Expanse: The City Reboot (Dark Fantasy Epic) Main Thread (Open, Started)

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Here we go!

Story

Three thousand years ago, mages used Dark God Magic to make all the continents but one no longer habitable. Everyone ran to this continent for their lives, and then the City was formed. From the North to the South, The City covers it. Factions now fight from the City's various Sections, the North, The Middle, and The South, all composed of various districts that are locally controlled. Wars have broken out and Upper District which is controlled by the Nobles has a grasp over the Middle District and is on the brink of causing the next great City war.

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Prologue Arc!

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Lorel without disturb, slept for hours unknowingly lots all of his classes . The night before Lorel had decided to finally catch up on his assignments, which took him until dawn and up to the start of lesson. Not that he cared; compared to most students he already had training for years. Amelia Foel, a childhood friend who was now head of Upper District, had trained with him for years. While she was far superior, over the time he learned many tricks and spells that even some High Ranked Mage Officials in Upper would die to know. It was a benefit of being the friend of one of the top Nobles, Lorel also had the same benefit being part of the Ion family who had been in the Nobles for years.

The Nobles rule over Upper District, but it is the family who gets the title: Noble I, who holds all the real power in the District. Rests of the Nobles are almost there to just clean up messes, and attend political parties and drink themselves to blackness. Though Lorel would argue the Ion family has the second to best seat of power in Upper District despite being Noble VI and not Noble II. Both families, the Foel and Ion had been close friends for as long as Lorel knew, so they showed some favoritism.

"I found you, Lorel... You need to get up." The voice was mumbled but he could tell it was a girl, and it was familiar.

Classmate possibly? He didn't want to get up, his eyes could barely open, not helped by the fact that his body ached all over from all of the magic assignments that required heavy use of it. Slam. Suddenly Lorel found himself falling over in his chair and then crashing to the ground. Now he was awake. Pain fell over his head. Angrily he stood up. "Hey what's

the big deal-" he was about to continue when he noticed it was Nana, a fellow classmate.

Nana had short brown hair, and pale skin, her eyes orange, and was quite skinny, a bit too skinny. Compared to the rest of the students she wore a special robe that a hood went over her head that made it harder to see which direction she was looking or if she even awake. He too had this special outfit, but a bit different. Nana placed the book she hit Lorel with on the table. "Lorel, you hadn't attended any classes today, have you been sleeping this whole time?"

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"No, I was just... Resting my eyes."

She glared at him with her narrow eyes. "Lorel, you haven't even been coming to many classes lately, you have one last class today. Would you kindly grace us with your presence, just this once?"

Lorel knew she probably didn't want to admit it, but she admired him, but also the fact that he was her partner in the class which was centered on using two people to create spells. He thought about it for a moment whether or not he wanted to attend, he guessed he could, just this once. "Fine, I will come to class."

Her eyes glimmered, and together they went to class, down halls of cobble and magic. The Magic Academy of Upper District, it was unique, its sister Academy of the North was a bit more, advanced, but with Upper's propaganda, they wouldn't let them know that. So most Mages in seek of need go to Upper District, despite the North's attempt to get many new young bright minds to join. It was a little sad really, Lorel almost wished he could go to North, since he felt undermined in Upper.

When they arrived, the teacher, an Elder Mage, an Advanced Tier 10 on the Mage Tier chart of Magic. Beginner is for new mages the basics of magic and it goes up to Tier 5. Then they move onto Intermediate Spells which they learn their first main element, and various non-elementals up to Tier 7, lastly Advanced Spells which they learn their second main element and various 'ultimate' spells, it goes up to Tier 10. While a Mage can learn more than two elements, specializing in two really utilizes mages ability when using Magic. Lorel was Fire and Ice, polar opposites that together can work wonders. He was already on Advanced Spells Tier 3, while most Mages in the academy were either Beginner Tier 5 or Intermediate Tier 6 or in-between the two.

The Elder Mage, Lord Urodin, pulled down a large paper that was suspended above by string, imbedded with Magic to show animated sequences. Though it was fairly limited but it did the job. Once he saw Nana and Lorel enter, he paused for a moment and stared at them; the rest of the students turned and saw them. Some with smiles other with disgust, Lorel wasn't the most popular of students, especially considering the fact that Royal Students, a term for students who take more advanced classes, weren't as powerful despite Lorel being a Regular. It was simple, he didn't want to bother with long assignments he couldn't finish in a single day which is short by advanced class standards.

Lorel was a rarity in classes, almost a living legend, part due to his Magic; mainly because he was a Noble Son's and doesn't act like it. Compared to other Nobles, the Ion family was very lax, and takes things smoother than everyone else. So with his parent's personality, he grew up to act like a simpleton rather than a Noble brat like some. He vaguely remember a Noble's Daughter, he believed it was the daughter of Raven Jalik, her name alluded him but he remembered how she acted when she got to an annual Noble get together. She tried to dance with not only the 'hottest of men' as she described, but went beserk when she didn't get what she wanted. The men actually were scared of her and he didn't blame them. Lorel wasn't the most handsome man, but when she eyed him, he made sure to get away.

"Well, it's good to see you Student Lorel, odd to see you here though. To what do I owe the honor?" Lord Urodin spoke in his standard uninterested voice.

"Nana said she needed a partner for this, so I thought I would come. Simple as that." Lorel spoke as he sat down in a back open seat.

His eyes showed a bit of emotion, almost a surprised look. "Ah."

"Now that, that is done, let's get started with the lesson," In the center of the paper, a blue line went down the middle and then outwards, where the line went over, an image started to appear. It showed two stick-figure-like figures casting magic. The spell was a simple one, they simply casted a spell that created a transparent flat circle of light that allowed the user if they keep concentration, to be able to move it around in the air. Though Lorel noted that while it didn't state it, the spell no matter the skill level of the user, it can only stay afloat for about 5 minutes and even that is pushing it.

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"I want you to mimic this spell. That should be simple enough for all of you." Urodin brought the paper back up and the image vanished. Altogether the students got out of their seats and walked to open area in the back of the classroom. It was like its own arena, the ground dipped a bit down and then on the sides, railings. Topped off by sand on the ground for safe cushion. Nana stood next to Lorel and they went down below. "Nana, prepare to get a one-hundred percent. This spell is easy."

Nana laughed. "We aren't graded like that, you should know that."

"Meh must have forgotten," Lorel spoke as he prepared. "Just do as I do."

Lorel didn't do the spell like they had been showed. Instead he drew a bit of magic and then drew a circle in the air and then brought it downwards. "Now, Nana, pour your magic into the middle, imagine a hard but thin layer of light and project into the circle," so she did, and as the magic came out of her palms and went into the center and filled the middle of it, "What I just did was producing the same result, but made it last a bit longer and used less magic. Since this version doesn't make you need to concentrate as much, you can pour more magic into to get to actually use it for its real purpose."

The rest of the students just stood and watched, in awe that he was able to do that, Lorel saw the teacher who wasn't pleased. Lord Urodin didn't like it when students changed a spell in anyway, thought it was reckless if anything went wrong, but more so angry if it was better than the original intention, that he worked on himself.

"Now, step on the circle. You will need to pour magic into it to keep it alive, while I move it."

Nana stepped on the circle and began to pour magic into it, while Lorel began to move it up, down, left and right. It worked like a charm.

For the rest of the class, Lorel didn't do much, only when he was told or Nana needed help. After class, there wasn't much to do but go home, but instead he decided to go to the Arena/Training area and just relax and watch some students try out new spells and such. Occasionally he would give advice and sometimes take part but not for very long. High in the stands around the arena he sat, just casually watching people below cast spells. But then suddenly some older mages, probably Royal Intermediate Mages stepped into the Arena and began to push around a regular beginner.

In the Arena/Training area, every student was equipped with a magic energy shield that only Mages could use. It was a decent enough protection spell but it couldn't last long if the mage was using too much energy. In this case, the beginner had to defend himself with everything and thus it was fading away. Lorel didn't like it when more powerful students picked on younger ones, a moral cliché but it was something he dearly believed in. Going down the stands and jumping down into the arena, his presence was immediately made noticed by the Royal students.

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One of the Royal students tapped the shoulder of which he immediately recognized, Indel Jomna, who turned around to face Lorel. A fellow Noble Son, Lorel thought, this will be fun. Indel smirked, similar to Lorel he trained when he was younger but wasn't near the level, but he had the advantage of numbers. "Lorel Ion surprised to see you here. Did you finally realize you weren't superior to the rest of us?"

"Give me a break Indel; you know I could outmatch all of you with Magic. I just came down here to get you to stop the beginner and nothing else." Lorel wasn't fond of Indel, he was really smart, but he rarely put good use out of it, he was the bully of the school. Which because of his Noble status, they didn't want to have to deal with Noble Browal Jomna himself.

"I will give you one chance for you and your lackeys to back off."

"What if we don't?"

"I will force you."

"Then we won't."

Lorel without warning immediate brought out a foray of fire on them, but they easily stopped it with just two of the six Royal's. But when the fire faded, Lorel was out of sight. Another attack from above, but much larger and of Ice. None of them could defend it; it came down too quickly and hit them with enough force to just to knock them out, except for Jomna. He had successfully dodged away, a face of disdain as he saw his lackeys knocked out and partially frozen.

"Wow, I just took out five of you guys with one attack. You said you were as powerful? If you were, then you alone could have blocked it. Instead you dodged out of the way leaving your allies like a coward." Lorel laughed as he looked at the knocked out lackeys.

Indel ran at Lorel and jumped forward as he brought out a wave lighting which flew at Lorel faster than he could get out of the way. The lighting zapped Lorel and he let out a shriek of pain, while Indel laughed back at him in the background. "Pathetic, you should have been able to dodge that. I rather dodge and labeled a coward then get a direct hit."

Lorel couldn't help but laugh even more, the lighting pain stopped and he then moved too fast for Jomna to keep up and slammed him with a flame fist that appeared just before impact. Jomna went flying into the Arena Walls around them, knocking him out cold. "Well then you're more of a coward then I had thought before."

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While he would indeed dodge an attack, leaving your friends to get the full hit, is cowardly. The beginner who had escaped during the initial attack went up to him. "Lorel, thanks for helping me."

He immediately recognized the voice; it was Nana's younger sister, Joala. When the lackeys had surrounded her, he couldn't see who it was just that from the opposition she gave that it was some beginner. Lorel turned and faced her and then looked down, Joala wasn't the tallest of people. "I am glad to have helped. I probably will get in some trouble for my actions but as long as you're safe. That is all good. If you want to go see Nana, I believe she is in the library in the History section. I will go tell the nearest teacher what happened, which I will say I am surprised none is here."

"Alright. She best knows now, the Magic Shield ran out mid-attack, so I got some bruises she can heal. Even if her healing spells aren't the best, I would go to the nurse, but if she is in the library she is closer."

"That's true, she has always been good in spells that make things explode." Lorel laughed.

Joala left the Arena, and Lorel went the opposite way where his faction teacher was located, Maro, a personal friend of his who sees his potential in Magic. The door to his room was opened so Lorel waltzed right in and saw Maro looking down at papers in the corner. Maro was an older teacher with an erratic hair of fiery red and white streaks, but also had bright blue eyes that with his tan skin, made them stand out.

Lorel walked in front of his desk, but Maro hadn't taken notice. "Maro, I thought you hated paper work?"

"I do, but I plan to go to the North later this year with Students. I would be happy to have you come, since you're one of my top students." The man spoke with his gravelly voice.

"I would love to, but you know my family, they don't want me to go to the North for some reason. I could trick them, but I doubt they would like that. Probably lock me up forever," Lorel chuckled at that last part. "But that's not why I am here."

"Oh?"

"Yes, Nana Gavech's younger sister, Joala, was being attacked by some Royal Students, specifically Indel Jomna. I stopped the attack, took out all of them. Not too much damage done and Joala went to get healed."

Maro shook his head in disgust. "Good job, that boy needed to be hit. He is too much like his father, too power-hungry. I will tell the other teachers and have them deal with it."

Lorel nodded his head. "If this is settled I am going to go home now."

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"Good Bye then." The man spoke looking back down at his papers, before getting up. Lorel left the Academy and went down the cobble streets of Upper District. Today the streets were crowded, people buying and selling goods in shops and outdoor booths, above him the sun was starting to set, he should have been home hours ago but decided to wonder a bit around the District. Upper District being the head of Middle Section made it so there was always something to do.

When he arrived at home, he went through the large overly designed gates and went through the path to the house. It wasn't a long walk, but there was much to see, his parents had been working on various gardens with exotic plants and they surrounded the path to the house. It was strange though, it seemed quiet, like no one was home. When he opened the door to the house and entered the front foyer, he went up the nearby stairs and to his room. He noticed all the lights were off, so he used a bit of magic and lit any he saw.

Once in his room, he took off his uniform and put on a simple brown jacket, black soft gloves, and grey jean-like pants. It was starting to get cold out, nearing the end of the year. The lake next to Upper District would make it even colder, but it wasn't nothing like the end of the year for the North where it can become extremely deadly. Lorel liked the winter, the snow falling claimed him, and it also gave him the excuse to use his fire magic to warm himself.

Content with what he looked like; he left his room and went down to the main room of the house, the library. Both of his parents loved to read, so it became the most widely used room in the house. He began to wonder where his parents where, being Noble's they could have easily been called to the House of Nobles, where all of the Nobles met, or just out about the District. Just as he got to the door to the library a sudden feeling of fear came over him.

Lorel couldn't explain what it was, but he could tell something was wrong, he reached out to touch the handles but then stopped and retracted his hand. What was this feeling? He noticed that the lights were on in the room, as they came out from the bottom the door. Disregarding his fear he grabbed onto the handle and then opened the doors wide open. Immediately he regretted his decision.

Blood, it was what he immediately saw. Bodies lay ripped to shreds, body parts decapitated, guts scattered around the room, and then he saw them, across the room. Both of them were hanged, and bodies too mutilated, he could only tell who they were by the little bit of clothes that were still on their flesh. Lorel fell to the ground, not able to believe that all of their servants, who had been like family and his parents, were all dead.

He puked on the ground; tears began to go down his cheeks. Why had this happened? Who did this? Suddenly a shadow came over him; he turned around hoping it was someone who had survived. Instead it was a man he did not know wearing all black, a leather mask, and magic seeped from the man as if he couldn't control it. "Was it you..." Lorel yelled but then found him falling to the ground, eyes closing. His vision began to go black, his body no longer responding; the last thing he saw was the man, and then nothing.

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Couldn't stay here long. Those Uptown mercs are going to want to secure the area, and any Steel Heart in the area wasn't going to be there long, one way or the other. Naril ducked into an alleyway as the first of the reinforcements started to arrive.

It was so fucked.

First mission as a Steel Heart, ransack a wine shipment to the Upper City, a wine shipment, the kind of thing a couple of newbies like Naril, like Arden, should be able to pull off without a hitch. Nobody expected any security other than a couple of token overpaid rent-a-thugs, and nobody had any reason to. But it didn't change the fact that they failed, didn't change the fact that Arden was dead.

Naril pulled off the Steel Heart pendant around her neck. The Rathen border was close, close enough to see the checkpoint watchtowers rising out of the brick and mortar undergrowth. Rathen would be safe - none of that class warfare business inside their borders, keeping out the Uptown mercs and the Steel Hearts that they'd be trying to catch. It was easy. Drop the pendant and run for the border before the mercs set up a blockade. She had no file, had no reputation, if she dropped the pendant now, Uptown would assume she escaped and the Steel Hearts would assume she didn't. And all she had to do was let those bastards get away with killing Arden.

She hesitated. Maybe she didn't want to escape. That's what you do, right? That's what happens when your lover is killed in the noble crusade against evil - you take up arms and avenge his memory, you show those bastards that your love is stronger than their oppression, right? The survivors would regroup at the nearest Steel Heart safehouse and organize a counterattack, and when it happened she'd be right there at the front, swinging her sword in Arden's name. All she had to do was risk getting killed.

It was so fucked.

Naril peeked out the mouth of the alleyway. People ran one way and soldiers ran another. She couldn't wait any longer. Two seconds passed, then seven, and she broke and ran, leaving the Steel Heart badge lying in a trash pile.

She approached the Rathen border checkpoint.

Shadows danced back and fro to the metronome of the dying candles fastened in cages of blackened steel, while the rest of the wooden boarded chamber relished in the radiant orange glow of the flickering flames. A foul stench wafted aloft the stale winds, a miasma of human sweat and bile mixed with a hint of smoking herbs, an unholy concoction difficult to breath for even the mightiest of man.
This, was the Blood & Guts Inn A festering hole of the City found in the lower east end of Tabulath. Originally christened the Satin Wings Inn, this humble establishment underwent it's rapid change in patronage and drop in decency when the Red Stain became more prominent in this corner of the district. This combined with it's close proximity with the borders of Smo turned the once decadent lodging into what it is today.

In lower levels of the Inn, in the corner of a poorly lit seating room, were two individuals half shrouded darkness. Both we're clad in garbs of black and wore manes of silver. The one on the left was hooded and covered in leather vestments accentuated by buckles of glistening steel, at his rear was a long flowing cape the colour of midnight, ragged and torn along the edges. The other man's attire was far simpler in design, the entire upper portion of his body was hidden by a dark poncho that even managed to mask half his face with it's high collar. His legs were covered in obsidian toned pants that extended just halfway down the calf, the other half being hidden beneath white wrappings that reach the ankles.

"We'll cut him off... here!"
Lucian slammed a dagger down on the age stained map sprawled out across the poorly furnished table, its edge a cursor to a crossroads etched upon the paper.

...
...
...

"No! That won't do, too easy for an escape and not enough alleyways. What do you think 'V'?"

Alto awoke. He arose from his bed, and jumped out the nearest window. It was pitch black in the upper class city, and all the worst aspects if it would be showing up now. He used his magic to cushion his fall, and pressed onwards.

How anyone could live anywhere other than the middle district was anyone's guess. So much happened out here everywhere else was too dull.
Case in point the vessel had just been sitting in a bar somewhere enjoying the attention and collecting a lot of tips (it probably helped that most of her audience were too drunk to realise just how much they were paying to keep her playing). When someone rushed onto stage and almost takes her throat out. Luckily a quick role keeps here out of the first assault but the man was still there. Then again he'd picked a pretty terrible time to attack; the vessel had been healing today and had been looking for an outlet for all that destructive energy.

The man collapses as one of his legs breaks out of nowhere, he groans in pain falling forward. Several people who were either drunk or dumb (surly no one sane would think it funny) yelled out timber.
"I don't normally use casts to heal broken limbs so they gods must be on my side." Even someone so virtuous can't resist gloating. "I also gave someone medicine to cure one of the most unpleasant illness's I've ever seen. We're talking projectile vomiting if you're lucky.
So stay down and get off my stage."
She helps him off with a nudge (well kick but details details).
Then she sees someone far more scary, a woman in the crowd bearing her family seal. Sure enough later that night there's a note in the vessels room. Short version she was wanted back at home which in this case means the Grims. If this was another have you considered trying to turn you talents to more practical magic the vessel wouldn't be happy.
Then again if the events of earlier this evening were anything to go by a lower profile would probably be better than the guard she hired (probably not necessary to fire him at least).

Using Dark teleportation techniques, Alto swiftly shimmered past the guards outside the gatehouse of the D'Escartes Estates and down into the city. He snapped his fingers and a cloak made of shadows surrounded him, concealing him from prying eyes. He shimmered again, this time leaving the safe haven of the Upper Class district and descending into the shoddy hovel that made up the middle and lower class outskirts of the Northenmost part of the city. It was time for the shadowdance to begin. There were criminals everywhere.

The district of Smo baked in the heat of the midday sun, the smell rising from the narrow streets seemed intensified by the heat and pungent smell of waste, rotting food and unwashed souls became trapped by the buildings that stood either side. The smell no longer bothered Scarlett Verneer, it was true that her work for the Red Stain had taken her to far more fouler places - an incident involving a rival Red Stain in the sewer of the Upper District sprung to mind - but rather as part of her disguise of a simple house maid she had not washed for days. The layer of grime on her face and the greasy brown hair that hung down either side seemed no different to anyone else in the crowded street, not a soul passed her a glance as she forced her way through the slow moving crowd and around the corner. She smelled bad enough to worry about anything else.

Instantly her gift came to life. Scarlett had had exceptional hearing from an early age, it was in her genes apparently, and the buzz of the street dimmed a little as she began creating a mental map of all the noise in the street. At first it was overwhelming but as Scarlett began to sort through it she found and placed the distance of each separate noise in a 360 degree circle. She listened in to find anything out of the ordinary, the drawing of a blade, the hushed talk of anyone identifying her to their allies but there was none. She sighed a little and her eyes immediately snapped upwards at the faded wooden sign for the Silver Moon Inn, it was time to meet her contact.

The patrons reeled at the bright light of day as she opened the door and raised their grubby hands to block it out. Her gift began mapping the inside of the inn and she heard among the grumblings of men and women a hushed voice beaconing her over to a booth in the far corner. The Silver Moon Inn was dark, the few lit candles that clung to the wall on rusted holdings where far outnumbered by the spent ones. Their dried wax hanging down like icicles. The smell of stale beer and sweat quickly filled Scarlett's nostrils as she walked across the room to a booth upon which sat a single old man.

The old man grinned as she sat down opposite, exposing his blackened or missing teeth, the result of bad tobacco chewing habit. He reached down to the wooden plate on the table and tore a leg from a small roast chicken. The smell of excess spice and sugars rose up and Scarlett briefly looked down at his meal, the chicken was scrawny and pale in colour a dead giveaway for duplicate food created by magic. The spice was used to mask the artificial taste. Scarlett's eyes returned to the Aaron Dunn her longtime contact, an individual who acts as a messenger for the work board for a small return, just as he took a large bite from the chicken leg.

"Want some? It might not taste good but it's hot, and somewhat filling."
"No. Thank You."
"Suit yourself!" Aaron grinned exposing the food inside if his mouth.
"Your a pig. You know that?"
"I'm the pig? Ha, I find that hard to believe. I know what you are. I know what you've done."
"You have something for me?"

The old man pushed a folded piece of paper across the table which Scarlett quickly hid.

"It's nice. In Grim. Should be easy."

The radiant sun beating down on the lower district of Smo was forcing Vergil to comb the sweat on his forehead into his dark grey hair, which in this light was looking a few shades lighter than usual. He gently pushed his way through the crowds massing around various merchant stalls selling all sorts of gaudy trinkets, and other miscellaneous knick knacks until he came upon a tavern whose fading sign read Silver Moon, according to whoever hired him, it was one of the more favourable places in the district.

As he entered, he scanned the room to find who it was that would hire him in such a murky establishment such as this, suddenly he felt his right shoulder being tapped. He turned his head and was relieved to discover it was Silas Richten, a friend and member of the mysterious Red Stain faction.

"Silas, you nearly had me there".
"Sorry to do that to you Vergil, had to make sure it was you though"
"Why, is there an imposter of me walking about sullying my reputation" Vergil asked in a sarcastic manner.
"No, no, no, nothing like that at all, anyway" was the reply, Silas gestured to a booth at the far end of the tavern. They arrived and sat down; Silas immediately began drinking a flask of ale that had been waiting for him whilst Vergil put his feet up on the table.
"You know we could have just met somewhere near The Dragon's Tooth like we normally do, you didn't have to come all the way here".
Silas, during a pause of drinking replied with.
"I know that, but had to find someplace a little less conspicuous, you more than most non-members know we like to work in secret".
Vergil, now in a more positive mood asked.
"I take it the Red Stain have a job for me".
"We do indeed" Silas replied, tossing the ale flask behind him upon the discovery of it being empty.
"Whose is it for this time" Vergil asked.
"Ourselves actually" Silas replied. "Not you and me, but the Red Stain"
"Go,on" Vergil replied, sounding a little more intrigued.
"You know those amulets that the Mage Hunters wear to detect Mages".
"Well some of the Mages are in our employ want to acquire some of them, so they can conduct a few experiments".
"I think I heard them say they want to use them as a means to be invisible or something"
"How many of them do they want specifically?" Vergil asked.
"About three or four should suffice for test purposes, and more could be made if their tests succeed." Silas replied ending in a merry tone.

"Where am I likely to find Mage Hunters this far from the base in Ferela?" Vergil pondered.
"Try in Grim" Silas mentioned in a slight drunken manner as he passed a note to Vergil. "Apparently they have a small base near its southern entrance, oh and keep that note, it will help you find the base better".
"Well then, I guess I have some travelling to do" Vergil said with a satisfied smirk on his face as he rose from the booth.
"Oh, Vergil" Silas called.
"Yes"
"When you done the job, deliver them to a blacksmith near the base, he a friend of ours, he also see to your payment" Silas told him.

Vergil got up from the booth and made his way to the Tavern door where he turned up the collar on his long leather coat, and stepped into the suddenly colder streets of Smo. Along the way he noticed a man and a woman discussing Grim, but also noticed the woman recieve a folded scrap of paper from the man.

image Lorel Ion - Upper District

He couldn't hear, the magic keeping him under was too powerful. His dream replayed the scene; the amount of blood and guts was enough to mentally scar them for life. The man, who was he? An assassin? If so hired by whom? Questions plagued his thoughts and there were no answers. Am I going to die? Thought Lorel.

Slowly as he regained consciousness he was able to hear the man and he could move his body, but he found himself constrained. Once his eyes opened he found himself looking at the ground as it moved, but he wasn't. He was tied up, his arms and legs unable to move. A man was caring him over their shoulder, he turned his head as much as he could, it was the man who he saw at his house. "Your awake now aren't you?"

His voice was deep, but yet, carless, like he wasn't taking anything seriously. "Who are you? Are you the one who killed my parents and our servants?" Lorel angrily yelled at the man.

"Yes it was I. For your family was a bunch of traitors. Working and getting resources to rebel factions such as the Steel Hearts. Amelia knows you weren't involved as our Intel states, so she spared you, but you are banished."

Banished, Help to Rebels, What the hell is going on..?

"What are you talking about, I don't understand."

"We don't need you to understand," Lorel noticed they were at one of the various gates to Middle District. "This is where you leave."

The man picked up Lorel from his shoulder and then threw him past the gate while the ties loosened and then fell to the ground. He crashed onto the ground and a streak of red from his elbow stained the ground as he slid. Before he could get up any do anything the gate closed behind him. It all happened so fast. What was he to do now?

He needed to calm down, his anger was raging and deep down he demanded for blood. Amelia Foel, the name began to ring in his head, it was she who ordered this, she who ordered his banishment, and everything was her fault. Lorel got up with a look of depression, he reached into his pockets and found some Kiel, the City's currency, but it was little, not nearly enough to sustain a life. He had lived in the confines of Upper District all of his life, this was the first time he was ever outside the gates.

No one was around; he had been thrown out at one of the loosely abandoned gates, which no one even remembers anymore. Rumors did spread that they were being used for Upper District covert operations, and most likely they were true if they used this gate to throw him out. How will they break the news to the rest of the District, all of the Nobles know, but not the people? If they did, he would have been run out of the Academy hours and hours ago.

Turning around he faced the depths of the Middle District, he couldn't imagine it being that bad. Middle District was 2nd best to an Upper-type District. The ground went downwards like he was going to enter into the Earth and never come back. He was scared, was he going to die? Even if he is a mage, there are Mage Hunters, and various other factions that aren't too kind to mage folk, Steel Hearts possibly he could look for refuge, they didn't exactly like Mages but wouldn't harm them unless they harm them.

Upper District was going to pay; he would make sure of that. If his parents helped rebel factions, then without a doubt it was for a good reason. But without any structure or path, where was he to start? Moving down the path of dirt he moved through the maze that was Middle District, all of it felt so foreign to him, like if he had entered a new world, one with harmful people around each corner. He passed by an ally where there were bodies piled up with blood all over them. Men were extracting their clothes and laughing about it just behind the pile.

When Lorel was in there sight, they all stopped and looked at him, his anger wanted to make him kill them all, but he was a Mage and with Mage Hunters rampant he didn't want to make himself known. In Upper District he could stand up for the weak, but here, he was hopeless. Moving down the roads he began to feel like he was being watched, so he looked up at the roof tops so see any movement.

Rain began to fall and instantly he was drenched. Using magic to block the rain would draw too much attention. Suddenly he saw movement out of the corner of his eye, but when he turned there was no one. "What the..." If it was Mage Hunters, they most likely would out number him, or if it was the Murders from earlier, was he to kill them? He had never killed anyone before, harmed yes, but never killed.

A click noise in the rain echoed, and he saw something fall between his feet. It exploded in a cloud of smoke, he threw out a wind spell he knew and made the smoke fly outwards. Immediately he was surrounded by five Mage Hunters. He could tell from the stories of them, huge black armor with Anti-Magic Weapons in their hands.

"Give it up, Mage; we have been following you since you were thrown out of Upper District. We will take you to Eren Douab where you will be, 'reformed.'" The Mage Hunter spoke in a cocky voice.

It was time to let out his anger, and what happened seemed almost like a blur. He ripped the men to shreds, even with their Anti-Magic Weapons they were no match for him. The scene that unfolded was horrific and he couldn't believe it himself to what he just done. Their bodies laid ripped to apart, pieces of their weapons and armor laid broken with various magic scars on them.

But it felt odd, he didn't feel sick, or any remorse, he felt fine even having just killed some people, he felt almost happy. It was a dark feeling inside of him that was almost being, satisfied. Lorel needed to move on before any more Mage Hunters moved to his position. It was too late, more began to run out of the Alley Ways and from the roofs, and he began to run like he hadn't ever before.

Using his Magic he began to accelerate but the Mage Hunters were trained, and were easily catching up.

Aaron sat back and took a sip of ale while watching the folded piece of paper disappear into Scarlett's dress.

"Don't look at him." Scarlett remarked out of the blue.
"What?"
"The man leaving."
"Why?"
"He's one of us."
"What?" The old man paused remembering Scarlett's gift. "Do we need to act? He won't leave this district alive, or in one piece if he betrays us."
"No. He was meeting his contact, presumably."
"Presumably?"
"I'm not telepathic."
"It could be a setup."
"Sounded genuine."
"Sounded?"
"Yes. I said don't worry about it." Scarlett seemed annoyed.
"Hold your tongue girl. This is our lives where talking about."
"It's fine. Don't, make me repeat myself."
"Alright, you made your point." The old man seemed equally annoyed but he yielded easily, raising his hands as a gesture of surrender, he knew far too well what Scarlett could do to people. "I just hope, for both our sakes, your right."

Scarlett paused looking into Aaron's eyes, they seemed unsure, wavering between fear and loyalty to her. She decided to calm him down. "If they recognised me it would be as Eloise Du'point." Scarlett paused looking briefly over her shoulder in case anybody was listening, there was not and she spoke in such a quiet tone that it would be impossible for anyone to hear. "There isn't anybody left alive in the Red Stain who can identity me."

The old man felt a chill in his blood. Scarlett was looking straight into his eyes, piercing his soul and he couldn't help but fear her. It wasn't natural. Her face showed no emotion, her eyes, ice blue and just as cold seemed to bore into him. When she said there was not anybody alive in the Red Stain who knew her as Scarlett Verneer Aaron damned well believed it.

Something clicked in the back of his mind. That meant her master was dead too, did Scarlett kill her own master? Then it must be true. All the rumours and gossip, all the late night drunken tales told over roaring fires and flasks of ale, the legend of an epic duel, deciding the very fate of every district in a single night. But, wait? That could mean only one thing, Scarlett had fought to save the city. The old man sat back refusing to believe it. The story was far too outrageous. Scarlett frowned at his confused expression but made nothing more of it.

"It was her birthday yesterday you know." The old man finally said breaking the silence, referring to Eloise.
"I know."

Scarlett had actually signed up the Red Stain twice, the first time she was only a child and from that moment onwards her reputation grew and grew. A few even tried to stick a knife in her back, envious of Scarlett's success. At the age of seventeen Scarlett was already a legend, more believed her fiction than real due to her elusive nature and it was at this time Scarlett under the name Eloise Du'point signed for the second time to the Red Stain.

Eloise Du'point had actually existed, she was part of a disgraced northern noble family who after her father waged an illegal, bloody war against his rival families in the district was finally captured and sentenced to death. Eloise managed to escape but her father, mother and two brothers where hung, drawn and quartered for all to see in the local square. Scarlett had been there that day in the square (given she had been involved as a hired assassin) and was startled to see a young girl in the crowd who looked just like her. Befriending her she quickly took Eloise to safety and listened to her story, agreeing afterwards to help the young girl seek revenge. A lie. Amazed by her likeness to herself Scarlett slit Eloise's throat in her sleep and carried the body to a local bakery in the early hours of the morning. Setting fire to the building she watched from a safe distance as the intensity and heat of the flames cremated Eloise's body to ash. Scarlett then assumed her identity.

That left a problem. There where still three individuals who knew Scarlett by face. The first to die was the elderly book keeper of the Red Stain. He had been there and signed up Scarlett as a child. He suffered a severe heart attack thanks to an untraceable poison in his wine one evening, Scarlett made to sure to tear out the page titled Scarlett Verneer in the record book and burn it. This book was a secret, as it contained a list of every member of the Red Stain, their position and titles that nobody would ever check it. She doubted anybody outside the top tier even knew about it. The second, a vile man by the name of Eris was the unfortunate victim of a tip off to the guards, who where especially brutal, after all he had killed one of their own, they rushed into the whorehouse blades drawn and caught him defenceless in bed. In their fury they decapitated the body of him and his whore. The final victim was the smith Loire, a known drunk among his friends ended up been thrown alive into his own furnace screaming for mercy as Scarlett faked a robbery gone bad.

Scarlett stood up abruptly and without a word left the Silver Moon Inn.

Leaving was more difficult than it needed to be. She'd had to sneak past several different people who would probably have loved to have a chat with her. Luckily she knew a guy with a cart, she'd helped him out once or twice and he was grateful, grateful enough that he'd been willing to bribe one of the guards to use a passage into the grims. The Roads were long and they couldn't speak while traveling, the routes weren't usually the sort the Vessel used, they contorted through the city in ways you'd need to be drunk to really understand. It wasn't helped by the fact the Vessel had to keep a low profile and so had to keep within the cart. The darkness and movement made for disconcerting bedfellows, she began to realise how much faith she'd put into someone she barely knew, a few memories she usually suppressed became harder to ignore when all you had was the same room and hardly any company.

Occasionally they'd stop but she didn't get out, oddly the sheer number of times she could have been sold out or double crossed but wasn't was strangely comforting. She began to get motion sickness, she thought after the first hour or so she'd be over it and that was days ago (it had to have been, no way was she like this for less than a few days). Then she realised why, it wasn't motion sickness it was stillness sickness, usually he'd be out to
tell her that they'd be a while. This time it wasn't happening.

Why they'd stopped was of course the first question that came to mind but there was more than that noises that needed but she doubted would get an explanation. She hoped someone would be there who she could talk maybe who knew who she was or even better someone else she could trust.

She had to call out.
"Hello?"

A musty back alley encased in darkness was where Alto pounced upon Criminals best, it was ideal; all they'd ever see was his cloak of Darkness. But now it was time for a break. Encasing the already dealt with bodies into his shadow - an ever convenient storage space, he walked into the nearest Tavern, the Silver Moon Inn. He didn't know why he chose a dingy hovel like this, but he supposed it was fate. He removed his cloak and sat down. A few people stared. Having been born in the northernmost north, the gene for Platinum hair and eyes was very rare. But here...it was non-existent. Combined with his good looks, people were bound to confront him sooner or later; just what he wanted. He would then ask them about any criminals. He glided over to the bar, sat downxand ordered some Ale.

With the Silver Moon Inn behind her Scarlett walked into the crowd and followed the flow of people for a few streets listening intently to the sound of the crowd. Quickly sorting through the noise of the street Scarlett seemed happy she was not been followed and pulled out the folded piece of paper from her dress. She looked down and studied it.

Harold Nehelem, 36 District Rise, Grim, 16,000 Kiel.

Scarlett seemed surprised, 16,000 Kiel was a lot of money for a single target. Somebody really wanted this guy dead. She frowned, the name seemed familiar, yes of course, Harold Nehelem was a politician for the upper classes. His policies pushing for a higher trade tax on any goods coming from a lower class district had upset a lot of people and it now seemed no surprise someone had put the word out for his end. In fact, she was surprised it had not happened sooner. Now Scarlett focused on what was not written.

Holding the paper up to the sky she studied its texture, high class, a good standard of mesh not see through in the slightest, likely from Grim itself. No paper mill watermark though. Cut with a blade, the edges are far too tidy for a hand ripped scrap. The handwriting was neat, very neat and a good ink as well. Maybe a little too neat as not to give away any kind of distinctive handwriting. Proper use of capital letters and punctuation. The scribe was educated and took pride in his work. Could be a rival. Maybe family.

Satisfied with her analysis Scarlett ripped the paper into six separate pieces and tossed it in an open sewer as she passed by, a woman was emptying a battered metal bucket and its foul contents caught the fluttering pieces and washed it down a rusted grate into the darkness of the underground sewer. The only thing the upper class had ever done for Smo, and that was out of selfishness. They couldn't stand the smell anymore when a strong breeze carried it south. So it was a politician this time, the only thing Scarlett hated more than mages. Well there was one or two exceptions to that rule.

"I say we find this man and dispose of him. Even if he flees, we can hunt him down and finish the job." Vincent said, staring at the map laid out on the worn table-top. His eyes glanced briefly over the worn map, seeing their route defined clearly in bright red ink, stretching out across the small district of Tabulath and along the border of Smo. Vincent leaned forward and let his gloved hands brushed across the map, closing his fingers in on the hilt of the dagger and ripping the dagger out of the table and grabbing it and examining it, his eyes never leaving the cover of his hood.

"Lets pack up Lucian, we've got work to do." Vincent said, standing up and dropping the knife onto the table so that it landed blade down into the table over the center of Upper District.

Vincent grabbed his bag of valuables from the ground near his chair and left Lucian to pack up the map and grab his supplies. Vincent left the Inn's front doors, sliding past a pack of what seemed to be thieves as he walked out the door.

The alley Vincent stepped out into was no more homely than the Blood and Gut's Inn. Papers and posters of missing children littered the street, and fire's burned in barrels that seemed to act as campfires for the homeless that flocked around them.

Like moths to a flame. Vincent thought to himself, walking over to the horses they had tied up around the side of the inn.

Vincent's horse was jet black, and it was a special breed, given to him by the leaders of the Mage Hunter council for his incredible advancement. It was after Vincent had tied his pack to his horses saddle that he realized he wasn't alone in the alley. Vincent had learned to hone his senses in order to stay alive, so naturally his hearing was an invaluable skill, allowing him to hear the footsteps shuffling behind him.

Vincent stepped to the side, just as one of the thieves he had passed on his way out of the inn lunged at him, aiming to cut him with a serrated knife. Vincent caught his arm, and slammed his elbow into the man's face, causing him to stumble back and fall to the ground, clutching his bloodied nose. Two more stood at the end of the alley, both carrying some type of weapon, each with a smirk on their face.

"We won't kill ya, just hand us all of your valuables and nobody gets hurt." One of the men said, branding a sickle in his left hand and what appeared to be a steak knife in the other. He appeared to be one of the homeless that Vincent had seen leaving the inn. His face was covered in dirt and his teeth were a sickly yellow. His hair was matted and hung down to his shoulders, what used to be a vivid red color was now nothing more than a scab-red color.

Vincent said nothing, but folded his arms across his chest and waited for the thieves to make their move. After a few seconds of silence, the two thieves at the front of the alley rushed forward, stepping over their fellow thief and moving at Vincent, swinging their arms wildly in an attempt to cut him. Vincent brought up both of his arms, catching the sickle on his right arm, and the other thief's short sword on his left. The thieves stood dumbstruck for a moment, but Vincent didn't give them any longer than that to realized their mistake. He shoved the short sword away from him and buried his left fist deep into the red-haired thief's stomach, causing him to double over and drop his knife. Vincent then turned to catch the second thief's arm before he plunged a dagger into his back, bringing his knee up into the thief's stomach; who doubled over and allowed Vincent to drop his elbow swiftly on to the back of the man's neck. The thief dropped like a stone, but was replaced by the first who had finally gotten back up, dried blood underneath his nose as he swung his knife at Vincent's throat.

Vincent ducked back so that the blade hissed through the air were his neck had been seconds before. Straightening up, Vincent brought his fist into the thief's stomach, effectively dropping him next to the other unconscious thief. The red-haired thief gave one last look to Vincent before he turned tail and fled, leaving his two friends unconscious on the ground at Vincent's feet.

"You are pathetic." Vincent hissed as the man turned around a corner and was lost from Vincent's view.

Vincent sighed and grabbed the feet of both thieves, dragging them out into the street and kicking them once more in the ribs for good measure. Vincent then turned to the door of the inn, hoping that Lucian would gather his things quickly and they could be out of this cesspool.

"Too eager for blood, I wonder if being stuck with this one is a punishment for something? Maybe because of that whole 'Twilight Mage' incident?" The high collared man queried under his breath as his partner in black and buckles exited the flame washed den aloft the creaky, half-rotten wood stairwell.

A claw of pale flesh slivered out from beneath the the concealing garb, crept it's way across the tabletop and coiled slender fingers around the grained handle of a stave tankard. A second appendage of the same hue unsheathed from the flowing black cloth, grasped the tip of the man's high collar and tugged it below the neckline; revealing the devilish smirk etched onto Lucian's visage. In one swift chug the stark white liquid that sloshed and swirled in that over compensating mug was gulped down, in it's place a the shell of a beverage slammed firmly against the right hand corner of the tabletop.

"It's normally so hard to find milk is shitholes like this!" Lucian bellowed, withdrawing one his hands to the confines of his vestments leaving the other to methodically trace along the sprawled out parchments.

He's leaving from the north of the Upper District, likely cutting through... here; shortest distance through the Middle. He'll travel through Amara because it's under the safety of the Upper and considering the destination; Tabulath's the only reasonable course to take, neutral to Factions and Mages. I just need to figure out where to stri- that's it! The perfect place to attack; minimal crowds, plenty of shadows and open enough to deal with those damn spells

Lucian gripped the leather wrappings that spiralled along the hilt of the iron dagger and drew the blade from the poorly varnished slab of timber this 'fine' establishment called a table. The instrument flicked and flourished between his finger, in and out, in and out; A the corners of Lucian's cheeks contorted ever so slightly as the smile hidden beneath the collar bloomed.

"Shouldn't have been eavesdropping, boy" Lucian launched himself from his seat with his right hand and cast the dagger with his left. The blade spun through the air as it flew half way across the shadowy chamber, it's target; A bald man dressed in a simple slate grey robe. The razor sank deep into the back of the stranger's skull severing his brain from the spine.

A lone squeak reverberated through the golden darkness as a comely maid recoiled in shock as the man she had been serving collapsed, his body sprawled across the table, blood pouring from the base of skull like a mead tap. Her gaze shifted and her expression twisted into a mixture of fear and confusion as a figure dressed all in black with long unkempt silver hair and a bundle of papers approached her. After what seemed like only a few strides he right in front of her, so close that that his breath could be felt against her neck.

"An Informant, he was syphoning information. Tell the Red Stains it's been breached." Whispered Lucian, the feigned fear and surprise disappearing from the woman's features with each passing word, replaced by a cold and professional glare.

"We'll pass it on, leave the body to us." The maid responded before clicking her fingers. Two rather large figures emerged from the cellar of the Inn and quickly took care of the body, moving it out of plain view, a minute passed and the room had returned to it's signature entropic allure.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"Oh? someone's been busy" Lucian announced as he sauntered through the doors of the Blood & Guts Inn and came upon the scene before him. Two, probably disease ridden, thugs cast to the side of the street with a rather unpleasant looking Vincent awaiting him at the entry.

"Good News, I've found our vantage point."

The vessel couldn't take it, she'd have to leave. Scrambling around in the cart to find her harp she eventually gets her hand on it. The noises seem to have died down a little so she risks peeking out.

Ok alleyway smells like despair and idiocy, must be an inn near by.
Sure enough the Blood and Guts Inn was next door. Sneaking in through a back passage she found herself in what amounted to a kitchen or brewery. Trying not to make a noise she searched from some ingredients, it sounded like people were in the front.

Causally testing something by tossing in on to the fire.
Oh wait those exploded don't they? Sure enough there was an explosion and a lot of smoke. Coughing she stumbled out into the front of the bar flowed by a billowing black cloud.

Alto left the bar. He was being followed, as expected, and headed for the nearest Alley. After walking for distance enough for the lowlifes to still consider themselves concealed, but now in the alleyway, Alto turned round and faced them, though they knew not that he could see them. In darkness magic, a simple verb, when uttered or thought is enough to inflict terrible damage, but depends solely on the amount of emotion behind each one. Alto inspected the thieves, "Shadows arise, Strangle, Choke, Suffocate" he thought impassively and watched as the thieves' shadows rose out of the ground, and murdered their very likenesses. Alto put his cloak back on and the hood back up, before teleporting into another shithole: Grim.

Aaron felt the fear in his stomach, Scarlett had been quick to leave and without word too. This could only mean she had suspected danger and left. It was a warning sign to Aaron to be careful. Slowly putting down his glass on the table Aaron caught sight of a young man walking to the bar, his platinum hair stood out like a fire burning in the night and it didn't take a genius to work out that particular quality was rare, even rarer still in a district like Smo. Scarlett was hot property and it seemed these days too many people wanted a piece of her so Aaron slowly stood up and walked to the bar, flipping a coin as a tip to the barman before leaving. He had coded the boy represented no threat but Aaron was not about to push his luck. Pushing open the door to the street he felt the heat of the day rush across his skin and for a brief moment the bright light blinded him. That was when it happened.

"Gramps! Come on, me and the lads 'el get you home." A gruff voice called out.

Aaron felt a sweaty hand grab the back of his neck, in it was concealed a palm blade. A triangle of razor sharp metal that could slit his throat in a moment if he tried to flee. He had no choice. He had to take his chance with the men. There where three of them. Two brutes, more muscle than brain, who grinned toothless smiles at him and lead the way into a deserted alley behind the Inn, from the looks of the crates scattered on the ground it was used to drop off supplies. The man behind with the gruff voice did not show his face. The smart one thought Aaron.

The woman was dressed in light brown cotton pants and a tank top of the same material. She looked no different to any other passing in the street as the light material was recently in fashion in Smo. She had her back turned to him and arms folded across her chest. Long straw blonde hair was tied back into a loose pony tail. Aaron froze instantly. Due to the thin material a large tattoo covering her back was peeking through the tank top. In black ink the folded wings of a raven where opening. Sera! Scarlett's old master. Had he strayed into a waking nightmare? She was dead, wasn't she?

"Hello, Aaron." Sera remarked turning around to face him.
"Sera? I thought Scarlett killed you!"
"So very nearly." Smirking Sera lowered the top right of her tank top to reveal a large scar above her heart.
"She should have finished you when she had the chance!"
"Scarlett is weak."
"And your insane!"
"I am?"
"You must know I'll never betray her to you!"
"I am aware of that."
"Then what do you want?"
Sera paused walking closer to Aaron. "To let you know, before you die, that you have."
"What?"
"The contract in Grim is a trap." Sera laughed briefly. "Oh, it's a real enough contract of course, should Scarlett look into it, just one I intercepted." She smiled and held out her hand in the air. "I'll be waiting for her there."
"She'll kill you this time!"
"Oh please, we both know Scarlett's getting old, she's already making mistakes no?"

Aaron did not need to reply. He knew all too well Scarlett was beginning to make mistakes and even doubt her own abilities. It happened to all Red Stain members who lived to grow old. It was just something they had to accept. Some looked to retire and live in comfort on their savings wanting nothing more than to be left alone, others like Aaron could never leave as they had killed far too many people to sleep soundly at night in a bed bought by blood money and as such became work board contacts. He wondered what Scarlett would choose?

Sera was handed a small stiletto knife, the end split into two like the forked tongue of a snake and curled around inwards at the end. It was a blade any member of the Red Stain would recognise. Aptly named the traitors blade its sole purpose was to remove the eyes of a victim who had sold out the Red Stain, or in this case worked against Sera. As was customary the final act would be to slit open his stomach with a small curved blade and let him bleed out on the floor, his entrails pouring out for the dogs to eat. Any guard who happened to stumble upon the poor soul would instantly recognise him as a sign of the Red Stain cleaning house and investigate no further. Aaron cried out loud as his sight fell into darkness and collapsed on the floor feeling the blade across his stomach.

Scarlett arrived at the safehouse without incident. She had no idea Aaron had been ambushed by Sera and could not imagine the danger that now loomed over her head.

"Lets get going then. My horse is ready and tied up around the side, you may want to get yours. It'll be a long walk if not." Vincent said with a smirk, turning to walk back into the alley until he heard a small explosion that rattled the Blood and Gut's Inn's windows. Vincent looked at Lucian and made for the inn's front door. He pushed the door inward, pulling up a scarf that was hidden around his neck up over his mouth and nose to block out a foul-smelling black smoke that was issuing from the kitchen. A younger women stood coughing in the bar, most of the other patrons giving her an irritated look.

"What did you do?" Vincent hissed, stepping closer to her, looking up to see the upper part of the room filled with smoke.

"Get out of here before somebody decides to put a knife in your back for ruining their drinks."

Vergil had realised that the best way to navigate the districts was not from the ground but up on the rooftops, this could be easily accomplished since the buildings in the Lower Class districts were quite close together, meaning that there wasn't much in the way of large gaps to worry about. He found a quite little side alley and started to climb up the crumbling wall.

When he reached the roof he scanned the area to determine the best and quickest route to the entrance of Soloman, a Lower Class district like Smo, but was in a better state. He then proceeded to head North, since the buildings were so close together, you could literally step from one to another.

As he was about to cross another, he heard someone scream below him, and judging from the intensity they were screams of pain. Noticing that no one else was investigating, he leapt down from above and landed next to an old man. Recoginising the teeth from earlier, it must be the man he saw slip a piece of paper to a woman earlier in the Silver Moon.

"What in the hell happened to you".
"I was ambushed by bunch of thugs on my way out the tavern" the old man replied coughing up blood in process. The old man turned his head towards Vergil and realised who he was.
"You!" The old man shouted, accidently spitting blood at Vergil's face, which he narrowly dodged.
"Your that man from the tavern, the one Scarlett told me to not look at".
"Scarlett, that names rings a bell". Vergil snapped his fingers, and pulled out an aged looking scrap of paper from a inside pocket of his coat. He unfolded and glanced at its contents. He gave a slight smirk.
"So thats who she was, I have been looking for her for at least five years, who'd of thought I would happen across her by coincidence, well I guess this contract is finally going to pay out".
"I won't let you harm her!" the old man shouted.
"Your definitely in no condition to walk, let alone fight... what is your name?".
"Aaron, Aaron Dunn" Aaron said in a deep voice, his lungs heaving with each word.
"Aaron, tell me what was on that piece of paper you handed Scarlett, I'd very much like to meet her" Vergil said in a rather sadistic tone.
"I won't tell you anything, assassin!" Aaron shouted, his eyes staring boldly.
"I am no assassin, I just want to know" Vergil retorted angrily
"Never!" the old man shouted
"Very well then" Vergil replied in a dismissive manner as he stood up and started to walk away.
"I guess you'll just perish under the coldness of the night"
"Grim, it was a location of a contract, but its a trap, she is going to kill her!". Aaron replied with a small surge of strength, just as Vergil was about to leave the alley. He turned around.
"But where in Grim?" he asked.
"36 District Rise" Aaron replied, coughing up more blood in the process.
"Who?"
"A woman named Sera, blonde hair, and a tatoo of a raven with its wings opening."
"Ah Sera! A contact of hers was the one who gave me contract in the first place."
"Thank you Aaron" Vergil said in a slightly happier tone as he walked across to Aaron.
As he moved closer to Aaron, he grabbed a blanket from a nearby washing line, and draped it over Aaron's broken body.
"Let it be known that you died doing your duty". Vergil said in a calm tone as he closed Aaron's eyes.

"Now I have a location for a long overdue payment, I guess the amulets can wait" Vergil muttered to himself as he stood and made his way to the nearest rooftop, and carried on into the cool night.

Odegauger:
Snip

Halien was sitting on a bench near the borderlines of Rathen. He was reading a new book he'd bought with money a man had given him for his healing services; Halien didn't heal for rewards but the man insisted it was the least he could do. 1,000 Kiel, a generous amount of money for mending a broken arm.

Halien did feel out of place however. He usually stayed in Yeal and had grown to treat it like home since he had left the South. He was only in Rathen to visit an older gentleman who had moved here a number of months ago with the rest of his family. He had previously been an inn keeper at the place that Halien had stayed until he sold his business on. He was kind man who gave a discount on renting his room for curing his granddaughter's cholera. They had kept in contact by letters; in one of which Halien was invited to stay for a week at their new inn.

However, the week was already over and Halien had said his goodbyes. He was waiting for a coach driver to arrive so he could buy a trip back to Yeal. As sat, he heard a commotion as a young woman in straw sandals and loose fitting clothing ran towards the border checkpoint.

"A Southerner? Most definitely, nobody but those from the South wear such breezy clothing" Halien thought to himself. She seemed panicked. "A mage? A mage hunter?! I don't know. How would I tell?"

He was scared, thoughts went dashing through his mind about all the possibilities of things that could happen to him now. It was then that he saw two people in the distance approaching also approaching the checkpoint, eyes pointing towards the girl whilst their hands led to swords buckled to their sides. He knew their intention. He had from men for years who acted the same towards him when they approached.

"NEL'YA!" Halien shouted to towards the girl, waving his arm frantically. Halien then ran over to her at the checkpoint "Wow, it's been a while. Come with me, I'll show you to the inn!" He then passed 100 Kiels to a guard at the checkpoint. "Please stall those people for a couple of minutes" he whispered as he drew the guard's attention to the two men with swords.

Leading the girl by the hand for a couple of seconds until they had turned the corner, Halien then let go and started to walk away before stopping. He didn't know what to do now. Whatever had come over him was gone now and he was too scared to ask even for a name of the person he'd just helped. He didn't know them, he wasn't sure if he wanted to either. He supposed he could make the first move but he didn't know how to.

"Ermmm..." was all he was able to muster before going silent again "I'm..."

pyroguy86:
Snip

"Well the equations probably a little."
No not what he meant.
"Oh well I was just trying out a new experiment and I must have made a mistake because there was an explosion. Don't worry nothing to toxic was produced.
Wait they'd knife me over that?"
Right she wasn't that well known here, they probably haven't even heard of here.
"Don't they know who I am?"

A resonating explosion bellowed from the core of the Blood & Guts Inn, the sight and sound forcefully bleeding from the buildings orifices with the might of a northern torrent. In it's strides, riding aloft charcoal painted winds was an odour that was, against what was originally deemed impossible, even fouler than the establishments regular aroma. Catching the 'perfect ' view of this chaotic scene was the lonesome figure of Lucian Grey, frozen with both curiosity of the sight presented before him and the idiocy of his partners rash behaviour.

I'm definitely being punished for something...

Lucian's very body sunk as he released a 'less than exuberant' sigh from the depths of his lungs, turned on his heel and slothfully made his way towards the makeshift stables his partner had prepared upon arrival. They were expertly prepared, hidden from plain sight as to lower the risk of thievery and positioned for quick flight should their stay become too... Festive

"Well, I'll hand it to the lad he's good at the practical." Lucian chirped jokingly as he slipped the maps and other paperwork into the blackened leather pouches fastened to the saddle of his faithful steed, Gilbert. He was a destrier; A powerful stallion bred for war, his coat was a dull grey with a night touched mane. His eye's were a striking golden hue, similar to his riders.

" V, I thought you wanted to leave?" Lucian announced mockingly to the smoke seething building.

imageLorel Ion - Middle District

The Mage Hunters arrows shot down In a rain of arrows which pierced the rain as it fell. He had to avoid people in the streets. A couple of innocent people got pierced with arrows, but he could do nothing for them. One Hunter jumped out in front of his path and Lorel conjured ice on the ground and began to slide on it, and as the Hunter brought up his sword Lorel took ice from the ground and shot it up like darts, piercing the man.

It was hard to imagine just hours ago that he was attending the Magic Academy and that he was doing spells with Nana, or talking with Moro. Everything felt like a nightmare. Already he has killed a couple people, ended their lives and now they won't do what they dreamed of doing. But no matter how much it would sicken a person, killing didn't seem to bother him at all. Was it because they were Mage Hunters? No it couldn't be.

Another one appeared this time jumping from one of the roofs and grabbing onto a ledge and then dropping down with a sword pointed at him. Lorel jumped out of the way, but his arm just snagged a bit of the blade, cutting a whole in his arm. The Blood almost felt, reassuring, almost a happy feeling.

The attacker went from another run but Lorel dodged it this time and let out a wave of fire, burning the Hunter's face and letting out a scream of pain. Without looking back he continued to run forward, but more attackers were on the way and out of the corners of his eyes he could see them gathering. Lorel began to feel faint, he had used too much magic today and in rapid succession.

Suddenly his whole world turned over and he found himself on the ground, his legs were bleeding. A sharp string was across the whole street. The pain was overwhelming and in seconds the Mage Hunters gathered around, weapons in hands ready to kill him. No longer was capturing an option, not after he killed some of them.

He tried to get up but he couldn't, and no magic was coming out. His vision was beginning to fade, and the glow of their Magic Detecting Amulets blazed into his eyes. But without warning suddenly a cloak figure appeared next to him.

One of the Hunters looked angrily at the person. "Stand out of our way, this Mage is our prey!"

The Cloaked man took out two swords and spoke in a deep voice. "Just try and get to him."

The Hunters looked at each other and shrugged. "Kill him and the Mage."

Then the first Hunter ran at him, and he simply dogged out of the way, and sliced their head clean off and the blood flew at Lorel and the Man. Without end another and another came at the man, but he simply sliced them to bits. Clearly he was a Master of the Dual Blade Arts. Once it was clear, and the blood stained the street, the man picked up Lorel.

Now he could see the man's face, his skin was white, hair brown, with a goatee, and some scars over his face. "Thank you for helping me... Who are you?" Lorel managed to muster out.

The man looked over at Lorel with his deep blue eyes. "You can call me Velen Majl."

"No, and I doubt that they would care even if they-" Vincent stopped mid-sentence, a pulse resonating from his chest that chilled him to the bone. He glanced into the women's eyes, searching for something that he didn't know if he would find. The same wave of cold washed over him as another pulse rebounded in his body.

"Meet me in Grim in a few days if you still wish to talk to me." Vincent said, turning around immediately and leaving the inn. He ducked into the alley quickly, his heart gripping the metal amulet he hid underneath his clothing at all times. He traced his fingers around the stone and words carved into the metal, the chills subsiding slightly now that he was away from that women. Vincent looked over to see Lucian grinning at him, packing up the maps and charts into a saddlebag on his horse.

"Lucian we're leaving now. We've got to finish this job and head over to Grim as quickly as possible. I'll tell you more when we put some distance between us and this inn." Vincent said, walking over and mounting his horse quickly. The horse whinnied and took off without any word or action from its rider, as if it knew what Vincent was thinking.

A Mage here, now? How in the hell didn't I realize that she was a Mage sooner? I should have killed her on the spot, but with so many witnesses and without knowing who I was dealing with. I'll draw some information out of her in Grim before I kill her, maybe I can learn something about someone who knows about my past. Vincent thought to himself, clenching his teeth in anger at his own ineptitude.

imageLorel Ion - Middle District

"Velen... Majl..? Why does that name, more so your last name sound familiar..?" Lorel spoke as they went down the street in the pouring rain which seemed to have no end.

Majl is the name of the family that has great ties to yours. In fact, I was there when you were born. Your parents asked me to protect you as a last will..." Velen spoke his voice lowered as he ended.

Lorel's eyes opened wide opened, but closed them slightly due to the pain. "Last will..? Did they know they would be killed?"

"Yes, but they fought back, I was there in the end. But they told me to escape and try to find you, I protested but I knew that I would die if I had stayed. Sadly, by the time I got to the academy, you were gone, and they had found you."

Mom... Dad...

They continued on in silence until they came up to an inn. It had no name, but it was a little cozy place. Velen ordered a room and no questions were asked. In the room, Velen used bandages he had with him and bandaged up Lorel. "I know your healing magic isn't good, so these will do."

Outside it was turning night time but the rain continued on, and the clouds in the sky darkened and grouped together, blocking out the moon making the night almost pitch dark.

Velen left the room, and went down and outside to get some goods. Lorel didn't ask but it looked as if Velen already had a plan. Probably thought of it as he tried to find him.

"Lorel," he spoke as he came back in with supplies. "I am back."
He placed the goods down and neatly organized them. "Do you want to talk about it? Want me to explain everything?"

"Sure, I guess. Maybe it will make me have some closure and clam this anger I have bubbling inside."

Velen sat down at the bed opposite of Lorel. "Your parents, the whole Ion family had been working to bring down Upper for a long time. Ever since your grandfather's father."

"You mean, Grandpa Esterin and Grandma Noshewell parents? That long ago?"

"Yes."

Velen shifted his position and sat up straighter. "The Ion family, while once loyal to the Upper, became increasingly weary of what the Foel family was planning and quickly began to help Rebel Factions in secret in hope of stopping Upper before they could succeed. But now you're the last one. You must continue on in their name and stop Upper."

Lorel felt utterly disgusted. "To think I called Amelia a friend at one point. I should have guessed something was up when she started to become distant with every passing day."

The pain was starting to go down. "Velen, do you have an idea of what to do now?"

"Yes, we're going to Grim. While it does have ties with Upper, they won't attack us there. I have someone whom I wish to recruit there."

"Who?" Lorel inquired.

"Itsuka Maen."

"Red Itsuka." Lorel had heard to the name before. She was a decently famous mage who had a special Magic that she conjured a red mist that literally sucked the life out of a person, some rumors say it gives her life energy but it has never been truly confirmed.
He nodded his head. "Yup, Itsuka has never been too fond of Upper District, I met her couple of times and she wasn't exactly subtle with her opinions. She would be a good starting point as she would be a good ally."

Lorel turned over as if to go to sleep. "Velen, can I ask you something?"

"Shoot."

"Is it natural to not feel remorse after killing, but to be almost happy at the sight of it and blood..?"

Lorel couldn't see Velen's face, but his expression was in shock and he didn't really want to answer. "No... No it's not."

Sera stopped in the street. There was total silence. A hushed tone had fallen and the crowd of people around her quickly began to retreat to the sides of the street. Their eyes, a volatile mixture of fear and mistrust, were locked on to her. She smirked to herself, turning casually to face the four individuals who where also afforded the same treatment at the opposite end of the street. Mage hunters. Scarlett would have to wait. Armed to the teeth with the finest maces and swords Kiel could afford and wearing gleaming, silver plate armour trimmed with gold, it looked polished to within an inch of its life. A bright red cape hung down from the neck adorned with the faction symbol in white. Hanging around the cylinder like helmets not one of the amulets glowed. Sera had learned to block her magical aurora a long time ago. One of very few individuals left alive who could.

The first raised his mace and advanced down the street alone, shield held high to defend from magical attack. The layers of folded steel within could hold back even the most fearsome of magic based attacks. It was well built. Sera walked forward slowly, watching the knight advance with a curious gaze. She raised out her right arm and snapped her fingers. There was only the sound of empty armour crashing into the mud as the ash rushed out of the hollow metal shell and swirled around in the air for a brief moment. Sera masked it well but the attack had cost her dear in stamina. There was no chance she could repeat it without collapsing out of exhaustion. Sera had chosen it mainly for show. It worked. The crowd became frenzied as they rushed to flee the chaos.

Whether out of bravery or stupidity the second mage hunter advanced shield raised. Sera clicked her fingers. Intense flames licked out of the gaps in the armour and helmet and a blood curdling scream rung out into the empty street, partly muffed by the helmet. The remaining two shuffled, repositioning their feet before they charged ahead. Sera jumped them with ease. Spinning around she squeezed her left fist shut and grew the ice into a long spear. The armour was weakest at the neck and she hurtled it with deadly accuracy. The third mage hunters weapons crashed down into the soft mud before the body.

Rushing the remaining individual she used the force of the wind to sweep him of his feet and threw him into a nearby wall. Kneeling down by the still body Sera whispered, watching the terrified eyes behind the slit in the helmet. Her magical defensive barrier pressed down hard crushing the armour. She was exhausted. Such magic drained her more than she would admit and it was a relief that only four had turned up.

"It's ok. I'm not going to kill you. I need someone to deliver a message for me."

Scarlett arrived at the safehouse a little too late, the rain had exploded from the overcast sky and drenched her to the bone. It was annoying but the warmth of the Grim Inn was a welcome relief. She had spent the day scouting Grimm and her targets location. There was not much to report aside from the fact the mansion house roof was been retiled and the builders had erected scaffolding down the side of the building. A party was due to be held tonight and Scarlett had decided on the walk back, that was when she would strike.

After travelling through Solomon, Vergil had finally reached Grim. Unfortunately, the weather was not kind towards him, as it was a heavy constant rain that fell upon him. Luckily he has a place to call home whenever he is north of the main Middle District. He made his way towards a Inn near the eastern border. It was a small privately, owned place known as the Eternal Mist. Whilst it was a fully functional Inn, it other purpose was far from the truth. You see it also acted as a safehouse for him when he was far from his residence in the main Middle District. The innkeeper was a friend who owed Vergil a few favors years ago.

Vergil enters the Eternal Mist and makes his way towards the counter, where an old man of about forty years old is sorting through some letters. He rings the bell and the man lifts his head up, adjusting his glasses in the process.

"Vergil! My friend it is good to see you, how long has it been since you've last stopped here?"
"Its great to see you too Tobias, and its been at least a year."
"Only a year, strange, seems like it was longer, then again my memory isn't as great as it used to be. Anyway, enough about my problems, what can I do for you?"
"I just need to the key to my room"
"Okay then Vergil, let me just get it." Silas mumbled as he dissappeared into the back room.

Whilst he waited, Vergil decided to have a seat in the lobby area. It was then that a woman entered the inn. She was made instantly recognisable by the raven tattoo across her back which was showing through a light brown tank top, obviously made darker by the rain.

Vergil thought to himself as he laid eyes on the woman, sounding gleeful in the process; 'That must be Sera, shall I end it now. No, too quick, better to let her think that I am still on her side, that way when the moment comes to strike, she won't see it coming' The woman approached him.

"Excuse me sir, have you by any chance seen where a Vergil Crawford might be?"
"Your looking at him" Vergil replied bluntly, standing up afterwards. "I take it your Sera."
"How did you know?" Sera replied, sounding somewhat shocked in the process.
"That tattoo you have across your back, its very unique, one of a kind" Vergil said, smirking when he said 'unique'.
"How did you know that only I have this tattoo?" Sera asked.
"I heard about you from some old codger, when I was in a rundown inn called the Silver Moon a couple of days ago in Smo, ever been there?"
"Can't say I have." Sera replied sounding slightly scared as she thought; 'Does he know? Can't have, must be a coincedence'.
"Anyway" Vergil said, easing the tension alittle. "Enough about where we might have been, let's focus on where we are going. I take it your here to discuss the contract on Scarlett Verneer."
"Indeed I am, say do you have someplace a bit more private?" Sera asked.
"I do." Vergil replied, "The innkeeper is just getting my special key." At that moment, Tobias returned.
"Sorry for keep you waiting so long, here's your key, whose your... lady friend?" Tobias asked, noticing Sera as he Vergil passed a small silver circle with a pair of crossed swords engraved onto blue fabric.
"No problems Tobias, this is Sera, a contact I'm meeting to discuss a contract."
"Okay then, guess its back to work." Tobias mumbled as he carried on with his duties.

"Shall we?" Vergil asked Sera, gesturing towards the stairs.
"Yes, of course" Sera replied. The two headed up the stairs and arrived at a seemingly blank wall.
"Why are we staring at a blank wall!" Sera asked loudly.
"This isn't just a blank wall Sera... its a hidden door." Vergil replied as he placed the silver emblem into a spot on the wall, pushed it inwards, and then turned it. With that motion a series of gears could be heard turning behind the blank wall, suddenly the section of wall moved out of the way revealing a sizable room with various pieces of equipment laid out in slightly untidy fashion.

"How did you... know that was there?" Sera asked, astonished by what she saw.
"Well one, I designed it, and two, my special sense allows me to see illusions and hidden passageways."
"Why the hidden entrace?" Sera asked.
"When your in the line of work that we are in, secrecy is a luxury that is prevalent for our survival." Vergil replied with as the two entered the room, the section of wall returning to its original place.

Oh god, not now!

Sera had been too preoccupied with Vergil to feel it coming. The burning sensation in her back was growing, spreading like a wildfire across the nerves and leaving them screaming in its wake. Usually her reward to divitny was pleasing, but in the company of another it would be awkward to explain.

"Vergil, do not be alarmed. I am extending a magical barrier across this room to... to well soundproof it. I mean you no harm but I ask that whatever happens, and I mean whatever you see, you do not touch me. Understand?"

Too late to see his response Sera turned her back on Vergil and reached out pressing her palms against the wall. She closed her eyes and lowered her head until it too touched the wall. Sera took a deep breath and cursed out loud.

"I'm sorry you have to see this Vergil."

Sera screamed as loud as her lungs would let her, every part of her body was in total agony, the tattoo on her back began to glow a fierce red and burn through her top. The wings, they, they moved! Very slowly but they where moving up her back folding outwards until they reached just under her armpits. Once they stopped the colour began to fade until it returned to the colour of black ink, leaving no evidence of their previous position on her skin behind.

"Unique, Vergil, is one way of describing it."

"A little bit drastic, but if you think it is necessary, considering the topic of discussion" Vergil replied with, seemingly unfazed by what has transpired.

Still reeling from the pain of her tattoo shifting itself Sera turned to Vergil catching her breath.

"You have no idea how necessary it was. When did you meet Aaron again?"

"I told you, I met him in the Silver Moon down in Smo a couple of days ago." He replied, he sensed that she knew about his dealings with Aaron, and how he came across the description of her.

Sera wondered how much the old man had said, pushing the thought from her mind she let the sound proofing barrier disintegrate and focused all her strength on the personal defence barrier she was still maintaining.

"What do you know about Scarlett and me?

"Nothing, well nothing about your past anyway, if thats what your implying. Look, I may not be a mage, but there is no need to use a defensive barrier here, you can trust me." Vergil replied with, giving off a little wry smile in the process.

Telnor fell to the ground as a large hammer smashed the wall behind him. Rolling to his feet he jumped back from his large opponent. Standing at almost seven feet tall, bulging with muscles and armed with a large hammer, his opponent was formidable.

"You chose the wrong day to attack me," the large man yelled. "I've got enough mages that want to kill me that I don't need some person playing hero attempt to kill me."

"Come on Jegme. Come quietly. We both know no matter what happens you will die or be captured. Make it easier on everyone and come quietly." Telnor requested.
Jegme laughed," It is better to die fighting then to go quietly like a dog with a mage's go for boy." With that he swung his hammer downwards at Telnor. Telnor sidestepped the blow and slashed at Jegme. Telnor's sword connected but Jegme was able to move back just enough to leave a shallow, but bloody wound.

Jegme roared and threw his hammer with all his might. Telnor jumped to side, hitting the ground with an, "oomph" as the hammer flew past him and imbedded itself in the wall. Before Telnor was able to get up he felt a large pair of hands wrap around his neck.

"I shall choke the life out of you and you shall regret the day you tried to kill me," Jegme taunted. Telnor struggled as the world began to blacken.

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