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Of Kin and Heritage [Epic Quest - Ayero Shiba]

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Ayero Shiba

Of Kin and Heritage [Epic Quest - Ayero Shiba] CT2vHUI

Hailing from a small, isolated mountain village with her rather expansive family, Ayero has been traveling the world to find her place and trying to find her brother. After finally locating her beloved elder brother, Neem, at the slave auction in Heliohapt, he issued her a warning and request to check on their family before disappearing in the chaos. Ayero traveled to Reim with the intent of finding her family, only to find Reim in a state of confusion after Kou’s recent invasion and the new King Lagi El Nagi being placed on the throne.

But the feeling in Ayero’s stomach can no longer be ignored and she feels she must return to the village she had left years ago to check on her kin.



Of Kin and Heritage [Epic Quest - Ayero Shiba] ShumiVillage

Ayero

Ayero
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Of Kin and Heritage [Epic Quest - Ayero Shiba] VnKgUJo





To an outsider, the numerous mountain valleys would all look the same as they dipped behind the various steep rocky inclines and into the shadows cast by distant peaks. Few travelers would often trek this far into rugged territory without purpose, most of those who discovered the small isolated villages dotting Reim’s mountainside doing so on accident. It was for this reason that the mountain natives cast a wary eye on outsiders; even if such people proved to have the most innocent of intentions they may have trouble finding lodgings and food as the concept of an “inn” only existed in more populated areas. A kind family might offer a stranger a meal and a roof to sleep under for the night, but they did so at their own caution.

Ayero’s home village of Baruli was no exception. It was no more than an aggregation of modest houses nestled into a valley, shielded by the natural rock formations from most predators. There were no free standing shops or businesses, instead people sold their goods and services from within their own homes. Bartering was the most common form of payment as physical money was generally only used when the men would journey down the mountainside to the larger towns and purchase supplies that they could not produce on their own. It was a simple, mild life.

Her stomach twists into all sorts of knots as she approaches the hamlet where she had been raised, the scent of pine hitting her like a brick wall with its stark familiarity. The scent stirred a mix of emotions and memories, recalling how she’d spent most of her days looking after her large brood. She was born the second eldest of eldest of ten—was it twelve, now? Her mother had been pregnant with twins when she left. She visibly winces at the thought, still uncomfortable with the circumstances under which she had left. She had stolen away in the dead of night when she was barely past her thirteenth year, intent on finding her elder brother, Neem, who had disappeared a few months prior. Though she told herself that locating her lost brother was the primary reason for venturing out into the world, the young woman had a growing desire to leave before then. She loved them dearly, but an adolescent Ayero had been fed up with caring for her family.

She was scared that this was her destiny—to spend her days looking after her siblings and frail mother, only to marry one of the village boys and repeat that process. Leaving with her family’s knowledge would have been difficult. She would likely receive an enormous backlash from the tight-knit clan of half-Fanalis whose mother instilled within them a fear of the world, the world which had made her a slave. Ayero didn’t know under what circumstances her mother and father had meant, the only tidbit she knew of their past was that her Fanalis mother had been a slave at some point in her life. Fearing for the safety of her future family, she and her husband had moved as far away from any populated areas as they were able to get.

She was uneducated, naïve and had very little knowledge of the outside world—but the loss of her brother proved to be a tipping point. Ayero had come to terms with her decision and decided that she did not regret it. Her years abroad had proven tough, but the young woman had persevered and grown strong. She still wrestled with the guilt of abandoning her family amidst a tragedy, but hopefully this visit would soothe her fraught nerves. She only hoped that they wouldn’t be too upset with how long she’d been away.

She can see the cluster of houses in the distance now, the thatched roof of who she remembered to be her neighbor coming into view. A nervous smile plays along her lips as she remembers the days flooded with screaming and shouting, half expecting a handful of little red heads to come barreling down the old dirt path and jump all over her.


~


”Hold still! Stop squirming around so much!” Ayero is quick to scold the toddler in her lap, fed up with dealing with a bunch of unruly kids who were clearly not ready for bed yet. The child in her arms begins to wail as she scrubs the dirt from his face rather roughly with an old cloth, her brows knit in both concentration and irritation. A scream erupts nearby and causes her to jump, the little boy in her grasp seeing an opportunity to escape as his sister’s grip slackens. Wrestling himself out from her hold, he toddles off to his nearby less demanding siblings.


”Donato! Stop chasing Nyria, it’s almost bed time!” She snaps, scrambling to her feet and placing her hands on her hips as she barks out in warning. Her face scrunches in irritation as the two begin to argue rather loudly why it was the other’s fault, their voices drifting over the booming chatter of the other children who don’t seem too interested in the idea of going to sleep. Groaning, 11 year old Ayero stamps her foot to get their attention. ”I don’t care who started it, now both of you go and wash up for bed! NOW!” Watching with mild satisfaction as the two recoil and clamber over to the bucket of water she’d set out, Ayero turns on her heel in time to catch the same toddler she’d been trying to clean moments ago as he attempts to waddle past her.


Amidst the chaos, the door to their small home slams open and Neem, the eldest brother appears with an ear to ear grin. Most of the children shriek in delight, causing Ayero to wince and look on in irritation and admittedly some jealousy as her younger siblings run to greet their easygoing and more likeable brother.

”It’s about time!” She announces with her hands at her hips before he even has a chance to say anything. ”You’ve been gone all day. Hurry up and help me get them ready for bed.”


The smile disappears from his face for a brief moment before resurfacing as he reaches to remove one of his younger sisters who had climbed her way up to his shoulders, laughing loudly as he did so.


”Oh, c’mon Aye! It’s too early to sleep. Why do you always have to be no fun?” He teases, his grin widening even more if even possible.


“Yeah! You’re no fun, Aye-nee!” Another echoes, sticking his tongue out at his older sister. Brushing her single red braid behind her shoulder, Ayero shoots Neem the most potent death glare an 11 year old girl could.


”Maybe it’s too early for you, but mom says that it’s time for all of us to go to bed! Why can’t you be responsible for once, you are the oldest after all!” Setting down the child he had been holding onto, Neem steps forward toward his angry sister.


”Alright, alright. I’m sorry. Time for bed, everybody!” He announces, not wanting to make things more difficult. He could read the frustration on Ayero’s face, but honestly the girl needed to calm down a bit. Where was the fun in being so strict? The younger siblings let out a collective groan and young man does his best to hush them.


”Now now, listen to Ayero for once. It’s time for growing kids to get some rest. Because if you don’t…the forest monster will get you!” True to his nature as the entertaining big brother, Neem leapt forward with a roar and pretended to be the “forest monster”, nabbing the closest smaller sibling who giggles and squirms in his grasp, the other children shrieking in delight and scatter.


”NEEM, YOU JERK!” Ayero practically screams, furious that instead of helping he had only gotten them wound up before bed. A swift smack is landed to the forest monster’s head as he chuckles, apologizing to his litter sister.


~


Ayero too can’t help but chuckle fondly at the memory, finding it somewhat humorous but still holding a tiny grudge against her brother. In her mind, he was the eldest and should have helped her maintain the order of their clan, not disappear for most of the day doing god knows what. And when he did their siblings always flocked to him.

She was always jealous of how easily things seemed to come for him, of how much more their brothers and sisters seemed to like him. He wouldn’t usually help take care of the necessities as she did, but he had a way with children. It was like magic, he could calm them down with a few simple words, lift their spirits and even make chores more fun for them. He was patient, moreso than she was, and was more often than not the mediator of disputes and a good adviser with whatever problems they were faced with.

As her loud memory faded into the silence of a sleepy village, Ayero picked her head up and looked around only to realize that she stood at what was the village’s makeshift entrance. Take a deep breath of pine-tinged air, the Fanalis woman takes slow steps toward where she remembered her old home to be, hoping it was still there.


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Solomon's Proxy

Solomon's Proxy
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Of Kin and Heritage [Epic Quest - Ayero Shiba] XHfZcI8

Upon arriving at the entrance to the village, Ayero would find that much had changed in her absence. A recent, freak blizzard had left the rooftops of the buildings still dusted with snow and it would appear that many of the huts were abandoned. Signs of blood lingered in the muddy snow surrounding some of the homes and not a sound could be heard.

As Ayero would approach her old home, she would find it had been burned and charred, and appear quite empty. If she were to enter the home and look around, she would find the interior in shambles and if she were completely silent, she might hear the breath of a person in one of the rooms catch as a floorboard creaked quietly. Who could be the person in the depths of Ayero’s childhood home?

Ayero

Ayero
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Seeing the snow, Ayero brushed the strange weather off as simply nothing more than the seasons going a bit awry. Winter would be closing in on the country soon, and snowstorms were not entirely uncommon at this elevation for this time of year. But the unexpected stillness of the village was strange, had the people here abandoned their homes? She takes a few hesitant steps forward, her mind whirling with possibilities and explanations. A jolt of surprise rips through her as she spies a few smears of crimson contrasting against the stark white snow, the feeling piercing deeply into her stomach as she lurches forward and makes haste toward the small house where she had spent the majority of her life.


So far, this visit was not like she had expected. But there was no time to linger on comparisons as her full attention was geared towards the little house situated at the outer edge of the village, a small hut that bordered a thick forest which coated most of the mountainside. As she drew closer she could tell that something was not right, quickly noticing the charred entrance and the singed holes on the thatched roof where fire had once eaten away. Ayero can feel her heart race as she breaks into a jog, the dull thuds resonating throughout her throat and core. She pauses at the entrance and unsheathes her sword before slowly edging her way into the humble abode that had raised twelve young Fanalis.


Her breath catches in her throat as an audible gasp while her posture slackens in shock as she takes in the dilapidated state of her childhood home. What meager possessions the family had were askew or destroyed, chairs and a table broken in a violent fashion while scorch marks and a smattering of blood stains littered the walls and floor. A struggle had happened here.


”What….?” A loud whisper in an incredulous tone is all that she can manage, stunned at what she had discovered. This was not the cheerful, boisterous home she had known and reminisced of. This place was quiet, still and forsaken. Her family was not here.


Kabu had been quiet up until now, content to watch and observe Ayero as she went about her business. He wasn’t aware of her past, but the black snake was able to sense the woman’s distress from her actions and how her body quickly heated up. Tightening himself around her defensively, Kabu flicks his tongue out with a low hiss. His keen senses had determined that they were not alone, and he tries to alert Ayero to the potential danger by pointing his head in the direction of where he had sensed life. The Fanalis woman wasn’t aware that they were being watched, too caught up in her own findings to hear the soft breathing against the silence of the burnt hut. The snake eventually garners her attention though and she turns her head towards a pile of overturned chairs.


Her eyes narrow as she notices how purposeful the objects were stacked against eachother, something that likely wouldn’t have happened in the midst of a fight. No, someone was hiding here. ”Show yourself!” She demands, the strength in her voice wavering slightly as she does a full turn while brandishing her scimitar. Her panic increased and her patience ran thinner by the second…whoever was here was going to give her answers.


A pause, and then a yell. Brandishing a blunt club that is used in the slaughter of domestic animals, a mop of red hair darts out from behind his fortress of chairs. Clumsily holding the weapon above his head, the boy takes a swing at the invader before stopping suddenly. The battle cry dies down in his throat and the club nearly falls from his slackened grip as he stares up in surprise at the red headed woman before him.


Of Kin and Heritage [Epic Quest - Ayero Shiba] Th1k8jS


Vincenzo was nearly ten years old, and the youngest of his siblings. He had never met Ayero nor Neem, the latter had disappeared several years before his birth and his sister had departed when his mother was pregnant with him and his twin, Dominico. He knew of his lost siblings, as he was born in somewhat sorrowful circumstances. His mother had been heartbroken over the loss of her children, her body growing fragile as she lapsed into illness and became increasingly unable to care for her kids. He was too young to understand, but his siblings did their best to shield him from the grief that had settled over their family and nurtured him just as their elder brother and sister once hand. Never knowing or missing his two eldest siblings, Vincenzo had grown up happy and content.


Their father too became ill several years ago and succumbed to death shortly; it was unclear whether his sickness was wrought from grief or nature. Their mother’s lingering illness finally took her life, only several months before a group of men had razed their village. They came in the dark of the night, under the cover of the freak blizzard that had settled over the mountains and violently looted the village. Vincenzo and some of the other young siblings were urged to run to the forest in hopes that the dense woods would save them from the slaughter, the oldest of his brothers and sisters staying to intercept their attackers. Amidst the insanity, a falling cinder from a nearby house that had been set ablaze struck the boy in his right eye.


Vincenzo had been separated from the group during the chaos, trailing into the forest alone as the strained screams and shouts of his siblings fell upon his ears while he huddled in the underbrush for cover. He remained still as stone throughout the night, fighting the urge to go to his family in favor of staying hidden. At daybreak, the boy had returned to his village only to be greeted with the grisly carnage of his destroyed family.  It took several days’ time for the young halfling to gather the bodies and bury them in what would become a crudely made family cemetery in forest clearing where his parents had been laid to rest. Unsure of what to do, the child survived off of berries from the forest, afraid to trek down the mountain to find help. He didn’t know much about the world outside of his village, and his recent experience with outsiders had not left a positive impression on the boy.


He had never seen another Fanalis before, which in some part was why had had given pause in his assault when his eyes laid in Ayero. Aside from the red hair, her facial features were familiar—too similar to those of his departed sisters and mother. The woman’s eyes softened, but he closed his gaping mouth and wore a hardened expression as he re-established his grip on the club and reeled it back in warning.


”W-who…who are you?!” He demanded, voice shaking as he tried his best to appear threatening.


Slowly descending to her knees, Ayero loosens her grip on her sword and lets the blade clatter to the floor as she reaches out gently with her other hand.


”I…I think I’m your sister.”


~


Of Kin and Heritage [Epic Quest - Ayero Shiba] 9QLoNio


Ayero trails behind Vincenzo cautiously as he leads her into the forest, arriving shortly at a small clearing. Eleven mounds of dirt greeted them, several small stones piled on top of each crude grave. Vincenzo walks over to each one, pointing out who had been laid to rest beneath each pile of earth. Unable to look away at the sickening scene, a bitter feeling wells up in the back of her throat and she refuses to move, refuses to accept the reality that her parents and nine siblings are gone. A strong mix of anger, guilt and regret well up within her and threaten to burst forth if not suddenly quelled by a small hand on hers. Startled and disturbed, she forces herself to look away from the graveyard and down into Vincenzo’s one visible eye. The boy had fashioned a makeshift eye patch after sustaining an injury to his right eye in the attack, his vision thoroughly damaged.


”Sister…what now?”


Ayero blinked. What now? She hadn’t even had time to grieve, let alone accept the loss and deal with her bottled up feelings. But this child, this boy she had never meant yet shared a bond of blood with needed her. He had already been through so much at such a tender age as the only world he knew came crashing down. Hearing him call her “sister” made her nauseous, as if she didn’t deserve the title. If only she had been here sooner, she could have stopped this. If only she had stayed, maybe she could have stopped this. It was she who deserved to be unceremoniously buried in a lump of dirt, not them.


Swallowing the vomit back, she stoops down onto one knee and pulls Vincenzo into a tight embrace. She doesn’t speak for a few moments, but when his smaller hands wrap around her neck she finds her voice, hoarse and strained as it is.


”I’m going to take care of you, precious brother.”


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Solomon's Proxy

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Ayero, after finding out about the fate of her family, feels the grief and guilt weigh heavily upon her. In addition to this, she now has a sibling to look after, Vincenzo. If she were to go back and search her home, she would find that several important family valuables were missing, including pictures that had been painstakingly drawn by one of her siblings of the whole family. Only one remained, blood-spattered and covered in dust in the corner. Would this lone picture remind the half-Fanalis woman of her heritage and all that had been lost? If Ayero had any hopes of finding the bandits, she would need help, the pillagers having had a large head-start on the woman and the crazy weather having hidden any signs of which direction they may have gone.

Ayero

Ayero
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Ayero guided Vincenzo down the mountain, taking a path through the woods rather than crossing through the destroyed village. While she had every urge to pursue the attackers, she made Vincenzo her top priority. Her first task was to find some place that she could settle with the boy for a few days, buy him some new clothes and find a healing mage to look at his damaged eye. Noting the baggy tattered clothes the boy wore, Ayero removed her cloak and wrapped it tightly around Vincenzo’s smaller body to help keep him warm.


”Where are we going?” The boy looks around nervously and moves closer to his sister, never having been this far down the mountain before.


”Somewhere safe.” She murmurs, eyes scanning the streets of the town as they approached. Still in somewhat of a shock, Ayero decided that she should try to get Vincenzo to eat first…who knows how long it had been since the boy had a proper meal. The town itself seemed bleak and dreary with the overcast sky above, but a head of blue hair caught her attention out of the corner of her eye.


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Duquin

Duquin
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"How many times do I have to tell you, you can't just go gobbling up random livestock!" Yakuroro was scolding his chimeric son, Akatetsu, for having eaten a chicken that walked past the beasts field of vision. While Akatetsu was highly intelligent, sometimes his beastial instincts could not be ignored and that fowl looked pretty succulent. Knowing that he'd done wrong and feeling a bit shameful that his primal side had gotten the better of him, Akatetsu lowered his head and made an apologetic growl. But his eyes went wide as he caught a familiar scent on the air and Akatetsu looked up in Ayero's direction. "Gyarwar~" Yakuroro noticed the beasts gesture and turned around to see the young fanalis woman walking with a child in tow. There was no mistaking that it was her, but he was almost having trouble believing that it wasn't an imposter from how she held the boy close to her side. The hot-headed warrioress being a gentle "proper" woman? It was something Yaku had yet to see from her till now.

The Imuchakk magician had learned the general mountain Ayero's family was from when they had still yet to part ways before her journey to see her kin. Yakuroro had other business to attend to in Remano and didn't want to intrude upon her reunion so he didn't bother asking if he could go with her. But now that it had been several days, Yakuroro had come to these mountains hoping he could find the fanalis woman and offer her a ride back to the capital. Yakuroro felt he might need her strength in the future battles to come and so he'd arrived here in this small town at the foot of the mountain hoping to catch her on her way back.

Unaware of what had taken place, Yaku approached the pair cheerfully with Akatetsu close behind him. "Ah, Ayero! There you are, I've been waiting for yo-" The bright friendly demeanor faded as Yakuroro got closer and saw the two fanalis' states. Ayero's expression was not one of a person who had just rejoined with long lost family and the child had a freshly wrapped injury to his eye. The happy look drained from Yakuroro as his mask fell away. His eyes looked both of them over with a stoic expression as he analyzed all the visual clues he could and determined that something had gone terribly wrong. "Come, lets get you both inside and out of the chill." Yakuroro then gestured to the nearby empty house he had been renting out as a place to stay while he waited for Ayero.

Once inside, Yakuroro would move to start a fresh pot of tea and silently prepared some soup and bread for Ayero and the boy. Setting the bowls down in front of both of them, Yakuroro took a seat on the floor using a large cushion and looked over the table at his fanalis friend. "Are you alright? Tell me what happened."


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Thank you all, for everything.

Ayero

Ayero
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As the impossibly large man approached the pair of Fanalis, Vin hides behind his sister despite the man’s friendly demeanor. He’d never seen a person so large or with hair the color of the sky. The beast trailing behind him didn’t help matters either, even if the young Fanalis hadn’t seen the chimera consume a chicken. Ayero places a hand atop his head in an attempt to comfort before turning to address the Imuchakk. She parts her lips to speak but no sound comes out, unsure of what she should say. His cheerful expression falls quickly and she’s slightly taken aback by the somber look that replaces it, but it’s just a passing thought in her mind now.

Nodding wordlessly, she move her hand to Vincenzo’s shoulder to gently guide him along seeing as how the boy was intimidated by seeing an Imuchakk for the first time. Sitting the boy down at the table, Ayero moves to grab a seat across from him but the child tugs on her scarf, his eye nervously darting between her, Yakuroro and Akatetsu. Ten years ago she wouldn’t let this sort of behavior fly, but she compromises by reaching over and grabbing a chair to drag it next Vin before taking a seat. She nods her thanks as the blue magician sets out a bowl of soup for each of them, watching in fleeting amusement as her younger brother eagerly dug into the meal. She looks down at the bowl in front of her, finding that her stomach was still rather unsettled from the ordeal.

When Yakuroro probes her for information, she sighs. Glancing over at Vin, she feels a bit of relief as the boy appears to be engrossed in the food. Turning back to Yaku, she bites her lip.


”They’re…they’re gone.”


Her voice begins as a whisper and crescendos to speak softly. ”Bandits…the whole village.” She turns to the red head next to her who tears into the chunk of bread he’d been given with reckless abandon, but she’s too worn to reprimand him for poor table manners. ”He’s the only one left.” She can’t bring herself to say more, feeling tears threaten to fall and she shakes her head.


”Yakuroro, this is my younger brother, Vincenzo. Vincenzo, this is my friend Yakuroro. He’s a magician from the far north.” She clears her throat to speak in a stronger tone, her voice wavering somewhat.


The boy pauses for a moment before raising his head to peer at the magician with wide eyes. ”Eeeehhh? You can do magic?!” He turns his head to Ayero. ”But…magic isn’t real! It’s only in stories, right?” His tone is a bit incredulous, as if he doesn’t quite believe her words.


”It’s real, Vin. I know it’s hard to believe, but there are a lot of things in this world that you can’t learn by staying in the mountains. Now finish your food.”


”But I’m done!” He tilts his bowl to show his sister that he had indeed cleaned his plate, not a drop of soup left. ”May I have some more?”



Last edited by Ayero on 16/11/14, 11:54 pm; edited 1 time in total


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Duquin

Duquin
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Akatetsu poked his head in through the window and watched as things transpired with sympathetic worry for Ayero in his eyes. Yakuroro took in Ayero's first words and immediately knew that things had gone terribly wrong. Frowning, the Imuchakk held his tongue and let Ayero run through the emotions. From the way her voice rose and fell he could tell that she was still very troubled by what had happened and rightfully so. This was not something one came to peace with in a short amount of time. At least not normal people.

When Ayero introduces him to her brother, Yakuroro nods to the boy and speaks kindly, "Greetings, it is nice to meet you, young fanamini." His play on words would hopefully brighten up the mood a bit but his expression suddenly became mockingly serious when asked about the legitimacy of whether or not he could do magic. "Listen up, young Vincenzo! I'm a pretty powerful magician. You'd better not make me angry..." The Imuchakk closed one of his eyes as he said this but afterwards he'd open one of them to look down at the boy. Yaku then smiled and winked at him before relaxing and getting up to go fetch the boy seconds.

"At least the boy has an appetite. You need to eat too though Ayero. You'll be needing your strength if you are going to do what I think you're planning on doing." Yakuroro returned to the table with a fresh bowl for Vincenzo along another loaf before taking his seat once more. "Or perhaps you haven't thought of it yet...But you will and when you do, I want you to remember what I'm about to tell you. Revenge is a poison."

Yakuroro felt that it was only a matter of time before Ayero tried to shove the young Vincenzo off onto him so she could go charging off into the unknown to chase after the bandits responsible for the demise of her family. Once her anger had time to simmer and eventually boil, Yakuroro could see her doing nothing else but seeking cold vengeance upon the wicked fiends who had stolen so much from her. But Yakuroro could not allow this to happen. Such thoughts of malice were like a lure for the black rukh. He would not allow an important ally to succumb against the very evil he sought to extinguish.


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Thank you all, for everything.

Ayero

Ayero
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With the distraction of the food and the presence of his older sister and protector, Vincenzo doesn’t seem as intimidated by Yakuroro’s large frame as he was before. He does look away shyly when the magician addresses him but after a reassuring look from Ayero he cracks a small smile at the large man’s words. After seeing how gentle he was and how unconcerned Ayero was around him, Vincenzo began to feel a little more comfortable…perhaps his full belly also contributed. The happy look fades from his face as Yakuroro proclaims himself a powerful magician, staring up at the Imuchakk with wide eyes. Catching the man’s wink, the startled look dissolves into a giggle and the boy eagerly digs into seconds.

Resting her elbow on the table, Ayero cradles her cheek in the palm of her hand as her eyes turn to Yakuroro. She felt as if she was in a similar state after the horrors at the slave auction, but this feeling ran deeper and would not fade with time. No matter how much she healed, the deaths of her family would always be a part of her. Anger flashes briefly in her eyes at Yakuroro’s warning but settles quickly. It would do no good to become enraged around Vincenzo, not when the child appeared so content. Things wouldn’t be this easy with him all the time, however. The child had suffered a great loss and been living a traumatic experience.

Ayero would never be able to forgive herself if she did not at least confront these man-beasts. Perhaps it was the circumstance influencing her, but she as if she didn’t let her anger out it would eat her alive. It wasn’t just the anger, it was the guilt and the sorrow and the pain too. If revenge was a poison, then perhaps it was best to get it over with quickly.

”And what do you suggest that I do?” Her words are hard and cold. ”There are dozens of villages along that mountainside. Let them continue to take the lives of innocents as they please?”


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Duquin

Duquin
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The Imuchakk sighed in response to Ayero's snapping. This was not the hot-headed outburst of a reckless fool. It was the sharp icicle-like chill behind words of someone who's heart had been made numb through great tragedy. There was a sorrowful look in Yakuroro's eyes briefly before he closed them and leaned forward as his hands rose in a bridge before his face. The masks Yakuroro wore melted away from his face and when his eyes opened again they held a weight to them that did not usually accompany Yakuroro's gaze. These regal eyes were those of a King Vessel and they settled upon Ayero in a strange glare. There was no hostility from Yakuroro, but his words would carry a sense of intensity. "There is a difference between revenge and justice, Ayero. I'm not suggesting you don't deal with these men. I'm suggesting you do so with your mind in the right place." Holding his stare, Yakuroro laid out the path revenge would take her upon. "As you are now, the fuel for your actions would burn you up on the inside as well. It will make you reckless and should you survive your rage you will only be left feeling all the more empty for satisfying it. It will consume you as a flame does a log."

With his words of warning complete, Yakuroro went silent and did not move a muscle. Eyes locked onto Ayero's own, Yaku searched her for how she took the monologue. Waiting. He wanted her to think about what he'd said and did not continue until it looked like she was about to speak herself. "Before you speak. Look to your side and then tell me...what is most important right now?" Yakuroro made a gentle nod towards Vincenzo. He wanted to be sure that Ayero understood that there was a reason to live that was far more important than the death of her family's killers. He did not want the trauma of her loss to have her lose sight of what she still had.


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Thank you all, for everything.

Ayero

Ayero
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
She’s a bit taken aback when Yakuroro’s mask fade and he meets her hard gaze with an intense one of his own. But her mind is elsewhere, and she pushes the different behavior of the Imuchakk into the back of her head for now. A strange as he was acting, she got the feeling that it wasn’t entirely uncharacteristic. She absorbs his words silently, a thick anger smoldering in her eyes as she does so. Was he denying her revenge? Closure? Right now she felt as if she would do everything within her power to make those wicked men suffer even if it destroyed her, leaving her as nothing more than a broken shell of a person. But her emotions were still iron-hot in the moment, her world having been drastically changed not a few hours ago. Moving her gaze away from his slowly, she ruminates on the repercussions of her anger briefly. Yakuroro did have a point though, she couldn’t afford to let her emotions wrought from pain rule her, not when she had someone who depended on her.


At his cue she lowers her gaze to the young red head at her side, so close to her that he was pressed against her skin. He was content in the moment with a child’s bliss, but she knew that it wouldn’t be for long. No matter the outcome, it would surely be a painful journey for the both of them. Noticing the silence that had fallen over the cabin and his sister staring down at him almost wistfully, Vincenzo pauses mid bite.


”Are you okay, big sis?” He speaks concerned words through a mouthful of bread, his one visible eye staring up at her in worry. The boy’s innocence bring the faintest and most fleeting of smiles to her face.


”Chew your food before speaking.”

Swallowing the bread with an audible gulp, the boy is satisfied and returns to eating. Ayero’s tone held about half the strength it usually did when scolding a child and was far softer than usual. But the note of authority in it was hard to miss.


Straightening in her chair, Ayero turns to lock eyes with Yakuroro once more. The fire is still in her eyes, but it flickers and roars with passion and drive more than anger and hatred. Placing a hand on Vincenzo’s head, the boy looks up at her again from behind his bowl as she speaks, her voice solid penetrating.


”The most important thing is to protect my family.”


──────────────────────────────────────────────

Duquin

Duquin
A-Tier
A-Tier
"Mmm!" Yakuror smiled and nodded when Ayero looked back to him with a much more clear determination. He no longer got the feeling that she was ready to run head first into a wall of swords without thinking. "In that case, I'll help you in any way I can." Akatetsu then spoke up with a small roar so as to make sure Ayero knew that he was also eager to assist her in carrying this burden. "Gyagrwar!" The Imuchakk chuckled and  turned to smile at Akatetsu in kind, "Yes, WE, will help you. This wont be something you need to do alone. Together we will bring the scoundrels to justice." Looking back to Ayero, Yakuroro relaxed into a brighter demeanor and the thick aura he had been giving off just moments ago evaporated into nothing.

Leaning back in his seat, Yakuroro asked Ayero if she had any leads before offering to help her find one. "Do you know where to begin tracking the bandits? It sounds like they would have been long gone. I doubt their trail still lingers. If you have any objects belonging to the bandits or a sample of their blood, I may be able to find them...but I've never done something like that before. It would be a new magic for me."


──────────────────────────────────────────────

Thank you all, for everything.

Ayero

Ayero
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
A look of surprise reflects in her eyes as Yakuroro mentions that he and Akatetsu were willing to help her. She wanted to reject his offer at first, her instincts telling her that this must be a journey she takes by herself. But as much as she wanted to complete this task using her own strength alone, it would not be a smart choice. Even the strongest men in the world had their allies of whom they can rely on in trouble times, and Ayero was grateful albeit somewhat confused that the Imuchakk would readily offer himself and his son up for a dangerous mission that he seemingly had no connection to.

”Thank you, Yakuroro. Tetsu.” She decides to hold her questions for later, preferably when they weren’t within earshot of the Fanalis boy. As Tetsu announces his presence from the window, Vincenzo jumps in his seat and places his spoon in his bowl as he turns to examine the creature with a wide eye. Initially afraid at their first meeting, the child now felt safer in the warm cabin with his sister and her gentle giant of a friend. Vin looks back to Ayero with a wondrous expression of curiosity that only a child could make genuinely only to receive a small smile and a nod from the woman.

He scoots himself down from the chair while Ayero and Yakuroro converse, focus at the strange beast poking his head through the window. Standing on his toes, the boy slowly reaches toward Akatetu, his hand just falling short of the chimera’s face.

”We could go back to the village. There are…remains there. There might be something you could use.” She clears her throat and glances back at the Fanalis child before lowering her tone and leaning in closer. ”I’m…not sure what to do with him. I’m hesitant to leave him somewhere, even if it’s safe…but I absolutely do not want to involve him in this.” Her eyes soften, troubled at the thought of leaving the boy only to thrust herself into danger. She was certain that he’d be stubborn about leaving her side so soon if the way he clung to her earlier was any indication.


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Duquin

Duquin
A-Tier
A-Tier
It was a relief that Ayero was accepting of the Imuchakk's assistance. Yakuroro saw an importance in this woman. One that did not warrant her life be wasted on a fool's errand of vengeance. Because of this, he likely would have helped her through this ordeal whether she had taken his warning to heart or not. But it was very comforting to know that at least for now, the fanalis was strongly aware of his duty to her sibling. Yaku was confident that she was do everything in her power to come back from this still breathing. As Ayero spoke on what they should do next, Yakuroro turned to look as Vincenzo approached his son. Akatetsu's humanoid eyes would peer down at the child softly. As Vincenzo rose a hand, he would find a carbon bone skull lowering gently to meet him.

Akatetsu sniffed at the boys hand to commit Vincenzo's scent to memory and made a curious growl that caused the bonehead to ruble lightly. He was unable to really feel the small hand petting him as the protective shell got in the way of more subtle sensations. But Akatetsu could still feel the warmth of the fanalis child's hand and appreciated his touch as a gesture of kindness.

Turning his head away from this scene, Yakuroro looked back to Ayero as she lowered her voice and expressed a need to find somewhere Vincenzo could be safe and how uncomfortable even that would be. Yakuroro agreed that they could not take him along with them, but he wasn't sure how to alleviate Ayero's concern. As she was now, he hardly felt that she'd accept him being in the care of anyone other than herself. But there were things Ayero had to do. Things that would not be safe for a young child still ignorant of the world outside his mountain village. "I don't know what to do with him either...Maybe we could have Tetsu look after him?"


──────────────────────────────────────────────

Thank you all, for everything.

Ariella Negri

Ariella Negri
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
Ariella sighed and rubbed her temples as she talked to Jarl. The Grumptoes were very excited for their little field trip to the mountains, never having seen snow so clean before. Jarl was explaining everything they would need for their little 'camping' adventure and she nodded, handing him some gold to go purchase the necessary extra clothing and tents they would need. They had brought five children up here to learn about the wildlife and terrain of the mountains and also to teach the kids some basic survival skills but right now, the group was too hyper and excited to be taught anything.

Two of the children were having an argument and all she caught was something about monsters and she sighed again. Three were off throwing snow balls at each other and giggling while these two were trying to decide if the thing at the window of one of the buildings was a monster or just a carving.

"It's a monster, I'm telling you! And I will prove it!"

She ran over to try and grab them both but before she could stop the six year old, he launched a snowball at the back of the undetermined object.


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Of Kin and Heritage [Epic Quest - Ayero Shiba] Ari%20Sigs_zpsn7c2bhju

Ayero

Ayero
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
A wide grin platered Vincenzo’s face as the beast lowered his head to his outstretched hand in interest. After Akatetsu had sniffed said appendage, the boy slowly caressed the beast’s bone skull, marveling at how thick and hard it seemed. Vin had seen a creature like Akatetsu and was fascinated at the chimera’s visible features. He looked nothing like the domestic animals his family had raised for sustenance or the wild mountain bears and boars that they hunted on occasion. Were there more creatures like Akatetsu? And blue-haired giants that could supposedly do magic like Yakuroro? This world certainly had a lot to offer!


The young Fanalis giggles softly when he realizes that things weren’t so scary now, not in this little cabin where everything was so calm and warm. His childish curiosity with the beast kept him distracted enough from the low ominous words the adults spoke not only a few feet away.


Crossing her arms and leaning back in the chair, Ayero closes her eyes and inhales slowly. Though she loved and trusted Tetsu, she wasn’t so sure about leaving him with a child who had just suffered a major loss. To be honest, she would be very hesitant to leave him in anyone’s care. Breathing out, she opens her eyes once more. ”I’m not sure if that’s for the best. Besides, we might need Tetsu to help track—“ She interrupts her own words with a pause a child’s distant yelling could be heard, followed quickly by the muted sound of the snowball impacting the chimera’s body.


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Duquin

Duquin
A-Tier
A-Tier
As the ball of aggregated ice fragments shattered against Akatetsu's hide, the beast retracted its head from the window and took a few steps back before turning to glare at the children responsible. Seeing they were merely a couple mischievous boys, the chimera didn't make any acts of aggression. But he still didn't appreciate the snow ball to his flank. Silently, Akatetsu would stare at the children as his tail gathered up a larger ball of snow behind him. The chimera suddenly grinned showing his teeth and let out a roar as he threw a much large snow ball back at the children with his 2m long tail. "Gyagrawr!"

Yakuroro had hardly taken notice of the sound of the snow ball, but when Ayero stopped mid sentence, he turned in time to see the chimera pulling out from the window. "Tetsu?" The Imuchakk got up and headed outside just in time to witness his son returning fire on the kids. Face met palm in a dull thud as Yakuroro sighed and walked up behind Akatetsu to bonk him on the head for having responded in such a childish manner. "That isn't fair Akatetsu, they can't make snow balls that big!"


──────────────────────────────────────────────

Thank you all, for everything.

Ariella Negri

Ariella Negri
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
Ari covered her mouth in disbelief as the creature turned, only to laugh when a large snowball was returned to the boys. Looking at them slightly with concern of possible injuries, she need not have worried, as the boys were laughing loudly at the snowy assault.

"He's not a monster, he's playing with us!"

The two children promptly began trying to gather more snow, their tiny hands launching small snowballs in the direction of Akatetsu, most not even coming close to hitting the poor creature.

"YOU TWO! STOP! Sir, I am so sorry, they won't do it again... WILL YOU?"


The boys dropped their head at the reprimand, mumbling out they would be good.

"Again, I am so sorry, we are trying to give them some camping experience and they are hyper and rowdy. I hope your... um... sorry, I have never seen anything like him before, but I hope he is okay.
"

Ari apologized profusely at the behavior of the children while Jarl laughed heartily behind them.

"Lesson one, kids: If you think there is a possibility of it being a monster, don't throw things at it. Lesson two: Never pick a fight with something that much bigger than you!"


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Of Kin and Heritage [Epic Quest - Ayero Shiba] Ari%20Sigs_zpsn7c2bhju

Ayero

Ayero
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
Taking a cue from Yakuroro, Ayero also rises and follows the Imuchakk outside with Vincenzo in tow. The laughter of children tickles her ears along with a woman’s scolding voice as she steps out into the snowy streets, squinting as her eyes adjust to the brightness of the outdoors. ”Ari?” She mutters to herself a bit taken aback, not expecting to see the young woman in a place like this. What’s even more surprising is the fact that she’s surrounded by young children, a fact that causes the Fanalis woman to raise her brows as she approaches the yellow magician.


”It’s been a while, Ariella. I haven’t seen you since the party.” Though there is no hostility in her voice, her tone is a bit too somber for one who tries to greet in a friendly manner. ”I didn’t know that you had children.” She adds smoothly, clearly joking even if her tone would not indicate so.


Vincenzo felt a little silly clinging to Ayero and hiding behind her, especially seeing as how he thought that he was older than the other children present. Peeking out from behind his sister, his one visible eye fixes on the pretty lady that Ayero was talking to and a deep blush dusts his cheeks. Ayero seems to notice him shift and places a hand on his head while introducing him. ”This is my brother, Vincenzo. Vin, come and say hello to Ari and her friends. Don’t be rude.”


The boy shuffles out from behind the older Fanalis, his head dipped toward the ground as he tries in vain to hide is blushing face. ”Um…hello…”


──────────────────────────────────────────────

Duquin

Duquin
A-Tier
A-Tier
The snow balls launched at Akatetsu would indeed miss their mark, but one did land a critical hit on a different target. Just as Yakuroro finished scolding Akatetsu, a snowball hits the Imuchakk directly in the face stopping his word midway, "...can't make snow balls that bi-" The magician stopped dead in his tracks and paused as the snow fell away due to the twitching of one of his eyes. "That's it! Tetsu, let's show these brats how to make a real snow ball!" The Imuchakk and chimera pair then began creating their own snow balls that were far larger in size. Hefting a torso sized mass of snow over head as if he were about to throw it, Yakuroro noticed that Ayero had recognized the woman chaperoning the children and was greeting her.

Imuchakk and bonehead alike stopped and the snowballs they were getting ready to throw fell apart falling on top of both of them in comedic fashion. Shaking the snow from his head of blue hair, Yakuroro glanced back and forth from Vincenzo and the other children. Judging from the words exchanged between Ayero and this "Ari" person, they were on good terms. Walking up to Ayero's side, Yakuroro leans down to whisper in her ear, "What safer place for Vincenzo than among others his own age under the protection of someone you know?" That was all he needed to say for his suggestion to become clear. But the Imuchakk wasn't going to wait for the fanalis girl's reply. He didn't see her willingly handing her brother over to anyone at the moment so instead he would force her hand for her.

Standing tall, the Imuchakk addressed Ari in a friendly tone. "Greetings, I'm Yakuroro from Imuchakk. Ayero and I were just about to embark on a trip into the mountains for research but it would be a dangerous journey for a boy. Do you have room for one more lad in your flock of ducklings? He'll get along GREAT with the other kids, I'm sure!" Yakuroro then pat Vincenzo on the back rather firmly in a manner that would send him stumbling forward a few steps but not hard enough to knock him flat on his face.


──────────────────────────────────────────────

Thank you all, for everything.

Ariella Negri

Ariella Negri
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
Ari looked startled to see Ayero there, but smiled broadly at the half-Fanalis woman. She waved at the children surrounding her.

“What can I say, I work fast! Also, these are some kids from the slums. Azix and I are trying to help get them some exposure to things outside of the city.”

Ari looked up as the giant blue-haired man started to gather snowballs with his creature before the snow crumbled on their head. She and the children could not resist laughing at the antics of the two. It was nice to see Ayero had more light-hearted friends, the woman could be too serious. Speaking of serious, the woman looked to be on the edge of tears, rage or both.

When Ayero introduced the boy at her side as her brother, Ari made no sign of the surprise in her mind and instead knelt down to be eye level with him.

“Hi there! I am Ari and these fine young boys like to call themselves the Grumptoes!”

When the Imuchakk man spoke again, Ari stood. His words about research did not ring true to her, Ayero did not seem the type for research and her eyes practically screamed bloodlust behind the friendly spark. She hoped the man was not trying to hurt the woman in any way, even if he did seem rather friendly. She looked back to Ayero with an unspoken question in her eyes.

“If Ayero does not mind us borrowing her brother, we would be happy to have him along! He seems much more familiar with this area than Jarl or I are. He could help us teach the kids about the wildlife and survival techniques, right?”

The other kids cheered, one of the snowball throwing young ones running over to smile and grab Vin’s hand, dragging him over to show off an oddly shaped snowman he had made while the adults were talking.

“That is, of course, if Ayero does not mind. I would hate to break up a family reunion.”


──────────────────────────────────────────────

Of Kin and Heritage [Epic Quest - Ayero Shiba] Ari%20Sigs_zpsn7c2bhju

Ayero

Ayero
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
Hearing that Ari and Azix were collaborating on raising these kids, or so she assumed, was a bit of a shock to the Fanalis. Her eyes dart around briefly, half expecting to catch sight of the dark-haired light magician. When Ari kneels down to greet Vin and introduce her younger companions, the boy keeps his eyes glued to the ground as his cheeks heat up even more. The boy wasn’t necessarily shy by nature, but a combination of recent events as well as encountering an exotically beautiful woman left him a little unsure of how to conduct himself.


”The Grumpy Toads?” Vincenzo echoed, lifting his face to examine the other children while his one eye squints in confusion. These kids were smiling and laughing, they didn’t seem grumpy at all! And they looked like toads even less.


As Ari speaks with the younger Fanalis, Ayero’s eyes soften almost to the point of sadness at Yakuroro’s words. If they wanted to move quickly, this was the best option. Though she hadn’t known Ariella for as long as she would have liked to before allowing her to protect what was now the most precious thing in the world to her, she begrudgingly admitted to herself that Vincenzo would be far better off in the magician woman’s care than hunting down bloodthirsty criminals with her. Besides, it seemed like Ari had experience caring for children as evidenced by the little ones running about.


Catching the subtle questioning look in Ari’s eyes, Ayero forces a small smile. ”I’ll be accompanying Yakuroro on his research trip into the mountains. Because I know the area well, I’ve agreed to guide him. I would appreciate it if you would watch after my brother for a few days.” She pauses when one of the younger kids tries to drag Vincenzo off to play and gives her brother an encouraging look as he seemed to want to join the other children but was unsure.


”He could, he’s spent his entire life in these mountains.” She looks a bit hesitant, wondering if Vin would be alright away from her. After letting him play for a few minutes, Ayero calls out to him and beckons him back over to her. Kneeling onto the snow so that she could speak with Vin at eye level, she grasps his hands gently and gives him an earnest look.


”Vin, how would you like to stay with Ariella and the Grumptoes for a little while?” Though her voice and movements are gentle, the boy could still sense that something was a bit off among the adults. ”They’re trying to learn more about the mountains, and I think that you’d be the perfect one to help them out. What do you say?” She offers him a smile, but Vincenzo isn’t so sure.


”But…why can’t we both help them? Sis grew up in the mountains, too. I heard you say it!” The boy’s voice shook a little, not thrilled with the idea of being separated from Ayero even if it meant that he could play with his new friends. He moved closer to Ayero, searching her eyes for any sign of relent, begging her not to leave with his gaze.


Taking a deep breath to steady herself, Ayero finds that she can’t look away to gather her thoughts. Instead, she takes a pause before trying to soothe the boy. ”There are some dangerous beasts further up the mountain. I’m going with Yakuroro so that I can protect him. He’s pretty weak you know, the guy can’t really fight well.” She adds the last bit in an attempt to lighten the mood, to try and convince her little brother that they’d only be fighting wild animals if need be. ”So don’t lead them too far up the mountain, okay? I’ll let you know when it’s…safe.”” She adds suddenly, hoping that Vin wouldn’t lead them near their former home.


The boy gives her a strange look. While her alibi sounded perfectly reasonable, it did not hit his ears right. He had seen the sparks of anger and sorrow in his sister’s eyes and knew that she and the blue giant were leaving for more than simple research. His hands ball into fists in frustration and he tilts his head down, trying to stay strong and barely holding back tears.


”But…sis, I don’t want you to go…”


Biting her lower lip in inner conflict, Ayero pulls the boy to her in a warm embrace. ”Promise you’ll be a good boy for Ari and the Grumptoes, okay?”


Sniffling, Vin wipes his face with the arm of his sleeve and nods curtly, head still bowed towards the ground. Ayero casts him a gaze full of regret before slowly unwinding the scarf from her neck. She begins to wrap it around Vin, the boy looking up in surprise at the sudden contact. Standing, she places a hand on his head and offers him a more natural smile. Burying his nose into the fabric and inhaling the calming scent, the siblings share one last hug before going their separate ways. Before they depart completely, Ayero mouths “Take care of him” to Ariella before turning her back to her brother and her focus toward the mountain.


──────────────────────────────────────────────

Solomon's Proxy

Solomon's Proxy
Ω-Tier
Ω-Tier
After Ayero says her temporary goodbyes to her newly discovered little brother, she and her trusted companion, Yakuroro, will go in search of the bandits that attacked her village and stole what few precious family heirlooms remained. Desperate to recover whatever pieces of her lost family she could and wanting to protect the other mountain villages, Ayero would point Yakuroro back to her home village in search of hints about the direction the bandits had taken.

If they searched one of the houses, they would find a small camp the bandits had set up temporarily with evidence of wounds being bandaged, as bloody rags were lying about and it was apparent the residents of the home had been slaughtered. Whoever had been there after the carnage had been injured. Would Yakuroro be able to pull information from these bloody scraps?

Duquin

Duquin
A-Tier
A-Tier
Entering the ruined house, Yakuroro's search turned up the bloody rags and he moved over to kneel down next to one. The Imuchakk's fingers probed the long dried sample of wept life juice and rubbed into the dark stained cloth. The dried blood flaked and cracked and the magician frowned. Looking around it was apparent from environmental clues that the house had been used as a shelter from the storm. It would be odd for these bandages to belong to the ruin's rightful occupants so that left the bandits. If the rags were truly the left overs of a few of the men who attacked this place nursing their wounds, then perhaps Ayero and Yakuroro were in luck. "Bit stale...but it should be fresh enough..." Yaku mumbled to himself as he picked up the rags and blew some dust off them.

Standing, Yakuroro hunched his head low so as not to hit his head on the roof of this house that was clearly never built for an Imuchakk. Squeezing his way out of the door, Yakuroro moved away from the house and held the bandaging up to the sun to check it once more. He wasn't sure if his spell would be effective on the aged sample of blood, nor was he sure that it belonged to those they sought to track. But there wasn't much in the way of clues or tracks that could give them any leads as to which way the bandits went. This cloth would have to do or else this hunt could be rather long and fruitless. Satisfied with his observation of the bandages in the sunlight, Yakuroro let go of the cloth letting it fall to the floor where he would aim his staff at it.

"Come, show us where your former owner went. Tracking Dew!"

Yakuroro sent a jolt of magoi into the object with commands to the rukh. The spell asked the rukh lingering in the blood which way the flesh vessel it had come from was at. The rukh responded by forming a trail of dew that darkened the snow covered ground and glistened in the light when crossing uncovered surfaces making it slightly easier to follow. If the bandages belonged to someone who was dead then the trail of droplets would only lead them to a corpse. Hoping that this would not be the case, Yakuroro called out for Ayero and Akatetsu to follow. "It seems we have a lead. This way."

The dew trail would lead to a camp 10 miles east of the village. As Yakuroro spotted the camp in the distance he dropped low and gestured to Ayero quietly before pointing out the distant gathering of men. There were six bandits in all with one seemed to be the clear leader of the group.

((Information in this post about the plot enemies and their location was provided by Solomon's Proxy via pm.))

Magoi - 290/300
250+/250 Tracking Dew Training:
Name: Tracking Dew
Tier: D
Cost: 10 Magoi | 5 Sustained
Element: Clairvoyance
Class: Supplementary
Range: 10m
Duration: Sustained
Cool-Down: 2 Posts; Sustained +1
Description: The user must obtain something which has been with their target for months OR some of their blood. By asking the rukh within the medium for directions, the user can track the owner to their current position. The rukh conveys which way to go by forming a trail of dew droplets in the environment up to 10m away from the caster. As they follow the trail it continues to spread until it reaches the individual they were tracking.


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Thank you all, for everything.

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