The Protector Guarding My Life

AN: This is a drabble featuring two Guild Wars 2 characters I ship 🙂 Benn Tenstrikes and Demmi Beetlestone. 🙂 I know a lot of people ship him with Eilye Jeyne and her with Tybalt Leftpaw but I find these two to have a connection being as they’ve been close due to her fleeing Kryta from her father. He’s a flirtacious mercenary and a member of the Order of Whispers. She joins the Order after her time with the hero and Tybalt. These two met when she was first trying to flee her father. They were together until he was tricked and she was kidnapped. I’d like to think they have a lasting friendship from these events that will eventually turn into romance. Quick note: I’m sure some of these details here in the story don’t match the game’s story. I may eventually edit it to fit better into the game itself but for now consider this an early draft lol. Anyway, hope you enjoy!

The constant creeping in the shadows left Demmi a tattered mess, one so used to the luxuries of the rich thrust into a world much different than the one she once belonged. There wasn’t a choice in the matter however if she favored her life. Demmi knew that well and she made her choice to seek the help of the Order of Whispers. She had to run from those who wished to use her. Wished to harm her. Wished her dead.

Demmi had to flee from her father or else she would not live to see another sunrise in the sky.

In the cover of darkness, the mercenary band she’d been trusted to made their camp. Many of their guards were already combing the area, guaranteeing without a doubt they were safe in their chase for the daughter of the Beetlestone family. The leader of the band, Benn Tenstrikes, sported a yawn as he stretched in the evening air, his men reporting their findings before returning to their duties. It seemed there wasn’t a trace of a pursuit but the mercenary knew better than to let his guard down, especially when the one heading the hunt was of the upper class with coin to spare on what he wanted. The band had the most precious of cargo to protect after all.

 Another yawn threatened to escape his lips as Benn raised a glance to the woman curled up in the shadows, her arms hugging around herself to fight off the night’s chill. She had yet to complain about the lack of fire, the light of the crackling flames a clear indication of where the band would be housed up that evening. It was a welcome surprise to the mercenary, his usual dealings with those of Demmi’s status leaving much to be desired. The wealthy tended to be spoiled brats who expected every little thing to be handed to them on a shimmering, silver platter.

But not Demmi Beetlestone. She was something different. Something stronger.

Though she had the look of a pampered princess, the Beetlestone daughter was a clever sort. She had the ability and the brains to sneak out from her father’s gaze and seek out the help of the Order of Whispers. With her connections she was taken into the custody of Benn Tenstrikes, his sworn duty to get the brave lass to the Chantry of Secrets without delay. With his blade, he would carve Demmi a path to safety. There was no way he’d break that promise.

With a quick stride to her side, Benn said with his confidence brimming each syllable, “we’ll be poised within the walls of the Chantry of Secrets within the day Lady Beetlestone. It will only be a little further on. The watch has made sure we’re safe for the night so-.”

The girl lifted her head at his voice, a giggle rising from her throat as she grinned, “I thought I told you already Benn, it’s Demmi.”

Again, it was so odd for the wealthy sort to drop all formalities when dealing with those lacking in their stature. “O-Of course, I seem to keep forgetting that-.”

“No need to be formal with me Benn. Be yourself,” she hummed, a hint of stress speckled in her gaze despite her own confident tone. “Be the strong, courageous, charming man I know you can be.”

“Heh, you flatter me my dear, stop,” Benn chimed with a grin of his own, his stance showing off his muscled physique beneath his mercenary armor. With a quick flex of his arms, he continued with a wink. “Seriously though, flatter me more. Fan the flames of my ego more and more.”

Demmi bursted into a fit of laughter as the mercenary took a seat beside her, the two of them exchanging smiles to one-another as the breeze settled through camp. Everything seemed fine…until fear bubbled up in those wide eyes of the Beetlestone daughter, her gaze quick to look away from her protector in her voyage for freedom. Benn raised a brow at her reaction, eyeing her carefully as he waited for her words.

“I-I really wanted to thank you-and your crew. I-I don’t know where I’d be if not for your efforts in bringing me to the Chantry of Secrets,” she spoke with a seriousness in her voice, one that sought to escape her worst fears. There was pain from her past as well as the looming uncertainty of her future.

“No thanks needed. My band and I are getting you to safety, no doubt about that,” Benn added as he leaned back, his gaze to the stars above as he recalled the mission and the reports given beforehand. He was no stranger to the Beetlestone name, nor of Demmi’s father. He was a wicked man who did anything in his power to get what he wanted. Benn could only imagine how the young daughter played into his plans, the reasons for her fears bubbling up inside her quivering form. It was up to him to protect her. His mercenary band would see to it she was escorted to safety. But would that be enough to ease her troubled heart? Benn doubted that very much. “Hey, did any of your fancy tutors ever teach you how to wield a weapon? Or were they too convinced a lady of the house had no business with the blade or the gun?”

“Weapons?” Demmi repeated, returning her gaze to the mercenary at her side. “N-No, I’ve never been trained with weapons. I-I suppose my father had his reasons for not wanting me to learn.”

The answer sprung Benn to his feet, the Beetlestone daughter’s eyes wide as she watched the man offer a hand to her. Hesitant at first, she lightly placed her palm into his and he pulled her up to his side. His confident grin painted his lips as he then reached for his back, slipping a rifle from its holster before holding it out to his companion. “Well, now’s as good a time as any huh? We want to guarantee the lovely lady is protected after all. Just a little added measure to make sure not a single hair is harmed on your pretty little head.”

“R-Really? You want me to learn to shoot a rifle?” The girl repeated, her cheeks tinted pink at the charming words while she took hold of the weapon in question. It was lighter than she ever thought possible, the elongated barrel of the rifle balanced in her grasp as she studied its markings. It seemed so unreal in her hold, she wasn’t sure what to do with such a deadly device. “I-I’m not sure I-.”

“Come now, Brave girl. You’ll be fine,” Benn said with a chuckle as he stepped behind Demmi’s stance and brought his arms around her, lifting up her own arms to show her the proper hold of the weapon. He made sure everything was balanced, perfect. Mindful of her strength, he guaranteed the hold was perfect for the shivering girl he guarded. “See? You’re already learning. Keep your elbows here, frame your shoulders, you’ve got to be careful not to lower or heighten you position too much or your shot may end in disaster.”

“R-Right,” she nodded along with his instructions, trying to feel comfortable in such an unfamiliar position. It was so strange holding a weapon she’d never been truly introduced to, the teachings a gateway into a future where she’d have to rely on such artillery to protect herself. Any innocence she knew as a child however was long gone anyway. Her father made sure of that. The only thing remaining from her past being the necklace around her neck, a gift from her late mother. The lessons in weapons was truly needed. She had to protect herself. She had to live. “H-How’s this?”

“Looking good Demmi. You’re fitting well into that hold of yours,” the mercenary chimed, as he slowly pulled his arms away from hers. She remained strong and still, poised for battle as she prepared for her next instruction. Benn then slipped close to the end of the barrel, his gaze settled on the girl as he continued. “Now what’s your going to do is rest your finger on the trigger there and aim carefully for your target. Keep your stance strong here because the gun may force back on you if you’re not prepared. You’ll want to-.”

It was then that Benn noticed the safety was no engaged, his eyes wide as he reached to adjust. However, he was no match for Demmi as she listened intently to the instructions, her finger feeling for the trigger and unfortunately providing too much power into her touch. The gun resonated with a wicked boom as it shot towards the trees, Benn barely able to move his body from the impact of the bullet. He could feel the burning of his ear as he cursed and tumbled onto the ground, a hand feeling the grazed injury from the shot.

Demmi Beetlestone stood in horror as she lowered the gun and eyed the man on the ground, tears threatening to fall as she examined her guardian. “B-Benn, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to! Oh goodness, are you alright?”

“C-Calm down, I’m fine. I-I just got too close to the barrel is all. It was my fault for not properly checking the weapon before handing it off to you,” he managed to say through his heaving breaths, the sensation of blood forming under his fingers as he felt the wound on his ear. It was nothing too serious but it was surely adding to Demmi’s guilt. “N-No worries here.”

“You’re bleeding!” Demmi gasped.

“Just a flesh wound, no big deal Demmi. Not your fault!” Benn reassured her, climbing to his feet before carefully prying his rifle from her frozen fingers. He then set the safety on the rifle before slipping it back into his holster with a hearty chuckle. “P-Perhaps we’ll try a blade instead.”

“I-I think I’m done with weapons,” the girl whimpered with a sigh. “I almost killed my own protector.”

“Heh, well if that’s how you treat your allies, you must be vicious to your enemies,” the mercenary joked, Demmi’s frown shifting his tone completely. “T-Too soon?”

“P-Perhaps,” Demmi muttered with a nod. “Thank you Benn for trying…even if it did almost end with you losing an ear.”

With a grin, the mercenary answered, “it’s no worries Brave girl. I’ll stand by to protect you so you won’t have a need for weapons. And besides, I’m sure I’d look just as handsome even without the ear.”

“Of course you’d say that,” she managed a laugh as she settled down in her seat once more, curling up to fight away the chill of the night. “Charming as ever, my protector. Thank you Benn. Now let me see that ear of yours so we can clean up the wound. I may not do well with the weapons but I can at least do that much.”

With a nod of approval, Benn took a seat beside the girl and allowed her to tend to his bleeding ear, hoping the excitement of the evening would not escalate any further than their own interactions. “As you wish, milady. As you wish.”

*~End~*

Training Buddies

AN: You know who I miss, Baila (I hope I have her name right, lmao I always mix it up). Taji’s strong woman from the Dragon Hunters RPs 🙂 I miss her terribly and she’s probably now the closest “girl friend” Baye has in Eastwyvern (I rewrote the story so Aurora isn’t in town, she lives more towards the capital – and Vita and her have a roller coaster of a relationship – and she loves Wendell but she’s still unsure of their relationship honestly lmao). Anyway I figured they would be good training buddies when Baye finally joins up with the guild. This became bigger than I thought it would originally be. Also…post 596 🙂 so close to the goal! Hope you guys enjoy!

 Aaron stepped out onto the training grounds to see a plethora of recruits bunched together at the sidelines, Violet among them as she looked onward with an admiring gaze. The guild leader could already guess by the reaction what had the group in a frenzy and his suspicions were soon confirmed as he turned his full attention onto the field. There standing toe-to-toe was Bayelei and Baila, the two of them locked in their stares as they aimed to intimidate one-another. It seemed another epic bout of the ladies was about to commence.

With a sigh, Aaron glanced further down the sidelines to see Martin perched on a sturdy pile of logs for the fire. His eyes were trained on the women on the field as he nibbled a sandwich he likely snagged from the cooks. Even as the guild leader made his way to his side and took a seat with him, the older Jamerson didn’t take his eyes from the sight ahead.

“Enjoying the show?” Aaron mused with a chuckle.

“Baye and I were supposed to eat lunch together,” Martin muttered between bites, his gaze never faltered.

The guild leader leaned back on his hands, his interest piqued as he awaited some form of movement on the battlefield. “Well what happened?”

“Baila happened,” the older of the brothers answered with a shrug. “Baye can’t resist a match, especially when its with Baila.”

“So you were stood up on your lunch date, such a shame,” Aaron hummed with a reach towards the remaining half of the sandwich, Martin quick to grab his friend’s hand with a narrowed glare in his direction. “Heh, worth a shot.”

“This half is for Baye when she’s finally able to settle down,” the older Jamerson huffed with a pout on his lips, returning his gaze to the women eyeing each other down. Neither had moved in a long time, the only indication they were still conscious being the blinks of their eyes and the rising of their chests with each breath they took.

Aaron frowned at the realization of Martin’s odd attitude, the guild leader leaning forward again in his seat to study the duo on the field. “Quite the attitude today. What’s wrong? Baila stealing your girlfriend again got you down?”

Martin replied, “Baye is supposed to be healing. Wendell said her injuries aren’t improving because of her work ethic. And whenever I try to get her to take it easy and settle down, something like this happens and I can’t talk her out of it.”

“Did you really expect her to stop pushing herself so far?”

“You want my honest opinion?”

“Yes, hints why I asked.”

“With her joining the guild and with the closure she was presented with finally reuniting with her family…kinda sorta thought she would take some time to heal. But even when I feel like she’s settling down and ready to get some rest, along comes something else that pulls her attention and she can’t keep still,” Martin mentioned with a sigh of his own. “Wendell’s words have gotten me a little worked up, sorry for projecting. I just-I don’t want her making matters worse for herself when she really doesn’t have to. Of course with Baila as her best buddy now I can only see matters growing worse by the day. It seems the huntress from the capital is just as stubborn as the fair maiden Corde.”

“Yeah they are quite similar in that regard,” Aaron agreed, his gaze widening as the women suddenly stepped back from one-another to give themselves distance. “Looks like the show is about to begin.”

The sidelines erupted with hollers and cheers as everyone watched Baila and Baye take their positions, each of them poised and ready to pounce. The capital huntress took up a training sword in her grasp as she grinned at her sparing partner, the hunter opposite remaining weaponless as she prepared her sprint. Violet could not longer contain herself as she squealed and raised a hand, acting as the referee for the match while everyone else looked on in anticipation.

“On three!” The young woman called out. “One, Two, Fight!”

Baye’s speed was unmatched as she darted into a sprint, her body a blur to most who watched as she drove herself towards the awaiting huntress. Her sword was at the ready, her eyes trained to follow from her years of training. It was rare to find such a speed demon as the younger Corde sibling, the only one ever truly able to come close in their guild hall being Miller. Baila was always up for a spar or two when not off on a job, though those matches were usually only saved for Aaron. Not anymore though, Baye was the perfect conditioning tool for those quick and agile dragons they had come to face through the mountains. She was tricky and cunning, the perfect training tool. And honestly Baye was just fun to spar in general, she seemed to get the capital huntress and that made it all the more enjoyable to face against her.

A sudden force jolted Baila from her stance, the woman stumbling slightly as she reacted to the sudden kick landing on her cheek. It seemed she really did need more training, she didn’t see Baye get around her at all. With her sword in hand, the huntress slashed at the air where the speedy woman would have been only to secure a blow on the vacant space. Her eyes were not reliable in the fight it seemed for she could have sworn the silhouette of the fighter had been there in the flow of her attack.  With a sound huff in her throat, the woman then closed her eyes and listened hard for the movements about her.

There. The sword went out in front just as Baye’s body skidded to a halt, bending at the spine to slide underneath the practice blade. A grin formed on Baila’s lips as she sensed the movements and thus with speed matching her opponent brought the blade up before slamming it down with her strength backed behind it. A yelp escaped the speedy hunter’s lips as she did her best to avoid the blow, the weapon soon making contact with her shoulder and forcing her back onto the ground. Her body bounced off the hard surface and Baye couldn’t help but wince at the successful attack; however, she was nowhere near down for the count.

In the air the huntress spun her body and returned to her feet, keeping low as she darted out of range from her opponent. Baila could hear the escape and opened her eyes once more, stomping after her prey with a poised blade. The crowd of recruits were loud with their cheering as the two of them met at the center of the battlefield, their blocks and exchanges rapid and constant. Neither of them successfully secured a blow on the other but their attempts didn’t stop. Their exchange continued, their smirks visible to one-another as they fought.

“Baila’s going to get the upper hand soon,” Aaron mumbled to his companion at his side, Martin raising a brow at the declaration. “Baye will successfully force the blade from her hand and get a few licks in but then we’ll see Baila’s full strength and it will be the end of this bout for sure.”

“Can’t you step in as the guild leader and end it before someone gets thrown around like a ragdoll?”

“Are you kidding? You know well enough what it means to step in between a match with Baila and Baye,” the guild leader cringed at the thought. “I’m terrified of getting on their bad side. One is horrifying enough but when they tag-team together, its worse than death. You and Baye are close though, shouldn’t you be able to step in yourself?”

“You actually think she’d hold back against someone she cares about when they got in her way? Do I have to remind you of-.”

“You’re right, sorry for asking,” Aaron said with a sigh, the sight of Bayelei successfully smacking the blade from her opponent’s hand starting off his blow-by-blow commentary. “Baye goes for the sword, it soars across the field and secures itself out of bounds. She knows how to disarm successfully, this attempt traveling further distance than I’ve seen before. Baila is not disheartened by the attack however and has begun to send punches, Baye barely able to keep up her blocking frame with the amount of strength behind each attack. One. Two. Ten punches in a row. Baye’s arms are turning red by the abuse but she’s still holding position. No wait, there it is. She lowered her left arm too much. Baila saw the chance and there it is. A punch secured in the chest and Baye’s down. That hit looks like it took the air right out of her lungs.”

The punch silenced her breath as the woman fell hard onto her back, Baye coughing in hopes to regain a steady flow of air. Her muscles refused her pleading to climb back to her feet, Baila looming overhead with raised hands to the cheering crowd at the sidelines.

Martin had climbed to his feet during the final attack, his eyes scanning the fallen woman with concern. He was happy to see her fighting to breath at least but he couldn’t help but think of all the injuries she already sported that were now at risk of further damaging her body. Aaron joined him at his side, his gaze strong on the two fighters as he sighed.

“What did I tell you? The odds were in favor of Baila all al-oh,” the guild leader paused his words as when the capital huntress accepted her praise, Bayelei seemed to force all of her efforts into a single attack. She whipped her leg in a powerful blow, completely knocking Baila back as the woman collided on the hard ground right beside her attacker. Gasps resonated from the crowd save from Martin and Aaron, the two men now desperately trying to hold back laughter at the shocked expression lingering on Baila’s face. “Oh god, that’s a new one!”

The women on the ground exchanged glances, their struggles soon melting away as they both fell into a fit of laughter. Violet came rushing to their side as Aaron waved off the crowd to head back into the guild hall, both him and Martin aiming for the ladies as well.

“I guess we can call that one a tie,” Martin remarked as he knelt beside the woman he’d grown to care about, the other half of a sandwich in hand as he dangled it above her face. A wicked grin played on his lips as he thought to punish her for worrying him so much. “Got you some lunch. You gotta sit up though to eat it. Come on, you know you can do it.”

“Martin, you’re the devil you know that,” Baye breathed out between laughs, clearly unable to sit up just yet as she pouted. “Don’t make me punch you.”

“You’ve got to catch me first and I doubt in your condition you can make it into a good chase for now,” the older Jamerson joked, carefully wrapping an arm around the huntress to sit her up so he could tend to her wounds. “What am I going to do with you huh?”

“What are we going to do with both of you?” Aaron corrected, holding out a hand to Baila who accepted it gratefully with a hesitant grin. From the many years they’d worked together, the guild leader had a sense for when the woman was sporting an injury or two. It seemed that last attack really knocked her screws lose as well. She’d likely be nursing old wounds for the rest of the evening. Would she say anything aloud about it? No. It was clear despite the pain that Baila had the time of her life in the fight, as she did with every fight Bayelei offered her. They were truly great training buddies…too bad they were practically killing each other keeping up with the other. “So you two learn anything from that bout? Perhaps ready to take a long vacation to rest?”

“Are you kidding? I need to reclaim my honor after that last bout,” Baila cheered, grinning up a storm. “Baye, you’re going down. How about it? Rematch!”

Even with her struggles, Bayelei nodded along excitedly, “yes rematch!”

Lucky for them, Martin and Aaron were man enough to swallow back their fears and step in. “Baye, you made plans already remember. I’m not taking no for an answer.”

“And Baila, I could use your insight on some future jobs I’ve been looking into,” Aaron added.

Both women looked to the men, their expressions seemingly innocent as they pleaded to get their way. It seemed their injuries were preventing them from using force to their advantage.

“But Martin-!”

“But Aaron-!”

“No buts, come on,” the guild leader chimed and began to drag Baila behind him, though her groans protesting his actions she followed after without much struggle.

Violet watched with wide eyes before glancing back towards Martin and Baye, the older Jamerson grinning before wrapping up the woman in his grasps and kissing her lovingly on the cheek. “You wanna stick around and watch the show, Vi?” He joked, the man breaking down into a fit of laughter as he watched her cheeks burn red while she darted for the guild hall. “Ha, guess not!”

“Remind me later to kill you,” Baye huffed, her struggles useless as she went limp in his hold. She expected him to continue on with his carefree manners but soon found his chin propped on her shoulder, silently mulling over the fight from before. “Martin? You alive there Martin?”

“If I asked you to, would you stop fighting? At least until Wendell says you’re ok to continue?”

The question seemed to catch the huntress off-guard, her eyes wide as she leaned back in his hold. In truth, she wasn’t sure how to answer the question. She knew it was best to not promise anything she wasn’t certain she could hold up to. Fighting came along with her job, a job that filled her pockets and kept her alive. Without the job, she’d be broke and depending on others for survival…something she just never felt right about.

So she responded in her usual way, “are you paying me to not fight?”

Martin sighed at the answer but decided it best to drop the conversation for now, the man instead bringing the sandwich up to the woman’s lips. “Looks like we’re having a picnic today.”

“Guess so,” Baye managed as she nibbled the food presented to her, her gaze questioning the request she’d been presented with a frown. She could practically hear the disappointment radiating from the man holding her ever-so-tightly but she wasn’t ready to rely so heavily on others for help. Even if that person happened to be one of the most important people in her restart to life. “You know how to treat a girl, Martin. Half a sandwich. A feast for a queen.”

“Well, if you didn’t ditch me for Baila you could have had a whole sandwich.”

“Aw, you’re jealous I love Baila more than you?’

“I’d be jealous if that were true,” Martin hummed, kissing her lightly on the cheek again as he spoke. “Good thing I know better than that.”

“Baila would have at least given me a whole sandwich.”

“You’re about to get no sandwich if you’re not carefully Baye,” the man grinned as he watched the woman quickly gobble down her feast. “That’s what I thought.”

*~End~*

I Am Not Your Enemy

AN: A quick GW2 drabble featuring my Bellammere and Taji’s Gridlesser and Mayynerd. Also, five posts away from 600! Hope you guys enjoy!

Gridlesser pressed her back hard against the trunk of the tree her dear friend scurrying up, her fern hound poised at her side as she eyed the heights above with a concerned glance. Mayynerd was less held together as her unfortunately, his pacing constant as he muttered his concerns under his breath. Both feared the state their Sylvari friend was left in upon their latest mission and the news of what Bellammere’s kind emerged to become.

“May, calm down, you’re not making matters any better with your frantic back-and-forths,” the Norn stated, her eyes never faltering from the weaving branches above.

“Oh please, you are just as panicked as I am,” the guardian growled through gritted teeth as he recalled the tears rolling down those pale pink cheeks, Bellammere darting off to be alone to deal with the news of the purpose of the Sylvari race. “This can’t be real right? There’s no way in hell that Bell could-.”

“Don’t doubt her. Don’t doubt any of our Sylvari companions. Doubting them will only make matters worse,” Grid snapped in retort, Mayynerd scrambling to wash away such thoughts from his mind as he sought the branches above for some sort of sign. It had been hours since Bell had disappeared, climbing the highest reaches in an effort for solitude. This was not a time for her to be surrounded by friends in her mind. No, she had inner demons she needed to struggle against in a hope to truly understand her fate. Especially finding the news of the Sylvari people’s purpose being only to serve as minions for the dragon. Gridlesser refused to look away from the treetops, a slither of hope beckoning for that bright smiling face to peek out from her perch and show Bellammere was ok. “Where is Eavan?”

The guardian glanced the Norn’s way with a knowing stare. “I received a message from Corvo. He’s keeping her safe in Hoelbrak but who knows how long that will last. She’s likely taking this as well as Bell is.”

“Daeron too?”

“He’s with Callahan without a doubt. Knowing the thief, he won’t let the Sylvari from his sights. Unfortunately I’m not too familiar with Daeron to know his reaction to everything that’s happened. But I can say without a doubt that Callahan won’t let anything happen to him,” Mayynerd answered, a wave of sadness revealed in his expression as he focused his sights above once more. “Bell…I know well enough to guess what’s going through her head. Everything must be weighing so heavily on her heart. And I-and we’re not doing a damn thing about it.”

“We are doing something for her, May. We are here for her, waiting for the moment she’s able to come to us and share with us her troubles. We are here ready to listen, ready to aid her in any way we can,” the ranger argued, reaching a hand to stroke the fern hound’s fur at her side. “Rushing in and trying to force your way into her struggles will only lead her further into pain and hardships. She must be ready to see us. If not, we’re risking far too much for our own selfish gain.”

“You can’t seriously not be scared or upset about any of this?”

“I never said that,” the Norn growled under her breath, Mayynerd halting his paces to glance towards his companion. He could finally notice just how tense the woman seemed standing there in the wake of the towering elder tree. Her gaze never faltered, a constant stare towards the branches above for that simple chance at witnessing the kind Sylvari she knew and loved. The guardian frowned knowingly, understanding he truly wasn’t the only one struggling with the entirety of the situation. Gridlesser was fighting hard to scurry up the trunk and find Bell and force her into her arms. Yet the Norn remained there, poised and ready should the Sylvari return to them. She was so much stronger than the Mayynerd, he knew that all too well. “Do not doubt Bell, May. Do not doubt any of the Sylvari. They don’t deserve our judgment, especially when it would be so ill-placed.”

“I’m not-I-,” the guardian began but soon found himself quivering. He feared the future knowing the information they’d learnt on their latest mission with their merry band. The accusing gaze towards Bell at the realization of what he’d heard was practically a stab through the heart for the Sylvari as she watched not only him but many of her friends cast her a questioning gaze. Tears trickled down her pale, rosy cheeks as she fled from her friends to be alone, Gridlesser and Mayynerd taking the mantle in chasing her down. Guilt was there in the guardian’s heart yet he couldn’t help it. He had to voice his own concerns. “Grid, even though we want to believe otherwise, this may be even bigger than us. You saw it with your own eyes. You heard it with your own ears. Grid, the Sylvari are-.”

“Don’t May-!”

“The Sylvari are the minions of Mordremoth.”

“I do not believe it to be sound May and neither should you. I do not doubt that was the intended birthright of the Sylvari but I’ve met so many in my travels. Caithe. Trahearne. Eavan. Bell. They were given light in their dream, protected by the Pale Tree’s wisdom. They were given a purpose and something to fight for. They have all grown into their own being, strong and courageous and kind in their own right,” Gridlesser shouted, pushing away from the tree to now stand toe-to-toe with her guardian friend. Her presence loomed over him, her gaze narrowed upon the accusing man. Beside her the fern hound growled for emphasis to her master’s actions, ready to launch into an attack if necessary. “Do not go down this road Mayynerd. Do not doubt those you have claimed your friends. Do not cast them off for something you know nothing about.”

“Gridlesser, ignoring it is just as terrible and I for one seek truth here. Fights have broken out throughout the lands and I fear we would soon be at arms with those we called friends in the not too distant future. I don’t want to believe it but-,” he caught his words, fists bawled at his side as he felt like breaking down in tears. So much for being a strong guardian. Mayynerd didn’t want to believe his own words but the poison of what he’d been shown was forcing their way into his mind…into his heart. “As Mordremoth rises, the Sylvari will become the army of death. All of them will raise their weapons against us and murder us all. And Bellammere will-!”

“Bellammere will do nothing of the sort!”

Both the Norn and human fell deafly silent as a figure leapt down from the treetops, landing squarely behind the accusing man. Bellammere was a mess as she straightened to eye them both down for their words, her once pristine dress now dirtied and tattered and her cheeks stained from tears. Despite her appearance however, those rosy orbs of hers were strong as her stance as she looked on towards Gridlesser and Mayynerd. The guardian gulped at her tone before turning heel to stand before her, unsure of what to do or say next.

“B-Bell, I-.”

“I am not evil,” the Sylvari stated proudly, her gaze never faltered as she watched a wave of guilt wash over the man’s face. “I do not care what the oracles say or what was learned of our people. I don’t care what fate seemed to decide for us. Sylvari may have come to be for Mordremoth but I refuse to take up that role for anyone. I am not evil. I am not a minion of darkness and death. I am not your enemy.”

Gridlesser felt herself a grinning mess as she watched how strong the once fretful Sylvari had become, the Norn proud to see and hear what she hoped would come through all along. Mayynerd however felt the tears well up in his eyes as he lifted a hand up to reach out to the elementalist, the man stuttering, “B-Bell I-.”

“Don’t,” Bellammere snapped, blocking the hand from advancing with her own as she narrowed her eyes upon him. “You do not believe me. My tears cascade for a single reason. Despite everything we’ve been through, and I speak for all the Sylvari in existence, we have been cast aside by those we used to consider friends so easily.”

“Bell-.”

“I saw the look you gave me when we learned the truth. I saw the betrayal. I saw the hurt. I saw the questions swirling in your mind. And I felt my heart practically rip out of my chest,” she continued, the tears continuing to fall despite her strong stance before the guardian. “When I first met you, you were the first human I’d ever come across. Gridlesser convinced me we’d work well together as a pair so I swallowed my fears and stepped through the Asura gate to find you in Divinity’s Reach. And you treated me with such kindness and we had become rather inseparable in our ventures together. We were friends. And yet you were so quick to cast me in doubt when everything had happened. I saw it in your eyes. I saw it and I-I never wanted to see such a look in the eyes of someone I trusted so much and cared for a great deal. I never wanted to see that look from you Mayynerd. I never-.”

Her remaining words were muffled into the man’s chest as Mayynerd threw his arms around her, forcing the Sylvari into his tight embrace. The guardian hated himself for what he said, what he felt. He hated the doubt. He hated everything about the situation. And he would never forgive himself for questioning Bellammere. “I never should have doubted you, hurt you in anyway. I just-I was scared and confused and-it was so easy to throw your kind into the fire. After everything we heard, I just-I-damn it Bell, would you ever forgive me for this? I should never have doubted you. After all, you are the kindest soul I’ve ever met. And you don’t deserve such pain the world cast upon you…what I’ve cast upon you.”

Bellammere didn’t respond with words, her tears cascading upon the man’s armor as she threw her arms around his chest and gave into his embrace. The fern hound did her best to force herself between them, craving the attention the human and Sylvari provided one-another. And with a hearty grin came Gridlesser, the Norn throwing her arms around the duo for a giant bear hug. “We trust you Bell. We trust all of you. Though the world will need a lot more convincing, especially with many ringing out the news of the Sylvari destiny with Mordremoth. For now though, know this…we love you Bell and we will stand by you and your people. I don’t care what that means for us. I will not allow myself or my friends to cast you and the Sylvari out. You have my word.”

With that the Norn released her friends and expected Mayynerd to do the same, a chuckle forming in her throat when she saw him instead tighten his hold even further around the woman. Such a contrast from his words prior was a welcome change, even with Bellammere smacking him on the back for release.

“Lemme go May, it’s much too tight!” The Sylvari whined, her voice muffled in his chestplate.

“Not a chance, I’m never letting you go again,” he stated simply, his chin resting atop her head as he gazed off into the distance. “Your safest in my arms.”

“You’re crushing me in your arms actually!” Bellammere screamed to be heard. “Grid, he’s crushing me!”

“Crushing you with love?” The Norn joked.

“With strength, crushing me with strength!”

Mayynerd still refused to release her for some time, eventually the fern hound biting at the human’s shins forcing his hand in releasing her. And though his mind still whirled with questions and the possible doubts, the guardian allowed himself to believe in Bell’s words and her people. The road before them would be long and hard but it didn’t matter. Gridlesser and Mayynerd would never let any of their Sylvari friends be hurt. They would fight for what they knew was right. After all, the Sylvari weren’t their enemies. Bellamere was not their enemy.

They were friends.

*~End~*

Demonburnt

AN: A quick drabble on one of my Sylvari I haven’t paid much mind to since his creation. Damon aka Demonburnt aka Imp is a dangerous elementalist/thief who has been often criticized and shunned by his fellow Sylvari for his devious tendencies and his harmful behaviors. Despite this however, he isn’t necessarily bad. Though the Nightmare Court has taken some interest in him and his renegade actions and his rebellious heart could one day be swayed. Anyway hope you guys enjoy!

 At first glance, Bellammere thought the Sylvari dangling from the treetops was a demon of sorts, his wicked grin sending shivers down her spine. His fiery skin gave the illusion of flames gobbling up a forest, his eyes sparked with a hellish blaze of their own. His build was strong and sturdy, odd in her mind for someone holding the abilities of an elementalist or even a thief. His ears were pointed, more accented than any other of her kind she’d seen before. Caithe had referred to him in her warning as Imp…and it was clear now how he had gotten such a nickname.

Don’t be alone with the Imp…He’s dangerous…And if you aren’t careful…He’ll lead you to your end…

Bellammere bit hard on her lip as she slowly inched a step back from the trees she’d come across in the Brisbane Wildlands, her rosy orbs widening as the newcomer seemed to cackle before swinging his body with ease from the branches. With a familiar twist she’d seen thieving types do in her past dealings, Damon soon landed on his feet before the petrified elementalist. He eyed her over once, then twice, before he finally held out a hand.

“A lovely flower like you roaming about all alone in the Wildlands. My lucky day,” the Imp mused, his eyes narrowed as he saw the woman flinch at his gesture. “What’s the matter Rosa, scared of being burned by the one known as Demonburnt? As Imp? Scared of the devil himself?”

“Y-Your sudden actions would spook anyone,” Bellammere got out between breaths, a hand reached for her chest as she tried to calm herself to no avail. Caithe had specifically told her not to find herself alone with this man and yet there she was…alone with the Imp. No one was within reach to rescue her should things go sour. Gridlesser. Mayynerd. Corvo. Eavan. Korin. Everyone else was tending to their own business…far away…there was no one around to save her. “I-I should really be-.”

Another step back and Bellammere found Damon matching her step with ease, his wicked grin never fading from his lips as he searched her terrified eyes. “Oy Rosa, you don’t seem the rude sort. Perhaps you’ve forgotten manners.”

“My name is not Rosa, it’s Bellammere. And I do have manners thank you very much,” the elementalist snipped without realizing, her cheeks burning at the scolding words being dealt by the man sending fear into her soul. “You shouldn’t lecture anyone on manners when you stormed in without so much of an introduction let alone-.”

“Oy Rosa, why would I need to give you an introduction when you’ve clearly already guessed who I am,” Damon corrected with a shrug, his eyes burning as he watched her take another step back. He matched it of course, his actions accented with force as he watched her cower before him. “Rosa, no need to run away. I am not going to hurt such a lovely flower, even one so brazen and rude as you. Honestly, running away…and we’ve barely had time to chat.”

“You assume too much sir! I haven’t the slightest clue who you are!” Her voice was raised, more so than she’d ever thought possible. Even during her fights with Attreiyu and Lilliquinn, she’d never found herself reaching such volumes. Bellammere didn’t appreciate being called rude or being forced into a situation she wanted absolutely nothing to do with. Wishes danced in her mind, begging for a chance of Gridlesser rounding the corner and forcing the unwanted Sylvari away. But that wasn’t going to happen. Bellammere knew that all too well. “I-I have things to attend to so let me go. And again, I must correct you. My name is Bellammere, not Rosa.”

“Rosa suits you much better, lovely,” Damon hummed, his actions not even remotely detoured by her declaration. His looming presence sent another wave of visible shivers down the spine of the female Sylvari, the Imp taking the utmost pleasure in her distress. He found her rather cute as she quaked in fear. “Hm, seems Rosa has a sharp tongue when scared. Though she also seems to be a liar.”

“I’m not a li-!”

“You know well enough who I am Rosa. I can see it in your eyes. You’ve heard of me and by your reaction by one of my many fans,” he joked with a chuckle, though his humor was not shared with the woman before him. “You are correct in knowing I am Damon Torchwood though most know me by other handles. Demonburnt is one. Devil is also quite popular. Though I am going to take a wild guess in assuming you know me best by Imp. Is that right, Rosa?”

Bellammere gulped hard in her throat as she thought to take a step back, her actions met once more leaving her a trembling mess. She wanted to run. She wanted to hide. The longer she stayed locked in the wake of such a demonic figure, she drew further from the mission at hand. Caithe’s warning continued to repeat in her mind and she wished for everything to end.  She needed to escape.

Damon was no fool as he watched the woman’s distress before him. He took great pleasure in seeing her tremble but at the same time he felt a tinge of hurt knowing his identity had circled around the Grove in such a manner. He was growing famous, leaving him further and further from his people. The fear he experienced from Bellammere Damon was no stranger to. It left him alone wandering the lands, his only true friends being the elementals he could conjure as well as his own wit.

“I’m not going to hurt you Rosa,” Damon reiterated with a sigh, the thief taking a step back to give the panicked woman a breath of air. He saw her confusion swim in those rosy orbs of hers, her hand still resting on her chest to settle her rapidly beating heart. It was an adorable show, one he found most pleasing. He hoped to tease the woman again when she wasn’t so completely struck with fear. “A lovely flower like you roaming the Wildlands alone is cause for concern, Rosa. Perhaps you’re lost. The staff on your back gives me the impression you’re able to handle your own in a fight or two but your reactions now leave much to be desired.”

“I-I’m trying to be cautious is all. After all, you’re a stranger in the woods following my every step. Of course I should be alarmed by you!” Bellammere huffed at the man’s words as she frowned, glancing away. “I could care less about titles such as Demon or Imp. I have more pressing matters to attend to so if you’ll excuse me.”

As the elementalist turned, the wicked grin once more formed on the man’s lips as he chuckled, “Oy Rosa, you really are sticking to your lies aren’t you?”

In a fluid motion, Bellammere had turned heel with an accusing finger pointed to the one in question. Her fear was gone. Only an odd fury remained. “I am not a liar! And for the last time my name is Bellammere, not Rosa! Now if you’re done finding pleasure in torturing me sir, I’ll be leaving! I have limited time to find the Nightmare Court’s scouts in these damn Wildlands and I’d appreciate it if you’d just leave me alo-!”

Bellammere wasn’t certain what had happened next, everything went by so fast. The Imp in question remained his grinning sort despite suddenly shoving the elementalist from harm, a dagger in hand as flames danced around his fist. Arrows pierced the air from the treetops above, Damon’s actions rapid as his flames ripped through them with ease. His burning gaze was locked on the shadowy figures above and he wasted little time in waving his vacant hand, screams of agony howling into the evening air as two bodies engulfed by fire cascaded down and crumpled upon the ground in scorched husks.

Rosy eyes looked on in horror at the remains of the two Nightmare Court scouts, nothing left to recognize them in their blackened state. They were dead within seconds, the Imp leaving nothing untouched by his flames. If his devious actions before didn’t strike fear into her heart, the display that played out before her certainly did.

As her hand rose up to hold in her whimpers, Bellammere whispered, “Y-You just killed them.”

Damon remained poised and alert, though he did think to answer. “Aye, I killed them.”

“You killed them without remorse. You killed them just like that.”

“Aye, I killed them before they could kill you,” the Imp answered with a sigh. “Rosa, most would be grateful in your position right now I would hope.”

“W-We could have talked to them. We could have tried to negotiate in some way to-.”

Damon frowned at such words, the man turning heel carefully to eye the woman he’d protected. “I see Rosa, you’re the type that seeks good in everything despite your mind shouting at you to use your head. They shot arrows at you Rosa. You would have been dead if you remained still in your spot. They weren’t interested in talking or sharing their feelings. They wanted you dead. Don’t you see that? Or do you really only see a demon reaping havoc on a pair of innocent bystanders?”

Bellammere was left a loss for words at the man’s declaration, her eyes wavering at the strong stance Damon took in the wake of his destruction. He was right and she knew it well. Bellammere’s shouts had led the Nightmare Court to learn of their position and they had shot their arrows long before she ever felt their presence. Her emotions had gotten the best of her yet again. And if it wasn’t for the quick reaction of Damon, she’d be dead as a pincushion for their arrows.

Damon saved her. Damon protected her. Damon wasn’t a demon. He was a hero. Caithe’s words were silenced in her mind as she felt a calm return to her body. He wasn’t someone to be feared, even though he was odd and at times frightening to interact with. Damon was an ally, someone Bellammere could trust. He was someone who could be a friend.

A sudden shout erupted from the treetops as a third member of the Scout team dove down, his sword raised as he was poised to slice through Damon were he stood. The Imp turned on his heel with his dagger at the ready to block the blow, though he found the connection was never met. His burning eyes were wide as an Earth Elemental rose up from the ground and slammed the man in the air into a tree, the beast then stomping over and forcing the scout into its unbreakable grasps. The struggles soon stopped as the scout fell unconscious, a prisoner in the rock creature’s hold.

“I-I didn’t summon-,” Damon began but soon found himself grinning once more as Bellammere strolled past him to eye her prisoner. “Well Rosa, seems I misjudged you a little bit. Though leaving him alive, an odd touch.”

“My mentor would like to speak with him, possibly learn some information about the Nightmare Court’s movements. Besides, if its possible I would rather give my enemies a chance at life than ending their sparks so violently. It may be odd for you but that is how I choose to do things,” Bellammere stated with a nodding approval to her elemental companion, the beast beginning towards the gates towards the Grove while its master turned to bow to her new acquaintance. “Though I do owe you an apology sir Damon. You were right, I did hear of you from others and those things were not very nice I might add. Although I wasn’t so much scared of the warnings as I was your interactions with me. I can see now though that you’re not as terrifying as I was led to believe. You protected me and for that I’m eternally grateful. Thank you sir Damon.”

The Imp stood shocked at such a declaration, his eyes following the woman as she began to follow after her beast. His wicked grin soon returned though as he chuckled and called out, “A pleasure, my lovely flower. I look forward to the day we meet again, Rosa!”

With a smile of her own, Bellammere shouted back, “You should return to the Grove sometime and seek me out then. And for goodness sakes, my name is Bellammere, not Rosa!”

“And strike fear into the hearts of all those poor, defenseless Sylvari there?” He chimed with a cackle. “Sounds fun.”

*~End~*

Getting Older

AN: A drabble for Taji, featuring her characters Miller and Barlet. Hopefully I don’t butcher them >.< anyway hope you guys enjoy!

*~For Taji, Hope You Feel Better~*

The Captain’s office was quiet, save for the soft snores from Barlet resting on the couch and the shuffling of papers from Miller at the desk. Occasionally the tracker would lift his gaze from the reports to glance over the slumbering guardian from his childhood, a single thought crossing his mind as his fingers drummed on the wood of the desktop. Barlet was truly getting older and it was starting to show moreso than ever before.

Specks of gray showed up in the military man’s mane, visibly peppering his appearance for all the wandering eyes in town. Even roaming the streets for his rounds left Barlet with little stamina to keep up with his actions. He was no longer the young military pup fighting in his own way for justice. He was an aging man trying desperately to remain in a young man’s sport. And it was taking too much of a toll on him.

Everyday was a battle with migraines for the man, Miller taking up the helm on most of the reports and dealings with the soldiers to alleviate his family’s guardian of the numerous duties so he could catch up on sleep. No matter how much the tracker stepped in though, it didn’t seem to help much. Barlet was still faced with the duty’s of the Captain of Eastwyvern’s military forces, leaving him plagued with stress due to his responsibilities. The position was literally aging him…and Miller feared killing him.

The youngest Dullen had forced his way into taking up more duties, practically becoming the face and voice of Barlet. Luke often remarked just how much Miller had taken up the helm for their leader, the man sinking further and further from grace as he longed for a guiding light from his slump. The Captain would never admit that he already knew what would ease his troubled mind for that would give away his position in being able to protect the town she loved so much and the son she had left behind.

Barlet needed to step away from the military. Miller knew it too. The tracker imagined the stress melting away from the man’s shoulders as he was finally relieved of the duties plaguing him. He would finally be able to relax and walk through town without feeling the need to protect it. Well, in truth he would never stop trying to protect it…but he wouldn’t be expected to anymore at least.

“Old man, what am I going to do with you?” Miller whispered from the desk as a heavy sigh escaped his lips, the tracker then scooping up the papers and filing them appropriately. Not a day went by that he didn’t think about what was best for Barlet…but what on earth could he do to possibly convince him to take that much-needed step? He hadn’t a clue.

“Did you say something mutt?” Barlet suddenly questioned from the couch, the man barely awake as he strained to hear the answer of his companion. “Well, what did you-?”

“I didn’t say anything. You’re dreaming of little ole me again, Barlet! Go back to sleep and let me do my job,” Miller scolded and returned to the reports, the tracker soon eyeing the military man again to guarantee he was once more sound asleep. “Rest up, old man. Stop making me worry about you already.”

*~End~*

My Shadow For The Evening

AN: Sorry for the short hiatus of posts there, we had a huge snowstorm and I didn’t have much chance to write. Anyway, we’re super close to the 600 post goal before the blog’s anniversary and I know I can make it happen! So without further adieu, here’s a little Defender RP drabble goodness! Enjoy!

*~For Taji, Hope You Feel Better~*

 The party was brimming with life, crowds of wealthy benefactors and their time-traveling companions filling the hall with causal banter and shifting gazes. Thaddeus was no stranger to the game of the wealthy families, especially those involved with the Defender program. It was all about showing off their value, the highest bidders granted the highest honors in the eyes of those that dared to enter such dangerous business.

A pilot from a well-known family, Thad had much to lose as he made his way through the clusters of guests, his charming mingles sparking interest from the various parties that made themselves known at the soiree. Luckily Elliot’s absence failed to generate much notice, a relief enveloping the man as he continued his rounds. In fact, the evening would have likely run without a hitch if not for the single factor tight at his heels.

Adelle Hughes was practically his shadow for the evening, her wavering gaze often fallen to her feet as she scampered to stay in the familiar man’s reach. Since their first meeting, the engineer had showed herself to be quite shy at such affairs…though in truth Thad had guessed it was more fear-driven than a timid nature. Under the harmful reign of Crane, the woman was subjected to pain and torture with many of his counterparts knowing of her struggles and never bothering to say a word. There were many who viewed the time-travelers as trophies, abusing them whenever they saw fit. Adelle was unfortunately thrust into such a lifestyle, her meeting with Elliot and Thad by chance soon pulling her from such a terrible fate.

An offhanded wave from another guest and the pilot paused his steps to gesture his own greeting, soon feeling the sudden jolt of a figure colliding with his back. Thad stumbled and barely caught his balance, his hand quick to his slicked blond hair to catch any strays that dared to fall from his groomed mane. Kelphalos nearly tumbled from his perch on the man’s shoulder, luckily scooped up from the air before the core collided with the hard surface. Already he could see raised glanced from the formed crowds, a mix of shock and disgust on the display. With a hesitant laugh escaping his lips, the pilot turned heel to eye the woman who refused to lift her eyes from the floor.

Burning cheeks and slumped shoulders revealed her embarrassment as Adelle stood there, her shimmering dress slightly wrinkled at the contact while strands of her dark curls fell loosely over her honey orbs. In truth Thad had grown so used to the personality of the strong engineer that when he witnessed her in such a disarray at one of the lavish parties, he found himself a lose for words. She seemed so lost, so terrified. Part of him wanted to scoop her up and hide her away with Elliot somewhere far from the game of wealth and stature but there was the part of him that remembered the company wanted her present for this party…and that part of him usually always won out in the end.

“You alright milady? My apologies I didn’t think to look where I was going,” Thad spoke loud enough for those surrounding them to hear, their curious stares shifting slowly away so as the guardian could properly deal with his terrified time-traveler. Adjusting the core in his hold, the pilot then reached a hand to Adelle and gestured for her to extend her own to him. She did not comply, nor did she seem to notice. A frown played on Thad’s lips yet he never lowered his hand, pride getting in the way as he repeated with more bite in his tone. “I said are you alright milady? I must apologize, I didn’t think to look where I was going.”

“S-Sorry,” she stuttered underneath her breath, barely audible for the addressed to hear let alone those who viewed such display with appalled gazes. Thad’s patience grew thin as his gesture for her hand grew more accented, more desperate for her attention. And soon it paid off as Adelle raised a shaking hand and lightly placed it in her companion’s palm. “S-Sorry about-.”

“You’re shaking like a leaf, the guests will take notice and mark you a scared pup. I’m sure they’re already glaring daggers your way for your act just now. They don’t need more fuel added to the fire milady,” Thad remarked quietly as he closed his hand around hers, feeling the shivering limb with a heavy sigh escaping his throat. “You need to calm down. Perhaps you’d like to take a moment at the refreshment table? Get some food in your system? It may help you calm down.”

Wide, honey orbs rose to meet Thad’s and he bit his lip at such a pleading stare. He could almost hear the woman begging for him to go with her. And he would have…if not for the fact he was expected to remain on the floor and mingle with all the guests. He was an important figure in the Defender program. The game required his attention.

“You’ll be alright on your own, milady. Go on and enjoy yourself. I’ll be right over-,” Thad spoke as he released the engineer’s hand, turning heel to aim for the next wave of guests. However, he was soon interrupted when he felt a presence once more in close proximity, shadowing his every move as he sighed. “Adelle, what are you doing?”

“I don’t want food,” she remarked simply, her gaze once more on her feet as she stayed tightly behind the pilot. He wasn’t getting away from her. She was the only one she knew and trusted. There was no way she was leaving his side.

Thad eyed the hall with a knowing gaze, the obvious stares upon the duo leaving him questioning his next move. His charm and suave demeanor only got him so far at parties such as these. His interactions with the guests were key in holding up appearances. And many of them knew of Adelle Hughes as the time-traveler that delivered Crane behind bars. It didn’t matter if she was innocent or an abused victim. He was a wealthy partner in their business and therefore this engineer was a threat to their money. And here was Thaddeus Normanle escorting the woman around amongst them. It was a grave error in the game being played that evening, at least to most.

To be honest, Thad wondered if it really truly mattered to him. Adelle had come into his life on a whim and soon found a rather permanent place there after his family took up guardianship for her in place of Crane. She wasn’t a threat in the least and she deserved the highest treatment. And he rather despised the harsh gazes leaving her a shivering mess.

Yes, Thaddeus Normanle had a position to hold up for his family and for his company…but he was also a gentleman who would never dream of forcing such a lovely creature to face the hardships of the game alone. So without a second thought he turned once more to her and lightly forced Kelphalos into her hold, Adelle beginning to question such actions as he then gently took her arm with his own and brought her completely to his side.

“T-Thad what are you-?” She stuttered again, her eyes wide as she moved with the pilot along the floor. Surprised glances their way left her a fizzled mess, unsure of what to do.

“Screw politics, I’m not allowing you to face this alone. I’ve got you Adelle, don’t be afraid,” the pilot gently reassured her with a nod to those glancing their way, his waves to the various gaze soon met with smiles and waves of their own. He could feel the wide stare of his companion and he couldn’t help but smile, knowing she was at least somewhat protected at his side. She wasn’t his shadow nor a wallflower or someone hiding away from the public’s sight. Adelle Hughes was his companion and deserving of the love and attention of their guests, not their disapproving stares. “I’ve got the prettiest bell of the ball at my side this evening. Lucky me.”

“Remind me to punch you square in the mouth later,” Adelle suddenly hissed under her breath, Thad barely able to hold in his laughter as he escorted the woman to the guests to introduce her.

“There’s the Adelle I know and love.”

*~End~*

Drinking Game

AN: I really wanted to write a drabble about a gambling Bayelei since I love it when she is taking up challenges with the pure notion to win. And who better to face off with than Martin when it comes to drinking. Woo~ Also we’re so close to 600 posts! This one is 591!!! I am even more inspired to keep writing and make the goal before we come up on the anniversary in March! Anyway, hope you guys enjoy!

The older Jamerson found himself at the local tavern once again that evening, perched on his bar stool conversing with those close by as he drowned mug after mug of ale. He was used to the hectic atmosphere, rather at home to the hollers and cheers of the various patrons that stumbled in night after night. They were his family when it came to drinking, the man surrounding himself in what he found to be the most suited company for his drunken splendor. Yet the best company he could ever hope to have had yet to make an appearance that evening, Martin beginning to question if she would bother to show during their compromised meeting time.

“Miss me?” A voice chimed from his side and the older Jamerson grinned knowingly as he threw back another mug. Bayelei sat facing the rest of the tavern at his side, the woman leaning back on the bar as a familiar smirk played on her lips.

“You’re a ninja, I swear. I didn’t even hear you sit down let alone enter the tavern,” Martin mused with a wink as he waved the bartender over to refill his mug, the tech savvy gentleman turning in his stool to look out on the scene with the newcomer. The two of them had grown so comfortable with their routine since she joined up with the Eastwyvern Hunters Guild, their time together grown exponentially now that they were teammates with similar agendas (instead of the usual friends with the occasional mission together). It had become a nightly tradition that the two of them would meet at the tavern and share stories or just bask in the craziness of their booming surroundings. Sometimes the rest of the guild would come along but for the most part it was always just the duo seeking a break from their lives in the guild hall. It was sometimes the most exciting part of their days, pulling away from work just to talk to that person deemed so treasured.

“You say that every time you beat me here,” the hunter hummed with a roll of her eyes. “Would have been here sooner but Aaron held me back for some things. I swear Bossman purposely waits until the very last minute to bring things up.”

“He’s got a knack for that,” the man agreed with a nod, a chuckle forming in his throat. “It’s all good Baye. What’s important is you made it right? I was getting worried our little evening routine would be broken finally. We’ve got a good streak going and I feared our luck was about to run out.”

“Dream on, I’m not going to be the one to break tradition sir,” Bayelei commented, another roll of her eyes as she leaned her head back to glance up at the ceiling. She could see the bartender slide over a filled mug to her companion, a frown playing on her lips as she sighed. “Drowning yourself in poison again?”

“Lifetime of tolerance remember?” Martin answered, lifting the frothing brew to his lips and feeling the warmth flow down his throat. “You care to join me in drinking this evening?”

“Your jokes aren’t funny,” she retorted with a huff, her gaze rolling to glance past her companion towards the dart board lining the back wall. For once it was free, vacant of the drunken idiots tossing about the pointed weapons and securing them far from the board itself. It was amazing to see the amount of holes littering the wooden wall, the board itself practically void of any marking. “Wanna play darts? The board’s free for on-.”

“Absolutely not,” the man growled under his breath, memories flashing in his gaze as he cursed. “No way in hell you’re tricking me into that again. Last time we played darts I almost left her naked in the snow.”

Bayelei giggled at the thought, “good times.”

“No, not good times!” Martin snapped playfully, taking another sip of ale. “Cold times, very cold times.”

“Aw, you’re being a big baby about that don’t you think?” She questioned with a raised brow.

The tech savvy man raised a brow of his own as he muttered under his breath, “there are easier ways of getting me out of my pants.”

Laughter burst from Martin’s companion as she wiped a tear from her eye, her interest piqued as she looked around the room for another possible way to kill some time. “Heh, we could always play cards again. You love cards!”

“Same problem as with the darts, I keep losing too many articles of clothing in a public setting,” he grumbled, the woman continuing to laugh at his side. “I mean yeah the public gets to feast their eyes on the all-mighty glory of my body but perhaps we should just keep this a private showing shall we?”

“You’re managing to suck the fun out of all of this, you know that right? You keep shooting down all my ideas for a game.”

“You’re requesting them because you have no problem beating me to a pulp with them. You’re just looking for an easy dollar, not even a fun chance to spend time with yours truly,” Martin feigned hurt as he spoke, a smirk playing on his lips as he noticed the sound pout of his companion at his side. “Oho, did I hit the nail on the head with that one?”

“No you big jerk, I want to have a friendly game with you. After all, we’re supposed to be enjoying each other’s company right?” She hummed, sinking further in her seat as she muttered. “Though getting you stripping is a sure-fire plus I might add.”

“I knew it!” The man howled with an accusing finger towards Baye, the hunter feigning surprise at his words as he spoke. “Broke and naked, that’s how you’d like me to end up huh? For shame! How about a challenge where I might actually have a chance? Something I’m actually rather good at huh? Like dissembling devices the faster, cleaning dragon remains properly, or how about a friendly drinking contest huh? I’ll be fan-bloody-tastic at those games.”

Baye’s cheeks burned red at the man’s declaration, her lips pressed into a frown as ideas flashed in her eyes. She was a competitive and prideful spirit and when she got an idea, she followed through without fail. Martin had just presented her with a challenge. She was going to take it and win. “Fine, drinking contest. Sounds like a plan to me.”

Martin was just about to take another swig of ale when he paused and eyed the woman cautiously at his side. Perhaps he should have known better than to open his big mouth. Bayelei hated alcohol with a passion, mainly because she hated the idea of spending money on such ‘poison’ as she often referred. However, that wasn’t the only reason she despised the stuff. It seemed Baye was a complete and utter lightweight when it came to alcohol consumption. Even just a few sips of ale spiraled her down further than most would get after a few drinks. And it seemed from past experiences Bayelei was a very ‘touchy-feely’ drunk. Worry crossed the man’s expression as he lowered his mug and thought of how to properly deal with his dearest companion. After all, he knew just how stubborn she was. He dealt with it daily.

“You realize you just made a comment earlier about how I was allowing poison into my body right? Clearly you’re not thinking straight,” Martin offered with a sigh.

“I’m thinking perfectly clear actually. You wanted a game that was something you’re good at. Your abilities at drinking are unrivaled here in Eastwyvern. You’d give me a ride for my money!” Bayelei chimed with a nod to the half-drunken mug on the bar top. “Besides, I still have a fighting chance. Lord knows how many of those you’ve downed tonight already. I’m prepared to win for sure!”

 “Baye, I don’t think you’re-,” he paused as his companion waved over the bartender and ordered up another round of drinks, her hand poised on the mug as she grinned. “I-I see you’re committing to this decision. No way I can talk you out of it, huh?”

“Not a chance! Winner take all,” Bayelei announced as she slammed some cash onto the bartop, the woman poised and ready to down her drink despite her clear distaste for the stuff. “You’re not chickening out right?”

Martin wished he knew how to sway her from her madness, bringing her stubborn form safely from a terrible decision she’d regret in the morning. But alas there was no winning when Baye got like this. And in the end he was just as stubborn as she was when it came to snagging what he wanted. And that cash was going to pay off his bar tab for the evening. So with a nod, the older Jamerson lifted his mug and cheered, “drinking battle! Go!”

In sync, both threw back their mugs with a vengeance, the warm liquid cascading down their throats and teasing at their senses. Martin could feel the familiar burn and grinned as he slammed down his mug, prepared for another with ease. And he was just about to order it too, if not for the arms being thrown around his shoulders as a hazy Bayelei nearly knocked him over.

“T-That was faster than expected,” he stuttered, his eyes wide as he felt the clingy woman nuzzle close to him as she waved her empty mug to the bartender. “Uh you know what? We may want to call this a-.”

“Ano-Anotha!” Baye cheered happily as the bartender quickly topped off both drinks. She quickly threw back her mug and slammed it down again, raising a brow as she realized Martin hadn’t bothered to drink yet. “A-Aw mun, l-lookie like Marty can’t go on. C-Chicken!”

The tech savvy gentleman rolled his eyes at her taunts, looking over with a confident stare before throwing back a drink with incredible speed. The bartender was already at his beckoned call, delivering two more mugs which he also drowned with ease. Bayelei’s jaw dropped at the actions and felt herself lost in the show, sure even in her influenced state that she was at a loss. She was never going to be a match for Martin when it came to drinking. She had finally found a game he could beat her at. And it boiled her blood knowing she was the loser.

“I win,” Martin mentioned with a smile as he lifted up from his stool, sliding the cash to the bartender before holding his arms out to his companion. “Come on firecracker, I’ll take you home.”

“N-No, you have-haven’t won yet! I not let you win! I gonna be the winna!” Baye hissed as she waved another mug over, the bartender eyeing her with a shake of his head. The woman frowned at the denied access before she took hold of the emptied mug and suddenly launched over the bar top. A groan erupted from Martin’s throat as he tried to yank her from the nozzle for more ale, the duo causing a scene for the entire tavern.

Rolling his eyes, the older Jamerson felt Baye’s struggles begin to lessen until she was limp and easily subdued. With a grunt, he lifted her up into his arms as she snuggled into his chest, her lips burning red from her alcohol intake. Martin nodded to the barkeeper as he stepped through the maze of tables and chairs, avoiding the looks of curious patrons as he then stepped into the chilly night air.

“M-Marty did I win?” Bayelei whispered though her companion doubted she were truly conscious. With her track record with alcohol, it was unlikely she’d remember anything. Martin’s win would be null and void in her eyes. It didn’t really matter to him though, he was just happy to spend his time with his precious hunter. Even though she was stubborn and greedy at times, she was his. He accepted every part of her, even the part that easily allowed herself to get drunk in order to fill her pockets with coin. “Did I win all the moneys?”

“You won my heart. Does that count?” Martin remarked with a grin, feeling her snuggle further into his hold as he made out the guild hall through the distance.

“Heart? Wha-no! What am I gonna buy with a heart?” Baye whined in the darkness, the duo’s evening quickly coming to a close as they made it to the front steps. All that awaited them was the morning of regrets, especially when the hunter realized she was now poorer than before she blacked out.

*~End~*

Playing For Keeps

AN: Mentioned this idea earlier to Taji about her character Kyle likely being really good at card games, usually them to converse with other players and gathering juicy information from them. Baye is quite the card player herself though her motivation is strictly for winning and possibly filling her pockets. The two of them together would likely be a force to be reckoned with. Anyway hope you guys enjoy!

*~For Taji, Hope You Feel Better~*

It all started with a simple deck of cards, shuffled to perfection by the duo perched within the lively tavern. Kyle and Bayelei sat together, beckoning their closest friends over for a friendly game of poker. Of course those who gathered should have known better than to put such trust in the mischievous pair. Perhaps the power of alcohol proved too great for most that fine evening.

 Circling the round table with mugs of ale in hand sat Aaron, Miller, Jarell, Martin, Baila, Sarah and surprising Shamus. All of them sat with their own play style, each one eyeing around the table with interest as they began their bout.

Aaron and Baila had similar techniques, the lips pressed together as they debated their moves in their heads. Occasionally they’d nod along and add a hint of charm to the conversation but all in all they were rather focused.

Miller’s lips moved a mile a minute as he downed another mug, the tracker just happy to have his friends all gathered in a rather relaxing setting. Sure, he wished Wendell was off work and able to join them as well (a notion he made sure to share every few moments) but all in all he was ecstatic.

The most obvious of the group was Shamus, his boasting usually giving away his hand. His also flirtatious attitude was constantly aimed to woo the female hunter of his dreams, his actions quickly blocked not only by the intended but by the two men closest to her side (her best friend and her dearest companion).

Sarah was quite the charmer herself, her words flowing yet she held a pretty mean hand when it mattered. She knew how to play the game yet didn’t take unnecessary risks. In terms of protecting her own money, she was probably the smartest player out of the bunch.

The brothers’ play style was completely opposite. Jarell was quiet as usual, his tired eyes glancing around slowly with little interest on the game itself. He was so disinterested however that no one could get a read on him, his gameplay a complete mystery on his companions. Martin on the other hand was loud as he constantly waved over a waitress to fill his mug, the older Jamerson betting up a storm as he found himself in sync with his fellow players.

Perhaps the most talented of their group however was the pair that called the game to order, Kyle and Bayelei well-versed in the art of working the odds in their favor. Ever since they came together as a partnership, they’d found their skills benefited them in many venues. But the duo especially found themselves crafted in the art of cards.

Both had a way with words and a charm that was unmatched. Kyle had a gift in leading the conversation into directions he willed them to go, gathering all sort of information he wished for. And Bayelei was so well-trained in gambling, making the proper steps in order to fill her pockets. Even if their battle was against their friends, they wouldn’t hold back. It had been a long time since they could act as a unit and they weren’t going to back down due to technicalities.

“Raising again Baba? Ain’t that brave of you to bluff so much?” Shamus heckled, his booming laugh filling the halls as Baila rolled his eyes and tossed in her coins to the pot. How she hated the little nickname the guild leader decided to give her. “Ha, you can kiss that coin of yours goodbye! I’m taking this hand for sure! I match the bet and raise as well!”

“Sounds like the bluff is coming from you, moron,” Miller remarked with a smirk as Shamus tossed in his coins, Sarah quick to fold her hand with a shrug. “What? The gods toss you another lousy hand?”

“Seems the luck of the draw has yet to be with me tonight. No worries though, I’m sure my time will come,” she hummed as she settled back in her chair, her brow raised as she eyed the man at her left. Kyle seemed in deep thought as he eyed his cards, the world around him no longer important as he debated his next move. “Come on silly, it shouldn’t be that hard to decide if you’re in or out. Did Shamus’ boasting spook you or something? He’s all talk you know.”

“Hey!”

Kyle chuckled at the woman’s words, continuing to eye the cards as he answered, “it’s all about knowing when you have a chance to win or lose correct? My luck’s been just as constant as yours this evening Sarah. I’ve got to play smart or I’ll end up poor and at the mercy of Roxanne. Lord knows that lovely maiden will have my hide if I fail to properly provide for her. Alas, we’re like an old married couple it seems.”

Jarell and Martin both choked on their ale as they laughed, Shamus looking over with a wide glance. “You know Roxanne’s a dog right? You’re a strange man Kyle. Can’t even imagine what Baye sees in ya to want to be so close with ya.”

“He’s a good friend who happens to put his heart into whatever he deems worthy to care about,” the female hunter remarked with a shrug, her best friend glancing her way with a grin before finally folding his cards. “I offer a compliment and he runs from the fight, classic move my dear.”

The table busted into a fit of laughter as Kyle waved off the comment, watching as Bayelei quickly tossed in her bet without a second thought. Following suit the brothers added their bet as well, rounding right back to Miller who started the round strong. Thus as the dealer, he flipped the next card into play and a sounding grown erupted from the loud of the two guild leaders. It seemed the gods were not in his favor after all. More laughter from the table arose as Aaron folded, then Baila, then Shamus.

“Aw all of you running from the fight? How dull,” Bayelei hummed as she tossed in a raise without pause, everyone mesmerized by such confidence. Martin included it seemed, the older Jamerson hesitating before raising as well. “Ohoho, seems Martin wants to play. Things are getting more fun by the second.”

“Ha, I’ve got to win back my dignity from the last time we played darts together. I nearly walked home naked in the cold thanks to you,” he mentioned with a teasing glance to the woman he found himself caring for a great deal. He missed her playful banter during her hardships the last few months and seeing her in such high spirits made everything worth it. He’d risk a few coin missing or worse…his pants…if it meant that charming smile remaining on her lips. “You not getting cold feet right? I could go all night. I’ve got the hand to beat, I know it.”

“Well I wouldn’t mind the show if you wanted to add your pants to the bet as well,” Bayelei mused with a wink, Jarell folding without a word and slumping back in his seat with a sigh.

“Please don’t,” Shamus interrupted with a huff, rather despising the flirting going on between the pair across the way. “Nobody wants to see your bare ass. Sure it ain’t a pretty sight.”

“Prettier than yours I’m sure,” Sarah sneaked with a chuckle, the group all joining in another fit while the loud guild leader bit his lip and sunk in his seat. “Aw Shamus got embarrassed in front of his beloved? That’s a shame. Guess he’ll have to focus all his time and energy on his work instead. Perhaps work harder at getting a good kill in. Word on the street is you’ve been skipping out on dragon hunts. Shocking considering you live for that moment in the field.”

Kyle’s eyes glinted at the declaration. Finally, the drinks had did their job. The words were flowing freely now.

“I ain’t skipping out on dragon hunts cuz I want to if that’s what you’re implying Sarbear. I’ve got a lot of things happening for my guild. Plus with the new recruits lining up, the field units are doing well without me for now. Mark my words though, I’ll be out to join them soon. I just need to finalize some things then I’ll be ruling the job circuit here in Eastwyvern. Unlike the shits from Eastwyvern’s Hunters Guild over here.”

Miller narrowed his eyes at the guild leader, the group for the most part completely ignoring Bayelei and Martin as they continued to raise the stakes of their bets. “Ha, the shameless Shamus making the lamest of remarks. You do realize our guild pretty much owns this town when it comes to being the best hunters guild. We’ve pretty much got the highest support from the military and let’s not forget all the high paying jobs we get in comparison to your sorry excuse for a team. Why, just the other day we snagged a Diamond Rippleback. And we only needed a three person team to do-ow!”

Aaron frowned at his best friend’s declaration, the guild leader kicking Miller underneath the table to silence his words. “Seriously you’re getting into a pissing contest with Shamus? Perhaps it’s time we cut you off for the evening. I’m sure Wendell doesn’t want to deal with a hungover brat tomorrow morning.”

“You know that hurt ri-aw man I miss Wendell. She should hurry up and finish up work,” Miller whined, his cheeks red as he sunk in his seat.

“Huh, speaking of being hungover you should probably slow down anyway. Don’t you have work with Barlet in the morning?” Sarah added with a raised brow, once more everyone completely ignoring Baye’s and Martin’s betting contest on who had the better hand. They also were completely oblivious to Kyle, his mind a sponge soaking up every little piece of juicy information they could offer.

“I’m not drunk if that’s what you’re implying!” Miller announced to the tavern, his words slurred as he pointed an accusing finger at the working woman laughing in her seat. “And don’t you be telling me about my life. I know what my morning entails.”

“Oh lord he’s getting defensive, he must be going over the deep end,” Baila remarked with a chuckle, her eyes flashing as she finally noticed the scene across the way with a laugh. “W-What the hell? Martin what on earth are you-?”

It was then that everyone’s eyes settled on the duo still remaining in the game, Martin now shirtless with a furrowed brow as he debated throwing in more to the pot. All the while Baye grinned up a storm as she continued to toss in her bets without pause, her confidence unmatched. It was when the older Jamerson went for his belt buckle that Aaron shot to his feet and rushed to his side, halting his actions with a sigh.

“That’s it, he’s done betting. Just lay down your cards you two and end this round. I think it’s about time we’ve gotten a few of you home,” the guild leader snapped, the roaring laughter from the rest of their party growing louder as their hands were laid out on the table.

Though Martin did indeed have a good hand with a three of a kind, Bayelei had a flush and took the pot. The man whimpered at the loss and watched his dearest companion gather up her prize, which happened to include the shirt off his back. “That was my favorite shirt.”

“And I’ll treasure it always,” Baye hummed as she finished bagging her prize, the woman then hugging the shirt to her chest in a triumphant display. “Unless of course you’d like to try your hand and win it back from me. Though I bet your luck this evening has all but run out. Perhaps you’d like to try your hand at something other than cards in order to win your precious shirt back.”

“You’re on-ow!” Martin huffed as Aaron smacked the back of his head, the group all slowly rising to their feet save for Bayelei and Kyle. “F-Fine, guess our battle for the shirt will have to be held at a later date. You coming home Baye?”

“I’ll be along in a moment with my new shirt,” she hummed with a wink to her love, Martin grinning at her response before helping Jarell escort the stumbling Miller out of the tavern. Baila then hugged the hunter’s shoulder before her and Aaron waved their goodnights to the rest of the team. Shamus offered his own flirtacious goodbyes as well, Baye rolling her eyes at the display before watching Sarah escorting him outside. When the coast was clear, she leaned back in her chair with a knowing grin to her best friend. “Well, you look like you had fun.”

“We should definitely do this more often. I got quite a bit of information out of this little game of ours,” Kyle mused with a grin to his friend. “And look at you, richer than ever. And you even got yourself a new shirt in the process.”

“Heh, Martin’s favorite shirt no less. That’s even better,” the hunter said with a laugh before she climbed to her feet with a stretch of her arms. “You know what, this was fun. Even more fun than I remember. Can’t wait to do it again.”

Kyle nodded along with the declaration, knowing all too well what lifted his friend’s spirits. “Let’s play the game soon then. More fun in store for the both of us.”

“Can’t wait,” Bayelei cheered with a wave over her shoulder as she scampered after her guild mates back to the guild hall. “The fun has just begun!”

*~End~*

Wandering At Night

AN: I’m in a writing mood and I realized I needed some Defender RP love in my life right now. Hope you guys enjoy!

*~For Taji~*

The flames danced in the fireplace, a rhythmic ballet feast for the eyes. Each crackle of the wood acted as a symphony for the performance, Thad finding himself more and more lulled into a trance as his eyes wandered from the reports. The warmth was so inviting, the movements so alluring, he began to wonder how he had ever managed to remain on duty all that evening. Just what time was it anyway?

The pilot settled back in his seat, careful of his Defender core perched on the back of it as his back pressed against the rather comfortable cushion. He lifted the pocket watch from his pocket to stare upon the ticking face; a groan erupted from his throat as he realized he had stayed busy well past midnight. The morning hours were fast approaching with each inching second. There was still so much reading to be done and every moment he lingered in completing his self-appointed task, the more likely he or his companions faced danger on the battlefield. The dancing flames were not priority and so the pilot huffed and ran a hand through his already disheveled hair, an appearance he preferred stay behind closed doors. Gathering up all the papers and neatly straightening them out for his viewing pleasure, Thadeus returned to his duties and searched the reports for any anomalies.

Every word was read carefully, repeated in his mind to guarantee nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The pilot had noticed the missions he attended within the past month seemed strange, almost unsettling. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it but everything seemed off, so much so that he feared there was a greater power at work leading him and his team into a trap. Thad wouldn’t allow that, not only because the life of a prisoner sounded quite uncomfortable and would likely leave his well-tamed looks in disrepair (even worse than that particular moment of stress which left him looking quite the slob). The team he rode with was his most precious friends, Elliot and Adelle being at the top of that list of those the wealthy pilot cared for. There were so few Thad could ever think to trust, so when it came to those most precious to him the pilot was determined to see them protected and cared for without fail. If it meant remaining awake into the wee hours of the morning reading a month’s worth of reports, it all seemed worth it just knowing his time travelers were safe.

Suddenly a creak echoed through the room, Thad’s efforts paused once more as his muscles tensed at the sound. His gaze crept up from the reports and traveled across the study, latching onto the doorway which he’d left slightly cracked just in case. He couldn’t make anything out through the shadows but there was definitely a familiar presence hidden there, likely fearful to be discovered so late in the evening. The pilot heaved a sigh, realizing it was one of the time travelers wandering about the halls at night. There was no doubt in his mind, there was no way Elliot would be so reasonable as to remain quiet and not barge in uninvited. This time traveler had the best manners when it counted, something Thadeus was quite appreciative of.

“Come on in Adelle, I’m not going to bite or anything like that,” the pilot called out, mindful of those slumbering within their home as he gently waved the newcomer inside. After a moment’s pause, the door slowly edged open and the engineer stepped out from the shadows into the room. Her tired eyes were immediately latched onto the dancing flames within the hearth, her movements coming to a halt as she appeared embarrassed in her discovery. Thad took note of her own disheveled appearance; her dark curls left a frizzled mess in her haphazardly tied ribbon. Not only that, her evening dress was wrinkled to the point of no return and the dark circles under her eyes gave away her lack of sleep that evening.

Though odd to see her in such a state of difference from her daily sight, it was unfortunately not a rare occurrence. Since the woman’s arrival after Crane’s arrest, it became abundantly clear that Adelle had suffered from night terrors on a regular basis. Nightmares plagued her in sleep, sometimes from her past and sometimes from more present times. Dr. Ventril did his best to medicate her properly in her time of need yet they still kept coming. And Thadeus hated seeing her in such times of need, sometimes leaving him a worried mess when it came to his own sleep schedule.

With a heavy sigh, the pilot looked the woman up and down once more before waving her over, “nightmares again milady?”

“Couldn’t sleep,” she retorted with a hint of pink on her cheeks, her embarrassment evident from being discovered so easily. The soothing tone of Thad’s voice however did its job of luring her further into the room, her eyes finally breaking from her trance upon the dancing flames and focusing instead on the gentleman awaiting in the chair before her. “Sorry to disturb you. I didn’t mean to impose. It’s just-I heard the fire going and the shuffling of papers so I was curious who could be up so late. You look worse for wear, Thadeus.”

The pilot gave a hesitant chuckle at her response, quickly sending a hand up to straight his disheveled mane as best he could under the circumstances. “Forgive me for allowing you to see me in such a state; I must admit my current project has left me stressed more than it should. Such times caused me to fail at keeping appearances. You must think me a slob in such disarray.”

“Why? You look more human this way instead of a robot,” Adelle teased, a soft giggle rising from her throat as she positioned herself beside the chair. She carefully scooped Kelphalos, Thad’s defender core, in her grasps and lightly brushed her fingertips along the humming surface. All the while her companion eyed her with a raised brow, a slight blush forming on his own cheeks as he ceased his pampering completely. “Robot Thad, beep bop boop.”

“You’re hilarious, milady; a real comedian,” he grumbled under his breath, his concerned eyes scanning across Adelle’s form for another moment before he motioned to the chair rest with casual flair. The engineer noticed the effort and raised a brow of her own, unsure of what he was instructing. After another gesture went unanswered, Thad said, “come and have a seat then. I doubt you’ll be getting much sleep on your own as I’m sure you’d just continue to wander about in the shadows. So I’d prefer it if you stayed in here with me, that way you can at least keep warm by the fire. I must admit the lack of skin covered in such a chilly maze of halls would leave you ill and back in the arms of Dr. Ventril. I’d like to avoid that if possible. And besides-,” he paused, his eyes faltering as he looked towards the flames dancing in the fireplace. “I must admit I could use the company myself right now.”

“Isn’t it unbecoming for a woman to find herself in such a position with a man of your stature,” the woman teased with a small smile on her lips, her companion rolling his eyes at such a statement.

“You mean a robot, beep bop boop?” Thad retorted, surprised to find a laugh emerge from Adelle’s throat before she quickly threw a hand over her mouth to mute the sound. With a grin of his own, he once more gestured to the armrest. “Come milady, keep me company tonight. A special woman like yourself is always welcome to my side after all. It’s exciting to know that I will have the company’s loveliest engineer cheering me on as I continue my work.”

“Flattery gets you nowhere, Thadeus. You’re so shameless,” Adelle mused with another perfectly-timed eye roll, the woman then slowly easing down onto the armrest with Kelphalos humming along in hand. She made sure there was a small distance between her and the pilot as she got comfortable in her new seat, her eyes glancing down at the papers in her companion’s hand before returning to the trance of the dancing flames. “Those are the reports from previous missions this month?”

“Flattery gets me everyone, milady. Just you wait and see,” Thad mentioned with a playful wink to his companion before returning his gaze to the papers in hand. “And yes, just some light reading to get through the night.”

“Pure poetry on paper,” she mumbled, holding Kelphalos tight in her arms as she shivered.

Without the fire, the study would be quite chilly with the winter months closing in on them. Thad was quick to action as he placed the papers on his lap and tugged at his jacket. It slid off his shoulders swiftly, the man then handing it over to a surprised Adelle. She eyed the jacket for a moment, unsure of what to do; however, she soon scooped it up and pulled her arms through the sleeves as she babbled thank-yous to her companion. She grinned as she sunk into the hearty embrace of the jacket, happy to be enveloped in its warmth.

“Keep warm milady, I mean it when I say I would rather not hand you off into the arms of Dr. Ventril again. You’ll make me worry about you more than ever,” Thad commented with a smile.

“You don’t show the same amount of concern for Elliot,” she alluded with a raised brow.

“Elliot deserves more time with Dr. Ventril with what he puts me through,” the pilot huffed, sending another hand through his hair as he sighed. “You feeling better at least milady? Perhaps I can offer you some warm tea from the kitchen or-.”

“I’m fine thank you,” the engineer managed with a smile of her own as she leaned back on the edge of the chair, holding the humming core tight as she watched Thadeus return to his work.

For a while, the two sat in silence save for the crackling of the fire. The pilot continued to read each report carefully, the words practically memorized with how many times he committed them to memory. And at his side Adelle grew more and more comfortable in the warmth of the study, her eyes growing heavy with each passing second. Before long, she could barely keep her head up as she found herself inching closer slowly to her companion.

Thad’s eyes grew wide as he felt Adelle’s head make contact with his shoulder, her eyes closed off to the world as she cuddled Kelphalos to her chest. The pilot glanced her way with a knowing smile, her soft, even breaths an indication she was finally lulled to sleep once more. “Sleep tight milady,” he whispered, lowering his papers once more before gently stroking her hair from her peaceful face. Finding Adelle so calm and able to sleep despite the nightmares that plagued her before, he couldn’t help but feel at ease and motivated to continue his work. After all, his efforts were to protect those dearest to him…and she was one of those he found most treasured.

So Thadeus scooped up the papers once more and scanned each word with newfound determination. And on occasion, he’d sneak a glance at the slumbering woman by his side, teasing at the loose strands of curls threatening to hide her beautiful features. And on the rarest of moments, he’d have to hold in a fit of laughter as she would mutter in her sleep, “beep bop boop.”

*~End~*

Wait For Me

AN: The world has lost some of its brightness as Monty Oum passed on Feb. 1, 2015. I don’t typically get so emotional about those considered “celebrities” but this guy was amazing and a hero in my eyes. I wish I had the talents Monty had. I wish I had the drive Monty had. He was such an inspiration to anyone working through their creativity and he will be forever missed. It’s probably going to take me awhile to get over this loss, he was just that inspiring and that important in the lives of his fans.

I am inspired to write, as I am often inspired to do. Though I had always dreamed of being an animator, I am nowhere near as talented in those regards as I am I feel in writing. It’s a hobby, it’s a job, it’s everything to me. Monty wanted everyone to go out and chase their dreams, he wanted them to utilize their creativity and to keep moving forward. That’s what I’m going to do. Thank you all for reading, it means a lot. Sorry if I get the characters wrong but I felt it appropriate to write a RWBY fic here. I just…wanted to hold true to his words and keep writing and keep moving forward. Thank you Monty Oum…for everything. We love you.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything from the RWBY franchise, including story, characters and setting. They belong to Monty Oum and his creative team at Rooster Teeth. I’m simply borrowing them for storytelling purposes.

*~For Monty Oum, We Love You~*

The frigid tears cascaded down and struck my cheek, each one hurting more than the actual wound I procured through my gut. The contrast was absolute from the warm blood bubbling up through my throat, choking me as I gagged and pleaded for the pain to end. When I awoke that morning, I never thought this was the path I would find myself taking. I never thought…this would be goodbye.

“Ren, what were you thinking? What the hell did you-?” I heard Nora Valkyrie cry and felt her hands wrap tight on my arms. My vision was so blurred already I couldn’t make her out through my own tears forming, I could already sense it. This was the end for me. It would all be over soon. “O-Oh no Ren, there’s blood everywhere. S-Someone help!”

It was rare to hear a quiver in my best friend’s voice, her body trembling as she refused to let me go. Nora was always so confident, so brave, so remarkable on the battlefield. She embodied a true hero though many were often confused by her rather crazy antics. She never cared what others thought of her. She only cared about living life how she wanted to live it and she cared about those she considered her friends. She was like that all through our childhood. She was like that during our time in Beacon Academy. She was like that after we graduated and began to work as full-fledged hunters of Grimm. She never cried on the battlefield. She rarely cried in private. But I could feel the tears raining down. Nora was crying now.

“S-Someone! Anyone!” She shouted again, her voice catching in her throat as her nails dug into my tattered uniform. It seemed no one was around to help us. We had rushed ahead to protect our team. We had rushed ahead…we shouldn’t have rushed ahead. I knew that and yet…I couldn’t stop Nora from charging forth. And I couldn’t let her go alone. If I did, she would have been the one a heap upon the mud. And she would have been alone, with no one there to cry for her or hold her tight as she felt the world dim around her. “Y-You’re going to be ok, Ren. Don’t you dare leave me ok, I’m going to get you help.”

I thought to open my mouth and speak but my voice wouldn’t make a peep. All I could manage was another fit of coughing as more blood gurgled up from my wound. I wanted to reassure her that everything was ok. I wanted to let her know I felt her presence and that I would have protected her regardless. I wanted to say so much at that moment. I wanted to-I-I wanted to say so much and yet I couldn’t muster even a single word.

“I-I can hear people coming. We’re going to get you help Ren. We’re going to get you help ok so don’t you dare think about dying on me,” Nora snapped as I felt her leaning closer, my vision managing to focus on the weeping warrior hovering above me. It had been so long since I’ve seen that look of complete horror on her face. She was deathly white as her shoulders shook with her cascading tears, her gaze pleading with me to live. I wanted to Nora. I wanted to live more than anything. I didn’t want to leave yet. I never wanted to leave this world…I never wanted to leave you.

Another cough sputtered blood onto Nora’s tattered outfit, my apologetic glance met with a frown as she forced herself closer and did her best to wipe away the blood from my mouth. I could see the desperate pleading eyes search for a sign of salvation. But there would be no salvation, not for me. I made my choice. I acted on my own and I was cut down protecting someone I cared about more than life itself. I didn’t want to leave her. I never wanted to leave her. But I also couldn’t bear her getting hurt or worse…Nora had to live. There was no ands, ifs or buts about that.

“I could have handled that Grimm on my own you jerk. I was handling everything on my own. Why did you do that? Why did you push me out of the way? I had it under control!” Nora whimpered, tears continuing to fall. She knew her words were lies. She had miscalculated the attack and if the blow had struck it would have been fatal. Her end would have been immediate and she wouldn’t have had the chance I had. There would have been no final words. No goodbyes. Only pain, left without knowing what she wanted to say to all of her friends…to me. “R-Ren, p-please don’t leave me. Don’t go where I can’t follow.”

“N-Nora,” I forced out, blood trickling down out of the corners of my mouth. I could feel her muscles tense at the sound of my strain, her eyes misting as she watched my struggle unfold. I had to get out my words before it was too late. I couldn’t leave it up to a chance, especially when I was confident the end was near. “N-Nora I couldn’t let you die. I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t-.”

“But I can’t bear you dying either Ren! You aren’t supposed to leave without me. We’ve always been together. Ever since we were younger we’ve been side-by-side. We’re meant to be together. We’re meant to-and yet you’re threatening to go on without me. I-I can’t follow you if you leave. I-I can’t. D-Don’t leave me Ren.”

“I-I never meant to make you cry Nora. And I never meant to leave you,” my voice continued to trail off as I spoke but I knew I had to continue. It was my only chance. I couldn’t let it slip away. “N-Nora, I-I need you to listen to me. T-Tell everyone I’m sorry I couldn’t continue. A-And I’m thankful to have met them all and fought side-by-side with them. I’m so thankful that-I’m so thankful that-N-Nora-I-I have to tell you-.”

“N-No, don’t tell me these things. Please don’t give up so easily. You’re supposed to live remember? We’re supposed to remain side-by-side! Don’t tell me these things and then leave me!”

“I-I have to-I-have to-or else I will have lost my only chance to-to tell everyone how much I loved them-and-and how much I-I lo-,” I could feel the darkness closing in. The pain would soon be gone…along with my life. I couldn’t falter now. I had to tell her. I had to. “N-Nora-I-I-I have to tell you-I-I-I-.”

“Ren don’t go!” I could feel Nora collapse upon me, her words pleading as she cried into my chest. “I-I love you Ren and I can’t do this without you. I don’t want to be alone ever again. Please don’t go Ren!”

“I-I-,” my tears mixed with the blood as I felt myself being silenced. The peace of hearing Nora’s words were shortlived as I fought against my ending. I needed to tell her I loved her too. I needed to. Nora needed to hear those words. She needed to know. “N-Nora-I-I-lo-lo-.”

The darkness crept in and I could no longer fight it off. My time was up. I could no longer see Nora, I couldn’t feel her body pressed against mine as she wept. We were separated. She was alive. I was dead. I wanted to cry. I wanted to take her in my arms and tell her how much I loved her. I wanted to tell her everything was going to be ok. Why was fate so cruel? I couldn’t tell her what I felt mattered most. I had lost my chance. Nora…I’m sorry.

*~*~*~*~*

I stood at the gates, straight as an arrow as my magenta gaze settled into the swirling lights ahead of me. Time passed by so strange on this side, I could hardly believe it had been so many years since that fateful day. Nora had to live the rest of her life without me and though her personality never changed I knew she would never be the same as she was when I was by her side. It was selfish of me but I felt the slightest bit of comfort knowing just how much of an impact I had on her life. Why wouldn’t I though? We were together all through our childhood. We would have remained together all through adulthood as well…save fate had other plans for us.

I was scared to face her as I stood waiting, something I had done everyday since my death. I was going to wait for Nora no matter what. When we were finally able to stand toe-to-toe once more, I would finally tell her what I couldn’t so many years ago. Despite everything, I felt nervous as I rocked on my toes. Even in death, the thought of admitting something so important to me…it terrified me to no end. But I had to tell her. I had to.

Nora had grown older yet as I saw her cross the cloudy threshold she looked the same as she did that day, her confident grin on her lips as she marched in my direction. I could feel tears in my eyes at her approach, my hand reaching out towards her as she moved. I couldn’t believe it. We were finally together again. I couldn’t hold back. I had to let her know. “N-Nora, I waited for you. I always waited for you. I needed you to know that I lo-.”

Suddenly Nora was inches from me, her mischievous grin wide as she lightly tapped me on the nose, “boop! I know already silly. I love you too.”

I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing, I wanted to hold her in my arms and never let her go. “Y-You knew? I-I regretted never being able to tell you myself that I-“

“I’ve always known silly, you didn’t need to say it out loud. I could always tell with you,” Nora then wrapped her arms around me for the strongest hug I’ve ever felt before. It was so warm and inviting, I was so happy that the day had finally come that I had her back in my life. “Thank you for waiting for me Ren. We’re together forever now. No leaving this time.”

“I-I promise,” I whimpered and we remained in each other’s arms for eternity it felt like. “I love you Nora Valkyrie. I’ve always loved you. And I’ll never leave you again. Ever.”

*~End~*