and die never going more than a day's march from their estates. This is a far better life than the one the gods dealt me."
The little lines on the dull side of the blade slightly lowered pommel perfect for precise stabs and easier to perform chained slashes. He knew only so much about fencing. Dragons weren't exactly built to bear a blade. But they did watch the dwarven craftsmen that served them work and explain their art to them. The elven war dancers and finally humans. First made sentinels who have mastered hundreds of weapon arts. Often outperforming the past mentors that have schooled them.

Not exactly interested in getting his hands dirty, the gray light erupted from his fingertips in a trail of small barely noticeable particles. Each levitating and pouring itself into the decaying corpse who's slowly moved either of it's hands out of the way, resting the stained blade to the side before falling lifeless just like it was moments ago. He had enough power to use soulless corpses as puppets still. Not an art of necromancy, but a simple trick of the mind and the force it truly hides. He knelt before the sword. resting the glowing crystal of his staff against the dull side of the blade, allowing the light to wash over the metal. Returning it's usual or perhaps even slightly polished look.

He extended his hand for the blade she held in her hands. Ready to preform the same treatment for it. If she were to be of use he wanted to have her weapons free of possible diesease and even slightly enhanced with his power were they to end up attacked and forced to part ways still in this forest.

"Gods, are just a word. A term created by those that dare to control the masses. It was not the Gods that have dealt you this set of cards. But those that have given you life. And as I assume, attempted to give it a completely different goal."
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
Morwenth felt her Wolf grow alert, and she looked up from her search for danger. A moment later came the moist scraping sounds of a body being moved. She looked over, then away again as Valkon manipulated the corpse not with his hands but with magic. The warrior wouldn't admit it, but even that small display of power made her uncomfortable. She only looked up again when Valkon approached, proffering one of her blades and, it appeared, seeking the other.

She took the first, inspecting it warily and giving it a few test swings before securing it at her waist. It seemed too clean by half for where it had been, but she could inspect it more thoroughly later. Still, Morwenth hesitated in completing her end of the trade. Ultimately she relented only so she could watch what he did, to better determine if her first blade would unexpectedly betray her.

The two swords obviously came as a pair, the second inlaid just as the first with gold and ivory, decorated with elaborate carvings along the blade. Closer inspection revealed the carvings as art, depicting a great wolf with six eyes entwined with a statuesque woman. Memories plucked from the iimpisri Valkon had slain identified the beast as the Great Wolf in the Dark, though the woman held no familiar identity. For all their similarities, the two weapons were not identical, nor even mirror images of one another. One was a little smaller and stouter than the other, and the handles were carved slightly differently. Even the engravings were subtly different, in one the woman seemed to dominate the wolf, in the other, the wolf dominated the woman.

"For someone who claims not to be a god, you seem to know quite a bit about the whole business, Valkon No-Divine." Morwenth replied wryly. A slight smirk played upon her otherwise stoic features, as if they shared some deep secret too valuable to do more than allude to. Perhaps the warrior even saw it that way. Or perhaps this stranger had a very different idea of what constituted a god than she did.

She took the other sword once he had finished doing whatever it was he did to it. Morwenth gave it a look as suspicious as she had the first one, but clipped it to her belt just the same. Rather than retreat from the killing field, however, she waded again into the muck, though not as far as before. From one of the mostly-whole corpses she retrieved a waterskin and a cloak, both spattered with mud and blood. Morwenth offered the objects towards Valkon.

"Can you clean them as well? This," she added, shaking the cloak out a bit more, "will help you remain unseen in the town." And it would stop his shivering, too, though the warrior was smart enough to say nothing on the subject. A god should not shiver.

Beneath the gore the cloak was of reasonable quality, made of fine dark green wool and mended skillfully in a few places. There was black-dyed rabbit fur around the hood and at the shoulders, and it was only a bit overly long for Valkon. There were a few pockets on the inside besides, and there was material enough for it to serve as both a blanket and pillow for sleeping on the road.

"We could loot the corpses for their wealth, I suppose, but I assume you don't need it. Unless the rumors were wrong...?" Morwenth asked, as she turned to depart. Though her beliefs dictated that these corpses were nothing but rotting meat, she couldn't help but feel the press of their deaths on her conscience while walking among them. She had lost members of her Pack before, good men and women who had perished for nothing more than foul luck or the capriciousness of a monster. Those deaths hadn't bothered her beyond the regret of losing a useful Pack member. This, though? Such total Loss... Reputation aside, this would take some time to get over.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
Valkon gave an emotionless look to the suggested object, first allowing his hands to explore the little too big cloak in his hands. By the stars, if he could've known this world would be filled with such brutes he'd recreate himself a body of a sentinel rather than this. But in the end, the element of surprise remained on his side, allowing him to recruit Morenth even if temporarily, as his guide and hopefully a "way out" once people at Ironwood would approach them with questions.

The cloak appeared empty, not a surprise given how quiet all of her pack moved and sneaked up on him. What he did find was a handy cut in the pocket for the smaller waterskin without restricting the wearers' movement. Certainly, a troublesome spot if one were to get hit by an arrow or from a punch to the side, but still alas he wouldn't have it dangling and bumping against his legs when they would finally walk again. "Too clean and it would draw unneeded attention. That way at least in some way I seem to resemble that I participated in the fight with the "Beast" you were meant to kill." That, or the fact he couldn't fuze everything with the sacred writings. Material objects react differently, and often, if applied without the right tools they could easily turn into a ticking bomb, especially for people unaware of all the magic around them.

The green wool appeared itchy and rabbit fur ended up being a victim to soak up fair share of the mud making the whole attire not as pleasant to wear. But Valkon couldn't complain, as finally a simple push of wind wasn't enough to make him shiver. But he did look comically in this cloak. As it dragged itself against the ground, and the additional collar serving as a protection for the neck, had the tip of it's edges end at his forehead, blocking entirely his whole left and right side. Valkon looked like some cheap version of Dracula in that outfit, all he lacked was a proper silky shirt, and black paint and just a little paler skin. Though he remained unaware of this fashionable disaster, the old drake Even if here he looked quite young. Tried to adjust the earlier mentioned collar in hopes of getting to see more than what was just in front of him.

"What rumors?"

He asked once again completely emotionless. It felt more like a statement that was forced to sound like a question. Clearly, Valkon seemed more invested in seeing her fate and past rather than ponder on what sorts of rumors have arisen around his persona.

He didn't see any need for their wealth, but it was understandable to have some backup funds as while the Jade towers could hold incredible wealth, he doubted the currency was the same. Or that anyone would give him a worthy offer for the goods he could bring from that vault in the first place. Still. If she were to pick a reward from there...For a moment he eyed Morwenth warily once again. Would she try to sell off the goods immediately once their partnership ended? He didn't know what they could find in there, and most entirely he wouldn't grant her a magical artifact as payment.

And so, still waiting for the answer, he began to search, the corpses closest to him. Ignoring the molten flesh or it's rotting parts. His hands relied mostly on searching the belts and similarly created cloaks, rummaging through the pockets in hopes of finding more than just mere waterskins.

What he found were, clearly the funds those people used here. Without bearing a shape of a proper beautiful circle, those "Chunks" of bronze, silver and gold had some sort of wolf engravings on one of their sides, the other was covered in letters. Letters he actually knew. From his old world. As much as relieving it was, it meant that not all was forgotten for those brutes. Curious, he didn't ask Morwenth about the reason why such engravings were proposed for the second side of the coin, only to assume that she wasn't interested in such things in the first place and wouldn't provide the desired answer.

He didn't gather much, a single gold chunk with few bronze and silver ones. Clearly signifying that out of the corpses he searched, only one had been trying to save up funds for something.

Reaching out for a pouch that was beside one of the corpses, he filled it with the discovered goods, offering them to Morwenth.

"You'll know where to spend them to get us beds and meal. Now. What about those rumors Morwenth?"
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
"That way you smell like you rolled on a corpse." Morwenth replied with a scoff. She would've found it funny had she not been the one to smell it for the next ten miles. And she would've expected a bit more concern about appearance, from a god. Most gods, in her learned experience, were ostentatious creatures. But perhaps this Valkon was a little closer to impisri sensibilities than the common divinity.

"Anyway, nobody is gonna' think you're onna' my Pack. Too scrawny." Even if he was tall and muscular obutu standards, he stood a head shorter and then some from Morwenth. She was tall for a female, but Valkon was incredibly short for a male. His eyes were the wrong color as well, that strange slate gray that gave the impression of an ancient mountain. Impisri eyes came in blue, green, brown, and occasionally yellow like Morwenth had. And he had far too few scars to pass as any sort of warrior. She kept that last thought wisely to herself.

"Rumors that you have a Hoard. Something like the dragons of old." Rumors of his kind had survived, even in isolated corners like the Empire. But the stories told now likely bore little resemblance to the truths they had sprung from. As far as her people's stories said, Morwenth knew only that dragons were like drakes but bigger and with wings, covetous and cruel and vain but not truly intelligent. And possessing of stunning quantities of treasure, even if for no particular reason. The reasons weren't really material to the stories.

That she spoke to a "dragon of old" was a fact that eluded her entirely. Hardly her fault, as Valkon hadn't exactly been forthcoming.

"You... do have some treasure, right?" She asked. Her tone was somewhere between skeptical and worried, and her expression shifted towards the latter as she watched him pick through the corpses. When he stopped to inspect a coin, as if he'd never seen one before, she couldn't help but groan. Of course she'd found the one god who was too poor to have a pot to piss in. That did throw some gravel into her plans.

Morwenth snatched the pouch, giving him a dirty look as she made it disappear somewhere into her own cloak. "I know my way around Ironwood. C'mon." Without waiting for Valkon she marched off in the direction of the city.

Only when the scene of slaughter, and the sounds of the scavengers feasting thereupon, faded from their senses did Morwenth begin to relax. She slowed her rapid strides so that the little god wouldn't have to move so fast to keep up. That place had made her skin crawl, for reasons she still couldn't quite put her thumb upon. Altogether she felt like a bow string kept far too taut for far too long. Away from that place, with her swords at her sides, she felt better.

"Lots of rumors. That you had a cave full of treasure. That you carried a king's ransom on your person. That if I slit your belly open gold nuggets would pour out. I figured they were all exaggerations, but d'ya mean to tell me you really don't have two coppers to rub together?" That would cut their journey rather short, then. She would see him to Ironwood, but no further if he couldn't pay to retain her services. Morwenth had her own needs to consider. Like her needs to drink wine and fuck pretty boys until she could forget this whole bit of madness and tragedy. That would blow a right hole in her wallet, for sure.

Gods, it was going to be a long walk to Ironwood.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
It would be longer than he desired too.

He wanted to keep the reveal of the jade study mostly to himself but if he were to lose her the moment they truly reach Ironwood? With a groan he nudged her large form with his staff, treading through the shadowy forest for so long too lost it's charm for Valkon, and whlist as much he desired something to eat, he knew that without gold a simple human mind wouldn't cooperate. Always this Wealth, always the desire to own material objects that could provide them nothing. At last she could get rid off some of the riches that were still scattered all around this world. While he could serve as the guide for them.

"If you desire wealth so much, you'll be given it. But if it's truly all you care for it'll be up to you what you do with it." Not that she would bother to hear his advice. After all, glittering gold, trinkets and baubles are the only thing those beasts care about, ready to pay in blood for or even worse. He will grant her the chance to truly posess wealth beyond one's imagination. Despite the vault he has sensed being quite small Valkon knew far too well how some of the smaller vaults used to be equipped.

He has survived the worst, he could just sent her off here. Without participating in the simple desires of her mind. Let go and pursue what truly mattered. Byt he would have a hard time getting a new suitable sentinel material in the first place. A little rough around the edges. But if gold was her calling price, he would grant her the wealth that could inevitably destroy her. Just like it did with many others both of his, and humankind.

His voice grew deeper, fueled by energy coursing through his being. The tongue rolled and twisted in unthinkable ways, as the old speech has been pronounced. Sign after sign, the air became colder and the density of the forest seemed to increase in a yet even more bizarre direction. Here the roots bore the color of crystal jade, and it's leaves have been made from glass. Acting as a decorative roof for the room they were suddenly moving towards.

The pain reappeared, but if it was enough to keep the wolf-bound interested for at last a week he would take it.

"Mind where you step. The sages of the Jade, were often protective of the green. Even if in the end they gathered tool that brought it more harm than ease."

Quietly, he guided them forth, step after step, until a clearing with a waterfall greeted them. The absence of sound, as the waterfall's stream, continued it's an unending journey. Suggested to him that they were truly desperate in the last days of the war. To erase their existence, relying only on the power of the void which grew weaker over the course of centuries. If not that he would've probably never sensed the difference in air as he first stepped into their territory. And even now as he did, his goal was to arrive here once he could understand his situation. And she was the key to provide that answer. What a sick joke. To think that an interloper like her was needed for him. Interloper, he brought himself.

"I need you to take my hand and close your eyes wolf-bound otherwise you'll not see nor take the riches you seem to desire."

He held out his hand, there before the soundless waterfall, in this unnatural silence enfolding them. As they stood tall, with the non existing sun shining down white sun rays on their bodies. Here even the sense of smell didn't seem to exist. As if it was pushed away or the chains of time have been broken. Leaving this forgotten place in between. And whlist the place was empty, it didn't seem deserted...
 

lasciel

Planetoid
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Location
East Coast, USA
Despite appearances, Morwenth had not forgotten about the subject of breakfast. Initially she had thought to find some of the trail rations her Pack carried, but the first whiff she had gotten of the killing field had turned her stomach from that plan. There was still hunting, however. As they walked she had begun to consider their options regarding game. There wouldn't be many deer here, but she had a sling and a pouch full of carefully-selected rocks with which she could down a rabbit or a pigeon. They would need several to make a hearty meal, but even a little bit of meat would go a long way towards blunting her hunger. The few swallows of water she had consumed thusfar had done little for the gnawing in her gut.

She had gotten as far as pulling out the sling and placing a stone in the center of it when she was interrupted by a gentle prodding from Valkon. Or rather, from that strange staff of his. Morwenth spun around, one hand clutching the sling, the other going to the hilt of one of the hooked swords at her waist. She glared flatly at him as he spoke.

The obvious derision in his words made her bristle, but she wisely kept her thoughts to herself. Does he think I want to roll around in the stuff? Unless they wanted to sleep in the woods and eat charred and unseasoned game for the rest of their journey (if there was a journey beyond Ironwood), they would need wealth.

She had already expended a substantial portion of her personal wealth financing this monster hunt. Transport and lodging and food, these were her responsibilities as the Alpha. In exchange, she received a greater share of the treasure, and the majority of the prestige. All without, in many cases, doing too much of the fighting herself. Organizing more than a handful of impisri to work together effectively once the killing lust took them was challenge enough. When she desired to hone her combat skills there were more than enough smaller missions available for her to spend a few weeks in only the company of monsters and her blades.

Morwenth had been content to let Valkon's strange words wash over her. She assumed, rightly so, that he was doing 'god stuff'. Magic was a business she wanted no part of, but she wouldn't object if he used it to provide wealth for her stipend. But she was drawn from her brief reverie by a sudden feeling of vertigo, the dizziness so strong that she stumbled to her knees.

When she looked up, the world had changed. Her Wolf had come to full attention, straining against her skull to go out and investigate the strangeness that surrounded them. She pushed it back, but let it's alertness widen her senses. Eeriely, this brought her nothing new. The place lacked smell or taste or sound, and though she knew not where she was she felt certain she wanted out.

She had begun to push herself to her feet when Valkon gave his warning. One hand that had come to rest on a crystallized root quickly withdrew. More slowly and more hesitantly than before Morwenth rose. This place... Even without the influence of her Wolf, she was sure it wasn't natural.

She followed her god so close he could smell her, earth and feminine musk and a hint of the rot and gore she'd waded through to fetch her swords. She would not risk losing him, and finding herself stuck in this horrid place. Her care went so far that she stepped only in his footprints, lest she fall off of some unseen path or earn the ire of the gods he hinted as ruling this place. As they walked through foliage that didn't crunch, one thought ran over and over through her head.

Why in the name of the Silver Goddess did he take me here?

She would've been more than content to wait around until he retrieved whatever he sought from wherever they now were. Was this the fabled Hoard of his? But he spoke as if to imply this was the domain of other things. Was this a robbery, then? A short, rough chuckle escaped her. They hadn't even had breakfast and things had already grown far weirder than Morwenth was comfortable with.

Valkon stopped so suddenly that she came within inches of crashing into him. He found himself staring straight at her throat. Hesitantly, the impisri took a step backwards. Still, she wasn't eager to move farther away than that, leaving her to stare awkwardly down at Valkon's offered hand from entirely too close.

"I don't like this place," she muttered, shoving her sling back into her pocket. It likely would do her little good here. She took his smaller hand in her larger one, the left one, leaving her dominant hand available to grasp her sword if it proved necessary. Though she was doubtful as to it's effectiveness in this strange place. As requested she let her eyes slide shut, but kept all her other senses alert as the god led her blindly through the green.
 

CarelessWanderer

Planetoid
Joined
Mar 14, 2019
The jade green veins, and leaves of crystal glass. They were all but a labyrinth to keep unwanted out. But just as his green scaled brethren adored riddles, they too loved to witness those truly worthy to pass their trials. Valkon didn't have time for either, and thus he led them forth. The sound of their steps, breathing or even simple shuffling of gear faded once five steps have been made. Greeted with the foliage of inner Gardens of this mysterious retreat, his eyes shone with magical power. Unlike earlier, this place wasn't touched by the blight. It was pure.

It explained the dislike of his companion. As her blood wasn't welcome here. Just as he wasn't welcome in their world. Step, after step as the roots shaped out of hazel green crystals grew with ancient power with Valkon's every step. As trees melted on his eyes, regaining their glass shape, a levitating mass of liquified matter, merging into an entrance. The process which he didn't want Morwenth to witness the way to the vault, to see what he knew was true.

Corpses. Piles of draconic bone showing the fall of the Jade Orders.

Some of them made this their resting place. Waiting out the war. Starving as the essence of mana turned into this blight. the massive corpses became the very thing they desired to reflect, as jade green roots grew inside of their empty eye sockets and entangled with their massive ribs or bones of their wings. Three. Four. He could keep on counting the number of their bodies only to add up those of fallen sentinels.

Unlike the dragons, their bodies never experienced the rot, but he could see the mighty forms similar of Morwenth's size now starved and weakened. Their faces are hidden behind the silver masks, with gilded edges and adorned with single jade green crystal above the nose. Humans. Dragons. The loyal and the traitorous. He was truly the last one standing. Still unable to understand how has his body recovered. A secret, he had to uncover. He squeezed her hand, warm the only living of the new world that would ever set a foot on the holy ground.

The trees continue to shift, more and more merges into the same unmistakable mass of matter. As if it was a living glass slime, it slithered towards the largest of the trees he was heading towards. All of the great riddles, secrets and trials...All skipped with a single trick of Valkon's abilities. He didn't have to wander aimlessly, all it took was to follow the trail of mana, even if weak, he could spot the magical signs used by the sentinels to move among the jade forest freely. Even if it was just a small ounce of that order, their trust towards humans brought the downfall even towards them.

His gaze focused on the tree, or rather the door. As it all collapsed without a sound, glass finally shattering before him. The whole tree...With a golden gate behind it.

"Open your eyes."

He answered, approaching the gate, the forest was gone, they were inside now, with walls cut out from marble and adorned with paintings and gilded ornaments on every side and edge. With the floor cut out from the same marble and light green carpets suspiciously soft.

And finally the gate. With engraving of a dragon, it's clawed limbs, grasping a chalice. With green painted water drops spilling out from it.

Valkon seemed unaffected by the art, nor by the opulent design of the inner chambers. They were similar across the world. Even his own bore a similar design. Only different in colour as his banners were gray and attires of his students often lacked the heavy plate most dragons favored for their sentinels. What appeared on the other side was a seemingly endless hallway, with no end to the left or right Valkon scanned their surroundings carefully. Birch-wood tables and long rows of sofas, followed by occasional tables by every column built into the wall. He approached one, reaching out for a golden sphere full of amber substance inside of it. The top of the sphere was finished with a hatch, followed by set of small brass bottles with similar hatch shaped finish. He flicked the top of the bottle open, examining the mechanism before connecting the two, watching the process as the bottle has been filled with the said substance.

Hesitantly he smelled it, before tasting it. Liquified honey and ambrosia mixed together. He could taste additional herbs. A drink for the sentinels and servants living in those quarters. The wonders of void truly allowed to keep this place relatively immortal. No sign of dust. Rotting.

He looked at Morwenth just to see how she was handling...All of it.
 
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