Completed Time to Grow Up

  • Distant lands call to you, Guest. The next world event coming soon.

    A land once ruled by Dragons and Gods opens, but not every secret of Arethil's past is safe to uncover.

    Titanfall

Nathaira

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"Are you ready?"

Nathaira turned to the girl beside her. Only her eyes were lit up from the narrow slit in the wall before them where the boards had warped apart. Within were five men seated at a table. Smoke wafted from long pipes and filled the air, and a pleasant lilting language came from their lips as cards were thrown down and coins exchanged. A few of the men had long hair, all of them had pointed ears.

They were members of a group that threatened Vel Anir. A radical splinter group of elves that had taken to attacking human settlements near Falwood and had even begun instigating crime and murders in outlying Anirian towns. These men were not the leaders, but they did know the passphrase to enter a secret headquarters.

"Remember, leave one alive to interrogate." Viper's eyes swept the group, marking four out of five for death. The plan, which she had already outlined, was for her to rush in first towards two of the farthest elves. Rumer would then come in just behind her and take the nearest two while they were distracted, leaving one.

A group of young drunken villagers ambled down the street, a good distance away and oblivious to the two women crouched at the center of the dark alley.

| Rumer |​
 
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Rumer

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Acceptance was difficult. It didn't matter what they told her, it didn't matter what these people had done, she simply couldn't want to kill them, but the knowledge that they'd been attacking human villages at random would at least make her feel less guilty about the pending slaughter. The only time she'd felt true murderous rage was toward the orcs on the road who'd wanted to skin her...And toward Norris. The smell of pipe smoke was a convenient focus for her, it reminded her of the cruel man as it drifted through the cracks in the wall and tendrilled it's smoky fingers around her throat. She gave Nathaira a brief nod without looking up as she spoke.

She could hear her heart beating in her ears, muffling the sound of the laughter in the room, she felt the familiar clamminess that covered her palms, the stirring of nausea in her stomach, but Rumer had learned not to complain. There was little point in pleading, it never done any good; she knew now more than ever that these people were going to die, whether she liked it or not.

She had no choice.

"I'm ready..."
 
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Nathaira

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Nathaira could see the conflict in the girl, and her own lips pursed in concern. Not so much for Rumer's feelings as for her life, for it would be very, very short if she did not overcome her distaste for violence. Still, the acceptance was there, and she would take the child's word.

"On three, then," she whispered, producing a strange card from her pocket. It shimmered in the light like slick orange glass, and it stuck to the wall where Nathaira placed it. She motioned for Rumer to move back. "One..." she moved back herself.

"Two..." she drew her daggers and slid them across her teeth to impregnate them with venom.

"Three."

~SHOOM!~

The card ignited and hot orange flames exploded through the wall into the room. Before the light had dissipated Nathaira was through the charred opening. Her thick, green hair whirled through the air as she slid feet-first over the card table, cutting the throat of a man to her left in a quick, deft movement. Her heels caught the second elf in the chest, sending him reeling back in his chair. She landed in a crouch on his chest and buried both blades into his eye sockets before whirling around to watch for Rumer.
 
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Rumer

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Rumer moved back cautiously, her glassy green eyes narrowing with apprehension as she watched the card and they had to close entirely for a short moment, blinded by the sudden flash. She blinked hard against the white spots in her vision, but Nathaira was already gone and Rumer stumbled over the rubble before getting her footing and following behind her.

The remaining three men were already up on their feet and drawing weapons, all attention on Nathaira and shock, confusion and horror contorting their faces. She barely had time to think, they should have been dead by now but her stumble had cost her and still she could barely see.

"Hey!" Rumer yelled in panic in effort to stop the men descending upon her mentor. They each turned to her, their confusion growing as their elven eyes fell upon the young girl. She pulled a quick breath and focused, her arms thrown out and her fingers curling into fists in the air, as though gripping two invisible daggers which she then pulled in slashing motions in opposite directions through the air. She screamed out with the effort of it, and as she now stood with her arms spread at either side of her and trembling fists, two of the men collapsed to their knees, gurgling and clutching at their bleeding throats as they spilled their life onto the floorboards.

Ru was frozen in place, staring at the dying men as the last man attempted to flee..
 
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Nathaira

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Rumer's delay was slight, but it was enough time for the three remaining men to focus on Nathaira and draw their weapons. She stared back at them, baring fangs and hissing like a wild thing, keeping their attention, though they were getting dangerously close to being able to strike.

Relief as Rumer intervened, and again a sadistic delight at the girl's particularly gruesome abilities. Her face twitched from scowl to grin, and she quickly snapped her attention to the elf that was now running for the door. Her knives were pulled free of their bony sheaths with a wet, sucking squelch and she bolted. She was quick, and as the man grabbed at the door's handle she threw herself onto his back.

The door, which he had managed to open just a few inches, slammed shut as his body crashed against it. His forehead split from the impact and he staggered backwards, reeling as the assassin clung around his neck. A swift kick the to the back of his leg sent him to his knees, and cold reptilian hands yanked his head up by the hair and placed a warm, bloodied dagger against his throat.

"Hhhussh now," Nathaira rasped in a breathy voice that chilled the very air. The man stifled his groans, drawing in tight, rapid breaths through clenched teeth. Unable to see the woman that held him from behind, he stared at Rumer with crystalline blue eyes. His face had gone quite pale, and fear was mixed in equal parts with anger and incredulity. He was shocked to see a child, and terrified of what she had done to his friends.

"The passsword, dear," Nathaira hissed, close enough to his ear that her flickering tongue danced against it.

"ß∑∂å ∂∂¬," the elf answered in a foreign language, but his tone made it clear he was not willing to cooperate.

Nathaira pulled his hair harder and pressed her blade closer to his throat. "Common tongue, if you pleasse. I do hope you sspeak it, otherwise there iss no reason to keep you alive."

The elf answered her slowly and with a heavy accent. "Fuck. You. Cunt."

Nathaira sighed, and the metal ornaments in her hair clinked as her head shook from side to side. She looked up at Rumer and could see her fixating on the men she had killed, saw the familiar look in her eyes. Beneath the high of violence she did pity the girl. She had accepted her own feelings for the child, and the weakness that came with it, and so she did not pretend not to care. Nevertheless, she knew that the greatest service she could provide to Rumer was proper training. Survival before comfort.

"Rumer, do you think you could convince our friend to be more forthcoming?"
 
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Rumer

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There it was. The familiar rush of cold blood she felt every time she used her abilities to kill. It felt like someone had tipped a basin of icy cold water over her head, and she felt it rush all the way to her toes, draining the colour from her rosy cheeks and causing her skin to burst with goosebumps. What it was, was a sudden expel of energy, what she imagined it was, was the souls she'd just caused to part from their bodies rushing through her in enmity, and she always wondered if they stayed with her. She shuddered.

Rumer listened to the exchange, her brow furrowing as the elf refused to cooperate. She really wished he would, she was already cold enough that she had to wrap her arms around herself and rub friction into them.

"Yes maam." the child nodded, suppressing a sigh as she turned her eyes to the elf and narrowed them in mute apology as she focused. It only took a few short seconds for the sweat to show on his skin, small beads of it formed like fresh morning dew over his face that was reddening rapidly. Soon it ran in rivulets and dripped from his chin and he writhed uncomfortably as his temperature rose. Then came the bloody nose that gravity pulled to floor.. Rumer's jaw clenched and fingers dug into her biceps as she willed the man to concede, she wouldn't stop until she was told to stop, but he'd boil alive if he didn't give in soon..
 
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Nathaira

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At first the elf flinched when Rumer moved towards him. He hadn't seen exactly what she'd done to his comrades, but he saw the aftermath. There was so much blood... where were her weapons?

He writhed and began to twitch and turn, his skin flushing. Nathaira felt his temperature rise like a biological furnace, and her tongue snaked in and out of her mouth in anticipation. Growls, grunts, and groans from the elf and his breathing got quicker. Finally it turned from a grunt to an exclamation, and then a scream.

"Stop! Stop, please!" He begged of her. Nathaira held him fast as his limbs started to spasm.

"Password!" she yelled back. "Password, and it stops."

Veins bulged from his face and his nose began to bleed. His fingernails began to bleed. Another shriek of agony escaped him.

"Eredh!" He yelled, "Password... is eredh!"

Nathaira leaned back down to his ear. "I don't believe you."

His eyes turned more fearful than ever as confusion mixed with pain. "It... it is! Eredh! Please!"

"I think it iss a trap, a word to identify enemies, yess?"

His eyes had started to weep red tears. "No, it is eredh! Promise! White door... phoenix... basement... eredh..." His voice was getting weaker, and Nathaira finally signaled for Rumer to stop as she dropped him. The quivering mess of an elf shuddered on the floor, choking and gurgling on his own blood which steamed in the night air.

Eredh it was.
 
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Rumer

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Rumer's jaw clenched as the man pleaded for her to stop. She couldn't stop. Not until she was told to.. Her wide, emerald eyes were glassy with gathering tears that she refused to let spill and she grit her teeth together.. It was a horrible sight to behold, but Rumer had no choice but the keep her gaze fixed on the sight of the man slowly boiling alive. His organs would be bleeding soon, then they'd melt. It didn't matter how many times she had to watch her victims squirm and choke up their innards onto the floor, it never got easier, and her stomach churned uneasily.

Just tell her... Please tell her...

The elf wasn't the only one that was growing weaker. The child had started to sway ever-so-slightly as her legs slowly turned to jelly and her balled up fists trembled at her sides. The second she was gestured to stop she staggered back into the wall, grateful of it's support, and she dragged a tremulous wrist over her brow that was clammy despite how cold she felt.

She straightened up as soon as she could despite the weakness in her shaking limbs, and she looked to Nathaira in mute question, an expression that read 'are we done?', words she was too afraid to speak aloud. Questions rarely worked out well for her.
 
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Nathaira

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Nathaira did not meet Rumer's eyes just yet.

The elf continued to shudder on the ground, though his breathing was quieting. The blood still ran from his nose and eyes, and Nathaira could now see a small pool forming within his ear. She was glad he had decided to speak before his tongue had become too swollen, and before his lungs had completely disintegrated. That would have been a much worse death than what she would give him now.

She stepped over to him and crouched down. Using the dagger she'd just had at his throat, she cut his neck deeply. There was less of a spray of blood than would be expected, for it had already been leaking within his body. She wiped the weapons on his clothes before stowing it, and approaching card table that miraculously had remained undamaged. She picked up a mug of cool liquid, sniffed it, and nodded to herself. It was tea. Strongly brewed, but palatable.

She brought it back to Rumer and laid a hand on the girl's shoulder. "You did well," she hissed quietly, finally meeting the green gaze, before placing the mug in Rumer's hand. "Drink," she instructed, with a tone that was not unkind, but that clearly meant she expected the mug to be emptied.

She stalked quietly back across the room while Rumer dealt with the tea, checking the other rooms of the small house and even poking her head to the upper level. It was empty, without any indication of others having been here.

Satisfied, she returned to the lower level and motioned for Rumer to follow her out of the charred hole from which they'd entered. "Move quietly, now, and quick." They were headed to a meadery called "The Phoenix." The tortured elf had offered up information that she already knew, and it confirmed that the password he gave them was legitimate. The meadery had a basement, and within that basement a white door that the password would get them through.

She had not been told how they were expected to proceed after the password was given, however. That was up to the pair of them to figure out.
 

Rumer

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Rumer tried not to look at the shuddering elf, or listen to the sounds of his ragged breaths as they quieted. She would cast the memory of each of the elves faces to the depths of her mind, a dark little place filled with the most painful of memories that she never visited, that she'd learned to ignore, at least whilst she was awake. She watched Nathaira step over to the man, and her gaze fell to the floor before she could witness the end of his life. It was a mercy..

Her gaze remained downcast and only her eyes rose to Nathaira, a hesitant smile curling at her lips in response to the woman's praise and the comforting hand she'd placed on her shoulder. She took the tea in her trembling grip and lifted it to her lips, muffling a quiet "thank you Nathaira" against the porcelain rim.

She sipped carefully at first, but it was pleasantly warm and sweet too, so she drank it thirstily down. For a moment she considered whether the tea contained any magical properties, it seemed to fill her with comfort and a warmth that spread from her belly all the way to the tips of her fingers and toes, and sweetness was such a rare thing that she couldn't help but make a small 'hmm' as she drank. But, it was just tea, and she decided that she very much liked it.

When Nathaira returned she set the empty cup down and nodded in understanding as she secured her hood over her hair and ears. She glanced up and down the alleyway before stepping out and turning left, sticking to the shadows as she moved quickly along side her mentor until they reached their destination..
 
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Nathaira

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Nathaira and Rumer moved silently. She had taught the girl how to step, where to place her feet, and how to move without rustling her clothing. Murder was only a small part of the job, the majority was just getting to the target. Night offered plenty of natural camouflage, and it was easy enough to avoid the scant street lamps that flickered in the faint wind. The streets were mostly empty, and there were plenty of alleys and jutting curbs for them to hide behind should anyone come their way.

Nathaira had purposefully chosen to extract the password some distance from the meadery to avoid raising alarms, but they were able to reach it within an hour. It was a large building, as would be expected, but modest: built of simple wood on a stone base. A painted white bird adorned its door.

She knelt in darkness just across the street and turned back to her young partner. ”Find a way insside. I will meet you there.” Then she disappeared from sight. Rumer would need to work this next task out on her own.
 

Rumer

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"B--" she almost said it, almost.. 'But' was simply not an option, but it was easy to slip up from time to time and forget herself. The child pressed her lips closed tightly and gave a short nod before turning back to study the building. Chewing on her lip, she glanced up and down the street before darting across it to the alleyway where she slipped easily through a fence and hid behind a stack of barrels until she was sure the coast was clear.

The alley was silent, and so Ru crept out of her hiding place and looked up at the heavy, oak door of the meadery's side entrance. She glanced back at the barrels and climbed over them to press her back against one and push. The thing was three times as heavy as she was, and so she grit her teeth and growled as she pressed back, and finally the cask tipped over and sent another two clattering to the ground with it spilling mead into the street.. She rapped her fists on the door for good measure, and hid herself behind a stack of empty crates.

"WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!" a fat old man bellowed as he threw the door open and stormed out to try and save what was left in the kegs. "RAND! GET OUT HERE!" he demanded, swearing and growling to himself as a younger, thinner version of himself rushed out to help.

Rumer took the opportunity to slip through the opened door, and slink silently down the stairs to wait for Nathaira, hoping the heart pounding in her chest wasn't audible as she hid in the shadows of the cellar.
 
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Nathaira

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Rumer's hesitance was evident, but the speed at which she overcame it was reassuring. She was not quite the killing machine a Forsaken usually was at her age, but then again she had started her training much, much later than usual. Despite her shortcomings the girl's progress had actually been quite rapid, and she obviously had a sharp mind.

This was evident in her solution to entering the building. Invisible, Nathaira slowly followed Rumer and watched her as she stalked alongside the meadery. She smiled at the toppling barrels. It was a clever distraction, and an excellent tactic for one so small to slip by unnoticed. The mess would take quite a while to clean up, so she had bought them at least several minutes of time in the building.

After following Rumer to the stairs Nathaira reappeared, motioning for Rumer to remain silent. The cellar was cool and filled with barrels. Set into one wall was a single wooden door that had been painted white. It had a small circular bit of wood about three-fourths of the way up with a moon carved into it, and it looked as though this circle of wood had been cut out and then replaced. This was where they would need the password.

"Remember the misssion," she whispered to the girl. They had been charged with two tasks: eliminate the leader of the radical elven group and uncover any evidence they could regarding future operations. As an obvious side note, they were to eliminate any elf that got in their way, thereby offering fewer replacements for the one they killed. Vel Anir had somehow found out that the leader would be in this saferoom on this night, that he was en route to a settlement much closer to Vel Anir for something... important.

Nathaira saw how much had been taken out of Rumer from her first burst of magic, and she cautioned her. "Pace yoursself. A blade will sserve as well as magic." She winked, twirling one of her own daggers in between her fingers before moving to the door. She did not know what to expect, and she hoped, for their sakes, that the door would not simply open into a single room filled with dozens of elves. They were prepared for that scenario... but she would much rather pick her enemies off one by one.

She rapped three times on the door. There was silence for a few seconds, just long enough for her to contemplate knocking again, when the little circle of wood swung inwards and revealed two peering green eyes. "Ńç´åß?" It asked. Nathaira, assuming that the she was being asked for the password, answered.

"Eredh," she said as clearly as she could. The green eyes narrowed, her accent was obvious, and although she had drawn up her hood and scarf, what little of her face was visible was clearly not elven. They seemed to consider her, but when their eyes rested on Rumer they seemed to soften a bit. Her elven features comforted them, and the wooden circle shut.

It was followed by the sounds of latches and locks, and the door was opened for them. Nathaira breathed a sigh of relief as she saw a dark hallway beyond with only two elves standing guard.
 
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Rumer

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On edge, Ru near jumped straight out of her skin as Nathaira reappeared, a gasp catching in her throat as she lifted a small dagger into the air defensively before lowering it again and letting out a slow breath.. "Yes Nathaira.." she responded in her usual obedient way, her voice carrying an undertone of anxiety.

She sheathed the little dagger away and fixed her gaze on the door, wiping her clammy palms on her tattered cloak, heeding her mentor's advice with the briefest of frowns and another, quieter "Yes Nathaira.." followed by a sigh as she tried to collect herself once more.

As the little spy hole in the door opened, Rumer stared back at the eyes behind it and looked to Nathaira and back as they seemed to be considering whether or not to grant them entry. The child offered up a shy smile and rocked back and forth on her heels as she waited. She followed Nathaira's lead through the door as it opened, and glanced up at her and back to the two elven guards before casually approaching.

One of them asked something in elven as they got closer, and Ru's fingertips fidgeted by her sides as both elves tensed at not receiving an answer. They repeated, and again they were ignored and so they stepped forward, both raising a hand to halt them in their tracks.

Rumer's eyes seemed to glaze over and she quickly took the last two steps and took hold of the outstretched wrist of the elf on the left, her little blade slipping from her cloak to slam down into the crux of his elbow and out before being jarred into the side of his neck and ripped back out again within the span of a few short seconds.
 
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Nathaira

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She could feel the tension as she stepped over the threshold. She gave a curt nod at their words, but this was apparently not the correct response, as the words were repeated. Nathaira silently cursed her lack of training in languages. If they got out of this alive, she should make sure that Rumer learned at least a few of the more common phrases.

Of course it could not be this easy, she sighed internally, but it would have been nice if the two had just let them pass. She heard the slip of metal and the wet, popping impact of Rumer's knife, and an almost maternal pride swelled in her cold breast. The man next to her tensed and grabbed at her right arm, but he was not quick enough to stop the left from pulling down her scarf, nor to prevent her from twisting forwards and burying her fangs in his neck. She made sure to crush his windpipe so that his scream was nothing more than a gurgle to match his friend's death, and he slumped to the ground, twitching.

Nathaira wiped her lips and pulled back her hood. They were on the clock now. Her pupils had dilated to the darkness and the carnal rush of what she'd just done. Her tongue flickered out instinctively and tasted the air ahead. She could smell smoke, sweat, and damp stone.

She looked over at Rumer to check on the girl, looking for the pale, sickened expression. The child was too kind for this work, and it was something that Nathaira had felt increasingly guilty for trying to stamp out. In a better life, perhaps, she wouldn't have needed to.

In truth, Rumer had done extraordinarily well. She had grown so much from the terrified child in the round chamber that Nathaira had tortured, and when the snake had came to her with a mission, a real mission, Nathaira knew she was ready.

"Lead the way, Little Moussse. Quiet feet, keen eyess," she repeated the mantra and tried to make her serpentine face as comforting as possible, though this was difficult with her jaw still partially dislodged.
 
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Rumer

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As ghastly as her magic was, it was detached. She had to watch her victims die in terrible ways and there was no way around it, but to actually feel the blade plunge into the cushiony flesh so easily was something entirely new and entirely different. She stared at the elf as he clawed at his neck, the blood sputtering from his lips and weeping through his fingers as he died.

Rumer looked down at the blade in her hand, the glistening crimson shimmering in the dim light. There were spatters of it on her hands, on her face. The child let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding as Nathaira spoke and she turned to her with a blank expression as she tried to register her words. Her gaze fell on the elf she’d bitten and her brow furrowed as she looked up at her mentor as she realised how she was becoming exactly what they wanted her to become.

It took her a few seconds longer than it should have to move, but she nodded in mute understanding and stepped silently through the door, stowing her blade back inside her cloak as she led the pair down another long, narrow hallway carved into the rock, following the sounds of voices and the dim light of a cavernous room ahead.
 

Nathaira

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The blankness on Rumer’s face, the sluggishness of her response, it would have been terribly sad to anyone else. Nathaira was not allowed such a luxury, and she took the girl’s quiet acceptance as a victory. It was better than the child who had almost drowned on the beach rather than take a life. Perhaps she would survive this life yet.

The hall sloped gently in a wide arc to the right. Torches burned in widely spaced sconces between dark stretches of shadow. The scents of mead, food, and their elven enemies grew ever stronger, and the echoing voices grew louder.

Nathaira hoped they would come across a side room, somewhere they could slip into and listen from, but no such place presented itself. Up ahead the warm and steady light of the main chamber grew closer.

Rumer had done well so far, but as they neared the growing voices Nathaira put a gentle hand on her shoulder and took the lead herself. If they were to come face to face with a crowd she would rather go first.

She crept with her back right against the curving wall as they neared the door, trying to minimize her silhouette as much as possible. It was effective, given her unnatural thinness.

Fate had been kind to them, and just within the open door was a line of old wine barrels. Beyond there was a large wooden table and several men were gathered round, none looking at the door.

Nathaira ducked low and rolled behind the barrels. The room itself was circular, with a few doors along the walls leading to side rooms. Wine shelves and more barrels lined the walls, and there were a good number of maps covering what open wall space remained.

There were at least ten elves present, and while two Forsaken could easily counter this, Nathaira did not want a full scale brawl they could wait and pick them off one by one. Even so, Nathaira drew her daggers and slid them across her fangs to coat them in lethal venom.
 
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Rumer

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Rumer stopped suddenly and looked up as Nathaira's hand touched her shoulder, her first assumption was that she'd made a mistake and her body tensed, subconsciously bracing herself for some form of pain. Her wide eyes settled on her mentor, and she felt her muscles start to ease as she watched her take the lead. A breath she hadn't been aware she'd been holding onto escaped her nose and she followed after her, quick yet silent on her feet just as she'd been taught.

She settled herself behind a barrel and warily peeked out to count the elves gathered around the table, and she looked to Nathaira expectantly, awaiting her direction. She too slipped her daggers from inside her cloak, trying not to let her hands tremble too much as she gripped them.. She was ready.
 
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Nathaira

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They spoke in elvish, and again Nathaira wished she had been given at least a cursory lesson in the stuff. Surely even the xenophobic kingdom could see the utility in that? The tones were hushed and hurried, and luckily they did not seem to have noticed any of the commotion from their doorkeepers.

She looked around from their precarious hiding place. They were safe for now, but it would be very easy for an elf to walk around and spot them. At the very top of the room was a metal grate, and although the torchlight obscured the darkness beyond, Nathaira could see that it was cooler air beyond: the outside.

She gestured towards it with a knife. "That will be our way out," she whispered. Reaching it would be tricky, but the serpentine assassin had a few ideas marinating in her mind. "Remember, we kill the leader, and any who interfere." Strictly speaking their job would be done with just the leader's assassination, but Nathaira doubted the others present would simply go along with that.

The elf they were after was older, red-haired, and apparently bore a scar that stretched over his left eye and down to his lip. An injury from a duel with an Anirian guardsman, or a forest beast, depending on who told the story. In any case, he had been notoriously difficult to locate and would likely disappear again should they fail.

That would be the least of their problems if they failed.

"I will draw them off," she said finally, and slunk to one of the side rooms. She did not turn invisible, but she moved like liquid between barrels and low tables, darting low and fast through the room like little more than a shadow.

The side room she chose was filled with mead barrels. Perfect. She uncorked three of them before swinging herself atop them in the darkness. As the liquid splattered out, one elf was sent to investigate and clean up the mess. He entered the dark room and did not come out. The mead continued to spill.
 

Rumer

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Rumer watched Nathaira's movements between quick, nervous glances over those gathered around the table. She could feel her heart thudding in her chest and as she was left there alone with her bloody daggers clutched in her trembling hands, she realised how frightened she was.

She heard the wine spill and peeked warily around the barrel she hid behind, watching the elf enter the room. The sanguine puddle spread ominously across the straw-littered floor until it reached the heels of the elves stood at the near side of the table and they looked down at it. The red-headed elf slammed his fists down on the table and called out something that she couldn't understand, but if she could put it into the common tongue, it looked a lot like 'what the fuck are you doing in there you fucking idiot?!'..

With the lack of response, a silence fell, and a few uncertain glances were exchanged. Three more elves turned on their heels and approached the room.
 
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Nathaira

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Nathaira waited atop the barrels. The body of the first elf was lying prostrate near the back wall. His blood was draining quickly from the large gash in his neck but it had not yet reached the threshold.

The first to enter said something gutteral to the others, and the elf just behind him lit up the room with a small glowing crystal that had materialized in his had. It bathed the storeroom in a yellow light and revealed Nathaira crouching in wait, a demon’s grin spread across her face.

The first elf didn’t have time to scream before Nathaira’s knife flashed across his throat. She tackled the second the ground and bit into his forearm. The light went out at once and he was reduced to a shrieking, shaking mass, clutching at his bleeding arm as agony overtook him.

Both Nathaira and the third elf had been momentarily blinded by the sudden lack of light, but she could see his heat signature radiating off his skin, and she opened his belly beneath his wildly swinging arms.

Back in the main room the other six elves had drawn blades in response to the commotion. The red headed one took a few steps back from the table, glancing behind him at a small door in the wall before looking back to the store room.

Two moved closer to Nathaira, she would not remain hidden for long. Another three fanned out across the basement, keeping their eyes peeled for intruders, while the leader remained at the central table ready to bolt.
 
  • Nervous
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Rumer

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He was going to run, the one that they needed, and if that happened she could only dread to think about the punishment for failing. It wasn't an option.

She stared over the barrels at the elves who'd drawn their blades, and since all eyes appeared to be directed toward the store room, she slunk around the shadowy edges of the room in effort to reach the doorway before the red-headed elf could slink away.

Rumer was stood in the doorway by the time another of the elves joined their leader and turned him toward it, intent on ushering him out and away from whatever danger was in the little room. She had wiped the bloodied dagger on her stomach and she was looking down at the stain of blood, clutching at it as she dropped to her knees with a shuddered gasp in pain. The two elves stared at her in shock and confusion, and as she lifted her glassy, green eyes pleadingly to them, the guard stepped hesitantly forward and dropped to his knee, a hand reaching to her shoulder as his gaze fell to the apparent wound she held.

"Wha--" What happened, she assumed he'd been about to ask, but as his mouth opened a dagger slipped from her sleeve and she deftly caught it, and it found home swiftly in the elf's neck. He sputtered blood on her face and she grimaced, but held his gaze as he stared, wide-eyed in horror as his life ebbed away. Her heart raced so quickly that she had to hold down the meagre contents of her stomach.

There was a clatter of steel as his blade hit the ground, and it was then that the others realised what had happened. Rumer pulled the dagger from his neck, and with another spurt of blood the elf crumpled to twitch on the ground.

Chaos. The men turned on her, a danger they could see, a child no-less.

Rumer stood, dropping the dagger with another clash of steel on stone and lifted her hands with a panicked "STOP!!!" The red headed elf had stepped back against the table, leaving another two to round it and approach from either side. They stopped suddenly, almost within arm's length of her, and their bodies buckled, backs arching as their spines were torn open. The moment they landed on their knees, Rumer's fists clenched at the air and pulled toward her, and fountains of blood poured from their mouths. The fell quickly into the dark pools, and the others stared at her.
 
  • Scared
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Nathaira

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There were three elves left, and Nathaira marked them quickly as she emerged from the storeroom. They were all staring away from her, all standing rigid and defensive, and their ears were quite pale. The scent of blood was overwhelming. No... it wasn't just blood, it was death and fear. She made wet footsteps as she moved through the ever-growing lake of deep crimson.

One elf turned to face her and his eyes held nothing but terror. It was more than Nathaira's reptilian face could produce on its own, and she looked past him to see a scene that threatened to turn even her cold stomach.

Rumer stood at the epicenter of carnage. Three bodies were at her feet, two of which were... beyond description. Nathaira faltered, just staring at the scene, and did not come back to the present until the elf made to raise his sword.

In a moment she had flung her dagger into his throat, the other she sent spinning through the last guard's skull. They fell heavy where they stood, and the red-haired elf jumped from the table, looking wildly between her and Rumer. His face was initially horror, but as she stepped closer, and pulled her knife from a dead man's head, it grew stoic, proud, and accepting.

He said something quietly, and Nathaira thought she could make out the words "Vel Anir" in it. "Yess," and she cut his throat in one lightning-fast strike. Somehow she had lost her enthusiasm for murder just now.

She should be elated, their mission was a resounding success. Perhaps a bit messier than intended, but given the circumstances it could hardly have gone better. The graphic nature of the sect's demise would send a strong message, and may eliminate the need for more assassinations.

But Nathaira approached Rumer slowly, an inscrutable expression on her lips. Rumer had done very, very well, so why wasn't she happier? Why wasn't she more proud? Why did she have this twisting feeling in her gut?

She squatted down in front of the girl and just looked at her for a moment, passing over her with amber snake's eyes. She recalled the child sitting on the bank of the underground river, the girl screaming in her cell, and the little one staring wide-eyed at the sea. What was she looking at now? Then she asked the only question she could bring to her mind. "Are you alright?"
 
  • Cthuloo
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Rumer

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Weakness. She felt it slowly spread from her clenched fists all the way to her toes and she had to stop herself from swaying. She was still staring at the dead bodies in front of her, their dead eyes staring straight back at her, more faces to add to those already in that part of her mind she chose to shut off from.

Her hearing was muffled and her shuddered breaths sounded much louder than usual. The dizziness came then, and the child blinked the black dots from her vision. She might have fainted had it not been for Nathaira squatting down in front of her and giving her mind focus.

No praised came, and Rumer was afraid to look at her mentor for a moment, afraid she'd done something wrong. Her gaze slowly shifted, a timorous expression etched on her blood-spattered features.

"Are you alright?"

Rumer's brow creased for the briefest moment at the question. She quickly considered that it may be a trick question, that she should nod quickly and assure her that she was ready for her next order, that she was not at all affected by killing these elves. That she was happy to murder. Her eyes filled as she considered the true answer to her question however and her lower lip quivered.

She was not fine. She was not happy to murder. She had no choice.

The child swallowed and gave a very light nod, but her lips twisted as though fighting to keep her words inside her mouth. With a frown, she opened her arms and threw them around the woman's neck to clutch onto her tightly, her body shaking with the trauma she knew better than to complain about.

"Yes Nathaira.." she lied in a whisper.
 
  • Cry
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Nathaira

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Rumer looked unsteady at best. The small girl was covered in blood and sweat, and Nathaira could see with the pits on her lip that her bloodflow had changed. It looked... panicked. Nathaira’s question only seemed to deepen this emotion, whatever it was, and before she could react the girl was hanging on her shoulders.

Nathaira did not move, stunned into stillness with wide, yellow eyes. Her own heart, quickened by battle, maintained its pace as odd sensations filled her. She had embraced Rumer before, but it had been different. It had not been vulnerable, and at times it had almost felt like a boa enveloping its prey, as if the mere act of not killing her was supposed to show affection.

She didn’t know what this was, but she set her daggers down on the bloodied floor gently, and slowly brought her arms around the trembling child. It was gentle, almost as though she were afraid to touch the girl. Little by little she held firmer.

She felt a pain in her gut. It reminded her of poison she’d been forced to drink, churning away inside of her, threatening to eat her away. It built in her belly and she felt a great pressure against her throat. It was trying to get out, trying to break free.

She made a small coughing noise, followed by a quick gasping inhale, and her eyes stung.

Look at what you are doing to her.

The voice was unbidden, as it always was. Nathaira was helping Rumer, training her, teaching her.

Making her like you.

Why would anyone want to be like you?
Monster. Abomination.
She shut her eyes. I’m sorry...

The rune bit her harshly for this thought.
 
  • Cry
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