02 - Necessary Evil

At Ashara's words, Ehrvik dashes forward and plucks Samm up as easily as a child lifting a kitten, tilting his head to one side and examining the sailor. "Break them, but keep them alive," he calls out to the rest of the pack, backhanding Samm into unconsciousness.

With two quick strokes of his blade, Kaiyurn forces Travok and Ashara to their knees beside Corvana while Unghull rushes in, tossing the massive Kadal around like a scarecrow in a strong wind, the brutish vampire laughing as the larger mungo is manhandled easily. With his blade held out to the shaman and the thief, Kaiyurn leans down and slowly licks the wound on Corvana's throat, his saliva closing it, sealing her free-flowing life back inside her young body. Outside, Tahlisha smiles and makes an offering gesture toward the cavern's entrance and Thorn, his actions and limbs no longer under his own control, turn him and walk in, past the other vampires, kneeling beside Travok, Kadal and Ashara.

Back in the woods, Ehrvik turns to look at Willow but the shifter, tears streaming down her cheeks, is already gone, a wolf in the night, running through the woods as fast as she can, and the current pack master laughs as she drags Samm back to the cave...


None of you are bound or restrained in anyway, Kaiyurn standing at the cave entrace, his blade drawn, enough imprisonment to keep you at bay. On the far side, Corvana lies on her back, her eyes closed, her body writhing as she moans softly; Tahlisha has her lips against the girl's mouth while Ungholl feeds from her wrist. Ehrvik paces behind you, making sure you watch, turning your head forcefully if you try to turn away.

"Once they've fed, we have some questions for you, soldier," Ehrvik says, reaching down to gently squeeze Samm's shoulders. "And don't worry, boy, we don't believe in torture in this pack. Torture only makes people tell you what they think you want to hear. Pointless endeavor." He leans down and wraps one arm around Samm's neck, bringing his mouth close to Samm's ear, close enough that he could feel the vampire's breath, if the lifeless thing breathed.

"Look at her," he says, pointing to the witch with his free hand. "She's enjoying it, isn't she? She practically asked for it. Practically begged for it. She's a good little girl, isn't she?" he chuckles.


As Willow runs, she becomes aware she is not being followed and her senses clear enough that she realizes she should turn to the skies to find Ajaoh. Just as her form begins to shift, she hears a sharp, short whistle, her head snapping to the side. Leaning against a tree, a chilling grin upon her face, Ajaoh rests. "Well, you were in a hurry to abandon your friends, weren't you? After getting them in all of this trouble, too," she mocks, her voice a sharp sting, her smile cruel and cold.

" Hmmm,, a lady who knows what she wants, and has the ability to get it, I know more than a few people who'd pay money for that, let alone a couple that would just be entertaining to set ya on. And Ehrvik if Ajoah ever let ya outta the sand box to play on your own, while I don't think your quite at the level needed for Thorne's Travelling Troupe, I know of a couple of other entertainers that could probably find a use for you, that is if ya could be trained to play well with others." Says Thorn with a half mocking tone and grin on his face.

A growl escapes the huntresses wolf snout ...

Willow restrains herself from pouncing at Queen Vamp, she is more then outclassed and the others are in the kind of danger that may mean they are already dead.

Willow shifts back to her natural form, dropping her bow to the ground -- it is no use against such as these.

"My friends are under attack by your flock, but you already know that, don't you", the shifter realises, the beautiful cruel smile not leaving Ajoah's face. Dropping to one knee, then heavily to the other, the proud, impetuous, headstrong, loyal shifter feels hopeless, ... I ... humbly ... request that you ... release ... my ... companions" she says through the tears, not only hopeless, but broken -- not by the strength of her enemies, but by the love for her friends, "You can take me for them, I have more life in me then any of those. I know you can sense that within me. I just ask that you please let them go, they have done nothing to offend you, nothing but help you. They are kind, and do not deserve the wrath of your flock. I only ask that you have them healed and set free to return to their families, back to the harbour of this monstrous island."

Please ... and with that last word in her mind, the huntress drops her head to her chest as she awaits the response from Ajaoh.

As Thorn rubs the back of his now bleeding head, Ehrvik having slammed it against the stone wall of the cavern, he stands sharply, the other three vampires snap turning to the entrance of the cavern. You hear and see nothing, the still, snowy night dark and cold and silent. But then, Willow makes her way into the flickering light of the fire, her face red and stained with tears, no weapons sheathed or strapped to her.

Behind her, Ajaoh strides in, walking tall, a wicked grin upon her face as the pack remains hunkered down, Kaiyurn lowering himself to match his brethren. "Mistress," they all say quietly, bowing their heads briefly, before looking back to her and standing. "We smelled you strongly on these vagrants and took them, hoping to bleed your whereabouts from them," Ehrvik says, gesturing to all of you.

Ajaoh looks to each of you, then to Corvana, bleeding on the floor. "See to her wounds. I want that one kept alive," Ajaoh says sternly and Tahlisha moves quickly to seal the witch's wounds. "Unghull, out into the night. Catch something to feed them with. Something healthy and filling." The lumbering, giant vampire says nothing, only nodding before loping off into the night.

Ajaoh moves forward and grabs Willow by the back of the neck, shoving her forward and sending her sprawling on the cold, hard ground. "This one came and offered herself, begging pathetically for her friend's lives," Ajaoh scoffs and the other vampires laugh as Willow moves to where the rest of you kneel and sit. "Tonight, we will see them well fed and their wounds tended to," she says, walking across the stone floor, examining the cavern.

Ehrvik cocks an eye brow. "You want them tended to, mistress?" he asks, the puzzlement clear in his voice. Ajaoh turns and looks to you as she addresses the pack beta.

"That is exactly what I want, Ehrvik. You see, although these vagrants are shallow and pale substitutions for our kind, they are still quite competent and they are not yet hunted as widely as we. I have plans for them. Starting tomorrow," she coos, crouching to eye-level with you, "I think we're going to get along with them just swimmingly."

Rubbing the back of his head, Thorn starts mumbling to himself about really needing to remember that he should probably learn to keep his mouth shut on occasion, getting interrupted midstream by the vampires turning to watch Ajaoh and Willow's entrance. Frowning a bit on the site of an unarmed Willow, turning to a sly grin as Ajaoh speaks.

After Ajaoh is done, Thorn balances his favorite dagger on his finger, imbuing it with a small bit of energy and fire, before rolling and tossing it about, thinking a moment as the flames spit and burn along the blade, before saying " I doubt you vampires are much for wine, but never the less, a toast to living another day, and to playing nice with new friends, if only for a short while." The sly grin growing a bit with a friendly chuckle, Thorn disappates the flames with a flourish while secreting the blade into his robes, before continuing the movement and grabbing a bottle of wine, cracking it up, holding it up and simply saying "Cheers" taking a good gulp before offering it around.

A rather dejected Willow avoids making eye contact with anyone else. She changes to her wolf form and curls up into a ball along one of the sides of the shallow cave, a whimper can be heard from the she wolf as she brings her tail over her eyes and snout.

"Well, at least I might not get any more scars today," Samm thought as the one vampire rather intimidatingly informed him of their opinions on torture. As he leans down to whisper the second half of his threat to Samm however, the warriors shoulders tightened noticeably under Ehervik's hand. "And thats what you get for being optimistic," he thought bitterly. There was nothing he could do to stop them, as much as every fibre in his body wished to. He hated to give them even the satisfaction of knowing what an effect it had on him. Superficially, he knew he should pretend that he didn't care, that they had nothing over him, but his protective instinct was too strong for him to mask. Hell, even the blindest drunk could probably read his involuntary reaction. No only was someone he was responsible being hurt, and he could do nothing to stop it, they were being hurt because of him. He prayed Willow had gotten away safely. A quick count showed all the vampires, and no Willow, which might be something, although given the last betrayal of positive thinking he was hesitant to continue any further down the line lest Lady Luck was still listening.

Thankfully Thorn's baiting distracts the Vampire from his torment of Samm briefly, perhaps sparing Corvana a little time. Determined to take responsibility for his actions the old sailor refuses to take the opportunity to look away however, and it is only when he notices the subtle change in the atmosphere that he realises something is happening behind him, that the vampires attention has snapped beyond just their prisoners.

"Ajoah. Good girl Willow." he thought as he recognised the voice. Apparently they had secured another night of survival, just. As Ajoah lowered herself to eye-level though it was clear it was at the cost of their freedom. "Guess we'll see if its worth the cost... Perhaps by the end we'll regret ever having left the warm embraces of the baron." He forced himself to be polite. "I'm sure we will," he replied, "I think I'm already making friends with your 'pack' here."

He held the alpha's eyes a while longer, before conspicuously dropping his own eyes. He had no illusions about who was now in control. This was no longer an alliance. "On the plus side," he consoled himself, "I guess it may never have been one."

He shot a worried look toward the shifter, and wished once again he was better at the whole sharing malarkey. A taciturn nod of approval or a bracing pat on the shoulder was all he had ever learned to offer. He wondered what it had cost her to seek out Ajaoh again, both practically and mentally. Was this the first time the impetuous hunter had had to face her own fallibility? The first time she had truly known herself beat and had to confront it, as all of them now were? He knew he still hated that feeling, doubted it would ever change. Still, it was clear she was in no mood to talk, and he would respect that. Perhaps tomorrow he would find time to discuss it with her, or later still...

Ajaoh gives a pouty face at Samm lamentations and wanders off to crouch before him. "It didn't have to be this way, soldier. We were getting along just fine, but a girl has to eat." She reaches out and brushes his cheek with the tips of her fingers, tilting her head slightly as she studies him. "But things don't always turn out how we planned, do they? Your little pack took a gamble and you lost. It's just fortunate you lost to someone who has a bit of mercy and sees a use for you; had I been the Baron, you would already be spread open on some vivisection table, getting poked and prodded and not in the kind of way your sorcerer likes."

She offers another consolatory smile, before standing and turning to her pack. With a few orders, the pack creates a secondary fire inside the cave and gathers enough tree branches to make passable beds for you. At some point, Unghull returns, dragging a large elk by one leg, a deer over his shoulder. The vampires prepare the meat for you by seeing which of them can hold their hand, and the meat, in the open flame longest, laughing and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.

You are fed well and the cave creek provides fresh, albeit frigidly cold, water and things are as cozy as they can be as prisoners of a pack of creatures that would perfectly content to eat you or kill you and abandon your bodies in the snow. Corvana does not stir during this time, only occasionally twitching or shifting, and it is unclear whether she is asleep or unconscious from blood loss; the pack does not let you get near enough her to check.

With the pack taking watch, all of you are allowed to sleep at the same time, although a restful one is far from possible. You realize you have been on the island for 4 days and yet it feels as though so much has changed. Willow and Corvana have no doubt been aged by the experience and you are left to wonder if the young witch will ever be the same, assuming she survives the ordeal. Trying to reflect on what has happened and what is still happening, you resign yourself to focusing on the future and eventually, you drift off to sleep, although what possible dreams the night will bring you is in the hands of the gods...

After atemmpting to do a good number the bottle and some less then successful attempts to draw people people into conversation, Thorn drifts into a restless nights sleep. A recognition of how the fight woulda likely ended up settling in on him, no matter what his ego and confidence would say otherwise, causes Thorn to be troubled by nightmares all night.

After a particular troubling dream of watching the hamlet he was raised in, burning to the ground after a raid, remembering the feeling of helplessness he felt that night, every moment highlighted in his mind, from how he ended up in the outskirts with the then cute looking girl he grew up with, to watching her get slaughtered by the raiders, because he couldn't protect her, as the town folk fought back against the bulk. Feeling the chaos calling him as the memory consumes him, remembering how he lost control to the chaos, fed on it, and released a rain of fire like no other, killing most of the raiders, but at the same time hurting many people he had known his whole life, and basically burning the village to the ground. Remembering the next day, sitting in front of the village council as they banished him from the town, or what was left, and how the mage, as knowledgable as he was, who had attempted to train him to control his powers, sat there silently judging Thorn, not even attempting to defend him at all. Waking in a cold sweat Thorn looks around, grateful no one noticed him waking from that terror.

Falling back to sleep, Thorn rejoins the dream a number of years later in his life, after he had started his reputation as a drunken womanizer, who provided you didn't mind some collateral damage, was available for hire, and worth the costs. Entering the dream as part of a team meant to defend some lords keep, forgetting the true reason he took the job, the lords daughter , and remembering working with the knights, pari and mages prepping the township surrounding the keep, taking the their mocking with his typical good natured stride, on why he was there and to keep outta there way, they'd always been fine in the past and didn't need his help. Leading up to the battle itself, remembering how many of the enemy he had struck down with mental beasts from the chaos, explosions from the nethers among other things, feeling the rush as he remembers the chaos surging through him those days, until finally as the pitched battle neared its end. Sitting there in the lords keep during a brief respite, and the lord charging him to protect his daughter at all cost, remembering the last pitched battle as the lord himself was ripped apart by some mages spells, how he defended himself and the lady (at that point) from the mage and his horde, How she took care of him, when they finally made it to a safe place in the keep. Remembering how safe he had felt with her words, and the guards remaining in that spot, the memory continues, reminding him how the mage took control of his very mind, remembering how he called forth powers he never could on his own, burning the guards around him, before finally, how the mage had him take advantage of the lords daughter, how he had pinned her down, as acid dripped onto her from his own powers, until she finally screamed out the answers the mage was looking for. Rememebring how she burned right underneath him, and how she died. How he brought much of the keep down around him and the mage in rage, yet again how the mage had him sitting on his knees in front of the mage, knowing how helpless he was, and how it felt for the mage to just walk away, not even leaving with a comment, suggesting how little Thorn ranked in his world.

Waking again, Thorn takes a moment to remind himself that was the past, and that it was just a dream. Feeling the chaos surrounding him, he lets it in, taking comfort in the reassurance his power brings to him, "Never again " he says quietly to himself, drifting off to a deep sleep that lasts the rest of the night. Waking the following morning, Thorn tries to summon a small acid orb to play with ending up giving himself a small shock as a tiny lightening bolt appears instead of the orb he wanted. Shrugging his shoulders at the realization he couldn't summon his orb to play with anymore, he stretches out, looking forward to an excuse to blow the remaining thoughts in his head away, by taking em out on some poor fool who got in his way.

Willow was again being hunted by her fear, that large red eyed black shadowed wolf from Mira Morrow was stalking her once again, the alpha's mate close by, saliva dripping from their canines, drooling at the feast the huntress would make and the sport she would provide as they ripped the flesh from her body.

Willow snapped awake, she was in her normal form again, she knew falling asleep reverted her back to her humanoid form, but it always shocked her nonetheless. She looked around, her companions were all asleep, Corvana seperated from the rest of her friends, the bitch vampire watching over her, changing her bandages. She licks her lips at the naked nape of the witch, but covers it quickly with a clean bandage before catching Willow's eye, "Bite Me!!" mouths the huntress before rolling over and pulling an apple out of her backpack, the sweet nectar helping to slake her thirst. Pulling her blanket out, she finds a surprise in the bottom of her pack. One of her original kukri's, still wrapped. She pulls it out and slips it into one of the empty sheathes. Pulling the blanket over herself she tries to get back to sleep, a weapon once again at her hip.

It is not long before she is once again in the dead village of Mira Morrow, her friends have moved off without her, she cannot move and she cannot speak. They are laughing and joking, Thorn entertains them, juggling fire and acid and ice balls as they walk along. He manages to pass a bottle of wine to Kadal without dropping his balls and the gentle giant says something which makes Thorn almost choke on his laughter, the balls vanishing as he takes the bottle back from Kadal, disappointed at the amount left in it, Kadal having had quite a large swig before the mage conjures another.

Corvana has her head rested on Samm's shoulder as they continue to walk away, his arm about her waist, caressing her hip. She turns her neck, looks back and sees the huntress stuck and yelling mutely. She smiles at the huntress, a smile of contentment before turning forward once again, her arm reaching around the fighters waist as he rests his head gently on hers.

Travok and Ashara are chatting amiably about something, with Travok describing some of his travels on the Ark, Willow recognises it from the times she has told it to her before, his arm movements and the very animation in his step bringing tears to the huntress ... Travok, I'm here ... don't leave me ... come back ... pleeeaaassssseeeee she cries silently, she screams at them to turn around, to not leave her here with the wolves, but no sound comes from the shifter.

None of them turn around, not one of them seem to remember her, they are happy without her as they head into the caves at the top of the hill.

It is then she feels the breath on her neck, not the hot damp breath of a dire wolf and it's mate, not the terrible but natural smells of dead animal rotting in a maw, noat a decaying sickly breath ... but a cold, odourless, lifeless breath ...

The huntress snaps awake, instinctively drawing the kukri at her hip. She is fast, not many alive could beat her reflexes ... but this creature is not alive, and she is inhumanly fast as she catches the huntresses wrist before the kukri in the shifter's hand can slash at the vampires own throat, her elongated canines sitting perfectly in a beautiful smile before she draws her lips back to reveal the rest of her perfect teeth, standing and drawing the huntress to her feet as though she were a rag doll, she licks the exposed neck of the huntress ...

"Tahlisa, leave the meat. See to the witch," says the one called Ehrvick, though a look of hunger crosses his face as the bitch vamp releases Willow and a smile is shared by the giant vamp and the katana wielding one.

Of Ajoah, there is no sign.

A shaking Willow re-sheathes the kukri, drags her backpack to the wall and once again wraps herself in a blanket, her back up against the wall, sleep will not come again for the huntress as she looks across the cave at her companions, none of them aware of her conflict, her rage ...

... her fear ....

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