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Season: Autumn

With the cooling season of Autumn, Ice-types are starting to re-emerge from their hibernation as Ghost-, Normal-, and Flying-types swarm in the largest numbers they will all year. In comparison, wild Fire- and Bug-type populations are falling in number. The migration of Flying-types to the south in search of warmer weather has also started, as Istin City starts to re-freeze and Autumn marks the beginning of Cypwater Point's rainy season. Handlers and Rogues alike should be wary: Ghost-type powers are boosted during this season, at the cost of being more prone to their triggers.

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 Enemies like Me, Kalliope / Closed
Flight
 Posted: Aug 29 2016, 07:09 PM
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judge of the stables
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Total Posts: 976
Member No. 1433
Joined on 30-January 14.


Characters:
Eryn Norwood, Adelaide Hawksworth, Iuchra Nic Longáin

Awards: 1




Kalliope, level 2


Bounty:
Bellatrix Lefrou (Lv. 1-3, specialty Distance Fighting)


Spawns:

http://i832.photobucket.com/albums/zz241/HarperRegion/Sprites/396starly.png
Keen Eye and Reckless
Double-Edge and Feather Dance

Ubiquitous

http://i832.photobucket.com/albums/zz241/HarperRegion/Sprites/311plusle.png
Plus and Lightning Rod
Sweet Kiss and Sing

http://i832.photobucket.com/albums/zz241/HarperRegion/Sprites/312minun.png
Minus and Volt Absorb
Discharge and Charm

Level Bracket: [ 1 - 13 ]

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Eryn
profile & travels
Addie
profile & travels
Iuchra
profile & travels
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please refer to me with they/them pronouns!

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Kaia
 Posted: Sep 4 2016, 03:44 PM
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Total Posts: 344
Member No. 2161
Joined on 29-December 15.


Characters:
Kalliope Tamsin, Namid Waagosh'Giizis

Awards: 3




Day One, Cape Augustine
Windy, crisp

Goals
    I have a few aptitudes I'm looking to work on. Swordsmanship, Mediating and Battle Tactics.
- - -

Kalliope arrived in Cape Augustine about an hour before dawn, having risen in the wee hours to finish her trek. Now the schism was over Kali decided it was time to hunt down some bounty rogues. The schism and all its strife gave her something to focus on and fight for. Fire still boiled in her blood after it ended. She figured she might pick up a bounty or two and burn off excess energy. Either that or she'd prove to her overseers she was willing to take on the tougher missions and so improve her future assignments. Not that she complained with her lot now. She understood the need to prove herself--that was the whole point of this excursion.

Cape Augustine was the proud home of the Guardian Headquarters. The big kahuna. The major league. The creme de la creme. Whatever one wanted to call it, Kalliope needed to be there. As a newbie guardian with schism fighting under her belt, she had the confidence to show her stuff and the naivete to think her small game hunting would make some big impression. Guards at the massive wall were the only humans she spotted from the outskirts of the city to the wall itself. By the time she showed off her guardian's pin and slipped through the drop gate, the wind picked up. Ginger tresses raked in every direction as whorls filled the wide, bare roads.

She followed the guards' directions to the official Guardian Headquarters. It was massive and for lack of a better word, fortified. Palisades rose up at an outward angle and high, narrow windows tucked against the main building to afford purchase for numerous archers. Vast stone walls and an iron gate guarded by not one but four Guardians in heavy arms stood in Kali's path. Cape Augustine had a problem with pirates, as she'd been told. No doubt the recent influx of inland fighting upped their guard as well. "Sirs," Kali approached and bowed sharply. Kazimir clung to her neck to keep from falling, his perch on her shoulder unchanged. "If I may enter?"

The grizzled, mustached man looked her up and down. The guardian armor and blade at her waist was pretty clear-cut but they still requested she report her rank, supervisor and base. Once approved and pin studied, she swept past them through the half-raised gate. It fell with a clatter in her wake. Kazimir harrumphed. As if they're so great. Nothing but watch dogs. That one looked so old he could be a skeleton. Kalliope tapped his head with admonishment. No doubt they fought wars decades before we were born. Be polite, these are the people we have to impress.

I don't see why. They're all pompous, uptight idiots. He grumbled. Kalliope sighed. She understood his dislike of structure and order. He especially disliked that her superiors could order him around and he'd be duty-bound to obey. If he refused, he'd only hear the order from Kali too. She knew it was difficult for him and tried to avoid putting him in that position. It would be easier to avoid if he didn't sit on her shoulder and offer his powerful psychic ability to anyone who walked past, as superiors might see it. He made a rolling thunder of annoyance echo in her head. I'm not saying I don't like it when you spend time with me. I do. But if you don't want to deal with them, there's nothing more I can do than advise the pokeball until--

No. I can handle some idiot humans. He immediately retorted. I don't have to like it. Kalliope shook her head and patted his hair comfortingly. No, you don't. I would never ask you to. You can like or hate whatever you want. If there had been a chance of more conversation it died at the sight of the inner building. A huge training field surrounded the stonework but it was too early for anyone to practice. An archery field rucked up against the length of the headquarters and on the opposite side was a tilting yard. The remaining space in front of the building was bare but surely used to train arms. Kalliope shivered with excitement. This was exactly the place she wanted to be.

She strode straight inside. A short visitor's room fronted the building. Stairs on either side wound upward out of sight. Doors tucked into alcoves behind either stairwell disappeared in the shadows. A young, sleepy-eyed woman sat up with a start and glanced at Kalliope. "Can I help you?" Kali approached and bowed to her, rank or not. Kazimir held on as per usual.

"My name is Guardian Kalliope Tamsin of Harper Pass." She straightened and held her head and chin high. "I'm looking for unclaimed bounties." The girl stared at her, dark eyes blinking away the fog of sleep. "Can you direct me?" Finally the girl seemed to pull herself out of the fog and straightened up. She regarded Kalliope. Whatever she sought, if she found it or not her face never wavered.

"There's a board tacked with various high-profile bounties in the room to your right. Watch out, it's the common room. Not everyone is so pleasant this early in the morning." The girl spoke no more, despite Kalliope's bow and thank you. She disappeared through the door and found six guardians dozing in varying lounge chaises or sofas. Holding her sword hilt with one hand and her shield with the other so they didn't jangle, Kali crept as quietly as she could as to not disturb them. Kazimir complained about the nonsense of humans but thankfully not loud enough for anyone to hear. The board in question was littered with dozens of different bounties. Though Kali was reckless enough to snatch up the hardest villain to hunt down, she was also just smart enough to know better.

Someday she'd hunt down men like Carlisle and David, with bounties so high she would probably die in their heated glance. For now she moved to the amateur bounties. Rule was you took one at a time. She bit her cheek with ire. She could handle two or three if she felt like it. But rules were rules. She studied the different bounties. One with a bug specialty leagues from here. A fire type specialty with ax skills. A fairy handler out of her league. And then--distance fighter. Kalliope remembered the archery field and smiled. Yes, this one. Bellatrix Lefrou.

The note tore with a faint hiss of thick vellum and slipped into her pocket. One heel turn and she faced a trio of very grumpy guardians, ones clearly unhappy to have been roused even before the sun had risen. "So, girl. You're so eager you have to wake up your superiors after a long night's watch to get a little extra gold?"

(1/2 and 1/3 tired pokemon post; 1/5 bruised ribs)

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Namid and his Travels
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Kalliope and her travels
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Kaia
 Posted: Sep 4 2016, 04:17 PM
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Characters:
Kalliope Tamsin, Namid Waagosh'Giizis

Awards: 3




Kalliope held her ground. Her eyes met first the leader who spoke and the two men at his back. With another single bow, lower this time, she offered her respect. Do that again and I'm like to fall off. Kazimir complained. She sensed what he wasn't saying. Their last battle he'd gotten pretty injured and he hadn't yet recovered. She held him as she straightened, something he usually got annoyed with. This time not a single complaint. Her heart clenched with worry as she spoke. "Apologies, sirs. I had no intention of waking anyone up." She flecked her voice to carry low and cover little distance to avoid waking the others up. "It has nothing to do with money. I want to help wherever I am able."

The insult struck her at such an implication. Sure money was nice but she wasn't one of those despicable guardians who did work only for those who could pay and only hunted the rogues with the biggest payoff. She liked to be compensated for work as much as anyone but would help anyone in need if they asked. The leader narrowed his eyes. "Oh? So if I take the rewards of your bounty you won't mind?" He watched carefully for any tells. She answered without blinking, without thought.

"If you're that sort of guardian then I would be happy to report you to your superiors." Her voice rose a hair and she worked to tone it down. Sleeping guardians and all. "But if you're asking whether or not I'd work this job for free, I would at the drop of a pin. I'm a guardian and it's my job to bring down criminals." His glare hadn't wavered but neither had her sincerity. Their locked gazes fought for control. Suddenly he yelped and stumbled back, one hand to his head. The remaining sleeping guardians jumped to their feet, swords drawn. Kali didn't grab her blade, though she was sore tempted. This was a guardian's headquarters. She was one of them.

Which meant she couldn't stab her own even if he deserved it. The leader glared and now five men stood at his back, swords drawn. Kalliope didn't move. "Keep your hands off my handler or I'll drop you all to your knees, peons." Kazimir snarled. Kali winced to see every guardian straighten and step into formation. She held her empty hands out with palms up. "I'm sorry for waking you. I have no interest fighting anyone in here. If you'll excuse me, I'll leave you to your rest." She took a step but the leader of the group held out his hand, the other touching his hilt. Anger and irritation flashed across his face.

"I don't think so. You come in here with your arrogant attitude and your disreputable psychic and you think you can just leave?" His eyebrows shot up across his forehead at the sound of Kalliope's sword drawn from its scabbard in a single fluid motion. Her eyes blazed.

"Say whatever you want about me but don't ever speak of Kazimir that way. I apologized for bothering you and I was attempting to get out of your hair but I won't tolerate disrespect." She twitched the tip of her blade and all six stepped forward. "If you're a man and a real guardian, you'll meet me in the training yard. One on one--unless you need your posse to back you up." She glared fiercely at him. She knew she was being foolish to challenge a guardian no doubt much more skilled than she was. But no one talked bad about Kazimir. No one. He'd backed the leader off because he was worried for Kalliope.

He hadn't attacked anyone. And he was an incredible partner. She sensed his uncertainty and the fainting spell right before he plummeted off her shoulder. The blade dropped to the ground and she caught him in both hands, holding him to her chest. "You shouldn't have overexerted yourself," she murmured. "You'll get sick." The men stared at her. She ignored them, balanced Kazimir in the crook of one shoulder, and picked up the blade with her free hand. She waltzed past them with her blade sheathed and Kazimir in her arms. At the door she turned around.

"If you want to apologize for your disrespect to avoid a battle, you may do so. If you have no wish to fight, the least you can do is say you're sorry." She stalked out, the door snapping in her wake. The girl at the counter watched her with a bored expression and Kalliope said not a word. In the training field she set her bag and Kazimir in the shade, covering him with his little bunnelby cloak to keep him warm. He could sleep for a while. If the guardian showed up to fight her, fine. She'd study the slip of paper while she waited and if he didn't, she'd leave and get to work.

How dare he. Kazimir is the best companion in the world.

{Erebos 2/2 and is now recuperated. Kazimir 2/3. Kali 2/5 bruised ribs}

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Namid and his Travels
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Kalliope and her travels
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Kaia
 Posted: Sep 4 2016, 04:43 PM
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Kalliope Tamsin, Namid Waagosh'Giizis

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Kalliope was midway through her stretching routine when the Guardian who insulted Kazimir showed his face. In the faint pre-dawn light he looked in his late twenties or perhaps thirty with facial scruff, not thick enough to constitute a beard. All the hair on his head was a burnished gold, tinted strawberry in the faint light. Perhaps six feet tall and built, he had sleep circles around his eyes and his armor was worn if well kept. He had a single buckler on one shoulder and a bastard sword at his hip. The five others trailed in his wake and Kalliope pulled out of her stretch to straighten.

Her eyes raked over the peanut gallery with no sign of fear. "If you want me to fight all of you, you'll have to make due in pairs or groups of three. If you all go at me at once, I can't be responsible for what happens to you." The third man trailing the leader guffawed, his silver hair receding on his head. Premature from what she could see.

"Y'hear the mouth on her, James?" The man slapped his belly, a little more barrel-round than hard planes of muscle. "If you don't take her, I will." He sounded amused rather than angry. A few of the group looked amused rather than angry but two of them, the leader James included, showed no sign of emotion. Kalliope drew her blade and plucked her fighting buckler off the opposite shoulder.

"You wanted a battle, you got it."James drew his own weapon and shield. While her sword was slender and double-edged, his was twice as long and the handle big enough to turn it into a two-handed wield. She studied his foot work and hands. Before they even began she could tell he was right-handed, putting her at an advantage, and that he moved with fluid grace despite the early hour. Their eyes met and they shared humorless smiles. They'd both sized one another up. "Buzz, you call the match. No one interferes or we'll never hear the end of it from this pup." He gestured to Kali with his shield. The men chortled but Kali had no reaction.

Like she said. Insult her all he wanted. Say a damn thing about her pokemon and they would make reparations. The gray haired man, Buzz, stepped between them and held up a hand. "Clean shots. Training rules. Th' first t' draw blood gets th' point. Yield or a deathblow wins th' match." Despite his earlier amusement, he looked capable now. Both combatants nodded. Buzz dropped his hand and yelled, "Engage." Kalliope launched forward with a war cry, blade angled and buckler tight and up to cover her chest and face. She purposely left her stomach vulnerable as she lunged into attack.

She knew the risk of taking the first attack, especially without pacing and studying properly. She didn't care. Her tactics were blunt, to the point and draw blood as quickly as she could. She also knew this man was skilled at arms the way he held his blade. Giving him time to study her and formulate a plan would only work in his favor. She doubted the first attack would land and was right. He caught her hit with a shift and a back step with his right foot, the scrape of blade on shield screeching in her ears. He side-swiped but their close contact gave him an awkward angle. She caught his blow and snaked her blade under his shield to nick at his exposed side.

James twisted out of the way and unhooked his blade from her shield. His eyes surveyed her with appraisal. Clearly she'd upped her own estimation. Damn. She side-stepped to put the east at her back and waited for his blow. The sun wasn't up for a time but it was a good tactic nonetheless. James smiled as if anticipating her plan and aimed at her right side, slapping her buckler three times in quick succession. He backed her toward the wall of the headquarters and she cursed. Her advantage was in movement and light feet. If he pinned her, his reach would outweigh her own and he'd claim the first hit. She dropped to the ground, feigned a lunge, and tumbled to the right as he lifted to defend. When she drew to her feet he was already turning in her direction. Her diaphragm constricted, a sharp twinge.

But she was on his unprotected side. As she got to her feet she lunged with a beautifully straight, whip-fast strike and caught his side. This time he slapped her blade away with his own and she had to shuffle to avoid his blade. But she drew the first blood. Excitement suffused her face and she grinned. Sweat trickled down her spine and gathered at her neck, tickling the skin. Pain began to blossom under her armor from her lower ribs up toward her sternum. She ignored it and caught his heavy blow with her buckler. The beauty of an elemental buckler such as hers gathered the power of his blow and diminished it to almost nothing. She was able to swipe at his face before he could pull back. Momentum was a bitch when you were a big, heavy man.

She laughed and danced around him, parrying his blows. Her breathing came faster than it should but she put aside the concern. He dropped his stance lower and they clashed blades. His strength overpowered hers and he backed her up a few steps, trying to trip her. She locked her buckler with his and shoved, aiming the bottom tip upward to drive him back. It didn't work but they separated enough for her to dance out of his reach. She heaved. The lock and pressure hit her ribs. Her tumble earlier had flared them up again and she'd been able to ignore the sting but now they pulsed in time with her hammering heart and squeezed her lungs tight. She sucked in short, rapid breaths and kept out of his reach. He sensed her hesitation and pounced.

In the shadows Kazimir sat up and rubbed his eyes sleepily, a little yawn widening his tiny mouth.

{Erebos and Kazimir healed of their exhaustion. Kalliope 3/5 bruised ribs}

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Namid and his Travels
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Kalliope and her travels
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Kaia
 Posted: Sep 4 2016, 05:46 PM
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Joined on 29-December 15.


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Kalliope Tamsin, Namid Waagosh'Giizis

Awards: 3




The pitch dwindled to James' eyes, his body language. The silver-bright blade in his hand. She didn't hear the cheers or the jeers of the men watching. Her whole body attuned to his as they skittered across the dirt. James caught her in the arm, drawing blood. She bashed his shield and caused him to stumble. They traded blows back and forth, nicely matched. She had a feeling he was holding back and it annoyed her a little. Kali devised a plan to draw him out. Her sides screamed with discomfort and she forced herself to ignore it and the fact that they made her light headed from the lack of oxygen. If she could trip him up and surprise him, especially while he was holding back, she might get him on his back. They kissed blades again, right at the hilt. His slight height advantage and bulk would have backed her to the ground if she'd fought him, especially with her griping ribs.

So she didn't. She engaged and pushed. The second she felt him slam forward she whirled to the right, leaving him to shoot forward of his own volition. The pale light stung her eyes and black spots prickled at the edges of her vision. She ignored them and whipped her blade in a small circle, devised to get under his guard and slash at his chest. She managed to get in, too. But too slow. She missed the swipe, though she'd startled him with the attack, and he managed to whip her blade out of his way. She cried out in pain as his power shoved the blade and her arm hard in her socket. The pain rippled down her side and it felt like someone punched her lung. She stumbled back, buckler close to her side. James looked quizzically at her but pursued. They engaged and she was weaker. She felt it. The air in her throat whipped in and out as fast as it could and still her chest ached and her head woozy.

She had to end this soon. She tried a lunge and landed wrong, moving too fast and against her. In her unbalanced state James dropped his shield and held the bastard sword above her head in a two handed grip. The flat of the blade would hit rather than the sharpened edge but it would knock her out cold. Her arm worked to raise the shield upward and catch the attack but she sensed something--no. Her ribs screamed as she stood into the blow, taking as much of it as she could. The buckler saved her torn ligaments. "Stop!" She shouted, slamming the buckler upward. She backed out of the empty space and ran from the pitch. James followed in pursuit, hot on her heels. Kalliope dropped her weapons and James nearly tripped on the buckler. He shouted after her in disgust and froze.

Kazimir had James in his grip and air sucked from his lungs so fast he gasped. But he couldn't move. Kalliope dropped to her knees next to the psychic and wrapped her arms around him. Kazimir sensed her pain and tried to push her off but she wouldn't let go. Blood trickled down her arm and neck where he'd gotten her earlier and her ribs couldn't take any more abuse without cracking. "Kazimir, stop." She gasped. Even speaking hurt. Kazimir reprimanded her and silently told her to shut up. She ignored him. "Please, stop. It's--it's a--" She heaved. "Practice." He heard the half of a lie and snarled. "Okay it's--it's not--but--he--he--isn't going to--" He forced her to let go, afraid if she hugged him any tighter she would pass out. She struggled against it. "Let--him go."

The weight dousing James and pinning him in place fell and he tripped forward, trying to gain his balance. Kalliope gasped and heaved, trying to get air to her lungs while her ribs protested. As she got her breathing under control, she sensed Kazimir's hurt. She immediately picked him up despite his protests. "Thank you," she breathed. "But please don't kill him for me. There are people we are allowed to take down but we do try not to--" She sucked in a breath, having pushed her lungs too far. "Our job is to protect, not kill. Okay? I know you'll always protect me. But I want to get stronger so I can protect you too. So I won't be your burden." She kissed the top of his head and cradled him. Shadows fell over them and Kazimir's instinctive lash of air hit James like a hard blow. He took it surprisingly well, grunting under his breath.

"Relax, psychic. I'm not going to kill her while she's down." His laconic tone made Kali want to laugh. If only her lungs wouldn't break if she tried. "Interesting tactics you have. I assume this means you yield." Kalliope glared over her shoulder at his smirk. The blood vessels in his eyes had nearly burst, turning them hot pink with pain. No doubt her own were as red from the lack of oxygen.

"His name is Kazimir, not psychic. You will treat him with respect." She spoke slow to keep the weakness of her lungs from being too prevalent. "We can start again right now. I'll duel you all, I don't care. Let's go." She started to stand but he placed a hand on her shoulder.

"That's not necessary. I may have been too quick to judge earlier." His hand shifted from her shoulder to take her wrist to pull her to her feet. She rose albeit shakily and hissed. "Picking fights with Guardians while you're hurt. Stupid move." He surmised. She shrugged.

"You insulted Kazimir. Even if I had two broken legs and only one working hand I would have challenged you."

James stared. "He means that much to you." Not a question but she answered anyway.

"Of course. He's my partner. He and I against the criminals of the world. I wouldn't give him up for the world. I wouldn't let anyone hurt him or insult him." She pinned James with a glare. He laughed and raised his hands.

"I cave. I'm sorry for the insult Kazimir. I rescind it." He even went so far as to give a polite bow, though much less deep than what Kalliope offered earlier. "Let's get you inside and cleaned up. No reason to go after Lefrou with blood on your face. Though maybe for the fear factor." He grinned and led Kazimir inside. Not only that, he grabbed her bag and carried it in his arms. She bent to pick up her own sword and shield despite his offer, however. They went to their usual place despite the pain. "You shouldn't toss your prized possessions so casually."

"If I'd stopped to put them away you'd be laying in the dirt and Kazimir might have gotten put down for killing a guardian." She didn't say again but it might have been implied. "I won't let that happen."

"So you didn't do it to save my life but to protect his." He drawled. "Maybe I should take that as an insult. But I have a feeling you did it to save me as much as to protect him, so I won't." The woman at the desk looked at the pair in surprise as Kali was led upstairs to the infirmary. Covered in dirt and blood, they must have made a spectacle at such an early hour. "I'm Senior Guardian James Canthrope, by the way." He introduced himself. "Don't bother with your own introduction, Mary told me before I went outside. Bounty hunting for pride or acclaim?"

Kali had the where-with-all to look a little shamefaced. But not much. Her chin jutted up. "I wanted to do my duty." She announced. In a softer voice, she admitted, "And I wanted to show how much I can handle. I know I'm new to the field but I'm ready to learn and show off what I can do." She cradled Kazimir close to her chest, the heat of his horn pressed to her collarbone.

"I noticed. Next time think ahead. I could have cut you down that first attack. Though you surprised me with that roll." He opened the infirmary door for her and guided her to a pallet. "You make good use of the field and your advantages, I'll give you that. Though I'd work on your feints. I could see your eyes and the body language of your intent well before you moved. I just didn't expect the action." Kalliope committed these critiques to memory. She wasn't vain enough to think she couldn't improve. Though she didn't think she'd lose the battle against a Senior Guardian she'd be the first to ask for advice where she could get stronger.

"You held back from the start." The accusation fell flat; she wasn't angry, only observational. If it irked her earlier, the fire of her challenge had simmered to a low heat. "What should I have done better?" She settled Kazimir on her lap while Senior James gathered supplies. There was probably a healer about but they were most likely sleeping this early in the morning. "Anything you can offer."

"Get a new sword, for starters." She stiffened. He glanced over and winked. "The balance is all wrong for you. It's too short and too stout for your style of fighting. You need something long and thin, more mobile and less weighty. You'll rarely find an opponent you can best with strength alone." She frowned. She was strong. But she understood his point. James could have crushed her with sheer power alone if he'd wanted to. She had to learn a better way. "You should learn how to fight with that buckler, too. Something so expensive and precious should be offensive as much if not more than defensive. Shoving it in between yourself and someone else won't do much if you can't manipulate it the way you can a sword." A roll of fabric opened up beside her, revealing a poultice for wounds and a curved needle. He'd already fitted it with a slender cord.

"Your footwork needs some training, too. Shuffling is fine but if you're not prepared at any time to move, you're going to slip up the way you did earlier with that lunge. And for Arceus' sake, think. Don't just leap in like a rabid houndour. Finesse is your ally. Reckless slashes aren't going to do anything but get you killed." He wiped clean the wound on her neck and began to sew neat stitches to her throat. She didn't flinch though Kazimir fixed James with a hateful stare so strong James winced. The stitches went smoothly and they remained silent so he wasn't distracted. While he set up for the wound on her arm, sleeve rolled up, she spoke.

"Would you teach me?" James dropped the twine. Luckily it fell to the cloth and he fumbled to affix it to the needle. "Or advise me to find a proper teacher somewhere? I don't care if I need to travel, I want to learn from the best." Her father taught her everything he knew and he was a good swordsman. However, he had brute strength on his side and as he got older he was only able to instruct orally rather than by demonstration. She'd honed his teaching but knew she needed more. James silently worked on her second wound and she waited patiently for him to finish. When he was wiping the wound with a dry cloth and checking it for tears or blood. "Well?"

"How did you hurt your ribs?" He prodded her side and she hissed. He clicked his tongue. "Let me see." James met her glare with a bland expression. "I apprenticed a healer soldier in my youth. He taught me enough to tell broken bones from fractures. Or do you want Lefrou to catch you weak and beat the hell out of you? And that's if she doesn't kill you and steal your pokemon." He winced as Kazimir shouted angrily in his head. He managed to block Kazimir easily once he recognized the invasion. Kazimir whipped at his blockades but it did little good. "Strong psychic you have there. A little untaught, though. You can't enter someone's head who has defenses against you, especially if you're so rash. Like owner, like pokemon."

Kalliope stroked Kazimir's hair. "It's okay, he's not a threat. And he has a point. It's not nice to rip into people's heads without permission unless you know they're an enemy. Even then if they're strong your attack will send out a warning bell." She hugged him and set him down, then glared at James. "Turn around." She waited until he did so, laughing as he went so far as to cover his eyes. She ignored him and stripped off her leather armor and tunic. Sweat-damp bandages clung to her ribs from above and four inches past her breast band. "Don't think just because you're a guardian I won't punch you if you get creepy." She announced. He laughed outright and turned. It halted in his throat.

"Sweet celebi, you fought me like this? A senior guardian? What are you, an idiot?" He demanded. Despite his words, his hands were gentle on her ribs, checking each with feather-light fingers. "Next time don't pick fights when you're already broken. What did you do?"

"Defended a church in Cypwater during the Schism. The healer did decent work but since they weren't actually broken, she couldn't do much more than wrap them. I've been changing them out regularly but--" She hissed when James found a tender spot. "I guess I strain them so much they haven't fully healed."

"Take the deepest breath you can and hold it for a count of ten, then let everything out until there's nothing left and hold that for a count of five." She followed his instructions, wincing when she breathed in and nearly devolving into a coughing fit at the release. He clicked his tongue against his teeth. "By some miracle you haven't cracked any of them. They're bruised and strained from the battle but with some rest you should be fine in a day or three. Depends on how stupid you decide to get. Let me re-wrap them, first." He plucked the metal catch on the gauze and began to unwind and she turned and punched him in the throat. Well, she aimed for his face but pulled back at the last second. He coughed and dropped the gauze.

"I told you I've been wrapping them myself, didn't I? I can do it without assistance." She snipped, holding the edge of the wrap in one hand. "Just fetch me another wrap." When James got his breath back, he laughed. Apparently he was happy go lucky when he wasn't grumpy from waking up.

"The reason you're bruised so long is probably because you're wrapping them yourself. You're doing it too tight, that's why you nearly fainted on the pitch. Stop complaining. And try to aim for my shoulder or something next time, that hurt." He rubbed his throat ruefully and helped to unwind the bandages. She huffed and complained the entire time but eventually was able to redress with a fresh bandage, much looser than she'd been keeping it. "The constriction probably exacerbated the problem."

Kali shrugged. "I figured wrapping them tight would keep them from moving too much." He stared as she affixed her shield to her arm, stretching and pretending it didn't hurt. Granted, without the tight bandages she could breathe better. Oops. "Next time I'll go for your face." She figured it was fair warning.

He didn't comment on the threat. "You do realize your lungs are what help you breathe right? And they need to expand?" He shook his head. "Next time listen to the healer. You're all set, but seriously. Try not to get yourself into any fights for at least a day or two. Tomorrow morning take off the wraps and leave them off. If you don't find yourself dying, you should be fine." He patted her shoulder politely until Kazimir's glare warned him off. Then he escorted her downstairs to the catcalling of his gaggle of friends. She shot him a look over his shoulder, one that said really? This is who you associate with? He shrugged with a can't pick your squadron and followed her down.

"Ifn I knew y' were gonna have some doctor fun Ida battled yeh." Buzz whistled. Kalliope ignored him as she descended the stairs as well as the other comments. But as she passed Buzz she buried her fist in his gut. He doubled over. James laughed at her back so none of the other men retaliated but one or two glowered at her. Buzz straightened with a hand on his stomach and grinned. "Feisty. I like a girl wi' fire." Kali raised her fist and he backed away, one hand in the air and a smirk on his face. James shook his head.

"She was fighting wounded, boys. Back up a bit. If she keeps hitting people she'll end up even more injured." This time Kalliope shot him a glare, which he returned with a wink. "Oh, and those private lessons you asked for? Hit me up in Fough Place after you're done dancing with Lefrou and I'll consider it." The men laughed some more. Kalliope smiled ever so sweetly.

"I sure appreciate it, master." James' look of shock could have made her laugh out loud. She managed to hold onto her demure face. "Any chance I can get to reacquaint my fist to your face. Maybe a knee for good measure." She curtseyed despite the pain and left to a raucous front room of guardians. A smile lit her face. Who would have known Cape Augustine would be such a blast?

(Kalliope bruised ribs 4/5)

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Namid and his Travels
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Kalliope and her travels
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Kaia
 Posted: Sep 4 2016, 07:03 PM
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Kalliope stopped to eat at a tavern still open from the evening before. The bleary-eyed woman who served her a bowl of last night's stew and stale bread immediately disappeared upstairs once Kalliope was set up. While she ate she pulled out the note about Bellatrix Lefrou. Distance specialty stood out most but there was more to read and she poured over it while she shoveled food in her gullet. Kazimir stole chunks of meat and potato as well as half the stale bread, which he crumbled into tiny bites and danced into his mouth. Kalliope chuckled and wiped his mouth of crumbs before getting back to the bounty. A mad woman spurned in a little village off route two had been attacking at random, killing some and carting off supplies from others.

Pokemon, rations, resources of all sorts. It didn't matter to her. She specialized in long-range shots, which meant she attacked with flame-tipped arrows and caused chaos, then threw daggers to kill and to maim. She read the litany of crimes and chewed. This wouldn't be easy and she wouldn't be easy to engage hand to hand. "Looks like we're going shopping, partner." Kazimir looked up from his hunk of unidentifiable meat, question in her mind. "Gotta get a bow. Might be a waste but at least I'll be on even ground." He nodded and went back to eating. They left a little after dawn and headed to the nearest arms shop. She bought a bow and quiver of twenty-five arrows. She chose a short bow because at the moment she wasn't hale enough to pull a long bow - and 400g for the long bow plus arrows was too much. She'd have to practice, too, and she didn't have the time. Kazimir didn't comment though she knew he wanted to.

He was probably still a little sleepy. Even so he sat on her shoulder as they left Cape Augustine. They took it easy the first day, traveling at a leisurely pace. She'd been warned to heal up a bit before taking on an enemy and she had to admit James was probably right. Luckily he wasn't there to gloat. They camped off the route and were up and at it all over again early the next morning--this time Kazimir convinced her to sleep past dawn for once. And she did need the extra energy. Today they'd be close enough to reach the village by evening. In the morning while they ate Kazimir sensed something. He showed Kalliope what he found but she patted his head and told him not to worry. Midday he showed her again. By lunch time he was adamant he should do something about them. They're young. It's fine, they aren't doing any harm.

He huffed. They might. You don't know for sure! She shook off his worries to his annoyance. Late afternoon began to set in when they spotted the village about two miles off. Kalliope and he stopped where they were out of sight of the road and waited for full dark. Better to keep their arrival unnoticed. About an hour before sunset Kazimir hopped off her shoulder, flared red with anger, and hoisted two squirming mousy pokemon from the underbrush. They shrieked and struggled, very unhappy as they hung in the air. Kalliope sighed. "Let them down, please." He glared at her under the fringe of green and refused. "Come on. They haven't done anything wrong."

"Yeah yeah! We haven't done anything wrong!"

"Meanie!"
The plusle and minun squirmed and Kazimir glowered.

They've been following us since we left the human dwelling. I don't like it. He shook them in the air and they yelled. Kalliope tried to soothe him and hopefully reason with him. "I knew they were there, so did you. They never did any harm. At least put them down so they stop screaming. If they draw attention we'll be in trouble." The last was enough for Kazimir to drop them. Literally. They fell four feet from the air and landed in a pile of sparks. "Jerk face! Poo head! It's not nice to attack plusle and minun for no reason!"

"We just wanted to play!" "Play play!"

Kazimir's annoyance mounted but Kalliope picked him up. "Now, Kazimir. You can't go around attacking everyone just because they're there. Leave them be, will you?" She glanced at the pokemon. "Are you hungry?" She dug in her pack and held out what she had, offering them something to fill their tiny grumbly bellies. They cheered and raced over to grab the food. The plusle hesitated near Kazimir but food was too much a draw to resist. They gobbled up every last bite to Kazimir's loud complaints. If you're going to take food from someone don't eat it all! It's disrespectful and now my human will starve. The minun began to sniffle and pout. And then it began to cry. The wave of loathing spilling off Kazimir made Kalliope snuggle him and pet his hair. "I don't know what they're saying but I promise I won't starve. The village isn't far, I gave them our spare rations anyway. Give them a break, will you?"

The plusle consoled its friend and they cuddled together. Soon they both fell asleep snuggled up in a static-y pile. Kalliope smiled. They tuckered themselves out keeping up. It's pretty cute. Kazimir's irritation sparked. She continued to pet his hair while they waited for sundown. You're much more handsome and mature. It's not their fault they're curious and easily tuckered out. It doesn't matter what pokemon I meet or who we add to our party. You will always be my most precious friend and closest partner. But don't go bragging to Eerie or you'll hurt his feelings. Kazimir harrumphed but settled down in her lap to doze himself. When full night set in, Kalliope took the remaining bits of food from her pack and tucked them with the plusle and minun, also pulling out a tattered old tunic for a warm blanket. The nights were getting chilly. Then she set off with Kazimir in her arms to the village. She managed to get to the inn without another villager spotting her and slipped in the crack of the door without so much as a sound.

Three villagers sat near the fire chatting and a group of women gossiped behind the counter. No one noticed as Kalliope sought out the innkeeper. He was hard to miss, from the confidence in his stance to the way he raked the front room with his eyes to make sure everyone was comfortable. He strode forward at the sight of Kali and held out his hand. "Welcome to the Dozing Smeargle." In the daylight she might have spotted a hand-painted smeargle on the side of the wall painting another beautiful scenic picture inside the picture, eyes closed and tail dripping red. "Can I get you a room and a meal?" Kalliope shook his hand firmly and nodded, careful to keep Kazimir close and warm.

"Both, if you please. And I was hoping for some information on Bellatrix Lefrou as well. I'm," She paused at the look on his face, trying to decipher it. After a moment she continued. "She's been placed on priority by the Guardians at the Cape for her criminal activity but if I can take her alive, I will. She will have to pay for her mistakes but that can't happen until she's been reprehended." She lowered her voice and his eyes flashed. "Is she your daughter? Sister?"

"Daughter in law." He chewed his lip. "Or she would have been. My son was killed defending the town during the schism. Bell blamed the village for refusing to fight with him and surrendering. He..." The man swallowed. "He tried to blow up the mage encampment about a mile from here before everything was ended. They caught him, stripped him and paraded him through town before executing him in front of everyone. None of us could do a thing. I couldn't do a thing." He clenched his jaw and Kalliope reached out to squeeze his arm.

"I'm sorry. Many people died during the war. We're still cleaning up the mess all across Harper." She pulled back her hand. "However, Bellatrix has been attacking innocent civilians. She's dangerous. Whatever sent her into this killing spree, she has to be stopped." The innkeeper hardened, but not volatile. He nodded.

"I know. I hate it, but I know." He looked down at Kali - being nearly six-three. "If you can, catch her without hurting her. She grieves. She's never harmed so much as a butterfree, much less a human before all this. If--if there's a way to speak for her, I will. And I'll take her in my care as soon as she's released." His eyes bore into hers. "Tell them that. When you catch her." Kalliope nodded and his shoulders eased a bit. "What do you need to know?"

"What has she done recently? How many has she hit? Can you tell me anything about what she might do or what pokemon she might have with her? Any details, description or weaknesses you can give me will help." The innkeeper nodded and guided her to a pair of chairs near the door and away from the rest of the customers. He settled his elbows on his knees and leaned forward.

"She's about nineteen or so. Dark hair, about hip long. Blue eyes." His eyes unfocused as he spoke. "She was the sweetest girl...she was visiting with her family, merchant folk, and fell for my boy. She broke off from her caravan and started working at the tavern as a bar wench. Paid dirt but she didn't care. Her eyes were all for--for--Zach was such a good boy too." Kalliope pretended not to notice the tears. "She has three pokemon, though I only ever saw the magnemite. Fast, too. She could outrun anyone in town. Most of us are old fogeys, anyhow. She's a climber. Could climb a fence, a tree, a sheer wall. She was something." He wiped his eyes. "Don't know what else I can say."

"That's more than I could have asked for." Kalliope had her hand in Kazimir's hair. "Sorry to ask this. What did she do to the town?" She repeated, showing no sign of reaction when his face broke. The man shook his head.

"She burned the granary. No one saw her but everyone knew it was her. It's the last thing she's done. The first was--well, she shot down the mayor. He was there when Zach--when it happened. He died about six weeks ago. Then she shot up the herd pokemon in the fields. The worst though," he shuddered. "She did something to the bridge near the river mouth. It crumbled to the ground with a dozen people on it, though no one saw what it was that managed. Everyone who survived heard her laughter. She likes to run through the street and pin blame on everyone she sees. And from the tops of the roofs she shoots at anyone unlucky enough to be in the cross fire. Usually she doesn't kill them, though. Just maims or startles them and vanishes without a trace." He gripped Kalliope's arm again. "Please don't hurt her. I know she's done terrible things. But please, as a favor to an old man who has nothing left. Don't hurt my Bell. She's been a daughter to me these past years. I can't bear to lose her too."

Kalliope opened her mouth to promise when Kazimir sat up and growled angrily in her head. She whipped her head toward the door he pointed her to, thinking it was Bellatrix. Instead there was a tiny scraping sound and pathetic sounding tears. "What in the..." The innkeeper got up. Kalliope urged him to sit and headed to the door. On the front step sat the plusle and minun, both crying bitter crocodile tears and staring up at her with ears flattened to their cheeks. Kalliope stared at them, hands on hips. Kazimir was on her shoulder whispering to her ideas of killing them. She told him to relax. "Hello, you two. Still hungry?" They whimpered some more and clung to her calves, one on each leg. She laughed. "Alright, then. Come on and I'll feed you. Then we're going to have to talk." They trailed her as she headed inside. A few people guffawed but she ignored them. "Sir, these poor, starveling patrons of yours desire a little food. I'll cover the cost." She glanced at them ruefully. "If I don't they'll either faint from starvation or start crying some more."

As if on cue they began to sob. The innkeeper smiled and nodded, taking the time to gain composure and fetch some food. Kalliope turned to the pokemon. "We need some ground rules. If you want to have free food you'll need to join my team or defeat me in battle." She gave them a "hard" stare and they cowered. "But that can be decided in the morning. Food first, then we'll go upstairs and sleep. After that, we'll see what's what. But no more of these sandile tears. You have to earn your food." The innkeeper arrived with three bowls and everyone began to chow down. Kalliope smiled to herself. The strange things she got herself into.

(Bruised ribs 5/5, all healed. 400g for the bow and arrows)

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Namid and his Travels
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Kalliope and her travels
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Kaia
 Posted: Sep 4 2016, 08:16 PM
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Day Four
Partly cloudy, windy
Twin Cedar Village

- - -

Kalliope woke bright and early covered in pokemon. Kazimir usually curled up in her arm to sleep but a plusle and minun respectively curled in each arm, snoozing and lightly snoring. Kazimir, irritated by that, decided to sleep on her chest with his face tucked against her neck. Even in mid-autumn with the chill in the air this early, she was sweating. Even so she awoke with a smile. She roused the gang and despite her orders to make a decision, she dragged all three downstairs to eat. Kazimir was unhappy with her bundle but he made due by eating heartily and throwing bread crumbs at the static pokemon. They couldn't for the life of them figure out what was gong on, and kept chittering to one another about it. Kazimir grew smug and felt better about himself.

After breakfast Kalliope dressed in light, loose clothes with her armored leather underneath. It made her bulkier but from afar she would look like a slightly heavy, plain girl. It wasn't unusual for visitors to wear arms especially after the schism so she strapped her bow on her back with the quiver tucked underneath. A few people gave her a funny look but otherwise ignored her altogether. She memorized the small village in its entirety that morning and afternoon. About three main streets converged together in a sort of town square, though it held no more than a well. All the local buildings faced it, making it a mecca of socialization. Most people who gathered did so there. Kalliope avoided it for the most part, other than to see what buildings were around and commit them to her mental map. Once she walked the myriad of side streets and got her bearings she sought out the locations Bellatrix hit. First the granary. Not even the foundations remained. The two buildings beside it were scorched on either side. It was well-done work.

The village itself was built pretty communally. No one building sat on its own. Bell would have had to hit the granary fast and hard, with enough to burn it to a crisp without giving the villagers time to hose it down. Considering the sheer number of water pokemon near the river and near Cape Augustine in general, Kali was impressed. Not only that, she'd managed to burn it down without being seen. Kalliope was pretty sure she understood how it was done but decided to investigate the other places anyway. The mayor had been shot down in the middle of the square so she left it for last. First she traversed the broken bridge. Only stone pieces remained sticking out of the banks on either side. Kazimir sensed the stone under the water but only a few pieces were left and nothing of any use. Still, the water ran deep, about twenty feet at the center. It wasn't the main water or route source by far but it had been important to the town.

The other shootings were located in random places, mostly high-traffic. In front of the tailor's shop, near the entrance to town where most of the flow of visitors were. Interestingly, she hadn't shot any new visitors. Kalliope didn't take the risk. All throughout the day, Plusle and Minun followed in her wake. They giggled and played, roughhoused on occasion when she stopped to investigate. Overall though they hung on her heel and got on Kazimir's nerves, who three times blasted them back with psychic power when they started to get too close. Kali chastised him each time until the pair pouted and hugged her ankles. They were a bit of a disturbance but not enough for her to shoo them away. Besides, she'd checked their abilities. One of them had lightning rod which would be useful against the magnemite.

Finally around mid-afternoon there was no place left to investigate but the main square. She squared her shoulders and headed there. Most of the remaining villagers were gossiping or finishing out the last of the day's work. The first couple she spoke to were polite but not helpful. The next handful were the same. Finally Kali found a young girl who saw the mayor shot but she was too young to give proper details. Her older brother, however, wasn't so limited. "The messire got 'imself shot over thereways." The boy pointed near the well. "Gots him real good, missus. Right in 'is chest." He patted his own chest where the arrow hit. She got low to speak levelly with him.

"Do you remember exactly where you saw her?" He scratched head and shook a negative. She pursed her lips and Kazimir prompted her with an idea. "Would it be okay if my friend here poked around in your head? He'll just watch what you saw, and that's it. You think of the day as best you can and he'll do the rest." The boy swallowed and looked at Kazimir. He wasn't very frightening, not with the pink eyes and green hair. Kazimir wasn't good at being friendly but he lifted one hand and waggled it. The little girl giggled and her brother stiffened his little spine.

"Kay." He squeezed his eyes shut, cheeks red with effort. Kali smiled. Be gentle as you can. Don't hurt the boy, he's really trying. She sensed his annoyance at her request but did as asked. When he probed too fast and the boy jerked, Kazimir slowed and trod carefully. The boy nodded and his eyes flicked back and forth beneath the lids. "There. She's the scary girl. Big hair, like." He mimicked the wild curls around his head with both arms. "Not nice." He shook his head. Kazimir did his best to watch and not influence or pry too painfully and it seemed to go okay.

"Nice. Bell-Bell nice." The little girl puckered her lips in a pout. The boy's concentration broke as he stared at his sister. "She gimme ridies and ponpon games." She stuck out her chin and refused to listen when her brother tried to tell her differently. "NO. No no no no no no no! Bellbell nice! NICE." Then the girl began to shriek. The boy apologized and picked her up, carrying her off. Presumably home. Kali brushed Kazimir's mind. Did you get it? In response, her mind filled with the boy's memory. It was a patchwork process. The sky was almost too blue, like a navy. The buildings didn't make complete sense, but the well was exact. The mayor was on the ground and bleeding, though Kali only understood this as an underlying tone rather than the sight of a blob of white and gray covered in red. The woman - mostly wild hair and a blank face - was laughing evilly. She was--Kalliope turned, embedding her mental map on the boy's memory. When her eyes opened she saw it.

On top of the church. Why were churches so prevalent in her life? Strange. She approached the rickety wooden building. It looked as though it'd been built and rebuilt a few times out of recycled planks. She entered to find a single elderly man with his fingers wrapped around a precious scroll even more ancient than he. "Can I help you child?" He asked without turning around. "Are you looking to accept Arceus into your heart?" Kalliope strode forward and silenced Kazimir with a hand before he could muster up an insult anyone would hear.

"No, Father. I'm hoping you can--"

"Tell you about Bellatrix Lefrou?" He asked lightly. Kalliope paused. The elderly man used a cane to turn and face her, benevolent smile on his face. "The villagers talk. Yes, I knew her. And yes I've seen her since that poor boy Zachariah was murdered. It was a terrible loss and we all mourn him. What can I tell you?" He hobbled toward one of the pews and Kali supported him. "Thank you."

"Of course. I know about her past and what she's done, why she's doing this. But I need to know exactly how she's getting around. I think she's using the roofs but the buildings aren't close enough for her to jump between them easily. Scurrying up and down wouldn't be efficient, either. She'd waste time and have been captured by now." She sat beside him and bowed her head appropriately, ignoring Kazimir's snicker. The Father tapped his chin and considered how to answer. As he did, the plusle and minun ran around in circles playing spark tag. Kali smiled to watch them, patient.

"I know what you seek." He admitted. "But I must ask a favor."

"Don't hurt her, right?" She asked. He looked at her and she returned his earlier amusement. "Everyone I've spoken to who knew her well - which is everyone, by the way - is saddened by Zach's murder and begs me not to kill her. She was a sweet girl, from my understanding. She's just lost." Kali sighed. "While I understand everyone's concern I can't guarantee that. I'll do my best, don't get me wrong. But she's in it to kill and if I'm not in it as much as she is, I'll be the one spitted on her arrow." She winced. "Sorry Father." He waved her off.

"I understand, miss. It's enough you hear us and will try. We know she's done wrong, and we all feel responsible. That's why we waited so long to report her to the Guardians. None of us want to see her die, and we all hoped she would finish grieving in this way. She's only gotten worse, unfortunately." The elderly man sighed and closed her eyes. "She uses ropes. A particular set of ropes, actually. A hook on each end. She lashes them between roofs and crosses them on bare feet. It's a trick she picked up on the road with her family, I guess. You know by now she's a climber. Her magnemite gathers the ends when she crosses and she repeats the process. She's very graceful and beautiful, you know." He sighed again and rose. "I hope I've answered everything. I grow weary and should retire before evening mass. Thank you for trying, Kalliope Tamsin."

Kali helped him to the door, head full of ideas. She never introduced herself to anyone but the innkeeper. Small town gossip was putting it mildly.

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Namid and his Travels
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Kaia
 Posted: Sep 6 2016, 07:56 PM
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Kalliope returned to the inn at sunset to eat and gain strength before her next step. She had a plan formulated in her mind and planned to ask Kazimir for his opinion as well as the innkeeper. He had more stake in this than anyone after losing his son. Unfortunately the entire plan revolved around Bellatrix committing another crime. There was no way to tell what she'd do, either. From being a public nuisance to arson and all the way down the line of sins to murder, the woman was an unpredictable danger who at any moment might self-destruct like so many geodude during a rock slide. She might take a lot of people in her wake. Kalliope hoped to avoid this as best she could but knew the difficulty of such a thing. After she ate, she spoke with the Innkeeper who brought her to a more private dining chamber with a round table big enough to seat six. Kazimir perched on the table itself and both plusle and minun napped in Kalliope's lap.

After a long day running around and playing, the two were tuckered out. She hadn't the heart to wake them and circumvented Kazimir's taunting by telling him to be nice. The innkeeper, Larry, closed and locked the door. "What is it?" He sat across from her and wrung his hands in his lap, the motion noted by the twitch of his arms and the worry on his face. Kalliope didn't waste any time. Her own hands went to the worn maple table top, folded smoothly on the polished wood.

"It would have been helpful if you told me about her acrobatic maneuvers from the start." She commented almost lazily. Larry flinched. "Otherwise, you were pretty straightforward. The only other information I learned was she loved children and planned to have--" She diverted the topic as soon as she got a look at the innkeeper's face. "Basically, I'll be the focus of a mobbing if I harm so much as a curly hair on her head. However, she's dangerous. I know everyone wants to protect her but she's killed people."

"Only two people, and the second one was an accident." Larry cut in. Kali's eyes narrowed. He realized his mistake and clammed up. She dug in like a mightenya bit into its prey--ferociously and without mercy. She rose a little in her seat, causing the pokemon in her lap to roll over and murmur in their sleep. Kazimir's intense stare burrowed into Larry's head, not intruding but offering enough pressure for the innkeeper to know Kazimir was there.

"Two people?" She repeated. Kali didn't give him time to answer. "The mayor was the only one I was told died of her attack. I'd like to believe he was the one who she intended to die but I wonder. Is he the one who was accidentally killed or intentionally?" The tenor of her voice echoed in the small, bare room like the crack of thunder in a wooded area. Something one might feel in the vibration of their chest as well as hear. "If you mislead me, I will report you to headquarters.You don't want half a dozen guardians razing the forest to find her. Speak now." She ordered. "Who did she kill? How was it done? Where?" The innkeeper shrunk in his seat. She sighed. "I'm trying to do my duty but I'm also trying to respect the wishes of the town by not hurting her." She reasoned as best she could.

"If there's something I don't know when I confront her, she'll either die because I haven't worked that detail into my plan or I'll die because of your misdirection. If you want as many people to come out alive as possible, you'll talk to me instead of use me like some pawn to draw her out." Kalliope didn't like being used. She especially disliked being lied to. Understanding why Larry had done it and tolerating the lies were two different things. But she knew she might require the help of the town to get things taken care of, as well as the man who was letting her stay on a discounted price to protect Bell as much as capture her. The innkeeper sank into his chair, defeated. His hands found his face and he buried his nose in them, breathing hard.

"She didn't mean to. I swear." He shook. "The mayor was, I think, on purpose. He watched what happened to my boy and did nothing. He even invited those men into his household to give them a place to sleep. Most of us understood he did it so they wouldn't kick out families from their homes to take over residences. Bell didn't see it that way. She saw him as a traitor and so he died a traitor's death. I tried to reason with her..." He sighed. "It did little good. She's on a rampage and nothing will stop her. We know that. It still hurts to see her suffer so for something we all could have prevented if we weren't so terrified to die in his place." At this, the innkeeper began to cry. It was a quiet affair, silent tears tracing down his face. But Kalliope couldn't be gentle with him. Not when lives were at stake.

"So you knew she was going to kill him before she attacked." She didn't pause. "Look, what's done is done. That's your business. Who was it she killed by accident? How long ago? When? Where?"

"It was just outside of town. Near where the bridge used to be. About a quarter mile from there is a little copse of trees. From what I understand Bell had been sleeping there. It's not too far from the village, maybe a ten minute walk. Late in the afternoon, almost sunset, a young girl was playing hide and seek with her friends. She hid in the copse near the trunks and her friends were unable to find her. Little Lacy fell asleep there, we surmise. No way to know now." The innkeeper paused to rub his eyes. Kali left him to it, petting the plusle and minun in her lap while they snored ever so gently. "She woke up sometime late in the evening and realized what happened - we think, this is only guesswork. Whatever happened, she started to leave the copse and made a lot of noise doing it. She was only twelve, and she had no way of knowing Bell was up in the trees sleeping. Bell was surprised by the intruder and shot her down while still half asleep. She's a great shot."

The man looked exhausted. Deep bags under his eyes and heavy creases along his face and neck, he looked every bit his age. "Bell took one look at the young girl and tried to save her. It was no good. The arrow struck her in the heart and she died almost instantly. But Bell brought her back to town and we didn't see her for almost two weeks. Then she came back and began the onslaught all over again. I know she regrets it. She would never harm an innocent child, you have to believe me."

"When did you last see her? No lying, old man." Kalliope pressed. Larry looked as though he might try anyway, then sagged.

"Three days before you came. Just for a few minutes."

"You've been giving her succor." Kalliope didn't accuse so much as state fact. He nodded. "The whole town has, hasn't it? There's no way a young girl could survive so long and be so healthy and fit for six weeks or more without help. How?"

"Before Lacy, near the copse. We all knew she was there but we were giving her space to breathe. To grieve. Now?" He shrugged. "Some of the older folks fill a basket and leave it at the edge of town near the tavern she used to work. Every morning they set it out before dawn and even when we try to keep watch, it vanishes before nightfall and returns empty someplace new. This morning it was taken. I haven't seen it since, though I'm sure it'll turn up before nightfall." He leaned back in his chair painfully, spine creaking with age. Kali nodded.

"Is there anything else I should know?" At the look on his face, she hastened to clarify. "Anything useful." The innkeeper closed up and shook his head. She knew he wanted to plead for Bell again. It would help no one for him to try. "One last question." He tensed. "She brought the girl Lacy to you didn't she?" He looked up, shocked. Kalliope waited.

"Yes. She did. She told me--" He glared at her. "This will not incriminate her, we've all kept it out of anyone's attention. For all anyone but us elders know, Lacy died tragically by accident in the forest." Kalliope stared him down.

"She will pay for her crimes to full extent of the law." Kali replied coolly. "But if you want me to argue for a lesser sentence, rather than execution, it's best to tell me anything she said that might give a magistrate reason to hold off. Young and hurt as she is, there's a chance. I can't promise there will be leniency. But this is also the first time she's ever had any trouble with the law. Anyway, I'm neither the judge nor the executioner. I can only do what I can with what you give me." The innkeeper watched her silently while he deliberated.

"She told me she was sorry. She hadn't known it was Lacy, she thought it was a wild pokemon or an intruder come to kill her. No human can see in the dark. She tried to save the girl. She asked me to tell the girl's parents she was very sorry and she will repay them somehow if she can." He kept staring Kali down. Kali only nodded and continued listening. She knew there had to be more. The innkeeper broke first. "She hasn't gone within five hundred yards of the bakery the girl's parents own since. She won't steal from them and she leaves offerings at Lacy's grave. She repents." Kalliope kept her face smooth and free of emotion. Repenting. So the priest had seen the girl since she killed the mayor. Probably multiple times. Kali kept this locked carefully away for future use. She nodded gravely and held out her hand across the table, dislodging both electric pokemon in her lap so they sat in her free arm while she did so.

They shook hands, her grip firm and his clammy.

"I promise I'll do my best to keep her alive. She will pay for her crimes. But after that?" Kali squeezed his fingers and let go. "That's up to her."

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Namid and his Travels
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Kaia
 Posted: Sep 7 2016, 07:43 PM
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Day Five
An hour before dawn; chilly, windy.
- - -

Didn't the human keeper say the old humans leave a basket for what's her face in the morning? After dawn? And preferably without me? Kazimir complained as Kalliope rearranged him in his little bunnelby coat. It had been incredibly useful in all sorts of weather. She needed to make him a better one someday, though. They perched high in an oak tree near the tavern Bellatrix used to work. The sun wasn't so much as a smudge of pink in the sky and stars shone above, bright in the moonless sky. Kalliope grinned, knowing Kazimir would sense it even if he couldn't see it. You'd rather have been with the sparky twins? I can arrange that next time. His extreme vehemence nearly bowled her over but she laughed silently once she regained her grip.

That's what I thought. We're not showing up after the old ladies drop the basket. What if Bellatrix is already out here watching? We can't be seen or she'll never expose herself to get the basket. He didn't sound happy about it but in the end he agreed and they sat up on the bough, hidden by the crisp, stained leaves. Autumn was in full effect but some trees had yet to shed their leaves. This one in particular had scads of colors. Golds and burnt orange, leaves rimmed in crimson. The light spilled over these colors and enhanced them as the sun rose, a colorful cornucopia of beauty. Kazimir didn't notice but Kali absently appreciated the lovely decor. The women - four all told - left a decently sized basket behind the tavern with a bow on top, pretty and beautifully sewn. For another hour or so nothing happened. Kazimir dozed on Kali's back, splayed out like a sleepy litten with big bunnelby paws.

One would think Kalliope's natural recklessness made her fidgety or easily distracted. Not so. What Kali valued above all was to do her duty, especially when on a mission. It didn't matter that Bellatrix grieved, nor that she had been a gentle girl before her fiance was executed. She took that rage and sorrow and put it into the worst place possible--hurting the people who cared about her. Not only that but she'd killed and injured who knew how many over the course of weeks. The village was tainted with guilt and weakness. Not one of them wanted to harm Bellatrix in lieu of Zach. Kalliope wasn't stained by this guilt. She knew the dangers of this woman getting out of hand and she would damn well do her duty and stop her, even if it meant death. She meant what she said to everyone she spoke to--she would do her best to keep Bellatrix alive. But her mercy was limited to Bellatrix's actions.

Across the way, Kalliope spotted something. A whisper-thin glint of steel, gone in a flash. It happened again. Kali drew her bow and notched an arrow. She wasn't more than three hundred yards from the tavern just outside of town. Her view was unhampered but for the dense leaves directly around her, hiding her from view. Kazimir made a small sound and slept on. Kali worked to find a balance between drawing the short bow and keeping her place on the tree. The blunt nails of her left middle and ring finger grazed her cheek. At first, nothing. Then--there. The basket hiked into the air so fast it practically raced upward. She lined up and fired. The wind was weak but enough for her to try to account for it. The distance and reach failed her.

Or perhaps she was thinking of those who begged for Bell's life. Whatever it was, she hit the basket two feet from the lip of the tavern where Bellatrix lay. The basket dumped half its contents with a crash. Kalliope already had a second arrow in place but Bell dropped the basket, pocketed whatever flash of metal she had, and was off, racing along the sliver-thin point of the roof. Kalliope fired again, hitting the roof less than a foot from Bell's heel. The sound must have shocked her. She tilted to one side, whipped one leg straight out in the opposite direction, and spun. Bellatrix rebalanced and ran on. Kalliope stood on the bough, waking Kazimir with a mental jab so he caught himself on the bough, and fired a third arrow almost before she had time to aim.

A magnemite caught the arrow and shattered it on its steel hide. The calculating beast had charged as Kali attacked, analyzing the trajectory and tracing it back to where Kalliope stood. "Kazimir, down!" She dropped so hard the bough nearly broke under her. Lightning ripped through the blue sky. It should have smashed into the tree--instead, it disappeared at the base with a tiny little [i]"Plu-pluuuuuu~" Bellatrix was gone, the basket and its contents sprayed all across the ground. Kalliope climbed down, Kazimir holding fast to her shoulders. Plusle and minun danced around, passing a little ball of sparkling energy between one another like some sort of strange catching game. "Nicely done, little one." She reached down to scratch between the plusle's ears when they rushed her.

Kazimir grumbled discontentedly.

"You take all that lightning by yourself?" She used a gentle voice and they trilled.The plusle bounced on its toes and clapped its paws together. "What a strong little fellow you are." Plusle cooed, eyes half-closed as Kali pet its ears. The minun pouted and clamored up Kali's knee, mewling pitiably. She grinned. "I'm sure you're a tough lady too." She scratched the minun's ears with her free hand and they all but purred. "Come on, you two. Best go investigate." They followed at her heel as she headed to the tavern's back wall. Everything scattered on the ground. Food, a warm blanket for the chilly weather. A few items more personal than perfunctory. She gripped the side of the bag and plucked her arrow from its weave. Still usable. It disappeared into her quiver. "Kazimir, will you grab the other one?"

The psychic acquiesced, fetching it with a little mental exertion. The shaft split down the middle. Worthless. Ah, well. "Now we know how fast she is. And she doesn't have a steady food supply. Who knows if she'll dare come back tomorrow, knowing she might be shot at." She gathered everything that fell out of the basket and filled it up once more, leaning it against the tavern wall. "I wonder if she's watching us. Kazimir?" The ralts in question closed his eyes and sought out the sense of anger and fear he assumed would associate with the woman. One sweep of the nearby area--two. Three. He shook his head. "Hmm. She must not have suspected to be attacked. She's been running in and out of the village like she owns it. Guess we gave up our surprise factor." Kali shrugged.

There was more than one way to skin a bunnelby. If need be she'd set up a trap. Kali asked Kazimir to assist her ascent to the roof. He used psychic powers almost like handholds. She could feel a weighted, invisible presence under her fingers as she climbed, boots scraping the tavern wall. At the top she didn't find anything interesting. The sides of the roof angled at a sharp degree, ending in a single line of flat walkway for Bell to use. It wasn't even a full hand-width across. Kali was impressed. To run so fast across such a narrow area, and then to overcome a misstep, was more than skilled. It was incredible. She followed the edge carefully, one foot in front of the other. at the end of the roof, dug into the wood, were narrow grooves. Maybe an inch wide and three inches deep. Numerous similar nicks broke the roof all along the edge and even so far as two feet from the flat plane. Kalliope mused. Interesting. Nothing more to learn here.

For the moment she could get back to the inn and eat properly. Two pokemon followed in her wake and Kazimir rode on her shoulder. Breakfast was simple but delicious and they ate their fill. She went upstairs to don a cap her mother bought her for her trip to Istin, one that covered her hair and a portion of her forehead. She kept the armor under her loose tunic and wrapped over it with a cloak to better hide everything. Her sword, bow and quiver went with her. After angering the female outlaw, who knew what might happen? Maybe she'd lay low. Maybe she'd take it out on the town. Only way to be sure was walk around. Kalliope sighed as she headed straight for the main square. She spent three hours perusing various shops and keeping her eye on the rooftops. Nothing. She wondered if perhaps she overestimated Bellatrix's gall.

Then, not long before Kalliope thought she might head back and let things happen as they would for the evening, the screaming began.

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Namid and his Travels
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Kaia
 Posted: Sep 7 2016, 08:15 PM
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The inn was on fire.

Kalliope rushed to the building as fast as her feet would allow and already multiple villagers gathered round. A poliwhirl and three goldeen popped out of their balls and doused the burning arrows. Kalliope didn't spare a thought toward the inn. Right now she needed to find Bellatrix. She looked up at the roofs around them. Two buildings were near the inn, not close enough to crowd because of the stable and storage buildings built adjacent but they were reasonably close by. One was in the back and the other to the right, on the opposite side of the smeargle painting which could still be seen. Across from the inn was a row of five houses, each no higher than a single floor but build with walls fifteen feet high. They probably had storage areas in attics as well as basements. Winter meant storage had to be readily available.

Kali didn't see anything. She definitely didn't see the arrow that pierced her armor nearly a full inch. The bolt buried itself into the armor beneath her shirt and blood welled at the wound. She whipped her head to see where the shot came from. Pressed low to the roof of one of the houses, the second from the left, was Bellatrix. She fired a second shot from her crossbow. That was unanticipated. Kali didn't have a chance to draw her buckler but Kazimir brushed it away, driving it to the ground. Kalliope whipped out her bow and aimed. The woman slithered backward and disappeared from sight. "Kazimir, launch me up there." She ordered. She took a running leap and where she should have hit the ground, Kazimir's telekinesis caught her underfoot. She dropped to her backside in his grip and he threw her bodily onto the building. This one at least had a flatter roof, tough she sensed its weakness as she hit hard.

But it should hold. She scrambled to her feet, bow still in hand. She notched an arrow as she ran. She doubted she'd have nearly as good aim this way but it was the best she could do. Plusle and minun banged pitiably at the bottom of the house, unable to climb. Kali raced down the roof as fast as she was able but couldn't see Bell. There--another bolt flew by her ear as she stopped to glance to her right. She twisted to the opposite side and spotted Bell as she leaped off the roof and into thin air. She hit the air and ran on it. Kalliope didn't stop to stare. She launched herself off that roof, asking Kazimir to catch her.The psychic scrambled to do so, causing her to over-shoot. But she made it, if nearly falling over one edge. She was just fast enough to see the hook as big as her fist but thin as sneasel claws whip off the roof. It struck her straight in the face, grazing her cheek. She hissed and pulled back.

When she glanced again, Bellatrix was across the street. Damn. Kalliope got up and aimed. Too late. The woman was gone. Bloodtrickled down her cheek in wet rivulets. Smoke funneled from the inn, most of the fire put out by this point. Only one half of the roof had caught fire. The rest of it was saved. Larry the innkeeper wept near the door, staring mournfully at the inn. Travelers evacuated earlier on coughed and gathered in groups near the village physician and his apprentice. Kalliope dropped off the roof and rolled to cushion the blow, then held out her arms for Kazimir to jump. Plusle and minun crowded her, whining and teary-eyed. Before she could reassure them, a booming voice filled the street.

"You dare interfere!" The voice ricocheted as if amplified in some way, whipping down the street. Everyone huddled together and stared around in circles. Nowhere to be seen. Kazimir, find her. Show her to me. While Kazimir worked, she searched the roofs. "This is not your territory. Leave, Guard Dog, before you get hurt." The voice began to laugh, tremulous and ear-splitting. But Kazimir found her hidden in the smoke on top of the roof. She silently asked him to guide her arrow. She drew, aimed quickly, and shot. Too late she remembered to add, Non-fatal! Kazimir had already poised it toward the woman's heart. At the last second he wrenched it to the side, catching her in the shoulder. The laughter cut off in a screech of pain and the amplification vanished. Smoke didn't dissipate--she was up there somewhere. Kalliope ran to the inn and shoved past confused villagers, climbing the stairs. She hooked the bow over one arm as she ran and drew her sword.

Smoke clogged her throat. She coughed as she ran, one arm over her face. She kicked open one of the locked doors on the top floor and climbed out the window. With sheer force of will and survival, she climbed the sheer rock using stucco handholds and the lip of the roof. Shingles plummeted in her wake as she scrambled to the top. Bellatrix was just standing up, hand on the arrow. "Don't pull the arrow out or you'll lose too much blood." Kali advised, blade held out and ready. Bellatrix tensed. She got shakily to her feet as Kali approached. The smog was thick and hard to see through. Her own voice muffled by her shirt, Bellatrix's was equally hard to hear.

"Who the hell are you, and why won't you go away?" Bell demanded. Kalliope shrugged. Without responding, Bellatrix was driven to go on. "This isn't your business. It's mine. Get out before I kill you." She spat, phlegm flecked with black from the smoke. Kalliope continued to approach. The smoke was hard to see through, made more difficult as the smoke stung her eyes and made them water. She blinked rapidly to clear her vision. Mistake. A loud, disarming shout startled Kalliope and she dropped to her knees, hands to her ears. The sword hilt pressed painfully to her skull. She stared at where the sound came from. Large, purple even in the smog, and hopping off the roof. Bellatrix followed behind. She sheathed the sword and drew her bow again but it was no use. Bellatrix was gone. Again.

At least this time she'd hit her. Kazimir fumbled onto the roof, his tiny hands gripping the edge. Kali headed to his side and picked him up, cradling him to her and covering his face with her cloak. "Come on." They moved to where Bellatrix stood. Not far off, a small fire kindled still. With prompting, Kazimir quashed it with brute force, cracking the shingles. Kali winced. At least she could file these damages under 'criminal damages'. Or something. Blood dotted the roof tiles. A thin trail dashed across the roof to where Bellatrix leaped off. She followed it, stared at the ground. Pretty far down. "Think you can catch me?" She asked Kazimir lightly. Before he could respond, she gripped him to her chest and stepped off the roof.

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Kaia
 Posted: Sep 7 2016, 08:54 PM
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Everything went black for long, drawn out seconds. Kali thought her eyes were open but when she blinked and hazy light flickered in her vision she wondered if she'd been squeezing them shut. She trusted Kazimir so it wasn't out of fear she would have closed her eyes. She stood ten feet from where she'd aimed to fall, still on her feet. No pain. No buoy from telekinesis. She glanced at Kazimir in her arms, whose chest beat rapidly. His little hands touched her arm then her neck, then he glowered. She sensed his fear and his anger at her scaring him so badly. Never do that again! What if I hadn't caught you? He demanded. She smiled and kissed his head, then had to turn away and cough against her shoulder. Hard, wracking coughs. Stupid smoke. Even with the filter of her tunic sleeve and cloak it did little good.

I knew you'd catch me. You're always there for me. Rather than risk her voice she touched his mind. He felt her trust like a bottomless ocean with him at the center. He reeled back. So what did you do? I've never felt that before. He shrugged in her mind, a weird jolt of motion she sensed rather than saw or felt. Teleported. Caught you in the air. Glad I made it, I might have put us three feet in the wall if I'd been too distracted. Next time just ask, I can do it safely if I know where we're going and can see it in my mind. His admonishment was cute. She moved away from the side of the building and followed the blood spatter. Mud churned up from the torrents of water conjured by water-types but the footsteps in the mud were equally as track-able. She trailed it fifteen feet out before the mud turned back to hard-packed dirt, then another thirty yards where grass grew and the droplets were harder to spot. She pressed the pokeball at her hip.

Kazimir's annoyance rose.

Erebos hit the ground and howled in delight, shaking his fur. Kalliope waved him over. "There's a--" She coughed. "Trail of blood. Over there. Get the scent--and follow it."' She resisted the urge to cough but only barely. Eerie nodded and dropped his nose, following the trail back toward the inn to get a better scent. He sneezed at the smoke and sulfur but padded back even so, head tossing back and forth. He dug in his heels and took off at a trot. Kalliope followed on his heel. In her wake the tiny sounds of two static pokemon cried out. Plusle and minun ran after her with all the might their teensy little feet could carry them. Eerie raced forward, nose to the ground. He whipped off in a zigzagoon pattern through the trees and as the forest began to grow thicker, slowed to keep his trail without losing Kali. The blood trail began to thin. Eerie held the scent of her as best he could.

Unfortunately his prey stunk of smoke, as did his handler. His nose filled with the stench and he couldn't separate the prey's scent from Kalliope's. They made it probably a quarter of a mile into the forest before he had to shake his head and fall back on his haunches. "Tell the human we don't have a trail. This is it." He barked short and low, for Kazimir's ears only. Plusle and minun had caught up but they held back at the edge of the trees, frightened of the demon dog. He caught their watchful gaze and leered, a canine smirk on his jaws. "I can keep trying but it's not going anywhere." He snuffled, mist blowing from his nostrils. Kazimir smirked. "Nose not working, mutt? Too bad you can't be useful for a change."

Eerie snapped at Kazimir's heels. "That a challenge, runt?" Kalliope patted Eerie's head. "I'm guessing we lost her?" Kazimir grudgingly passed along the message and Kali nodded. "I'm not surprised. This forest is dense and the blood trail was pretty weak. I'm proud of you for getting as far as you did. Let's head back. Will you remember this place if we try to come back here tomorrow?" Eerie snorted an affirmative and they all trudged back to the still-smoking inn. Before the entrance dozens of people gathered, murmuring. When they spotted Kalliope, blood dried on her face where she'd been cut and stinking of smoke, stained with cinders on whatever bare skin she showed, the murmuring turned to shouts.

"Get 'er out of here!" One man shouted. Two women nearby nodded, adding their own hateful comments. The innkeeper sat against the wall, eyes wet and unfocused. No help there. "She's made it worse! And she attacked Bell!" An older, grumpy lady thrust her finger at Kalliope. "She shot the basket, she did! I saws it where we left it, broken up!" That last was an exaggeration. Kali recognized her as one of the women who'd puttered around the basket. "Get 'er gone! I'll run 'er outta town meself!" Some angry, brutish man stepped forward thrusting his fist in the air. Kalliope paused only to tell Kazimir not to do anything at all or react in any way. The plusle and minun hung behind her legs, hiding from the shouting humans. Kalliope set the psychic down to keep him out of the crossfire and held up both her hands.

"Good people," She began. Someone threw something at her. She didn't even know what it was, merely ducked away and continued. "I'm sure you all know who I am."

"Yer the rat the city sent to kill our Bell!" The brute growled. Numerous people agreed, their menace building.

"I came here to investigate the thievery and attacks." Right now wouldn't be the time to bring up murder. "Yes, I work for the guardians."

"Right load o' help they are! Get outta here!" The elderly woman spat. Kalliope tried not to react as spittle slid down her already bloody cheek. The slimy sensation wasn't pleasant to say the least.

"First off, if I leave the only thing that will happen is anyone will be able to hunt Bellatrix like a dog." Someone else threw something at her. This one hit her shoulder. "I'm trying to stop her without killing her. I can only do so much when she's terrorizing the town. However," She raised her voice as people began to shout. "She's not dying. She's injured. Not fatally. She attacked the inn because of me. I drew her out to catch her off guard. I realize what happened is my fault. I apologize." Her words did little good so she sucked in a breath and continued. "I realize you're all going to try to find her tonight and help her. I wish you all luck, I hope she doesn't hurt any of you."

A villager scoffed. "I don't ask anyone here for help. It's gone too far for that. But I want you to all understand I'm trying to keep her from killing anyone and I'm trying not to get her killed. Look around you." She gestured to the inn. "She attacked the inn. Her fiance's home. She tried to burn down a place he loved and grew up in. She didn't do it only because of me. If she was after me alone she could have shot me at any time the whole afternoon. I made sure to put myself in her line of sight the entire day, conspicuous enough to catch her eye. She could have shot me down in the market." Whether they were listening or just didn't know what to do anymore, the murmuring died down a little.

"I wonder, why is that?" Before anyone could respond she answered herself. "I think she attacks the town because she feels guilty too. I think she attacked the place Zachariah grew up and where she fell in love because she doesn't think she deserves to be saved. I think she wanted to destroy the memories because she can't take the pain." Kalliope's throat hurt but she persevered. "She's not the only one who lost someone during the schism. You've lost husbands, sons, wives. Children. Parents. Everyone in this village was affected, not just Bellatrix. Why is she given the right to destroy the place you all cherish and love?" The murmuring was back. Kali hastened on. "I don't mean to disparage her. But I want you to see what she's doing. She's hurting the people she loves to punish herself, to make you all hate her. It's all she can do to combat the pain. I know you don't like me. You don't have to. But I will be better able to do my job if you don't interfere."

She raised her hands higher as she sensed anger. "Feed her, bandage her wound. Give her a place to stay. Do what you like. Though in all honesty I don't think she'll let any of you near her. She's too far gone. I only ask that you don't interfere if she and I come to blows. I can promise I will do my absolute best to keep her alive and not kill or injure her if I'm able to. I cannot promise this if you all throw your hands in and shove me around, or get yourselves and me killed." She dropped one hand and placed the other over her heart. Her voice sounded like sandpaper by this point. "On my honor, I vow this to Arceus. I will do everything I can to make sure Bellatrix Lefrou comes out of this alive. She will pay for her sins but she will not do so at my hand. Now please, good people. Take care of your injured and your children. Anyone who's healthy please help the innkeeper to clean up. His heart has been broken enough." She glanced back at the near comatose old man on the ground.

"Surely we can all agree he has suffered the most at Bellatrix's hands. Let's fix up the inn and get him someplace safe." With that she turned her back on the villagers, exposing her own vulnerability, and went to Larry the innkeeper. Though her side burned where the shallow cut bled, she carried the man into the inn. By the time she made it to the stairs a younger man had him by the other side and they took him to his private quarters. The rest of the afternoon Kalliope got her hands dirty scrubbing walls, cleaning up broken shingles and even climbing up to the roof to extinguish whatever was still aflame. She marked the number missing and called her findings to the lower men. Then she and others aired out the building with blankets and by opening every window. Near sunset the scent of burned wood was unmistakable but diminished. Kalliope took up in the kitchen under the express control of the burly woman cooking dinner.

She didn't eat until everyone in the inn's dining hall, mostly the men and women who helped clean up, had eaten their fill. When she finally dropped herself into the closest chair for her own food, she was practically asleep sitting up.

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Namid and his Travels
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Kalliope and her travels
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 Posted: May 25 2017, 04:59 PM
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Day Six
Windy, overcast. Storm brewing.
---

The wind kicked up, and a chill bit the exposed flesh of her neck and face. Without sunlight the forest bathed in shades of gray, some darkened to black around thickly gathered trees. Though autumn was in full swing, Kali sensed the winter sneaking closer every day. Eerie had his nose to the ground, snuffling the grass here and there. One moment he leaped over a fallen oak and dug in the dirt, the next he was off trying to scale a tree. Kalliope left him to his work. One hand worked to organize the wild mess the wind made of her hair but it was of little use. This is useless. The mutt isn't going to find anything out here. Kaz harrumphed. We should be at the inn. Kalliope shook her head, not bothering to vocalize their mental conversation. Not true. The only thing I'd do there is risk it catching fire again. Or riling up the villagers. They might have tolerated me yesterday when we were all too busy to argue but if I'm left in their sight for too long they'll remember I tried to kill Bellatrix.

Eerie growled and bounded off. As it wasn't the signal they'd agreed upon, Kalliope remained perched against the trunk of a sturdy oak, its bark scratching at her sore muscles. You didn't try to kill her. Those stupid villagers don't even know a murderer when one runs around killing their own. He mentally spat--an interesting and not altogether pleasant sensation of saliva dripping down the walls of her mind. She ignored it. I might as well have. If I hadn't remembered to tell you non-fatal she would be dead. They love her for all her faults. I can't compete with that and I won't try. Chittering filled the otherwise quiet base they'd set up. Well, not so much set up as take over. The oak tree was possibly the tallest in the nearby area with thick branches reaching up a hundred feet high. All around them in about thirty yards lay mostly dirt and a few shrubs. The trees stretched in her direction were all young and thin, easily seen around. No hiding places for a spiteful young murderer.

It was also rear the location Eerie lost his scent the night before. They hoped to pick up some similar scent Bell or her pokemon might have left behind to follow. It was probably a fruitless task but she gave it a shot either way. The cheery electric pokemon were currently stuffing their faces with breakfast, bellies already rotund with tasty treats. As long as they stayed out of trouble they could eat all they liked. Kazimir was bored but on alert, open to any sign of life beyond the odd pidgey in the trees. The air was thick with humidity and charged enough to leave sparks trailing behind the plusle and minun when they played. Due to the oncoming storm, most wild pokemon sought shelter and stayed out of the way. This left the forest oddly quiet but for the wind. Kalliope left her pokemon to survey the area. Her mind filled with other thoughts.

The evening before, long past midnight, Kali roused to a soft rap rapping on her bedchamber door. She answered with her sword drawn but quickly put it away. Larry the innkeeper stood outside with his hands clasped at his stomach. Head down, eyes unreadable, he murmured quietly. "May I come in?" Kalliope took the time to sheath her blade before inviting him in. The three pokemon slept heavily on her pillow, having declared it theirs. Her blanket had been bundled into the replica of a pillow and mashed out of shape. Larry walked to the small window and stared out while Kali closed the door. He remained there for a moment, silent. "She wasn't a bad child before."

"I know." Kali kept her voice just above a whisper. "Not everyone survives trauma in the same way." Larry sighed and it was as if the energy drained out of him. His shoulders slumped, his hands fell limp to his sides. Despite the warmth of the room, he shivered. Kali kept her distance in case it would upset him further.

"You don't understand. I didn't raise that girl but I wish I had. I would have given my hands for her. My eyes, anything. I would have sold the Inn to pay for her and Zachariah to travel the region. I'd do anything." He spoke with a slur. Not from alcohol, she gathered. He wept openly. "But today...today I felt such shame. A child of mine, if not by blood than by love and devotion, my child tried to destroy the last piece of Zachariah's memory." Larry turned to face her. Kali was surprised to see his face devoid of tears. Yet his voice was rough and mussed with sobs. She wondered when he'd ran out of tears to shed. "That mural on the wall. Zachariah painted it when he was sixteen. He was going to become an artist. We argued about it then. I wanted him to run the shop. My wife passed years ago and he's my only child.

"But he had this grand dream of going to the Cape and becoming the most famous artist in the world. He was a shy boy then. Very gentle. I was shocked to see him challenge the mages when--" Larry choked, cleared his throat and began anew. "He started painting it one night after I'd scolded him for acting like a child. It was right around the time Bell's family came into town. She found him swearing and painting in the dark. The first attempt had been terrible. She teased him and helped him paint over it, then the next night she brought her mother's monferno to give him light by which to paint. It took him all night and half the day to finish, I don't know where he got the energy. But I woke up to see him painting like a fiend, covered all over with paint. He--"

Larry wiped his face though there weren't tears to brush away. "He had a pokemon then. A smeargle he'd rescued from drowning maybe a year before. He'd always loved to paint but the two had really grown off one another. They looked so happy together. Bellatrix saw me watching and dragged me off to yell at me for trying to kill his dream. This pint-sized girl with barely a voice at all, telling me I was being a terrible father by not letting him live. I think I loved her that day, for caring so deeply about a complete stranger and his dream. She was a spitfire, someone to balance his soft, quiet personality. They were so perfect together. So beautiful." He clenched his hands together and breathed heavily through his mouth. Kalliope waited. "Yesterday she tried to burn down the Inn. I could have forgiven anything but that. Lacy, the mayor, the bridge...anything. But the mural." He swallowed.

"This place used to be the Carthage Inn. Nothing fancy. The town unanimously renamed it in honor of my son's amazing skill. We all loved him. She nearly destroyed that in her grief. If this is the daughter I cared for six months ago, it's only a shell of her. Our Bellatrix would have hunted down anyone who dared look at the painting sideways before touching it. Bell is too far gone. I want you to save her, I do. But I can't protect her from herself. Not anymore." The room was too small to have an extra place to sit outside the bed so Larry leaned against the window and folded his arms. He didn't look like a man ready to tell all. Kalliope waited patiently, back pressed against the door to give him room.

"Bell went to the Jensen sisters this evening. Their brother owns the tavern. You met them I'm sure, older women." The innkeeper didn't meet her eyes. "They patched her up and removed the arrow." His jaw clenched and it took time for him to loosen up. "She took off before they could do more than wrap her. I stopped by the apothecary as well. She's one of the few less than pleased with Bell's current method of grief. She was there for Lacy's burial." The room remained silent. No footsteps of other travelers, no creaking boards. The plusle and minun's heavy breathing added a soft hum under Larry's words. "She won't actively help Bell in any way, not after all the victims she had to treat. But when I stopped in, she handed me a large jar of salve." From inside his sleeve, Larry pulled out a ceramic jar, silver and blue with gold accents. He set it on the sill.

"I saw you bleeding earlier," he gestured to her shoulder. Kalliope touched the wound instinctively. She'd forgotten she'd been shot during the first altercation with Bellatrix and at some point the bolt's wooden half broke off, leaving a hole in her armor and a metal spike in her muscle. Her right arm was incredibly sore and it hurt to move too vigorously but she'd patched it up adequately. Still, that salve could have been sent from the Harper himself, so precious was the gift. Kali hated to admit she took terrible care of herself sometimes. But she had been much too busy to deal with the healer. She'd barely gone to bed an hour or so ago. Cleaning and wrapping the wound once was the most energy she could sink into it.

"Thank you very much." She murmured, careful of the dozing pokemon. She didn't speak again. This was his conversation. Secrets held close to the heart for years weren't easy to let go of, especially when someone precious was involved. The innkeeper nodded once.

"She has more than just acrobatic ability. She's incredibly clever and she knows this forest and village better than anyone. You won't catch her off guard here." Larry continued, and Kali politely kept silent and didn't mention besting Bell not once but twice so far. Even if she'd been shot the second time around. "I don't really know what her family was like. We barely met and they vanished without a word to anyone. I can tell you she has more determination than anyone I've ever met in my life, no matter the odds." For a moment pride filled his voice. He cleared his throat. "Her magnemite is her precious companion, they've been together for years. But she's not a handler. I've never seen her battle with her pokemon more than half a dozen time in six years."

Kalliope memorized every detail he gave, from her favorite haunts to how often she waltzed into town after dark and stole or broke into places. Along with the magnemite, she had a loudred and tangela in her possession - though he didn't know for certain if she kept the pokemon she stole. He described every place she'd been seen as best he could as well as those he knew helped her and those he knew refused. Overall the well of information overflowed. It wasn't enough to guarantee capture but it helped more than she could say. Afterward he returned to his room and he soaked her wound in the salve. She passed out with her tunic hanging from the edge of the bed, three pokemon crowded around her neck.

Eerie howled. Kalliope came to full attention all at once and ran in the direction of the sound. Kazimir kept pace beside her. The plusle and minun squeaked in dismay but Kali couldn't concern herself with them right that moment. Her shoulder ached painfully but held moderately under its bandage. She put the pain from her mind and ran harder. Five hundred yards from where they'd been, Erebus sat back on his heels, muzzle high in the air. Aoooooooo, from his swollen diaphragm. Kalliope slid to a stop beside him, her own chest heaving. "What's wrong? What happened?" Howling hadn't been the signal either. Eerie and Kaz didn't get along so Erebus agreed to memorize the path and come back to her, then paw twice at her knee. No risk of translation between the dark type and the psychic. It had to be serious if he risked getting caught out by Bell or the villagers.

Eerie cut off his howl as soon as he heard her approach, then licked her fingers. His tongue hung out from his jaws and he grinned up at her. Kalliope frowned, then looked around. Just more of the same. Forest. More dirt. Some shrubs to her left. Kali glanced down at Kazimir who clung to her leg pretending he wasn't slightly winded by the run. He hadn't been fully charged yesterday when he'd used so much psychic energy. "What is it mutt?" Kazimir demanded, his true voice high and lyrical like a reed pipe. He blew out a breath, tossing green hair up to expose his eyes for a split second.

Erebus tilted up his chin smugly and laughed, chest rumbling. "Why should I tell you? You'll take the credit. She'll figure it out if I wait long enough." Kazimir bared his teeth angrily and raised his hand to throw a burst of useless energy at him. Kalliope couldn't understand them of course, so she kept scanning the area. Nothing around them, she didn't see anything in the trees. The ground...wait. Frowning, Kali dropped to one knee. Erebus' hindquarters twitched as his stubbed tail wagged madly. Her fingers scraped through the soil, brushing it this way and that. "There." Kali yanked and a long, thin length of ariados silk rose from beneath the dirt. She examined the thread. Thicker than usual, but still thin enough to be difficult to discern from the ground. The coating of dirt helped its case. Twined together possibly? Maybe three or five strands painstakingly weaved together to make an extremely thin, strong rope. Kalliope pursed her lips and ignored her arguing pokemon.

She tugged the string at both ends. They both gave resistance but held. "Kazimir. Take this end." She thrust the string into his hands and stood, careful not to yank hard enough to dislodge Kaz. "Eerie, follow me and see if you can get more of the scent. I'm guessing that's what you found?" Eerie nodded, panting happily. "Next time use our agreed upon signals. I thought something happened to you. Not to mention you might have alerted Bellatrix." She gave him a stern look. He flattened his ears, then glanced at Kazimir. A short series of barks and high pitched yowls followed. When he started to growl, Kazimir threw up his hands, tugging the string. Fine! Dog breath would like me to tell you he didn't alert the human. I've checked everywhere within two miles and I don't sense anything human other than the village itself and that's too far away to hear him. Not to mention the mutt says if she were close by, the scent would be stronger. It's very old and faint. She probably hasn't been over here in a while. She didn't even take this way yesterday when she bolted, it was coincidence to find her scent here.

Kazimir sneered in her mind, a weird ugly green, static sensation. If that's all I'm going to do my job. Tell the mutt to keep his comments to himself. He stalked off, yanking the rope as he went. Kalliope sent him a warm blast of affection and followed her own in the opposite direction. Now, to see where this all leads.


Bella(future reference for me)

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Namid and his Travels
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Kalliope and her travels
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Kaia
 Posted: May 27 2017, 02:44 AM
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Kalliope followed the silky rope for about a hundred feet in a straight path. Eerie paced at her heel most of the way, though he was prone to hop off and follow some scent or other before traipsing back. She noticed almost immediately there was no resistance when she pulled. Wherever it came from, it was no longer attached. She took care not to yank or dislodge it further than necessary. Eventually however she reached the end of the line quite literally. The last two feet of rope hung from her hand, barely enough to be seen in the muted light. Rather than ragged or cut, the end of the rope was double weaved and looped into a noose shape large enough to fit two fingers. She stuck two fingers in to test in fact, tugging. Not a single frayed edge or loose piece. She frowned.

What was the point of leaving rope like this lying around? Erebus sniffed all around, nose shoved into the dirt and tail erect. Kali waited patiently for him to conduct his own little investigation but he raised his muzzle and tossed it back and forth, disparaged. Kalliope frowned again. An ariados silk rope lying in the middle of nowhere, without a single hint of a trail to it one way or the other. How did it get here? No way it was left on purpose, despite being cleverly hidden under the dirt. If it was, Bellatrix was more insane than she thought. And wasteful. Kalliope sighed and straightened--then froze.

Hold on.

Kali took a second to yank off her pack, sword and buckler. Her bow she hung from her neck and shoulder, out of the way. "Erebus, hold onto these for me. Keep an eye out for anyone you don't know. Howl once for danger, bark three times for anything else. Okay?" She met his eyes for a long moment until she was sure he understood. Then she hoisted herself onto the thick oaken trunk. scaling the bark was less pleasant than say using psychic powers to fly to the top but she was perfectly capable of climbing. She made it to the base of the trunk where it split into multiple boughs and became the dense canopy. It was hard to be sure where to look but Kali figured it wouldn't hurt to try.

The first branches she scaled met with failure. The higher she went, the less weight the branches took. Luckily she was for the most part quite lightweight. .Her shoulder ached painfully when she leveraged herself up to a higher, thinner bough but she ignored it as best she could. As long as it wasn't bleeding profusely, she'd be fine. Probably. Finally as she got onto the higher reaches of the oak, she found it. A thick hook had been drilled into the meaty trunk, one with backward hooks that held it in place. She measured the width; just under two finger widths. "Crap." Climbing down and back up would be a pain in the tucchus but she needed the hook. Kazimir? Kaz, can you hear me?

A very rude sound filled the recesses of her mind. She grinned. Can you get over here? I need you.

What for? You have the mutt to do your dirty work. He complained. She got the impression he was laying down. Taking a deep breath, she pictured Eerie on the ground guarding her things, the tree, and the steep climb and deceptively strong branches. Then she pictured Kazimir there, easily getting to the top where Eerie would struggle. Erebus has his own strengths. This is something only you can do. She added a sharp push of support and need in his direction. Kazimir mulled it over for a long minute, though she sensed his smugness. Fine. Wait there, I'll be along shortly.

Leave the rope where you found it, please. We'll deal with this first. He poked her with an affirmative and she sat back to await his arrival. It took about ten minutes, not too long to wait but enough to make her arms hurt from bracing herself between branches. Then suddenly Kazimir was perched on her shoulder as if he'd been there all along. She sensed his preening and grinned. "Okay, if you could get this hook out for me and leave it with Eerie down below?" Kazimir gave her a glare, as if he said how dare you assume I would have any trouble with such a simple task. Then he reached out to grip the hook with both hands and vanished. The tree creaked, a fist sized hole gaping where the hook had once been. "Sorry about that." She patted the tree. Then she climbed down. It took a bit longer this time as she finagled with fatigue and the ache of her shoulder.

On the ground, Erebus was grumbling and smothered by little sparking pokemon. Kalliope grinned. She figured it wouldn't take them long to find her. Kazimir sat on the ground with the hook in his lap. He was about a foot tall but the hook was nearly half his height and weight all told. She picked it up and examined it. Odd. She threw it in her back, replaced her sword and buckler, then patted Erebus' head. "Thanks for watching everything. If you could carry those two and keep them entertained?" He didn't look particularly pleased but both plusle and minun hopped up and squeaked with delight, climbing onto his back with their tails swinging wildly.

Kali found her end of the silken rope and hooked the noose around her thumb. Then she began to retrace her steps, wrapping the rope around one arm as she went. They passed the place Eerie first discovered the rope and then went beyond it. "Did you find anything interesting at the other end?" She asked, keeping the rope loose enough not to hurt her while keeping it contained. There was a lot of rope, she was surprised. When it finally ended - this time with a huge, noticeable tear on the end, they stood in front of another towering tree.

Kalliope tied off the rope and put it around Erebus' neck - not tightly, only a holding place to keep the shape - and abandoned her bag and sword once more. She wrapped her arms around the tree base once again when her mind filled with Kazimir's laugh. If you want to take the long way, sure. She peered over her shoulder. Kazimir stood at her side, hands on his hips in a distinctly "Kali" stance. "What do you propose?" She asked, amused. He climbed up onto her shoulder and everything went black. Not her favorite feeling, losing all sense and sensation all at once. But it was over after a second and she stood on a branch high up into the tree itself. Kalliope took a shaky breath and gripped the tree harder. "I thought you had to see something to teleport there?" Her heart pounded with adrenaline. Excitement rose in her throat, face flushed red.

I do. After you sent me your request, I took a few minutes to check the tree out. You shouldn't hurt yourself for no reason. Ah. So he noticed her pain. "I had to. Can you get this one out too?" She gestured to the hook in front of them. I can. Kazimir responded slyly. She peered at him, hair mussed from the wind and stuck to her face in wet strands. But I could have done that without bringing you up here. Hold on. His warning was just quick enough for Kali to close her eyes. Somehow that little comfort helped. When wind touched her skin once again, she opened them. Another hook.

And this one still had rope attached. Not a frayed end like she'd anticipated. It cut a swath through the leaves above her head and disappeared. Kalliope stared. She'd had a theory when she found the silken rope at first. But this--this was proof. Bellatrix wasn't simply clever. She was brilliant. If this particular line had been ignored for as long as Erebus believed, she'd had years to set up her network. Doubtless she had to move them and replace old rope but it was invisible to the naked eye. Even birds wouldn't notice it and perch on it.

This was why Erebus couldn't catch her scent. She didn't leave any on the ground. "Kazimir, you're amazing. You found it." She squeezed him in a one-armed hug, then reached up to grasp the rope. Hey, stop that! He patted her face with his hands and panicked. You can't.

"We have to see where this goes don't we? And we know it'll hold Bellatrix's weight. I'm sure it'll hold mine." She hefted herself upward. Her shoulder screamed and she had to bite down on her lip to keep from making a sound. Don't be stupid. Fire gathered around her fingers and she yelped, dropping the rope. She blinked and it was back to normal. Kazimir poked her face again to get her attention. I'll go. You'll fall but I won't. And I'm small, no one will see me.

"Absoutely not! If she sees you, you'll be a sitting duck. We don't know where this leads." Kalliope argued, concern dropping like a stone into her stomach. We need to find out where this goes and how many are connected don't we? He scraped her thoughts for her own plans. Anger radiated off him. "There has to be a different way. I can climb this for--" A high pitched, screeching cry rang through her skull and shut her right up. What happens if you slip or fall? You die. This high up, you have no chance. I might not even be able to catch you if I tried. You can't. Kazimir's fear and concern bled through his violent anger. It ebbed in waves of color; blood red anger tinged with violet and green. Not the most cohesive coloring but Kalliope understood as soon as it slipped through his defenses.

He was worried about her. He'd never say it in that way but she knew it to be true. Kazimir stiffened his shoulders and popped out of existence. Kali gasped, nearly falling in her shock. But then he was back, standing on top of the thin rope. Even his tiny feet looked oversized in comparison. Before she could argue with him, Kazimir scuttled down the string. Kali couldn't even follow after him. He might be using his psychic power to keep him upright but if she shook the line too hard, not even that could save him. Kali scrambled down the tree as fast as physically possible without plummeting the fifty feet. By the time she was down, Kazimir had made it far. Eerie and the twins didn't know what was going on but they followed at her heels.

Please be careful. I can't do this without you. I can't lose you.

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Namid and his Travels
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Kalliope and her travels
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Kaia
 Posted: Jun 2 2017, 09:08 PM
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Kalliope's concern annoyed Kazimir. Of course he'd be fine, he was a very clever ralts. The wind was a bit strong that morning but he barely noticed. Using psychic on himself was a strange feeling and it took a few tries to keep his feet without swaying too far to one side. But once he got it down, Kazimir raced down the line. Kalliope trailed him beneath, staring up with concern flowing out of her like she wielded her own psychic power. This line took them to another tree, then another, then another. Kalliope would have been a bit turned around if it wasn't for Eerie keeping tabs of the trail. The trek took about an hour all told. From the precarious path the ropes took to finding the next in the line, they had their hands full. But finally they found what they were looking for.

High up in the boughs of a grand oak tree, thick branches tough enough to withstand all but a bolt of lighting, Kalliope climbed her way up. Though he'd never admit it, Kazimir was tired from his extensive psychic use. He liked to pretend he was strong and infallible but she knew he was young. She couldn't bear to watch him get hurt. So she refused his offer to teleport her and climbed on her own, ordering him to stay with Erebus and protect the young ones. He heard the real reason underneath the order and glowered but did as he was told. The climb took longer than expected--her shoulder burned with strain and she was sure it would start bleeding soon. She worked to climb carefully, taking the longer ways around if it meant shorter reaches and less physical pulling.

But finally she reached the higher stretch of trees. Hidden in the folliage was a wooden platform crafted of mismatched planks. It was about eight feet wide with a foot lip around the edges and a naturally grown and manipulated lean-to roof of twined branches. Kalliope remembered the tangela the innkeeper mentioned. Clever. Kalliope stepped closer. Her feet moved silently over the bark, tenuous in each step. The bough shook slightly but nothing leaped out in rage. Bolstered, she crept the rest of the way to the edge of the shelter and stepped over the edge. Inside was...there were no words to perfectly describe it. But what Kali discovered was everything she could ever hope for.

Not Bellatrix, though that would have been an interesting meeting. No, they found a treasure trove of stolen goods. The inside of the two-sided shelter was cluttered all over. A bedroll lay across the path, crushed with the weight of a missing body. Upon closer inspection of the diagonal roof, Kalliope realized they were in fact branches of all shapes and sizes. Some were attached to the boughs around them, some were woven into place. It must have taken a long time to craft, but the result was incredible. Beneath the roof sat a wooden chest about two feet in length and knee high. Beneath the lid - and through a shattered lock - rested enough evidence to send Bellatrix to jail for years. A dozen stolen pokeballs - none of which she opened, as was prudent - piled in one corner of the chest, separated by a rich, sultry cloth of expensive make. It looked like a dress, though it was hard to tell bundled up. Necklaces, rings, some even wedding bands or studded with semiprecious stones, and a few bracelets dotted the fabric. But the kicker? Mage artifacts took up the remaining space. Schism derived, if Kalliope were to guess. And she had plenty of experience with those. For someone who hated the mages and everything they stood for and have done, Bellatrix had a poor way of showing her derision.

Kalliope put everything she could in her bag. What she couldn't fit, she wrapped into a spare blanket in the lean-to, which she tied together to hold everything in. The few things she had to leave, she made sure were innocuous. "This woman is more than she seems, Kaz." She murmured as she hoisted everything onto her shoulders. She repeated the comment in her mind, doubtless to make sure he could hear her so far below. The trek down was a bit more difficult. Her weight was off balance and keeping hold of the bag without falling was proving tough to accomplish. But she persevered until she hit the ground, panting with exertion. They rested for maybe ten minutes while she rearranged everything to better suit her gait. She went so far as to repurpose the ariados silk, tying it around the blanket full of items and binding it to her pack.

The group set back out toward town once Erebus promised he could relocate this place with ease. Erebus continued carrying plusle and minun - babies shouldn't be running around until they exhaust themselves. Kazimir was forced to walk despite his exhaustion. She'd offered him time to rest in his pokeball but he loathed to spend any time inside. Unfortunately the combination of her injured shoulder, triple the original weight of her pack, and the exertion of the day left Kalliope unable to support even his slight weight on her shoulder. She might barely make it back as is. With Erebus in the lead, they headed back to town.

Of course Kalliope left something for Bellatrix to find when she returned.

If it wasn't for the houndour's nose and ability to follow their original trail and parse a shorter path back to town, they would have been painfully lost. Kazimir was too tired to teleport one of them, much less all of them back to town. Kazimir was tired, she could tell. He tripped twice over his own feet and picked himself up, trudging along with the rest. Finally she finagled with the makeshift sack and picked him up. She hugged him tight in her arms. Kazimir didn't struggle, a rare non-reaction. "We have time. Rest for a while, alright? I'll get you there safely." Kazimir nodded sleepily and Rested, falling immediately into a dreamless sleep. He didn't so much as wake while they walked. They didn't stop at the Dozing Smeargle. No way would she risk the establishment again, not after she found out its history. She stopped only long enough to get food, water, and directions.

Exhausted or not, Kalliope didn't stop for a break. They made good time and in less than half an hour they arrived at the scene. Kalliope unhooked her pack with one arm, groaning as it crashed beside Erebus. She snuggled the still snoring Kazimir into the crevice between the pack and Erebus and tapped Eerie's nose lightly. "Keep an eye on him for me? He worked hard today." Erebus huffed but didn't shove the psychic away. He was piled on with sleeping pokemon and Kalliope had to work not to chuckle at the audacity of it all. Luckily she had a perfectly valid reason to leave them be. She grabbed the bag with both hands and hefted it about thirty feet away, near the banks of the river.

Then she unwrapped everything. First she organized by value, danger and size. Then she put them into three piles. First, absolutely nots. Then only if necessary. The last pile held mostly cheap trinkets or worthless items. She frowned. How to do this and not risk anything dangerous getting into the hands of a mad woman? She began to grab. Two pokeballs of indiscriminate breeds along with a bright, gaudy gold necklace with stones hooked into tiny clasps. She picked the least dangerous of the mage trinkets, a flute designed to ward off pokemon but might in fact call hordes of certain enraged pokemon down upon the player, and tossed it onto her new pile. She also placed an aqua ring and a heal bell in the pile, then a few more simple jewels. Finally she added a coin purse bulging with gold.

The rest she tucked carefully back on top of the blanket and tied it together. Then she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Five minutes of meditating to complete calm later, Kalliope reached out. Please send an Abra to this location, Kali carefully crafted the edge of the water and the thickness of the grass. Two trees along the water, willows she thought, and some burbling goldeen just beyond the rocks jutting out of the quick paced current. Finally she pictured herself and the sleeping pokemon. As soon as possible. Dangerous items secured but not for long. She waited for only a few minutes, repeating the message with the location clear in her mind. Not long after she began she sensed a shift in the air nearby. Perhaps her close connection with Kazimir boosted her ability to sense psychics.

Kalliope opened her eyes and bowed politely toward the abra sitting across from her. Well, not sitting really. Floating in midair with its legs crossed, eyes closed. She smiled. "Thank you for coming." She murmured. The abra nodded in return. "Can you take this to the Senior Guardian James Canthrope with a message from Junior Guardian Kalliope Tamsin?" She smirked to herself. It nodded again. "Preliminary inspection of goods required. All stolen, owners unknown. Dangerous mage artifacts in tact and active. The how and why of these items will follow as soon as I discover the answers." She slid the bundle over. The abra tilted its head. Without using words or eyes to direct her, Kalliope got the impression of curiosity over the remaining items. "I'll list off all the items I'm holding onto, and I will protect them with my life until they are properly returned." Then she went on to describe all of them carefully until the abra was satisfied. When it teleported away with her discoveries, Kalliope stretched her pained shoulder.

There would be some time before Bellatrix arrived, if she showed up at all. But Kalliope was of the mind she would. Whether it took minutes, hours, or she waited until she thought Kali was weakened by sleep deprivation or light, it would happen. She was betting her life - and the lives of those in the village - on it. Unfortunately her least developed quality was patience. She closed her eyes once more and tried to meditate. In a few minutes she'd wake Kazimir and they'd start preparing. Until then, let him rest a while longer.

http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/280ralts.png
- Used Rest, 1/2

--------------------
Namid and his Travels
PCR

user posted image
Kalliope and her travels
Incredible sprite by Mackay!


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Kaia
 Posted: Jun 6 2017, 10:04 PM
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Kalliope Tamsin, Namid Waagosh'Giizis

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To Bellatrix LeFrou,

Hello. I believe we've yet to become properly acquainted. My name is Kalliope Tamsin, a Guardian of Harper Pass. I suppose you've noticed a few items missing by now. I imagine we could draw this debacle out a few weeks and in the process get a lot of good people killed.

But I'm done watching innocents suffer for your grief. I have taken everything of value from your hideout and I will be awaiting your arrival at the bridge of your most recent murder. No more games, no more tricks. Let us fight woman to woman. If you're so bent on destroying yourself and everyone around you, taste the fire of a real challenge. If you're tired of hurting those who love you, let's put an end to it.

I will await you as long as necessary.

K. Tamsin


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

Late afternoon, windy and overcast


It wasn't so simple, Kalliope knew. Steps must be taken and she must not be caught out by Bellatrix as she worked. What use was strategy if she were being observed? Kalliope tried to calculate how much time the woman would have to herself. If she arrived to her hideout ten minutes after Kali left, and went straight to the bridge, she was already here. If she watched Kali break in, she was also already here. But if she'd been delayed even an hour, Kali had about that much time to work with. Kali imagined there were more ariados ropes spread all around the area but she also figured it would be a bad idea to have them everywhere and all interconnected. If she had any set up over here, there would be no real draw to them. More likely she had them around the village and in her hideout, and possibly more useful places.

Still Kali couldn't discount them. She had to assume Bell would take the high ground. She strapped the fighter buckler over one shoulder loose enough she could use it in a second. She carried both sword and bow despite the extra weight just in case. Kali hid the rope she found somewhere difficult to spot even upon inspection and placed the remaining stolen items on the unbroken pillar of the bridge behind her. There were no trees within jumping distance to the bridge so that if Bellatrix tried to rush them Kali had time to catch her. After a while all she had left was to work with Kazimir and Erebus. She waited until he woke up naturally. He slept somewhere between one and two hours so she hoped he recharged plenty. Kaz roused grumpily complaining of being too hot, curled up under Erebus' paw. He blinked bright pink eyes and frowned, shoving the canine away.

Kalliope went to his side and picked him up, carrying him toward the broken remains of the bridge. Kazimir. She spoke without speaking to better avoid being overheard. I need you to do a few things. First, as soon as you sense Bellatrix or she appears in the vicinity I need you to activate Trick Room. She doesn't have much fighting experience from what I understand. If we catch her off guard we can put her down fast and hard without killing her. She explained. Kazimir squirmed until she put him on the ground beside her. I don't know why you care so much if she lives. She's a bad human. He huffed. I know but she wasn't always that way. And these people care too deeply about her. If I killed her outright they might form a mob and burn us to bits.

Kazimir glared out at the forest. I dare them to try. I'll kill them all! Kalliope sent comforting thoughts toward him. What she told him was true. But more than that, she didn't want to kill this girl. Oh she would if she had to. But it wasn't right to murder a young woman trapped so deeply in grief. Kali had never experienced loss but she knew it changed people and not always for the better. If she could protect this girl from herself that was more than she could possibly ask for. Kazimir didn't continue the conversation from there. He went silent and closed his eyes, hands pressed to his chest. She sensed--oh. She'd never sensed this from him before. Kazimir was calming his mind down from the usual rage and irritation. She felt him soften in her mind and her heart. It was that soul-deep relaxation, the kind where muscle released tension built over weeks for the first time. Like sinking deep into a hot mud bath, like falling asleep in the most comfortable bed imaginable.

Kalliope opened her eyes, not realizing she'd fallen into the Calm Mind with him. Kazimir took it further, doubling the strength of the move. She resisted the urge to follow him this time or she wouldn't be able to think at all. She did grip the soothing calm to her and use it to focus her own thoughts, however. It helped her prepare for what was to come. They stood together for a time in complete silence, contemplating. Then out of nowhere Erebus rose on all fours and tipped up his muzzle. The electric pokemon sleeping on him complained loudly, quickly drowned out by an ear-shattering howl. Tremors of fear spiked up Kali's spine like the feet of a durant digging into each knob. She shivered and let the fear wash off her. Houndours were the type to induce fear with their cries. For Kalliope it merely upped her determination.

Kazimir spoke to her then, though it was unnecessary. She's here.




http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/280ralts.png http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/e335252.gif
Kazimir
-Rest 2/2, fully recharged
-Calm Mind x2
+2 sp atk, +2 sp def

http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/228houndour.png http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/e335252.gif
Erebus
-Howl
+1 Atk

--------------------
Namid and his Travels
PCR

user posted image
Kalliope and her travels
Incredible sprite by Mackay!


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