Hidden 8 mos ago Post by Siaya Dragalorn
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Siaya Dragalorn Insomniac Vampire

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Elayra shivered as the chilled water rose up to her mid-chest. She waded through the stream to start her search closer to where she and Ghent had surfaced. She took a few more deep breaths, preparing her body for another plunge into the airless world beneath her, then dove down into the gently rushing current.
Still already chilled from her first plunge, the water wasn’t as bad as she’d expected. She forced herself to sink to the bottom, her natural buoyancy making it difficult for her to remain at the river bed. She kept her eyes open, searching for any hint of blue among the blurry murky brown.
She stayed under as long as she could, running her hand over the mud and sand. She held onto anything that felt or looked even remotely like her dagger, or like it could be of any other value to them.
When her chest warned her she needed to head for the surface, she planted her feet beneath her and stood. Sucking in a deep breath, she frowned at the haul of her first attempt. Nothing but a couple broken sticks that had lodged themselves into the mud. Tossing them to the bank furiously, she dove back under.
She lost count of how many times she went down. Small fish occasionally attacked her, but, without teeth, they couldn't do much, even in larger schools. Despite their minor distraction, she picked through the earth carefully, thoroughly. She found many large, loose rocks as she went, rocks she suspected were the evidence of the death that had occurred beneath the surface.
Her heart sank every time she came up empty. Only garbage of lost cities and nature's detritus found its way to her to be unearthed. Her anger grew along with her pile of useless litter.
By the time she’d reached at least a yard beyond the ruins of the bridge, her lungs were spent. Her chest ached from holding her breath for so long so often. Her eyes stung, though she'd given up keeping them open under the water after the first few dives.
With an angered growl, she tossed her most recent find—the backing of a hand mirror, its metal tarnished and covered in gooey weeds and mirror missing—onto the bank. It was useless. And not just the mirror. Despite the weight of her dagger, somehow, it had floated down the stream beyond her reach. The terraflame had frantically stirred the water; she supposed the vines of its tongue could have caught the weapon, dragging it down the agitated current.
Cracked bottles. Rusted cans. The rotting remains of a couple clothing items too decayed to identify. Sticks. Broken hilts. It all created an uneven trail down the riverbank to where Elayra puled herself out of the water.
Face twisted in a frustrated, angered snarl, she trudged back toward Ghent and their things. Some part of her knew it was unfair to blame him. But she hadn't been the one to lose it. He hadn't needed both his hands to get to the surface. But still, the featherhead had dropped it to the mercy of the river, like it was nothing more than a disposable butter knife.
She kicked her finds back into the water as she went, eliminating the evidence of her presence. A few of the bottles shattered from the force, returning to the stream in a glittering rain of shards. The first can made a loud tang that made her flinch. She glanced around, making sure it hadn't aroused any unwanted attention, then made it a point to roll the other couple cans softly back into the water. As minor as it was, she enjoyed the small outlet for her frustration.
She took a few slow breaths, trying to calm herself, to keep her fury at bay. Though she suspected the terraflames were an isolated incident, she needed to keep herself in check.
Socks squelching in her boots, she ignored Ghent as she stopped beside Drust’s pack. She kicked off her ruined shoes, knelt on the grass, then reached inside the Knight’s bag. She paused, finally looking to Ghent. Her scowl deepened as she took him in, gauging how much his clothes had dried. At least it looked like he'd taken care of his wounds as she'd ordered.
“Your clothes need to dry,” she grumbled. She pulled a pair of trousers from the pack. Their ends were crudely tailored to better suit Drust’s height, the fabric worn and rough. “Take yours off and put them in the sun.” She tossed the pair of pants to him with more force than necessary. “Drust should be back soon, but use these for now.”
Hidden 8 mos ago 8 mos ago Post by Polarize
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Ghent mentally counted each time Elayra disappeared underneath the water. One, two, three times. He wondered how many attempts it would take her before she found the dagger or gave up. When she emerged for the fourth time, he looked in her direction. From what he could tell, she was in the correct location. He hoped she would find the weapon soon, if only for his sake.
The boy secured the bandaging around his wrist, watching in amazement as the collection of debris steadily grew on the bank. Sticks, a mirror, an assortment of bottles and cans…at least Earth wasn’t the only world with pollution.
Forcing his attention back to his injuries, Ghent began to clean at the bloodied marks around his neck. He winced as he heard the girl emerge from the water a fifth time, her agitation evident even in her breaths.
Finally, the blonde gave up. Ghent swallowed uneasily as she began to make her way toward the bank, her hands empty. Finished with the moondrop milk, he fit the stopper in its place and returned the bottle to the box. He wanted to be done and out of the way before she got back.
A loud clang sounded nearby, making Ghent's heart do a somersault. He whipped his head around to find the culprit, scowling when he realized Elayra was responsible. He almost scolded her, but changed his mind when he saw her take her frustration out a bottle.
Taking a breath, the boy braced himself for Elayra’s wrath. The lost dagger would undoubtedly be a source of tension for a while. He didn’t make eye contact as she approached, his mouth set in a grim line. He glanced at her when she stopped and regretted it instantly. The contempt in her eyes spoke volumes.
Unnerved, Ghent looked away. He didn’t see the point in pleading his case. If saving Elayra's life wasn't enough to cut him a bit of slack, nothing was. He only hoped his silence would be enough until she cooled down.
The silence was broken by Elayra, who pointed out that he was still wet. Ghent's mouth fell when she ordered him to remove his clothes, but then she tossed a pair of pants at him.
“Er…” Ghent contemplated pointing out the obvious. The pants wouldn’t fit him. He wasn’t even sure if they’d stay up. He lifted the too-long trousers in front of himself, the legs unraveling. The fabric seemed to go on forever. Casting a skeptical look in Elayra's direction, he held the pants up higher to show her the length. “Aren’t these a little big?”
Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Siaya Dragalorn
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Without waiting for Ghent's response, Elayra plunged her arm back into the bag. Her movements were jerky, heated, as she tried to recall what Drust’s spare daggers looked like to call one to her from the pack’s depths. She thought he had a stiletto, but she wasn’t entirely sure if it had been his, or borrowed.
Her search and thoughts stopped at Ghent’s complaints. A Drust-worthy sneer curled over her lips as she glowered up at him.
“Would you rather just stand around in your damp underwear?” she snapped. “They need to dry. We can’t leave them behind, but they’ll make everything else in your pack wet.” Her hand closed in a fist inside Drust’s bag. Instead of grasping air, she recognized the shape of a hilt against her palm. “So shut up,” she pulled it out and pointed the sheathed tip of the dagger she'd found threateningly at Ghent, “and figure it out.”
She slapped the top flap of Drust’s bag shut. She looked to the stiletto dagger as she slid the blade from its thin metal and leather scabbard, examining it with a critical eye.
It was nice enough, she supposed. The silvery metal turned the hilt into a spiral, ending in a small, elegant round pummel. Its blade’s length matched what she’d grown accustomed to, only significantly thinner. Its edges glinted in the sunlight, sharp enough for use, but, in Elayra’s eye, it was due for a date with a whetstone.
She tested its weight in her hand. Even with its entire metal construction, it felt lighter than her lost weapon. It felt… wrong. Like she was betraying her other dagger. Betraying the trust of who it once belonged to. More importantly, betrayed Drust by losing it.
Her lips tightened and she gripped the hilt and scabbard harder. It shouldn’t matter this much to her. Not like this, at any rate. And yet, it did.
Until the moment Ghent had confirmed the news, Elayra hadn’t realized exactly how much she cared where the dagger had come from. Or, perhaps, it was the when. A right of passage of knowing Drust trusted her enough to pass on such a fine, meaningful weapon to her. It felt as if she'd lost some small part of herself.
With a growling huff at her unwanted emotions, she threw the stiletto toward the first-aid box. The force embedded over half its blade into the earth an inch from the box. Right where she’d aimed. At least its balance was decent enough for throwing.
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Ghent’s face flushed. Elayra had the uncanny ability to make him feel like an idiot. He stared at the sheathed dagger being pointed at him, his expression darkening.
“Fine.” The response was bitter, clipped. He didn't want to spend another second in her company. Clutching the lengthily pants at his side, he stalked away from the girl, never looking back.
Ghent’s footsteps became slower and more reluctant the closer he got to the woods. He looked around tentatively, staying alert for any indication of danger. He checked behind each tree and shrub as he passed it, his paranoia multiplying now that he was alone. He hated that he felt so vulnerable without Drust and Elayra nearby.
Finding a spot he deemed suitable for changing out of his clothes, Ghent disappeared behind a collection of tightly packed trees. He hung Drust’s pants on a low hanging branch and started by removing his hoodie. The fabric was soaked and heavy from water, but Ghent barely noticed. He was too busy mulling over his latest fight with Elayra.
Why did she make such a big deal out of it? Ghent shook his head, still baffled by her reaction. He tossed the hoodie aside, and it landed with a muffled thump.
Grumbling, Ghent grabbed the hem of his faded Batman t-shirt and worked to pull it over his head. His skin felt cold and clammy underneath, an uncomfortable sensation that made him miss the warmth of Drust’s cloak. He wrung out the shirt and hung it next to the pants, planning to put it on again before he rejoined with Elayra. He didn’t feel quite confident enough to be in her presence half-naked with nothing but ill-fitting trousers.
His eyes trailed down to his torso, and he scowled. An ugly bruise resided where Drust had kicked him during their first of many fights.
“They’ll kill me before the stupid queen does...” Ghent mumbled dejectedly. Realizing what he’d said, his hand shot up to his mouth. He hadn’t meant to insult their enemy out loud.
Ghent gulped. He looked over his shoulder, double-checking that his comment hadn’t summoned a shadowmire – or worse – her.
After a tense pause in which he barely breathed, Ghent exhaled. He peeled off his socks and sneakers, looking around as he did so. He added them to the pile before working on removing his clingy jeans.
Ghent wrung out one pant leg, a few unsatisfying droplets of water dripping from the stubborn material. He tossed them aside and looked down at his boxers, hesitating. Before he had a chance to remove his last article of clothing, a realization dawned upon him.
He could use magic.
Ghent blinked, amazed at his inability to remember a gift so extraordinary. It was the obvious solution to his problem. It could become the solution to most of his problems once he learned more focus words.
“It was Ignis-something…” Ghent folded his arms across his bare chest, thinking back to the campfire in the Safe Zone. He conjured fire once without trouble, he was fairly certain he could do it again. He mumbled a few words similar to the focus word until one sounded right. “…Igniculous.” That was it. He’d bet his staff on it.
Stepping over his pile of discarded clothing, Ghent eyed the trees for a branch thick enough to use as a torch. If all went according to his wild, harebrained scheme, his clothes would be dry before Drust got back.
Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Siaya Dragalorn
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Elyra heaved a sigh when Ghent moved away. She didn’t want to look at him. To deal with him. She scowled as a thought that meant she had to interact with him struck her.
“Just don’t…” She glanced up to Ghent just in time to see him duck behind one of the trees of the woods. She let out an exasperated groan and gripped the bridge of her nose. “Go into the woods,” she finished her statement in a grumble.
She glanced to his weapon still laying discarded on the ground. He'd gone off without his weapon.
“Whatever,” she grumbled to herself. If he was going to be stupid about it, he deserved to be eaten.
But he doesn’t know any better. The annoying reminder snuck into her mind unbidden. Her lips puled down, loathing the truth of the words. It was evident enough in what she'd experienced that he’d lived a life far different from hers.
A life filled with safety and family.
She let out a groaning growl, and shook her head. It didn’t matter. He was [i]here[i] now. He needed to adapt, or die.
Still, she kept an ear open for any sign of trouble. The last thing she wanted was to lose him. And, though she wouldn't admit it aloud, she now had a score to settle, a debt to repay. He had, after all, saved her life.
Walking on her knees to the first aid kit, she grabbed her saber and placed it beside her. Ready for action at the slightest disturbance, she cast frequent glances to the tree Ghent had vanished behind.
Elayra reached up to her neck to check if the bleeding had stopped on its own. Pulling away, she scowled at the light splash of red tinting her fingertips. The river had also prevented the thornbites from clotting. Which meant she still had some work to do before Drust returned.
Drust. She looked again to the trees, this time to roughly the last place she’d seen their guardian. Judging by the slight shift in the shadows’ angle, she guessed his half hour mark had passed.
She shook her head and took a breath. He’s fine, she tried to reassure herself. She couldn't stand when he was late, good excuse or not. And it might not have been half an hour yet.
Wanting to focus on something else, she reached for the first aid box, opened it, and removed the wad of bandages. She pulled the stiletto from the ground and wiped the blade off on the bottom of her dress-like shirt. She cut off a portion of the bandages, dampened the cloth with the moondrop milk, then carefully dabbed at the wounds encircling her neck. She felt the gentle, not-quite-stinging tingle of it beginning to work.
As she finished, she looked back to Ghent’s tree, frowning. It shouldn’t be taking him this long to change.
Collecting her sword, she stood. “Everything okay?” she called, cautiously stepping toward his trees. She caught the faint mutter of his voice, but not his words. Her eyes narrowed.
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It didn’t take long for Ghent to find something he deemed suitable to use as a torch. The cluster of trees provided plenty of options for him to choose from, including a thick, twisted branch that resembled the leg of a table he'd seen at the Book Barn.
Bracing one foot against the base of the tree, Ghent jumped up and grabbed onto the branch near its center. He began pulling to the left, but the extra force wasn’t necessary. The branch snapped so effortlessly, he fell onto his butt.
Adding a sore tailbone to his list of woes, Ghent shot the decaying tree a dirty look. He examined the width of the branch, analyzing his find with a critical eye. It wasn’t perfect, but it would do in a pinch.
Pushing himself to his feet, Ghent prepared to block out his surroundings in order to focus. The magic usually answered his every call, but this was the first time he would use a focus word without Drust or Elayra at his side.
“Whatever. I’m Hatter's son.” Ghent bristled suddenly, irritated that he’d become so dependant on the Wonderlanders. He gripped the soon-to-be-torch tighter and let his opposite hand hover near the end of the branch. It was his hope that the flame would catch despite the lack of a fire starter.
Igniculous. Igniculous. Igniculous. Ghent repeated the focus word in his head a few times before attempting to say it out loud. He sensed a shift in the air, it was as if an invisible force was urging him to say the word that hadn't yet left his lips. “Igni…”
Before Ghent's plan could commence, Elaya’s voice sounded from around the corner.
Ghent almost screamed. His first instinct was to hide the branch behind his back like a guilty kid. “Uh, yeah!” he called back immediately, afraid that if he didn’t respond fast enough, Elayra would take it upon herself to investigate.
“I’m just…” Ghent stalled, searching the clearing for an excuse. “Standing around…in my damp underwear,” he cringed as he said it, having no choice but to use Elayra’s choice of words from earlier. Hopefully, it was enough to scare her off.
A pause. Ghent could see his heart beating in his chest.
"So. Uh. Go guard our stuff!" Ghent's urgency may have come across as rude, but he really wanted Elayra to leave.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Siaya Dragalorn
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Elayra’s suspicion only grew when Ghent answered a little too quickly.
Her brows rose as he continued, his answer less than reassuring.
“[i]Seriously?[i] How long does it take you to change?” She rolled her eyes with a small shake of her head. Her expression turned into a scowl at his last order. “I’m not your personal bandersnatch, Featherhead!”
All the same, she turned from his hiding spot and returned to their backpacks. She shoved the tip of her saber back into the ground with a bit of extra irritation-fueled force.
“If you’re going to take all afternoon, I’m changing.” She knelt down beside her pack and opened it. She pulled out a plain set of grayish pants that had once been black, and a thin, long-sleeved off-white shirt.
Elayra wrong out her hair as well as she could, then changed out quickly, tossing her wet clothes to the ground. She shivered as the warmth of the dry garments replaced the chill of the river-laden ones. She hadn’t realized how cold the water had made her.
She rubbed her hands together for the extra warmth, then secured the sheath of her newly acquired stiletto into her replacement pair of boots. She looked longingly to her discarded shoes, the now useless sheath of her blue-bladed dagger hidden inside.
She snatched the boot from the ground and pulled out the sheath. Anger at the simple loss heated her chest. She posed to throw its small scabbard in the water after the dagger, but she hesitated. With a huff, she instead tossed it into her backpack.
She glanced to the sopping mess of her water-logged clothes, then to her current mostly clean shirt. She sighed heavily. The color wasn’t exactly the best for blending in with the woods.
She cast a glance to Ghent’s chosen tree, then plunged her arm back into her pack.
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