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Drowned in Doubt [Social | Akira]

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#1Hatsuharu 
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on Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:14 pm

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The pacifist Rune Knight was talking a walk late at night outside the walls of Crocus. This was very unlike him; he was someone who went to bed early, woke up early, and let the past be in the past. But the attack on Crocus was too much even for him to forget and let go over a night’s sleep. After all, he can see the damage caused every corner he turns. He began to wonder what he could have done different to save more innocent people. He had been having doubts ever since the fight against the mysterious Benjamin character who messed up his partner’s magic; but he did not wish to face his doubts. However, after the siege, his doubts began resonating more profoundly and kept him from sleep.

As he walked aimlessly looking at the almost full moon, he heard a scream from behind. Haru quickly turned on his heels and his squinting eyes scanned the field of view to identify the source. Once his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he spotted it. A merchant riding a caravan was being mugged by two masked bandits. Haru heard the fellow Rune Knights talk about the increased bandit activity around the capitol ever since the attack. The pacifist frowned and grit his teeth, shocked at the nerve of these men, taking advantage of such vulnerability. He ran towards the scene to help the merchant.

The surprise element worked for the first one. Once he was in range, Haru put his palms together and then pointed on of his hand towards the ground right under one of the two bandits, casting his Phase spell. The bandit fell into the super low-density two-meter deep pit, and just when he was neck-deep into the ground, Haru fisted his hand, cancelling the spell’s effect. The bandit did not know what hit him and he was stuck underground. The second one, seeing his partner fall into ground, quickly reacted and jumped away from the merchant. Haru took this opportunity and dashed in front of the merchant. “Stay away from him, you leeches,” he said, taking his defensive stance.

The second bandit was not willing to give up, however. He charged straight towards Haru with a combo of punches and kicks. Haru did well dodging and parrying all the attacks, and asked the merchant to run. “Get away from here and call for help,” he said, turning towards the shaken merchant. The bandit, realizing the implications, stopped attacking Haru and began chasing the fleeing merchant. The red-haired Rune Knight held onto the bandit, making him trip and fall. However, the bandit’s weight also destabilized Haru and he fell right next to him. The angry bandit rolled around, slashing his knife at the fallen Rune Knight. There was not much time for Haru to cast a defensive spell. He could have kicked the man away, but his oath to not hurt someone held him back. He simply put his hands up in front of him as a shield, hoping that the knife doesn’t come through to his body.



#2Akira Shimada 
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on Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:44 am

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Akira liked to call herself the child of midnight sometimes, it was a little title she'd given herself when she was younger and even then often plagued with insomnia. So she would clamber out of her room's window, to go lie in the grass in her backyard, since she knew it would be too unsafe to just leave the confines of her home. Now... Things were different, she was older, she was working and she took every opportunity she got to stroll around late at night. The girl had familiarised herself with the Capital, though the debris from the destruction had stolen some of the landmarks she relied on...

Today, however, there was a certain urgency in her step. If her partner had been more like her, there would have been no cause for the worry that sat like a heavy stone in at the bottom of her belly. But he wasn't, Tsuru and she was so starkly different and he was a sleeper... But even though it was just a day-long attack, the mini-war had stolen something from the healer. He was a little agitated, he smiled a little lesser. The orange-haired guy knew how to keep up appearances and he wasn't exactly pretending, but Akira could tell he was trying too hard to be normal.  

The real kicker came when it was time for her to sneak out of the room in the inn. Usually, she had to tiptoe across the living room since that's where Tsuru slept. Ever since Akira had run off from the hospital after their strange encounter with that powerful earth mage, they'd lived together in a deluxe room at the inn, she got the large bedroom and he made do with the couch outside. Even after the attack, the living arrangement had remained the same, turned out it was actually cheaper this way... Today when she readied herself to sneak out, she noticed Tsuru wasn't there at all.

Ever since then, she frantically roamed the streets, habitually chewing on her lips as she searched for her partner. When she finally found him, she was absolutely terrified. He was on the floor, a man had slashed open a wound on the outside of the arms the healer held up in defense. The training at the attack had sharpened her instincts a little more, swiftly she plucked out her gun and aimed it at the assailant's head.

Bang.

Her aim still needed work. The dagger was dropped and the man was clutching at his shoulder screaming as he rolled off Tsuru, cursing. She rushed to her partner, wide-eyed, she knelt beside him, there was a soft spatter of blood on his face and a stream of it flowing down his hands. 'Tsuru! What the hell!' she hissed. 'What are you doing here?'



#3Hatsuharu 
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on Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:23 pm

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The healer braced for the injury, but obviously, it still hurt. His eyes remained closed, but he knew the blade had done considerable damage as he could feel the blood drip down his arms and then to his face. Adrenaline kicked in to dull the pain, but despite that, he refrained for kicking the bandit. Instead, he rolled away and braced for another attack. Thankfully, the second attack never came. And he heard the bandit next to him scream out.

Wondering what had happened, he opened his eyes and found the masked man clutching his bleeding shoulder. Looking towards the direction where the attack came from, he could see the very familiar pants and shoes. He didn’t need to look up to see who it was; he already knew. A sudden pang of guilt and hopelessness struck the healer. He had advocated his partner against buying that gun, and here she was, using it to save him. Is violence something you cannot avoid? The ultimate doubt he had been actively avoiding to face, resonated ever so loudly in his head.

Speaking of head, all the blood had made Haru extremely nauseous. He had seen a lot more blood in his career as a healer before, but never so much of his own. And seeing his own blood made the guy extremely light-headed. As Akira would come to his side, he would try to mutter a reassurance, but fall on her for support, as he goes into a semi-conscious state.



#4Akira Shimada 
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on Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:01 pm

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Why was he so easily rendered unconscious? Akira panicked. 'Er...' she made a soft sound in her throat. 'Damnit Tsuru, can't you fix yourself or something?' she asked poking him in his side. She threw her hands up, they hovered over him uselessly in a jittery manner, like she was trying to channel some healing spirit from within her. It was worth a shot, now that she was blessed with light magic... Wasn't that supposed to be curative and stuff? Of course, she had no luck, Akira didn't think she would... Her attitude probably didn't match that of a benevolent healer.

She cursed, just like the man who'd been shot rolled around. 'You still have your legs, beat it!' she said through grit teeth, her temper flaring, he was the reason her partner was injured in the first place. Of course, the guy went nowhere, good thing too, she was probably meant to arrest him. She got up to snap a handcuff around the man who'd been shot and then paced around the men. They both were bleeding out... They needed care and fast. She noticed the merchant who had stopped in the distance and turned to assess the situation, presumably after the gunshot.

'What are you just standing there for...? We still need help!' She called out, attempting to throw her weight around as she stood over the man who was trapped in the ground. At least Tsuru had learned to cast that one spell, somewhat offensively if need be. The merchant took a few steps backward before turning tail and sprinting. She could only hope she didn't scare him and he was still going to fetch help... 'Hang on, ok... You'll be fine, its just some blood...' she said, her voice a little softer, filled with measured concern, simply because she wasn't ready to accept exactly how much she'd begun to care, let alone give Tsuru a glimpse of it.



#5Hatsuharu 
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on Fri Mar 02, 2018 7:12 pm

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For a good few minutes, the healer had no idea what was going on around him. All he knew was that his attackers were now down and he had his partner next to him. His vision blurred and he kept shaking his head to keep himself from passing out. He heard Akira’s voice, but couldn’t really understand the words. It felt like his head was swimming in the clouds.

In all this, he was clear about one thing. He shouldn’t dare try to use his healing magic on himself at the state he was in. While he has honed his density magic to be of great use at healing, he was very much aware of the dangers that came with employing it wrongly. And right then, there was a high chance he would mess up bad to make things worse; like, making his blood a thinner, thereby bleeding more, rather than making it thicker to accelerate the clotting process. So, all he could do was wait for it to get better.

Which it did. After a few minutes, he began regaining his full consciousness. He could see the masked man who injured him. It would seem the man had suffered some serious injuries to his shoulder thanks to Akira’s gun. Haru dragged himself towards the injured man and the bandit’s eyes widened. He had assumed the Rune Knight was coming to hurt him after being cuffed. But… Haru simply put his hands together and touched the injured shoulder to heal him. “Calm down…” he said, as he cast his healing spell.

It would be an understatement to say the merchant was shell-shocked after watching all this. More than the fight, it was the gun that Akira held that scared him the most. The minute Akira turned towards him, he began running; not towards the city, but into the forest. Haru couldn’t understand why the man would run away from them when they just saved him. Curious, he turned to Akira and suggested they follow him. “Not sure why that guy is running into the forest,” he said meekly, still weak from the injuries. “We should follow him,” he added. They didn’t have to worry about the bandits, as one was cuffed and the other was stuck underground. “We’ll get back to these guys after!”



#6Akira Shimada 
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on Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:51 pm

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Finally, when she noticed life creep back into him, a long exasperated sigh escaped her lips. She could now assume her more matter-of-fact demeanor. It happened naturally, of course, the girl wasn't so calculative. Now that he stirred and his eyes opened wider, his head stopped its mechanical rolling, a frown etched itself into her forehead. 'What are you doing here?' she asked emphatically, her teeth grit. Was this some sort of revenge, was this their new game? To find each other like some twisted game of hide and seek or hide and tag or whatever.

'What if I hadn't found you huh? That man could've killed you, you know!' she added. she sat back on her heels and her shoulder folded a little. He seemed more fixated on the man she'd shot. Casually she said, 'I'm sorry, I was aiming for the head, I missed...' lost in her own thoughts, she couldn't navigate through his psyche as efficiently as she usually could. Akira had assumed he'd be upset that she didn't attempt something more concrete to take out his attacker. Of course, she was very very wrong, that became apparent the moment he began healing the now muttering man, as he clutched his arm below the wounded shoulder. 'Tsuru what the hell?' she hissed.

But she knew better than to argue over this. Finally, when he spoke again, he brought a peculiarity to Aki's attention, she turned to notice the merchant who had just sharply turned towards the forest. It made more sense to have healed the wounded man now, especially if they intended to leave the criminals here. He wasn't in tip-top condition either, perhaps Tsuru couldn't muster enough strength for anything better at the moment, it was clear the two thugs were not going anywhere. 'You're right.' she nodded and then announced to the trapped guys. 'Or we'll just have them sit here till other Knights find them.' she threatened, wanting to vent the anger she felt against their callous acts. She offered her partner a hand to help him get off the ground, so they could tail the merchant, they'd wasted enough time, she wondered if they'd lost him.



#7Hatsuharu 
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on Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:49 am

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“I couldn’t sleep. So, I was taking a walk. Surely, you can empathize with that,” he said, giving her his usual smile as he limped towards the injured man. He turned around to look at her when she asked what he would have done had she not found him. It was a very good question and he genuinely did not have an answer. “Well… Lucky you found me then,” he said calmly, realizing how true that statement was.

The healer continued walking towards the masked man, but stopped in his tracks abruptly and jerked his head towards Akira with disbelief when she said she actually aimed for his head, but missed. “How many times have I told you? No killing!” he said, putting both his bloody hands to his side, looking aghast. “There is something called a prison. With you around, we’ll have to replace all of them with mortuaries,” he added, shaking his head.

Just as he expected, him healing the injured bandit didn’t sit well with Akira. He didn’t grace that with a response, and thankfully, more urgent matters ensued; the merchant running into the forest, and the fate of the two bandits, for example. Haru left the cuffed man’s shoulders and stood back up, after doing the best he could for him. “Don’t try walking if you want to stay alive. Your only option is to wait for the patrolling Rune Knights to spot you and take you to the hospital,” he said, before walking into the forest, following the merchant.

The scared merchant was a very good runner. Normally, Haru would have been able to catch up to him easily, but after that injury, his speed was terribly diminished. In fact, he would be slowing down Akira for once. “Go ahead and find him. You are better off at spotting him in the darkness than I am, anyway. I’ll be right behind you,” he said to his partner, as he jogged forward.



#8Akira Shimada 
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on Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:11 am

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Her partner finally responded to her incessant questioning. Her eyes which were wide with an angry anxiety, slowly narrowed to their normal bored expression. 'I can...' she said, frowning a little, how was she supposed to explain that it was ok when she did it but super odd when he did. 'Yeah... See now I don't go around landing myself in a mess like this one.' she muttered, finding a reason to just take a stab at him because she needed to redirect her emotions somewhere. It was particularly traumatizing, the thought of him just being... dead or something, after she had keenly felt that pang of worry, back while fighting that demon.

'Right... Right...' she said rolling her eyes. He had made his allegiance to the sparkling, shiny and bright side a long time ago, it was on her to have forgotten that, briefly as it was. 'Yeah yeah...' she added, clearly letting him know that she had heard most of what he was saying before. She wasn't going to apologize for her killer instinct when it came to protecting someone who meant something to her or was innocent. She wondered how he would handle her if her skills could match those inclinations.

He also gave some clear instructions to the wounded man, which Akira only heard half-heartedly, she was already marching onwards towards the forest. He caught up with her swiftly, of course, owing to the clear difference between their speeds, she mumbled something about being less lazy and working on her speed. Her eyes narrowed as the entered the woods through the fringes. She walked on, automatically finding herself drawn towards some smoke and a faint warm light in the distance... 'I don't see any other place he could've gone, except there...' she said pointing towards what she had noticed.  



#9Hatsuharu 
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on Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:35 am

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The healer was still bleeding and that was obviously not a good sign. The wounds were deep and he left a bloody trail as he followed Akira into the forest, as she looked for the fleeing merchant. After a few minutes, during which Haru had to stop at least three times and then quickly catch up with his partner again, they finally reached the vicinity of what looked like a small hut. “Who in their right mind would live all the way out here?” he wondered out loud. But he had to agree with Akira’s assessment. Unless the merchant was fine being eaten alive by the many monsters that would soon come out looking for prey, this hut would probably be his destination.

Haru put a hand on Akira’s shoulder and squeezed it gently as a warning so that she gets ready for any surprises. “Keep a good distance from the door,” he said, and then continued to approach the hut by himself. When he was about ten feet away from the hut, the door opened and the merchant came out, looking rather pale. “Why would you run here?” Haru asked, stopping right where he was. “Have the gun, how do you?” a voice asked, but it was not the merchant. Noticing that the voice came from behind the merchant, Haru craned his neck to peek at the man behind.

An extremely short, hunched, rather green-looking old man walked out with the help of a walking stick. His voice was squeaky and he definitely looked a lot older than humanly possible. “Wha-” Haru began, unsure of what gun they were referring to, but quickly remembered his partner’s recent purchase. “I told you that gun is trouble,” he said, rather pleadingly, turning towards Akira.



#10Akira Shimada 
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on Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:13 am

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Akira just shrugged, she preferred not to speak, now that they were in the realm of the beasts. Not even to shush Tsuru this time, he was injured, there was much sympathy in her heart, while she didn't let her stoic demeanor display it, she wasn't going to make matters worse by being edgy either. When his fingers pressed into her shoulders, momentarily she went rigid in fear, then she heard his voice. It was surprising that he'd managed to hold onto her with that grip given his injuries, the man was gifted with some resilience. She nodded and heeded his warning.

When the merchant appeared Tsuru spoke to him, but another man responded... A tiny greenish... elf of some sort? Vulcan... mix of the two? Akira couldn't really tell what race this humanoid man belonged too. But she defensively clutched onto the holster of her gun. 'Erm... I bought it from a store, in town...' she said, angling her head and frowning to betray her concern at his inquiry. Tsuru meanwhile, wanted to add his own little anecdotes. She turned towards him and couldn't help but snap. 'Bandage your wounds with your scarf... or something... You'll bleed out like this!' she muttered, it was basically a roundabout way of saying, shut the hell up.

She narrowed her eyes and asked a question of her own. 'Do you live here?' her words tumbled out of her mouth curiously, she wanted to sound authoritative, to help supplement her reason for carrying a gun, but she failed. Even if he was a frail looking creature, he exuded, so much... confidence. 'I'm a Rune Knight.' she added, rather randomly and then with the hand that wasn't clutching onto her holster, she felt around her pockets for that shiny badge they'd given her. 'He is too... Tell 'em Tsuru.'



#11Hatsuharu 
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on Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:51 pm

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The healer didn’t move from where he was, mostly because he was losing a lot of blood and was again on the verge of losing consciousness. Akira pointing it out and making him look down at his hands didn’t make things any better. The green little man seemed very shocked at the revelation that the gun was bought in a store. He looked up and down the dark-haired girl before speaking again. “Possible, not. Forbid the sale, I did. Steal, did you?” he asked, pointing his short wooden stick at her accusingly.

Firstly, Haru couldn’t understand why the man was speaking in convoluted forms. But there were more serious doubts that needed to be cleared before he can worry about speech styles. The healer attempted putting his arms forward and shaking it wildly to deny that they were not shoplifters. But he had limited control over his arms by this point and could only shake his head instead. “No no! We didn’t steal it. A small boy sold it to her,” he said.

For some reason, the small man seemed to trust Haru and he motioned at the merchant to bring them in before going back in. The merchant held the door open for the two, but would still not meet Akira’s eyes. Haru dragged himself slowly into the hut and was immediately grateful for the warmth. He didn’t go too far into the small hut, as he didn’t wish to bloody their floor. Sitting at the corner close to the entrance, he pulled the scarf around his neck and tore it into half. The merchant would quickly come to his aid to tie the cloth around his wounds, while the little old man dealt with Akira.



#12Akira Shimada 
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on Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:11 pm

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Akira frowned at the tiny... Dwarf of some sort? Dwelf? She was done trying to figure out exactly what kind of a creature he as. In all fairness, he looked like the result of botched up experiments, perhaps self-conducted. She narrowed her eyes, her hands now on her hips, the fingers still near the holster, her stance grew aggressive, but just to defend herself. 'What? No! I don't steal!' she exclaimed.

Perhaps she felt the need to be so loud about her statement because guilt was starting to well up inside her, Tsuru's words were true... The boy had tried to warn her, maybe she had pushed him a little bit into selling it. Before she could decide how to best go about this situation, Tsuru spilled the truth, throwing the poor boy under the bus. 'Er...' is all she could manage. As the greenish man sighed and turned, inviting them inside, or maybe not really inviting, since that would imply a choice. The way the merchant stood there eyeing the two, it seemed like things would not end pleasantly if they refused.

Akira slunk in, breathing better now that the cold didn't chafe her insides. The Merchant dealt with Tsuru, while she stared down at the disappointed looking creature, he simply busied himself with a tea kettle. 'What now?' she asked him, a little impatiently. Her eyes scanning the interiors. The entire hut was filled with strange artifacts... 'Listen... About the gun...' she started slowly, her voice growing softer as the lack of conviction in her defense and action took over.

'I should've probably not asked to purchase it... Anyways it seems to be malfunctioning and, so... er...' Now what? she didn't really want to say she'd return it, she'd already grown quite fond of the weapon. It was true, that sometimes it clicked oddly and did not actually produce a bullet at all. Maybe the point was to try and make the gun look inadequate, so she could find a way to keep the weapon?



#13Hatsuharu 
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on Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:02 pm

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While the merchant was busy tending to Haru’s wounds, Akira was confronted by the old short dwelf. The wise man waited patiently, listening to Akira’s explanation. In truth, the gun was originally designed by him and he had given it to the small boy’s father for safe-keeping, after deliberately faulting it. He had asked him to never sell it to anyone, ever. The gun had seen too much unwarranted violence in the past, and he felt a little responsible for being part of it.

With ridiculously extreme speed, the dwelf would swipe his wooden walking stick and send Akira’s gun flying towards him. Catching it with the free hand, he clicked it open to see how it was fixed, as temporary as it may be. “Ingenious, it may be. Work long, it will not,” he said, placing the gun on his table. Eyeing the Rune Knight badge she held on her hand, he spoke patiently, “Join the force, why did you?”

The dwelf was not going to let either of them pass until he was sure they weren’t lying to him. He had seen too many pretentious people to naively trust all Rune Knights to have good intentions. As they always say, with great power comes great responsibility. And if this weapon was to be wielded again, he had to make sure the person doing so was ready for that.



#14Akira Shimada 
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on Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:22 pm

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'Ow.' Akira said, as flatly as she could while she curbed her urge to squeal. The stick swiped the gun from her hand which flew through the air and landed in his hand. She shook her entire arm violently. Her thumb had borne the brunt of the damage, but she had a feeling the short man didn't quite intend it, she couldn't really tell for sure, his expressions were difficult to decipher. He had some commendable power... and reflexes... and his disarming technique was flawless... and here Aki thought she was little Ms. Badass with that gun. While her attempt to shake out the pain from her hand, grew less intense, she watched him he fiddle with the gun.

Swiftly, she placed her hands behind her back, as she continued gingerly rubbing her thumb joint with the pads of her fingers of the other hand. She wanted to ensure he couldn't see, didn't want to appear weak. It was tough to keep her badge clenched between the fingers while she tried to soothe the dull throbbing ache. He seemed to have analyzed her weapon and announced that some quick fix method was apparently used to make it work again.

'The kid at the shop said, it'd be unreliable, not that it'd stop working altogether...' she muttered. For some reason, the girl felt more and more like a chastised child who had her unfairly earned candy taken back. 'Can I... just please have it back...?' she said bravely putting her hand forward, showing him her badge yet again, still trying to argue her way into keeping the blessed weapon somehow. The man set the gun on the table, she followed the item to its destination, which was much closer to him than to her. Then he went onto ask her a question she could never really answer. So all she could do was buy herself time.

Almost on cue, a sharp whistle from the tea kettle interrupted them. He turned to go attend to it. Akira inched towards the table... Maybe she could just grab it... But he sharply turned. She awkwardly sat down on one of the tiny chairs... Tsuru was still by the door, she shot him a nervous glance. 'Erm... Lots of reasons, I suppose I could, er... share them over tea?' she asked, tentatively.



#15Hatsuharu 
Online

on Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:10 pm

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The shabby dressing with the split scarf was finally done and Haru joined his partner and the dwelf along with the merchant. The kettle’s whistle made the healer jump and the little man shot him a quick glare before turning towards the dark-haired girl again. “Have it yet, you can’t,” he said, before waving the stick between her and the table on which the gun was. He then looked at the merchant, who seemed to understand exactly what he wanted without him uttering a word. The stout merchant scurried towards the whistling kettle and began preparing tea for the four of them.

The dwelf pointed towards the chairs next to him, which were all sized normally, and motioned for the two to sit. “Know you first, I must,” he said. Haru took the seat to the left of the dwelf and looked utterly confused. Stopping the blood loss was good, at least. So, he knew he wasn’t going to faint. “Umm… Is there something wrong with the gun?” he asked, looking rather happy about it, actually. Secretly, he would be glad if the dwelf told her the gun was too dangerous, cannot be fixed, or something along those lines, and returned her money instead. After all, the healer didn’t approve of such a violent weapon from the start. But the dwelf simply smiled at him in response and didn't actually answer him.

It was difficult to read the expressions of the old man, with all the wrinkles on his face. His voice seemed rather calm, and for the reflexes he showed before, his limbs were deceptively jittery. “Want the gun, why do you?” he asked, turning slowly towards Akira, as the merchant handed cups of hot tea to everyone.



#16Akira Shimada 
Online

on Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:35 pm

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So now Akira needed to basically pass some kind of a job interview before the gun could be returned to her? Why go through so much trouble for a broken gun anyways and what was so special about it that this dwelf was so concerned? 'Why?' she finally asked as the merchant placed a steaming mug in front of her. At her question, he almost knocked it over. He glared at the girl like she'd questioned god or something. 'Do you know who you're talking to?' the man asked, he found Akira's counter questioning so incredulous, it looked like his eyes would pop out of their socket.

The green dwelf was unphased. He waved his hand dismissively at the merchant, who kept his eyes wide and rooted onto Aki as he uncomfortably sat himself down. Eventually the man muttered something about his son... and finally looked away. 'Of course, I don't know who he is...! That's what I'm trying to find out... and understand his obsession with the gun.' Akira responded as her fingers closed around her cup, but she set it down again, it was obviously too hot, but her unsureness was making her fidgety. He didn't dwell on the Rune Knight question, instead went on to ask why she wanted the gun.

Now, Akira could have lied and given some long-winded story about being the defender of the people, but it would be a lie and she hated having to lie. Besides, she was now a little irked at having to explain herself. She leaned back in her chair and folded her arms stubbornly, perhaps a little defensively too. 'To defend me!' she said impulsively, which was the largest fraction in her head. 'And those around me sometimes... I guess. Don't you see the times we live in?' she said reflecting, on the events of tonight. 'If I didn't have the gun, I could have lost him today.' she said angling her head towards Tsuru, her gaze pointedly sliding towards his wounds. 'Your turn little man, asking me all these questions, why are you?' she said attempting to copy his strange sentence structure just to mock him.



#17Hatsuharu 
Online

on Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:22 am

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While the dwelf appreciated the honesty, he was not impressed by the unsure attitude. He turned to look at Haru and his badly bandaged hands when Akira told him she would have lost him had she not been there with the gun. The healer promptly nodded, confirming her story. The dwelf was most interested in the story and for the first time, spoke to Haru. “Curious I am, about the injury,” he said, and waited patiently for Haru to explain. Meanwhile, the shocked merchant placed a cup of hot tea in front of him. Haru thanked him, but wasn’t sure how he was going to drink the tea with such little action left in his arms. He decided to let it cool down to safe temperatures, in case he accidentally dropped it on himself.

Sighing softly, he narrated the incidents of the night. “… and we came after the merchant, wondering why he was running into the forest,” he finished. “I was coming into the city to see why that gun had moved out of the shop. You see… Master Doya here is the one who designed that gun and he can track it at all times. He had asked his son to never sell it again, but it looks like naughty Jack has been meddling around,” the merchant explained.

After hearing the story, Doya looked very pensive. He looked piercingly at Haru and asked a question that had been bothering the healer for a while now. “Fight back, why didn’t you?” he asked. There used to be a time when Haru proudly announced that he was a pacifist; that he was a protector who will never harm anyone under any circumstance. Despite the possibilities, he had always focused his magic on healing, protecting and immobilizing without harm, and he had been proud of it for what few months he had memory of. But that night, he wasn’t sure anymore and he simply dropped his head without uttering a word. Doya sensed the doubts within him too. “Know. Or know not. There is no guess,” he said pointedly, first looking at Haru and then turning slowly towards Akira.



#18Akira Shimada 
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on Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:22 am

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She let Tsuru explain the incidents that led them here, she picked up her teacup again, it was tinier than usual, but whatever herb that was steeped in the water to make it had a fantastic scent. She shamelessly sniffed at the steam that billowed from the mouth of the cup. Mhmm... she thought. But the more soothing it felt, the more her pessimistic wary side twitched, it was nothing like she had consumed before, why would he use something possibly rare, to make tea for strangers. She set the cup down again, narrowing her eyes as her brain whirred to deduce if there was a possibility it was spiked and how she was going to relay the information to Tsuru, without accelerating the process of this becoming hostile, in case it was headed that way.

Then the merchant went on to give a very interesting titbit of information and suddenly Akira had an aversion to wielding the gun again. 'Are you serious?' she asked as though this was the most incredulous thing she'd ever heard. 'You know I'm pretty sure it is illegal to sell something that allows for such tracking right?' she barked, her gaze pinning the Doya creature and the merchant swiftly. The merchant's temper flared again, perhaps it was more a vent because he was a little annoyed at his son's naughtiness, perhaps even anxious considering his son had been fiddling with a dangerous weapon... She'd have cut him some slack had Aki not felt so cheated now. 'Do you know the kind of people this gun was made for? Do you know the kind of people who have wielded it before you?' he said, his palm slamming into the table which made the teacups clatter against the surface.

Doya cast an undecipherable gaze at the merchant again, causing him to instantly pipe down and guiltily stare into his teacup. He instead took a keen interest in Tsuru, refusing to explain anything to Akira at the moment. She too awaited an answer from the healer, but none came. She wondered if it was fair for her to answer for him. 'He'd rather not harm people, is that such a bad thing?' she snapped, asking rhetorically, her words were an impulsive defensive mutter, she somehow couldn't bring herself to raise her voice against someone who spoke so softly and oddly. He simply turned to her, as though reading into her soul and his words backed her into a corner too, as he expected clarification on whether she wanted to help others or not, but Akira truly wasn't sure if people always deserved help. She folded her hands and avoided his gaze too. The Rune Knight duo and the merchant all sat like guilty children... Akira wondered if Tsuru would be able to shed light on her conundrum like she had done to aid him.



#19Hatsuharu 
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on Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:11 am

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Master Doya looked at Akira and answered calmly as she declared that it was illegal to sell weapons that can be tracked. “Wish to sell, I did not. This interrogation, hence,” he said, turning the table on her. On top of that, the merchant went berserk hearing her counter-questioning his master and only stopped after Doya pacified him. Haru sat there wide-eyed, looking absolutely dumb. One thing was certain; he was right about that weapon being trouble and that’s what he would repeat over and over. “I told you not to buy it,” he said again redundantly.

From the merchant’s demeanour, Haru was certain the gun was originally under his watch, and the boy—probably his son—messed up by selling it without his permission. Doya sighed softly and began sipping his tea. Haru wanted to drink his, but he couldn’t move his hands much; so he simply eyed his cup and looked around sheepishly. Noticing this, the green dwelf waved his hand and the cup floated up and hovered in front of the healer’s face. With much struggle, he brought one hand up and gently guided the cup to his mouth. It didn’t take much effort as he didn’t have to hold the weight of the cup; it seemed to stay afloat for him. Gulping down the first sip, he let out a huge sigh of relief and thanked Doya. “Thank you!” he breathed.

“Medicinal. You should drink yours before it gets cold,” the merchant said, pointing towards Akira’s cup before drinking his.

There was an awkward silence for a long moment before Akira answered the question that was directed at Haru. He smiled weakly at her; a small gesture of gratitude. “Hurt… no matter what, someone is going to be. Naïve hope it is, a world with no violence,” he said. It was obvious that while the old man strongly believed in his words, he wished that wasn’t the case. For an entire minute, the old dwelf sat there, staring into the dark night through his small open window, before finally declaring his decision.

“Fetch the crystal, you must. Will be with me until then, the gun,” he said bluntly. While this sentence confused Haru and was probably going to elicit the same reaction from Akira, the merchant almost spat out the tea in his mouth after hearing it. “You can’t be serious, master. This one is volatile,” he said, pointing at Akira accusingly.



#20Akira Shimada 
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on Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:14 am

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The girl narrowed her eyes at Doya as he pretty much stated this was an interrogation. Well at least it wasn't the brutal sort and he wasn't asking them anything unwarranted... yet. She huffed softly as Tsuru spoke again. She threw Tsuru a scathing look. Why are you chanting the same thing over and over? she wanted to snap at him but didn't.

Everyone else was sipping the tea, Tsuru had already sipped his own before she could find a subtle way to protest. Doya aiding him by making the cup hover was so... strange. He didn't need to care that much. Given the interrogation thing, she thought of kicking him under the table but figured the table was rather tiny, her motion would probably not be missed. This was all suspicious. The merchant then, urged Akira to drink it, at which point she just wanted to not, because of her rebellious streak, not to mention that made things even more suspicious. She observed Tsuru, trying to notice any adverse effect on him, the beverage may have had on him... It didn't.

The warmth and the scent were too enticing too resist, so eventually, she put aside her skepticism and took a sip herself, just a small one as a test. It was so soothing... It actually calmed her down. Then she briefly panicked again. What if that was the effect, I'd never see it on Tsuru... she wondered if it dulled her senses, but those remained as sharp as ever. Curious. Maybe the man did not have ill intent after all. Just a sip made the drink addictive, she took a few more... Sighing softly as she finished.

He repeated what Akira had been trying to tell Tsuru for months, but simply because he said it Akira wanted to argue, upon taking another sip of the tea though, she just sighed again. It would be useless to do that, she didn't actually want to strengthen Tsuru's naive beliefs, they'd be stronger together if he changed his mind, he looked like he had the potential to be much stronger than her, he was already faster, probably would be more driven too...

They sat in silence slurping their tea, it looked like Doya was deliberating and that process itself made the Merchant upset. Finally, he mentioned some crystal they had to get for him to return the gun to them. 'Why can't you just get the crystal yourself?' she asked narrowing her eyes. But most of her question was drowned in the protest of the merchant. 'Hey! Who are you calling volatile?' she hissed, proving his point. 'Where is this crystal anyway?' she asked furrowing her brow, the rebellious nature now urging her to accept the request.



#21Hatsuharu 
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on Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:31 am

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The healer was torn between enjoying the tea and observing the conversation. He had never had something so instantaneously soothing before and had to wonder if it was magical. It wouldn’t be surprising if it was and he made a mental note to ask Master Doya what it was before leaving. The green little man was not pleased when both Akira and the merchant began talking at the same time. There was very little change in his expression, but that was enough to shut up the merchant. Of course, it had no effect on Akira as she went on.

“Required is the crystal, for the gun to perform,” he said, before drinking his own tea. “Someone I won’t meet, it is with,” he added after gulping the drink. “Want the gun, you do? Get the crystal, you must,” he stated and then looked at the merchant, who sighed heavily.

It would seem the merchant was supposed to take them to the location where the crystal was. “Alright… I’ll show them,” he said, dejectedly. He finished the last of his tea in a single gulp and then got off the chair. Wearing his fur coat, he opened the door and waited for the Rune Knight duo to follow. Haru, realizing what was happening, quickly finished his tea and thanked the dwelf again. “Thank you very much for the tea,” he said. Doya nodded with a smile and then looked at Akira. “Warn you, I must. Give it up easily, he won’t,” he said, with a naughty twinkle in his eye. Haru wondered what that meant; how were they supposed to convince someone they barely know to give them something so important? Besides, why is the dwelf even considering giving the gun back? But there wasn’t much time to ask questions. The merchant seemed highly impatient.

“If you want the crystal, we should start soon. The later it becomes in the night, the more difficult it will be to get it,” he said. None of this made sense, but Haru decided to ask all the questions on the way. He hustled out of his seat, bowed to Doya and then headed to the hut’s exit.



#22Akira Shimada 
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on Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:01 am

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This was all such a drag. She wanted to argue, she wanted to tell him that she's not here to do his dirty work, that he can't just take something that she legitimately  --ok perhaps under slightly murky circumstances--  purchased an item and then threaten to not return it unless she does what he asked. This was blackmail. Instead, she just gulped down her tea, following the suit of the other two, now convinced that it had some sort of a relaxant that made her stop questioning everything. Akira just rolled her eyes and dragged her chair noisily as she got up.

The girl didn't thank Doya, she merely acknowledged the merchant for offering to help.There was enough frustration in Akira to want to threaten the other two, but there was just a small silver lining, that at the end of this, if this Doya man remained true to his word, at least she'd have a more reliable weapon, simply clinging onto that sliver of hope she decided to attempt seeing their task through. When Doya warned her that it wouldn't be easy, she turned and gave him the most, exhausted and jaded look. When were things ever easy her expression relayed as she slipped out of the doorway.

Instantly she realized that the night had turned much colder, in her rush to find her partner, Akira hadn't donned on her warmer clothes. Just a mangy pair of jeans, her top and a baggy dark sweater over it, all of them proved too bleak against the plummeting temperatures. 'My ears sting.' she remarked, her teeth already chattering a little bit as goosebumps erupted over her body. 'So yes... Let's get this done with fast.' she responded, clarifying that her complaint meant she was all ready to get this over with.

The merchant began a slow and careful excursion even deeper into the realms of the dark forest. Every owl hoot, every wolf howl made her heart flutter. They mostly walked in a jumble, but in the loose formation created, the merchant was in the very front and she was at the very back, almost in step with Tsuru, but not quite. Her self-preservatory instincts wished her to walk between the other two for warmth and for safety, but Tsuru was injured and she didn't want to risk having him attacked from behind, so she chose to keep an eye should they have to fight anything that crept up behind them. She cleared her throat and softly asked. 'Is there any particular thing we should be wary of, on our way?' her question was directed towards the merchant of course unless her partner had actually been here in the past.



#23Hatsuharu 
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on Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:30 am

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Despite winter being almost over, the cold winds of the night were ruthless. Haru no longer had his scarf; it was torn and now serving as his bandages for the injured hands. So, the moment he exited the warm hut, the sudden drop in temperature and the freezing breeze against his face made him flinch. He hugged himself and began walking as the merchant made his way further deep into the forest.

“Who is this someone we are meeting? And why can’t your master meet him?” Haru asked the merchant, struggling to keep his words understandable as his jaw chattered. The thick fur coat the merchant wore kept him warm enough and he spoke clearly. “That man is an old friend of Master Doya. They don’t get along well anymore, but were partners back in the day,” he said. When Akira asked if they had to be worried about something, the merchant snorted a loud ‘Ha’. “Girl, the monsters of the wild are child’s play compared to what you will be meeting once we get there,” he said, almost amused at the prospect.

Haru realized ‘convincing’ was going to be mostly fighting and less talking. “Let’s try to talk our way through this. No one needs to be harmed,” he said, taking the defensive route as usual. The merchant laughed again, and turned to look at them. “Kids these days… There is no option here, lad. You will see,” he said, chuckling at the end of his sentence. The healer had a terrible feeling about this. Even he grew paranoid and started to doubt the two strangers he had met that night. What if they are secretly going to get rid of us in the middle of the forest because we took the gun? His scary thoughts, along with the cold, only made him shiver more.

The trio walked and walked, for almost an hour, until they finally reached what looked like the entrance to a cave. “Here we are,” the merchant said. “I can’t go any further. It should be just the two of you,” he added. This only made Haru even more sceptical. “Are you going to lock us in there once we enter?” he asked frankly.



#24Akira Shimada 
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on Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:34 am

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The merchant's demeanor was far less contained without the presence of his master to shut him up. He was ruthless in the way he mocked the duo, the alleged evil intent she'd assumed seemed to become a more and more real possibility. Responding to him while he was comfortably draped in the fur coat was not an option, she'd just sound weak and unclear and give him more reason to mock her. She listened attentively though, as he painted the nerve-wracking picture for the duo. Her own arms had engulfed her torso, so both the Rune Knights walked awkwardly like someone had knit their fingers together, behind their backs.

Tsuru betrayed the anxiety that was coursing through both of them no doubt. His suggestion to talk was thrown into the mocking trash bin as well, as the merchant wrapped the encounter they were walking into, in a perfect mist of dread and shroud of mystery. Akira just sighed, they'd gotten themselves into a mess once again. The weapon she'd bought in hopes to protect herself from circumstances exactly like this, dragged her into one. 'Like hell he'll tell you...' Akira finally hissed at Tsuru's stupid question. She would threaten the Merchant and make a run for it if she could, the money she wasted on the gun was definitely less precious than her life, but he had a very stupid advantage of being better dressed, he'd probably catch up with them in no time, and Aki's ability to cast spells was limited because her motions would be so slow.

'Whatever, then...' she said. Boldly being the first to walk into the cave, knowing Tsuru will follow suit, given his inclination to protect. This time it was a no-brainer, unlike their time against the demon, where he had to choose between her or the platoon, this time it was just her. 'Come on then... Unless you'd rather I do this alone...' she added, dryly, reminding Tsuru that they had to get a move on and that all other plans were pretty much exhausted. Doya had seemed compliant, maybe there was still hope that his friend, would, in fact, be reasonable enough... She wondered what it was that he'd want in return, because it had to be something. Perhaps something Doya didn't want to give, but she could? Walking into this pretty much blind had set her on an edge... That tea definitely did something to her brain, she was making decisions impulsively and without planning.



#25Hatsuharu 
Online

on Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:56 am

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The merchant laughed at Haru’s question so hard that they travelled into the cave and then echoed back a lot louder. Either that, or there was something horrific inside that sensed their presence. The healer sincerely wished it was the former. “I don’t need to lock you inside,” was all the merchant could say amidst his laughter before he turned away from them and began walking back towards the hut. “See you… Hopefully,” he said, waving at them, and laughing again. Haru gulped and looked at Akira, who seemed rather brave that night. “I told you not to buy that gun!” he repeated.

In any case, it didn’t look like he had much option. Akira had already rushed in and he followed. No matter what, they were partners and they would stick it out together. “Of course I’m coming,” he muttered in the cold. Surprisingly, the moment he walked into the cave, it was no longer cold. It was as if he walked through an invisible veil that stopped the cold from entering the cave, which they did. “Did you notice that? That’s not normal,” he said, looking outside with his mouth agape. “Temperatures don’t drop that suddenly in such a short space,” he added. Thanks to his density magic, he knows something about temperature too.

“Stay on your guard… And do your eye thing,” he said, holding on to her shoulder. Of course the cave got darker as they delved deeper and he had no means to see in the dark unlike his partner. He made a mental note to do something about it with his magic at a later point, because it was getting annoying the number of times they are getting stuck in dark areas and he had to rely on Akira for directions.



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