Maturity warning on the below - 750Words gave it an R rating for violence, naughty language and general... darknessness. This is based on the RP done for Aylix's backstory...
((Disclaimer - while based in the FnH world - this is a lot darker than FnH would usually get in LARP and possibly suggests things Just Not Done in the LARP setting. Just so you know.))
Aylix sighed, staring out into the quiet woods around them with something approaching dispair. The woman in the very small church building behind him drove him absolutely crazy - he didn't think he'd ever known anyone to be as closed off as she was and the fact that he was... He caught the line of thought before it could carry on. No, that was daft. They travelled together because it was safer that way and they spent every night between the sheets together because well that's what people do when they're attracted to each other and each day ends with the buzz of adrenaline in their ears. He poked at the small piece of wood he had brought out with him with his knife for a couple of minutes without any real intent and discarded it as twlight took the woods. A wave of drowsiness passed over him and even as he brought his hand up to rub at his tired eyes conciousness escaped him to be replaced with gentle snores. As if taking some kind of cue a sparrow flickered past him inside the church, landing in the small side room in front of the bed Rani was now sitting on, rubbing rubbing the balls of her feet as if trying to work out the ache of the last couple of months of travel. The bird chirruped, as if to catch her attention and she glanced up at it, bemused as her thumbs worked on the soles of her feet as it hopped from side to side. Losing interest after a few seconds, she glanced back down at her tired feet with a slight whimper. "I wonder if I could ask the Ithronian to massage them without him making some kind of sarcastic remark..." she mused aloud catching sight of the bird fluttering up to the bedside stand. It was starting to get slightly unnerving the way it was just watching her, staring with almost a malignant intelligence. "You're being stupid Rani, it's just a bird." she murmered. The bird cocked its head to one side and flew up at her face making her recoil in surprise, muttering an oath in Guiadonese. The bird opened its beak but the noise that it emitted definitely wasn't anything it should have been able to make. Rani made as if to swat it away when there was a woosh of air and suddenly she was falling backwards onto a leafy floor. She landed hard, not comprehending what was going on for several seconds before it came to her in a rush. Somehow she'd left the church and now she was back in the woods but unlike the warm and almost welcoming feeling it had given her before it seemed cold, almost haunting. "Mael said you'd be here." A leery voice came from behind her making her freeze. "He definitely knows how to pick 'em." She turned slowly to see three men stood behind her - each was dressed in well worn clothing and it looked like they each had been travelling hard for seveeral days with stubble marring each of their sneers. The man who spoke was tallest, a rake of a man with wicked green eyes and lank black hair. To his left was a blond, standing not much taller than Rani but a lot more heavily built, his hair covered his eyes almost making his nose - which looked like it had been broken more than just a couple of times - seem even more prominent. The third seemed to take the height of the first man and the broadness of the second to form some kind of towering monster; he was bald with a jagged scar trailing from above his left eye over the top of his head. "Where am I?" Rani demanded her hand creeping round her back to her dagger sheath, taking some comfort in the hilt as she wrapped her fingers round it. "And who are you all? "Not far from where you were." the thin man said casually, his accent fairly thick. "And we're friends of Mael... well... you kow him as Mael at least - he just told us to refer to him as that. "Merde..." Rani hissed, glancing between the three. They didn't look armed, but even so - she doubted she could take all of them with just her dagger. "And what exactly did that particular bastard tell you?" "Ask ze boss..." the talker said with a grin, motioning behind her. Despite herself, she half turned to see the sparrow fromt he church landing on the soft, leafy floor. It seemed to shift and change shape slowly before her eyes, transfixing her as the tiny bird became a grossly obese man in very ill fitting finery. He leered at her, taking a step towards her. Rani stepped back without thinking, repulsed by the man. He was a good head taller than her and fatter than ogres that she'd seen; his head was crowned by long, greasy black hair, but it was his eyes that scared her the most as they bored into her almost hungrily with a inhuman red shine to them. "He told me that you tasted delicious..." his voice was sickening, crooning and almost smothering as it hung in the air. She ripped the dagger from her scabbard, warning him not to come any closer when suddenly he was in front of her, forcing her hand away with one large overpowering fist while the other pulled her forward. He kissed her hard on the lips, biting her lower lip hard enough to draw blood before pulling back slightly, still not letting her go, as she fought the urge to retch as a taste of smoke, old meat and ash lingered in her mouth. "He wasn't wrong." he sneered as he savoured the taste of her blood. Rani struggled against her captor, kicking him in the shins hard and spitting in his face when he didn't even flinch. She stared at him as if her force of will and the venom in her eyes was her last weapon. He laughed in her face and the rotten smell assailed her nostrils making her recoil. "Ahh, such fire... that Guiadonese passion... how fun it will be to break that..." He released the grip on her back and drew a dagger from his belt, bringing it up for her to see. It was a vicious looking blade, easily eighteen inches long, barbed on one side and glowing with a sickly purple hue that hurt her eyes to look at. Before she knew it the dagger had moved and pain flared across her cheek as he lightly cut her. Blood started to flow and the obese man gave a sharp pull on her wrist so he could draw his tongue - too long and thin to be natural along it as if it was a delicay. Rani winced, grinding her teeth as she tried to twist her wrist away from the mans grip, stamping on his feet and aiming her knee at his groin trying to break free. His skin was hard and unyielding though and did nothing except inflict a dull aching on her body to go with the sharp pain of the dagger wound.
Back at the church, Aylix jerked awake suddenly, alert and mindful of his surroundings briefly before he relaxed again. "Ugh... I must have dozed off..." he said with a groan, pushing himself to his feet, working the protesting aches out of his body as he turned back to the church. "Rani? You awake yet?" he called softly, his boots making a soft clicking on the flagstone floor. "Rani?" It was obvious that she had gone and from the pair of boots still lying on floor he guessed that where ever it was, she didn't go voluntarily. "Rani?" he called slightly louder, moving between the four rooms of the building and quickly exhausting a search. "Shit." Grabbing his warhammer he rushed for the door, shouting loudly into the woods. "RANI!"
The four men laugehd cruelly as the fat man shook his head dispairingly at her, his fingernails digging into the skin of her wrists almost hard enough to draw blood. Each of her blows was completely ineffectual. "Oh little human, you know you can't hurt us..." Her eyes widened, struggling more wildly, but doing nothing more than working the fingernails deeper into her skin. A blossom of hope rose in her chest as she heard Aylix's shout. "AYLIX!" she shrieked in response, elicting a snarl and a backhand from the fat man. "Help will do you no good, bitch." her captor snarled.
Aylix broke into a run as Rani's scream reached him by the church and he broke into a run without even having to think about it. "Crowa, Tralda... Seven... I don't know if you can hear me, I don't know if I've ever done anything to prove myself to you but... I need your help." he prayed aloud as he ran. If the Gods of light had heard however, they gave no sign and before he could mull on it he found the area that they were in. He barreled into the shorter man, hammerhead first, knocking him to the floor. The fat man smirked, throwing the Guiadonese woman at the Ithronian who caught her round the waist pulling her close. "Are you okay?" Aylix muttered, sizing up their opponents. Rani winced, stroking her abused cheek and glancing at her bloody wrist. "If we get out... I'll be fine. T-they're not human." Aylix's heart sank but he didn't let it show on his face. "We'll be fine." he murmered to her before pointing his hammer at the fat man. "Who on Arda are you?" he demanded, his hammer held steady. "Ah... the Ithronian." the fat man guffawed. "Yes... Mael warned us about you as well." the three henchmen spread out, surrounding them in a kind of triangle as their leader started to walk around the humans. "Well... I say warned, he said you'd show up. A faithful puppy behind the fiery Guiadonese woman he's falling for." Aylix's eyes widened, glancing down at Rani. "How do you know who we..." he started, but the man waved his arms and suddenly sparked to life around Aylix, consuming him. Pain flared across every inch of his body as he staggered away from Rani, falling to his knees and roaring in pain. Rani screamed, falling back from the smouldering Ithronian, lashing out at one of the henchmen with her dagger. Almost effortlessly the bald man grabbed her wrist, throwing her back at Aylix. The flames extinguished as she landed back beside him - he was unharmed by the flames but he was still gasping for air as the pain subsided. "You shall speak when permitted human... Feel free to scream in pain at any time though..." the fat man grinned wickedly as pain born from purple flames consumed both the humans. "Now..." he said, stepping forward to Rani as the flames faded again pulling her to her feet by her throat. "I believe Mael promised you to be our plaything my dear..." "GET OFF OF HER!" Aylix roared, surging forward and trying to pull the fat mans hand away from her. It didn't budge and he leered at the Ithronian as the henchmen surged forward and pulled him back heavy handedly. Aylix fought back, lashing out with fist, hammer and boot but nothing seemed to work and in short order they beat him down - their inhuman feet and hands knocking the wind and, eventually, most of the fight out of him and the Ithronian slumped to the floor, bloody, bruised and winded. "Such heroism..." lamented the fat man. "See how he fights for you, flower? See how he fights to protect you." Again and again Aylix tried to push himself to his feet to fight off their attackers, to get to Rani and help her, but each time he got more beating for his trouble. The fat man had positioned her perfectly to watch every blow that landed and hear every grunt of pain the Ithronian uttered. "STOP IT! Leave him alone! If it's me you want, then let him go!" Rani whimpered, unable to be any louder because of the fat mans hand around her throat. She tugged at it with futility as she tried to loosen the grip. "You give yourself to us? Just like that...?" he looked bemused, raking his nails down the, so far, uninjured cheek and following it up with a heavy blow to the stomach before dropping her. The assault on Aylix stopped and after several long seconds he began to drag himself feebly towards her, grunting in pain at each movement. "How much does she mean to you Ithronian? Even bloody and bruised you still crawl to her to try and protect her... And she gives herself pretty quickly to us, not knowing what we'll do to her..." he the fat man leered, dropping a hand onto Rani's shoulder and onto her chest roughly. "Or maybe she does." The Guiadonese woman shivered with revulsion, coughing to try and get her breath back, swinging her dagger up into his arm with a swift motion. The dagger sank in, and the fat man regarded it with disinterest briefly before pulling it free, tossing it to one side casually then lashing out with the back of his hand, catching Rani across the face, knocking her to the floor, stunned. Aylix reached out to her, finding her hand as she cried out in pain, his dogged determination to reach her finally paying off. "Such devotion..." the fat man sighed, aiming a kick at Rani. With a surge of movement, Aylix threw himself in the way, taking the boot to the chest and crying out in pain as he felt something crack in his chest. "Y-you... fool..." Rani coughed, pulled Aylix close to her, out of their reach. "G-get yourself out of here." she spat blood, feeling her cheeks swelling with bruises. "T-these pains are nothing... I'll be fine." she glanced around for her dagger, her heart sinking when she spotted it far too far out of her reach. Aylix spat blood which landed wetly on the grass at the fat mans feet. "No..." he choked out. "Damnit, I can't... I'm not leaving you." With a snarl of agony he pushed himself upwards to his feet, taking hold of his hammer - still attached to his wrist with the leather strap - and attempting some kind of fighting stance, despite barely being able to raise his weapon. "Leave... her... alone..." The fat man shook his head. "What should I do with him?" he asked looking at Rani, around Aylix. "Me! Look at... Look at me!" the Ithronian coughed, spitting out blood again taking a clumsy swing at the man. The fat man blocked the haft of the hammer with his forarm and drove his fist into Aylix's face and the stomach faster than either of the humans eyes could follow, leaving the captain to fall to the floor where he curled up into a ball instinctively as he struggled to breath. The fat man watched on with a detached curiousity as Aylix once again tried to stand. "Aylix, no... stop..." Rani growled, catching his arm and forcing him down, fumbling at the pouch on his belt. "Please... it'll be okay... you'll be okay..." she glanced around her as she struggled to find a potion that would help. "No... none of that." the fat man tutted gesturing at the woman before she could find anything. She was thrown away from Aylix and engulfed in fire again, her screams piercing the night air again. "You two need to be seperated..." the man mused as the fire subsided, leaving Rani untouched and unscorched. "I think I'll just kill him, because if we let him go he'll only come back for revenge for what we do to you..." he sneered at Rani, staring at her hungrily, his eyes slowly travelling over her entire body. The revulsion whelled up inside her again as she gasped for air, not noting the nod from the fat man and she found herself dragged to her feet by her hair. Her soul began to ache as the fat man stepped around Aylix slowly. "Last chance to say goobye." he intoned, causing Aylix to raise his face - puffy and swollen, one eye half closed - to look at Rani. She whimpered, struggling in vain. "Please... don't kill him... I'm begging you..." she went limp, dropping to her knees, barely noticing the resultant pain in her scalp against the rest of the agony in her body. Tears streaked down her cheeks as she watched Aylix desperately, her mind racing. She swallowed, making a descision with herself. closing her eyes. "Let him live... Let him go and... you can do what you want with me - I-I won't struggle." "No." the fat mans face creased into a frown, vestiages of horns and pale red skin showing through. "No more bargins, no more deals. I'm going to kill him and you're going to watch every torturous drawn out second of it... Then we're going to inflict more pain than you ever had before in your life. Aylix whimped, trying to push himself upright, but his limbs no longer had the strength in them to move. "No... please..." "Humans and their theatrics, noble acts and heroism..." the fat man sighed before snarling and roaring at Rani. "And for what? What is the point of it? Why are you so willing to sacrifice yourself for him?" "If you've toyed with so many of us, why do you n-not know the answer already?" Rani trembled. "Let him go! Now!" she screamed, struggling again, trying to bite at the hand which moved to cover her mouth, but the skin was as hard as a rock and tasted like rotten eggs. "Mael said getting a straight answer out of you was next to impossible." the fat man growled, "But you can demand nothing." he was next to her faster than his bulk suggested should be possible and he backhanded her across the face. "Why?! Tell me why you're so willing to sacrifice yourself for him?" She spat as much as she could - both the taste of the hand and blood after the backhand - wincing in pain again. "B-because he's my friend..." she glanced at Aylix. "M-my companion." The fat man snarled, looking disgusted and turned away moving to stand behind Aylix as the Ithronian still stared at Rani, still determined to try to struggle to his feet. "Well say whatever else you need to say him and then say goodbye..." the fat man visage was falling away and his features were becoming more and more demonic as he slowly walked around the human, chanting slowly. "NO! Stop... Please!" she screamed, tears coursing down her cheeks. " A-Aylix!" emotion ripped through her as she strained against her restraints. "Rani..." he choked out, meeting her eyes as tears fell from his eyes. "I'm sorry for all of this..." The demon paused once, speaking a foul demonic tongue that burnt the air around them. "... I don't think I've felt this happy to be with someone in a lomg time..." A second pause, a second incantation." "D-don't leave me..." Rani's voice dropped to a whimper. "I love you." "I love you too..." Aylix's voice broke as he gripped his hammer - the one lifeline he had. The pendant around Rani's throat flared with light seemingly invisible to the demons and Aylix but almost blinding to her. 'And in love may there be hope eternal granted.' spoke a voice, that was full of warmth and comfort. It faded quickly and she blinked as the light was replaced with the sight of the demon standing and bowing. "RANI!" Aylix's voice cracked as the demon spoke once more , his voice reaching a pitched crescendo. With an empatic gesture several things happened at once. Aylix was once again set ablaze but now he was being consumed. The flesh burnt slowly on his bones, Aylix's scream of pain more terrible than anything she had heard before. The next two minutes seemed to take forever as the smell of his skin burning filled the air. The screams continued and seemed to reverberate in the air long after Aylix was reduced to ash. As the first flames sprang into life Rani's soul wrenched and she screamed in agony as he chest seemingly try to tear itself apart, But again - invisible to the demons - the light from her pendant flooded the area and a voice spoke to her. 'I can do nothing for the pain... and for that I am sorry - but your soul is still your own...' When everything had finished, the light faded, the smell hung in the around her chokingly. The ash danced on the breeze, clinging to her skin which was wet with cold swear. He head was suddenly yanked backwards sharply to reveal the fat man, now a grotesque blob of a demon, stood before her, leering. "Now... for you..."
Aylix's wasn't sure when he stopped screaming, or where the indescribable agony had gone or when both had been replaced with the cool, yet slightly uncomfortable, flagstones beneath him. He gave a weak laugh as he realised that he was mentally complaining about the stones being uncomfortable when he had just been completely and uttery consumed by fire. The fire! Rani!
He scrabbled to his feet unsteadily, using his hammer as a crutch - the pain in his body retreating, his wounds completely gone. He looked around and realised he was back in the church hall. "What... what happened?" he groaned softly as a wave of dizziness passed over him.
"Love happened..." the voice from behind him was soft and warm but full of strength. He turned slowly to see a woman standing behind him. She was flawless with perfect porcelain skin, resplendent in flawless silver and gold armour over intricately stitched red robes. A greatsword was strapped to her back, almost hidden beneath her hair which shined a dazzling golden and tumbled down her back like a waterfall to her waist. She was the most beautiful person he had ever seen, but as he looked he realised that she was beautiful that was almost inhuman and she had an otherworldly quality about her. "...and that's what saved you."
The Ithronian found himself dry mouthed as he struggled not to gawp. "What... what do you mean?" he managed eventually.
"You must have realised that this is a fight you cannot win - despite your determination..." the woman said, her voice like a choir chorus. "So I'm here to ask - what would you do to save her?"
"Anything. Short of make deal with them." he replied without hesitation, eliciting a heart melting smile from the woman.
"Lady Crowa is willing to give you both the power to defeat the abominations, but you will owe her..."
"I'll do it." He cut in, not caring what the cost was. The woman stared at him patiently.
"But you will owe her. A quest or work in her name."
"I don't care. Anything, anything I can do to save her, I will do it. Anything Lady Crowa wants me to do, any time she wants to call on me, please... Anything."
The woman smiled sadly and she stepped to him. "This is the only time She can intervene in this."
"I'll keep Rani safe from her." his voice didn't waver and his eyes hardened with determination.
The woman looked pityingly at him, laying a hand on his cheek. "Well go then Aylix Goth. Be the champion your heart sings out to be."
Her hand was delicate, but full of power and flames touched Aylix again. But this time they were fortifying, they were filled with holy red light and they filled Aylix with divine power.
Two of the demons held Rani's arms spread apart as the fat demon circled her, leering at the helpless Guiadonese woman. Both of her cheeks and her neck was bleeding slowly, her body ached and at some point after Aylix's death she had vomited - the taste of the bile still fresh in her mouth.
"Have you ever been tortured before Rani? Ever felt like you were being flayed from the inside out? I could spend days tortuing a beautiful example like you... day after day causing you all measure of pain... Ripping at your flesh, you mind and your soul..." he stopped in front of her, regarding the puddle of vomit at his feet briefly before gripping her face with a twisted, bloated hand. "Where should I started with you? I could show you his death again and again... I could show you your family, burning and screaming in pain while you watched... I could flay you, strip by strip and tear your soul from you piece by piece..."
Rani winced as the demon ran it's tongue across her cheek, lapping up the blood. "And you volunteered for this. Again and again so that I would spare the Ithronian... the man you admitted that you loved..." his claws flashed out suddenly and when the pain caught up with her she had gashes across both biceps, her stomach and chest. "Was it worth it?"
Rani cried out in pain, falling limply in her captors grasp. "You... you didn't spare him though." she sobbed as fresh blood spread across her skin.
"I get sick of human pandering and while the drawn out suffering and torture is most delicious, sometimes that instant gratification is what you need... That jolt of enjoyment! Sudden and..." he licked some more blood from her pale skin, "...exquisite..."
Rani flinched again as the creatures tongue touched her, her eyes falling to the floor - refusing to look at him. The pain where he had slashed her made it hard to struggled and her shoulders ached from how she was slumped, but she didn't have the strength to stand. She tried feebly to push away from them with her legs, tried to push herself backwards, but her movements only managed to elicit sick chuckles of the ones holding her. The gash on her chest was making breathing painful and she suddenly became aware of what her ruined clothing might be revealing.
"There is a lot of... sudden enjoyment that could be had with you..." the demon murmured, stroking a finger across the gash on her chest before sucking it into his mouth to further enjoy the taste of her blood. "I don't think I've ha...." he paused as a wind started to whip round the woodland. It was powerful and had started seemingly out of no where - buffeting the trees so they creaked and throwing the leaves into a frenzy. The demons looked at each other, concern on their faces for the first time.
"What in the Seven Pits?!" the fat demon snarled as the others let go of Rani as they flinched against the gale force winds, bracing themselves against it. Rani stared up at them in shock - even though she could feel the wind, it didn't seem to touch her like it should as if she was in a calm eye of the storm.
She shook with cold and fear, watching the demons as they fought again the wind. "What's going on..." she whispered.
There was a sudden movement at her side and Aylix was there, bathed in a glow of red light. Seemingly healed of all his wounds and pain. He knelt for a second, wordlessly before placing a hand on her shoulder. Warmth, strength and power flowed through her body - her pain fled before the aura of light and she felt completely invigorated.
"YOU!" the fat demon screeched as it spotted the Ithronian. "I killed you!"
"Crowa had something to say about that." Aylix's voice boomed around the close copse of trees; it had a newfound resolution about it and fire burned in his eyes. He stood suddenly, hefting his hammer to rest on his shoulder easily as he helped Rani to her feet before handing her a greatsword. She took it, shocked - unsure of the situation, unsure of the power that flowed through her and unsure of the way the demons seemed to stare at them in abjact terror. The sword - she found - was perfectly balanced in such a way that should be able to use it as easily as a stick of wood.
"Do you want the fat one?" Aylix asked her, looking between the large demon and the group of three other ones.
She nodded in reply, turning to face the grotesque demon and starting towards it as it retreated away from her several paces.
Aylix grinned and stared down the three lackey demons, running his tongue over his teeth. His hammer burned with the same red fire as the greatsword Rani now carried and the demons cowered away from it in fear.
"Pathetic." Aylix spat as he darted forward suddenly with his hammer landing in amongst the demons who dodged, blocked and parried his attackles frantically as he swung it like a whirlwind amongst them. The short one and the large broad demon were despatched quickly in the initial flurry, but the taller one was able to get some ground, weilding two short swords.
Rani sprang forward, swinging the sword in a large arc - aiming to cut the demon in half. Her face contorted in rage as she pursued him remorselessly. The demon dodged out of the way - barely - again and again.
"You said something about sudden enjoyment?" Rani said grimly, scoring several light blows on the beast.
"Damn humans! Damn you to Sharda!" it bellowed, desperately trying to get enough space so that he could change his shape. Rani was relentless, weilding the blade with deadly accuracy like it was an extension of her being. The demon stumbled, falling onto its back and snarling up at Rani as she brought the sword up to finish it off. The smell of sulfer filled the air, heavy, choking and thick. The demons form shimmered as the magics holding it together faded. "Bitch. Mael is still waiting... you won't beat him so easily..." It suddenly leered at her. "And I'll be waiting for you in Sharda when he claims your soul..."
"My soul is my own." she glowered in return bringing the sword down heavily. The demon exploded in a shower of purple miasma, threatening briefly to choke her before disappating.
Several meters away from her, Aylix sidestepped his remaining opponnent, swinging his hammer round his head briefly before swinging for its head, banishing the demon back to its foul pit.
The demons gone, the power surrounding them both faded, the wind dropped and an strange heavy silence fell over the area. Aylix turned and was at Rani's side in a second, catching her as she fell. "Seven..." he breathed, embracing her. "I though... I..." tears pricked his eyes as he fell silent, pulling her close as she burst into tears, shaking in his arms.