Vindico

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 She came here hunting ghosts. Not the kind that haunted her, but rather a whisper in these lands that stirred to life like wildfire. Like wildfire, rumors began usually with the faintest spark, often times raging out of control until they destroyed themselves, and though finding one such spirit was a long shot, Evike still reasoned that this tale must have its seed of truth.


The forests here were claustrophobic despite their size. Roots that stood taller than her supported mighty trees while vines as thick as her legs spiderwebbed across their mossy bark. The trods here were narrow and trench-like, populated by vines that behaved with apparent malice, rather than reflex. At least twice she'd had her feet snared, and after only a short while of travelling in this place, she'd realized that every flash of movement caught by the corner of her vision could not all be elaborate mind tricks, not when she'd watched the greenery slink like a fat green snake across her path, reaching for gods only knew what.

This ghost had better be worth it, the mage thought balefully as she ducked beneath the splinter of a fallen branch, as wide across as her chest. And she supposed, even if he didn't truly exist that such knowledge might be valuable enough - at the very least she'd discovered her new least favorite place, and that <I>had</I> to be worthwhile, right? Another snag of her delicate limbs punctuated the thought, ironically. Fed up with her present trod, she swept her wings out about the tight corridor and leaped out of the loops entangling her feet, using one well-timed leap to propel herself into the pollen-rich green air, landing solidly on a raised root with a disdainful snort down toward the writing plant-life.
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A crimson cloak of the deepest hues would writhe with each movement of his bodice, the bones beneath his flesh rippling and stretching, bearing the weight of his immense frame. There was a simple means of living in this darkened wood, the hallowed halls still and silent, barren of the bounty that would be found in the neighbouring lands. Hardly a place of peaceful intent, the man had long sunken beneath the surface, vanishing from sight and mind amidst his tangled existence, the thorns a common company to his steps, the phoenix of lore shifting from one eased step to the next. Long had he grown familiar to the tooth and claw of his mother land, her savagery holding no affection for any who lived within her boarders. To survive, or die, simple was her instincts, passing along the ancient text to those who dared walk a shared path. Even now, a painting of primordial textures, the man was a ghost, a phantom in his own way, with the passing of stature within the tangled roots. He seemed to fade from one moment to the next, snarls falling from his feathered train with a simple fold, gilded dial lowered, shoulders rolling with each contemplative step.
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He had slowly, with the passing of lunar cycle, had become one of the inhabitants of the dark realm. Ivory talons lanced through the nectar filled coils of the barbed roots, pulling his weight up along the arching lattices, a holy cathedral built from the embrace of aged pine and oak. Above, far above his head, the canopy was alive, shifting with a movement brought by the plates of a  slumbering dragon, emerald shields rustling as their sides collided with neighbour. The elegant spires upon his crown tilted, capturing the sound, silver gaze sweeping along the shadow below, even as his body slipped between the interlocking loops of the chaotic maze. He’d come to this side of the forest in a need of fallen moon stones, gleaming stones brought to life by the petals of fragile bloom. Their fragrance was a echo in this world, calling to him, guiding steps as he glided past, further up the knoll of a lofty root.
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He’d been aware of another near by for a while, a hushed presence of the trees and thorns a silent orchestra that announced the coming of a victim. There seemed to be a mused whisper in their essence, one that spoke of a game, a pulling of pelt that drew most creatures hurrying before they reached the true dangers. Yet, persistent, the guest was a claim to the land, moving through the tangled undergrowth of the boarders, and shifting deeper into the heart, the archaic halls of the distant past. To say though, he was a tad surprised when presence at the edge of his senses suddenly materialized, dancing within the heavy air, only to land feet in front of him along the arching root he trod. He paused, eyeing her side for a moment, noting she had yet to notice him in turn. Folding scaled gauntlets, the man slipped from the upper epitome to the one below, his belly sweeping along the moss covered root. A maroon serpent slipping beneath the water, he’d slither past her perch above, the long, spanning crest upon his back brushing along the belly of the womans perch. He’d take this time to examine her, molten spheres watching from below, even as he came up for air, reaching the edge of the tangled roots, his spine writhing as he pulled himself once more up onto the root the winged lass stood, leaving aching new marks within the vibrant surface. Balanced, long silken train fanned out, he’d gaze at her, expression soft with the textures of a lazy morning.
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<font style="color:#59001e;"><b>"Talk here."</b></font>
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Though he'd thoroughly trounced her skills of observation, creeping up on her as she scowled down at the writhing ivy and vines with immense contempt, Eve looked no more surprised to see him than if he'd been there the entire time, staring her in the face. Her wings came down softly at her sides, tucking back with the ghost of a smirk tugging at her lips, the tension causing her split lip to ride up gently, revealing a bit more of ivory fangs. The expression, however, was a passive one indicated by an overall relaxed posture and presentation. "My, the flowers here are quite strange here, aren't they?" The mage chuckled, admiring her "flower" with the smugness rarely afforded by a trespasser.


And he was strange, his legs scaled stilts, his claws the dexterous talons of a bird that, undoubtedly, helped him navigate the moss-slick forests better than her own velvet paws. Feathers the color of blood and bone crested his staggeringly large form, though no wings peaked from his sinewous back. A flightless bird, as it was, Evike wondered what strange heritage bore this monster, just as she sometimes queried her own ancestry.

Unique as he was, however, Evike felt that this stranger was oddly familiar. Unable to place her reasoning for this, she eventually decided it must be his crimson coat that soothed a typically paranoid mind into peaceful pleasantries and allowed it for the time, having been given no immediate reason to distrust him. After all, he'd approached her boldly - if he meant her harm he almost certainly would have remained hidden.

"I'm looking for a ghost," Eve began as she stepped lightly away from another reaching vine, approaching him for a lack of any other direction in which to flee the grabby plant life. "You wouldn't happen to be acquainted with any wandering spirits, would you, Red?"
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Upon the slumbering serpent the man perched, adjusting his grasp, dexterous talons digging deep, even as he swung his weight around, straddling its width, and taking in the appearance of this new comer… this intruder. She was of the most, peculiar colouring, the endless texture of merging hues, slick like tar pits, inky marks tracing through the shadows. She was a small, winged creature, though, with a quick assessment, it was clear she was unrelated to other like beings he had come upon in the fleeting moments of renewal and wandering. She seemed unconcerned with the sudden appearance of the crimson shadow, looking to him, smiling in a way that imposed confidence, a memory of placement, of tutelage from youth. She’d speak, and the long spires upon his crown shifted, rising in curiosity. It was a strange name, one he had definitely never been titled with before. Silver eyes settled upon her, boring deep, the feathers along his neck rising with the slightest of mirth.
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She seemed to further relax, a weight shifting away from the bones of her body, and for that, Andurïl himself relaxed. Approaching on careful steps, ever so wary of the drop dozens of feet below, the Varda watched her draw closer, a pale shadow along the mirage of colour and vibrancy. A question would spring, and the man would look to the left, seeming to find distraction elsewhere. A ghost… <font style="color:#59001e;"><b>”It would depend… Do you speak of someone of the living… or the dead."</b></font> Looking back to her, he’d cock a brow, deep voice fading into nothing, only once he had taken the time to take in the lay of the land. It was a dark place, a hidden hall of the cathedral he had taken for his own, perhaps… not in ownership, but in presence. There were few who entered the land he was unaware, this one was no different. Yet, there was a breathe about her that made him accept her presence, and keep her within his scheme. Besides, she had an interesting quest placed before her. A ghost… was an interesting thing to trap within his tabs.
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<font style="color:#59001e;"><b>"Talk here."</b></font>
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"<I>That</I> is certainly a question worth knowing the answer to." Her wings shrugged on her shoulders, rolling gently as she did not know the answer. "The funny thing about rumors is that they rarely agree." The two of them seemed to share a silent understanding, or at the very least an unspoken truce as, despite her brazen invasion of this green hell, he'd yet to behave in any way other than hospitable. She wondered if it was overwhelming confidence or a simple mind that kept his peace, only to decide that he did not look nor sound the simple type.


She twisted her head some to follow his gaze, the gesture of mirroring a tactic of play that she'd adopted early, despite not having much in the way of peers to actually play with. Huffing with amusement, she pulled away once more and adjusted her grasp on the twisted root, her fur and feathers fluffing with a strange electric pride as she'd presumably found her antic quite amusing. Of course this was a serious situation, of course she was handling it like a mature adult. <I>Of course</I> it would do no damage to indulge in a bit of teasing.

"Let's assume they're alive," Eve chirped, glancing again toward the spot that had caught his interest, as if trying to decode what cipher the distant green trunks could contain. "Anonymous, but alive. The best kind of ghost if you ask me." Infamy was a terrible thing in most cases, and being recognized was not for all. "Regardless, I haven't any real clue what the creature <I>looks</I> like, only that they are potentially very, <I>very</I> important to me. Being dead would only complicate that, and I see no reason to ruin a perfectly pleasant goose chase through this... <I>enchanting</I> wood." As if the plants could hear and had gained a sense of ironic humor alongside their incessant desire to touch everything, she felt the vine grasp for her toes again, curtly jerking her foot from its snare with a huff of annoyance.

How this feathered monstrosity manage to maintain a regal air, as if he owned this place, Eve could not decipher. She wanted to know his secret... All of them, though she hasn't quite figured that out, apparently.
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She was a vibrant thing, a flower that seemed to reach towards the sun that held no desire in remaining firm at hand. A fleeting light, a flare of simplicity in a world gone mad. Perhaps she would one day shrivel beneath the waste of precious energy, or perhaps, she would find that haven so desperately grasped. It was an intriguing thought, a means that kept him still to listen in on the words that passed her lips. A ghost. A phantom of allure found in the trait of the unknown. Such was the way of most domains, the desire to know, to learn, and hold in possession. A greed that took hold of all, both the ambitious, and the sane. Rumours, twisted tales more often not to be only just that, stories, whispers in the air that held no other meaning than the want of something more. For more to exist in the simple. Looking back to her, watching the faint shiver of feathers along her dark sides, Andurïl would merely blink, wondering if there was more to her actions he was unaware of. She seemed, amused… by something. Perhaps his silence amused her. He had seen it happen before after all; the many who found ignorance in the monotone will of keeping his secrets close. He wasn’t one to share, and truly, he wasn’t about to change such a habit for this creature, even if her fast rhythm drew a faint quirk to his lips, a fleeting picture that fled before it had a chance to truly set in.
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<font style="color:#59001e;"><b>”It would seem the distance travelled of such rumours has long twisted the truth of tongue. There are no ghosts here, living or alive, that I am certain."</b></font> Stepping away, he would move along the root upon which their meeting took hold, his ivory talons cutting hot flares through the emerald flesh, water oozing forth from wounds neither intended nor debunked. He’d distance himself by a few feet, only to pause, his crown rising, hot air falling past his lips as he examined the light above once more, its power thrumming along his breast like a living thing, a snake long to slip beneath his cloak. Glancing back, he examined the vines reaching for the woman, the forests conscious yearning to pull her close, to hold her in its soul. He had grown familiar to such things, the need of the woods to claim that which would take, and give nothing in return. His gaze fell upon her feet, living silver fleeting before he’d turn away, a dart of his own magic shifting forward, to raise the thorns away, brushing them aside in a means that dismissed, and caused their lengths to curl and fold, falling back into the plethora of barbs below. A faint spark, the magic faded from his chest from one breath to the next, his thighs flexing as he lipped from one root to the next, the long feathers at his heels fanning out, catching his weight, and vaulting his hips into balance, least they tumble into the emerald sea.
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<font style="color:#59001e;"><b>”I shall guide you back to the paths ghost seeker. It seems you have lost your way… You do not wish to be lost in these woods when night falls,"</b></font> trailing off, he’d look back in her direction, his expression simple in its passiveness. <font style="color:#59001e;"><b>”You’ll meet true ghosts than. Neither living nor dead. Both of which are not the best kind of ghosts."</b></font> Cocking his head, listening to the sighs of the flora around them, he would step along the coiled branches, taking his path higher, whether she would follow or not none of his concern.
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<center>-Exit-</center>
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<font style="color:#59001e;"><b>"Talk here."</b></font>
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