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Everything posted by Zor

  1. Anders [ Near the Gateway ] Anders had no idea what a “lycanrock” was, nor did he know why someone would ask to stick their hands by such large teeth. It wasn’t as if Keaton had tried to hurt him or anything, but he was clearly able to deal some damage if he so wished. Rayla hadn’t even spent more than five minutes with Keaton, so Anders was beginning to question her self-preservation instincts. He stiffened as Rayla reached down to her hips, but she didn’t withdraw a weapon. Instead, she pulled out some sort of red, box-like object. She showed the box to Keaton - apparently there was a drawing of a lycanroc on it? A swell of irritation rose up within him, and he wasn’t entirely sure why. Perhaps it was because he was sore from fighting, or because he had barely slept in the past few days (hardly unusual), or because he was jealous and hadn’t been able to pet a cat in months. Unlikely. Keaton seemed more dog-like than anything, and Barkspawn made sure that he did more than enough dog petting. The lack of action or meaningful discussion began to make Justice restless, and Anders couldn’t disagree. “Sorry to interrupt,” he said, returning his staff to his back and crossing his arms. “But I feel as though some things should be higher on our priority list than petting each other. Like finding out where we are.” Truth be told, Anders didn’t have much of a plan either. He still didn’t want to get caught up in another world-saving organization, but it didn’t look as though there was anywhere else to go. Picking a direction and walking seemed to be the only option, but that plan didn’t have a very high probability of success. Maybe he'd survive blowing up the Chantry, then die of starvation out in the wilderness.
  2. Teryn [ let's fight ] Teryn narrowed her eyes and opened her mouth to reply, but she was cut off by Monica’s interruption. How rude; she wasn’t finished with the snake. Blood rushed through her ears, pounding down to her fingertips and spreading adrenalin throughout her body. A battle of words was still a battle, and Teryn’s veins sang with the prospect of a fight. If Monica wanted to get between them, then Teryn was happy to switch targets. “Why should I?” she said, matching Monica’s glare. It was not a refusal, but a question. Her voice maintained a hint of stubbornness and anger, but it was dominated by curiosity. She wouldn’t mind helping if Monica was able to give her an acceptable reason to - they were both fighting the Entity, after all - but she wasn’t interested in following commands. “I have activities to do also.” It was mostly a lie, given how she hadn’t been doing anything before, but that wasn’t the point. She tried to keep her gaze trained on Monica, but her eyes betrayed her and flicked around the room. It was a useful habit for keeping aware of one's surroundings, but it was less useful in situations such as this. The snake was doing some kind of inverted sit-ups, which hardly made any sense. From the ease at which she moved her heavily-muscled body, Teryn doubted that she needed to work on her abdomen any more. Was she trying to show off? It wouldn’t be that surprising - K’lee’s mind was strange - but if anything, Teryn was amused. The natural abilities of one’s species were hardly impressive.
  3. Teryn [ rude bird ] Teryn was bored. She didn’t know where Ryo or Basil were. Well, that was a lie. Basil was probably hiding in his room again, but the bedrooms were too small for her to want to spend more time than necessary in them. Besides, he deserved his privacy. As much as Teryn wished to spend as much time as possible with her friends, she was willing to keep her distance if that’s what they wanted. They deserved some space. Absently, she drew her hand through the air. A trail of snowflakes followed it, and she felt the air around her drop by a few degrees. It was better for training rooms to be kept cold so that people wouldn’t overheat, and a bit of practice never hurt. Hearing a noise outside the room, she cocked her head to face the door. It was a heavy sound, so unlike the footsteps of everyone else, and Teryn knew whom it was immediately. Without missing a beat she extended her legs, launching her body into the air. There wasn’t much space to hide in the training room, but a rack of practice weapons was enough to conceal her slim form. Her wings flared and her feathers caught the air, changing the direction of her movement and letting her land behind the rack with only a click of claws. She was rather proud of how quickly and silently she’d managed to pull off the whole maneuver. The snake entered a second later, her heavy body dragging itself across the ground. Teryn wrinkled her nose; she couldn’t stand K’lee, and had hidden for a reason. Her entire demeanor was creepy- the way that she looked at James when she thought that no one was watching, the evasive way she refused to answer when prodded about her past, her bloodthirstiness. It wasn’t right. What even was a lamia? Teryn was hardly a stranger to non-humans, but she’d never heard of them before. It was difficult to hold back a snicker as K’lee gave up after a single failed attempt at penetrating her target. It seemed typical of her to quit something instead of putting in the effort to actually improve. One would expect K’lee to have learned after all of this time, but instead she became angry at inanimate objects. How pathetic. When K’lee turned to leave, Teryn finally couldn’t take it anymore. A laugh, tinged by bitterness, escaped her throat. Well, the jig was up. Nothing left to lose- she’d tried to “avoid conflict with her allies” or whatever Aurelius had said. “How’s your day, K’lee?” she said, sauntering around from behind the weapon rack and unwrapping a granola bar. She put as much venom into the English words as she could without making it too obvious what she was doing. K’lee could understand Japanese (and every other language, apparently) but Teryn refused to use it with her. She didn't deserve it. “You know, you must spend more time working and effort to be strong.” She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. Without breaking eye contact she tore a chunk from her granola bar. She was perfectly aware that she was physically weaker than the snake, but that didn’t matter. The feeling of running your lungs ragged, of digging as deep as you can and then deeper, of blood and sweat and tears- she knew those well, and but doubted that K’lee did. They were in a war and the snake couldn’t even control her own emotions well enough to train. At least she wasn’t bored anymore.
  4. Anders [ Near the Gateway ] The girl’s reaction was strange. True, Anders hadn’t spoken aggressively, but he was used to people doing more than tense when they were threatened with a staff. Despite her stutter, she almost seemed unsurprised by the situation. At the same time, she didn’t look like someone used to combat. He wasn’t keen on the idea of just blurting his name out again, but Keaton apparently had no such reservations. Still, Anders supposed that he had to follow the wolfskin’s example. He’d dug himself into a hole by asking Rayla for her name first; it’d be rude to not reciprocate. “I’m new here as well. Anders,” he said, cautious.
  5. Anders [ Near the Gateway ] Justice didn’t become excited - he never did - but Anders could feel how focused he was on Keaton’s words, and for good reason. They could do something with this information. Find out how things worked in Keaton’s world, use it as an example, use it to prove that things didn’t have to be the way things were. They’d spent far too much time going over Tevinter’s history and politics, editing and revising every sentence. It had been so difficult to explain that it could be learned from without implying that it wasn't a deeply flawed nation. Keaton’s world didn't have that problem, unless it was harboring some dark secret that they hadn’t been told about. It wouldn’t have been surprising, as Keaton seemed more than excitable enough for it, but every nation had its downsides. They could work around it, like they’ve worked around the rumors of the Dalish exiling excess mages. It’s possible. It would help. It would bring justice. No. It wasn’t possible; he was done. Finished. He should have died, and if anyone asked, he had. He doubted that he’d be able to survive long if anyone realized, and becoming an anonymous healer was something. Plans could change, but consequences didn’t. There was no way to update his manifesto, and even if there was no one would believe him. He had nothing, no credibility, no evidence but the word of a talking dog. Do not make excuses when- Justice was interrupted by the continuation of Keaton’s speech, something that Anders was grateful for. Reasoning with Justice was nearly impossible at times; he still didn't understand the mortal need for sleep, even after years of wearing Anders' body to the bone. Anders was willing to die for the cause, but not to die senselessly. He nearly choked upon registering what Keaton had said. “A dragon!?” Images of massive red beasts, all fire and malice and teeth, filled his mind. But that couldn’t be right- they were sometimes worshipped, yes, but only a madman would call a dragon a ‘friend’. It was debatable whether Keaton was one or not, but a dragon being royalty was impossible either way. Whatever Keaton was talking about, it wasn’t what Anders thought of as a dragon. “Right- yes. Maybe if she’s strong enough - politically, that is - they wouldn’t be able to target her directly, but they’d do their best to make life difficult for her.” There was another thing that he had to ask. Maybe the answer would make Justice stop prodding him. “Keaton, does your world have any de-” “Oh hey, someone’s behind you!” He automatically whirled around and fell into a combat stance, staff in hand. After realizing whom he was threatening he felt rather ridiculous, and more so for not hearing her coming- the stranger’s stance was hardly that of a rogue. “Who are you?” He didn’t lower his staff (if only to look like he’d meant to raise it in the first place), but his tone lacked aggression.
  6. Jowan [ what even is shower? ] Having to have everything (which Duke clearly considered to be normal) was somewhat embarrassing, but he supposed that accidentally breaking something would have been worse. It was worth it to see Duke’s ridiculous attempt at mimicking the sound that the toilet made. Things became much less amusing as Duke began to pile a seemingly endless stack of products into his arms. Nobles used a large array of oils, soaps, and perfumes of course, but he’d never heard of half of the items he was holding. He had more than a few questions (such as are there supposed to be so many of these?, am I supposed to smell like a fruit salad? and oh Andraste, I don’t want Nata to kill me, the last of which wasn’t a question but seemed relevant), but he doubted that he’d be able to understand anyway. “No, no questions, thank you.” With Duke gone, Jowan was left with the delicate task of somehow placing the stack of items down without dropping them. He somehow managed, though the soap nearly skittered into the tub. Next, he stripped off his filthy robes and threw them into the hamper. He would have burned them then and there, but there wasn’t enough ventilation and he doubted that ashes would be appreciated. He climbed into the shower, lifted the ‘hot’ lever, and pulled the knob as Duke had instructed- then leapt backward and cursed parts of Andraste’s anatomy. He reached through the scalding curtain to turn up the ‘cold’ lever and was met with an icy spray. That was hardly better, but at least it left him able to safely continue adjusting the temperature. It took longer than expected- the spray hardly seemed capable of reaching a midpoint between ‘burning’ and ‘the cold side of lukewarm’. Whatever was wrong with heating a tub of water with magic or fire? It seemed far simpler. Eventually he managed to make it comfortable, by which point his eyes were half sealed shut with water and his hair was plastered to his face. Squinting, he grabbed the bar of soap. That, at least, was familiar, and he was eager to get the blood and sweat off of his skin. He hesitated when it came time to wash his back, but the wounds had long since healed. Blood and soap swirled around his feet and down the drain. He was unfamiliar with the rest of the items that Duke had left him with, but fortunately they were labeled with instructions (along with names like “Minty Breeze” and “Almond Splash” and long ingredients lists that didn’t seem to have been translated). Even the bottles themselves were made of a strange, light, flimsy material. and it took him a shamefully long time to figure out how to open some of the lids. He wasn’t sure why he would want to scrub pomegranate seeds onto his skin or what ‘toner’ was supposed to do, but he decided that it was probably polite to use them. It wasn’t unpleasant, either, at least once he figured out how to keep the stinging shampoo from flowing into his eyes. It felt as though the shower had taken longer than it should have, but it had been far too long since he’d had the luxury of bathing. He took it as a good sign that no one had started yelling through the door for him to hurry up. After drying off, he wrapped the towel around himself and poked his head out the door, intending to ask Duke if he could borrow some clothes. Duke, however, hadn’t seemed to have returned. Odd. Hadn’t it been long enough? Jowan waited a few more minutes, but soon grew both worried and cold. Surely he hadn’t been forgotten. Duke was about the same height as he was and it would be possible to go look for him if he had clothes, but he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to borrow Duke’s clothes. It seemed likely, but the thought of guessing wrong caused a pit of anxiety to rise in his throat. It was such a minor thing, but he knew well to avoid touching the belongings of an authority figure without permission. Duke wasn’t one, not exactly, but the situation was similar enough for his mind to draw parallels. Steeling himself, he walked to Duke’s dresser and rummaged through the drawers until he found a pair of cotton pants and a long-sleeved shirt. They hung oddly on his bony frame, but they fit well enough. He exited the room and it hit him that he didn’t even know what floor the infirmary was on. Someone that knew had to be around somewhere, right? He picked a direction at random, which led to a staircase leading down. It seemed as likely a direction as anything else. Jowan turned a corner and froze. The hallway was empty, but there were a few splatterings of blood on the floor. Someone had gotten hurt again. It explained why Duke was gone- whoever had left the blood had to have a more urgent injury than Jowan did. He bit his lip. The blood hadn’t completely dried yet, so whoever was injured likely still needed help. On the other hand, it was possible that the aggressor was still around. No, he had to help if he could. Hiding wasn’t necessarily safer, either. The blood trail was thin, but the drops were consistent enough for him to find his way to an open doorway. Inside, a person with blood up to their elbows stood pressing a wad of gauze onto a seated figure’s arm. He increased his pace, and the standing human’s eyes snapped to him. “Hold this,” they said in lieu of a greeting, jerking their head towards the gauze. Jowan complied, then caught sight of the injured person’s face. “Duke?! What ha-” “No, tighter,” the stranger interrupted. “Hold it above his head- like that, stay there.” They left, and Jowan was torn between watching what they were doing and looking at Duke’s overly-pale face.
  7. Natsuki [ Hallway, First Floor ] Natsuki bit back a growl of frustration. They weren’t used to feeling so helpless; normally, they had a defined task. Engage in combat, scout, cover an ally, radio for backup, try not to die. Now they had nothing to do but watch and try to figure out Duke’s chances of making it out alive if they managed to extract him. It wasn’t looking good. He was dragged along with the silver robot’s rash attempts to free him, and he spoke slurred nonsense. No, wait. It was Duke; if anything, puns were a good sign. The barrier breaking, however, wasn’t. Couldn’t those usually handle enough force that Duke would have been crushed against it before it broke? Fortunately, Xander wasn’t so hesitant. While the other robots were fighting, he managed to dart in and bring Duke to relative safety. Natsuki gave a brief nod to acknowledge his request, glad to finally be of use. While the two men gave their goodbyes, they evaluated the wound. It was impossible to get a good look at through the torn fabric and blood, but the sheer amount of bleeding and the location of the wound boded poorly for Duke's chances. Duke was conscious, but it didn’t seem like he would be for long; they doubted that he’d be able to walk supported or hold on to them. A fireman’s carry would work, but his arm was a problem. They couldn’t use it as the front arm and pull at the wound, but letting it dangle might hurt it as well. There was nothing for it. Getting to the infirmary (and away from the robots) was the most important thing. They accepted Duke’s body from Xander. “Of course you’ll be fine,” Natsuki said as gently as they could. They weren’t so sure; they knew that the castle didn’t even have any saline. How much would they be able to do with the limited resources that were available? With one last glance at the robots to make sure they were still occupied, they set off. The walk to the infirmary was uneventful, fortunately. Less fortunately, the infirmary was empty. Wasting no time, Natsuki dropped Duke into a sitting position on a bed, just gently enough to avoid aggravating his wound further. Next, they ran to the cabinet where the medical supplies were stored and grabbed a few packages of gauze. Painkillers could wait for when Duke wasn’t bleeding out. Upon returning, they used their teeth and one hand to tear open a package of gauze while using the other to feel Duke’s pulse at his neck. It was faster than it should’ve been. That was to be expected, but it caused a flutter of unease to pass through them anyway. They weren’t a medic. If Duke died- They lifted Duke’s arm above his head and pressed the gauze onto the wound, not worrying about whether it hurt or not. It was impossible to deal with the bite at the same time, but it didn’t seem to be bleeding at nearly the same rate. “Duke. Are you awake?”
  8. Anders [ Near the Gateway ] Interpreting Keaton’s facial expressions was made difficult by his altered features, but he didn’t once look away; Anders suspected that this might have been quite the feat for him. It was gratifying to have a non-mage actually listen to him for once. Usually it was “shut up, mage” or “Anders please, I don’t want to arrest you”. His eyes widened. Royalty using magic openly? What Keaton was describing didn’t sound anything like Tevinter, either. The way he described it made it sound like magic was just… normal. A tool and a gift, like anything else. The way it should be. He couldn't get too excited before learning more. It was possible that the magic system in Keaton’s world was completely different from his own. Maybe those mages there could only deal minor damage, or maybe they were more reliant on lyrium or focuses. At the very least, the history and politics had to be very different. Despite that, just hearing of an example where it worked… There were at least a half-dozen questions that he wanted to ask, but he tried to answer Keaton’s questions first. “Usually they don’t even have to. They’ve convinced the people that apostates are dangerous and that the Circles are for their own good. If that doesn’t work, and if the mage’s own neighbors or local guards don’t turn them in, the Chanty has its own soldiers.” He scowled and his tone grew darker. “Some mages are dangerous. They turn to blood magic or consorting with demons. But not all mages are like that, and most of us just want to live in peace like anyone else. I’ve seen more mages that felt forced to accept the help of demons because of Templars attacking them than I’ve seen genuinely evil mages.” Not that there hadn’t been plenty of those as well. Really, one would think that the hordes of bandits and abominations would give up on trying to attack Hawke’s group after the first dozen were killed. He paused, both to calm himself and to think of how to explain. “There aren’t many noble mages. Having magic in your bloodline is seen as especially shameful for nobles. But if one is born, they lose all of their inheritance rights and power like anyone else would. The only recent example I know of is Arl Eamon’s son, and I don’t know what happened to him. So, yes, they can.” Anders cared more about the common people that didn’t have money or influential family to help them, but denying noble mages their titles was yet another symptom of the Chantry’s corruption. Clearly, they feared that a mage with political influence would be able to challenge their rule- there was no other reason to deny their birthrights. “Magical creatures?” He wasn’t sure what Keaton meant, but it sounded like something personal. “Knowing the Chantry, they would. They’re very pro-human.” Part of him wanted to continue explaining, but he needed to learn more. “Tell me about your world, it’s only fair. You really have both mages and non-mages in power?”
  9. Anders [ Near the Gateway ] “Yes, I’m human,” Anders replied. What kind of place was Keaton from that he couldn’t tell the difference between an elf and a human? He certainly didn’t look like a dwarf. Perhaps there were non-humans that looked like humans in Keaton’s world- it’d be less strange than dog-eared people. The creature sitting wouldn’t prevent it from lunging forward and killing him, but at least it wasn’t looming quite so high over him. More concerning was the way it was making eye contact- that was bad for dogs, right? Or- no, it was good? There was some kind of difference between normal dogs and Mabaris, he knew, but he couldn't quite remember what it was. Did giant talking wolves even count as dogs? He decided to not break eye contact- even if it was a terrible idea, he wasn’t going to submit. “It isn’t exactly common where I’m from either,” he said. He didn’t think he’d ever met anyone aside from Neria that could shapeshift, and she hadn’t done very often. Forget what he had said about not wanting to give more information than he had to to Keaton. If the dog was willing to listen, he’d tell him. He shook his head before beginning. “The Chantry is a religious organization, founded over nine centuries ago. In most southern countries it has more power than the true rulers, as shown when King Alistair’s attempt to free the Fereldan Circle failed.” He paused for a moment, considering how to continue. He could literally talk for hours on it, but he doubted that they had that kind of time or that Keaton would be willing to listen for that long. The basics, then. “The Chantry uses its power to oppress mages, both because it wishes to control us and because it fears us. Aside from creating a culture that fears mages and considers us subhuman, the main method that the Chantry uses to control mages is the Circle system. In all southern countries, mages are forced to live in old prisons and forts where they can be watched by the T- Chantry.” No use complicating things. “Those that refuse or hide are labeled ‘apostates’ and are hunted down. Children are taken from their homes and families torn apart- if the family doesn’t fear their own child so much that they send them away first.” He took a moment to take a deep breath and calm himself. Too personal. “That’s the short version, anyway.”
  10. Natsuki [ Hallway, FIrst Floor ] Fiddlesticks’ ears suddenly perked up, and- her eye? Something was very wrong. There was no time to react before Fiddlesticks reached Duke, and even if there had been Fiddlesticks was far too fast. Duke’s scream of pain had already reached their ears by the time they managed to unholster their gun. The gun was useless anyway, unless Fiddlesticks was far more delicate than they thought. A warbeast of similar size would just be annoyed by a handgun, and robots didn’t bleed. At best it’d be possible to crack the lens of Fiddlesticks’ eye, but they couldn’t shoot with Duke so close anyway. Aside from that, any competent designer would make the large, brightly-colored eye a decoy and have the real cameras elsewhere. It was with no small amount of shame that they noticed that Xander had already acted, but they were out of their depth. Despite his aggression and lightning powers, the situation with Nata had been far easier to deal with. Most importantly, they had been prepared, to say nothing of how Natsuki had been the one attacked then. Now, they found their hands itching to reach for a radio to call for backup or for a first aid kit to deal with Duke’s wounds, but they had neither. Damn it, they shouldn’t have assumed that they didn’t need all of their gear just because they had been doing paperwork. It left them with few options. Fiddlesticks was far too large for them to push off of Duke, and anyone near enough to find in time had to have already heard Duke’s screams. That was the one fortunate thing- surely Fiddlesticks could have killed him with her weight alone. Either she was inexperienced with killing humans, she wasn’t interested in killing him (which only mattered if she understood how easy humans were to kill), or she was acting like a cat. Their only option was to keep their gun trained on Fiddlesticks until ordered otherwise. At most it would serve as a threat, but that was the best chance they had at the moment.
  11. Anders [ Near the Gateway ] Whatever he had expected, it hadn’t been that. The creature in front of him was massive. It towered over him even with its slouched posture, and it was clearly several times his own weight. Its top-heavy shape was vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t quite place it. Maker knew he’d faced enough blighted mon- ah, that was it. Those blighted blighted werewolves that had nearly torn his arms off. It wasn't an experience that he wanted to repeat. More to the point, it was far too close. His heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest, and it was difficult to think through the fear. For a moment he considered trying to freeze the beast, but he discarded that thought. The werewolf would be able to crush his head in its jaws before he could cast anything. It was for the same reason that he forced Justice to the back of his mind, despite the spirit’s best efforts to take control to deal with the threat. His eyes flashed blue and he tightened his grip on his staff, ready for- It spoke. That was new. None of the werewolves he’d met had spoken, but according to Neria a different, non-blighted group of them had been able to speak. It didn’t really matter either way, because Neria wasn’t the type to forget details like “oh yeah, and they spoke in our minds.”. Anders was pretty sure that if he grit his teeth any harder one of them would crack, because he really wasn’t having a good day. He flinched and tried to lean back when the werewolf (?) brought its head closer to him, but it didn’t deter the beast. Its sneeze would have been funny if Anders hadn’t been so confused and sure that he was inches away from being killed by a gigantic dog (of course it was a dog; the universe didn’t seem to get that he was a cat person). “You don’t smell like a kitsune. Oh, oh! When you said you were an apostate were you referring to your species? The only other shifters I’ve heard of are the laguz. Some of them can turn into cats, but they have cat ears and a tail.” Oh. No wonder the voice, echoed as it was, sounded familiar. Who else could manage to sound so excited while making no sense at all? (Don’t answer that, Justice, we’ve gone over rhetorical questions before.) Feeling slightly less concerned about his skull being crushed into tiny pieces, he took a step backward, if only to get away from Keaton’s breath. “No, that’s not what I meant! My species doesn’t have anything to do with it.” Keaton had to be from a different world if he hadn’t even heard the word ‘apostate’ before (as if the ears didn’t give it away). “An apostate is a mage that doesn’t submit to the rule of the Chantry,” he said after a short pause. He had been tempted to avoid giving Keaton more information than he had to, but the habit of explaining the evils of the Circles had won out.
  12. Anders [ Gateway ] What kind of mage? That question alone would have made some amount of sense, but the longer Keaton spoke the more confused Anders felt. ‘Dark mage’ was an archaic euphemism for blood mages and ‘witch’ was an uncommon insult for hedge mages, but it wasn’t gender specific. He’d never even heard of the rest of the terms that spewed from the ‘wolfskin’s’ mouth. Besides, no one would ever ask someone if they were a blood mage with the bright, excited tone that Keaton used. “...an apostate?” Hopefully that would appease him. Oh, lovely, of course they couldn’t let him go back and wanted him to help them. No thanks. Helping well-meaning people with ‘missions’ hadn’t at all gone well the last two times. Squashing down the urge to say ‘of course I’ll help, what should I do first’ (thanks, Justice, but no), he continued to listen. Well, that was more interesting. The confirmation that this ‘Pascal’ was a mage was nice, if completely unnecessary. Cistina, though- shaman? Was she like one of the Avvar mages? The question rose to his lips, but before he could ask- A Qunari of some hit the ground, throwing twin green blades to the ground at the impact. His skin was purple, his horns were massive, and a pair of wings jutted out from his back. Not actually a Qunari, then. Nevertheless, Anders didn’t particularly want to be anywhere near the now-yelling winged man. Once again ignoring the call of stay, help, he drew on the Fade and melted into the form of a sleek orange tabby. Ear twitching, he watched for a moment longer- Pascal seemed to be handling things fine- before picking a direction and darting off. There was enough chaos that no one would notice him leaving. At least, he thought that no one would notice. The hulking shape behind him quickly proved him wrong. A bit too quickly- it was gaining on him, and Anders preferred to avoid being torn to pieces. It just wasn’t a good way to start one’s morning. He stopped running as quickly as he was able to (it turned out that cat movement and human movement didn’t translate into each other well) and shifted back into a blur of color. Staff in hand, he spun around on one heel to face his pursuer.
  13. Jowan [ Duke’s Room ] It was difficult to tell whether Duke was being serious about not understanding why Jowan was thankful or not. With Duke, it could be either one. Still, he was grateful. He didn’t want to intrude or ask for more than he needed, but getting cleaned up did sound nice. It had been far too long since he’d had a proper bath, and he was eager to be rid of the grime and dried blood coating his skin. He shook his head to say no, of course he didn’t mind, but Duke already had his back turned to him. As they walked, Jowan tried to remember who each of the rooms belonged to. “I’ve never had a room of my own,” he admitted. Unless one counted a jail cell, of course, which he didn’t. First had been the apprentice dorms, then had been the servant’s quarters at Redcliffe Castle. Neither had been too bad, at least once he had gotten old enough to leave the dorm with the younger children. He'd never been able to bear the crying. In all honesty, Duke’s room was less messy than he had expected. The bed was comfortably unmade, and he felt himself relax another fraction. The castle had no Templars to yell at one for leaving a bed unmade. “I should be fine without a healer. It’s not too deep, and I’ve done stitches before.” He left out the circumstances that required him to do stitches on himself. “I’ll have you know that I’ve never burned anything down,” he said, unable to keep the smile from his voice or face. The banter was familiar, and he felt a twinge of nostalgia in his chest. “Thank you,” he said again before he walked into the bathroom. It was shockingly white- the tiles on the floor, the walls, the fixtures. The sink and bathtub - both made of the same shiny white material - each had metal faucets. Strange. Experimentally, he pushed one of the levers above the sink up, then pushed it back down when water flowed out of the faucet. “Duke?” he called, hoping that Duke hadn’t already left. It was possible that he’d be able to figure things out, but he didn’t want to take any chances. “Could you explain how this all works? It’s a bit different from what I’m used to.”
  14. Jowan [ Dining Hall ] He wasn’t sure why, but he felt disappointed that Duke hadn’t decided whether or not he was going or not. For all he knew, Duke wasn’t even as helpful Jowan thought. “I was just curious, and, well…” It would have been better to just outright say that he was interested in going, but he hesitated. Was it not presumptuous to assume that anyone even wanted him to come? Especially Duke; he had to be tired of babysitting by now. “Oh!” Hurriedly, he gulped down the last of his tea before coughing. “Hot.” Duke agreeing to go just because he wanted to had been unexpected. “Yes, I’m finished,” he said, gathering his teacup and following Duke out of the room. “Thank you.” Everyone had been so accommodating and kind to him (well, not everyone; most people in his life hadn’t, actually). It was more than he deserved, and it strengthened the feeling of needing to explain his powers. All of them, not just the weak flames and ice that he could conjure without bloodshed. Maybe things would have gone better with Neria if he had told her. It was just that he didn’t know where to start. None of the members of XDRE seemed fazed by any of the powers that the new recruits displayed, but blood magic… ‘Hey, Duke, you know this cut on my arm that’s been causing problems? I did that on purpose so that I could boil everyone’s blood if the situation at the Gateway went bad.' Yeah, that’d go over well. It seemed like a different situation from turning into a strange furry monster or having dead people in one's head.
  15. [ Natsuki ] [ Kitchen ] Natsuki had to resist the urge to huff in annoyance. This was getting ridiculous, to the point where they wondered how they had been frightened of Fiddlesticks in the first place. It was still important to avoid underestimating the unpredictable, sharp-edged hunk of metal that weighed several times more than them, but frustration had pushed some of the caution aside. "Here," they said, grabbing the meat and beginning to strip the bones from it with quick, efficient motions. "Now, explain what's wrong so that we can help. Don't say it's the lack of calcium- whatever you use it for, it isn't a coolant." They were quick to step away from Fiddlesticks and towards the sink when they finished removing the flesh from the bones. Not out of fear- it was simply that Fiddlesticks was emanating too much heat for someone that had difficulties with heat management themself. "I know that this place is strange and that you have no reason to trust us," they said as they ran water over their hands. "But let me assure you that we don't want a half-melted robot to clean up." Perhaps it wasn't the most gentle way to tell Fiddlesticks to cut it out, but they were getting tired of it. [ Jowan ] [ Dining Hall ] Jowan stared into his tea. He was more than a little tempted to follow Light and Spike to the library, but he couldn't. As helpful as it would be (and however much he missed being able to sit down and read for hours) there were more important things that had to be done. Specifically, bathing, finding new clothes, stitching up his wound properly, and finding out if they'd let him go on the current mission. It was an absolutely terrible idea. Maybe not quite as bad as some of his other ideas, but it was up there. He was malnourished, was slightly woozy from blood loss, and didn't know how XDRE operated. Even so... it wasn't like he needed any metal. Ideally, he'd have a lyrium staff, but he didn't have access to one and lyrium wasn't magnetic anyway. He could be useful, he was fairly sure of that. Maybe. "Are you going on this mission?" he asked Duke. It would make sense if he was- barriers of such strength had to be useful.
  16. [ Anders ] [ Gateway ] A satisfactory answer. Nonsensical, but most human things were. The 'pulling' had been unintentional; at most, the mage's crime had been negligence. With some effort, Anders pushed Justice to the back of his mind. The glow faded from his eyes, the bright cracks in his skin closed, his voice returned to normal, and he stumbled. Pressing the heel of his palm into his forehead and closing his eyes until the dizziness cleared, he said, "That was not a satisfactory answer." He considered sheathing his staff but decided against it. The mage seemed harmless enough (if a bit loopy herself), but that by no means meant that she or her companion were safe. "You expect me to believe that this is some alternate universe." He paused. "What do you want from me?" In an ideal world he wouldn't have had to question the motivation of someone who believed they were saving lives, but it was rare that people didn't want something. He just hoped that it didn't have anything to do with the blighted Deep Roads again. Surely that man hadn't been there before. Distracted as he was, he was getting sloppy if he had failed to notice a wolf-eared man. There went any poorly-developed theories about being drugged and dragged out into the middle of nowhere. He had hoped that the other newcomer might be reasonable, but apparently he was the type of person that regularly forgot where they had fallen asleep. At least he seemed friendlier than the other white-haired, pointy-eared, wolf-themed man that Anders knew. "I'm Anders," he said, cautious.
  17. Natsuki [ Main Entrance ] Fiddlesticks' head jerked oddly, and Natsuki took a startled step backward. Immediately after they cursed themself for making such an obvious mistake. One didn't show signs of weakness when facing unknowns. As unpredictable as being a robot made her, Fiddlesticks' probable lack of a chase reflex was fortunate. In any case, Fiddlesticks' clearly wasn't fine, whatever she said. Why, though? Why was she suddenly not fine, and why hide it? The fan noises had ceased, but that didn't make sense if she was overheating. Slurred, disjointed speech was far more noticeable and worrisome than some panting. "Calcium?" they said, failing to keep the skepticism out of their voice. It was important, of course, but for biology- they'd never heard of a machine using it for anything. Admittedly, they didn't know much about machines, but calcium wasn't even an energy source. Surely Fiddlesticks consumed something else as well. "Broccoli has both," they said slowly. "But perhaps not as much as you need. Bones certainly have more calcium than vegetables and milk. Is the air too hot for you?" They grimaced at the reminder, but nodded. "Let's go, if no one has any more concerns that must be addressed here."
  18. Natsuki [ Main Entrance ] "Of course. Please let one of us know if you do require assistance." While Natsuki didn't believe for a moment that Fiddlesticks was really fine, it was better to avoid making any accusations. The atmosphere was relatively calm for the moment, and they wanted to keep it that way for as long as possible. "No, we don't have anything set up yet. Security mostly consists of various magical wards and Nata, for the time being. What do you need to eat? Petrol? Ethanol?"
  19. Jowan [ XDREs Base, Kitchen ] [ Dragon Age: Origins ] "Right," he said, somewhat dubious. To be fair, he hadn't been particularly polite or calm at the Gateway. Still, maybe someone should inform Twilight that chaining someone up wasn't the best way to calm someone down, or that if she wanted to keep a mage from doing harm magebane or Smite would work better. "Thank you," he said belatedly. Whatever had happened before, the chains were gone now, and for that he was thankful. "No, that's quite alright," he said, watching the dragon warily. Normally, he would have been quite glad to have a cut healed, but the way that the creature was watching him gave him goosebumps. She seemed to almost be made of wood and leaves, like some form of sylvan twisted into an almost drake-like shape. No, there was no point in attempting to classify anyone he met like that. Sylvan or not, though, her glowing eyes seemed to pierce through him. It was quite eerie, and he was okay with a bit of extra pain and inconvenience if it meant that she'd stay away. That, and if Duke's reaction was any indication he didn't trust her either. It was too bad that Light didn't know any healing spells, but Jowan really wasn't one to talk when he didn't know any either. It was also a plus that she didn't have any dead people in her head; Duke was bad enough. "That's fine. I appreciate your help even so." He faltered a bit when she asked him to explain about elfroot. That, as much as everything else, proved that she wasn't from his world. Everyone had some idea about the healing powers of elfroot, even if they didn't know how to use it properly. "It's a healing herb. It treats all sorts of issues, though it's best used in potions. It's practically everywhere back- back where I come from, but I suppose there isn't any here." He rolled up his bloodied sleeve and poked at the wound, gritting his teeth. The bleeding had slowed, but they would need to clean the blood away to bandage the wound properly. Stitches would also be necessary to avoid a nasty scar; the edges were far too jagged to heal together naturally. It wasn't the first time that he'd had to stitch up one of his own cuts, and though the experience wasn't pleasant it would work out. Wiping some of the blood away from the edge of the cut, he froze. There weren't many, but a few scars decorated his wrist. Whatever their assumption was, he didn't particularly want to have a conversation with anyone about them. "It's not so bad," he said with a bit of false cheer. Hopefully no one noticed. "I'll just bandage it up now to stop the bleeding and stitch it up properly later. We don't want to be late for the tea party." He took the bandages from Light, gave a nod of thanks, and started wrapping up the wound before anyone could protest. ☙~~~❧ Anders [ Gateway ] They paused. It was unusual for mortals to react with cheer and reason when confronted with Justice. She spoke, and though her words made little sense they betrayed neither hostility nor obvious deception. Stop. She is a mage. That was true. The staff that the mortal held was clearly just that, and she carried it with the sort of practiced ease that suggested it was her own. Were she telling the truth, there was no reason for conflict. Lying was something that Justice had little experience with, but Anders suggested that Pascal was likely telling the truth. He was nothing like Varric, who seemed able to detect falsehoods as easily as he spun them, but even so Justice was tempted to trust his judgment. Was not a mage that didn't shy away from spirits likely to be an ally? What reason would an ally have to deceive them? Glowing is not helping our diplomatic prospects, you know. Justice ignored him, though his anger was fading. They needed answers. He angled their head to look in the direction that Pascal had indicated, only lifting a hand to block the sun when Anders complained. The 'friend' was not, as they had expected, traveling along the ground. Another oddity. Pascal was still the priority; he turned their head to look at her and moved the hand to grip the staff again. "Explain. Why are we here?"
  20. Anders [ Gateway ] [ DA:II ] One moment he was standing and the next he was lying on his back. Without thinking, he pushed himself into a sitting position. Instead of the blood-slicked stone that he expected, his hands touched soft grass and flowers. Confusion washed over him, and he tried to remember anything that could hint at what had happened. He was not in the Fade. A lifetime ago that would have been his first guess, but there were benefits to having a spirit in one's head. Things were far too solid, and Justice wasn't dragged to the forefront. At the memories that that line of thought brought up his hands curled tightly around the grass. There had been a reason that he was avoiding the place, despite how he- despite how Justice missed it. It wasn't Kirkwall, either. There wasn't enough grass there to feed a small goat, and the scent on the breeze was a pleasant mix of flowers and petrichor instead of salt, fish, and sewage. It was a nice change, admittedly. Knowing where he wasn't still didn't tell him where he was. "Just once I'd like things to go smoothly," he muttered.They had been fighting Meredith- Blue flashed over his vision. Not now, she's dead, she can't hurt anyone anymore. The spirit backed down. They had killed Meredith, and then... nothing. Hawke had been bleeding and exhausted, but there had been a soft smile of victory on her face. Fenris had been scowling as usual and had been letting an arm hang awkwardly. While normally he wouldn't have wanted to subject his friend or any of his allies to Hawke's... questionable healing abilities, they'd be fine. No one needed him anymore, he'd made sure of that. There wasn't a person in Kirkwall that didn't have a reason to want him dead, but he hadn't noticed any warning that he was about to be attacked. An ambush, then? Had the others been attacked as well? Eyes widening, he jumped to his feet, reached for his staff, and frantically looked around. This time when the blue filled his eyes he didn't try to stop it. It didn't matter if he ended up Maker-knows-where, but the others didn't deserve that. He didn't see any of them, just a staff-wielding human with strange hair and even stranger clothes. "Where are they?" they asked, voices layering over each other. They adopted a ready stance, but didn't attack or step forward. ☙~~~❧ Natsuki [ Main Hall ] [ Original Work ] Their eyes narrowed in suspicion, though they forced their face to relax when they noticed. Letting suspects know that they were suspects prematurely was a poor habit to get into. "I see." Despite her childlike demeanor, they had a hard time imagining Fiddlesticks as frightened by something. It was something about the weapons, sharp edges, and size. They winced as Xander fixed the hole in the ceiling. It certainly needed to be done sooner rather than later, and they should have been grateful for the seamless repair, but they felt like evidence was being wiped away. They reminded themself that there had to have been plenty of witnesses to the destruction and that they wouldn't have been able to get anything out of the pile of rubble anyway. Even the bloodstains were practically useless- they didn't have access to the antigens that would let them determine blood type. Besides, at least Xander was taking things seriously. Stan, in particular, didn't seem to be very bothered by the blood or ex-hole. Then again, no one was running around screaming, nothing was on fire, and they hadn't been stabbed or needed to tase anyone yet, so it was at least going better than when Nata had shown up. Fiddlesticks started to make noises as if she was breathing heavily (or like she was an overloaded desktop, for a more accurate comparison) and she looked frightened. Natsuki resisted the urge to reach for their gun once again and held up their hands in a placating gesture. They still didn't know if that was the correct way to communicate with the robot, but they didn't have any other options. A scared creature was a dangerous creature. "Is there something wrong?" they asked, voice low as if they were speaking to a spooked horse.
  21. Jowan [ Kitchen ] [ Dragon Age: Origins ] Jowan followed Duke, barely missing a step upon seeing the pink-clad dishes flying through the air. If he thought about it, Twilight (who probably wasn't actually a demon) having a reliance on telekinesis made sense. Lacking hands had to make manipulating objects traditionally difficult; he wondered how other members of her species did anything, assuming she was actually part of a species and wasn't some one-off freak of nature. Unless they were somehow all mages? That was hard to imagine, but a society of talking lavender quadrupeds was hard to imagine in any case. He made a mental note to ask her about it, once he had the chance, was sure that she wouldn't vaporize him, and had access to vellum or paper to take notes on. He gave Duke an incredulous look, eyebrows furrowed. "You don't-" "You probably need to wash the wound with warm soap and water to prevent infection, then use some sort of hopefully-sterile cloth to bind it. But that's assuming nobody here has a healing spell? I mean, a small wound like that probably doesn't need a... I'm sorry... For... Listening in..." Their conversation hadn't happened in a private setting, Jowan still ducked his head in embarrassment. It was only fair that people knew what he'd done, yet he still felt exposed, having been so easily overheard. "It's fine," he said, trying to pretend that he hadn't been bothered. "Some elfroot, too. And some clean clothes, if that's possible." He didn't want to ask for too much, but elfroot was as common enough to be a weed and his robes would have to be burned. "I don't have any healing spells, but are you a mage? Please tell me that you don't have any dead people in your head." He considered asking what 'sterile' meant but decided not to. It couldn't be too important, and asking would only make him look stupid or distract from the topic at hand. ☙~~~❧ Natsuki [ Library Entrance > Main Hall ] [ Original Work ] Something felt off about Fiddlesticks, but Natsuki brushed the feeling aside. Of course something felt off- it was a robot, not anything biological. Some amount of falling into the uncanny valley was to be expected, and basing judgments on feelings and hunches was following a road that didn't lead anywhere good. Still, anyone that thought that Duke was a fun person to meet had to be observed carefully. "Yes, I'm sure that Duke will be glad to have help with collecting the pellets," they said drily. "We'll take you to the main hall-" they glanced at Xander for confirmation, "-and if we're lucky the tour will still be there. If not, we'll find them." Once again, they cursed the sudden and inconvenient lack of Lumas. The walk to the main entrance was uneventful, but they could see that the beginning of the tour had been anything but. There was a large hole in the ceiling, and scorched rubble had collected on the ground. Dust had coated the floor, but there were sharp lines showing where something had blocked the dust from settling. "Duke," they said, almost resigned. Xker, Cistina, Lara, and Stan were standing in the hall, though from the looks on their faces they didn't know what had happened either. Natsuki spotted a smear of blood on the ground near the door; they couldn't tell anything else about it without getting closer, but it was likely that whoever left it wasn't too seriously injured. One of their guests being injured was a problem, but someone dying less than an hour after arriving would have been worse for morale. "You were with the tour when they entered the building, yes?" they asked Fiddlesticks. "What happened before you got separated?" The robot clearly hadn't told them everything, but it was likely that she had either been separated because of the events in the hall or had caused them.
  22. Jowan [ XDREs Base, en Route to the Dining Hall ] [ Dragon Age: Origins ] Andraste, was Duke a pyromaniac? Maybe it was a good thing that his magic worked differently. Despite how the castle was made of stone, Jowan suspected that Duke would have found a way to burn it down anyway if he could shoot fireballs. Barriers could cause enough problems in Duke's hands, as he had seen. Talking to a human that wasn't Tranquil and couldn't dream was odd, but it wasn't the oddest thing that had happened that day. It did raise some questions, however- if the Fade didn't exist on the planet, how could he do magic? He had to be connected to it somehow; he could feel its pull, the way that he could draw on it to reshape the physical world. Either the Fade did exist there and everyone else was cut off from it, or he could somehow access it across worlds. Neither sounded plausible, but he didn't know much about such things. No one did. Of course, 'hallucination' was still an option. "I see," he said even though he didn't. In truth, he was tempted to interrogate Duke about his magic system, but it wasn't the time and he didn't have any parchment available. Alternative ways of using magic had always intrigued him (he wished that he could say that he'd been drawn to blood magic for that reason). Having dead people in one's head... still sounded a bit too much like demonic possession, but giving Duke the benefit of the doubt couldn't make things worse for him and it sounded interesting. Laughter and further contact hadn't been what Jowan expected Duke's reaction to be at all. Did nothing faze him? He pulled away a bit, eyes wide with shock, before relaxing again when Duke claimed to be joking. Of course, Duke followed that by explaining that he had hardly been joking at all. Being an accomplice to murder wasn't much better than actual murder. The thought of accomplices reminded him of Lily, of Neria; sure, they'd helped him escape, but they hadn't known. They hadn't deserved to get punished along with him- Maker, he hoped that Lily was somehow okay. He knew that it was unlikely, but he couldn't imagine her in that place. Not when she'd reacted exactly how she should have. Noticing that his teeth and uninjured hand were clenched, he took a deep breath and forced himself to relax. It would be hypocritical to make assumptions about Duke when he didn't know the entire story. He could ask for it later. "I don't really deserve to start anew," he muttered. "But to the kitchen, then! I'd like to avoid dying, if it's all the same to you."
  23. Jowan [ XDREs Base, Main Hall ] [ Dragon Age: Origins ] Lara's gaze was, to put in mildly, somewhat terrifying. Unconsciously, Jowan stepped closer to Duke, as if the blond could somehow protect him. When he realized what he had done he made to step away, embarrassed, but Duke had stepped closer as well- ah, so that was how it was. Given Duke's actions so far, he wasn't surprised that he thought that antagonizing angry women was a good idea. Whatever, he could play along, as long as it didn't get him killed as well. He hadn't planned on following Yusei and the others and would have preferred to avoid getting closer to Lara, but he didn't seem to have much of a choice. Besides, even as low as tea was on his priority list, he couldn't deny that fluids would be good for him. Fluids and medical attention. Neither of those things seemed to be in supply in the entrance hall, so he followed as best as he could. "No, not you. You mentioned a man in your head, if you didn't just mean that you're hearing things." It wouldn't be surprising, but he didn't say that. Well, that was unexpected. He frowned. "The Fade. The place you go when you dream? If you dream, I mean, but you don't exactly look like a dwarf and there was the whole magic thing that you did." He reached out with his free hand and summoned a small flame, cupped within his palm. "See? It doesn't matter if you're from... a different universe or whatever, the Fade's still here. Wouldn't be able to do that without it." He closed his hand, extinguishing the flame. Those were the questions that he didn't want to answer. Biting his cheek, he turned his head away. The temptation to say 'no' and leave it at that was strong, but that wouldn't solve anything. He was confused and lost, and maybe if he volunteered information Duke would respond in kind. "I... I'm not sure what it's like where you're from, but in Ferelden attempted murder is still a crime." He forced himself to continue, but he couldn't make himself meet Duke's eyes. "That's not the only thing. I'm not exactly popular back h- there." It was still an evasion, he knew, but wasn't that fair? Duke hadn't exactly explained after he'd claimed to burn down a village, after all. Avoiding the subject of blood magic and treason was cowardly, but cowardice was something that he was good at. "The bleeding is from after I got here. Uh, speaking of which, you wouldn't happen to have any bandages, would you?" The gash had apparently been deeper than he had thought, and with the adrenaline fading the pain was becoming only more noticeable. "What about you? You haven't explained how you got here, and last I checked arson was a crime as well," he said, trying to change the subject away from himself.
  24. Jowan [ XDREs Base, Main Hall ] [ Dragon Age: Origins ] Jowan flinched as Duke looped his arm around his, but unsurprisingly that didn't deter Duke. When a light tug didn't free him either, he gave up and resigned himself to his fate of being forever trapped. Being locked in a dungeon for weeks (was that how long it had been? had it been months?) hadn't been kind to his already poor physique, and he doubted that any further magic would lead to good things for him. Normally, he would have been terrified to have an abomination (or anyone that he didn't know, really) touch him, but Duke seemed adept at turning fear into confusion. Every time Jowan thought he had figured him out, Duke said or did something to disarm him. What kind of person wasn't bothered by attempted murder? Sane person, he mentally amended, remembering Neria. He opened his mouth to explain that no, he couldn't just stop bleeding, but Duke interrupted with another of his inane speeches. He had no idea how to respond to it; questions burned in his mind, but for some reason he suspected that he wouldn't be able to get a clear answer. It was probably better to just accept that Duke was likely exaggerating, making stuff up, or mad and move on. He did, however, bristle at the implication that near-death experiences were some kind of requirement to bond with someone. Getting into near death experiences hadn't been good for any of his relationships, unless one counted living under the constant threat of death. In which case... well, he didn't have anything to compare it to, really. There had never been a time in his life where he'd been truly safe. "The demon, you mean," he said, trying to sound angry but unable to disguise the waver of uncertainty in his voice. He couldn't deny now that things really didn't seem to be working the way he was used to. "He's... the Maker. The one who makes things. Or, made things, actually." He shifted; it was surprisingly hard to explain. There were plenty of non-Andrastian regions in he world, but everyone in the Circle was an Andrastian (at least in public, as going against the Chantry in the Circle was ill-advised). "...You've never even heard of him, have you? Andraste, the Black City, Darkspawn, the Fade? Or the Beyond, if you want to call it that?" Duke had to at least know about the Fade, even if he called it a different name. It'd be difficult for a human to somehow not know about it.
  25. Jowan [ XDREs Base, Main Hall ] [ Dragon Age: Origins ] Oh, Andraste, the remaining golem was talking. Were golems even supposed to talk? Jowan had to admit that it had a point, but he'd rather Typheus stay quiet about it. Not that he didn't want to learn more about the mysterious organization that kidnapped them, but he didn't want to deal with any more of them. The few that he had met were violent, unstable, and strange enough for one day. On the plus side, Nata's rant did give him some valuable information- like how the castle apparently did have a dungeon, and how Nata apparently was either insane or lying. Both seemed likely. An organization couldn't just take control of an entire planet, "small" or not. The very idea was ridiculous; even the Tevinter Imperium never quite managed to conquer all of Thedas, and that was just one continent. Duke wasn't doing much better in the credibility department. Jowan wasn't quite sure how he expected to convince them that he wasn't part of any organization when his coworker had just been talking about fellow organization members; maybe he just hadn't thought things through. More concerning was how Duke had practically admitted to being possessed, even if he didn't say the word 'demon'. Jowan's heart sped up and his eyes widened in response. "Abominations, things just keep getting better," he said, giving a shaky laugh and running his fingers through his hair. He wasn't sure why Duke's reveal bothered him so much more than the pride demon currently restraining Sora. Maybe it was the casual way that he said it, or how non-obvious it was (weren't most abominations terrifying, murderous monsters?). "I'm sure you're aware, but you're bleeding. Everything alright there? Are you a criminal? How many people have you murdered? I didn't think Twilight would suddenly take an interest in the slave trade, but I suppose there's a first for everything. Seriously though, you doing okay, buddy? You look like something just burnt your village in front of your eyes or something. Was it you?" The discussion he was having with himself about his chances of surviving if he used blood magic before attempting to flee was brought to a halt. How was one even supposed to respond to something like that? "I- what?" he sputtered. He looked down at his arm as if its state had somehow changed since the last time he saw it, then looked back at Duke, embarrassed. "Oh, thanks, I didn't notice blood all over my arm. Of course I'm not a-" he paused, biting his cheek and looking away. It wasn't like he was going to fool anyone, chained as he was, and the 'apostate' thing was a bit of a giveaway. They'd find out eventually, and he was going to try to do better if he was being given yet another chance that he didn't deserve. "I- but I didn't murder anyone, not successfully." The last of Duke's questions didn't even deserve an answer (not that the others did either), but he found the words spilling out of his mouth anyway. "I don't even have a village to burn down. Not that I would, mind you, just- Maker, I should just stop-" He was stopped from digging himself even further into a hole by the appearance of someone with absurd hair. Yusei claimed that they were trying to help, but Jowan was feeling less than thrilled by the idea of following someone when following Twilight had brought him into a situation that nearly killed him. "Wait, you can't just show up and expect us to travel deeper into this place just like that."