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A very dangerous game ensues between two very similar beings.

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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Cat and Mouse (Andar)

Postby Slaughter on May 4th, 2015, 7:58 am

59th of Spring, 515AV
The Outskirts, West


Soaring through the night sky, Slaughter carried himself just above the thin canopy of the woods surrounding Sunberth, careful not to sink so low that he would begin to scratch himself on the treetops. Each beat of his wings stretched against his back, but in his thirteen years of life the action had become second nature and, as far as it seemed to him, the Zith was simply gliding along the surface of a sea of branches, coasting atop its waves before finally sinking into a small clearing in the woods.


Only a few days had passed since Slaughter's first arrival at the city known as Sunberth, but already the Zith was growing restless. He'd seen a large number of civilized settlements and Zith colonies in his traveling, but never before had he felt such a compelling desire to do something. Even at those cities that were along his route to his main goal, Slaughter never felt such an urgent need to move on toward his goal. Back when he knew what he was supposed to be searching for, it felt as if he could spend all the time in the world looking for it. He allowed himself to be distracted by things, by seemingly less driving curiosities that sprung up along the way, all secondary to the main focus of his intense desire.

Now Slaughter was effectively at the end of his journey. From what he could tell the continent of Mizahar stretched a little farther east along the coast headed south, but from what he'd heard the distance wasn't far. A couple days at most. A couple days and he would be at the end of his long search. What came next, he could not know. But what was so strangely odd to the Zith was that, rather than feel the desire to linger about in the city and prolong his quest a little while longer, more than ever before he felt the intense yearning to move on, even though he knew not what he was moving towards.

The thought of his voyage ending so abruptly and without ceremony made Slaughter feel as if his chest were being filled with a gentle acid. From the base of his neck and into his ribcage, it felt as if there were a small trickle of discomfort slowly filling the vessel that was his chest. An ending to his story, only that Slaughter would live past it. What, then, was he supposed to do?


Using his wings to catch the air and slow his descent, the Zith fell gracefully onto one of the thicker branches of a tree surrounding the clearing, breaking few a through sticks to make it there. His foot-claws arched under his soles and dug into the wood, his knees bending to take some of the impact out as he settled on the branch. Pushing his wings out gently against the other sticks, the Zith gave himself a nice perch in one of the trees of the outskirts from which to spot and hunt.

Reaching behind his back and under his wing, Slaughter unslung his composite shortbow - already strung in preparation for the hunt - and brought it in front of him, carefully so as to avoid snagging it against any sticks. With his right hand,the Zith reached up over his wing and unclasped his climber's quiver, sneaking an arrow out and nocking it against his bow. The projectile was pulled back against the bowstring, and Slaughter was ready to fire.

With that, he turned his eyes down to the forest floor, keeping himself quiet and his senses open for the sight or sound of any potential game.
Last edited by Slaughter on May 7th, 2015, 1:14 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Cat and Mouse (Andar)

Postby Andar on May 5th, 2015, 7:26 am

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The sun had long since sunk beneath the western hills, and the line of trees that dotted them. Andar had stood just outside the city at sunset, marveling at how the sunlight filtered through the leaves, making it appear as if the forest itself were aflame. A breeze carried through, the pattern rearranged, bedazzling his vision a tick as the sun's fractured light spilled past. Not so very different from Sunberth's burning jewel, The Slag Heap, emanating brightly just over his right shoulder. But not now. The very same hillside was now an indistinct foreboding smudge. Leth's somber vigil tainted the land with a sheen of tranquility, and mystery. The Westwatch tower appeared to Andar, like a lone sentinel in black, ever watchful, ever imposing. He shivered, pulling his cloak tighter about him despite the wind being pleasantly cool.

Leaving the sounds of laughter and camaraderie behind, the Kelvic rogue began to wander down the road, his thoughts elsewhere. Andar fancied himself visiting new places, beyond the shadowy landscape of his periphery, beyond the narrow perspective of his world. A smile bent his mouth crookedly at the thought of breaking into royal treasuries, up to his armpits in mizas. Wearing a crown of gold embedded with fist-sized rubies, shining slightly askew. He would pull himself out of the dung and daily rat race one day, he knew. It was just a matter of perseverance, patience, and a little luck.

So deep in thought, Andar had not realized just how far he had wandered till he gazed back down the way he had come. Up a hill, he had followed a dirt path that diverged from the road a ways off. He could scarcely make out the Slag Heap Fire at this distance. The light Seen hazily betwixt the occasional tree, shrub, and rock pile. Andar thought there were a few plantations in this direction, but perhaps he had taken the wrong road. Turning back, he saw the land rise up to a ridgeline of trees. Dense foliage that blotted out even the moonlight. A truly uninviting place.

Just when he was about to backtrack, the crack of a branch got his attention. The noise had come from the trees. Andar's instincts told him to flee. He however, remained perfectly still. When no other noises issued from the forest, the rogue crept forward as silently as he could, avoiding twigs, rocks, and other debris along the way.

If questioned why exactly he thought strolling into a gloomy forest at night, probably teeming with predators, was a good idea, he would be hardput to find a worthy answer. It was his nature he supposed. His curiosity would probably get him killed one day (like tonight perhaps). Still, there was something in there, surely he could sneak up on whatever it was and get away without anyone being the wiser, right?

Andar inched his way slowly into the darkness, tree branches clutching for him, sliding brambly fingers ever so gently over the fine material of his cloak, tawny locks, and the exposed skin of his arms and face. Andar made a sudden sputtering noise and wiped at his face frantically. He had walked right into a spider web! What was left of the gossamer obstacle, barely visible in the sliver of silvery light, hung now only from one bough, the rest fluttered forlornly vacant. Andar was blessedly happy to find the web and his person, free of crawlers. The thought of a spider hopping down on his head made him very uneasy. He hurried forward a pace, before regaining some measure of stealth, probing even deeper into the woods.

What the petch was he doing out here?

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Cat and Mouse (Andar)

Postby Slaughter on May 5th, 2015, 7:41 pm

As Slaughter perched nimbly on the branch, he kept his eyes roving slowly over the woods across the clearing from him. It was the widest angle of vision he could be granted, and thanks to him being Zith his eyes could make out even in the dim light of the moon all the underbrush and movement that a human would be able to detect during the day. Perhaps even more than a human would be able to detect with the Zith's uncanny ability to notice things. That was worth an inquiry one day, he thought to himself. Whether or not a Zith could see better inherently than a human, that is.

It was clear, though, that Zith could hear better than humans, as many a nighttime hunt would attest to back in Kalea. And Slaughter's ears picked up the sound of some animal out in the woods nearby.

What exactly made the sound or why it did was irrelevant, all that mattered was there was game in these woods tonight. Nearby there was something that was breathing and made of meat, and pretty soon it wouldn't be breathing anymore and the meat would belong to Slaughter. Impulsively, he licked his fangs and looked toward where the sound had come from, somewhere to the left of his field of vision. His eyes remained open and sparsely blinking, observing the image and watching for movement.

Pretty soon it came in the form of a rustling branch among the brush, pushed aside slightly. It was only a single branch, so it was making an effort to be stealthy. Then a human emerged from behind it.

To most mortal races, this human's footfalls would be effectively silent at this distance. The game - a male - must have been making an effort to avoid noisy ground like twigs and leaves, for his steps were suspiciously quiet. Very little could escape a Zith's ears though, and Slaughter could hear faintly each step his prey made.

Although using his wings to push the branches back had made a little noise when he landed, the Zith now had a little bubble within which he could move his arms without making any additional noise. So it was that Slaughter was able to aim for the human on the far side of the clearing with no noise save for the quiet sound the bowstring made when being drawn. His excitement began to rise, his eyes widening with focus and amber eyes glowing with life. This was the hunt, an activity he reveled in since his birth.Wherever he went, whatever his prey was, Slaughter would always be the hunter, the predator. It was in his blood.

With an arrow nocked and eyes on the target, Slaughter aimed his bow nearly dead-on the target, the composite weapon allowing much more power than a standard shortbow. His right hand was nearly to his shoulder when it was fully drawn, allowing a lot of power to be put behind the arrow. In one fluid motion, the Zith let loose, firing the projectile speedily at the man in his sights.
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Cat and Mouse (Andar)

Postby Andar on May 6th, 2015, 7:56 pm

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The first peculiar thing he noticed was how deathly silent the forest was. Not a creature stirred; not a bird, not a squirrel, not even a winged insect whirled. Andar's ears were keen for a human, though no where near as perceptive as when he became a jackal. Whatever thing had made that noise, was close - too close. Eyes darted from copse to copse, and alternatively to the ground he walked; his soft booted feet slithered over the moist decaying layer of dirt, leaf, and rotted branch, careful not to upset anything.

His hands touched the stringy knots of root and limb exposed by a partially uprooted tree hanging precariously on its side. Ferns undulated in the breeze. He saw the underside of the tree was covered with fungi that issued a rich earthly scent. Making his way around the massive tree, Andar saw there was a clearing beyond the brush.

The moon's radiance puddled invitingly into the open expanse. The clearing had a soft patch of grass, populated with various spring flowers of different colors and shaped petals. He decided he would take a moment's respite there before venturing on - if he did at all. Andar was beginning to think he needed to lay off the ale. There was nothing to be seen in the woods. He had probably just heard an old rotted tree limb falling away.

It all happened quickly then. Andar's nostrils flared, taking in the delightful fragrance. Then he heard the faintest of sounds. It was hard to place, but the Kelvic thief associated the sound to a string becoming taught. Something was out there! Startled as he was, his first impulse was to hide. His hands scrabbled over the moss-covered bark of the strangely angled tree. The tree! That was the perfect place to hide. But in Andar's haste to scramble over to the other side where the tree offered a place to shield his presence, he tripped over a trailing root. Good thing too. For as he tripped and fell, a twang vibrated the air. Something whistled by, just grazing his cheek as he broke his fall with bracing palms.

What the petch was that?!

He hauled his gaze upward along with his body, flinging his line of sight to and fro before stopping and latching on. His heart began to pound. Up in the trees, something dark, and large perched. Squinting, he couldn't make out much. Eyes a similar color to his own flickered in the thick shadows. An outline of a bow became apparent. This all transpired in a blink of an eye, and a tick later Andar decided on doing the most foolish thing possible.... Run like all hell for the clearing, where he would be quite exposed to missiles. He was counting (praying) on his assailant not expecting the unexpected.

The wind pressed against his face. His tawny locks and cloak fluttered as he raced toward the soft glow of the clearing. Arms and legs pumping, he spared a glance over his shoulder to monitor what the terrifying beast was up to.

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Cat and Mouse (Andar)

Postby Slaughter on May 6th, 2015, 9:55 pm

The moment the bowstring snapped taut, launching forward its projectile, Slaughter was surprised to see the human's head snap around and immediately dive over the fallen trunk he was beside. One of the additional benefits of a composite shortbow was that its greater power meant that it was able to fire with less noise. The Zith was thinking about wrapping the bow in leather so as to minimize the sound of the arrow against the bow, but even so it would have been very difficult for a human to hear it. This game's ears must have been quite exceptional.

With the reasonable speed that came from practice, Slaughter reached behind him and retrieved another arrow, nocking it against his bow. Then he drew, aiming at the human again.

The human in question had looked up in an effort to see what had shot at him, and Slaughter could see that his prey was looking in his general direction. Was he seen? That was highly unlikely, as Slaughter's black fur and the lack of light in the woods meant that the darkness provided a natural camouflage for the Zith. Any normal human would be hard-pressed to find a Zith in the darkness. That said, this human had displayed an exceptional sense of hearing. Perhaps he had an exceptional sense of hearing as well.

Though curious, Slaughter returned his focus to the hunt, aiming his bow at his prey. It was around that point where he received another surprise from the game, though one much less impressive than those that had come before.

Instead of ducking and weaving into the underbrush of the thick woods, the human took of sprinting into the open clearing, running almost right beneath Slaughter as he did so. The Zith looked at him curiously, wondering whatever had prompted such a reaction, but still following the target with his bow. With the arrow nocked and drawn, it would be quick to fire, but now that his target was moving Slaughter had another element to consider. So before the human got even halfway through the clearing, the Zith let loose the arrow, aiming at no particular body part but rather trying to hit the prey at all.

While the arrow was in flight, Slaughter endeavored to follow the prey closely. Not only was this to be an interesting hunt with interesting prey, but he was not one to give up on game that easily. Launching off of the branch upon which he perched, Slaughter's wings spread out to the sides to catch the air, allowing him to glide after the human while he reached into his quiver to retrieve another arrow.
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Cat and Mouse (Andar)

Postby Andar on May 8th, 2015, 6:36 am

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His breath caught in his throat as he saw movement up in the branches. Even if he could not see the thing well, he imagined it preparing to loose another arrow very soon. Trying hard not to think of the next shaft punching through his heart, Andar dashed into the clearing, moonlight falling starkly on his nervous face. Andar did the only thing he could think to do in this situation. He became the jackal.

The Kelvic thief began to take jagged strides to make himself a more difficult target to aim at. It seemed to have worked, for an arrow flew wide of him. Midway through the clearing he changed. No popping of bone or ripple of muscle took place. Andar simply became that other part of himself. He willed it to be. To his misfortune, clothes that clung so well to him before now only hindered his progress. Andar's trousers flopped away in the grass, as well as his favorite cloak. The shirt though was dragged onward, providing a most comical sight to any that watched. This four-legged Andar rolled once on the ground and bit vexingly at the shirt that bound him. Free at last of his shirt-prison, Andar padded forward, eyes alert.

The forest he had known before was an altogether different place now. Like he had never been there before. Lowering his snout to the ground, a hundred different aromas wafted to his awareness. Small woodland creatures that slithered or scurried by at some time or another were known to him. Those things were unimportant to him now. That which had attacked him at the twisted tree, came on.

Andar got a good whiff of it now. He could not classify the scent. Something new, something dangerous. Whether it forwent any pretense of stealth or not, its coming was heralded by a clamor of wind-buffeted wings to his sharp ears. Those ears flattened, sharp teeth barred, dripping with saliva. Andar snarled viciously, hackles raised. Intelligent amber pools watched even as he slowly backed away. He did not wish to give up his possessions without at least an ostentatious show of courage. There was not much of value to be found in his clothing. The cloak however, was very dear.

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Cat and Mouse (Andar)

Postby Slaughter on May 8th, 2015, 7:36 am

Slaughter clucked disappointingly at the arrow that had buried itself in the ground not half a meter from his prey. After so many hunts in Kalea, he thought that he'd have been better by now. Perhaps he was not entirely to blame for the arrow missing its target, though, as the human seemed to adopt a weaving pattern to his run in an effort to dodge any more incoming projectiles.

Still gliding through the air, the Zith followed not far behind his prey, quickly descending towards the ground. It was then, about midway through his gentle plunge, that the hunt took a turn for the fascinating.

The human that Slaughter had once been chasing was human no more. The transformation took little more than a second, during which the thing's body became a white energy that snapped into another shape almost instantly. In the next second, a jackal emerged from the human's trousers and cloak, fumbling with a shirt that was still adorning its limbs. After some struggle the animal freed itself, then turned its nose down to the ground to smell.

It was at that moment that Slaughter's foot-claws touched the ground, his knees bending in his usual landing. The jackal turned around once the Zith had touched the ground, baring fangs and growling. In response, the Zith nocked his held arrow and drew it, aiming roughly at the jackal's midsection, though the arrow could easily go to either side or even through its head.

What exactly had happened? The first thought was that maybe there had been a switch between the human and the jackal, with the human now somewhere else and continuing to escape. The second thought was that the human and the jackal were one and the same, and that somehow one had become the other. Both possibilities seemed foreign to Slaughter, but he couldn't come up with another explanation for what had just happened.

One thing was for certain though: his curiosity was piqued.

Judging by the way the jackal snarled as Slaughter drew closer, rather than immediately take off into the woods, there was some reason for it to want to stay. The Zith could not fathom why that was, but he wanted to use it to his advantage. It was unlike a jackal, being considerably smaller than a Zith, to not be intimidated by Slaughter's presence, so perhaps his second theory was correct.

Although he kept the arrow nocked, he slowly lowered the bow until it was facing the forest floor between them. He didn't want to end such a curiosity so soon. "Do you understand talk?" Slaughter asked in Common, wondering whether he would get a reaction.
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Cat and Mouse (Andar)

Postby Andar on May 8th, 2015, 8:46 pm

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A shame. That was one of his better intimidation attempts. It took great technique to get the froth just right. The creature came on, unafraid, if anything Andar judged it to be more intrigued than anything else by the appraising stare it leveled him. No longer leveled at him was that horrid bow and he gave a silent prayer to whatever gods would listen, for his fortune.

In the moonlight and at closer range to inspect, he found the thing to be quite large. Larger than he had initially gauged. To be fair, he was a bit smaller in his current form, with a perspective much closer to the ground - many things seemed bigger. For all of that though, the being was terrible to behold in the pale light. It looked like a man, but not quite. It had wings like that of a bat with a dark layer of fur. Its claws were weapon enough themselves. Clawed hands that were dexterous enough to wield a bow bespoke some measure of ingenuity. Maybe the person did not intend to kill him after all. The fact the being spoke in common now, only served to strengthen his conviction.

"Do you understand talk?"

He wanted to say: I'm quite good at it actually. Shall we let bygones be bygones? I know this really swell joint down on Riverside and Oak.... But of course he couldn't. It only came out of his maw as a series of high pitched yelps, barks with half-a-howl mixed in. And since there weren't any words to describe such things in jackal-speak, it roughly translated to: What are you? Don't eat me. Honestly, jackal communication could stand to evolve a smidge.

Andar was prepared to bolt straight for the brush on a tick's notice if the bat guy so much as looked at him funny. Amber eyes strayed from the person to his belongings scattered all about the clearing. It was doubtful he could rescue his prized cloak without being stuck with an arrow.

He tried a different tact; bobbing his auburn and white muzzle in response to the being's query. He wasn't ready to switch back to his other self quite yet. It might be lulling him into a false sense of security. He watched the person intently, cocking his head to the side, waiting for it to speak again.

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Postby Slaughter on May 9th, 2015, 12:37 am

It was difficult to tell whether or not the series of growls and yaps the jackal made was in response to Slaughter's words or not. There was absolutely no way for Zith to understand such communication, though they often liked to pretend that they could so that their prey was even more frightened whenever they heard a wolf cry. All he had to go on was intuition in this scenario, and his intuition was telling him that the timing of the jackal's barks had nothing to do with coincidence.

That intuition was affirmed as the jackal brought its head snout up and down in a rudimentary nod, a gesture that was definitely human in nature. It was unlikely any primal creature would think to perform such a useless expression.

Lowering his bow to his side, Slaughter raised himself out of his predatory crouch. Though he kept the arrow in his bow hand in case he needed a quick draw, it was no longer stretched and ready to fire. For one of a hunting lifestyle, that was a pretty big gesture. Though that said nothing for all the natural weapons that adorned the Zith's body like so many warning signs.

"What are you?" Slaughter asked in common, kneeling back down to get closer to the jackal's level. He could not shrink himself, but lowering himself down was his best attempt to make his appearance less threatening. His wings, once wide and taut, were now draped gently over his arms like a cape, another indication that he was no longer on high alert or being pumped with adrenaline. Whether or not the jackal could intuit that or not was something else entirely. Regardless, it should have been pretty clear that the Zith was no longer in a mood to kill; no, his hunt had moved on from meat to understanding.
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Cat and Mouse (Andar)

Postby Andar on May 11th, 2015, 1:22 am

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Much to his amazement, the bat-like person knelt down in the grass, ostensibly to appear less threatening. But it was his desire to talk that reassured Andar more than any body-maneuvering could. It occurred to Andar then how very different one's first impression of someone and their true nature could be. He was living proof of that, after all.

"What are you?"

He moved forward timidly, head low to the ground, regarding the being with an unwavering, inquisitive stare. He snuffled a shirt that lay in a twisted pile beside colorful vegetation. The Kelvic pawed at it and peered up at the person expectantly. He then began to dig at the earth. It was made apparent that he was not searching for something buried, but rather his paw motions were thoughtful and varied in motion and placement.

Closer inspection would reveal to the Zith a very crude drawing of a stick figure that could represent a bipedal humanoid in obvious need of a meal. On the side of that was scrawled a smaller stick figure of an animal with four legs and a tail. The jackal nodded to the drawings and added a few high-pitched yelps for emphasis.

A few chimes later he padded warily around the person to a place roughly at the center of the clearing where a cloak and trousers lay haphazardly amid the fallen leaves and clumps of grass. The Kelvic sat there on his haunches, looking back to the being. Andar then willed his human self to return.....

A naked man crouched in the place where the jackal had been only ticks before. He drew tawny locks from his eyes and offered a casual wave.
"I'm a Kelvic," he said with a wry smile. "What might you be?" he asked with genuine interest, though a part of him was still on edge at being at the strange and intimidating person's mercy.

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