Vindico

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Jarred awake by the events in the tunnel and their aftermath, Evike had no choice but to wander, slipping the boundaries of Nekros' borders in search of some peace, in search of somewhere quiet.

The lake was not much of a venture, bordering the great woods she had only to leave the treeline to find it, which was beneficial in a way - though her injuries were centralized to a few torn out feathers and small chunks of missing skin, being unable to rest had left her worn thin. Though she did not want to be in Nekros, neither did she want to be alone.

The mercenary's words haunted her still, his offer of potential violence still ringing in her mind. Her weary thoughts touched the concept with novel interest, though hiring a hitman had become no less attractive. She could not be assured that Odysseus's death would bring her safety, but with him alive there was a sliver of opportunity.

So she wandered in a daze, wrapped up in her thoughts as she brushed through the green vegetation that blanketed the shores, a ghost in the moonlight specked by minute stars of light.
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<div style="text-align: justify; color: #553661; font-size: 11px; font-family: Georgia; letter-spacing: 1px; line-height: 15px; padding: 80px;"><div style="height: 300px;">&nbsp;</div><font style="font-family: Cinzel Decorative; color: #0d283b; font-size: 40px; border-bottom: 1px solid #120908;">Romulus Novikoff</font><br><br><br><br>
<div style="max-height: 300px; overflow: auto;">He had scented the pack lands and didn't dare to venture too close as he didn''t know who lived within the confines of the forest. He moved towards the lake, in search of a drink, but was greeted with the faint scent of torn flesh and spilled blood. Ears tipped forward, his dark, amethyst gaze sweeping the beach. It was not hard to find the source, a petite woman with wings. If she was injured, then perhaps he could strike a deal with her, get a meal or something in return.
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He approached slowly, moving along the the waters edge, keeping his gaze on her. Nostrils flared, inhaling the pack scent that clung to her pelt. It crossed his mind that if she was injured, why was she in her pack seeking help? <font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"Hello."</font> His deep voice rumbled. <font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"Are you alright?"</font> He stopped a few feet from her left side, peering down at her evenly.

<center><font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"Speaking"</font></center></div></div></div>
Art & table by Dee/MissSeelie</center>
The world was truly a small place, stocked with wonderfully concerned individuals, she'd found. From Rogo to the beaches of Harena, a selfless sort of altruism (though the mercenary hadn't exactly been selfless) was not all that unusual in a majority of these strangers. <I>That</I> was what those wanting a home sought, she figured - family that would be there for them, that would have their best in mind, but felt none of that within Nekros. Everyone, including herself, struck her as horribly self involved and concerned only with their own wellbeing. They weren't a family, or at the very least they weren't <I>her</I> family.

She looked abashed, shuffling as the blue mercenary peered down on her, lifting her wings in a helpless shrug. "There was an incident with a monster," she explained, her voice merely a whisper, preserving the silence of these shores. Perhaps this wasn't an act of kindness - the thought struck her as she returned his steady gaze, though she made no motion of defense or evasion, merely completing her explanation. "I'll heal."

A short pause filled the space between them. She shook her head with a deep inhale, trying to liven up her thoughts some. "I'm sorry, hello. Did I disturb you?" She backpedaled, trying to mend any fences she might have busted with her listless wandering. "I'm sorry."
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<div style="text-align: justify; color: #553661; font-size: 11px; font-family: Georgia; letter-spacing: 1px; line-height: 15px; padding: 80px;"><div style="height: 300px;">&nbsp;</div><font style="font-family: Cinzel Decorative; color: #0d283b; font-size: 40px; border-bottom: 1px solid #120908;">Romulus Novikoff</font><br><br><br>

<div style="max-height: 300px; overflow: auto;">A shrug lifted her wings as she shuffled under his gaze. She spoke of a monster, her voice only a whisper. His gaze would leave hers only momentarily to sweep the edge of the forest, half expecting the monster to come storming from the shadows looking to finish the job. But all was quiet. Her statement that she would heal had his gaze returning to hers. A faint smile lifted the corner of his cyan lips. <font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"Perhaps I could lend some help."</font> He offered, amethyst gaze drifting over her dark figure in search of injuries. And then she would apologize, causing his brows to lift in surprise. She thought she had disturbed him. And another apology. He would chuckle, the sound rumbling deep in his chest. <font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"One can never be disturbed by a pretty lady."</font> He replied with a crooked grin. 
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<font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"Do you have a name?"</font> He inquired with a faint tip of his crown, blue haunches reclining on to the beach, his tail curling around his hips as he sat. A murky haze surrounded her like a soft bubble. He was still not quite accustomed to his ability to read others aura's, and he was still learning to figure out what they meant, but he had come to the general conclusion that dark was bad and light was good. Her's was a dark, hazy mix that he couldn't readily decipher other than she had some sort of mishap going on in her life that was proving to be quite bothersome.

<center><font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"Speaking"</font></center></div></div></div>
Art & table by Dee/MissSeelie</center>
If he meant to hurt her, he was certainly being kind about it, taking his precious time getting to the point. As he scanned the shoreline, she took the momentary lapse in eye contact to give him a once over, finding herself stuck and lingering on the markings on his face, concentration narrowing her world to all but the pale blue lines and circles.

She was almost positive they meant something, though their meaning was lost on her. Though she's met others from the mainlands, much of her historical knowledge was limited to that of the islands. Perhaps the markings had some meaning in a legend or boast, but such things had not proven pertinent enough to remain in her waking consciousness. An offer of assistance jolted her back to reality, noting the twitch of a smile and the warmth of his words before furtively meeting his gaze again. Her expression took on an almost surely note with the extension of aid, as if she did not believe that what he offered was honest or good, though she remained quiet, her chin tucking down against her neck as she pulled her wings about to guard her chest and shoulders from view.

At least she was still pretty - his chuckle made the compliment easier to swallow, and she relaxed, feeling oddly like a girl again, barely more than a year old, standing before the ultimate judgement of a king. <I>Do you have a name?</I> it was her turn to smile, a wry and teasing thing, before responding. "Probably. Do you?" As he settled down among the leaves and sand, she found herself mirroring him, her tail curling about her paws as she shuffled her wings so they would lay smooth across her back.

In this land it was not unusual for her to feel small and insignificant in the presence of others. Her stature was slight, a result of poor feeding as a child and the strange genetics that bore a shadow to an otherwise pale and pretty species. Sitting across from the cobalt stranger, however, did not make her feel small in the way that Odysseus or Artemis did. Though he wore the same warrior's pride about him, he was not her enemy. A difference in size was not a disadvantage so much as a novel comparison...

But he was large, and wore a warrior's bearing. Furthermore, he skulked these shores so close to the northern wood, leading her to worry that perhaps he intended to enter those woods. Throw his lot in with the blood king himself. Odysseus would ruin this, as he ruined all other things he laid his paws upon. It was something she couldn't allow. "You shouldn't dwell here." The warning came as she rose to her own paws, wings fluttering for balance as she lurched forward, sweeping a pinion out beside her in a gesture of "move it". Cautiously, she picked her way around him, keeping her eyes trained on him as she crept past him at a wide berth, perhaps trying to guide him along. " The woods aren't safe. Terrible things live there."
And sometimes they didn't stay in the woods. She hadn't.
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<div style="text-align: justify; color: #553661; font-size: 11px; font-family: Georgia; letter-spacing: 1px; line-height: 15px; padding: 80px;"><div style="height: 300px;">&nbsp;</div><font style="font-family: Cinzel Decorative; color: #0d283b; font-size: 40px; border-bottom: 1px solid #120908;">Romulus Novikoff</font><br><br><br>

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Her expression had him believing that she was offended by his help in some way. Her gaze searched his face, lingering on the markings that sat beneath his eye and ran down his nose. It was his families signature, something that each Novikoff wolf bore. Her wings curled around her protectively, her aura darkening even more. His expression neutralized, lips dipping ever so slight down. But then she was smiling again, words teasing and causing a smirk to lift his lips. <font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"I'd like to think so."</font> He countered, neither gaining the others name just yet. She sat, if only for a brief moment before she was on the move, warnings spilling from her dark lips as she skirted around him with a wide birth. He rose, shuffling out of her way and pivoting to keep her in his sights. She spoke of terrible things that lived in the woods. He followed slowly, unsure of her rapid change in moods and the affects it had on her aura.
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<font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"I should also like to think that I can protect myself."</font> He commented dryly, keeping his eyes on her while an ear tipped back towards the forest. Paws sank into sands with each step, unsure of where she was leading him. <font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"And how do you know of such monsters?"</font> He inquired. A little insight never hurt anyone, especially if he wanted to avoid the forest and whatever darkness lurked within its borders. The last thing he wanted right now was trouble from a pack, sure he would lend aid if asked, but he was not looking to be attacked. A wariness slide over him, connecting the dots. She spoke of the pack like she knew its secrets, she smelled of the pack. His face went blank, his gait shifting ever so slight to become more defensive, almost predatory. He was no fool, he would not swept off his feet by a coy woman.

<center><font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"Speaking"</font></center></div></div></div>
Art & table by Dee/MissSeelie</center>
She hunched her shoulders, turning her head so she could look back on him as he in turn regarded her warning with the same stupid confidence she'd expected. <I>He could take care of himself.</I> Her lips turned down into a frown, a sigh passing her lips as she peered up at him. Here they had been having such a lovely time and he treated her attempt at helping him as a slight? "We all like to think that," she responded, her voice but a withering whisper. "Sometimes we think wrong."
Stubborn men and their stubborn ideals would be the end of stubborn her. One day, she would hold a paw out to a fool only to be dragged under with him. It was almost enough to stop one from doing kind thing altogether.

But she cherished his friendliness, at least in a superficial way. He was warm in a way she appreciated, even if she took his reaction to be dismissive. He asked how it was she knew of the things that haunted the woods, when it seems only so obvious to her. She'd already told him of one such encounter, but perhaps he'd caught on that the thing that tore her feathers and the thing that led her to usher him further away from Quernus were entirely separate.

There was no immediate answer. Though it would have been simple to explain the entire ordeal, Evike could not help but be secretive. Concealing things was how one remained safe. Giving away only what was necessary kept you whole. Sighing heavily, she looked over her shoulder, judging the distance they'd covered. "How does anyone know of monsters? We meet them. Sometimes in stories, other times in the flesh." She was an unfortunate other, as it turned out, inexplicably drawn toward things that terrorized the thoughts of the majority. "<I>Their</I> king is the kind in flesh. Perhaps you'd defeat him handedly in combat, but the devil wields a silver tongue. It's cleaner I'd you simply do not meet." She looked to him now, searching for we sign of understanding, ears slicking back as she drew to a halt, turning to look upon the woods again, then to him.

"I came here to get away." What was his excuse?
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<div style="text-align: justify; color: #553661; font-size: 11px; font-family: Georgia; letter-spacing: 1px; line-height: 15px; padding: 80px;"><div style="height: 300px;">&nbsp;</div><font style="font-family: Cinzel Decorative; color: #0d283b; font-size: 40px; border-bottom: 1px solid #120908;">Romulus Novikoff</font><br><br><br>
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She frowned at him, whispering that they all liked to believe they could defend themselves, but sometimes they were wrong. He was assaulted with memories of his past, of watching his entire family die around him, murdered in a war against the Novikoffs. He said nothing, though his gaze hardened with the gruesome memories. Usually he kept them at bay, but there were times when he couldn't stop the images of blood and torn bodies from assaulting his weary mind. Long legs took strides in an effort to come up beside her, keeping a few feet between them. He was still unsure of her and all he warnings, wondering how she knew so much about these monsters of the forrest and yet here she was warning him away. She spoke of the different types of monsters, both of which he could understand. Then she spoke of a king, a monster of the flesh. She supposed that maybe he could beat him in combat, but there was more than one way to victory. She continued to suggest that they not meet. A brow lifted as he peered down at her. <font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"You seem to know a lot about this King."</font>
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She had come for a break, a brief escape from the king of the forest. What was he doing here? He had merely been exploring, not looking for trouble or for a confusing dame. He had just been visiting each land, getting to know this place and once again locate his younger brother. The boy seemed to have a knack for disappearing, but he at least didn't have to fear his brother leaving this land so he didn't have to spend years hunting him down again. But now he had gained some insight. He had learned of a new pack, and the possible danger it possessed. She had unknowingly been quite helpful. 

<center><font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"Speaking"</font></center></div></div></div>
Art & table by Dee/MissSeelie</center>
For once he did not seek to combat her words, so Evike allowed a sigh of relief. Though he seemed puzzled by her knowledge of the fell pack, he did not fight the warning as she'd expected, but rather asked for her to expound upon it by questioning the source of her knowledge. He was big, and she had long since reserved any expectations of genius to select and dangerous individuals within his weight class. Thinking him oblivious was not so much a criticism of his character as a willful allowance of her own - she could practice patience if it meant a boon to herself, and he was not so bad. He was kind, which made up for a great deal of his presumed naivety.

She would speak gently, approaching the topic with renewed warmth as she studied his face. His jaw had tensed and his eyes had grown distant for a moment - the expression of unbidden memories was one that she knew all too intimately, as her own memories were like quicksand and could suck her under with little to no warning if she let them. Her gaze softened in empathy as she wanted to assure him that he wasn't alone, to draw him back away from the terrors of the past where he could be of use to her.. But lacked the words. She'd always pulled herself from the grasping figments, never relying on the aid of another. It made it difficult to think of just what words would be effective in such an instance.

"We both suffer." It was a meager consolation, but it felt right to reach out, her expression grim. "I know their king only so well as I know myself, but I fear what I could do to others, knowing the injustice that's been visited upon me." Though she did not operate on pointless cruelty, Evike could not deny that she was just as capable, if not more so given recent circumstances, of doing terrible things. Perhaps their cause would be different, but did the ends ever really justify the means? The spirit of self interest made it difficult to truly concern herself with such things, for she knew she would always find justification for her actions.

"He took my <I>child</I>," for the word carried more weight than "student" and would surely better explain the situation. Even so, the word came quickly, so quickly that it startled even her by its use. She still hesitated to describe herself by rank, though there were no illusions within the pack anymore. "He gave her away to torment, and I feel my own safety crumbling." Surely Lux's misguided foray into the woods had only served to shorten her already waning period of grace. Unable to defend herself, unable to defend her student, she felt terribly helpless and ineffective, though not entirely beaten.

There was no nobility in this, nothing to salvage as the dun healer had wished. This road felt pointlessly long and drawn out, leading only to a dead end where the entire charade would come crashing down... It was only a matter of who yanked out the support.
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<div style="text-align: justify; color: #553661; font-size: 11px; font-family: Georgia; letter-spacing: 1px; line-height: 15px; padding: 80px;"><div style="height: 300px;">&nbsp;</div><font style="font-family: Cinzel Decorative; color: #0d283b; font-size: 40px; border-bottom: 1px solid #120908;">Romulus Novikoff</font><br><br><br>

Her soft words and small consolation only had his mentally balking. He clamped down on his emotions, wiping them from his face, replacing them with a cool and collected expression. He did not need her pity, he was long past the point of needing or wanting anyones pity. Yes, they all suffered in someway, fate had a cruel sense of humor, but that didn't mean he wanted to pity partner. She went on to explain her relationship to the King. She spoke in eloquent ways that nearly had him missing just what she means. But it didn't matter once she spoke of her child that was taken from her. A child that was also given away to a life of torment. It was only natural that she no longer felt safe. He didn't question why she hadn't left yet. She was a prisoner along with her child. Inwardly, he groaned. He picked the wrong day to come to the lake. 
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<font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"I can help you."</font> He offered, looking over at her. He wasn't sure she would take his help, he wouldn't force his help on her, but if she wanted his help, he would do what he could. Mentally he was kicking himself and the way his mother had raised him. They might have been a pack of mercenaries, but his mother had still taught him to be a gentleman. He kept his pace slow to remain beside her, still keeping a respectable distance. 

<font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"speech"</font>
<center><font style="font-weight: bold; color: #0d283b;">"Speaking"</font></center></div></div></div>
Art & table by Dee/MissSeelie</center>