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[#c4519e “I’m fine.”] Crystal answered quickly, wiping her face again even though it was mostly dry now. She didn’t sound terribly fine. Her voice was enough of a giveaway that the crying had been recent. She didn’t want to talk about why she’d been crying. It was sure to set off some worse sobbing if she did.
At the snap of the tree branch Crystal jerked a little, startled and obviously concerned for a split second before realizing it wasn’t serious. She’d felt a little tug, and was very aware of Felix’s exact location, even though he was currently obscured by trees. Crystal leaned back against the van and gave an almost amused hum that was more forced than genuine. She was too tense to really appreciate the joke. She wasn’t even really looking at him at the moment, just toward Felix. She could actually track where he moved, even when she couldn’t see him as long as she focused a little.
It was Daggeron saying Felix would go through hell to keep her safe that finally got her to look at him instead of off in the direction Felix was wandering. She fidgeted with the nearly empty mug a little. She wasn’t sure what to say to that part. She felt awkward, but at the same time it was nice to hear. Then she actually smiled. He felt guilty? [#c4519e “I’ll keep that in mind. Maybe a shopping trip soon. Thank you, Daggeron. It’s just been a long day or two, I guess.”]
More than just a long day or two, her life had been completely uprooted and it was all really starting to hit her hard. Crystal didn’t want to bother them about it, especially not with vampires prowling around. She was still sorting through it all in her head and coming to terms with the changes in her life and plans. Crystal rubbed the edge of the mug with her thumb, the flowers at the bottom were apparently more interesting to stare at than anything else just then,[#c4519e “Um, Daggeron? I was wondering. Felix wouldn’t… nevermind.”]
It didn’t seem like a good time to ask, and she wasn’t entirely sure she was up for that conversation at the moment anyway. She was wondering if Felix would sell her or get rid of her once he didn’t need her help with Mercurial anymore, but it was something she was nervous to ask about. She wanted to believe the best, but the fact was stories of the worst from her childhood were hard to shake, particularly when she was already feeling pretty crummy.
While Crystal and Daggeron talked, and Felix did whatever it was he was trying to do, the vampires made for another approach. They had argued about whether to try again tonight or give up and try again another day. They could no longer surprise Felix, but maybe they didn’t need to. After the scuffle he and the girl would be recovering, and they could attack while their prey was licking their wounds.
Besides that, the woman who had already had a taste of Crystal’s blood was pretty eager for more. The more negative effects hadn’t hit her yet, she was still riding the power high from the blood. That power high and desire for more of Crystal’s blood made her the most eager to attack again right away. “It will be easy.” She insisted to the other two,”The little lamb will still be weak and helpless, the hunter will be distracted defending her, and Hilda will be no problem. We kill her and the hunter and take the little lamb for ourselves. I’m sure master won’t mind us having a little treat.”
The vampires still hadn’t figured out what Crystal was, exactly. Mostly because they weren’t thinking too hard about that detail for the moment, since Felix was obviously the more pressing concern. The other woman agreed to the plan,”Three of us and three of them, it will be easy even if he’s a hunter. We split up as much as possible, divide the hunter’s attention.”
With their plan made they approached the camp from different directions. They were quiet and stealthy, but so focused on finding and sneaking up on their prey that they missed the detail about the purple dust encircling the camp. They stepped over and through it, and continued at a somewhat slow pace to get in close enough to launch their attack, still thinking they had regained some of their element of surprise.
He was turning away when she grabbed him by the hand and he stopped. When she didn't look up at him right away, he turned his body a little more towards Crystal to face her. She finally looked up and she gave him a look very similar to Hilda's not just moments ago, and suddenly Felix was wracked with guilt.
[b “Don't worry, Crystal, I've been up against worse odds.”] He tells him with a reassuring smile. [b “Nothing will happen to me and nothing will happen to you. Trust me.”] Despite the conversation being over, Felix sort of lingered in the van for an extra minute 'looking for materials' he already collected earlier. He was worried about Crystal and how she would handle this. Being attacked by vampires was traumatic for everyone. Felix [i still] had nightmares from when he was ten and its been well over a decade. He could only imagine what Crystal was going through, especially since she wasn't a hunter... Maybe it was time he changed that. He couldn't exactly train her to the extent or as rigorously as Shepard had trained Felix, but there were definitely tools and skills worth learning.
He kept what Crystal had to say in mind as he began going around the camp to set some stuff up in the event of an ambush. One of the vampires was magically empowered by Crystal's unicorn blood, which made sense as to why one of them seemed to be more super-powered than the others. His ribs ached at the thought and he was suddenly more aware of the bruising around his neck. Luckily for Felix, being unprepared is exactly what he always prepared himself for. They might've been caught off guard, but they took away the vampire's element of surprise. They would know they were coming now and they might be immune to sunlight, it appeared they still had their other weaknesses.
Felix spread himself out, painting sigils on the trees with disappearing ink outside of their camp ground. Daggeron floated nearby to breathe a little magic in to them so they would be charged. Felix knew he could use his own magic because of Crystal right now, but he still lacked the finesse to use it and he didn't want to waste any of Crystal's energy. She's been through enough and probably needed as much as she could.
[b “Do you know where my grenades went? They're not in the V-box.”] Felix says casually as he paints on another sigil.
[+blue “Grenades?! You [i are] crazy! You'll kill us all.”]
[b “No, no!”] Felix snaps urgently. [b “I don't have grenades. I meant [i the] grenades.”] And Daggeron makes a noise that says he understand.
[+blue “You put them in the W-bin after your encounter with the werewolves.”] Felix snaps his fingers and points. He had forgotten about that. [+blue “I can go get them for you; I think we've done enough of these sigils for now. You continue on doing... Whatever it is you do around here.”] To which Felix responded with an irritated noise. Daggeron floats back to the van, goes in, then slides back out looking at Crystal. He stares at her for a moment before back-peddling out and joining Crystal.
[+blue “You were crying.”] The sword points out quietly. Perhaps it was because he was a magical entity he had noticed. More likely he was just more observant about people than Felix was. [+blue “You've been through a lot, there's no shame in feeling emotions you know. I might be trapped in a sword, but I feel emotions too.”] And there was suddenly a snap of a tree branch and a cry of pain and then a string of obscenities from wherever Felix had wandered off to. [+blue “Mostly just annoyance or amusement, but those are trademarks of being around Felix.”] He chuckled and it seemed like he was trying to break some of the tension. But this did give him a segway in to another topic.
[+blue “You don't have to worry about Felix. He could be trapped in Hell and still bumble his way out unscathed. And this proverbial trip to Hell, he'd go through it if it meant keeping you safe. Despite your limited time together, he cares for your well-being and safety.”] There was a slight pause before he spoke again. [+blue “Plus, he feels super guilty about dragging you in to a war; use that to your advantage. Get yourself some nice things, good food, and experiences. You'll learn soon enough not to worry so much and take pleasure in the little things.”]
His reassurance was surprisingly effective. For a moment she still looked dreadfully worried, but Crystal remembered how well he had handled [i everything] back in that mansion and colosseum including the cyclops, and what she’d learned about him last night. He’d nearly been killed by vampires when he was young, he didn’t seem like the type of person to just let that go with a shrug. He’d make sure it never happened again, wouldn’t he? Crystal gave him a slight nod, only looking mildly distressed when he left to look through more boxes.
It was pretty insane how much stuff he had packed in here, and he didn’t seem to even use magic to help. Fae tea? That wasn’t something she expected him to have, and all she could do was look a little surprised. Felix just kept surprising her. After he left Crystal got herself sitting up a bit more comfortably. It almost felt like she had a cold or something, just not quite. Even normal tea would be welcome, but she was looking forward to the Fae tea. After that she was sure she’d be feeling a lot better.
When Felix came back in she was leaning forward with her head in her hands. She couldn’t help but feel more anxious as she waited for Felix to return, even though she knew where he was and could even hear him a bit. Really, when she thought about it Felix was a pretty good person to get tethered to, wasn’t he? If it were someone like Hilda, at least the way she was now, or those vampires, Crystal was sure she would be much more miserable. So far Felix had actually been trying to make her comfortable, in his own way. Crystal looked up when she heard him and took the mug with a grateful smile,[#c4519e “Thank you.”]
Crystal grabbed his hand, holding the mug in her lap with the other. It took her a second to actually look up at him,[#c4519e “Felix, take care. Remember, one of them got my blood, so they’ll be stronger.”] Crystal squeezed his hand,[#c4519e “I don’t want anything to happen to you.”]
After letting go of his hand Crystal looked at the tea and smelled it. She loved the sweet floral scent of the tea. It was more than just flowers, she could actually feel the magic in it, something normal tea just couldn’t imitate. The tea was relaxing, or it was supposed to be, but while Felix was outside the van she just couldn’t help but get a little on edge. It was enough to make her get up and go find a better place to watch Felix set up whatever he was doing. She was too anxious and nervous when it felt like she was anything like alone, so she didn’t want to sit and wait in the van by herself.
She ended up leaning against the van, because she didn’t want to sit in the dirt and she was still a little too wary about Hilda to go sit by her right now. While she watched Felix she sipped the tea. She hadn’t had Fae tea since the last time there had been a gathering. A gathering was the only time to get certain magical foods and drinks safely. It reminded her of the gatherings, which she would never go to again now. A captured unicorn like her wouldn’t be welcome, it would endanger the others too much to have her around. Tears welled up in her eyes and she wiped them when she felt them on her cheeks. It was probably because she still felt so tired that she was so emotional. She didn’t want the others noticing her getting all teary over a cup of tea, but she also didn’t want to go hide away. She’d just hope Felix and Daggeron were too busy to notice.
He pauses briefly when Crystal said that they knew his name and about an ambush. He frowns to himself and places the last 'V' labelled box to the side before taking a break. An ambush seemed unlikely now since they lost their element of surprise, and Mercurial did a poor job of picking which magical creatures he wanted to hunt Felix down. Out of pretty well all magical creatures, Felix was most prepared for vampires. Then demons, then werewolves, then the rest kind of blended together with what kind of equipment, charms, and knickknacks would use.
[b “We'll be fine, Crystal.”] Felix says, stepping to her bedside again. He places a hand on her arm and gives her a small smile. [b “I'm like... the most prepared for vampires. The only thing you should be worried about is what I'm going to do to the vampires.”]
[+blue “And she won't.”]
[b “So there's nothing to worry about!”] His argument was bullet proof. At least to him, anyways. Plus, they had Felix's 'proximity alarm around the camp . [b “I'll go make you some tea. Just relax for now and I'll come up with more reasons why you shouldn't be worried.”] And wow, Felix went through more boxes unsurprisingly to find an old-timey kettle, and some kind of strange and small metal container. [b “Have you ever had Fae tea before? Its quite literally magical.”] He tells her before exiting the van and going to the fire pit. And honestly, this is where magic came a lot in handy. He didn't really need to worry about fire too much, he just put some dry leaves and some big sticks in the pit and hung the kettle over it. With a whispered word from Daggeron, the materials burst in to flame and the water was on its way to boiling. He would've used his fire rune to do it, but it was still part of the magical circle, and he didn't want to disturb it or else they'd have to start all over again... Speaking of which.
Felix's eyes move from the kettle to Hilda who was sitting silently in one of the fabric hunting chairs. She still wore the anti-magic cuff and he feet were bound for obvious reasons. Other than that, the witch was uncharacteristically quiet, especially since he was sure Daggeron's mute spell wore off. She was staring holes in the ground near her feet. Felix moves and stands in front of her, Hilda's head only moving after a moment of him standing there. When she looked at him with her big blue eyes, he could see they were glossy, and she looked at him like a startled doe. The hunter honestly couldn't help but feel sorry for her, especially because of the whole geas thing.
[b “I guess you heard about the vampires?”] He asks rhetorically.
[+red “I did.”] She says, looks away for a moment, and then looks back. [+red “They're here to kill me too.”] And honestly, that was the most human expression he's ever seen on Hilda's face. It took him a little aback so much so that he ended up crouching down and getting a little closer despite the danger.
[b “You're afraid.”] He surmised aloud after a brief analysis of her expression. [b “You don't want to die.”]
Hilda laughed gravely at the comment. [+red “No one wants to die, Felix.”]
[b “Not even for your master?”] And there was that human expression again, but it was strained. She opened her mouth to respond, but there was a flash in her eyes and her mouth shut again. [i Interesting.] He smirks slightly. [b “Don't worry, Hilda, we're gonna break the spell over you and then you can...”] Wow, he didn't know anything about Hilda. [b “Do whatever it is that you did before all of this.”]
At this point, the water had boiled and he pours the liquid in to a mug before dropping what looked like a wad of blue and purple flowers in to it. He heads back in to the van and hands the mug to Crystal. [b “It doesn't need sugar... You know, if you take sugar in your tea, that is.”] He lingers briefly for a second. [b “I'm gonna set up some more stuff around the camp. I'm not sure if these vampires are coming back tonight, but if they are, I'm gonna be ready and you're going to be fine.”]
Even if she could get up, it was clear Felix wasn’t going to let her. She inhaled sharply when he put whatever that stuff was on her neck. It stung like something cleaning a wound, but it didn’t take long for the stinging to stop and a warm, soothing sensation to settle in. Some sort of special medicine, she guessed.
Crystal took the water with a smile, which wasn’t too convincing about being happy because she was clearly pretty concerned. He was obviously pretty upset about this, and blaming himself. None of them could have guessed there would be vampires prowling around in the middle of the afternoon. Crystal reached up and put her hand on his arm,[#c4519e “I’m fine. It’s not your fault. I can’t say I’m eager to run off on my own though.”]
When he moved away she pulled her hand back. While they talked she listened and watched Felix pull out boxes. He was apparently pretty prepared for this sort of thing. She hadn’t tried to drink any water or sit up yet. She wasn’t sure she could, though she was already starting to feel a little better. She supposed the worst of it really was the bite and whatever it had done to her. Something to make her more docile and easy to feed from, considering how fast she lost any ability to fight back when that vampire woman bit her. Whatever Felix had put on her neck was really helping with that, even though the coldness lingered. She had thought the masks were odd, and it was still too bright for vampires. Not that she knew a [i lot] about vampires, but she was pretty sure they only came out at night.
[#c4519e “Feeling a little better. Cold though.”] She smiled at Daggeron briefly before looking more seriously at Felix,[#c4519e “They knew your name. They said something about an ambush. I think they are after you. Us.”]
It probably wasn’t a good idea, but Crystal turned to her side and pushed herself up to a sitting position. It obviously wasn’t easy, but she looked almost panicked,[#c4519e “They might come back. They know we’re here. What if they come tonight and… and…”] Crystal was starting to look a little ill, the color had drained from her face. The idea of the vampires returning, especially so soon, obviously scared her now that it had occurred to her that they might.
Once they were back at camp, Daggeron hovered out of Felix's scabbard and quickly zoomed towards the truck. Hilda was soon telekinetically lifted out and sat in one of the folding hunting chairs. Daggeron kept watch over her as Felix brought Crystal in to the van and gently laid her on to the stretcher bed. Once she was down, he begins what almost looks like tearing his van apart, looking through the bins and Tupperware containers until he finds another mason jar full of what looks like very thin honey and small jugs of water.
At the call of his name, Felix is at Crystal's side. [b “I'm here, Crystal.”] He places a hand on her chest when she tries to sit up, but it appeared she couldn't anyways. [b “Stay down for now. Take it easy and let me help you.”] He tells the unicorn as he begins sticking a few of his finger tips in to the jar. He quickly smears it on to the woman's neck wound, and it would sting for a second before quickly soothing and wouldn't be sore anymore. This special salve was to counteract the vampire venom that would be causing her the most pain in her neck, especially as a magical creature. Everyone's bodies rejected the venom.
[b “They're gone and I'm fine. I can handle a few vampires.”] He spins the lid back on to the jar and places it under the bed. They might need it again soon, especially now that he was going to wage his own little war on these leeches. [b “Well, its decided: you're never going out on your own again.”] His vocal inflection was high, like it was a joke, but it didn't do anything to mask the guilt he was obviously feeling. [b “I'm so sorry that I let this happen to you, Crystal. I should have gone with you.”] He places a hand on her shoulder and frowns. He fills up a water bottle from the jug and hands it to Crystal. More holy water probably. [b “I'll get them next time, I promise.”]
[+blue “I know there's nothing I can do to change your mind from going after them, but it might be for the best.”] Daggeron was suddenly hovering in the doorway. [+blue “It was quite clear they were part of Mercurial's troupe.”]
Felix nods his head, standing up and going back to the pile of containers and boxes. This time he looks at them carefully. Some of them were marked with letters or numbers, and he meticulously isolated the ones with a 'V' marking. [b “I had thought that too. Vampires walking in the daylight and wearing masks? And this is an orchard, not a [i ranch].”]
[+blue “Not to mention it was a little [i too convenient] that they happened to be here as well. Not to mention the dark magic I felt coming off of them spoke volumes of their affiliation.”] Daggeron adds. [+blue “I keep forgetting you're good at vampires.”]
[b “I'm good at a lot of things.”]
[+blue “Just not regular people.”] And Felix shoots him a look before continuing to scavenge through his stuff. Daggeron hovers in to the van and floats next to Crystal. [+blue “How are you doing, kiddo? Feeling alright? No urges to suck Felix's blood or anything?”] He knew that it didn't work that way, but thought it would be a good idea to make a little light of the situation. [+blue “Did the vampires happen to say anything to you when they attacked? Are we right to assume they're some kind of kill squad sent by our favourite dark sorcerer?”]
Crystal was still just awake and aware enough to know Felix had gotten there, even with her eyes closed. All that was keeping her up was the vampire holding her, so when he let go she just crumpled to the ground.
She must have lost consciousness for a bit, because the next thing she was aware of was Felix holding her repeating no over and over and then he was shouting at the vampires. She assumed it was the vampires because who else would he be calling names like that? Daggeron said she was alive. Was it really that bad? She wondered if it was over now, if Felix was alright. It was so hard to move just then though.
Felix was so warm, almost hot, which was welcome since she was still so cold. She made a sound somewhere between a groan and a sigh when he picked her up. The swaying of him walking lulled her into an uneasy sleep against her will.
That sleep didn’t last long. Felix laying her down somewhere made her stir. When she moved her head her neck hurt and she inhaled sharply. Her face scrunched up in pain and she mumbled, her mouth felt like it had cotton balls in it,[#c4519e “Felix?”]
Crystal tried to sit up, but only managed to grimace in pain and had to lay back with a little hiss. She felt weak still, and ached in her upper arms and shoulders as well as her neck. She had to know though. What had happened? Where were the vampires? Was he alright? And she had to warn him about the ambush, that they were after him. Her words were mumbled and coming out like she was half asleep, though the pain was doing a pretty good job of keeping her from drifting off again,[#c4519e “Felix? What… where…? Are they gone? Did they hurt you too?”]
When Crystal went off to find the rest of the ingredients they needed, Felix and Daggeron got to work. First they gathered some leaves and branches, tuning them in to a would-be bed, and then scuffed up a circle in the dirt around it. Felix carved some sigils in to the dirt as well before placing down small magical stones with the same markings in their places and candles beside them. He then places a a broken compass at the top or 'north side' of the circle, before quickly lining each 'corner' of the circle with the four elemental runes he used in his magic gauntlet.
Felix went back in to the van. He needed the other three 'pillars of existence'; he had 'the material' represented by the compass, but still needed darkness, light, and time. He always put stuff aside in case he needed them for a ritual, he just couldn't remember where the bin was in the mess that was his van. As you could imagine, he had a bunch of Tupperware containers and bins full of all sorts of things tied to one side of his van for pretty much every occasion a hunter could think of. He just couldn't remember where he friggin' put it!
[+blue “You've been awfully quiet since we left Birchwood.”] And the young hunter looks over his shoulder at the sword floating in the opening doorway of the van. [+blue “Is something the matter? I know you're not [i that] embarrassed about what happened.”]
And Felix turns back to the bins and containers, shuffling them and looking through a few. He found the darkness representation: A small jam jar full of what appeared to be a moving and swirling shadow. He had a jar full of light too, so he must be close to finding it.
[b “I don't know. Its been a long few days and I'm worried that its hard on Crystal. I think—ahh, yes, here it is...”] He pulls out the jar of light and a small hourglass that seemed to work in reverse. He looks back up and at Daggeron quizzically. [b “What was I saying again?”]
[+blue “Oh, Felix, its a wonder you get anything done.”] The sword chuckles and Felix gives him some side eye as he brings the items out of the van. [+blue “Its not normal for you to worry about someone other than yourself.”]
[b “Wow.”] Felix says, placing the hour glass at the 'south side' and the jars of light and dark at the 'east and west sides'. When he does, the candles suddenly ignite and Felix grins a little bit at it. He still had it!
[+blue “I'm serious, Felix. I can count on one hand how many people you've ever been worried about.”]
[b “You don't have any hands, Daggeron.”] Felix reminded him and gives the sword a stiff look.
[+blue “You know what I mean! I think maybe you should talk-”]
The sword didn't finish his sentence as a scream rang through the quiet and was quickly snuffed. [i Crystal!] He felt something strange through the connection and was suddenly hyper-aware of the direction she was in. Just as fast as the scream had initially came and went, Felix sprinted through the orchard, Daggeron spiraling through the air before landing in the scabbard on the hunter's back. With a whisper, Felix's running feet no longer make a sound as he continues to run like a man on a mission.
It didn't seem to matter if Felix could sort of sense where Crystal was; the Unicorn had laid out a path of daisies for him, making it easier to pinpoint her location. He jumps over some stumps and ducks branches as he quickly picks up the pace and the trail goes cold. And just as it does, Felix spots movement through the brush and branches, quickly the hunter diverts and slowly takes cover, but still keeps his momentum going forward.
He peeks around a tree to see three beings; two women and one man, huddled around Crystal. One was very close to her face and pulled back suddenly. Felix could see some blood. [i Oh no...]
”Whatever she is, she’s delicious. You ought to try.” The one says.
[b “Vampires.”] Felix growls, his fingers suddenly gripping the tree like he was trying to rip its throat out.
[+blue “Oh no... Just... Try to remain calm. Remember, they have Crystal, so-”] And they were suddenly in the air, Felix using his magical boots to get them almost to the tree-line. He rips Daggeron from his scabbard and comes down with a downward swing. And a scream. A blood-thirsty war cry.
The vampires were unsurprisingly fast, and since Felix gave away the element of surprise with his war cry, the female who had just drank Crystal's blood was able to side step out of the way in the nick of time. However, Felix ignores her for a second, the second his feet touched the ground, he sprung forward and despite the male vampire having Crystal as a shield, Felix was able to stab past her and in to his stomach. Unfortunately Daggeron wasn't a holy weapon, so the wound would be superficial, but the shock and pain made him drop Crystal, and Felix uses the opportunity to violently rip the blade out through his side. Barely any blood came out despite the grievous wound.
Lost in his fury, Felix didn't see the woman coming upon him. She kicked him in the side and he felt ribs crack and shift before being sent a few feet in to a tree. He hits it hard, but moves to get to his feet, but the woman almost [i appears] in front of him. He was surprised at [i that] speed, but still goes for a swing of his sword but is caught by the wrist, the woman's free hand coming up to his throat. It was like a vice around his wrist and neck and she lifted him from the ground.
“This is new.” The woman commented almost in awe. “It'll make it this much quicker though!”
There was a hissed word, and with a [i boom!] the woman is blown back by the now glowing sword. She quickly recovers, joining her vampire companions who move to overwhelm Felix with their numbers. Just as quickly, Felix throws a flask from his jacket pocked, spins, and slashes it in half. The liquid contents spill out and cascade over the vampires like rain, and upon touching their exposed flesh, it burns like acid. [i Holy water!]
They screech at an inhuman inflection and quickly turn to run away as Felix moves to take advantages of the pivotal second he bought himself. However, they prove to be too fast and vacate striking distance and then some before he could attack any of them. Instead, the hunter sprints over to Crystal, cradling her on to his lap, fumbling to find her neck with his index and middle fingers. She was cold to the touch.
[b “No, no, no, no, no, no.”] His hands were shaking almost uncontrollably so he couldn't find a pulse.
[+blue “She has a pulse, Felix! She's alive!”] The sword says hovering over his shoulder. However, it seems Felix doesn't hear him for the moment, his furious eyes raising up to the retreating forms of the three vampires. He shakes his fist in their direction, holding Crystal with his other.
[b “I'll find you, you goddamn [i leeches]! I will not rest until I've killed each and every one of you blood-sucking sacks of filth!”]
[+blue “Felix!”] Daggeron shouts and he's suddenly back in the present. His eyes were slightly glazed over as he looks at the sword. [+blue “She. Is. [i Alive].”] He enunciates. [+blue “We need to get the both of you back to camp, its the safest for you there.”]
[b “Right, yeah... Of course.”] And Felix stands up, holding Crystal tightly in his arms and quickly marches back to the camp. He was thankful for the daisies, because after the brief scuffle, he was extremely turned around.
Crystal barely suppressed a laugh at his reaction. She did answer though,[#c4519e “I did, and you’re welcome.”]
When they stopped Crystal was pretty eager to get out and take a look. She liked the look of the orchard, that was the reason she had picked it, at least partially,[#c4519e “I like how the trees look. That depends on what you mean by camping.”]
She liked hiking, she liked nature, but she also really liked beds. The whole roughing it thing wasn’t exactly her favorite. A unicorns idea of camping while at a gathering was more comfortable than human camping, aided by magic. She guessed his type of camping would be of the more human variety.
There wasn’t much for her to do when it came to setting up, she just didn’t know what needed to be done, so she watched Felix. It seemed like he had some practice at this, he worked pretty quickly and efficiently to get a basic area set up. With the unusual touch of the purple dust, which she wasn’t familiar with. A hunter thing, she guessed.
While he looked over the book and disappeared into the van Crystal wandered around the campsite. If she was going to be camping out she would feel a lot more comfortable surrounded by trees like this. Something about being in the open would just feel uncomfortable.
[#c4519e “Hm?”] Crystal made a sound of curiosity when she heard Felix. None of those things sounded terribly hard to come by, and if it came down to it she could magically grow most of those. Crystal nodded,[#c4519e “Sure, I could get them. Easy.”]
If she couldn’t find them she could use magic to help with most of them. She started to wander deeper into the orchard, and just a little ways from the campsite she made her first mark using a little magic. A few white daisies sprouted up and bloomed, and then she continued. After a few rounds of daisies she remembered that she could still feel where Felix was and could have followed that back to him, but went ahead with the daisy trail anyway while she looked for the things they needed for the spell. She wasn’t going to risk going too far, but marking her path still didn’t hurt. At the very least it would tell her where she’d been already. Saplings were pretty easy to find in an orchard, and eventually she had several small rocks that looked round enough after checking many, many rocks that weren’t. The wildflowers would be so easy she was more focused on finding lavender and elderberries.
It was right when she found the lavender and went to pick some that trouble found her as well. She heard them approaching, barely, and turned to look. She saw two women, both wearing masks to cover the top half of their faces like they were going to some party. Besides seeing them, she could also feel them. They had magic of some kind, and it was dark. It gave her a chill and she started to step back, not taking her eyes off the two. She wasn’t sure exactly what they were yet, but she knew they were exactly the type of non-humans she needed to avoid.
The third she hadn’t seen was behind her and didn’t wait for her to just back into them. Instead he met Crystal partway and grabbed her shoulders, making Crystal shiver. Something about these three screamed danger. Whatever magic aura they normally hid, they were letting her feel it right now and it practically had her paralyzed. A normal human wouldn’t be able to feel it quite the way she did. Since they were so dark and her magic was much more light aligned she was also much more susceptible to it.
“Look what we have here, a lost, scared little lamb. Not quite who we’re after, is she? Oh, but she has magic.” One of the women said, sounding pretty pleased in a way Crystal really didn’t like.
The man behind her joined in, and Crystal turned her head slightly to see he was wearing a mask too,”Plenty of magic. She smells good.”
The women were getting uncomfortably close, and Crystal finally started to try and get away. The man’s hands were like iron, and her arms felt like they were going to bruise. One of the women, the one with darker hair, got right in Crystal’s face,”I wonder how she tastes. We have time for a snack before our ambush, don’t we?”
Crystal finally found her voice and turned her head to the side,[#c4519e “Felix! Help! Felix!”]
A scream was cut short by the woman’s hand over her mouth. When the fangs dug into Crystal’s neck any uncertainty about what these creatures were was gone. They were vampires, and Crystal was struggling to get free in a panic.
The other woman with lighter brown hair commented, sounding surprised,”She knows the hunter. That is the name, isn’t it? Oh dear, it would be a shame if he saw us. We should retreat. But now we know he probably isn’t far at all.”
“We can bring our snack with us.” The man said and added with a cruel laugh,”Poor thing can barely stand. Come on, you can have more later.”
Crystal was feeling her strength draining fast, and she felt so cold. Some effect of the bite, maybe, or it could be blood loss. Either way, she really was losing the will and strength to fight, and the dizziness was making her sag back against the man. The woman at her neck finally looked up and licked her lips,”Whatever she is, she’s delicious. You ought to try.”
Healing magic was always something that amazed Felix. Obviously it wasn't anything readily accessible to him because he was a vanilla mortal, but Daggeron's own abilities were limited and nearly non-existent because of his soul being trapped in a sword. And Felix hasn't made any progress with healing potions either as a result... So maybe Crystal could help him with that.
The bite may have barely broken his skin, but watching it weave itself back together like a time-lapse video was mesmerizing. He almost didn't notice what Crystal said next until she poked his forehead and asked about his back. His face contorted in to a comical look of confusion until realization smoothed out his features. [b “My back? ...”] He blanked again for a second. It wasn't hurting anymore and he didn't do anything about it. The singing and dancing would've made it super painful but all it felt was slightly tender. [b “Did you do the healing thing to me on my back?”] He questioned, pointing at her. Daggeron quickly moves in to his peripheral vision and he's reminded of his manners. [b “Oh, uh... Thanks for taking care of me, Crystal. I appreciate it.”] He says, suddenly bashful. Pleases, thank yous, and apologies were always hard for the hunter.
Felix sat in the passenger seat as they drove, doing his best not to puke, and occasionally moved to the back to check on Hilda who was kept muted by Daggeron. Honestly, Felix made more trips to the back of the van than necessary, busying himself with things or speaking with Daggeron on details that he already pieced together. He felt a little off after these events and he wasn't exactly sure why... It was probably because he was still a little residually embarrassed, but there was another layer to it...
[+blue “It looks like we're here, Felix. You can stop your brooding.”] And Felix looks up and out of the window. They were back out in the boonies and near what appeared to be an orchard of some kind.
[b “Interesting pick, but it'll work for what we're going to do.”] Felix comments. They were out in the middle nowhere so there wasn't going to be any interference from the outside world, and this way it would be harder for Mercurial's forces to track them down. It'd be easier if they stayed in towns. [b “I hope you like camping.”] He says and hopes out of the van. Where they were parked they were pretty secluded from the main road and hidden by trees, so there was less of a possibility of whoever owned the land to find them if they saw lights. Either or, they were going to have to do some setting up.
Felix quickly got to work setting up what appeared to be a very makeshift campsite. He dug a small pit for a fire probably, grabbed some folded hunting chairs to set up, and quickly created a perimeter, sprinkling a purplish dust in a ring around their 'site'. Once he was don, he goes back in to his van and pulls out a big, old, and dusty book that looked like it was going to fall apart.
[+blue “The light green tab, Felix.”] Daggeron tells him.
[b “Right, right.”] He carefully flips through the book and when he stops on a page, he reads it over. With a nod to himself, he goes back in to his van and begins rummaging through his magical artifacts and alchemy kit. He's there for a bit. [b “Dammit!”] He exclaims and quickly comes out of the van. [b “We don't have all of the components we need for the magical surgery.”]
[+blue “What are we missing?”]
[b “Wild flowers, saplings, lavender, small round rocks, and elderberries.”]
[+blue “But you have everything else? Those are all things we can find out here, I'm sure. We can fan out and then do it tonight.”]
[b “The magic circle has to be set up with 'an afternoon sun'. We don't have time to look for all of them [i and then] set up.”]
[+blue “I see your point.”] Daggeron says and then turns to Crystal. [+blue “Do you think you can go out and find those things for us, Crystal? I need to stay here and help Felix set up the circle before its 'not afternoon'. We don't necessarily [i need] to follow the instructions to the letter, but with a procedure this delicate its best to heed the labels as absolutes. We want to stack the deck as best as we can, so to speak.”]
[b “Fortunately its just earthly organic material; I have all of the magical components in the van. Do yourself a favour and mark your path so you won't get lost.”]
Crystal had hesitated a moment when Daggeron said she and Felix might part ways. It was like a dark cloud passed over her. In her mind either Felix would sell or trade her, not a thought she wanted to entertain, or he would release her, and release wasn’t a great option either. Of course Daggeron didn’t know what that would mean. He and Felix didn’t understand unicorn society like she did.
But then there was Felix, and the brief sad and sour mood had melted into energetic anxiety, only to change again to concern over Felix feeling so ill, she didn’t even bother to tease him for the moment. She hadn’t expected him to feel so bad, and put her hand on his head in an attempt to soothe him and brushed his hair back, though she also seemed a little uncertain what to do and removed her hand after a few seconds,[#c4519e “Yeah, she should still be there.”]
Felix may not have been in great shape, but he was doing a lot better than the dazed townspeople. They had no idea what was going on, and paid no attention to the three of them as they made their way to the church. Once inside Crystal kept her distance from Hilda. She wouldn’t call it scared. Nervous or cautious maybe, because Hilda was still the same witch who had sicked a cyclopes on them and was delighted at the thought of capturing a unicorn.
[#c4519e “Ouch, be careful. I can’t say I want to come back either.”] Birchwood was going to take a while to recover, but Crystal really didn’t want to be around when they did come back to their senses.
[#c4519e “Let me see your hand.”] Once Hilda was in the van Crystal didn’t waste any time checking that the bite wasn’t severe. It didn’t look too bad, but she healed it anyway with a whispered word. She was clearly developing a desire to protect Felix beyond simple necessity. [#c4519e “Right. Well, I don’t know about going all the way to another town. Sooner would be better, and maybe more isolated. I’m just not sure what to expect, and humans might ask too many questions. Let alone if there are any other non-humans…”]
She was aware unicorns weren’t the only ones hiding among humans. Either well concealed or in plain sight somehow like unicorns, or else they were part human themselves and part something else, which let them blend in with humans easier. She had mostly learned to avoid such creatures. [#c4519e “I can drive, we’ll go for a bit and find someplace to pull over. You’re not in any shape for driving if you can’t even think straight.”] Crystal poked Felix’s forehead,[#c4519e “But how is your back, by the way?”]
He hadn’t even noticed that she healed it yet, had he? He could be a bit oblivious at times. With a little smile she took the keys and the drivers seat. It almost didn’t matter where they went as long as it was away from Birchwood and not back toward her home. With those criteria it turned out there was only one road that actually led them out of the town and right into farm country. The town Crystal had lived in must have been the biggest town for quite a distance, she supposed. It wasn’t like she traveled unless she was allowed to, so she hadn’t done much exploring. Eager to put some serious distance between them and Birchwood it took her over an hour to finally decide on a suitable place to pull over, right by what looked like an orchard. They could sneak a little ways into the trees for a bit of privacy, and hopefully no one would be around checking on the trees.
[+blue “Oh ho, I hope he remembers too. This is too juicy.”] Daggeron responds as they head back to Felix. He turns slightly when she asks him if he could teach her things, and he thinks about it for a moment. It was funny how little he taught to literally any of the people in his possession, but save for Felix and Shepard, they were all power hungry. He didn't get that feeling from Crystal either, but she also wasn't human. [+blue “I would be happy to teach you some more skills, Crystal. Even if you and Felix part ways, its definitely useful to know in case you run in to trouble.”]
And they finally find Felix, well, Crystal did, no doubt because of her connection with him. The poor boy was holding his thighs and hunched over, dry heaving a little bit. All that alcohol last night and then suddenly singing, prancing, dancing, and excitement in the morning probably wasn't the best thing for a delicate stomach. Upon their approach, he looks up and then there's a sudden look of surprise. It seemed like he was going to say something and then Crystal began rapid firing words at him. Daggeron chuckled a little bit, watching as it took all of Felix's mental capacity to keep up.
He opens his mouth again, his eyes go wide, and then he turns and throws up on the pavement. After wiping his mouth, he turns back to them, a little green around the gills. [b “Well, now I feel a lot better. All that singing and dancing is definitely [i not] a cure for a hangover.”]
[+blue “Oh, you loved it, Felix, admit it.”] That earned the sword one of Felix's patented empty glares.
[b “I remember everything unfortunately, so I would recommend we pretend this never happened and never speak of it again.”] He was trying to play it off pretty casually, but it was quite clear he was embarrassed about it.
[+blue “Sure, sure, [i Music-man].”]
[b “You, uhhh... You said Hilda was in the church?”] Felix asks, Daggeron suddenly not on the same plane of existence as Felix. And as soon as he asked, he lead them in to the church, dodging around the dazed and befuddled people of Birchwood. He quickly opens the church to see Hilda laying on the ground lassoed in branches that sprouted some leaves. She was staring off in to space until she finally realized they were there and she glared.
[b “She's not very chatty right now.”]
[+blue “Oh, I put her on mute. Once Crystal tied her up she kept talking.”]
[b “Annoying.”] Felix says and approaches Hilda, crouching down and reaching for her. Suddenly he yelps, stands up, and holds his hand in pain. [b “She freaking bit me! What the Hell!”]
[+blue “Oh Felix. You can be so comedic some times.”] He says and then whispers something, and Hilda begins to float. [+blue “Bring her back to the van and lets get out of here. I fear we've overstayed our welcome.”]
[b “Agreed... We're never allowed to come here again.”] He says and they all quickly head back to the motel where Felix loads Hilda back in to the van. It was time for them to get the Hell out of here and never return.
[b “We need to find somewhere for us to perform that 'surgery' on Hilda. Does anyone have any ideas? I can't think straight.”]
A test? There was no way this was a test. For exactly the reasons Daggeron said. Crystal felt her arms raise and looked at Daggeron, then at the spirit. Crystal could feel the magic. Daggeron may not have as much raw power as Crystal did, but he made up for it with skill and wisdom. She was pretty impressed.
Her eyebrow raised at the spirit’s stalling and their back and forth. She felt a little bad for the spirit, but it had caused an awful lot of trouble. She made a surprised sound when the spell over the town was broken. She felt that, and she [i knew] that Felix was back to normal. She felt the difference suddenly.
She let go of Daggeron when he floated away and gave her arms a little shake. Her arms were sore, and so were her hands. How did Felix do that all the time? She took the apology with a slight nod and the pun using her name with an eyeroll. The final revenge of seeing the silly creature hit the barrier again made her smile. Payback for the singing and the terrible pun.
Crystal nodded to Daggeron,[#c4519e “Good. The sooner we leave the better. You know, I hope he remembers. The look on his face will be priceless. Daggeron? Do you think you could teach me a few things at some point?”]
She thought she really could learn a lot from Daggeron’s knowledge and experience. As for Felix, he was sure to be pretty mortified without the spell influencing him. It wasn’t hard for Crystal to find Felix. She was as drawn to him as he’d been to her while he was dancing, and he wasn’t far. When she found him with a bunch of dazed and confused townspeople she broke into a full run to him. She was taking everything pretty well, but really, she was pretty stressed about Felix having not been around to solve the problem with her and Daggeron. That stress came through as very fast talking,[#c4519e “Felix! How do you feel? How much do you remember? Oh, I have Hilda trapped in a church right now but we better go get her before something else happens. I don’t think we want to be here when everyone sees the town, especially the grocery store.”]
“Wait, wait!” The monster cried as Crystal stopped in front of it, Daggeron's blade glowing like a blue flame. “You, uh... You pass!” The creature exclaims, slowly rising to its feet, suddenly standing on its hind legs. It was still in the shape of a cat, but it stood very human like, leaning an arm against the door and slouching slightly. “Yeah, yeah! You passed my test.”
[+blue “I find it very unlikely this was a test. You could have simply cast the spell on [i just] Felix and Crystal to influence their actions. Not to mention this didn't exactly test anything in particular; it barely made Crystal sing and all it did was embarrass Felix.”]
“I did also free the witch.” It points out, literally pointing a feline finger at the sword. Almost as if Crystal's arms were possesed, they raised over her head for what appeared to be an overhead swing.
[+blue “Yes, you did. All undue stress and destruction. You're not buying yourself any time, Trickster, so just prepare yourself to be sent back to where you came from.”] The eyes in the dragon hilt began to glow just like the blade itself and a circles made up of strange letters appeared around the Trickster.
“Wait, wait wait!” It exclaims again, and Daggeron sighs. The letters spun around the creature, but slow down some.
“I can't go back to the spirit world; do you know what they do to guys like me when they get banished?”
[+blue “Ridicule you?”]
“Exactly! How about we make a deal?”
[+blue “Nuh uh! No deals with anything from the spirit world!”]
“Her arms are getting tired.” The trickster points out, again literally pointing at Crystal. “But okay, okay. How about...” It claps its hands together and the magical well of energy affecting the town erupts before dissipating like it was never there. Crystal would feel that sort of bubbly and giggly connection she had with Felix melt away, going back to what it felt like before this mess. “That?”
[+blue “You really don't want to go back to the spirit world, eh?”]
“Not particularly, no.”
Daggeron lowers Crystal's arms and floats himself out of her hands, going hilt up as he normally did. His dragon eyes were still glowing but the magical circle around the Trickster disappeared. [+blue “Apologize to the lady!”] Daggeron demands.
“I'm so sorry!” The Trickster says, putting its paws in front of it like it was praying, begging. “Please forgive me, Mistress Crystal.”
[+blue “Good. Now if you ever, and I mean [i ever] try to mess with Crystal or Felix again and I don't think its hilarious, I won't send you back to the spirit world, I'll send you to oblivion. Do I make myself clear?”]
“Crystal clear.” He makes finger guns at the two of them and Daggeron sighs impatiently.
[+blue “Just get the hell out of here.”] Daggeron says, the the Trickster nods, turns around to walk through the door but smashes in to the magical barrier still in place, flattening in to a pancake again. It turns its head and looks at Daggeron who was clearly suppressing a chuckle before turning the barrier off. It bows in a very showy fashion before walking through the door and disappearing in to wind. [+b “Goddamn mischief spirits.”] Daggeron curses almost under his breath. Clearly he cursed from experience, but with the chaos done and the magic dissipating they were free to get the hell out of here. The sword turns back to Crystal.
[+blue “We should collect Felix and Hilda. The residents of this town probably aren't accustomed to a magical barrage like this so we have time to pack up and get out of here before we look overly suspicious. Beside you, Hilda, possibly Felix, and I, no one else will recall the events that took place.”]
Crystal hadn’t been able to feel power like this from Daggeron before. The connection felt sort of similar to Felix, only with Daggeron there was actually something magical on the other end independent of her own magic. She had to make herself hold on tight when he cut the falling letter, because it stunned her almost enough to drop him.
The exits, Crystal looked around. The creatures looked different, it was a little tricky to make out at first glance but they didn’t look as solid as the one running for the door. They were trying to confuse her. Crystal started running back down the aisle with Daggeron in front of her. Her knuckles were white with how tight she was holding on. She felt the surge of magic when Daggeron sealed the escape routes for the spirit.
She almost felt bad seeing it hit the invisible barrier and slid down. It was sort of cute. She rushed toward it, not sure exactly what she’d do, but Daggeron had an idea, apparently,[#c4519e “What? How?”]
Crystal had no idea what she was doing, she just had to trust that Daggeron could do what needed to be done as long as she didn’t let go. She also had to trust him not to kill the poor thing. She closed the distance between her and the spirit, holding Daggeron almost like a shield in front of her with the point up,[#c4519e “I hope you know what to do.”]
She came to a stop just before the door so abruptly she almost fell over. She was nervous, both about the possibility of failing and of maybe accidentally hurting it instead of banishing it. She wished Felix was here, he had the skills and experience as a hunter. She’d have to pester him about training after this. This was her life now, she couldn’t afford to continue being so ignorant like she could before.
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