Private Tales Figments and Portents

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Samara Asenta

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"Hrk."

An iron grip found its way about the throat of a man. An unwelcome pressure on the larynx made all the worse as gravity no longer kept his feet on the floor as it should. The offending appendage had taken to hefting his moderate weight aloft; all that kept from having their throat torn apart from the competing forces were his fingers futilely wrapped about the wrist of their assailant. Their eyes stared up at the ceiling, wild and tear-filled with pain.

Slowly they jerked to look down the length of their executioner's arm. Down to the pale face, black lips, and elongated fangs that waited there. The silent, twisted snarl of her features said more than words could convey. Even the shining whites of their unholy eyes seemed to spin in wait of rending the man limb from limb.

Sudden as the pressure came it went only to be replaced by several more at odd angles. The man's body was flung across the room as easily as one might a spud. Colliding with the shelves had about the same effect as well, but with a far more diverse assortments of clatters, slams. and bangs.

Samara whirled to face the collapsed man where he lay and groan. "You told the Vespine Alliance about the relic tale?" A hiss was all they heard next before her fingers took hold of the man's scruff, hauled him off the floor as one might a book, and swung him up then back down onto a nearby table. A fanged maw snapped in the man's face as she loomed over him. "A relic of such power -- such dominion -- and you told a power-craving group all about it?"

Pain wracked their frail form, which left them scarcely able to respond non-verbally while their vocal cords were held shut by Samara' grasp. His right hand lifted toward her, perhaps to plea for their life. All they got in response was a tendril of all-consuming darkness that appeared from behind the Vampire wrapping itself about their arm and then twisted it in grotesque angles.

It does not matter that they knew of this one relic and might be of use elsewhere. We cannot trust them not to inform others, the Dark One whispered in Samara's ear. Kill him.

It was one of those rare moments -- perhaps one that should have terrified the Dark Elf -- where the two of them agreed on something. Without further ado, Samara shoved the man's head to one side with his chin pushed upward by her thumb. The elongated fangs flashed before they sunk greedily into the man's neck. Blood began to pool on the table beneath as Samara devoured the man's life from what was soon a cold, dead corpse.

The Elven woman snapped up right with a flip of her hair and a light dab at her lips to make sure she hadn't made a mess of things. A heated sigh passed between her lips then. Whether drinking blood was actually necessary for her survival, Samara couldn't deny just how fulfilling it felt to indulge in the urge.

With that unfortunate business out of the way, Samara turned to swipe the book that had contained a vital clue as to the whereabouts of the relic. No point killing the messenger if the message was left for just another to find it. Now she had to be quick before someone else acquired the artifact first. If it was as powerful as the legends foretold it could have devastating consequences unleashed into the world. As someone not tempted by its charms Samara was best suited to locate and dispose of it. Not that she had anyone else to count on for such matters.

After color returned to her flesh and her eyes resumed their blue hue, she flipped the sign on the door to the store. Then Samara slipped out into the evening and sealed the crime scene closed behind her. No one needed to discover the corpse until she was long gone and any association was rumor at best.

Book in hand, and hood up, the Dark Elf slipped into the darkness and began the next leg of her journey. To the secluded locale where the relic was hopefully still waiting or -- better yet -- already destroyed by someone that had similar ideas. Not that she wanted to destroy such a thing, but it was too dangerous to be kept around and Samara didn't know anyone she could truly trust with its power. Who wouldn't inevitably be tempted? All assuming it could be destroyed, of course.

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Ander'ashan Merellien

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"Last chance at your life, scholar. Tell us of the relic, and I'll let you run."

The frail man looked to the blade hovering near his face, shinning against the moonlight. His face was taken with fear, but his eyes had a sign of acceptance to his fate. The man seemed to carry with him a great secret, one that those ruffians were desperate to pry off his hands, alive or not.

Ander stood at the entrance of the alleyway, his frame hidden amid the darkness where the moon couldn't reach, and none of the cutthroats seemed to care. They were all too focused on their prize, the object that the elf had been searching for weeks now. He had hoped it would be something to spur him towards a new purpose, a sign from his gods that he could still have the answers that he sought.

That search had led him towards a small village in a remote and unfamiliar location, though most of those lands felt unfamiliar to him. Ander'ashan had only heard tales and seen images of the diverse lands of Arethil back in his homeland, never allowed to set foot outside the woods of Aendreasas, but that was a distant life now. He had failed his homeland, his people, and his family, and all that was left for him now was to wander aimlessly, always in search of something.

He hoped that relic could prove to be something. Something perhaps too dangerous to fall on the hands of people like those terrible men who were assaulting that scholar.

He might've fallen short of his duties, his recklessness and arrogance to blame for the demise of his home and people, but his title still had meaning. He was still a Guardian, and he could not simply watch as others suffered. Ander stepped forward, walking silently through the darkness until he neared the group, just in time to see the tall mercenary plunging his blade on the scholar's chest, blood spilling all over him and staining his white robes.

Distraught, the elf revealed himself as he grabbed one of the ruffians by his head, throwing him against the nearby wall. The others were quickly alerted of his attack, and took no time in charging towards him, blades in hand while Ander chose to remain unarmed. It would be a insult to draw his sword against lowly bandits like those. In a quick movement of his feet, he evaded their attacks and positioned himself just behind one of the bandits, snapping his neck with ease. He dispatched two others and was left with only the tall bandit, which he assumed to be the leader of that pack, as they took their time gauging one another.

"After the fucking relic as well, aren't you? That power will be mine, and I will make everyone bow!"

Such a fool.

The bandit charged towards Ander in a frenzy, slashing the air over and over as his blade failed to even get close to the elf, who merely danced in opposition to his attacks. Ander raised his arm just as another blow reached towards him, the metal piece covering his forearm being enough to stop the attack, much to the bandit's surprise. Before the man could ever regret his decision, the elf twisted his blade around and drove it right into his neck as the man fell to the ground, choking on his own blood.

Barely feeling the thrill of battle warm his often cold body, Ander looked to the sky and took a moment to breathe easier, before the scholar's painful coughs alerted him. Unfortunately, the Guardian had been too late to fulfill his duty once again, but the old man looked at peace with his fate, a dry smile sprouting on his lips as the elf knelt closer to him.

"You... You are not... as them. Please, the relic must be..." The scholar tried to speak, but his words were weak and his eyes were almost closing for good. Ander put his hand on his shoulder, hoping to appease him in those final moments. The scholar had spoken his last words, but on his dying breath, his hand had pointed towards the horizon, a sign that Ander would interpret as a direction to aid in his search. That man seemed to know something more about the relic, but his life had been cut short by those greedy bandits.

"Fhelan'atishan, human."

Go with peace to the Beyond. An Aendreasian way of paying respects to the dead who were honorable enough in life, that they would gain solace in the realm of dreams, removed from the troubles of their past lives. Ander sighed before his fingers carefully closed the old scholar's eyes, the wind howling strongly at the dead of night.

Back on his feet and with no more time to waste on that place, Ander knew where his search would take him next. Or rather, in which direction he would have to keep walking in order to reach the destination he thought the gods had prepared for him.

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The Dark Elf knelt down before a river whose currents calmly slid along the bank. Tracks of bipedal creatures had garnered a closer look by the blue-eyed Elven woman. Careful exploration of their depth and tread of their soles spoke a great deal about the sort of creature passed through recently. Several of them, in fact.

Her eyes lifted toward the shore opposite of where she knelt. Then they slowly slid up and downstream of that location. Monsters were deadly, but were rarely both mobile and the sort to lay in wait. Humans, Elves, and others like them, however, were more diverse in how they hunted. Samara was forced to consider how an intelligent hunter among them might try to lure anyone following them into a trap.

Time no longer felt on her side though. Not if others knew of the relic and would try to claim it for themselves. It would be necessary to cross the river to continue on the journey to where it resided. A fact it seemed these creatures knew, or were merely unfortunate enough to be wandering in the right direction. The Elf's thoughts were on how she would proceed when the tip of her ear twitched.

Samara didn't move from where she knelt, but her senses now turned to the area behind and surrounding her. She'd hunted enough monsters in the wilds to have developed a sense when danger may be near. Someone or something was close. Perhaps, if she tarried a few moments longer, they would reveal their self. Meanwhile her hand slowly slid up her boot to push a slender blade out of its sheathe.

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Ander'ashan Merellien

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Ander had been walking for days, always to the direction pointed to him by the fallen scholar. In the first night, he remembered vividly the last breaths taken by the man, almost feeling his soul at peace as his body fell lifeless, blood all over his robes. The concept of death had always been somewhat complex to Ander as he grew up, protected by his pampered life in Avhalos.

After all, elves for such a long time, and Aendreasas was a land of peace, with the Guardians forever watchful at the borders, not an ounce of a threat ever stepping foot inside the white woods - up until the moment it crossed the gates of the city, a cloud of death that washed away everything in its path.

That's when Ander finally understood the concept of death, and the loneliness that followed after it. His chest ached for that poor man, his life taken by those ruffians that sought only to rob and desecrate. No doubt, if they were after a relic of such immense power, only evil could come out of it, and Ander had seen enough evil in recent times, enough to be determined to stop it at any cost. He thought, perhaps, that such power could be taken by the rightful hands, to be used in the ways of justice and reparation, such as he was after.

Finally, he had reached some woods that brought him a sense of peace, but also focus. A part of him knew that he was getting close to his goal, and he would have to be careful in his approach. Not long after, he spotted a few tracks along the grass, realizing that such tracks didn't belong to any animal by their likeness. Not only that, but there were several tracks, some very close to the others.

He wasn't alone in those woods.

The elf lingered there for a while longer before deciding on a set of tracks to follow, eventually exploring deeper into the forest. That's when the tracks turned into bloodlets, and the bloodlets turned into a crimson trail of guts and severed limbs, until he reached a small clearing, beholding a sight most gruesome - a tall monster, feasting on what looked like unfortunate adventurers who were probably after that very same relic.

With his sword in hand and the power of his magic, Ander made quick work of the creature, cutting it down to size and banishing it forever to the plains of the dead. With no knowledge of what it was and no other clues to be found at that spot, Ander turned to leave and return to the other sets of tracks, but his attentive ears overheard something in the distance - flowing water.

A river seemed to be nearby, a memory of his lessons as a hunter growing up, that flowing waters would often lead him to where he wanted to go.

He decided to follow after the sound, sensing that there was someone else nearby, someone who seemed already wary of his presence. The elf appeared from within the tall brushes, the wind howling some of the leaves away as he laid his eyes on the person by the riverfront.

Without an intent of fight, Ander carefully took his next steps towards the open, so that they would both take more clear sight of each other.

"Your friends are dead, massacred by a creature not far from here."

The first thoughts that had crossed his mind turned into words, as he thought that mysterious figure ahead of him would be related to the poor souls that were butchered by the dark creature a few miles from there.

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As the blade slid free, a slight movement of her fingers caused it to pivot up and lay flat against the underside of Samara's forearm. The cloaked figure slowly stood to her full height six inches shorter of the figure that'd slid through the brush. They made no effort to conceal their self, but perhaps the plan was to try getting close. Staying at a distance hadn't worked out for them so far. At least not all of them; Samara could do with sliding a blade between the ribs of those ahead.

Slowly, the Dark Elf slid one foot back to pivot in Ander's direction for a better look and to present a narrower profile. "Friends." Oh, is that what they were? Perhaps Samara's grasp on the common parlance wasn't what she believed it to be. A fleeting jest that need not be vocalized. Though there was a brief snort that followed the Elven male's announcement of their departure from this realm.

"You mean the relic hunters that followed me from a village two days from here." Samara gave a slight roll of her shoulders. "It's always been difficult to hide my passing in predominantly Human settlements. The skin, the ears, and traveling solo." She knew they'd been following her, but had kept far enough ahead she hadn't been worried. "May their gods grant their souls passage to wherever they rest."

Now the sentimentality was out of the way for people Samara hadn't wished death upon, but understood the cycle of life and death, it was time for the more pertinent topic. "I am Samara. What brings you out here in the wilds? It is a scenic beauty, but far from anything of value or on well-worn roads of travel." Both of her hands hung at her sides seemingly relaxed, while the Dark Elf was mentally poised to strike should the new company turn sour.

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Ander'ashan Merellien

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The moment was heavy with tension, only the river currents and the sound of Ander's feet stepping on the grass filling the ambiance as he slowly made his way towards that mysterious figure, who was now standing, stanced back with a blade at ready, as if she awaited combat.

Ander could even see the glimmer of steel as the moonlight shined over them, painting a beautiful scenery along the riverbank. He was very wary of strangers, but he felt something different coming from that woman - a unusual scent, one that he had never felt before. It even stirred his magic a bit, clouding his focus and making him even more curious as he approached.

Upon speaking a few words to break the silence, it didn't take long for the woman to respond. She made mention of the hunters that followed her from a village nearby, and Ander almost immediately picked up on that, having passed through the village as well, just late enough to miss them. But it seemed that, as fate would have it, the relic hunters fell short of their goal and met their demise at that forest.

Once again, Ander thought that nature could be helping him on his purpose, and it seemed that it might have helped Samara as well.

"They died in agony, butchered and devoured. But perhaps, their human gods will grant them painless peace in their afterlife." He added to her comments about the hunters from before, although not really affected by the brutality of their deaths.

She finally introduced herself, much to the Guardian's surprise, as he didn't expect them to fall towards familiarity so soon after standing in guard, wary of each other's presence. He had no wish to quarrel, not unless someone attempted to stand on his path, and it relieved him to see that Samara felt the same, noticing how she relaxed herself, but still kept her blade in hand.

It never hurt to be careful, something that Ander knew very well, as his left hand dangled next to the sword at his waist as well. Still, he would always remain friendly towards a fellow elf, even if she looked unlike any other elven that he had seen before.

"Greetings, Samara. You may call me Ander'ashan, or simply Ander, if you wish. It's a welcoming sight to meet a fellow elvhen'an out in this strange place."

He spoke calmly, his palm resting over his chest as a sign of respect as he greeted her. Elvhen'an was a word used to represent the bond of the elven race, back in Aendreasas, but even being told many stories about the elves that lived outside of his homeland, be it in fabled places such as Fal'Addas or simply scattered all around the Falwood and regions beyond, he had never seen an elf of Samara's features before.

"I seek an artifact said to be hidden within these woods, a relic of great power that could aid in my search for..." He paused for a moment, his eyes now wandering to the ground as if Ander pondered on how he could describe his journey for redemption amid great shame, sadness and loss. "...answers."

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Honestly? Samara didn't really care how they died, but that would be an uncouth thing to say aloud. Neither Elf present had demonstrated or emoted any sort of genuine concern, lamentation, or suffering as a result of those people passing or suffering before doing so. Because, most likely, neither of them truly cared. Nothing personal, but there was nothing personal involved. In fact, if it hadn't been for a mug of ale and a little time not involving walking down an endless road... Samara wouldn't have even know the town or they ever existed.

They also shared a taste for introducing themselves in the presence of another. Why not? If the other party became an enemy they would take her name to the grave. If they were just passing through they'd forget her name in a few minutes. And if they loitered -- as the man did at that moment -- then they could have a proper conversation; at least that was what sharing her name usually signaled to said other party.

Fellow Elvhen'an? There were groups that had no bias toward her bloodline -- either as a Dark Elf or Vampire -- but then there were those dead set against it as well. A silver tongue, or genuine acceptance? That was the question for two strangers that met in the wilds. But not the most pressing one once Ander got around to announcing his purpose.

"Answers." A hesistant description that was undeniably vague and didn't set him apart from the disgusting cultists that prowled the land at that very moment. Well, there was only one way Samara would learn the truth. "As am I, but we are not alone. Spiritual butchers lay ahead and will use that relic to corrupt this entire region. If you are not opposed to violence," her blue eyes had caught sight of the man's own sheathed weaponry, "perhaps, together, we can ensure that does not come to pass." Or if Ander had been trying to draw out Samara was searching for the relic to decide whether to slay his competition, they could settle a matter of violence where they stood. "Your Answers would be sated if such corruption did not come to pass, yes?" Even if Ander wasn't with them before, perhaps learning they were there his ambition would more closely align with theirs. Also unfortunate, but also something Samara was prepared to deal with if necessary.

Casually the thin blade twirled between her finger tips before it was released. Gravity took hold and the blade dropped back down into the boot from where she'd drawn it. It was a parlor trick, but one that could convince bandits to rethink attacking the caravan Samara was in. No one liked sizing up an opponent with skills no one else bothered to learn (mostly because they weren't terribly practical).

"Great power often comes at great cost." A small smile graced her lips. "I know from experience. But if you're willing to work together, I could stand the company."

Ander'ashan Merellien
 

Ander'ashan Merellien

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Spiritual butchers...

That was certainly a good enough definition for the people who roamed the land with nothing but their pocket's best interests at heart. Even with a few months of living as a wanderer, he had come to know many such people - mercenaries who would gamble with innocent lives, razing a whole village if it meant gaining a few pieces of coin.

There was never any honor involved, no sense of duty that a warrior would follow, a righteous battle that would be worth raising his sword for. Instead, it was just senseless killing, people murdering each other for nothing.

In some ways, those eerie thoughts reminded him of what happened to Avhalos, how death came from nowhere and everywhere at once, laying siege to the whole city and turning it into a ruin filled with blood and ghosts. It hadn't been for coin, but he could only guess that greed was also involved, the greed for power this time.

Ander had never wished for power, only prestige and attention. And just like power and coin, it blinded him to truths that he refused to see, the lessons that he so blatantly ignored up until the moment it all came back to haunt him, and even his remarkable skill and prowess as a warrior couldn't save the things he cherished the most. It was a mistake that he would carry with him forever, haunting his every sleeping night, as rare as they were, but at least keeping the fires of humility burning deep inside him.

The elf raised his eyes from the ground now, looking back at Samara as she waited his answer, with Ander fearing he may have wandered too deep into his own guilt filled thoughts. "My title and honor serve no more purpose, Samara... But if it helps protect the people of the region, and also you, then my sword will aid in this quest." His words were sincere and heartfelt, his gaze strong as his blue eyes stared the elven woman. He had always been quite a poor judge of character, but even with such few words exchanged between them, Ander could almost sense that he could trust her.

They were on quite similar paths after all, and she seemed skilled enough for the dangerous task ahead.

Impressed, Ander watched as Samara indulged him with a small trick to put her blade away, even garnering a small smile from the Guardian before he slowly walked towards him, freeing himself of the battle hardened posture he was putting on earlier and walking past to the woman as she spoke, uttering words that reminded him of... home.

'Great power often comes at great cost.'

Those were words once said to him by one of his masters, Maha'rel. He was a exquisite fighter with a lance, and they fought for days as one of the tests required for him to advance the ranks of the Order of Avhalosian Guardians. At the end, once they stood high atop a cliff that overlooked the entire region of Aendreasas, Maha'rel said those very same words before declaring his withdrawal from the fight, labelling Ander'ashan the victor.

"I've heard those words before, in a place I once called home. And you may be right, Samara... Perhaps our alliance will be very fruitful." He told her, a small smile across his lips as he looked back at her before setting his sights on the dark horizon, filled with trees and a unruling mystery. A chilling breeze blew by them just as Ander closed his eyes, thinking about what next steps they would have to take in order to retrieve that relic.

"I suppose our goal lies beyond this river. What should we be expecting in that darkness?"

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Titles and honor? Either this Elf knew more than he should about her, or they shared something in common. Now didn't seem the time to just gush about herself. Perhaps at a camp site, but without involving Dshara in the telling of her own story.

So far, Ander had passed the first few tests. They had not come to blows, and the man had offered to aid her in preventing certain disaster. Whether two blade-wielding Elves would be sufficient who could say? Then again, that was twice as many as there'd been an hour ago.

Samara paused to glance in the direction of the other bank before her gaze settled back on her Elven cousin. "The most recent band was a group of five or six. Well armed. Possibly an Orc among them. I am certain there are others. These are sell-swords here to protect the ruthless cut-throats that seek the relic. As fast as I've moved, they have managed to stay ahead. With these tracks I hope whatever magic they used is behind us now so their numbers will not swell further." Unless they conjured beasts or Ascendents; the latter of which would make an already perilous task all the more urgent and deadly.

"Before we cross, we should discuss what each of us is capable of before our skills may be needed." Samara turned to face the man fully as she no longer believed he'd try to assail her. Seeing how she'd put forth the request, the Dark Elf felt it appropriate that she go first to show it was no trap. "I know how to wield many bladed weapons, how to fight bare handed, can climb vertical surfaces with ease," to put it mildly, "see well in the dark, and while I cannot cast magic I am familiar with the Art."

No mention of shrugging off a blade to the chest? Perhaps feeling a bit parched afterward?

Yes, damnation was an attribute or skillset that Samara chose not to reveal at this time.

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Ander'ashan Merellien

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Ander pondered over her words as Samara told him about the other people that also chased the same relic they were after.

Ruthless cut-throats. As far he could tell, Arethil was filled with such people, and the elf even had the displeasure of crossing paths - and swords - with them. His mind shortly wandered back to the night when that band of ruffians murdered the scholar who had pointed him in this direction. They had no honor and seemed to care little for the lives lost in their wake, which greatly angered the Guardian.

A powerful artifact, already hidden from the entire world due to its power, could never fall in the hands of those people. But at least, Samara seemed to know much about the situation and even went into detail about what they would be expecting from their enemies. He gazed at her, narrowing his eyes as she mentioned the word 'Orc', with Ander reaching into the depths of his mind, trying to come upon its meaning.

On his lectures, he had known Orcs to be a race of warriors and giants, but that they were even more dangerous than the humans that went to war with his fellow elvhen, several times. Ander would be lying if he said he wasn't at slightly excited to come upon another warrior of renown, even if they were on opposite sides of their paths.

"The forests have always been kind to us, its keepers from ages long past. In case there are people chasing after us, we can trust nature to take care of them before we even get the chance to do so." He spoke calmly, filled with certainty and confidence. Perhaps their gods would differ, seeing as Samara hailed from lands foreign to Ander, but even if everything else around him had fallen to disgrace, the warrior would always keep his faith.

He would not be honoring the memory of his dead friends and family if he did otherwise. The Gods would see him on the proper path, and he was confident they would also help Samara in whatever struggles she could be facing.

As they talked, the elf had noticed a short path of rocks standing over the river, giving way to the other side. He started making his way over there, before Samara spoke again, stopping him on his tracks. He was confused for a moment, but he had understood her intelligent request to gauge their skills before moving on. They were strangers after all, and if they were to trust each other with their lives in the battles to come, they would have to know more about their expertises.

As she detailed her own skills, Ander stood impressed, crossing his arms in front of his chest while paying the utmost attention to her. Samara looked to be a great warrior as well, although not one to have trained under any Order.

Ander opened a shy smile, chuckling a bit as he thought of what to say next. "We may spend the rest of the night here, if I am to delve into the details of my hundred years of training." He let his arms go, before staring his hands with a more serious expression on his face. "Our skills are very much alike, Samara, but I have been trained as a Da'lan, a protector and Keeper of the ancient Aendreasian Magic. A battlemage, if you would."

For a moment, Ander closed his eyes and let the calmness still his mind, focusing his energy and feeling it run free across his body. When he next looked at her, Samara would see his eyes changed to a brighter color, white with shades of yellow, with a few markings also brightening on his left arm, uncovered by any piece of armor. The demonstration didn't last long, and suddenly the lights had vanished, with Ander returning to his normal state before calmly approaching the woman.

"My story is not a happy one, but if we are to trust and know more about each other, I can share it with you." He looked at her, sure of his words. There was something about Samara that greatly intrigued him, but he couldn't tell what. At least not yet. "Should we make camp and rest for the night or press onwards, before the relic falls out of our grasp forever?"

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Trust nature? Samara had heard people speak of Elves and their connection to the natural world before. Even met a few. She still didn't entirely get their whole communion with some all-binding Force called 'Nature' like every plant had a unified consciousness. The Dark Elven lineage wasn't not ignorant of nature, of course; Samara's people learned to tend to the woods and harvest fields like many others. They just didn't ascribe to the same 'oneness' with their environment than their Elven 'cousins' did.

Speaking of which, Ander was apparently over a hundred years old. Which likely meant his skills exceeded her own. She might need to rely on her accursed powers to keep up with him at times. Probably best if she didn't admit how young she was either. Might be a bit... embarrassing. For her. Even if she still possessed magical ability Ander would likely have still outshone her in Samara's own (former) specialty.

In an effort of full disclosure, Ander then manifested some of his power for Samara to witness.

"I would like to hear more of it," Samara admitted, "but as we move. I have the advantage in the dark, and the light strains my eyes." They could still move in daylight, but it was harsher on Samara's form of vampirism. If she didn't need to pretend to be completely normal and waste the evening around a fire, so much the better. "Perhaps I can share my own tale, if you have an interest." Heavily edited, of course.

Don't leave out worshiping a Dark One on my account, my Sweet.

Worshiping was overstating it... in a sense. Though Samara didn't find the intrusive presence nearly as revolting as when She had first made Her self known. Even the concern over that change had begun to weaken, which in itself should be concerning and yet elicited no mental or emotional reaction within the Dark Elf.

Samara gestured for Ander to accompany her as she turned toward the rocks that'd caught Ander's eyes. "I do not think we will catch them so soon, so there is time to talk. About our past, our present, and our abilities. I confess, I hardly know you and I already believe I am impressed with your magical talent."

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Ander'ashan Merellien

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And so it seems, they settled on what course of action to follow through. Ander was quite curious about the details of her powers, as Samara explained to him that she had an advantage in the dark, and also that light seemed to have ill effects on her. It was something new to him, and if she was so inclined to speak of it, he would not hold his questions.

There was enough time to trek through that vast wilderness until they reached their goal, and while Ander didn't know exactly what he was looking for, Samara and her knowledge of the region would perhaps prove to be very useful guides.

Without delay, the warrior followed her as they made their way towards the short path of rocks, sturdy and steady enough for them to cross the river. Ander motioned for her to cross first, while he went shortly afterwards, losing himself in that beautiful scenery for a moment, as the moonlight seemed to highlight the beautiful color of those blue waters.

A shade of color amid the darkness of that forest, a wonderful painting in such a mysterious and chaotic journey.

Not long after, they had left that small clearing behind, along with the river, and had started to delve deeper into the heart of those woods, hearing no other sounds but their steps along the grass. Ander let himself be at ease while accompanied by Samara, trusting that she would be alert in case there were any other enemies, waiting in the shadows.

"I am also impressed at the quickness of your hands." He followed up on what she was telling him before, now referring to the trick she had used to put away her blade when they met. Walking side by side, Ander now looked at her, his blue eyes almost shining in that darkness. "I have met many female warriors in Avhalos, but none quite so... impressive, as you."

He spoke kindly, and also honestly. Although he had never seen a female Guardian, nor asked for the reason behind that, Ander had met many of the elite female warriors that formed the defense of the Royal Family and the Elders. They were all impressive in their own skills, but Samara was... different.

She didn't seem to possess a hundred years of training, and yet looked to be incredibly powerful. And also, her powers were a mystery to him, as well as her story. "What is your tale, Samara? What do you seek in this life?"

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If Samara knew Ander's thoughts, the Dark Elf would have seen a different beauty in the serenity around them. The dark world around them was as clear as day to her eyes; while her eyes could not pierce the trunks of trees or the flesh of the living, shadows might as well not exist. There was no mystery. No danger lurking just out of sight.

No, those things came in the day when the sun might blind her even if but a moment as her eyes recovered from a stray ray of light. Not to mention standing in an open field with nothing overhead; the way it bleached the world and overloaded her eyes created a different kind of blindness and sense of danger. It had taken a while to grow accustomed to that inversion. If they spoke of it openly, it might occupy their time together in how similar and different the experiences were.

A glance over at Ander followed the man's comment about her hands. Their blue eyes met in the darkness for a moment, which caused Samara to marvel at how bright his were. With the way his white hair framed his face, there was a strange fusion of her two selves reflected in the man; and with it an appreciation for his appearance now that the threat seemed to have passed.

Im--Impressive? Surely she wasn't that impressive to someone as strong and experienced as Ander, Samara thought with a light heat to her cheeks.

"I--" Part of her wanted to confess everything in that moment, but Samara knew that would only lead to catastrophe. "I grew up as a...Monster Hunter of my people. After one such hunt, I was meeting with one of our Leaders when a beast managed to slip into the compound and kill them. The foul thing vanished into thin air and left me the chief suspect of the crime. I was forced to flee, and since that day have learned every form of martial combat I can in order to survive." The redacted version of events, but all true. Likely didn't do anything to explain her skill, but if the man didn't inquire about any one thing in particular than a general response might suffice.

"The dark entity that sent the assassin pursues me still. As I expect do my people, but they rarely strayed far from home in The Spine. What I seek..." The Dark Elf trailed off as her attention shifted forward again in thought. "Who I was before was taken from me. I want to find a new identity, one I can accept. One where I am not alone."

But you're not alone, my Sweet. I am always with you.

"What is a Keeper of Aendreasian Magic doing here chasing mystical, lost relics, Ander'ashan?" Samara asked in retort not about to spend the night spilling her secrets while he kept quiet about his own. Mostly so Samara didn't have to keep being creative about how not to mention vampirism or a Dark One's influence.

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There seemed to be a strange peace to that walk through those dangerous and unknown woods, as if Ander and Samara weren't chasing an artifact of great power, as well as competing with people with far less honorable agendas in regards to that.

And still, he felt comfortable and at ease with her presence. It was the first time he felt such calm feeling after the tragedy that fell over his homeland. In the months that followed his escape from those ruined lands, Ander had felt lonely and lost, wandering the lands of Arethil with no clear purpose in mind, barely sleeping and with no voice other than his own to listen to. But now, he shared time with someone else, complimenting Samara on her skills with a blade.

It wasn't his intention, but Ander tilted his head towards her on the same moment she looked at him, and he couldn't help but feel mesmerized with the way she looked at him, her icy blue eyes bore a soft similarity to his own eyes, and he flustered at the way some of her gentle features were marked by the moonlight once they crossed a few sets of tall trees, walking into a more open space.

Without realizing it, Ander could no longer tear his gaze away from her, feeling a strange heat on his face and losing himself on his own words for a moment.

Being completely honest to himself, Ander had no knowledge of what feelings were supposed to be, or what he should say. Even if he had lived for more than a hundred years, that was still a fairly short amount of time for an elf, and his whole life had been spent in great discipline and training. For all effects and purposes, he was still a brash kid who grew up too arrogant and spoiled for his own good, until his recklessness cut him down to size, humbling him with sadness and loss. He felt something similar coming from Samara, that feeling of loneliness and regret, but he preferred not to push through her boundaries at the moment.

They stood in silence for a while longer as they walked, before Samara now began to tell her own tale, with Ander paying the utmost attention to her, marvelling at the details of her past life. Her story was also a gloomy one, and the Guardian only felt more and more connected to her. "Our struggles aren't so different, then."

As she inquired as to what he was doing in such a odd place for a person like him, Ander couldn't help but chuckle a bit, looking to the trees as if they had a better answer to that question. "Redemption, or perhaps peace... I wish to sleep without the memories of my fallen brethren haunting me. I wish to bathe my sword in the blood of those who ruined my homeland." His mouth started flowing out the words that came upon his mind, without giving thought if those answers even made sense to Samara.

"Or perhaps, there is no redemption waiting for me. I failed my duties as a Guardian, and Aendreasas paid the ultimate price for my foolishness."

Maybe his real desire would be a new life, a new identity, just like Samara. He knew not of the demons that plagued her, but his burden wasn't entirely different. Ander looked at her again, like a stray pup who sought guidance, as if their sharing of sad tales had been enough to illuminate a better path for the both of them.

They weren't so different, after all.

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Samara desperately wished what Ander said to be true, but because she filtered it so heavily it left a shadow of doubt in her mind and heart. Were that she could throw herself into the arms of another; that they would accept her, understand her, and support her in this merciless world they inhabited. She in turn would do the same for them, when they had a need for it. A... 'normal' life. Close as one people like them could have.

Redemption? Vengeance? Both understandable concepts, but not entirely applicable to Samara's own plight. The different part in 'not so different.' Not different enough to make it impossible for them to understand one another though.

From the way Ander looked at her, Samara could tell he desired a response. It didn't seem appropriate to say the first thing that came to mind, however. That the Dark Elf had abandoned the idea of redemption long ago -- once the nature of her 'condition' became known to her. Unless an Angel bothered to Fall to this plane and grant Samara a miracle, redemption seemed impossible.

"Then find a way to live for them. Carry their burden not as a punishment, but because they cannot be here to carry it with you." Samara cast her eyes away for just a moment before they returned to the male Elf at her side. "And find more along the way to help you do this." There was a heartbeat before a smile graced Samara's lips. Her hesitation only because finding herself supporting Ander emotionally hadn't been foreseen. It was almost a bad joke by the Celestials after what Samara had felt only moments ago.

"I--" Samara stopped talking, came to a sudden stop, and held up her hand signaling to go still and quiet. Slowly, she lowered herself toward the ground as her eyes fixed on a point between the trees ahead. A flicker of light caught her attention.

After a moment, Samara spoke softly, "There's a camp ahead. Should we strike, or go around?" If they didn't attack the two parties might end up leap frogging one another until inevitably clashing. But this was the first opportunity when Ander might be put in a position to engage in combat. Samara wanted to be certain he was prepared for that, or if he was the sort that avoided conflict whenever possible. Best to find such things out before their lives hung in the balance.

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Ander'ashan Merellien

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To say that Samara intrigued the elven Guardian couldn't do it enough justice.

She did more than simply intrigue him - he felt as if they could stand to forget about that chase for a ancient and powerful relic, to make camp and spend the rest of the night spilling the deepest details of their past lives around a bonfire to warm them, to shield them from the cold and howling winds that would go on to shake entire trees every now and then.

Except... Ander knew, and even regretted, that such thing couldn't be possible at the moment.

Before he knew it, Ander found it remarkably hard to tear his eyes away from the sight of her own gaze, as Samara paused for a moment only to think about her next words, words that put the elven warrior into deep thoughts, reflecting upon their meaning.

She was not entirely wrong in her assessment, though Ander no longer had the strength to believe he could simply move on from the tragedies of his past. The pain, the sorrows... the screams of his people had been etched on his skin, and he carried that shame now as a badge of honor, or rather, disgrace, refusing to let it go. It was a burden and a punishment, as she said so herself, and even as gentle as her words were, Ander could see no sense to them. He failed his people, the fact that they could no longer be there to carry such burden with him, only spoke of how he disappointed them.

And yet, he turned his head towards her again, looking fairly inspired as she continued to talk. To find more along the way to help him...

Could it be that Ander didn't need to shut himself from the world? That he wouldn't need to spend his nights wandering alone, barely being able to close his eyes without the memories of his people keeping him awake? Funnily enough, he found that Samara's presence had even cast some kind of enlightement on those thoughts, as Ander thought her to be trustworthy, as well as a competent companion in such a dangerous task. He knew not of what other plights troubled her mind, but she was certainly not like the others he had met in his short time travelling around Arethil.

"You have been of great help already, Samara. I'm glad you didn't hurl that dagger at me, back in the clearing." He joked, a shy smile gracing his lips just as hers also appeared, and Ander now awkwardly looked away, feeling that his mind was slowly betraying him.

But before they could delve deeper into that curious conversation, Samara came to a halt, and signaled him to do the same. Silently, she caught wind of a presence not far from them, and explained it to be a camp, standing right in the way to their goal. She asked him about what course of action he wanted them to take, and Ander now looked towards the same direction she had pointed, thoughtful.

He didn't want to simply attack head on, charging into a battle mindlessly, but Ander was also wary of what manner of people they would find in the camp. If it were the mercenaries Samara had spoken of earlier, they would have to be dealt with at some point, and the Guardian preferred it to be sooner rather than later.

"I say we strike. There's little point in pushing forward without clearing our path, and I don't wish to get a dagger thrown at my back once we reach the location of the relic." He spoke confidently, his hand already grazing past the handle of his sword, before gripping it tightly. Ander, who had lowered on to his knees as well, now got back on his feet and looked towards Samara, curious to know if she shared the same opinion on the matter.

"We should get closer without drawing attention. A quick fight has less chance of attracting the monsters that slumber in these woods."

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Samara looked over at Ander for a moment before she nodded. If there was conflict to be had, it was better done sooner than later. They had the element of surprise on their side, and the terrain was not against them. Provided the camp wasn't too large anyway.

The Dark Elf rose to her feet along side her partner. "Agreed. I'll circle around the other side. If I find the Orc's among them I'll distract them so we can take out the rest of them quietly." A hearty species like an Orc weren't so easily brought down; but if their support structure -- the others in camp -- was removed then the two Elves could focus on bringing down such a large and formidable foe. "I'll toss this," Samara retrieved out a tiny sack the size of a grape from a pocket, "into the fire as a signal. It'll cause a small pop in the flame." Which in itself could distract the rest from whatever Ander planned.

With a smile, the Dark Elf stepped off to one side to begin circling around the other side of the camp in the dead of night. Ander would be fine. Samara trusted his greater experience would make him untouchable. Perhaps that was too presumptive, but it was nice having someone like him around; and someone she felt that might understand even if Samara couldn't bring herself to just admit every dark secret to someone just met on the road.

One of their number was taken out by wrapping her hands about their face and shoulders; a lookout drug off into the darkness never to be seen again. Then Samara crept closer to the light. Being this close while surrounded by the night certainly burned her eyes, but it was a small price to pay to remove a threat.

As she crouched down behind a trunk, Samara found the muscular Orc prowling on the other side of a tent from the fire. Already separated from the group. Fortunate. Enough that with a light heft of her powdery mix, Samara flung the signal pouch forth so it'd crack into the flames and ignite.

A grunt of inquiry rose from the Orc as he turned toward the sound.

The glint of Samara's blade caught the man's eye, however, and his war axe was swiftly hefted to deflect the lethal strike. Not that the interruption deterred the dark figure that sought their head, of course. She just slid aside and struck at another angle, and another. The Orc managed to block, but the Elf didn't give him time to swing that massive weapon.

The Orc grew tired of being on the defense and headbutted the Elven woman between strikes. When she staggered back, he lifted the axe overhead to cleave his assailant in two.

More stars than existed in the heavens burst before Samara's eyes from the assault. With the world a blur, Samara could make out the Orc was lifting something and was still roughly in front of her. When the movement changed directions, she jerked to the side narrowly missing the sharp edge soon buried in the ground where Samara should have been. That's when her blade made a quick and decisive jab at the Orc's armpit.

A growl followed as the weakened limb couldn't properly support his heavy weapon, which would make it more of a liability especially against such a small and quick assassin. Instead the Orc stumbled back and grabbed hold of a sword that'd been planted in the ground. When Samara closed to thrust her blade into his chest, he returned the favor by skewering the Elf on that sword.

Samara stumbled back with a hand around the protruding blade. Her lips peeled back as she hissed from the pain. With a growl, the Elven woman jerked the weapon back out the way it'd come in. Blood marked its entrance well enough even if the wound itself would not persist. She could feel the weakness -- or, rather, the hunger -- in her, but Ander was still out there. The other four in camp might be as well. It was unthinkable to simple leave him even if it might result in even more questions later.

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By the look in Samara's face, it seemed that she shared a similar opinion to Ander.

They were bound to encounter resistance at any given moment during that chase, and it would be better to take advantage of the element of surprise, striking from the shadows when their enemies least expected it. Ander rose to his feet just as Samara did the same, and the pair of elves quickly exchanged glances, seeking the fires of battle in each other's eyes.

They would need to be well prepared to see that plan through, or fall short of their goal, in a place where no one would remember them.

After remaining silent through the hasty details of what she had planned, Ander took a step forward, into the light, looking at the tiny sack that Samara was showing him, her idea of a signal to let him know where she would be, and what she would be doing in that fight. It seemed she had chosen her targets already, and the apparent Orc would be one of them, which meant Ander had a simple task to achieve. "I'll carve open a path for us, through their camp." He said, confident.

Without tearing his sight away from her smile, Ander watched as Samara slipped to the shadows of the forest, following just as silently but not nearly as quickly or nimble as she showed herself to be. In the distance overlooked by the fires of that encampment, the Guardian could see Samara's exceptional handiwork as she proficiently removed a few of the lookouts, giving Ander enough space to cross inside the camp unnoticed, his hand already tight around his sword as he made his way towards a group of enemies.

Carefully, he analyzed the situation, his eyes scouring for every weak point, envisioning every blow he would deliver against those men. A group of four... And they seemed oblivious to what was happening around their camp, until a deep growl was heard from nearby - Samara was already in battle, and Ander couldn't let those reinforcements reach her.

So quick were his feet, it almost looked as if Ander had blinked as he soared through the air swiftly, sword already in hand, cutting down the first enemy with a jab of his blade, watching him fall on his knees, the blood pouring from his wound. The others were immediately alerted to his presence, drawing their axes and swords and charging at Ander.

It had been a few nights since his last fight, and even more nights since he had drawn his sword at an enemy. That dance felt revigorating, it made him feel alive. Though not as before, the heat of battle was what Ander desired the most. Even that feeling had been taken from him with the fall of Avhalos, but he could still taste it, if only for a bit.

He was a warrior, the battlefield would always be home to him.

With another swift movement, he parried an incoming attack, leaving enough opening for Ander to reach through and cut the man's belly in two quick strikes, just as a surprise attack from behind sought to quickly end the elf's life, but he raised his sword above his head and blocked the attack. He could hear the growl of frustration coming from the mercenary, believing that he could never touch Ander... and he was right. As the man he had cut just fell to his knees in pain, Ander pushed off the other attack and turned, seeing it another opening. Only this time, he bid his time, he savoured the moment, waltzing past the mercenary just as his sword hung on the air, as the man fought to control his own attack, the weight of his blade betraying him. Ander stroke at the side of his knee, a vicious blow that made that man scream in agony, just before the Guardian grabbed hold of his sword, effortlessly guiding it against the mercenary's belly.

A death by his own blade. A cruel joke, but such was the ways of battle. Ander was no more driven by honor, such things were in the past now.

Lastly, it remained only one mercenary, still grasping at his last breaths, trying to hold back the blood gushing from the wounds at his stomatch. Without much ceremony, Ander raised his sword, and drove it down on the man's shoulder, putting an end to his misery and pain. His sword had tasted blood again, and a part deep inside him was relishing in the brutality he had shown there.

Very unlike the finesse which he fought with in the past. His strikes had been brutal, strong and without much thinking. But there was no time to linger there, not when Ander could see the signal that Samara had mentioned early, quickly running across the camp to reach her, seeing as she stared down the great Orc that she was crossing blades with.

But she looked injured. Even from afar, he could see the blood. With his blade in hand, Ander bolted towards that fight, hoping that he hadn't been too late. Hoping that his lust for battle hadn't cost yet another life.

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Samara's eyes met those of Ander as the other Elf glided into view. So soon? Of course. His skills had allowed him to dispatch four so easily. It was only her believing her unnatural strength alone a better fit against the Orc that was wounded. The decision wasn't entirely without merit. At least her wound quickly sealed itself, but not without a cost.

"Are they all dead?" she asked calmly though with a slight tension. Perhaps one still lived? Perhaps she could... borrow them for a moment? Unlikely. Ander arrived too swiftly. Though he could have knocked them unconscious. It was possible. Hopefully.

Her blood-free hand reached out to lay atop Ander's shoulder as Samara smiled. "We did it. Now we can continue without fear they will follow." Only now she wondered how long the hunger could be held in check in Ander's presence. There'd already been that ever so discrete shift of the eye toward his neck. After all, wouldn't an Elf taste better? Such a richly infused, mystical bloodline. An old lineage.

"Ready?" Why was she in a hurry? To stay out of the light of the fire, of course. Samara tried to keep the side of her body that'd been skewered drawn away from Ander to prevent him getting a good look at it. From noticing it if possible though that seemed a wildly unreasonable expectation. Perhaps by daylight she could say... a potion. She'd say she drank a potion. Of course!

Curse the Celestials for letting that Orc stab her. They were no doubt laughing Ander might discover her true self. Curse them all.

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In the distance, Ander's eyes lay on the scene of that battle, just as the great Orc stumbled back, a blade thrusted into his chest. His large frame fell to the ground, and for a moment the elf felt as if the ground nearby was shaken.

A feeling of relief passed throughout his body as Ander caught the glimpse of the last person standing - Samara. She had dealt with the lookouts, helped him reach the rest of the enemies in the camp and now had defeated that imposing Orc. If he had already been impressed with her skills and prowess as a warrior, now he was so much more.

He had started to harbor respect and even admiration for that woman, in the short moment they had come to meet each other. She looked formidable with her blades, and her blue eyes had greatly caught his attention as well, as Ander usually found himself mesmerized with how they looked at him, back when they were walking through the forest.

The elf looked to the sword in his hand, stained with the blood of the enemies he had just slaughtered. He realized there wouldn't be much more use to it, now that the threat had passed, in largely thanks to Samara and her quick thinking.

One less obstacle in their path to the fabled relic. And if there were any other monsters or enemies lurking between them and the artifact, Ander was that more confident that their impromptu allegiance would see them prevail.

He put the sword back on his waist before moving towards Samara, standing beside the campfire. She asked him about the enemies he had encountered, if they were all dead, to which Ander simply shook his head, unnoticing her disappointment in his answer. "They are. They were no warriors." He completed. He had made sure that they were dead, as they deserved to be.

"Your plan was sucessful, Samara. You are truly impressive." Ander complimented her, after she spoke of them pushing forward without the fear of being chased by any other relic hunters. Without realizing, he had started moving even closer to the woman, though his eyes were busy inspecting the Orc laying on the ground, already lifeless.

A shame that he couldn't have battled such a seemingly strong and worthy opponent.

Ander sighed, before looking back at Samara, though he now noticed something else about her. With a look to her side, even though she seemed like hiding it from sight, the Guardian could see some of the extent of her injury. "You're bleeding." He pointed out, alarmed and visibly worried. He took a step forward, almost circling around her as he did, hoping that the fire would provide him with a better look, but he was shocked to see that...

Her wound wasn't even there. There was blood all around it, a hole in her clothing where the sword had gone in and out, but there was nothing there anymore.

Confused, his hand reached towards her 'wound', and Ander didn't even realize how close he stood to that woman. Dangerously close, for the both of them. "How...?"

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Impressive? Samara could only think if she were so impressive there wouldn't have been a sword thrust into her torso. Damn foolish thing for her to have done. Even if her life hadn't truly been in jeopardy what was the point of inviting such injury? Why expose herself like that? Had she been trying to impress Ander and demonstrate despite her age -- which he hadn't even learned yet -- the Dark Elven woman was still a worthy ally? The man hadn't suggested he needed proof. If anything the way his strong, but haunted eyes looked upon her suggested something else entirely.

Invisible, hungry, restless tendrils of the Deep shot up about Samara's shoulders before they wrapped themselves about her mind as Ander unknowingly drew ever closer. Closer. Closer. So close. Not close enough. The breath from her nostrils heated and not from the radiant burn of the nearby flame.

Ah. He noticed. Samara stood staring at the man as she stood with the wound pulled away form his prying gaze. Of course he noticed. She'd been a fool. Impressive! Impressive their time together might end so swiftly.

The six foot three Elven man closed the distance as he sought to inspect the wound. Five inches taller than herself, Samara was forced to tip her head up to look at him though she made no effort to pull herself or the wound further away. Unblinking, blue eyes stared at Ander as he reached toward where a wound should have been.

Quick as a viper, her left hand snapped up from Samara's side to take hold of Ander's wrist, whilst the right shot up to land atop the man's left shoulder. Dark lips parted ever so slightly as the world fell away leaving just the two of them standing there among the dead.

"Ander," Samara breathed, "I want you." Pain. "I want you." Pleasure. "You can't understand how I feel... standing here with you in my arms." Belonging. "Not knowing whether it's because of the strength of your arms, of your powers, and of your very soul... or because..." Longing. Longing. Longing! "Because..." The Elven woman had begun to stretch upward on her toes and lean in slowly. Was it to kiss him on the lips, or sink her fangs into his neck? She couldn't tell the difference in that moment.

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Ander could almost be seen as horrified, as his haunted blue eyes looked upon the blood in Samara's side.

There was no explanation to be given, but he almost felt something in his chest aching, his breath tightening. He was afraid for that woman that he had only just met, worried that her wound could've been a mortal one, and that he would have to bury yet another person.

No, no... That couldn't happen. He couldn't stand witness to more people dying around him, people that he cared about, people that he was supposed to protect. For a moment, many painful flashes roamed around his scarred mind, the agony of seeing his people, his family and friends, all falling like flies around him, his sword not strong enough to save them.

That couldn't be Samara as well.

Without realizing, he was reaching closer and closer to her, hesitant. Perhaps not only literally, but there was something else about that woman that drew him in. A unknown feeling that called to him, beckoned him to look upon her wound, only now realizing that there was no injury there at all, save for the blood splattered all around it. The Guardian raised his eyes to look upon her, shivers running down his spine as he felt mesmerized at the way she now gazed at him. Her eyes were almost trapping him, but Ander had no intention to move away.

He stood five inches taller than her, but Samara skillfully seized his wrist and his shoulder, while Ander trembled at her touch, unaware of how he should feel about it. Everything was unknown to him, that whole world felt out of its place, once he had known only grueling training and unwavering discipline, all perverted due to his recklessness and arrogance.

And yet, he wanted to stay there, still. Almost like in a trance, Ander not once moved for his sword, simply admiring as Samara's lips parted, revealing fangs that he almost made no notion of, her voice now whispering his name in a way he had never heard before.

'I want you, I want you...' She wanted him? How could she want him? And what did she want with him?

Ander's mind was a haze, and he had nowhere to run. And no will to do that. Deep inside, a part of him wanted to stay rooted to that blood soaked ground, amongst the people they had just murdered.

Samara leaned in closer to him, and Ander felt his entire body warming as she did, a heat so unknown to him that he couldn't even describe as it being similar to that of a battle. He couldn't tear his sight away from her lips, nor did he want to. "You... want me?" He asked, innocently and perhaps even hopeful. In more ways than one could think, Ander was still but a brash young man, never really grown beyond his years, save for his skills with a blade.

A hundred years of experience in being a warrior, and yet he was so innocent in everything else.

This time, it was Ander who leaned in, his lips tentatively reaching towards hers. He wanted to know more, to feel more. He had all but forgotten the purpose of their meeting, their allegiance and partnership to chase that relic, and he felt no remorse in that.

"Because of what, Samara?" He whispered right into her breath, his voice rough, wanting, ignoring any consequences, as he had always done.

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Samara's heated breath grew shallow as Ander stood his ground. While he trembled at her seizing his wrist, the man didn't violent pull away, shout, or try to stab the Dark Elf that held him fact. That the dark infusion of her soul might somehow be baiting her fellow Elf into becoming a willing victim hadn't crossed her thoughts. In that moment nothing made sense, but there was nothing that needed to be examined -- all that existed was Ander and her. The cosmos could be sundered and the grand host of deities return and Samara wouldn't notice the heralds of their return.

The deeper the pull and desire within Ander himself to remain, the more Samara felt an attraction between them. A draw. A power that yearned to unite them. How parched she felt. If only her lips pressed against his Elven flesh all would be right again. All tension would evaporate and everything would be crystal clear. Such relief could not be ignored.

Slowly her left hand began to ride up the length of Ander's right as they stood locked together. Samara was forced to stretch up against the transfixed man just to begin aligning her lips with his neck. Soon both hands would be upon his shoulders; one might even wrap around his neck to secure her purchase.

The innocent echo of Ander's about his companions' desire caused the corners of Samara's lips to lift. A strange sense of delight and warmth filled the Dark Elf knowing the man might hope for this chance encounter. Hope for her arms about his body. Their bodies pressed together. Her lips... Yes, Samara felt the need to sate the desire for her lips, and Ander would have it.

Then, despite the slow pace in which the gap between them closed, Ander moved in. His lips descended and claimed her own. A soft, muffled throaty noise followed the surprise contact. It hadn't been what the Vampire within wanted, but in Samara's twisted state their lips being locked together was just as gratifying. Both hands slid around to wrap her arms behind Ander's neck -- gravity would not be the cause of them parting now. The lashes of Samara's large, blue eyes descended as sight was no longer a sense worth keeping. Touch was all she needed now.

It was absurd. They'd just met. Samara had felt attracted to him as a handsome, pale man, of course. Someone strong and experienced as a warrior that no doubt out classed her own skillset. She might have even charged head long into battle with the Orc to prove herself or attract Ander's attention. The thought of that resulting in them kissing one another, and Samara trying to deepen that kiss as though they were madly in love, however...? At any other time she would have been beside herself at how sudden it had occurred.

But for now, the Vampiric Elf just wanted to stand there and kiss Ander without a care in the world. Especially not for some dusty relic that might change the world if it were introduced into a population. Let the world tend for itself for once.

Slowly Samara pulled back just enough so they could use their mouths to talk again. "I want to bite you," she sighed.

Ander had asked. It had been what Samara meant to say before they kissed. A moment ago there'd been a sliver of self-control left that tried holding it back, but once the decision was made -- between sinking her teeth into him or kissing him -- all of that restraint evaporated as mist under the cursed sun.

Ander'ashan Merellien
 
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Ander'ashan Merellien

The Fallen Guardian
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Ander didn't know what that feeling was, the warmth he felt on his chest, how every fiber of his muscles reacted to her touch, her fingers slowly drifting upwards along his arms, shaking his entire core as she did, rendering him virtually powerless.

But surprisingly, he wanted that. He wanted more of that feeling... Ander craved for Samara, the rogue he had only just met. He was drawn to her, perhaps even from the moment they laid eyes on each other, her dagger flinging between her fingers so effortlessly.

The elf couldn't explain anything in that moment, nor did he wish to. He meant only to enjoy the closeness in which they stood, her fingers travelling along his shoulders as her arms wrapped around his neck. For a fleeting moment, the very innocent and inexperienced elven warrior struggled to think of what he should do, unaware of how to bring her even closer. His blue eyes, so filled with desire, now fell towards her waist, glancing upon the blood that still stained her clothes. His fingers trembled with hesitation, but his desire was stronger, and with disregard for any care or calm thinking, his hands grabbed at her sides, tightly.

Without realizing, Ander had moved in closer to her, falling right into her lips as they barely touched, sending shockwaves of pleasure along his bones, almost stunning him. He closed his eyes, determined to savor that moment even further as he eased into their kiss, his arms slowly wrapping around Samara's waist.

He was delighted, completely flustered with all those different emotions, waves running across his veins and rocking at his heart like a strong storm. Ander had never felt anything of the sort, not even in all the battles he had fought, but there was something about Samara that made him want to delve deeper into the unknown. His fingers slowly ran across her back, trespassing on some dangerous territory before she slowly pulled back from their kiss, much to Ander's regret.

He still wanted her, more than he could ever admit. More than he would ever think about. The elf had even forgot about the now measly relic they were chasing, deeming it too unimportant to what was happening in that moment.

Ander looked upon her eyes, staring so deeply at him, like he had been seeing the beauties of Aendreasas again. And in many ways, her beauty was entirely captivating altogether, even more so than some of the things he had seen in his homeland.

She spoke close to him again, and the Guardian listened carefully. She had all his attention, all of his fabled focus as a Guardian of the Order, always unwavering and unfazed, and that thought only brought more excitement to that moment.

Maybe he was being too careless, too reckless again. Maybe the fallen warrior had learned nothing of his past sorrows... Maybe that didn't matter at all now.

Ander looked at her, mildly confused at her request. "Samara, I..." He breathed, only to find the words struggling to roll out of his tongue, to answer her desire of biting him, as his eyes seized her gaze again, completely mesmerized. "I want you." Ander whispered as he leaned in again, this time moving away from her lips and reaching towards her neck, breathing against her skin.

The elf was treading on a rather dangerous path now, a path very much foreign to him, but fear had never stopped him before. It wouldn't stop him now, especially in the arms of that woman.

Samara Asenta
 
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Samara Asenta

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A haze fell over Samara's blue eyes as they stood in one another's arms. The smile that surfaced after she broke the kiss never wavered. They might as well have been standing in a moonlit field of iridescent nightshades with the heavens looking down from above. Nary a thought of how odd the suddenness of their entanglement graced her thoughts; why should the Dark Elf have the slightest inkling to break the spell? All the tension of being on the road... the strain of what might happen with the relic... anger from some band of cultists and thieves finding out... and her own, personal issues simply didn't matter. It was, in a word, perfect.

Or at least Samara thought it had been. Those bright blue eyes popped open wider and the smile fell to one of disbelief as Ander confessed his desire. He... he wanted her?

Soon his breath caressed her neck as he laid bare his own neck. Samara's eyes slowly fell toward the flesh there as her lips parted further to bare her fangs. Ander wanted her. How long Samara had yearned to hear someone say that. Acceptance! They embraced her and her darkness. Needed her as she needed them.

A tear slid down her cheek before Samara leaned in to sink her fangs into Ander's neck. One hand rose to lay against the back of his head as the other lowered along his back to lock their bodies together. Soft moans followed small gulps of the Elven man's blood.

Ah, how delicious Ander tasted. Strong. Healthy. Powerful. Elven blood already had a natural otherworldly flavor to it. Share found it all the more gratifying now with someone willingly -- knowingly -- sharing it with her. The pace of Samara swallowing gradually quickened as the seconds wore on. Yes, yes, she yearned for more. How the Vampire wished it would never end and she could stand there in his arms until the world grew cold and dead all around them.

Before Samara crippled Ander, however, her lips broke free of his neck. Her head tipped back and a soft, shuddering groan fell from her throat instead. A slow lick at the wound lapped up most of the wayward crimson that lurked there in the wake of mostly healed wounds.

"I, ah, I..."
Samara's voice was breathy, her heart racing. "Ander. Oh, I love you, Ander." Decency and order had lost sense fled from her thoughts. The kiss. The nocturnal embrace. The desire. It was everything Samara could hope for. It was a taste of ambrosia the likes of which she hadn't felt since Dshara's embrace so very long ago. The man was on more dangerous ground than he knew.

Ander'ashan Merellien