Continuing the same scene…we get an unexpected visitor. All rights to Ari are credited to a an amazing, fellow writer, Nibblesnbits (her Screen name). Or as I call her at times, Nibblets. Can’t leave stuff out now… Enjoy!
“Hum…” Luckas chuckled looking at the drawing. “I always imagined these demons to be more… Human-like. You know, like darker and creepier versions of our selves with red eyes and manic smiles on their faces… Oh, wait…” He said, breaking into laughter.
Even though he joked, Luke had paid close attention to what Ess was saying, it made a lot of sense. After all, some things are just worth the risk. He tilted his head and smiled rather cheerfully. “I hope you remember what you just told me. It might save your life some day.” He sighed and mumbled under his breath. “Hell, it might even save mine.”
Ess’ head snapped up listening past Luckas’ voice to catch the familiar shuffle of boots and clammer of armor, her fingers releasing her journal to the wooden floor. Her attention turned towards her front door as if hypnotized, raising a hand towards Luckas to be still immediately going for her sword and dagger that was still on her bed. As she withdrew both her weapons a curious sliding thud echoed off her door, causing Ess to curse quietly to herself as she was expecting something quite different from what she found as she peeked out from one of her curtains. Men dressed all in black, similar to those she encountered that morning with their leader and his hawk. Kirsten was the man’s name, if she remembered correctly. He indeed had left a curious impression on her, one that she was not willing to trust. Ess had no idea who was at her door, for she could not see into the shadow and she hoped she wasn’t running into the man again, but at least this time she wasn’t alone.
Ess licked the tips of her fingers, squeezing the life out of the candles by the windows before she whipped open the door, ready to strike at whatever threat was before her. Instead, she found a woman falling onto her back as she was using the door for support. Ess violet orbs widened, her gaze shifting furiously between the men in the street and the girl at her feet and in a matter of two seconds she made her decision. Biting down on her dagger, she freed up her left hand, taking a rough hold of the girl’s arm only to drag her further inside before closing the door quickly however gently behind them, locking it tight. Was this the woman Kirsten was searching for earlier? The description didn’t match up, but who knew if this woman was enlightened and to what end. Peeking back out the curtain, Ess was trying to determine if she was seen in her haste.
“This day just gets better and better…eh Luckas?” She whispered over her shoulder as she proceeded to quickly explain to Luke about her morning hunt and the company she encountered. Switching her gaze towards the girl, Ess’ brows met as she spoke, “So…who the hell are you and what kind of mess did I just get myself into?” Her tone was serious but slightly amused, remaining on the softer side so not to be heard from outside.
Luckas remained seated for a little bit, but the moment Ess moved towards the door he picked up the journal she had dropped. Considering the option of skimming through it, but discarding it quickly, he placed the book carefully on the shelf where it had been safely kept moments earlier. He stood back while Ess opened the door to reveal this blond girl that had been leaning against it. He wandered to the window and peeked outside to see the black riders that were wandering up and down the streets.
Watching curiously as Ess pulled the girl in and closed the door behind her, and raising an eyebrow to Ess’ explanation of her morning encounter, Luckas wondered how this would get in the way of what they were planning to do. Ess asked the girl who she was and what kind of mess was she in, but she didn’t reply quite as quickly as Luckas would like.
Moving closer to the new arrival, Luckas looked down at her, as she hadn’t even gotten off the floor, and spoke without any hint of emotion or interest in his voice. For now this person was simply a distraction from what he wanted to do, and to him that could mean extra fun or something he needed to get out of the way. “Stand up straight.” He ordered, patiently waiting for her to stand and enjoying the expression on her face as she realized she had no choice but to obey. “Look at me.”
The moment his eyes caught hers they lit up, shifting from their deep black to a bright green as he went through her memories. The scenes flashed and passed by: The forest… A dungeon… Torture… Riding to Newhaven… Everything in the past day was reviewed in excruciatingly vivid details, after which he simply pulled his gaze from her and returned to his seat.
“Ari Lupir, Wolpack recruit, shifter, but only takes animal forms, if I’ve seen correctly. She was taken from the forest, to Blackpond, tortured, brought here to those guys out there, healed, and now they are ordered to hunt her down and kill her.” Luckas informed. Then he turned to Ari and snickered. “You know, for someone who claims to trust no one you trust shady characters rather easily. Just saying.” He then gave a light shrug and turned to Ess. “Help her, toss her out… Whatever you like… I’m good either way.”
Turning to Ari, his eyes flashed red and he smiled. “I sincerely hope your Alpha comes for you though. I’d just love the opportunity to pick his brain on a few matters.”
She growled, shaking her head to remove the images from her head, everything, every moment she had relived even if she wished she hadn’t. Obviously it was his enlightenment that gifted him the ability to do this and she hated him the moment it all clicked. She looked up at the girl, her eyes hard as she withdrew her emotions form view. She hated being controlled by others besides herself and to make herself feel wild she slowly let her enlightenment take control, the silver in her eyes slowly coming through.
“Don’t you dare talk about him, she snarled as she took a step forward. She couldn’t help it, that struck a nerve and she became extremely defensive. She shook her head trying to regain control and resisting the sudden urge to shift into a bear and with one deft swipe, take off his jaw. What he had pointed out about the trusting thing, well…..she was just very glad that he hadn’t dug deeper to see the reason why she “trusted” like she did. When she was sure she wasn’t going to flip and tear someone to bits she opened her eyes which she realized had been closed.
“True and not,” she said in a monotone voice, “Trust me. And what right do you have to push yourself into my memories?”
She couldn’t help the tiny growl that rose from her throat as her eyes narrowed. She glanced over the frail, skinny boy and then dismissed him as unimportant, instead turning her attention to the girl. She could smell the wolf that clung to her, its sweet smell permeating every inch of the room.
“What he said is only somewhat true, but to spare you the details I will just tell you this,” she said dipping her head momentarily, “Kirsten’s men, the Night Hunters did save me from my pervious fate and now instead of one Lord, I have to deal with a small army of professional killers. So, I thank you for dragging me into your home but I would hate to intrude on you and your lover here.“
Ess absently twirled her blades, her wrists stretching to their familiar weight as she quirked a brow at Luckas. “Wolf Pack? As in…the Alpha who supposedly killed the girl we saw at the Inn?” Shaking her head to herself she sighed, not liking how political all this drama appeared to be. A crooked smile curled Ess’ lips as Ari began scolding Luckas for his mental intrusion. With a laugh Ess leaned into Ari, the points of her blades threatening to pierce her chest, “Don’t mind Luckas…it’s just something he does. It ticked me off too, but there’s no stopping him really….But you don’t seem to be a direct threat, right?” Ess nodded retracting her blades, turning about to peek back out the window as she asked Ari, “Why would they save you and then try to kill you? Is it some kind of sick fetish?” Ess began giggling at the last comment as Ari stated, “…I would hate to intrude on you and your lover here.”
Ess thought to herself about what to do with this woman, as Luckas seemed to not care either way. As always her conversations seem to get interrupted, by no real fault of anyones, but it was getting tiresome, and they need to work on their plan sooner than later. “We weren’t enthralled in the heat of passion or anything, if that’s what your worried about Ari..besides..I haven’t decided if I would charge him or not for it.” Glancing over her shoulder she playfully winked at Luckas only to add, “The name’s Essence by the way….” Crossing her arms Ess leaned back against the wall beside the door… “So, Ari… What do you plan on doing now?”
Luckas seemed incredibly amused by Ari’s rage. “Well, if you don’t like the conclusions I’ve drawn from twenty four hours of memories… I can simply dig a little deeper.” He said in a low growl, his eyes flashing green again, but only for a split second. “And excuse my manners, but people lie and I truly trust no one. I have no time to waste with whatever bullshit story you were planning to come up with while lying on the floor.” He smirked slightly. “And don’t bother trying to shift and bite my head off. I can control you even if you do and you really wouldn’t want to push me into it.”
He then turned to Ess and answered her question, the growl returning to his tone. “The Alpha; as in the one who sent our dear friend Xypher a letter this morning.” He informed. “This…” He smirked slightly, glancing towards Ari and imitating Sean’s tone as he spoke. “… Kid, is the Alpha’s recruit. I just happen to think it would be delightful if he came by so I could discuss said letter with him face to face.”
“We weren’t enthralled in the heat of passion or anything, if that’s what your worried about Ari..besides..I haven’t decided if I would charge him or not for it.”
Luckas laughed lightly at the words. “Hey, speak for yourself.” He played. “And please give me notice if you plan on charging me coin, so I have time to steal it.” He asked her, a little devious grin spreading across his features. “Although, if I recall correctly, I already paid you coin about five years ago…” He stated, tilting his head to the side and looking up at her with the corner of his eyes. He was pretty sure Ess wasn’t going to just throw Ari out without any help so he’d have to help her as well if he wanted to go back to what they were planning. “How small of an army is this and what kind of enlightenments do they have?” Luke asked, turning to face Ari again, his tone a little less aggressive this time.
Ari flinched, her eyes narrowing with the sudden doings of the Alpha that she had no idea about. It hurt just a little to know that he had opened up but had kept many many other things hidden. She couldn’t blame him, she was just a recruit. She frowned, realizing that acting out in anger probably wasn’t the best option. She wouldn’t let the boy dig at her, not anymore. Sean may have been her weak point but she needed to get over it. Ari smirked, her cheeks flushing as they flirted. She coughed and shifted quietly.
“I wasn’t bullshitting my way through this,” she murmured, “Only trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.” She looked up at Essence and then back at Lukas. “As for how many, you cannot ask me that. If I could answer that, I would. As for enlightenments, there are many: Beast speaking, telepathy, and there are empaths. There is also a pain blocker; I don’t know what you’d call it. There were probably more, I wasn’t there for long.
Then, then there is Kirsten. He…he can go into your mind, find your biggest fear and then bring it to life through illusion,” she paused, her eyes locking onto Luckas, you didn’t have to read her mind to know that she was comparing the two and was shocked.
Ess sighed, giving obvious annoyance at the idea of the Alpha causing Mageria this trouble, that Luckas and herself had to sort through. “Leave her be Luckas, she obviously is oblivious to what the Alpha has been up to, you can see it in her eyes. I think she’s just lost a little, maybe?….I know how that is.” Ess’ violet gaze flickered in a soft glow as she inspected Ari closely, right down to her pores and the blond variations in her hair. “Hm…telepaths..”Ess spat, not excited about the idea. “Is there even a way to block that? Like visualizing a stone wall or something..or perhaps…someone else’s memories?”
Tilting her head to the side, she pivoted away from the door as she looked at Luckas curiously. “My my, aren’t we in a rush to get me alone again, eh?” Ess did have some questions she wanted to ask Luckas, but certainly not in front of Ari, but that could wait. Ess could tell Luckas was a bit restless and she figured he knew her well enough to not turn down someone in need. She would try to keep out of the technicalities, the only thing she personally knew was that this Alpha had done Mageria wrong and so many others would suffer at his selfishness.
“I don’t feel like waiting around for someone to break down my door…should there be a distraction?…Maybe a bait n switch?” A wicked smile crossed her face, looking back over at Ari. She wondered if she could pull off Ari’s mirror image, giving Luckas a distraction to toy with..while Ms. Ari made her escape… “Ari? You can change into…any beast?”
Luckas listened in silence as Ari listed a few enlightenments. Telepaths couldn’t harm Luckas, he was resistant to most forms of telepathy, but they could probably resist him as well, which was troublesome. He usually made empaths nervous… Like poor Alistair, the healer couldn’t stand to be around him for more than five minutes… When she started talking about Kirsten, however, Luke’s eyes examined her closely and he leaned forward, oh so slightly, in his seat. Still, he remained silent.
He looked at Ess pretending to be offended. “Hey, I’m a telepath!” He exclaimed, putting on a pouty face. “That hurts my feelings, Ess, I thought we were friends…” He started, but broke into laughter a few moments later, not being able to hold up the act any longer as he explained. “There are a few techniques and tricks to shield your mind from telepathy, but it takes a lot more time to learn than what we have.” He told her. “Another time, maybe, I can teach you.” He grinned at her, noticing her expression as she looked at Ari, he knew what she was thinking. He wasn’t all too pleased with the thought of those guys going after Ess thinking she was their target, besides, it was unlikely that they could keep them fooled long enough for Ari to get out of the city safely. He didn’t have a better idea though. “What kind of distraction do you mean?” He asked. “The ‘sir can you help me find my puppy?’ kind or the ‘by the twins everything’s on fire!’ kind?” He asked. “I can do either. I like the second one better though.”
Ari looked nervously from each of them, her eyes flashing slightly.
“Any animal,” she said in answer to Ess, her body shivering, “except for birds for a long period, I can’t stand the feathers.” She gave a small smile and then as a thought hit her, her smile broadened. “I would say we don’t need a distraction, besides it won’t work the Telepaths will be everywhere digging. If you want to help me escape out of the city, hear me out.” She paused, thinking quickly and nodding as it came to her. “You have a wolf Ess yes? I can smell her everywhere. I can do wolf very, very well. If we can find a way to give me a description or image of her, I might be able to mimic her coloring. Luckas? Is your enlightenment only limited to searching and coercion or can you put up a front on someone’s mind? Like a shield around mine so that they don’t know I’m actually a human.” She nodded slightly, if he could that would work wonders and if not she would have to be extremely careful. “If you could spare the time Essence…. you could take me to the nearest city gates or someplace where if I were to become human again I would blend.”
She paused, closing her eyes and envisioning it out like a dream. When she reopened them she slowly shook her head, “Damn it.” She didn’t wait for the knock to change into something small, a small ragged looking cat. She had kept her mouth shut, letting loose only a small whimper as she changed, just as the knock sounded. She yowled, flicking her tail and ears towards the clothes on the floor. Her tabby form scampered past Luckas and into the shadows, slipping though them and under the bed where she let her mind settle, thinking only cat thoughts as she waited for Erin to disappear.
Ess’ brows came together again, her nose bunching up in a look that questioned Luckas and his playful pouting at her words against telepaths. “Oh ha ha, You know ONE telepath is enough for me…especially at once..” She snickered, thinking to herself that Luckas had called her a friend. Even if it was in a playful ruse, he still said it, similar to how he absently kept calling her ‘pretty lady.’ Just little things to hint to Ess that he was trying, maybe wanting to trust her. Maybe even enough to explain why he would offer her defensive tips against enlightenments like his.
Straightening her body she wandered over to her bed, kneeling down beside the headboard to remove a curious box from somewhere she purposely avoided to reveal. Lounging lazily along her bed she began sifting through the box, pulling out tiny viles in all assorted colors. “A color for every purpose…for every mood…” She muttered to herself, thinking which mixture she would play with today. Glancing at Luckas from out the corner of her eye, a loc of hair playfully dangling in front of her glow she thought about his desire to cause chaos for a distraction. “How bout lighting someone on fire?” With a wicked smile she laughed, not giving away whether she was joking or not.
Ess picked out two viles, one purple and one black, tucking the rest back inside the box. She turned over onto her back, arms outstretched in front of her towards the ceiling as she looked between the two, weighing out in her mind which one she would prefer. As she listened to Ari’s suggestion, she motioned, still holding the viles, over to the wall where Tala’s picture hung. “My wolf…who is currently MIA, that’s what she looks like…”She paused with a sweet smile curling her lips.
A knock on the door and the sudden transformation of Ari into a kitty cat did not seem to phase Essence as she rose from the bed, snickering at the cat as it disappeared into the shadows. “Interesting..” She whispered only to turn towards the door snapping loudly with a strange accent, “PISS OFF!” Ess slid the viles down her dress, snuggling them between her breasts before her form melted away; her burgundy curls straightening and darkening to deep brown, her skin glowing with a tan sun-kissed radiance, and her lips and nose were a size smaller than her norm with a higher cheekbone definition. Ess smiled to herself, clearing her mind as she looked at Luckas with a fake innocence.
Luke shook his head in disappointment when Ari said they wouldn’t need a distraction. It seemed like he really wouldn’t be having any fun with this. “I can’t shield another person’s mind. That’s not how my enlightenment works, neither is it exactly the way you said it is.” He stated in a slightly annoyed tone as if he was trying to discuss philosophy with an infant. “One thing I can do, if you grant me access, is project your memories and maybe your thoughts onto others. That way if a telepath was to search for you, he won’t be able to know your exact location, your mind would literally be all over the place. Do you understand?” He asked. “I would have to be close to you to do that, however and wouldn’t be able to keep it up for too long; an hour, at most. I’m not risking my life for anyone, especially the Alpha’s pet project.” He muttered, narrowing his eyes slightly, but relaxing a little bit soon after and turning to Ess with a little grin. “Oh, I don’t plan on sharing you with any other telepaths… They better stay out of my territory.” He stated, his tone not making clear if he was joking.
“Oooh, can I?” He asked, hopefully when Ess asked about lighting someone on fire. Aside from that he kept quiet in his seat, resisting the urge to kick the Ari-cat as it made its way past him, settling for kicking the girl’s clothing underneath the bed instead. Maintaining his relaxed posture as Ess replied to the knock on the door by telling whoever it was to piss off, he remained seated and silent, honestly starting to get bored of this whole thing.
Erin didn’t need to open the door to know that Ari wasn’t in there and he shrugged turning to the group of men behind him. It wasn’t his job to deal with women who were pissy and he nodded sharply, making sure they dispersed before calling out an apology and ambling off. His head hurt and he shook his head gently, this was wrong.
Ari ambled out, after she was sure he was gone before jumping up, looking at the picture. She began to arch up, her body shifting into an exact replica of Tala except for her eyes and she dove under the bed, emerging with the black clothing in her jaws as she looked pleadingly towards Ess, then back at Luckas with a tiny growl. She didn’t want to drag them further into this and she pawed at the door, whimpering slightly. She could smell that she wasn’t wanted here and she’d rather take that chance of running to her death then staying here with these two together. Ari liked Ess, she was willing to help but the boy…Not a chance. She growled and furiously began to claw at the door. Her mind screaming to be let out.
Once Ess was sure the person at the door had left, with an odd apology, she relaxed a bit, still in her Miraged form. Essence’s mind raveled in Luckas’ responses to her and Ari’s. Thoughts raced to possible conclusions in several directions, only to rest into a calming almost meditative state. Luke acted as if he cared for no one but himself, and perhaps most of the time he did. He maybe wasn’t too fond of Ari because of the Alpha of the Wolfpack (which he stated), but she didn’t quite believe him when he said he wouldn’t risk his life for anyone. Perhaps that was still to be foreseen. She liked the idea of Luke not sharing her with the enemy, even if he seemed unsure of her at times, he hinted at his greed in his escapades and may just resort to hoarding whatever plans he had for Ess to himself. Ess kept an emotionless smile, lost in herself momentarily, the painted facade giving no hint to her soul except an eerie sense to those who didn’t know any better. Giggling at Luke’s obvious interest in lighting someone on fire, Ess just nestled that bit deep into her memory for another time.
Snapping her attention to Ari, Ess smiled a bit impressed. Kneeling down she extended her hand, almost forgetting it was Ari and not Tala and couldn’t help herself as she gave Ari some scratches between the ears. “So pretty…” Slinking across the floor, Ess opened one of the many floorboards, taking out a familiar pouch full of coin. She winked at Luckas wondering if he would recognize it as she tucked it into the pocket of Ari’s clothes that she held in her mouth before explaining the quickest way out of the city. Standing with a gentle smile, she turned for the door, unlocking it slowly as she peeked outside not seeing a single man in black around. Before she opened the door wide for the ‘wolf’ to escape she whispered softly, “Good luck young lady, hopefully we meet again and hopefully not on conflicting sides.”