Stranger really couldn't go five minutes without kicking up some sort of fuss, could he? With an expression of resignation - for yes, she had accepted her fate, stuck with the weird alien worth what was probably a not so ridiculous amount if he really was an alien - she looked on as, instead of answering her question, Jack began blaring music from his butt. Once again, it wasn't anything she was familiar with. The alien language was one thing, but the beats and rhythm of the music were different as well. Catchy, even.
Unfortunately, the horses thought otherwise - Guinea included. The recktall horse snorted, snapping her incisors as she stamped the ground. Cheryl whapped her on the neck.
'Quit your tantrum,' she said, 'It's just music.'
'Chree-ee-ee,' said Guinea. She sounded like she was choking on her own tongue. Considering how the horse had settled down somewhat, Cheryl took that to mean that she'd pulled herself together.
In the meantime, Jack had finally collected his...musical fart item and turned the music off. 'About time, Stranger.'
'Can't you-' she started.
'Sonarlis City Morgue. You kill them, we’ll chill them,' said Jack, talking over her words. Was he talking to his item? It seemed like it. It also seemed like he'd be doing his damn best to toss logic into the depths of nonexistence the whole time he was here.
She studied him as he talked to the item. Perhaps it was a communication device? It would make more sense. From what she could glean from his side of the conversation, he had no clue, like he did with most everything, on who he was talking to. Shocker.
Oh? Whoever was on the other side of the conversation must have said something upsetting, because Jack didn't look happy just then. He held out the item towards her, finger on his lips. She stayed quiet as a voice rang out from the item, stating a request she was far too familiar with. She listened as Jack said his response. And when Jack finally turned to her, she had nothing but a weary expression on her.
There were a lot of things she could say. Distrust - he could just as easily kill her when she had her back turned. Confusion - he could have accepted the request and do away with her while she was unaware. Frustration - why the hell did this idiot insist on being so belligerent?
'Yeah, you catching up to me's as likely as a manamone dropping dead by our feet.' She fished out a gold coin from the pouch of Jack's Ridiculous Bounty and tossed it at him. 'Try to resist your swindling urges, will you? Doing that to a man in a room full of weapons isn't exactly the best idea.' She leaned against the stall's low wall, crossing her arms. 'Take longer than five minutes and I'm leaving. Falling asleep on a ride isn't the greatest way to die.'
Dimensions were places where events took place. Sometimes, too many events took place at the same time. It got to the point when even Erised, lover of chaos, developed a system to process things in her head. A three-point system.
Point number one. Something was in the sky.
Point number two. She hadn't missed the bald, beefy dude from earlier coming their way, though why he was pissed off she couldn't care less.
Point number three. The guard in front of her looked about one second away from pissing his pants.
That was all she got before everything went to hell in a handbasket. The wind, only just calming down, kicked right back into its previous scrambling state, only a lot stronger. This wasn't the uncontrolled output of a whirlwind. This was driven force, wind pushed aside in place of something else. She shielded her eyes with her free arm - a fruitless action since she still had to blink the dirt out of her eyes. A roar pierced through the sky and the village; the thunderous sound rang in her ears and as she peered up at the sky, a grin crept onto her face.
'Not a boring place at all.'
A yell from the fleeing guard had her glancing over at him, before dismissing him entirely. She adjusted her grip on the sword she now apparently owned. Not a bad find, though she was more used to her knives. No doubt her form had swordmasters rolling in their graves. Her admiration of the weapon was cut short as more dragons showed up.
'Hup!' Fire burst out along the market stalls and Erised held her breath as she hopped to one side. The pungent stench of smoke and cooked flesh filled the air, as did the screams of the desperate, hurt, and afraid. In moments, the quiet village centre had transformed into a flustercluck of flames and terror. Despite not being a part of it all, there was a rush in her veins and a thrill in her chest; Erised let out a delighted laugh. She wanted, wanted, wanted nothing more than to jump in and sink her hands into the bloodbath. To chase after the people running around like headless chickens, to slaughter them one-by-one, watch the blood drain, hear them scream, laugh at their agony-
She punched herself.
'Relapse much?' she muttered, rubbing her sore cheek. 'Been a while since I felt that way.' Too much concentrated desire in one area here - for a dimension, it wasn't any more than was usual, but for her, it was all too easy to lose herself in the middle of it. Especially with all the uncertainty that definitely was not churning in her now.
'Then again, is it really losing myself if it's just me in the first place?'
Her contemplative line of thought was cut short by, not more dragons, but a shockwave that sent her flying onto her back. Her head cracked against the unforgiving cobblestones. Stars burst against her vision.
'Ow.' It had to have been the kid. No other kid she knew here could scream and send things flying like that. 'Stupid kids.' Could the universe start granting powers to more emotionally stable people? She sucked in some desire, enough to stop her head from throbbing, and rolled onto her side, leaning on an elbow. The market seemed quiet now, relatively speaking. The girl...was being kidnapped, of course.
'Wait, the dragons are working for the humans? Lame!' she called out, getting to her feet. As if reminded of their current situation, everyone leapt back into action - the people ran, the dragons wreaked havoc, and a guy fell out of the sky. Sword tip shoved against the ground, Erised leaned on its hilt, watching as the bald, beefy dude clambered out of the tarp. Their gazes met for a brief moment, then his attention snapped to the girl being kidnapped.
Erised straightened. She looked at the kid being taken away in the distance, looked at the bald, beefy dude, looked at the kid, then finally settled on the bald, beefy dude.
'Dammit!' she said, 'You're the protagonist, aren't you? I really wanted that horse.'
A spray of fire shot overhead. The market was well on its way to being a bonfire. The stifling presence of smoke, blood, and charred meat hung heavy in the air. Sweat prickled on Erised's skin but its slight coolness gave no reprieve from the surrounding heat. The dragons were relentless; people were still running past. Even in their haste, they gave her a wide berth. Funny how societal propriety still stood stark in their minds even in the midst of disaster.
There were many ways she could continue on from here. Join the dragons in their havoc. Help the villagers. Chase after the girl. Erised hummed to herself, swaying back and forth. For all the desire around her, she had none right now. Not for herself, at least. This type of situation wasn't new. Did it even matter what she chose to do? After what Teresa had showed her...
Was there a point?
Her lips curled back into a snarl. Anger, a familiar friend, crawled up her chest.
'I'm having none of this. I'm not the damn robot.' Even after everything, nothing had changed. She was the same. She was the same, dammit!
She straightened up, yanking the sword off the ground and turning back to the beefy, bald dude with a considering look. Then, as another stream of fire burst close to where they were, she looked up.
'I'm getting a ride,' she said. Then she leapt. Flight - an easy thing to replicate once she got her head wrapped around the concept. Generating a gravity-defying organ, manipulating graviton particles to allow her mass to be in places it shouldn't - it was all scientific mumbo-jumbo to her but copying it from diagrams and sheets worked well enough on most Earths. This was no different. She soared through the sky, grace and dignity in her every movement as she headed for one of the dragons. Like a petal caught in the buffets of a strong wind, she ducked and dodged and twisted through the air like a seasoned natural.
That had been the plan. In truth, she'd only made it as far as the first step, only with none of the grace and dignity. She skyrocketed straight up into the sky and plummeted through the clouds, a wriggling ball of hair and uncontrolled limbs. There was no time to scream, not with the rush of wind and inertia and heat shoving against her face. Did she still have her sword? Yes, she did and she probably should try not to stab herself while flailing like this. Impaled by her own weapon of her own doing was an embarrassing first death in any dimension.
That was the problem with doing things on a whim: she just kept forgetting the important details. Like the fact that this was clearly not an Earth, that this was probably some other planet with lighter gravity, and that her ears were popping with incredible pain from the pressure.
'You absolute pie-eating moron.'
𝖀𝖕 𝖔𝖓 𝖙𝖍𝖊 𝖒𝖔𝖚𝖓𝖙𝖆𝖎𝖓...
The presence of the traitor had not been missed. It would have been hard to, what with him crashing into their home like that. The khusa dragons closed in, crowding in around where the traitor lay on the narrow ledge. There weren't many places to approach the traitor, considering where he was positioned, but this was their home and the khusas' reputation for climbing ability was not for show. They were on either side of him on his ledge. Most were gathered on the edge of the cliff face high above, ready to pounce.
Fluffed-out cream feathers, black wings, red eyes; the khusas hadn't had the upper hand in the colour scheme lucky draw. Pairs of yellow horns protruded along the side of their heads and tufts of black fluff hung under their chins. The quadrupedal animals' long tails were raised up high - a display of aggression.
One stood out against from the line of khusas gathered on the lip of the cliff - not in appearance, but from his stance. The entire upper half of his body hung down the cliff, black claws embedded into the rough stone. Valen bared his fangs, a disdainful snarl escaping him.
If asked, every single khusa present would deny that they heaved a sigh of relief. As tough as the khusas were, they weren't entirely sure they'd face up to an arist.
'Dabi, tell the florets that the threat's been taken care of.' Valen sent this to the one on his right, though on a smaller channel, one that the immediately surrounding khusas could tune into. Dabi hissed softly, an expression of agreement, and turned away, marching off. His build was smaller than the average khusa but his every movement warned off underestimating him in battle.
Valen turned back to the rest of his expectant clan, backing up over the cliff's lip to stand before it.
'Everyone, clear off,' he sent on their mass channel, 'The Guards will dispose of this scum.'
'Valen, the village!' The message was sent on a private channel and Valen glanced towards the khusa on his other side. This one had a cape of black draping around the nape of his neck, fanning out around the shoulders, and drooping as a line down the front of each of his forepaws. Secor.
Valen looked towards the spot of what was flames and faint screaming at the foot of the mountain, just fast enough to catch sight of the human shooting straight up into the sky. His tail shot upwards, tense, and he released a breathy growl.
It couldn't be possible. Flight at that speed and altitude required a mastery of air magic that humans couldn't possibly have gained yet. He was aware that some were learning magic but there had been none who had made notable progress just yet. Their community may live in the mountains, preferring to stay uninvolved in the mess their land was in, but they weren't secluded. He would have known.
'Secor, go, stay low, and observe. Tell me what the situation is. Find out who that human is and what it can do, if you can,' he said. 'Do not get involved.'
Secor responded with a soft hiss, already turning away to scamper off.
'With heart, Valen,' he sent, though he didn't look back.
'With heart, Secor.' Valen glanced back at the burning village. His eyes narrowed.
A human proficient in magic? Guardian help them all.