Koeryn stood in the shadow of the white bulk of Arey's Tower. She was a Sorceress of much power, and was just a recent arrival to the Dominishan Forest, her tower a recent addition to the cliff overlooking Rift Lake. He sighed. He'd been having trouble sleeping for almost a week now, not since a few days after the recent forest fire. His dreams were troubling things that woke him up in a drench of cold sweat, yet he could never recall what happened within them. So, he'd gone to the Sorceress, asking for help. She had given him a small bottle of sleeping draught, and told him to drink it before sleep. It should cause a dreamless sleep. He tossed it over the cliff and watched it smash against an outcropping of stone about twenty feet down.
"Damn" he muttered. I go to a Sorceress as powerful as she, and she gives me a potion I could have gotten anywhere..." He looked up suddenly, but he didn't see anything. His ears swiveled around, searching for a sound, but they didn't catch anything out of place either. He grinned, thinking Wow, she either has gotten a lot better, or she really isn't here... He stood, turned towards the forest and started walking, deciding that he really hadn't noticed anything odd after all.
Vaio grinned from her hiding spot. So he really HADNT seen me. She waited for him to pass under her and moved further ahead, waiting for him to get into the place she wanted him. There. She dropped out of the tree, taking down the much larger cat warrior, who was now covered with her, and her black cloak.
"Get offa me!" he exclaimed. Laughing, she complied, standing up and allowing him to stand at his fully impressive height of seven feet and eight inches. He brushed himself off, and glared at her. "That wasn't very nice you know."
She poked his nose, still grinning. "I know, but it was fun."
Koeryn continued to glare at her, then his face split into a smile. "Hye." She grinned, "Hye there yourself!" His grin got even wider as he stepped forward and picked her up off the ground, holding her as he were a knight, and she a damsel in distress. He walked back the way he had come, towards the tower, with her hugging him for most of the trip. His grin turned wicked as he tossed her over the cliff and into the lake. She screamed, and then hit the water. Upon surfacing she yelled up at him, "You over grown furrball! My clothes are all wet!" He looked down and decided that he'd have to agree with her observation, he making a few of his own. She was actually pretty cute with her hair all wet, and her crimson corset, plastered against her chest.
She glared up at him, then felt something wrap around her ankle. "Aaaahh!" she screamed as she was pulled under. Koeryn watched her get yanked under, and dove off the cliff, forgetting his weapons and great cloak weren't exactly water resistant. Too late for that though as he splashed into the water. "Charlie! No! Release!" Charlie the giant lake squid didn't listen to the commands. Koeryn dove under, and pulled her to the surface. "Try tickling him!" She glared at him, than sank her formidable canines into the large tentacle around her chest. She sucked until the beast became woozy, and managed to wriggle herself free. She spat as much of the blood out as she could, with a really disgusted look on her face.
"I told you to tickle him." Koeryn said as he studied her disgusted look. She glared at him and swam to shore, muttering, "I hate sushi." under her breath as she went. Koeryn followed her. He caught up with her as she was pulling herself to dry land, completely soaked, though he wasn't any dryer. He tossed his cloak onto a large, flat boulder, and then climbed up after it. He shook, causing water to go in every which direction, before sitting down and cleaning the water from his golden and black striped fur. He stretched out on the rock and let the sun finish his drying, Vaio sitting not to far away. He drifted off into sleep.
An errant ray of sunlight pierced Koeryns eyelids; forcing him from the first quiet sleep he'd had in weeks. He pulled on his now dry and somewhat stiff cloak, and strapped his sword belt on. He took another look at the still sleeping form of Vaio before quietly walking into the forest. He didn't get ten steps before she was walking beside him again. "So... where are we headed?" Koeryn glanced at her. "To my wood." he said simply. They walked along for several minutes, not talking, just enjoying the sights and sounds of the forest before coming up to a very large wall of interwoven vines and trees. Vaio looked at it with a look of exasperation on her face. "How are we supposed to get around this?" she asked. Koeryn walked up to it and brushed his hand against a leaf. The vines shifted and a path opened up before them. "Around what?" he replied and stepped through. She shook her head, causing her black hair to fall into her face. She brushed it away. "You know, my cat warrior friend, you never cease to amaze me." He grinned, "Fair enough," he replied, "as I never cease to amaze myself." Vaio suddenly looked up. "What's that sound?" Koeryn's ears swiveled, searching for it as well. When he found it he walked off, down a near invisible path through the trees. Vaio followed, wondering what the sound was caused by, as they got closer to the haunting melody.
"Have you ever heard of those goat men?" she asked. Koeryn glanced over his shoulder at her. "You mean satyrs? I haven't seen one in years..." She nodded. "Yeah, those... so that music isn't coming from one?" Koeryn nodded absently. They came into a large clearing that had somehow managed to hide from view until they were actually in it. The most dominating feature of the clearing was a large tree atop a grassy knoll. The music appeared to be coming from the tree itself, not from anything in it.
"It's called a wood wind tree. Its branches are hollow, so when one breaks off and the wind passes over the hole, it makes the sound..." While Koeryn was talking he didn't notice the haunted look on his companions face until she interrupted him. "I've had dreams of a place like this..." Koeryn looked at her. "Huh?" "I said, I've had dreams about a place like this... nightmares really. All those children that I've killed over the years... they are all under the tree... and their dancing..." Koeryn sat down listening to this. "... Their dancing was joyful... it was celebrating all their evil deeds through their lives..." With that, she turned and went back the way they'd come. Koeryn sat and watched her go. He stared into the tree for several though filled minutes, then got up and knocked on the log he was sitting on before he ran off after her. She heard him coming and ducked off into some forest ground cover, a sly grin on her pale face.
Koeryn stepped down and heard something snap. "SH-" he was cut off by the fact that he was suddenly and violently yanked off his feet and hung upside down by a snare fixed to a very flexible tree. "-It." he finished under his breath. Vaio stepped out of hiding and sauntered up to Koeryn, then tagged his chest with a huge grin on her face. "My, Koeryn, now how did you get up there? Oh and your it!" Koeryn glared at her. "Now isn't the best time for games, when I tell you to, du-" For the second time in a short period, Koeryn was forced to cut a sentence off as she pulled a knife and cut the rope, causing Koeryn to land on his head. Vaio giggled, "So much for cat like reflexes, Dear." Koeryn just glared as he picked himself up. A nearby snapping of twig and muffled curse brought him to his full senses though. Vaio had a dagger drawn and was already spinning towards the sound. "RUN!" he yelled and he shoved her towards the edge of the woods. "Run!" he yelled again, and he followed his words with action this time, taking off through the forest. He could hear her running behind him. When he got to the wall, he dove through, not bothering to open it up. This earned him several very painful scratches and cuts, but he ignored them as he came through the other side, Falchion in hand as he landed in a fighting crouch. Vaio dove through a second later, but he shoved her on, towards the lake. "Go! I'll catch up!" She nodded and ran for the lake. As soon as she got there she hid under the edge of a large boulder. Koeryn watched her go, then pulled his dagger as a pair of mercenaries dropped from the tree above him, both armed with a short sword and a dagger, and both wearing matching studded leather armor. Koeryn spat on the nearest ones foot. "Your gonna regret that pussy..." Koeryn flicked his wrist, burying the dagger deep in the man's right chest, a definite lung shot. The man fell, but his companion screamed in rage and attacked. He was actually very skilled for a hired swordsman; thought Koeryn as he parried the man's first slash, catching and turning the man's small blade with his very large one, but Koeryn wasn't quite fast enough to stop the blow from the dagger completely. He shrugged off the shallow slice across his gut, and backed himself against a tree. The man took the blow Koeryn was hoping for, and lunged forward, blade first, in what would be a fatal blow. Would be, except for the fact that Koeryn had been expecting it and had jumped straight up, letting the blade bury itself harmlessly in the tree trunk. There was a hitch though, as Koeryn landed on the flat of the man blade: The force of his lunge had caused his wrist to snap as it got caught against the hand guard. The man's scream was cut off as Koeryn knocked him out with the pommel of his sword. Koeryn dropped to the ground and tore the blade from the tree, and then rushed to the one he'd lung-shot and pulled his dagger out. Without bothering to clean them, he ran off to the lake, sheathing his weapons along the way. He jumped to the top of the boulder and dove into the lake from its edge. When he surfaced, he heard another splash, but realized it was just Vaio. He nodded to her, and dove under. After swimming for a short while, he found what he was looking for: a darker spot inn the murky darkness of the lake. He swam for this and entered it, surfacing in a small subterranean cave. He gasped for air, but crawled up the pebbly beach, turned around, and pulled Vaio out. He shook as much of the water out of his fur as he could, then sat on the beach and removed his great cloak, to clean it from his fur. Vaio took off her cloak, squeezing as much of the liquid out of it as she could.
The cave they were in was actually pretty large, about ten feet tall in most places, and about 7 feet wide where it met the water. It was lit by a softly glowing phosphorescent fungus, which gave off a greenish light. Koeryn got up, since he was as dry as he most likely was going to get at the moment, and walked down a side cave, Vaio in tow as usual, though a tad damper. They came into yet another cave, this one larger and filled with even more of the glowing fungus, making it quite a bit brighter than the previous cave. He sat at a smallish table in the middle of the room, on a cushion. Vaio sat across from him. "Who are those people?" she asked. Koeryn yawned and sighed tiredly.
The room was furnished with the table, and several piles of cushions scattered about at random. Koeryn dropped down onto one of the larger piles and stared at the ceiling, seeming determined to count the number of cracks in it. Vaio sighed and dropped onto the floor on the opposite side of the cave. She probably wasn't gonna get anything out of him at the moment.
"Hey, I'm gonna go see if I can find another one of these rooms ok?"
He continued to stare at the ceiling, so she stood up and left, still squeezing water from her hair. As soon as she was out of sight of the first "room", she stripped off her bodice and shirt and continued walking, letting her clothes air dry. She found several small ones, but she kept looking, until she found The Cave. She grinned and left her discarded clothes behind as she walked back to Koeryn's cave.
When she arrived, he was still staring at the ceiling. She grinned to herself and grabbed several cushions, which she brought back to her place. She smiled as she looked in wonder at the amazing crystal formations, the room positively glowing with refracted and reflected light. She lay the cushions on the ground, next to a small pool of crystal clear water and went back for more. Soon her room was filled with pillows and she lay back, letting the wondrous sight take hold of her.
Koeryn watched Vaio as she made her last trip, his eyes following her as she grabbed the last of the cushions that he wasn't occupying. As soon as she was out of earshot, he sighed. He knew this attack was nothing. They were out there searching even now, though he had no idea how they'd managed to find his home. "Damn it," he muttered.
He rose to his feet, and walked with his ears leading him through the many side tunnels, until he found her current place of occupation. He grinned inwardly as he realized which room she had claimed as her own. I suppose I should knock. he thought.
He rapped his knuckles against the stone, making sure she knew he was coming, and without waiting for a reply, he stepped in. He looked about himself in the same awe that she had.
His revelry was quickly shattered though.
"What do you want?" Vaio asked.
"Uhm." he was suddenly uncomfortable. "I, uhm. I'm sorry, you know, for getting you mixed up in all this."
She grinned up at him. "It's all right, Kryn, really it is." He looked at her for a sec, and then sat down beside her. "I suppose you want me to explain it?" when she nodded, he continued. "Back, several years before I came here, I was in a large town, out down in the Southlands. I was kind of in a hurry, as I had an appointment with a rather important person. At any rate, I was running as fast as I could through the streets, when I run smack," he slammed his fist into his palm to emphasize, "dab into some guy in black robes. I didn't really look to carefully, and lifted his coins in the confusion, but was back on my feet and on my way again in no time. I never made it to the rendezvous though."
She sat and watched him attentively, and he went on, "it turns out, I had run into a senior mage of the Order. I don't think stealing his money helped the fact that he was mildly injured when I ran into him. Not a dozen feet from where I'd run into him, there was a large group of black clad people, not all of 'em human, and not any of them looked to be in the mood to play. I was lucky to survive the fight that followed, but somehow I managed to escape. In the years since then, I've had many little skirmishes with small groups of them, but they've been quiet recently. I thought they'd forgotten about me. I guess I was wrong."