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Crystal could tell he was uncomfortable. He was so transparent it was impossible to miss. She just really didn’t know what else to say. They both set about cleaning. Neither of them seemed up for being particularly chatty about whatever was bothering them, and that seemed to be the end of that for the moment. Until the dam broke.
She immediately wanted to try and reassure him. She started to shake her head. It wasn’t his fault, but she just couldn’t go back. She didn’t know where anyone was, she wouldn’t be allowed to know. She wouldn’t be allowed to contact them. It wasn’t Felix not allowing her though.
Daggeron understood, or at least he understood part of it. Felix so obviously didn’t that it hurt to watch. Crystal didn’t want to have to tell him. He looked so [i distressed]. It would be better to hear it from her than let Jasper continue to run his mouth. Jasper wouldn’t even try to spare Felix’s feelings, and he was bound to say something sooner or later.
Her first attempt she just opened her mouth and closed it again. Crystal was obviously uncomfortable, her whole body twisting one way and then another, like she wanted to turn away and run. Instead of going with that instinct she looked down and reached for his hand. It was as much for herself as it was for him, holding his hand kept her [i here]. She took a step closer, looked back at him and tried again,[#c4519e “It’s just that if… [i if] I go back, it’s not… It’s not a warm welcome.”]
[i That] was an understatement. She was stressing the ‘if’ deliberately. She meant it about not wanting to go back at this point. She exhaled and glanced at Daggeron for just a moment. How much did Daggeron really know? It was hard to say. He obviously knew a lot more than he said about pretty much everything, but unicorns had been very reluctant and secretive lately. He was always curious whenever she did mention anything, which wasn’t often but still. She turned her attention back to Felix. The exhaustion was really starting to show, especially around her eyes, and her voice sounded a little tight like she was struggling with the words,[#c4519e “They… The Council I mean, they would want me away from others. Unicorns [i and] humans. For... an unspecified amount of time. Not a short time, it’s more—”]
[+goldenrod “Exile. Imprisonment. A quarantine. Call it what you want, they’ll isolate her. For [i years]. Decades most likely. Most don’t handle the loneliness well and—”] Crystal had been so focused on Felix she hadn’t even noticed Jasper return. His arms were full, mostly with a large potted plant. Pink lilies. Crystal had jumped a little when she heard Jasper. He looked a bit sour and gave a sharp look at Crystal’s hand over Felix’s. She kept rejecting his attempts, but she was quick to hold the hunter’s hand.
[#c4519e “Jasper! What… Are those…?”] She’d interrupted him a little sharply, but her question thankfully seemed to be enough to get him willing to change the topic without further argument.
Jasper nodded and held out the flowers to her, practically shoving them into her arm and looking a little excited and pleased with himself. She held them in one arm but didn’t let go of Felix’s hand, looking a little stunned at the sudden flowers in her face,[+goldenrod “Yeah, lilies. You know, because your name? I always thought Lily was a pretty name…”]
Crystal looked a little embarrassed and glanced toward Felix then practically buried her face in the flowers while offering an explanation,[#c4519e “My… middle name is Lily. Lilies are… nice.”] She wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about the lilies, though she also didn’t mind them. They weren’t her favorite flower. She liked roses best, white roses specifically. One of her plants on the windowsill she tended to was a miniature white rose bush. The other plants there she’d picked because they were good for cooking and sat in the kitchen, that one she’d gotten just because she liked it. Besides that it felt awkward getting flowers from the man she was breaking up with. She hadn’t seen what else he had yet, the flowers obstructed her view. What he had with him behind the flowers was a white bag with a zipper over a hanger.
He held it up for her to see and started talking while she peered around the flowers[+goldenrod “Anyway, I also had this. I haven’t looked at it yet! I just thought… even with everything you should… uh…”]
Jasper trailed off, seeming to realize mid-sentence he’d made a terrible mistake. He sort of expected her to tear up maybe, but for her to look happy. He miscalculated, because when she caught sight of the dress bag she didn’t look happy at all. She looked distraught, and the tears were most definitely not happy tears. She started by trying not to cry, but the tears just flowed down her cheeks. Her shoulders were shaking, and then she was just sobbing into the flowers. Jasper was moving too fast with everything from butting into her explanation, to the flowers, and now to [i that] dress, that he only just realized this was too much for her. And he didn’t know how to fix it either. [+goldenrod “Crystal? I’m sorry. I didn’t...”]
The dress was the last straw for her. She could handle him being rude and interrupting, figuring he would calm down after a little while. The flowers were only awkward. Seeing the dress she’d never get to wear though, what that meant, that hurt. It really hurt, enough to make her chest ache. It wasn’t just not marrying Jasper, it was not getting married [i at all] that bothered her. When Jasper tried to reach for her to comfort her she took a step back and let the flowers fall. She was shaking her head, unable or unwilling to speak.
Ruby couldn’t help the little giggle at Falken joining in. [+firebrick “Oh good. You aren’t a complete stick in the mud.”]
A table with neatly folded shirts was Ruby’s next target, and she carelessly picked up one shirt after another, briefly holding it up before dropping it on the floor if she disliked it. There was one in red she threw over her arm. She was humming to herself, vaguely along with the music playing in the store,[+firebrick “You should enjoy yourself too. Find something you like before we get on the road again. Something new to go with the new face.”]
She had nearly cleared the table, then decided to just tip it over on its side. Her attention wandered again and found Stephanie. Stephanie was dutifully, if sullenly, choosing a pair of pants. Ruby went over and looked at what the vampire had found, which were black jeans,[+firebrick “Dull, but it will have to do. We’re not wasting the amount of time we’d need to on you. Go get dressed and then fetch me a coffee. Caramel, hot, with whipped cream. I want sprinkles on it too. Make sure it’s really hot, not lukewarm.”]
Her demands so far were pretty tame. She made her way toward the dressing room in back, where the man watching the shop was amassing the red and black clothes he could find that seemed about Ruby’s size. Ruby tilted her head, watching him fetch a red dress down using a stepladder,[+firebrick “He’s a bit boring, but he’ll have to do. Not time to be picky.”]
Once the man was down Ruby grabbed his shirt and pulled him toward the dressing rooms where all the clothes were. She waved her free hand vaguely at Falken,[+firebrick “Don’t worry, he won’t last long. He’s probably a virgin.”]
When the man tried to put up some resistance and protest, he found his feet not quite touching the floor anymore,”W-wait, miss. I really—Holy shit. Fuck.” He was freaking out and Ruby rolled her eyes,[+firebrick “Calm down, or I’ll make you calm down.”]
Sort of awkwardly, Felix just stood there when Crystal spoke. His shoulders were up and his face looked like he had just taken a chunk out of a lemon at the mention of him being 'alright' with Jasper staying, or the fact that she thought she wasn't going to see anyone again. Knowing Felix this long, and sort of how uncomplicated his personality was, it was quite clear he had many things to say on the matter. But his eyes—which now looked like beady little things—kept glancing over at Daggeron who drew ever so closer at each glance.
[b “Yup.”] Seemed like all he had to say about the matter for the time being, and quickly began to help Crystal clean up. He was mostly quiet for the time being, but it almost seemed like he was holding his breath. And the second Crystal and him made eye contact again, Felix burst like a balloon.
[b “You know you can see whoever you want, right? You really aren't a prisoner here.”] Felix comments. They could even go together, and her parents could see that he wasn't some awful human abusing their daughter!
Clearly a bit of what Jasper had said seemed to have got to him, but he wanted to make sure Crystal knew he wasn't keeping her under lock and key. At first Felix was at a loss for how to defeat Mercurial, and after some brainstorming Daggeron had recommended [i borrowing] power from a Unicorn to give him an edge. Mercurial had too many advantages to begin with, and if they could take magic out of the equation, then they'd have a much better shot at taking him down. Honestly, it didn't seem like he had that many other options, and despite it skating pretty close to breaking one of the tenets of the Brotherhood, Felix agreed, deciding Mercurial's defeat more important than anything else, even his own life... But why was that so hard to see now? Why were things so emotional and complicated. This wasn't anything like what he had imagined.
Daggeron floats closer. [+blue “Felix...”] He seemed strained, but t be fair, it appeared that the hunter was going to open up a can of worms that he had hoped to avoid. It was only a matter of time, he knew that, but he had elected it a problem for the future, and did not consider the full ramifications at the time when they conceived their plans. [+blue “I don't think she can do that anymore...”]
Felix looked between them quickly, almost frantically, his eyes growing wide and locking on to the sword. [b “What... What did you make me do?”] He looks back to Crystal. [b “What does Jasper think I condemned you to?”] He wanted to ask when the time was right, but at this point he couldn't stop himself from asking. He needed to know everything now, and he needed to know if he could make it right.
Despite Falken feeling like Ruby was wasting their time, he had to admit it appeared she was trying her best to be well-behaved... Or as well behaved as a Bloodmad Unicorn could be, at least. It still vexed him that they were here instead of hunting Team Felix, but that might be a limitation of Falken's own: his programmed loyalty to Mercurial and single-mindedness about it.
So, with a bit of self-awareness in his pocket, Falken stood back, arms crossed and watched the two women 'shop'. For the most part, Ruby was just antagonizing Stephanie and the staff of the store, but again, he found himself strangely proud of the Unicorn when she didn't set fire to anything or anyone when one of the employees approached her. However, it seemed that Falken needed to run a little interference as the employee seemed to be slowing Ruby down... That might have some [i catastrophic] consequences if the Unicorn got annoyed or bored.
Falken was suddenly at Ruby's side. [+silver “You heard the lady, boy.”] And he reached out and knocked over a mannequin chest displaying a brightly coloured golf shirt. [+silver “Go get her everything in red and black.”] And the man quickly scurries away to do so, Falken offering Ruby a small smirk. They'd make this quick and get on with the mission; there wasn't any point in letting anyone else slow them down.
Crystal probably wouldn’t have picked the word ‘simple’, but Daggeron was on the right path. A lot closer than Jasper was anyway. She looked over at Daggeron when he started to apologize and gave him a sad smile. Even without moving features he was surprisingly expressive. He and Felix both felt bad about bringing her into this, but she could tell they didn’t have many options. [#c4519e “It’s alright. I understand. Or I think I sort of do. It’s not an easy situation. You needed a unicorn and you found me. It’s not like finding a unicorn is easy in the first place. And I wouldn’t want to push this onto anyone else.”]
Crystal rubbed her forehead and sat up a little straighter. She’d developed a habit of rubbing her forehead a lot,[#c4519e “I’m not sure what I want anymore. I thought I wanted to marry Jasper and…”] She sighed and looked toward the RV for a long moment before turning back to Daggeron and struggling to articulate something she couldn’t pin down consciously at the moment. She [i thought] she wanted Jasper and cared for him, and she did care about him, but when it came down to a choice between Jasper and Felix she hadn’t even hesitated to pick Felix,[#c4519e “But I just… I don’t know.”]
She’d fallen quiet by the time Felix approached. She stacked her plate with Jasper’s to start cleaning up and got up,[#c4519e “Yeah.”] She still sounded distracted. Her sleep deprived brain was still trying to deal with the mess that her brief conversation with Daggeron had brought up in her head,[#c4519e “You’re probably right. We should go soon.”]
There was one more thing and Crystal stopped cleaning and set everything on the table,[#c4519e “Um, thanks for… being alright with Jasper staying. I know he’s being difficult.”] She fidgeted with her hands a little, lacing her fingers together,[#c4519e “I um, I would have told you if I thought he might show up. I just didn’t expect to ever… see anyone again.”]
[+firebrick “Of course you don’t understand.”] She waved her hand dismissively and looked out the window. The scenery was so [i boring]. Ruby would have liked more people around, it made for more interesting options at least. [+firebrick “I won’t let it delay us too much.”]
The mall wasn’t huge, but it would have to do. Stephanie seemed to have gotten pretty quiet, realizing she and her siblings weren’t nearly as important as they thought they were. Now it was just her following these two, and Ruby seemed to be treating her like something of a pet. Ruby snapped her fingers,[+firebrick “Come here. What was your name again?”]
[+firebrick “Right. Now come with me and we’ll try to get you looking decent. You’re too pathetic to be seen with.”] Ruby told her as they made their way into the mall. It wasn’t terribly busy, but there were several shops for clothes, make up, jewelry, and a food court. Ruby even spotted a candy store, a coffee shop, and in the distance a movie theater. [+firebrick “This will do nicely. First clothes.”]
She went into what was probably one of the higher end shops with the sort of confidence like she owned the place, while Stephanie trailed behind. Ruby right away went to the shirts, holding them up and dropping the ones she didn’t like on the floor, which was most of them. Finally she found a tank top in black that she tossed at the vampire,[+firebrick “Gloomy, like you. It’ll have to do. Go pick out some pants.”]
The man working at the shop had emerged from the back room and watched as Ruby pretty much tore apart the display. He seemed a little surprised at first, but went up after a few moments,”Can I help you with anything, miss?”
Ruby paused and eyed him up and down,[+firebrick “Most likely. It’s been ages since I’ve been out.”] Evidently she decided nothing on this rack was to her liking so she tipped the whole thing over. The shop worker flinched when it crashed on the floor.
“Um, miss. You really can’t—”
[+firebrick “I really can.”] She had put her finger over his mouth to quiet him and was looking at him like a cat deciding if this toy was worth it,[+firebrick “Go get me everything you have in red and black.”]
Daggeron floated harmlessly in the air around Crystal and Jasper. It was quite obvious that someone here needed to keep the peace. This was way over Felix's head, Crystal was emotionally compromised, Hilda was hiding, and Jasper wasn't interested in being reasoned with. Fortunately for him dragon's were rational, patient, and stayed level-headed most of the time...
But when Jasper called Felix stupid, he could feel his patience wear ever thinner. His attention turns to Crystal though, as he floats down closer to the ground. [+blue “I think the word both of you are looking for is 'simple'.”] He says, the dragon pommel looking in Jasper's direction for a brief moment to emphasize. [+blue “But I do know what you mean, Crystal. Felix might not be good with words or social graces, but he always means well and he cares very deeply even if it doesn't seem like it sometimes. There's not a mean bone in the boy's body.”] At this point, he didn't much care what Jasper thought. It seemed no matter what anyone said, Felix was a deceiving despicable human just using Crystal. There was no need to stoke anymore fires; at this point, they would accommodate him for Crystal's sake until Jasper had enough sense to leave them.
However, Daggeron didn't know how much having Jasper around would really benefit Crystal. They got in to another brief argument before Jasper elected to go get his things from his vehicle and left. Daggeron floats a little closer to Crystal. If he had hands, he would've put one on her shoulder. [+blue “I am sorry you are now consigned to this fate; I didn't look hard enough at you when we found you, and I was more worried about Mercurial than I was of your future and how this would impact you. So, for that you have my deepest and sincerest apologies, Crystal.”] His head floats down slightly in what appeared to be a bow of sorts. [+blue “I wish there were more than words I could offer you, but rest assured I will do anything and everything in my power to make it up to you.”]
Still watching from the window, Felix didn't really focus on Crystal and Daggeron's conversation; he was watching Jasper leave, and lets out a grunt, putting his plate in the sink. [b “What does Crystal even see in that guy?”] He was mostly asking rhetorically to himself.
[+red “Well, I'll admit he is quite handsome.”] Hilda says and Felix turns to look at her. [+red “Why are you looking at me like that? He might be a jerk, but I can still admit when someone is good looking.”]
He sort of shrugs at that. [b “I guess he is kind of dreamy, yeah. Doesn't really give him an excuse to be a jerk, though.”] And Hilda smiles a bit, tapping her nose and pointing at him. He smiles a little back, and then turns to look over his shoulder back out to Crystal and Daggeron. [b “I'm gonna go see what they're talking about.”] And tell them it might be time for them to pack up and leave.
[+red “Cool. You have fun doing that, I'll just... stay here for a little longer.”] He didn't argue with her and leaves the confines of the RV, walking towards the two remaining outside. He didn't catch any of their conversation, but he's known Daggeron over a decade and could sort of see he was forlorn despite his features being motionless.
[b “Is everything alright?”] He asks, joining the conversation. [b “I don't know if this is the best time, but I think it might be a good idea to pack up and leave some time in the near future. We have two unicorns here now, and if Jasper could find us, then I have no doubt someone in Mercurial's troupe is pretty close behind.”] He didn't want what happened with the vampire trio to happen again.
With the direction in mind and tracking spell, they all leave for their mission. They found suitable transportation, money being no object for Mercurial by material means or by magical means, but they were slowed some by Ruby... Again. He made it known he was quite agitated by this. [+silver “I do not understand why you are so fussy with your clothing... Or the vampire's clothing.”] He says, his knuckles turning white on the steering wheel. [+silver “Your clothing is functional and doesn't matter.”] He says, but with an exaggerated groan he swerves in to the parking lot of a mall, having already promised Ruby he would take her shopping.
[+silver “Lets just make this quick. We have people to catch and a sword to bring back to our master.”]
Crystal sighed. She didn’t get a chance to thank Felix, but at least he agreed. She couldn’t exactly blame him for being irritated though. Jasper was being rude. Which was the next thing she said,[#c4519e “You don’t have to be so rude to him, Jasper. He’s actually really kind.”]
Jasper shot a glare at the door of the RV, then took a bite of his breakfast,[+goldenrod “Yeah right. Crystal, he kidnapped you. You can’t really be fine with this.”]
[#c4519e “I told you it was more complicated than that.”] Crystal rubbed her forehead. She already felt so exhausted and she hadn’t even had breakfast yet. She didn’t feel especially hungry, but she made sure to eat something while she talked with Jasper. She hoped they could keep it to talking and not a shouting match. [#c4519e “It was the only way he could have gotten me to hear him out. But I’m staying. I decided to. And you.”]
She turned her attention to Daggeron with a half smile,[#c4519e “I should have guessed it was your idea. He’s just too…”] She fumbled a little for the right words, not helped by Jasper rolling his eyes,[#c4519e “Sweet? That’s not quite it, it’s just he’s—”]
[+goldenrod “Too stupid?”]
Crystal shot Jasper a sour look. She wasn’t going to figure it out with Jasper here. She looked at Daggeron and finished before eating a strawberry,[#c4519e “You know what I mean, right? Felix isn’t like most humans.”]
Jasper wasn’t ready to just sit there and accept this. He’d come here to rescue her! Not have breakfast and play nice with the man who’d taken her. He reached out a hand for Crystal again, but she ignored it entirely, leaving his hand waiting empty on the table. He pleaded,[+goldenrod “Sweetheart, please.”]
[#c4519e “Stop calling me that. You know as well as I do that the engagement is off. The Council wouldn’t allow it.”]
That got Jasper worked up again and her slammed his hands on the table. It made Crystal flinch. [+goldenrod “I won’t let them say no! I’ll go with you, wherever they send you!”]
[#c4519e “But I’m saying no, Jasper! I’m not leaving. I’m going to help Felix.”] He was making this harder on both of them than it needed to be. He was looking so hurt again that Crystal had to look away. She really hadn’t expected to ever see anyone again. And here was Jasper making her feel so guilty. Anyone else would have been easier to handle. They wouldn’t look so obviously betrayed.
[+goldenrod “I’ll go get some things from the car.”] He’d left the car not too far away, but he hadn’t wanted to just drive up and have the car give away his arrival too soon. He went to get his bag, and as soon as Jasper had gone far enough away Crystal heaved a huge sigh and leaned forward, her head in her hands and her elbows on the table.
This was all such a mess. Jasper wasn’t showing any sign of being less annoying for the moment, Felix was clearly already near the end of his patience with her ex-fiance, and she was feeling so drained, guilty, and frustrated. Magic practice was going to be hell today. It was usually worse if one or both of them went into it agitated. In just a moment she’d finish clearing the table, her appetite was long gone.
Ruby looked disgusted at the suggestion that she feed the starved vampire. She complied anyway, and actually seemed to derive some sort of entertainment in filling a cup for the vampire with her blood. Stephanie drank greedily, while Ruby huffed and told her to be careful with it.
The blood quickly revitalized Stephanie, though Ruby would still say the vampire looked a little pathetic. The pathetic creature was coming with them anyway, for some reason. Ruby figured maybe she could find ways to entertain herself with the vampire. Falken was focused on getting them going, so Ruby showed him where her spell indicated the other unicorn would be. That’s what she was really tracking here, the other unicorn, but if she was ringed like Ruby was then the rest of the group couldn’t possibly be far from her.
On the way though she’d want to stop at a suitable looking store and take a few things for herself. Payment wouldn’t be important, she had magic to deal with that one way or another. And she figured she could have [i some] fun dressing up the pathetic vampire as well.
Felix wasn't sure, but it was probably pretty apparent he was getting annoyed. Annoyed by Crystal's boyfriend, annoyed that he had to keep taking a back seat and watch, and annoyed he couldn't get a freaking word in edgewise. It was hard for him to process all of what was going on, this situation being a little too complicated for his emotional intelligence... Mostly he was just happy Crystal was resolute to stay with them and fight Mercurial.
When Crystal told Jasper to find a new girl and marry her, Felix was pretty much set to walk away from the situation, having assumed that would be the end of it... But apparently he was wrong, and when Jasper elected to stay, Felix rolled his eyes and let out an exaggerated groan.
[+blue “Quit it, Felix.”] Daggeron whispers to him. [+blue “This is a delicate situation and you're not helping.”] And to that, Felix grumbles under his breath as he watches the situation unfold in front of him. Although he found it hard to sympathize or feel bad about all of this, he [i did] feel bad when Jasper had began talking about Crystal's parents. This must've been hard for them not knowing where their daughter was, probably also having been raised on stories about how terrible humans were and how they exploited their kind... Wait, she had a brother?
However, it didn't seem like he had much time to think about how little he really knew about Crystal when she asked him if her ex could stay. His first initial instinct was to say 'Hell no' and tell Jasper where he can shove the things he brought Crystal, but looking in to her big glassy eyes and her sad smile, it was hard to disagree... But that wasn't going to stop him from giving everyone a hard time, especially when Jasper continued to any opportunity to take potshots at him.
[b “Fine, he can stay. [i Outside].”] Felix finally stands from the picnic table, taking his plate of food. [b “I hope you brought a tent.”] He says and stomps his way back in to the RV. You'd think he just ran with how hard he was breathing, but in reality he was trying really hard not to scream at Jasper and force him to leave. He didn't want to be around that drama queen at all, and he was happy to see Daggeron remained, no doubt to make sure the male unicorn didn't try anything funny with Crystal. For the time being, Felix needed a moment to collect himself and eat.
He picked at him food for a brief moment, eating very slowly while looking out the window at the three outside. [+red “That was very mature of you.”] And Felix nearly jumped, quickly jerking his head to the side to see Hilda. She was sitting near the back of the RV at the built-in dinner table, hugging her knees to her chest. He had almost forgotten she'd come inside and didn't come back out. [+red “It was getting a little loud out there...”] She tells him and offers a weak smile. This must've been as overwhelming for her as it was for him.
[b “Are you alright? Do you need to be alone? I can go back outside.”]
[+red “No, no, its okay. I just needed a minute.”] She looks back down at her knees, it being very apparent she was thinking. It seems something crosses her mind and she looks back up at the hunter. [+red “What does Jasper think you've condemned Crystal to?”] And that was a very good question. He had barely caught that earlier, and then lost it when Jasper threw his temper tantrum.
[b “I'll have to ask her... But when the time is right.”]
[+red “Why don't you ask Daggeron?”]
And he was still staring out the window at the three, his eyes narrowed at the floating sword. 'The Blade of Whispers' was another name for Daggeron when it was translated to English. However, in the language the name originally came from, the word 'whispers' was 'secrets'. Felix scowls a little bit. [b “I doubt I would get a straight answer from him. I'm sure there's a lot more he's conveniently left out for me.”] He knew the sword wasn't above half-truths or lies of omission to keep their momentum moving forward...
[b “We're going to have to pack up and eave soon. If this dimwit can find us, no doubt Mercurial's goons are hot on our tail.”] Not to mention having this many Unicorns in one area didn't exactly help them keeping a low profile.
Packing supplies was relatively simple. He was mostly packing for Ruby; materials for rituals, food, and other amnesties she might need. Falken himself didn't need much to survive for the magic that he was compromised of sustained him and kept him alive. So much like Ruby, he was done in a short amount of time, heading back to the Arcanium to retrieve the Unicorn and for the to begin their journey.
When he returned, he slipped the ring on, the magical glamour enveloping him like a cloak, changing his appearance to whatever it was Ruby had devised. Soon enough it was time for Ruby to pack some things she thought she needed and to change clothes for some reason. And it became one of single most frustrating things he's had to deal with in a long time. Every time she had asked him what he thought about this top or these pair of pants, he simply responded with [+silver “I do not care.”] But that didn't seem to help the situation, and after she seemingly tore her wardrobe apart and settled on an outfit, she demanded Falken take her shopping which was utterly ridiculous and threatened him. He would have normally bit back, but instead decided it was not worth the wasted time to argue with Ruby about this. Picking ones battle and what not.
With that out of the way, the duo went and fetched Stephanie who was in a state of decay, along with the room. It seemed she had taken what Falken said to heart, as the room was slightly trashed, and there were drained rat corpses strewn about like litter. When the door to the lab had opened up, she whirled on them like an animal, her eyes wild as she looked at them like she barely recognized them. But when she did, he hunched shoulder slowly came down and her breathing went back to normal. [+silver “It is time to leave. If you would, Ruby, give her something to eat.”] And with that, he leads them out of the compound and towards where it was indicated Team Felix resided.
Felix’s answer got a small smile out of Crystal. It was just the sort of reassurance she needed. She looked at Daggeron briefly, then at Felix. Crystal felt some emotion bubble in her stomach, but wasn’t sure if it was more like happiness or dread, maybe some twisted combination, but she looked away and back to her plate while giving Felix’s hands a squeeze. She’d assumed he might, if she pressed it. She hadn’t even wanted to ask or approach the subject of them letting her go, even though it was also one of the things on her mind. She wanted to say something, but her tongue was suddenly tied.
Jasper was about to interrupt again, not wanting to let Felix holding her hand slide by without comment. That was really irritating Jasper, that Crystal kept pulling away from him but she was acting so… so familiar with the guy who had kidnapped her! He was looking for the word for it when Daggeron floated closer and despite having no moving features, the swords dragon face looked sort of menacing. It forced Jasper to actually listen and keep quiet, at least until Daggeron was done. For just a sword he could be pretty intimidating, but Jasper wasn’t going to let that keep him from helping Crystal, or trying to.
So he was with the Brotherhood of Cain. That still made him a hunter, even if it was a better branch. None of what Daggeron said made Jasper any more comfortable leaving Crystal with them, even if he understood more of the story now. Jasper shot another glare at Felix briefly before standing up. He had a frustrated look for Daggeron,[+goldenrod “Then you should know better. Or maybe [i you] don’t know the whole truth. She didn’t tell you she was engaged, so she probably hasn’t told you the rest. How you’ve condemned her to—”]
[#c4519e “Jasper, stop.”] Her voice sounded strained. She was almost ridiculously tense, and her grip on Felix’s hands had tightened before she suddenly let go once she realized it,[#c4519e “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because I’m not going back. Ever. You should though. If you explain it will probably be fine. Or just lie and say you never found me. Tell them whatever you want, but find another nice girl and marry her.”]
Something she said, or the way she said it, finally got Jasper to deflate a little. Was it his imagination, or did it sound like she was ready to cry? He hesitated, trying to decide what to say or do next. Because he was still seriously uncomfortable with just leaving her here,[+goldenrod “Not yet. I’m not leaving until I’m sure you’re really alright. I can’t.”]
Crystal sighed and hung her head. Her face felt hot and her eyes were stinging. She was all worked up and feeling pretty emotional, maybe because she was just so tired. It wasn’t like it would be easy to [i make] him leave. Jasper could be stubborn. Maybe letting him stay for a little while and see how Felix really was would convince him to go. She rubbed her forehead,[#c4519e “Maybe just for a little. Then, if you would—could, tell my family I’m fine? They’ll be worried. Are they…?”]
When she looked up it was pretty plain on her face that she was upset. How was her family handling her leaving? It wasn’t like she could contact them and ask, or let them know she wasn’t being tortured or something. Jasper sat down, apparently calm enough to poke at his breakfast and take a short break from glaring daggers at Felix,[+goldenrod “Your mother and father are worried sick. Apparently your mother has been inconsolable, likely imagining the worst. She was crying too much to talk to me, and your father sounded pretty upset on the phone. Your brother wanted to come too when he found out where I was going, but I insisted I should go alone. I was closer anyway. I was actually on my way to see you when I heard. I have some things for you. You might as well keep them.”]
Crystal nodded at the news. She looked like she might be a little queasy, but turned her head and tried to smile at Felix. It felt like a really pathetic, sad attempt at a smile even to her,[#c4519e “It’s alright if he stays for a little while, right? Then he can go and tell them I’m fine.”]
She was obviously desperate for news on her family, and the chance to reassure or comfort them through Jasper. Jasper couldn’t quite bite back commenting,[+goldenrod “So you have to ask his permission. Is this your home or your prison? Can’t you have guests?”]
Crystal put a hand on Felix’s shoulder, half to hold him back if he got irritated enough at Jasper, and really Jasper was being [i exceptionally] irritating this morning, and half to have something to hold onto,[#c4519e “It’s [i his] home too, Jasper. Please, can’t you at least [i try] to give him a chance?”]
Ruby didn’t seem to mind terribly that Falken was ignoring her. She did have to prepare the spell. She laid the book on a table and busied herself with gathering everything else the spell required onto the table while she continued to talk at Falken,[+firebrick “If I had enough a pain spell would be so simple. It wouldn’t even require much. It’s so hard to actually collect unicorn blood though, it tends to just [i do] magic and use itself up unless you collect it the right way. Oh, it would take a lot more but a control spell would be [i fantastic]. The look on her face when she realizes she can’t control her body would be delightful.”]
Even with all the talking she managed to get most of the preparation work done by the time Falken came over with the ring. She waved dismissively after glancing at the ring,[+firebrick “Yes yes. I’ll be done shortly, with this and your new face.”]
Neither spell was especially complicated or took her very long. She had the rough location and the enchantment on the ring done in short order. What [i did] take her longer than it should have was her insistence on changing clothes before leaving. Apparently she was feeling fussy because nothing really made her happy, and after settling for something in her closet she demanded Falken take her shopping once they left, with the threat that she would taken even longer packing her clothes than it would take to just go buy or steal them once they left.
Kind of annoyed that everyone had been shouting his name for the last minute or so, Felix sits silently at the picnic table as Hilda starts serving breakfast. He didn't take much notice to Crystal sitting next to him, keeping his eye on the male Unicorn as he sat down at the table, the two of them glaring daggers at each other. Despite Felix not really feeling like he had given this dude a reason to hate him, it seemed like the young Hunter was more than happy to make it known the feeling was mutual. Plus, he wasn't exactly happy with the how much this disturbed their flow or how much it seemed to upset Crystal; he was just starting to understand just how upset she was already anyways! There were too many layers and complexities to this now!
Hilda didn't really sit down, sort of hovering around and making herself busy, clearly uncomfortable with the situation as well, but also in an attempt to keep the peace. Felix continued to keep his mouth shut, putting food in it so he wouldn't word vomit at Crystal's ex. The way he looked at and tried to touch Crystal made his blood boil. He couldn't help but feel like he was manipulating the situation... But was he really..?
Eyes on his plate, he picked a little at one of the breakfast sausages with his fork thinking on that, but when Jasper referred to him as an 'idiotic human', his head jerked up and eyes lit up, his hand immediately grasping for next to his plate, but... He fumbles a little bit, patting next to the plate and then looking under the table for a very brief second, coming back up like a confused bird.
[b “Where did my knife go?”] He asks himself quietly, looking up to see Hilda walking towards the RV, looking back at him with a small smile. Before she disappeared in to the RV, Felix caught a glimpse of the butter knife in the witch's hand. Apparently she had him all figured out. [b “Goddammit.”]
Tensions seemed to be getting higher, something Felix could understand a little easier, especially since Jasper began raising his voice. In a way, he could understand why he would be upset with the situation, but he wasn't exactly being reasonable, nor did it seem like he was interested in being reasoned with. And it appeared Crystal thought the same thing, turning towards him, and poking him in the forehead like she had recently began to. His nose scrunched up and he rubbed his forehead a little bit after the gesture, still not expecting it every time it happened. However, her words sort of struck him in a way he didn't expect, his earlier conversation with Daggeron coming to mind. Was he really that unreasonable? And did she think he couldn't handle news like this? Maybe that's why she had kept it from him, and he didn't know why he felt as hurt as he did from this revelation. Emotions were hard.
He was about to open his mouth to answer when Jasper injected his opinion in to the situation. It earned a sidelong glare from Felix, but he quickly turned his attention back to Crystal, his features going softer. [b “Of course we need you, Crystal.”] He tells her, his hands clasping over hers as if to make a point. [b “I would've liked to have known we might have to contend with an irritating Unicorn ex-boyfriend, but it doesn't make a difference. You're carrying the team.”]
[+blue “We literally could not do this without you. And despite that, if you asked, Felix would be more than happy to let you go; he's offered you that already.”] Daggeron says, floating around the table sort of neutrally. However, his gemmed eyes quickly snap to Jasper, and with some force, he's suddenly closer to the male Unicorn, his motionless features seemingly glaring down at him from above. [+blue “There are things you should know about Felix and the mission he enlisted Crystal on. It appears you're not interested in what anyone has to say, but I suggest you listen anyways, and before you try anymore idiotic tricks. This is for your benefit.”] He became more neutral after that, floating in the air less stiffly.
[+blue “Felix is a member of the Brotherhood of Cain, and I'm sure you're more than familiar with that branch of the Hunter Society. The only reason Felix even came close to breaking one of the tenets was because we are after a powerful enemy, one that requires drastic action and as much help as possible”] It seemed Daggeron was avoiding the use of names or failing to describe Mercurial for a reason. However, it seemed he wasn't finished yet, either. [+blue “I know better than anyone the cruelty that human's can hold within their hearts—I was a Dragon before being trapped within this sword—but Felix isn't one of these humans, quite the opposite actually. So you really shouldn't go pointing fingers without knowing what you're talking about or without knowing the whole truth. If you want to point fingers, Jasper, point them at [i me].”] He hovers slightly higher in the air, the sun behind him, casting an ominous shadow over the table. [+blue “I'm the one who told Felix to ring Crystal.”]
For the most part, it seemed Falken was ignoring Ruby. He found her trivial want for fun to be rather vexing, but he could appreciate why their master kept her around. Unicorns were in short supply and their magic was powerful, so if Falken had to listen to her prattle on about her boredom, he would do so. For the cause.
The flesh golem moved about the room, looking over the many tables and work stations, full of magical and non-magical baubles. Falken was unable to perform magic despite being mostly comprised of and enhanced by it, but he still understood the theory and how magic worked. His purpose was to be Mercurial's sword, and the blade needed to be ready for anything, hence his resistance to magic, and although it afforded him many advantages, it did come with a few disadvantages that he had to work around every now and again. But that is why he studied magic. Falken needed an anchor for the spell, and fortunately for him a glamour was simple enough where he could use a simple anchor.
Off of a table he swipes an unenchanted ring, and takes a quick look at it. Unlike the iron ring her wore on his finger to have access to Ruby's magic, it was silver and looped around a zultanite stone like Celtic knots. This would be easy enough to enchant with a glamour, and would only need to be recharged minimally with magic by Ruby while they were on the road. He brings it over to the Unicorn, holding it up to show her, and then places it down on one of the tables. [+silver “For when you are finished with your tracking spell.”] He tells her. [+silver “I don't expect this to take you long, so I will go prepare some supplies and materials for our journey. Be ready to leave when I return.”]
[#c4519e “Felix!”] Crystal turned, her shoulders hunched up. He’d actually spit out water! The news couldn’t be that shocking. Well, maybe it could. She sort of figured mentioning it would be really awkward, which was why she had tried to avoid it. Her face turned a little red and she looked offended when Felix recovered and pointed a finger at her. Jasper was pretty determined though and came up next to her. He took the opportunity to grab her hand while she was focused on thinking what to shout at Felix.
[+goldenrod “What do you mean ‘not anymore’? Of course we are! And you didn’t tell them?”] Oh no, Jasper was looking hurt. Felix and Daggeron were arguing. Felix [i and] Jasper were both pretty offended she’d kept quiet about the broken off engagement, and she was feeling pretty overwhelmed, whatever irritation and comeback she had for Felix had evaporated. She tried to pull her hand away from Jasper, but he was holding on tight. She couldn’t even look him in the eyes, they were big and blue and so full of hurt and looking for answers in her face when she tried to look at him and Crystal just couldn’t stand it. She was looking anywhere but at him,[#c4519e “I… I…”]
Thankfully Hilda was a voice of reason. Because Crystal still wasn’t sure what to [i say]. She didn’t want to hurt Jasper any more than she already had. He was taking the news harder than she expected. And Felix and Daggeron were back at it, except Hilda was getting a lot more stern. In a way it was sort of nice to see her more lively, even if it made Crystal flinch.
[#c4519e “Breakfast first.”] A squeeze of his hand finally got him to let go. Crystal hurried to sit next to Felix, because she really didn’t think she could stand sitting next to Jasper [i or] letting Jasper sit next to Felix. Who knew what stupid thing Jasper might try if he thought he could get away with it. Jasper clearly didn’t like that and frowned. He was glaring a lot at Felix. He took the seat opposite Crystal, since there wasn’t any space next to her, and held his hand open to her on the table.
She didn’t take it. Her hands were clasped in her lap. For a very awkward moment things were quiet and Hilda served breakfast like things were fine. She was doing a pretty good job of keeping everyone in line, really. Crystal was glad for that. Her plate looked very interesting, but there was only so long she could sit there silently chewing on the inside of her lower lip. Being soaked didn’t make her any more comfortable, but she’d deal with that after breakfast. She wasn’t going to leave Jasper and Felix alone right now to go change.
[+goldenrod “Crystal. Sweetheart.”] Jasper was talking more softly. Trying to coax her into looking at him. He leaned forward. He had food on his plate, but he wasn’t terribly interested in eating at the moment.
Crystal sighed,[#c4519e “Don’t. I told you, we’re not engaged anymore.”]
[+goldenrod “You can’t just end things like that. I’m not going to just abandon you with this… this idiotic human who’s got you too scared to—”]
[#c4519e “Stop it!”] He finally got her to look at him, and she looked upset,[#c4519e “I told you he hasn’t done anything to me! You shouldn’t even be here. It was stupid of you to come looking. You’re really lucky Felix is as nice as he is, you have to know that. If he weren’t you’d have walked right into a trap or something.”]
[+goldenrod “Nice? So what, you expect me to believe your [i kidnapper] is nice? Did he not ring you and force you? Aren’t [i you] trapped? Why else would you leave?”] Jasper was starting to raise his voice.
Crystal looked away again. Her gaze landed on Felix. [#c4519e “It’s more complicated than that. As for why I didn’t tell [i you].”] Crystal’s frown looked softer and she poked Felix’s forehead. She was still sort of annoyed, but there was some affection in the gesture, which earned a serious scowl from Jasper. He didn’t like Crystal switching her attention to Felix, and he certainly didn’t like the way she was talking to him. Crystal was having a hard time talking to Jasper and was hoping Felix would be easier. Maybe. She finally thought she knew what to say at least. [#c4519e “I [i knew] you’d freak out somehow. And would it really have made any difference? You still need me, don’t you?”]
She obviously had an answer she was fishing for. She was asking, but the way she said it was more ‘Please tell me you need me.’ Crystal had decided to suffer and sacrifice because she believed Felix and Daggeron really needed her help to stand a chance against Mercurial. She wasn’t sure how she’d feel if he started trying to backpedal now and make it sound like he didn’t really need her.
Jasper was having a hard time restraining himself and scoffed,[+goldenrod “Of course he still wants to [i use] you. Humans always do. We’re just tools to them.”]
Ruby went out ahead of Falken, the starving vampire already out of her mind for now. The spell she needed would be there, and then she’d be able to track down this unicorn. That was going to be fun, even if she was stuck with Falken and that vampire. She’d find ways to entertain herself,[+firebrick “Yes yes. And it would be annoying if the glamour failed. If you found the right sort of thing I could just change the shape of your face… But you won’t like that, will you?”]
Ruby seemed a little disappointed at that. The magic to actually change his shape, even temporarily, would be harder but more stable if it could overcome his natural resistance. [+firebrick “It would take longer than you want anyway.”]
He was impatient about this. Probably because the master found this matter important. Lucky for Falken’s patience once in the Arcanium Ruby knew more or less where to look among the wall to wall bookshelves. Her knowing about magic was one of the things Mercurial demanded of her, so she’d spent a fair amount of time here. There were more books than Ruby had had time to read so far, along with tables and shelves full of various components for spells. The room was built just for researching and performing smaller scale spells, and the air practically hummed with magic from previous spells. If it weren’t for all the concealment etched in the walls here and everywhere around the place someone was bound to have noticed the concentration of magic here.
[+firebrick “Blood magic… blood magic…”] Ruby muttered to herself as she scanned what should be the right area. There, exactly where she left it. It was a favorite of hers, and the spine was well worn. She pulled out the deep red book and took it to a table to flip through and find the spell she wanted,[+firebrick “Tracking… How boring. Too bad there isn’t enough blood to do more than one spell. I could have fun.”]
Felix took a bit of a back seat when Crystal silently requested he back down, so he did. Apparently this guy had the wrong idea that he had kidnapped the Unicorn... Well, uhhh, he [i kind of] did, but they were passed that now! Wait a minute, didn't she leave a note? Why the hell was this guy tracking them down and being dramatic? So, in response to these accusations, Felix just rolled his eyes. He wasn't taking this scrawny goof seriously.
However, perhaps Felix had misjudged Jasper, because when he opened his mouth, he was about to react as well, all too accustomed to magic-users and their behaviour. Sucker punches. But it appeared Crystal had beat both of them to the punch, throwing her own magic in to the ring and binding Jasper, and if that wasn't embarrassing enough, she chastised him. Felix couldn't help the small chuckle that escaped from him as he walked towards the picnic table beside their RV. There was a bottle of water he had for when he was training this morning, and was trying to look very casual at this point. He took a few sips before returning next to Crystal as she began introducing them to each other.
[b “Yo.”] He says when his name is said taking another drink from his water. However, the water that entered his mouth quickly came out in a torrent at Crystal, and he started violently coughing like he was drowning next to the soaked Unicorn. She was engaged?! He opens his mouth to ask more questions but chokes on the words in another coughing fit, bending over and putting his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath and catch up with the situation.
Daggeron floats up and next to Crystal as Hilda runs out of the RV, patting Felix on the back in an attempt to help him recover. [+blue “Umm... Congratulations and sorry for your loss?”] Daggeron says.
Felix quickly recovers and shoots up straight again, pointing a finger at Crystal. [b “You never told us you were engaged! That's pretty important information to withhold!”] And not to mention he followed her for like, a week! How could he have not known this?! It did, however, explain why the note didn't work.
[+blue “Oh, don't get all sanctimonious on her, Felix [i Lincoln]. Crystal doesn't owe us [i anything]. You of all people-”]
[b “Oh my God, don't you go starting this again! You're always telling me what to do and-”]
[+red “Hey guys...”] Hilda's meek voice sort of cuts through the conversation. They all turn to look, and it appears after Felix had recovered, she busied herself by setting the picnic table and laying out the food. [+red “Why don't we just have a nice breakfast instead of fighting? Let Crystal explain herself.”]
[+blue “At least one of us is reasonable.”] And Felix's head snaps back at Daggeron.
[b “Why do you always have to make inflammatory statements!?”]
[+blue “Oh ho, that's a big word for you, Felix!”]
[+red “GUYS!”] Hilda yells and Felix nearly jumps, looking back at the Witch. She was frowning, her face was slightly redder, and her breath had quickened. [+red “Sit. Eat. Shut up.”] And Felix slowly nods, approaching the picnic table with Daggeron and shoots him a look.
[b “This isn't over.”]
[+red “Felix!”] He sits down at the table like a scolded child, and Hilda places a plate in front if him, smiling like nothing had happened.
In regards to his appearance, Falken growled at Ruby. [+silver “I do not care, just that it works.”] He tells the Unicorn as she begins pulling the blood from the vampire with her magic. The vampire thrashed and screamed, but Falken was able to keep her in place. By the end of it, Stephanie was paler than before with gaunt features, her eyes bloodshot, fingers curled like claws, and the tips of her ears were slightly pointed. Falken payed her no mind as he turned away with Ruby to look at the small vial of blood. It was good they had gotten to her when they did; any longer and there wouldn't have been any retrievable blood.
He nods at Ruby's words. [+silver “An exact location is not crucial; we have the direction and I have their scent, so 'close' is close enough.”] He tells her and then looks back at the vampire laying on the table. Her chest was heaving and she was staring daggers in to the ceiling, no doubt trying to control her lust for blood coupled with the intense pain she must be in. She might have attacked Ruby if they were alone, but in her weakened state the Unicorn could easily fight off the vampire. Falken being here just made it folly. The only reason she lived was because she proved useful one last time.
[+silver “Let us retire to the Arcanium; I'm sure whatever it is you're looking for, for this spell will be in there.”] He tells the Unicorn, motioning and pointing for the door. [+silver “While we do that, I will find something for your glamour. As you are aware, I am resistant to magic, so I don't want my disguise to fail at an inopportune time.”] Falken then turns and looks over his shoulder at Stephanie. [+silver “We will provide her with [i food] when we are done; Team Felix already has a head start on us and I do not wish to tarry with trivial matters.”] He turns away and begins to exit the Alchemy lab. [+silver “For now, she can feed on the [i rats].”]
[#c4519e “Ah, yes. Thank you.”] Crystal didn’t want to bother anyone, but Hilda noticed. Of course she did, they were in the same room. Crystal had hoped she’d been quieter last night with her crying and not woken anyone up. She wasn’t sure if her sleep really was getting better or not, but she wasn’t going to say much about it now. There was breakfast to make. Crystal yawned several times while working on her part of breakfast. She liked having Felix help, as long as he didn’t try to do too much. She was a lot better at cooking than he was, and she really didn’t mind taking over most of the cooking duties, especially since he was perfectly willing to help her clean up. Hilda wasn’t bad at cooking either, so she could leave some of the jobs to her that Felix couldn’t quite be trusted with.
Cooking was one of those little things that made her happy. It was distracting, but more than that she actually liked cooking for more than just herself. She had been silently trying to figure out what Felix and Hilda’s favorite types of foods were by making a bit of a variety when she could and seeing what they liked better, or at least different things and not repeating too many meals yet until she got an idea of what everyone liked. Breakfast was generally a bit more standard, eggs along with some other things she cycled through. She had Hilda working on oatmeal with cinnamon while she cooked eggs and sausages, and Felix had already washed and cut the strawberries before finally going to put on a shirt. A very good thing, because he was always so distracting. She was sure it had to be the scars. He had so many, and she always bit her tongue to keep from asking endless questions about how he’d gotten each one.
Then their routine was interrupted, and Crystal thought the voice sounded familiar. She followed Felix out of the RV but stopped in the doorway. [#c4519e “Jasper? You… You shouldn’t be here.”]
That answered the question, she certainly knew him. She stepped down slowly and put her hand on Felix’s shoulder. A silent request to back down. Jasper frowned at that,[+goldenrod “Crystal! Are you alright? I want you to let her go! You can’t just kidnap people.”]
He was hesitating, eyeing Daggeron warily. He didn’t expect anything like that, let alone being immediately spotted as a unicorn. He wasn’t sure exactly what Daggeron was, but he could tell Daggeron was probably not something to be messed with lightly. Still, he thought he might be able to take on one human. At least long enough to get Crystal out of there. He let the bag fall from his shoulder, and it made a muffled sound like a bunch of metal clanking together.
Crystal was ready for Jasper to try something else stupid, since he’d already done one stupid thing by following her here. [+goldenrod “[i Bi—]”]
The second he’d opened his mouth for his spell Crystal was ready with her own magic. She reached out her arm as she stepped in front of Felix to keep him from deciding to take care of it,[#c4519e “[i Bind].”] Then golden ribbons lashed out and wrapped around Jasper, including around his mouth. The ribbons were still attached to Crystal’s arm, and glowed. Crystal had gotten better with her magic in some ways, especially after a talk with Daggeron. She’d wanted to apologize, worrying she had nearly ruined the spell with the geas since it had been so much harder than she thought. Daggeron explained a little about how difficult that geas actually was, and it had given her a confidence boost. It didn’t help Felix with his magic, but that was a whole other issue.
[#c4519e “Jasper, don’t.”] Her voice was low. She sounded irritable and so tired for a moment. Then she tried to reign in the exhaustion a little,[#c4519e “If you [i behave] you can join us for breakfast and I’ll explain. Otherwise you need to go. Now.”]
She let the bindings dissolve in a shower of sparkles. Jasper was glaring at Felix, but decided he was going to stay. It was the only way to try again at getting Crystal out of here. He looked back at Crystal and stepped forward, his expression softening to concern,[+goldenrod “Alright. Alright. But what has he done to you? You look tired.”]
Crystal waved a hand dismissively,[#c4519e “I’m fine. He hasn’t [i done] anything to me. Not whatever you’re thinking. His name is Felix. That’s Daggeron, and Hilda is hopefully keeping everything from burning. Everyone, this is my… friend, Jasper.”]
The pause was a little too long, and Jasper didn’t help when his jaw dropped. The truth was the obvious end of her engagement was one of many things that bothered her at night that she didn’t want to talk about. But nope, her attempt to dodge the topic was failing right away, and Jasper was reaching for her hands while she stubbornly crossed her arms,[+goldenrod “Friend!? Crystal, we’re [i engaged].”]
[#c4519e “Not anymore…”] was Crystal’s mumbled reply, and her gaze lowered to the ground. This just got a lot more awkward, and she felt too tired to deal with it.
[center [b ~*~*~]]
Ruby tossed her knife back into her room carelessly and followed Falken. She was curious, but it wasn’t like she had any choice but to obey him. He had the ring, so until Mercurial took it back she was stuck taking orders from Falken. No doubt he would be nearly as good as the master was at using the ring to force her in no time.
She was getting impatient for answers by the time Falken started actually talking. Interesting. Yes, this job was going to be very interesting. The unicorn seemed untroubled by Stephanie’s struggle. In fact, Ruby gave her a sickeningly sweet smile and leaned her elbows on the table while Falken held her down,[+firebrick “He’s right. Go ahead and resist though, I would love to hear you scream.”]
She looked up at Falken and stood up straight and reached for a nearby vial,[+firebrick “This does sound fun. And yes, you’ll need a glamour.”] Ruby wrinkled her nose, looking him up and down with distaste,[+firebrick “I’ll make it something decent. Something I won’t mind being seen with in public.”]
First thing was the blood tracking. It would lead her right to the other unicorn. The master probably wanted her alive, but Ruby had plenty of things she could do to another unicorn without killing her. This was exciting. Ruby pet the vampire’s hair in a mock soothing gesture and got to work pulling the unicorn blood from her. She wasn’t lying, the magic was painful. Ruby was muttering under her breath to guide the spell, isolate the unicorn blood and pull it from the vampire in the quickest way possible, not bothering to care for Stephanie’s comfort. Sure enough the vampire thrashed and screamed while the blood was drawn into the little vial, and Ruby was smiling.
When she was done she looked pleased and held up the vial to see that Falken was right. There wasn’t much of it left. Stephanie looked terrible, but for the moment Ruby completely ignored her,[+firebrick “It’s not much, but it should be enough. It won’t get us anything exact, but that’s what you’re for.”]
She closed her hand over the vial and looked down at the trembling vampire. With no more unicorn blood in her system she was in bad shape. Ruby tossed her hair back,[+firebrick “I’m not letting that thing bite me. I’ll give her a cup or something once I’m done.”]
Sure enough she was in no hurry to give Stephanie any blood. She had a rather complicated blood tracking spell to prepare, and needed to consult the right book for the ritual. With Mercurial as her master there were plenty of spell books whenever he needed her to do something more complicated. As a unicorn her natural talent and reserves of magical energy made her one of the best at working magic with or for him, which was most likely the reason he tolerated so much from her.
It was almost reflex to point out that Crystal looked tired, but after a conversation with Daggeron, he's been trying his best to avoid word vomiting on people. However, with the conversation that him and the sword had earlier, he began to think that she might be tired for more than just poor sleeping habits. So when she poked his forehead, he just blinked, trying to think of something to say, more so than just responding... However, it took him a moment to fully process what she said to him until he looked down at himself.
[b “Right...”] He eloquently says in response. He lingered for a few moments longer than appropriate, but was quickly shooed away by Crystal so she could get dressed. Felix joined Hilda in the kitchen and they began their portion of the prep work for breakfast. The hunter mostly cut up vegetables or meats, sometimes was allowed to crack eggs, and if they were feeling really generous, he handled the spices. It was quickly found out that he wasn't a very good cook. Burnt meat was his specialty and the taste didn't seem to bother him at all, so they gave him other tasks to do now. When he didn't help with the food process, him and Daggeron often [i corrected] magical grimoires and books thanks to the dragon's vast knowledge and having been around for a long time. Spell books fell victim to generation loss which has led to the loss of a lot of information and powerful spells, but since he had Daggeron, they could fix a lot of them. It was lucky they did that too, because the ritual they performed on Hilda was fixed heavily by the dragon.
[+red “I slept well, thank you.”] Hilda responds softly to Crystal, bowing her head slightly. [+red “Did you sleep better last night?”] And honestly, Felix was happy the two women got along. He was expecting Crystal to either resent or be afraid of the Witch, but he guessed she thought that she was a different person now like he and Daggeron did... And it seemed Felix was the only person in the whole RV who hadn't thought of Crystal's well-being... God, he felt like a heel.
The trio worked pretty well in the kitchen together, especially when Felix got out of the way and didn't try to 'help' more than he was capable of. For the most part, he hovered around the two, bringing them things they asked for and cleaning their limited amount of dishes in preparation. The actual cooking was again left to the others while Felix quietly grumbled in the corner of the kitchen. At this point, instead of standing around, he went and got himself a tank top so he was half-way decent for breakfast. Annoyingly enough, he kept his clothes in the girl's room as well, so sometimes there was a line up to get ready for the day, especially since they also all shared a bathroom.
He came back out with a shirt on and to see if the two needed anymore help, when a voice cut through the routine quiet. Hilda jumped at the voice, causing her to drop a spice shaker, but Felix caught it before it hit the ground. And just as quick as his reflexes, he was already out of the RV, swiping his training staff from the side and moving to confront the black haired stranger.
[+blue “Felix, wait!”] The sword came whirling through the air and sticks itself between Felix and the stranger. [+blue “He's a unicorn.”]
[b “This [i chump] is a unicorn?”] Felix asks rhetorically, turning his head to look back at the RV. [b “Do you know this guy, Crystal? Or do I have to remove him?”] He turns back to face off with the male unicorn, deftly spinning the staff in his hands as if to make a point. [b “What do you want, [i chump]?”]
Before Falken even knocked, the unicorn had opened the door and was as... [i troublesome] as ever. Falken believed her to be quite high maintenance, and if she didn't serve their master in the way that she did, he might have killed her already. Or at least Falken might have.
He holds his hand up as if it would pacify the erratic unicorn. [+silver “Calm yourself, Ruby. All will be answered.”] He tells her and motions for her to follow the two, as if she had a choice. They were halfway down the hall and going towards the alchemy lab before Falken began speaking again. [+silver “I require your services in tracking down one of your kin. She is in association with the hunter who had tried to assassinate our master some weeks ago, and they are now in possession of Hilda, having broken the spell over her.”] He pauses for a moment, opening the door to the lab and ushering the two in, shutting the two large oak doors behind them.
The room was large, made of smoothed cobble stone, all of its walls dominated by either vast bookshelves or magical working stations. In the centre of the room was a larger working station, with a strong wooden table surrounded by different scientific and magical baubles. Falken was created on a table very similar to this one long ago.
[+silver “This hunter is in possession of the Blade of Whispers, and we are tasked with retrieving it as well as killing the hunter and his friends. What I require of you is a glamour, as you are no doubt aware of the fact I cannot be seen like [i this] in public. Second, I need you to use what is left of the Unicorn blood in Stephanie to help us track them down. Once we're close enough, I will be able to smell them.”]
Stephanie takes a second to react, but quickly looks between the two and takes a step back. “Hey, I didn't agree to have the blood ripped out of me! Stay the f-” Falken's hand fastens around the woman's throat like a vice grip and he lifts her off the ground. She struggles, but even if she was still fully powered by the Unicorn blood she would be no match for Falken.
[+silver “We are running out of time and the blood is nearly gone because of your healing factor. You'll have more blood once we're done, but for the moment?”] He slams her on to the table, still holding her throat and one of her arms with his opposing hand. [+silver “I would recommend you don't resist. Ruby likes it when they put up a fight.”] He tells her and then looks to Ruby, nodding his canine head at her. [+silver “Do what you need to do and nothing more.”]
Boredom tormented Ruby when there were no tasks to do and Mercurial wasn’t willing to entertain her somehow. That was today, since she had no one to pester or torment, and she’d recently enough been painfully reminded not to pester Mercurial past his patience that she didn’t want to go bother him again. She could feel him coming before he got there. He had her ring, and he [i wasn’t] the master. Curious, it meant Mercurial wasn’t planning to use her directly, which she guessed meant going out. Out meant something more exciting than staying around trying to find ways to entertain herself until Mercurial felt like giving her something, or someone.
She opened the door before Falken could even knock, a knife she’d been playing with still in her hand. She had slightly wild eyes, only part of that was due to the magically altered color of red, which was the same shade she changed her hair to. [+firebrick “He gave the ring to [i you]. Please tell me we get to kill someone. It’s not her, is it? That would be unbelievably boring. Wait...”]
The madness hadn’t robbed Ruby of her senses or her wits, even though her personality had drastically changed since Mercurial forced her into her first kill. She looked over Stephanie the vampire with open predatory curiosity,[+firebrick “That’s not my blood she’s had. Another unicorn? This is interesting. Do explain. What does the master want of me?”]
She had to ask, because unless it concerned her or one of her interests she cared very little for keeping up with whatever was going on with Mercurial’s plans. The idea of another unicorn to either kill or drive mad had piqued her interest in whatever was going on now. She hadn’t seen another of her own kind since before she’d fallen to the madness.
[center [b ~*~*~]]
After removing the geas and hurrying out of there as fast as they could considering she could barely stand she remembered asking in a daze if things were always like this. She hadn’t believed Daggeron when he’d reassured her it wasn’t always this crazy until they got through a day or two with nothing wild happening.
After recovering a little, and trying to heal Felix before it was really wise to do so and nearly fainting, Crystal was able to start thinking more about what to do next. After sleeping with the three of them plus Daggeron in the van it was easy to figure out what needed to happen first. They needed more space, and she wanted a bed badly. This was going to be her entire foreseeable future, and it needed to include things like a bed and a kitchen. She was surprised at how resistant Felix was to the idea at first. It seemed so obvious to her that they needed more than just a van. It might have been fine with just Felix, but even if it was just her traveling with them they were going to need at least a little more space. Plus Hilda wasn’t going anywhere for at least a little while. The van was too cramped, and hotels were not going to be an every night thing.
When he’d brought up money she’d almost laughed, and reminded him that she made silver when she accidentally bled on the wrong things. She was sure they would manage something if that was the problem. And it worked, they had an RV, Crystal had a bed, and she’d even been able to make the RV feel more like a home. There were little potted plants at the window in the little kitchen area that Crystal delighted in taking care of. When she got them they had been the saddest plants in the store, not taken care of well and had clearly been there a while. Within a day she had them looking vibrant and growing bigger, you couldn’t tell they’d been on the verge of being thrown out hours ago.
Taking care of the RV and pestering Daggeron to help her find magical solutions for things like hot water, electricity, and waste let her keep busy and distracted during the day. That and lessons with Felix. She wasn’t much of a fighter, it was pretty obvious to all of them. She just couldn’t keep up with Felix, and she really wasn’t that interested since she was too worried about killing anyone in a real fight. Magic wasn’t going any better, it was painful and exhausting. She was too tense to just let him use her magic, and he really didn’t seem to get it despite Daggeron’s attempts at advice. The dance lessons though, those she enjoyed. Felix seemed as good at dancing as he was at fighting, but Crystal picked it up better. He said it had something to do with helping her fight. She wasn’t sure about that, but she didn’t complain or suggest stopping. Neither did she get around to asking why there was one dance he’d only attempted once, or mentioned the feeling in her stomach during the brief dance.
It was at night when she was alone with her thoughts that Crystal had a hard time. She’d think about what this all meant, wonder and worry about what Felix would do with her, or try to reason that it might be fine. It was harder to forget what she was leaving behind alone at night, especially when she woke up from some unpleasant dream. The dreams often involved the vampires, though sometimes it was Mercurial, faceless and terrifying. She cried most nights while trying to keep quiet enough to not wake the others. There were things she realized she wanted but couldn’t have now. Crystal wanted to try and forget about them. There wasn’t really any going back. Even if Felix offered, and she had wondered if he might. He’d given her a choice once to go forward or turn back. She believed he meant it, and she’d chosen to continue forward. She would do that still even now that she had time to think and cry over the cost.
Crystal rolled over to look at Felix when he poked his head in. She was still a little sleepy from not sleeping well, but had been awake already and not quite able to fall back asleep. Her hair was a mess and her horn was, as usual, perfectly concealed. The only times it generally showed were sometimes during their attempts at magic together and at night when crying, but no one else saw that. [#c4519e “Mm?”]
She put her hand over her forehead, a frequent thing for her now. There was this sort of weight there from the ring. It was more than the physical presence, that was as well hidden as her horn itself. How much of this did he feel? She kept wondering if he felt it half as much as she did. The weight of it, the pull of it. She was staring at him again, like she sometimes did when thinking about the rings. Her mind wandering over all the old stories about them. She realized she was doing it again, and again there was that feeling in the pit of her stomach. Embarrassment? Maybe that was all it was, she tended to feel that when she caught herself staring at him and thinking about silly old stories. Or the dance. She got up out of bed, her pink pajamas with a unicorn on the front on full display. She’d gotten them as a joke, and no one else got it at the time. Now everyone here got the joke because she packed them and actually wore them.
[#c4519e “Right, I’m up. And about to get dressed.”] Crystal didn’t have far to go to get to the door and poke Felix’s forehead. Something else she liked to do to tease the hunter, it was an affectionate gesture. He wasn’t wearing his shirt again, she noticed. Another thing that tended to make her stare at him, particularly the scars. Humans scared so much more than unicorns did, but even so he had a lot more than was typical,[#c4519e “I’ll be out in a minute to help. Maybe we can eat outside, the weather is nice, right? And you should get dressed too.”]
After shooing him out Crystal got dressed and brushed her hair quickly, then emerged into the main part of the RV to help get breakfast ready. The kitchen area was pretty small, but they made it work by dividing up tasks so they weren’t all trying to be in the same place at the same time. Crystal wasn’t nervous around Hilda anymore. In fact, now she practically fussed over her, making sure she ate and was generally as comfortable as Crystal could manage for all of them. Even if Hilda didn’t talk much. [#c4519e “Good morning. Did you sleep alright?”]
She didn’t want her poor sleep to bother Hilda. They did share a room, so it was something she worried about. She asked every morning just to be sure. For her part Crystal was leaning toward agreeing with Daggeron that Hilda should be taken somewhere safe for now. They [i knew] Mercurial still didn’t know about the location of the Church of Destiny yet, so it would be as safe as they could keep her. And they were actively hunting leads on Mercurial. At the same time Crystal wanted Hilda around long enough to be absolutely sure she was alright after removing the geas.
While they were getting breakfast together someone else was approaching their camping spot. He had finally found it. He’d been tracking them ever since finding out Crystal was missing. They weren’t that hard to follow, at least to a point. After that he’d had to get a little more resourceful, but here he was. He wasn’t trying very hard to sneak up on the RV, not that he’d have been very good at it with his bag and in such a hurry to get there. He had a duffle bag slung over one shoulder. His nearly black hair was a bit of a mess at the moment, he hadn’t taken much time to brush or groom with his goal so close now.
Once he was close enough he was sure they would hear him he swallowed any nervousness and called out,[+goldenrod “Crystal? Are you alright? Can you hear me?”]
The dragon and unicorn faded, but Felix still couldn't exactly see what was going on. The magical circle was like a thirty foot tornado of light now, ripping up the ground around it with immense power. [i 'What the Hell have I gotten her in to?'] Felix asks himself, and as he does, the light fluctuates and suddenly bursts like a sparkling bubble. The darkness came back all at once, only the moonlight illuminating the area, but Felix didn't have that much time to think about his surroundings.
As Crystal plummeted to ground, Felix bursts towards her landing zone. [b “I got you!”] He shouts and she lands in to his arms, but when she does, the force of her on his magically exhausted muscles brought the two of them down to the ground, Crystal laying on top of the Hunter as he groaned, slightly dazed from the impact. It takes him a second to realize Crystal was laying on top of him and he does his best to gently and politely untangle themselves from each other. He gets to his feet first and holds out his hand to help the Unicorn up, taking notice that her horn was showing. [b “Are you alright, Crystal?”] Felix asks. [b “Wheres Daggeron?”] And when he asks that question, he begins looking around frantically... But it turns out he wouldn't have to look very hard.
Where the magical circle was, it seemed to have ripped a hole in the ground and was now full of crystal clear water that almost looked like it was glowed slightly. Surrounding it were flowers that weren't there before, and the animals from earlier came back, drinking from their new watering hole. In the centre of the small pond and floating weightlessly in the water was Hilda, and just on the bank in front of her was Daggeron, his tip lodged in to the ground akin to Arthurian legend.
[+blue “Everyone is accounted for, Felix.”] His voice sounded echo-y and slightly faint, which meant he used quite a bit of power during that ordeal, and hopefully none of his life force. [+blue “Would you mind helping me up as well? I think we need to grab Hilda and make a hasty exit. We just created a big'ol magical hotspot that a novice could see from a mile away.”]
Felix nods, making sure Crystal wasn't any worse for ware before grabbing Daggeron and putting him on his back. He then steps down in to the watering hole, the water coming up to Felix's waist, surprising him with the depth, but at the same time soothing the wounds to his lower body. He wades through the water, the animal surrounding it not stirring as he reaches Hilda. Her eyes were still closed and she looked like she was in a deep comfortable sleep. Felix almost didn't want to move her, but then the rational part of his mind kicked in and he picked her up and carries her out of the glowing pool. She stirred slightly, making a noise, but didn't fully come to or move. It was honestly hard to think that she was their enemy not very long ago.
[b “Okay, people, lets get to the van and get out of here... We still have a lot of work to do.”]
[+blue “Always the motivator, eh, Felix?”] And with that, they head back towards the van. Yet, as they did, they were unaware of the mortally wounded vampire watching the group from the shadows, quietly swearing vengeance to herself. They had Hilda and they were still alive, but they only had very limited options on where to run, and armed with the direction they were headed in, the vampire would make it even more limited...
The throne room was grand, tapestries from different era's conquering the walls and hanging from the ceilings, several large diamond chandeliers hovering below the ceiling like glowing clouds, and right at the back atop a set of stone stairs caressed by immaculate carpets sat a stone throne, shaped by magic and carved with magical sigils. And on that throne sat a man, and despite the lighting, the top of his face seemed to be enveloped with shadow, even as he leaned forward to look at the bottom of the stairs.
[+purple “This information is most troubling, Stephanie.”] The Dark Sorcerer Mercurial says to the vampire. She had survived her journey back to one of Mercurial's temporary residences, but surviving her failure was another matter. But still she knelt at the bottom of the stone steps, her wounds slowly stitching themselves back together. [+purple “You have failed in your mission to kill the Hunter and retrieve or execute Hilda. And what's worse, is you let them break the spell over my former apprentice; someone armed with dangerous information in regards to my mission.”] His grip tightens on the throne's arm rests and the shadows around the area seems to grow darker, the light from the many candles and torches dimming as the sense of dread and fear thickens like smoke in the chambers. [+purple “I knew I should have sent someone who was [i actually capable] rather than the three of you. Perhaps it was my mistake to have thought you and your siblings were adequate enough to handle more than the menial tasks I have given you in the past.”]
Stephanie gawks a little at that. Menial tasks? Adequate? Were her and her siblings nothing more than rabble to Mercurial? They had served him loyally! How dare he tell her that they were nothing. Her brother and sister died for him! And yet, Mercurial sat on his throne, looking down upon her in all senses of the word. This was an opportunity to prove themselves and they failed, her brother and sister dying for nothing.
There was a sudden [i snap!] of Mercurial's fingers and from the shadows surrounding the throne, warriors made of the same shadow bled out, weapons in hand. Mercurial holds his hand out towards Stephanie at the bottom of the stairs. [+purple “Rid me of this waste.”] He says, and the shadow warriors begin jump with inhuman speed towards Stephanie, the wounded and starved vampire's only reaction being to shut her eyes... But after a moment, she realized she wasn't dead, and opened her eyes to see a figure in front of her, his back turned. He was clad in dark armour, wide with muscle, and a strange sword upon his waist. The other was in his hand, and had blocked the two shadow warriors from killing her.
With a small swipe, he sends the warriors a few feet back, sheathing his sword on his other hip and then bows his head toward the elevated throne. [+silver “Forgive me, Master, but I believe we still might have some use of this one.”] His voice was deep and had the qualities of baritone with a subtle growl. She didn't recognize his voice or his form.
[+purple “Speak, Falken. I do not like having my time wasted.”] And with a gesture, the shadow warriors dissipate back in to shadows nearby.
Turning towards Stephanie, she could finally fully see this 'Falken'. This... [i creature] had a tall and strong human body, clad in magical dark armour, but what surprised her when he turned to look at her was his head. It was that of a wolf, only partially covered by a helmet shaped to his canine head. [+silver “It might be running out of her system, but coursing through her veins is the blood of this unicorn. I can smell it and the magic. With her information on the direction of our adversaries, coupled with some magical assistance, we can track them down.”] He says and then turns to look back up at the throne. [+silver “Send me, and I will make sure this 'Team Felix' is sent to the Afterlife in a hurry.”]
And the dark sorcerer leans back in the throne a little, the only thing fully displayed being his steepled fingers. It seems he was thinking about what Falken was saying for a moment, but he could sense his master's resistance. [+purple “I have lost Resh, and now Hilda, an important asset of mine, and I'm not in a hurry to lose another.”]
[+silver “I am insulted that you think this common hunter would be a challenge for me, master.”]
The dark lord chuckles at that. [+purple “I meant no offence, Falken. They have the power of a Unicorn and of a Dragon. I had believed the Blade of Whispers to be a simple construct, but apparently it does in fact posses the soul of a dragon, and one with enough knowledge to break one of [i my] spells. And their Unicorn ally was strong enough to survive it. Because of this, I have lost my Shield, and you are my Sword.”]
[+silver “You have had many 'Shields' over the years, master, and none are standing. Hilda was not any more special than your other apprentices. They have never possessed what you have; not enough to survive your vision at the very least. You are correct, I am your Sword, and perhaps it is time for you to see that when your sword is mighty enough you don't need a shield.”]
Mercurial seems to chew on that for a moment before responding. [+purple “You haven't failed me before, Falken, and I suspect you will not fail me now... Go then. I need the Dragon Sword in my possession now that I know what it truly is. If you can, bring me the Unicorn as well, she will help speed up my plans. We are finally close to the horizon and I now realize it is critical for me to have that sword. It could be the key to all of this.”]
There was a small moment of silence after that, making the throne room feel almost suffocating. [+silver “And the boy?”]
Despite not seeing it, they could feel Mercurial smirk to himself. [+purple “Bring me his head.”] And Falken nods before turning around and grabbing Stephanie's bicep, pulling her to her feet to come with him. They were just about to exit the chambers when, [+purple “And Falken.”] He turns his head in time to catch a ring that had been flicked at him. [+purple “Retrieve Ruby from her quarters, she can help you with the magical tracking.”]
Falken nods his head in deference. [+silver “As you will it, my master.”] And the two depart to finish
[h3 A week later...]
The sun was finally beginning to rise, starting to crest the trees surrounding the clearing they were in, but Felix had been up for over an hour now. It was a routine he had gotten in to while he was still with Shepard, and despite his old mentor being dead, he still liked his routine. Its what kept him sane... Well, so did Daggeron.
[+blue “She hasn't been sleeping much, and- deeper stances, Felix! And I'm pretty sure I heard her crying a few times.”] With a spin, and low punch, Felix aerials, lands, and double crescent kicks over Daggeron's head. [+blue “Now I know you can get more air than that, boy.”]
[b “Do you ever shut up?”] Felix, irritably, going down in to a sweep kick, before coming back up for a series of punches, before finishing in to a low back stance, arms extended in both directions. He wasn't wearing his shirt, and at this point he was sweating, going top down through the empty-hand forms he knew before moving on to weapons forms. It was probably like, thirteen or fourteen at this point? So Felix figured he had a bit before the girls woke up. He liked to have this time to himself anyways. They had a lot of down time now, only looking in to two other potential Mercurial strongholds to find them completely empty. Kind of a let down, but considering the conversation Felix and Daggeron were having, maybe the downtime was needed.
Felix stands back up, stretching a little bit. [+blue “You're telling me you haven't noticed Crystal's behaviour? We all live in an RV, how can you not notice?”] And Felix sours at that. Over the course of the week, Felix had let Crystal guilt him in to getting an RV for more livable conditions and space. They almost got in to a screaming match about it, but Felix caved first, and after clearing every pawnshop within ten miles of them with Unicorn power silver, they had themselves an RV, and Crystal even got to go on a little bit of a shopping spree... And that's what didn't really make sense to him. Didn't she have everything she needed? ... That was a good point.
Felix walks over to the RV, a small assortment of training weapons were leaning against the vehicle. He picks up a staff and begins another form. [b “Doesn't she have everything she needs? Why wouldn't she be happy?”] And Daggeron groans at that.
[+blue “You're so hopeless when it comes to people and emotions. I'll give Shepard credit where credits due; he made you in to a remarkable weapon- go two moves back, full rotation this time. Don't cut corners for speed, you're sacrificing technique... Shepard made you in to a remarkable weapon, Felix, but not much else. He did all the talking, and now that he's gone, he's left you socially crippled.”]
[b “I thought you were a dragon, not a therapist.”] Low swing, high crane stance, spin the staff on both sides, and bring it down. [b “Are you hourly?”]
[+blue “God, you can be just like [i him], its so damned infuriating sometimes. Like I said Felix, you were moulded in to a weapon. Crystal was not. I can't expect you to understand the difference, but you need to at least check in on her.”] A low swing, double crescent kick in to a high swing, finishing with a high block in crane stance. [+blue “The two of you share a special bond, and that is something you need to understand. You know why you're garbage at magic right now? Its because of how unperceptive to the person you literally have [i magic] with.”]
And Felix just groans at that, rolling his eyes. It was true; its been a week and he's had no more luck with magic than when they had first tried. They were hoping Hilda could provide some help, but after getting pulled apart by Crystal and the geas, she mostly just ate and slept through the week, barely exchanging a few words with any of them... And Felix trying to train Crystal in combat wasn't bearing any fruit either, especially since he had to limit the lessons to non-lethal. Felix tried having her train with a staff with minimum success, but it was hard to remember she wasn't Kung Fu maniac like him. For the time being and to keep things slow and steady, he was trying to build her core strength and loosen her hips, so he was mostly teaching her how to Salsa dance and some Tango-ing for the time being. And if they could save the world by entering a partners dance competition, they may have a shot, but that unfortunately wasn't the reality of the situation. And he thought about it for a moment and flushed. He also tried to teach her how to Merengue, but he felt... [i off] doing that with her and he never made them do it again afterwards.
It took him a moment to come back to the present moment, and locked and loaded with a rebuttal to boot, but the door to the RV opened, and Felix quickly stowed it. The two of them swivel and face the RV to see their blonde Witch peaking her head out of the door. She was wearing ill-fitting pajamas, her hair was tied in to the messy pony-tail it was usually in, and she looked super tired. It was hard to believe they were fighting her a week ago. As Hilda Cromwell, one of Mercurial's most powerful lieutenants, she was so arrogant and cruel, but now like this, she seemed so shy and meek, and when she saw Felix standing outside with his shirt off, she blushed and almost bobbed back in to the RV.
[+red “Do... Do we have anymore tea?”] She asks and Felix and Daggeron look between each other. It was still a huge adjustment to [i this] Hilda. They still didn't really know what to do with her to be quite honest, and opinions were a little divided, especially between the sword and the hunter. Felix wanted to keep her around, thinking she was an asset, and Daggeron wanted to bring her to the Church of Destiny where they could keep her until she remembered something of use to them. For the most part, they bickered amongst themselves about it, but it seemed like for the most part she was pretty content with staying with them, even if she was mostly silent when they all had meals together.
[b “I think one more Fae bulb if you want to make some for all of us.”] Her eyebrow raised at that.
[+red “Remind me how you got Fae tea again.”]
Despite that being his little secret, Felix was happy the two of them were exchanging more than two words to each other. [b “I won a bet with a Seelie Princess when I was seventeen. I used to have like, three full tins of the stuff.”]
And Hilda laughed a little bit, and it was a pleasant surprise to hear. [+red “You must've been a crafty teenager then to have outwit a fairy, and a princess to boot. What did you bet?”]
It rolled off the tongue a lot easier than it should have. [b “My virginity.”] And his mouth smooths in to the thinnest line it possibly could the second it left his mouth. Hilda giggled quietly to herself to try and save some of the hunter's dignity, but Daggeron howled like he's never heard the story before, let alone being present for it. Felix's cheeks flush red and he quickly looks off in to the treeline. [b “I, umm... I should probably wake up Crystal and we can all have breakfast together.”] So he heads in to the RV, turning towards the small bedroom at the back. But before he could make it too far, he feels a delicate hand touch his shoulder, and he turns to face Hilda who was avoiding eye contact.
[+red “I know I can't remember anything, let alone my [i real] name, but I didn't forget my manners. I could never find the words to express to you how thankful I am for freeing me, and I want you to know I'm happy to help you in any way I can.”] She tells him and finally looks up at him. Suddenly the RV began to feel [i way] smaller than it normally did, and... it felt kind of like when he did the Merengue with Crystal.
Coughing and taking a step back in to the kitchen cabinets, Felix nods. [b “Don't worry about it. Why don't you go boil some water and I'll go wake up Crystal.”] And so the hunter does just that, swivelling on his heel and marching to the bedroom. The RV was pretty big, and luckily enough there were two beds installed in the walls in the bedroom. Despite this, Felix opted for the couch and let the two women share the room.
[b “Crystal.”] Felix says through the door that was ajar. [b “Are you awake? Are you decent?”] And despite the last question he stuck his head in to the room to see if she was wake. [b “We're going to start breakfast soon.”]
The vampire hit the ground after Felix kicked her, and took a little to get to her feet. Not only was she in pain, she was still in awe of the magic going on. So [i that] was the kind of thing a unicorn was capable of. And there was a dragon too. This hunter had some serious magic, and her master needed to be warned. She got out of there like Felix told her to, though there was less running and more stumbling.
She didn’t make it too far before deciding it was far enough to hide and recover a little. Even though he hadn’t killed her, he left her in bad enough shape she wasn’t getting far in a hurry. She wasn’t going to take any chances going back alone, not after what she’d seen and what he’d done to her. She was only alive because he wanted her to send a message. The other two hadn’t fared so well. She’d make sure he payed for that, but to do that she’d need to not rush in and get herself killed too. Surely the master would help her avenge her brother and sister.
The geas was definitely fighting them like it had a mind of its own. It was taking a lot more energy to hold it back from attacking Hilda. It seemed Mercurial put this thing here to not just control her, but to make sure that it destroyed her before letting her go if anyone got this far. Crystal tried to work faster, while still being gentle with the parts that were Hilda. It was quickly draining her, but Crystal [i did] have a rather impressive reserve of magical energy.
Crystal couldn’t focus on anything happening outside the tangled geas. She didn’t even know what was going on with Daggeron except what he was saying. It took her a few seconds to see what he was trying to tell her. Yes, that was what this thing was holding on so tightly to. If she could get it untangled there, then the rest should come away.
The thing was the geas seemed to [i know] that they knew. [#c4519e “No no no no, you can’t have her.”]
She was so focused on doing what she could to pry the dark silvery strands back that she only registered what Daggeron said when the feeling hit her, which was probably for the best. She didn’t have time to tense up before it felt like the air was pulled out of her. It wasn’t air though, it was magic. Spots danced in her vision and she had to remember to breathe. Breathe and keep working. Her nose had started bleeding, though she didn’t notice at first. Her head was swimming and it was hard to focus. She felt like she was moving through water. She just had to get this thing untangled before it destroyed Hilda’s mind.
Or killed her. The geas seemed to be aware it was almost finished. Crystal pulled the strands back, revealing more of the larger piece that was all Hilda. It was all bunched up, wrapped in the geas. More strands lashed out at her the deeper she got, gripping anywhere they could. She was starting to get tangled in it, like it was trying to pull her in. When one wrapped around her neck she froze for a moment. Daggeron seemed to be doing a good job of holding it back off her, because it didn’t squeeze hard. It still left her a little shaken.
Crystal finally pulled it free from Hilda, and Hilda shuddered when it came loose. Crystal didn’t notice that, because as soon as it was detached from Hilda the geas focused everything it had left on lashing out at her and Daggeron. Crystal yelled in surprise at the sudden viciousness of the geas as it thrashed wildly and lifted her up into the air. It was squeezing, trying to break her or choke her. She couldn’t breath, one of the chains had wound around her neck again and this time it didn’t stop. Then realized she didn’t need to be so careful now careful. It wasn’t tangled up in Hilda anymore. She started burning away what was left of the geas with golden light, which spread all along the remaining strands and dissolved like so much glitter. She could breathe, the geas was gone. Then she fell, the chains of the geas no longer there to keep her up.
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