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Lies, Secrets, and Ishgardians [ semi-closed ]

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[ continued from here .. ]


The sudden change in Rivienne's demeanor startled the poor maiden to the point that the words stumbled past her lips nearly incoherently. She trembled with the imagery that now taints her thoughts, and now, a shaky hand tries to reach out to the Elezen before her to lightly gain some distance betwixt their forms.


"N--nothing, I know nothing! All I was asked to do is keep watch over you, to make sure you do not leave!" The confession came quickly and she hardly needed to push Anabelle further; the girl didn't appear to have another intention other than following the order of her Lord. Silence would have loomed over them both, if it wasn't for the distressed sound of Anabelle's breathing. With a languorous motion, the tall frame of the Elezen backpedaled back into the room and began to remove the straps that held her bow and quiver in place. Once completed, they were discarded against the side of the wooden desk within.


"Ah, and where does he think I will run off to? I am here to pick up a few things that belong to my family. I care little for any other business." It was her lusterless tone that eased Anabelle's nerves; her hand soon rests now at her chest to calm the rapid beat of her heart. Swallowing thickly, the midlander approached behind Rivienne, stepping in her shadows, as candlelight bathed the tall figure before her.


"He is hoping you would join him for dinner, he made it a point to cancel your meeting with Lord Haurchefant, m'lady. He has picked a dress for you as well," Anabelle did her best to appear as amiable as possible and forced a smile to paint a path on her lips. She regained a portion of her chipper self when noticing that Rivienne was circling the room, taking apart every intricate detail that adorned her chambers until her vision now fell upon the dress displayed on the neatly made bed.


This was ludicrous. .


A lush, extravagant dress, made of velvet and asymmetrical in cut at the top and a slit riding along the side. It was red. A color that would stand against the snow; it was strong and vibrant, powerful, passionate. It was presumptuous of him to even consider that she would find this appealing. The fabric was rich, impeccable, that much was true --but Rivienne was not a woman who was easily impressed by riches and glamour. Golden eyes bore into it her lips formed a smirk at the thought of wearing such a scandalous piece.


"A bath has been drawn for you already upstairs, please, follow me," it was that happy little reminder, behind her, that snapped her from such a pensive reverie. Anabelle was already on the move and gathered a candle, which had been melting on a silver plate, and made her way out of the room. Rivienne adapted to the situation and did not resist, she would play along, for the time being.


The huntress followed her closely, she had her suspicions about the entire situation and her mind began to churn with thoughts, but most ended with her wanting to feel warmth embrace the entirety of her being. In truth, she was weary and it was sinking into her bones. It had been two suns since she had last bathed and could only fathom how she may have smelled, none too appeasing.


Floral scents filled the air the moment the opened door revealed the luxurious bath of stone within. Aromatic oils wafted from the surface of the steaming water and a myriad of bottles lined the very end of the soak. A full length mirror was poised at a corner, where a small bench rests near an armoire. Her candle reflects off the glass, illuminating the entire room.


"I haven't had a chance to clean up, I suppose I should thank him, at least, for this simple pleasure." Rivienne spoke quietly, finding repose in her reflection while Anabelle begins to reach over, to her shoulders, attempting to remove the hood from her head. In the stillness of this room, Rivienne allows her to undress her. The coat slips from her frame to reveal the tunic of green and brown, portraying a semblance to the trees of her woodland realm. The gaskins, and leather boots, worn have seen better days, though their condition indicates that they were well used throughout moons past. Deft digits slowly work away the material worn, peeling away the layers to reveal the honeyed flesh underneath, marred with scars, now kissed by the candle's sinful flame.


Anabelle traces each scar while the articles of clothing is handed off to her. Blush rose to her cheeks; she withdraws her gaze whilst a whisper spilled from her soft lips.


"Ser Carvallain thinks of everything possible, to get what he wants in the end."

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That was perhaps the description that came to mind when his teal eyes trailed over the figure that now stood at his threshold. Though she concealed herself in such a heavy coat, his mind bloomed with images of how that dress might appear underneath such cumbersome layers. She arrived, left with little choice of course, at his small estate near Camp Dragonhead. The escort were knights, men that had little words to share with her about where they were heading or what purpose this man had with her. Surely, there was more involved than his interest.


There was warmth here, a welcomed treat considering the harsh conditions outside these walls. A fireplace roared with flames that flickered and danced erratically, adding a glow in the meeting room, where she was welcomed by the man dressed in a dark, cerulean coat with a tail included, suitable for a man of higher prestige. Everything on his person was impeccable, and from the look of the decor within, he expected less than perfect. Dark hair was neatly combed away from his pale visage, revealing a set of piercing eyes, silver hued, like the moon-beams she had come to love when night fell across the skies. Though this Elezen was handsome, that serpentine smile peeled away any beauty he may have held; behind his smoldering gaze, she could see his ill intent --clear as day. This did not deter from putting on an act, for she remembered the tidbit of advice given to her by his maid.


"Watch his smile. Then match his with your own."

Rivienne's facade was well practiced, for though she was a tomboy at heart, playing the part of a lady was not difficult in the slight. Her shoulders were rolled back, chin was tilted upward and her lashes fell to half mast, forcing him to seek her gaze. Her skin smelled of flowers and so did those golden tresses that were neatly tucked away past her elongated ears. Her flesh was aglow under the light of the chandelier and kissed delicately by the amber caress that came from the flames ahead. Sanguine-lips were wet, immediately catching his attention when a smile surfaced 'pon them.


"Simply lovely, m'lady, a breath-taking vision of beauty." The words rolled from his lips in baritone that was near throaty. From behind him, a hand extended forward to reach for her own whilst the other gave his knights a dismissive wave. The doors of the parlor closed behind them, but she noticed something amiss in the shadows, where the flames' light did not reach. There were others here, still watching and she felt trapped. Under his scrutinizing gaze, she didn't flinch. Rivienne remained calmed under his watchful eye and gave little away about her concerns. Her hand met his and she waited to see the manner of man he was from the way he gripped her. Greedily, gloved fingers enveloped her own entirely until they graced her wrists. With a persuasive tug, he begins to lead her closer to him now. This evening was going to be a power play, already she sensed this. So, let the games begin.


"And a good eve to you, Ser Carvallain, for it seems you have heard of me, yet I know absolutely nothing about thine name nor has Lord Haurchefant spoken of you." Soft words flow like a tranquil riverbed, undisturbed by how he seemed to lead her to the parlor's couch. This dinner was a farce, of course, but she had hoped to at-least wet her palette. Ah, but just as she thought such, a small side table had a few delicacies that drew the eye, the closer they got. Thanks to the quick thinking of the maid, Anabelle, Rivienne had comfortable shoes for this evening, making it easy to keep up with his quickened steps. The marble underneath her was lustrous and the heels of her shoes caused a sound to resonate off the very walls.

"Oh?" Inquisitively, he looked to her and the smile was ever-growing still. He appeared almost pleased with her response.


"Are you of importance that I must know? I do not spend my evenings here learning of the High Houses nor their patrons, I have no interest in the like. Thus, I implore you, please, spare me a lengthy tale and speak the reason why you desired to see me so."


"Ah, a woman after my own heart, straight to business. Was not my interest in simply seeing such a beauty enough? Of course, that was merely a bonus, my dear. Come, let us sit and discuss a few things. I promise, your time shan't be wasted." whilst words are shared, he maneuvers them around the lush couch, where he releases her hand and, just as she is about to sit, he shakes his head.


"Your coat," he begins to reach for her shoulders, but Rivienne's quick grasp of his wrist puts a stop to his motion. Her touch, once gentle, now came with a warning.


No words were spared, but she wished not to give any hint towards animosity especially knowing that there were figures still hidden in shadows around them both. Fingers curled around the fur that lined the heavy coat and began to pull it free from her body. His eyes feast upon the flesh and velvet that adorned in it. A satisfying smile, and lit features, were not ignored by her. Though she found no pleasure in this, Rivienne had to keep her act convincing enough.


When the coat was finally folded in her arms, he quickly reached to take a hold of it and discard it over a regal armchair adjacent to the table of indulgences. Muscular legs were hidden, all except for the one that peered out past the slit when she finally sits down at the center of this wide couch. Like Anabelle, he looked over the scarred flesh with interest and found it appealing; such delight was written across his pallid countenance.


"I heard of your exploits, from the time you spent here last, a few moons ago if I am correct. Quick to think on your feet, valuable asset and quite skilled with a bow from what I gathered. My knights have seen you in action and I was looking forward to meeting you then, but alas, such was not to happen --"


"I rather not boast about any sort of victories and accomplishments," Rivienne interrupted whilst she watched him settle alongside her, closer than she anticipated he would be. With him ever so near, she felt not only the fire's warmth, but that which radiated from his frame.


"You don't need to, I know of most of them. That is why I asked for you to come and help me with this.. dilemma." There is a slight tilt of his head while his eyes are set downcast, taking in the way her hands fold at her knees, the curvature of her hips, the posture she had.


"And what problem do you seem to have that only I can help you with, with these knights under your command, there is little use for me." Rivienne leaned close with a coquettish smile, tempting him, distracting him. Information was easier to get when she used honey, much to her chagrin.


It was then that he took the bait and trailed the back of his gloved digits against her jawline, brushing the outer shell of her ear. His hand withdraws, only to allow a few fingers to dip underneath her chin, tilting her head up so their eyes would not stray far. His breath was warm as it washed over her lips and spreads against her cheek when he leans to her ear.


"A tracker for the Adder should find this task simple, no, it should inspire the need to succeed, especially when it holds connection to matters that are quite personal to her," His free hand danced along her exposed leg, slipping past the divorced fabric of her dress, which offered her some form of decency until now.


It took everything not to rip his hand free from her, but she was finally getting to the heart of the matter. As fingers dared to venture further, his lips continued to loosen and she waited for the right moment to put an end to this. But, to her surprise, the words she heard were not what she expected.


"You are seeking answers to a puzzle that has not yet been solved. I am probably the only one that can help you with that, little songbird."

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The child's laughter rings in the air as she begs for him to hold her steady. The young man struggles while she wriggles about, trying to reach the branch high above her head. On the bough, secured by branches woven together, a nest holds a few newborn birds, who chirps could no longer be ignored by the young Elezen children. Marceloix is on his toes as she kicks off his shoulders and begins her ascension to the rough limb above. Her bottom lip is ensnared into her mouth once she straddles the base of the off-shoot and tries to balance her entire form over it.


"They are so pretty! Marceloix, come up! These birds, they are singing for their mother! Come, come take a look!" Rivienne's excitement was apparent as she looked down at her brother, who smirked and brushed the dirt from his shoulders.


"Much like you when Louix pulls your hair, just like a songbird. Come on down, speaking of mother, she would rather you be playing the harp than climbing high above the ground!"


[align=center]---------------- ✥ ----------------[/align]




Little songbird.[/align]


With a serpent's precision, her free hand comes to life and launches forward without hesitation; fingers are spread wide to take a hold of his neck, forcing her thumb and forefinger to tuck underneath his jaw. There came a gasp of shock, though he had little time to react. It happened in a blur. The other hand wasn't idle long, using that granted momentum, she is upon him quickly while deftly sweeping her fingers to the parted fabric, ripping it hastily, to retrieve the grip of a dagger she had strapped, for precautionary reasons.


Under the light of the flame, the glistening steel caught his eye, but it soon vanished from his vision. The cold edge pressed to his flesh and he could feel the weight of her body upon him; he smelled the perfume in her hair, took in the sharp breaths that filled her lungs. But most of all, he felt the fingers constrict around his throat. Laughter attempts to bubble up from his lips and those teal eyes were filled with a different sort of voracity, and not one for the flesh as it had been moments ago.


Rivienne said not a word but could hear the unsheathing of blades behind her, those who lurked in the shadows had come prepared. This did not hinder the vice she had on him.


"Perfect, this is the woman I was craving to see, the woman behind the farce, I was almost disappointed." Carvallain struggled to speak and made no motion to pull her away, except he beckoned with his fingers the knights that peeled themselves free from the embrace of the inky shadows. Their armor glittered gold with the orange glow that swept through the parlor. The closer they grew, the more aware she became of the danger she has placed herself in.


"I see what they said is true, there is fire behind those golden eyes," Carvallain rasps as a blade swiftly cuts through the air and the tip finds its place appropriately at the nape of her neck. It was enough to ease her dagger away, just a slight. The grasp around his neck was loosened entirely, allowing the passage of air. He triggered an aggression within her that was masked upon her sun-touched visage, but he could feel it radiating from her very core.


She was out-numbered. There was a knight behind the couch that was ready to strike her if she dared to test him and one looming at her side with the blade to her neck. Rivienne had no choice but to surrender, or die this night. Seems he was reading her thoughts as well. "They will cut you down sooner than you can fathom, Miss Delacroux. I rather not have my couch and rug painted with your blood. Would be a shame to ruin that dress, as well."


Rivienne pulled away languidly, though her shoulders were immediately caught by the two knights, who pressed her down into the couch so she was rooted to the cushion underneath. The dagger is pulled free after a brief struggle. There were many bothersome questions that came to mind, some she could not assemble into proper words. He knew well how to hook her in.


"I knew of their presence, if they were not sharing this room with us, I would have sank that sharpened edge into you until you spoke of how such a name came to your knowledge. For those who have called me that ..are either dead or missing." Her voice was laced with venom and rumbled with the level vehemence that steered her thoughts. Carvallain simply laughed at this, which in turn, caused more frustration to the woman who now had her arms at her back. He said not a word and reached for one of the fruits on the plate, holding it to the light before them both.


"Your brother spoke of you dearly."


Marceloix. This man knew of him. Just that was enough to cause her beating heart to speed up. He took in her expressions, drank them in as the look of surprised surface across her visage. There was a frown as he moved close now, with the berry held betwixt them both. Gingerly, he presses it to her parted lips, waiting for her to take a bite. A lecherous smile spreads like oil on his lips. Slowly, he pushes the fruit to her teeth.


"Go ahead, it's not poisoned. I need you quite alive, actually. You have a skill I need, and I have information about your dearly, departed, brother."

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Reluctantly, she took a bite of the fruit and found the sweet taste a little too much for her palate. It triggered the stir within her stomach; the churning was a reminder that she neglected to eat for several bells now. Carvallain, in this exchange, was doing her a favor, much to her annoyance. He watched intensively, searching her features for anything that would hint at a sudden rebellious act, alas, he was left disappointed.


"You knew him, you knew Marceloix, and in turn, of me. Using that knowledge to lure me here. You snake." She finally broke the silence after swallowing down the remainder of the fruit. Her voice was low, a deadly tone that was reserved only for those that would soon meet their end by her hands. He simply smiled wide and plucked another berry to press to her lips. Silencing her as she was forced to eat, otherwise she would be smeared with the juices with the amount of pressure he applied.


"Ah ah, m'lady, lest we forget who actually works for the Adder, I would refrain from calling each other names, at least not this evening." Such words were stated calmly while taking a deep breath, as if he was reclaiming his faltered composure.


"Of course I knew him, he was under my command, Marceloix Delacroux Marcellus. Quite a name, wouldn't you say?" he leaned forward and took her chin, making sure that her eyes did not break contact with his own.


Marcellus. That was a name she had not heard in many years.


"My mother's name, not sure what the significance it has this day." Rivienne pulled her chin free from his grasp, though he moved with haste to obtain it once more. There was a glint of mischief in his eyes, though malice swam behind it, which caused her entire frame to tense underneath the grasp of his knights.


"It is the name of an important house, or was, many cycles before your birth. Your mother carried the surname, she was also the woman sought after by my brother. So blindly in love he was that he never took another wife. You could imagine my surprise when your sibling decided to seek me out. Seems she forgot to inform him of the life she had. . before running off with that rancher father of yours." A finger hooked underneath her chin and he was dangerously close, enough to brush the tip of his nose with her own. His eyes lowered to her lips, watching the frown immediately tug at their corners.


"A rancher that helped create strong children, like Marceloix, who we initially were talking about. Thus, be quick with your words, you want something of me, I want information about him." His chuckle rumbled in his throat as he pulled away and gathered another piece of fruit, this time, an apple slice to slip between her lips. She bit it and chewed ever so slowly. A subtle motion of his fingers alerted his men to ease their hold on her. Feeling returned to her limbs and extremities once more, but a glare was given to his guardsmen, especially the one discarded her dagger. If she held Carvallain's tongue hostage, he would have explained about this visit quicker.


"A trade is in order. I want you to perform a task for me, in return, I will provide you with everything I know of his demise." He paused and took a breath in. No longer did he wear a serpentine smile. "Now then, you probably have taken note that the dragons have been attacking more frequently as of late and this holy war continues without end in sight. Such is expected, though their behavior has become far more erratic, less predictable. They are gathering together to the west, and that is where we set our eyes." Finally, he pulled back completely and stood up from his seated position. His pacing began before the roaring hearth, where his shadows stretched long on the floor and his profile was kissed by the fire's glow.


"I have sent scouts to report on current activity that is taking place past the mountain to the west. Needless to say, I am missing a few from the ranks. Rumors have caused unrest among the strong in my command, talk of dread dragons. Those whose life force has been nearly depleted. Walking between living and dead." He slowly turned to face Rivienne, who wore a stern look across her countenance. She was taking in his words, though had not heard of such creatures until now. Part of her wondered if he spoke truth, or simply was acting out another ploy. For now, she listened and allowed him to continue.


"What I have been told, is that you are capable of tracking down a few. . vile targets. I need you to not only to track down the source that is further corrupting these creatures. But to end it as well. This information is not to be shared with anyone, not even your trusted Haurchefant."

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So he heard about her exploits, though that meant nothing to Rivienne in the end. Rumors spread far and wide, at times becoming over-exaggerated when passed from one individual to the other. Tongues loosen to add additional achievements she had no business in earning. Alas, she found no amusement even as he attempts to flatter her; the Elezen simply turned her cheek and sought the dance of the flame behind him; it provided her a distraction needed as the dull ache, around her shoulders and wrists, reminds her that she would soon bruise.


“Without proof of the information you claim to be withholding, I will promise no such thing. Give me reason why his ears should not be blessed with what is being shared with me today?” Her eyes closed and Rivienne simply awaits in silence now, finding the weighing stillness to be uncomfortable.


When her eyes opened, to sate some sense of curiosity, she found Carvallain holding an object to the light. He appraised it in the silence that enveloped them before his attention, lazily, returned to Rivienne. Betwixt his fingers, the luster of the gold ring, catches her attention immediately. She recognized this without needing the glow of candlelight to fall 'pon it completely. Marceloix's signet ring.


“Where did you get this..!” Quickly, lacking hesitation, her lean frame is pushed off the couch and she reaches out to take a hold of it, but he was quick to step back – and his knights were just as hasty to step in. Their fingers sought the all-too-familiar curve of her shoulder and sank down into the injured flesh. The huntress doesn't allow a sound of supplication to part her lips; her eyes were settled on the ring that Carvallain now brandishes around his finger.


“As I said, I knew your sibling well. And I know what took his life, the very source you now will be seeking for me. I can tell you stories to last you several suns, but who has time for that. ” He barely gave her any other option, this was forced upon her; he knew she couldn't resist. And he was right.


A turbulence of emotions had taken a hold of her from within; it now washed over her features entirely. Golden eyes were set aglow by the rising flame behind Carvallain, who hovered over Rivienne, daring her to challenge his assumption. She said not a word and bit back the insults that she wished to roll off her lips; lashes lowered and her eyes were narrowed slits that threatened to cut through him. He savored her puissant spirit, how head-strong she was. He once knew a woman just like her. At such a thought,he beckoned her with a smile that could break hearts.


Or tempt her to break his teeth.


The huntress boldly took a step forth, shortening the distance between their bodies. With a roll of her shoulders, she attempted to shrug off the men that were pulling her back to the couch. They would have been dealt with if she knew that it was possible to make it out of this unharmed. For now, the pain was nullified only by the rancor building within. He could feel the heat radiating from her body and found it invigorating. Even with her threats, he knew who possessed control over the situation. He basked in that knowledge.


“I set off tomorrow, supply me with the dossier I require to know of–- leave it with Anabelle. Once this is task is complete, you will give me that ring, you will give everything that has belonged to him. If not, your Haurchefant will know of your lack of men to fill his ranks. How you have sent them to their peril. You will become useless and I shall see to that. Cross me, and you will know how venomous an adder can be.”


His laughter broke into the room, a room that was stagnant and heavy with insincerity and threats. The back of his hand reached for her cheek, but before the impending grip of the knights could take a hold of her, Rivienne slapped it away. He was making a point to humiliate her, finding pleasure in it.


"Such vigor, I will make sure to remember that," he pulled away entirely, finding little offense in her actions. With wide steps forward, Carvallain made his way to the other side of the parlor and opened the doors. It was her cue to take her leave from his side this evening; Rivienne provided him with suitable entertainment.


The coat was gathered into her hands and the woman simply ignored the escort at her side as she walked directly to Carvallain. With a languid motion, she leaned to his face and smiled, gentleness was not to be found across her lips. "I do hope we meet like this again, I promise to make it a little more exciting, for the both of us. Again, tomorrow. Present me with what I need."


With that, she forced the door to swing back, slamming into the wall behind it, enough for the sound to oscillate into the air. He could only smirk and extend his hand to his men, shaking his head in a silent order for them not to follow. He didn't wish to rile her more this evening, he had done enough. Carvallain waits until she storms out the main entrance, leaving the door open enough to watch her walk into the curtain of falling snow, until her image became blurred in white.


"I shall claim her for my own, if not, the Fury shall. Either way, I will get what I want."

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"Burn it or keep it, I have little use for this," Rivienne's soft voice was heavy with a vexation that had not surfaced to paint her features. The dress worn had been peeled away from her rounded shoulder, tugged against the curvature of her frame, until it pooled around her feet. Anabelle watched, unable to peel her gaze away as the fabric was now handed to her. It was rich, beautiful and now an accursed item that hinted at unsavory events. The midlander knew what had taken place; Rivienne's body spoke volumes of it.


"I am sorry, I should have warned you, m'lady," the small voice was saturated with apologies that barely registered to the Elezen. Guilt ridden, she crumbled the dress and pressed it against her frame whilst following Rivienne to the stairs, where the bedroom and bath were located. For a while, dead air was shared between them and the shame began to carve its way deep into Anabelle's heart.


"About what?" The question broke their stagnant silence once they reached the top step and turned to face the bed chambers. Here, candle light illuminates the space and adds a soft caress of amber that touched every crevice of the space before them.


"About his curious hands, he has a tendency to getting physical. I should have told you to expect it. I just didn't.. think he would.." Anabelle answered with a lingering sentence, unsure if the two of them were on the same page. Apparently, the maid knew little about the issue regarding her family and that of her lecherous lord. Perhaps it was best she was left ignorant to such knowledge.


"A man that sends a dress like this to a woman he has never met -- needless to say, I knew what game and role I would be playing tonight. I didn't enjoy it and he didn't get far." Her sharp tone cut through her and made the maid look down at her feet. Rivienne sensed something amiss and glanced past her shoulder while gathering a fresh tunic to wear, considering she was still rather cool from the snow that had fallen upon her.


"You have fallen victim to his advances?" The unabashed question gave her a silent reply, but it was etched across the woman's features. Anabelle was flushed and ashamed, to the point that eye contact appeared to be impossible. Her slender fingers crushed the red fabric of the dress in her hands and she appeared to tremble slightly the moment Rivienne turned to face her entirely. The tunic was disregarded.


With the light at her back, the Elezen towered the woman of smaller stature, who turned her cheek away. The frigid touch, of calloused fingers, fell to the curve of her jawline, guiding her to face forward. Golden eyes looked over the woman's features and, with the little light which was provided, spotted the trails of her tears, now marring her blushed cheeks.


"I wouldn't desire that on anyone, I am sorry!" Anabelle's voice, now becoming a broken crescendo, was muffled when Rivienne suddenly wrapped an arm around her back and pulled her into her breast. There was no clear emotion in the eyes of the huntress, who simply stared at the crown of golden hair that spilled against her. Gingerly was her embrace, allowing the woman to simply release a sorrow that she had kept within.


[align=center]It felt as if she had been standing there for an entire bell and a half.


But, she finally spoke when the soft weeping had diminished from the woman in her arms.[/align]


"I will give you a chance to open the door to your freedom, to escape his wandering eyes and greedy hands. There is no need for you to explain to me why this has not been done already, but this is an opportunity I present to you only once. You must take it." Rivienne's hands took a hold of Anabelle's shoulders and gently pulled her back so their eyes could meet.


The maid was scared, that much was obvious, but she nods slowly in understanding. Rivienne, who barely trusts anyone, was giving this woman a chance to stand at her side and leave the man she swore to serve. If Anabelle were to betray her, she would certainly pay a heavy price.


"How?" She manages to speak while wiping her face of those saline rivers. Curious, blue eyes, sought to find the answer in the golden depths that stared down at her. Instead, she got a smile, beautiful but painted with cruelty that made her shrink some in the woman's arms.


"You will have your own mission to carry out, and I will provide you with all the tools to accomplish to set yourself free. But that will come after I have finished my task, and only then." A thumb brushed at Anabelle's cheek, drying away a tear that filled the basin of her eyes. The woman appeared relieved, though shame painted her face red.


"For now, get sleep. I am awaiting something the morning, I don't wish for them to be alarmed if you are teary eyed when opening the door."

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Anabelle was first to awaken and prepare the meal to start Rivienne's day. The Elezen had not slept much, using only a few moments of reprieve to give her the energy needed to commence the day. But, it showed in her eyes, the weariness had dulled them and no longer did they hold a mischievous glimmer. Thoughts kept her awake, mostly on how to guarantee that she would not be played in the end, though she had a feeling it was bound to happen. In her room, she heard the knock of the door downstairs, knowing that the delivery of her instructions had arrived. The bed was untouched from the previous evening; Rivienne had taken a nap on the desk after writing out the ingredients she needed for a few phials. The document was put away, in order for her not to forget when morning arrived.


The smell of food filled the air when Anabelle came up after a few moments passed. Her eyes sought out the bed and found it vacant of the Elezen, who had been dressing herself in front of the full length mirror. The tray, and documentations, are settled on the small desk where Rivienne had occupied.


“Would you like anything to eat, before you go? I noticed.. that your candle burned down to the very wick, were you up all eve?”


Rivienne adjusts her bracers and glances past her shoulder, “Aye, I had a bit of work to do. Leave the parchment at the foot of the bed, I have to get Avenger and rush to find someone. I rather not ask anyone here for their assistance, I rather not raise suspicions.” With those words, her satchel was slung over her shoulder and turns to the tray at the side table of the bed. She swipes a piece of walnut bread that rests over a pair of runny eggs and bows her head to Anabelle.


It didn't take long to reclaim Avenger from the stables in Dragonhead, but the travel across the land was enough to cause them both a bit of wear. The balm used on Avenger's legs kept him from being nipped by frost, thankfully, warmer climates were ahead – and before night turned to morning, she was at the gates of Ul'dah. It was here that she sought Thaarus, hopefully he received her missive and had received it in proper time. In two suns, she spoke of returning, but her reasons had changed.


Their rendezvous was not meant to be secretive, except for the words that were to be exchanged. In Quicksand they crossed one another and it was there that she asked a favor of him that would cause him concern. There, under the sickly glow of amber and surrounded by the sea of bodies, whilst washed over by cacophony, Rivienne shared with him the necessary items she would need sent to her. A poison so potent that it would render one defenseless for days, sleeping potions to bring down the most sturdiest of men and a concoction of paralyzing agents to shut down the functions of the body.


The dislike, of her situation, was written across his features; it was hard to avoid it when her eyes focused solely on his own. She wished not to share the reasons why she requested these items ..


.. but he needed not an explanation, her unshaken resolve made it clear what her intentions were. A huntress had little need for such solutions when taking down a beast. Unless there was a bigger monster she wished to slay.




Their departure was bittersweet. No kiss graced their lips, no subtle caress of their hands, nothing but a farewell lingered in the heated air. Seeing his face was enough to revitalize her for the journey back, for she could not stay. She should have asked him to watch Eudalie, who kept mentioning meeting her in Coerthas. Like Thaarus, she wished not to involve another in her personal business – even the Adders were kept in the dark. The request never slipped from her lips, she was too engrossed in her own troublesome, and worrisome thoughts, in believing that she may not see Thaarus again.

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There was a hushed rambling of voices, underneath a makeshift briefing tent, just outside the Ishgardian borders. The bitter cold wind that blew so subtly, was a reminder to all inside. Their presence would be just as welcomed, if they were found not to be hunters, contracted for a elusive prey. Among the huddled circle of races, united by the Adder was larger framed dark skinned Hyur, clearly of Highlander roots. He was not phased at threat of discord within his ranks, neither was his volunteer companion across from him. A Duskwight who equally seemed indifferent to the building confusion. Though the deep lavender gaze of the Elezen, looked to the Hyur as if requesting he settle their colleagues. All he received from him was the slightest nod, and his voice boomed over their anxious debate.


[align=center]"Tha's quite enough out of each ye, I have no doubt in any who was chosen. My belief in my superior's judgment spans, to my belief in all of you. We stick to the plan, and leave our caravan ready for extraction. Diveroix...he may be an envoy of the flame, but he too is a younglin of the south shroud. Let us forget banners for now...doing so may do some good."[/align]


They all seemed a moment, cross but not a voice raised in protest. As immediately as the silence came, so did productivity. Four members; Two Elezen male wailers, disguised as frontier trackers, two midlander female disguised as food & supply matrons. Together looked like a believable group, maintaining the area for the premier hunters of the camp. Diveroix simply gazed on, watching this unfolding while stirring idle conversation.


[align=center]"A dusk is all they see, and they are within reason to question my motives. Vincent I must say that the company flag, your son bares has a flimsy allegiance with Gridania at best."[/align]


The silver gaze of Vincent, the voice that spoke up objectively moments prior, never left the dusk. Instead he added a warm wolfish smile, the silver in his hair helped him mirror that pack Alpha demeanor. Raising a hand, and lazily dismissing those words. For the moment he sat cross legs, and arms reflecting on the task at hand, with an eased monotone replied casually against his thought pattern.


[align=center]" Here I thought ye learned to stop listening...they are young.  Capable but young, they know not a single drop of Intel, that isn't provided by higher ranks and rumors amongst peers."[/align]


Leaving Vincent many reasons to chuckle, when the Duskwight scoffed at "Capable". The only words uttered by Diveroix. " I'll be departing soon, get a lay of the land." Was he truly concerned for someone? A thought cycling through Vincent's mind watching his fellow tracker, instinctively layer in white wolf hide. While the Highlander stood stretching lazily, already adorned in a black plated harness. Arm swipes upward for the face guard, preparing to step in the role of the blood thirsty drake hunter. He believed the task wasn't too daunting, but the discretion was a handicap he refused to overlook. Just the thought of Eudalie smiling up at him at Whitebrim, and of Rivienne's driven expression, was a mental image that mirrored Diveroix who already visualized a course. Vincent took a step in his way, placing a palm on the Dusk's shoulder.


[align=center]"Stick to the plan, and ye won't fret her safety as much. She's crossed their paths this long, you'll cross paths on the streets of cities for ages to come."[/align]


The highlander watched him force by, not a word uttered. Leaving Vincent to humorously nodded dryly, pacing back to supply.


[align=center]" Apparently you'll make sure of that."[/align]

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Surely, Carvallain would want results, and soon. Days slowly shifted to nights and Rivienne hardly spent much time in bed. She stopped sending her letters to Eudalie and Thaarus -- not because she had forgotten, but she had little chance to do so. Her thoughts oft drifted to the man who spoke of his love, to the young Miqo'te that was like a sibling to her. But at this moment, she couldn't afford to let her thoughts wander. The task was important.


In the field of snow, it was interesting to track down the beasts she sought. It was made easier by the time charts that were written down thanks to the knights that previously observed the peculiar behavior and mannerisms taking place with a select few of dragons. These creatures were the reason why their ranks were thinned, to find the source of said reason was suicide – from the looks of it.


The terrain was not friendly for those traveling on the back of a chocobo. The hill was jagged with rock, at times sharpened edges were buried underneath the layers of snowfall. Weapons, long forgotten, were frozen memories protruding from the ground in a barren graveyard of white. They stood there now, far to the West, away from the Observatorium, away from most of Dragonhead's denizens. Patrols no longer frequented the area, it was left to the beasts and those who would have to fend for themselves.


Upon meeting Vincent, and realizing that he worked also for the Adders in the same division as she, he took it upon himself to travel through this wasteland, investigating locations where the dragons frequent, though it all lead to this area. Past the Boulder Downs is where she heads now, avoiding the contact of the other Adder who was hell-bent on doing a bit of investigating himself. The incoming blizzard makes it nigh impossible to see a few paces before her, yet Avenger has no qualms in taking the lead. There was little use for the eyes when their ears could easily pick up the soft growling that was carried out in to the air. They were not alone in this tundra of ice and snow.


The reins are released entirely, allowing her hands to busy themselves with the bow and arrow she notched. Behind the goggles, golden eyes narrowed into slender slits while picking up the faint whistles of the wind, mingling with the guttural sound of the drakes. The scarf worn billowed backwards, whipping into the fury of the wind before her. But, with the wind, a foul stench was carried over, which immediately alerted Avenger of what lies ahead.


Down,” the voice of the Elezen was below a whisper, hardly audible to anyone, or anything, other than Avenger, who began to pick up speed forward. He tilts down his head, allowing her to take better aim of what potential danger was ahead. Not hindered by this blasted snowfall, Rivienne steadies her arm and pulls the bowstring taut, trusting her instinct to let this arrow fly true. The chocobo, fearlessly, heads straight for the sound.


From the white wall of snow, the ghastly shadow takes on form; its wings are spread wide, its eyes are beacons of hunger that stare straight at the armored steed. It was not the only one, from behind, another appeared and draws the attention of the huntress, who whistled loudly, and tapped the side of Avengers' frame, to steer him into a strafe. This territory was guarded, and with the sheet of snow, it would have been difficult to see the direction in which these beasts came from until it was too late. Luckily, they had speed on their side.


Rivienne lets the first arrow fly forward, and using the glow of the eyes as a target, one is taken out upon her release. It finds its mark. An arrow penetrates the eye and impales the beast; from its maw came a painful shrill that could have rocked the very foundation underneath them. A heartbeat passes and another arrow is recovered from her quiver and is drawn. As the first dragon goes into a rage of pain, the other doesn't lose focus so easily and comes full speed toward them. Avenger runs around the flailing drake to find the other is following close behind. The flicker of flames could be seen from its opened maw; if Rivienne wished not to have a charred chocobo, she would need to move fast.

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Eudalie's fingers stung with cold as she parted the snow. Her gloves were damp with chunks of ice and snow clinging to the cloth. She continued her dig until it bore fruit, or rather, carrots. A wilted smile flitted across her mouth as she unearthed a few carrots and deposited them into the satchel at her side. It was a better deal to search out here, than to hand over all of her gil to the merchants in Ul'dah. Somehow, they always managed to haggle her up. 

A distant roar shook her concentration, and she sat back, tilting her face toward the harsh gales. There was nothing as far as she could see, only white. Eudalie pricked her ears, but only the wind howled now. She clutched a carrot in both hands and stared out into the snowy hills, until a gust pulled back her hood. She turned away and adjusted her red coat, then stumbled up onto her feet. 


It had been some time since she'd had word of Rivienne, or had last seen Vincent. The letters from Rivienne spoke of Coerthas, and some business with retrieving her brother's belongings, but the words became scarcer and stricter, until she hadn't received any more. What sort of danger had Rivienne been so worried about? And what was the business Vincent spoke of about retrieving Rivienne? These frets were at the forefront of her thoughts while she spent time here. She'd hoped to hear some clue of Rivienne up at Whitebrim when she'd arrived, but the highlands were lonelier than she'd suspected. 


She trudged a few paces through the snow and looked back once. The only thing left in her wake were her own footprints descending into the deeper winter rubble. It wasn't uncommon for the snow here to reach up beyond her ankles, even threatening to swallow her knees. Certainly Rivienne and Vincent didn't have such troubles in the deep snow; they were so tall! Eudalie's nose crinkled, and her face scrunched in an attempt to stave off the inevitable. She sneezed.

"I wonder if someone is thinking of me," she said to herself. That was a saying, wasn't it? She chuckled, and sneezed again. 

"Or perhaps I'm catching a cold." 

Eudalie sniffled and lifted her satchel in one arm, then pressed her free hand to the top of her head. The hood managed to stay put, shielding her sensitive ears from the blizzard's onslaught, but the wind still bit at her face. She stole a breath through parted lips, feeding her lungs the bitter cold. She shrugged her bag onto her shoulder, then shuddered under the weight. 


The bag peeled open to reveal a plethora of carrots. Eudalie shifted them to make room for another two, giving way to paper wrapped packages and folded parchment beneath her latest harvest. She paused as she noticed a bit of paper peeking up, daring to crinkle before long. The carrots were deposited into the crook of her elbow, then she tugged at the papers in her bag. She struggled on the spot and finally took the corner of the letters into her mouth, biting down with only her lips to keep them safe, then fumbled to drop the carrots into her satchel. Eudalie caught a whiff of the letters' musk, and a bit of lavender, but the scent was soon lost on the frigid air. Her ivory hair spread out in front of her as the flurry grew harsher, and soon the letters followed. Her night sky eyes turned as big as supper plates and her mouth hung open. One hand lashed outward, her fingers grasping at nothing as the blizzard took the letters away.




Hills of snow marked her path after her mementos, ones she now scolded herself for keeping so clumsily. She lifted her legs as much as she could and traipsed through the snow. Uphill she went, and tripped, sending carrots back into the tundra from whence they came. She landed with a grunt on her front, but pushed herself up onto her knees and clambered back onto her feet to keep running after her letters, never-minding the carrots she'd spent so long gathering. Slow and stumbling, and soon out of breath, Eudalie pressed on and made another grab for her letter. The highlands were already testing her feeble constitution, though she was determined to retrieve these pieces of paper before they got too far. She snatched one and gulped down the cold air, eager to fill her lungs again. The rosy-cheeked Miqo'te studied her catch; it was Rivienne's letter. Now she just needed to collect Vincent's.


"Come back!" Her call was labored, but she trekked with the direction of the wind. She didn't know how far she was from Whitebrim, but this was important!

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Staring skyward throughout their trek, there was a certainty in the highlander. But why did his hands tingle? Was an inquiry he had pushed to the back of Vincent's mind. The alpha wolf among able serpents, his attention sweeping behind him to the wailers taking point of their flank. His attention bore a playful wave, from an archer just paces ahead of their lance wielding colleagues. It encouraged that canine emulating grin of his. That was the spirit he needed to see. They resembled a hunting party etching a main path, searching for points of deviation. The locals didn't need to know, that they truly sought an Elezen's trail in the snow. He mused to the thought, that between Rivienne and Eudalie. Their tracks were as small as doe, potentially smaller in the case of Eudalie.

[align=center]" The Cavern route to Whitbrim is just over this hill, tha's our life line- tha is our convergence camp. No winged Drake dare risk, tamperin' with grounds that smell of it's larger counterpart."[/align]


Vincent spoke this with a matter of fact tone, from his Adder companions a age old warning. He spoke so certainly, because he thought of swiftest path to run solo. This? Was where they were to take point, and prepare to exact maximum assault if need be. "Be safe" The midlander twin Archers, chimed out playfully. Witnessing their squad leader bend a knee, before he darted into an abnormal pace. It seemed at that time, through his charge through the cavern, that he'd hear a shrill response from a Drake above. Why? were there truly hunters among them? A huntress perhaps. Upon reaching the end of the cavern, he witnessed a pair fluttering their wings, potentially the reinforcements seeking an alternative route.


[align=center]"Glad I took point"[/align]


On those words, he rid his body of it's immediate worry. Ushering into a blur that seeped of green aether, Adder issued knuckledusters, brandished in a fluid motion. Armor shoulder encased in leather, slammed a screeching of startled Drake into it's own companion. Unleashing a flurry of strikes, arms weren't tense but the collision resound thunderous thuds against their scale hides. Feral grunts proved his strategy quite seasoned, the reptilian duo fleeing in belief that the shrill was now a warning.


[align=center]"Tch even 'they' sent out their younglins. Fortunate fer me, that they didn' stick around n' Mmph!!"[/align]


Before he knew it, a tail lashed out at him. A cheapshot from a chinchilla on the defense of his would be predators. It was only the creature's skull, previously connecting with Vincent's jawline. This little one would be it's hideaway hero this day. Just as he turned away, humored by his momentary defeat, there was another contender. A...parchment that latched onto his face. Arms flailed a moment, he spouted combatively. " Ye damnable rodents, where ye when the scales were about!?" He stopped and sniffed, was that lavender he smelled? The oil from costa, where the coastal sun, granted enough heat to properly coat the page in scented oils. Only one person, could possess such an item along this route.


[align=center]" Eudalie? But...she can't, not now the very frontier is on edge with isolated encounters."[/align]


He removed the parchment with a mild pout, he smelled the air before reaching for a pearl. "Diveroix, I could use a point man. Potential civilian, and I must move to acquire". There was a momentary silence. Before he'd get a reply, that for the moment was littered with chuckling. "I heard...she's north of you, keep a steady pace. I have our woodwild in line of sight. Do not move in leisure...you only ran off their curious young. There's unusual activity among her prey. I cannot...feel anything within these creatures.". Vincent did not answer only began to feverishly look about, before shouting for Eudalie in a immediate jog north.

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Intoxicating was the rush of danger, so much that she got lost in that very moment that this drake was upon her and shooting flames a few fulms behind them. She, and her opponent, knew well that one of them would fall this day; one could only take a gamble on who would. Avenger was motioned to abruptly stop after a tug of the reins. He nearly lost his footing as Rivienne jumps off the back and lands deep into the layer of snow. The blinding wind hindered her speed slightly as she drudged forward with a pump of her long legs. Golden tresses billowed past her elongated ears, which were now nipped terribly by the cold. She was heading straight to the beast, whose jaws opened wide to receive her head.


It would not be given the chance.


Once the bellowing roar resonated into the frigid air, Rivienne stopped dead in her tracks and turned to Avenger, whose feathers were ruffled whilst taking a defensive position at her side. The both of them snapped her attention back to the dragon and gave it a cry of their own; intimidation never settled in their hearts. Her arrow was ready to fly, and by the Twelve, she let it fly straight and true. With the force applied behind it, aimed to the back of the throat and the arrow ripped through the opened maw. The pitiful shriek was followed by a sudden jerk of its head, exposing its thick neck. Even with it being in horrid agony, the creature recovers what little strength it has and lumbers over in her direction. Rage-filled eyes blinked erratically as it struggled to fight against the battle of life and death.


She wastes little time to gather an arrow from her quiver and stand her ground until it was hovering above her. Leathery wings were stretched out, casting its shadow on her. Avenger, however, comes betwixt their bodies, and with a sudden jerk of his head, he slams the bottom of the drake's jaw upward, sending it backwards to the mound of snow. Her brows rose in surprise whilst the bow is lowered. Approval is written across her face.


"Thine timing is always impeccable, let us take our leave before more decide to arriveth," she glanced down at the fallen figure and sighs. There came another growl, seems the first dragon was still alive. Avenger fixed that situation with a click of Rivienne's tongue and a sudden, swift kick, to the head.


The sickeningly sound fell to deaf ears, for she was already trying to track the markings on the snow before they were covered with freshly fallen powder. With the bow to her side, she runs along the path taken by the dragons, finding their winding paths leading further down a path that would open up a cave to her. But, what she saw on the way there, were the remains of knights who had taken up the sword and succumbed to the potential evil that lurked past the gnarled jaws of this cavern.


Avenger's reins were loosened as a sensation ran its course down her frame, causing gooseflesh to line her arms and the back of her neck. A familiar feeling, albeit a dangerous one, had overtaken her. Though she faced the dragons prior, during her visits, this feeling of dread never befell her.


“Stay here, though if trouble ariseth, take flee to the camp. For aught I know, death and despair lies in wait.” The litter of bodies spoke of that. Instinct cried out to her to not wander within, but she had orders, and if she wished to unlock the mystery wrapped around her brother's death, she would face whatever awaited her beyond. Avenger cocked his head to the side and, if the bird could utter common words, would argue that they were a team. Lowering her bow to the ground, she reached to either side of the champron, he was adorned in, and leans forward, pressing her forehead to his own.


“Very well, together, we shall venture forth.” She takes a pause before turning to the cavern awaiting them, it lured her in and she would not ignore it any longer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Death was the stench in the air, choking both steed and his huntress. Darkness enveloped them both, though their eyes adjust from the initial shock, though part of her wished she was left ignorant. Something crushed underneath her feet, and within a few steps further, into this den of nightmares, she felt the familiar crunching once more. A gaze is set down, and a bothered expression crossed her features at the realization of what littered the earth. Bones. The sound would resonate into this hollow cavern, much to her dismay, alerting whatever once slumbered within.


Relying on her senses, she relaxed her frame and listened to the air, the slightest disturbance would trigger her body to react accordingly. Yet, nothing came, and that fact bothered her, for ahead, she could make out the large figures that remained statuesque under the stalactite that dangled like jagged teeth above. "This is a nest," Rivienne began to step backwards, "..A tomb."


A growl, faint at first, swept through the dreaded air, but it came not from the space before her, but behind. Steps that were once quiet were now announcing their presence and with haste. Avenger was first to race toward the sound with a loud wark that pierced the chilled air. The beast swallowed the light from the mouth of the cave as he spreads those leathery wings and rushes toward the smaller creature, who could have easily been plucked into the maws of the wyvern. But, Avenger, knew not the meaning of fear when it came to protect and fight.


Rivienne took off behind him, crushing fragments of bone underneath her heels. An arrows were retrieved and fired off in blind succession in hoping that she could pierce through the hide before harm was inflicted upon Avenger, who came to an abrupt stop when a tail swiped at his body, sending him crashing down. His weakened cry was enough to set a fire at her heels.


[align=center]"No!--" [/align]

Without thinking of her own safety, she wedged herself between the fallen chocobo and the wyvern, whose roar was enough to cause her flesh to boil from heat. The arrows were useless, and without a blade, she had only to depend on her own strength to pull her through. Carvallain knew sending her was suicidal, but it was she who agreed for the sake of Marceloix. That one thought carried her through this and Rivienne began using her bow as a weapon. She swung, and applied enough force behind it, to jerk the dragon's head before it breathed flames upon her.


"You will not claim him!" In a fit of rage, she followed her attack with a jerk of the bow upward, trying to stab from underneath its jaw, but impaling him proved to be a fool's errand. At the most, it wounded him and instilled a hunger for Elezen flesh. The wind of its wing caused Avenger's plumage to flutter as Rivienne was knocked into a wall of stone and ice.

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The dark was an escape from dreaded reality. The walls of shadows felt limitless around her, though the frigid claws traced her limbs, bitterly reminding her, even in this fathomless dream, where she was. A breath parted her lips at the sound of talking, faint as it was. Her eyes opened, only to catch sight of the cave she entered. Her body ached terribly, and as light pierced her eyes, she recalled what caused it.


The wyvern.


Immediately, she felt the constraints around her wrists, shackles kept her arms above her head. The wall was uncomfortable, probing at her back with jagged edges and points; Rivienne arched forward, and away from it, to avoid causing more distress upon her frame. Frantically, golden eyes searched for her dearest companion, finding that he was on his feet, but unable to move. Swords were drawn at his throat, but none found their mark into his flesh. The sense of relief was but a heartbeat, for dread soon sank into her bones. "Avenger," she barely could speak the words without swallowing to satiate her parched throat.


"No harm will come to him," a voice came from the dark; a figure in silhouette now emerges into the flicker of light, which is a torch held by one of the swordsmen. Emotion drains from her features and her concerns are swallowed into the pit of her stomach. Fear is absent in her eyes, but he could see the rebellious nature underneath their surface.


"Dravanian," her voice was steady and he soon tilts his head when she acknowledged what he was. A smile spreads like oil across his lips. Rivienne had not caught sight of that.


"Good, there is little need for me to introduce myself, not that such matters." He walked forward, masked in the facade of an Elezen. Robes of sapphire worked as a contrast to the pallor of his flesh. He looked her over, but dared not to approach.


"No crest of a House is presented on you, so one must wonder, if you are an unexpected adventurer, wandering about," his features darkened with each bold step taken forward, "..or a fool."


She said not a word, yet, her predatory gaze spoke volumes. Her fingers began wrapping around the chains that bound her shackles and she simply waited for his steps to shorten the distance between the two. Patience. Patience was always something she had. Every fiber of her being desired for her to act, for she felt the searing pain that came from such tight confines.


"I am neither, come closer, and I will speak of who I work for." Rivienne taunted with a come-hither gaze behind lowered, thick lashes. Her smile widened in a challenge, one he accepted. The Dravanian stepped close and began reaching behind him; she only had one opportunity to take some control of the situation. For her sake, and that of Avenger's.


A leg slides up along the wall, giving her enough room to push off of it. She grips the chains firmly, helping herself up so that her feet no longer touched the Earth. Both legs bend back, and with a sudden divorce of her muscular thighs, her knees slam into either side of his neck.


Pressure is suddenly applied, squeezing out the breath from his very lungs. Her countenance is unchanging. He grips at her legs, crawling at the layer of leather she worn, attempting to tear her legs away. His blade is forgotten, all that matters is the precious air that was not allowed passage.


"Release my companion, or he will face a humiliating death between my legs," The terse words are spoken between her teeth as she squeezed, curling her very toes as every ounce of strength is directed to her legs. The men surrounding Avenger toss down their blades; seems the man she caught was of importance. Good, his life had some meaning to them. Rivienne ignored the nails that punctured her flesh and the feeling of her own blood spreading underneath the coating of the hide adorning her.


"Maybe it is you who should do the releasing," the feminine voice oscillates throughout the vast cavern, from all directions. Soft it was, though it carried an air of authority as well. The Dravanian struggled to keep consciousness, but soon found relief from betwixt her knees. It was not the threat of him digging further into her legs which caused it. He crumbled suddenly, gasping for a breath that had eluded him, thanks to the wretched prisoner.


Rivienne's eyes found the figure who carried that voice in the air, ignoring the Dravanian all together. When the light graced her, the huntress fell silent and felt her feet touch the ground once more. Lips part as if to speak, but not a word came through. Instead, she stared at the woman approaching in a daze.


Her hair, of chestnut, fell around her crown, spilling down the high collar of her coat. A set of golden eyes, mirroring Rivienne's own, stared forward with the same intensity, yet tenderness was written in them upon seeing the chained woman, bound to the wall. The hem of her coat dragged behind her steps as she approached with little urgency. A time-less beauty she was, one who carried herself with elegance. Her cool hand emerges from the long sleeve worn and reached forth, brushing the back of her hand against Rivienne's bruised cheek. For a moment, the woman studied her, watching the distraught look that painted her countenance. Ah, she recognized the hunter; her eyes were lit with joy.


Rivienne felt her entire body grow numb as she realized the woman staring back at her. The woman she believed was lost. A woman who wrote about maddening experiments with the aetherflow. A woman . .


The voice disrupted her thoughts.


"..you certainly have grown, my little songbird."

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The bitterness was welcomed as a sharp wind mirrored a blood curdled Drake's shrill. Along the hills topping the caverns it clumsily, sought it's footing while snapped backward. Within the broad side of it's scaled spine, stood a javelin neatly embedded within joint of it's wing. Not far stood a figure, stalking the wounded creature. A while wolf's crown, hiding the true visage of the wearer, while they encircled for a pattern the creature did not telegraph.


"I can't let you keep that, so I'll be taking it back now"


A gauntlet adorned in mythril, claimed the hide cloak, holding it like a bulwark shield in front of his body. Hiding the dagger also in hand, the pelt like a cushion for the hilt. The deep lavender hues of the Duskwight never left his prey. With a single lunge, seemingly organic as his prey in peak condition, brought him to the base of the javelin. Down came the pelt, over the head of creature, while his dagger relentlessly stabbed at the back of it's neck. No hesitation his aim was for a nerve, the display nothing short of surgery designed to prevent survival. Just as the Drake would lash, did Diveroix grip the Javelin. In a single feat of weight control, throw his weight into a momentary handstand, using bodyweight over strength to drive the Javelin deeper.


"Thank you, you were an excellent guide."


As it's body collapsed, he'd find a moment to dismount. Side daggers sheathed, impressed with himself that it took one blade, for a legacy long approach for larger prey. A shame there was no one to spout off to, he thought while reclaiming his Javelin from the corpse. The echo of commotion was something that didn't stir him, at least not until he heard a familiar voice's scream. Eyes widening he found himself running, losing his poise and interest in superior positioning. " Vincent! Vincent I'm engaging- stack up in case of a nesting brood. You'll have to contend with more than creatures I fear."


"- I Pray you're a better killer than that Rivienne-"


Was a thought set off in a mantra at the back of his mind. As of this moment to him it was move, move and kill whatever hinders your advancing. Unfortunate for a charged scout, apparently native to these lands. Because what would seem like a clumsy collision traversing down the hill. Was actually Diveroix, not allowing his fellow Elezen a moment to react. As they both went down to the rocky entrance of the cavern. Javelin clanking off into the darkness upon impact, his only option now was to once again free that dagger. Only this time, he'd stab low. Disregarding concern if he were injured, upon attempt at standing he continued to draw blood. Yet ceased from applying a kill blow.


"Sorry lad, I owe them a meal after earlier."


Diveroix would whisper, before staggering to a labored shuffle on his feet. He felt no major damage, possibly potential bruising, but it would require a missing limb to garner a sound of pain from the dusk's lips. He'd take that Javelin in hand, not dropping a single gaze behind him. Surely he'd left enough meat, to bide the time of pin pointing her voice. Only moving forward can tell.

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"Release her," the sharp tone rang into the air and the Dravanian complied, after he picked himself off the ground. His glare was set and her luminous eyes stared forth, unmoved. Still reeling from the initial shock, the huntress sank into her thoughts and attempted to make sense of this. However, the only person who could explain this to her, had turned her back. Chaffed wrists felt the sting that mingled with relief when they were freed from the shackles. If the man could, he would have spat in her very face to waken her from that stupor she was now ensnared in.


But, Rivienne didn't need his assistance, her mother's voice snapped her back to this unsavory reality. She fell silent while hearing the words sink into this frigid ambient.


"Were you trying to seek me?" The touch of sweetness could not overpower the cruelty that dribbled from her voice.


"Mother," the word is foreign and thoughts of her mother's jubilant face dissolved to nothingness. "Not intentionally, I believed you were dead, yet here you are. Made of flesh, and in the company of these --" Rivienne curled her fingers into the leather adorning her palms, so much that there came a sound of supplication from them. Golden eyes turned to the beasts, as if daring the cloaked wyverns to take offense.


"Speak not another word, child, for they were far more accepting than those of our very ilk. Do you know why I am here?" From her crown of chestnut, Rivienne saw her regal profile, and the gold of her eyes, which illuminated in the darkness that encompassing them.


"Carvallain spoke of dreaded dragons wreaking havoc, ripping his men in two. Of their bones littering the snow, of blood painted over white." The disgust in her voice was apparent as she approached quickly with long strides, though this alerted the Dravanians, who growled and readied themselves to break away from the glamour placed. It hardly stops the Elezen, who reached for the slender arm of the other woman, one whom she hardly could recognize. Her mother slowly turned to face her and rose a hand up, as to halt the potential attack that would have befallen Rivienne.


"What has turned your heart to ash, so much that you would become a heretic yourself, have you gone mad? Is this not your land? For what purpose did you come here?" The desire to know some answers was clearly painted on that canvas of emotion. Her grip was strong, as if her mother would slip from her grasp, again, for another decade.


[align=center] Why did you turn your back on us, why did you abandon the family that loved you so?


All for the desire for power? To what gain?[/align]


Her inner thoughts were never voiced.


"So it was Carvallain again," she chuckled and reached for her daughter's face, cupping her bronzed flesh into her fingers. "Not only did he recruit Marceloix, but you as well. Slowly, he turns my blood against me. But, we can change this. He wished to avenge the shame I caused his family. I had to protect my children, I did what must be done. Your brother did not understand that. But you will, won't you, my beautiful bird?" Liquid gold bore into Rivienne's gaze, which widened at the mention of her brother's name. A violent shudder ran its course through her and his name spilled from her lips quietly; it was a name that carved itself into her heart.


And I know what took his life, the very source you now will be seeking for me..


Carvallain's words resonate in the alcove of her mind; the source he spoke of was staring right into her very eyes. Digits loosened around her mother's limb and Rivienne felt her legs weaken underneath her frame. Her resolve was rattled, and for this very moment, she wished that his name was never mentioned, to remain ignorant to his passing. Ah, but fate was but a cruel mistress, and Rivienne was to be punished.


Finding strength in her legs, she began to step away from Gabrielle's elegant form, searching the dark for the Dravanian assailants. Agonizing pain struck the core of her heart; teeth clenched as she now stared forward in disbelief. She barely could recognize the words that spilled from her lips. "You killed him. You killed your own son."


Gabrielle didn't appear taken aback by Rivienne's revelation, in fact, she smiled and placed her hands over her bosom. "He was freed from his mortal bonds, but remains here. I had little choice, he would not listen to reason," she moved toward the far end of the wall, where sheets had been bundled up. Pinching the fabric, there is glance made to the huntress as the material is pulled away, revealing the remains of someone.


"He wanted freedom, I delivered it."


Her brother's skeleton was yet adorned in armaments, and his skull was upturn, as if searching the rocky ceiling..


.. as if seeking the Fury's embrace.

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Her laughter rang in the air as Virgil barked at her, trying to demonstrate how to properly dig! As if she had not known, after all, she knew how to tend a garden. Her gloves were dirtied as she mimics his paws, digging a hole into their flower bed together. "You are quite the partner," she spoke between chuckles whilst taking a hold of the small crate full of seeds. "When the season changes, we will have lovely flowers ready to be plucked. I am sure they would enjoy the smell of simpler times," the words were spoken into the wind that now brushed along her features. Tresses, spun in golden chestnut, billowed behind her delicate visage. She was but a few years into womanhood, a picture of beauty unmarred, and untouched, by the world beyond this forest. Round cheeks were prominent, due to her widening smile at the pup who helped kick soil to the seed she planted.


Summer was nearly at an end and her excitement was ever growing. They promised to return, as they always did, to welcome the change. Flowers would soon adorn the vast space of their home and perfume will grace the halls. Many talks of their adventures will fill her ears and the nights would seem endless as they sung of them. The thought itself sent warmth to spread in her heart, reaching her soft cheeks easily.


"Come now, seems you may need a bath and," Rivienne looked over herself with a cringe. Her trousers had been smudged by the Earth and grass, perspiration dribbled down her brow and neck. When Virgil turned his head to her, the young lass knew that her scent was perhaps not all too pleasant downhill. ".. I am in need of one as well."


The crate is forgotten quickly as she gathered Virgil into her arms and laughed as his tongue brushed at her face affectionately. Soft hums escaped her lips when entering the side door, where she immediately removed her muddied boots and settled the pup to the ground. Suspenders were pulled from her shoulders and the gloves were casually set aside on the small table, littered now with gardening tools. Curtains had been pulled back to receive the glory of the sun's rays as they lance through the grass. The smell of tea was prominent in the air, for it was about that time of day that she sat and took a moment for herself. The kettle had been put on before she tended to her garden. Weapons lined the walls, finding no room in the racks. Bows were hung high on the walls, where only one, with a stature like herself, could reach. Leather and flowers made up the main room, where stories were shared. Masculinity, and femininity, found balance here.


Keeping herself busied she rounded the corner of her small hall and happen to catch sight of something outside of her windows. There were two chocobos, in barding, a few fulms from the front of her home. Golden eyes were widened with excitement and she quickly began to smooth out her attire. They had come home earlier than expected and oh the elation she felt. Rivienne rushed to the mirror and quickly brushed the stains of dirt from her cheeks and forehead, trying to appear less disheveled. Yet, she knew her brothers would care less for her presentation. The knock on the door roused her from her reflection and her heart was now caught in her throat! Biting at her lower lip, she rushed to the door without hesitation and swung it open!


"Marce --" She words stopped short when a pair of gallant knights stood before her, looking down at Rivienne with lack of emotion gracing their features. She desperately attempts to look past their shoulders, but they crowded her threshold. "Sirs," she whispered softly and bows her head lightly in greeting. But, when rising fully, her eyes darted about, seeking out the surprise she was to receive. Surely, Marceloix and Louix had something up their sleeves, they were known to give her a scare when returning.


"M'lady Delacroux, I wished not to give you a startle," one of them placed his steel-wrapped hand to his chest and bowed his head in return. Rivienne wore a perplexed expression and shook her head.


"Nay, it is quite all right, I was far too quick to open the door without inquiring who it was. Alas, you know of my name, how did such pass your lips without me having knowledge of who you are? But pay little heed to my suspicions, I was expecting others. They would not take kind to handsome men at my doorstep. If you are searching for them, however, their return is imminent." Rivienne held the door, as if to slowly shut it just as Virgil came close and began to sniff at their greaves.


One of the men turned on his heel and walked to his chocobo, which carried much of their belongings, from what she could gather. Curiously, she watched him and turned to the knight who was still standing at the door, staring down at her, never removing his gaze from her form. It was unnerving to be under his scrutinizing gaze, so much that she felt it was best to close the door, now. But, as she made the motion to do so, his gauntlet shot out before her and he made sure the door was kept ajar.


"What is thine purpose? I spoke that they are not present," there was a flash of defiance in her gaze and annoyance in her voice, but it did little to encourage their leave; the second knight had returned to stand at the side of the other, presenting to her a bundle wrapped in a cloak. The insignia would forever burn in her memory.


A step was taken back and she chuckled, "This is some sort of trick, speak quickly, where is Marceloix? Is he hiding behind thee somewhere?" Rivienne began to search once more, but found that no other chocobo stood, no laughter came from these men. Their eyes are downcast as the man holds out the bundle for her to take. Both of their heads bow, allowing dark hair to conceal their features.


"M'lady, you have our condolences, I come with ill news.." His voice was low as he began to speak to her.




"That Ser Marceloix Delacroux of House Marcellus.."



She forced herself to step back once more, repelling the object presented. Her hands are placed before her, as if to push it away. She did not wish to hear anymore and pointed to where their chocobos awaited them. But, they ignored it.


"Has fallen, his last breath was but a moon ago. All that is left, it is what we present to you. He rests in the Fury's embrace."

Reality, this was her reality. All the joy she harbored crashed down at her feet and shattered like glass. Golden eyes, oh how they stared forward, not wanting to accept the words that came from their lips. Anger bubbled and spewed out with her words. "Such trickery is cruel! Take thine leave! I await them soon." Denial, it was but the first step, to push aside every painful feeling she had now gnawing away at her heart. There was numbness in her limbs as she watched the knight fall to his knee and unravel the bundle before her.


The fabric peeled away, exposing the broken javelin; made undone was the weapon, battered and snapped in two. Now it rests against the cloak that once adorned his back. She watched it flutter that day, against the warm winds of the summer, as he said farewell and promised to return. That summer, he wore a smile that summer day.


The whistle of the kettle did little to stir her from this stupor.


She lost her breath and felt every part of her being ripped asunder in pain. Virgil quickly rushed to her side and barked, trying to snap her from a memory she was clinging to, but to what avail? It was a sweet memory, now stained by reality. Her knees slammed down when she fell to the floorboards and extended her hand over the cluster offered. From the basin of her eyes, tears spilled hot against her cheeks and she felt little shame in letting out a cry that came from her very core. No perfume would line her halls, no laughter would resonate into the air. Her despair clung to the air as her tears freely littered the floor. No comfort had come to her that day, for the knights could offer little and allowed her to take the parcel completely. Rivienne's summer had come to an end.



---------------- ✥ ----------------[/align]

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It burned her as it bubbled up from the pit of her stomach. She had not eaten, and perhaps it was a godsend, for she heaved and spilled contents upon the cavern's floor. Her knees pressed together and she struggled for support against the jagged wall as golden eyes stared at her leather-clad feet. The memory jarred her, but not more than seeing the defiled bones of her brother, not at rest.


The laughter that rose in the air held little remorse, nor concern, for Rivienne's well being. She was amused, her mother, with the fact that her little unveiling had such a response. This only fueled the loathing that began to spread like a plague within her; the entire dilemma enmeshed her mind, body and soul. Ah, but it was not just her voice that filled the air, the low rumble soon replaced any surly sound her mother could have conjured.


From within the deep recesses, of this wretched grotto, groans penetrated the air. Dark magic was at work, foul enough to leave her mouth with a taste far worse than the vomit that lingered on her tongue. Rivienne slowly gathered the remainder of her strength and shut away the world around her. The grotesque sounds fell to deaf ears; laughter faded into the very void of darkness surrounding Gabrielle.


[align=center]This moment would define the woman Rivienne tried to avoid becoming, the woman fueled by martyrdom. . [/align]


[align=center]The woman she needed to be at this very moment.[/align]


Words had little meaning, she had been done with speaking, for such would be a waste of breath. Rivienne saw the world for what it was, a cruel jest. The man she sought to find answers for rests with his jaw agape; the woman she looked to was a mockery of love and a vessel of malice, and these Dravanians wished nothing but to end her life. Then so be it.


Finding strength, her body twists with a spin of her heel and she breaks into a sprint toward the nearest, glamoured, wyvern. The one that had her bound. With a serpent's precision, her arm rose and an open palm reached for the back of his head. Her mother let's out a shrilling cry to alert him, but it was all for naught. Fingers dug into his scalp, and a free hand claimed the blade in his grasp, by the steel edge. The cry of surprise was but music to this song bird, who harbored little emotion in her gaze, whilst standing with her knee to his back now. His hair was twisted into her grasp, forcing him to bend back to her strength. Their eyes met for a heartbeat, but his gaze was soon directed to the wall, that came to greet his face. Rivienne bashed his head a few times into the ridged, wall of stone, until pulp made up his countenance.


The sword was let free, at the same time, his body dropped forward, falling against the crimson streaked surface. Rivienne, who never handled such a heavy blade, found endurance to carry it. The dance of chaos now filled this frigid hall, and the participants of this waltz were all in place. Rivienne could see Avenger trying to fight his way free and avoid injury, though he was outnumbered and would soon fall if it was not for her interference. Thinking little of her own well being, she kicked aside the fallen body and ran, with blade in hand, to the back of one who raised his own sword and was to strike down her companion.


Metal sought an area not concealed by armaments, the back of the neck. With both hands upon the grip, the bowmaiden comes to an abrupt stop and places the blade above her head. Swiftly, it delivers death through the back of his skull and applies force to ensure the blade sees light on the other side.

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  • 2 weeks later...

[align=center]Red, the color of passion..

..the color of life and death.



Against her lean frame, splashes of color paint her leather bindings and vestments. Her face was smeared with the essence of the men that were impaled by the blade she twisted in her grasp. The bodies dropped in her malevolent dance of destruction and she cared little of how they came to an end, as long as they were dead. Emotion had drained from her features and she acted without a single remorseful thought; she was a shell of flesh delivering retribution.


The small group, which held Avenger hostage, soon found their bodies upon the unforgiving, frigid, Earth. Blood had pooled underneath them, tainting stone and dirt with red. The bird, who was in a mode of panic, fluttered his wings high, sending cool air to whip against the Elezen's soiled face. His attempt to bring her to her senses failed, for she whistled sharply and pointed to the gaping maw of the cave, where light pierced through. Her order was not to be questioned and, though hesitant he was to leave, Avenger was given little choice in the matter. His dark eyes met the pools of gold, eyes once filled with vigor, hinted at a ravine where she stored the pain fueling her actions.


"Your body.."


The blade fell from her callused fingers and clattered loudly to the ground, but not enough to drown the sound of chanting that echoed throughout this boreal chamber. Her mother gathered the remaining aether from the fallen bodies, and nearly as soon as they fell to their deaths, their bodies were languidly becoming animated, like puppets, once more. She was pulling the strings. Rivienne saw, past the tall frame of the female Elezen, the skeletal remains of her sibling trembling as she stirred it to life. It was mortifying, seeing the one so dear to you, soulless.


"..is meant to know suffering, many loses and few wins."


Malicious words warped the air around her; everything felt darker, heavier, and noxious. Her lips part and a smile spreads slowly 'pon them. The situation was not in the least humorous, yet she found delight that she had life still, and had energy to launch herself forward. Strong legs push forth with a sprint toward the first body she had slain, now fully erect. All the while, the magic gathered from her mother, was not only managing to manipulate this corpses, but it stirred to life the very threat that Carvallain worried about. The dragon, whose sinew hung to its yet wet bones, was rising to his feet. The odor grew stronger and heavy steps resound into the air; it was coming closer all too quickly.


"My songbird, dearest sister.." His voice was in the fog of her memories, whispering into her psyche.


She quickly tackled down the walking dead, pushing all of her weight upon it, and reached for the dagger he had taken from her whilst unconscious. Snapping her head up, Rivienne put the dagger between her lips and took a fistful of hair, only to make sure she bashed his disfigured face, into the stone ground. This was only to give him pause, as she pushed off his back and rushed forward to the woman who had turned away from her. Beautiful hair danced whimsically behind her slender frame as she conducted her ritual. Arms were spread out, welcoming the dragon that was causing the cave itself to tremble; debris began to fall over them. It did not put a damper on the advances of the dead behind her.


Her mother had little time to realize that it was all to late when her eyes met the ravenous gold depths that sought death. Strong fingers had sought her neck and dug into the flesh, digging deeply. This disrupted her concentration and she struggled to breath as Rivienne pulled her mother's body back into her frame. Eyes widened as they sought the dragon and she reached out for it as life was being choked out of her. Nails pierced the first layer of flesh, and like talons, threatening to tear her throat out. A feral snarl left Rivienne's lips as she heard her mother gasp in pain and attempt to speak to her.


"Rivienne. . Juliette.."


She forcefully shoved her to the ground as the bodies encircled them, even that of Marceloix, which devoid of life, rose to assault her. Danielle's body crumbled immediately from the impact as her head hit the ground hard, blurring her vision. Immediately, Rivienne was on top of her, legs straddling her chest, knees pinning down her arms and digging into them. The huntress stared down at the contorted face of torment underneath her. Blood trickled from where she punctured, the same blood that ran through Rivienne's own veins. She smelled it in the air, tasted it on her lips as she bled too. Labored breaths came from the woman and a few gasps of air, but the huntress was not going to let her find reprieve. The dagger was freed from betwixt her teeth by a free hand. Shuffling feet, loud growls and steel unsheathed, become the symphony of this closing act.


Tucking her thumb underneath her jaw, she pulled back her mother's head and leaned close, biting the air between them. Exposing her neck, she placed the tip of the blade to the very center, but her mother was not giving up yet. Her eyes were widened like a mad woman, perhaps mirroring the look now worn across the hunter's visage. Blood was spat into Rivienne's face, nearly hitting her eye, as words scornfully filled her ears. Her pulse throbs at the very words.


"He spoke your name..but you are no songbird.."


"..but a bird of prey." Rivienne concluded as steel sinks through, tearing away at the layer of flesh, striking true when ripping into the larynx. The gruesome sound was enough to cause gooseflesh, if she was not a woman accustomed to such a sinful melody. Using both hands, she took a grip of the dagger's hilt and pushed down fully, until it impaled her completely.

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For a long moment, the world around her melted into ebon nothingness and she was left with just the display of death, by her hands, underneath her frame. With mouth agape, the disgraceful death of her mother was a definite eye sore. Her blood covered her hands completely and sank into the leather she wore. She felt nothing at first, simply stared while pushing down on the lifeless arms and slowly standing up. Her knees shudder, threatening to let her fall over, but Rivienne mustered what little energy she had left to take a step back, a few more soon after, until she cleared space betwixt she and the fallen body of her mother. The shuffling had come to a stop around her, bodies had fallen, no longer tethered to the power woven into the dark air. Disheveled tresses were plastered to her face as beads of sweat had peppered her forehead and ran down her temples. Weary eyes turned to the bow that was taken from her, which was piled up with her satchel, turned inside out, and a broken quiver that was dormant next to it.


A story of bloodshed lined the walls and painted the floor, she was certain her own was mingled with that of these heretics. Rivienne felt exhaustion clinging to her appendages, but found strength to move forward, to not turn and look at her mother again. To leave that image behind along with that of Marceloix. But, the scene will haunt her, even now, she could still see his skull tilted as if he was crying out to the heavens, or begging forgiveness. Rivienne wished not to think of it while adrenaline left her body and lethargy took its toll.


What of the dragon, the one that came from the dark, the one that had been walking to them the whole time? He was there yet, stilled after Danielle had fallen, but very much active he was, watching his prey, the one that freed him, now grow weak with each step taken. She had not forgotten about it in her moment of self-awareness. Rivienne was coming to terms with what had taken place, of how her hand was the demise of a woman she loved, respected. A woman she no longer could recognize. A life shrouded in deceit, entwined by lies. It ended with a blade. But that blade was not going to stop the menace that slowly crept closer, jaws divorced as if readying a cry to blow out her eardrums. The huntress gathered her bow, at last, and swept up an arrow that spilled out of the quiver. She turned to the dragon as shadows melted away from its monumental form and it descended upon her.


"Come then," she breathed out the words and gave a broken smile. If this was to be her fate, then let her die with Marceloix's bow in hand. A lover left her, a mother betrayed her, her hands were caked in blood. What she had left was pride in and had no qualms in dying, especially this day. Her brothers were waiting for her. A thought that carried her through desperate moments. She chuckled dryly, remembering that an old friend asked if she sought death, to write her story in blood. She would not deny it now.


Elongated ears burned when an unfamiliar sound came from the opening of the cave, and though she had a hard time distinguishing it from friend or foe, she came to realize that what was coming toward her were not the same men that had kept her hostage. Their armor glittered in what little light fell from them. They hurried in as she glanced past her shoulder, not batting a lash at the huntress as they leap over the dead bodies and head straight to the menace before her.


Their swords were withdrawn, and like the mighty soldiers they were, they began to fight back the dragon that was now giving them an onslaught that would leave a few with serious injuries, if not dead. Rivienne was dumbfounded, for these men were not sent from Haurchefant, he knew not of what was taking place here. These were Carvallain's own. Her deed was done, let these men, full of strength and power, bring down the beast. She had eradicated the source of all his problems. Or so she believed.


"Glory is yours," Rivienne whispered as they marched past her and she reached to take a few arrows in her hands, along with the emptied satchel. Bitterly, she smiled and felt the tears grow hot in the basin of her eyes. The levee within had broken and emotions poured forth to swallow her thoughts whole. She bites back the desire to let out a sob, instead holding it back while pulling the leather strap, of her satchel over her shoulder. Slowly, she straightened herself up and turned to face the light at the end of the cavern. She was to greet it, to be free of here.


Air was pulled from her lungs and she staggered back from the force of the impact. Golden eyes looked forward frantically, catching sight of the two men, the detour to freedom was caused by one of their arrows. A thick arrow made its home above her breast, leaving her in a state of shock for a moment as she came to terms that she was shot. This was no mistake, for these bowmen could have easily targeted the dragon. No sound for mercy, no cry, had fallen from her lips as she tried to find ground underneath her feet. Life stirred in her arms, however, and she notched one of the arrows.


They readied themselves to assault once more when noticing she had not gone down, the wretched woman still was on two legs. It was then that she cried out and lifted her bow, steadying herself as her screams encouraged her to fight back. Her parched throat ached, but it mattered not, she was slowly being numbed by the rancor spreading within.


Carvallain betrayed her, too.


Her arrow is ready and it takes flight as she finds strength to take aim and let it soar to the chest of one of the archers. He staggered back from the impact and dropped his weapon. But, as soon as it is released, she nearly loses footing when another arrow finds its home in her abdomen. It was then that her lips parted to give voice to the painful hiss and she struggled to draw breath. They were wearing her down more than she had been and her body could no longer take any more of the abuse. Poison had laced the arrow's head and the agent's venom was dispersing throughout her core. It was then, that Rivienne, sister to the fallen warrior Marceloix, decided that she was not to leave this world alone.


Rivienne's labored breath were painful and her arm shook as she tried to take aim with the bow. Her legs parted and she swayed while struggling to fill her lungs with air. The arrow is notched, but before she could let it meet its mark, the archer is attacked from behind by another assailant. She did not see the face, for darkness had already began to welcome her into its chilly embrace with each breath. The bow slips from her fingers, and soon, the arrow follows suit. This beaten body shuffles, like the dead had been, backwards against the jagged wall where she was once held. Soon, her legs find that they no longer can hold her upright, and she slides down, unceremoniously, to the ground. Fingers sought the arrows, brushing at the shaft lightly but she could not take a grip.


She could no longer feel it.


Seated there, as her life slips from her, Rivienne turned to the body of her mother, to the remains of her brother and watches the color red spread like a plague, until her eyelids descend and she can no longer hear the music of combat.

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