No Time for Arguing! Head for the Showdown! (2Gen, Invite)

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Kai
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No Time for Arguing! Head for the Showdown! (2Gen, Invite)

Unread postby Kai » Mon Jul 30, 2007 6:45 pm

((OOC: Long!post is loooooooooong. Sorry about that. They won't all be like this, I promise. The recap-factor comes up just this once.))

Ever since a conversation she'd had with one of the experts she corresponded with, Zea had been turning over in her mind the idea that soon she would have to go home. She'd been enjoying her life in Doma a great deal. Her life had changed drastically and it had been nearly a year and a half. Such a long time.

This city had seemed so immense and foreign to her, and it seemed like she'd been so young. It wasn't even her age. She'd been so uncertain and insecure, trying to piece together a family for herself. Always walking on eggshells, certain that if these surfaci learned where her interests and expertise lay that they would turn on her.

But that hadn't been the case. When she began her search for her father, she'd taken a mercenary job to try and make connections with people who might know him. It had gone poorly, but she'd made friends, people who didn't scorn her when they realized what sort of work she did and what sort of person she was. Maybe surfaci weren't so oversensitive after all.

After that, she seemed to make friends quickly. People she was certain would hate her, be disgusted by her... they continually surprised her with their loyalty and consideration for her. This had come especially clear during the events that finally brought her to her father, the one and only time they'd ever spoken. They'd risked themselves for her sake, because they didn't want to see her in danger. Whether Zea herself feared death, it meant a great deal to her that there were now people in her life who were happier having her where she was.

There was Sorune, who whether he realized it or not had taken the space in her life that her father had never occupied. Always concerned and supportive even he plainly didn't approve of her choices, the druid had worried her at first. She had placed him first on the list of people who might hate or even kill her for doing her work, and as it turned out he'd become one of her most trusted allies.

Solis and James, two men who seemed at times that they couldn't be more different. She and Solis hadn't shared much on a personal level, and she certainly couldn't assume that a man of his age didn't have a past of his own to deal with. Just the same, he'd always treated her with respect and the highest regard, and from a man of his integrity and compassion such a thing meant a great deal.

And then James. At first it had been something of an oddity that he and Solis could tolerate each other at all. He'd been one of the first people Zea had met upon arriving, and almost immediately he'd frustrated and intrigued her at the same time. The boy had so many irrational prejudices, so many reasons in his own mind to dismiss or write off other people, and an impressive dedication to the glorification of... well, himself. But that wasn't all there was, and she hadn't realized it until her friends had come for her and she saw how worried he had been about her, some girl he barely knew.

In the end, James had complicated things the most. She'd nearly been killed by a group that would have literally torn her essence apart to get what they thought they wanted, and he'd refused to leave her side for a while afterward. To be more precise, he'd insisted upon living on her front porch to make sure nothing happened to her again. He seemed more than happy to simply sleep on her couch if he could be sure he was wanted there. It was startling, but not unwelcome.

Eventually things had gotten still more complicated. She found that she didn't mind having someone like him around all the time. He was the only living person she spent that much time with, discounting direct relatives. Sure, he annoyed her or offended her on a fairly regular basis, but it was also always clear that he held her in high esteem. As time passed, they became closer... at least physically.

It hadn't seemed like a big deal at the time. He was half-demon, she was raised among demons, and in most cases such things didn't actually have any meaning. Such pastimes were recreation at best and predation at worst, so Zea didn't assume that it would matter what they did. Maybe she was more human than she thought she was. Again and again she thought maybe she didn't belong where she'd been raised, because she wasn't handling this like the good demon she could have been.

Things were getting too close, too personal. What's worse was that her familiar knew it. John was better about these things lately, but the spirit was jealous and with good reason. His place at her side and in her heart was in serious danger of being usurped and John was not the only one frightened by the possibility. Things weren't supposed to be like this, and something had to stop it.

Zea did what she had done last summer and left a note on the kitchen table. She needed to go home for a while. She would write back if she decided she was going to stay. In that case he could keep the house, she'd summon her garden out of the basement bit by bit, and none of her pets or test subjects should give him any trouble.

Whether or not she needed to be alone, Zea knew better than to travel to the Netherworld alone. She'd spoken with a few people about going to the Netherworld with her to work on a couple of projects. Unsure if they'd forgotten about her plans, she sent a message to a few potential travelling companions. It was short notice, but perhaps one or two people were still available. She sat on the edge of the fountain where she'd offered to meet her travelling companions, kicking her feet against the stone impatiently.

((OOC: Edit: Forgot to remove my signature! D'oh!))

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Mon Jul 30, 2007 7:52 pm

Ask, and ye shall receive. But Gods, be careful what you ask for.

Michael of the Arrowfist, the surprisingly normal Garoujin son of Jeridan, had received one of Zea's many missives earlier that week. He was new to magic, and found himself strangely fascinated with the young Necromancer's work. Certainly there was her use of druidic magics, so like her mother and father's own, to draw him in. Yet, he found himself intrigued by the necromancy itself as well. It had been Zea's influence that had finally made Michael decide to try life at Gunnir, and he had not been disappointed in the slightest. So when Zea's letter arrived in his dorm mailbox, he'd requested the time off for field research immediately. As a first year student barely into his second semester, there had been raised eyebrows. However, his earnest desire to learn more in the Netherworld and persistence finally won over. His missed school work would be delivered to him as quickly as was possible by the (admittedly dodgey) planar post, and he would be very pleased to complete it just as fast as it came.

And so it was that the rather tall and somewhat wiry, darkly colored Garoujin ran towards the meeting place describe in the letter, calling after Zea all the way. Today he wears a light blue vest, baggy black pants, and a cross shoulder bag, packed to capacity with papers, books of magic, and various supplies. He was definitely green, but with any luck his fervor would help Zea anyway.

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Unread postby KingOfDoma » Mon Jul 30, 2007 8:01 pm

It had been a long walk from the woods for Goren Felson.

The moment he closed the door to his rough, yet lovable cabin, he sighed his breath-free sigh, and turned away before he could regret it.

It was a once-in-two-lifetimes opportunity for him. The NETHERWORLD. A whole new place to be. And with the first person not to shun him immediately in years... It was wonderful.

That Zea... what a great kid. Goren had never fancied himself some sort of ancient, learned sage, but that little kid put all the knowledge he'd acquired through the years to shame. And now that he'd thought back on it... what had all his extra time taught him? How to live? Survive? Get by and not get caught by the guard? Goren had had enough of existing.

It was time to live.

Exiting the forest, he looked back at the tall trees that had sheltered him from the world at large. They weren't great at their job sometimes, and at times, their residents would be none too pleased at his actions, but they were all he had, and he was appreciative. No one else would have done it for him, anyways.

He almost laughed as he walked down the streets of Doma. They represented hypocrisy to him now. So accepting to take you in, but when you take something necessary to live, it turned on you. Or something. It's not like they'd worry him anymore.

He'd imagined Zea would be surprised to see him in something other than his traditional checked shirt and worn black slacks. He'd chosen a nice tan top today, and darker brown slacks, and even new shoes. He cleaned up nicely, if he did say so himself.

The words, "Hey, kiddo. We leavin' soon?" came out of him like water from a spigot, but he knew they meant more than that, as he thought back on that note...

That note he had left on his old, abandoned cabin door...

"If you find this, you found a free house. Might come back, but take the chance you're housesitting, huh?

Signed, Goren Felson."

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Unread postby Kelne » Mon Jul 30, 2007 10:05 pm

They say that for any given travel destination, there's always someone for whom it's all old hat. Certainly, Cerene was probably more widely traveled person she knew, even counting family. But the netherworld wasn't one of the innumerable places she'd been. After all, a lone mortal girl (well, elemental, technically) walking the byways of Hell was just asking for trouble.

Visiting in the company of Zea, however, along with whoever else decided to come along, had a distinct appeal to it. It was certain to be an experience, if nothing else.

As a result, Cerene showed up at the fountain promptly, dressed for the road. Between her elven features and fiery orange hair and eyes, she tended to stand out from the background. Even more so if one were to check her aura, which was composed of almost pure fire. Cerene seemed to have picked up a silver hilted rapier since the last time Zea had seen her, though she'd never actually used the weapon.

"Good to see you again, Zea," she said cheerfully, taking a seat along the rim of the fountain and settling in to wait for other arrivals.

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Unread postby Kai » Tue Jul 31, 2007 4:38 pm

Zea smiled as the garoujin ran toward her, shouting her name. She hadn't seen much of him in a good while, and it was flattering that he seemed so excited to see her. That kind of warm reception was something she might be leaving behind, but for now she waved to Michael with a smile. He seemed so happy and so young that it was hard for Zea to believe they were the same age.

Then Goren and Cerene showed up, and for a moment Zea just let herself enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by her friends. Goren she didn't know as well, but he seemed relatively eager to prove that he wasn't a threat to all that lived, and Zea was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

"Hey Cerene. Good to see you, too. Let's pray that this little trip works out better than the last one we took," she said with a grin. That had been an absolute nightmare, but at least Cerene and Zea had been given a chance to prove something to one another. Even if they weren't precisely friends, they knew they could rely on one another, and Zea was glad of that. Cerene might have to be responsible for getting the others back home if Zea decided that she wasn't going to return.

"So, um. I don't know who else is coming, but we do have a bit of a trip ahead of us. We'll have to head through the gateway in the Shumans. If you guys are okay to head out now, I've got nothing else to do here."

And isn't that the truth, she thought.

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Unread postby KingOfDoma » Tue Jul 31, 2007 8:01 pm

"Good, then. Let's get our asses out of here, huh? Got a whole other underside of the mortal world to visit..."

Goren, almost ceasing his happy smile, realized something.

He was... eager? That was suprising. He'd never been so eager to go anywhere in all his days. It was... a fresh place to go to, and there was a potential to find a little peace there.

It was... downright neat.

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Unread postby Nakibe » Tue Jul 31, 2007 11:58 pm

Meanwhile, a man finally finishes packing his bags. It had been too long since the last time he went on a good road trip, anyway. Too many hours spent hitting the books in hopes of keeping control over his burgeoning powers. "It really isn't surprising", one of his mentors would've said to him. "You probably need to do what I did. Go adventuring. Start meeting new people and develop your powers AWAY from these books." At least, that's what Solis thought would be said. Really he never thought about it earlier. It was nice here in Doma, he had a real family of sorts going on in this city. And he occasionally went out of the country, but that wasn't really enough.

It was finally time for him to start going out and DOING things, rather than just WATCHING them be done by others. So when Zea's letter came to his door, he knew it was an opportunity. Of COURSE he was going to go from the start. It was a friend who asked. A trusted friend. Even though sometimes her work really really freaked him out sometimes, she was controlled, competent, and most importantly VERY well grounded. In short, she was PROFESSIONAL. A trait sorely lacking in most necromancers, heck, many MAGES of Doma. But even aside from that, perhaps he should finally try to enjoy his powers, and what they can do for him. Perhaps it was past time for him to make a name for himself.

With these thoughts in mind, Solis made his way to where Zea and friends were gathering. "Hey, Zea! I trust I'm not TOO late." It was worth noting that his backpack seemed... well... more full than one would expect. Some would wonder if he was packing a whole library in there. But at least it had to be refreshing to some to see him in travelling clothes instead of his more typical green robes that always seemed to have too many hidden pockets.

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Unread postby Kai » Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:55 pm

"Solis! No, of course you're not. You're just in time." She looked around to the others. "I'm taking my horse with me, but we don't need to set a really hard pace that'll keep anyone from walking. I just need to bring Azrael with me."

She worried her lower lip with her teeth as she tried to work out the logistics of this. She knew that Cerene and Goren would be fine camping out wherever, and as much as she didn't want to presume Solis and Michael needed special consideration, she might need to adjust their plans to make sure everyone was taken care of. For now she was leading this little travelling party, and that meant she'd need to be willing to keep certain things in check.

Zea went to retrieve her horse, and she led the white smokey-maned gelding back to the others. "Guys, this is Azrael. Goren, I don't think you'll have any problems with him. He's a good boy, and he can handle being around undead." She rubbed the horse affectionately on his nose, and babytalked into his ear in demonic, which was a decidedly strange sound.

Once the others were taken care of, she headed to the city gates and pulled on Azrael's reins, halting him. With a deep breath she glanced over her shoulder back into the crowds and the marketstalls and the whole great breathing city full of life that had been her home for over a year. "Well, let's go," she said. "We've got a long way to travel."

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Unread postby Nakibe » Thu Aug 02, 2007 3:15 am

The worst idea was, in this case, fated to go first. After all, what harm could a little bit of walking do to a guy who normally walked a lot anyway. Solis was sure that he could manage a walk through the countryside even now, although a part of his mind wondered what it would be like to ride a horse. He certainly had ample time to find out what it would be like to ride either those or the more common chocobo that roamed these lands almost at a whim. But perhaps all of this woe is getting ahead of our tale somewhat.

"Seems like a nice enough day to start travelling, at least." were Solis' first words upon passing the city gates. "A sunny day, and no bickering to speak of just yet." It was about the time he said this that a faint rumbling could be heard, presumably from an errant thundercloud, although this close to Doma, a mage was hardly out of the question. "... well, at least half of that, anyway." It wasn't far from Solis' mind to use his powers to make the day remained pleasant. But therein lies the trap, doesn't it? he thought to himself. If I start thinking like that NOW I'll do it for everything. Besides, its just a little water. That may or may not bother us at all. "Which route are we taking, by the way?"

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Thu Aug 02, 2007 12:41 pm

Michael remained exuberant as he had been on his arrival. A short hike was always fun. A long hike in this countryside was practically an adventure already! It occurred to him that he probably should have thought to bring his sword as well as his parrying knife, but he'd settle for the latter, tucked away in his bag. The sound of thunder, however, did make him falter slightly. Depending on the route they took, they could be on open plains during a lightning storm. Certainly the going would be easier, but it would be about as intelligent as taking a dip in the lake with a stone tied around their collective necks...

"There's a bog a bit north of here. The going would be tough, but if that's a thunder head I hear, then there would at least be some cover. I know some plains we could cut across as well, but we'd be the tallest things around for miles... Or, we could pass through Varro-"

He stopped short, realizing that he'd just suggested they pass through what was essentially the center of the Ishtarian faith in Doma. Not that they were a bad lot as far as he knew, but anyone with eyes could see their hostility for Necromancers, or even anyone with a vested interest in Shadow magic. While the Garoujin can't actually blush, his embarrassment showed just as plainly as his ears fidgeted and his tail fluffed.

"Er. Ahem. Did you, ah, already have a route in mind?"

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Unread postby Kai » Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:08 pm

"I could handle Varrock," Zea answered. "The god I serve is nothing to be ashamed of, and I don't care what they think of me." She looked over her shoulder to Michael. "But I wouldn't take Goren through there. It wouldn't be safe for him."

Turning forward again, she led Azrael a little slower than necessary to keep them at a workable pace for bipeds. "We're headed in that general direction, though. We'll actually have to take some care to skirt that town since I don't feel like getting in a theology argument right now, and I don't feel like keeping a lot of life-worshipping fanatics away from Goren who, no offense, is kind of a walking target for them," she said with a shrug.

When she spoke again her tone was distant and a little distracted. She really didn't want to think much about where they were and where they'd been... the things she was leaving behind. Best to keep her mind away from it entirely. "If the others are all right with it, I wouldn't mind the bog if you think we could find solid passage through. I'm not picky how we get there. I just want to find the quickest way to Hell's Peak, so if anyone else wants to suggest a route I'm open to it."

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Unread postby KingOfDoma » Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:17 pm

By now, it had happened. It always did.

Goren's worst, saddest, yet most distinctive trait was his aroma. No matter how "fresh" he seemed to the outside observer, he always had the smell of a rotting corpse around him, as if it were pressed into his very soul. The canvas bag he had on his back, which was nearly half his size, was filled halfway with clothing and other needed items, and the rest with perfumes, colognes, eaus de toilette, and a whole host of other anti-stinkable concoctions. And yet, when he used such things, it did not mask the scent, but mixed with it, melded with it, like pouring sugar water into manure. If there's one thing he disliked about himself, he didn't name that, because it would simply go without saying.

Thus, the new prospect of going to a bog was quite alluring.

"A bog? Excellent! What direction is it? I'm fit'n'ready to go now!" He wasn't sure of the direction, but that didn't matter. "West? It's west, right? Come on! What are we all waiting for?"

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:19 pm

He blinked. ... And he blinked again. Surely he had not heard correctly. That couldn't be right. It couldn't be right, because... He went on speaking as though Goren were not there.

"Hell's peak? As in, the Riva/Solasia border?"

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Unread postby Kai » Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:25 pm

"That's where the portal is," Zea answered distantly. "And that's the only way to get there." She snapped out of her reverie somewhat when she realized Michael was showing an unusual degree of concern. She couldn't tell yet whether Michael was worried about their destination or excited. He just... seemed more concerned with it than the others did.

"Why? You going to have problems there?"

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:31 pm

He didn't reply for a moment. He knew very little of Hell's Peak iself, just it's general location... Which was right next to the anarchic "nation" of rogue dragoons and the feral dragons and Rai they warred with. He would merrily march into the heart of Orc territory before he'd pass into that country. ... Then again, Hell's peak wasn't actually IN Solasia. Just bordering it and Riva. So they would be fine... right?

"No... It's fine. I guess I'm just a little surprised is all."

He took a moment to collect his thoughts.

"... if we're heading straight north, then we'll probably only skirt by the edge of the bog. But if we're avoiding Varrock anyway, we can head further west and go through the Bog proper."

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Unread postby Nakibe » Thu Aug 02, 2007 3:55 pm

"Wait, we're going through the bog?" Solis replied with a start. Sure, he didn't mind avoiding Riva. After all, even tolerant as it was trying to be in some spots, he wasn't willing to push his luck there. But the bogs... "I mean, I've heard all sorts of creepy crap lives in these bogs. Granted I'm pretty sure we could handle it.. .but..." For all of his knowledge and even some experience in the matter, it still sort of shamed him to admit this... "Some of the stuff there is really, REALLY creepy."

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:10 pm

Michael couldn't help but smirk. Creepy things. In the bog. Oh man, That had to be some sort of joke. ... Didn't it?

"Listen... Solis, right? We're going to the Netherworld. We don't have much business there if we can't tackle a Bog. Right?"

His question was directed at Zea, as he felt she would be the one to know out of all of them.

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Unread postby Kelne » Thu Aug 02, 2007 8:30 pm

"Shouldn't be too bad," Cerene said, with the cheerful indifference of someone who could simply fly over said bog if it got to be too much trouble,
"Man-eating frogs at worst. Well, maybe trolls, but I figure we can handle trolls no problem." After all, trolls had a certain aversion to fire.

And if the swamp was inhabited by the restless dead, Zea would see them off in no time flat. No, no mere bog held any perils for them.

Not that Cerene had any particular problem with Varrock either, but it was clear that going near the place would only lead to trouble.

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Unread postby Nakibe » Fri Aug 03, 2007 3:26 am

"Oh no no, its not quite that. Just.. well. Um..." Solis spent a moment thinking about his reply. After all, he barely knew this guy, and the best way to tell him that he'd like to AVOID creepy crap if it wasn't necessary wasn't entirely clear to him.

"Just... eh. Nevermind, okay?" Not the most eloquent reply, he berated himself. But there was hardly anything else he could say in his defense. And he supposed his reasoning WAS kind of silly. After all, it was just a bog. Full of snakes, spiders, and other things that go bump, hiss, or do various other sounds in the night. Nothing he couldn't handle, right? Managing a smallish smile, Solis did his best to keep left foot moving in time with right foot. This still didn't stop the slight twitch of his right hand ever-so-slightly closer to a particular jeans pocket...

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Unread postby KingOfDoma » Fri Aug 03, 2007 10:36 am

"So, bog it is, then!" Goren said, with a chipperness that seemed almost strange to him. "So, get your bags, get on your feet, and let's get going, everyone!"

He looked to Zea one last time. "West, right?"

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Unread postby Archmage » Fri Aug 03, 2007 12:47 pm

This was not the type of situation that James Silvar was likely to excuse twice.

The half-demon had been living as Zea's roommate for some time now, ever since one of her apparently omnipresent incorporeal tag-a-longs had manipulated some bizarre cult into trying to kidnap and kill her to bring about a new era ruled by a phony god. He couldn't risk seeing that sort of thing happen to someone that he respected, and James had been brought up with just enough chivalry to know that he had a responsibility to protect women who seemed to be in danger. So he had done just that. Of course, she hadn't actually needed his protection beyond his initial investment, but there was a sense of obligation that he couldn't quite shake off, despite the fact that there was no sound reason why he couldn't just leave the girl to fend for herself. She had done a stunning job of it for many years, after all.

It was only during the times when she disappeared that James realized that being her unpaid bodyguard was never a function of detached chivalrous honor. He wasn't staying with her because she provided a place to stay--he was practically royalty, and could easily continue living at the castle. He wasn't even living with her to get away from his father. He was living with her because he felt that they had made some sort of emotional connection--that despite James's previous lack of success in attaching himself to others, Zea understood him. Zea would be there for him. Their relationship was emotionally rewarding without being particularly demanding, and he knew that he could leave whenever he wanted without feeling bad about doing it. Or could he? It was always possible that Zea might miss him if he moved out...right?

Zea, he had learned, was prone to frequent bouts of responsibility. He appreciated her intellect and her professionalism, to be sure, and the dedication with which she performed her duties as a living reaper. But Zea was a priestess, and as James had never found himself particularly endearing of any deity, the seriousness with which she approached her clerical duties was somewhat baffling to him. He understood that she served an important function in the balance of the universe. His father had taught him the worth of death. Her dedication, however, was something that James would never understand. How could she be so committed to something totally unrelated to her own life? James had been taught that there were plenty of things to do in this life, and spending the entirety of it thinking about the next one was frequently considered unhealthy.

He respected her, he realized, for the same reasons that he had respected her father. Zea had managed to bring integrity to a profession often decried as evil, or at least unsavory. But they shared more than respect, at least in his mind. He wasn't sure exactly what they shared, but whatever it was, it prevented him from letting her go without his intervention. Not again. Not this time.

A note on the table was the classic Zea tactic. "Be right back. Going to do stuff, solve crisis. Mind the house." Bullshit, thought James. He would not be left behind while she went on some grand adventure without him. That kind of thing was just lame. He knew that she and whoever else she had decided to take with her couldn't have gotten far. Somehow he would be able to find her, and he was determined to catch up even if it meant securing a teleport gate at the castle, though he hoped that sort of thing wouldn't be necessary. Disappearing into the slums for months and then suddenly making an appearance at the castle to borrow a teleporter would likely be seen as low and shameful behavior. No, he could catch up to Zea without his father's help.

He checked over his possessions briefly. Katar? Check. Enchanted headband? Check. Rugged-but-stylish adventurer's cloak? Check. If this were going to be a long trip, he could worry about provisions later. Maybe he could chase down a deer, wrestle it to the ground, and rip out its throat with his teeth. That would be awesome. Surely it would impress Zea. James realized that he was getting a distracted--he could think of ways to impress Zea later, when he wasn't worried about catching up to her first.

"HIYAH!" roared James as he dug his heels into the sides of his sky-blue chocobo. The bird dashed wildly through the streets, weaving erratically in a desperate attempt to avoid trampling everything in its path. "Out of my way, pedestrian fools!" James bellowed. "I am on important business!" If Zea was going where he thought she was going, she would have to leave via the north gate. Surely he could catch up to her on the open countryside, even if she had a decent head start.

As James neared the gate, he spotted the group preparing to depart. There, among the crowd, was a clearly recognizable horse. Azrael. She was just leaving the city gate!

"ZEA!" he shouted, ordering his steed onward at maximum reasonable speed. Maybe she'd hear him. Maybe not. He intended to get closer to make sure. "ZEA! You are NOT leaving me behind AGAIN!"

He could see that she was with a group of people now. That intelligent zombie. The garoujin. The phoenix woman. He swore he could remember the phoenix woman's name. Cerene? It wasn't particularly important at the moment. Luckily, the group was moving at a leisurely walking pace, presumably since only Zea had brought a mount, and James was gaining on them rapidly.

"ZEAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Fri Aug 03, 2007 1:26 pm

Michael turned at James's calls to Zea. It was actually not unlike what hed' done earlier today, except he'd felt alot happier at the time than James looked now. Of course, Michael was oblivious to Zea's emotional crisis, so he did not know better than to comment:

"Huh. I thought it was weird he wasn't invited. Just late, huh?"

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Unread postby Nakibe » Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:02 pm

Solis turns back to see the sky blue chocobo carrying a mildly pissed-looking half-incubus he knew quite well. Well, so much for getting through this without major arguments. Solis was never quite sure if it was good OR bad to have James around, but he HAD been doing his best to protect Zea. It shouldn't be surprising that he would show up about now. "uh... Hi, James. Nice seeing you again, heh."

Zea probably left him out for a reason, Solis thought. Though there's no telling what that reason was, exactly. Ah, well. We'll see in a moment.

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Unread postby Kai » Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:38 pm

"ZEAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

Dearest. Your little paramour has come to call. Shut up, I hear him.


Zea's teeth ground together as she pulled Azrael around to face behind him. She wasn't about to shout up at James from the ground, and anyway she was in charge here, not him. "No, Michael he is not just late," she growled. Thrusting her foot into the stirrup of Azrael's saddle, she pulled herself up onto her horse. She turned him to bring her around to the back of the group, so that Azrael was standing sideways across the road between James and the others.

As the half-demon approached in his mad charge to catch up with the group, Zea called, "James Paynus Silvar! What in the name of the nine hells do you think you're doing? Do you mind if I just once go somewhere without you?"

Now, that's not fair and you know it. The last time you went somewhere without him, you were gone for months. Perhaps the boy's afraid you're leaving him for Mister Darylshield. The words were followed by silent amusement, a jest that couldn't have been less welcome. What did it matter to James what she did? He'd certainly never been so demanding about her time before.

What the hell does he want? she wondered. It's not like it's ever really mattered to him before what I do as long as I'm not getting myself killed. What right does he have to get all picky about it now?

"Do you need something? What?"

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:44 pm

He actually twitched a little in response to her sudden aggression, and his ears flattened against his skull. However, he decided not to interrupt what was more and more obviously a lover's quarrel.

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Unread postby Archmage » Fri Aug 03, 2007 6:05 pm

The chocobo James was riding skidded to a halt, and the half-demon dismounted, crossing his arms over his chest and responding to Zea's words with a stern expression.

"I don't mind at all! But you already did! You ran off 'for yourself for a while' last time and disappeared for months! And when you came back, you had done all kinds of cool shit in Theice, like discovering a way to properly send ghosts and killing a bunch of vampires! I can't believe you would think you were going to do that to me again!"

The half-demon sorcerer stamped his foot angrily, not unlike a child whose father has just refused to buy him a soft pretzel or a balloon. This was just the sort of behavior Zea likely expected from James. As usual, the young man was being petulent and bratty just because he wasn't getting exactly what he wanted. But suddenly the expression on James's face softened, he lowered his arms, and he sighed.

"If you really don't want me to go, I'll stay here. But this isn't cool, Zea. You always get so wrapped up in your work and want to go deal with it all by yourself. Except this time you invited all your friends...except for me." He coughed a little, suddenly stiffening, as though he was still trying to appear tough. Could it be that James was feeling a little hurt?

"You want to take an old geezer like Solis to the Netherworld instead of a guy like me? I know you lived there, and you probably know the landscape pretty well, but I've got family there, too. It's been a while since I've visted, and I'd like to see it again. Besides, what're you all mad at me for? You seemed pretty pleased to see me the last time we were in the same general space, which was, what, like a day ago? What about that project we were working on, the one with the Solasian shrieker mushrooms? We're so close to creating the ultimate fungoid horror! You want to leave all that...and me...behind on some sort of whim?"

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Unread postby Kai » Fri Aug 03, 2007 6:19 pm

How many vampires did you tell him we killed? I only remember one. I didn't give him many details anyway. No, I suspect you wouldn't have. Great. Was John annoyed with her now, too? What did he want from her? Things were so much easier when it was just the two of them.

Zea didn't dismount as James railed at her from the road. He wasn't wrong, even if he was being a spoiled baby about this. He was bored, always bored, and probably resented that she had something more interesting to do than sit around and listen to him talk about how bored he was.

"You want to leave all that...and me...behind on some sort of whim?"

"It wasn't a whim," she replied softly. I don't need to explain that! Zea reminded herself. She took a deep breath and lifted her chin. "But if you want to come with me, I want you to promise me you aren't going to interfere with what I need to do." Her expression was still hard and distant, despite the fact that this was the last thing she'd wanted to do... face that she might have hurt his feelings. "Can you guarantee me that?"

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Unread postby Nakibe » Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:55 pm

"Eh?" There was something... odd about the way this was going. Solis could definitely understand James' petulant attitude. Heck, that was half of what DEFINED James, or so it seemed some days. But the sudden twist in its direction was what REALLY made him pause. What was going on here? Did he just miss something? And then Zea's response, almost apologetic as it was, made things make even LESS sense... "Um, Zea, is there something that this so-called Old Geezer hasn't been told about?"

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Unread postby Kai » Sat Aug 04, 2007 2:49 am

Oh, shit. Solis doesn't... did we ever tell him?

She turned imperiously on her horse to answer the older man's query. "James has been living with me for several months. Almost... well, over a year now.... now that I think about it. Ever since Jezreel acted up." Such a long time, she thought. I hadn't even realized how long...

Perhaps that's why it had come on her so slowly, this creeping awareness that he was an integral part of her life, and no matter what she did that wouldn't change. If she left him behind she would miss him, but if she stayed... If she stayed she'd be too busy getting caught up in her own life to take care of the people and causes that relied on her. Her fulfillment was in her work, and if she divided her loyalties--

I don't have to remind you, do I? No... Her hands tightened around Azrael's reins until the leather bit into her palms. I haven't forgotten. And I'm leaving before I do. Good. I'd hate for this to ruin everything you've worked so hard to attain. All for a tryst with a surface boy.

This trip was rapidly becoming a ragged mess of social entanglements. Zea hadn't wanted to be the icy pillar of organization and imperious control. She'd just wanted one last outing with the people she'd known here, and now that easy and friendly atmosphere was gone.

Why couldn't he have stayed home?

"Well, James? I asked you a question."

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Unread postby Nakibe » Sat Aug 04, 2007 4:41 pm

Wait, WHAT? So you mean they're DATING? And NEVER TOLD ME?!? To say that this took Solis by surprise was an understatement. And of all the times to find out, now CLEARLY was one of the worst. "Wait, a YEAR? And neither of you actually, you know, thought to tell me? And... Shit..."

Stopping himself, Solis had to take a deep breath about now, perhaps even rub his temples so that he wouldn't get any migranes thinking about this. "You know what, nevermind. We can talk about this later." And for once, the tone behind the voice brooked little argument. A storm was most certainly brewing, but perhaps not of the wet and rainy kind.

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Unread postby Archmage » Mon Aug 06, 2007 9:42 pm

"I wasn't aware you needed to know these sorts of things, Solis," replied the young man with a slight smirk before he turned back to Zea.

James's expression hardened again. "I can't promise you anything until I know exactly what it is you're doing, Zea. If I follow you to the Netherworld and you decide that you want to do something that I don't agree with, I'm not just going to sit idly by and watch it happen. Granted, I have no idea what that would be, but right now I'm really not going to be surprised if you think that you have some bizarre obligation to go hurl yourself into a lake of molten sulfur and lava to please the god of Igneous Rock. Not that you'd do that, given that worship of the god of Igneous Rock would probably be blasphemy, or at the very least, a show of less devotion to your..."

The half-incubus paused and started slightly, apparently realizing that he was making absolutely no sense. It was quite likely that these sort of utterly ridiculous tirades were in the Silvar bloodline. He briefly imagined the possibility that some particularly vengeful spellcaster had inflicted some sort of familial geas on his father's ancestors, forcing them to ramble incessantly without apparent purpose whenever they became emotionally charged. It was just the sort of curse his father's side of the family might have borne for generations without noticing.

"Whatever. Look. What I'm really trying to say is this. A very smart man told me once that you should never agree to any deal when you don't know all the conditions you're agreeing to. It seems like an obvious piece of advice, but a lot of people tend to forget about it when they're distracted by other things. So unless you tell me exactly what it is you plan to do, I can't promise I won't try to stop you. But if you tell me what you're going to do, and I don't like it, I'm obligated to try to talk you out of it, whether you want to hear it or not. Because I've seen how you can get when you think you have to do something, whether you really have to or not, and while you might think of your own needs and desires as 'acceptable sacrifices' from time to time, I'm not so high-thinking. And neither is the man who gave me that advice. You know him, after all."

James, finishing his monologue, took a deep breath and steeled himself for some sort of angry retort from Zea.

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Unread postby Kai » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:01 pm

"What I mean to do is my business. If you can't trust that I know what I'm doing, then you don't trust me. And that's fine," Zea almost snarled. "But I do not answer to you, and you have no right to stop me from doing anything, do you understand?"

Dearest, I don't really think it's necessary to be quite so-- You shut the fuck up, John. Neither of you have a right to interfere with me! For once, there was no reply from her familiar.

"You can come if you want. You want to visit your family, hang out with our friends, take some time away from Doma, fine. But when we get to the Netherworld keep in mind I just might have something more important to do than dick around on social outings."

What came next wasn't precisely necessary, and Zea almost stopped herself from saying it, but she was done being treated like she needed supervision, like she couldn't be trusted to do her work in peace. The only reason she wanted a guarantee that he wouldn't interfere with her was that she had no intention of subjecting herself to the smothering concerned attention of her friends. "I'm going to do as I please, and you will not have a word to say about it. I don't answer to you, James. I'm an adult, a sorceress and priestess in my own right, and more demon than you."

Words failed her after that and she turned her horse around to keep on her way. She didn't care if James followed. She didn't care if any of the others followed, either. This was exactly the kind of interference she didn't need. She should have left sooner. At least then perhaps they'd all have parted on good terms.

Screw it, she thought. Her familiar had the good sense not to comment.

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Unread postby Archmage » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:33 pm

James's mind was a chaotic whirlwind of clashing steel. He could smell the scents of rage and battle, sweat and blood and anger, and if anyone other than Zea, anyone other than his roommate for the past many months, had said what she had said, he would've been at this new enemy's throat, blades on his hands in an instant, slicing and tearing and ripping with all the violence he could muster. He would tear into the necks of those who would dare defile his bloodline with the teeth his mother gave him, tasting the flesh of those that they had chosen to forfeit by insulting his honor and the nobility of his birth.

But the half-demon restrained himself, gritting his teeth with impotent hatred. Who did she think she was, talking to him this way!? Of course he respected her autonomy. Of course he knew she was an adult, and that she had the ability to think for herself. This was not the cause of James's inner conflict, and perhaps he might've had the decency and the capability to explain such to her in an emotional and heartfelt manner had she not taken the time to strike at his manhood. She was castrating him with her words, slicing at everything that had ever mattered to him about himself, everything that had made him distinct from so many idiotic surfacio. Whether he had been raised on the surface world or not, he was endowed with the blood of a royal demonic family, and no one would disrespect that heritage in his presence.

Straining to prevent himself from lashing out at his former friend, James simply opted to present her with a gesture that required only one finger.

"Fine, then!" he called after her, his voice laced with malice that wavered just enough to betray his hurt feelings. "I won't go with you! I don't know what the hell you think you're going to accomplish in the Netherworld, or what your fucking problem is lately with all this bullshit you don't want to tell anyone about, but if you want to see the connections between you and everyone who has ever cared about you go up in flames, by all means, you're on the right track!"

He turned away from the girl and her white horse. Mounting his own ride, and ignoring the others who had also come to follow Zea, he struck his heels against the chocobo's sides, spurring it onward. He cursed under his breath about how the bird couldn't run any faster. And as he rode through the city streets, he tried very much to convince himself that he never wanted to see Zea Mazuo again.

He could not.

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:38 pm

Michael stood for a moment, utterly dumbfounded. Just what exactly was he getting into here? Zea's malice was increasingly disturbing. He looked at James scrutinizingly, and couldn't help but wonder what it was he'd done to her. She was certainly angry enough that he'd seen fit to show up. However it was also significant that what she had said wasn't fair, or even accurate. He didn't know everything about the pair of them, but they'd let him in on some of the more important details of their history. It didn't seem to fit that James would have done something overt to hurt her. There was something else going on here that Zea was skirting around. ... and far be it for someone as curious as Michael not to find out what it was.

James's sudden departure, and the words preceding it, were not going to help matters any, sadly.

"... Well, let's get going before there's any more drama."

Quick to take his own advice, he was soon making up the lost distance between himself and Zea. Hopefully, Solis and Goren would hurry after.

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Unread postby Kai » Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:00 pm

James and Michael were not far from the truth when they surmised that something more was going on than a petty squabble between teenaged roommates. There was a good reason Zea hadn't seen fit to explain it all in detail: she was avoiding it herself.

Zea was ambivalent about dragging up the recent and raw memories of the dream--vision?--she'd had. There was still some silly impulse screaming and clawing its way to the surface demanding that she turn around, go find him, go make things right. It needed to be reminded, needed to be silenced. But she didn't want to see it, she didn't want to hear her own voice fuzzy at the edges and echoing against the walls of her mind.

"I'm sorry."

"What the--" An arm flew up defensively. "Why?"

"...I'm so sorry."


John knew what she was thinking. He knew what memories still drifted along the surface of her heart, coloring her judgment. He wasn't entirely dissatisfied, but that didn't mean he wanted to see her unhappy. Far from it. Soon she would see this was for the best.

She was staring down past the mane of her horse into the dirt of the road as she passed it by. Pebbles rolled and broken by the passage of Azrael's hooves, she watched them dully and John knew that look. There were only two times in her life when his mistress ever looked that way. More commonly it was because she was losing her senses beneath a ravaging tide of clamoring, conquering, greedy spirits. More rarely Zea was fully present and wishing perhaps she were not as she bent the whole force of her will on one thing... not breaking down utterly.

A curtain of blue hair slipped from behind her ear to cover her face, and she did not reach up to fix it. Sensing her battle was potentially a losing one, he brushed his lips across the trail drawn down her cheek, left by a tear she couldn't keep back.

Briefly John wished he could taste it.

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Unread postby KingOfDoma » Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:42 pm

Goren had stayed silent the entire time the halfdemon had been there. He rightly assumed it was not his place to speak on Zea's personal relatings. But it didn't keep him from wondering: what didn't he know about this? There was obviously something going unsaid here. Zea seemed to be determinedly going to the Netherworld, but maybe... she was just determinedly going AWAY from ... Jim, was it? That didn't matter. In any event, it didn't change his position. He was going for his own reasons, and Zea's didn't affect him, unless he didn't go, in which case he could only be peeved.

"Yeah, kids. Let's beat it before one of my old girlfriends show up, huh? ... west, right?"

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Unread postby Kelne » Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:21 am

There was nothing Cerene could possibly say. Zea had set out to drive James away, and had certainly succeeded in that. Even if it looked like she was paying a price for it.

But why? It seemed to go well beyond your typical lovers' quarrel. Unfortunately, the only person who knew the answer to that was Zea herself, and Cerene very much doubted she wanted to talk about it.

For now, Cerene trailed along towards the rear of the group. The whole incident had cast a pall over what had promised to be a fun outing, and she doubted the mood would improve anytime soon. Being attacked by trolls might actually lighten the mood.

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Unread postby Nakibe » Tue Aug 07, 2007 1:25 pm

Perfectly willing to go with his small outburst, Solis was shocked at what Zea said afterwards. He himself looked to James, for of all people here, he KNEW that the halfdemon was most likely to explode at her words. Words that perhaps cut more at the core of James than even he could've known. If it was anyone BUT Zea saying them.... but she was. And then James ran off. The part of Solis' mind that still processed random things wondered at how much like his father's own temper that James ran...

The rest of him wasn't sure WHAT to say at all. It was far, FAR easier to keep the left, right, left, right of a walking pace than to break the silence that suddenly loomed in his mind. A silence that was as a tiger waiting in the darkness to spring on an ignorantly spoken word.

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Unread postby Kai » Tue Aug 07, 2007 5:40 pm

Zea took a deep breath and drew herself up straight on her horse. If she was going to convince her friends that she couldn't be interfered with she needed to make it clear that she was still in control. If they wanted to leave, let them. It was true that she might need their help, but things were getting complicated and perhaps it was best that they keep a healthy distance from one another. That meant it was even more important that she keep herself together.

She quickly brushed her fingers across her cheek, wiping away a tear that ran away down the back of her hand. She couldn't afford this right now. "Yes, Goren." Her voice was quiet and hollow. "West through the bog to avoid Varrock. North after that. We can make camp whenever people feel like sitting down and eating dinner."

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Unread postby KingOfDoma » Tue Aug 07, 2007 8:51 pm

Goren was taken aback. This guy must have meant a lot. ... perhaps, TOO much to her. It was weird to see the usually well-composed necromancer he had come to admire get teary-eyed over a BOY. It wasn't unheard of for a woman to become detached no matter how prodigious she was, but still... you never expect to happen to someone you respect like that.

Blasted living. Somedays, he was glad that nothing down there worked right anymore.

"Um... sure, Zea. Sounds like a plan. I'll lead the way." He gave her a pat on the shoulder, smiling wide. "We'll go and forget our worries and leave Doma miles behind, alright?"

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