PM to join [The Dust Bed] On Faith and Futures

Although a pair might be very different at first glance, perhaps they can find something in common

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[The Dust Bed] On Faith and Futures

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on September 25th, 2018, 7:52 pm

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Fall 7, 518
The Dust Bed
12th Bell

The wolf bared down on Anja with all the fury and hatred of a creature possessed. Which, frankly, it was. The Spiritist was able to count is blessings in the fact that the the ghost possessing this beast didn't really have a full understanding of capabilities or how to use this creature’s body efficiently. But Anja was also not that great of a swordsman, and the ground of the Dust Bed at which he was fighting was uneven. Perhaps it was an even match.

“Focus Anja!” Somewhere behind him, Jebidiah barked an order. Anja heard the rustle of restless hooves against rock where Maisa paced anxiously, but she knew better than to interfere and Anja knew better than to let his attention falter to his companion. The ghost wearing a wolf’s skin charged and Anja stood ready and waiting.

One of the advantages of the bastard sword was it's reach. In close quarters it was not an elegant weapon to fight with, but out here in the dust bed with little more than the bleak rocky wilderness and ramshackle stone graves, it served its purpose quite well. Anja could keep the wolf at a distance...hopefully anyways.

The wolf lunged forward, mouth wide open in fury and Anja swung his sword towards the beast in a low arc. The clumsiness of the ghost propelled body was not capable of a avoiding even Anja’s poorly timed blow and the sword struck a lucky hit on the beast's neck. The wolf snarled in surprise and pain, and coughed as the blood flowed down it’s neck. Anja took the opportunity for a forward lunge. But, even injured as it was, the wolf saw the opportunity and threw itself to the side. Anja adjusted his stance, and used the momentum of the thrust to turn his attack to a sideways slash. The wolf had no chance to react. This time the blow cut into its belly and the wolf collapsed with a yelp. Wasting no time, Anja buried the sword into the wolf’s throat. It shuddered, then fell still.

The ghost emerged from the corpse of the wolf clapping. “Ay! Good job Anja! He did a pretty good job there, didn't he?” The ghost’s appearance was that of a pretty, dark haired woman. She didn't show the usual signs of violent death that most of the ghosts in Sunberth usually bore. She was simply dressed and had a common look about her, but a bright and cheerful smile. Anja glanced over his shoulder at Jeb. The man had his usual blank expression.

“You went easy on him Polly,” he said in a toneless voice.

“I did not!” the ghost replied indignantly. “You try putting on a dog meat suit and see how well you move!”

Jeb sighed and crossed the distance between himself and Anja. “Your stance is bad. With Polly.moving the wolf like that you should have been able to take it out in an instant, but you were seconds away from being unbalanced. You need more practice Anja. Ghosts aren't the only thing you need to worry about here in Sunberth.”

“I understand,” Anja said quietly.

Jeb patted Anja on the shoulder, then grabbed the wolf carcass and hauled it onto his shoulder. Then he turned and headed back into the depths of the Dust Bed. Maisa snorted and trotted over to Anja, gently bumping her head against his chest. With a sigh, Anja hauled himself onto her back and they began trotting back over towards camp. Polly hovered next to Anja, emitting a faint unearthly light as she moved.

“I don't know what is with him,” she said irritably. “That man has some sort of stick up his bum. I thought you did very well.”

“He has a point,” Anja replied. “Sunberth is a dangerous place and I need to know how to defend myself.”

“Sure,” she replied. “None of us wants to see you take a knife to the gut. But you know a little encouragement doesn't hurt!”

“I think I’ll survive somehow,” Anja replied dryly. The dismal grey and black sky seemed to set the mood for the occasion, in addition to the bleak surroundings of the rocky and barren graveyard. Anja chewed his moves over in his head. He was starting to lose his edge, and here of all places he absolutely couldn't do that.

“Ah, there’s my grave!” Polly said suddenly. She floated off from Anja’s shoulder and hovered above a bleak unmarked stone. “Maybe he’ll come today,” she said eagerly. Her form trembled with excitement.

“Do you really have to meet your husband one last time before you have to pass on?” Anja asked. “I’ve been looking for him, but no one seems to know where he could be.”

“He WILL come,” Polly replied. “I just have to be patient. There and things I have to tell him.” The ghost’s expression was a very serious one, and Anja already knew it was no use debating with her. “Let me know if you want to talk,” the ghost hunter said. Polly smiled at Anja, sweet and bright, then vanished. Anja flicked on his Auristics, just for a moment, and saw the swirl of invisible soulmist hovering above the grave. Then he flicked it off and nudged Maisa back towards camp.
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[The Dust Bed] On Faith and Futures

Postby Azcan on September 25th, 2018, 9:21 pm

.

It wasn't the first time that Azcan felt so very close to keeling over, but gods be damned if it didn't sting like fire every time. Twitches carried along his nerves and shook his body in tremors he couldn't control. A splitting headache coursed through his skull, his throat parched even though the waterskin he possessed was drained just chimes prior. Azcan wandered through Sunberth, feeling very much like a walking corpse. His pale countenance seemed to match the notion, as well. He walked, or rather, shambled through the city of Sunberth, though one particular soul stopped the drummer. Apparently they recognized the young Illusionist from the night prior, where he laid his heart bare to the Bolt Hole, the pounding drums reverberating off walls and with it, his bleeding heart poured onto the floor. He'd spent the night dancing, kissing, drumming and the mosh pits of the Bolt Hole certainly showed him no mercy. Bruises from the day prior also still pulsed against his chest.

The past couple of days, all in all, proved to Azcan that even the boundless energy he possessed could be broken if he pushed himself too far. The young soul, a woman that looked no older than him, seemed to notice the bags beneath his eyes, the unsteady breath that escaped him as shoulders heaved with the effort of his resuming consciousness. Laughter spilled from her lips as she pressed forward and wrapped him in a gentle embrace.

"Oh come now, Boy Wonder," she said with a cheeky grin. Both of Azcan's hands were taken in hers as she led him, her pace backwards until she turned. Fingers interlocked with his anew, guiding the drummer in a very strange, but reassuring sort of walk. The festivities of the night before took him to the beach front of Baroque Bay, so very near his home and yet he'd seen no reason to go to bed. Drugs ran their course through him, and in his sobriety the call of sleep eluded him, muted in the pain of the fierce hangover.

Azcan's new friend, or rather, his admirer, guided him towards the Seaside Market, releasing his hands and linking her arm through his own. The drummer very much hated this sort of contact, so close yet providing none of the reassurances that other contact - such as chest to chest - seemed to provide. The drummer groaned and allowed his headsplitting pain to take the blame for the sound. His unwilling companion led him through the market, exchanging copper pieces with a merchant whose storefront smelled of the rich aromas of freshly ground coffee. She took two mugs, providing one to the drummer who took it with a somewhat reluctant nod.

Azcan took a short sip, the drink tasteless and bland to his senses so deprived of joy in the moment. The downside of living the life of a partier was how muted one's senses were the day following. The drummer's mouth scalded with the heat, and he pushed the mug back towards the woman, who laughed and blew on the surface of the coffee before stirring it and doing so a second time.

"You've really been through the wringer, huh?" she asked, amusement showing far more than concern.

"I mean... there isn't any helping it, is there?" he answered, a scowl formed upon his expression. There was never true concern for the drummer. Instead, people took amusement in his suffering, attributing hangovers and the pains of sobriety to the lifestyle and leaving it at that. Azcan grew more and more sour in the company, but accepted the coffee with a measure of gratitude. When he was done, he pressed his lips to the woman's cheek before he unhooked his arm from hers,

"I appreciate the gesture, but I've got to get some shuteye," he lied, knowing that her accursed mixture would deprive him of what he truly needed the most. His companion seemed disappointed, but in the end, Azcan could only please so many people before he ran out of the need. He'd press his lips to her forehead,

"Come find me in the Bolt Hole, next time. I'll play a song just for you," he promised her. An empty promise, but it seemed to reassure her nonetheless. Azcan packed up his things, and left the Seaside Market in a rush, legs carrying him as quickly as they'd take him in his state. The fucking caffeine coursed through him, and though his desire for sleep waned, he felt like walking death. Legs carried him towards the Dust Bed, a craving for a reprieve from those that might know him and his whimsical existence.

Maybe I'll dig myself a fucking grave and let Dira come for me, he mused as dry, humorless laughter bubbled up from his lips. The drummer found his pace increasing, with the caffeine providing him at least a shell of the boundless energy he possessed. He ran, hoping to distance himself from the vile woman who'd practically forced the drink down his throat. In his eyes, Azcan was blameless, be it for his hangover or anything that followed. The drummer dismissed the notions and instead allowed himself to focus on his breathing. His arms pumped in a steady rhythm, his legs straining with the effort of running. He ignored the sensation, a wince carrying upon his features. It wasn't a particularly long run to the Dust Bed, but he was anxious to arrive. To solitude, to death in a hole he hoped would already be dug.

What the drummer didn't expect, however, was the conversation he ran into. A handsome man, if Azcan said so himself, was engaging in spirited conversation with a... thing. An ethereal, floating being who the drummer suspected very much that if he attempted to touch, his digits would simply go through her. The context of their conversation wasn't known to the drummer, who paid very little attention to it anyway. Instead he was struck by the existence of a being who very closely resembled the myth of ghosts he'd heard on the Wayward Tabernacle. Azcan always thought the Svefra, who already had a propensity for drug abuse, simply mad, telling tall tales of ethereal beings. It seemed that he was mistaken. A chill poured down his spine as he looked at the Drykas man next. He seemed so... at ease. While there were signs of conflict in his expression, Azcan knew when someone was truly troubled. He saw the visage of such a soul every day when he looked at the mirror to admire himself. Never did the drummer think he'd meet a man who talked to ghosts as easily as he spoke to normal, living beings, but there he was. And despite the desire to turn and run, Azcan stepped forth and into the Dust Bed properly.

Perhaps that grave was somewhere to be found. Maybe the strange ghost man knew?

"If you've got an open hole... show me the way," he bellowed out at the man, wanting to crawl into the dirt and end his misery.
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[The Dust Bed] On Faith and Futures

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on September 28th, 2018, 4:19 pm

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Anja was deep in thought, debating both methods to protect himself as well as possibilities to aid Polly in her plight. She was such a nice ghost, compared to the usual sort in Sunberth. All violence, anger, rage and revenge. The Spiritist wanted to help move them all on, of course. But Polly had struck a chord in him. Such a simple and easy way to move her on...just one conversation with her husband. That was all. And yet the solution evaded Anja. Perhaps he could go and search the city once more. Someone had to know the man. He didn't want Polly to suffer after all.

Anja’s musing was interrupted, first by a tension in Maisa’s body, than followed by a whinny of warning so that her dumb daydreaming companion could get his head out of the clouds. Anja snapped from his head and back to the present, to find himself facing a thin shirtless man who looked like he’d spent the previous day being trampled by a stampede of zebri. His body stood like he held the weight of Syna on his shoulders. He looked about ready to keel over any moment.

That said, he wasn't dying. There was no song of death filling the air about him, the notes of the suicidal and dying. He struck Anja as the melodramatic sort, and the spiritist’s lips twitched in a faint smile. Anja’s amusement did not carry to Maisa. The mare’s ears were pinned in immense annoyance and suspicion and Anja suspected that if he approached to close than his companion might use her teeth to teach the stranger a lesson. Anja dismounted quickly, resting a hand on Maisa’s back to try to calm her, but tension still radiated throughout her frame.

“Easy,” Anja told her in Pavi, and received an indignant snort for his trouble. Anja shook his head faintly and turned back to the stranger.

“Graves are typically reserved for the fully dead, not those halfway there,” Anja told the man, trying to keep the amusement out of his voice. “But if you’re ready to give up the ghost already I suppose we could find you one of the mass graves. Plenty of corpses already in there. Lots of cushioning. Although the smell leaves something to be desired.”

Maisa snorted. She wasn't taking any of this shyke. The mare was still completely on guard,body tense. “Oh come on now,” Anja told her in common. “The man is about ready to fall over. Relax.” Maisa eyeballed her companion but did not change her composure. Anja sighed and turned back to the stranger. “Perhaps some water would suit you better than an early grave,” the man suggested lightly.
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[The Dust Bed] On Faith and Futures

Postby Azcan on September 30th, 2018, 9:15 am

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Azcan's senses were rather muted in the depths of his sleeplessness. As he moved, he felt the dead weight of his legs struggling against movement. Each motion of his body was forced, from the high steps that he took to the fluid sway from side to side. He certainly looked the part of a dying man, his olive flesh tinged with the pallor of the dead. At the suggestion of keeling over and joining the dead in a mass grave, laughter poured out of him. Azcan shifted, falling backward.

Fortunately, the fall replenished the drummer's awareness - somewhat. During his descent, his beating heart accelerated. A hand reached out, swinging forth and cushioning his fall. Instinct took over and his arm bent to protect his bones from the force of gnashing together. The man stretched his legs out and tried to make the movement look somewhat natural. He wished to portray the illusion of not being entirely out of his senses. He brushed off the fall with awkward, choppy laughter as he looked up to Anja and listened to the calming voice of a man who was clearly on a better track of life than the drummer was.

The Illusionist nodded his head at the suggestion, a hint of life sparkling in his half-lidded eyes. Caffeine coursed through his veins and made it impossible to keep his eyes closed for more than a few moments. The adrenaline joined the caffeine, and the olive tone began to suffuse back into his skin. Still, the bags existed beneath his eyes. His head still pounded with the vestiges of a hangover and he was immeasurably grateful for the offer Anja made him. The drummer pushed up with his hand, still on the ground.

Legs caught wind beneath him, propelling him upwards and to his feet as he extended his left, dominant hand in greeting. Flecks of dirt were present over his gnosis mark, but they quickly scattered and fell away entirely. The triangle painted by Ionu and brandished on his skin flared with an array of colors. Vivid, the greens and blues warped the edges, the warmer colors coalescing at the middle. The mark was alive, flaring colors edging out and back into the constraints of the mark.

"I don't think we've ever met! It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, kind sir who refused to bury me. I'm Azcan, better known as the Bolt Hole's Boy Wonder," he said with a smirk. The stage name often caught the more serious types off guard. Azcan wore it proudly, and his lips curved into a wide grin. Dim eyes showed signs of his exhaustion, but he cast it aside. In his grin there were vestiges of faltering. He extended his gnosis bearing hand and he knew the conflict that stirred beneath the surface, refusing to come out just yet. Azcan looked around for the offered water once they resolved their handshake. The barest mention of the liquid ran its course, his throat growing dryer with each passing moment.
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[The Dust Bed] On Faith and Futures

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on October 1st, 2018, 4:13 pm

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Anja watched as the man was overcome with laughter and collapsed in a heap on the ground. He was unable to keep a smile from slipping across his face. At least this fellow seemed to have a good sense of humor, as much as he seemed to be a human disaster. As the man sprang to his feet, and proffered an outstretched hand, Anja took it and shook it firmly. Azcan might be able to feel the Eiyon’s gnosis mark on the palm of his hand, the slightly raised symbol engraved on his skin that could never be mistaken for a tattoo. Anja could feel the weakness in the man's arm and turned the shake into a firm hold to keep the man from losing his balance once more. He heard a snort of disapproval from Maisa behind him, but she gave no further warning. Perhaps she had convinced herself by now that this man was no danger to anyone.

“Anja Nightwatcher,” the Spiritist introduced himself. “Humble servant of Dira and guide to the restless and grieving dead. I believe this is our first meeting, Azcan. I’m not familiar with the Bolt Hole.” Anja’s eyebrow quirked a hint at his nickname. It was certainly...colorful. Anja didn't think he could use it with a straight face. Azcan it was.

A glint of color caught Anja’s eye underneath the layers of dirt covering Azcan’s hand. For one who already bore a gnosis mark, the symbol was an unmistakable mark of the Gods. Anja turned Azcan’s hand slightly to get a better look at the colorful mark. Although he recognized it to be a gnosis, Anja couldn't guess to which god the symbol belonged to.

“It seems you also have the favor of a God,” Anja said simply. He would leave it to Azcan on whether or not he wished to elaborate further.

If Azcan allowed it, Anja would lend him his shoulder. “I have a water skin back at my tent,” Anja told him as the man looked blearily for the offered water. “Come with me, it’s not much further.”

Typically Anja didn't walk anywhere he didn't have to, but Maisa’s pinned ears indicated to Anja that she would not be willing to carry the inebriated fool. So Anja made his way back on foot, either with Azcan supported on his shoulder or at a carefully calculated distance to make sure the man didn't topple over at the slightest wind.

Anja’s campsite was a humble affair. A tent perched atop a flat section of rocky terrain, and encircled by a string of large beads that glowed with a dim white light. Anja was not a demonstrative man. He had few creature comforts, and the nicest things at the camp were dedicated to Maisa and her care. The mare’s yvas was carefully tucked against the corner of the tent, along with all the gear for tending to her. Other than that, and a slim few amenities tucked inside the tent, Anja’s home was empty. That is, excluding the black and white dog sitting in the center of the string of beads and staring at Anja expectantly.

“Hello Light,” Anja told her. The dog gave a brief wag of her tail, and waited patiently as Anja helped Azcan to a sitting position beside the mouth flap of the tent, and briefly vanished inside before returning with two objects in his hands. The first was a filled waterskin, which Anja offered to Azcan. The second was several strips of jerky, which Anja tossed to the dog. Happily, Light set about eating them with her typical appetite.

In the time since Anja had run across her, the dog had filled out considerably and her ribs no longer showed through her stomach. Her coat was no longer tattered and flea infested, and even had a slight sheen to it. Light had found Anja somehow, bright as she was, and now made regular visits to Anja for food if he didn't go to seek her out first. Anja disliked the long walk the dog had to make, separated as she was from her puppies, but it was her choice in the end and Anja supposed she must know what she was doing.

Anja settled himself on the ground beside Azcan, and watched as Maisa began to boredly pick at the tattered scrub surrounding the campsite. It wouldn't be long before she had torn it all up. “So what brings you here today, Azcan?” Anja asked the man. “People usually avoid the Dust Bed. It’s filled with ghosts and wolves. I don't suppose there are many places in Sunberth that are entirely safe--” Anja smiled faintly as he thought of the Midnight Gem. “--But the Dust Bed is less safe than most.” Light, having scarfed down the last of her meal, trotted over to Anja’s side and lay down beside him, giving a wary look in Azcan’s direction. Anja began combing his fingers through her fur, searching for fleas and blemishes. She really was doing much better than when he had first found her.
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[The Dust Bed] On Faith and Futures

Postby Azcan on October 11th, 2018, 6:34 pm

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The unmistakable sensation of raised skin against his own unsettled the Illusionist somewhat. Azcan spent his formative years with Svefra, whose gnosis often wore along their shoulders or backs. This new experienced raised the drummer's eyebrows as she watched Anja turn his hand in that hold. Their palms parted, leaving the painted triangle in full view of the Eiyon. A flurry of color stared back at him, with blues and greens warring for dominance on the flashy, changing surface of Ionu's favor. Azcan listened to Anja's observation, for it wasn't toned like a question would be. He nodded, his lips parted to form a wistful tune before he released Anja's hand to wrap an arm around the Eiyon's shoulder. Of course, Azcan took it gladly, not in any way motivated to keep going alone if the need didn't require it. Of course, that observation needed validation.

"Ionu's given me power and... purpose, I suppose," he answered in short affirmation. The drummer looked conflicted as he spoke, and left it at that once they made it to the tent. The drummer took slow steps, keeping his feet in pace with Anja's. He parted once they reached the campsite, and stood on wobbling feet. The drummer felt little love for his condition and decided to do something about it. Quickly. Azcan whirled his arms around, stretching out the limbs as he shook his shoulders and legs in a form of dance. Perhaps Anja might glean what he was trying to do, but Azcan cared little for judgments on his appearance.

Adrenaline coursed throughout his body, his lips parted in an eager sigh as he felt the motion build up a semblance of soreness in his limbs. He groaned out, the feeling of pain magnifying the presence of life within him as Anja greeted a dog that looked to be well-kept and fed. The drummer wouldn't in any way believe that it was anything but Anja's and assumed as such.

The drummer took to the ground well before Anja joined him, his wide, glazed over eyes perusing the campsite in earnest now that he felt a bit more chipper. Azcan poured sip after sip of fluid down his throat, dousing his parched throat and allowing his words to flow at a steadier rhythm.

"Well, I came here to roll over in a grave and die, didn't I?" he mused aloud. The drummer let his arms whip back, supporting his weight with his limbs. Leaning back, he splayed his legs out in front of him, slowly shaking the limbs in an effort to warm them to the eventuality of movement.

"However, you've foiled that plan rather nicely. I suppose I'll thank you instead of harp on ya for it, Anja," he teased. The drummer allowed a soft hum of thought to cast upon his features. He wasn't concerned about his safety in the moment, seeing ghosts as little more than realized myth. The drummer knew nothing of their power, and the threat of wolves hardly imposed a real sense of threat on him.

"There's worse places around here to die. At least I can try to make it easier for the undertaker," he added, amusing himself with the thought of his untimely demise. The drummer found the wary look in the dog's eyes, but didn't consider anything else about it. Rather, he remembered that feeling on his palm and looked to Anja. The other man was the first person marked by gnosis that he'd paid attention to... and he looked far better put together than Azcan about it. Suffused with longing for the Wayward Tabernacle and at odds with his path in Sunberth, the drummer felt the presence of Ionu in his life but it didn't help...

Dee and Den seemed so much more comfortable with their lots in the world, and for good reason. Azcan, on the other hand, had a far more present conflict. Thrust upon him by his own hand, the drummer was at a loss. He didn't realize the admission until it poured from his throat,

"I guess I needed to get away. The living Illusion didn't give me anything to go on. It didn't explain its words, but just... assumed I'd know what it meant." Azcan rambled off with little to back up his statement, looking to the ground rather than Anja as he thought back to his encounter. The living Illusion materialized before Azcan, was pulled into a dance by him. It isolated him and praised his nature, then told him he'd need to forsake everything he knew... It didn't occur to Azcan to disobey... but what faith would bring him here of all places?

"I'm not that smart, Anja," he admitted.
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[The Dust Bed] On Faith and Futures

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on October 26th, 2018, 3:36 pm

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“Ionu,” Anja said, echoing unfamiliar name of a God that passed across Azcan’s lips. “I am not familiar. Could you tell me about Ionu?” Anja was forced to admit that he knew little of the many Gods that sculpted Mizahar into the grace that she was, but by nature and by the purpose that Dira had pushed Anja to, the Eiyon was always curious about Gods he did not know. In particular, he found Gnosises to be fascinating. The feats a marked person could perform with the aid of their Gods mark spoke volumes about the nature of said God.

Anja’s lips twitched slightly as Azcan quipped about having come here to die, and having his plans foiled. One might consider a man such as Anja, so imbued with death as for it to be a part of him, to be quite serious with matters of life and death. Death could be serious sometimes, but the Eiyon was not above joking about it when matters weren’t grave. “We all march steadily towards life’s end,” Anja said with a chuckle. “No reason to rush towards it. It meets us all, eventually. Often when we least expect it.”

Light nibbled lightly at Anja’s hand, and taking the hint, Anja returned to gently grooming his friend. He really needed to get a brush for her. There was only so much he could do with his hands and Anja had a sneaking suspicion that Light was one of those animals that loved the sensation of being groomed.

Anja listened curiously as Azcan spoke to him, but much of what the man spoke of was gibberish to him. “What is a living illusion?” he asked. It seemed such an odd thing to say. What could make an illusion live?

At Azcan’s final statement, Anja laughed aloud, causing Light to flinch and Maisa to lift up her head from her methodical destruction of the dustbed shrubbery to give her companion an inquisitive look. “I think most of us aren’t as smart as we’d like to admit,” Anja said, stroking Light’s head until he felt her relax, and sending a reassuring look in the direction of his strider.
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