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Old 08-22-2010, 08:52 AM
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Ashen Ashen is offline
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Life! Liiiife! Give my creation...LIIIIIIFE!!!

I should warn you all, however, that since I've demonstrated a pretty clear inability to actually write these things regularly, I probably won't be doing the other eight installments I had planned back one I was putting one of these up every two or three days. There's really no way I can wrap up Team Evil's machinations in just four chapters, and most of my characters were being set up for much longer plot arcs that won't ever be resolved. That being said, I can still provide a certain...Finality to most of their stories.

Inhumans Requiem part 27 of 30

Halls of Bu

Kitsune was following behind Vera, barely keeping up as she ducked in and out of secret passages. She'd probably be left behind entirely if it weren't for Vera's stopping every few hundred meters to tap a certain brick to reveal a hidden passage and duck through it. Vera told her that she had exceptionally good hearing, and that she'd be shot the instant she tried to sneak away. Kitsune didn't have any idea whether she was telling the truth. She didn't think she had particularly good hearing as a half-elf, but maybe it was something only full elves got. Her ears weren't pointy, after all. Or maybe it had nothing to do with being an elf, and Vera just had really good hearing.

Vera stopped suddenly, interrupting Kitsune's thoughts. She stood and cocker her head to one side, listening, before laying down flat on the ground, pressing her ear to the floor. She could hear something, which meant that either Ashen or the Order of Bu was nearby. When Vera got back up, she reached into her belt pouch and pulled out a leaf of some plant Kitsune wasn't familiar with. "Here," Vera said, "Eat this."

"Why?" Kitsune asked, "What does it do?"

"It's going to knock you out for about half an hour," Vera said, "It's either this or I leave you here hogtied and gagged."

"Do you actually have rope in there?" Kitsune asked, looking at the small belt pouch. Mostly, her mind was racing because she knew that if Vera wanted her unconscious, it was Ashen she'd heard. She also knew Ashen wasn't likely to allow himself to be taken alive by an elf.

"Eat it," Vera said, thrusting the leaf into Kitsune's hands, "I'm under no obligation to leave you alive."

Kitsune glanced down at it, nervously. "How do I know it isn't poison?" She asked.

"If I wanted to kill you, I could've shot you when I found you. Or I could just shoot you now. The arrows are cheaper than those herbs. If you don't eat it now, I'm going to restrain you."

Kitsune hesitated a moment, and then put the leaf in her mouth. Vera watched her as she chewed and swallowed it. Kitsune didn't like knocking herself out, and considered a moment too late the possibility of pretending to swallow it while keeping it in her cheek. It was only a few seconds after swallowing the leaf that she felt a heavy drowsiness fall over her. "Please don't kill Ashen," she pleaded just before succumbing to unconsciousness.

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Skyclaw Keep

Noah landed his gryphon atop the keep and immediately dismounted, nearly running inside towards the old throne room, which Grigor had converted into a war room. "Noah, good to see you're back. Anything unusual to report?" Grigor asked. Noah had been regularly scouting the northernmost parts of the Ridge regularly for days, now. They were still waiting on Nietra's return from the Shiverwood, and could only hope that the Unseelie Kings and Baron Bonfire wouldn't do anything to upset the rather tenuous balance of power they'd established.

"Yes, very unusual," Noah said, "The Baron's marched out an army into the Ridge, headed straight for us."

"You sound concerned," Grigor said, "This is the best thing for our mission. They sacrifice the advantage of a defensive position and we gain it. Thinning out their forces by repelling a siege will make storming Bonfire Keep much easier."

"It's not a small army, Grigor. We don't stand a chance of repelling them from here," Noah said.

"How many?" Grigor asked, concerned now.

"Thousands," Noah responded.

Grigor's eyes widened in shock. They hadn't expected a single faction to be any match for the army marching up from the south on their own, but by the sound of things the Baron's army greatly outnumbered them. "How close?"

"Not more than a day's march away," Noah said.

Grigor thought for a moment, trying to find some way out of the situation. There wasn't anything to do, though. There was only one chance to win, and it required that they succeed against impossible odds...Twice. Basically what he'd signed up for when he first accepted this suicide mission, really. "Gather everyone here, we need to begin planning our defense immediately," Grigor said, "We need to hold them until our army arrives. It might take as long as a full day after the siege begins for the reinforcements to arrive. Once they're here, we'll need to break this army, and then we can talk with General Mirador and see about paying Baron Bonfire a visit ourselves."

-------------------

Halls of Bu

Kitsune returned to consciousness slowly, and immediately cast her eyes around as inconspicuously as possible. She was lying on the ground just outside the Halls of Bu. She could smell some horrible odor emanating from what she assumed were the sludge pits, along with the faint sound of bubbling liquid.

And Ashen was there, lying on his chest with his hands tied behind him. Kitsune breathed a sigh of relief. Ashen was alive. She pushed herself up onto her hands and knees and looked around for Vera. She didn't find Vera so much as Vera found her, slipping into sight from the direction of the pits. "I...Now what?" Kitsune asked.

"Now we wait until the Skyclaw Army seizes the Rift," Vera said, "We can live off of the local wildlife until then. It shouldn't take long."

Kitsune was silent for a moment. She was afraid to ask how long that would be. A few days? Weeks? Months? How long do battles usually take? All she knew is that, according to her history lessons, they're usually over in less than a year. That wasn't really helpful. Mason would probably have her family executed if he didn't hear from her within a month or two.

Kitsune hugged her knees to her chest, sighing. If the battle wasn't over within a week or two, she'd have to start trying to find a way to escape. She didn't want to run from Vera, because Vera was one of the few people who hadn't tried to kill her outright. But what would happen once Ashen woke up? He'd want to escape immediately, and he wouldn't appreciate Kitsune's cooperation with an elf. And if Vera mentioned that Kitsune was a half-elf...Well, she could always claim that Vera was lying, but what if Ashen asked her to prove it?

Maybe she wouldn't have to. The night of the full moon was over, and wouldn't be back for about a month. By that time, they'd probably have either killed Baron Bonfire or died trying. And once this mission was complete, Ashen would probably continue his old duties on patrol until he was reassigned. And Kitsune...Well, if she was lucky, Mason would have no further need of her and let her and her family go back home. If not, Mason might have something else for her to do, or he might end up killing all of them anyway. If nothing else, she was now too skilled an unarmed combatant to be Mason's sex toy.

But what if, after all she'd been through, it turned out Mason was just planning to kill her and her family anyway? What if her family was already dead? How was she going to make sure Mason didn't kill them all as soon as she finished whatever it was he wanted her to do?

Kitsune glanced over at the bubbling pits in the distance. If she jumped in, would she be killed before she could feel the pain, or would she slowly boil to death? And even if it would be a slow boil, wouldn't that be better than living anyway? At least it would only be a few minutes, instead of dragging it out over days...

For the past year, Kitsune had always said she'd figure out how to make things work when the time came, and just cooperate until then. But now she was almost out of time. There was only one demon left on the list.

Kitsune heard something stirring next to her, and turned to see Ashen slowly returning to consciousness. Ashen looked around for a moment before pulling himself upright. "What's going on?" he asked.

Kitsune looked towards where Vera had been, fearing she might be eavesdropping, but she'd vanished again. "I was captured, and so were you, I guess," Kitsune said.

Ashen closed his eyes and shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. "Where's the elf?" he asked.

"I don't know, she was here a minute ago. She's probably still around somewhere, listening...She says she has incredible hearing," Kitsune said. "I don't want to risk her being right."

"Right," Ashen said, looking around. There was nothing but dirt and small rocks, nothing that could be used to saw through Ashen's binds. Besides which, that elf could be trusted not to miss often, and her longbow would punch straight through his armor. If he could get close enough, he could overpower her and throw her into one of the bubbling pits.

Kitsune pulled herself over next to Ashen, putting her arms around his armored chest. "I'm glad you're awake," she said.

"We need to find a way to get away from this elf," Ashen said softly, trying not to let Kitsune's embrace distract him from the mission. There'd be plenty of time for this after they'd gotten away. Unless they died in the effort, at least, but he couldn't shirk his duties to Ajen just because he wanted to be with Kitsune.

"Can we not worry about that, Ashen?" Kitsune asked, slowly running one of her hands down Ashen's back to his hands, where she began tugging at the binds. "Can't we just be together for a few minutes?"

Ashen smiled as he felt the binds loosen around his wrists. Of course, it wouldn't be hard for the elf to figure out that Kitsune would untie him, and without the element of surprise from thinking he was still bound..."Kitsune," Ashen said, "If you untie me now, we might be able to get away before the elf comes back."

"She's probably watching the entrance to the pits," Kitsune said, tugging the ropes free. Ashen could pull his hands out from behind his back whenever he wanted, now. "She might be able to hear us right now, if her hearing is as good as she says. Let's just be together, at least until she gets back," Kitsune said.

Ashen turned his head and kissed her. He started the kiss because he needed time to think of what to say next in order to throw the elf off the scent of their plans for escape, but thoughts of escape left his mind almost immediately after their lips met. He had to fight against the urge to ruin the plan to escape by wrapping her arms around her.

They didn't pull apart from each other until Vera returned, nearly ten minutes later.
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