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25 days ago
Current Addendum and protip #2: Don't clickspam the post and update buttons or refresh the page after sending in a text query, as it will create doubles. Send you stuff once, then return to RPG's main page.
25 days ago
Protips in these dark time: To navigate RPG, keep clicking wherever you want to go after 2-3 seconds of waiting interval. Page will load at normal speed after a few times clicking.
1 mo ago
Can't bother giving out my Discord profile, because all the people I talk to are on my RPs' dicord servers, which amounts to a single server. Huehuehue
2 mos ago
Happy New Year from Canada!
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2 mos ago
Shoutout to voice actors of all kinds: Our RP's characters need some voice! Find out the details here:…
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NOTICE: Still looking for a 1x1 story partner. Mind that I'm not a quick post shooter, due to work, so I tend to write a paragraph or two in such RPs instead of a few lines. If anyone reading this is still interested, send a PM my way.


In a bleak world that is called reality...
A young man tries to find his path in life...
And so he decided to do Role-Playing!

Ahem, hello everyone! Y'all can call me Max, or Maxxy, or Maxwell House even! Fine, Riffus will do just fine too...
I'm what some would call a veteran RPer, despite not having been much active in these parts, or at all for the last 3 years. As a matter of fact, I started RP'ing ever since I started high school, and that was probably more than 15 years ago...


God, that makes me feel old.

So anyways, since I'm a nice guy and I know some might not want to absolutely know EVERYTHING about me (well, not everything really), I've highlighted areas of my introduction where you guys might be more interested in.


Some people might know me from where I initially started RP'ing,the "Artix Entertainment Forums". Yeah, the forums dedicated to all games made by Artix Entertainment, such as their very first fame "AdventureQuest", "DragonFable" and "MechQuest" to name only a few. I was known as Necrodan for a while. Afterwards it was Dread_Shadow_Max for a long time, but that name eventually grew too moody for my lively self, so I came to adopt the name representing myself in a better way, the same alias I am using right now.

After some... let's say... issues with the former forums, a lot of its RP'ers (myself included) moved on to another forum that one of us has created. It was thusly called: "The Forbidden Forums". Quite shady, huh? Well, it had a story behind, of which I wasn't involved myself. I Rp'ed there for years, amidst many quarrels and unfinished RPs, until life struck a terrible blow against my poor self.


I HAD GOTTEN A JOB! Yes, poor old me was tired of living carefree in the debts of a student loan (from a program I didn't even finish at college), and so I decided to take on the mantle of a hard-working man. Never did I thought that writing RPs and working at night would be so detrimental, and as such I had resigned my fate as a RP'er to better focus on working...

Nah, in fact it's just that I couldn't keep up with the RP's I was in and found great difficulty to focus on writing. Working 12 hours a day isn't great. You just barely get back from work, eat, sleep, then repeat for 4 days. And during weekends, you'Re just too tired that you either sleep all day, laze around all-day long or just try to enjoy what little social life you have left. Life was dark at that point.


Eventually, things grew to be smoother. I have gotten a new job. Still at night, but it's 8 hours instead, that makes a few more hours of free time. I have used most of that time to catch up on my games and discover new ones. But now that I'm feeling a part of me missing, a part of my creative self that yearned to write about epics and fantastic stories, I've decided to return to RP'ing once more after nearly 3 years of inactivity in the domain.

I do hope that I will be able to meet the expectations of my new comrades-in-writing and that we will all be having fun weaving the stories that have yet to be written. But hey, let's stop talking about myself, or rather my personal self. Let's delve instead into my RP'ing persona.


I'm what you would call a Jack-Of-All-Trades. I like RP'ing as a whole, be it in fantasy, sci-fi, dark or even school life settings. I do them all! I'm mostly a man of group RP's, but I've started enjoying 1x1's just before leaving for 3 years. I just love interactions between characters, as I feel they are a needed part in a successful RP. In fact, I'm a sucker for character development. Not only do I enjoy seeing the story progress, but I also love seeing the characters in that story evolving from the adventures they are experiencing.

As for my RP'ing style, you can trace it back from posts I made a few years back. I do enjoy writing lengthy and detailed pragraphs (just look at that gods be damned biography about myself that will mostly be overlooked). That's the only way to get all these ideas from that overloaded brains of mine! So I'm very sorry in advance to those who don't like reading wall of texts. For those who actually like it, then you're very much welcome!

Actually, it's just the way I was taught to write in school. A story and its characters are much more fun to read if you know the characters, their background or even their more in-depths detail. Assuming one does not overuse details of course, a mistake I was often told in the past.

Well, that's it for me. Sorry for the long introduction to my self. Hope you had a blast knowing a bit more about me. And I do hope we will be having nice RP's to be written.

So in short, it's nice to be back!

Most Recent Posts

A friendly sparring session

Heinrich | Maria
Liv | Vitus
Alistar| Gwen

𝓝𝓸𝓿𝓮𝓶𝓫𝓮𝓻 𝟖𝓽𝓱, 𝟏𝟑𝟐𝟕 / / 𝓐𝓾𝓼𝓯𝓮𝓵𝓭 / / 𝓒𝓪𝓻𝓻𝓲𝓭𝓪𝓷'𝓼 𝓔𝓼𝓽𝓪𝓽𝓮 / / ��𝓸𝓻𝓷𝓲𝓷𝓰
Collab with [@RiffusMaximus] @GreenGoat @PapiTan @Chasers115 @dragonmancer

She yawned, one hand up to cover her mouth, rocking her feet back and forth on the shoulders of her massive servant.

Maria wasn't really the type of person who wakes up at the crack of dawn; she wasn't some lowly soldier after all. But here she was training with some... well, a few of the best. The rest were riff raff she would rather flay, string up then set them on fire to light her garden with. That, or just have them come with her to play.

Either would be fine really.

But for today, it would seem they were meant to learn how to fight, sparring and hand to hand and all that. She wasn't sure if they knew what they were doing, but perhaps someone was a sadist if they put her and Heinrich in this particular lineup.

"Well, I hope everyone have fun." She said, smiling brightly. Without losing that smile, she bent over, whispering in her servant's ear. "Just don't kill them. Everything else is fine."

"Fun. Yes! Fun is important!" the giant of a man added enthusiastically as he looked over the rest of his training crew, a grin as wide as he could muster on the prospect of sparring with those present. All the stronger-looking fellows were sent to other training units, much to his dismay. Not that everyone else seemed that strong to begin with. There was, however, that black-haired girl among them. She looked a bit quaint, akin to a peasant, but he could see some muscles showing on her skin. Perhaps she'll prove to be more of a challenge than the others here.

Still, challenges was not what he was mainly looking for. Upon the whispered words of his mistress, it was hard for him to have a grin larger than it already was, but some of his sadistic hints flashed through his smile. Oh, the fun he was going to have with these puny toys.

Nodding, Heinrich moved to the circle of freshly overturned dirt. As his naked feet stepped on the moist soil, he could already feel at home, right in this ring. It reminded him of the arena's sand and of the fresh blood he spilled there. Oh yes, he could already imagine ripping one of these fellows their arms and beat them to unconsciousness. Or was it too much to start with?

Reaching the center, the goliath looked to the others with his creepy haunting smile, reflecting the little lady's on his shoulders. He popped a few of his aching joints, result of a night spent sleeping on the floor. Not that he wasn't used to sleeping uncomfortably, but his body still felt it even after all these years.

"C'mon, who's first! Let's see what ye guys got!"

Although they've completely changed their lodging, waking up early seemed to follow Gwen however lifestyle she chose to follow. When morning came and she had been woked up to take part of this morning's training exercises, the youngest of the Ravencroft found no issue at rising up from her bed and prepare herself for the day.

She quickly had put together a simple outfit fit for someone going to work; trousers and a plain white short-sleeved shirt. Really, all that was missing was her apron, and she'd think she was going to work the forge yet again today.

Gwen went to find her brother to his room, enthusiastic about what this first day at the Carridan's manor, then headed to the training grounds.

The girl looked around, watching the others as everyone was separated into three teams. She couldn't tell if it was a blessing to be of those in the sparring lessons' group, or if whoever was commanding here had weird sense of humor. Looking over the colossus happily heading to the patch of dirt, she was slightly creeped out by his appearance. She could commend his enthusiasm at the task though.

Unsure about the whole situation, Gwen turned to the owner of the estate.

"So, uh... how do we proceed?"

"First," Carridan looked over the few that had joined him at the rings of dirt: a barely-clothed giant, his owner, two men who looked like they would lose to a fly, a street rat, and a woman who at least looked like she could hold her own in a fight. This was an odd bunch, to say the least. "Stances. I need to know which of ya'll know how to not get knocked on your ass. After that, I might throw two of you in a ring to judge your skill. None of ya magical powers allowed, a'course."

Carridan's face seemed to immediately brighten up as he began to speak about training, the man's general demeanor sounding more realistic for a general than the doom and gloom that he had presented only moments ago. Despite this his hand was still gripping the paper, now crumpled into a ball in his fist, with a worrying tightness. "Any other questions?"

"Yes, I do have a question, my good sir!" Vitus said, not bothering to raise his hand and instead simply stepping forward. Eyes passed over the rest of the group as he did; these folks looked like they knew nothing of proper sparring - and he doubted the big man would even be able to operate such a delicate device.

"Where are the foils? Surely you can't expect us to properly spar without the necessary equipment!"

Oh heavens, they weren't supposed to bring their own rapiers, were they? He hadn't even considered that a possibility! Of course, an estate such as this would have some around somewhere...ah, but he'd have to balance it, and find one that was perfectly weighted for him. What a hassle.

Dalgen Carridan felt a headache coming on.

"Are you blind, deaf, or both?" Carridan asked the question with full sincerity. "I've only got one good eye, and enough ringin' in my ears to drown out just 'bout anyone, but not even I would ask such a damn stupid question." He sighed, motioning towards the rack of weapons that stood clear as day behind him. "You won't be using no damn rapiers either. Only used by weaklin's who are too scared to actually fight. We ain't duelin' for sport round here, boy. War is life and death." Dalgen turned his head towards the weapons for a moment, glancing over the arsenal until his eyes settled on exactly what he was hoping to find.

"Actually," Dalgen started towards the rack, "how about we give ya' a little wake-up call? I've never been fond of you prissy high-born types. It'll be fun to knock a little sense into ya." He picked a sword off the rack: a rapier. The blade itself was relatively boring, long and thin as it should be, but with an extravagant hand guard that seemed designed only to show off. All together the thing was beautiful, it wasn't much else, but it was nice to look at. Carridan flicked his wrist, and sure enough a faint glow followed the sword's path. He moved back to his trainees and handed the weakling his sword of choice.

"I know a few mages who can make a blade harmless, better for training than a dull sword. You can swing with all your might and ya wont shatter anythin', though it might hurt like hell. Not that ya can hurt anythin' with that poor excuse for a weapon, but still." Carridan pointed Vitus towards the nearest of the dirt rings before turning his attention to the mountain of a man. "You look ready to kill someone. Take your pick," he gestured to the weapon rack.

Heinrich looked at the two men talking, his grin only growing larger as how hilarious the situation was turning out to be. He saw rapiers being used in the arena. Thin blades made for quick assaults, but beyond that, he wasn't impressed. It was a puny armament. Heinrich could still remember the time he used one itself. Grabbed it by the foil as his opponent swung it at him, yanked away from the man, then thrusted it right into his adversary's eyeballs.

Fun times...

The large blonde man nodded at Carridan, walking over to the rack of weapons with an ever-growing sadistic smile. So much choice, it was just like back then. Usually, he'd fight with something light and good reach, like a spear or a trident. Things changed however. He saw the collosal weapon that was going to be his slaughter partner from now on. While everyone was here training, he might as well start picking up on training with the same type of weapon.

And so there it was, the weapon Heinrich would use to spar with the puny little man. A large morningstar.

"I am." the goliath replied simply, with a grin that would say more than his words.

There were far too many words while Vitus was reminicing about his fencing experiences. There had been that one lady who was so full of fire - she'd been a thrill to go up against, even if he had lost. Truly, that was a exhilarating experience, likely for the both of them. Of course, he'd never asked, but he knew his assumptions were correct.

He was still talking. Skies above, this man talked a lot.

Of course, he'd have to show the layabouts what true sparring was like. Perhaps he'd go easy. Or would it be better to demonstrate his skill first, to prove his standing amongst them? An interesting conundrum he had ahead of him; maybe he'd just play it by ear and see how he was feeling in the moment.

His attention was drawn back as a rapier was handed to him. Finally some decent service around these parts, and all he had to do was ask!

And then the goliath stepped in. Holding a very big, and very dangerous looking weapon in his hands. Good lord, this man was very large.

"I'm sorry my large, hulking, friend. I do think you've misunderstood the man, though I'm not surprised."

With the confidence of a man who had not realized his fate, Vitus turned to Carridan. "Go on, tell our resident behemoth his mistake."

Inside the ring of dirt, Vitus made the one mistake no fighter should allow themselves to do in the arena.

Do not turn your back to your opponent!

As the nobleman turned to speak with Carridan, Heinrich closed in, like a wolf stalking his prey. A large hand reached to grab the quaint man by the back of his collar, lifting him a foot above ground before throwing him to the ground, face first in the dirt, and placing a firm and giant foot on his head.

Then came down his large morningstar. It crashed just mere inches away from Vitus' face.

"Rule one: Don't turn yer back to yer foe." Heinrich snarled, retreating his foot from the rapier-wielding guy's head before delivering a kick to his sides.

Vitus had felt the hand on the back of his collar, and had been halfway through turning around to kindly ask the giant to wait his turn when he was lifted. Then, just as quickly as he was in the air, he was on the dirt, bouncing slightly against the surface of the area. Something impacted very close to his head, though he could not look to see it with something heavy forcing his face into the dirt. He let out a slight grunt of pain as the same heavy object impacted him in the side of the ribs, rolling him over onto his back.

Vitus quickly scrambled to his feet, quite undignified as he did so. He was covered in mud, he'd just been manhandled by a brute, and most importantly, he was covered in mud.

"HOW. DARE." Vitus hissed, brushing the largest spots of dirt off his outfit.

"How dare you, sir? Perhaps you do not learn the finer arts of sparring in whatever brutish town or leather-themed brothel you come from, but I will not be humiliated in such a manner! Especially not by a ruffian such as yourself, no matter how monstrous you may be!"

Liv was aware that she probably should have said something before Vitus went to a sparring match with a man that looked more like a behemoth than a human. She was acutely aware that under normal circumstances, her bonded partner would probably die within a few minutes of entering an actual fight. She was aware of all these things, and yet the thief didn't say anything, only watched as the "sparring" match began and promptly ended.

And Vitus was still talking.

"Maybe ya don' wanna insul' the guy beatin' yer hide?" Liv called to her partner, eyes trailing toward the morning star that had slammed into the ground a little closer to her benefactor's face than comfort would have allowed in normal circumstances. The territorial part of her reared its head, vicious, angry, and wanting to step into the so-called "fight" to assert her claim over her property. The smart part of her kept her feet planted in place, aware that her slight frame and largely limited experience in straight combat would have her faring little better than Vitus. "Jus' an idea."

Alistar had been a bit further back from the group in comparison to the crowd. All the while standing as he watched these fools embarrass themselves. One of them, the obnoxious one he recognized from dinner, had gotten thrown due to his incompetence and complaining to the group. His other teammates didn't seem that impressive for this situation either. Then again, their opponent was a giant hulking figure. He wasn't one to talk, however. He had no place in hand to hand combat. "What a bunch of.." Alistar cut himself off to get to his point. "To think my talents would be squandered in such a barbaric exercise. I am not some violent brute, my hands were meant for magic not melee." The mage complained out loud to the group. "No matter, I'd only get in your way if I tried to 'assist' in this little game. I trust you are all more proficient at the talents of a simpleton."

He had glanced to his sister, Gwen, for a brief moment. "Don't dissapoint me."

Gwen nodded, seemingly excitedly with twinkles in her eyes as she looked up to her brother "Just you watch!"

Meanwhile, the giant pushed a long, exhasperated sigh. Those people sure were carefree idiots. They won't stay alive for long, that much he could tell.

"Ye guys talk too much..." Heinrich grunted as he started walking towards his adversary, wrapping a hand around the handle of his morningstar and lifting it from the small crater it made. "Less talk, more fight!" he roared as he swung the giant spiked mace at the pompous little man.

Vitus turned to glare at Liv. Of all the people here he should have expected her to be backing up for him the mos-

Wait. No. Obviously not. What was he even thinking?

"He's not 'beating my hide', Liv! He simply caught me off guard!" he shouted at the sidelines, turning back towards his opponent to berate him some more. Fortunately for his lifespan, he turned at just the right moment to see the goliath begin his swing, and let out something between a shout of alarm and a tiny baby yelp.

He took a step backwards, a large oval of light appearing behind him. A similar oval appeared right in the area passed by the giant swing, and as Vitus stepped through the slightly shimmering doorway, he appeared on the other side of the attack, out of harm's way.

Of course, this left an opening for him, which he gladly took. Jabbing the large man's lower rib area once with his rapier, he drew back and stood at attention, a cocky grin appearing on his face.

"Point for me, Colossus!"

How unexpected. And yet, Heinrich could only but grin at all this. Finally, the guy was showing some backbone, even if it meant using his magic when ordered not to.

As the rapier poked onto his side, a slight wince of pain crossed his face but was shortly replaced by a grin of delight. As if... he was relishing onto the faint amount of pain he got from the poke.

"Yes! More!" The titan roared with a demented grin, breking into a charge as he threw his body and weapon at the bold duelist.

Meanwhile, having since abandoned her seat at the giant's shoulders the moment he was picked out, Maria was inspecting the array of sharp metal lined up in the rack. She had not the first idea of how to fight, but she was sure a piece of metal even if it was on some sort of foppish weapon everyone disapproved of would kill anyone should it get lodged in anyone's chest. Maria did have experience in.... hurting people after all; there were places one could stick a sharpened rod in and still leave the person alive, and places where... they did not.

She picked up a rapier with a cup hilt, one almost as tall as she was and started swinging it. It did look rather nice; she can't fault the guy for wanting to use it.

Deciding she wanted to use it, Maria started playing with it as she sat down near the others, or rather, near Liv. She looked so deliciously soft Maria couldn't help but wonder... .

"Hi." She smiled her brightest smile, trying to remember Liv's name."Liv right? And he's your uh... "master she wanted to say, but he hardly seemed the sort. In fact, she was sure he couldn't even be master to a dog if he tried.

"Companion right? He sure seems confident of himself." She said as the sparring session escalated.

So much for not using magical powers. Liv watched with moderate interest as her partner continued sparring, somehow managing to almost hold his own with magic on his side--but that was of little consequence. The dark-haired thief focused instead on the hulking brute, gauging his reactions, trying to work out in her mind's eye how fast each motion happened, mentally creating simulations of how fast she would have to act in order to evade. There was no doubt that in an actual fight, she would have lost. No doubt that even with Vitus's quick little portals, he would probably be flattened. Narrowing her eyes, Liv made a mental note to avoid crossing paths with the giant if possible. No matter how lithe and nimble she was, a misstep would mean a caved skull.

'Well, s'not like I was plannin' on fightin' him straight on if--' Liv cut the thought short as someone approached. The smallest of their motley little crew, but she'd been sitting on the giant's shoulder earlier. What was her name? Liv racked her mind to introductions the night before, struggling to recall the names. M...M...agdalene? No, too long. Millie...? No...

Oh for hell's sake, it was a name she'd had before, wasn't it?

"Uh, yeah, 's my partner." The thief murmured, her gaze trailing over the girl. The rapier in the smaller figure's hands was far from comforting, sending a faint thrill of apprehension up Liv's spine. Blades near her that were not in her hands usually weren't the makings of a good situation--but that had been on the streets. Right. It would be fine. Fine. "'s um...airogunt. Thought he'd do worse though." Then again, as her eyes fell back on the sparring match, Liv grimaced faintly. There were only a few ways to match or do worse than what Liv had expected, to be fair. "'s yer name again? I don' do so well rememberin' names."

More? But they were supposed to reset after a point. He doubted, of course, that the man knew this. He'd likely never even been able to witness a prop-

"EEP!" Vitus squealed in response to the giant's roar, quickly backpedaling away from the charge. In fact, he backpedaled straight through another of his shimmering doorways, this time appearing directly behind the mountainous man as he charged forward. He unwisely aimed to deliver another sharp jab before the beast could get out of range of his thrust.

Yet another disappearing act. While he could commend the puny man's ressources to fight, his magical tricks started to annoy Heinrich. Again, he felt the faint poke of the dulled rapier on his back.

That was it.

Feet digging into the fresh turned soil, the colossus brought his charge to an end abruptely. If he couldn't catch that teleporting mage, then he will have to use more brutal methods.

With a wrathful roar, Heinrich tossed his large spiked club at Vitus.

With Vitus's own wrathful roar (or rather, a frightened squeak), he conjured another portal to his side, stumbling through very quickly. In all honesty, he hadn't really needed to use a portal, as he'd set the end point to be slightly to the side anyway.

Still, he stumbled awkwardly out, whirling around to see the large spiked club sail off. This big fella could really do some damage if he wanted to.

Heinrich had expected his sparring partner to appear behind him again, but he did not, instead teleporting slightly to the side. Keeping the pressure, the blonde giant of a man manifested a gigantic weapon in his hands, the unholy hybrid of a bone club and a scythe that was almost as big as the man himself.

Again, he tossed his massive weapon at Vitus, but he broke into a charge shortly after.

Vitus's tactic remained basically the same, only he didn't actually turn around in time to get the chance to conjure a portal. Instead, he awkwardly dodged backwards, landing on his backside as the weapon narrowly soared over his head, and hopping back up to his feet with confidence.

How many weapons did this guy have anyway?

Or at least, that was thought he had before he looked up to see Heinrich barreling down on him.

All according to plan.

As Vitus reappeared, the poor man was hit by the mountain of muscles as if a carriage ran through him. Bracing for impact, Heinrich tackled Vitus with his shoulder, throwing both himself and his victim to the ground. Forcefully grabbing the puny man's hand, the behemoth ripped the rapier from him to toss it away.

With a vicious and sadistic look in his eyes, Heinrich found one of his huge hand wrapping around Vitus' neck. The pressure was not enough to strangle him, but it definitely would make him struggle to breathe.

"Who's got the point now, puny man?"

He was being choked to death. As he unsucessfully attempted to squirm his way out from under the behemoth, he felt his air supply dwindle. This had never happened to him before - he'd never been throttled. Hell, he'd never even throttled anybody himself. He was going to die here, crushed under the body of a man who knew nothing of proper fencing, and whose breath smelled terrible.

Well that just wouldn't do! Not for Vitus Aylous!

Underneath Heinrich, buried in the mud, a small sigil appeared. It flashed once, like a round of gunpowder going off, before the giant would be flung 10ft. up into the air.

Caught surprised by Vitus' strange magic, Heinrich was flung up into the air, still holding onto the dirtied nobleman. Too much weird things happening too fast, not enough time to react. A gruesome idea had crossed into Heinrich's mind to try and make it so Vitus would be underneath the colossus just as they came crashing onto the ground.

But then, he recalled his mistress' words.

"Just don't kill them. Everything else is fine."

As they reached peak height of the teleporter's powers, Heinrich simply decided to let go of Vitus. Rather, he simply decided to fling him downwards back to gravity's grasp. As for himself, Heinrich tried the best he could to cushion his landing, but he only just fell on his back hard.

A gasp of pain escaped his mouth as he fell the brunt of the impact onto his spine. If one would pay close attention to the bone scythe the large man had throw at Vitus earlier, they would notice a faint crimson glow emanating from the weapon just at the same time its owner hit the ground. The very faint red glow seemed to also originate from the big guy.

The pain... it was exquisite! And so was this rush of power that came with it.

Maria looked at her hand holding the rapier, then towards Heinrich. Ah, so the fool finally managed to hurt him enough to feed Heinrich's ability.

"Maria Abigail Tepes." She extended a hand towards Liv. "Pleasure to meet you."

Tch, how dare you forget my name. I should flay you and leave your corpse out for the crows to peck. Her expressions did not betray her thoughts, as she simply grinned and sidled closer.

"Say, will you be my sparring partner next?" There was a hint of of a pleading whine in her voice, not unlike a puppy trying to coddle food out of people. "I have no experience in fighting, and I fear most here would just beat me over the head like brutes."

Liv glanced at the offered hand, hazel eyes seeming to reflect a moment of uncertainty.

'Uh...' She racked her mind for similar situations--right. Handshake. With a trace of hesitation, something more grudging than politic, Liv carefully took the hand with her own.

"Nice to meet ya too." The action was rapid, her own hand quickly withdrawing, relief flooding the Liv as soon as her hand was free. Relief was soon replaced by discomfort as Maria moved closer, and Liv's attention was quickly removed from her partner and the hulking figure, now surreptitiously placed on the girl beside her. Red flags--too close. Impulsively, the rogue placed one hand over where she would normally have placed her pilfered goods.

"'m--" Liv paused, glanced at the others in the vicinity. The dark-haired girl, Vitus, the giant, and another male that looked like he would have been the other option to avoid the worst case scenario. It probably wasn't fair, really, for Liv to accept a sparring match with someone smaller than her, and even moreso against someone that seemed to be completely inexperienced in fighting, but the dark-haired "knight" was more interested in her own wellbeing than any concept of "fair". "...sure, I can do that."

Vitus was just being thrown around like a doll. It wasn't something he was used to, it definitely wasn't something he was enjoying, but it also wasn't anything he could control. For the second time, Vitus hit the ground hard, laying there for a little bit longer than he had the first iteration.

Maybe there was just no shame in calling it quits. After all, someone as fine as himself had to know when it was best to stop dirtying his hands.

Vitus stood up slowly on shaky legs, like a newborn fawn. His eyes flicked over to where Heinrich was sprawled out on the ground, a small grin forming on his face. Maybe he'd taken down the buffoon after all!

Unfortunately for Vitus, pain was a driving motivation for the goliath. The pain made him stronger, more resilient. After a few seconds of laying down still, an eerie laugh erupted from his mouth, Oh, just how long had it been since he had this much fun in a fight. Regaining his bearings, Heinrich slowly got back up to his feet, thanks his spine being more or less in good condition with the fall.

"Nice tricks ye got there. That'll do to live for a minute more."

Oh cripes.

Vitus watched as the behemoth towered to his full height again, standing in what could be described as awe. Clearly, this was going nowehere fast for him. All he'd managed to do at this point was get himself hurt and dirty his attire.

"Well then! I would say we are equally matched, my good sir. I propose a draw!" Vitus said, attempting his best to stand tall in the face of adversity.

The tall man paused, his face looking as if he had an encouter with the epitome of stupidity. With a mixture of disdain and a sadistic grin, the giant only resumed his march forward with slow but menacing steps. "

"What're ye sayin'? In the arena, there's no draw. In a fight, there's only one victor. We train 'till one can't move a finger, little man!"

"Wh-?" Vitus stammered, taking an unsure step backwards. Was this man a lunatic?

"I'm sorry friend." he grimaced internally at the use of the word 'friend'. "But I think you're mistaken. This is sparring, not some barbaric arena fight."

"Sparring is training. We train to fight. Half-assed fights means you're dead meat."

Heinrich continued walking forward, a giant step bringing him closer to the backpedaling little man.


Maria spoke without raising her voice, but it carried clearly across the circle.

"That is enough. Tis obvious who had won." Her eyes crinkled up slightly as she smiled. "Surely you do not mean to trample upon this man's pride some more?"

Her eyes spoke a different story. Stop now, or that man might die. A misconduct on his part meant tarnishing her image, their reputation. For now, they should focus on their first impressions. It was, after all, just training. If Maria needed someone dead, they would be dealt with in a more discreet manner.

As the behemoth closed in on Vitus, giant hand reaching out for his neck, Heinrich stopped dead in his tracks as soon as he heard his mistress' voice. There was a clear displeased look on his face as he complied to Maria's order.


The colossus' hand wavered to the side, reaching for the nobleman's shoulder instead. Heinrich gave Vitus a large grin, giving him a friendly brutal pat on his shoulder.

"Ye fought good, boy. Will be lookin' forward for more trainin'."

With that being said, and forcing himself to a friendlier façade to benefit his mistress' image, the blonde gladiator retreated from the ring of dirt to join his mistress' side.

Vitus, who had only just now decided that it was probably a good time to start cowering, let out an audible sigh of relief. Thank goodness the little one had called her monster off - there was no telling what a brute of that caliber would do to someone like him. Surely, the jealousy and rabidness must have been at an all time high with this group.

Steadying himself, Vitus's whole body was nearly toppled over at the large man's pat. He gave an unsure smile, brushing off the spot where the mad had, yet again, dirtied his attire. "Yes. You fought adequately as well. I look forward to sparring in a more...controlled environment.

That was a lie, of course. He'd be caught dead before he ever went up against the big man again.

It was obvious that Dalgen Carridan was distracted. Under normal circumstances, he would have stopped things as soon as they had started to get out of hand, but based on what he had seen these were not normal circustances. The old man had stalked off from the training grounds, stumbling towards the treeline. He held a rifle in his hands. He wasn't an amazing shot with only one good eye, but he needed to be armed. It seemed that no one had noticed the old General's actions until it was too late.

By the time Hounds and other churchmen ran to where Dalgen was, he had disappeared into the woods.
Meeting of a Healer and her future patients

Gwen | Yulia | Alistar

𝓝𝓸𝓿𝓮𝓶𝓫𝓮𝓻 𝟕𝓽𝓱, 𝟏𝟑𝟐𝟕 / / 𝓐𝓾𝓼𝓯𝓮𝓵𝓭 / / 𝓒𝓪𝓻𝓻𝓲𝓭𝓪𝓷'𝓼 𝓔𝓼𝓽𝓪𝓽𝓮 / / 𝓔𝓿𝓮𝓷𝓲𝓷𝓰

Collab by @Riffus Maximus @dragonmancer @Lasrever

Dinner had been mostly quiet on Gwen's side. The young Ravencroft was too focused looking at her newfound peers and listening to what they had to say. They way the others were dressed, their bearing, it suggested they had quiet a story for themselves, unles the dark-haired girl. She was but a quaint blacksmith, fallen from the grace of of a family that would have been worth speaking about, if it wsn'T for the fact she despised them and did not want to bring public her descent to being a simple peasant, in fear of shaming Alistar.

So she kept mostly to herself. In any case, Gwen was captivated by the tales and the energy of the woman who had recently joined them. But even as Gwen quietly listened, it would seem she still was prone to embarassing herself. Sometime during the dinner, she had stopped eating to focus on the words of their much too talkative companion. When she returned to her plate, Gwen couldn't find her assigned silverware. They just... vanished? Gwen unceremoniously looked under the table, see if she had dropped them, but they were no where in sight. She had politely asked for the ustensils to be replaced, but when her flimsy attention was occupied somewhere else, they vanished again.

Too shy to request any more and without ustensils to eat but with an apetite yearning to be satiated, Gwen gingerly picked at the food in her plate with her own fingers, hoping to be discreet enough and no one would see her eating with her hands. It was frustrating, but she didn't dare disrupt the dinner by asking for another

When dinner was over, the younger Ravencroft offered a slight curtsy bow before joining her brother on the other side of the table, jumping at him enthusiastically and wrapping both arms around one of his.

"How was dinner, Brother? Enjoyed yourself?"

"Tch." Alistar pushed his arm away from her grasp. He adjusted his sleeves as he had already finished his moderate portion of a meal. "It was adequete." The mage responded. He had little interest with conversation, even with his sister. His 'allies' that were seated with him also didn't catch is interest. There were all inferior to him. Not fit to witness his intellect.

"What do you think of it all?"

"I... think it's all very interesting!" Gwen tried to find the right words to say. "Everyone look so different. Like, they all came from different backgrounds. Makes me wonder on which basis we were all chosen. And the way we are treated, yet kept in the dark at the same time. It's very curious."

The girl snuggled closer to her brother even as his arm retreated from her hands. Gwen playfully inched her face from Alistar, twinkles in her eyes as she was apparently very enthusiastic about the whole situation.

"How about you? What do you think of the others so far?"

Having no tolerance in her gaze he continued to brush his sister off for his own personal space. "Hmph, diverse backrounds and yet none of them intrigue me. I was expecting they'd have to select great minds such as myself but these lot are all unimpressive. Foolish even. You are free to mingle with these simpletons all you like. Of everything else? Servicable so far. The resources I am provided and the terms I have to accept are manageable."

"You think? I think it's going to be fun to get to know them." Gwen stated as she looked around, staring at each member of their newfound allies all the while she tried to sneak a hug to her brother, like a clingy hyperactive sister.

As the dinner had ended, Yulia had been prepared to go back to her room with little ceremony. The idea of being served didn't sit well with her, leaving the whole experience to be more than a little uncomfortable; indeed, as the room cleared, she had preferred to try and assist in sorting things out rather than simply leaving. It was that insistence on remaining which had led her to overhear the conversation, a soft smile appearing on her face.

It was amusing rather than insulting, really; Yulia didn't have enough pride to be hurt by such an insult. Besides, it presented an opportunity, and once she was sure they wouldn't say much worth knowing, the servant spoke.

"I'd expect one of such great intellect might know better than to disparage people so publicly. There are ears everywhere in a place like this," her words were honeyed, voice smooth as she approached the pair, "and some know far more than you would think." She glanced between them with a smile. "Sharing a little of your sister's friendliness might go a long way; after all, many of us - myself included - would be eager to know you both."

Gwen smiled when she saw someone aproaching them. Such a pretty-looking lady. And her soft words too. There was something that made the younger dark-haired girl feel reassured by her presence.

The youngest of the Ravencroft however felt slightly nervous however when the woman confronted Alistar about what he just said.

"Oh!" Gwen's word seemingly forced itself out too hard due to her anxiety "P-please forgive me on behalf of my brother. H-He's a bit cranky because of the journey. "

“Neither of you have to apologise. I’m not angry, just offering a word of advice – as someone who does a lot of listening.” Yulia chuckled lightly. “But if it makes you feel better, you’re forgiven.” Of course, without Alexei around she had no reason to avoid a proper introduction. Extending a hand for either of the two to shake, she spoke.

“Yulia Zykova,” there was a pause before she broke into a slightly teasing grin, “simpleton extraordinaire.”

Alistar had kept a light, disinterested scowl on his face as one of his peers spoke to him. He wasn't much interested in her welcoming tone or her humor. Though he had to admit it was somewhat refreshing to speak to someone other then his sister. "Fair enough." He agreed. "But I'm not here to hide my opinions of anyone here, I still hold true to my disdain. I doubt the knowledge I wield is an interest to you, less the others we are forced to co-operate with. I am obligated to offer my services, but don't mistake it as a kind gesture." He didn't shake her hand, but he did return a greeting." I am Alistar, and I carry the blood of the Ravencroft family. My sole duty is the study of the arcane, and nothing else but."

The mage glanced to Gwen who seemed to be excited to socialize. "I have little patience for pleasantries regardless, Gwen is sufficient to answer any general information you need to know about us. You don't need to speak to me unless if you wish for me to enlighten your feeble mind with my studies."

The youngest sibling timidly chuckled, feeling the pressure of her brother's pompous behavior towards their comrade. By the celestial gods, couldn't he try to be a bit nicer? The dark-haired youth could feel the heat rising to her blushing cheeks.

"I-I'm Gwen. Also Ravencroft..." the girl paused before adding "...apprentice blacksmith. It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Yulia."

Gwen diligently accepted her newly introduced comrade's hand for a firm and friendly shake. At the gesture, the blood-red eyed young woman's smile seemed to easen into something more natural and comfortable.

A scholar and a blacksmith, then. Interesting. The brother, Alistar, certainly had quite the ego, though his sister seemed easy enough to talk to. "I've done some studying of the arcane myself; perhaps not to your level, but if you ever wish to speak to someone with an interest, I can grasp a few concepts." It was up to him whether he ever accepted that, but with the idea planted she turned to Gwen.

"I'm only a servant, I'm afraid. Nothing as exciting as either of you." Smiling, she released the young woman's hand. "But it would seem your brother's volunteered you to indulge my curiosity, so... what do the pair of you do? With the bond, I mean. I'm guessing we all have some idea."

"I'd say being here makes you just as exciting as everyone else." The raven-haired pale girl replied to the 'servant' with a friendly chuckle. "Oh, it's... quite grim actually."

Just as Yulia released Gwen's hand, her arm turned pitch-black for a second before a shadowy metal gauntlet enveloped her entire arm. "From what I understood, this gauntlet draws blood from wounds it inflicts and stores it. Brother manipulates blood and bones."

Despite the whole blood scheme, Gwen seemed excited to explain the Ravencroft's magic to someone else. Even though she abandoned magic, unlike Alistar, she was very curious and enthusiastic to the powers they've been granted. She looked expectantly at Yulia, curious as to what power the others were graced with. "What about you? Do you make magic? Do you summon a weapon too?"

Well, the girl hadn't been wrong about calling it a little grim, and Yulia looked over the black gauntlet curiously. It was definitely more unusual-looking than Alexei's sword, as weapons went. She didn't try and touch it, figuring a cut from the sharp edges wouldn't be worth the trouble - that, and she rather fancied keeping hold of her blood. Nonetheless, it sounded useful, if morbid, and she shared in the enthusiasm to an extent. Of course, the question of her own power was easy enough.

"Magic. I heal people." She smiled gently. "I've no ability to protect myself, but I'm glad for it; and I'll no doubt be kept busy with all of you."

"Hmhp." The crossed-arm mage had a sense of pride in his power that Gwen only understood a fraction of it. Truth be told, Alistar wasn't entirely sure of it either. However, the difference between him and her was that he planned on discovering the true depths of his power and the magic around him. Alistar silently watched as the two conversed, a bit reliefed that his sister was finally socializing with someone else.

"Healing will be an important role. You better keep up that responsibility." He said, that was perhaps the best compliment he could muster but it still sounded arrogant and belittling. Perhaps this servant wasn't the dullest of the lot here, but even still, she was merely a pupil compared to his brilliance. That was what he thought at least.

If the dark-haired girl's eyes could glitter, then the look she had right now could be the closest to having sparkles of admiration as the gauntlet surrounding her arm vanished. Before she realized her enthusiasm went a bit too far and too familiar, Gwen had taken the Healer's hands in her own with excitement. "Healing magic!? That's an incredible gift! I can barely imagine all the good that could be done with such talents."

"She'll be a perfect Healer, Brother! I'm sure of it" Gwen assured Alistar as he spoke of responsability. Somehow, the red-eyed girl felt like she could completely trust Yulia. The youngest Ravencroft flashed a bright smile to the other young woman "Don't worry about that. We'll make sure to provide you the protection you need."

Nodding solemnly at Alistar’s reminder of responsibility, Yulia had briefly appeared lost in thought. Her eyes widened in surprise as her hands were grabbed, briefly trying to tug them away from the stronger girl’s grip before she realised it was harmless. At Gwen’s words, she broke into a slightly surprised chuckle. “Well, I feel safer already. I'll do as much good as I can, though I fear I’m far from a perfect anything.”

There she went again, being touchy as usual. Honestly Alistar was just glad it wasn't him this time. The mage simply crossed his arms. “We’ll just have to see. I expect diligent training.” He said with a sort of high and mighty attitude that did not bother to hide his arrogance. “Then I will be able to properly judge if you are truly above a simpleton as you’ve suggested.”

Realizing her misplaced gestures, Gwen giggled nervously as she withdrawed her hands from Yulia's. "Practice makes perfect, as they say." the enthusiastic young lady encouraged both her brother and her new healing comrade. "That's what we're here for after all, apparently."

Growing silent, Gwen tried to hide and stiffle a faint yawn from her mouth. Between the journey to get here, the dinner and the exhaustion from her previous lifestyle, the youngest of the sibling was starting to feel the heavy burden of fatigue weighing heavily on her. But Gwen tried her best to look unfazed by it. There were so much people to meet, so much to know. Plus, she wouldn't want Yulia to think she was boring.

"You said you are a servant? Who's your master exactly? He looks very... noble-ish? Is he a high-ranked member of society?"

Yulia frowned. “It would be improper of me to speak about my master behind his back.” There was a tinge of regret to her expression as she looked towards the siblings. “I’m sorry I can’t be of much help, but it does no good to try and act above my station. Even being served here is… uncomfortable.” She’d caught Gwen’s yawn, of course, glancing at the girl with a smooth smile. A good distraction from the topic.

“Perhaps we might head to our rooms? I imagine we could all use some proper rest today. And if either of you need anything done, well… my master’s orders come first, but it’s no harm for me to offer my skills should you want help.” It was an offer made in part for herself as well as the two; better that she kept herself humble.

"Oh... uhm... yes, good idea." Gwen stammered, realizing her yawn might have prompted this decision. "I would definitely love to make use of you 'services' every now and then. Well, when you are available, of course." Gwen giggled, offering Yulia a smile and a playful wink. Gentle as the Healer was, Gwen felt like she'd love to be friend and spend some leisure time with her.

Yulia’s eyes widened as she looked at the girl’s expression, trying to gauge whether that was an intentional advance or just some incredibly unfortunate phrasing. She paused, looking slightly flustered. “…c-could you perhaps be a little more specific? I’m afraid I don’t quite know what you mean.”

Gwen quirked an eyebrow. Guess she sucked at playing with words. "Ah, I mean, I... uh... would love to hang out with you some other times. As friends, yes!" Words were fumbling out of her mouth as she tried to get out of the embarassing grave she dug herself in. After an uncomfortable pause, she chuckled nervously as she fidgeted with her fingers "I-I'm sorry. I'm such an idiot with jokes."

“N-no, it’s not a problem, I was… surprised, that’s all. You didn’t offend me.” Yulia shook her head, leaving a few seconds of awkward silence as she tried to figure out how to reassure the girl. “And in that case, you’ll be pleased to know my services are freely available.” She laughed lightly, figuring a repeat of the joke might be enough to reassure the red-eyed girl things were fine.

The dark haired girl smiling in return, feeling eased at seeing Yulia was kind enough to accept her offer despite the blunder. Slowly, the youngest Ravencroft scooted slowly towards her elder, sneakily wrapping her arms around one of his. "That's awesome! Then, I guess I'll bid you a good night, Miss Yulia. See you tomorrow!"

"Shall we be going, Brother?" Gwen tugged at Alistar.

Alistar modded once. The servant had much to prove, he’d have to watch her progress later if she truly believed in her worth. For now it was time to rest. “Hmph, yes. I’ll head back to my room.” He turned and began to leave on his own, but of course his younger sister following quickly on his trail, nagging him all the way until the sight of both siblings disappeared as they turned a corner.

?????? / / ?????? / / ?????? / / ??????

In hell, time was lost on the fallen Angel. Everything was so wrong, so hazy, so horrible. It’s as if the singer’s mind was overloaded with such things, her mind couldn’t keep itself cleared enough to fully comprehend the situation the obsidian-haired girl was in. This couldn’t have been her reality. This wasn’t what she was meant to be. Such horrible treatments weren’t possible. It must’ve been her Stigma, finding new ways to torture her with increasingly vivid nightmares. How else could she not feel the pain despite all that she was witnessing in the mirror in front of her? And yet … there was this pain in her neck, the result of a clear memory of her throat being torn open to rip away her weapon.

Maybe she died back on the island. She died, and this was hell. She couldn’t say she didn’t deserve it. She killed so many people because of her voice. Tragic accidents they may be, but she was still the one guilty for these. And yet … despite her sins weighing heavily in her heart, did she really deserve it?

Throughout her life, Angel was never one for religion. As Catholic as her parents may have been—hell, her very name, Angélique Marie Lacroix, carried over her parents’ religious faith—she never took religion as a part of her life. Faith had fallen the day her parents’ eyes looked at her with some sort of regrets. A regret born the day Dreamcatcher had vanished and left his monsters to destroy humankind. A look in their eyes as if the name they’d given to their daughter was no longer fitting to the newborn that was given birth shortly after the white angelic being whom descended from the heavens.

Living it here and now, maybe the tales of Christianity weren’t so far off. She’d committed to worst of sins in her living, and now Angel was condemned for the consequences of what she did. Maybe this really was hell after all. How foolish did she think she could escape from her fate by running away from it. If religion was an integral part of her birth, then it was just natural for it to claim its rightful place into her for her death.

Condemned to this torture, the fallen rockstar idol lamented the things she took for granted. She may have had it rough at the island, blaming herself for what she had done, trying to steer clear from the others, and mourning lost friendships and ruined relationships. However, being here like this, she somewhat regretted that her last moments with Experimental Unit Class B ended on such a note, at least for herself. To the others, she might only be yet another casualty to add to the lengthy list of the deceased students of USARILN East. But for Angélique, she regretted some choices she had made concerning the others, and wished she could’ve done some things differently, or done more enjoyable activities with the lots of them.

Whether it was genuine remorse or because she would’ve preferred to leave a better impression of herself before leaving the class. That’s what her life-long dream was all about, isn’t it? Leave an everlasting impression onto the world that would inspire others. That’s the reason she became Angélique Lachance, the popular rockstar she was before becoming a Subnatural. It was that very passion behind this dream that made her go this far, this great. Just how ironic it was that the very thing that she got her name from also gave her the greatest curse of her life.

Her classmates…

Life was too short indeed. Didn’t fully appreciate all the moments she had spent with them. They were almost family at this point. People she spent a lot of time with. People she fought with to survive. There were so many things she wished she could’ve done with them. So much to do

Just how much she’d like to see them. She’d give everything up for one last day with them.

𝓝𝓸𝓿𝓮𝓶𝓫𝓮𝓻 𝟕𝓽𝓱, 𝟏𝟑𝟐𝟕 / / 𝓐𝓾𝓼𝓯𝓮𝓵𝓭 / / 𝓒𝓪𝓻𝓻𝓲𝓭𝓪𝓷'𝓼 𝓔𝓼𝓽𝓪𝓽𝓮 / / 𝓜𝓸𝓻𝓷𝓲𝓷𝓰

It would be a lie to say the last few days were of no interest for what was happening to Gwen. Just as she had gotten back from the blacksmith's shop, Imperial envoys were waiting with her brother in their ramshackle home. Shortly after, the two young folks were taken under the Empire's influence, given access to a bond, and then sent elsewhere for a mysterious purpose. Gwen never paid much attention to magical culture, so she had no idea what exactly this magical bond she gained along with her brother. But one thing was for sure, something changed in them. She did not know either the importance of this bond, that it would change their fate so radically.

But as the siblings' caravan reached the mansion, the teenage girl could not help but feel some sort of pride mixed with excitement. Everything she did, all the blood and sweat she poured at work. She did it all for her brother, in the hopes that he'd continue pursuing his studies that fascinated him more than anything. And here they were, lodged by the Empire and given an extraordinary power. Maybe it was destiny, maybe it was due to their family's fame, or perhaps Gwen's hardwork was noticed. Either way, Alistar had now access to magic. A dream Gwen had spent half her childhood supporting. Not only him, but the black-haired girl also gained power from this bond. It made her feel special. Worthy, even, to finally be something else than the talentless idiot that brought shame to her family and her brother.

Gazing upon the the estate, the youngest Ravencroft could not help but feel nostalgic at the sight.

"It looks somewhat like home, doesn't it, Brother?" Gwen remarked to Alistar, a note of bitterness in her words.

Not their home. The one Gwen was exiled from, and the home Alistar left in order to follow his younger sister.

"Hmph" was the only reply Alistar mustered. It would be a lie to say he wasn't excited. Not only had he obtained the sacred arts, but they were being delivered to a manor worthy of his intelligence. Certainly, it was what he desired all those years after he had abandoned his education for the sake of his aloof sister. The young mage merely flipped a page in a book he had already read several times over, keeping a facade of disinterest as he had no interest in conversation for the moment. He wanted to see everything the world was going to offer to him firsthand. By his pride, this is what he deserved, according to his own thoughts. This was by his interpretation, fate rewarding him for his sacrifice. It was his destiny, afterall, to become the greatest scholar of the magic arts this world had ever bore.

"I just hope it is just as enriched in research as our home was."

"This is the Empire! I'm sure they'll have all the ressources you need!" Gwen claimed with all of her enthusiasm.

It was a blind guess, sure, but the younger of the two siblings thought that if the Empire decided to take them in and even go to such lengths as make a magical bond, surely they had what was needed for Alistar to continue his magic research.

Gwen's gaze switched from the mansion to her own hand, where the midnight-colored spiked gauntlet covering her whole right arm materialized.

"And even if they don't, at least you have this new magic you've been granted. I believe you could experiment with it here."
"Well lets just hope so, they'd be fools to stifle my brilliance anyhow." The self-proclaimed mage tipped his coned hat over his face as he closed his book on his lap.

"I also hope they didn't recruit idiots as well. I look forward to meeting others that share my vast knowledge, of course." He said without a falter of his pride or bluntness.

"I'm sure they will!" Gwen kept telling, keeping an enthusiastic smile.

And even if they weren't up to her brother's standards, at least that will make people for him to talk to. The last few years Alistar spent in solitude at their less-than-honorable home made the younger sibling worry a bit for the elder. Being alone all the time wasn't good, socially and mentally. He'll surely benefit from talking to other people.

Seeing as both fell silent, the servants and Mages accompagnying the newly bonded duo of siblings gave the two a tour of the estate. While Gwen wasn't quite fascinated by the luxury of the domain - as she had seen plenty of it back when she was younger - she was however intrigued by the gardens. In all honesty, she always was quite fond of flowers, and she could remember the few rare moments during her childhood, as a member of the Ravengrow, she would skip her lessons to play in the garden and pick flowers to decorate her room and her brother's. Even after they had left their family, Gwen managed to get some free time, usually after taking a bath down the stream just outside the forest, to gather some flowers and bring them back home in a splendid bouquet.

Lost in memories as they were touring the gardens, Gwen absent-mindedly strayed from the group to take a closer look on the flowers and smell their exquisite aromas. Strange, such beautiful specimens usually aren't alive during the winterchill of November. Maybe something magical was at play here? Alistar probably knows. And as she pondered over this mystery, her questionning reached her brother's mind, her astonishment making its way through their emotionnal bond.
"Hard to say, though while it is possible, it'd be a waste of the arts to preserve such flowers. More likely it is some kind of agriculture trick." He answered allowed, uncaring that only Gwen understood the context of that answer. Alistar was, only moderately impressed of the manor. Sure, it was luxorious, it was only expected to treat a scholar such as himself with noble-like dignitiy. Suffice to say though that beyond that the tour didn't quite meet up to Alistar's impossible expectations. It didn't quite matter though, as he should have plenty of free time to practice his abilties and partake in his own private studies. Being a pawn of the emperor made no difference if it meant he was going to achieve his purpose.

"I... see." Gwen whispered, slightly left confused over Alistar's last statement. So, was it magic or not? That wasn't very clear in her mind. Still, to be able to make flowers grow in this cold was nonetheless impressive, no matter how lame her brother made it sound like.

As her hand reached out to pluck one flower from its stem, one of the servants frantically forbade the clueless young woman from doing so. Apologetic, the dark-haired Knight nodded, ushering a silent apology for her misdeed. Feeling she was delaying the tour, Gwen fell back in line, following the touring group. Maybe she'll come back here at a later time to fully appreciate the gardens when their business would be concluded.

Eventually, their tour would end as the two siblings were asked about rooming.

"We can have a room for two? Can we one, please?" Gwen replied without a hint of hesitation in her voice, despite how strange it might have been for the servants to hear such a request from siblings.
"I'd prefer my own private room, actually." Alistar requested after her sister without much care, if not being blunt.

"Oh... okay." Gwen only replied, barely hiding a tinge of disappointment in her voice. "Then, I'll have my own room too, if you may please."

In the spur of the moment, Gwen had thought that it would be fun to share a room with her brother. They've always had separate rooms back in their family's estate, and it was the same in their small ruined home. Being alone in a single room was quite lonesome. And during some nights, it was hard to sleep alone. Gwen still remembered those rare nights she sneaked out of bed after a nightmare, as a kid, to slip into her brother's bed. The comforting warmth of her big brother was reassuring at that time. She sort of wished she'd feel this warmth again, once in a while.

Slightly let down, Gwen departed with her assigned servant to show her to her room.

"I'll see you later, brother."

Being properly cleaned and dressed for the upcoming dinner. Gwen navigated through the maze that was this mansion to find her brother's room. It took longer than anticipated, and even had to find a servant to show her the way to Alistar's room. Despite the tour, she had a hard time remembering the paths to take to get to somewhere in the estate.

Manners lost on her, especially when it came to family, Gwen barged into Alistar's room without knocking. Her previous disappointed state seemed to have faded away to being replaced by her usual cheerful mood.

"Brother~, are you ready for dinner soon?" the black-haired sister called out.
"I'd appreciate it if you'd knock first, have you still no sense of privacy?" Alistar inquired rudely as he closed a brown tome in his book. He was prepared for dinner in the proper sense, already dressed in a more simple tunic, though he still bore the hat above his head. He wasn't exactly thrilled to end his studies and interact with the others, hopefully they won't annoy him. He was atleast somewhat hungry, given the time. "But yes, I am ready to go attend to dinner."

"Whoops, my bad." Gwen only replied with a soft smile donning her face.

Old habits die hard, not to mention these sort of manners weren't properly taught within her. Being so close to her brother all the time, she often forgot about their own privacy, even more so with this celestial bonding of theirs. It's as if they couldn't keep secrets from each other, if there were any in the first place.

"Alright then. Let's meet our new friends!"
"Friends are a strong term." He added before leading the way.

The trip to the dining hall was relatively short with Alistar in the lead. Unlike Gwen, he knew his way around the estate with only the tour they've benefitted from. As they arrived, there were already plenty of people attending this dinner, imperial officials and other bonded pairings alike. While Alistar had no problem finding his seat, the same couldn't be said for his sister, who had the greatest difficulty reading those.

Initially, Gwen thought of sitting next to her brother, but he was already flanked by occupied seats. Just where did she had to go? After standing still for a minute and watching all around her, she caught the look in Alistar's eyes.

Curtly, Gwen went to take a seat at the table, across her older brother. Slightly embarassed, it did not hold her from grabbing as much food as her plate could handle. It had been so long since they had a decent meal with good portions. Famished and not really one for manners, Gwen began eating just as the officials were introducing themselves. She was listening as they were speaking, intrigued by the men that were the reason they were here in the first place.

Gwen found herself interested by the woman that had made quite a ruckus as she entered the dinning hall. She seemed to have quite the bright personality, which was a huge plus compared to all the more somber individuals in this room. And that "romance" theme of her bond only made it the more interesting. Love was such a fascinating aspect of their world, after all.

When the others began their introductions, the younger of the two Ravencroft finally stopping stuffing her face with food. She took proper care to clean her hands and mouth with a nearby napkin before it would be their turn to speak. So far, there seemed to have a lot of nobles attending this dinner of theirs. From the way their standing suggested to the way they were speaking. A lot didn't quite have that country-side look to them, although the clothing they were provided helped with that.

After the two girls finished introducing themselves, there was a silence that needed to be filled, and Gwen took it upon herself to break it. Getting up from her chair, the dark-haired girl with blood red eyes scanned the room and flashed a smile.

"Hello, I am Gwen A'ladriel Rave-" the girl interrupted herself abruptly, uncertainty gripping her as she did not know whether it was needed to introduce herself as a Ravencroft or not. She had been disowned by her family. Could she reslly use that name?

"Gwen will be fine though! I am Knight to my brother and apprentice blacksmith. It is a pleasure to meet you all! I hope we will all be getting along."

Gwen kept her smile as bright as always, falling silent and looking to Alistar, see if he was going to introduce himself, or if she'll need to do it, like some of the others did.

Once Alistar was seated he had only taken a small portion of food to start with. He was never much of a big eater, and though he definitely hadn't seen food this well made in a long time, he only took what he figured he could eat. By the time the others began introducing themselves Alistar was ionly half-listening with arms crossed and his large cone-shaped hat slightly obscuring his face. He had little interest in these baffoons afterall. He didn't desire any sort of social party.

A sigh abrupted from the hat-wearing mage. "Ravencroft, her last name is Ravencroft, just as I." Dissapointment and annoyance was left in his voice as he stood up from his chair. "My name is Alistar A'sarel Ravencroft. I am a mage and I have little interest in making acquaintences. My only concerns are with my studies. I'll only say this once, but I have no patience for the weak-minded. I have no desire to waste my talents or knowledge to simpletons. You'll find my sister to be much more easier to talk to, so if you have any inquiries, ask her."

Seating himself back in his chair, Alistar took a single bite of an apple.

Perhaps it would have been better if she had given Alistar a short but sweet introduction instead of the blunt words that came from his mouth, Gwen figured as she stoof still and listened to her brother. When he was done, she her enthusiastic smile turned to a somewhat emarassed smirk, trying to remain friendly-looking despite the barrage of insults unleashed by the older Ravencroft.

"It will be my pleasure, really!" Gwen finished with a nervous giggle, sitting back on her chair as uickly as she had risen from it. As if to hide her embarassement, she began shoveling food back into her mouth as soon as she was back on her seat.

?????? / / ?????? / / ?????? / / ??????

Ironically, thanks to the drugs administered to Angélique and the numbing side-effects of Thi’s magic, the dismembered ex-rockstar was so far out of her mind that she did not know what was happening around her, or to her body. She could hear voices casually talking of things Angel could not piece together in her clouded mind. As a matter of fact, she was drifting between consciousness and blacking out. She felt no pain at all, but couldn’t also have any coherent thought, which was probably a good thing in her current state.

For an undetermined amount of time—time that the poor girl could not grasp in her hazy state of mind—the raven-haired girl slowly started returning to her senses. There was no voice, at least none that she wasn’t familiar with beside the ones she constantly kept hearing in her head. She was all alone, with enough lighting to discern what was surrounding her.

At first, the waking young woman was confused. Eyes not yet open, she swore she couldn’t feel anything. The only thing she could feel was a slight itching in her throat. An itching she wanted to scratch badly. And yet, she couldn’t. Why couldn’t she relieve herself of this itching? Where was the feeling of her hands gone to?

Trying to bring her hands up to her neck, sinister memories slowly began creeping into her mind.

The searing bite of a saw’s teeth digging into flesh and bone.

It hurts…

A hand digging into her stomach to remove most of her organs.

No more…

A scalpel to slice away her fat, breasts and hair.

Please … let me die…

Those memories, accompanied by the lack of sensation throughout her body, made Angel’s heartbeat steadily increase. Adrenaline began pumping through her as her mind was clearing, remembering every little detail of that sordid morning. The pain, it was unbearable. Even as numb as she was, the reminder of the pain she suffered not long ago was still fresh in her mind. Why wasn’t she dead yet?

Then, Angel slowly opened her eyes, afraid of what she will find out. At first, there was nothing but haze. She could do nothing but wait for it to subside as she couldn’t bring a hand to clear her eyes. But when her sight became clearer, she noticed she was standing upright, just as if she was standing. Standing without feeling anything of her body. Glancing around, what she saw only made her situation worse.

Rods of metal.

A metal frame surrounding her.

Tubes of all kinds inserted in her body.

The polished mirror in front of her…

What the fuck is that … no … it can’t be…

Angel closed her eyes reflexively. She suddenly felt sick. She thought she’d throw up right at this moment, but nothing would come out of her mouth. Angel simply retched air out from her throat for a good moment. Even if it was but a hazy silhouette, she could recognize a dismembered corpse when she saw one. She saw enough of those back in Wisford and Washington.

Why was she here? What did they do to her? Whose corpse was this?

Angel could feel her heart beating at an inhuman pace. It slightly hurt even. Her mind was pacing back and forth to that morning and the moments she spent unconscious.

Daring to open her eyes once more, Angélique stared into the mirror again. Despite the heaving sensation building up in her throat again, she kept going, as if some strange force, a morbid curiosity to learn the truth, drove her into looking at what was standing before her.

The mutilated torso of a human being, held up by rods of metal fused to its bone and flesh and attached to a large square metal frame. Lower body missing so much that the ribcage was exposed. Its innards were removed, replaced by a complex assembly of tubes that was pumping stuff inside and outside its body. Scars running across the torso, as if the body had been thoroughly opened then sewed back.

Angel’s heartbeat grew even quicker.

The black X mark on its neck, unaltered despite the stitches on the corpse’s neck.

Her breathing was accelerating to an alarming rate.

The cropped locks of sand and mud-stained black hair.

A plaintive shadow of a wail formed on her lips.

Those glassy emerald eyes and the tears that had started to trail down its cheeks.


Her chest was hurting. She swore she could see the corpse’s heart beating so quickly, she could see it through the corpse’s inhumanely slim torso. She swore her heart was ready to explode from her chest cavity. It hurt so damn much.

This can’t be…

As to match her heart’s erratic beats, her breathing also grew so quick and shallow, Angel thought for an instant every breath she took was not enough. She could feel herself choke from her own breathing, Angel was starting to suffocate, exhaling more oxygen than her intake.

It’s impossible…

But despite her panic attack, neither her heart, lungs or brain faltered. Even if her heart was beating in a pace that would usually be dangerous to a normal human being, it simply kept on pumping more blood through the distressed young woman. Even if she was hyperventilating, the Aberration’s system seemed to handle itself well enough to stay alive. Even if the shock of seeing her own corpse hanging out on this metal frame would usually be so intense as it would make Angélique go unconscious, she remained fully awake, unable to die or avert her mind away from this living nightmare.

This was no corpse. This was a mirror. It was a reflection of her. This was what remained of Angélique Lachance.

Her lips formed a wide O. Air pushed from her lungs so violently that, despite her lack of vocal chords, the sound of a faint wheeze out from what should have been a scream of denial could be heard.

But as much as she tried to scream, no one would hear her. No one would come to her rescue.

If this was what hell looked like, then Angel sure was buckled alright for a maddening descent to the inferno.
Jokes on you, Chris is next to die.
We sure haven't read some CC viewpoint for a while. Would be interesting to see what they are up to now.
Posting my CS here for review.
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