RP:A Leopard Can't Change Its Spots and a Giant Invisible Jaguar Can't Change Its Runes

From HollowWiki

This is a Mage's Guild RP.

Summary: Karasu, Lanlan, and Quintessa head to Rynvale to discover what's causing people to go missing in the fog forest. Obviously they got lost and eaten by feral lycans right? WRONG! It's an invisible giant jaguar! They also find a lycan, but it gets dumped on by the jaguar who then tries to dump on the three mage minions. They subdue it eventually, and Karasu chickens out when it's time to murder it. It's okay though Quintessa saves the day by cutting its head off. Karasu sad wahh!

Lanlan intercepted a call to investigate another missing persons. This time, it was in Rynvale, Karasu was ACTUALLY here with him, and he wasn't the reason. That being said, why did he volunteer? Rynvale was far. The truth is, he didn't know why. Something told him it would be good for him if he did, so he got on a boat. And Karasu? Maybe he dragged Karasu along was because he murdered someone and covered it up with "her" as his accomplice. If secrets leaked, it might be good to have a rapport with her. "I'm sorry," he began, his voice breathy and rhythmic, "to have brought you to Rynvale. As it happens, Rynvalians are some of the ugliest and stupidest people in the world. Truthfully. Why, they can't even figure out what happens when someone goes missing in the fog forest." He smiled pompously while looking straight into the swirling mist, "It's -always- a lycan. Still, I think I'll be counting on you." It was early in their friendship so he was only a little smarmy. He barely acknowledged Quintessa at first, aka Daath's apprentice. But eventually his smile withers and he turns to her with narrowed eyes. "In your case, I think Karasu and I can only pray. That the impotent oaf you call a master has taught you something worthwhile." His stare lingered inquisitively, but ultimately he'd snort and start moving into the forest.

Quintessa is really here for Karasu, the hexblade ordered to offer extra support by her Magister Daath during this assignment. She crosses her arms, a sneer growing because of Lanlan's cold reception. What was it with drow anyways? "If you must know," she begins, ready to defend herself, "I was ordered here to make sure -you- didn't mess anything up, so don't try to pit Su-su and I against one another. Our rivalry is healthy enough as it is, thank you." The changeling didn't even know this person yet her heckles had already been raised. She slowly remembers what she was told last night and the teenager cools down a bit. " She stomps after him, staring a hole into the back of his head. The fog here was thick, but her haggish eyesight would aid her in seeing through it better than some mere human's eyes could. She wouldn't let this little man bother her anymore than he already had, she decides, and her mismatched eyes drift away to take in her surroundings. Rynvale was creepier than the books said it would be, and she found comfort in that.

Karasu glanced over at Quintessa with a disgusted glare and a point to the haughty half-elf while he was turned away as if to ask "Is he serious?" This silent language had become commonplace between the girls as they dealt with their newfound apprenticeship. The hobbit-sized warrior had only come along since she had been trying like a good little student to be friendly with all the guild members, and Lanlan would avert his eyes and excuse himself every time she came by. There was no way she would let this opportunity slip by, even if it came at the cost of some residual seasickness. "Well if it's ONLY a lycan," She starts, sarcastically mimicking his emphasis, "then I guess we're fine since my swords are coated in silver, aren't we? Besides, isn't that one really good runesmith from Rynvale?" She asks as she steps over fallen branches, having remembered reading something about that in the post. The thick haze of the forest is little worse than the morning fog in the Xalious forests in winter, and barely fazes her. At least, that's what she tells herself as her feline ears swivel every which way to pick up on the faintest of sounds.

Lanlan became visibly affronted, as if the words hit him in the back. He even stumbles a bit and catches himself with a white gloved hand against his black shirt. Such harsh words must've nearly stopped his heart! "I would never! I would never try to do anything so underhanded! Based on what I've heard of Karasu," he says with earnest eyes in her direction, "I have nothing but respect." Then he would continue attempting to guide them. It would be a meandering walk, filled with delays. He'd walk from gnarled tree to embedded boulder to decaying stump, stopping and referring to a notebook each time. On every page was a doodle and a note, leading them via landmarks to the heart of the fog forest. Being half wood elf didn't count for much here. "Yes! Silver, of course!" He beamed at Karasu. "I knew you'd be well prepared for this endeavor." Lanlan blanked at the mention of a really good runesmith, but it was hard for him to admit to another's talents even if he did know. "It can't be that good if I've never heard of him. The important thing now," he says without drawing his scarlet eyes from his drawings, "Is that we remain ever vigilant." It was getting very frustrating for him, but he could see Quintessa was moving about fine. "What are you doing, Apprentice," he abruptly, resentfully demands of Quintessa. "If you're able to see through this abhorrent mist, you should be guiding us." He thrusts his notebook in her direction and waits for her to take it. One way or another though, they'd make it to the heart, where there was a strangely out of place tree, glowing like a beacon. As if stalking this place, a feral lycan prowls, bent on all four limbs and an excess of blood dripping from its maw. It approaches menacingly, paw by paw, a droning growl rattling through the trio.

Quintessa give Karasu a look bearing the meaning "I know, right?" the two constantly practicing their wordless communication at the Mage's tower when they should be listening to other people talk to them. By this point it was a second language for the hex blade. When Lanlan finally notices that Quintessa can see better in the fog she doesn't grumble when she is told to lead. On the contrary, her tone does a 180, "Oh- Of course." Pale fingers obediently take the notebook and she begins to lead the party deeper into the mist. "Let's stay close. Karasu, if you have silvered blades I'd like you by my side. I don't want some mangy mutt to get the drop on us- Wait!" She holds up her hand after seeing something big moving through the unnaturally thick mist. When she sees the eyes growing closer she franticly turns to the group, "The beast approaches," she warns with a whisper, her hand moving to the hilt of her mundane, steel katana. "Apprentice, you're going to have be the one to slay him. I will do my best to point him out for you and give a clear line of sight. And you?" She looks to Lanlan, "Do whatever you think is necessary." By now Quintessa can see the Lycan's obscured form getting ever closer and she knows she has to do something to aid the others, "He's. Right. THERE!" Her free hand gestures with practiced perfection as a firebolt forms midair and screams in the direction of the werewolf. Fire temporarily evaporates the mist from around its form before fizzing past its head, colliding with a tree which bursts into even more flames. She hopes this will be a good enough opportunity for the others to strike.

Lanlan hurriedly interposed his xalious wood staff before him and the creature, jabbing it into the mud. While Quintessa blasted her firebolt, he whipped his other hand and a glass wand appeared from out of his sleeve. As if through a prism, he channeled magic from his wand through the gnarled crook of his staff, and giant manacles attached to silver balls appeared. The lycan, now distracted by the sudden smoldering blast, couldn't react to the manacles. They snapped around each of his limbs. Though it was only an illusion, the werewolf would momentarily be convinced of its own inability to act. A perfect opening for Karasu and Quintessa. Perhaps. But a perfect opening for something else too. In invisible force erupts out of the mist and falls on the lycan. Lanlan can see nothing but the result: the lycan's skull being brutally punctured and crunched, killing it nearly instantly, and the depression of the ground with its footsteps. The monster can't be seen conventionally, but Lanlan's friends had other means of detection. The subtle padding of a great cat prowling through the woods was a clue. Ethereal runes that covered its body, nearly impossible for most people to see, were another. It's an animal. Probably the biggest jaguar you've ever (not) seen, big enough to prey on lycanthropes! Once the lycan was dead, it turned on the trio lest you attempt to steal its prey, or was it pure bloodthirst? All three mage's guild minions are in its range. It doesn't hesitate. It pounces high, calamitously crashing through branches like they were chopsticks and landing with a roar. If they can't evade or somehow alter its course, it'll slash through them with dagger sized hooking claws.

"You're the senior here, aren't you? Shouldn't you have like a spell or something to see through the mist with? Don't you--" She starts to argue, then recoils, covering her nose. "Ugh! Alright, it stinks like mutt around two o'clock of us, what do you see?" The feline regards Quintessa, and outright ignoring whatever retorts Lanlan can make back at them. The fireball soars over her head, warming up the tips of her ears as she draws her silver katanas. "Ah. That works. Ignem sacrum--" CRUNCH. What remains of the lycan drops to the floor, its blood spilling down the slight slope to pool at the trio's feet. Karasu stutters in trying to start the chant again. "Ign-n-n-Ventus!!" She abandons the first spell and thrusts one sword outward as if it were a wand. The surrounding wind immediately picks up, somehow circumventing her allies as to not sweep them off her feet, yet billowing with enough force to make the creature side-step to gather its footing. "Ignem sacrum Xalious praesidio!" The feline jabs the other sword into the ground, and sapphire flames burst forth. Like the winds refused to hinder her guildmates, the fire does not burn the forest floor, nor does it dissipate the mist the way Quintessa's fire spell did. Instead, it lurches forward, bee-lining to the invisible target and creating a enclosure of magical flames. She was unsure of how high the creature could jump, but it certainly would not be able to step forward without being burnt.

Quintessa cannot believe what she's seen for a moment. One second she was plotting against a lycan and the next she is watching its head split open like an overripe watermelon. Curiosity distracts her only long enough to notice that something big, and something invisible was closing in fast. The changeling thanks whatever vague ideas of divinity she can come up with that Karasu had the quickness and tenacity to react to this new enemy. "I-I can't see it," she admits, lacking the ability to detect foes by scent, but she -could- see the fresh corpse not too far behind the enchanted jaguar. A devious grin spreads across the young woman's face as she flings Lanlan's notebook to the dirt. Slender hands reach deep into her dark, bloodstained robes until she finds what she had hidden inside. A scroll! Quickly unfurling it she begins to chant the incantation "Codi o farwolaeth a ' m gwasanaethu i! Codi o farwolaeth a ' m gwasanaethu i!" The area begins to dim as her voice echoes through the trees, the scroll's infused dark energies summoned by her command words. Black tendrils creep out from Quintessa like the spindly legs of a demonic spider, seeking out the dead body of the lycan in an attempt to animate its still bleeding corpse. "Codi o farwolaeth a ' m gwasanaethu i! Codi o farwolaeth a ' m gwasanaethu i!" She continues to chant, her voice growing distorted and strange. While she was casting this she was completely vulnerable, and she knows it, so she does this safely behind Karasu, who she trusted would protect her if things got dicey. "Codi o farwolaeth a ' m gwasanaethu i!" she screams one last time, the lycan corpse shuddering before it jerks up on its hind legs, the brain matter dripping down what was left of its face like an ooze.

Lanlan would nearly panic in confusion, and his long spidery eyebrows would twitch. They informed him of something he should've already known: something MAGICAL happened! And he hears the growl and the roar, so he magically activates his infrared sight. For most drow it was effortless, he was but half. It took learning. He sees for the first time the enemy he thought they were hunting. Before it imminently crashes into him and slashes him to pieces, he jerks his staff out of the mud, and gives it a couple wiggles until its rigid form seems bendy. He holds it tightly as he whips it over his shoulder, and it stretches long and thin like a chameleon's tongue, looping over a branch behind him and snapping short again, him yanked along with it. Lanlan couldn't save them! Unless they grabbed on but he would hate that. Its pounce came up empty, and the roaring snarl of disappointment echoes through the forest as the air around it spontaneously combusts and forms a cage. It dips a paw into the mysterious blue flame before rearing back with a sharp, guttural growl. Somehow, the beast seems to have taken this personal! With some sort of intelligence, it calculates a strategic move. It retreats a step, still within the fire, and curls its claws into the dirt for leverage. It winds up for a moment, then thunderously slams its hooked paw into the thick trunk of a tree next to it. Once, twice, three times it slaps. Each time splinters and chunks of wood swarm with quickness toward the mages intending to batter and blind and perforate them with flying mulch. It seems to wait, almost as if its appraising the damage it might have inflicted? But no. It leaps almost straight up out of the flames to crash into the tree. Latching onto it with its hooks. It creaks, groans, and snaps before beginning to lean towards the mages. The plan was to ride it all the way down, but the first inkling of something being amiss, is when the misshapen head and jaws of the zombie lycan vice onto it's hindquarters. Suddenly surprised and suffering it relinquishes a hooked claw to deal with its undead, vengeful prey. And it falls. Hard, back into the flames. Its invisible fur catches and it jerks itself back to its legs and it tumbles through the flames, twisting desperately to shake the lycan off its but. Finally it whips its hindquarters, slamming the lycan's body into a tree. It goes spinning into the woods. The jaguar resumes its hunt of the mages, unaware of the still snarling wolf head attached to its butt. When the dust clears around the tree it pushed down on its enemies. It sees all three of them, looking unharmed and ready for a fight, glowing with magical auras of the blue fire Karasu produced. Its only an illusion though, cast by Lanlan while he hides behind a tree.

Karasu is forced to lower her head and take her eyes off the beast to avoid the splintering wood flying forth. A pained grunt escapes her as the thick shards scrape against her exposed head. The rest of body deflects most of the damage with the brass armor she usually wears. She looks up and is initially confused by the crashing above head. It is not until she sees the tree itself falling forward does she act, yanking her sword from the ground and fleeing to a safe distance with what feline speed she has. "Quinn!" She realizes only afterwards that she has become separated from her ally. But, there's an opening! With the wolf head attached and the blackened burnt fur, she can see where she would have to strike! The jaguar also seems to be focused elsewhere. She looks around fervently to see if her allies are safe, but the fog is too dense to see what the creature sees. Without Lanlan nearby, she has no way of knowing that the creature sees nothing, and thus assumes one of her allies must be ahead. With a curse under her breath, she drops to one knee and unsheaths the throwing daggers that line the inside of her heeled boot. On the blades are inscriptions of lightning runes. Should they hit, they should do well to electrocute the beast, or at a minimum send enough volts to render the individual limbs useless.

Quintessa is so focused on her spell that she loses track of the flow of the battle. Her lycan zombie acts on instinct and a slight cackle is emitted from the hex blade as she lets the now inert parchment slip from her fingers to join the notebook on the ground below. It isn't until Karasu shouts her name does Quintessa look up to see what was happening. She moves just in time to escape the falling tree but she is still knocked to the ground from the force of the impact. Her body spins as it hits the ground, rolling a bit through the brush and debris before she comes to a stop on her stomach. She growls as she stands to her feet, but she doesn't let her hatred consume her. Instead she remains calm, slowly forcing herself to a knee to reassess the battlefield. Mismatched eyes narrow slowly as she spots her undead lycan head snarling, still attached to the invisible foe. This is the clue she needs. While it was distracted with Lanlan's illusions she would focus all of her wrath into a single curse. Her eyes begin to glow a faint purple as a crushing aura of despair and oppression formed around the jaguar outlining it a sinister black quintessence, causing misfortune to stain its soul. Not only would this curse discern the location of the big cat, but it would also make the remained of this battle more difficult for it.

Lanlan forces his versions of himself and the apprentices to engage the creature. They brandish distracting flamboyant swords wrapped in blue flames and swing, but always miss, evading attacks while never getting hit. But he can't stop looking, it requires constant attention. To make the fake versions of themselves appear more realistic to the trio, he has them engage in conversation while they fight. "Babu dabu doingle!" Meows Karasu. "Sha bada pa!" Responds Quintessa in a baby voice. "Hingo min ya," responds fake Lanlan full of conviction. This situation is too urgent for Lanlan to think of actual things they would be saying, so the illusions manifest voices all on their own. Still, so realistic. The distraction proves elegant enough to dissuade the jaguar from noticing Karasu throw daggers at it, and they strike. While it bats at the elusive illusions, one lodges into the forelimb holding its face up. The other stings a hamhock and it flops on the ground, its bulk insupportable with only two limbs. For a while it writhes and struggles, then groans and slows as the curse interferes with its will. If Karasu can possibly empathize with feline noises, she'll recognize this groan as being very sad. Lanlan won't however, and will instead press advantage! The versions of the trio stand in front of its collapsed frame and start stabbing it with their burning needle point swords, striking with the power of pure imagination! blood dribbles down each puncture, and the great beast is truly convinced its dying. Tired, resigned, it closes its eyes.But without it being able to see the effects of the illusion, the perceived damage abates. "What're you waiting for!? Finish it!"

Karasu inches forward when the despairing groan rumbles from its chest. "Hey... Hey, hey, hey, stop, I think we're good." She calls out to the others. "Let me see if I can talk to it." Her felinese is rough around the edges, but she can at least attempt to make conversation. First, though, she makes sure she's at a safe distance from its paws. In a dialect that neither Lanlan and Quintessa can understand, she calls out to the feline and asks if it is done trying to maul them, then lets it know they will not injure it further if it tells her what is going on.

Quintessa doesn't believe what she's seeing when Karasu asks for mercy. After a few purrs and pits and patters later, the hexblade is convinced this is some kind of ploy. Of course this is a mindless beast and should be slaughtered without impunity! This was simply a clever distraction. Tess would have to tell Su-su what a great idea this was later. A toothy grin grows on her face, pulling the skin of her face into a horrifying expression as she rises to her feet. Her katana is slowly freed from it's sheath as she stalks closer, the changeling almost invisible in the thick fog. The only hint of her existence beyond her shadowed form is the glint of steel as her blade is lifted in the air. The jaguar in question looks at Karasu with hidden understanding, its eyes looking into hers, trying to find a way to express its suffering. Does this creature speak? Is it really a magical beast and not a mindless monster? It seems as though these questions would be answered until Quintessa's grinning silhouette appears from the fog and brings the tempered steel blade of her katana down through the neck and spinal column of the large jaguar, ending its life swiftly and painlessly. Its head drops to the forest floor as its body fall slack. The hex blade places her foot upon the corpse triumphantly, her katana resting against her shoulder. "Got `em!" She calls out to her allies, "All clear!"

Lanlan puzzles over Karasu, because how could they ever let this thing live? It was clearly the beast responsible for the missing people. Just kidding he doesn't care. It tried to hurt Lanlan though, and was now at their mercy. One or the other might allow an exemption, but both? No. Luckily for him Quintessa shows not one smidge of misplaced sympathy, and Lanlan's dismay is instantly reversed into jubilation as she decapitates it. He steps out from his hiding place. "Well," he says to Quintessa, already regretful of what he's about to say, "you've shown your conviction, and dare I say, it isn't something Daath taught you. Hm." As the life leaves the giant jaguar's body, whatever magic was making it invisible ceases, and it shows its spots. Only, in place of spots, are glyphs, runes. Somehow, this creature was born and the pattern its coat took created a permanent spell for invisibility. There was only one thing left to do. "Skin it," he says to Karasu, who he thought needed to redeem herself, "we should attempt to learn how this creature came to be. And besides, an invisibility cloak made from a jaguar's spots is not only useful...it's fashionable."

Karasu stands motionless as blood gathers under the soles of her boots, her eyes fixated on the spot where herself and the jaguar had previously been eye-level. It had told her it was seeking revenge, but now she would never know for what. Her face is pale as she absently stares at the corpse. Oh. That's right, they mentioned this during her training. Never negotiate with the enemy. But... was this the enemy? Some wrong had been committed, a moral injustice that may or may not be resolved now. "I was getting... information from it. They were surrendering." Karasu is speaking, she knows that she is, yet the concept of speaking seems so foreign to her now. Her eyes drift down to her feet. The lovely tanned hide was turning red. Karasu would never know. Her heart wouldn't stop pounding. Had it always been this loud? 'Skin it.' Empty hazel eyes look over to the half-drow that spoke the words, then back to the jaguar. The spots looked so much like the ones on her own tail. Had Lanlan ever skinned a drow? Or an elf? Was she hyperventilating? Ah, there was blood on her shoes. Whose blood was this? "I-I have to..." Karasu takes a step back, then another. Before either of them can stop her, she's sprinted a dozen or so yards away before collapsing to her knees to retch.

Quintessa drags her katana through the dirt as she follows behind her friend. "It's okay, dearest," she says in a voice that is too sweet to be hers. The pleasantness of it sounds off and creepy coming from one such as this hex blade. "When Vakmatharas beckons so do we all answer his call." Her sword falls behind her as she knees down to trace up the half-feline's spine with her unnaturally sharp fingernails. "And it ANYBODY threatens you the way that animal did," she whispers, her voice harsh and twisted, "I'll send them to Vakmatharas myself." The changeling smiles at her as she pats her back, "It's just a little er- battle fatigue." She calls back to Lanlan who she was sure would not approve of this, "I'll skin it in Karasu's stead. We cannot allow a specimen like this to go to waste."

Lanlan frowns as Karasu falters, "What in he world are you talking about, you silly little girl? This was a man-eater." There was no way for him to comprehend her perspective. She perceived this creature as a victim? Lanlan tucks his gloved hands under his arms as Karasu darts away, and then Quintessa follows. No, he's never skinned anything. Not because it isn't nice, but because it's very, very messy. As he strains to listen to Quintessa and Karasu, something Quin says rings familiarity in his head. It's almost like something he's said to Gevurah recently. For a moment, his heart melts. Then he recalls his personal plight and it regenerates, twisted and calcified. "Battle fatigue?" He stomps over to them both, kneeling beside Karasu as if to aid in the consolation. "I'm sorry, Karasu, I shouldn't have asked you to do that. No, no, you're delicate! You shouldn't be asked to do unsavory things, leave that to the strong ones. No, you stay here and weep for the man-eater, Quintessa will do your job." He doesn't want to, but he nods approvingly at Quintessa. She's making things easier for him.

Karasu trembles as Quintessa attempts to console her. This was all wrong, it was all wrong. "Wasn't... threatening..." She starts between gaps, when Lanlan comes over and chastises her. While he speaks, she continues to stare at the ground, the bile mixed with the runoff blood. Her people were human eaters once. She was a man eater. She was half-human, though. What did that make her? The bit of skin on her neck that shows beneath the curls begins to pulse, faintly at first. "Because it had allegedly eaten a human, it deserved to be executed." Another curl slides off her neck to hang down. Had there always been a lump behind her neck? "Interrogating it is fruitless, since we clearly serve humans. It didn't occur to you that we were in lycan territory? Why would a jaguar, even an enchanted one, be roaming freely here?" Throb. "Jaguars live in jungles, not forests. Anyone with a basic knowledge of felines would know that those descended from their line have no interest in killing what they can't eat." She rises to her feet, looking at up Lanlan. "It said it was seeking revenge. Now we don't get to know for what, because mindlessly killing what you deem is appropriate is easier for you than to find out the truth." Without breaking eye contact, she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. "For all you know, whatever is happening here, you've just made it worse."

Quintessa lifts her sword and returns it to the sheath it was drawn from. Silently, the changeling watches Karasu talk. Was she right? Had Tessa acted too hastily? She frowns, wishing she had a better sense of morality so she could understand her friend's plight. It pained her to see her this way and she would do anything to change it. "I- I can't undo it." she seems terrified by this fact, that something was done that couldn't be undone. "I can't fix this." Her voice is but a whisper. "Everyone was right about me." Her gaze flickers to Karasu again and she stares an the pulsing bit on her neck. Had that always been there? Slender fingers reach out to touch it without even asking for permission, her base curiosity overriding her mind as a defense mechanism. Lanlan has to wait a moment longer for his pelt, it seems.

Lanlan couldn't possibly understand her turmoil. This was all so simple! "You're right! Maybe it didn't eat any humans. Maybe that lycan it killed did!" He shrugs. Truthfully all her points were valid. This jaguar was clearly unnatural here, and whatever had it placed, whether on purpose or through some messy experiment, was still out there. "Maybe all that's true," he says boredly, "Then this was an invasive species, and we've preserved the balance of this silly forest." There was no passion in his argument, because he didn't like this forest. If it all went up in flames, fine. He'd never have to come back. He stared back at her momentarily, until eventually it's a little too intense. He covers up his retreat by drawing a handkerchief out of his pocket though, and lobbing it in her direction while he turns away callously. "What's done is done. Clean yourself up and hope they don't summon us back any time soon." He sighs and looks to Quintessa, she was saying something under her breath and looking anguished, then back to Karasu. "Right! She's the one who killed it! Why're you mad at me?" Back to Quintessa again, "And now you don't want its pelt either? Fine. I'm finished with this tedious forest." He pulls out a blank scroll, one he'd use to make forgeries or disperse propaganda. Tonight had a more artistic purpose. He flicked his wrist again and produced his glass wand. After a brief enchantment, it began to work, copying a replica of the jaguar and its many spots. While the scroll and wand fluttered about busily, he returned his attention to the wimpy girls. "If you really feel that bad? Bury it."

Karasu looks like she has half a mind to skin the half-drow in the moment. Luckily for him, any rash decision she may have been about to take while her hand drifted to her sword was interrupted by cold fingers on her neck. The lump, which had looked almost like it was going to emerge, retreats back into her muscle, leaving no trace of its being save for the birthmark. A red tint for a split moment, is visible when they lock eyes, but it quickly fades away. As much as Karasu wanted to be upset with Quintessa, she just... couldn't be. Something about her demeanor was undoubtedly setting off red flags, but she was still her friend. The peace offering of the handkerchief bounces off her armor and floats onto the floor, where she makes no effort to pick it up. "Thank you for saving me, Tess. It could have been a trap, for all I know." Karasu withdraws a dagger from one of the hiding places in her armor and wipes her eyes with her clean hand. "Will you excuse me?" She says quietly to her fellow apprentice. Without warning, she turns on her heel and lands an extremely satisfying kick on Lanlan. With a shaky smirk, she steps away and over to the jaguar's head. She closes the eyes of its decapitated head with a quiet apology in the shared feline language. "I'll skin it. But once it's been researched, it's mine." She adds coldly.

Quintessa looks like she is about to cry with happiness when Karasu thanks her for saving her, "I didn't know... I-I just wanted to protect you like you protected me from the false Fire-elemental. I owe you my life Karasu and I will spend it trying to repay you." She blinks blankly when the feline kicks Lanlan and it takes a moment before her girlish giggling is uncontrollable. "Wait! Let me help you," she calls, scurrying after her, "It was I who landed the last blow so let me bear some of the responsibility. I owe this creature that much dignity at least."

Lanlan has no idea about the lump, or what it means. It could be that Quin helped him avoid getting hurt. Who knows? "Ugh," groans Lanlan as he rolls his eyes dramatically.The whining was enough. The drippy, sappy moment the apprentices share was too far. With his eyes rolled all the way back to his brain he's flatfooted when Karasu kicks him, suddenly he's on his knees in the blood, vomit, and mud. His handkerchief was useless. It fell in the mud he wasn't picking it up. He leans on his staff for support when he goes upright again. "Yes both of you help." He taps the staff in the mud and whispers a simple spell, and the decapitated head seems to come alive in Karasu's hands. "Why, Karasu," the decapitated head sobs, "Why Quintessa? I thought we could be friends I was only pretending to try to eat you! Why did you kill me!?" And magical imaginary tears coagulate to the size of half-dollars and pour endlessly from its eyes. Lanlan's wand and parchment fly back into his pockets when they're done, and he taps his staff again. The jaguar's head returns to obvious deadness, and Lanlan appears to vanish. "Find your own way back," his voice echoes from around them, and Lanlan would invisibly struggle to make it out of the Fog Forest on his own.