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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.
After the entrance of the silver nitrate, the playing field was a little more equal for Felix. The vampire's eyes burned and they would have to take extra time to breathe, giving Felix enough opportunity to strike and create openings. Throughout the fight he was able to hit them a few time like they did him, but their burning silver wounds were superficial... Well, so were his, but their magic was draining him of his energy. A nifty trick, and perhaps something he'd have to look in to and find a way to counter it. Vampires were his specialty and these three had been alive a lot longer than he would've liked them to have been.
[b “You guys talk an awful lot.”] Felix points out as he gets put on the defence again with the two vampires, the third no doubt going in for an aerial attack. He grimaces, but doesn't let up, pushing the two back as his defensive strategy becomes a little more offensive, the male retreating some as he comes face to face with vampire who hurt Crystal. The two trade blows with their swords, as he tries his best to watch the other vampires in the background, and he notices something in the male vampires hand but was too preoccupied with fighting the unicorn powered vampire to really do anything about it. He was also more worried about the vampire that just went airborne too.
Felix slides in closer, slipping an elbow over top of both of their guards, slicing in to the vampires shoulder with his vambrace's silver fin blades. With a screech, his adversary reels back and slams a fist that just caught Felix in the face and sent him backwards as well. He loses his footing and falls flat on his ass, and when he does, the blade of the other female vampire embeds itself in the ground between his legs. And the breath it would have taken to react, the vampire was suddenly entangled in a net and on the ground motionless. The hunter didn't waste any times asking questions, folding backwards in to a backhand spring and getting to his feet, his off hand reaching on to his back and retrieving the modified shotgun. Without looking, he puts the pre-loaded silver stake through the netted vampire's chest.
“I'm going to kill you for that!” The male vampire shouts, and other female hisses at him, and just when the fight was going to resume, the area got suddenly brighter. Felix's eyes widen and he looks over to where Crystal and Daggeron were, the energy around the circle intensifying. And he could [i feel] it!
[+blue “Keep your focus, Crystal! We're almost there!”] And at this point, many of the silver strands were wrapped around the sword, trying to pull him in to the centre to disrupt the ritual, but he was hanging on. As Crystal literally worked her magic, he had been doing his best to disarm the Mercurial knots, [i cutting] the strands off so they would detach and disintegrate in to the whirlpool of magic. He managed most of them, but they were delicate, and within his current form, there was a limit to hold delicate he could be.
So as Crystal freed up untangled Hilda from the geas, it constricted, and required more magical output from the both of them to keep it from destroying her mind. As a result, the circle's glow grew, more animals had shown up, and the ground beneath them instead of becoming more fertile and growing vegetation, it began to tear up.
When the threads were untied, they descended below the magic current, turning in to sparkling water, the Mercurial threads being purified by Crystal and Daggeron's power. And once enough were removed. [+blue “There!”] Daggeron says. It was almost impossible to see if there was any part of Hilda in there, the one knot they didn't want to unravel, Hilda's knot, was encased in a bunch of Mercurial strands like a fly in a spider web. He had just barely noticed a faint throbbing glow like a heart beneath the surface of the threads. [+blue “Focus your attention on that. That's what it was trying to keep us from.”] And it seems with that, the webs tried to constrict again, a contingency plan in case something as unlikely as this happened. It tightened and Hilda's chest heaved when it did, her breathing becoming more rapid and shallow.
[i 'That is not good...'] The dragon thinks to himself. This might require more drastic action than he had anticipated... And there was a lot of drastic actions going on around here. [+blue “Crystal, do not be frightened, but I need to borrow your energy.”] And before she could give him permission or protest, the energy in the circle increased almost ten fold. Their energies, their very lives were connected in this ritual, and when Daggeron used his and then pulled more from Crystal, the light from the circle increased, shooting almost above the tree lines in a pillar of light in the form of a blue dragon and a rainbow unicorn.
And it was probably one of the most beautiful and powerful things Felix had seen. And considering the shocked faces of the vampire's, it probably was for them as well. But he was quicker to react, doing an aerial over to the two vampires, and slashing. The male vampire was a little too slow on the draw and instead of blocking Felix's attack with his sword, the hunter lopped his hand off.
“My ring!” The male shouts, looking down at his severed hand and then up at the magic light show. The light grows more intense with pulsating energy, and with an echoing screech, the vampire disintegrates as if he was standing in front of the afternoon sun.
A wordless scream comes from the female vampire, but its quickly snuffed out when Felix slams his sword down in to her. It cuts through her collarbone and stops just above her heart. He twists the weapon and violently yanks it out of the vampire, bringing her down to one knee. If she hadn't been powered by Crystal's unicorn blood, the silver sword would have killed her instead of leaving angry red hot wounds. But with that in mind, Felix places the tip of his blade under her chin and raises her eyes so she could look at him.
[b “Run back to your master and tell him we're coming for him.”] Felix tells her, his words dripping with venom. [b “And once you do, you better slither back in to whatever hole your crawled out of, because I'm coming after your next!”] And to punctuate it, he gives her a shallow slash across the cheek and a kick in the chest, sending her flying back thanks to his magic boots. [b “Run!”]
Relaxing was easier said than done. It took effort to actually stay relaxed. And remember to keep breathing steadily. At least Daggeron was taking care of defense, though Crystal was still a little shaken after the geas attacked her. She took a breath and steadied herself before she continued working at untangling the geas. It was such a tangled up mess, she struggled to find the ends where it would be easiest to work strands free.
Even with Daggeron trying to keep it from attacking her after a little bit it lashed out again. When it did, she froze and waited for Daggeron to take care of it. This was going to take a lot out of her. [#c4519e “Thanks.”]
She wasn’t feeling very chatty, but she was grateful for Daggeron’s help. Crystal doubted she could have done this entirely alone, especially given how aggressive to geas was. The more she managed to untangle the more often it was lashing out even with Daggeron trying to prevent it. If it wasn’t for his help she was pretty sure it would have overwhelmed her a while ago.
It was also a good thing Crystal had a delicate touch and a lot of patience. If she didn’t she’d have gotten frustrated quickly because there really were a lot of knots. Places where the strands of the geas were tangled around Hilda and itself, or worked so tight it took a while to tease the strands loose enough to actually slip them out and get them untangled. It was almost like the geas didn’t want to let go, which actually wouldn’t have surprised Crystal. It seemed to almost have a mind of its own, or it felt that way given how it was attacking her whenever it got a chance.
She could feel a tug and knew whenever Felix was hurt, which was also distracting, though the tugs were all small. He wasn’t hurt badly, which was a relief even though she had to keep pausing to take a breath. She didn’t give in to the temptation to look up and see how he was doing. She knew he wasn’t seriously hurt. She could hear him fighting still. Crystal just had to trust that he’d be able to handle the vampires.
The vampires were feeling pretty confident until they were breathing the silver nitrate. Not only did it make the fight harder on them suddenly, it pissed them off. The one that had a taste for unicorn blood lost her temper the fastest. She launched a reckless attack, backed up by the other two to protect her, while their throats burned and their eyes watered. “I’ll make… you watch. We’ll kill… the witch… and drink that… unicorn’s… blood.”
She kept having to pause to breathe. The silver was giving her a hard time, but the vampires were still stronger and faster than a human. The other woman retreated away from the cloud of choking, burning silver. It gave her a slight break, but she was planning on giving Felix another strike from above. He was handling the blows from above with mixed success, at least as far as she could tell. She took a few extra seconds to catch her breath before launching herself up and coming down at Felix,”You might not be a sitting duck, but that unicorn will be once we’re done with you.”
The man joined in with the taunting. “The master… likes unicorns. He’ll… be pleased when… we bring her to… him.” He had another trick up his sleeve, which he pulled out of his pocket to use against Felix. It was a black sphere that fit comfortably in his hand. When he threw it, it would expand into a net, a magical one that would tighten around whoever was caught in it. The man just needed to wait for his opportunity to use it, then their fight could be over.
When he thought he saw his chance he threw it, but at the last moment one of the others was in the way. It was too late, and the net closed around the female vampire. It tightened until she couldn’t stand anymore and fell to the ground, useless and helpless. The look on the male vampire’s face was disbelief. This [i was not] how this fight was supposed to go.
They were working better together this time, fighting him in a triangle formation, and if Felix wasn't blocking a blade, he was parrying one, and if he wasn't parrying one, he was dodging one. Fortunately for him, he was wearing his armour so the only target they really had were his biceps, quads, and face; the most easily defended parts of the body. But that didn't stop them from trying, and every blow he felt on his back or his vambraces were bone rattling from the supernatural strength of the vampires. They had him on the defensive, but he was a slippery target.
Felix blocked a blade in front of him, and pivots, crossing up two of the dark blades on his silver one when his speed was commented on. He smirks and breaks the line, moving again and taking a swipe at one of the vampires, narrowly missing. [b “I'm not [i just] fast.”] He says, now only fighting two as the third backs away. The fight became more manageable, but she was up to something. And soon she literally sprang her plan in to action.
When she came down, Felix dodged it, but barely, taking a slash on the shoulder from one of the vampires. And when he did, he felt some of his strength fade... [i 'Oh great. Magic.'] He thought as he narrowly avoided another attack from above.
[b “Clearly you guys are used to taking out sitting ducks.”] He says during the momentary respite, the aerial vampire gave him. When she came down again, Felix's off-hand came up and her sword and feet glanced off an glowing oval magic shield. He uses her momentum, twisting, and flings her in to one of her vampire friends, quickly turning on to his single opponent, dancing around them with a mad fervour, putting them on the defence, and lining them up exactly how he wanted. With a block, Felix throws and wide roundhous kick, sending the vampire off to the side, but he quickly recovers. However, now all three vampires were in front of him.
He brings his blade up to bear, it feeling heavier than it used to, and suddenly more aware of nicks and cuts on his biceps and quads. They were wearing him down for sure, but he still had tricks of his own. [b “I'm no sitting duck.”] And with his shielded off-hand, he swings down, a small back ball bursting upon impact with the ground, the area suddenly engulfed in a puff of smoke. But it wasn't just any smoke; from the light of the magic circle, it sparkled like the moon, and the vampires would suddenly have a hard time breathing, their eyes clouding, and their skin beginning to irritate and burn. [b “Silver nitrate grenade. And there's plenty more where that came from!”] And Felix jumps in again, attacking but defending through the silver cloud.
And while Felix continues to fight the vampires, Daggeron observes and instructs Crystal through the ritual. So far he remained mostly silent so he didn't break her concentration, but would add in his own power where necessary to keep a steady balance in all areas. This ritual usually required three to four people, but with Daggeron's knowledge and Crystal's raw power, they could make up for the numbers.
Much like Crystal, Daggeron didn't look to see if Felix was alright fighting against the vampires; he just had to trust in the boy's skills and training. Both him and Shepard had put him through Hell for situations like this, but the old dragon couldn't help but worry and feel a slight compulsion to join Felix in the fight. The Blade of Whispers was best utilized wielded by another, after all.
[+blue “You're doing well, Crystal. Don't forget to breathe and relax those shoulders.”] Daggeron breaks the silence in a less critical moment. He watched as she loosened certain strands of the geas or moved them away as to see which ones belonged to Hilda. They were all very knotted and it was just as delicate as Daggeron remembered... But these were way more knots than he has ever seen before in a ritual like this. Some of the Mercurial strands tangled on [i themselves], and he couldn't pinpoint why.
That was until one of the mysterious knots burst, strands slithering around like tentacles and one shooting out and wrapping around Crystal's wrist. Daggeron quickly looks to the unicorn who remained focused but unsure of what to do. [+blue “Just stay focused. I will handle the defence.”] He tells her, conveniently leaving out that this was the most complicated geas he's seen. And had more 'mines' than a mine field. It was going to take some finesse to get through this without wiping Hilda's mind or driving her insane, but he knew Crystal could do it.
[+blue “Breathe.”] Daggeron says, as more of his blue light envelops the area, cascading down Crystal's hand like warm rain water and touches the strand around her wrist. It touches the silvery strand and it begins to lighten in colour, he death-like grip seizing slightly as Daggeron's light begins to slowly run down the length of the strand towards more of the 'mine knots'. He was attempting to deactivate them so they wouldn't attack Crystal or at least act as a distraction. Like he thought earlier, usually this was a job fr three to four people for this very reason. And that was just on a standard geas. This was something else, he could [i feel] it... How did Mercurial get magic like this? And what was its source? He couldn't get a read on it in a situation like this, but perhaps when Hilda was free, she might know... There was something [i deeper] here than perhaps they had realized.
Crystal hummed thoughtfully. The advice sounded good, but a little foreboding. Anticipate nothing so she’d see it coming. She wasn’t even sure what to look for, but maybe that was for the best. Maybe she’d actually see whatever it was coming.
Crystal hadn’t really seen or worked magic like this before. It was thrilling to see the lights and feel the energy around her, and a little scary too. She could feel Daggeron, like a guiding presence, but it was clear that she was the the one fueling most of this. Once Crystal started she finally really understood what she meant by untangling, there was only so much she could gather from reading. She didn’t stumble over the words, and so far everything seemed to be going smoothly. She gave up on any attempt to hide her horn for the moment. There was no point, and it would take energy away from what she was trying to do.
She could feel Hilda in front of her, and the dark thing wrapped up around her, inside her. The two really were tangled up. If Crystal had to describe it she would have said it was like two long, thin chains like the kind you make jewelry with all jumbled together. She could tell which was which, but couldn’t have picked up one without the other. That was how it looked too, above Hilda floated two strings of light tangled together. It was clear which one was the geas, it was silvery and somehow still dark, with a little lump in one place. Crystal set to work trying to gently pry them apart when she heard the sound of the fighting starting.
She paused a moment and let out a breath. If she heard fighting then Felix was still alive and everything was fine. She couldn’t afford to look over and see how, exactly, he was doing. This needed her attention. She continued to gently pry at the geas, to figure out where she could start to loosen its hold on Hilda. Patience, she could tell already, was going to be the key. She couldn’t be rough or hurried, or she would damage Hilda trying to get the geas loose, they were [i incredibly] entwined together. She didn’t technically [i need], to use her hands, she realized, but it was helping her focus so she kept doing it that way, very gently tugging at the geas. She was mostly figuring it out and testing it to start with, cautious with every movement.
It wasn’t too long before the geas started to defend itself. It let her examine and test a little, but once she started to actually work at loosening it’s hold it lashed out at her. Crystal flinched, a strand of the geas had wrapped around her forearm with enough force that it stung a little, but the real problem was that it was tightening around her arm. She didn’t look away from it, and tried to keep from moving much. She sounded a little freaked out when she asked,[#c4519e “Daggeron?”] She wasn’t even sure what her question was, she just knew she didn’t know what to do about this without hurting Hilda.
Their plan to surprise him fell through, but this time it was three on one. They liked their odds. Even when their attacks didn’t hit. The hunter was prepared, but that was to be expected. They were confident of their superior speed and strength. Each of them wielded a dark sword. One of the things they had gone to retrieve, the swords had an enchantment that drained a bit of energy whenever they drew blood. In their minds all they had to do was wear him down, a nick here, a scratch there, and they’d have him between making him dodge and adding up many smaller wounds. He would be exhausted before long, and easy to kill.
That was if they could hit him, he just wouldn’t stay still. The woman itching for more unicorn blood was frustrated and impatient, though she hadn’t lost any of her confidence,”You’re fast too, but it won’t help.”
She backed up a little, getting some distance while the other two kept up a close up assault on Felix. She got her distance and launched herself into the air to come down on Felix from above again. It would be harder for him to manage all three of them if one of them kept coming down at him like that, he wouldn’t just need to watch his front, back, and sides but over his head too.
The man cut in while he came in for another attack and retreated,”You’ve caused us a bit of embarrassment. We want to make you suffer, but if you give up now we’ll make it clean and painless for you and the witch.” It wasn’t like he expected Felix to take him up on the offer, the vampires were mostly trying to distract him.
Felix nods at Crystal and then goes back to the van, hopping on top of it and sits down, crossing his legs and rests the wold-sword hilt on his thighs. It was very clear he was waiting, and up here gave him a good vantage point for when the vampires arrived... It also gave him the high ground, which could come in handy off the hop.
While Felix waited, Daggeron joins Crystal in the magical circle. When Crystal had first walked in, a swirl of energy like a rainbow slowly twisted around, and once Daggeron entered, more blue became prominent and the swirling became more rapid, almost like wind you could see. This was Unicorn Power and the Dragon Force working in unison. It was probably good that right after this, they were going to leave, because the two of them just inadvertently made a magical hot spot. Because of the light surrounding them, thy might not be able to see it, but Felix could. The trees close by seemed to age back slightly, and the creatures of the forest gathered around, drawn by the primordial energy.
[+blue “Correct.”] Daggeron says in regards to 'untangling' Hilda and the geas. [+blue “And as for some suggestions, I would say try to avoid getting tense, you'll get in your own way if you do.”] He then hums a little bit, the magical whirlpool around them shifting slightly at the sound. [+blue “And anticipate nothing; that way you'll see it coming.”]
Despite the sun-setting, the area didn't get very dim because of the circle's magical light. And the area wasn't dead quiet either, and not just because of the steadying increase in wildlife surrounding them. The circle made strange yet soothing sounds, like a wind chime and flute, the sounds of two beings beyond Felix's comprehension working in unison. It was almost hypnotic. He didn't even realize that at some point he had hopped off of the van and was standing closer to the circle, a deer standing right next to him unafraid. They both share a quick look and Felix begins reaching out to touch the animal, but suddenly it bolts.
And despite the calm and tranquil feeling, Felix follows suit, rolling forwards as one of the masked vampires comes down, slashing where the young hunter was a split second ago with a black sword. He's up and on his feet, whirling to face his opponent when suddenly the second comes from the shadows and Felix barely has enough time to block their blade with his own. And it doesn't let up when the third also drops from the trees for a fatal blow, Felix narrowly avoiding getting skewered and stumbling backwards to create some distance.
[b “You guys are fast learners.”] He comments as the three spread out a little bit, and Felix stands his ground. With Crystal and Daggeron in the magical circle, it would offer them some protection, but they wouldn't be able to offer Felix any assistance, and for the moment he was the most dangerous person here; it was clear their intention was to get him out of the way first and then deal with the others unimpeded... But despite the masks, he knew which one had drank from Crystal. Her attention was divided between him and Crystal still, but it looked like she was a little more determined to get Felix out of the way so she could get to her prize. Placing the sword horizontally in front of him and his off-hand slightly behind him, he prepares himself for the fight. He knew this was going to put him to the test... But he's had worse odds before.
One of them takes a step and without warning, Felix spirals towards them with a vertical strike, keeping his moves swift and fluid, not remaining in the same place for more than a second. His fury that he was keeping finally ebbed in to his strikes and movements, making him an unpredictable martial arts storm.
Daggeron mentioning Felix’s middle name got a smile out of her. Eugene? Really? [#c4519e “Thank you, Daggeron.”]
Whatever he did to prepare would probably be a big help. Even just watching Hilda was great since she didn’t want to do it. Hilda still made her nervous with the geas. Crystal took Felix’s hand and they set out to get the ingredients. [#c4519e “Alright. Then Daggeron can walk me through the rest, right? It sounds like it needs to be pretty precise.”]
Structured magic like this wasn’t the sort she had much experience with. To someone like her where most magic came as natural as breathing there was little need for anything as complex as that. Particularly when magic use was generally discouraged for safety reasons to keep hidden, so the magic strong enough to need serious structure was usually strictly off-limits.
For that reason she was enjoying the more free use of magic with Felix. Sure, the farmer who came to check on the orchard next would wonder about where this plant had come from and how it had grown so fast, but that didn’t need to stop her from growing something they needed. The farmer would probably just scratch his head and shrug anyway, certainly not assume unicorns.
At first Crystal was pretty patient with the hunt for ingredients. It took a while to wear down her patience, since she didn’t mind the walk and having Felix there eased her anxiety about being attacked again quite a bit. He hardly ever let go of her hand, and she was always quick to take his hand again as soon as they were done picking whatever they had found and putting it away. He was incredibly picky about some of the ingredients, but despite that she could tell he was… While they searched she tried to put her finger on what it was. He was ready in case the vampires attacked now, but there was something else. It wasn’t something she was familiar with. Like he was angry, but not in a way that made her think he was going to blow up and yell or anything. Instead of pestering him about how he felt she would ask about saplings or rocks, or sometimes comment about the trees and that it was a nice orchard.
By the end she had started to sigh or roll her eyes every time he rejected what seemed like the thousandth perfectly suitable ingredient. She didn’t complain too much, but Crystal was obviously getting tired by the time they finally made it back to the camp. There was still the ritual to complete.
Crystal eyed Hilda for a moment before turning her attention to the book she was supposed to read from. Seeing Hilda again was putting the pressure on Crystal to get this right. She didn’t want to find out what it looked like when removing a geas went wrong.
There wasn’t much time for her to read over the incantations before Felix emerged from the van ready for battle. Crystal looked up from the book and tilted her head. She was looking at him in mild surprise. He wasn’t just ready for a fight, Felix looked ready to go to war.
It was time for the ritual, whether she felt ready or not. Crystal followed Felix to the circle and watched him lay her down. Everything was ready, except her. She nodded at him. [#c4519e “Take care. I’ll do my best.”]
She just hoped her best would be good enough, given her lack of experience. Crystal looked at Daggeron as she entered the circle to take her place by Hilda. [#c4519e “Any last tips before I start? I think I get the basic idea now.”] Crystal held up the book. From her brief reading of the ritual she gathered a little about how this worked,[#c4519e “Sort of. It’s like… untangling, right? She and the geas are all tied together. If I pull too hard… I’ll break her, won’t I?”]
The vampires were arguing again. It was something they did often and seemed to almost enjoy in some way. They had retrieved their weapons and tools, and spent time getting ready, and fighting about what to do about the hunter who seemed entirely too prepared. The woman who had a taste of unicorn blood was eager to return right away, but the other two forced her to wait until nightfall.
In that time, the three of them bickered as they planned and came to the conclusion that the girl with the hunter was most likely a unicorn. It was nearly a certainty, seeing how anxious and frustrated the one was to get another taste of blood, and her still boosted power. They wanted to strike before the extra power faded and their sister would weaken, more and more desperate for unicorn blood. They wouldn’t wait until deep into the night, they would set out to attack not long after sunset. With the hunter on alert, one of them reasoned he would be ready for them regardless of the time of night, so waiting wouldn’t give them the element of surprise back, only weaken their sister as time went on. The idea of [i not] going back at all didn’t seem to occur to them. They had their orders to kill, and weren’t inclined to give up over a couple of hiccups. Plenty of plans went awry and they had always walked away with their kill so far.
Felix's resolve kind of began to waver a bit when Crystal seemed to hesitate. Oh no, did he ask too much of her? They just went through kind of an ordeal, and Felix was used to stuff like this happening but he knew this was all new to Crystal. He could tell she was clearly frightened, but she was trying to be strong. He admired that in her, and perhaps Felix needed to do a little more than just protect her from danger from now on. She needed stability like she had at home; something he took away from her when he drafted her in to this war. Day two and they were already having assassins sent after them! [i 'Goddammit, Felix.'] He thinks to himself.
However, Felix's stiffness was replaced with relief when Crystal began speaking again, agreeing to help him and get rid of the geas that was controlling Hilda. If this worked out, then maybe they could have another powerful ally on their side for this fight, and with information on Mercurial! ... Fitting in the van would be a bit of a problem, but he was sure they could manage. His van was awesome, and nothing was going happen to it ever.
[b “Don't worry, Crystal. 'Careful' is my middle name.”] Felix tells her with a bit of a forced smile.
[+blue “It's actually 'Eugene'.”] Daggeron interrupts and there's a snort from where Hilda was sitting. [+blue “I'll stay and watch our Witch friend. I'll also do a bit more setting up for you for the coming battle.”]
Felix lets out an irritated grunt before turning back to Crystal. [b “We'll prepare by getting the rest of the material ingredients as you said. Together. I'm not letting you out of my sight probably forever.”] He tells her. [b “And after that, well just have to finish with the magic circle; placing the ingredients in specific places, burning some, and I'll have you read some incantations from the grimoire we're using. You don't have to memorize it, just be familiar with it so you're not fumbling over the words when you're reading it out loud.”]
And with that, Felix holds out his hand for Crystal to take, and when she does, he doesn't let go as they walk through the orchard. The two retrace Crystal's steps by using her daisies, picking up the things they needed and going looking for more. Luckily they were in an orchard so most of what they needed could be found pretty easily, and the things that couldn't, Crystal used magic to grow it which was just super convenient for them. It never stopped amazing him how convenient Crystal's magic could be, it was hard to imagine what the world was like when magic was something available to almost everyone.
The hardest part of their 'picking' was the small round rocks, which Felix insisted on finding naturally rather than smoothing some down with magic. He was also a little picky with the saplings, making sure they weren't too old or too young; on a few occasions it might've seemed like, yes, these were the ones, but the hunter would skip over them. And other than when they were picking up the materials and placing them in to a basket, Felix didn't let go of Crystal's hand. His other hand usually rested on the wolf sword's handle. It was quite clear he intended to keep his promise for not letting the vampires hurt her again, but there was also something different about him now, something in his eye. Maybe with their magical connection she could feel it just under the surface; a cold violent fury tempered with a practised and strong discipline... It could only be hypothesized what Felix was going to do to the vampires when he cut loose.
They would've been done much sooner if Felix wasn't so picky, so by the time the two had gotten back, it was the evening and the sun was setting, but everything was as they left it. And immediately Felix directs Daggeron and Crystal to finish setting up the magic circle, grabbing the book for the unicorn to review. He then hops back in to the van, getting prepared for the inevitable fight tonight. It didn't take him long to get ready, obviously getting equipped like this was something he's practised or done so often it was second nature.
Once he steps out of the van, he was wearing a completely different outfit. His coat tossed to the side in place of an armoured vest that protected his neck, a bandolier with small silver coated stakes across his chest, knee pads, shin guards, elbow pads, vambraces with silver blades along the side, a big ass utility belt, some kind of modified shotgun on his back, and again, the wolf cross-guard attached to his belt.
Felix looks up to the sky and sees how low the sun was now. It was time to get the ritual started. He looks back down to Crystal and Daggeron. [b “I hope you guys are ready.”] And Felix approaches Hilda who begins squirming in her seat, but is quickly pacified by a sleep spell from Daggeron. Felix picks her up and gently places her on the bed of materials they had gathered, and suddenly the unlit candles that helped form the circle around it light up with magical flame. [b “I'll keep them off of you. Start the ritual; the magical circle will provide some protection from them. I'll know when they're here.”]
Crystal breathed a sigh of relief when the vampires left. They would be back, there was little doubt about that, but it would give them a little time to breathe and prepare again. When Felix moved Crystal followed fairly closely. She didn’t want to be obvious, but it was still pretty obvious that she was nervous about getting too far from Felix. The vampire attacks had left her more shaken than she wanted to admit.
She also kept looking at his shoulder and the scratch there. It was driving her a little crazy, but she kept her hands to herself for the moment. She didn’t want to fuss over him. If she’d been at home, Crystal would have kept herself busy tidying up or something to deal with the anxious knot in her stomach while he planned. At the moment she had nothing like that to do, so she crossed her arms and her nails dug into her arms. The removal of the geas would be up to her mostly. She wasn’t sure if she was ready for that tonight. It sounded complicated, difficult, and draining if Daggeron couldn’t do it and would need to walk her through it.
But the way he looked at her. He was so determined. His reasoning made sense too, but that wasn’t all there was to it at all. Felix wasn’t telling her or ordering her, he was [i asking], and for a second she just stared at him with wide eyes like a deer caught in headlights. Then Crystal nodded, it took her a moment more before she found her voice,[#c4519e “Yeah, I think so. I think so.”]
Crystal looked at Hilda briefly. What sort of person was Hilda without the geas? They would only find out if Crystal was successful. It all felt so [i heavy], like there was some invisible weight on her shoulders and in her chest,[#c4519e “They’re coming back anyway, aren’t they? Tonight. They won’t stop.”]
The fear was pretty apparent in her face when she looked back at him. That wasn’t going to stop her from doing what needed to be done,[#c4519e “Just… be careful. Please. So… what do we do to prepare? I didn’t manage to get everything before…”]
Crystal moved her hand up toward her neck where the vampire had bitten her. After a very brief pause she continued, talking a little faster,[#c4519e “We can get it together. I did manage to get some of it, and it should still be there. The rest should be easy, right?”] Even if Felix went to get it, she didn’t want to let him out of her sight right now so she’d be tagging along with him wherever he went. As for getting it herself? There was no way she’d go by herself even if Felix would have let her, which she very much doubted he would at this point.
It looked like they were now at a stand-still; the three vampires grouped up again and sneered at Felix, Crystal, and Daggeron. He supposed they hadn't expected him to be this prepared for their kind, and to be fair, a lot of hunter's weren't, they'd just pick up equipment if they needed to; Felix's nightmares would just get worse if he didn't have the boxes in his van. He still had plenty of tricks up his sleeve and it seemed like this fight wasn't going to be the last one they had. The next one he would make sure none of them left alive.
[+blue “I would recommend the three of you retreat. You have no hostages, no tricks, and you couldn't hope to stand up to our combined might.”] Daggeron breaks the tense silence. [+blue “If you knew what was good for you, you would return to your master. If you stay, you will not survive our next encounter, I can assure you of that.”] And the sword's eyes glow for a moment and the vampires stand there for a second, assessing the situation. When it boiled down to it, Daggeron was right. They underestimated them both times so the best they could hope to do was retreat and live to fight another day or retreat and come back prepared for a fight to the death.
After a moment, the vampires left once again, no doubt to prepare for their next fight. Felix would've thought they might never return, but with one of them hankering for Crystal's blood and Hilda still alive, it might be an easy sell for them try and kill Felix and liberate Crystal for themselves. The young Hunter grimaces at the thought, but quickly retracts the silver blade in to the wolf's mouth once again and moves to Hilda. He takes the Witch by the bicep and lifts her to her feet before putting her back in the now visible chair.
[b “Okay,”] Felix begins placing both hands on his lower back and stretches with a groan. He might've been made in to a literal killing machine by Shepard, but vampires were still superhuman and managed to get some good licks in, especially to Felix's shoulder. [b “I think we need to talk about getting Hilda un-mind controlled. We can't have her trying to escape or trying to kill us the second we get in to a slug-out with rejects like these.”] He points out. Her escape attempt during the fight was a distraction and he could've left with much more than just a slash on his shoulder because of it. They got lucky, but lucky eventually ran out. [b “I think we need to bump up the procedure to as soon as possible.”]
[+blue “Felix, if we start preparing for it [i now] we'll have to do it [i at night]. The vampires are surely going to return under cover of darkness.”] And Felix mulls that over a bit.
[b “It needs to happen; we can't have three people who want to kill us and a fourth one sitting here. They want to kill her too and with her tied up we might as well hand her over to them.”]
[+red “You most certainly will not!”] Hilda adds and Felix ignores her. Her will to live and Mercurial's geas made her not know what it was she wanted.
[b “Crystal, do you think you can do this tonight? I don't want to force you in to a corner, I just think this is our best option. Plus, if I have the both of you in one place, it'll make keeping you safe easier.”] He fully turns towards her this time, resolute. [b “I won't let them hurt you ever again.”]
Crystal hadn’t expected that, and neither had the vampire. The air was knocked from her and then everything was a painful mess accompanied by a flash of light she saw even with her eyes closed. Somewhere in the tumble a set of sharp nails had scraped her side. It tore her dress, but on her skin it wasn’t a deep wound, inflicted entirely accidentally in the struggle. Crystal hardly noticed it as she struggled and Felix pulled her out. She tried to catch her breath and kept close to Felix, even though she stumbled a bit.
The vampires were hissing and shrieking at the wound the sword inflicted. They were trying to recover from the blinding light, but it was going to take a moment for their eyes to adjust. Crystal was a little disoriented still but nodded that she was alright. She was pretty sure she was alright, just maybe a little bruised.
She was getting her bearings again, the vampires had recovered and looked angry. Even with their masks she could see that they were furious, and it was directed at Felix. Hilda wasn’t trying to escape anymore, she had apparently decided that for now Felix was a better bet than trying to slip away. Crystal hummed. She was honestly glad the vampires weren’t any better at fighting together, if they were she was sure Felix would be in a lot worse shape.
[#c4519e “Yeah. Nothing too big though.”] Crystal didn’t retreat back to the van with Hilda, she stayed right next to Felix. She was too nervous about getting caught again, even if now all three vampires were in front of them and accounted for. The one that had gotten her blood earlier was looking at Crystal hungrily, even her frustration with Felix wasn’t enough to shake her obsession for long, and it was only going to get worse.
The woman who had been thwarted by Daggeron was the most level headed of the group at the moment. She was hanging farther back, angry but cautious. “They’ve regrouped. Pull back.”
Daggeron had been able to keep her back pretty effectively, but hadn’t really hurt her in the way Felix had her brother and sister. It left her more annoyed than in a nearly blind rage. The sword was silver, and the hunter looked pretty ready for them now. Too ready for them to kill him without serious cost. They needed some of the gifts master had given them for particularly tough prey.
His attention was split three ways. Fighting the male vampire while the other two tried to kill or capture the only two women in Felix's life. Trying not to get killed while defending two people proved to be more of a challenge than he had thought... But what it really came down to? Information on Mercurial or keeping a promise?
[i 'That's a no brainer!'] Felix thought as he hit the vampire with a jumping back kick. His magical boots amplified the impact, sending his opponent in to the side of the van and denting it. With another burst of magic, he aerials to cover more distance towards the vampire now holding Crystal hostage. He puts his sword up in front of him and leans the tip towards the two.
“Careful, hunter. You'll kill her.” The vampire said and Felix scowls. He takes a step forward and the vampire takes a step back. It looked like she was hesitant to kill Crystal herself, and then what the unicorn told him earlier came to mind. She was addicted to her blood now, wasn't she?
[b “Daggeron, keep Hilda safe.”] He calls over his shoulder without looking away from the two in front of him. He was pretty sure he didn't actually have to say that; he could hear the sounds of battle behind him. Daggeron might be just a sword and had limited magical abilities, but being able to maneuver and being indestructible made him quite formidable. It would at least buy Felix some time so he could deal with this vampire. [b “Give up. I already have you on the defensive.”] He tells the vampire as he begins taking more steps towards her. She was backing up towards a tree and,
A howl of rage behind him and Felix smirks. [i 'Right on time.'] He waits a split second and then pirouettes out of the way as the male vampire went for a mall-cop type tackle. However, with Felix dodging out of the way instead, the vampire went careening towards Crystal and the female vampire, slamming in to them in a tangle of limbs. And if that was the icing on the cake, this was the cherry on top. The tree the vampire tackled the group in to had one of his sigils on it. And the second it was activated, a blinding burst of magical light came forth. Of course the vampires were immune to being damaged by the light, but it was enough to fry a person's retina's, not even mentioning vampire's and their enhanced eyesight.
In a flash, Felix was over, pulling Crystal from the shrieking and groaning blinded vampires. And when one of them grabbed for them, he gave them something to think about in the form of a slash from the sword. The [i silver] sword. You'd think he was holding a lightsaber the way it left a burning wound on their undead flesh.
He pulls Crystal up and in to him, backing them away from the vampires before they could recover, which wouldn't take long. [b “Are you alright, Crystal?”] He asks, giving her a once over with his eyes, steadily backing them up as the vampires began pulling themselves to their feet. [b “Stay close to me.”] He tells her, looking over his shoulder to see that Daggeron had been giving the other vampire grief. Hilda had crawled her way from the fight and it looked like she was trying to get herself to the van. The van was at Crystal and Felix's back and Daggeron was keeping the other vampire away enough where it seemed the van was a good place to put their defences. [b “I don't think these guys are any good at team-work.”] Felix points out, raising his sword towards the recovered vampires as him and Crystal back away from the van. [b “Do you think I could use any of your magic?”]
The vampires were back? So soon? Crystal felt a knot in her stomach. Was Felix really ready for this? She didn’t feel ready at all to face them again. Felix was moving like he knew what to do, which was probably the only reason she kept as calm as she did. She was practically paralyzed, but at least she wasn’t a screaming, crying mess.
Crystal hadn’t had time to answer his question before he grabbed her and tossed her to the side. She stumbled and only barely managed to not fall over. When she looked back he was exchanging very fast blows with the vampire. They were both fast. Everything was happening fast, and Crystal backed up a few steps as the fight unfolded.
When the vampire got Felix in the shoulder Crystal felt that tug and awareness of Felix. It seemed like this connection was going to keep them pretty in tune to each others injuries.
She was so focused on what was going on with Felix that she didn’t see the vampire coming at her. It was the same one who had bit her earlier, and she had slammed Crystal into the van. She didn’t hurt Crystal too bad, but it dazed her. By the time she shook that off enough to fight back the vampire was gripping Crystal’s chin hard enough that it hurt,”Here’s my lamb. Don’t worry, I won’t kill you.”
[#c4519e “No! Felix! Let go! [i Back]!”] Her voice was shrill, she was starting to panic, but she managed some magic. It wasn’t very precise or thought through, but it did send the vampire flying back several feet. The tea had done Crystal some good, but she was still not up for a whole lot. She was already starting to feel a little ill and drained from just being near them.
The vampire recovered almost immediately, and before Crystal had a change to get more than a step away from the van the vampire had launched at her unnaturally fast, she was still high on power from Crystal’s blood. Instead of pinning Crystal again she seemed aware of the danger Felix posed and yanked Crystal in front of her like a shield before backing away, dragging Crystal with her. Crystal tried to resist, but it didn’t seem to even slow the vampire woman down, it just left Crystal’s feet dragging in the dirt. Even though she was a little fixated on Crystal she still had enough sense to realize how dangerous Felix was and that killing him was a higher priority. He’d also shown in their last encounter that he would protect this girl,”Careful, hunter. You’ll kill her.”
The vampire hated the idea, but if it came to it she could throw the girl at the hunter to get him distracted and off balance so she could retreat and help her brother and sister. She could always collect the girl after the hunter was dead, she supposed.
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