• Graded • Love at First Sight

Alex's first experience with a Grey Velox

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Vluharqih
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Arc 705, 2nd trial of Vhalar
Alex threw her bag onto the small bed she was given, tired and sore. The walk there had tired her more than anything else she remembered doing, and she felt ready to sleep for a month. But Draen was having none of that, and pulled her up, pointing out the features of the small, two room cottage. "There's my room, you've seen your bed, and this is the kitchen." He stated, pulling back the curtain that separated his room from the main area. He led her towards the back door

"Now back here is where I work, and you'll work too. Now I hear from Ashley that you know how to make certain kinds of sleeping draughts and pain relief?" He pushed open the back, opening up to a well-lit, and fairly clean, open barn. Cages of varying sizes covered the walls, but all of them were large enough for Alex to fit in. Various animals filled them, and all had some sort of injury. At the far end, it opened up into a medium sized room with various medical and apothecary equipment covering the walls, though much of it was old and well used.

In the centre of the room was a solid wood table, its top scored by thousands of cuts, and stained by Immortals-know-what. The floor was solid stone, as if the room was hewn from a mountainside, but was covered in fresh reeds, giving the room a crisp, clean smell. There appeared to be the basic ingredients she would require to make the various potions he had asked for, and she was relieved. Good, I won't embarrass myself just yet.

He continued, pointing out various medical tools soaking in a clear liquid. "We brew our own disinfectant here from potatoes. Works surprisingly well." They left the barn and he continued explaining. "We house animals here for a while, but the ultimate purpose is to return them to the wild, particularly the rarer species. We also do our best to go out into the forest and monitor movements of animals, to get a rough idea of how many there are." Off to the left of the small house was a garden, overflowing with greens of all kinds. Beside the tangled and overgrown bed, a small shed stood, smoke pouring out of it. A rancid smell came from the tub next to the building, and several pelts hung above it, dripping brackish water.

"We either grow or catch our own food here, and save all the parts. It's been dozens of arcs since I had someone here who knew what to do with the apothecary stuff, so you can have free reign there. I think there are a few old books somewhere in there, and they might be of use. But the main point of you coming here was to learn about the Grey Velox, and study them in person." He shivered all over, and Alex watched in fascination as his form changed, and a Sev'ryn was left in his place. She had never seen the transformation, and it was fascinating to her.

"Well come on then, show me yours." His voice had changed, becoming deeper and more methodical, and a certain gravtias that she hadn't heard before rang out. Alex took off her sweater, and pulled out the threads holding her wing slits together. It took her much longer, having little experience in transitioning. Her parents always forced her to remain in Human form unless absolutely necessary. He waited, patiently as she slowly turned. She felt the tugging begin at her back, the pulling sensation as the wings grew from her shoulders. They snapped out straight, feeling glorious freedom in her feathers. She had only had her wings fully extended once before, and she reveled in the sensation. She didn't even notice the rest of her form changing, but when she looked down she saw the scaly mess that replaced her hands, and she couldn't meet Draen's eyes.

"Hey, look at me." His voice was soft, and she could tell he knew of the struggle she was going through. "You are you. Regardless of form. If you ever wish to be a Grey Velox, you must first be comfortable as yourself."

He straightened, and continued speaking to her as he walked back towards the small cottage. "You need to practice switching forms three times daily. While you're not switching, I want you to stay in the Avriel form, and for god's sake, practice flying. You'll need the muscle development, and I'm fairly certain that you don't know how." Valyeria's cheeks burned as he calmly pointed out her flaws, and she felt incredibly embarrassed. How can he be so nonchalant about that? She began to feel the start of a dislike for the man, but before it could bloom she squashed it. He has what I need. I'm going to be here for the rest of the season anyway, I might as well try to get along with him. She followed him inside, remembering how she first had met him, and snorted at the perception change.
Alex packed her bags, and wished goodbye to her parents before she headed out the front door, and greeted Draen, the tall man with grey hair. He was a Ranger in the North Woods, by Etzos. In particular, he was responsible for healing any animals that hunters would catch accidentally in their traps and leave for dead. He was also Yludih, and one of the people in her parents criminal organization, though Alex didn't know that yet.

He was tall for a human, well over six feet, and he towered over the ten-arc-old. His silvery hair was kept short, and despite only being fifty arcs, his skin was weathered and leathery. He had grown up in Etzos himself, and had apprenticed to a ranger when he was young. His love of the outdoors only grew as he aged, and her parents told her that he knew more than a dozen animal forms. She looked up in wonderment at him, her adoration of him absolute.

Valyeria lay on her bed, awkwardly situated between the cold stove and a counter. She was missing her parents, and she felt their absence like an ache in her chest. She felt a small sob rise up, and she smothered it, refusing the bawl like a baby. Control yourself! She shifted uncomfortably, her wings digging into the bed no matter which way she lay. Her first flight was breathtaking, and she recalled how the forest looked, an ocean of green extending beyond the horizon in all directions.

Even that thought only distracted her momentarily. She rolled onto her back, sighing as she found a tolerable position. How do Avriel manage this? She groggily thought as she slowly faded to dreamland.
Last edited by Vluharqih on Wed Apr 27, 2016 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1169
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Arc 705, 3rd trial of Vhalar
Valyeria woke to the sound of pots clanging mere inches away from her head. She cracked a single eye to see Draen staring at her, banging a metal spoon against the bottom of the pot. She groaned in annoyance- he had pulled her from Uleuda, and talking with her parents. Rising, she rolled her shoulders painfully. Her back had throbbed for most of the night, but once she had actually fallen asleep, it was easy to ignore. It's just when I try to move...ah...maybe I just should stay in bed all trial. She thought, but one look at Draen made her realize he wasn't going to stop.

As she rose, he halted the ruckus, and cocked his head at her. He was back to human form, and the mesmerizing effect of his deep voice had vanished with his other form. "Well you don't expect to just laze about all trial, do you? This isn't your cushy home in the city- things need to be done here." He gave her a suggestive look towards the door. "Go and fetch the water for the trial. There's a stream straight out the door about five hundred feet." He turned, as if that was all, but caught himself and added one more comment. "Oh, and you have to do so flying." He returned to the counter, humming as he chopped an unrecognizable root into the pot he had just been banging.

Valyeria stared at him, incredulity written across her face. Just by flying? What? That's insane! Her wing muscles were still slightly sore from the previous trials flight, and that was just her weight, and not for very long. She plucked up her courage, and managed to stutter out "W-what? Just by flying? That's crazy!" Her tone was outraged, and Draen froze mid-chop, not a muscle moving.

"What did you just say to me?" His voice became soft, and Valyeria felt the hairs on her neck stand up. "Did you just question something I asked you to do?" He turned, and his face was a mask of anger. She slunk backwards, her wings pulling in tight, as if making herself smaller would help her hide from his rage. His hand whipped around, and struck her once, soundly across the head. It was a firm rap, and nothing more. She felt the imprint of his hand on the side of her head, and tears came rushing to her eyes. No, dammit! She turned away from him, refusing to let him see her watery eyes, and got out a quick "I'm sorry," before running for the door, grabbing the bucket on her way out.

She hopped in the air as soon as she left the house, but flying still felt awkward and forced to her. She flew quickly towards the river, and filled the bucket halfway. It might take me longer, but my muscles will thank me for it. She thought as she lifted the bucket. It wasn't as bad as she was expecting, and she flew back towards the house, landing on the roof and pouring the bucket into the large steel drum that served as the water tank. Looking down, she saw it was nearly empty, and groaned, trying to guess how many buckets it would take to fill. She hopped in the air again, already dreading the next break.
She weakly poured the last bucket in almost two breaks later, exhausted. Her arms were shaking, and her back ached all over. Who knew flying was so hard? She gingerly climbed down the ladder on the side of the house, unsure if her wings would follow her commands if she were to try and fly again. The door opened, and Draen handed her a platter full of food; several eggs, a slab of what appeared to be venison, and a pile of assorted vegetables all topped by two thick pieces of a warm, nutty bread. She looked down hungrily, and he nodded towards a bench sitting outside. She beelined for it, devouring the food before she had even fully sat. He chuckled, and sat opposite her.

"It's hard work, isn't it?" His easy, relaxed demeanour confused Valyeria. Wasn't he mad at me? As if reading her mind, he looked down and explained. "Something we need to sort out here and now. If I tell you to do something, you do it. No questioning me. If I'm looking for another person's view, I'll ask for it. Now do we understand each other?" His voice was matter of fact, yet Valyeria still felt uncomfortable with the conversation. She nodded, her mouth stuffed full.

"Good." A broad smile split his face in two, and he pulled a stray carrot off her plate, keeping his fingers far away from the knife she was wielding. "We're going to make the rounds today, but before we do I want you to clean up the emergency room, and get anything you need to get set up. Ideally we should know what herbs you're missing, so when we go out we can find them." He gestured towards the back room on the barn.

Valyeria polished off the rest of the plate, swiping the crusts through the juices, and polishing the plate of any leftovers. She stood, and brought the plate back inside before closing the door and returning to sit beside Draen, who was picking at the aged table.

He led Valyeria into the barn, and threw open the large bay doors on the far side of the barn. The light streamed in, illuminating the clouds of dust the movement had thrown up. He ignored the screeching of the animals, and walked into the back room, gesturing for Valyeria to follow him. Once inside, he closed the door behind her, and opened the curtains covering the back wall to reveal large windows that lit the room up. The silence that fell as the door closed was surprising, and Valyeria felt safe and secure in the small room.

"That wall has all that you'll need." He said, pointing to the wall on his left, filled with shelves packed with bottles and tubing of all sorts. He turned, as if to leave, and added, "Oh, yeah. All the herbs and whatnot are either out in the garden, or dried and in jars on the other wall," before closing the thick oak door behind him.

She pushed up her sleeves, looking at the shelves, and began to organize. She used the large operating table in the middle of the room as a holding cell, as she perused through the shelves, removing the best or most useful tools.

She pulled three mortar and pestles of varying sizes off the shelf, blowing on them to scatter the dust. An assortment of pots was next, and she was excited to find an old herb drying rack hidden behind one of the shelves. Several herb gathering tools followed, and a couple of other smaller tools. The remainder of the supplies she packaged up into a bag sitting at the base of the shelves. Many were broken, or rusted beyond repair, while others were simply unknown to her.

She then reorganized her tools on the shelves, making sure they were all within easy reach for her. Smiling, she stood back and brushed the dust off her hands. Looks great! She was feeling enthusiastic about this trip, and decided to tackle the other wall.

Opening the dusty cupboard, she was happy to see a number of clean, dry and well-marked jars clearly organized. Huh, so someone knew what they were doing. Her eyes roamed over the labels, finding Tear Bower Mushrooms, paste from a Rock Mushroom, and leaves and roots from various plants with medicinal uses. Some of these she knew, but others not so much. She noticed a small book in the far back, and pulled it out. Flipping through the dry pages she realized it was a collection of meticulously drawn diagrams and calculations depicting various animals, their medical dosages and the location of various organs. The book was a wealth of knowledge, and Valyeria could barely believe her eyes. When he said there was books, I wasn't expecting this!

She pulled open several other doors, seeing if there were any other books, crouching down to peer at the bottom shelves. They were barren, but the new angle let her see the bottom of the top shelf, and hidden against the front wall was another book! She excitedly reached for it, shrieking quietly when a large, black spider crawled out from the nook. She cautiously reached in again, and pulled out the book, but this one was different than the other she had found. It was obviously the same hand, but the topic was drastically different.

While the last book had obviously been for medicinal purposes, this one had mixtures that couldn't possibly be used for the benefit of any sick animals. She realized, with a fascinated gasp, that this book was filled with the authors exploration into the realm of drugs and poisons!

She set the other book down, open beside her, in case Draen walked in, and flipped back to the front of the book. It was signed simply 'K.G.', and had no title. She began to pour over the book, scribbling down the especially interesting ones, or ones she knew that she could make with her current supply of herbs. She became absorbed in the task, the bits slipping past in a blur.
Last edited by Vluharqih on Wed Apr 27, 2016 6:51 pm, edited 3 times in total. word count: 1617
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Arc 705, 3rd trial of Vhalar
Several breaks later, a rustling in the barn made her jump, sliding her notes in the journal, and slipping it back into its hiding place, pretending to be peering through the jars. She grabbed several of them, and was in the process of pulling them out when Draen walked in. "Are you ready to go? The trial's a wasting, and we've got a long way to go."

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. The book weighed heavily in her mind, and she felt a knot in her throat, terrified that Draen would realize what she was reading. But he made no comment, and she slowly relaxed as they left the room. Together they headed out into the woods, the thick trunks casting heavy shadows across the forest floor.

Draen knew where all the trapping spots were, and he left her on the path as he went to check them. It was about half a break into the walk when Draen gave a holler, and Valyeria jumped upright, flying carefully though the thick trees. As she picked her way through, she came upon Draen holding an unconscious Grey Velox. A stump was all that remained of its foreleg, and the blood was slowly trickling out. Gnaw marks around the skin showed that it had chewed its way out.

She was hovering, staring at it in a daze when Draen yelled at her. "Girl, stop your daydreaming and get down here!" His voice was urgent, and harsh. Valyeria, embarrassed at her reaction, dropped down beside him. The heavy smell of iron in the air was enough to make her gag, and she forced it back down. No, this is not happening, think of something else! She attempted to find the calm place within her, like she had been taught in Uleuda, but her heart rate was erratic, and her breathing only served to distract her.

Snapping out of it, she held down the scrap from Draen's shirt as he tightly wound it around the base. "Hold the damn thing down, and watch what I'm doing. A tourniquet like this might be all that saves you from bleeding out one day." The Velox had begun to twitch as he put pressure on the wound, and Valyeria shifted to lie across its neck, holding down the head. He panted, and nodded to her as he tightly wound the cloth once, tying a knot, then placing a stick on top of the knot. He tied another knot above the stick, and twisted the stick twice, tightening the tourniquet. The Velox woke at this, and its weak struggles pulled at Valyeria's heartstrings. I swear I'm going to kill this trapper, she thought through watery eyes. She didn't hold the tears back this time, not for this poor, broken creature.

She didn't remember much, but she recalled Draen explaining how to attach the Velox, and then shifting. She was far too distraught to pay attention, and soon standing before her was a small, stocky horse. It was only about Valyeria's height, but the broad back was perfect for her to lash the Velox to. It had slumped back into unconsciousness, and she carefully checked its breathing, begging, pleading for it to survive.

She remembered very little of her flight back, but she had no recollection of pain, nor did she understand how she managed to fly through the dense forest without crashing, and arrive before Draen did. She stumbled to the ground, and ran for a few feet before tumbling to the ground. She pushed herself up, and bolted to the barn, pushing the great doors open slowly. She dimly realized that they were far too heavy to be moving so easily, but she ignored that small voice inside her head.

She slammed the old oak door open, clearing off the table with a sweep of her arm. She started a fire, cursing as she dropped the tinderbox from numb hands. She placed a full kettle on, and went back to the cupboard. She grabbed the mortar and pestle from the shelf, and flipped through the book, finding the pages on Velox. She threw open the cupboard doors, and searched through the shelves for the required bottles. She pulled them out in a trance, measuring and grinding automatically. She heard Draen come crashing through the trees, and she ran out to help him. Together they got the Velox inside, and onto the table. The light shone on the tourniquet, and Valyeria saw that it was hardly white anymore.

Looking at it, Draen sighed. "I think it may be too late" he sadly said, and the sorrow in his voice provoked a sob from Valyeria.

"No. No, this isn't happening." Her statement, the first in a break, caught him by surprise. "I came here looking for a Grey Velox to study- it isn't just a fluke that I ran into one on my first full day here. This was fated. This was supposed to be. She's not allowed to die now. "

Draen looked at, reevaluating her, and clapped his hands. "Fair enough. Lets get to work then. I need you to prepare as much of that sleeping draught as you can. We need to make sure she stays out for this. And grab a tiny amount of that Scarf Rot. We need to try and make sure that this doesn't get infected when we're done with it."

She turned around, and continued grinding the fungi and herbs she had found. Her mother had taught her this recipe just last season, and it was still fresh in her mind. It was a drug that could be placed on the skin as a poultice, and was absorbed in half a dozen bits.
Half a Tear Bower mushroom
Three dried petals from an Iffloil flower
Dried and ground together
Mixed with sap from the Rock Mushroom
Three dashes of boiling water.


There were a whole host of nasty side effects to it, but it made a strong, and effective, sleeping draught. Useful when the person couldn't eat or drink, for whatever reason.

She slapped the patch onto the Velox's shoulder, where Draen had shaved away a swath of fur. "Are you sure you did that right?" He asked, his voice taking on an accusatory tone. "If you messed it up, the shock of what we're about to do could kill the poor thing."

He actually cares more for her than he does for me!

She ignored his tone, and asked what she needed to do. He simply pointed to a bone saw sitting in the alcohol, and gestured towards the fire as he made use of the leather restraints around the table. She grabbed it, and held it over the fire, letting the flame lick the blade. When it was clean, she returned to Draen, and handed it to him, holding down the Velox's leg. The shattered end of bone was going to get infected, and probably already was, so it had to be removed.

She began to feel a bit woozy, but she shook it off, focusing with all her might on the task at hand.

He pushed the ragged skin up around the wound, and set the saw against the bone. The terrible sound it made as it cut was only beat by the sickening smell of singed bone and hair. She refused to leave, however, and focused on holding down the leg. Then it was over, and Draen sighed, flicking the small shard of bone into a bucket at his feet.

Valyeria felt her hands go numb as Draen began sawing, and she numbly realized that she must be going into shock. Her fingers were useless, and she couldn't move them, but somehow she had kept enough pressure on the leg to hold it still.

He looked down, and then back to Valyeria, giving her a questioning look. It was then that she realized that she had forgotten the Scarf Rot. There was a small amount of the right layer in a jar, again meticulously labeled. She mentally thanked this K.G. before returning with the small amount of the paste, and smeared the red cream across the wound, wincing at how painful the wound looked. Draen smiled, and nodded to her, relaxing.

"We've done all we can. Now it's up to Moseke. We've done all we can." He repeated himself, staring down at the animal lying, battered and broken on his table. "Now go off to bed... I've got a score to settle."

As he spoke, she felt a wash of weariness rush over her, and she almost collapsed. Draen caught her, lifting her easily. "Okay, enough for now. I've got you... I almost forgot how young you are. Now off to sleep..." His voice became deeper, almost hypnotic, and she felt herself nodding on his shoulder. Before he reached the cottage, she was asleep.
Last edited by Vluharqih on Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:00 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1517
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Arc 705, 5th trial of Vhalar
Valyeria groggily came to, her eyes sticking together. She cracked them open, and the midmorning light made her wince. She remembered the Velox, and bolted upright, looking around for Draen. He was nowhere to be found, so she swung her legs off the small cot, and stood up.

Or rather, she tried to. Her legs went wobbly, and she went down, just catching herself on the counter. The muscles in her back began screaming a symphony to her, and she quickly decided that hitting the floor must be better than this. Valyeria flopped heavily to the ground, the thought of standing seeming to require a lot of energy. She stayed in a crumpled mess on the floor for half a dozen bits, before she plucked up the motivation to stand. She gingerly got to her feet, every one of her joints feelings stiff and sore. Her muscles felt like fire, and merely standing caused her to ache all over. Why am I so sore? It's not like I ran that far, or really used my legs for anything.

She caught herself nodding off again, and shook her head. Why the hell am I so tired? I slept the whole evening, and it looks like it's almost noon! She grabbed a stick sitting by the fire, and using it as a cane, managed to push open the door, and head towards the barn. Her feet squelched in the mud, and she looked down, confused. Why is there mud? That would mean that...rain? I guess? But it didn't rain yesterday at all.

She shuffled her way towards the barn, the bay doors wide open and the animals inside causing a ruckus, as per usual. She trudged past the cages, her mind fuzzy and foggy. She had trouble putting thoughts together, and her tongue felt thick and heavy. She pushed open the old oak door, looking down at her hands, confused. I can't feel my hands...at all. I can't feel the door either... Something isn't right.

She walked in the room, and nearly ran into Draen sitting on a chair by the table. The Grey Velox didn't appear to have moved, but Valyeria couldn't quite think straight. "What-what happened? Did it survive?" She couldn't seem to force herself to move or speak faster, and she screamed at her mouth to move faster.

He had turned at the sound of the door scraping open, and stood, his eyes widening in surprise. "Oh, you're finally up. I'm not sure what you mixed over there, but it was potent. She's been out, and so have you." He smirked, gesturing at her hands. "You didn't remember to use gloves, did you? I'm pretty sure you got a full dose of whatever that was too. You slept all day yesterday, and its almost nightfall today"

At his words, her eyes opened wide, and her mouth dropped open. Of course! I hadn't even thought of that! She felt her face flush with embarrassment, and she looked down. She knew that mistake was a rookie one, and there was numerous sets of gloves scattered around the room, so she had no excuse.

But Draen simply chuckled, and waved it off. "Your first time in a situation that crazy, am I right? It's fine, most people don't handle it one way or another. And it's not like you missed anything. She's been out and hasn't moved." He repeated himself, gesturing at the unconscious Velox on the table.

Valyeria pulled another chair out, and sat down next to Draen, staring at the table. Leaning back, she sat and waited.
The breaks passed slowly for Valyeria, and soon she gave up. She began pacing, trying to work the remainder of the sleeping salve out of her system. She became more and more anxious, checking its breathing time and time again. Eventually Draen, unable to stand her relentless motion forced her to sit. "Have you ever learned about meditation?" He asked, his voice growing deeper as he changed between forms. His hypnotic cadence slowed her racing mind, and she nodded, unable to speak.

"Good, then empty your mind, and relax." He closed his eyes, and she watched as his body stilled. His breathing slowed, and in a matter of bits, she couldn't tell if he was still alive. His chest wasn't moving, and when she put her hand under his nose, she couldn't feel any air. At first, she thought he was holding his breath to mess with her, but when she felt for a pulse, and found nothing, she started to get a little freaked out. She shook him, and his eyes lazily opened, gazing curiously at her. "What's the matter?"

"What-but-ho-" She stuttered, her confusion written plainly across her face. He merely smiled, and closed his eyes again. Her resolve hardened, and she sat like him, intent on controlling her breathing. It took a full break before she had calmed herself enough to reach the meditative state she had learned in Uleuda. Her breathing slowed, and her sense of time disappeared.
A crashing by the table shattered her concentration, and her eyes flew open. The Velox was attempting to stand, but several of the leather restraints were holding her down. She had shoved the metal tray containing the bone saw onto the floor, and pool of congealed blood was slowly soaking into the straw. The mismatched eyes were boring into Valyeria, and she jumped up, rushing over beside the table.

Draen was gone, somehow having slipped out while she was meditating. She stood beside the table, and looked awkwardly down at the Velox, unsure of what to do. I shouldn't touch it, but she's going to hurt herself if she tries to stand.

It whined as it put pressure on the stump that remained, but that didn't stop it. The whine deepened, and a deep growl came from its chest as it pushed up, and the table creaked. Suddenly, the leather strap closest to her broke, the worn hide cracking down the center. A chorus of snaps echoed in the room as the remainder of the restraints split, and the Velox stood. A deep snarl filled her ears, and she fumbled behind her for something, anything. The ferocity in the Velox's eyes struck a primal fear in Valyeria, and her hands trembled as the questing fingers found a knife.

Her eyes recognized the muscles bunching before her brain could react, and her hand brought the knife up between them. The screeching sound as the Velox's teeth caught the blade spiked Valyeria's heat rate, and the adrenaline hit her brain. The furry body hit Valyeria's with a thump, the impact knocking them both to the floor. The knife clattered across the floor, and the Velox snapped at her neck again. Valyeria brought her hand up between them, screaming as the teeth sunk into the fleshy digits. The light energy seeped out of the wound, and she felt the drain instantly. The sleeping draught hadn't worn off yet, and since it had been applied through her hands, they were still mostly numb. But that didn't stop all the pain. She screamed again, and wrapped her hand around the bottom jaw, holding on and crying out as she felt her crystals grate against the teeth.

Wrenching her body around, she rolled the pair over and over, passing under the table, all the way to the other side. She was on top of the Velox, but the Velox's sharp back claws were tearing into her shirt. She could feel lines across her stomach where the claws had cut her, but she pressed down on the neck with her good hand, the other still stuck in its teeth. The Velox's legs became more frantic, but she didn't let up. Eventually, they slowed, and stopped. She lessened the pressure, and locked eyes with the Velox. Her instincts were roaring in her ears, the sounds of the world gone. She stared down at the animal, and met its eye. Valyeria felt the intense pressure of the eyes on her, boring into her, and just when she felt she couldn't take it any more, the Velox looked away. She sighed, and in a rush her hearing returned, the cacophony of the caged animals overwhelming her.

Valyeria lifted her hand off the Velox's throat, slowly, waiting for the animal to snap, but it lay still, staring down at her feet. The blood soaked bandage on the Velox's leg was dripping onto the floor, but Valyeria knew her hand was worse.

Suddenly, at the door was Draen, his hair askew and his skin covered in a sheen of sweat. The last traces of fur vanished from his skin as he stared at her, jumping forward into action. He wrapped her hand tightly, and checked her over for any other wounds. When he saw the stomach cuts, he gave them the same treatment, then sent Valyeria inside. The Velox was still lying prone, but when Draen tried to walk towards it, a menacing rumble started in its belly. It rolled upright, and backed away from him, limping on its stump.

Draen hummed hypnotically, his Sev'ryn form already completed, but the music seemed to have no effect on the Velox. He paused, confused, and tried again. A simple melody, he repeated again and again, but the sound was buried by the growl emanating from the Velox. The Velox backed itself up, around the table and sat between Draen and Valyeria, still baring its teeth at him.

He straightened, and gave a mirthless chuckle. "Well, that worked out well then. You've already proven yourself as the Alpha, so my tricks won't work on her... You're responsible for her now. One way or another, her life is in your hands."

He turned at walked out, visibly upset at the turn of events. He hadn't experienced an inability to control an animal in years, and his embarrassment manifested in a surly attitude. Valyeria looked at the Velox, sitting unevenly on the floor, and sighed.

"Well, I guess I get to figure this out, huh?"
Last edited by Vluharqih on Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1740
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Arc 705, 5th trial of Vhalar
Valyeria had finally managed to get the Velox back onto the table, and awkward and painful process for them both. Her hand was still injured, and the Velox wasn't comfortable with her touch, which led to scrambling, and more scratches as she tried to life the beast up. Eventually she fashioned a crude step stool out of unused cages, and pull the Velox up.

She had made herself a cup of pain reliving tea, and sighed as she felt it take effect, the sharp edges dulling to a mere ache in her hand.

Her eyes were scanning the beast, and she could only see the one wound. "Good, I didn't hurt you any more while we were fighting." She spoke to the Velox, as she gently grabbed the injured leg and peered closer at it.

She was still leery of the long teeth, and she doubted she'd ever forget the terror when the Velox had first jumped at her.

"Oh, I havn't named you yet! I can't just keep thinking of you as the Velox, can I? What should I call you?" She asked the animal, but got no response. "Fine, it's up to me then. I think you look like an....Astrid. That suits you." The blue eye stared at her, uncomprehending.

She pulled off the bandage, and looked at the wound. It had healed a surprising amount over the last two days, and the tourniquet had been taken off yesterday at some point. The skin was healthy, but flushed and slightly hot. Hmm, is that just from the fight, or is that a sign of infection? She debated the thought as she looked at the remaining Scarf Rot, seeing a small amount in the bottom of the jar. I think I'll take my chances, and just use a less expensive remedy. Her hands pulled out the ground Mint, Field Rosemary and Snowrabbit Seedlings, pouring the leaves into a pot, and set it over the fire.

Several bits later, she pulled it off, and poured the small amount of liquid into a bowl, setting it down in front of the Velox.

Of course, Astrid raised her head and sniffed, sneezing once and setting it back down quickly. Okay, I get that it smells terrible, but it will help kill off some fevers. Valyeria sighed, and grabbed a funnel off the wall.

I didn't want to do this... at all. She set the funnel inside a muzzle, and wrestled with Astrid, finally getting it on her head. In the struggle her hand had reopened, and she was forced to pause and rebandage it. Finally coming back to Astrid, she poured the now cold syrupy mixture down her throat, washing it down with water. Astrid bucked her head, and contorted her body as Valyeria gave it to her, but the struggles were not as intense as they could have been, and in the end she took all the medicine.

Valyeria released her, and took off the muzzle, noticing the small features that made up Astrid's face. The strong brow, and the mismatched eyes stood out to her, and she found the sight to be exotic.

She sat on the chair, and watched Astrid on the table, no longer bored by the Velox lying still.
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Arc 705, 33rd trial of Vhalar
Valyeria flew through the trees, slowly and carefully learning how to control the wings. She would never be able to control herself as well as a true Avriel, since she couldn't see the air currents, but with enough practice and mediation the temperature changes and ground elevation could indicate what the paths would likely be. Practice, practice and more practice was what Draen had told her to do.

In the four weeks since Astrid had chosen Valyeria, Draen had become slowly more and more aloof, and no longer joked with her. He would often leave the cottage when she came in, and disappeared into the woods for trials at a time. She had worried at first when he didn't show up for dinner, but by now she had figured out how to fend for herself. But he wasn't providing the teaching that she was expecting, and the difference between her expectations and reality hurt.

Looking down, she saw Astrid loping along through the trees, keeping perfect pace with Valyeria. Well, that's one good thing to come out of that fiasco. The Velox had healed incredibly fast, able to weight bear on it after three weeks, and had slowly been increasing the speeds at which she could move. Now she was able to keep up with Valyeria through the woods, though that was barely more than a jog.

She watched the Velox, admiring her sleek form, and the grey-blue mottling of her coat. She glanced down between the branches, and tried to memorize the shape of her wiry muscles. Astrid is nothing but skin and bones- I doubt there's an ounce of fat on her.

She turned slowly, and started heading back, wincing as she miscalculated a turn and scratched herself on a protruding branch.
She landed, out of breath but happy. It was the longest flight that she had managed to date, and she didn't feel sore after it. Astrid came up and nuzzled Valyeria's hand, before trotting off to the barn, already knowing where Valyeria was headed. Valyeria walked into the back room, and dropped the handful of leaves on the table. In the short time she had been here, she had transformed the small room. Once plain, stuffy and dusty, it was now pristine, the excess tools and unused bottles boxed up and out of the room. The windows were cleaned, and the far wall was covered in rows upon rows of drying herbs.

She pinned up the leaves in her hand as Astrid curled up under the table. The Velox had become incredibly attached since their fight, and Astrid was rarely seen more than a dozen feet away from Valyeria. Draen had been unable to affect her at all, and despite his admonitions that she would run away, Astrid showed no sign of leaving. The two had become fast friends, and Valyeria had taught Astrid several hand motions that an animal trainer had taught her in Uleuda. The Velox was incredibly bright, and the wide array of commands Valyeria had at her disposal ensured that the two could communicate effectively.

After she finished hanging the leaves, she patted the table, and nodded at Astrid. The Velox sighed as it rose from its bed, and leaped up to the table, sitting and raising its paw. Astrid had been through it enough times to know what was going to happen. Valyeria looked at the wound, and smiled. The end of the leg was a mass of scar tissue, bumpy and unsightly. But despite that, there was no sign that Astrid was in pain when she walked on it, and Draen had done an incredible job during the rudimentary surgery.

She tapped the end of the leg, watching for any reaction from Astrid, and worked her way up the bone. She was worried that the bone might break one day, since the ankle wasn't there to cushion the landing, but there was no sign of that. Valyeria often felt like she had been tossed in the deep end of the pool, and resented Draen for his lack of assistance. Of course, she was far too proud to go begging to Draen for help, so their icy silence continued.

It helped that she had Uleuda, and she relied heavily on the wealth of information she could find there. However, she found it especially hard to describe the Velox's condition correctly to the people who had a history of medicine. They knew far more, and asked incredibly specific questions that Valyeria didn't have answers to. Despite this, she found that they were able to help her nurse the Velox back to health, and the animals incredible recovery was a testament to their skill.

A loud crashing sounded, and Valyeria wiped her hands off, nodded to Astrid to follow her. It's probably Draen with some other injured animal, she thought to herself. But out of the bush came three ragged men, light armour covering their chests and legs. Their clothing was tattered, and Valyeria couldn't tell what colour they were originally. Two of the men were identical- tall, brown hair and a large, pronounced overbite. One of them was holding a chain, three young women tied to it, while the other held a quarterstaff. The women were wearing clothing even more tattered than the mens, and gaping holes showed scandalous amounts of skin. The third man was much shorter, almost Valyeria's height, but his arms were thick, a large sword was strapped to his back, and a coiled whip was at his side.

Valyeria felt a pit grow in her stomach, and she waved Astrid back. She contorted her hands behind her back, trying to signal Astrid to find Draen, but she wasn't sure how well it worked. She had never tried to communicate behind her back, and she hoped that Astrid would get the idea.

The short man looked surprised to see someone there, but a smile grew across his face as he realized she was alone. He spoke over his shoulder to the two dull-looking men. "Well, well, looks like we found another one!" The other women looked up in fear, and their desperation froze Valyeria in place. "And would you look at those wings? This one's one of those...whatcha call it?" One of the others spoke up, his large teeth giving him an odd accent. "Avriel!"

"Ah yeah, one of those things. I'm not sure how much they'll go for as a slave, but it's gotta be more than a human. We might actually have enough to get a wagon in Sirothelle!" His face split in a grin as he spoke, revealing crooked, grimy teeth. He walked towards her, arms spread out and knees bent. "Come here girl, and we won't hurt ya." His eyes danced, and Valyeria knew he was lying. She snapped her wings out with a flare, and took to the sky, eyes looking up. I just have to hover in the air, and when Draen gets-

Her thoughts were cut short as she felt a cord wrap around her ankle, yanking her off balance. She landed heavily on the ground, her ankle crunching. She gasped, unable to breathe as pain radiated from her foot, and the man walked towards her.

"You just had to do this the hard way, didn't ya." He sat on her waist, pinning down her arms. He reared back and punched her in the stomach, driving what little air she had from her lungs. "Why'd-you-have-to-do-that" He punctuated each word with a punch, Valyeria gasping as stars swam in her eyes. She couldn't breathe, and the pain was indescribable.

The man got up, and grabbed her, yanking her by her hair. He dragged her towards the chain, and threw her down. The one with the staff picked her up and began fiddling with a pair of manacles from his pack.

Valyeria gasped, the pain beginning to fade, but she knew there'd be bruises later. Fear rooted her, as she finally realized what these were- slavers. Her hands shook as the man with the quarterstaff threaded the manacles through the main chain.

As he touched her with the cuffs, it was as if her brain restarted. She reared back, smashing her forehead into his nose, feeling a sickening crunch as it broke. A spray of blood spewed across the dead leaves below as she reached for the small blade at his waist. She drew the blade, and held it, shaking, at the man who was bent over, cursing. His already odd voice was further distorted by the shattered nose. "That fuckidg girl jus broked by nose!" His outrage was somewhat comical, but Valyeria was far too worried to notice.

"B-back off! I don't want to use this. Just-just leave me alone!" Her voice grew almost hysterical at the end, and she took a deep breath, trying to calm herself.

The short man looked at her, incredulous. He laughed, and snapped his whip, coiling it around Valyeria's arm. But she was ready for it this time, grabbing the leather as it curled around, and slicing down with the knife. It slid cleanly through the whip leaving the man with a useless piece of leather. He growled at her, and threw down the handle.

"Fuck you, you stuck up little bitch." He drew his sword, the long blade almost as long as Valyeria's body. "I wanted to earn some extra money, but you're more trouble than you're worth." He walked towards her, his steps measured and collected. Valyeria backed off, matching him step for step, limping severely with the broken ankle. The other two were focused on stopping the bleeding nose, and the girls were cowering together next to the tree. I won't be getting any help from them...

The man began walking faster, and leapt at her, swinging his sword. She side stepped, keeping her wings tucked tight as the blade swished past her side. She had barely managed to get out of the way, stumbling as her ankle gave out. The man laughed as she fell, his blade already raised for the next strike. He lifted it up, and began to thrust down, but a blur struck him, knocking him sideways.

Valyeria looked up, surprised. The shape resolved itself in a black shape, almost like a panther, but much larger. It had bitten the mans arm, and the blood was spattered across its fur. But despite being caught off guard, he had reacted swiftly, pushing the panther off before it could do more damage, and now the two circled each other. She heard a gurgle behind her, and she looked over her shoulder to see Astrid rip out the last of the pair's throats. Their bodies flopped heavily near the girls, and their shrieks were the only sound to break the silence.

The Velox bit into their bodies, tearing and ripping the flesh from the bones. Sickening squelches were heard, and Valyeria averted her gaze. From the ground, she watched in fascination as the panther leapt at the short man, and they both tumbled to the ground. She slowly pushed herself upright, unable to bear weight on her ankle. She limped over to see the mans blood spilling from his open throat. A knife was embedded in the panthers chest, and as she watched, the illusion flickered and faded, revealing a crystalline body, before that too crumbled into dust.

She stood, shocked. Only those who completely unlocked the gates can progress! This cranky, surly old guy did that? She was surprised, and barely registered the fact that he died. Perhaps it was the knowledge that he would live on in Uleuda that let her deal with his passing, or maybe it was just the shock of the broken ankle. In any case, she limped back towards the house, leaving the bodies of the fallen where they lay. She grabbed the chain that was attached to the girls, pulling them towards the cottage, and one thought echoed through her head. What do I do now?
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Come and get your Loot!

(There's plenty more where that came from)


VLUHARQIH:
Skills:

  • Animal Handling +4
  • Animal Training +1
  • Business Management +2
  • Discipline +2
  • Endurance +2
  • Flying +4
  • Medicine +4
  • Meditation +1
  • Melee Combat +2
  • Poison +2
  • Research +2
  • Socialization +2
  • Unarmed Combat +1

Knowledges:

  • Basic
    • Animals Will do Extreme Things to Escape
    • Being Beaten into Submission
    • Facing a Wild Grey Velox
    • NPC: Draen
    • Recognizing the Look of Slavers
    • Securing a Wounded Animal on a Horse
    • Who is "K.G."?
  • Specific
    • Combat: Impromptu Submission Hold
    • Combat: Sacrifice a Hand to Save a Neck
    • Combat: Whips as Entangling Weapons
    • Draen: Even a Grouch can Unlock Ulueda
    • Draen: New Transformation Practice Regimen
    • Draen's Barn: Apothecary in the Woods
    • Grey Velox: Earning "Alpha" Status
    • Medical: Aiding an Amputation
    • Medical: Applying a Tourniquet
    • Medical: Family Recipe: Sleep Draught
    • Medical: Scarf Rot to Prevent Infection
    • Medical: Wear Gloves When Handling Drugs
    • Melee Weapon: Knife

Loot:

Supplies and books on meds and drugs
Quiet, remote location to work
Loyal Velox companion, "Astrid"


Injuries:

Broken ankle, many deep bruises, possible broken rib(s).
50 days for ankle to heal with professional help; 10 or 20 more if ribs are broken.
No flying with broken ribs.


Comments:

Outstanding, Vluh! :D
I awarded the "Bus. Mgmt." for your efforts of organizing the lab in the barn. Good thing you got some "Flying" in here, cause you'll be grounded with those sore ribs. I'm good with them NOT being broken after all if it seriously interferes with upcoming memories.
And I really appreciate that you don't just assume that you can fly just because you have an avriel form. Yes, you should be able to learn, but I appreciate that you account for the fact that you haven't yet. Quality RP!

PM me with any comments or concerns :)
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