The Dragoon's Daughter

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Kokuten
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The Dragoon's Daughter

Post by Kokuten »

Guiyang, Guizhou
The Understreets of Guiyang
One Year After The Choices


A couple of mages plodded down the Understreets, passing a few open stalls to consider their options for a latr-day meal. Shao-When had promised to cover lunch last time the two had gone out, and couldn't offer a proper excuse not to go. As expected, Shengyi wanted tieban tofu, but from a specific, orcish vendor that operated on this end of the Understreets. He wasn't entirely familiar with this side of town and they were about to reach the edge of Guiyang's mirrored roads

"Shengyi, do you know where you're going?"

"It's around here somewhere, I know it."

Shao-When took a breath, not really wanting to fight her on this, but he was getting hungry too.

"Let's just go topside."

"Grun-dour's tieban tofu isn't topside."

From the edge of one of the closed stalls came a small voice in rough Chinese.

"Grun-dour closed today. Mother in town."

The two of them practically jumped out of their skin. Looking down at the curb, they saw a small person with browning blonde hair. She had the frame of a teenager, but looked to only come up to Shao-When's thigh.

"A gnome?" Shengyi leaned down to get a better look, "What are you doing out here? Where are your parents?"

The young lady raised a paper cup along with a cardboard sign of well written characters. Need Cups. Homeless. Every little bit helps. Her cheeks rose in a smile, which revealed a third eye under the dirty hair.

"A triclops," Shao-When grabbed Shengyi's hand and pulled her away. "We need to go."

"But she's--..."

"Now."

Eryl Maelgwyn watched them disappear around the corner, and stared down at her empty cup. She was reduced to begging after spending what little she had to escape Japan. Triclopsi did not enjoy a good reputation in China. It was an old world stereotype, but even in Guiyang there were people that didn't want to take their chances. Cardiff had done nothing to help their reputation. No one would hire someone so young, and no one would hire a triclops.

The empty cup reminded her of how empty her stomach was, and she tugged the half-eaten tofu steak from her pocket. At least the orc had sympathy.

Biting into the now stale steak, she pulled the motes from her other pocket, counting them. Once she had enough, she'd go to an enchanter and have them ink in something on her forehead to hide her eye. Then, she could walk among the mundane, and perhaps work her way back West. She needed to get back home to Wales.

Theobald Maelgwyn, her father, had left an account in her name, one she could only confirm by returning home. He did not know magic, but he knew money, and knew that the Occultus Banks would ensure her security if she could prove her identity. She'd buy a dress, a warm meal, and maybe have enough to have somewhere to live in this strange new world.

There were no horses, no sails or lamps. Everything rumbled, roared, or blared. If Eryl wasn't hungry, she was disoriented by the loudness of it all. Little glass mirrors that beeped and rang, loud metal carriages that went faster than anything she had seen, portraits that spoke to you and dazzled one with shows over and over. It was all too much.

But, she wouldn't give up. Eryl was a proud Maelgwyn. Her mother had been no different from the all the Cardiff cultists, and had been cultivating her for the rite of inheritance. Eryl felt more and more a fool these days for buying into it, for following the direction of the Library.

Her father? He had been one of the king's soldiers, a horseman of the Royal Army. A horseman. Miraculous in luck and bravery, Theobald Maelgwyn was hard as nails to anyone that wasn't her. Had he been born centuries earlier, he would have been a knight. She was sure of it. No. Eryl wasn't the daughter of some cultist.

She was the daughter of a dragoon.

Feeling the cold of the evening stretch into the understreets, she pulled the rags of her old robes close. Memories would have to do for keeping her warm. The tofu steak had dulled her hunger, and that meant she could sleep for a while.
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Kokuten
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Re: The Dragoon's Daughter

Post by Kokuten »

Ulanovo, Irkutsk
Khvoiny Tourist Center
Two Years After The Choices


A train filled with tourists came to a stop at the Khvoiny Tourist Center, its metal wheels whining under the weight of a rumbling engine. While a group of people began stepping off onto the platform, a small, gnomish creature dropped off the back of the passenger car. She was a stowaway, having snuck on after slipping a few rubles into the pocket of the conductor, hiding carefully out of sight. Before the car fully disembarked, she darted for the nearest tree, trying to spend as little time out in the open as possible. After another cautious glance, she sprinted from trunk to trunk before she entered the treeline.

Eryl continued to look over her shoulder until she couldn’t see the train anymore and forged her way north. Being spotted would have been disastrous at this point, as she was far from any form of home she knew. Despite working for a half year in the Understreets, her hidden third-eye had taken her only so far. It only fooled mages that didn’t look too closely, and her gnomish form was not something she could pass off easily in mundane society.

She had come by a rumor that there was a biomancer that lived as a hermit in the woods of the Irkutsk oblast. The only leads Eryl had was that they lived somewhere near the Ulanovo station and had a penchant for exotic liquor. Now that she was here, though, she was having trouble figuring what she would do next. The entire trip north had been a stressful adventure, she only had enough food for a few days and she couldn't eat the hefty bottle of alcohol in her pack. Finding a hermit in these conditions would be difficult, but getting services 'off-the-grid' was near impossible under the eyes of the Occultus. She needed this.

The sun crept higher and higher into the sky as the hours began to tick by.

Eryl found herself still marching north, a hefty sweat working on her brow. A little nervous tension began to creep up into her chest as she realized that if she kept going north, she was going to run into the Angara River. What was she going to do then? Chances were that this biomancer didn’t live past the river; that would have made the tip useless. What if the tip was wrong? The man who told her was a druid from this area, who would know woods better than druids? No… The idea of druids was making bile rise in her throat.

“If only I could scry…” Eryl said, wiping her brow. The binding script that was imprinted into her body locked up what magic she had, which meant that any useful spell she actually knew was beyond her ability. She hadn’t made it far, but her legs were already feeling the hills. “Damn these tiny feet.”

As she got to the top of an especially steep hill, she found an equally steep incline to get back to the bottom of the other side. A sick pit formed in her stomach as she realized she’d need to trod back up this hill again after reaching the river. Her fingers began to sink into her dirty blonde locks as she tried to resist a flare in her emotions. She was getting tired, but she couldn’t stop just yet, so she pushed herself forward. Then, just as the gnomish triclops was about to step down over a rock, her other foot caught on a patch of briars and she went tumbling over the incline.

She shrieked as she rolled and fell, bouncing over leaves and crashing through briar patches. An orange sky and a green forest spiraled in her vision, splotched with flashes of red each time she tumbled a full turn. The spiral stopped suddenly as she collided with a tree, evicting the air from her lungs. Eryl laid there, not even half-way down, but fully in pain, hands clutching her chest.

As the air came back to her lungs, her panic pendulated into rage.

“Bloody fucking hell! Curse you, Percival Caxton! Curse you!” Eryl howled, as her vitriol sent her into a fit, her hand slapping into the tree that had stopped her, “Curse you, Kagami Miyuki! Curse you, Ruarc Flynn! Curse you, Riley Alstad! Curse you, Coco-... fucking… Curse your god damn mercy!”

Eryl screeched herself hoarse, until she was tired, until the anger bled away and all that was left was guilt. Spent, she curled up at the base of the tree, burying her head into her knees. Her blood was pumping, broiling, and unable to withdraw from the hole it had departed into.

In an effort to chill her senses, she closed her weary eyes.

During the quieter nights, she had wondered if they would ever forgive her, if Percival could forgive her. She had been desperate, but did that justify her actions? What if she had just revealed herself? Would they have given her a chance? Would they have fought to free her as hard as they fought to save him? Her mind played a different reality where they had accepted her, helped her become free, been friends, been happy.

She awoke.

It was dark and she had fallen asleep. The nocturnal sounds of the night began to fill her ears, and she began to feel a cold chill run up her spine. She saw something.

Standing at the top of the hill she had fallen from was a robed figure, a hood drawn over a pair of snaking antlers. Two glassy eyes stared down at her, waiting, watching. Once it realized it had been seen, it began to float down towards her. Eryl's body shook, but would not move.

It stopped a meter away, and craned its head down.

"I thought I smelled the blood of a triclops," it spoke in an uncharacteristically velvet voice, almost like a mother speaking to a child, "but here I find a gnome."

The words were Russian, but a dialect that was hard to understand fully. Catching the general meaning, Eryl tried to sputter a response.

"I-... I'm…"

It tilted its head, and Eryl forced the words out, her decorum rattling out under her fear.

"I'm Eryl… it is… a plea- pleasure to-... to meet you."

"Manners? I thought it was a vulgar creature, making such curses upon so many names."

It was difficult for the triclops to determine if the pleasant way it spoke was making this better or worse.

"Yo- You heard that?"

"The forest heard you, and told me. You are a lost child. You wear a face made for you, stretched over a soul that smells very old."

"How do you know this?"

"I am a sculptor of the living form. The work done to you is clumsy, false. What made you, it molded you against your soul's purpose."

Suddenly, Eryl's heart was alight and stood.

"You are the Biomancer!"

"You know me? If you do, you know I do not like guests."

"But I need your help!" Eryl, now seeing her goal, was drawn with a thread of bravery. Her legs wanted to run, but her head threw her down her path. "I need you to make my form into something true!"

"Please do not yell, it upsets the birds that sleep. I do not take work from others, I have lived my life, and I will not be living another."

Eryl picked up her backpack, laden heavy with her supplies. She tugged out a very large bottle of baijiu, and presented it to the creature.

"I do not come empty handed!"

Before she even finished speaking, spindly fingers took hold of the bottle. Those eerie, glassy eyes widened at the gift offered.

"I could live for a while."

"You will help me?"

"Yes, but I have a price."

Eryl paused, her mind wracked with panic. What else did she have to give? She had nothing. So rapt with these thoughts, she didn't notice the Biomancer had leaned down from its hovering perch to look at her face-to-face. Eryl began to make out the shape of something underneath the hood, but shut her eyes before they could finish drawing the lines.

Instead, she felt the words on her cheek. "I am proud. My work is branded by my spirit, and you will bear the mark of it wherever you go, til the end of your days. Further, you will stay with me for four seasons, or until I find you are safe to travel alone again. Are these terms acceptable?"

Eryl opened her eyes, daring to look upon the dark figure. Her courage was unrewarded, as it had floated away. Somehow, someway, Eryl felt as though she had offended the creature.

"I… I accept your terms."

Wordlessly, the Biomancer of Irkutsk floated into the dim, and, after a moment of hesitation, Eryl limped after it in the dark.
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Kokuten
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Re: The Dragoon's Daughter

Post by Kokuten »

Vashkinsky District, Vologda
North of Aksent'yevo
Four Years After The Choices


"Terrible waste for someone like you doing hexer work," Dimka said for the fourth time, "young ladies like you should be in university. You know, shaping your mind, shaping the world."

"I would if I could, Mr. Bobrov," Eryl humored him for the fourth time.

"I mean it, you're sharp, like my Mila. Even old Kir couldn't piece together that old book, and he's coming on a hundred."

Kir grunted ahead of them, not looking much older than his fifties, but hexers aged strangely. Eryl had never heard the old battleaxe speak much, but that seemed archetypical of the profession. Hexers were grim in practice, like machines.

"My parents encouraged a lot of exposure to other cultures. Besides, Mr. Bobrov, I only really know evocation, most mages my age know spells across a few schools," answered the triclops, mostly honest. She didn't like revealing her true age to others, nor the wealth of ignorance to the future's gifts she had inherited as a result. If anything, old things were all she knew. The new world was intimidating and alien, especially after spending a couple of years alone with no one but the company of the strange Biomancer of Irkutsk.

After being permitted to return to society, Eryl could not find work. She was no mundane, Russian citizen, which apparently mattered to the Ministry of Occult Affairs and that limited her options. There were few legitimate paths one could seek beyond sanctioned work, fewer options that sat well with a young mage trying to feel better about her decisions in life. Hexer work may have been a waste, but there were many worse things that could be done instead. The triclops was just thankful she didn’t have to resort to becoming a cultist.

"Are polevois especially dangerous?" asked Eryl, thinking about their task now.

"Only on especially hot or dry days, but something has driven this one from the fields into the homes of the villages near-by," Dimka explained, "I've never heard of one turning hostile."

"Might not be a polevoi," said Kir, characteristically brief.

The two of them stared into the old hexer's back for a quiet moment. Eryl looked to Dimka, seeking some assurance, and he shrugged, saying, "The Ministry Officials investigating the matter determined it was a polevoi. But, they aren’t hexers, nor does the Ministry keep a good handle on the facts behind arcanozoology.”

“How often are these determinations wrong?” Eryl followed along, feeling more interested in the details that defined these creatures than she realized.

“Often,” laughed Dimka, “but don’t you worry, we’ve gotten used to it. The world just doesn’t recognize the things that go bump in the night like it used to, they’ve forgotten the names and the fear.”

The younger hexer winked, “It’s hard work, not on the level of a smart one like you, but it’s certainly made a difference if no one can remember their fear of the dark.”

Eryl took a small comfort in that as she began to put more weight on her staff. She remembered a time when people did not just fear wars of a foreign dictator, but the teeth of a monster-filled night. Her father told her stories of terrible creatures that haunted humanity; beasts, both misunderstood and understood.

The group carried on through the brush until they arrived at a small clearing that circled a pole. A red-tipped rope hung limply from the head of it, occasionally swaying in the winds that drifted through the tree canopy. Pungent aromas of blood and viscera assauled Eryl's senses, but she couldn't see the source in the dim. Kir and Dimka went to inspect the post, this time with their hefty, arcane rifles in hand. Eryl knew the weapons were common for this era, but she still had trouble reconciling their shape to the weapons that the soldiers of her time used.

"There's nothing left of the goat," Dimka concluded, scanning the area.

"Not a polevoi," Kir added, before looking at Eryl, expectantly.

"Oh, yes. I am sorry, Mister Chirkov," the triclops shrank under the flinty gaze of the old hexer, having forgotten her appointed role. Her hands came up, and she began to open her senses into the world around her.

Her arboreal surroundings weaved into mystic layers under her eyelids. Magic folded and flowed around the trunks and rippled over the grass; she knew to look for disturbances in this flow. Around her, the forest was vibrant with life, spirits and the forces of nature. Yet, something nagged at her, though, it was a chittering feeling at the edge of her mind.

"What do you feel?" asked Kir.

"Nothing, just the forest," Eryl's answer seemed to provoke emotion in Kir, which provoked it in her in turn.

"What do you feel?" repeated the old man, the urgency in his voice drew Dimka out of the stupor of his own thoughts. Eryl closed her eyes again, feeling the ether flow as it did before. The odd sensation was stronger now, growing, but the currents were as normal as they could be.

"I feel…" The young mage reached her mind out to the strangeness eating at her, trying to assense the direction. It was noticeable now, more than before.

Then, suddenly, it was overwhelming.

PAK, PAK, PAK! The rapport from one of the hexer's guns caused her ears to ring. Birds and forest wildlife began to flee as more shots rang out. Eryl came to her knees as a sickness roiled into her stomach. Dimka was screaming something through the gunfire. When she finally opened her eyes, and found him standing over her.

"Eryl! It's a strzyga! We need fire!" roared Dimka as he fired silver-tipped bullets into the hulking mass of what looked like a fanged, hairless ape. It was making clawed swipes at Kir, who had drawn a shining, sterling sword to combat it.

Tasting blood, Eryl wiped her face, smearing off the fresh streams that had oozed from her nostrils. Grunting an incantation, she turned it into a fuel to power a hellfire spell. The flames leapt from her fingers and shot out in a gout, painting the strzyga in a bright coat of orange fire. As soon as the stream touched skin, it came alight fully and turned its horrific gaze on Eryl.

"Don't look it in the eyes!" Kir shouted as the beast began a wild charge to the mage.

Eryl poured the rest of her magic into the spell, her fingers curled to tighten the stream and focus the heat. The howling only got louder, as did the hulking form of the beast. It pressed through into the triclops, battering her down and clawing her. She tried to grab her wand, but the beast's weight had one of her hands pinned.

Dimka's blade caught the creature in the side, rending open a deep wound. The strzyga whined and rounded on him with a meaty claw and raked at his arm. It contorted and began to train on him instead. After pushing herself up, Eryl wiped her face, and produced another gout of fire, but the beast pressed on the hexer.

"Dimka!" screamed the triclops. Even with all the firepower she had, she could only watch as the beast tore a meaty claw through his chest. In the wake of a wash of blood, the hexer fell to the ground.

Red hot emotions flared in Eryl's mind, amplifying her magic. She could hear more rifle cracks, more snarling, but her focus narrowed to a razor's edge The concentration burned at her thoughts as much as it burned her fingertips. The heat was making it hard to breathe. All she could see was the red of the flames.

"Eryl!"

Was it dead?

"Eryl!"

It needed to be dead.

"Eryl!"

A rugged hand whipped her across her face and snapped her out of her trance. Coming to, she was on her knees again, her fingers smoking over a hissing pile of ashes. Kir was next to her now, trying to find sense in any of her eyes.

"Dimka." Eryl said nothing to the old hexer as she shambled over to the wounded man's prone form. Her palms felt like they were burning, but she still managed to turn him over. His eyes were glassy. "Mr. Bobrov, please… please remain calm… I am… I can…"

The air ran out of her lungs when she remembered all she knew were evocation spells. Her knowledge didn't even extend to the divine, just conjurations of the elements. Her brain ran through every possible application, trying to find some way to make her knowledge apply.

"Mila."

Eryl jumped, shocked from her reflection, he was looking at her. His hexer medallion was clutched in his fingers, the necklace dangling limply. The triclops' spindly fingers closed over it.

"Mr. Bobrov, please, save–…"

He gasped, looking deep into the girl's eyes.

"I'm coming, Mila… I'm coming, my Militsa…"

A small smile cracked through the pain on his face, and then Eryl watched the light fade from his eyes.

"Mr. Bobrov."

Stillness.

"M-Mr… Mr. Bobrov."

"He's dead," said Kir, waiting only a few moments to shake Eryl out of another stupor. She looked up at him, tears in her eyes.

"Mr. Chirkov… I couldn't… I'm… I'm so sorry… I'm sorry… This- This is my fault. I couldn't do anything– I wasn't assensing for this– I could of warned you– He died because of me– He was protecting meI got him kille–"

Those words were muffled into the soft, earthy fabric of Kir's coat as he embraced the girl. The man's eyes and words were cold, but he was warm. The comfort helped still her shivering body, and the tears came quietly as peace returned to the forest of Vologda.
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Kokuten
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Re: The Dragoon's Daughter

Post by Kokuten »

Gdańsk, Pomeranian Voivodeship
The Motława River Lodge
Eight Years After The Choices


"Go tell the lodge witch she's needed."

"Come back later, she doesn't feel well."

"I have an appointment."

"Then it's pushed back."

Boguslaw stared at the bartender, judging whether or not he wanted to press her further. Jadwiga had already moved on, taking another patron's order, but tossed him a warning glance. For five years, Boguslaw had come to this hexer lodge, and not once had he been blown off by the lodge witch, much less checked by the bartender. He was an Executioner for the Occultus Magica!

"This place is going to hell," grumbled Boguslaw, as he made his way around the table to the back.

"Don't do it, Bogu, she's not in a good mood." Jadwiga tried to warn him. It was no use, the old conjurer slammed his fist on the door to the witch's sanctum. The air in the establishment died down, but that didn't deter him. He was going to give Kalina a piece of his mind.

To his surprise, it wasn't Kalina that opened the door, but a triclops. "This place really is going to hell."

That remark earned him a sour face, but the tall triclops said nothing. "I'm here for my information on rusalka, I requested notes from Kalina, and I need them now."

"Then you must consult yourself with Kalina, she's at the lodge in Warsaw now," answered the triclops, moving to close the door.

The conjurer's hand snatched over hers and held the door, enunciating with the tone of a veiled threat.

"I need my information for a contract, and I need them now."

Boguslaw didn't see a familiar bend in the woman's demeanour, not like he could get out of Kalina. Her eyes shuddered, as if she were suffering a headache. It was enough of a distraction that he didn't notice the spell pressed to his chest that sent him flying back out into the common area.

"Mister… Unnamed, you will be so kind as to resubmit your request once you are permitted entry into this establishment again. Until that time, here is something helpful," the triclops stared down at him in contempt as a pair of hexers broke off from their spot at the bar to drag Boguslaw out. "Rusalka are only drawn to handsome men, so you should have nothing to fear."

Her door slammed shut in the wake of uproarious laughter filling the lodge.

On the other side, Eryl Maelgwyn pressed her hand to her throbbing skull. The headaches were infrequent, but when they came, they were disabling. She had just begun taking over the position of Lodge Witch from Kalina, and it was a bad time to learn about the abuses the former lodge witch used to suffer. Boguslaw was the sixth in a consecutive line of mages who were beginning to cement Eryl's new reputation as the acidic, impatient, and frightening Witch of Gdańsk. She just wanted to be left alone, but poor record-keeping by her predecessor and a toxic climate meant that every other person needed their perceptions adjusted when they came knocking.

Her sanctum was private, at the very least. It was the equivalent of a spacious flat in a metropolitan area, but Eryl had no real comparison. The only homes she had known were the streets, a forest hermitage, and the hovels she had shared with Kir over the years.

A small bed in the back of the sanctum called her name, a hopeful sanctuary for her miserable migraines. It was the newest and freshest feature in the room, being the most expensive thing Eryl had bought or owned to date. The sheets were only just ruffled, since she had been trying to sleep off her headache before the previous disturbance. She plopped herself down and took a sip of a tempering liquid out of a glass set on the nightstand.

The headaches had come with the nightmares. A year ago, she began reliving her escape from the maddened gods of the Elementalia Magicus at least a night out of every month. More troubling was that each time she dreamt of it, the events would be different, but it would feel true and real each time.

It felt like every moment she found some sense of peace, something was intent on robbing it from her. Was it a curse? Was it her guilt? Would she always feel this way? The questions only seemed to serve her a more intense throbbing in her temples. She kicked off her flats and laid her head down, hoping rest would bring a cure. As terrible as it was, a nightmare would take away the migraines for a while. Her eyes closed, and the fatigue in her body shoved her mind off into sleep.

Dreamless sleep held her, until she stirred to move, her hand brushed against someone's shoulder. The triclops' delicate fingers clutched against the fabric of a shirt. Groggy, her mind was slow to become alert, until those brilliant blue eyes of hers cracked open to behold a stranger in her bed.

A man had somehow laid down on the wall-pressed side of the mattress. Eryl's heart stirred at the indecency, and then at the breach of her security. Now fully cognizant, her body struggled to reach for the silver knife under her pillow, but she was restrained to her restful position. A small twinge of panic rose in her chest, squelched, and then renewed, when she recognized the man.

"Percival," Eryl gasped. He looked terrible, like he had been pulled in from the ocean, adrift for months. A terrible mixture of emotions began to mount on top of her panic.

Hearing his name, the Alchemist awoke, tired and drowsy. His eyes slowly found hers, but like her, he appeared stuck still in repose.

"Eryl."

His voice was like ice in her heart. This was worse than the nightmares. She wasn't ready for this. Her fingers clenched into palms, trying to provoke her to wake up, until it set in she was already awake. This wasn't a strange version of her nightmares, this was real.

"Why are you here," she hissed in a whisper.

"I could ask you the same…" he answered weakly. The triclops found, by the line of his gaze, he wasn't altogether concerned with his new surroundings. Her curiosity began to bubble under her dread.

"Where am I?"

"A door chamber… we're in the mountains… in Greenland… a beautiful place…"

The two children of Wales stared at each other in uncomfortable silence. Percival's gaze was hollow, greying, but still possessed of some attentiveness. He seemed to be studying her, as if searching her jewel-like eyes for imperfections. The intimacy of it was almost too much, and she struggled to carry the conversation.

"What's happened to you?"

His stare, once focused, drifted through her to something far off.

"... I'm… done, Eryl… This wound… it's caught up with me… and I'm… just… waiting it out."

"Done?"

"... Yes."

"As in…"

"... Don't… make me explain it."

No, no, no. This wasn't right. This wasn't how this was supposed to happen. She had been given a second chance, a chance to atone, a chance to apologize. Percival Caxton had sacrificed his arm to give her a chance to live, to decide what that meant.

"What can I do to help you? Tell me."

He was quiet, breathing deeply. She urged him to speak, "Percival."

"I'm… cold…" the words came unwillingly. He began to curl up, his pale hands bunched at his chest. The triclops took him into her arms and held him close. He felt like ice. She struggled to quell the emotions in her heart, as they threatened to spur in intensity.

"I… I determined what it meant to live, to be a mage. I'm… I'm happy now… I'm… a good person, I'm trying, if you can believe me."

Eryl could feel his face buried in her chest, quiet and still. Then, suddenly, he laughed a strained little chuckle and a bit of warmth seemed to return to his body.

"... I'm glad…"

There were many things that Eryl wanted to say to him. She had rehearsed her apologies, practiced defending herself, and wondered what forgiveness would feel like. In that moment she resolved to hold him, and gave him what warmth she could until he fell asleep.

Eryl didn't realize she had drifted off until she awoke again, but when she did, Percival was gone.
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Kokuten
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Re: The Dragoon's Daughter

Post by Kokuten »

Osaka
Itami Portal Chamber
Ten Years After The Choices


Kir Chirkov hadn't been further west than Poland for almost eighty years, not since the 76th Guards Rifle Division pressed into Berlin. He had never traveled much after that when he returned home from the war, only crossing borders to do Hexer's work. Even then, monsters didn't travel, and Russia was so large and expansive, there was plenty of room for them to hide, forgotten.

As for the east? He had no need to travel east. Hexers didn't operate in places like Japan, beasts there existed on a different modus operandi and so did their hunters. The culture was radically different, as were its people.

Yet, there he was, walking alongside Eryl Maelgwyn in the land of her sins, Osaka.

They had gone together at Eryl's request, something Kir found himself doing a lot more lately. She would go on trips and ask for him to wait for her at the nearest portal chamber. He didn't mind the wait all that much; when he wasn't working he had nothing but time. If he didn't have time, he made it. In the last six years, Eryl rarely asked for anything, less so since she finished training under the old hexer. He couldn't explain it, but something in him wanted to make sure she had everything she needed.

Lately, there was an intensity to her purpose that drove her to these places from her past. She wanted him there for the sake of security, and he was very happy to provide her the comfort.

The sun was getting along in the sky, charging towards the horizon to end the day. They had walked in silence to Hotarugaike Station; Eryl's new intensity had taken on a different gravitas today.

The ticket booth was a challenge, as her Japanese wasn't very good, and she used her phone to help her understand the letters. Kir let her operate the machine, she would figure it out. The triclops was notorious among hexer hunting parties for her intellect; moreover she was fairly good at using the new radios the mundane stored their knowledge in.

People were making their way up to the platform in small waves. It wasn't quite the Itami airport station, but it was close enough that it wasn't unusual for a lot of foreigners to travel about. Kir would get the occasional strange look, but even he didn't stand out too much.

"Ah, done it," said Eryl, with the smallest satisfaction, turning about with her prize.

"There's only one ticket," he answered, gruffly.

"Yes."

The lack of follow-up caused an unfamiliar pressure to rise in his throat. Eryl was making her way over to the turnstiles, but made no motion or signal to him.

"Eryl?"

She stopped.

"Yes, Kir."

"There's only one ticket."

"Yes."

"I can't go with you without a ticket."

When she was younger, Eryl would avert her gaze when caught in the act. She was better about it these days, better about hiding her intentions. Kir could only guess that was why she kept her back to him.

"I just needed some help getting here. Otherwise I don't think I could do what I need to do today."

The barest look of a smile rose in Kir's eyes.

"I'll wait for you at the terminal."

Her hands rose to her chest. She'd draw herself in, like a spider, when she was unsure or hesitant.

"You don't need to wait for me this time."

The old Russian's mouth became dry.

"You're coming back, aren't you?"

One of the trains arrived in a hissing, rattling fanfare, and the voice of a Japanese woman poured from the loudspeakers. People flowed around them, sometimes cutting directly to the stairs, sometimes giving them a wide berth.

"... I can't… promise."

Shivering, she darted through the turnstiles, and made her way up the stairs. Kir watched her go, watched her steady her composure as she walked by others.

"Eryl!" He called out, drawing a few eyes in the crowd. She stopped at the top step. "I will be here. When you finish your work. So… When you finish… come home."

He blinked and in place of darkness were memories. That fateful day in the forest when Dimka died. The first day of her training. The day he put a hexers medallion around her neck. The pride she showed in her first real assignment. The anxiety when memories and ghosts of her pasts began to return. When he opened his eyes, she was gone and wet streams poured down his stubbled face.

"Come home, girl. Please, come home."
Locked