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Definition of a Parasite [ooc welcome]


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((Relatively parallels Smallshells for the Heart))




Burned Cypress doesn't look up, or seem surprised when the short woman spoke up from somewhere behind her. "No. Its been too long now."


Ulanan speaks up from behind, "Then, what are you waiting for?"


The roegaydn answers, "I merely wait for a sign. Or for... Yes. A sign. A new trail."


Ulanan frowns and presses her lips together, looking unconvinced. "You are going to stand there for a very long time, then." she says. "The seekers that wait for things to come to them never find anything."


Cypress shakes her head, "Time heals all. Althyk will provide, even if I must play the role of a wanderer again."


"Oschon favors those who move their feet. Two gods helping you would be better than one."


"You should not speak of matters that you know little about. Wandering is merely a waste of energy. Better to move with purpouse."


Ulanan frowns some more and resists the urge to poke her tongue at the Roegadyn. "Unlike uselessly wasting the time staring at a big pond of water."


Cypress sees a dark spot drifts over towards the dock, weaving with the gentle waves. Bending down to reach it, Cypress scoops it up from the water and sniffs at it. "You merely lack patience and trust in Althyk."


"And you lack knowledge. Water isn't dirt. It flows and moves. It has currents. The things that fall into it don't stay at the bottom forever. They get dragged around and move with the water."


Cypress recognizes faint sulphuric traces on the scrap of cloth, "I know these things well enough. But where would I rush off to? She spent much time in this town. I am merely taking in what I may from it."


Ulanan shrugs, "Considering the tides, I'd guess her body was dragged to the Cape, northwards. But I imagine you don't really care about her body."


Cypress pulls away from the water to look back at the lalafel. "I care about whatever vessel houses the voidsent. It was tied into to that body more than most." She lifts up the scrap of fabric as she approaches the woman.


Ulanan looks blankly at that, as if she had just been shown the most mundane thing in the world. "Clothes float, yes."


"This was on her." Cypress stows the scrap away in her pouch, a torn of her shirt, stained with what seemed to be blood. But with it being so wet, it was almost impossible to tell.


"That just tells you her body is somewhere around here. But not on the precise spot you were staring at."


D'hein stood nearby with his arms crossed, frowning at the topic of conversation. One of his ears twitches. "What's this, then? Bodies and clothes and vessels? What's going on?"


Cypress answers Ulanan, "Did I say that's what it meant?" She shifts her gaze towards the foppish man who belonged to the same family as D'aijeen, "I am merely gleaning what I can from here before moving on."


Ulanan turns her head to look at the Miqo'te. "She's on a voidsent hunt."


D'hein asks, "So you're continuing to look for my daughter, then? Or that pet of hers?"


"You could say that. Its true, after a fashion," answers Cypress.


"Which is true? You're being awfully obtuse."


Ulanan tries to explain, "She's trying to say that D'aijeen and the voidsent are one and the same."


Cypress's answer isn't so different than that, a continuation even, "I am looking for your daughter, only because of what her body may still house. And her pet, though that is not my focus."


D'hein shakes his head. "I won't deny that there were Voidsent involved here, nor the necessity of what passed between you. But my daughter was a woman, born of flesh and raised. No Voidsent herself."


Cypress shrugs, "It recognized me, as I saw its true nature."


Ulanan drops her arms to the sides. "Yes, that was quite strange." she nods, mostly to herself.


"It recognized you? Had you some other dealing with D'aijeen? Or do you mean the Voidsent that was abusing her so?" asked D'hein.


"That was the first I'd seen of the girl. But the voidsent within her? We have met before."


Ulanan decides to cross her arms again, saying nothing.


D'hein pressed again, "Have you a story to tell regarding that, then?"


"None that would interest you. It is merely... a special trouble maker of a spirit. I am not surprised that it has been causing the problems that brought me here."


Ulanan keeps quiet.


"You don't get to conceal that history of the thing which seems to have killed my daughter, Roegadyn."


Cypress walks towards D'hein looking down at the man, "And I am not obligated to answer to an interrogation when you have not done anything but attempt to hobble my hunt."


Ulanan interrupts, not able to hold back her disbelief at the other woman's callousness, "By Oschon! The man's daughter just died! Are you going to deny his request because of the pride of your 'hunt'?"


"This has nothing to do with pride, little one."


D'hein matches the Roegadyn's gaze, narrowing his own. "I just helped kill my daughter as her mother watched on. The world owes me an explanation, and if you're the one who possesses it, it is from you that I will extract it."


Ulanan walks around so she is in a better position to listen.


Cypress makes a counter-offer, "Then I would extract a promise from you, that you will not place yourself in my path from hence forth."


"That's extortion," insists Ulanan.


"Why? If that is exortion then what is this man doing?" Cypress looks down on D'hein in reflection.


"Let's not make an argument of it. I owe you no such breath, Roegadyn. However, I do not wish to be anyone's enemy. I no longer have a daughter to protect from you. All that remains is the Voidsent which destroyed her, and I certainly won't interfere with your hunt for that," says D'hein.


Cypress shakes her head, "Yet you seem to think that I owe you information. For you though, it would be of no consequence. I have seen this voidsent within my grandfather, the gatekeeper before me. That is all."


Ulanan reasonably asks, "What did it do while it was in him?"


"My grandfather was old, his body dead. There was not much that it could do."


"That does not answer the question of why it was there, and what it was intending. Why was it in him?" D'hein Tia huffs. "That's why I'm asking."


"Don't be lazy now," says Ulanan.


Cypress turns and walks back down to the edge of the dock, looking out at the waters, "They want nothing more than to gain a hold within this world. The void is a... limbo more than anything else. For certain spirits it is... they long for something more. For chaos, violence, and the feeling of a heart beating hard within their chest. They want to feel alive. Their time has passed though, and they would ask for it at the cost of those who live in this world."


"How did you get it out of your grandfather, then? Why was it in my daughter?" asks D'hein.


Cypress answers matter of factly, "I threw him to the fiery pit and sealed the fissure with his blood." She paused before addressing the second question and turning back to the Miqo'te, "I do not know why it was in your daughter. There are many ways that it could have happened. The most likely of which are that it piggy backed on a summoning or... your daughter made a deal with it herself." Turning back to D'hein, she asked a question of her own, "Your... daughter made a habit of cutting into the void, did she not? Though her mother defended her intention, she was not surprised at the subject."


D'hein shook his head, and his arms dropped. "It was not a thing I knew of before, but Antimony confided that D'aijeen had summoned Voidsent in the past.


"Is that not explanation enough for you?"


Ulanan looks at D'hein quietly.


D'hein sighs, shaking his head. "I suppose so. Except that I wonder what you do now."


Cypress shrugs, "I must resume the hunt, as much as had wished to be to returning to the Spine now."


D'hein, "I suppose this takes us back to when I walked in, then. By what means will you hunt?"


"For now, I will look along the coast to see if the body washed up and left any trace. I may also attempt to scry, but I do not believe the small scrap of cloth that I have from her is enough."


"Straightforward enough, I suppose. I wouldn't know anything about scrying, "D'hein looked down at Ulanan as though he expect the Lalafel to be a master of it.


"Her mother wished to give her a proper burial. Would giving her the body be an obstacle to your hunt?" Ulanan glanced back at D'hein for a short instant. Perhaps a sign that her knowledge about scrying is non-existent.


"If the body is empty and burned in memorial after I have had a chance to collect a blood sample. Yes. That would be fine."


"What's the blood sample for?" asks D'hein.


"To help seal the rifts that have been made by her."


"Ah, right. That. But, she's not a Voidsent herself. Would it still work?"


Ulanan pokes her chin with the index finger, pondering, "The voidsents must be attracted by her aether. The blood would help her fake that and reverse the summoning rituals"


"It is merely a precaution. One cannot long be entangled with them without taking on some of the voidsents' essence within yourself. It would be better than nothing, even if her body has been abandoned."


"Well, I can't object to that." D'hein nodded, looking thoughtful. "We might as well get looking, then. More of us to cover more ground. I came to get K'airos' things from the inn, but I can take a quick southward pass along the beach before returning them to her."


"Mm. No, I can help this woman with her search. You should go back with Antimony and K'airos. Stay with them for a few days, at least. They'll need the company..." offers Ulanan, gesturing to her book. "...and I'm better equipped for this task."


"We all have an equal number of eyes, Ulanan."


Cypress narrows her bright eyes at the pair, "We will not be doing anything. I will not stop you if you feel compelled to search for the body that you seek, but this is not something that I can share with others."


"Well, as you wish, then," says Ulanan.


D'hein seems a little frustrated at that, "What's with all you people and this word "Can't"? Sounds like silliness and stubbornness to me. At any rate, I'll depart shortly. If I find anything, you're sure to find out through some strange mechanism, I'm sure."


Cypress nods her head, "Thank you. And I shall return the body to you if it is in a state that I can do so."


"Well, I'll be helping you anyway for at least a short while. So you'll have to share that burden for that long," Ulanan emphasizes her point by walking and standing right next to Cypress."


D'hein Tia smirks. "Well. I'm sure you two are going to have a great time, then. Good talk! Let's do it again sometime." He gave a small wave before turning away to seek out the inn.


Ulanan realizes she is at the perfect height to be attacked by Cypress' knees. She looks up to the woman and smiles, "You first!"


Cypress's jaw tightens as she looks down at the tiny person, "You will only impede my progress. I do not wish for any parasites."


"Did you just call me a parasite?"


Cypress says in all seriousness, "If you are going to follow me for the purpouse of getting what you desire, then yes. It is an appropriate term."


"And what I desire is...?"


"To see that your friend's daughter's body is returned. I cannot see any way that you can offer assistance in this matter. There is no offense meant, but I have not requested your aide."


"No offence meant, but you used the word parasite? You make no sense!" Ulanan huffs. "In any case it doesn't matter. I'm going to follow you and there's nothing you can do about it except bore me to death by standing here. Which is bad for -your- desires."


"A parasite is merely something that leeches off another without offering benefit in return. It seems to be a correct term. If you do not think that you are one, then please, offer an argument."


"How can I leech anything out of you just by following you? And I'm not going to offer you any argument to defend myself. You are rude and we are wasting our time!"


"You are leeching my energy, parasite. Now, answer my question, why do you insist on chasing my skirt?"


Ulanan huffs again, raising both hands and obstructing her ears under them. "I'll answer once you start being polite. For now, though, I'm going to ignore you."


"Good. Please, ignore me and stay put."


Ulanan continues to hold her hands over her ears. "I can't hear you because parasites do not have ears!"


Cypress starts to walk off, taking much longer strides than she needed.


Ulanan follows like a parasite!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The odd pair made their way up north alongside the narrow coastline, the ocean on their left and jagged, rocky cliffs bordering their right side. The roegadyn's eyes swept the harshly lapping waters that occasionally threatened to drag the lalafell that followed away with its tides. Cypress hadn't smelled anything but the salty sea air in sometime though, having left the the Vesper Bay behind sometime ago.


Ulanan was showing all the signs of being bored, getting too close to the waves and then outrunning them. She had done this a number of times before getting tired of it. Now she was walking very oddly, trying to step only where the roegadyn had left tracks. Even with these distractions, she kept looking around, with their goal firmly in mind.


Cypress appeared to be doing a good job ignoring Ulanan's antics, so much so that she might have even truly forgotten that she was there for the moment, not so much as glancing back to see if she was there for quite sometime.



The land north of Vesper Bay hadn't been much used since the Garleans had set up a base in that part of the world. Even though the Garleans had been defeated and that place destroyed, the traffic along the northern beaches had not returned. There were no settlements here. No camps. Life was mostly undisturbed.


And so a knot of wreckage was an unnatural sight. All remains from the battles with the Garleans would be significantly north of here. All civilization should have been significantly south. This derelict shipping vessel, obliterated as though crushed against great stones that were not present, was well out-of-place.


And fresh. The body half-buried beneath its bow was pale, but had not rotted. It was soggy, with kelp and sand all over it. The ship carried the promise of more like it, glistening in the sun, yet unspoiled but spoiling quickly.



The lalafell stopped on top of one of the tracks made by Cypress. "A shipwreck." she pointed out redundantly, adjusting her hat over her head. "That's going to make finding a specific body quite difficult. It also looks rather odd. Where did it smash itself like so?"


The breeze brought with it faint traces of sulfur, as they neared ruin of timber. "What makes you think that her body is in that?" Her booted feet carried her closer. "It is worth looking at though."


"People inside ships that are about to be wrecked usually jump out, or get thrown away with the impact. They end up in the sea, and then the sea washes them across the shore." Ulanan explained, grumpily. "Of course she's not there, but the men who died and fell off...ah!" She grumped some more, stomping her feet and throwing a small cloud of sand around her boots. "Why do I bother explaining what I meant? I'm a parasite. Just do whatever while I keep on leeching on your whatever it is I'm leeching!" With that said, she continued following her.


"Nothing you said made any sense... Oh. You meant that if we were to find a pile of bodies, there being a pile would make it harder to find hers. Except that that doesn't make any more sense. We are not looking through haystacks." Cypress let her bright gaze run up the side of the ship next to her, placing her hand on it as she walked alongside it.


"I see basic logic and intuition is beyond you. But I forgive you." Ulanan bite at the air. She took off her hat and stuck her hand inside. After a moment, she took out a small gemstone and a short silver handle. She attached them together, forming a flimsy but perfectly usable thaumaturgic wand.


Making her way towards the bow of the ship, the body that had wedged itself there came into view. Cypress waved a hand towards it, "Well, there is a body, Ulanan. Clearly, that is not the girl. Is your theory about a lot of bodies making things hard to find her still accurate?"


The shadows on the side of the vessel opposite Cypress shifted, subtly, as though the wind were brushing through them. The scent of sulfur was stirred like pollen. Something dark shifted in the bones of the ship, as though it had been dozing.


"It will if this was a passenger ship and women were on board." she replied with the hat back on her head.


The red woman took in a deep, lungful of breath. Yes. There was something here. She could see the near invisible specks of darkness floating through the air as if the ship was mold infested. "Take care, parasite. I see fingerprints of the void here."


Well, I will pray so that they do not rip off your legs." Ulanan offered, starring a the vessel. "And I will certainly not hope them to hurt you. At all. Are we going inside?"


"Hmm." The roegadyn sniffed at the air, "I suppose."


Before they can move to get inside, however, the shadows seem to bleed towards the water. It as if a sun is setting inland and casting new, long, deeper shadows into the sea. But the shadows detach from the sources and bleed that way, like oil, and congregate in the water. Obscured by the moving waves, something thin and black shifts just under the shallow water.


Ulanan raised her wand, aether shifting across the handle into the gemstone, and then outwards, forming a protective invisible shell around her that soon was replicated around Cypress.


Small, blunt brows came together as the shadows elongated and creeped towards the pair. "Yes, the void has most definitely touched this place." A new scent took to the air in the form of lightly toasted flesh as Cypress's skin crackled with burning veins.


After several seconds, the thin presence in the water began to expand upward, growing. A rounded shape lifted from the water, shifting back and forth as though trying to free itself. It segmented and grew angles. The darkness waned into translucent gray with bones inside. Shoulders and neck separated, skulls rising inside an amorphous head. A maw opened and closed. The great canid seemed to climb intact from the mud.


Ulanan, showing how a very patient person she was, thumped her wand in the air, releasing a sphere of fire that flew towards the creature.


Cypress walked towards it steadily as more of her body was consumed by her aether, the tips of her hair even emitting the magical fire, her right hand a torch. Surprisingly, her armored dress remained untouched, but as she closed in on the beast, she too, tossed a fireball from her hand.


The beast didn't seem to notice either of them until Ulanan's first fireball struck it dead-on, at which point it lurched to the side and opened its maw as though to screech. Its only sound was the clicking of bone, however. The skulls that made up its teeth, the beaks of long-dead vultures, had been left yellowed by an attack Ulanan had used on it previously: one involving corrosive fumes. Several of those skull shattered.


When Cypress' fireball arrived, the beast had not yet discerned the location of its attackers. It lurched the opposite way, stirring up salt water and silt. It panicked like an attacked dog, lifting up from the ground and throwing itself beachward. Its large body slammed into the side of the fishing boat and smashed through the wood, crushing the half-buried body.


Changing direction with the demon's sudden movement, Cypress actually picked up the pace of her movement, she reached up to the wood of the boat, but it was yet too wet to catch on fire.


The lalafell moved her wand sideways, the aether forming fire around the gemstone. She picked up rhythm, wielding her focus in one direction and then abruptly changing it, releasing fire with each swing. Three fireballs identical to the first one were flung in the direction of the beast.


The beast snapped at the air, as though it thought the splinters thrown from the wood it had shattered were attacking it. It took the first of Ulanan's new volley as hard as the last, knocked back into the wood of the boat and breaking it forward. Then it leapt up onto the boat to get away, and the fireballs hit nothing but wood.


From another place along the coast, well behind Ulanan, a much smaller, dark presence crawled from the water. It moved as a crippled body would, dragging itself up from the sea, dripping dark water and glistening with salt. It was not D'aijeen, but a pale-skinned Elezen child, crawling silently forth.


Cypress was helpless to pull the beast back down to her, but with a little push, she could try to make the boat that it stood on burn to the ground. Putting her hand on the moist wooden frame, her eyes intent upon the beast, she forced out an aetheric fire, hotter and more durable than that which now naturally flicked off her skin.


The aether washing over Ulanan's wand shifted aspects, becoming cold, freezing the air. She didn't loosen it, though, as she couldn't see the beast. To change that, she ran to a side in a curve, trying to quickly get on the opposite side of the boat and at a safe distance.


The beast shifted on the boat, looking around, snapping at the air. It was concealed for a moment as it tasted the air, as it tried to discern where the threat was coming from. And then the boat was burning, fire hot enough that the water did not slow it ripping through the wood. Quickly, the stink of scorched mildew and immolated bodies wafted into the air. The canid could be heard clicking in the middle of it.


Then the monster smashed through the fire and the wood, breaking through the wall immediately in front of Cypress, seemingly without concern for the fire around it. Its broken teeth and maw extended from the haze to snap at the woman.


The sounds of crunching wood fell behind the beast as she raised and threw her burning fist into the voidful jaw as its shadowed figure emerged from the flames. Thoughts of the lalafell's actions didn't even strike across her mind. She was far too used to working alone to take into account the safety of others, despite her mission's ultimate purpouse.


The short mage had moved far enough as to be safe from the attack, but not enough to reach her desired destination. Quick on her thoughts, she waved her wand, sending a magical spike of ice at the side of the beast.

From there, she took a glimpse of the small form that was crawling out of the sea.


The "teeth" of the monster shattered when Cypress struck it, making it recoil back into the burning boat which, thanks to its own violent movements, was now crumbling around it. Lines of fire curled against the beast's ephemeral flanks, the heat enough to darken the bones inside of it. The thing twisted, and began to climb upward to get away, but a shaft of ice struck it and knocked it down once more.


The figure of the child on the beach watched the boat burn down. It pushed itself up and stood hunched, dark hair and dark eyes wide and confused at what it was seeing.


Cypress stepped into the crumbling boat after the beast, the fire if anything seemed to feed back into her as flames lapped around the edges of her dragonhide boots that had been passed down through the generations. She came down to her knees beside the fallen demon using the motion to bring her large, crackling palm down onto its large skull.


Ulanan, deciding ice would do more to hinder than to help, focused her attention on the small person on the distance. Her wand still crackled with cold aether.


"Kid! Stay there!" she shouted. "Don't come any closer!"


The shadows of the canid's head sizzled, boiling under Cypress palm, and gave way so that her hand pressed down on the bundle of vulture skulls behind its face. The monster writhed and clawed at the ground, but couldn't manage to move.


The figure on the beach flicked its gaze to Ulanan, and then back to where the boat was burning.


The hellsguard kept the hand down on the bundle of skulls as she quickly rummaged the knapsack with her other hand having withdraw the fire from that appendage back within herself. She drew forth a very simplistic one-shot crystal vial and syringe.


The beast snapped its maw, trying to get at Cypress legs or feet, any part of her that came near it. Its claws tore at the burning wood around it.


Ulanan shifted her attention, concluding that the kid was not undead or a voidsent. She raised her wand high above her head and then swung it violently towards the creature. The chilling air around the gemstone moved across the air, its coldness dissipating. The aether remained, however, and it slammed down on the unnatural beast with great force. It was not enough to crush it, but perhaps enough to restrain it like a great weight, she hoped.


Cinders flaked from her leg as an scrambling claw caught hold of her leg. Blood seeped down from the cut, the burnt flesh pulled away, it dropped down her leg and sizzled as it landed in the fires. Cypress ignored it though, gritting her teeth down and jabbing the syringe into a fleshy part of the voidsent, drawing forth from it a viscous black ooze.


Ulanan's spell worked as intended. The monster lay still as Cypress worked. It's only complaint came in the clicking of bones as the cracked under the abuse, weakened by the heat of the fire.


The child, watched the burning boat, took a step away and began to hobble down the beach away from the fire.


"What are you doing?" Ulanan questioned the roegadyn's actions with a shout. "Can we kill it already?"


Cypress ignored Ulanan words, or at least didn't respond to them as she stowed the hollowed crystal full of voidsent blood away in her pouch. She did send a further blast of aether threw her hand as brought the fingers of it together to crush skull the further.


The many vulture skulls inside of the canid's head cracked under the pressure applied to them. The beast scrambled and struggled like a thing drowning, as though it were being choked to death. But it was held in place by the very precise pressure Cypress was applying and Ulanan's lingering spell. It struggled for only a moment before the skulls finally broke into a collection of bone shards that collapsed inward. At once, the shadows melted away, just like a fresh light was shining upon them. The great spine and various animal bones that the shadows had contained fell limp to the wooden floor of the boat.


The lalafell dropped the arm holding the wand and huffed, relieved. The magical energy around the focus weakened, though she kept enough attention on it to keep some over the gemstone.


"I don't want any other surprises. Is that creature done?"


The roegadyn pulled away from the pile of bones and carefully walked from the burning boat. She wasn't quick enough though, to avoid chunks of burning wood falling on her. Had her skin not been already a mess of volcanic fissures, it would have done far more damage. As it was though, she would have some nasty bruises to accompany that bleeding gash on her calf.


As she stepped out of the bow-ward hole that she'd entered through, she caught sight of the little girl limping away down the narrow beach. "Who is that?" she uttered, her voice a cracked mess.


"It's a survivor. I didn't have time to see if they were alright." she answered, turning around towards the kid. The aether on her wand finally dispelled, falling down in drops of water.


"Hey! Kid!" she shouted. She begun to stroll towards her, calmly and steadily. "Are you alright? Are you hurt?"


The Elezen child, short dark hair and pale skin, tattered clothes soaked through, at first continued to limp away. The figure was thin and taller than a full-grown Miqo'te, though still several heads below the height it would eventually grow to. After a moment, though, it pause, and turned to look over its shoulder. A green earring in the shape of a cactuar swung from one ear. It blinked at Ulanan in silence.


Cypress walked away from the ship and towards the girl and lalafell. her body shuddered as the fissures and embered cracks retreated back below the surface. With that the last of the flames that had danced at the surface of her hand fall to the sands. She'd drained much of her aetheric reserves again. They'd need more time again to build up. Conservation was something she needed to start practicing again, but her frustration and anger liked to get the better of her.


Ulanan stopped at what could be considered "lunge" range from the child. "Don't worry. We finished that monster." she said, sounding reassuring. "Are you hurt? We can help you." she added.


The child blinked at Ulanan. It looked at Cypress, expression unreadable but dark eyes wide, and then back to the Lalefel. "I can walk back to Vesper Bay on my own." The voice was smooth and androgynous, and did not evidence any pain or injury.


Dragonhide boots carried Cypress to the pair, her sharp, bright eyes taking in the little girl whose appearance was all too coincidental for the roegadyn that resolutely didn't believe in such things; Althyk never arranged for such without a purpouse. She smelt nothing on the wind, but the recently possessed rarely showed such signs right away. Her voice was cold even as it cracked, "But I saw your limp. You're too hurt to walk all those miles."


Ulanan frowned, dropping her head slightly. Her grip on the wand tightened. "Were you in that ship? Was anyone with you? We can look for them, make sure they are safe."


"There aren't any survivors." The Elezen said. The the child looked up at Cypress. "I am fine. You're frightening. Let me walk alone. If I'm wrong, you'll find me on the beach on your way back, won't you?"


Cypress reached where Ulanan now was, "I may be frightening, but I am far less so than what you just walked from. And I know some healing." A little lie to someone possessed would mean nothing. "Let me look at that leg." Her strong, proud facial features brokered no kindness in them though.


Ulanan said nothing else. She watched up to Cypress, and then back to the kid.


"Absolutely not. The shipwreck did not claim my pride." The child's chin lifted. "You will cease molesting me immediately."


"How did this happen?" the lalafell asked, gesturing with her head to the ship. "Was it that voidsent we fought?"


"Perhaps. I do not remember. Goodbye." The Elezen turned away, chain of the earring clattering, and began to limp in the direction of Vesper Bay.


As the girl turned to leave them, Cypress took a long step towards her and made a grab for her thin wrist.


The child made a sound of both dismay and pain as Cypress' claws closed around one bony wrist.


Ulanan threw her hands into the air. "Please!" she exclaimed to the Roegadyn. "Don't be that harsh! She might just be a kid and not a voidsent!"


If anything Cypress's grip tightened, "There is no such thing as coincidence."


The child didn't complain in words, groaning and making a token show of pulling away. A look of concern was cast towards Ulanan.


"I'm not going to question your world view." she commented. "But I question your methods. Let her go. If you are so worried about that, just follow her."


"If she is not possessed, then she'll have no worry in sitting down for an exam," Cypress yanked the child towards her, gentleness not present in her blood. "I'm amazed that after everything you've seen, you're willing to accept that a child involved in a voidsent induced shipwreck, witness to a violent altercation, simply walks away without so much tear in her eye or panic in her voice? She instantly showed more fear of me than any of those things."


"Elezen are proud like that. I'm just careful because I don't like the idea of burning people who might NOT be voidsent." she grumped in reply.


"Or who might be a voidsent AND a living child!" The Elezen spun on Cypress as the woman pulled. One thin arm reaching up, the child's fingers pointed towards Cypress' face and dark lines, like black icicles, shot directly for the Roegadyn's eyes.


Cypress was surprised, her bright copper eyes widening at the black daggers that came at them. And in that same moment her mind whispered, 'I told you so' to the parasite. And then there was simply darkness. And pain as her throat involuntarily let out at crackling roar.


The last dregs of her aether ripped through her, a wildfire that spread to everything it touched. It grounded was well-grounded in her boots, but it most certainly scorched the dainty wrist that captured within Cypress's own red hand.


Ulanan gave a jump backwards, unable to stop the attack or even see it coming before the kid was done speaking. She retaliated, the aether from her body thundering through her to the wand, and from there through the air to hit the kid with an electrical blast.


A pained cry ripped out of the child when first fire and then lightning struck the small body. But the cries ceased too quickly, and then it growled at Ulanan. "You torture an innocent."


"Then let her go!" she replied with a bark, accompanying her words with another magical blast.


Cypress could feel the cool streaks of what she assumed to be blood running down her smooth cheeks. Her body's involuntary reaction over, she found the sensation strangely calming. Even as her stomach wanted nothing more than to retch and her head felt like someone had stuffed cotton into her ears. She still had her presence of mind and the girl's wrist in her hand. She reached with her other one through the darkness to grasp up the girls arm just north of where her anchored hand was, "Just kill it," She gasped at Ulanan.


"I'm not letting go! The child's screaming inside!" The child couldn't fight either of them. Ulanan's magic was burning away that pale skin, darkening it viciously. "You'll be murderers!"


Sparks formed around the lalafell's wand. They grew in size, becoming fire. It moved outwards, circling her increasingly rapidly. Her tongue clicked against the roof of her mouth, letting out a dismissive noise to the voidsent's words. She stayed still for an instant, and then rotated her arm forwards, her legs shifting with the violence of the movement. The fire raised up in a thin torrent and fell upon the kid in an arc.


The child watched the fire arcing downward, and at the last moment, the voidsent seemed to release. The kid struggled against Cypress and tried to escape the fire. Fearful eyes watched, wide, watering, so terrified there wasn't even a scream. As the fire struck the child, however, the scream came. A child's loud, tortuous scream, as she burned alive.


Large red hands clasped around the girl's arm, Cypress held fast even as her stomach churned slightly at the more genuine sounds of pain and suffering. Better to end it here and be cleansed by the fire.


Ulanan let out a broken breath, looking more angry than horrorized by what just happened. She averted her eyes from the kid.


After a time, the child's body slackened and collapsed into the surf. The earring broke off and fell away. The corpse smoked, and smolders. Water bubbled around it, sizzling audibly.


Cypress felt the faint weight tugging at her grip as the not unfamiliar smell of burnt flesh settled firmly into her nostrils. She let it go after a long moments, the feeling of life and a pulse no longer present within the wrist that she had accidentally sheltered from the same magical frying that the rest of the body had endured.

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The red woman fell to her knees, the rocky sand digging into her skin. She reached towards the body, feeling along its crisp surface to take hold of it and pull it towards her.


Ulanan moved swiftly towards her, blue aether steaming from the wand in ther hand. "We need to take care of your wounds." she said shakily. "Let me see."


Cypress shook her head, blood dripping off of her cheeks as she pulled herself up from the ground along with the childs body. "This needs to be committed to flames before the ship burns itself out."


Frowning, Ulanan waved her wand. The aether washed over Cypress' eyes, providing a momentary relief and slowing the bleeding. "Okay. Do your thing."


Most people would probably consider carrying such a burden, but it didn't seem to bother Cypress at all. But she struggled to find the right direction to carry it, stopping to smell the air for the signs that her eyes could no longer see. But all that it brought to her was the ripe smell of burnt flesh. "Where... please. Lead to the ship."


The lalafell first pointed, then she used that same pointing hand to grip on Cypress' clothes and pull her in the right direction. "Over here."


She went with the tug, following it like the lifeline it was, unused to needing asking for help or receiving assistance, "You should not have hesitated."


"No, I should not have."


"You have learned at least. There is no such thing as coincidence, Althyk ensures that." The cool breeze began to break up as they neared the ship again where the heat caused by the magical fire rolled off of it.


"What now? Just...throw the body into the fire?"


"Yes. So that the voidsent has no place to reside in." Cypress steps further towards the ship, the heat a familiar thing.


Ulanan stayed in front of her, guiding her. "Any point of the ship in particular?" she asked.


Ruined eyes cast an unseeing gaze upon the Lalafell, "Of course not. The fire must simply be hot enough to sear away the shell. You stand back."


"Alright." The lalafell did exactly that, staying close enough to Roegadyn in case she needed further help.


Cypress moved towards the heat, until she felt the flames lick her skin. Even then she went further, bumbling into the burning remnants of the ship until she was satisfied that the body would be turned to ash though it had already caught fire. She set it down gently somewhere in the rubble.


Ulanan didn't follow that close and was fully expecting the other woman to catch on fire herself.


Just as she hadn't caught fire earlier, Cypress didn't now. But she struggled to find her way back out of the ship's rubble. Her normal grace lost.


"Over here. Follow my voice. And the cold." The lalafell followed her words with a short burst of magical ice thrown at the floor near the Roegadyn. "I'm not fire proof, so I can't just hold your hand."


Cypress followed the voice out of the fire, but not before falling out of the ship by way of tripping over a still mostly solid piece of railing. She lay there on the sands, her teeth grinding against themselves as she fought off the sting of her ruined pride.


Ulanan did not ask if she was alright; it was pretty clear she wasn't. She walked closer to her. "We need to get you a healer now."


The graveled voice muttered partially into the sands, "We need to finish this business so that I may return to the Spine and my post."


"So no healing?"


"I will not stay in one of your hospitals," she said, pulling herself back to her knees and then, more slowly, to her feet.


"Even if that could save your life? That wound will get infected without proper treatment. Who is going to do your job if you die?"


"Althyk would not let me die." She walks towards the lalafell's voice, stopping just short of where she thought the tiny woman was, "But I will now... require help of another. Until I am used to this at least."


Ulanan nodded with a frown, simply answering "Alright." to that. There was a pause, and then she asked: "Where do you want to go?"


"Let us continue along the coast. We still have not found D'aijeen's body, only her pet."


Grabbing Cypress' clothes again, Ulanan pulled her. "This way." she said, going southwards.


The roegadyn follows, not having much choice in the matter since she had no little ability to discern directions.

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It wasn't long before the sounds of a dock reached them. Vesper Bay was just in front of them.


"Oh, it seems I got lost and went backwards. How silly of me." the lalafell explained with a joking tone. "But now that we are here, we could see a proper healer. Althyk does not allow for coincidences!"


Cypress ground her teeth at that, "When you lead us back back here against my wishes, of course it cannot be one. Do not mock my faith, little one." She could still smell the sulfur in the air now that they were close to the town. If the wind had not been on their back she could have realized Ulanan's intentions sooner.


"I do not mock your faith. I mock your interpretations." She pulled from the Roegadyn's clothes. "We are closer now to the town and a healer than from anybody that could be there on the beach. You might as well take the opportunity."


Something that sounded a lot like a 'hrmph' sounded from Cypress. She didn't resist much though when she was pulled towards town.


The lalafell smiled as she led the other woman. The Brass Blade keeping guard at the gates gave them both an odd look.


"She needs a healer." Ulanan said, pointing up with the free hand at Cypress' face.


"Go to the quarters next to the south gate. Should be a healer there." was the sharp, uncaring reply she got.


As they passed through the gate, Cypress spoke, "So. You know this land better than I. And you know the v-" she cut herself off, rephrasing, "D'aijeen. Do you have... suggestions?"


"I never met her until she was like you saw she was." Ulanan answered. "She was very attached to her sister, from what I gathered, and hated her mother. If she's still...alive, she might try to get to them."


Rather than go through the plaza, she chose to hug the outer wall and move across the cramped alley that was formed between the houses and the wall, imagining the Roegadyn wouldn't wish to go through the central plaza under the eyes of anyone and everyone.


"Then you think that we should catch up with them then, and hope that D'aijeen will show her face once more?" Honestly, Cypress probably would not have cared if they went through the plaza, its not like she could see the gawkers anyway.


"Do you think the voidsent can take many body at the same time?" Ulanan asked, suddenly and out of nowhere.


"Not that I have seen, or have heard in our tales of them," Cypress answered simply.


"If that...kid in the shipwreck had the voidsent..." the little woman started, turning around a corner. "...well, maybe it was another one? Or was it the same? Could you tell?"


"I... do not think that it was the same. But it was at the least the work of... D'aijeen," she settled for the sake of ease, calling it that, "the body that it chose is gifted in the arts of necromancy and the manipulation of the void."


They were close to the Blade quarters now. "Whatever we do, it's going to be terrible. If she's still alive, she'll go for her family. Or maybe not. Maybe she needs to recover. Which means we should keep trying to find her in the shore. But then...watch the steps up." The entrance to the quarters had a number of stairs that Ulanan would describe as "too many". But for now, she simply guided Cypress' feet with careful pulling.


The steps weren't actually so bad, "She isn't alive," Cypress corrected, "But the actual girl inside hasn't been in control for at least quite sometime, you realize."


"You know what I meant. Hey! Hello!" Ulanan knocked on the door loudly. "We need a healer and we were sent here. Hello?"


A short hyur dressed in the Brass Blade uniform opened the door and the first thing he saw was the Roegadyn. "Holy Thal! How did you reach here, and why is your voice so lalafell-like..." he started, and then went quiet when he noticed the small blonde lalafell with the huge hat.


"Come in and...wait there." he pointed to a bench nearby while he turned around and left towards the interior of the quarters. "I'll call our healer."


Ulanan pulled Cypress inside.


The blood had stopped flowing down sometime ago, but it had dried on her face. The pupils of the eyes had been stuck clean through, it was a miracle in and of itself that they hadn't simply been plucked out by the demon. As much use as that was.


Cypress settled onto the bench that Ulanan led her towards, "You know. Perhaps it would be best now to catch up with that family."


"If you think the voidsent won't need any time to recover, then I would agree." she nodded.


"With the time that we have wasted returning here and the time it would take to even resume searching where we left off from, the voidsent will be long gone."


Ulanan pouted. Not that Cypress could see it. "I choose to believe you just thanked me for not letting you bleed to death in the way and leaving me to deal with the voidsent on my own."


Two hyurs emerged from one of the doors. One was the guard that had greeted them, and who quickly went back to his post. His post was, apparently, sitting on a chair near a tiny desk and do nothing. The other one was carrying a long, curled dry branch. He stopped in front of Cypress with his hands on the hips.


"Hello, I'm your healer for today. What happened?" he asked with a gravelly, slightly asleep tone.


Cypress merely lifted her face upwards towards the man, "My eyes have been ruined. I was brought here to ensure that they do not fester or cause more issues than they already do."


"I can see that. I meant in a more...you know...how it happened? But you can answer that after we look at it, now that I think better about it. Horse!" the hyur yelled, looking at the other.


"Why do you keep calling me that?" the other complained, standing from his chair.


"Because you used a stupid hat in the holydays. Be a good Blade and ask that lalafell what happened while I see this one." The conjurer extended one hand to take Cypress' shoulder and guide her farther into the quarters.


Cypress rose back to her feet, when she felt the hand on her shoulder and followed the healer into the back room, trusting Ulanan to know what to say to the Horse-man. "We cannot tarry in this town," she explained to the healer, "So simply do what you can now, and worry not beyond that."


"Yes, ma'am. I mean...no, I do my job right. No matter how much I was enjoying that nap and wishing to go back to it. You get to tell me what to do if you become a Brass Blade -and- a captain." he replied.


They went through a few cramped hallways until they reached the infirmary. It was just a room with two beds and a table filled with alchemical reagents, potions and linen wraps. He guided her to one of the beds. "Sit there." he ordered, taking the focus from his back. "This is the second time in less than two days that I tend to someone who got one of his senses destroyed.


If she could have, Cypress would have narrowed her eyes, "And what happened to that person?"


"He left. He was just deaf."


A large mass of aether washed over Cypress's body as the man casted the first healing spell. "-Just- deaf, I say? As if that was not a big deal. But yes, he left. He was in a hurry and was worried about some young woman. He wouldn't hear...well, he -couldn't- hear me or anyone telling him to wait or give us more detail. Just ran off. Or...walked off. Ran-walked, maybe."


The pain in her eyes left as the healer blocked the nerves within them, "A... young woman you say? Did he say anything more about her?"


Another spell fell upon the woman, much more focused and aimed at the wounds directly. "He described her shortly. Green hair, dark skin. Dressing in some kind of red dress, I think. Why? Does that sound familiar to you?" The man left his branch over the table and rummaged through the stuff laying on top of it.


"Yes. Very." The roegadyn did her best to keep her lids open as the healer worked, "Where did he go? What direction at least?"


The Blade, being attentive enough to notice her struggle, took off his gauntlets and used one hand to keep one of her eyes open.


"Can't say. He channeled a teleportation spell as soon as he was outside. Are you feeling anything up here?"


"What little I can feel is strange," she answered before changing the subject immediately back to the deaf man, "He said nothing then of his intended destination? That is of far more importance than my eyes."


"Is it? Are you looking for that girl, too?"


"You could... say that," Cypress said.


The healer moved away, taking one of the linen piles from the table. They turned out to be really cheap bandages. He wrapped Cypress' eyes with them. "I don't know who the girl was, or where that man went to. But he announced himself as Qion'a. He's a moonkeeper. Really dark skin, black hair and golden eyes. I don't know if that will help you in any way, and I sure hope that I'm not helping you in getting him killed or something. It could weigh on my conscience. If I had one." he chuckled.


The bandages pressed over Cypress's eye sockets and through her hair, the harsh material already causing her skin to itch. Really, it seemed they were more for the benefit of others looking at her than to actually help the healing process, "I currently have no intention of getting him killed, should you remember anything else... I am certain that my unfortunate companion will be able to compensate you."


"You shouldn't say those things. I might just make things up." the man chuckled again. "You haven't told me how you got those wounds yet."


"The story would be wasted on you, I am afraid. But suffice to say that it is my companion's fault. She has told me that she has now learned her lesson though. So at least some good came from this. It seems that she is finally playing a useful role." There was no amusement in Cypress's rough, deep voice.


"That's harsh. But I think I would also be angry if one of my fellow Blades blinded me." He placed one hand on her shoulder, urging her to stand up. "A quick heal, like you wanted. Change the bandages often, and get some rest. That's an order. From a healer. Because I know what's good for your health. Alright?"


"Fine. Give extra supplies to the lalafell if you must." Cypress stood to her full height, towering over the midlander. She was about to start walking when she realized that she had no idea where to go. Her jaw clenched as she simply stood there, ashamed of her inability to do such a simple thing as leave an unfamiliar room on her own without blundering about.


"I also suggest you get a stick. Good thing you have your own blame-filled lalafell to guide you around. But she might not stick around forever." the man said, mercilessly. "Come." he added, grabbing her from the arm. "I'll guide you back."


"I'll adjust," she said taking ahold of his arm and allowing herself to be led out.


Back at the hall, Ulanan was sitting on the chair of the tiny desk, while the other Blade, the lazy one nick-named "Horse", stood next to the door from where Cypress and the healer were approaching. He looked nervous for a moment and then went out of their sight.


"They are coming back!" he murmured to the lalafell. "Are you done?"


She nodded, making one last flourish with the quill. "Your report is done. I was a great witness and I didn't mention you have a bag of Somnus on you. Just like you wanted!"


When Cypress and the medic arrived at the hall, Horse was back on his desk, smiling suspiciously. Ulanan was sitting on the bench. "I wrote a report about this incident!" said Horse. The healer raised his brows and gently pushed Cypress towards the lalafell woman. "That's great, Horse. Do a hundred more and we might need to use your real name out of respect."


"I do hope that you did not burden the man with unnecessary details..." Cypress said said to Ulanan.


The little woman huffed. "Of course not. How are your eyes?" she asked.


"She needs to rest, resist the urge to deal with the itch, change the bandages...probably every day if you have the funds. Maybe see a healer if the ache continues for more than a week." the non-lazy hyur said, not moving from the door. "I hope you both have a better day from now on."


"That is doubtful, but perhaps Althyk will bless us." Cypress lets go of the midlander's arm and walks towards where she remembered hearing Ulanan's voice coming from.


The lalafell stood up and grabbed Cypress' clothes once more. "Thank you." she said to the Blades, offering a smile and a little bow. Then she pulled her 'friend' towards the exit. "This way, watch the steps again."


As soon as they were out of the building and the door behind them closed, Cypress spoke, "Apparently there was a moonkeeper that went to that healer for treatment of his hearing. And he'd spoken that he was worried about D'aijeen. But gated away before speaking of much more."


"Mm. That...is not helpful. Did they know who he was?"


The red woman shook her head as they traversed the steps, "No. But he described the man. Dark skin and hair with gold eyes."


The lalafell took a long breath, thinking. "That's something. Thankfully, miqo'te men are not very common. But then they are usually reclusive. He could have gone anywhere."


"The healer claimed no knowledge of where the man was headed."


"Where do you want to go, then? We can't follow him."


"To the family, perhaps they can shed light on where it might go if it does not simply show itself."


"I imagine you didn't attune to the aetheryte in Ul'dah, did you? We'll have to rent chocobos."


"... Attune to aetheryte?" Cypress asked blankly not having any clue what Ulanan spoke of.


"Just what I imagined." the lalafell commented under her breath. "We'll talk about that and how handy it will be on our way to Horizon. This way, now!"

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