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[M] The Cat and the Assassin

Kila Offline

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#11
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Brianna

"Well, at least you're not completely clueless with money," Brianna quipped with a grin. "Must be nice being a buyer and not a seller, though. I can't--"

"It's a veapon... vit a personality, but a veapon nevertheless--"

Oh no.

Oh no.

"You shouldn't have said that." The color had drained from Brianna's face as she spoke, and her eyes darted down to the shaking dagger at her left hip.

"What did he just call me!?" Danae roared.

Gods, they'd been so close to the house and they were almost out of the rain, why did Zae have to go and insult her? Brianna set both hands on the dagger and cooed, "He didn't mean it! He doesn't know, you both know that people don't know! I don't even know!" Her voice rose as the words practically fell out of her mouth in an attempt to placate the dagger, who was shaking so violently that Brianna's hands could hardly contain her.

There was a bright flash of light that knocked Brianna backwards as something spring-boarded off of her. The kelahati managed to catch herself, but not before her hood went flying off and she found herself on the wet grass, getting soggy in places she'd rather not, and when she looked up Brianna found herself staring at the pitch black tails of a small kitsune.

The kitsune stood with hackles raised and tails flared out, snarling loudly and glaring at Zaeren with white eyes narrowed to slits. "You take that back!" she snapped, her snarl tearing through the air. "I am not just a weapon with personality! I have a form and feelings, you brute! I'll not sit still and be insulted by some desert-ass-looking-rat who crawled out of a gutter!"

Brianna felt her cheeks grow hot with embarrassment as Danae's string of insults continued, and she hid her face in her hands. "Oh gods, please kill me now," she whimpered. Things had been going so well. So well! Unusually well! Of course things had to go wrong! They always went wrong! Probably because through whatever karma had allowed her to live was now backlashing and paying her back in quintuple for it and oh gods she wanted nothing more than to curl up in a hole and die.

The feline rose to her feet in a heartbeat and put herself between the kitsune and Zaeren, nervous smile on her face as the rain came down heavier. "Well, it was fun but I think I should get going, it was lovely meeting you but now if you don't mind I'm going to go take my weird fox and my weird self and go be weird somewhere else because clearly we've bothered you enough for one day." Her voice quivered as the words fell out faster than she could think. Chest painfully tight and finding it hard to breathe, Brianna managed to choke out, "I really appreciate your offer and your hospitality, it certainly looks like your home is lovely--" she forced herself to inhale, though the sound was raspy and thin "--as you can clearly see I have a lot of things I need to take care of, haha."

"I'm not leaving without an apology!" Danae hissed, peering around Brianna as the feline began ushering her away. "You're soaked! I'm soaked! He insulted us! Don't let him treat us like that, you spineless coward!"

The barbed words hit home in Brianna's heart, and she smiled in spite of welling eyes. "I know, but...let's just go. It's easier, and he's right. You're rude. But you're right, too, so can we just go?" There was a finality to her words that made the kitsune stop short, expression unreadable. Brianna backtracked and quickly added, "Please."

For a moment, Danae glanced past her and glared at Zaeren. Brianna wondered what the fox might be thinking when she was spun around and made to face Zaeren, with Danae nosing her forward rather aggressively. She only stopped pushing when Brianna was directly in front of Zaeren, and had to crane her neck in order to look at him. "U-uh..."

Danae sat at Brianna's side, and pointedly glared up at the man as she barked, "My mistress is wet, and it's your fault. I can't let that slide. So you're going to take her to your house and get her dry and fed and taken care of. And then maybe, maybe, I'll consider forgiving you for your insult against myself, my brother, and Brianna."


Andromeda Offline

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#12
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Zaeren
Zaeren listened to the onslaught with no real change. It took him by slight surprise, which caused his eyes to widen at first, but that was about it. He didn't really see the point in arguing with a weapon. It was just an item, a spunky item, but just an item. It held no true power without a master. He let it finish before looking at Bri with an expression of 'what do I do about that thing'.  He technically could do something about it, but he wasn't sure if Bri would like it or even want him to. It was also somewhat mean and may or may not cause the weapon permeant harm. 

He instead finally nodded and opened the door to his home as he finally came to it. True they were wet, but honestly it wasn't that big of a deal. He walked over to a table where many stones rested and grabbed two giving them to the girl. One was an air stone, and the other a fire stone. It would help her dry off in record time so she wouldn't be uncomfortable in wet clothes. Then he walked over to where a chair stood with a pelt draped across it and picked it up. The pelt was in shades of black, red, and gold. He tossed it to her. "Here, try to get varm. It vill help your mood," he told her. His home for the most part was really simple with the basic furniture and a lot of pelts. The pelts were mostly made by him. Each one held it's own story. On the wall above an unused fireplace was the skull of a dragon. It was mounted with it's mouth slightly agape as if it was getting ready to breathe fire one last time, but no skin, muscle, or eyes, only bones remained as it rested there. 

The rest of the house almost seemed like a new house built but never lived in. He never seemed to be here. It was only rare, and only because he was returning from a long trip. He could portal home, but he figured he shouldn't bring his guest there. His other family members might not agree with him on that. He watched her wondering what she was thinking. "So vat all do you need? As you can see I have tings, but zis is just one of my spare houses zat I and my siblings use vhen ve're out and about doing our job." He looked at her. He knew she needed help or so her weapon seemed to imply. It was clear he wasn't in a playful mood. Then again he rarely was ever in one. 



Kila Offline

Sphinx Queen

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#13
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Brianna

Stepping through the threshold and into the house, the kelahati looked around at everything, barely noticing when Zaeren handed her two stones, which felt foreign in her hands. She soon found herself scrambling to catch a pelt that had been thrown at her, and before Brianna could even ask the meaning of the stones, Danae had slipped inside the house and taken up position at her left side.

Be careful with this one, she warned, her voice directly in Brianna's mind. I don't trust the way he looked at me. He's dangerous, Brianna. I can see it in his eyes.

With her warning delivered, the kitsune vanished, appearing once again as a dagger at Brianna's left hip. The woman was left with nothing but feelings of confusion. Zaeren was a kind man, but it was true, Brianna had seen his bue eyes harden with Danae. The dagger's concerns resonated within her, slowly becoming her own feelings, clouding her mind even more. It wasn't long before Brianna realized she'd just been standing there dripping on Zaeren's floor and looking quite the fool.

"A-ah, right, right, dry off. Get warm..." she trailed off, setting the stones on a nearby table. She didn't know what they were, or how to use them, and instead closed her eyes and focused. The air around her grew warm, rippling gently with heat as she focused on both her air and fire magic. It took a few moments to dry herself until she was damp, and the effort left her feeling exhausted, but it was better than being soaked. Wobbling briefly, setting a hand on the table the steady herself, Brianna ran a hand through her damp hair and shook her head, clearing her head.

"Um, honestly I just needed shelter for a bit. Once I'm rested I'll be on my way to continue hunting and making my living," Brianna said, moving to a corner of the room away from the gaze of the dragon's skull. She did give the skull a cautionary glance, and stared at it as she moved by, tail bristling as she passed with unbroken eye contact, as though the creature would spring to life and devour her without hesitation. With an involuntary shudder, the feline cast her jaguar-skin cloak aside and made a nest in her corner of the room, nestling into the black, red, and gold pelt Zaeren had let her borrow.

His mood had become cold and sour. Brianna couldn't blame him; Danae had been incredibly rude and prickly, but it did little to lift her spirits. Instead his demeanor caused a pit of doubt to blossom in the depths of her gut, twisting it into a knot that made her feel somewhere between hunger and nausea. Perhaps it was also the home itself, so new and unlived in. True, the skins and mounts gave personality to the place, but nothing about it felt like a home. The fireplace hadn't been used in a great while, if even ever, and even Zaeren himself had admitted to only staying there when he absolutely needed to, though he had also mentioned siblings...

Glancing at him from beneath her bangs, still making herself as small as possible, Brianna questioned, "You said you have siblings? What're they like? Will you tell me about them?" Her eyes glimmered with curiosity, though she realized her query was rather invasive. "You don't have to, if you don't want to. It'd just be nice to get to know you a little better, is all."


Andromeda Offline

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#14
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Zaeren
His eyes flashed with slight confusion at first and then came back to a calm neutral expression. "Zey are like you or I. Zey each have tere ovn faults and issues, but at ze end of ze day zey are family. Some of tem are more like me, vhile oters are more out zere. Not in a bad vay mind you. Ve each knov our place and vat ve're suppose to do," he told her calmly as he thought of his 'siblings'. They were each different but he cared for them. He had for a long time cared for them. Not just emotionally, but physically as well when needed. He wasn't sure what to think of them past how he did. He also wasn't sure how to explain what he was to this woman. She seemed so fragile and so scared. She was scared and intimated by her own weapons it seemed. How was she suppose to handle what he was or what he had to do. 

Part of him was now worried about taking her with him on his tasks. Would she be able to handle what he had to do or would it freak her out or worst cause her to come into harms way? These were questions he could not answer at the moment but he wanted to know before risking her life in this tasks. It was dangerous. He knew that, but he figured she also didn't want to be left alone. She seemed to need help, but he wasn't entirely sure all of the help she would require from him. 

He paused... "I noticed you gave my ... trophy a strange look. Care to tell me vhy? If you do I'll tell you more about me," he said watching her. He figured it was a fair trade. "Noting will be off limits from vat I may tell you in return." It was an offer. It was the best he could think of at the given moment with things how they were. He was just curious why she had earlier given the skull a look as if it'd eat her or something. He knew some people feared dragons, but that was mostly humans. She seemed able to handle herself for the most part and she didn't' exactly match the appearance of those that lived near dragons. Why was she so scared of them. 

Zaeren moved over to the skull and stood directly under it. Then he looked back at her. Those blue eyes curious.


Kila Offline

Sphinx Queen

Posts: 564
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Joined: Jul 2017
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#15
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Brianna

Shit.

He'd noticed the way she'd looked at the skull, and was now standing under it so she'd be forced to look at it. Clever bastard, she thought.

With a sigh, Brianna ran her hands through her hair, from scalp to tip, and looked the man dead in the eyes, unblinking. "A tit for tat, eh? Alright. I'll play along..." Licking her dry lips, the feline rose to her feet, and what had started out as her wetting her parched lips had turned into her chewing off any skin she could pull off with her teeth, breaking her eye contact with Zaeren.

Dragons.

"It's...not something I really like to talk about..." she trailed off, gripping the pendant at her throat so hard her knuckles turned white. Damn her curiosity. Damn this man and his mysterious aura. Damn her own weakness. But getting him to answer her questions...ah, sating that blasted curiosity of hers would be worth ripping open some old wounds on her heart.

Again she made eye contact with him, but for only a moment before her gaze rose to meet that of the dragon. Her tail bristled, and the crystal at her throat grew warm in her hand. Heartbeat quickening in her chest, beating so hard it felt like it would burst. Her pupils swelled in size, her eyes shining as she dredged up the memories.

"I grew up in a large kelahati settlement in the forest. I don't remember where, honestly, but I know there were lots of trees and a beautiful lake, with mountains close by where we'd hunt and gather herbs... I didn't have any family. It was just Mom and I, but she was really good to me, and everyone was so nice. I...I used to lay awake at night listening to my mom tell me stories of far off places my dad had been to, and she'd talk about how when I was older we'd go find him. I'd think about what he was like, what all those places would be like..." Her breath caught in her throat.

Brianna's eyes narrowed to slits as she continued, claws unsheathed and digging into her arm. "I was just a child when it happened. Gods, I was barely six when they came. The sky grew dark and it snowed ash as the dragons descended. There was so much fire, and the screams...gods, the screams..." Her eyes began to well with tears. "Mom told me to run. Gave me this necklace and told me to run as fast and as far as I could, but I was so scared," Brianna said, her voice cracking before breaking into a snarl.

"I watched that fucking monster eat her!" The snarl that tore from her throat wasn't human, her eyes still fixed on the dragon's skull above the mantle. Fangs bared, she continued. "I saw them eat the other villagers, snapping them up in their jaws, playing with them, tormenting my people!" Hot, angry tears fell down her cheeks, burning. Her hand released the pendant to grasp a fistful of her own hair, covering one of her ears as though she were trying to drown out the screams of people long since dead.

Her breathing caught in her throat again, rasping and uneven as she tore her gaze away from the skull. "There's nothing left. Nothing there but scorched earth and trees now, and all I'm left with is a head full of things I'd rather forget and this." In her anger, Brianna unclasped her shirt and let it fall to the bare wood floor, and gestured harshly to the massive scar on her left shoulder. Whatever left the scar had massive claws, and had torn into her shoulder, raking down across her left breast and down her ribs. It was an ugly, twisted thing.

"I hate dragons," she hissed, her eyes boring into Zaeran. "I want nothing more than to become strong enough to kill the bastard who did this..."

And then her anger melted away, her shoulders dropping low and the angry tears that had flowed down her cheeks were now replaced by those of sadness and loss. "I'm the only one who made it out," she croaked, "And gods, some days I wish I had..." She ran her hands over her face, rubbing away her tears. It didn't matter that she was shirtless in front of a stranger, or that she'd just ripped open the old scars on her heart, all that mattered now was she was tired and emotionally drained. There was nothing left in her, no anger, no sadness, only a sinking numbness that poked at her.

With a sigh, she fell backwards, landing on the floor with a heavy thud, and stared up at the ceiling, her hair spread out around her like a curtain. "I need a drink."


Andromeda Offline

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#16
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As she finished her story and moved to fall complaining for the need for a drink, the man moved. It was quick. His stride long and assured as he wrapped his arms around her back pulling her into his chest keeping her from falling on the floor but instead into his lap as he allowed her to land on top of him. He sighed as his arms tightened around her pondering her story. Finally he leaned his head down to her ear and spoke so softly, the words were but a whisper as his bent his back to accomplish this feat.

"I am sorry Bri," his lips next to her ear as he spoke so softly. "He should not have done zat. If I find him... I promise I vill help you to kill him. Tose crimes do not go unpunished by me and my siblings. Ve look for peace... but ven people break zat peace ve act." He slowly looked up to the skull on the wall. He looked at it remembering what that skull meant to him as he held her. He could tell she was upset and that bothered him.

A soft exhale. "I vork as a balance keeper.. .Ze best I can think of explaining vat I do to you is to tell you zat I am like am ambassador except I have ze power to end people zat break ze peace." A pause. "But first I need you to come vith me okay?"

He let the request hold in the air for a moment before he spoke anymore. He just concentrated on his breathing keeping it level hoping that his breathing would help to soothe her. He had heard that one calm person could make a difference but he had little social skills to know if it'd actually work or not. "I need you to go vit me to ze dragon kingdom. I ovn teir king a visit for his misconduct zat has treatened many. After zat we'll see about getting you your drink and more on tis dragon of yours okay?"

It was the best he could do.

Kila Offline

Sphinx Queen

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#17
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Brianna

Zae's arms were warm. Everything about him was warm, and even though he was damp, his embrace was comforting.

Brianna sank into his lap, pressing her bare chest against his and wrapping her arms around his neck as he leaned in close to whisper into her ear. Even though she was numb and drained, mentally and emotionally, his words struck a chord within her, and the kelahati woman tightened her arms around him, pulling herself closer.

"Thank you," she whispered into him, eyes half closed. "It means a lot to me..."

She nuzzled into the hollow between his neck and shoulder and breathed in. Zae smelled of the forest and freshly cut timber. It was nostalgic and pleasant, with warm notes of cinnamon mingling in, a bit like something she'd smelled before, but couldn't quite place.

As Brianna sat in his lap, her arms around his neck with his arms around her waist, his steady breathing calmed her down, until finally she felt herself return to normalcy. A part of her didn't want to let go, and keep herself in his arms, but Brianna knew Zae had done this more out of pity than anything.

Still, it was nice to feel comforted, even if only for a moment.

Sliding down his chest and settling back into his lap, Brianna ran her fingers through her hair, Zae's unanswered question hanging in the air. Going with him meant facing a dragon; she knew she wasn't strong enough yet, but going with Zae meant she could become stronger. He'd even offered to help her track down the dragon who'd slaughtered her people. The seed of revenge that had long been planted in her heart stirred, and Brianna knew she'd regret turning him down.

It's not like I have anything better to do, she told herself.

With a slight chuckle, she looked up at the man, who'd called himself a balance keeper, and spoke with a throaty purr. "How could I say no when you asked so nicely?" She leaned back against his chest and glanced up at him from beneath her bangs. "Besides, you still owe me an answer, and now I'm not sure what kind of question I want to ask." Her teasing smile had returned, even though her chest still ached and her eyes still stung from the tears she'd shed earlier.

"You're a good man, Zae," she crooned, setting her hand on his. "I appreciate what you're doing for me, and if there's anything I can do for you, you need only ask."


Andromeda Offline

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#18
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"I'm not sure vat I vould need," he answered honestly as he held her gently, his fingers just going through her hair as he tried to comfort her. He felt bad. He should've done something to the dragon that had ruined her life long ago. If he had heard or known such a dragon existed... Did it still exist? He wasn't sure.... He just went where he was told to go by his mother. He did what she wanted. He was a good son. He always did what he was told like a child seeking praise, but then there were people like her that needed him in other places.... places he wasn't at because he had other obligations as well.

He looked down at her. His blue eyes showing sadness. He cared deeply for those too weak to defend themselves. And since it was a dragon that had ruined her world, he felt responsible. He was suppose to keep them in check. Same with kitsune and dwarfs. He kissed the top of her head softly. "Vhy don't Ve Vait out ze storm here? Ten tomorrov ve can see about killing your first dragon."

He didn't want to travel in the rain especially with how against it she seemed. He just wanted her to be comfortable as she could be. He didn't want to upset her more then he already had both with his question and how he had spoken to her weapon....well her spirit thing. He didn't want another fight. He just wanted her to feel safe. That was his job... To make this world safe. He wanted to do that for her. Some way, somehow. She deserved it after her history.

"If you vant I can make you some food?" He offered as he continued to hold her not showing much signs of change when she had pressed her chest against his. He was too focused on her pain. He wanted to see her smile.

Kila Offline

Sphinx Queen

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#19
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Brianna

"Well aren't you a charmer," replied Brianna with a low, sultry purr into his chest. There was something nice about the feel of his arms against her bare skin, his fingers combing through her thick, wild locks... She propped herself up on her knees, and ran her hands up his chest to cup his cheeks gently. The look of pain and sadness in his eyes...that didn't suit him at all. Where was the mysterious, rugged man who'd laughed at her for being thrown out of town?

"Hey now," she crooned softly, stroking his cheek with a thumb, "There's no need to look at me with such sad eyes." The feline closed the gap between their faces, resting her forehead against his. "It was a long, long time ago. It still hurts, yes..." Brianna reached for one of his hands, and laced her fingers with his. She brought his hand to her chest, and laid it to rest over her heart, holding it there with her own hand. "But time eases the pain. Getting to meet new people eases the pain...

"Living eases the pain, Zae."

Brianna pulled her face away from his, though part of her wanted nothing more than to keep herself close to him. She let her hand linger on his cheek for a few moments longer before finally pulling it away as she let go of his hand to rest her arms on his shoulders.

Tilting her head to the side, smiling gently, she said, "I'll help you make food. If it's one thing I'm good at, it's cooking. Though honestly, I don't know what you expect to make in this place. There's not much of anything here." Again she settled on his lap, purring softly. "And I must admit, I'm rather comfy on your lap, so I'm certainly not going to let you go out into the rain where you'll get cold and wet."

She chuckled, closing the distance between them again, eyes sparkling brightly. "Unless you want me to warm you up," she teased, voice little more than a sultry purr.


Andromeda Offline

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#20
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"You can varm me in the tub if you vant," he teased her as he waited for her to get up. "First tough I should really get us someting to eat. I don't vant people to say I'm a bad host for not feeding you." And by people he meant her weapons, and he really didn't want another spat with that one in particular. She had a foul temper. He would rather not get yelled at again too. He didn't take well to people trying to dominate him.

He stretched behind her. His torso stretching upwards as his arms and fingers extended outwards as far as they could reach and he yawned. "Question is tough vat vould you like to eat if I did get us supplies and vat should ve put vit it since you are the expert," he teased her as he slowly relaxed again and wrapped his arms loosely around her once more. He was happy she seemed happier though.

Then again he also found it ironic that she was comforting him on her past and horror. He wasn't sure she understood how serious he was about his tasks or job, but he figured that was okay. The less she understood or didn't know the probably safer she was. People typically didn't understand him nor like him. Most stayed away from here for fear of judgement or they might be a target. It was also why he tended to stick by himself. He kinda wanted to ask her more information about her dragon, but at the same time he didn't want to cause her to be upset to force to relive that memory of him.

Instead he paused and looked at and thought for a moment. "Hmm... you say living eases pain, but honestly I am not too sure on zat. I don't really get zat close to people to knov or to have connections," he admitted. "You are one of ze first people I have alloved tis close in a vhile. And most people typically do not appreciate my company.. .I tink they find my size .... frightening to say ze least." It was a tease cause of her reaction to seeing how tall he was when they first talked, but it was honestly true at the same time. His size was daunting to say the least.


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