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(Created page with "{{ArcNav|Arc=Through A Glass, Darkly}} '''Summary''': ''Talyara wakes up in her cell to find Lanara has been kidnapped as well. Thanks to Lana’s mischievous past and Taly...")
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{{ArcNav|Arc=Through A Glass, Darkly}}
{{ArcNav|Arc=Through A Glass, Darkly}}
{{ArcNav|Arc=Magic, Madness, and Mayhem}}
'''Summary''':  ''Talyara wakes up in her cell to find Lanara has been kidnapped as well.  Thanks to Lana’s mischievous past and Taly’s patience, the latter uses the stolen knife to pick the lock of her shackle and the cell doors. While the animal empath tends to her wounds, Talyara does her best to ascertain where the witches were taken only to be interrupted by a passing guard.  Using the last of her energy, Lanara jumps in front of Taly only to have her achilles tendon severed in the tussel.  Upon hearing the ruckus, Galath and Hawkwood appear to intervene.  Upon seeing Lana bleed out on the floor, Hawkwood has a change of heart and intercepts Galath who is unleashing a physical attack on Taly.  Krice, who has been hot on the trail of the witch hunters since Talyara’s kidnapping, appears and takes matters into his own hands.  With Hawkwood’s assistance, Krice is able to get the witches out of the house and on the back of his wyvern where they make their escape.''
'''Summary''':  ''Talyara wakes up in her cell to find Lanara has been kidnapped as well.  Thanks to Lana’s mischievous past and Taly’s patience, the latter uses the stolen knife to pick the lock of her shackle and the cell doors. While the animal empath tends to her wounds, Talyara does her best to ascertain where the witches were taken only to be interrupted by a passing guard.  Using the last of her energy, Lanara jumps in front of Taly only to have her achilles tendon severed in the tussel.  Upon hearing the ruckus, Galath and Hawkwood appear to intervene.  Upon seeing Lana bleed out on the floor, Hawkwood has a change of heart and intercepts Galath who is unleashing a physical attack on Taly.  Krice, who has been hot on the trail of the witch hunters since Talyara’s kidnapping, appears and takes matters into his own hands.  With Hawkwood’s assistance, Krice is able to get the witches out of the house and on the back of his wyvern where they make their escape.''

Latest revision as of 19:44, 13 September 2019

Part of the Through A Glass, Darkly Arc

Part of the Magic, Madness, and Mayhem Arc

Summary: Talyara wakes up in her cell to find Lanara has been kidnapped as well. Thanks to Lana’s mischievous past and Taly’s patience, the latter uses the stolen knife to pick the lock of her shackle and the cell doors. While the animal empath tends to her wounds, Talyara does her best to ascertain where the witches were taken only to be interrupted by a passing guard. Using the last of her energy, Lanara jumps in front of Taly only to have her achilles tendon severed in the tussel. Upon hearing the ruckus, Galath and Hawkwood appear to intervene. Upon seeing Lana bleed out on the floor, Hawkwood has a change of heart and intercepts Galath who is unleashing a physical attack on Taly. Krice, who has been hot on the trail of the witch hunters since Talyara’s kidnapping, appears and takes matters into his own hands. With Hawkwood’s assistance, Krice is able to get the witches out of the house and on the back of his wyvern where they make their escape.

Overgrown Ruins

Venin wakes up tangled in the bushes, a makeshift muzzle affixed to her face, and twine holding her in place, tied as though she were a hog. A pool of blood lies beneath her form, and she fidgets against her binds, trying her damnedest to free herself and get some help. The men had taken the founder, two good men were slaughtered before her very eyes, and the sanctuary animals were raising all hell in their enclosures. Without Lanara, their gifted empath, they were suffering great duress, and Venin knew that it was her place to fill the founder’s shoes. The sanctuary needed her now more than ever! The more she tries to free herself, the more tangled she becomes, and after several hours, the white wolf returns. Sigrid gnaws on the ankle and wrist bindings, and eventually frees Venin, before she lifts her head and unleashes a mournful howl. She had been unsuccessful in locating Elioyahazer, as he wasn’t at his home in Cenril, or at the guild headquarters in Xalious. As the caretaker rubs some life back into her legs and feet, she locks eyes with the wolf, and they both come to a silent conclusion. Lanara was gone, and help was –not- on the way…

Several hours after the attack on the animal sanctuary, the carriage comes to a halt outside the warehouse where the witches are to be contained. Hawkwood had draped a blanket over the unconscious brunette during their travels, so that she wouldn’t suffer a chill from the drastic drop in temperature, once they boarded the ship that took them to Rynvale. Lanara’s primary purpose for being abducted was to bait her sister into answering their inquiries, as Talyara wouldn’t be able to withhold the answers they sought upon seeing her elder sister ruthlessly tortured. The men had already killed two of Lana’s finest guards, pummeled Venin into the dirt and left her for dead, and had transported the witch, as requested by Cramer. They were professionals as seeing their orders fulfilled, yet, Hawkwood didn’t want her in any worse shape from the icy breeze laced with the roaring sway of the sea. He exchanges heated glares with the mage that had landed the final blow to Lana’s skull, hoping that he wouldn’t be a problem. It wasn’t as though Hawkwood was filled with compassion for the brown eyed beauty; he just no longer held the malice that had fueled him into this ordeal. It was nothing more than business. Get the girl, rough her up, bring her here, and reap some hefty rewards. Was he really Cramer’s lackey?

Had it been minutes? Hours? Days? Time seemed irrelevant as Lanara slowly opens her eyes, wincing as the blinding pain rushes to her head in full force. Where was she? The room is enveloped in darkness, though there’s a single candle lit in the far corner, providing so little illumination, that it may as well have been snuffed. The woman is weak, favoring her side, and she shivers from shock, as her blanket was snatched away once she was hurled into the cage. Confined in a metal cage, much like one that she would use to house a large dog, the animal empath is now being treated as though she were an actual animal. Bruises line her arms, a pulsing pain is behind her eyes making her vision blurred, and blood is caked to the back of her head, her chestnut locks hanging limp as they are coated with gore. Lana’s first thought it so cry out for help, as she tries to catch her bearings on what had transpired, though she knows raising her voice would alert her captors that she was awake. Wildly, she searches for the locking mechanism and she fumbles with her fingers, to no avail, as she didn’t have a key. Next, she focuses on the keyhole, intent on using some ice magic to freeze it, and hopefully cause it to break, though her magic seems to be silenced.

What the hell happened? Her mind begins to somewhat clear, and she remembers fists flying with Hawkwood, the killing of the guards, Sigrid running off into the night, and Venin sobbing uncontrollably in the foliage. Cramer. Again. As if killing Tanner and bolting her to a tree a few months prior hadn’t been enough, they now had to attack her sanctuary?! Swallowing hard, she turns her head and sees a larger cell to the rear of the room, and it dawns on her that she may not be their only captive. Lana tries to form words, but her throat is so dry, and a wave of dizziness causes the bile in her throat to rise, as she vomits on the side of her cage. Lifting her hand to wipe her mouth, she realizes that her unique branding on her inner wrist has been buzzing, alerting her that Taly was in close proximity. Was her sister being held prisoner in this room, as well?! “Taly…” She finally croaks out, as tears well in her eyes, and she helplessly rests her cheek against the bars of her cage. They had to get out of here. Somehow.

Talyara sat on a wooden rocking chair situated in the corner of the porch, wrapped in an old, worn patchwork quilt that someone in the coven had made years ago. It was the witch's favorite because it had become so soft over the course of its washes and each square depicted various crystals (which she always had an affinity for). Although it was a communal blanket in the household, people often referred to it as "Taly's blanket" as she would get cranky if anyone else used it. Her fingers clutched a mug of hot apple cider, her lips pursed to blow the steam across the top before taking a tentative sip. Despite it being February, the climate of Kelvar never changed--there had been a light dusting of snow overnight, but it had all melted away, leaving the usual autumnal ambiance in its wake. The sun was setting on the horizon, causing an orangey glow to bathe the wooded area. It was Taly's favorite place during her favorite time of day. She heard the door creak open to her right and familiar footsteps moved in her direction before the person lowered themself in the chair beside the little witch.

"I knew I'd find you out here, Lótë," Kuruni smiled at her youngest daughter, a kind expression on her face as she swept her long, layered skirt around her legs more closely to keep out the chill. Talyara paused as she leaned in to take another sip of her cider as she rolled her eyes affectionately. "I'm always out here, Mama," she corrected her mother. "And why do you still call me Lótë?" she added with a scrunch of her nose. Kuruni chuckled and swept her long, chestnut locks (which had a few silver streaks in them), over her shoulders. "Because you will always be my flower. And Lanara will always be my Fëanáro. My little fire spirit." Talyara did her best to look annoyed at her mother's pet names for the sisters, but she knew it was endearing and there would come a day when she would miss being called that. The two sat in companionable silence for several minutes, watching the colorful leaves dance in the breeze as the sky continued to darken. "You need to remember to be brave," Kuruni interrupted the silence suddenly. "Hmm?" Taly responded with a curious look towards her mother. "You are braver than you give yourself credit for. You need to remember that." Talyara looked at her mother with a confused expression, eyes slightly narrowed, and opened her mouth to respond; however, Kuruni was suddenly standing, leaning over to press a kiss atop her daughter's head before disappearing back inside the house without another word. The witch shook her head and attempted to put her mother's words out of her mind (unsuccessfully)--what was the meaning of her words? She was lost in thought when she suddenly heard a loud snapping in the woods. Was it friend or foe? Person or beast? Talyara frowned, her body tensing as she trained her emerald eyes out to the forest, placing her mug on the floor of the porch in case she needed to perform magic (or run inside).

Suddenly, the source of the noise, the thing that had been lurking in the woods jumped out with a roar and startled Taly so much that she nearly tumbled out of her rocking chair, arms flailing to try and keep her balance. "Surprise!" Lanara laughed jovially at her sister's pale face as she tried to untangle herself from the quilt. "Oh my Goddess, Lana!" she squealed excitedly, finally breaking free from her blanket bindings to practically throw herself at her sister to gather her up in a tight hug. "What are you doing here?! You've practically just started your new semester at the Academy!" Lana returned her sister's embrace and smiled at her before breaking the hug, holding her at arm’s length. "I know, but I spoke with the Headmaster and they agreed to let me come home for a few days to celebrate!" An insect landed on Taly's wrist and nipped at her flesh, the witch instinctively reaching out to smack it away but only succeeding in stinging her own skin which she rubbed at idly. "Celebrate? Celebrate what?" Lanara tipped her head back and laughed. "You're so funny! I'm here for your birthday, you dolt!" Talyara frowned and shook her head. "My birthday isn't until the end of April though." Lanara's smile faltered and she looked at her sister quizzically. quickly clearing her throat. "Taly..." The younger sister arched a brow at the empath, waiting for her to elaborate. "You didn't get suspended again, did you?" Talyara asked with a grimace. "Taly..." Lanara said once more, her voice suddenly raspy and not sounding like herself at all. Talyara's wrist gave another jolt and the scene around her began to shift violently. The forested floor began to ebb and flow like the ocean waves in a storm, the sky slamming into the trees in a swirl of orange and black. All Talyara remembered was screaming as she was swallowed up by the sudden darkness, calling out for her sister.

"Lana!" Talyara gasps as her eyes fly open and she sits up with a start, her heart hammering against her chest and her breath catching in her throat. She blinks her eyes rapidly, the best she can given the swelling on either side of her face from the blows she had endured, as the real scene unfolds before her. She was still locked in a cage in the home of the witch hunters, bound by her ankle, tortured, and in pain. She reaches up with a shaky hand to brush her mess of curls away from her face when a searing pain causes her to inhale sharply. She looks down at her right forearm to see the letters W I T C H carved there. This wasn't some horrible dream then, the moment in Kelvar was. But what had woken her up so abruptly? Suddenly she remembers the arrival of her sister out of the wood, the raspy call of her name, the agitation in her wrist. "Lana!" Taly hisses out again, the witch forcing herself to a stand as her left hand presses against her ribs, the small stolen knife still nestled in her sleeve, as she ambles shakily towards her caged wall. Her swollen eyes try to focus in the darkness that permeates the room, the singular, flickering candle only successfully making her more dizzy than anything else. "Lana is that you?" As much as she wanted to see her sister, Talyara prays to the Goddess that she doesn't hear the animal empath's voice in response. If Lana was here, that meant she had been snatched and injured, too.

Lanara wishes so badly that she could stand, though she’s in such a small cage that she can hardly budge! She was trapped, with only three inches of space above her head, and about six inches of space before, behind, and at her sides. Even turning around would be a chore, though she desperately wants to get a better look at her surroundings, and to inch away from the pile of vomit. Her breathing is labored as she slowly maneuvers within the cage, cursing beneath her breath, and trying not to bump any of her injuries against the bars. A jarring pain in her side gives her pause, as she presses her palm against the broken ribs, unable to hold back the whimpering that passes her full lips. A soft moan is audible from the larger fixture in the room, that likely holds another prisoner, and Lana squints, trying to see in the darkness. The voice sounded feminine, and the person was likely having a nightmare, causing a shudder to run through the witch. She could only imagine the horrors that this woman had to go through, and that they –both- would have to endure in the hours to come! The pinging on her wrist is once more known, and Lana begins to cry, knowing that the voice belonged to her little sister. She knows now, that Talyara had been captured, as well!

As Taly stalks forward in the cage, calling out her name, Lana is filled with so much emotion that she can hardly respond. Swallowing, her mouth parched, she clears her throat and forces a reply, “Yes… It’s me, Sister. We… We both have been taken by the witch hunters.” Where were they?! She had been unconscious for the duration of the journey, and the last place she could recall was the sanctuary in Sage Forest, and Taly lived all the way up in Frostmaw! Had her sister disobeyed and ventured to Larket or Cenril? “How could you get us into this mess, Taly?! I –told- you to stay in Frostmaw, near Krice, that he would keep you safe. You couldn’t be content with hunting frost boars, romancing the enigma, and decorating your cottage, huh? You –had- to get us –both- captured?!” The words are accusing, as Lana finally finds her voice, those dark eyes narrowed on Taly’s form, and she heaves a sigh of frustration. It wouldn’t do them any good to argue. They had to escape. And so, the elder sister falls silent, trying to formulate a plan.

After a good thirty minutes, Lana glances over in the direction of her sister again, pity in her expression. She hadn’t meant to unleash her anger on Taly, she was merely upset that they both were being held prisoner, and that they couldn’t use their magic, let along clasp hands and pray in unison. The other witches in the land, the well-known ones, would soon be joining them, likely. They had to break free, warn the others, and unleash holy hell on Cramer and his cronies! It all sounds great in her mind and on paper, but what could she possibly do in an animal crate, with broken ribs, a concussion, a bleeding arm, and various scrapes and bruises all over her form? “Taly… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said those things. I’m just scared.” Lanara was –never- frightened, aside from being in the company of snakes, and the fact that she’s admitting defeat shows that her fear runs deep. “How long have they had you? What are your injuries? How-How did they get you, Taly? They broke into the sanctuary, and they killed two of the guards… I have no idea what became of Sigrid and Venin.”

Talyara feels her heart sink in her chest when Lanara's familiar voice reaches her tapered ears, the younger sister quickly reaching out to grab onto the bars in an attempt to keep herself upright. They had gotten Lana. Were other witches around the realm being snatched at this very moment? Or had the sisters been particularly targeted in an attempt to force the tongue of one of them? How had the witch hunters managed to contain the feisty animal empath and get her back to this prison? She can only imagine the injuries that her sister sustained in her capture and relocation. Taly, to her credit, had not meant to fall asleep; however, she supposed the several blows to her head combined with the loss of blood had overwhelmed her consciousness. It would explain why she hadn't heard her brought into the room. The younger sister opens her mouth to inquire about Lanara's well being when the latter begins to spit out venomous accusations that sting just as badly as the carved letters in her forearm. Taly wants nothing more than to fight back against her sister's words, to counter every single hurtful point she had tried to make. However, she has no heat in her. Instead she is left with an all consuming sadness. In a moment where it was more important than ever for the pair to band together, the elder sibling was choosing to place a wedge between them, attempting to compartmentalize her anger and taking it out on the younger witch as opposed to the hunters.

Fresh tears well up in Talyara's emerald eyes and the sound of jangling chains can be heard as she releases her hands from the bars of her cell, allowing her body to slide down to the ground, all strength and resolve gone. Oppressive silence fills the space between them, with only the occasional quiet sniffles coming from Talyara to fill the air. She expects the next words Lanara will speak are more insults about how her fragility and weakness are what got them into this situation. But they don't come. Instead, an apology and vulnerable confession do and Taly lowers her hands from her face, turning towards the sound of Lana's voice. "It's okay," she says in a quiet tone. "I'm scared, too," she adds hoping that the knowledge that they are both feeling this way will comfort her sister. When anger finds its way back into Taly's heart it is upon hearing that Lana was ambushed at the sanctuary where two guards had lost their lives, and possibly Venin from the sounds of it. "Venin is one of the most stubborn people I have ever met, she won't give up easily. I'm sure Sigrid is fine, too," she adds with conviction (that she doesn't feel) in her voice. As the questions turn on her, Talyara breathes out a heavy sigh, raking a hand over her face which draws a wince as she brushes her bruises.

"I don't know how long I've been here," Talyara confesses with a frown. "A couple of days maybe? I had just gotten home from volunteering at the clinic at the fort when there was a knock at the door. There was a woman there who gave me a note saying there was an emergency at the orphanage in Gualon and my presence was needed. I assumed it was from Emilia and maybe it really was, I don't know. When I left the cottage I was ambushed at my front door. They tried to knock me out but I dodged and got hit in the face instead. They threw me in the snow, kicked me repeatedly, and finally they delivered the blow to my head and I was knocked out. When I woke up I was here." Talyara trails off for a few minutes before adding. "They've roughed me up a bit more since I've been here. And...and cut my arm," she says in a voice barely above a whisper. She swallows hard and takes a steadying breath before turning the interrogation back to her sister. "What of you? What injuries do you have? They have me in a barred cell and my ankle is shackled. Are you in something similar? It's so dark I can't really see..." Taly pauses and drops her voice to such a low whisper that Lanara might miss her words. "I managed to steal a very small blade from my tormentor. I don't know if it'll do much damage but I figured I might be able to pick the locks with it at the very least. But you were always better with that than me...."

Lanara tilts her head to the side as she hears the jingling sound of chains, and she narrows her gaze on the darkness, hopelessly aiming to catch a glimpse of her sister. They had leashed Talyara, and it dawns on Lana, that there’s something other than her mother’s pentacle around her neck. She was wearing a rough leather collar, and she was trapped in a crate that could barely house a mastiff. Did they think the women were dogs?! Her assumption is likely correct, though she doesn’t voice this to her sister, as she was frightened enough as it was. That singsong voice is tinged with despair as Taly tries to assure her that Venin and Sigrid were strong and that they’d survived the attack, which has tears welling in Lana’s hues. Chocolate pools sparkle in the darkness as the lone candle flickers wildly, as though a faint breeze was billowing from the south, and Lana finds the courage to whisper a response. “I sure hope so, Taly… I fought the ringleader of it all, we had a fist fight. It wasn’t just him; he had others that silenced my magic. I was unable to fight back for too long, and one took a cheap shot which knocked me unconscious. Even now… I’m unable to wield my powers. I wonder if this entire base is silenced.” Without use of their magic, they had little chance of finding freedom and defending themselves.

The two converse in barely audible whispers about their injuries, and although it’s dark in this room, Talyara would be able to hear the hiss and imagine the facial expression on her elder sister. They had dared to wound Taly?! “Those bastards!” A moment of silence is given, as Lana absorbs the shock of how they both had broken ribs and deep gashes on their arms. Similar torture methods, it seemed, though unbeknownst to the women, they had different captors, yet wound up at the same location. If Lana knew that Taly was branded, she’d likely have risked her last reserve of energy to try and bust out of the cage and crawl over to comfort her sister. It’s a good thing that little tidbit remained a secret, for now. “I’m in a cage, Taly! A freaking cage! I don’t think it could have comfortably held Tanner… It’s tiny, and I’m unable to turn around or move much.” Her legs were growing numb from the loss of blood flow, but she keeps this to herself, not wanting to even think about her career as a dancer coming to an end. Her ribs and slashed arm go unmentioned, as she offers, “I’ll be okay. I was smacked around a bit and my head is pounding from where I was struck, but nothing fatal.” Unless infection set in, or they sustained further injuries.

Lana fumbles in the dark as she forces her arms through the tiny bars, to touch the padlock on the cage door. Her fingers are slippery with blood and bile, and she has to pause on two different occasions to vomit, as her concussion is refusing to lessen. She’s so cold and so tired, though she fights to remain awake. “Um… I hope we have the same type of lock… But, I can feel the indent and the grooves…” Tears blur her vision, her hands are shaking horribly, and the clinking of the lock against the metal bars is sure to draw attention. Yet, the witch was determined, and after several agonizing minutes, she leans back with a faint smile on her lips. “I always was the rebellious sister, wasn’t I? Okay… I think it’s a simple enough lock, but without a lock pick it can be tricky to do with a knife.” She pauses, “You’ll have to hold the blade at an angle, and insert it between the second and third tooth mark, and then twist it to the left. Jiggle it three or four times, until you hear a click… Then, immediately push up on the blade, and slowly pull it out… That should do it.” It’s true, Lanara may be better at breaking and entering, but Talyara was best at following orders and being patient. Each sister complemented the other, beautifully, and if they worked together, they just may survive. “Taly… I have faith in you. If –anyone- can get us out of this, it’s you. I love you…” A rarity, as Lana wasn’t one to give compliments or show her vulnerable side. Now, could be the last time she showed her sister that she was proud of the woman she was becoming.

Talyara feels the ghost of a smirk tickle at the corners of her lips when Lanara mentions participating in fisticuffs with the ringleader of her attack; of course her amusement was not that her sister was assaulted but rather that she could picture the scene in her mind's eye. Lana was never one to back down from a fight. "They've binded our magic," Taly confirms with a heavy sigh. "I think they knew I warded the cottage which is why they attacked me outside of it. I was trying to conjure magic when they grabbed me but none of my attempts worked." As the elder sister begins to explain the details of her confinement in a small cage Talyara frowns. She was shackled, sure, but Galath had placed her in a barred cell with a sink. He had brought her water and towels. She had sworn she had seen something behind his eyes, some part of him that knew she wasn't evil and undeserving of his abuse. Was Lana's captor feeling similarly? It certainly didn't seem so. "Do you remember little Ethan back in Kevlar?" Taly asks her sister, suddenly struck with a memory. "His mother was in the coven and you were supposed to babysit him while her and Mother were meant to make preparations for Beltane. Only he was whining a lot so you put him in a dog kennel! Mama was so mad when they returned home but you told her it was merely a playpen!"

Talyara wasn't sure why she felt compelled to share the memory, only that, for a moment, she hoped to bring the pair of them to a happier place, to shine some light back into their souls if only for a second. "I'm glad you're okay. I'm okay, too," she adds quickly. Telling her sister how much pain she was in or her inability to stop her body from trembling wouldn't help either of them. It was important for them to remain calm and clear headed and try to formulate a plan. Talyara hears her sister shift in her cage, and sucks in her breath as Lana begins to probe the padlock while she does the same with her shackled ankle. She grants the animal empath the silence to concentrate as she slips the blade from her sleeve and waits patiently. "You're still the rebellious, sister," Talyara corrects with the tiniest of smiles that no one can see. As Lanara begins to recite the directions for picking the lock with the knife, Taly repeats them over and over again in her head. She is just about to angle the blade into the lock when Lana'a praises catches her off guard, stilling her hand. A few rogue tears slip from her eyes and down her cheeks and Taly quickly wipes them away. "I love you more," she says in response to her sister's affections. "We will get out of this together." Talyara falls silent then, the only sounds coming from the blade and the lock that she tries to pick. Five minutes pass. Ten. Fifteen. It's twenty agonizing minutes later that a clicking sound echoes around the room and Taly gasps. "I did it," she says in a whisper. "I got the shackle off!" The little witch slips her ankle free of the binding and gives the joint a roll, sparing another moment to rub some life back into before clambering to a stand and shakily making her way towards the door of her cell.

"Okay, you can do this, Taly," she whispers to herself before setting to work on the second lock. Her shaky hands make it cumbersome; however, the confidence of knowing she had already done this once gives her faith that she can do it again. It only takes fifteen minutes this time before she gets the lock free and she could almost cry with relief. However, a surge of pain courses through her branded arm which causes her to suddenly drop the lock to the ground, a loud crash reverberating around the room. Talyara shoots a panicked gaze towards the door waiting for the witch hunters to come barging in, but if they heard or suspected anything, they didn't come. After releasing a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding, Taly grabs her barely touched pitcher of water and an unused towel before opening the cell just enough to squeeze her lithe body through. Pausing long enough to grab the flickering candle for extra light, the little witch tiptoes towards Lana. The site of her sister trapped in such a small cage sends a wave of anger through her so strong she has to resist the urge to storm down the stairs and launch herself at the unhinged witch hunters and attack them with her bare hands. But getting Lana out was a priority.

Talyara places the candle down on the ground and gives Lanara what she hopes is a reassuring smile. But the swelling around her eyes, the purple coloring on her cheeks and jaw, and the split in her lip were probably not very comforting at all. "Here," Talyara says, passing a dampened towel through one of the small holes of the cage. "I can't fit the pitcher through but I'll get you out soon enough." Spurred by the need to escape not only for their safety but at the very least Lanara's comfort, the younger sister immediately sets to work. It seems the animal empath is not the only one who excels in lock picking now because in no time at all, Talyara manages to get the padlock off. Without hesitating, she pulls open the door and gathers Lana up in her arms, ignoring the fact that both sister are suffering from broken ribs (amongst other injuries) and simply hugs her closely. "You're okay," she whispers. "You're okay, we're okay." Talyara continues to repeat this mantra, using the words and Lanara's presence as an anchor to keep from tipping into hysteria. Eventually, she relinquishes her grip and quickly hands the pitcher of water over to her elder sister.

Lanara goes to nip her lower lip, a habit that had formed over the years, whenever she was deep in thought about something. However, as her teeth embed in the bite mark from when she was smashed in the back of the head, blood begins to drizzle down her chin, and she sighs, dramatically. It figures that their magic would have been silenced, otherwise, those men wouldn’t have stood a chance against their powers! “I wonder what they want from us… Do they want the skulls? Because they will only answer the call of the one that they are destined to be with… Are they hunting Val? Perhaps, Uma, as she holds a title in Cenril?” None of this made sense to the sisters, as they often kept to themselves, and only practiced white magic. Why were witches being attacked, merely for being born with the ability to wield magic and for believing in a Goddess? The ‘facts’ that Larket was spewing couldn’t be further from the truth! Sure, once in a blue moon a witch would turn to the dark side, but they –all- shouldn’t be condemned! Next, paladins would be on the chopping block!

The memory of Ethan is a fond one, and she would have laughed, were this moment not of great seriousness. “That kid wasn’t all that bright… He couldn’t get passed the first grade. When he was fifteen they finally thought it best to remove him from school. And do you remember the spell I cast on him, when I caught him messing around with the chickens in our barn?! His whole head was covered in tight curls that would poof whenever it rained! And the chickens stalked him all around Kelvar, laying eggs in those ringlets!” Lana faintly smirks, being wary of splitting her lip any further, and though Taly is unable to see her in the darkness, she gives a nod. She was –still- rebellious, and if anything, she had grown more so with age! The pranks she continuously pulled, the faux initiation tasks her little sister had to endure, throat punching those that posed even a minor threat, and so on. The title of ‘troublemaker’ was one that she was downright proud to hold, but on this night, she’s rather well-behaved, and falls silent to allow Taly to work at the lock.

The clang of the padlock falling to the floor reaches her tapered ears, and both women sharply inhale, expecting the worst. No guards come, however, and moments later, Lana is free and pulled into Taly’s arms. They embrace, tightly, despite the injuries that they were forced to sustain, and a few tears leak from the elder sister’s eyes as she takes in the sight of her little sister. Bruises, cuts, and severe swelling have twisted the younger witch into something out of a horror film, and each semblance of injury is illuminated by the flickering flame of the candle. Talyara had suffered far worse than Lana, though she had been here for a few days, and Lana’s horror was likely just beginning, unless they managed to escape. She’s deep in thought, as the blood begins to flow once more through her cramped limbs, and she leans back from the embrace. Never before had Taly seemed so fragile… “I’ve never seen you look so strong.” She vocalizes, as she finishes her thought aloud, ending with a smile of pride, and unshed tears glistening in her chocolate hues. The pitcher of water is accepted, as she takes a few tentative sips, before palming some and pressing it against the wound on the back of her head. It stings, as the water mixes with the blood and plasma, and the witch prays that it won’t fester. Thankfully, the water is cold, and she hopes that it will dull the pain that’s consuming her senses. “What’s the plan? Were you able to see outside of this room, at all? How many are we up against?”

Talyara frowns when Lanara utters her string of questions and she lifts her left shoulder ever so slightly, a maneuver that might be lost on the elder sibling given the dim light of the room. "When the man was..." she trails off as her hand unconsciously touches at the sleeve covering her brand. She hadn't told Lanara about that particular horror and she had no intention of sharing that with her right now. "He was asking for information. He wanted to know when we were all meeting next, the names of all the witches, who's in charge..." Whether that was what he really wanted or not, she couldn't tell. The ghost of smile tugs on the left corner of Taly's lips as Lana recounts the full tale of Ethan--in truth she had forgotten all about that cursed hairstyle and the chickens who would lay eggs in the ringlets. Had they been elsewhere, had this been another time, the little witch might have indulged in the amusing memory of her sister's pranks on someone beside herself. When the embrace eventually breaks, Taly is able to better look at Lanara--injured, sure, but not completely broken. Vaguely, she wonders whether she even looks like herself. Lanara's comment, about her strength, does manage to draw a smile despite the pain it causes in her swollen and cut face. "I've spent a lot of time looking up to my big sister..."

Talyara waits until Lanara accepts the pitcher and begins to tend to her wounds the best she can given their meager supplies before shifting her gaze to the solitary window across the way. "They knocked me out in Frostmaw and I woke up here--wherever here is," she says with a sigh. "I've been locked behind the bars of my cell and chained." Taly frowns as she keeps her body low to the ground but begins to creep towards the window. "I was ambushed outside the cottage. I'm not even sure how many there were, but only one hunter has spoken with me. How many took you?" Taly approaches the sill and after taking a steadying breath, lifts her face just enough so that her eyes can peak through the panes and take in their surroundings. "It looks to be some encampment," Talyara says in a hushed whisper. "I see crumbled brick surrounding the place but there are tents pitched." The little witch quickly ducks her head down again; she hadn't seen anyone looking up into that particular window (it was evening after all) but she didn't want to chance it. "This must be their base," she says, her scowl becoming more pronounced. She waits another minute before chancing another look out the window in an attempt to glean where they might be geographically.

There is a sudden creak on the stairs outside the room and Talyara barely has a second to turn around when a witch hunter bursts into the room. "What the hell do you think you are doing?!" He bellows, immediately moving towards the emerald eyed witch. Fortunately, his furious gaze is focused on the younger sister, oblivious to Lana who is off to the side. In his hand he brandishes a pair of scissors, his arm poised near his ear as he rushes deeper into the room. Taly spins around more completely, her face paling under the bruising, eyes widening as she attempts to react. However, her broken ribs, the loss of blood, the blows to her head, are all slowing down her reflexes. She still has the small blade but what match was that against a strong man, fueled by hatred, and those long, sharp shears? Taly can only brace for impact, a shaky hand gripping the small knife, and hope she gets a chance to swipe at him in an act of self defense.

Lanara doesn’t smile as Talyara offers the endearing compliment. She wasn’t setting an example for anyone, least of all her once fragile sister, and the fact that they –both- had gotten captured wasn’t sitting well in her stomach. “Taly, you are stronger than you believe. Much stronger than I ever gave you credit for…” She sighs, relieved that the little witch is now approaching the lone window, so that she cannot witness the steady flow of tears that pours over her bruised cheeks. After a few moments, she pulls herself back to reality and tries to think back, though much of the evening passes in flashes. “I… I think there were six, maybe seven? They must have used a glamour potion, or some sort of magic, because one appeared as an old man and another as a young boy… I’ve never been experienced with illusions, you know… They easily fooled me and the staff at the sanctuary.” She had been foolish to let her guard down, but after hearing that Elioyahazer had called off their wedding, her mind just hadn’t been in the right place. Her heart was in the right place always; however, right now it’s broken into a million pieces.

As Taly explains what she sees through the window, Lana continues to rub her swollen ankles and wrists, tears staining her visage. She had been mistreated by men for many years, mostly due to her beauty, and she had been forced into an incestuous encounter with her biological father. Even the occasional woman had gone after the witch out of sheer jealousy, and there was always an annual stalker or two. Never, in all her many years, had she had to endure such abuse due to practicing magic and worshipping a Goddess! It’s hypocritical, as the men that had captured them were worshipping their own Gods, and following the words written in a book. Their actions were unforgivable! “Great… I wonder if they captured anymore of us… I don’t want to remain a prisoner. We can’t escape the window; they may have eyes on us… Perhaps we can head out the door? We will have to-“ Her voice cuts off as her tapered ears pick up on the sound of the knob turning, and she feels the vibrations of heavy boots striking the floorboards. Gripped with fear, she whispers, “Taly! Back to your cell!”

Those four fateful words come too late, as the witch hunter advances quickly on Taly, a large pair of shears raised as though he means to plunge them into her chest. Lanara remains silent, anxiety spiking, as she studies her sisters posture. Yes, she had a knife, but there’s no way that little dagger would do them any good, as this angered man already had the advantage. He was twice their size, rippling with muscles, and the hatred for witches that fueled his temper gave him the upper hand. Lana feels the painful twinges in her limbs as the blood begins to flow through her veins again, and she unsteadily forces herself to her feet, that hairline trigger pulsing as this heathen dares to harm her lovely little sister. Shuffling nearer to their forms, she uses the final remnant of her energy, and dives between the hunter and the witch, sparing her sister’s life. A scream pierces the small room, reverberating off of the walls, and it takes Lana a second to realize that it came from her own mouth. Glancing towards her left ankle she feels an incredible amount of pressure building, so she tries to regain her footing, and that’s when the dam bursts and she falls hard on the floor. Why couldn’t she stand?!

The thud from her figure is loud enough to alert whoever may be in the room below that something is amiss, as well as the yelling of the guard, and her shrill scream from moments prior. Lana whimpers and crawls over to the wall, where she curls into a ball and spies the scissors embedded in her ankle, blood heavily gushing out of the severed artery. The Achilles tendon had been sliced in half, and she’d be unable to walk, that’s if she even received immediate medical attention and didn’t die from blood loss. “Taly… Taly…” The room begins to spin, and her head slumps against the wall. All of the fight had left Lanara. She just hoped that it was enough for her sister to see her freedom and to live another day.

Talyara braces for an impact that doesn't come. Instead, her tapered ears are assaulted with a piercing scream that is neither masculine, nor coming from her own mouth. It is then that she realizes too late that, in a last ditch effort to save her sister, Lanara had summoned up her remaining energy to throw herself between Taly and the witch hunter wielding long, sharp shears. "Lana, no!" Taly yells too late as the elder sister thuds to the ground, having intercepted the attack. The little witch feels adrenaline pump through her veins, the pain and weakness seems to seep from her body as anger takes over. She had been assaulted and kidnapped from her home, imprisoned and chained, abused and tortured. And now this man was going to hurt her sister? With a hellish screech Taly rushes the witch hunter and slams her slight frame against him whilst swinging the blade in his direction. The momentum of her body being thrown against his causes him to stumble backwards while her small knife manages to pierce him in the side between his ribs. He likewise yelps in pain and grabs Talyara as he loses his footing and the pair tumble to the ground. The little witch is in fight or flight mode so she thrashes about violently, eventually managing an elbow to his temple during their grappling which causes his grip to slacken around her. Clearly it was enough of a blow to knock him unconscious. "Lana!" Talyara yells again, crawling across the room to her sister's side.

"Lana! Stay awake, Lanara!" the emerald eyed witch commands as her breath catches in her throat upon seeing the pool of blood around the leg wound. Without giving it a second thought, Taly shucks off her shirt, leaving her only in her bra. "Stay with me, Lana," she says, pressing her shirt against the cut before pulling out the shears in one fluid motion and throwing them to the ground, quickly tying the garment tightly against the open wound in an attempt to staunch the flow of blood. "Remember the time when we were little and you told me I couldn't climb that large apple tree in Jaymes's orchard?" Taly is breathless as she presses her hands against the secured shirt, applying more pressure and attempting to distract her sister with memories of their childhood. "Well I got so tired of hearing you tease me about it I climbed all the way to the top but then was too afraid to come back down. I thought you were going to tease me or run and tell Mother but instead you stayed at the base of the trunk and just talked to me until I was calm enough to get down safely. That's just like now. We're going to talk until we're calm enough to get out of here." Talyara's focus is entirely on her sister and willing her to stay conscious, so much so that she doesn't hear the dual footsteps on the stairs or even as they cross the room.

Galath's hand grabs a fistful of Taly's chestnut curls and he yanks her back with such force that she is thrown backwards on the floor, several feet away from Lanara. Unfazed, Taly attempts to scramble back to her sister, her hands searching for either the small blade she had stolen or the scissors which had been pulled from the animal empath's leg as a means of self defense. "You get your witch," Galath snarls at Hawkwood. "She looks nearly dead anyway." There is a gleam of excitement in his eye despite the ferocity of his tone. Clearly he was conflicted in his emotions, joyous at the thought of another dead witch, but angry that his plan to use Lana to coax information out of Taly had been thwarted. "Did you think you were going to escape?" he snarls at Taly, slamming her head back down on the ground and straightening to aim a kick at her already purpling ribs. Unlike Galath, Hawkwood stands frozen in the spot, unable to act on the command to deal with the elder witch. There was something he had seen in Lanara, it was beyond her beauty, beyond those captivating chocolate hued eyes. It was her fiery spirit, the fight that she exuded. But now she was just a broken, bloodied girl, barely hanging onto consciousness.

"You've ruined it!" Galath shouts, aiming yet another kick to Taly's face, causing blood to spurt from her nose upon impact. Still, Taly refuses to give up and she attempts to drag herself towards Lanara once more, her hand extended out towards her sister. "Hawkwood!" the witch hunter yells, attempting to break his comrade out of whatever trance he seems to be in. But his gaze lingers on Lanara whose fight completely goes out, her eyes falling closed as unconsciousness finally takes her. It is then he makes a split second decision. Just as Galath grabs the discarded shears on the floor, the manic look in his eye giving every indication that he plans to bury the blades in Taly's chest, Hawkwood grabs his arm, twisting the appendage behind his back and forcing him to relinquish the scissors which clatter to the ground noisily. Aside from the three men in the room, only a few other witch hunters milled around the house, most of the others out on various missions or hunkered down in their own tents. "Release me!" Galath snarls at Hawkwood. Talyara whimpers on the floor, the adrenaline slipping away just as quickly as it had come as she tries once more to get to her elder sister. "Lanara!" she chokes out in a sob, ignoring yet another set of footsteps drawing nearer, the little witch assuming that this is really the end.

The only other witch hunter alive in the house was a younger recruit, who lay tangled in his own limbs, gurgling on the blood that flowed from a deep cut across his throat. The cut had been swiftly administered for efficiency in death, allowing for swifter departure of the attacker. He would not be alive for much longer. The witch hunter died mere moments later, joining the rest of his lifeless comrades in the house, and the few patrolling men outside who had fallen victim to a single attacker's stealthy death blows; their corpses were haphazardly hidden so as to delay discovery - and thus reinforcement - by others. ​The silent attacker killed only those in his way, including some men resting quietly in their tents, hidden from immediate discovery - in a direct line from the camp perimeter to the house up ahead. The remaining hunters lay sleeping, oblivious to the mayhem that unfolded within the four walls nearby; if they heard screams, they assumed that they originated from the witches who were being tortured for information about their allies. The resting hunters were either fine with it, convinced that it was necessary for their cause, that the suffering of the witches was just and even deserved, or they simply ignored it. Just another norm one had to accept on their twisted path of righteousness.

When last Krice had seen Talyara, she had been knocked unconscious and stolen from her own home by the very same ideologues whom he now moved to dispatch. He traveled transiently like a shadow - untouched by light, not bound by the limitations of the earth, skillful and swift and entirely inhuman in his pursuit of the evil that had befallen the emerald-eyed witch. Up or down stairs, along hallways and through dark corridors, it mattered not to the warrior; he was a creature in his own right of single-minded focus to save Talyara from the cruelty around her - and to snuff out that cruelty whilst doing so.

​Outside the door of their cells, there was a last gasp of pain followed by the snap of bone, culminating in the death of someone out of view, a heavy body crumpling to the floor. That was the sound that Talyara's ears would register, and nothing else for a scant few seconds. Stillness descended on the house, a distinct lack of footfalls and clinking weaponry enunciating the complete absence of activity on the other side of that door. The handle turned, the deadlatch released its frame, and the barrier creaked open. The house was dark. In the next breath, a glint of red eyes pierced the shadows, catching the reflection of some distant errant light, and in rushed a blood-speckled figure clad only in black cloth, wielding a well-used dagger with an s-shaped blade, equally crimson with the essence of its victims.

Hawk​wood was the first to be attacked, with such swiftness that he would have no conscious awareness of releasing Galath - at least not initially. Krice's right hand thrust upward beneath Hawkwood's jaw not to kill, but to give him a nice square hit while knocking him away from the true target - the man who had orchestrated the kidnapping attack up at the little cottage in Frostmaw. Too fast for any common human to track, the warrior descended upon Galath and used not the dagger but his empty right hand to grab the other man by his face. Pressure spread beneath his fingertips through cheekbones and eye-sockets as Krice pivoted to thrust the back of his victim's skull into the nearest wall, a satisfactory crunch announcing the resultant fracture. Pulling his arm back, the warrior drew Galath closer only to thrust him against the wall a second time. Blood coloured it. mottled with fragments of skin and bone. Krice must have seen no immediate threat from Hawkwood because for a third time, he pulled Galath back to crush what was left of his head against the rocky wall, his attack fast and unyielding.

Lanara had saved her sister from being stabbed with the scissors, she had taken one for the team so to speak, and despite the immense pain she feels, a trace of a smile is evident in her expression. She’s growing woozy, as the blood continuously pumps from her ankle, and she watches through half open eyes as Taly wails like a banshee and tackles the hunter to the ground. The sickening sound of a bone breaking and the squish of a dagger placed between his ribs would give the sisters satisfaction, and hopefully disable the hunter for the remainder of the evening. At this point, Lana hoped they –all- perished, as they had introduced them to this hell. They had been captured, caged like animals, and both had sustained injuries and horrors that would haunt them for the rest of their days. As Taly rushes to her side, Lana weakly tilts her head and manages a soft whisper, “Who know my sister was such a badass?”

The shears are plucked from her ankle and the blood seems to flow heavier than before, coating Lana’s leggings, sneakers, and the floor in a sea of crimson. She was losing so much blood and growing nauseas from the sight and the pain. Taly applies pressure, to no avail, as this was a wound that wouldn’t clot, unless some advanced surgeons repaired the arterial line. Magical healing is out of the question as the room has been silenced, and they both realize this, causing them to lock eyes. “Taly. Get to safety. I’ll be…” Lana’s voice trails off as her eyelids begin to close, and she knows that sleep is imminent. “I’m so tired. And cold…” She’s holding her little sisters hand, though the grip loosens as her head lolls to the side, and she fights to remain awake, though she desperately needs to sleep. The talk about Taly climbing a tree during their younger years would often bring a smile to her lips, but she’s grappling with trying to remain coherent that she only hears bits and pieces. Galath and Hawkwood enter the room and there is so much shouting that it’s given the woman a headache. She could rest now, right? The last vision those big brown eyes take in is of Hawkwood, her captor, a pensive look on his handsome face as he studies the woman that rapidly falls asleep.

Hawkwood doesn’t bother to put up a fight against the enigma, as the man had come here on a rescue mission, and he was certain to help him fulfill it. One of the witches belonged to this man, and he had likely killed all of Hawkwood’s comrades, to gain her freedom. The punch to his jaw has his neck snapping back, his grasp on Galath coming undone, and he stumbles back a few steps, though the expected counterattack is forgone. Talyara is weakly crawling over towards Lanara, and Krice is bashing Galath’s head against the wall, which is now covered in brains and gore. It’s not a swift death like the others, but perhaps it’s the most deserved death of them all.

The mercenary was only hired to capture the witch and deliver her to this warehouse, he had little interest in what happened once he was paid, yet Lana had shocked him by fighting back, mixing humor and anger, and her beauty was beyond compare. Hawkwood knew that he’d be a target if he aided them, so he makes a quick decision, closes the distance and pulls the brown eyed woman into his arms. It’s the third time in twenty-four hours that the woman had ended up in his arms, though this time it’s intentional, and he looks at her with a rare shred of comfort in his gaze. “Come on…” He mutters to Krice, a nod given towards Taly, “Pick her up. They are too weak to walk. I’ll carry her to the exit but I can’t go any further, or they’ll think I was involved, so I hope you have a plan.” He doesn’t voice anything more, as he turns on his heel and carries the dying witch down the stairs, cradling her as though she were a fine piece of art.

With Galath's hands otherwise preoccupied by Hawkwood's interference, the little witch crumbles to the floor, fight and strength going out of her thanks to her most recent assault. Blood pours from her nose and every movement causes a sharp pain in her side; however, Talyara opts to ignore her own discomfort and pain, her entire focus is on dragging herself towards her sister. "I'm. Not. Leaving. You." she says through gritted teeth as she finally pulls up next to Lana's side. The elder witch had been speaking before Talyara was pulled from her, begging her to flee and get herself to safety. Lanara's eyes are closed and there's so much blood that Talyara all but convinces herself that her sister is slipping away from her for the third time. "Lana wake up!" she chokes out through a sob, giving the animal empath's shoulder a firm shake. "Wake up! You can't leave me here. Please, Lana, I need you!" The little witch hears a grunt of pain as Hawkwood takes the hit from Krice. The subsequent bashing of skull to wall is, in Taly's assumption, Galath punishing Hawkwood for his disobedience, his refusal to finish Lana off and his pulling him away from pummeling Taly.

"Lana, please," Taly begs a little bit more softly, tears streaming down her face causing little rivulets along the smeared blood. The next thing she knows Hawkwood is at their side and he's leaning down to scoop Lanara up in his arms. Blinded by fear, Taly thinks he is going to further hurt her, so she flings herself over Lana, using her body as a shield just as she had done for her. "Please don't hurt her anymore," the little witch cries. "Please get her help and take me instead." But Hawkwood is strong and easily pulls Lanara from Taly's grasp. She hears him mumble to someone else in the room, another witch hunter most likely, and Talyara curls in on herself, hugging her knees against her chest as she wheezes. "Please help Lana. Please help Lana..." she chants whether in prayer to the Goddess or a plea to the witch hunters, only she knows. Talyara is still unaware that Galath is dead and that Hawkwood is on their side, she doesn't even know that the man coming to gather her up in his arms is Krice.

Without a shirt on and only her bra covering her, Talyara's injuries are on full display even in the dim, flickering light of the candle. Her breaths come out in painful pants due to the crying and the purpling around her ribs from where she had been kicked repeatedly--they were most likely broken. There was even a bruise shaped like a boot on her abdomen, and the carved letters on her forearm oozed with fresh blood. Her face was mess of its former sweetness--bloodied, swollen, and cut up. As Krice draws near her she whimpers, bracing herself for more pain to come. "Please save Lana..."

Krice watched blood dribble between his knuckles, seeping through Galath's hair to follow the tendons and veins protruding against his hand. This was the man whom he had witnessed as Talyara's attacker only two days earlier, the man who had foolishly made himself the warrior's target when he kidnapped the wrong witch. That very same witch was talking in the background, pleading through blood and pain. Krice's ears changed aural focus from the very dead asshole in front of him to that voice at his back and he relinquished his hold. The mangled corpse crumpled to the floor as another voice hit the warrior's ear directly. He shot a sharp look at Hawkwood, regarding the other male with unabashed contempt swirling in crimson and gold. Only then did the silver-haired enigma notice Lanara. Seeing his companion's sister in dire need of aid - and in the hands of who, for all intents and purposes, was an enemy - triggered the warrior's conscious to remind him that he was here not to brutally kill people who deserved it--not primarily--but to find Talyara. He turned, scanning the room as Hawkwood's directions - and the memory of his restraint of Galath - filtered into the logical part of the warrior's mind and he relinquished Lanara's safety to the other man.

Krice said to Hawkwood, "Protect her with your life," of his responsibility over Lanara, and the unspoken message was a simple: 'your life -does- depend on it'. With the intent to kill slowly relinquishing its grip on the warrior's mind, he was suddenly greeted by the stench of blood that soaked the room, namely the blood of the innocent witches who had been tortured here. His gaze fell upon the battered and bruised Talyara and he descended to a knee, scanning her figure from toes to head to gauge as much of her injuries in as little time as possible. To linger here any longer would be bad - for the hunters who would come looking. A quiet obscenity left his mouth in unbridled portrayal of the pain that burned in his chest on her behalf, and the barely containable malice he experienced for the twisted, evil bastards who had caused her that pain. Moving quickly so as to limit their time in enemy territory, whilst also reluctant to completely leave Hawkwood in charge of Lanara, Krice released his katana's scabbard from his back and lowered the weapon to free up his shirt, which he removed by deftly releasing the buttons so he could easily wrap it around Talyara's bare shoulders. Noting her cowering, he hesitated to first reassure her with sound: " Talyara, it's me," he said, gently, but with the urgency of haste in his tone. " Come on - we have to go." Granted, his shirt had been freckled with the blood of his enemies, but the last thing he wanted was to leave the witch even more vulnerable than she already felt.

Only once she came out of her frightened mind and realized who he was--granted, if she took too long as to endanger them to discovery, he'd have to insist--would Krice slide his shirt into place around her shoulders, quickly but carefully concealing her body between the black garment and the toned musculature of his torso. Eager to retrieve Talyara from the floor and carry her away to safety, the warrior murmured to reassure her that her sister was being helped, that he would leave no one behind.

Talyara's initial reaction to sensing someone kneeling beside her is to cower further. As much as Lana claimed she was strong and a badass, she didn't feel it in this moment. All her previous anger and fight went out when Lanara's eyes closed while her leg bled so badly it left a puddle in its wake. "Please just make it fast..." she pleads in a whisper. Death would be welcome at this point. Her whole body pulsed with pain and her sister, her sister was gone or nearly there because the witch hunters wouldn't heal her. But something felt...different. The energy from the person beside her wasn't oppressive, and it felt...familiar. At Krice's words of assurance, that it was him, she shifts her head and peaks open an emerald eye to reaffirm that it was, indeed, the silver haired enigma. "Krice?" she whispers disbelievingly, allowing herself a moment to sweep her gaze over his body. He had found them? But how?! And was it really him? She had seen Lanara and Valrae use glamor spells, had used one herself to surprise her sister when she returned to Lithrydel after going away to treat her depression and eating disorder. Could this be a trick from the witch hunters, an attempt to lure her into a false sense of security? Taly whimpers in pain as she pushes herself up on an elbow, licking her lips nervously and tasting the metallic of her blood. "What were we hunting in the wilds of Frostmaw?" This was months ago, and she was sure that the witch hunters hadn't been tailing her yet--they were too isolated not to know someone was following them. And while she hoped desperately that it was the swordsman, she just needed to be sure.

When Krice answers truthfully and Talyara has the confirmation she needs fresh waves of tears begin to spill from her eyes and down her cheeks as he works on freeing his shirt and wrapping it around her body. "They ambushed me outside the cottage. I tried to fight back, I promise I tried but they bound my magic..." It was important for her to emphasize that she hadn't been doing anything reckless, hadn't been doing something unsafe or stupid. And then her mind quickly returns to her bleeding sister and she looks around the room quickly. "Where's Lana? That man, he's a witch hunter! She needs help! I can't lose her, I can't!" An audible sob breaks through Taly's voice and she covers her face as her shoulders shake. It was too much, it was all too much. Krice would find that coaxing Taly into his arms took little to no effort, she was so consumed by the horror of their predicament and the anxiety over her sister's well being, that she wouldn’t put up a fight.

Krice initially didn't push Talyara for contact when she recoiled; though he knew they needed to escape as soon as possible, it was more important that she felt safe by the hands that next touched her. Her injuries were extensive and there were many, caused by those who had kidnapped her. He couldn't fathom the suffering she must have felt, and was still feeling, and undoubtedly -would- feel long after they were gone from this hellhole. He understood her reticence to be touched, her disbelief that he was here, so it was without hesitation - but gut-tearing sadness - that he accepted her question and answered it: " The frostboars. I tried to tell you not to." His smile was fleeting and wistful, and it faded as tears filled the witch's eyes. He tenderly pulled his shirt around her shoulders and drew the collar to the sides of her neck, thereafter securing his katana to the belt around his hips as she spoke of the events leading to her capture. His expression was one of restraint and guarded sorrow, but he was quick to reassure her with a nod.

"I know. I believe you," he murmured, inching closer before reaching around the woman's body to carefully lift her from the floor as he stood. To her panic for Lanara's safety, the warrior hurried to say, " She'll be okay. I won't let him hurt her, I promise. We're getting out of here." He moved through the doorway, out down the hall, and held Talyara in such a way as to cradle her head against his right shoulder and that side of his neck. She might catch glimpses of the corpses that he had left in his wake on the way in, if she had half a mind to look. On Hawkwood's heels, Krice kept an eye on the hunter and scanned Lanara for her injuries, his tone cold and words succinct. " If you hurt her, I'll kill you." And he very easily could, as told by the death through which they had to travel. " My wyvern's south of the camp. There are medical supplies in a saddle-bag." At the least, they could wrap up Lanara's sliced tendon to mitigate blood-loss and increase her chances of arriving at the nearest clinic alive. Though he had found Talyara, the warrior was still cautious enough to ensure that he didn't rouse anyone else. The last thing he wanted was to delay the sisters' rescue by needing to kill more hunters. -Their- deaths could come another day.

Krice believed her. And while the sensible part of her knew that even if she had been caught while doing something unsafe, he still wouldn't have placed the blame on her; however, hearing his belief somehow eased a fraction of the anxiety she was feeling. Talyara is further comforted by being gingerly lifted into the warrior's arms, her head resting against his shoulder as her emerald eyes continue to flick around the room. She sees Galath slumped to the ground, his skull dented and bloodied--so that was the slamming she had heard. The unknown witch hunter who sliced Lana's leg, lays in his own pool of blood from where the little witch stabbed him. With the dim light she couldn't see if he was breathing and she vaguely wonders if she killed him. Quickly, Taly pushes that realization from her mind--she couldn't focus on that right now, lest she unravel completely. Krice's assurance that he wouldn't allow Hawkwood to hurt Lana further is accepted--she knew how capable he was and how fast he could be. If the witch hunter even so much as breathed wrong, Krice would be on him. As the pair carry the witches through the hall and down the stairs, Hawkwood keeps his eyes wide and unblinking as he searches the area to make sure no others came. Once they slip through the door leading out of the house and into the encampment, Hawkwood steps aside, not to take Lana elsewhere, but rather to allow Krice to take the lead or at least move next to each other towards the south where Gylworliath waits. He wouldn't risk angering Krice and endangering his own life in the process.

Hawkwood silently follows the enigma towards the edge of the encampment, barely breathing in his own fear of being caught aiding the enemy or making one wrong move and facing Krice's ire (both which would lead to his certain death). But mostly, he was worried about the beautiful witch in his arms who continues to pale due to her excessive blood loss. "She probably has a broken ribs and a concussion," her murmurs to Krice out of the corner of his mouth, inclining his chin towards the animal empath. "At the very least. Not sure all that happened to the other one," he says meaning Talyara. They reach the edge of the encampment and Hawkwood looks around and frowns. "Thought you had a wyvern waiting for you?"

Krice actually didn't like hearing Hawkwood's voice; whilst the Hunter appeared to be helping them now, he at some point had been a more staunch enemy of the witches or he wouldn't have been there at all. The warrior moved soundlessly through the camp, taking the lead but keeping Hawkwood in his periphery. Though he was hasty in his retreat, Krice did not jostle Talyara in his arms, his movements smooth and sympathetic to her vast injuries. When the hunter spoke of the damage dealt Lanara, the warrior's stomach turned. How could anyone... Rather than focusing on the darker thoughts of the girls' suffering, which would undoubtedly plague him later, Krice opted to lock his attention onto the route of their escape. Once clear of the camp and earshot, he lifted his chin to send a quiet, short whistle at the trees to the south. From the shadows emerged Hawkwood's answer, a medium-sized battle wyvern revealed under moonlight, her dark green scales glistening, deep eyes discerning. Krice moved up to the creature's flank and she descended to her knees, making the twin saddle upon her back more accessible. Reaching up, he attempted to settle Talyara into the rear seat, speaking to her as he did. " Up you go, girl," he softly encouraged. " It's Gyl." The wyvern chittered quietly in her own form of encouragement.

Lanara remains unconscious in Hawkwood’s arms, growing colder by the second, and her pulse is rapidly slowing. The rune marking on her inner left wrist barely pulses, just once every thirty or so seconds, alerting her younger sister that she’s still alive. Hawkwood descends the steps and looks around for the wyvern, remaining every vigil, though his shoulders sag slightly when it finally appears. Talyara and Lanara would get to safety, and hopefully both would survive from their near fatal injuries. Even though he wasn’t solely responsible, and had only swiped Lana’s bicep with a knife during the kidnapping, he felt wholly responsible. He had taken the job for gold, thinking it would be easy and painless. Never did he expect the witch to put up a fight, even without her magic, nor did he think he’d be so captivated by her beauty. It sickens him that he had low morals up until now. Hawkwood vowed never to hurt a woman or child, yet these witches were both women, and looked like broken dolls in the aftermath. Extending his arms, he holds Lana out to Krice, being gentle so as not to jostle her, as he inclines his neck toward Krice’s lowered katana. “I need you to swipe at my middle, not enough to kill, but enough to wound me so I’m rooted to this spot. I’ll say they made the escape on their own, I tried to stop them, but one of them stabbed me. It will explain all of the blood.” He doubted the warrior needed any convincing in plunging a knife into his flesh, but he explains the plan, before the women and their hero would fly off into the night.

Talyara keeps her fingers pressed against the tattoo on wrist as Krice carries her out of the encampment and towards the perimeter. Lanara was barely hanging on as made evident by the weak buzzing she feels in the rune. The witch allows her own eyes to droop closed and her lips move but no audible words are heard. Silently, she prays to the Goddess, asking her to lay her healing hands on her sister and keep her safe. Krice and Hawkwood seem to disappear from her consciousness as the little witch focuses all of her energy on her prayers. She startles when the warrior whistles and her eyes fly open, clearly still on edge as she grips at Krice. When the swordsman lifts her to help ease her onto the saddle, she does the best she can to settle herself without causing too much pain. She whimpers but manages to situate herself, reaching down to give Gylworliath a pat. "Hey girl," she says weakly. However, when Hawkwood informs Krice that he must cut him she turns in their direction, pursing her lips together in a thin line. While he had helped them escape, he was still responsible for bringing Lana here in the first place and for that, Taly couldn't forgive him. "Please be quick," she says in a quiet voice. "We need to get Lana to a healer..."

​Krice hushed Talyara gently when she appeared frightened at the arrival of Gylworliath, ever careful to lift her into the saddle. The wyvern chittered quietly in response to Talyara's greeting, respectful of the fact that the witch was very unwell. Krice spoke in a hushed voice to Talyara, to refrain from being overheard. " Taly, can you sit up? Do you have strength enough for the ride?" He reached out, making sure that she was properly seated - as much as her injuries would allow - before releasing her to hurriedly loop some of the buttons of his shirt against her chest, closing it for modesty and protection against the winds.​ Thereafter, he turned to carefully take Lanara from Hawkwood, cradling her in an upright protective hold as he pivoted to face Gylworliath once more.

There were only two seats in the wyvern's saddle and Krice lifted Lanara into the last one, in front of her sister, with the soft wide pommel and Gylworliath's large neck as support for the trip.​ He ensured that her body was wrapped in furs he procured from one of the saddle-bags and tucked it beneath her, moving quickly to secure the unconscious witch to his wyvern's back. Thereafter, he retreated just enough to open up another saddle-bag, in which sat a variety of herbs and salves and bandaging. " What can I use," breathed the warrior, free of panic but just as devoid of hesitation. He needed to help the girls quickly so they could be safely on their way out of this hell-hole.

"What will stem the blood-flow?" He was asking Talyara, but it was more rhetorical than actual. Whatever she said, he'd grab it quickly and slip it into place around Lanara's severed ankle, beneath the shirt that had been tied there by her sister, in a greater attempt to ensure that she held onto the last vestiges of blood flowing through her - salve, herbs, bandages included. He worked swiftly. " Just wait," ​whispered the warrior in response to Hawkwood's directions, his focus wholly on the injured witches.​

Talyara gives Krice a slow nod when he asks if she can sit up, wincing as she situates herself to a straightened position on the saddle. "I'll be fine," she says a bit too weakly to be convincing. She does her best to help the warrior maneuver the unconscious Lanara more properly on the saddle, clumsily aiding in the wrapping of the furs around her body. She looks exhausted, her eyelids heavy and half drooping but she is determined to remain conscious, determined to remain steadfast at her sister's side until she was safely at a clinic. She is thankful that Krice had the forethought to bring some first aid supplies--they wouldn't do anything to save the animal empath's life, but hopefully they would stabilize her enough to travel. "Did you bring some of that turmeric salve I keep? The orangey stuff, smells kind of spicy?" Hopefully he had as she kept it well in stock at the cottage.

After a nasty spill from the same apple tree from the earlier memory she had shared with Lanara, a bone in her leg had protruded through her skin. Kuruni, the mother of the witches, had placed the spice on her injury to help stop the bleeding. It was a known antiseptic and antibiotic, and while Taly was unsure it would do anything for the blood flow, it wouldn't hurt Lana. "Put that on the wound and tie it up as tightly as you can. We need to keep pressure on it." The emerald eyed witch leans forward to press a kiss to her sister's temple, before tracing a rune on her forehead. Unfortunately, it is painted on with Taly's blood, but she doesn't care. Any little bit of energy she can bestow upon her sister, she will. The rune resembles the letter "n" if not a little bit crooked. It was uruz and was the rune for life force, physical health, courage, healing, and endurance. All things that Lana would need to survive this grave injury.

Hawkwood watches anxiously as Krice secures Lana on the saddle and Talyara mutters what was needed to aid the injury. His eyes constantly shift from the witches and warrior to the encampment and back again. "Hurry," he hisses under his breath, despite Krice's utterance to wait. They needed to get Lanara to a healer fast, and well away from here. "We have rotating guards at the house. If they aren't already there, they'll be there soon. You need to leave. Now." If Hawkwood was being completely honest with himself, he also wanted to ask for some follow up, so he could know if Lana made out of here alive, got the healing she needed. But the logistics of that would make it impossible and he had a feeling the warrior wouldn't comply with such a request. With his fists clenched at his side, his eyes linger on Krice and he dips his chin in a nod, ready and waiting for the cut to his abdomen to come.

Krice nodded in the affirmative to Talyara's query about the turmeric salve; he had indeed brought it with him. He knew how to stem blood flow with tourniquets, but not which salves or ointments to use. The witch's information, as clouded with pain and anxiety as her mind felt, was highly useful to the warrior. He dressed Lanara's damaged ankle as best as time would allow, wrapped it tightly, and then withdrew his hands only briefly while the conscious sister drew a rune on her sibling. Thereafter, he reached out to rest his own hand on Talyara's nearest thigh.

"I need you to be strong just a little longer," he murmured hastily, eager to get the injured witches away from the witch hunter camp before others woke to the realization of a prison-break. Krice squeezed Talyara's knee before seeking to withdraw. There was no space for him atop his wyvern's crowded back, so the conscious witch needed to draw on whatever reserves lay within her to get them both safely to the nearest clinic. The warrior's expression told of his apprehension of the plan, but he harboured more anxiety for the alternative; leaving the witches without direct access to an escape route. Talyara and Lanara would have to go alone. To Hawkwood's urging, Krice threw a glare over his right shoulder and muttered, " Wait, damn it - or I'll permanently cut you down."

Talyara blinks down at Krice when his hand retreats to rest on her thigh before bidding her to remain strong for just a little while longer. Slowly, her emerald gaze skirts up that muscular arm to the warrior's face as she suddenly realizes that he won't be making this part of the journey with her. Tears immediately blur her vision and her bottom lip quivers as the swordsman squeezes her knee and moves to pull his hand back. "Krice!" she calls out in a moment of panic, gripping his hand in her trembling one. Fear envelopes her and while she knows that Krice is more than capable of handling himself, even out numbered, she is terrified to be parted from him, especially being as injured as she was with an unconscious and bleeding sister. Hawkwood growls under his breath as Krice snaps at him, threatening him with further injury if he doesn't practice patience. He bites his tongue, quite literally, hoping that whatever strength the warrior can give to the emerald eyed witch can be transferred quickly so they can get to safety and he can sustain the injury to play up their lie.

Krice hesitated when Talyara grabbed his hand, curling his fingers around hers as he retreated back to Gylworliath's flank, back to the witch seated atop her. He reached out with his free hand to fold his arm gently over Talyara's thighs, a haphazard embrace to keep her close when he murmured, " There's no space for me. I'll be fine." It was a quick reassurance, followed by a more urgent, " You and Lanara are my priority. Gylworliath knows where to go, and she'll protect you both."

Talyara doesn't bother to try and stop the tears that begin to drip down her cheeks as Krice turns back to her, embracing her in a haphazard way. She knows he'll be fine, but she didn't know if she would be. For a moment she considers insisting that the warrior leave with Lana, to get her to safety and then come back for her. But she knows the enigmatic swordsman will not leave her near the witch hunters. He needed her to be strong for a little longer. Lanara needed the same. After another trembling squeeze of Krice's hand, Taly looks past him to Hawkwood and his scowl, and she knows their time is running out. Reluctantly, she releases the warrior and turns forward, still crying. "O-okay, Gyl. L-let's g-go..." she says in a shaky voice.

Krice's features were stern and rigid, against the emotions that whirred within him; it broke his heart to see Talyara beaten and upset, afraid of being alone when she just -had- been. Truth be told, the last thing he wanted to do was leave his injured companion to make any kind of journey on her own, without protection or support, but the space on Gylworliath's back was limited, and the two witches were priority. As Talyara tearfully accepted that they would need to separate here, the warrior turned to step up beside the wyvern's head, giving her neck two encouraging pats before he nudged her away. " You know where to go," he murmured. " Take care of them. Fly smooth." The wyvern chittered quietly, her demeanour reflecting her awareness of the situation's seriousness, before she stepped through the shadows toward a clearing from whence she would take to the skies, ascending as level as her aerodynamics would allow.

Krice turned toward Hawkwood thereafter and reached over his bare shoulder to withdraw his katana from its back-mounted sheath, features in an instant devoid of the warmth and concern he had shown toward the witches. " Are there any other prisoners in this camp?" He asked of the supposedly helpful witch hunter, flicking his katana down to an idle angle at his side.

Talyara spares a single glance over her shoulder to look at Krice as Gyl begins to move towards the clearing. In fact, the little witch holds his crimson gaze until the wyvern shifts to begin he ascent into the sky. Taly wraps her arms around Lana and keeps a close hold on her sister for the duration of the flight. How soon would she see Krice again? Would he be alright? Could Hawkwood really be trusted? Had their meager first aid been enough to keep Lana alive? All of these questions plague her already wrought and exhausted mind for the duration of the flight.

Hawkwood's shoulders sag in slight relief when the witches are finally rising higher and higher into the sky until they disappear completely, on their way to safety. His eyes shift back to Krice and despite this being his idea, he can't help but swallow hard when the warrior pulls out his katana and turns to face him. "Only them. I don't know how long the green eyed one was here but I was told to fetch her sister. She put up a good fight," he adds, the ghost of a smirk on his lips.

Krice's fingers flexed lightly around his sword, a casual adjustment of his grip despite the urgency of the situation. At any moment, the other witch hunters could wake and then he'd have no choice but to kill them all; no great loss to the world, but he wanted to return to Talyara without a massacre (deserved or not) on his hands.

Hawkwood's smirk did little for the warrior's impression of him. He had already shifted back into his stoic death-mode, ready to strike down the witch hunter, and Hawkwood's attitude toward the capture of Lanara... helped that, to put it politely. "Across the stomach?" He asked, his body language nonchalant. He didn't bat an eyelash at the chance to injure someone who clearly deserved it.

Hawkwood’s expression sobers just as quickly as it showed amusement at Lana's fight upon seeing the glint in Krice's katana as the warrior shifts the blade. At the clarification of where to cut him, the witch hunter gives a curt nod. "Aye, but remember, not enough to kill me," he reminds the warrior. He had watched the swordsman smash the skull of his comrade, Galath, so he had no qualms that Krice would strike him dead. But this was crucial to the escape plan for he couldn't aid the witches, if more came, if he was dead by Krice's hand or thought a traitor. "I will tell the others they escaped and I tried to stop them."

Krice took only a few seconds to consider... things before he raised his sword. In the next instant, the hunter would feel hot wetness soak the leg of his attire, pouring from a split in the skin that stretched from the inside of his thigh to the out, at the slightest angle up toward his hip. Deep enough to make walking -very- difficult and extend recovery time thereafter, Hawkwood might subsequently find it difficult to walk in search of assistance. Near enough to the camp, he'd be able to call for help. "Let this be a warning," Krice murmured to the fallen hunter. "If you move against the witches again, you will die. Slowly."

Hawkwood believed the slice was going to come across his abdomen as requested--after all he had made the very selfless decision to change ranks and assist the witches in the end, thus endangering his own life in the process. To him, this alone should have been met with praise and gratitude, the act excusing his previous behavior. Like all his fellow witches hunters, he was plagued with an arrogance that in this instance is rewarded with an injury, but not the one he had asked for, rather the cut comes up his thigh and towards his hip. The witch hunter bites the inside of his cheek to prevent a yell of pain which could alert others to their location. Hawkwood curses under his breath as he collapses to the ground, grabbing at his sliced leg, and shoots a glare up at the warrior when he issues his warning. He wants to say something snarky back, about how he would have gotten Taly and Lana out of there on his own if he had to, been the former's hero. However, he is bleeding, that katana is sharp, and he doesn't think the warrior would think twice about snuffing out his life for good. "Go!" he hisses at Krice, pressing his hand against the wound a bit harder, sanguine droplets staining his hands as he does so.

Krice flicked his sword once, depositing Hawkwood's blood on the earth, and sheathed it as he turned to jog away from the scene. Despite the deaths he had caused on his way through the Hunter camp, and the exertion that must have required, the warrior moved soundless and with minimal apparent effort, disappearing into the darkness beyond.