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A Dire Encounter
(2013-03-16 - 2013-03-17)
No description.
Leida The gentle light of the fading sun stretches out long and thin across the softly rolling hills, painting the waving grasses with a faint golden hue like the haphazard strokes of a giant heavenly brush. Among the empty fields the only distinguishing feature of this strange limbo world is the pair of dusty roads that intersect, and though the hills stretch on for miles there is a sense that this crossroad is at the center of the whole thing.

Very few travelers ever wander here for it is a place of fate and destiny and its paths are not to be tread lightly. The shadowy form of the dark Castle of Oblivion looms far in the distance but even from here the chills of its haunting presence are felt.

The emptiness of this place provides the perfect place to go to ground. While there are few places to hide the lack of innocent bystanders allows for one to unleash their full strength without fear of causing wanton collateral damage.

Still, it is odd that the young woman which is being sought so aggressively by the Shadow Lords themselves stands alone among the grassy fields. Avira stands at the edge of the path and stares defiantly off into the distance, her eyes scanning the vast stretch of the horizon for signs of the pursuers she knows will come. Her distinctive blade is held in one hand and her fingers tighten and release around the hilt of the Spine in a sporadic fashion as the tension of waiting gets to her nerves.

A gentle breeze flutters her long braided hair and it beats against the small of her back like the rythmic ticking of a metronome counting out the seconds. She has been standing here for quite some time now and her patience is beginning to wear thin. Several times already she has considered leaving, knowing that her friends will need all the help they can get but every time she has managed to push the fear and indecision down. If even one of their enemies came it would be a worthwhile effort. All she has to do is wait.
Seith Boot!

A mighty metalic boot stomps onto the grassy field, nature itself softening the sound itself.

The camera cants up, showing the heavily armored black figure that now has come to stand before 'Avira'. His red cape is picked up and played with by the crossroad's minor wind. The horns reach forwards towards the sky, and then her... In his hand he hold a massive staff, a purple thin blade of darkness pulsating from either tip, facing in opposite directions.

"It was foolish of you to show yourself here alone." Seith calls out towards this fake Avira, not seemingly have noticed that this girl is indeed a fake. Instead, he begins to slowly step forwards, his brow forrowed, his gaze set firmly upon the girl before him. "So what will you do now? Run away again?" He asks her.
Leida 'Avira' tenses up a little as the figure seems to appear out of nowhere, her expression of stoic resolve waivering a little upon seeing who it is that has come calling. The shimmering blades of darkness draw her eyes; she's never seen Seith actually step into battle himself before. Nor any other Shadow Lord for that matter. She has no idea what to expect but the promise she gave has to be fulfilled. After everything she's done putting her life on the line is the least she can offer in atonement.

Her determination is little aegis against the knot developing in her gut and her stomach churns in a pit of fear and uncertainty. How this would play out once he discovered the truth is unknown but until then she had a part to play. Sweat beads on her forehead as the young woman steps forward, her weapon lifting to point at Seith.

"I could say the same of you, Shadow Lord. Have you come without your pet Heartless to keep your hands free of toil and effort?" She shakes her head. "The time to run has passed. You shall not leave this place while I still stand."
Seith Seith observes Avira with a watchful eye. For her to be transpiring isn't something he'd expected from that fierce woman. "What, have we grown afraid since I've transported you to the Underworld - having seen what waste I laid on your bountiful quantity of friends?" He asks, before growing quiet as 'Avira' speaks.

The man looks around himself, and raises one hand. "Indeed, I believe I do not need my Heartless. Especially not against someone such as you. But if you wish, I can summon them? It'll only expedite your demise... You see..."

The man moves his free hand up against the blade of his scythe, letting it spark against his gauntlet-covered fingertips. "Being a Princess and all, we can't let you live anymore. The restoration of your world will cause nothing but more sorrow."
Leida The woman swallows hard at that declaration and fights the urge to take a step backwards, instead converting her fear into courage in the hopes that she can buy a little more time before her facade crumbles. Avira takes a stride forward doing her best not to look intimidated, keeping her blade pointed at the armored elf.

"I do not fear you! If you wish to face me directly then I shall indulge your arrogance. Perhaps it is you who shall leave with a fresh scar to remind you that not everyone you cross shall be so easily conquered."

Despite her words, Avira's eyes twitch a little at the sparks of dark magic that scatter beneath his gauntlet. The comment about being a princess catches her off-guard. Did he somehow know the truth? Or is there something about the mercenary woman that she doesn't know? "What... what do you mean it will cause more sorrow?"
Seith Seith quicks his brow once more at this Avira. She's rather talkative today. No matter. "It's simple. It's a city of lost lambs. Its revival will bring them hope. A false hope. Had they lived in the worlds that remain, they would simply have had a chance to keep on living. But if you revive it... that hope will be certain to be crushed once more. And with that, far more sorrow than before."

The man then points his massive scythe straight for this Avira. "Come at me Avira, show me the power of a Princess." He remains standing, waiting for her to take her blade to him. "And come to know why you should fear me - just like you should fear any other Shadow Lord!"
Leida "Hmph! Your words ring true only if you are allowed to destroy their homes once more!" She waves a hand at the air infront of her, fist clenching at her side as she gives him a sharp glare. "The only reason my world fell in the first place was because your kind allowed the Heartless to ramapage freely through the streets." She has to keep talking. It's the only thing she can do to buy time.

"If they simply gave up and moved on then how long would it be until the suffered the same fate yet again?" Avira shakes her head as she takes another step forward. "What you suggest is not wisdom, it is surrender! We may have lost the battle but the war is not yet over."

Seith's sudden motion causes the mercenary to seize up and she brings her blade around defensively. Still, despite the clear challenge he calls out to her she remains wary and merely stares at him with a mix of trepidation and courage. "I do not fear the darkness."
Seith "Rampage freely? We did no such thing! You were there! The Shadowlords commanded the heartless to attack. In fact, you were in that final battle. What are you talking about?" He's starting to get suspicious, because some of the things this Avira is saying aren't quite adding up. "No, I don't want surrender. I want them to fight! I want them to grow more powerful." Seith answers her.

The man wonders... why isn't she attacking? She has her chance. He gave her the first strike. The man glances around. Is this a trap? Are there others here? No... he doesn't sense anyone else. Then...

Then he must attack. Seith plants his hand hard against the sod and pushes off, going into a run and quickly approaching this Avira, sweeping straight down with his firstr strike in order to try and get her to raise that sword, before using the fact that it's a double-sided weapon by turning the pole itself, and then returning it the way it came - only horizontal. A quick strike combination that is hard to get away from for an unaccomplished swordsperson.
Leida Avira opens her mouth to speak again but the jarring impact of the dark scythe against her sword slams it shut again, rattling her teeth painfully. She glances up at the interlocked weapons, eyes going wide. When had she lifted her sword to block? Instincts and speed she didn't know she had kick into high gear as the Shadow Lord strikes but her inexperience is no match for his crafty assault and the reverse strike slams hard into the young woman's midsection sending her flying backwards.

A harsh cough explodes from her mouth as the wind is forced from her lungs upon impact with the ground and the mercenary woman rolls over onto her back with a groan. After a moment Avira sits up, propping herself up on one hand as her black hair falls away from her face. Wait... black? "Oh no... not yet..."

Black lightning crackles from an object at the woman's chest as it slowly fades into existance. A thin strip of paper with scrawled handwriting in flowery pictograms is affixed to her armor. The charm is rend in half, cleanly sundered by Seith's well placed strike and as the magic it contains begins to fade the facade also fails.

Avira's body wavers and begins to fade into a thin layer of black ooze, her scarred countenance and tanned skin melting together as they slide down into the earth below. Knowing that her ruse has been twarted by a stroke of bad luck, Leida pushes to her feet and stares back at the Shadow Lord.

The rest of her disguise sloughs off like wet mud, pooling together into an inky stain that forms her shadow on the amber grass - something that was missing before. The girl coughs again and gives Seith a faint sheepish grin as she winces from the pain seeping through her ribs. "So... how does it feel... to be the one who has been tricked for a change?"
Seith When that purple crackle follows, and Avira's hair changes, the man quickly jumps back. A trap after all? A test?! He quickly gets into a guarded posture and waits for the black slime like substance to leak off of the girl. Much of the girl ends up 'shrinking' in order to reveal the truth beneath... and he can't help but... grin. He isn't upset. And with that, in parts, he answers the very question the girl asks.

"How does it feel? I will tell you how it feels." He summons into his hand a MaBelle, showing it to her. "The fact that you are leading me on, means the others are now on their way to - or already in - Manhattan. Trying to restore it. So I will tell you what. Let's make a deal..."

The man tilts his head up slightly. "What are you willing to do for me, in order to get me /not/ to call the Shadow Lords right now to ruin this plan of yours?" Seith's eyes are almost lit up in happiness. "Or do you think you're going to be able to stop me?" The man moves a finger towards the dial button.

"Tell me... Leida. What can you offer..."

"... /ME/."
Leida The girl's eyes drift over towards the device in Seith's hand. While she is still basically in the dark about technology even she knows what purpose the MaBelle serves. With a mere touch of a button their plans will be revealed and all of the work and effort that has gone into restoring the world of Manhattan will be for naught.

Leida's jaw clenches tightly and she considers for the briefest of moments trying to knock the communicator away from his hands. If she could just destroy it before he can make the call then all she has to do is keep him busy long enough for the process to be completed. But how long, exactly, did they need? And even without his phone what was to stop him from simply stepping into a corridor of darkness beyond her reach? This deception was hanging on guesses and chance.

"No," she admits after a few moments. She breathes the answer out heavily as if sighing in defeat. "I cannot say with any hope of certainty that I could stop you in time. And yet I cannot allow you to interfere. I promised them... Mercade, Will, Imi, everyone who lost their homes... I promised I would do everything in my power to see that mistake undone."

Leida hangs her head in shame knowing that her words may very well be proven hollow. "But.. what can...." She stops mid-sentence as a thought comes to her. Her eyes goes wide and she swallows hard at the implications of what she considers. Slowly she looks back up at him, weighing the price of her words. If she said them then she would be breaking yet another promise but at the same time Manhattan would be allowed to live again. In the end, it isn't really a choice at all.

"I... I can offer... myself."
Seith Seith watches the girl consider, his finger hovering over that single button. He knows that she is aware of a Shadow Lord's power. The power to move through that portal is all it'd take - this phone is nothing. This phone is nothing but a symbol of her inability to do anything before him. Once again, like so many times, Seith has Leida in his grasp - right where he wants her. And when the girl's eyes widen...

The man grins, knowing that the fellow spider has fallen into his far superior web. He steps towards her and closes the phone with a loud flipping sound and pockets it, and continues to move forwards - planting the pole into the ground half-way. He doesn't fear her. "You know." He tells her, before he kneels before her on one leg, and holds out a single hand towards Leida.

"That is right. You can offer yourself, Leida." The man grins darkly. "You will tell me whatever moves those around you make. You will report them to me. But what's more... I now have you. You are mine now - you understand what that means, don't you... Leida?" He asks her.
Leida The demonic princess winces a little as the phone snaps shut, her shoulders hunching up. It's as if a chapter on her life has just been closed as well. It had been full of grief and remorse but also friendship and a glimmer of happiness she had never thought would be within her reach again. Faces flash before her eyes, images of her friends smiling at her and telling her they would be there for her no matter what. They had forgiven her for her crimes even if she never could. And now she was about to spit in those faces in order to save them.

Tears well up and she clenches her fists tightly, digging her nails into the palms of her hands hard enough to draw blood. Leida stares down at the ground, refusing to meet the smug knowing gaze of the man who has played her like a harp since their first encounter. She had thought to get the better of him this time but it would seem her arrogance has a price.

Even kneeling, Seith's tall elven form only barely dips below the girl's short height and she lifts her head to give him a confused look. She had expectd him to demand her surrender, to be taken away to the dark castle where the Shadow Lords gathered and reindoctrinated into their ranks. It was always what he had been pushing for - to make her embrace the darkness once more. But this was worse. He not only wanted her to turn her backs on the people who had shown her kindness, he wanted her to spy on them, to betray their every efforts to outmanuever the dark lords.

But what choice does she have? Looking away, Leida sniffs and rubs at her eyes, nodding back at him. "I understand..." She kneels down before him, settling onto both knees and takes his hand in her own slender fingers. Her lips brush against the fabric of his ornate gloves in a symbolic gesture of deference. The girl bows her head to him, taking care not to strike him with her short but deadly horns in such close proximity.

"My master."
Seith Seith grows quiet - very quiet - when the girl slowly moves onto her both knees. Even his breathing reduces to a mere whisper. His eyes however, follow her every move. Every little muscle that moves within her, every little sign of her emotions. He's reading her. No, one must understand, Seith isn't delighted in a victory right now. He's merely welcomeing someone back. Guiding them. Seeing someone back to the path they've always been destined to be on. The path of darkness.

As she finally takes his hand and kisses his ornate glove, there's a moment where he feels... sad. A moment of guilt. She might notice it, were she to look up, that his gaze isn't as strong as it should be. He doesn't even smile when she calls him her master. He draws his hand around and touches against the bottom of hers. "No need to call me that, Leida. Simply call me Seith - it is my name, and the only name I need to be refered by." He explains.

He then moves her hands together, and lays one hand atop and the other below - capturing those hands. "Be strong." He then whispers, before he lets darkness flow into her hands, magical darkness of the healing type. "And accept this vitality, to carry you through... and accept this gift." The darkness both fills her up, as well as creating a small shimmer. An illussion. A charm re-appears where it had once burnt off, and she once again turns into the form of Avira - masking whatever changes might lie beneath.

"When you are done, destroy the charm - don't let them take it. And Leida... if you wish, at a later time, I might gift you a new charm to hide some of your more demonic features. As a... reward."
Leida Leida does not resist when her hands are moved but she is suprised to hear the lack of gloating or harshness in his tone when the Shadow Lord speaks to her. She has always thought of these dark figures to be like the villains of legend and myth in her stories, leading their armies of evil to stamp out all hope of freedom or justice. Only now does she realize that she hasn't even the slightest clue what goals Seith has.

Her head tilts up to meet his gaze as he sandwiches her hands in his. She blushes faintly at how close their bodies are like this and his whisper sends a strange shiver down her spine that is quickly chased by the wave of dark energy that flows into her arms. Immediately she recognizes it as the same magics that he bestowed upon her before and the ache in her side where his deadly weapon struck eases and fades away completely.

She detects a different surge of power this time, however, and glances down to see the ragged tatters of the ofuda scroll that had concealed her identity piece itself back together. When she looks up again her eyes are once more the light browns of the young mercenary woman from Manhattan.

She nods hesitantly at Seith's instructions, guessing that whatever darkness he has woven into the scroll must be something that could be detected. Questions would be raised, suspicions that she would have no solid answers for and her sacrifice would be for nothing. All considerations of this are cast aside when he mentions the other possibilities his magic holds.

"You... you can do that?" The wonder in her voice is matched only by the desperate sound of her question. To look normal again, to be allowed to walk the streets without stares of fear and disgust following her at every turn - she wants that more than anything in the world right now.
Seith Seith notices that blush, and he wonders for a moment if this is the right thing to do. To employ someone this young like this. But... he must know. He must keep track of the Shard Seekers. And if he has Leida watching them, he can actually put more time towards other ventures. The man strokes the girl's hand for a moment, then reaches out and gently pets her head. With the illusion of Avira having overcome her, this is only stranger.

"Yes, I can." He answers her. "I am a master of illusions. But I remind you, that would be all it is. An illusion. They could still feel your horn, and a powerful enough mage could still sense what lies beneath. But it can be done." He explains to her. "But only if you follow what I desire from you to the letter - or perhaps even go beyond that. I will let you make that decision."

The armored man rises, moving a hand towards her head, and then touches her horn - knowing where it lies. And then, as if to perform some kind of symbolic gesture, he touches his finger to the tip of the horn and lets blood touch it. It doesn't show through her illusion, but he's certain Leida can tell - especially seeing as his finger still shows the remaining touch.

"But know this. Unlike the fool you are disguised as now. I will accept you for whatever you may look like. There are but few things I hate - a lack of power - and a lack of control."
Leida Leida nods gently but her excitement doesn't fade in the least. Even if it was only an illusion, it would allow her to walk around without fear of being judged by the weak and fearful majority of humanity who had no desire to understand the truth of what lay behind the demonic features. To them she was some sort of bad omen or simply a monster and few wanted anything to do with her despite the fact that she had show the people nothing but kindness and warmth.

She freezes when his hand reaches out to touch the foremost of her horns, knowing well how sharp the blade-like protrusion are. Despite being made of bone or something like it, the girl feels the sensation of his fingertip pressing against the edge and the soft trickle of blood that drips down the length of its crimson surface. Her blush deepens further at this gesture, not quite sure what to make of it or his promises of acceptance.

"Thank you," she says. "I shall fulfill your request to the best of my ability, Seith-sama. So please... let my friends... let them have their home back."
Seith The man could easily heal his finger if he wanted to - Leida knows this - yet he doesn't. He just stares at the blood that bubbles at the end of his finger for a moment, before looking towards Leida. "Very well. I will let them have their home back. But know this Leida - they will have to struggle for it. A fallen world is not easily retrieved. There are many things that can stop them there. Their odds are very... very small."

The man then takes a step back and moves his hand aside, opening a portal of darkness. However, he does not step through. "Is there anything else you would wish to tell me?" He asks, looking at the girl's little adorable blush. Yet somehow, he feels that blush... dangerous.

Blushes suggested things such as love, kinship, friendship. He's afraid of what it harbors.
Leida The blush probably looks out of place on Avira's scarred face but as the creator of the illusion Seith no doubt can see through it to the young girl beneath. Though confused by his strange mannerisms and friendly demeanor, she is still clearly distraught at the thought of turning traitor and that pain is etched into the corners of her eyes.

Leida gives a relieved sigh and a faint smile when he agrees to her request and the tension in her body seems to unwind all at once. She will just have to trust his word that Shadow Lord interference will be kept to a minimum and hope that her friends have the strength and resolve to win back their home.

"A small chance is better than no chance at all," she says. Leida shakes her head at the elf as he pauses, not sure what exactly he is expecting her to say. "No. I understand what I must do."
Seith "Very well then." Seith tells Leida, looking at her. "You'll soon learn how you will tell me what is going on. Don't worry - as the humans would say... don't call me, I'll call you." And with that, the man steps through that portal, letting it close behind him and leaving Leida to stand behind him. Later that night, she would have a strange dream. A dream in which Seith appeared before her without the armor - but rather some robes - and explained one additional thing that he can do...

He can control dreams.

This scene contained 20 poses. The players who were present were: Leida, Seith