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Jul 11, 08 at 8:21pmAmano Murokumo




[- READ -]

There are many, many Role Plays out there that have a 'Mature' rating. Most of these are just for freedom reasons. However, this particular Role Play has a Mature rating for it's theme. Do not read this out of recreation if a Mature rating is not something you would like to see. Thank you.












Arachnid was finding it hard to concentrate on the middle aged man at the alter. His hand was busy teasing a young lady's leg next to him. Within this stone church there were five rows of aged wooden pews. They were glossed with vintage oils, and adorned by various scratches and marks. The man who spoke with a deep, experienced voice from the alter wore a thick black robe. His fingers displayed several rings of gold hues which successfully matched gold trim on his mantle. This man - named Lutious - kept an even expression to match his firm speech. However, this slightly waned when his eyes passed over Arachnid, who himself found his hand more than teasing his lady friend.

Lutious knew greatly of Arachnid's painfully evident obsession and passed it over with a grinning glance. "Love is all around us," he belted to all corners of the small church. "Love is hidden. It's hidden, and can be an ally…or maybe an enemy."

Arachnid's hand was long hidden beneath the ladies skirt. 'How does that feel, Junebug?' Arachnid thought with a visual devious smile.

Lutious continued, "Love is perhaps the most powerful being that we, as humans, know of! We can't even see love! It's quiet until it wants to be shown!"

'Junebug…you love this don't you?' Arachnid couldn't help but smile for his fingers. His own heart was beginning to pound behind a black linen coat. He couldn't imagine how much Junebug's was.

"And why can't we control love? Why? Why, why, WHY, can't we control it? It's a weapon that's against everyone…or with everyone. It decides! Love decides! Love decides how we feel!!"


{~ Later that night at Arachnid's house ~}



It was the longest three seconds Arachnid had ever experienced. The three seconds his lips spent away from Junebug's while pulling her shirt up, off, and onto the carpeted floor. He mused the idea that she shouldn't wear a shirt from then on, thus preventing such a problem, but soon found this thought slain by her tongue. They were redefining the word 'kiss'. If they were going too far, then they were adding sub-meanings. A smile led to a muted chuckle while Junebug worked quickly to pull back Arachnid's jacket. Time blurred after this. There were no words to checkpoint a spot in history, nor were there any subtle moves. 'Remove barriers to a rampant love power'. This was the redundant and energizing thought.

Junebug couldn't help but realize that Arachnid - normally the reclusive and saturnine figure - had a reliable energy. Perhaps it was her black painted nails digging into his sweaty back, or her obvious enjoyment of the repeating motion. Whichever it was, no answer was a negative one. Arachnid was at his most comfortable spirit being inside her. He loved her more than anyone ever had. This meant more than just lust. He loved her as a friend, a human, and he would be there for her until the end.









Thread Recap (last 10 posts from newest to oldest)

Nov 09, 08 at 8:41pm
Amano Murokumo


Arachnid






Arachnid was thrown off by the mention of 'Mercury', but found curiosity as well. Why would Shiloh, a man Arachnid has never met face to face before this day, act as if he knew Arachnid's intentions? "What is Mercury?"

Shiloh's face was so disconnected with anything from this world. His eyes and pale complexion begged for a savior, however it seemed his soul had given up. "I didn't think you'd be a person to play dumb. From what I've heard of your past, from what I've been told…I would say that Mercury is who you're trying to find."

'Is 'who' I'm trying to find?' Arachnid thought. His eyes flickered from Shiloh's to notice the boomerang sitting casually in his hand. "Are you saying Mercury is a person?"

Shiloh squinted, "Was I wrong? Do you really not seek him?"

Arachnid gulped with the memory of Shiloh's boomerang buzzing over his head, "You were wrong, yes. I, in honesty, do not know what you're talking about."

"You want to see Junebug again, right?"

Arachnid flinched.

"Isn't that why you named that slave 'Junebug'?"



~<3~




Hazelton Phat and Black. Leaders of The Guns and The Rabbits, respectively. Each week they'd sit before the five Sage family members and receive a briefing of new guild changes. The room these meetings resided in was laced with incense and shadows. A long table was where the five Sages sat, while Black and Hazelton were seated in independent chairs seated - almost obscurely - in the center of the room without tables. Black had his reinforced oak crossbow leaned against his chair and wore a confident smile upon his face. Hazelton sat oddly in his chair, and seemed to be trying to avoid possible eye contact with Black. His rifle was not present.

"The meeting will start now," Sarah Sage said first, and probably the last thing she'd say the whole meeting. Sarah was by far the quietest of the Sages.

Claudia Sage sat forward in her cushioned chair and peered straight into Black's dark eyes, "Kay. I need to inform you about something that's dominant. It's my opinion, and I think the others, that-"

"Don't put words in my mouth," Glenn Sage spat.

"Fine, whatever!" Claudia continued, "It's MY opinion that your Rabbits need more training. You do have some good ranks, but I would say half of them could be smeared by Crow alone."

Glenn placed his finger up as if to halt Black from speaking for a moment, "Actually, never mind. I do agree with that."

"Let him speak," Grettnia Sage input.

Black wasn't shaking or nervous at all. It was this type of pressure that he loved. "You're right. Actually, I've begun a more dedicated training procedure, and with my records, it's working. Even Matsu has begun use of a mace instead of just a banjo, and Deuce has added a few…assassin type moves to his repertoire. And Gakob has shown tremendous advancement with his fencing skills. To prove this, he stabbed ten apples within one second. The biggest weak link I see is Sasha."

Hazelton stirred in his seat. Sasha was his daughter, but despite this, he knew of her weaknesses.

Claudia eyed Hazelton, "Care to say anything about that?"

Hazelton lifted his gaze to meet hers, "I…I'll talk to her a bit. I'll do what I can to make her more useful to Black."

Black turned towards Hazelton with an increasing smile; evidentially ready to capitalize on what he said. However, Sarah decided to speak again and prevent this attempt, "Am I the only one here who cares about the fact that ONE member of the Sage family is missing!? Do you guys not notice you're missing a sibling!?"

The room grew with tension. Sarah's hand was shacking as it attempted to sit steady on the table in front of her. If anyone would be able to see her face past the hair which shadowed it, they'd surely find a tear.

"Arachnid got him. Arachnid killed him. Save Sage is dead." Grettnia spoke calmly.



~<3~




Shiloh gasped for air and for the essence of life he had just recently felt before Arachnid opened his Black Book. Blood easily and effortlessly stained the cream colored clothes Shiloh wore, and even explored the cracks found on his boomerang. Even though his vision blurred, Shiloh caught sight of Arachnid's eyes. Eyes which burned with utter anger and distaste for the dim amount of life that Shiloh stilled retained.

"You tell me not to mention the sky…you tell me not to mention the damn piece of shit sky AND YOU BRING UP SOMETHING LIKE THAT!?" Arachnid wasn't alone. Behind him the embodiment of Martyrr levitated with the aura of black lightning.

Shiloh couldn't say anything. Not because his vocal cords were smashed, but because he had been caught off guard. Not just by a bit, but by complete failure. It wasn't a moment after mentioning 'Junebug' that Arachnid had his book open and chanted words Shiloh wished to never hear again. Words which to him had no remembrance to anything he had ever heard before, but would now be the soundtrack to a deadly memory.

Arachnid turned around to face Martyrr, "I want you to maim this boy. I want you to disable his ability to use his weapon. Don't kill him, though. And don't destroy his weapon."




Nov 09, 08 at 6:31am
tyto72


"Alright, whatever." Sylvia muttered. She blew a lock of hair out of her eyes. Turning on her heel, she pushed open the door. The heels of her boots thumped lightly on the wooden walkways. However, rather than pull her hood up as usual, she let it flop down over her shoulders. It felt nice for her to not have to hide under it- for a while, at least. The clouds had lightened, and the rain had stopped. Thunder rumbled in the distance, quieter as the storm front moved on. Soon, the sun was shining again, and it made Canopie all the more beautiful. With the presence of sunlight filtering through the leaves, the entire area had a green tint to it.

"Too bad I have to leave…" she mused, taking a ramp that led to the forest floor. She rocked back ion her heels, looking around and trying to find where she had come from. Everything about the forest looked pretty much the same.

"In hindsight, a map would have been a great idea…"

Oh well. She wasn't going to turn back.




Nov 06, 08 at 5:19am
Aulis Vaara


"You didn't know girls have lusts too, did you? At least not in the same way as men." Sasha's somewhat light voice said slightly unevenly because she seemed to be out of air.

Junebug didn't reply. Mostly out of habit, but she was so out of breath that even if she had wanted to, she would not have been able to. She was audibly gasping for air and even moaned now and again in afterjoy of what she had just experienced. She couldn't wrap her head around how such a thing were possible. She couldn't even really remember how intense it had been, and the moment was barely past. It was safe to say that she had never enjoyed something quite like it before. So no, she hadn't known that women could share in the lusts of men.

She shivered with joy and not long after, Sasha climbed into the bed with her, wrapping her arm around the weary Junebug who for once in her life did not worry about being a proper slave, but instead felt contented with the gift she had received, even if she didn't understand it. She even smiled at the person beside her as she closed her eyes and relaxed, feeling a hand fondling her hair and Sasha's warm breath on her skin. It was all just so calming and soothing that this moment seemed to be disconnected from everything. It was a sensation of peace that she had never felt before. She wanted to stay forever.

It didn't take long however before she began to feel guilty about lying in a comfortable bed and doing absolutely nothing. It didn't seem like what she should be doing. She stirred and because doing so, her mistress for the moment turned to her. The girl waited a good moment before she realized that Junebug would not say anything on her own without the proper incentive. So Sasha spoke up.

"What is it, Junebug?"

The use of her brand new name surprised her, at the very least. If she had been any other person, it would've been enough to make her stop talking. But she was still herself of course and thus she couldn't stop talking. Instead, it only delayed the 'once in a while' use of her voice.

"Shouldn't I be doing something for you?" She hadn't really known what she was going to say, so what had felt most natural to her had come out, albeit somewhat slowly, with audible pauses between some of the words.

"No. At least not now. Just stay and relax, enjoy the moment."

Sasha's reply didn't really ease Junebug's feeling of laziness. She looked over Sasha's shoulder to the wooden door at that side of the room, her mind denying that her Master needed her, but still she wanted to go. He was her Master afterall, she needed to be with him.

"You're staying," Sasha suddenly stated seriously, "even if it means tieing you to the bed."

Junebug had no doubt the woman meant what she said, so she laid her head back down.

"Don't worry, you still have a job to do," the girl's voice had become much softer again, "besides, I don't think Arachnid intends to make you submit to him like Save did."

She knew that was true, but it still made her somewhat nervous. Arachnid had shown he was very talented in that area, and even when he was not around, he succeeded in making his slave uncomfortable. Irony dictated that Save was constantly doing that intentionally and yet she had felt more in her place then. It was mainly because if she was not a slave, then who was she? Where would she go, what would she do? She would be completely lost. It was much easier if you had your place and you stuck to it, even more so if you liked that place.

"Why do you try so hard?" Sasha asked, and a moment later she added: "Please tell me."

The young Adore member stared at her intently, most likely waiting to see if Junebug intended to answer her or not. She knew it annoyed some people that she rarely said anything. There had occasionally been people who tried to get a conversation going with her, but without much success. But this time, it appeared to be going a different way. Somehow, the girl looking at her had managed to open her open a little, paving the way for her own wants instead of just doing what she had to do and moving on to her next task. But the more she considered opening up to the girl, the more vulnerable she felt and the bigger the urge to run back to her place became.

In the end she breathed out hard and loud, and then spoke. "Because I am His slave. And as a slave I should always be there to fulfill the wishes of my Master."

"But, don't you ever just want to do nothing? Or experience some amazing things for yourself?" Sasha wanted to know next. "I mean, look at what I just made you experience, that was wonderful, was it not?"

Junebug agreed, her experience had been beyond unimaginable, and she was very grateful for it, but things just were the way they were and she accepted that. Why would she want to change herself anymay? Everybody had their place in the world had their place in the world, and she had just explained hers to Sasha.

The situation had turned awkwardly silent after that last question and Sasha seemed somewhat disappointed, thus Junebug said: "Thank you."

That was enough to brighten Sasha again. Even though it was not by that much, it was still a good improvement. "Good. Now it is your turn then."



Nov 05, 08 at 6:44pm
BSmith3


OOC: Until Tyto edits, pretend the last line of the last post never took place.

-----

Kieta watched as the girl named Siv dropped her sword to the ground. Was she crazy? She herself would never go off on a dangerous mission of any sort without a weapon. Suddenly, the thought of a mission registered in her mind. Mission? She'd just run into these people in the middle of the woods! How was she suddenly a guild recruit? She quickly raised her hand to get Lutious's attention.

"Um... uh, what if we don't... want to be here?"

Lutious stared her down. "DO you want to be here?"

Kieta was about to answer, but paused. She had nowhere to go right now, and judging from the questions the others asked, she knew more about Adore than any of them. Maybe she was meant to be here after all. Her eyes must have revealed her thoughts to Lutious, who simply nodded before turning towards Siv again, who was just about to leave.

"Change of plans, Siv. No matter one's skill, it is probably best not to go alone. One other will accompany you." He turned to the other four recruits. "As there are an odd number of you, one will have to be the odd man out. Who thinks they can work on their own?" Instantly, four hands shot up. "Well... can't say you're not an enthusiastic bunch." Lutious gazed around the table at the four faces, seemingly summing each one up. Finally he nodded. "Okay, Kieta, you're to go with Siv. Alaster and Condor will partner, and Cojisto will have his own mission." All five nodded consent. Lutious paused before motioning towards Sylvia. "You two may go." Sylvia nodded and the two females headed out the door.

"Now," Lutious turned to the other three. "Cojisto." Cojisto stood and walked over to where Lutious sat. "Your mark's name is Garrett Olson. He can be most likely found in Valicore, a small town situated in the Gorn Mountains. Nothing to note about this one, though he'll most likely try to flee upon discovery. Have fun." Cojisto nodded and made for the door.

"And you two - your mark is Lysander Tirris. Highly skilled with a rapier, be on guard. He's in charge of recruitment for Adore in the city of Saturnine. Take him out, and we severely hinder the progress of recruits from the west. Got it? Good, you're free to go."




Nov 04, 08 at 11:47pm
tyto72


"You first, Siv."

Sylvia looked up from the detailed carving in the mahogany legs of a chair.

"I told you- I can hear you from here." she said, blowing a lock of hair out of her eyes and tapping a finger impatiently.

"Just get over here." Lutious said sternly, narrowing his eyes. Sylvia looked as if she were about to retort, but after seeing the look on his face, she decided not to take it any further. Straightening up slowly, she began walking languidly over to the table.

"Fine, have it your way." she replied with a very un-subtle roll of her eyes. Slouching into a chair, she put her chin on one hand- propping herself up on the table. Curiosity sparked some in her gray eyes- she was interested in her first mission, as much as she hated to leave Canopie. Resisting the temptation to drum her fingernails on the smooth surface, she put on a look of attentiveness.

"Well, now that I have your full attention…" Lutious began, "your mark is named Nikolas Curran, a Shiv in Adore- which is basically the lowest rank possible. He's in charge of a racketeering outfit based in Raithe. He's not the sharpest guy, but he knows his way around weapons pretty well. He and his lackeys are very interested in the new weapon being developed in Raithe- the 'pistol'. It's likely that he's planning to outfit Adore with pistols. Chances are, they'll be armed with them eventually anyways, but it can't hurt to stop him and cause a delay."

Sylvia rocked her chin back and forth on her palm in a lazy nod. Grabbing the cloak that was hanging on the back of the chair, she whipped it around herself- fastening it quickly. The material had dried out with surprising speed. Undoing the clasps on the sheath of her short sword, she let it drop to the floor.

"I don't think I'll be needing that." she said. For a moment, she lingered over the daggers. They really didn't take up any room- just a pair of small, slim-bladed knives. She decided that she would keep them handy. It's hard to say just when and where you would need a hidden weapon.

"Right, then- I'll get going. Try not to miss me too much."




Nov 04, 08 at 11:04pm
BSmith3


"I got a question," Cojisto spoke up, "How in the heck did ya build this place?"

Lutious just smirked and nodded. "Something even I'm not sure of. You see, there should be one more body among us - I have no idea where my young partner Aracnid has run off to. Most likely he's looking for us in Soard, actually. ...Anyway, it was he that commissioned the building of Canopie. As to how it was actually constructed, I was left in the dark. Suffice to say that Aracnid has some fairly skilled friends."

Alaster choked back a chuckle. Some skilled friends indeed... if only Lutious knew.

And so, the meeting dragged on. Some information Lutious related to them was interesting, some unnecessary, and all of it just plain strange. Alaster sat through the Q&A session without saying a word; he was amazed at how little the others actually knew about Adore.

'Can these guys REALLY take down an entire guild?' he thought with trepidation. They were skilled, to be sure, but as Ava always said, knowledge is the key to victory. One wrong move in the presence of an Adore member and you'd find your throat slit before you knew what happened. He wondered if the new recruits were possibly ready for what lay ahead.

As Lutious began talking about their living accommodations, Alaster stood and asked where the bathroom was. Lutious pointed him to a door beneath the grand staircase. Once inside, Alaster immediately latched the door. He closed his eyes and felt the familiar sensation of his feet hovering off the ground. When he re-opened them, he was once again inside Ava's room in Reimoorse.

"Alaster?" Ava looked up from her chair, in which she had been reading a book. "Any news?"

"Aracnid's nowhere to be found. Lutious has no idea where he is, though it's a possibility that he's still in Soard. The guild meeting had to be relocated due to an Adore attack."

"One step ahead of us as always..." Ava mused. "How in the world do they do it?" Ava, of course, knew how they could do it, but the thought was painful. It was one of them; an inside man. But no... she trusted all her colleagues with her life. The thought that a shadow lay amongst them almost physically hurt.

"One more thing," Alaster spoke, his red eyes staring unflinching into Ava's purple. "What would you say to my joining Geist? No offense to Lutious, but the crew he's found seems rather... unreliable."

"They have Aracnid. I think they'll be fine."

"Unfortunately they do not have Aracnid right now, and in the few short months he's been in the know, he's already proven unreliable. You said it yourself: he hasn't checked in in over a week. I believe we should have a fail-safe in place."

Ava paused. Alaster certainly had a point. She took a deep breath and nodded. "Very well Alaster, you shall join Geist under the guise of a new recruit. That is your mission until further notice."

Alaster quickly nodded, then said, "I should be getting back. They'll begin to suspect something should I take too long in the bathroom."

Ava chuckled quietly and nodded. With a soft whoosh, Alaster was gone. A few seconds later, there came a knock at the door.

'Finally, a knock for once,' Ava thought, shaking her head. 'I've gotten too used to Alaster's random appearances.' She crossed the room and opened the door to find a familiar face staring back at her: two brilliant blue eyes framed by long white hair.

"Arcaia...? You know you shouldn't..." Ava stopped suddenly as Arcaia looked down at his stomach. Her eyes followed his until they were staring at Arcaia's hand, quickly turning scarlet as a giant stain spread from underneath it. Without a word, Arcaia collapsed into Ava's arms.

-----

Alaster exited the bathroom to hear Lutious saying something about their ranks - something Alaster thought unnecessary at this point, there were only five recruits.

"...Prove yourselves. I'm assigning each of you a name of a very low-ranking Adore member. Find your mark, eliminate him or her, and report back to me - in detail. I will assess your ranks from your skill in dealing with your mark. Once you receive your mark, you may begin."




Nov 03, 08 at 10:17pm
tyto72


"Yeah. Got a coat rack?"

Sylvia swung her still-damp cloak from one hand. She had taken it off while seated and was glaring at Alaster, Cojisto, and Condor- daring them to look. Not really waiting for an answer, she simply hung it on her chair. That was answer enough for whether or not she intended to stay. She took her time self-touring the Guild Hall- admiring the woodwork.

"If you were going to speak to us, I can hear you from here." she remarked to Lutious, scratching at the wall with one finger, marveling at the smooth quality. Moving on to the rest of the foyer, she prodded at the couches. They seemed especially comfortable, but she didn't sit down. The Hall was the most lavish place she had ever been to short of the cathedral in Plume, but she found the newer, more friendly and relaxed place much more tasteful. Continuing her 'inspection', she moved to look at the stairs, delighted by their classy , impressive appearance. She was somewhat disappointed to find that it was wood, but she didn't really linger over it. All the while, she kept her ears tuned to the table where the others were sitting.




Nov 03, 08 at 9:29pm
BSmith3


"Oh yes, we're here for a reason," Lutious said, unfazed by Sylvia's imposing demeanor. "What you are looking at is the newly-constructed Guild Hall of Geist. But let's not continue our meeting out here, follow me." As Lutious proceeded to stride past Siv, a rustling sound was heard from the woods around them. Lutious paused. Sylvia turned to take a few steps towards the sound, when all of a sudden a figure came barreling out of the forest, crashing into Siv and sending them both to the ground. Cojisto and Alaster were quick to take a defensive stance, until they saw the intruder to be not an Adore member, but a woman wearing a makeshift suit of armor.

"What the hell is your problem?!" Siv exclaimed, shoving the woman off of her. "And where the hell did you come from?" The girl looked frightened for a second, but quickly shook it off.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she said, getting up and extending a hand to help Sylvia, though it was slapped away. "I... what are you people doing in the for..." Before she could finish, the impressive sight of Canopie caught her eye, and she just stared up at the buildings for a minute before Cojisto finally asked her name.

"K... Kieta," she said. "I'm... I guess you could call me a wanderer."

"Well then, you're in good company," Sylvia said, still not entirely happy about being knocked on her ass.

"Welcome, Kieta. Come along." Lutious turned and headed up the path into the trees. Alaster, Sylvia, Cojisto, and the stranger were quick to follow, with a slightly baffled Kieta not far behind.

"Hope no one's afraid of heights," the stranger commented, looking down over the side of the rope bridge. It was the first time he'd spoken, and the other three recruits seemed to suddenly realize he wasn't at the original meeting.

"Wait... who are you, anyways?" Cojisto finally asked as they continued to proceed upwards.

"The name's Condor," the man said with a gentle smile. "Nice to meet you." The others glanced at each other - he seemed nice enough.

A minute of climbing later, and the group of five stood at the giant oak doors marking the entrance to the Main Hall. Sylvia looked around; she couldn't help but notice that Canopie seemed to be completely deserted. As Lutious opened the massive doors, she spoke up.

"Um... forgive me for my naivete, but... where is everyone?"

"This is everyone," Lutious said, ushering them through the doors. "You're the first recruits of Geist, remember?"

The inside of the Guild Hall was beautifully decorated in all different kinds of wood - maple, oak, mahogany, birch... a rather large foyer with comfortable-looking chairs and couches greeted them, punctuated by an impressive staircase that appeared to be marble at first glance, though it was revealed to be wood at the touch. Lutious motioned for the five of them to sit down around a table, then took a seat himself.

"As I said before, welcome to Canopie. Now I see three faces that weren't introduced in Soard. Care to do so?" Alaster and Condor introduced themselves, followed by Kieta. Lutious nodded before continuing. "Now, should you choose to stay on with Geist, this place will become your home. I must warn you, the work will not be easy, nor will it be safe. But I promise you - it will be well worth it. Any questions?"




Nov 03, 08 at 8:57pm
tyto72


Sylvia whistled softly, eyebrows raised.

"Canopie? Shit, you'd never even know this was here from the outside." she continued in an awed voice. The place was so set apart from everywhere she had ever been- the ruins and taint of Soard, the nauseating piety of Plume, and the overall drabness and discomfort of the other places. It was what had driven her to traveling in the first place. In Canopie, however, she felt removed from the grime of the streets she used to walk. It was, in essence, a magical feeling. Then, remembering what exactly had brought them there, she turned on her heel and looked Lutious square in the eye in her typical 'I-want-answers-now' manner.

"Okay, so we're here in Canopie. Why did we come here? Now what? I'm praying that you have some kind of plan."

Really, she wasn't hoping for anything that needed done. She wanted to know more about Canopie's 'bridge-life', as there appeared to be no 'streets' in the conventional sense. Being curious in her own way, she wanted to see if it was more than appearance that made Canopie such a nicer place than the other towns in the region. Perhaps, she could also find somewhere she could dry out her old cloak, or at least buy a couple new outfits to compensate for the clothes she had left behind in her makeshift residence in Riot's Edge. Her things had likely been stolen, for she had been gone much longer than she had intended to. Bad karma had to get her sometime, and what better way than to have another return the favor she had been giving out for years? Sylvia had stolen plenty of things herself and sold them. As a result, she did have quite a bit of money, which she kept close always. Her weapons were in need of a fresh, professional edge as well if she happened to come upon a blacksmith. It didn't really occur to her that shopping was often considered very much a 'girl thing'.




Nov 03, 08 at 8:22pm
BSmith3


"No, we can't," Lutious replied. "And I'd tell you where we're headed but.... well, just wait and see."

Lutious slowed his pace to a jog as they exited Soard, allowing the others to catch up. There was Siv and Cojisto, plus two stragglers from the barfight he didn't recognize.

'Well,' he supposed, 'The more the merrier - we DO need to get this guild kick-started.' Kicking it into gear again, the five travelers sped up.

"Forgive me for being rude," Alaster panted, "But... why are we still running?"

"Get there faster." Lutious said simply, nodding.

"And where is 'there'?" Siv asked impatiently.

"About... four miles north of here."

"FOUR miles?!" Alaster exclaimed, "And we're going to RUN? And in the rain..." He sighed... he wasn't used to this kind of exercise. He could always... but he shook his head; he had to run with them, there'd be no way to explain how he got to their destination otherwise. To his dismay, the other three were keeping up quite well with Lutious. Willing himself on, he put his head down and ran.

--Four miles later--

As they jogged down a dirt path winding through the Rift Forest, Lutious slowed down, with Siv, Cojisto, and the stranger right behind him. Alaster appeared about 15 seconds later, completely winded.

"We're almost there. This way." Lutious looked pointed into the dense forest.

"Um... what way?" Cojisto asked, peering into the trees.

"This way." Lutious repeated, lifting a pine branch to reveal a perfectly concealed, yet well-kept path through the undergrowth. A traveler along the road would never even notice anything out of the ordinary. Beckoning, Lutious ducked under the branch and vanished from sight. The other four eagerly followed, intrigued as to where the hidden trail might lead.

They traipsed through the forest for a good ten minutes when all of a sudden, the branches parted and they entered a beautiful glade surrounded by the massive trunks of oaks and redwoods. The four new recruits gazed around in wonder at the natural beauty of the clearing, their eyes traveling over every flower and rock, across the enormous trees, and out the other side, where a path led upwards at a gentle slope until it ended in a sturdy-looking rope bridge. Their eyes continued to follow the bridge up and up, until all four gasped collectively.

High above the group, nestled among the treetops, was a building, so perfectly constructed out of wood that it almost blended into the trees. Bridges spread from it majestically, reminiscent of a spiderweb, leading to multiple smaller buildings constructed in a similar manner to the large one. The scene was awe-inspiring.

"Welcome to Canopie," Lutious said.




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