Fable - Ask Till the Cows Come Home

A roleplay which may be open to join but you must ask the creator first

Leander Urahil

Null and Void
Character Biography
“I can’t believe I’m back out in the boonies,” Proctor Palahniuk complained openly to the initiates riding on their horses beside him.

Leander Urahil couldn’t believe that he had even been picked to go out here in the first place. Especially for a mission that seemed… well, for a mission that didn’t seem to need a dreadlord’s or an initiate’s personal touch. Some brat in some backwater town called Arnim apparently needed a whole entourage to go to the Academy. Leander understood that he hadn’t been on many missions lately, or missions that took him far away from the Academy.

Why couldn’t they use him for something more exciting? He was chomping at the bit to prove himself to the prodigy he was meant to be. Edric was gone, there was a spot open to be the deadliest initiate and he wanted it before Caeso or Maseno claimed it for themselves. If they weren’t nobility he suspected, with Odessa’s help, that a freak accident could happen. Bye bye competition, hello academy recognition.

“The last time I was here, ugh, it was such a mess.” Proctor Palahniuk continued to prattle on. “I hope none of you waste valuable time like Initiate Casto— I mean, Dreadlord Castomir and Initiate Eber— I mean, Proctor Pro-tempore Ebersol… ugh, do you all smell that?” Just like last time, Proctor P raised his hand to his face, using his cloak’s sleeve as a mask. “When I get back, I am making a formal complaint. Or I am going to officially resign and just take a nice paycheck from the reserves.”

Leander said nothing, instead looking straight ahead at the buildings growing closer and closer. He couldn’t quite see Kresselring Ranch just yet. It seemed that despite the ranch being the most notable thing in Arnim, which was obviously undeserving of the grand title of ‘Vel’ before it, that plenty of the inhabitants owned their own personal gardens and livestock. In truth, this ranch was known for providing Vel Anir with a majority of goods that went beyond just meat and dairy— cowhide and bristles for clothing or brushes, bones for serving ware among the poor. In fact, Leander remembered a long-gone proctor who used to covet cattle gallstones just to have fun at the brothels. Did Arnim sell those aphrodisiacs here? It would be funny to trick a initiate into eating them if so.

Especially if it was a goodie-two-shoes like Lumen. Maybe he could bring her back a souvenir…

“I met the kid last year also, couldn’t do any magic whatsoever.” Proctor Palahniuk continued, not that Leander was listening much. For every good piece of information there was definitely a half dozen complains woven in between. “If I get there and he can’t perform a simple arcane spark— mark my words, initiates, I am leaving him there and the Council can walk their lazy asses all the way to Arnim themselves. Waste of my valuable time.” He continued grumbling on, before adding, “unless Kelly is cooking. Country girls can cook like their lives depend on it. But still…”

Leander continued to tune the proctor over before leaning over to whisper to another initiate,

You think Proctor Palahniuk will let us take a piss break?
Along with Leander, Aelita got roped into this mission led by Proctor Palahniuk. She voiced no concerns or complaints about this trip. Just rid on her horse with the group as she travelled toward the village for Arnim for the first time.

Occasionally, she would even interject with a “Mhm” or a “Oh?” or a “I see” as the Proctor continued his rambling. She gave nothing beyond that to the Proctor unless asked a direct question, though.

To the Initiates? She sometimes got a little wordy while on this journey, but usually not enough to catch Palahniuk's attention.

Such as when Leander pondered about the chances of getting a sanctioned break.

Turning to Leander, Aelita – in an almost whisper – told him, “He’d just say...

Then lowered her voice in an imitation of Proctor Palahniuk, “You can just go on your horse, if you can’t hold it in like an adult.
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You and me both, proc. Odessa thought to herself, with a scowl that seemed permanently etched onto her face. She rode behind her brother, rather than beside as Aelita and Proctor Palahniuk did. Though she wasn’t complaining about where they were going- she could care less if it was a castle or some shit filled barn. She was really only annoyed that for some reason someone at the academy thought ‘Yeah, let's send the Urahils out together! They get along so well!

Honestly, they must have just been drawing names out of a hat at this point. After all, no one was exactly bursting at the seams over such a riveting adventure to go see cows.

But really? Leander had to be picked too?

-not relevant info-

Hm?” She looked forward as her brother as he leaned over to whisper with the lowborn girl. Aelita, was it? She couldn’t make out every word they said, but she could almost read his lips. Something about a ‘piss break’. Her scowl shifted into a mischievous look as she let go of the reins with her left hand and moved it just over her lower abdomen- where the bladder is located.

She targeted Leander and pressed down hard. If she was gonna be stuck with this asshole, the least she could do was try to make him piss himself in front of a pretty girl.
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Mariana sat on a horse at the very back and very end of this little procession. The bundle of nerves she hid behind a sour, grumpy, and mildly aloof face. Her brother promised he wasn't making her go to the Academy yet. He just wanted her to get a taste of what it might be like with some of the older students.

Was everyone above her blond?

That was strange.

And stranger still that she sat among those she'd run away from for so long. She had to wonder if this boy they were supposed to be taking back would also run. Hand slipped into her pocket as she dug out a scone she'd swiped at breakfast and began munching on it. While the older initiates around her stayed alert, she began to eat and daydream.

Plus, this was only the third time she'd ridden a horse on her own and it began drifting off to the right. At least the blueberry scone was good.
Lothar sat in utter silence as Proctors and peers alike complained around him.

Before the revolution and the rise of the Republic he had never been sent on many missions, at least not important ones. Most of the time the Proctors would have him go to Vel Draza to fetch a forgotten tome, or maybe escort a noble between Anirian cities, or do something...well like this.

He did not mind, and never had.

The missions had been a chance for him to get away. To stop the constant abuse from the other students who delighted in tearing into him.

Though the violence towards him had stopped, Lothar still did not mind these trivial tasks. He had long ago learned that even the most boring mission could become something worthwhile. You just had to know where to look.

Lothar's gaze pulled away from the Proctor.

A small smile touching his lips.
Ha! Leander was by no means a shit-stirrer (in front of proctors) but at least he could count on Aelita to hold some semblance of humor when it came to some of the proctor’s uncanny personalities. Proctor Palahniuk had to be one of the stranger ones: his humanity seemed far more intact than others although perhaps that was because he was old for a dreadlord. Regardless of his complaining, Leander knew better than to say anything too loudly around him.

He may have been a star student and a Urahil, but Proctor Palahniuk had frozen his blood more than once.

Regardless, Aelita had the right idea. And her impression of the proctor was spot on! Good thing Leander didn’t need to—

Shit,” he cursed under his breath, he swung his head to look back over his shoulder at Odessa. His pale amber eyes narrowed in mild annoyance. He didn’t quite like the feel of his kidneys and liver being squished around, especially since he could do little to relieve it.

At least physically.

Turning his head forward, Leander used his own magic. Just around him and his horse although he thought about extending it so Odessa could be caught in it. But, as the older and more mature sibling, it was better not to escalate things further. Just like that, the urge to pee disappeared. Good thing Odessa couldn’t see the smirk on his face.

Up ahead, Proctor Palahniuk stopped his complaining. In a split second he had gone from slouching and slumping in his saddle to sitting upright and alert. Leander copied him, his gaze looking for something out of the ordinary.

“There’s no people about.” Proctor Palahniuk said, a seriousness settling over the group. He was right: chickens were walking around freely and over to the side there was a goat chewing on leafy greens in a garden. Ravens flew overhead, landing on the thatched roof perpendicular to the group of initiates. They looked as if they were watching the initiates.

“Last time I was here there were plenty of people.” Proctor Palahniuk said before getting off his horse. “Initiates, the ranch is after those hills,” the proctor pointed at a pair of steep grassy hills half a mile or so away from them. “We’ll head there in a moment. Help me search for a person. Last time I was here, a couple of crazy elves were creating flesh monsters. Don’t wander off alone! The last thing I need is to make a report about another dead initiate!” With those final words, the Proctor prowled off, heading to the north-east of the town.

Leander didn’t hesitate another second, dismounting from his horse and grabbing hold of his claymore. Strapping the massive sword (nearly six feet!) onto his broad form, Leander looked at the other initiates.

Right, since I have the most reason to be in charge, I’ll lead one group and someone can lead another group.” He looked from Aelita to Odessa to Mariana to Lothar, frowning. Man, what a bunch of losers— minus Odessa. “On second thought… let’s stay together.” Not that he cared about their wellbeing, he just didn’t want to hear Proctor P complain even more on their way back home.

Aelita Odessa Urahil Mariana Lothar
A single snicker escaped from Aelita as she witnessed Odessa’s prank on Leander.

But Proctor Palahniuk’s words stole Aelita’s attention away from that scene. She scanned the area to see the empty village as well. Then, the Proctor gave the command to search in groups.

While Leander immediately dismounted, Aelita maneuvered her horse to the nearest fencepost. She tied the rein’s around a beam of wood – then turned to Mariana to assist the novice horse rider if necessary.

Once that was done, Aelita drew her own weapon as well – long staff with a blade on one end.

Aelita continued to wear a smile as the frowning Leander spoke – suggesting one large group.

Let’s go with the first option,” Aelita suggested to Leander, “If there’s trouble, time is short. We’ll cover more ground faster with more groups.

Turning around, Aelita faced Lothar and Mariana and asked, “Agree?
Leander would be greeted by the sneering of Odessa as she pressed harder onto her own bladder. She gave a little wave before he turned around again and suddenly his normal posture returned. The bastard had the audacity to use his powers against her. Her smile disappeared and the scowl returned.

She didn’t hate Leander, no. She resented him. From their father favoring him over her (and the others) to when he chose to use or not use his powers. She would never win. She hated that he chose to block harmless pranks and not her regeneration when she was for all intents and purposes, dead. Maybe he liked watching them scoop up her lifeless corpse and carry her away. Perhaps it was just another time in which he considered himself superior.

Proctor P began droning on again and soon they were dismounting from their horses. Odessa followed those in front of her, grabbing some straight sword she knew she wouldn’t use and two daggers to keep on either side of her.

Both of Leander’s suggestions seemed terrible. She knew the only reason he would suggest one group over two was because he simply could not fathom anyone else taking a leadership role. She thought it over for a minute before ultimately siding with Aelita.

Aelita has a point. I think we should break into groups.” She looked over their companions with slightly less disgust than her brother did. “And you two? Speak up.” She pointed at Lothar and Mariana. “Thoughts?
Her horse was on a path to munch on some haystacks by one of the abandoned buildings. And had definitely already parted from formation when this strong, older, blonde girl came to her rescue. Yeah, sure, fine, it was whatever (but really cool).

Proctor Palanick said something but Mariana was concentrating too much on staying on this beast with four legs to pay too much attention. Gratefulness swamped her as Aelita caught the reigns of her horse and steered him back in the right direction. And even offered her a hand down.

Did Aelita have a halo around her?

Mariana's armor clink-clanked as she made it to the ground. It was hard to walk in this stuff, making her legs stiff and bow-legged. Wide-Krixus blue eyes looked to the older girl and dug into her pocket, offering her one of her stolen scones.

Turning around, Aelita faced Lothar and Mariana and asked, “Agree?
She pointed at Lothar and Mariana. “Thoughts?

A quick nod of her head as she shuffled closer to Aelita, stepping behind the older girl as if using her as a shield against the other blondes.

Lothar set his jaw as Leander ran his mouth, a gift that he was particularly talented in.

Some nights, even after his he'd taken on his new 'gifts', he could still hear the other boys voice in his head. Taunting him, throwing an insult as his kick landed in the midst of his ribs or a punch struck across the side of his jaw. The sound was one that joined a chorus of others, three of which had now fallen silent.

"I'll go with Leander." Lothar volunteered, his voice neutral.

Perhaps the others would see it as him simply wanting to keep the peace. The ire between the two of them, or rather, that one of them had always openly displayed was no secret. Leander seemed utterly incapable of not speaking whatever was on his mind.

"We'll cover more ground." He reasoned, pulling himself free of his own saddle. "Like Aelita said."

And perhaps, Lothar thought, he would find the chance he'd been waiting for.
If Leander was upset, which he was, he didn’t look it. Aelita wanted to go off on her own? With the baby? Be his guest. This was all going according to his own plan! That was because while Aelita had outwardly gone against him, why would he—

Oh who was he kidding? Fuck Aelita. Fuck Odessa (for fuck’s sake, you twit, who said you could ever disagree with me?) Fuck the newbie.

Well. Boys against girls.” He smiled, headed over to Lothar, and clapped a unfriendly hand on his shoulder. “Been awhile since we’ve gotten to hang out, right, Lothar?” His grip tightened on the initiate’s shoulder, clearly to intimidate him. But not just Lothar, the other three idiots who thought they could have a fucking vote like it was a democracy. Did they not live in Vel Anir?

What Equitability was there? Not every life was equal. But Leander supposed that was why he was destined to bring his unsightly, miserable loser of a class to greatness. Amongst all the shit he’d be the only diamond. Well. Perhaps Maseno and Caeso could be included in that.

Have fun with your friends, sister.” Leander called over his shoulder, his hand never leaving Lothar’s shoulder and using it to push the punching bag— initiate forward. Odessa would know, that if she was ever called sister instead of Odessa, she had displeased Leander greatly. Normally he would ice her out, ignore her for months on end. He wondered how that would fare on a easy mission such as this?

We’re heading to those hills. Birds Eye view will give us an advantage.” Leander told Lothar. Not that it mattered.

Aelita Odessa Urahil Mariana Lothar
Aelita received a scone from Mariana. She stared at it for a moment before telling Mariana, “Thanks.

The scone then disappeared into one of Aelita’s pockets.

An eyebrow arched as Aelita heard Lothar volunteer himself to follow Leander. But nothing came out of Aelita’s mouth about it.

As Leander was about to go off, Aelita made sure to tell him, “Remember, I don’t know what Palahniuk would think if you fail to find any villagers while we do.

A smile decorated Aelita’s face.

Then, she turned to head straight into the village itself. She gestured for Mariana to follow and looked toward Odessa to see if she decided to go with Aelita or her brother.

Along the way, Aelita say, “Stay close and ready. Elves have gotten good at hiding. This village's a good place for an ambush.

Aelita mostly looked over to Mariana when saying this.
Yeah, yeah. Sounds good, brother.” Odessa mimicked his tone as she waved him off, spitting her tongue out the moment he looked over his shoulder. She knew he was pissed and it brought her joy. He got so much more stupid when he was mad. Unless Lothar had some sort of use, the boys stood no chance against the girls.

Aelita rubbing it in made it so much better.

Not so secretly, she enjoyed when the little rat gave her the silent treatment. It was a win-win for both of them. For a while, she could enjoy him not constantly lording over her and boasting about his superiority. Fuck he needed to get a girlfriend. Or a pet.

Oh, and for Leander’s win…He could bother even more people and without the constant threat of them making him piss his pants! What joy for the both of them.

As they walked, she noticed Marinara (Marina? Mariana? What did they say it was called?) struggling to walk in her armor and linked arms with her to help lighten the load. What the hell were they thinking sending a child out like this? Is this men’s armor?

So…do you do something?” She asked the child after Aelita spoke. According to Odessa, it was best if they knew each other’s strengths even on such a simple mission. Obviously, her and Aelita were well acquainted, but this new thing was...a new thing. And the new thing had to have some reason to be joining them.
Clink-clank clink-clank clink-clank.

Mariana marched-slash-waddled after Aelita. And immediately repeated something she'd heard an adult say once, asking the girls about Leander. "Do you think that large sword he carries overcompensates for something?" She wasn't even sure she knew what overcompensate meant but she'd heard someone on the street once remark that Lord Billbadee kept such a large sword and axe because he was probably overcompensating for something else. And the woman that heard it from the other woman had laughed.

Mariana was quite proud of herself for sounding so adult in this moment.

So…do you do something?

"I don't know if I'm allowed to tell you," she chewed on the inside of her cheek.

Clink-clank clink-clank clink-clank.

"But I think what you do is really cool. You can make people pee, right?"

Head swiveled as they neared a general store that looked abandoned. A flash of movement from a window caught her eye.


She halted and whispered. "I think I might've seen something in there."
Lothar felt Leander's hand dig into him, and with it he could taste the bile rising in his throat.

A part of him wanted to whirl around, grab the dagger on the small of his back and slash the bullies throat right then and there. It would have felt so satisfying, and to see the shock on all the faces around him equally so.

But he knew he couldn't.

In days past he might have gotten away with it, before the Republic and before things had changed. Now he would end up in prison, or worse, not to mention whatever his peers would do. So instead Lothar simply steeled himself, tensing as Leander pushed him forward.

He played the meek and mild little Lothar, the one that everyone was used to. Stepping forward without a word and beginning their trek up the hill. All the while he thought about what he could do, what it would be like to finally one day take Leander's eyes.

Lothar was so looking forward to that.

As they walked, even while consumed with thoughts of vengeance, Lothar noticed just how empty the little village was. There was nothing and no one, yet along the way he saw no bodies, no blood, not even claw marks cross doorways or broken windows.

It felt far too quiet.

An opinion he did not offer, because he knew it would only be met with mockery.
There was no movement other than the animals that milled about so peacefully. The clucking of hens and the cry of sheep did little to distract to Leander as they began their ascent. If Lothar felt any sort of negative feelings towards him it hardly mattered to the young Urahil.

Lothar was weak. Therefore, he was trash. No, worse— pond scum. Useless and smelly and floating about in life.

Once they got moving, Leander’s hand dropped from Lothar’s shoulder as he began to move onto a faster pace. For this mission he wasn’t in heavy armor, at least not in his metal plating. On top of his tunic was a gambeson and chain mail over that. He didn’t feel vulnerable but in the back of his head was a reminder that he shouldn’t, at least this time, charge first and think later.

It wasn’t long until they were at the base of the hill. Still no sight of anything, still no sound of anything suspicious.

9B518C43-4AB0-414D-9524-A7756E392D84.jpegHurry up.” Leander hissed to Lothar, jogging up the path. There was only one main road in the entire place and Leander didn’t have to guess that it was the only road in the town because of exporting goods. He was certain it headed straight to the Ranch. It smelled like it did. His heavy boots pounded against the ground and as he got to the top he paused.

Leander looked over his shoulder. He could see Proctor Palahniuk just exiting a home frantically as a dog nipped at his heels . It wasn’t long for him to freeze it. On the other end was Odessa with the stupid girls. It didn’t seem like anything was there just yet. He looked forward once again. Whatever those things were it seemed they were sleeping. Slowly, quietly, Leander began to walk backwards, away from those things.

Don’t make a sound. Let’s get to the proctor.” Leander told Lothar, whispering this time. “I’ve never seen anything like that, not in books or-or….” For Kress’ sake! No wonder why they couldn’t find any townspeople! But then why weren’t there any signs of destruction or dead bodies or blood? What had exactly—

The ground began to rumble. Leander could feel the hilt of his claymore rattling against his bright chainmail.

Behind the hills, a deeply dark and dangerous black smog began to lift into the air as if a raging fire had just broken out. There was no acrid scent that usually followed after a strong torrent of flames, but a serious of chirping could be heard echoing about. A resounding sound that broke through the rumbling earth.

Shit.” Leander cursed to himself, beginning to run down the hill. He had no idea what those things were, what they could do and he had no intention in being the first to find out.

Odessa Urahil Aelita Lothar Mariana

[art cred to AsmoGrimae]
With the groups decided, Aelita began walking toward the village proper. Mariana clink-clanked behind her and Odessa seemed to tag along.

Aelita erupted into a roar of laughter after Mariana suggested that Leander was overcompensating. She gave a hearty chuckle for a few seconds.

Nice,” Aelita muttered beneath her breath.

Then, Odessa asked about Mariana’s powers. And Mariana gave a non-answer. Since Aelita stood ahead of Mariana, the younger Initiate would not have seen Aelita raise an eyebrow and give a frown.

A snicker followed as Mariana suggested Odessa’s magic was to compel people to pee.

But all that disappeared once Mariana stopped and pointed out that she may have seen something.

Aelita turned her head to the same direction. She raised her staff toward the building.

Before any in depth examination could follow, Aelita felt the ground begin to quake. She braced herself then spotted smoke emerging from behind the hills.

Well,” was what Aelita said before she pushed her staff up.

A ball of light shot out from the tip and began to strobe as it flew up. Its purpose was simple – to act as a signal to make it easier for the split up group to regather.
Marianna’s first comment nearly stopped Odessa in her tracks.

First of all, ew! That was her brother.

Second of all, who was teaching her things like that? She was just a baby!

“I-” Odessa stared at the small one upon hearing her interpretation of her magic. “I suppose that’s not incorrect, no. But I think it’s important we know what each other does. Did someone tell you not to tell us?” Her final question was delivered in the voice one may use to speak to a toddler.

“Huh? Where-” She began to ask before the ground shook.

As Aelita held her staff upward, Odessa moved to knock it out of her hands. It was just a little quake. Nothing worth bringing that unbearable brother of hers back over for. That was until she heard it. Whatever it was.

Instead of breaking Aelita’s signal, she would pull Marianna back behind her to protect her in case there really was something in the run down building. Odessa had no intention to find out if there was. Not until the others joined them at least.
Mariana beamed as Aelita laughed. She made a big girl laugh. She never considered herself funny but Alistair always seemed to smile at things she said so maybe she should consider being a traveling jester or something.

Did someone tell you not to tell us?”

"My brother always said just to be careful," she murmured, never taking her eyes off the store where she'd seen movement. But upon looking closer it was just an orange tabby cat. It flicked its tail at them once then yowled as the ground shook, scampering quickly off.

"Wow," she exclaimed as Aelita set off her lightstaff. That was wicked cool. She stumbled in her armor as the ground shook, nearly falling over as Odessa pushed her behind. She tried to peak around, eyes widening as a thick, black smoke began rising from the hill on the other side of the town. Two figures that she could only guess were Lothar and Leander running very, very fast back toward them.

"I don't like this," she whispered and promptly sat on the ground in a loud CLANK and began drawing things in the earth.
Lothar followed after Leander much like a moth might follow a flame.

His eyes practically stared holes through the back of the other boys head, the intensity of his stare perhaps giving away some of the loathing he felt for Leander. Yet when the other Initiate looked back, Lother's face flickered to that same impassive emotionless mask that he always wore around those that bullied him.

Empty. Worthless.

Just as they had always called him.

As Leander told him to hurry up Lothar's stride grew quicker. His own sword clinking at his side before he caught it's hilt and steadied the scabbard. He opened his mouth to speak as he crested the hill, then immediately stopped himself both at the Urahil's words and what he saw.

Lips thinned, and confusion flickered over his features. The creatures laying before them were odd, off, like nothing he had ever seen before. A quick glance towards Leander told that the other boy didn't know much more than he did.

Not surprising.

A cut nod tipped his head, and slowly the two of them began to descend. A walk that turned into a run as the earth itself began to quiver and shake. Lothar cursed quietly, and then broke into a sprint directly behind Leander, running back towards the village.

Chaos erupted behind him, and up ahead Lothar saw a light jump into the sky. "There! That's Aelita!"

Lothar called out to Leander, instinct more than anything else carrying him as he turned and rushed towards the light. Knowing that above all there was safety in numbers.
Leander saw a flash of light before it got distinguished— and it could only belong to one initiate in their group. Regardless, as Lothar began making his way to where the others were, Leander looked over his shoulder. To confirm his fears, those things were indeed coming towards them. That strange chirping was growing, even when the rumbling stopped.

He heard yips mixed with the frenzied birdsong.

“It sounds like a horde of brown sicklebills and laughing kookaburras!” Leander quickly swung his head over to where Proctor Palahniuk had joined the two boys. He didn’t look all that frightened, but that could only be expected of a seasoned dreadlord, even one who habitually complained. Apparently this proctor also happened to be a part of the National Vel Anir Audobon Society. Made sense since initiates could always find a sudoku book stashed underneath the proctor’s arm when he was walking around the academy.

They’re not birds.” Leander said rather easily despite running with his armor on. Proctor Palahniuk looked over, just as the first dozen of them stood at the top of the hill, surveying the land below.

“Right.” The contemplative tone irked Leander so he increased his speed. “Stay together!” Palahniuk barked, which Leander ignored. “URAHIL.”

If I’m not there then we’re all cleaning up child guts.” Leander wasn’t sure if Proctor Palahniuk could hear him, but the fact that he didn’t get a frozen finger or ear in retialation hopefully meant that he would only receive a mild reprimand once this was over.

The creatures began to descend down the hill. The initiates had precious minutes, or perhaps just a minute, right as Leander saw the group of girls.

The chirping got louder.

Aelita Odessa Urahil Mariana Lothar
After signalling her location to the others, Aelita glanced at Odessa and Mariana. A smile still graced her face.

Then, Aelita turned back toward the hill. She lifted her hand to her forehead to shield her eyes from the sun’s glare – spotting Leander, Lothar, and the Proctor with a mass of creatures further up the hill.

Soon after spotting the boys, Aelita saw Leander outpacing Lothar and Palahniuk and rushing toward the girls’ position.

He must really care about you,” Aelita said aloud as she glanced toward Odessa.

But Aelita’s focus returned toward the hill. A grin still appeared on her face.

Mariana, get me an animal. Swine, bovine, if you can. But anything, quickly and now,” Aelita told the junior Initiate.

As the group would have observed earlier, animals still littered the seemingly abandoned village.

Odessa, when I thin their numbers I’ll throw a shield on you,” Aelita told her.
Had there not been some commotion going on, Odessa likely would have continued pressing the little one for answers. All she knew was that she had a paranoid brother. And now, judging by her quick switch from freaking out to playing in the dirt, she had the attention span of a goldfish.

Still, Odessa would attempt to console the child. “It’s okay.” She knelt down with Mariana to watch as she drew pictures in the dirt.

“Fat chance.” She let out a short laugh at Aelita’s comment. “If I know my brother, he’s probably trying to impress you. Horrible twat would do anything for a pretty face.” She paused. “On that note, please do not fuck my brother.”

She stood as Mariana was given her orders, turning to face Aelita as she wiped the dirt from her knees. Her orders were only slightly more confusing than Mariana’s. “Shield me from what?” She raised a brow. If she wanted to kill whatever was coming down that hill, shielding them was probably not the best tactic.
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"How does he run so easily with such a big sword?" Mariana idly wondered as she peeked around Odessa at Leander getting closer and closer. But then her attention went back to her dirt drawings. Not exactly on the dirt, she tightly gripped a bright orange piece of chalk with a suspect lingering crumb that might just be from a scone, drawing on a slab of stone that was buried on top of the earth. Flattened from being in the middle of the road for so long and worn nearly smooth by rain, floods, and travellers.

Mariana, get me an animal. Swine, bovine, if you can. But anything, quickly and now,

"Hmm, okay," she responded to the one that seemed to be in charge. But made no move to move. Head bent, concentrating on the canvas of the stone. She'd started drawing something before Aelita made her command but abandoned that for a bright orange life size chicken. The corner of her tongue dipped out and pressed into her upper lip as she seemed consumed by her doodling.

"There," she beamed and looked up at both of the older girls that she already felt very close to. There was a small pop. And her drawing suddenly came to life. It was a stone colored-chicken. With a bright orange hue. Mariana grabbed it with both hands before it could cluck off and held it up to Aelita.

"Bwakbwakbwokbwok," the chicken tried to peck at Odessa's armor.
Unlike Leander, Lothar did listen to the Proctor as he was ordered to stay together.

It was more out of habit than anything else. Part of the reason he had survived the Academy in the first place was because some of the Proctors had taken a liking to him. He had scraped by ingratiating himself, and...before the last year anyway most Proctors had never tried to kill a student themselves.

They preferred to make other Initiates do it.

So when Palahinuk bade him to slow down, Lothar did just that. His steps were timed almost perfectly with the older man's, head half swiveling to look back towards the beasts. Ensuring that they would still be able to out pace them even with Leander rushing ahead.

A certain sense of bitterness flickered through the young man as he watched the other boy.

Anger, jealousy at the fact that he could simply bring himself to disobey so easy.

He'll get his time. Lothar thought to himself bitterly as he ran forward alongside the Proctor. Coming up behind Leander but managing to reach the group of girls. The earth beginning to tremor slightly as the creatures behind them really began to move.