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RP:From Combatant To Combat Expert

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Part of the Through A Glass, Darkly Arc

Part of the Magic, Madness, and Mayhem Arc

Summary: Lanara and her bear cub, Aspen, are attacked in Sage Forest, by three men wielding crossbows. The trio are Cramer's men, witch hunters, and they will stop at nothing, until their target takes her final breath. Using the element of air, the witch is able to send two of the arrows astray, however, one hits its mark and pins her to a tree. Thankfully, Meri is passing through the area, and she springs into action, using her unique skill set to disengage the men, and save her friends life. After seeing the symbol of the silver warhammer, the pair heads to the safety of the animal sanctuary, and Lanara is in the process of being healed, when it dawns on her that she is helpless without her magic. After a brief discussion it's decided that Meri will give lessons in hand-to-hand combat to the witch, and it's also decided that Meri be title the 'combat expert' in the Adventurer's Guild.

Lanara :: The popular clearing, a mere three miles west of the animal sanctuary, is well lit on this sultry evening, both from the moonlight filtering through the trees, and the consistent glow of fireflies circling the area. The forest floor is littered with raccoons and rabbits, all coming out for a quick bite to eat, before scurrying back to their dens. The sound of crickets chirping in the distance, and frogs croaking at the nearby pond, fill the tapered ears of the seemingly sole inhabitant of this area. The witch is wearing a flowing white maxi dress, which touches her ankles, and she’s barefoot, not minding the soft ground and the twigs that crunch underfoot as she makes her way to the familiar bell. Long, chestnut locks flow freely, cascading to the middle of her back, and appear slightly damp, as though she were heading back from the bath house. An offering bowl of rose water is held carefully in her right hand, while her left hand is firmly gripped by a bipedal bear cub. “We’re almost there, Aspen! We’ll set this right beside the bell, and when the moon comes up, the Goddess will bless this water, so it’s all ready for our spell!” Lanara grins at the white cub, who widens his eyes in wonder, as the pair enjoys their trek through Sage Forest. Suddenly, the crickets fall silent, the fireflies seem to vanish in thin air, and the humidity in the air seems to dissipate, leaving a faint chill in its wake. Fog creeps into the area, the shadows don’t seem as inviting as moments before, and Aspen whimpers softly, squeezing his mistress’ hand in fear. Lana wildly scans the area, knowing they are no longer alone, and that’s when the bell begins to toll, causing her to gasp and sidle up against a tree. “Shh…” She whispers to the cub, as he hugs her leg, and peers at the bell, from behind the tree.

Meri is nowhere to be seen, and why would she be? Lanara is not expecting her company. Meri is not the reason that the bell begins to mysteriously chime, this is not some harmless prank from the blonde. There is a culprit causing the bell to ring, and that culprit has managed to duck out of sight before Lanara manages to see his/her cloaked form. They were just meant to be a distraction from the silent attack that is to come. While Lanara is staring at the bell, three figures in all black have nudged their way through the forests, crossbows in hand. All of them are aimed at Lanara and her bear cub, shots are fired indiscriminately at the both of them. None of them are talking, no shouts are being ordered, but Lanara should be smart enough to figure out why these particular individuals are probably after them. There was just a 'discussion' in the forests of Rynvale not long ago about how they should stand up and fight this problem -- somehow, some way.

Lanara shifts so that she’s standing nearer to the clearing, and she gently pushes Aspen behind the safety of her knees. Something was amiss, and she wanted to get to the bottom of it. She had overcome ordeals –much- bigger than bells tolling in her past. This past month alone, she’d become enslaved to Tiberius, had a showdown with a drug kingpin, paid a debt and regained her freedom, lost her beloved familiar, had a prank backfire on her sister, nearly drowned at a pig roast, and attended a witches only meeting in hopes of creating a coven. And that was just the tip of the iceberg that was Lanara’s life! Trouble seemed to follow her, wherever she went, and she sighs, knowing that something was stirring in the forest. The witch narrows her eyes on the bell, sensing that it’s calling to her for some reason, and then it dawns on her, as she can’t catch sight of anyone that could have possibly pulled the heavy rope to make it chime. It was a distraction! The bowl of rosewater falls to the ground with a thump, spilling onto the forest floor. Cursing, she turns at the last second, and arrows begin to wildly whip from the south, aiming directly towards her, with near expert precision. The first hits the tree, landing with a ping as it wildly bobs up and down, stuck in the bark, which was not the bulls-eye. The next narrowly misses her thigh, and Aspen isn’t taking any chances, as he scrambles up the trunk and into the safety of the tall tree. The third arrow, however, hits the target, square in her left shoulder. Lana is pushed back with such force, that it nails her to the tree, intent on keeping her rooted in place, at least until the assailants came to claim their catch. Were they in cahoots with Cramer? Had Skitch sent them to recapture and sell her to another high bidder? Was this a random attack? Dread fills Lana, as she pants and fights to keep calm, blood pooling from the wound and staining her white dress, now a fiery shade of crimson. As the trio moves to load a bolt into each of their crossbows, and to each take a second shot at their target, Lana lifts her right hand, intent on using her wind magic to whip their attack right back in their faces. She was utterly alone, a mother protecting her helpless bear cub, while three cloaked figures took turns aiming in her direction.

Meri :: These men are no fools to the ways of witches, any gesture made by one of those evil beings was not to be trusted. So when Lanara lifts a hand to try and employ her wind magic to stop the next round of shots that are taken at her? That is a sure sign to them that some spell is under way. What sort, they can only guess, but rather than shooting all at once their shots are staggered seconds apart. Lanara would have a harder time fending off three staggered shots with her magic. The element that Lanara specializes in will be a surprise to the witch hunters. Of equal surprise to the witch hunters is that another player is about to enter the battlefield, but she is not going to reveal exactly where amongst the trees she is hidden. Her presence is announced by the sound of an arrow splitting through the arrow followed by the cries of pain from the man whose throat it just sunk into. The two still standing, Lanara's own wind magic willing, will have only the direction the arrow came to help them pin point who might be attacking -them- now. The odds were starting to turn from there favor, was there just one individual out in the forest hunting them? Mysteries. There options were limited, retreating and reporting a failed assassination attempt on the witch was not an acceptable course of action. They could not see who else might be attacking them. They could see a bleeding little witch though who just needs a few more holes put into her and then they might be able to call this a successful mission? So without spending too much time determining their course of action -- it's little more than a split second decision that is not announced by either witch hunter -- crossbows are reloaded and bolts are again loosed at Lanara.

Lanara focuses on her extended hand, her last hope, as she knows she’s fallen victim to three unsavory individuals who wished her far from well. Perhaps, the third time would be the charm, and she’d really end up staying dead. Was it a life well spent? Images of her sister flash before her eyes, and then the animals at the sanctuary, and finally on the few friends that she considered to be kin. She mentally admits her defeat, nearly lowering her hand and quelling the energy that boils beneath her skin, but at the last second, the spirited witch finds a reserve of anger and she casts her spell. The leaves dance along the forest floor, the trees begin to gently sway in the breeze that suddenly drifts into the area, and then a hurricane-like gust erupts from her fingertips and heads straight for those that wish her harm. Aspen clutches the limb tightly, his paws helping him grapple the tree, and hopefully he won’t lose his footing. A piercing cry is heard in the distance, over the rustling of the wind, and Lana quirks a brow, wondering if the wind was so forceful that it caused a severe injury to an attacker. She had been so focused on causing a whirlwind, in hopes to dodge their arrows, that she hadn’t even thought to fight back. Surprise is in her dark gaze for a moment, though she doesn’t see another entering the fray, and assumes she’s still very much alone, save for the polar bear cub, of course. The element of air answers Lana’s call with a fury of debris all rushing towards the face of the second attacker, blinding his vision of the target, and so he shoots wild, the arrow skimming a tree to her far right. However, the third waits to shoot at the woman, the male swallowing hard, knowing that one of his men had likely been murdered by another in the woods. Perhaps another witch killer? He hadn’t counted on the events turning in Lanara’s favor. The vile little witch probably had bodyguards patrolling the area while she was casting her evil spells! He spits on the ground, shaking his head as his comrade fights to see with dirt in his eyes, and he readies the bolt. He was the best sniper in the realm, so taking out an idle target would be a piece of cake. The bow is lifted, his gaze locks onto the little woman’s form, and he prepares to loosen the bolt, in hopes of sending it straight into her wretched witch heart.

Meri :: The assailant that Lanara manages to temporarily blind with her wind magic is the next to meet death by arrow -- but Lanara may not actually notice the body of the second man hitting the earth. Not while she is still locked squarely in the crosshairs of the third hunter's crossbow. She may have already had images of her life flash before her eyes, but that was might be thrown into again. The trigger of the crossbow is pulled back and the bolt is loosed, straight for the witches heart. Were Meri in Lanara's shoes? Those mere moments would feel like an eternity. Lanara is not going to taste the sting of another bolt piercing her skin, not this time. Before the bolt might have hit Lanara, it ends up suspended in midair somewhere between Lanara and the hunter. Sometimes Meri likes to turn the weapon around on the attacker, but not this time. When we started this scene, the bell was the distraction but now it is the arrow. Surely the witch hunter is mildly confused by the fact that his arrow is frozen in midair. Was this the witch that did this? This was not a power that he has seen of witches, but maybe they could levitate things too? The distraction is put to good use to that Meri can put a far more satisfying end to the last of the hunters. It's now that Lanara will finally come to realize who has been helping her because the blonde has managed to sneakily position herself directly behind the final attacker. Tattooed hands reach out, grasping the man's head on both sides by the chin....and then with a twist and a crack he joins his comrades in death and crumples to the earth right in front of Lanara. Meri herself does not seem the least bit upset by what she has just done, like this action may not have been a first, but she does seem to show immediate and genuine concern for Lanara's injuries. "How bad?" she asks as she crouches before the witch, trying to assess her injuries for herself.

Lanara knows that moment has come for her, and she stares at what she assumes will be the final image those breathtaking hues absorb. A crossbow, aimed directly at her chest, wielded by a stranger. Her breathing is erratic, as she panics and prays that once they have finished her off, they leave Aspen alone. He was a little bear cub, and wouldn’t hurt a flea! Blood heavily flows in a steady stream down the front of her dress, the wind causing the spatter to cover her entire torso. Lana looks like she stepped into the closing scene of a horror movie, and she opens her mouth to say something, but her words fall short, and she clenches her jaw, and gives a faint nod. She had won many battles in her time, but she had clearly lost this war. Witches would be hunted, day and night, for the rest of their days. If only they had formed the coven sooner, if only the strength in numbers enabled them to truly fight back, if only she could issue a warning to the other witches that their predators were now hunting in groups. A thousand ‘if only’ scenarios play in her mind, as she closes her eyes, and slumps against the tree, as the male unleashes the bolt. Time seems to stand still, and the arrow doesn’t hit its intended target. The witch remains still, as though expecting another arrow to be loosed, and after a suspended moment, she realizes that she still breathes. One eye opens, and then the other, and she sees that the arrow is frozen in mid-air. What the heck?! Confused, she glances up to check on Aspen, she calls off her spell, and its then that she hears the cracking of bone, and she sees the final attacker, his neck broken, falling to the ground. Relief washes over Lana’s face as she looks up at Meri, tears in her eyes, and only now does she feel the immense pain in her collarbone. “I-I will live. It went through, though… So I need you to pull me off the tree…” She’d need a healer that was for sure, along with a few weeks of rest on her left arm. But, all in all, the psion had saved her life, and she was eternally grateful. “Thank you, Meri… If you hadn’t come when you did… I…” Wincing, she tries to tug out the arrow, but she cries out in pain, and leaves it, as her hand holds a fistful of fresh blood. “You saved my life. And I –really- need to learn to defend myself and not rely on my magic so much.” A pause, as she catches her breath. “Who were they?”

Meri rises back up to her full height and turns the man nearest to her over with the toe of her boot to show a familiar symbol that would show this man belongs to Cramer. "You know about as much as I do about who these guys are." The timing of Cramer's appearance was suspect. After Valrae was brought back to life? Meri did not believe this was just a random group of witch-haters. The arrow that has been suspended midair finally is released from its invisible hold, finding a resting spot on the earth instead. The next two individuals to find their way back to the earth would be Lanara and Aspen. They would not find their way to the earth nearly as fast as the arrow, but their descent would be a smooth and gentle slide with Meri right there to offer support for Lanara. "It's never a bad idea to have a back up plan for 'how to defend yourself'," Meri says to Lanara. "Just in case something happens, like you lose your magic." Which is something Meri does not know that Lanara has dealt with in the past, she does know that Khitti has experienced this predicament before, which is the basis for Meri's opinion on this matter. "Come on, I'm not a healer but I know your sanctuary is just a short walk away. Let's get you there so that...." Meri clearly struggles to find the name of the woman who helps Lanara. "Your right hand at the sanctuary can get you all patched up and taken care of."

Lanara looks as though she’s ready to attack when the male is nudged onto his back, and the silver war hammer symbol stares back, taunting the witch. This was one of Cramer’s lackeys, and they now knew it for certain. They’d have to issue an attack of their own, as a gentle push to karma, in the coming weeks. This was the second time she had personally been attacked, and once she was healed, she would figure out a way to turn the tables on the hunters. “We must tell the others, and quickly. They are now hunting us in packs.” Brown against blue, the two women lock eyes, as Lana whimpers and leans onto Meri for support, once she’s let loose from the tree and the arrow is slipped from her skin. A few splinters of bone cling to the bolt, and the witch does her best not to shudder, as she bunches up her dress and applies pressure to the front hole in her collarbone. Aspen is delighted to be on the earth again, and he looks up at Meri with curiosity evident in his piercing blue eyes. He pads after them, on all fours, eager to head back to the safety of the sanctuary, while Lana grumbles, “I’d rather deal with the witch killers than have Venin tend to my injuries…” Still, despite her protests, the psion, the witch, and the bear cub, all make their way to the sanctuary. Once there, Venin would appear, roll her eyes, and head off to find some medical supplies. The ill-mannered caretaker was used to catering to the injured animals, but the thought of stitching up her employer leaves a sour taste in her mouth. Puckering her lips, she douses the front and rear exit wound with saline, as Lana is forced to lie atop a metal table in the infirmary. Still clutching to Meri’s hand, Lana gives her a gentle squeeze, and looks up at her friend, trying to ignore Venin’s constant scoffing and the pain that is so bad it’s causing her entire arm to go numb. Still speaking through a clenched jaw, Lana asks, “How are the dogs doing? And Callum?” Venin’s eyes light up at the mention of Cal, and she pauses in the packing of the wound, before receiving a glare from Lana, and returning to the task at hand. Moving on, Lana would inquire, “I… I have been silenced twice before. It’s terrible being defenseless… And I have a huge adventure coming up for the Guild, too! I pray my arm is better before that…” Another slight pause, as those dark hues shift to the side, and she considers, “Meri… -You- could give me lessons in combat, right? And! And… Maybe others, too? We need someone with your abilities in the Adventurer’s Guild. And of course, you’d be rewarded on quests, and I would pay you for personal lessons.”

Meri did not look like she was settling in for a long, heart to heart conversation with Lanara once they made it back to the sanctuary. It was a long night for the witch, once Venin was finished patching the woman up, Lanara would probably want her rest, so Meri speculated. But that was not the only reason, as Meri would go on to explain. "Hurt. He is back home resting and recovering and probably wondering what is taking me so long to get back to him." He is not nearly as comfortable with being without Meri's company as he was prior to these witch attacks. This meant that Meri was eager to get back to the Catalian, it also meant that Lanara was especially lucky that Meri even happened upon her at all. "I was only supposed to be running a couple of errands." Thoughts of Cal fretting back at their home are pushed to the back of her mind in favor of the current conversation. "-You- do not need to pay me for anything." Meri is always happy to plunder loot with friends, she'd be happy to charge those she does not count as friend for lesson. But friends paying her? She was a stubborn woman and she would have none of that nonsense. "But I would be happy to help you, others in the Adventurer's Guild, and I would be happy to join up. I was meaning to speak with you about it at the picnic but there was just so much going on that we did not have a chance." A beat. "And you are right. I think our talk in Rynvale was not serious enough. I think the matter was treated too lightly. We need a better plan. This is the third attack that I know of..." Meri frowns. "The others should know." Another beat. "Khitti was thinking perhaps the Adventurer's Guild could help, your more trusted members could offer protection to witches and maybe we could try and uncover information to hopefully help put a stop to these attacks once and for all."

Lanara turns her head to cast a pained glare at Venin, as the woman begins to suture the wound, though she leaves a few of the threads loose, so they could remove the packing of medicinal herbs in a few days. It would likely leave a scar, though possessing magic, and having friends that were gifted with the ability to do some pretty tattoos, Lana isn’t too concerned. She senses that Meri wishes to be gone as soon as she’s back on her feet, and she can’t blame the blonde. It had been an eventful night, and her fiancé was eagerly awaiting her arrival. “Hurt? Is it serious?” Concerned about a fellow witch, she lifts her head to gauge the severity of Cal’s injuries. The fact that she wouldn’t have to pay for self-defense lessons makes her grin, though she makes no comment. Lana rarely charged anyone for dance lessons, and her close friends that adopted an animal from the sanctuary had their adoption fees waived. She wasn’t out to make gold, she was merely answering the call, and sharing her gift with others. “We would be happy to have you amongst our ranks. I… I think you’d be an excellent Combat Expert. I’ve seen you in the field on more than one occasion. And this is the –second- time you’ve saved my life. I really wish we wouldn’t make a habit of putting ourselves in this position.” That faint grin eases into a smirk, as she studies Meri. The psion would be a fine addition to the Adventurer’s Guild, one that could be trusted, and one who Lana held in high regard. “I’ll stop by your house in the morning, but I won’t come in and disturb Cal, as he’s resting. I’ll slip the key to the meeting room beneath your door, along with a rare gift, that is given to our most esteemed members.” The conversation shifts to a darker topic, and the smirk is wiped from Lana’s full lips, as she nods in agreement. “Of course we could help. Maybe we can do some research… Find some safe havens around the realm. Bring others to our cause, and spread word of the racism towards our kind and how it is so unfair… I’m happy to mention it at the next guild meeting, and Khitti and you can speak about it, too.”

Meri bobs her head in a nod. It seemed fitting to loop Khitti into the conversation -- and they would obviously offer to approach the elusive Valrae to pitch their ideas too, more than likely. Either way, something had to be done. Look at Lanara and Callum. "I'm pretty convinced that it comes with the lands that we live in. Even hermits are probably not safe from trouble, I am sure of it." Meri says in reference to the positions that Lanara and Meri often find themselves in. "I would be happy to take on the role of Combat Expert. And whenever you are healed up and ready, we can start your lessons. Don't feel obligated to come straight away tomorrow, you need to rest as well..." Meri does not feel the need to emphasize that only Lanara is welcome. It's known that Cal and Meri are particular who know of their home, and that feeling is only heightened given the circumstances. "But when you do come by, if Cal is awake? I am sure that he would appreciate you stopping in and saying hi." A smile to Lanara is given, hoping to convey the sincerity of this statement. Cal sorely wanted at least one other witch friend, the Catalian was feeling lost in that respect and Meri could not help him with anything. "I'll show myself out and I will see you soon." For the record, Meri is straight snubbing Venin. Like she has not made eye contact once, straight snub. It's not like Venin does not deserve it.