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No title.
(2014-03-25 - Now)
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Cressida Cressida didn't believe in fairytales. However, sometimes they had a shred of truth in them. Did not even the legendary Hercules find some kind of peace, some kind of redemption in the end? But then he had his twelve labors to complete...Maybe that was the key..

That's one of the things that brought her out here in the late afternoon, searching for the missing children of a farmer in the Giza plains who feared they might have been lost to some lake monster rumoured to be lurking in macalania forest..

Or was it a heartless instead? Whatever the case, Cressida saw it as another opportunity to redeem herself, to atone for her past sins so to speak. If she were to die in this battle, then perhaps that would be atonement enough.

And so here she is, lurking around Macalania forest, armed with her spear as she takes in the beautiful surroundings without even a pause. Such beauty seems lost on her, caught up as always in her own private world.
Rylen Corvus While he certainly has a kind enough nature, Rylen isn't really the sort to go taking side-quests. In fact, he rarely uses his actual combat skills outside of performances. Unlike many an adventurer, he doesn't have to go taking every little fetch quest in order to make money. It's one of the boons of being a performer.

Of course, his job does happen to mean a lot of travel, and that is what brings him to the forest on this particular day. There's a show near Gagazet which requires going through the forest.

Clomp. Clomp. Clomp-clomp. WARK!

Moko squacks once as a crystaline tree gets a bit too close to his nose. "Easy there, buddy. You're fine." The elf is sitting atop his mount, stroking the yellow chocobo who seems uneasy in this strange forest. The two seem oblivious to Cressida's presence, at least for now. "Come on, we don't want to get caught out here and gobbled up." He wiggles his fingers, which makes the chocobo puff up slightly and waggle his wings.

"Hah. You big baby. Scared of your own shadow." Or maybe he's scared of Cressida's shadow.

Cressida To be honest, the reflective flora and crystalline bodies of water kind of scared Cressida in this forest. While they may seem beautiful to some, for Cressida it was a threat at every turn. Should she see her reflection staring back at her in any one of those numerous crystals, she might just transform into an evil, blood thirsty wolf.

Good thing there's nothing out here but monsters. And a chocobo. Chocobo?! She frowns, instinctively drawing up her spear although she knows even wild chocobos are pretty harmless and not much for eating human flesh. And then she hears that unmistakable voice. And the noise. Oh the noise.

She sighs and rolls her eyes, remembering the last time she met this one. Although she owed him her life the last time, this time she cant help but feel mildly annoyed at his noisiness..And a bit amused too as she steps across his path.

"I wouldn't be surprised, making all the noise that you do. At that rate, you could wake up the dead." She murmurs with a wry smirk. Cress doesnt smile much, but this is probably the closest she comes to one.
Rylen Corvus The last time that Rylen had met Cressida, it had been in Halloween town. He had looked the part of an undead circus performer, and she had been a werewolf, although not the blood-thirsty kind. As she steps out in front of him, Moko rears up slightly, fluffing his wings before settling down again. Rylen shifts his grip on the reigns, showing his familiarity with riding.

There is some surprise on the Elf's features, his white hair falling across his shoulders. "Well, I can handle the usual monsters on my own. Beautiful rogue-ish women who warn me about waking up dead... well that's another matter." He swings one leg over his mount and drops down gracefully, offering her a bow. It's only then that he pauses, looking at her more appraisingly. "You sound familiar. Have we met?"

Though he only looks vaguely like the undead man that had come to her rescue, there's certain personality elements that are unmistakeable. A charming sort of smile lingers on his face, though. "I'd offer to travel through together, but I'm not sure if you're trying to mug me or offer me a warning. It's not often I run into strangers on the road."
Cressida Cressida arches a brow at his question, surprised he does not recognize her. But then again, she looked considerably different in halloween town, and it had been a long time ago. Cressida on the other hand seems to have instantly recognized that roguish smile and the charming yet annoying subtlety of his mannerisms among other things. Like the elfin features. Right..

"Ahh, then you dont remember me." Maybe that's a good thing. It was a little awkward, trying to explain why she looked more like a wolf than a human, even if she wasn't an evil blood thirsty werewolf at the time. Just bleeding to death and telling him to go away. Yeah. That was weird.

"We met once, a while ago. You saved my life because you were too stubbon to go away.." Ah yes, there was that hunter that was after her. She remembers that much, some of it's a blur though as she was rather wounded. She smirks again when he suspects she might mug him, reaching out instinctively to pet the beak of his bird.

"Don't worry. I didnt come here to mug you. It's been a while, elf....." But damn, she's forgotten his name, so she just leaves it at 'elf.'
Rylen Corvus "Ahh." His smile spreads into a grin as he shakes a finger slightly in the air in her direction. "That's it. The wolf-girl." Rylen draws that hand back and taps the side of his head before letting it drop to his side. "Hard to forget someone like that. You make quite the impression." He offers another bow of his head, followed by a smirk, "I don't believe you gave me your name. You were too busy calling me an idiot for helping you."

Moko seems to calm down once he realizes that she isn't a threat, leaning his beak forward and giving a bird like chitter. "He'll really love you if you've got some greens. Chocobos are simple souls. Not nearly as easy to impress young ladies, I've found. Much to my dismay." He can't seme to help having the 'flirt' button turned on, but it is one of his weaknesses.

"Rylen. Rylen Corvus." He shifts his feet slightly, glancing around the forest as they talk. Though he might have made quite a bit of noise earlier, he does seem to know how to keep his wits about him. "Acrobat, performer, elementalist, and rescuer of fair damsels in distress. It's good to see you're still alive. Managed not to acquire any more people trying to skin your hide?"
Cressida She positively glowers when he calls her 'The wolf girl'. "Dont call me that.' She snaps, "It was just a costume. That weird town has a tendency of doing that to people." Right. Of course. Just coincidence. Creepy coincidence.

"You were just trying to play hero. It was foolish." she argues, folding her arms as she circles around the chocobo. Unfortunately she has no greens on her which the chocobo may find out one way or another. Nor does she offer a name in return, only a short nod when he gives his name.

"So you make it a habit to rescue damels, eh?" Though she shakes her head at the latter. "I dont make it habit to get chased by bounty hunters. I'm actually on a search and rescue mission.."
Rylen Corvus "Easy, easy." Rylen holds up both hands in an attempt to calm her. "It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's not as if I didn't feel a bit weird looking like some undead creep when I first arrived there. Even if you did look like a werewolf, at least you were a cute one." He tries to lighten her mood, "I'm not even sure how the worlds determine what we look like when we go into them. One time, I turned into a white cheetah." He shrugs.

Her comments do draw another of those wry smiles onto the Elf's features. "It's a weakness of mine. Usually, it ends up costing me my coin purse. In your case, it meant buying off the hunter following you. In another..." He rubs at the back of his neck sheepishly, "Well, I ended up pick-pocketed. Maybe some day I'll learn my lesson, but I doubt it."

His blue eyes swivel back to follow her as she moves. "A rescue mission, huh? What sort of rescue mission?" He leans a bit on the chocobo, who seems content to peck at his hair. "I could lend a hand... " He offers, lifting an eyebrow.
Cressida Ahh, but if he'd known the truth, it would have been a different story. She sighs, "Look, just keep it to yourself, dont tell anyone what hap---WHAT?!" Suddenly she glares at him, cold blue eyes narrowed to dangerous shards of ice.

"WHY did you do that?" suddenly she's up close and personal in his face, making a grab for his collar. "I do not need to be sold off like some FOOL...You should have minded your own business." She hisses. How embarrassing.

Just as quickly she lets go roughly, turning away as she clenches her hands in silent anger. "Some poor farmer's kids got lost in the woods, it's rumoured that there's a large heartless wandering about this forest too..There's no money involved however.." She smirks, adding rather caustically, "Unless you plan to pay off that heartless too.."
Rylen Corvus A puzzled expression finds a way onto Rylen's features as he looks towards Cressida. "Like I said, it's not that big of a deal. If it bothers you, my lips are sealed." He makes a motion across his mouth, only to be surprised half-way by her sudden glare. While it isn't uncommon for most women to just ignore his playful advances, or to think of him as nothing but an actor, it's something entirely different to get the full on ice-treatment.

"Erk." Though he seems surprised at her outburst, the Elf's response is quick. Soon enough, his own hand finds her wrist, and there is a firmness and strength behind his grip. "Do you mind?" He asks, not shifting his grasp, but giving the distinct impression that he could remove that hand from his collar if he wanted to.

"You want to know why?" His jovial manner seems to drop and there is a far more serious look in his blue eyes. "I had an injured girl on my hands. I wasn't sure if she would even survive the night. I'm no healer. I'd rather lose my coin to some mecenary to get him off of her back rather than getting into a fight when she very well could have been bleeding out." When she does pull back, Rylen lets his hand drop back to his side.

When she goes on to add that little jab about 'paying off the heartless', his eyes narrow. "No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose." He shrugs, shaking his head. "You know, this ice-queen thing doesn't suit you. You might try smiling every now and again. Let yourself laugh. Try enjoying your life for once instead of just pushing everyone away?" He pauses for a moment, running a hand through his hair with a sigh. "Just a thought."

He reaches up, scratching at his chocobo's chin in an idle fashion. "So where's this Heartless supposed to be at, anyways?"
Cressida He's right, she realizes with a sigh. Even so, it's...Well, shameful, to have to resort to such measures. To be unable to fend for herself can only be perceived as a weakness. At least as far as Cressida is concerned. She sighs, reaching up to touch a crystalline branch of a nearby tree, careful not to stare too long into its reflective surface. How very ironic that the lupine templar is becoming as cold and as hard as this ice. She's still facing away from Rylen as she considers his words.

"Yes. You're right. I was a fool...I....I apologize. You saved my life afterall. Even so, if you or others knew why that hunter was really after me, that could put me in serious danger in the future."

When he suggests she smile, she glances back at the elf again thoughtfully. Her expression is a sad one, and it seems she's perhaps even forgotten how to smile. "It would be good..Just once, to forget my troubles, however.." there is a strange sadness in her eyes for some reason, shaking her head. "Forget it, nevermind. I....I just need to help these kids. It's all I can do now.." Glancing back towards one of the forest paths that leads upwards into thicker woods, she nods. "Deep in the heart of the forest, apparently it likes to lurk about a great lake. Lake Macalania it is called. If those kids wandered out that far...."

Well, if the cold doesnt get them, the heartless surely will, if they're not quick. "You sure you're up to this? It'll be dangerous, and there's no reward, aside from knowing you did some good in the world.."
Rylen Corvus It's a rare person in this world who takes someone for who they are. Rylen is one of those sorts who can easily be mistaken as a rogue. The sort who takes nothing seriously, flirts with all the passing girls, and leaves little to this world but empty pockets and broken hearts. This couldn't be further from the truth, and it's moments like this that show some glimpse of the man he actually is.

"You're welcome." His voice is kind enough when he responds, without some of the frustration that it had carried a moment ago. She hadn't really thanked him, but he takes it as such. "Listen. You've got secrets, I've got secrets. Everyone does." Moko nudges against his shoulder affectionately, and Rylen returns the gesture by adjusting the chocobo's reigns. "But you can't just stop living because you're afraid of someone finding out the truth. Some people might even like you regardless. You never know."

The Elf is quiet again for a time as he considers her words. It's not so much the story of lost kids that has his attention, of course. "Tell you what? Sometime when you're not running for your life or off questing, come out with me for a night. If I can't get you to smile at least one, I'll admit you're a lost cause." His smile returns, but it's softer this time.

By the time she asks if he's up for the challenge, Rylen is already taking off his riding jacket, stuffing it into his travel bag. "Go on, I'll catch up." This is said towards the chocobo, who gets a pat on the rear end before giving a resounding 'wark' and racing off up the rail. Without the Halloween Town circus performer costume, he looks far more normal. It's odd.

"My life doesn't revolve around money. It's nice, but I find it disappears as fast as I can earn it." He smirks then, flexing his fingers. "Besides, it's been a while since I tried out my skills somewhere other than on a stage. I could use the practice. I'm sure you could handle it on your own, you're about as tough as they come from what I can tell, but humor me?" He motions forward. "After you, m'lady."
Cressida "You may be right but...If you knew my secret...You would have killed me. You may still, some day. Or...." She shakes her head as she starts to head towards the indicated path. No, she doesnt even want to think about the possibility of killing another innocent, especially one who just saved her life, something which she takes very seriously.

She does pause however, when he invites her out on a night. "Are you...Asking me out on a..Date?" Cressida frowns a bit at that thought, "I'm sure you give the same line to all girls, dont you?" But it does cause her to smirk, just a little, no longer looking sad at least. "well....I might consider it. Afterall, I haven't relaxed in a long time. Just dont get any ideas.."

She nods and continues on ahead, although walking at a leisurely enough pace to allow him to catch up to her without trouble. "I know..You dont seem to be the greedy mercenary type. If you were, you wouldn't have risked everything to save me. But I am curious. You say you are some sort of circus performer? I....I would like to see you perform, sometime.."
Rylen Corvus "I doubt it." Rylen replies without any hesitation. "The 'bad guys' go around killing innocents, trying to make themselves more powerful. The 'good guys' go around killing the bad guys thinking they're doing the world a service. I try to avoid that whole messy business." He walks along behind her, not seeming to worry about the sentence left to hang in the air. "When so many people have lost their worlds, I'd say someone who can entertain and bring smiles to the faces of those who are homeless... well, that might just be more useful as another soldier in battle."

When she seems to catch on to his invitation, the Elf's wry smile returns, "Is that a yes?" He chuckles to himself, but then shakes his head. "Honestly, I don't get much luck in that department." He shrugs. "Girls these days seem to be looking for the stable sort in an unstable world. Rogue-ish wandering performers who don't spend more than a few days in any one place? Yeah, not exactly most people's idea an ideal partner. Poor me." He feigns a knife to the heart, and then just smiles. Easy going as ever, despite everything.

He seems to have no trouble keeping up with her. Though he'd taken the chocobo for the long distances, the walk seems to be no issue. "My family used to travel all over. Cornelia, Melmond, Elfheim. Now it's just me. I mostly do acrobatics, balancing tricks, a little bit of magic flare added in for excitement. The kids love fire, and it adds that hint of danger and drama that the audience loves." He holds out one hand, forming a ball of fire in his palm, which he then absentmindedly passes between his fingers.

"If we run into that Heartless, I'm sure you'll get a chance to see a show first hand. Though my stage shows have a bit more 'performance' and a bit less combat."
Cressida "Sometimes the lines between good and evil can become blurred. Sometimes a good person can do bad things..Against their will.." She murmurs softly as she runs her hands along the crystalline bark of the trees that pass her by. The trail twists and turns and can be rather slippery in places. She nearly loses her balance in one place or another, but swiftly regains it, leaping gracefully from one side of the path to the next.

"Careful." She calls out behind her before he catches up. "I suppose this can be a dangerous place, cold and cruel, but it's somehow beautiful too..." Ironically, it's much like Cressida herself.

She smirks again as he mentions his bad luck with girls. "I dont believe in stability. Everything constantly changes. It is foolish to search for stability in such an unstable world. I am myself a traveler, a wanderer if you will. Although I work out of the church, I travel the world, spreading the word of god, trying to do good deeds. That is my mission, and my path to redemption. I hope..."

She listens as he speaks of his exploits, and even flashes a rare -albeit brief- smile as he tosses that fire ball back and forth between his hands. "That must be quite exciting. I never experienced circuses as a child, although I always yearned to go to one. I would love to see you perform one day...can you juggle fireballs too?"

They're reaching a moderately wide and flat area for now, and so she slows her pace to a casual walk, although still keeping an ear and an eye out for those kids. So far, she's heard nothing, not even the local wildlife. It's as if the entire forest has gone into a beautiful, crystalline slumber.
Rylen Corvus "That's why it's important to keep an open mind. For some people, everything is black and white. I tend to prefer the grays in between, myself." It isn't hard for Rylen to pick up on that subtle mention of someone being made to do something against their will. Someone else might have asked about it, but he knows enough to bide his time and store away what little tidbits of information this elusive woman offers to him. Someday, he might understand what drives her, but it's the sort of thing she has to give up willingly, and that... won't come with anything but patience.

The Elf lingers behind for a moment, watching her make her way across the slippery portions of the forest. His own path is a bit more careful, avoiding those spots that caused her trouble. Every now an again, he perches somewhere like a bird, but then moves on quickly enough to join her on the flatter section of ground. He seems to eye her for a moment, as if catching that connection between the forest and herself, "I could show you some amazing places. There's this part of the wildlands where there's no cities at all. No light to block out the stars. You'd swear they go on forever."

He lets her talk, though, listening to her own story. "You'll have to excuse my ignorance, but... which church, praytell? There's quite a few now that the worlds are mashed together. I've even heard of this one where the worship blitzball." Rylen tries to make the greeting of Yevon, but his sad attempt would probably be considered heresy among the Yevonites. After a bit of fumbling, he just shrugs. Again, he seems to side-step asking her about just what she needs redemption for. It's the sort of question that invites a back-lash and righ now, he's content to not talk about the 'deep' stuff.

"Well, you're welcome come to one of my shows. I could probably score you free tickets." His smile widens at her interest, "Mmmhmm. More than just juggle, I assure you."

That's when he starts to notice just how quiet it is. His smile falters and the Elf holds up a finger, holding it to his lips. It's one of those 'too quiet' moments, but he isn't fool enough to comment about it. Instead, Rylen taps one of his pointed ears, then raises an eyebrow towards her. This quiet isn't natural. They have to be close.
Cressida "I like quiet places..." She states as she continues along the flat part. "I dont like noisy cities. I find the peace and quiet soothes my soul..I would like to see some of these places you speak of...Stars are so very beautiful..."

It reminds her of the many times that she and her beloved sneaked out late at night and climbed to the top of a certain hill to gaze at stars all night until they fell asleep. It was a beautiful, yet sad memory. And now of course, he is gone...Did she kill him herself? She doesn't really remember. The memories are all blurred..

Cressida grits her teeth, clutching her spear more tightly as she quickens her pace some. She cannot be thinking of the past at a time like this. "I am a Templar knight of the Church of Glabados, although I prefer to take on the more solo, rescue missions.."

However, she stops talking quickly when Rylen puts a finger to his lips. Of course, the wildlife in a forest usually stops chattering when there is a large predator around. Did that mean that the heartless was lurking about somewhere too? She slows her pace, crouching as she gathers her legs beneath her, then launches skywards towards the nearest tree, peering around f rom up high to get a better view point.

Suddenly there is a scream arising from not too far away. Cressida narrows her eyes as she spies movement in the distance and leaps back to the ground, already running towards the northern path, towards the lake up ahead. "This way! Come on!"
Rylen Corvus "I'm not much of a city dweller, myself. I've had too many nights on the road when I was young to ever feel comfortable anywhere that doesn't involve an open sky." The smile that lingers on Rylen's face is genuine, but alas, the moment doesn't linger. The danger around them sees neatly to that.

Rylen crouches, himself, although his fingers reach out for the ground, trying to read the signs in the earth around him. It's the movements of someone who knows tracking. He trusts her to scount the air while he searches on the ground. "Someone's been through here, and fairly recently." His fingers touch a set of footprints which head off ... in the direction of a scream. Damnit.

The Elf is on his feet and racing behind Cressida, his footfalls pounding the ground as they race towards the source of the sound.
Cressida She is surprised and rather impressed to see that he is quite a skilled tracker too, and more of a country dweller. Maybe they have more in common than she thought? Well that's interesting...

His tracking abilities do come in handy on the ground as it's one thing to locate someone from up above, quite another to navigate the woods down below. She therefore slows her pace, to allow him to take the lead at times when she hesitates, trusting him to find the best and quickest route to the location of the screams.

It takes a few minutes to locate the lake, and the screams certainly are louder the nearer they get, which is probably some encouragement that they are going the right way. The path eventually leads them to a wide open space with a massive, frozen lake in the middle, and a giant birdlike heartless hovering above it. On the ground are three frightenned kids, struggling to flee the monster, but clearly all their exits are cut off.

"Help...Mommy...Daddy...Help us!!"
Rylen Corvus The trade-off between their respective tracking skills seems to go off without a hitch. As they get closer, he hesitates for a moment, spending just a bit longer touching the ground than before. It isn't immediately evident what he's doing, not until a small spring seems to well up from under his fingers. When he moves again, the water forms itself into the rough shape of a feline which follows behind them. The magic it trails weaves between the two of them and then vanishes.

For now, the Elf doesn't bother explaining his magic, or what it does, although there is a certain rejuvinating effect to it. There's a distinct difference between the charming, talkative young man she's met on previous occassions, and the intense, almost fierce one running at her side. Right now, Rylen is all business.

When they finally reach the lake only to be greeted with the sight of a Heartless holding the three children captive. His blue eyes narrow. "Hey, bird brain!" Maybe it's not the smartest move, but right now, his focus is on getting the Heartless' attention off of the kids. "Why don't you try picking on someone who can fight back." Fire wells up in his hand, readying for battle. Rylen casts a look to his side, offering Cressida a quick wink. "You ready to kick some ass, pretty lady?" Ahh, there's that charming rogue again.
Cressida Cressida arches a brow at the watery magic that suddenly surrounds her, seeming to rejuvenate her. She smirks, "Always full of tricks, arent' you?" However, she too, quickly turns to combat mode once they reach their intended destination.

She narrows her eyes upon the massive black heartless bird although she also notes the children below it. Right, gotta get those kids to safety first. Ignoring the monster for now, she ducks under its massive wings, attempting to grab the kids and leap up into the nearby trees.

The massive creature roars, openning its glowing red eyes as it spreads its wings, unleashing a rain of dark energy blades upon both Rylen and Cressida and her cargo!
Rylen Corvus "Expect the unexpected." Rylen shoots her a wry smile, but it doesn't last long. Getting the children out safely is the important thing, and dealing with a Heartless means having to focus on something other than his mouth.

As the bird sends out those energy blades, Rylen moves along with the blast of energy, leaping up into the air. He flips in mid-air and lashes out, white tendrils of magic lashing out at the bird as if grasping it with ghostly fingers. The blades come close to catching his legs, but the Elf's feline-grace seems to keep him safe for now.

"Get them to safety, I'll try to keep it occupied for a bit." Rylen lands on the ground, turning on one foot before raising his hands in a defensive stance. He moves like a trained martial artist, shifting from stance to stance with ease. One hand snaps forward, and a quick flare launches from his fingers, forming a smoke screen. Then, spinning into a kick, he launches the blinding smoke right towards the bird's head.
Cressida Cressida easily avoids the heartless' air blades, which is a good thing as she's carrying three kids in her arms, and while they are somewhat small kids, they are still enoguh to weigh her down and slow her trajectory. She finds a niche in a big tree and she deposits them there, safely hidden from the heartless.

"Stay there and dont move until I tell you to." She orders them, before adjusting her spear and lunging down towards the monster in a silvery aura of energy, rapidly jabbing at it with her sharp blade.
Cressida The heartless monster seems to have missed the children, but it has these two heroes to play with now. It curls in its wings as Rylen comes at it with his physical attacks, forcing it back but not doing any major damage.

However, it's not expecting the attack from the air, and it shrieks in pain, slamming momentarily into the ground. STill it's not about to give in so easily, and it quickly springs from the ground to the sky again, launching balls of fire from its mouth at the two heroes this time!
Rylen Corvus Though it may not seem as if Rylen's attacks are doing a lot of damage, each one does seem to come with some sort of weakening effect. He's not the sort of fighter that wins by doing raw damage, but by cleverness and quick thinking. "It's weakening. We should be able to finish it off." He shifts to move on the offensive, but that seems to be the same moment the bird shoots a fireball his way.

"Crap." Rylen flips backwards away from the incoming attack, the fireball sizzling into the ground where he had been a moment before. Again, those ghostly fingers seem to trail behind him, latching around the Heartless' neck, making it harder for it to target them with that beak.

He's breathing a bit heavier as he lands in a crouch, glancing to check on Cressida. Luckily, his magic from earlier seems to be doing the trick, and for now the Heartless can't out-damage them. "Alright, time for the big guns..." The Elf rolls up his sleeves and launches himself forward. Throwing himself into the air, he ends up right at the same level as the bird.

Around him, small spheres of elemental energy form, rotating in the air. One by one, he launches them right into the chest of the Heartless. Kicks, punches, and finally a huge throw that aims to send the bird crashing to the ground. It's quite the show of elemental skills, and probably not something that the regular audience member at his performances gets to see.
Cressida Cressida lands around the moment that the fireball flies her way. She's not fast enough this time to evade the attack, and she gets slammed in the face, stumbling and losing her balance. "Ugh..." Still, it's not serious enough to cause any severe wounds, and so she climbs a bit shakily - bruised but shaken - to her feet, eyes narrowed upon the heartless.

"Enough messing around..." She's quite impressed however, by Rylen's showy attacks as he cuts into the monster with seamless grace and elemental magic. If heartless could speak, this one would probably shriek right now in pain. As it is, bits of its shadowy body seem to tear away, blasted away by the powerful attack.

But it's not quite dead yet! Cressida moves into position, leaping horizontally at the monster, hurling her spear at it like a dart, as it catches in more silvery energy so that it looks like a bright silver comet, streaking towards the heartless.
Cressida The heartless seems to snarl, bringing in its wings to defend against Cressida's attack that seems to do considerably less damage than it might initially seem. This sure is one tough cookie! But it is at least running out of energy, and for the moment it does not attack but instead focuses on building its defenses.
Rylen Corvus After expending most of his energy to take the bird down a notch, Rylen is forced back to the ground to catch his breath. The Elf lands on one knee, setting his hand to the ground as if he were using it as an energy source. "It's stopping for a breather, we can't let it get the upper hand." He takes a deep breath, pushing up and into one of his stances again, like some character in a video game about to head back into combat.

His eyes shift to the lake, then back to the Heartless. "Let's see how you like a bath..." He sweeps his arms across, pulling water from beneath the frozen lake. It surges up from below, trying to knock the bird off of it's flight path. Then, he leaps up, hands forming into a huge beam of rock which the Elf uses to smash the flying beast down towards the ground.
Cressida Cressida is already readying her next attack Rushing at the heartless as she leaps skywards, and hurls her spear twice at the heartless before rushing into close for more rapid jabs.

Rylen launches into the heartless with more wounding attacks, using the elements around him to deal severe damage to the bird. It seems to shriek even as it beefs up its defenses, and crashes to the ground again. Still, it climbs to the skies once more, unleashing another barrage of fireballs and lightning bolts at the two of them, followed by a wide-arc swing of its bladed wings, trying to cut the two down to the ground.
Rylen Corvus Rolling to the ground, Rylen skids on one leg before easily making his way back onto his feet. "This thing just won't die." He glances over at Cressida, taking just a moment to catch his breath. "Are they usually like this?" It's clearly his first encounter with really fighting against a Heartless. He'd taken on his share of fiends, but they tended to be a bit more predictable.

Another ball of flame sparks up from his fingers, hovering there. "I'm going to try to blind it again." The flame blows out into smoke, which swirls around in front of him. "I trust your strength. Take it down." He blows at the smoke, sending it forward like a plume of dragon's fire, following it up with a powerful energy wave which blasts the blinding substance right into the Heartless' face.
Cressida Cressida nods to Rylen as he blinds the monster, and it seems to flutter and falter, one of its wings badly wounded to the point where it cannot fly anymore. And so it crawls along the ground as Cressida lunges towards it, murmuring a spell beneath her breath.

"I'll finish it!" She rushes at the heartless, silver energy and a ghostly mist surrounding her and her spear as she summons an eerie wolf spirit to materialize around her spear, biting and clawing at the same time that she slashes at the heartless with her spear.

Cressida It seems the heartlesss is down but not yet out. It uses its wings to curl around its body, defending it against Cressida's attack. while indeed blinded, it seems this heartless is still one tough cookie.

It suddenly spreads out its wings, red eyes glowing, as it unleashes more wing blades and dark bolts of energy that explode like little bombs upon impact.
Rylen Corvus It's been a long time since Rylen has fought beside anyone, and the sight of Cressida's powers is one of wonder. His mouth opens as if to comment on it, but that's when the bird /moves/ after all of that. Really? It's not dead yet? Rather than making some clever quip, the Elf gets caught in the chest by a blast of dark energy and launched backwards, his feet leaving rutts in the ground rather than knocking him over.

It's the first time that the Heartless has done any sort of damage to him. The Elf coughs once, looking at the smouldering parts of his shirt where the energy had hit him. "Okay, I've had about enough of you. Time to die." He extends his hand as if it were a blade, rushing forward on quick feet, then lashing out with two arcs of dark energy that extend from his fingers as if they were swords.
Cressida It seems the heartless bird is a crafty one as it dances out of the way of Rylen's counter and Cressida's attack barely glances off its tough hide. However, they were slowly chipping away at it enough, and while it may seem to still be mostly intact, looks can certainly be deceiving as Rylen soon finds out when he lashes into it with his quick, graceful dance of energy blades, slicing into its vital parts, and sending it sprawling into the ground where it explodes into hundreds of green mp balls..

"Phew..." Cressida relaxes now that it's defeated, picking up some of the energy balls to heal herself, but careful to leave some for Rylen. She too, seems quite impressed by his mastery of the elements and his unusual yet graceful fighting style.

However, she has one more thing to worry about as she glances up towards where the hid the children. "The kids..." She murmurs as she leaps skywards towards the tree. The kids are still there, crying and shaking from the ordeal, but more or less unharmed, and so she gathers them in her arms and brings them safely to the ground. "It's alright now, you're safe.." At the same time, she glances briefly over Rylen to make sure he didnt receive any serious injuries. She does have some healing magic afterall.
Rylen Corvus Rylen is standing dead center on the MP/HP-ball explosion. He seems to freeze in place for a moment, "Well, that's new. Do they usually do that?" This is clearly the Elf's first time dealing with the Heartless, which may be surprising, considering how long the Heartless have been around in the world. He nudges an extra HP orb or two with his foot, then glances over at Cressida just in time to see her leap towards the trees.

Rather than join her, he stays on the ground, watching the woods for anything else that might be a danger. These kids are pretty young, and even a fiend could be deadly to children. By the time Cressida brings them back down to earth, he's surveyed the area a time or two. "Everyone alright?" He asks, blue eyes flicking up to her, and then back down to the kids. Crouching down, Rylen reaches into one of the pouches at his waist and pulls out a few small, carved stones. "Do you know what these are?" He asks the children, trying to distract them from their plight. "They're good luck charms. They got us though these woods to rescue you. They'll make sure you get safely back home."

The Elf's charming nature is the sort of thing that usually puts people at ease, and he's laying it on right now, calmly helping each of the kids pick out a figurine. Once they are handed out, he stands up again, "So, my suggestion is we head up towards Gagazet. It's the easiest way to avoid the darkness that is spreading around here. It hasn't reached the Ronso homeland yet, so it should be a safe enough spot for now."
Cressida Honestly, Cressida isn't very familiar with this place herself and so she hopes that Rylen knows the place well. He said he was a traveller, right? But she is still surprised that he has never encountered this sort of thing before. "Is this your first time fighting heartless?" she seems somewhat amused.

"But yes, if you think it's the best route to take to get us out of here. I'm afraid I am not particularly familiar with this area. Are there no inns nearby? I thought there was supposed to be one not far from Macalania Lake...However, I suppose the farmers live on Giza plains. What direction should we be heading in?"

The kids seem pretty shaken up and one of them starts to cry. Cressida isn't all that familiar with kids and so she tries awkwardly to comfort the kids with a pat on the shoulder. "It's alright. You must be hungry, here's some jerky. We'll protect you from now on so dont worry. Your parents are waiting for you in the Giza plains.."

She pauses, glancing back at Rylen, waiting for him to lead, although she does glance every so often at the darkenning sky with some worry. Cressida has forgotten whether it's a full moon tonight or not. It might be dangerous for her to even travel with these people if it is..
Rylen Corvus "That obvious?" Rylen shrugs his shoulders. "Most of them can't keep up with a chocobo at full sprint, and most of the cities have guards trained on keeping them out." There could also be the little fact that she had just seen him using dark magic. The Elf certainly doesn't seem like the 'Shadow Lord' type, but the minor Heartless do tend to avoid attacking those who have some knowledge of the darker arts. Either that, or he's just been lucky.

"I don't think the lake is a good idea. Something's been tainting the water around here. There's been more fiends, and the roads aren't as safe as they used to be." With a thoughtful stroke of his chin, the Elf nods his head, looking up at the darkening sky for a sense of direction. "If we move quick, we should be able to avoid the fiends. I should be able to back-track us to Giza, but I wouldn't linger in these woods longer than we have to." Poor Moko will have to wait a few extra days for his arrival in Gagazet.

He crouches down, inviting the smallest of the kids to grab on around his neck as he scoops up the other with his remaining arm. "If you can carry the other one, we can cover more ground, faster." He motions the direction of the plains, waiting just long enough to make sure the remaining child is scooped up before he heads off at a jog. He's also keeping an eye on the darkening sky, but ot for the same reason as Cressida. Once night falls, there are more fiends in the forest. It's going to be a long run.
Cressida Cressida nods, following his lead as she scoops up one of the children. She doesn't like the look of the skies, but if they're quick, they can get somewhere safe before the moon comes up. "Alright, lead on..."

She had noticed his use of dark magic, but while she is a church templar, she also knows a bit of magic. Enough to know that heartless tend to leave those that weild dark magic alone. It wasnt because dark magic users were necessarily evil, either. Rylen's already proved her can be trusted.

The question is, can Cressida?
Rylen Corvus It's quite a distance from Macalania Forest to the Giza Plains. Without a chocobo, and with the extra burden of the three children, it's a downright exhausting run. Luckily, they don't have to go quite the whole distance. There is a search party made up of villagers who have come looking for the lost children. While Rylen might have been loud, these people are like a herd of elephants in the woods.

"Looks ... like we might not have to run... a marathon tonight." The Elf pants between breaths. One of the kids in his arms starts wiggling, recognizing one of the voices. Forced to slow down, Rylen lets the kid down, who goes running off towards the search party.

Soon enough, they are met by the searchers, which gives the opportunity to relinquish their burdens and catch their breath. "They were... up by the lake. My fine lady friend here took care of the monster that was holding them captive." He talks as if he had nothing to do with it entirely.
Cressida Cressida's wolf ears prick as she too, catches wind of other human voices not too far ahead. "Hmph.." she murmurs and nods with mixed feelings. This means they can lighten their load, but..It also means it'll be difficult for Cressida to slip off before the moon rises if it is indeed a full moon.

Still, her own burden is eager to wriggle out of her hands and so she kneels and releases the young girl, who cries as she rushes towards a couple who appear to be her parents. The other kids have no doubt scrambled to their relieved parents as well, all of them looking gratefully towards the rescuers.

"Thank you, this means the world to us...We're so sorry, we're just a poor couple. We have no money to give you..."
Rylen Corvus With the kids now back with their families, Rylen leans over, taking some time to catch his breath. Even as physically fit as he is, it's still a lot to battle a Heartless and then run halfway through Macalania Forest without a rest. He pushes himself up and offers them his best charming smile, although the burn-marred and somewhat filthy look about him from battle and resulting run have him looking less than showmanly.

"It's alright. I don't think either of us were looking for a reward when we set out on this quest." With a glance towards Cressida, he raises an eyebrow, perhaps having noticed that she seems a bit ill at ease. "The lady is a member of the Church of Glabados, perhaps you could repay her kindness by voluntering within your village?" He suggests, then folds his arms across his chest. "As for me, if my travels take me back this way again, you should stop by one of my shows. I'll get the kids in for free." He bows with a flourish. "The Dark Raven is nothing if not cordial to his fans."

That said, he offers them another smile. "I'm afraid we can't stick around, though. I've got a show in Gagazet and I need to get on the road. You three behave yourselves, now." He advises the children, and then moves towards Cressida, as if ushering her away from the searchers. When he gets close, his hand doesn't actually touch her, although he makes a show of it. Instead, he whispers, "You look pale as a ghost. Come on, let's get out of here." He advises.
Cressida Was it the sudden throng of crowds, or...Something else, that caused Cressida's sudden discomfort? whatever it is, she seems relieved when the crowds start to disperse. When they ask of a way to repay her, she simply shrugs, shaking her head and whatever semblance she once had of a smile before has since faded from her face. "Worry not. Your safety is thanks enough. I...Must take my leave.."

Cressida turns swiftly, almost hurriedly in the opposite directions of the villagers, about to leap off somewhere...Before she realizes she is completely lost. She doesn't know these woods that well. In fact, she hadn't travelled much beyond the borders of the Glabados church's headquarters in mullonde. IT's only recently that she's ventured to travel beyond its borders.

Rylen's voice brings her back to the present, glancing back at him with a look of confusion in her eyes. He probably knows these woods better than she, but..Was it safe to spend any more time around him, around anyone, with the moon coming so quickly? "I...I should go.." She pauses. "Gagazet, you say?" Well at least it'll be less populated than this area. "Then, I will accompany you, at least part of the way."
Rylen Corvus It becomes clear all too quickly that Cressida needs to get out of there, and Rylen is all too willing to help in that regard. He doesn't even know her name, but he has compassion enough not to force her to stay somewhere that she is uncomfortable. As she wanders off into the forest, the Elf gives one more nod to the villagers and offers the kids a wave before he follows.

"Are you going to be alright?" He asks, wondering if perhaps she might be ill. Then, she goes on to talk about joining him on the way to Gagazet. Rylen stands there for a moment, watching her with a calm and thoughtful expression. "Of course." He may not understand her reasons, but it's not in his nature to refuse such a request.

"We'll go around the edge of the forest, though, if you don't mind. Without Moko, I'd rather not risk getting too close to the darkness in the woods." Glancing upwards at the night sky, he seems to be searching for the right stars to guide their direction. With a motion of his head, Rylen begins to lead the way. Strangely, the usually talkative Elf is quiet. Maybe he's waiting for her to say something, or maybe he's just thinking to himself.
Cressida Cressida nods, not slowing her pace until the villagers are out of sight. Even then, she seems distressed somehow. Much like Rylen, she's covered in dirt and blood, and would love to stop off at an inn somewhere and clean up. However, fate may not allow even that. All she can do is to distance herself as much as possible from the villagers, and once they are far enough, only then can she leave Rylen before she causes any real harm.

"I am fine, just a little tired I suppose. But I'm glad it turned out alright. Being able to save a life, that means a lot. I dont even remember what it was like when I was that young..Seems so long ago..." She sighs tiredly as she glances thoughtfully into the night sky. Ahh, of course, the stars. That's probably one reason to skirt the forest rather than walk through it. The silence doesn't bother her much, in fact, Cressida prefers the silence, although she does realize one thing, something that she owes him at least. It wont matter soon afterall, she'll wander off on her own lonely road before accidently butchering him if all goes well. "By the way, my name is Cressida."
Rylen Corvus At the very least, Rylen seems to have a good nature sense about him, which makes him an ideal guide even in the worst of circumstances. From what he showed earlier, having quite a range of elemental abilities probably comes in handy as well. Then again, he is still a gentleman, which means that she gets a fair amount of warning about any places that might trip her up and he goes out of his way to push branches out of her way.

"Probably longer for me." He notes with a chuckle. "We Elves are fairly long-lived creatures. Though I might still look the part of the dashing young rogue, I've lived longer than may wizened old humans." At least her attempts at making conversation seem to set him more at ease. "It's good to remember what it was like back then, though. All the scary, frightening things in the world, and now it's like nightmares have come to life around every corner."

With one hand, Rylen forms a ball of fire to light their way, letting it float just a bit above his palm. His blue eyes are scouting ahead when she speaks her name, and he nearly misses it. He goes so far as to do a double-take before turning to face her. Ever so slowly, he closes his eyes and inclines his head. "Well met, then, m'lady Cressida. A beautiful name for a lovely lady." His smile is softer when it comes this time, perhaps with a bit less of the 'put on' charm that he tends to throw at strangers.

"So, what do you do when you aren't off saving us poor sinners from damnation?" It seems like a reasonable question.
Cressida Cressida nods as she follows after the silver haired elf, glad for the peace and quiet of the woods. Honestly, being around so many people clearly agitates her for whatever reason. Now she feels more in her element. Perhaps her mood towards Rylen's a bit better now as well as she murmurs a thanks here and there as he moves branches out of her way.

"I suppose that must be difficult..To live for hundreds of years, the world must suddenly seem so...So dull and mundane to you. Or perhaps, you dont have to worry about cherishing every moment, knowing that every day is not a step closer to old age and death." How long did an elf live anyway? For that matter, how long did wolves live? Cressida didnt really know to be honest. There wasnt a lot she did know about her people as she was taken at a relatively young age.

She simply smirks when he seems to put on the charm again, missing the softness in his smile somehow. "I suppose it's a full time job. Saving sinners, saving lives...Not just sinners but everyone. The church has taught me a lot about being a good person, a good samaritan. I guess..I dont really have much time to devote to much else.." No need to mention her many sudden absences from the church, when she vanished into the woods for days at a time, only to reappear looking shaken up and covered in scratches. Or her never ending search for a cure.

"It must be a nice, peaceful life to entertain others, however. Sometimes battling monsters or fighting heretics does not always have a happy -or peaceful -ending.."
Rylen Corvus There's a moment where Rylen is crouched, checking the trail ahead of them for signs of any passing creatures. This is when she comments about his lifespan and it's effects. The notion seems to give him pause as he glances back over his shoulder at her. "I find that life is only as dull as you let it be. The world is a huge place, full of wonders and adventures out there to find." That rogueish smile quirks his lips, followed by a laugh to show his amusement at the thought of a boring life.

As he pushes up from the crouch, the Elf just shakes his head, "Being long lived doesn't mean you'll live long. If it's not the fiends, it's the Heartless or thugs who want your money. Even Elves can get sick or killed. Every breath is a treasure worth more than any coin in the world." He reaches out with quick fingers and reaches to tap her on the nose. "Take a look around yourself. You will /never/ experience this moment again. It's those little moments that make life worth living, no matter how long or short it lasts."

Rylen continues to walk then, ducking under a bit of tree while he listens to her own stories about the Church. "I can't deny that it's a noble task, dedicating yourself to others. Where would the world be without those who sacrifice themselves for the sake of those less fortunate?" His words seem genuine enough, "You should make some time for yourself, though. Find something you enjoy and lose yourself in it. Life is meant to be lived fiercely. You've got to grab it with both hands and not let go."

His way of seeing the world is certainly different from the teachings of the Church, but the two things are not so far appart that he would be considered a heretic by word alone. He truly does seem to believe in what he says, though, with a passion that echos the finest of the Glabadosian preachers. "As for peaceful..." Rylen laughs again, heedless of the forest or the creatures that may hear him. "My life is hardly peaceful, m'lady. Look at today, for instance." He grins and offers her a wink. "And I wouldn't worry too much about 'happy endings', m'lady. I don't know that anything ever truly ends, and every sunrise is a new chance at finding whatever it is you're looking for."
Cressida Cressida nods slowly to his words. Quite the contrary, her own life has been full of much pain and heartache. She would crave for a dull life. But unfortunately, she has dedicated herself to becoming a hero, sacrificing herself again and again - sometimes to the point of foolishness - and all in the name of redemption.

She's a bit surprised when he playfully taps her on the nose, taking a step back. "H-hey..." but his words ring true, and Cressida nods, drawing a deep breath, closing her eyes. Yes, if only this peaceful moment could last longer than a mere moment.

The soft sounds of night life echoing off the cool crystalline plantlife of the nearby forest bring a faint smile to her lips, until she notices how rapidly the sky is darkenning, and she starts to walk markedly quicker. Were they sufficiently far enough away from the villagers for her to do them no harm? And what of Rylen?

Still..Cressida didn't want this moment of peace to end, just a little longer, she wanted to smile, before that happy ending, the good feelings of being able to save lives..And being in the company of this strange person who managed to bring a smile to her lips..Would be over all too soon.

"It would be good..To take a break just once. But I don't know.." She glances curiously at the silver haired elf. "Is it far from here now, where you are headed? Are you on your way to a performance, or...?" Surely he had told her earlier, but half the time, Cressida's mind seemed elsewhere. Even now, albeit gripped by curiousity about this strange elf, half of her mind is still worried, still glancing occasionally and a bit nervously at the sky..
Rylen Corvus Something is wrong, but alas... Rylen doesn't know enough about this strange woman to guess what it might be. In fact, he goes so far as to guess. "Is it the cold that's bothering you?" The day was reasonably warm, but perhaps the temperature is dropping as the night approaches. "Here." Without waiting for a response, Rylen unclips the outer coat he's wearing. It's the gentlemanly thing to do. He swings it around her shoulders with a small smile. "Better?"

Underneath, he only has on a thin shirt which clings to his chest, leaving his arms bare. Without the extra layer of clothing, it's easy to see the definition in his muscles, and more-so, the hint of a tattoo. Black lines can be seen just at the back of his neck and at the edges of his shoulders.

Rylen doesn't seem to be too bothered by her asking something he'd already said. They'd had a battle and a good run in between, so it's not so far fetched that she might not have remembered. "Gagazet. I've got a performance up there for the Ronso a few days from now." He laughs, continuing to walk ahead, which keeps him from noticing the way she keeps looking at the sky. "It's less of a performance, I guess, and more of a competition, but they pay well when you can beat some of their warriors at acrobatics. Always worth the trip."

He shrugs, "After that, who knows? Depends on how much I make off the big blue fuzzballs." There is an impish grin on his face, then. "I'm hoping to make enough to travel for a few weeks. I've been meaning to track down some leads in regards to... well, some missing family." He leaves it at that. Mysterious.
Cressida As luck would have it, Cressida had left her cloak behind somewhere, and in her somewhat scant attire, she is shivering a little. She takes the cloak gratefully, nodding to Rylen. Well, that's not the only reason she's looking so nervous, but it's a good cover at least. "Thank you, but, will you be alright?"

She does in fact notice his well-toned body, and more importantly the strange tatoos - or hint of ones at least. It has her curious, always one wary of tattoos and runes considering she has something of a rune underneath one of her own wrist guards herself. However, she tries not to stare too much, at either the tatoo (or his rather appealing physical attributes), quickly averting her gaze.

"Ahh, yes. Gagazet. I have not been there before, but I hear it is a beautiful place. I always wanted to--" But she is abruptly interrupted, flinching visibly from some unknown force that seems to strike her so hard that it brings her stumbling to one knee as she graps a hand to her chest, apparently in some kind of pain. No! Not now! Why now!?

This scene contained 50 poses. The players who were present were: Cressida, Rylen Corvus