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Blood and Water

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Blood and Water

Post by Guest on Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:30 pm

Ishval had long since been a land torn and scarred by war. Ayden knew this from many sources of information; books, magazines, newspapers, and even the internet, but most of all, it was word of mouth. Ishvallans were incredibly distrustful of outsiders, and this was something that even outsiders and non-Amestrians knew of the harsh, closed-off people, their land tainted by battle, and the silver-haired assassin was no exception; sitting alone in his car, he loaded and checked his weaponry for the third time in an hour.

The blood had ran in Ishval more than once. It looked like that today, it was due to again.

There had been an old saying that Ayden had once known that reflected on ideas and themes of brotherhood, and camaraderie. It was well-known throughout the lands; 'Blood runs thicker than water'. Essentially, your family will be there for you when your friends aren't. Your family are obligated to be there for you, thick or thin.

Sadly, Ayden himself had not been subjected to this creed, and as such, bore little attachment to his immediate family. He had been an only child, his mother passed away not long after his birth, and his father was... his father was another kettle of fish entirely. Ayden had relied on an outsider, a surrogate father figure, to raise him with intelligence and teach him how to conserve and access his rage when it was most necessary; to use it as fuel, rather than an entity most considered uncontrollable. Red curtains, red mist, red vision... Ayden was unfamiliar with any of these. As an assassin, he couldn't let feeling cross into the realms of business. He hardly ever took anything personally.

And he didn't see any reason for these people to, either. What was to happen today was simply business. A message; he was an envoy, a messenger. Nothing more, nothing less. He carried insurance policies and his tools in a weaponised form, and yet he was demonised for it. It was over-hyped, it was an unnecessary accentuated and exaggerated reaction, the subject and topic of firearms.

Doubled with that, since the scars of the great war nearly a century ago, alchemists were frowned upon in Ishval, too. He was an alchemist. Two and two together meant that discrimination would be twofold. There was to be no attempt at being stealthy; he was here to work, and that meant he was here to kill.

Nothing personal.

"Sun in the sky, you know how I feel..." He hummed to himself, finally holstering the children, pulling his longcoat around him, and slipping on his leather gloves, leaving the vicinity of the car, shutting the door of the Audi behind him, and locking it by pressing a button on the keyfob in his pocket. The village his target was located in was about twenty minutes' walk up the road; he'd come here as a detour after the party in South, with the promise of making a few hundred cenz; he had a sick day lined up, and, really, considering he was a State Alchemist, nobody gave two shits anyway.

He checked his watch, and whistled, letting the sound move into a quiet hum as he continued walking the path. It was getting close to the evening hours. The witching hours. Those were his ideal times to strike...

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Re: Blood and Water

Post by Xan on Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:13 pm

How long had it been since Xan had been in this particular village? Could the time be measured in days? Weeks? No, the sun had risen in the east and set in the west far too many times for anything less than several decent months to have gone past, and perhaps a few indecent ones. In fact, perhaps a year had gone by since Xan had last been to this place, just enough time for some changes to occur that were worth pointing out as one walked along the roads with their little brother.

They had arrived in Ishval itself by car only earlier that day, and so far had spent quite some time walking around this particular village, with Xan explaining certain aspects of Ishvals' culture to Sal among other things. They had just arrived at the end of the village, the road heading now only outside the village going south. Right at the moment, the topic was food; what was typically eaten and when it was typically eaten, the myriad of different foods to be found in Ishval, that kind of thing. How they had arrived at this particular conversation was beyond the Homunculus, but since they had started, Xan had been on a roll. (ba-dum-bum)

"...and so, that's how dinner works here in this particular village of Ishval. Any questions? Hmm...wow, it's evening already. That was unexpected."

Looking at his watch for the first time in about an hour, Xan realized that while he had been discussing dinner, dinnertime had been rapidly approaching. A mild groan escaped his lips as he looked up at the setting sun as though futilely commanding it to hold still for a moment.





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Re: Blood and Water

Post by Sal on Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:16 pm

While the majority of what was being said would probably be forgotten, Sal remembered the important stuff, namely the food. After all, food was what he thought about most of the time, so naturally the topic would keep his attention more than others. It wasn't that he didn't care about Ishval's culture at all; he did, because he was beginning to realize that this was part of him, in a way, just as the cat, rabbit, and fox were a part of him (though the latter had a physical connection to him). He just didn't have the mental capacity to retain all of the information that was being crammed into his brain. If he ever managed it, he would have to make his way to a library to read about all of this stuff. After all, reading was a great way to learn things - at least, that's what he had been told.

In reality, he was just enjoying the fact that he got to spend more time with Xan - the man he felt closest to and considered his big brother - and with each outing, he felt closer to the man than before. As Sal looked behind him at the few people that were outside, their attire reminded him of something, and he tightly gripped Xan's hand instinctively. He was reminded of his initial environment, with the people that he had at first thought were his family, when the only one who he felt he could call family was the woman that raised him. The thought frightened him, but he couldn't quite explain why. Maybe it was the fact that he didn't want the people close to him to go anywhere, and this desert reminded him of how alone he had been, but it could have been something else entirely. Sal wasn't going to cry this time; he'd done it before, and he had grown stronger, emotionally since then.

Sal came back to his senses when the older male asked him if he had any questions and commented on the time. "...I-I," he stuttered, still recovering from that small period of insecurity, "W-where can we get s-something to eat? I'm starving..." Then again, he was always hungry. He was Gluttony, after all, and that definitely had its share of pros and cons.

Still in a bit of a daze, his tail hung limply to the dusty ground, causing it to lose some of its brilliant white shine, turning a musky tan at the tip. Soft, white cat ears lay back on his head, and his asymmetrical eyes seemed to stare into the distance, but he wasn't really looking. Something was off today, his animal instincts told him that, and as a result, he wasn't quite himself. It wasn't just today, though; recently he'd been starting to feel a bit strange, as though he wasn't quite there anymore. He had been mentally drifting away into his thoughts, if he had any, or into a state of UN-awareness. Maybe he'd be okay after a good night's sleep. Letting go of Xan's hand, he stretched and let out a long, tear-inducing yawn that left the homunculus rubbing his eyes. Despite his status as a homunculus, he was still just a child - a 12 year-old with the mind of an 8 or 9 year-old, and he would be stuck that way for a while.

"After dinner, I think I'm going to..." Another yawn, and the boy let himself lean on Xan, holding his hand once again. "I think I'm going to sleep after. I feel kinda weird..." While he didn't realize it, he was experiencing a sort of paranoia, that something unpleasant might happen before the morning came again.
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Re: Blood and Water

Post by Guest on Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:00 pm

The silver-haired assassin swiftly made his way to the target building. A small house on the edge of the village, it contained a father and three sons, ranging from 16 to 23, or so the dossier said. He'd left the file in the car, but he didn't know whether this was to be a message or a straight-forward assassination. He'd been told to remove the evidence, torch the house, and be gone before people even smelled the smoke; that was going to be difficult. He had to be swift and silent. Grumbling, the assassin muttered something about 'quality jobs', before heading on to the building.

It was of a humble size, small, fairly discreet, and rather homely; inside, muffled voices resonated. It was on the edge of the village; fitting almost perfectly with the arid environment. Ayden rose an eyebrow and wondered if the information was legitimate; in this sort of climate, if they were late in response, the entire village could burn... ah, shit. What did he care? Death was his business, and it was always in high demand. His smile quickly reached its apex as a sickly grin, and the man moved quickly to the back of the house, scanning for entrances.

The father and one of his sons sat at the table, talking over empty dishes and dirty plates. A crackling fireplace in the edge of the room. They'd obviously just dispensed with their evening meal; loud, regular, patterned noises, feet on wood, gave way that the second son was upstairs. Ayden could see the third, just about, in his bedroom at the end of the house, laying on a bed pressed against the wall.

Growling once more, the assassin realised that it would probably be best to deal with the sons first, as quickly and efficiently as possible. He pulled out the Hunter from its sling, and fired it towards the top-most support beam of the house, from which two ramps of roofing tiles slanted on either side. The beam was wooden, jutting out an extra five or six inches on either side; the harpoon pierced through the block with ease, and Ayden tapped a button almost the moment that it hit, causing the prongs of the projectile to spring outwards. Flipping a lever, the string pulled taut, before beginning to rapidly hoist the man upwards.

Timing was essential; he had to be swift. This was an in-and-out job.

As he began to draw close to the end of the rope he'd launched, the window cropped up behind him. Tensing his legs, and using his momentum to push forwards, he pressed the lever inwards, indenting into the frame of the device, and the rope disconnected whilst Ayden was mid-swing; making full use of the velocity he already had, he released the Hunter, allowing it to simply arc back and forth from his shoulder, and outstretched his hands to grasp the ledge.

He wasted no more time; thankfully, the boy's back was turned to his window. Ayden pushed his fingers ever-so-gently beneath the gap he'd left open, and pushed the pane up, grasping onto it, and straining his biceps as he pushed through the now-taller gap, boots slamming dead into the Ishvallan boy's back.

Following through on his kick, Ayden placed all of his weight on the boy's torso, and moved to a crouched position, leaning down, and grasping his head; yanking it to the side with a click, in an instant, the teen's neck broke, and his fruitless, muffled flailings quickly came to an end.

As Ayden made arrangements to move up, a second figure opened the door and entered the room, mid-way through garbled Ishvallan, before his eyes locked on the Alchemist. Ayden's head flicked up, and he released a low growl. The boy, barely older than nineteen, turned to run away, but the silver-haired assassin was far too fast; he drew and launched a throwing knife in a single fluid movement, the weapon striking the boy dead in the skull, cleaving through solidly, and actually pinning him to the door-frame with sheer force. Ayden arched an eyebrow as blood began to trickle down from the seamless incision, moving over to draw and retrieve his weapon, taking it and running his tongue along the dirtied, bloodied portion of the blade, still holding it ready.

Descending down the stairs, the assassin wasted no more time; as the third son froze, gaze locked with the silver-haired Amestrian, he vaulted over the banister, landing on the floorboards with a smack. He sprinted forwards, leaping mid-run, and launched his body through the air, the father diving to the side as Ayden's feet slammed into his chest. The splintering of bone, most likely the rib or sternum, solicited a yelping cry; mid-way through, Ayden clamped his hand down over the crazed, pained, frightened man's mouth, before moving the other hand to slit his throat with a single, wicked slashing movement; the blood spurted out and began to trickle onto the floor, jugular pierced. The boy was dead in moments.

Ayden grinned to himself, panting like a crazed dog, as his head snapped towards the final target, the father, and he leapt atop the dinner table in a single, frog-like, darting jump. The old, wizened man scrambled to get to his feet, garbed in purple robes, and Ayden sighed, taking a pan from the table, and flinging it like a frisbee towards the elderly figure's head. It clumped him straight in the crown, and with a yelp, he fell to the floor, unconscious. The man had seen one son die already. Ayden would perhaps exercise mercy by leaving him unconscious as everything he loved burned to the ground around him.

He stood for a moment, and admired the architecture of the building. It was good craftsmanship; excellent Ishvallan carpentry, although they were renowned for their workings with wood... the assassin hummed a ditty, resuming his tune from his journey up here, seemingly unfazed by the events of the last two or three minutes, which included three murders and assaulting an old man with a frying pan. Maybe he'd stay to watch the house burn.

Wiping a bead of sweat from his head, the man immediately began to rifle through cupboards; alongside a few family heirlooms, there was nothing of real importance... but he wasn't looting. Oh, no, he would've kindly traded with these men; no looting was necessary. This was just business, after all. He needed... fuel. Fuel for... fire. One of his most favourite things.

Within a moment, he found it; amidst the arid climate, the house would most likely burn anyway. Jerry-cans full of petrol; dozens of them. He took one in either hand, unscrewed the lids, and began to splash them everywhere; he went on a routine through the house, splattering every room as he moved, making sure to line the foundation of the house with an extra-thick line of petrol.

After using three or four entire cans, he kept the others in the centre of the room, to act as makeshift incendiary bombs; he took a long draw, sniffing the foyer of the humble little home; blood and petrol. Two of the best smells in the world.

Moving quickly to the fireplace, he grasped a single log jutting out somewhat, and took it by the colder end, not yet charred; although it was still warm, simply from the climate of the home. The desert air would help a surprising amount in his 'removal' of evidence.

Sprinting to the door, not wanting the fumes to catch light, burning log in hand, Ayden cackled madly, before placing a single hand on the door, and tossing the log within with an almost pitiful throw. He let the door shut behind him, and as the whoosh told him that the flames began to take hold, he began to cackle, screaming upon the Ishvallan village... "Blood and water, my friends! Blood and water!" Just another day in the life of assassin extraordinaire Ayden Derocha...

Standing there, enthralled initially by the display, he contemplated staying from a distance; he was around five hundred metres from the house alone, as the petrol cans in the centre of the room took hold, and exploded through the roof of the house, projectiles in the form of household objects, molten and flaming, being thrown every which-way as crowds began to gather. He strained his hands beneath the leather of his gloves, and sighed. "Ahh... fire's so pretty..."

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Re: Blood and Water

Post by Xan on Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:44 am

When Sal responded to Xan's question as he did, the older Ishvallan's first impulse to laugh softly and quietly, but he kept himself from doing even that, though at the cost of a small effort. Realizing that he could not in fact make the sun set any slower or the moon rise any faster by looking at them, Xan turned his gaze from the heavens and looked back Sal with just a glimmer of amusement deep within his crimson eyes. He meant to reply that there were several decent places to dine that were nearby and open, but just then Sal let out a large yawn, and he found himself yawning as well instead; the good, deep, stretch-worthy kind that just made one feel great afterwards. Using one hand to wipe his eyes and the other to hold onto Sal's own hand, Xan found himself thinking that perhaps going to sleep right after dinner might not be such a bad idea after all. He might have voiced his opinion if he had not felt so suddenly sleepy.

'Damn it all, I'm Pride, not Sloth! I shouldn't be feeling so sleepy so quickly...ah whatever, just a little longer then we go find something to eat, then we head back to the inn. Yeah, sounds like a plan...'

With something of a jolt, Xan snapped himself back to being wide awake, shaking his head lightly to bring himself back to earth. It then occurred to him that his little brother had mentioned feeling sleepy and slightly weird. With a chuckle-sigh, Xan let go of Sal's hand and dropped down to one knee in front of him with his back facing his little brother.

"Alright bro, hop on and I'll take you back to the inn. There should be dinner waiting for us there when he get back."

Whilst waiting for his adorable little sibling to climb onto his shoulders, Xanthus looked down the road some distance into the horizon, noting with some light confusion that there seemed to be a somewhat familiar face off in the distance. At first, Xanthus, now totally awake and focused, could not quite believe his eyes. What was that guy doing in this quaint little village? Ah well, it probably didn't even matter. Neither of them were here on Black Company business, and that was all that mattered. From his kneeling position, Xan was unsure of whether or not Ayden could see him, but he gave a rather obvious wave in the mans' direction anyway. After all, why not introduce Sal to a world-class assassin? What was the worst that could happen?



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Re: Blood and Water

Post by Sal on Sat Jan 07, 2012 4:18 pm

Just as Xan knelt down to let him up onto his back, Sal noticed something odd. Usually, he would have hopped onto his brother's back without hesitation, especially in a situation like this, where he was tired, but there was something that his little senses picked up that seemed out of place. A building...there was an explosion not too far away, and while it (surprisingly) didn't startle the small Ishvallan, it most certainly caught his attention. In front of the building was the shape of a man. One of Sal's ears twitched, and he cast a quick glance at Xanthus, who seemed to be waving in the strange man's direction. So...Xan knew that man? Sal frowned, confused. The man some distance away didn't seem like the most pleasant of people, and he realized then that this man was the source of his odd feeling. This man...made Sal uneasy.

"You know him, big brother?" After a few more moments of looking at that strange man, Sal rather tiredly decided (and this might not have been the best decision) to walk over to the strange man. He wanted to know more about him, maybe confirm that he really was the source of this sense of unease that the boy felt. He was pretty sure that Xan would be right behind him, so he didn't bother turning around to make sure - he just skipped, hopped and jogged over to the silver-haired man who seemed to be looking at the now burning building.

"Hey, guy," Sal immediately said as he (hopefully) reached within the man's range of hearing, "What are you doing? ...Why is that building on fire?" He pointed at the building in question before shaking his head, realizing that probably wasn't the best way to begin a conversation with a complete stranger. "Big Brother Xanthus was waving at you, so you know him, right? He always knows a lot of people that I've never seen before, so I like to talk to them to know who they are. So... do you know him, Mister....Uhh...." Scratching his soft, white, furry ear, Sal tilted his head. "Who are you, again?"
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Re: Blood and Water

Post by Guest on Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:23 pm

Fire is a marvel. How quickly it eats away and devours whatever lies in its path; plastic and glass crackling amidst a base of wood and stone. If it can't touch something, it chars it, then eats away what ever lays around it; it will cause brick and mortar to weaken, and eventually crumble. Not only that; it functions as a self-perpetuating entity. It will eat and eat, and never stop, so long as it is provided with more food; it will never stop, until you're left with what little the fire hasn't eaten away, sitting atop the grand accumulation of everything you've worked oh-so-hard for all those years, turned to ashes in a matter of minutes.

Ayden, for once, had brought something other than simple 'tools'. Deciding to go, somewhat, against his orders, he stood there, on elevated ground, beneath the setting sun, purple sky with clouds illuminated by orange-red light; and he held a carrot in his hand. Having decided he needed more vitamin A in his diet, and that his once-powerful night-sight was beginning to diminish and deteriorate in potency, the silver-haired assassin, seemingly having little method behind the madness, and even less comprehension of the right 'time and place' - a concept totally foreign to him - stood there, an aura of danger, mystery, and power emanating forth from him... as he nibbled on the end of a carrot.

"What are you doing? ...Why is that building on fire?" Speech? Ayden snapped off the end of his carrot, and turned towards the source of the noise, audibly crunching the end of the carrot that he'd broken off into his mouth with ferociously powerful, rapid, and regular, patterned bites. Who says there's no organisation in eating?

It was a language he didn't understand, coming from a puzzlingly small... creature. With odd, fuzzy ears. He looked almost... surreal, incredibly small. Definitely a child. Probably the progeny of chimeric alchemy and a test subject; willing or not. He knew how those doctors were, ferociously so now that new developments were made on what seemed to be somewhat of a regular basis. Either way, he had big, fuzzy ears. And they were... hypnotising. Like a magician's pocket watch. Jesus, he wasn't even paying attention to the kid's Ishvallan yapping - not that he'd understand it anyway - but those ears.

He'd heard some Amestrian though; with the fire crackling, devouring, eating away at the wood came a series of wooden, crumbling collapses in the distance, and the fire reigned triumphant once more as another wall caved in, and brought down numerous support beams and part of the roof with it, a deafening crash rocketing throughout the otherwise-calm night sky. Some would say it was a waste of such a beautiful, calm time. Ayden just called it a substitute for further murder. Night was the best time to work, after all.

Looking down to the boy, who'd just finished his spiel, Ayden moved down onto his knees, and smiled that cheesy goddamn smile, the kind that your aunt would flash you before she gave you three cenz and a packet of chocolate coins at Christmas. With a grin, speaking very loudly and very slowly, to ensure the boy could understand, he posed a query. "Hello, little boy! I don't speak Ishvallan," He said, before moving down a hand to tousle the kid's white hair. "Call me Ayden!" He continued again, slow as ever, whipping out a carrot with his one free hand at the speed he'd draw a blade, and thrusting it towards the boy's face. "Would you like a carrot?!"

Ayden was undoubtedly a maniac. Standing up straight, he held the carrot suspended in the air, waving it around as if it were a magic wand, doing his best to make the orange stick of skinned vegetable look as appetising and tasty as possible. After all, he had to make sure the children of Amestris got their vitamins, too, and on the healthiest diet possible! Ah, what a good citizen Mr. Ayden Derocha was!

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Re: Blood and Water

Post by Sal on Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:30 pm

The man seemed to be either confused, or he wasn't really paying attention to what was coming out of Sal's mouth. Either way, it frustrated Sal a little bit, and the incessant twitching of his ears would more or less give that away. Even when the man smiled at him and knelt down to eye level, Sal gave him an odd grimace that was a mixture of frustration and uncertainty. Turning his head to look back at Xan, who was some distance away, he wondered why the man didn't seem to react at all. He more or less just stood there and watched, as if he was waiting for something to happen. A hand came down on Sal's head, causing him to flinch.

Apparently the man was Amestrian, and not Ishvallan as he had originally thought, which was a little embarrassing, but he’d let it go for now and just fix the problem by speaking in Amestrian from now on. It was simple enough. Apparently his name was Ayden…that was also simple enough. Just as he opened his mouth to say something else, Ayden whipped out something orange…a carrot? It was shoved into his face, and Sal leaned backwards to keep the vegetable from crowding his vision. With a disoriented frown, the homunculus watched as the man stood up and began to wave the carrot around.

Mister Ayden…” He was undoubtedly confused at the man’s behavior. It seemed off somehow, and the small Ishvallan felt somehow out of place around him. His eyes traced the movement of the vegetable, like a cat watching a toy mouse being dragged on the ground or a feathery object being waved in the air. Even more cat-like, his tail began to whip through the air playfully. Instead of confusion, his face shifted to one of playful mischief. He arched his back ever so slightly and bent his knees, as though he were getting ready to pounce at the man’s hand to grab the object it held. A slight purr could be heard, and Sal shifted his weight a bit before leaping into the air, reaching for the orange vegetable. He just HAD to have it!

"I waaaant it!"
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Re: Blood and Water

Post by Xan on Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:24 am

Xanthus watched the events unfolding before him with a look of slight confusion mixed with amusement. A carrot...Ayden had offered Sal a carrot. The Ishvallan had to shake his head at that one; one of the more skilled assassins that he had ever met offered carrots to random children that he met in the area of Ishval. Ah, but why not? To be fair Xan had himself done something similar almost two years ago with two complete strangers. With a slight shrug, Xanthus began to walk over to where his little brother and his associate standing, just in time to see Sal assume his pre-pounce position. A thought crossed his mind about warning Derocha that he was getting himself into something that could potentially end very badly for him, but thought better of it; this promised to be entertaining!

And so, smiling slightly, Xan began to count down from three in his head, and just as he reached zero, his young companion pounced like the cat that Xanthus new was in him somewhere. At this exact moment, Xan had reached them and began to speak to Ayden himself, speaking in Amestrian since Ayden clearly did not understand Ishvalan for whatever reason. Seriously, didn't everyone know at least a bit of that intriguing language?

"Hello Ayden, so good to see you again, though I have to admit I never thought that I would see your sort of person in this part of the world. This one..."

Xanthus looked at Sal with a look that he reserved only for his little brothers for a moment before returning his attention to his associate, the look utterly erased as quickly as it had been created on his features.

"...is my little brother, Sal. So, what brings you to Ishval?"

Yes, Xanthus was in fact ignoring the conflagration occurring close enough to him that he could practically feel the flames, smell the smoke, and see the very cores of the flames. After all, what fun in there was asking a known assassin overly obvious questions expecting non-rhetorical answers?


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Re: Blood and Water

Post by Guest on Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:58 pm

The fire's lulling crackles as men and women alike rushed towards the source of the smouldering wreck, ants on the horizon, as Xanthus drew closer to him and Sal. Unaware, he'd been holding the carrot suspended in air, just out of Sal's reach, whilst he indulged himself in the near-priapic bursts of warmth that the ruin simply emanated. He was as good as gone, now; no evidence meant no suspects, and that meant he could relax. The fire had devoured all evidence of his being here quicker than he'd counted on.

"Mister Ayden... I waaaant it!" The tugging force at his hand surprised him; trained reflexes brought him immediately into a supposed combat situation, and his one free hand went immediately to his waistband, ready to grab the pistol and unveil it on the simplest of single triggers. Mid-way through, however, he froze, and tried to simply brush the draw off as patting down his trousers. Interceptor's gunmetal was still warm against the bare flesh of his lower back.

For once, colour flushed into the murderer's pallor; he'd almost just killed a child. He tried to force the unnatural redness back from the womb from whence it had came, but to little avail; slowly and gently, in the natural orange light of the flames flickering in the distance, his expression became 'pleasant' and coldly white once more. His very smile juxtaposed the almost lifeless colour of his skin. He was a walking contradiction packaged with weapons and wrapped in leather.

The manually-tweaked response, Ayden having just delayed his reflex arc, came later. Far later than he would've liked. This lack of control, this inability to get a handle on those bestial urges scratching at the cage he'd established... it was... worrying, to say the very least. He shuffled backwards a few feet, and took a deep, long draw of the smoky air, the wisp-like tendrils of grey-black vapour having already made their way from the lingering cloud above the ruins of the house. In the distance now, men were pulling smoking, charred corpses from the rubble now turned to charcoal. Amidst the hustle and bustle were tears and screams; Ayden's attention once more turned to Sal.

Having now distanced himself, with a simple flick of his wrist, he sent the carrot flying towards the boy's chest, having angled it as best he could. Whether the kid would fumble or catch it was yet to be seen, but he'd seemed pretty hungry. Once more, he'd had to resist a preset part of his conditioning. His hand was almost ready to send that crackling electrical energy running along the carrot itself, turning it into a bioelectrically imbued missile headed straight for the child. He cursed mentally once more, and another pang of colour flushed into his cheeks, Ayden turning away, desperately trying to hide it from the approaching taller figure. He'd have to practise with working with kids. He'd not had many qualms before this - he'd take on anyone just to make a statement - but now he had a love on the line, as well? That was... it made things different.

Still crouched, Ayden shifted down to a sitting position, and hung his legs over the rock face. The ledge they were located on was almost cavernous in its surrounding the ruin of a once-magnificent typical Ishvallan house. It was most likely home to a particularly successful man within, perhaps a business leader or elder. He didn't know much how Ishvallan society worked; shooting another look at Sal, he wondered if perhaps he and his friend could knew him in.

Dust clouds mingled with the smoke in the air as familiar boots touched against the ground. Accented Amestrian resounded through the air: "Hello Ayden, so good to see you again, though I have to admit I never thought that I would see your sort of person in this part of the world."

Pale ears pricked up and Ayden turned to the source of the noise. Surprise arched his eyebrow, but he didn't move; Xanthus Icarus. Once his rather-shady superior back at the Black Company, the Annalist... but, now, Ayden was a Shadar Shan, a Shadow Lord, with nobody to guide him, Xan's promotion in mind.

Xanthus hadn't been around a lot when he'd worked in that department. Most of his business was kept very much in the dark; as was the nature of Dauthi's company, but, the Annalist's even more so. He controlled every reconnaissance and stealth aspect of the company, and as a Shadow Lord, Ayden was once Xanthus' top field commander, alongside working in the Amestrian military and freelance; but no longer, it would appear.

Either way, a response was overdue. He'd left far too long a gap in conversation. "Likewise, Xanthus," The pair were still technically joined in Brotherhood, but this had been the first time they'd seen each other since Xan's leaving the Annalist position for higher echelons of the company. There was still an essence of authority about the pair, even off-duty... Ayden had to strongly resist the urge to address Xan as 'sir', and, as he had done in their few choice meetings together, used the entirety of his 'forename'. "What would bring you here?" Tonight, it seemed, Ayden Derocha was to be a man of few words.

"This one is my little brother, Sal. So, what brings you to Ishval?" The gesture to the small one... with... ears. Their skin tones were similar, their accents - if the boy's was a little stronger, and his Amestrian ever so slightly broken - and the similarity in appearance and age meant that it was pretty much a given. He could take that for starters... quickly, he processed the information and locked it away. The more he knew, even about his would-be allies... the better.

With a low, dry chuckle, his head turned, slowly, as he gazed down at the chaos unfolding beneath him. The warmth resonating from the house began to slowly drop in intensity, faltering too in frequency; the January cold swept over him once more as a particularly cold gust of wind struck the trio. Silvery-white transparent hairs on the very edge of the assassin's neck stood up straight and in regimental order. The shadows dancing beneath him in the light of the gently-dwindling flames seemed to have no organisation... no, they weren't ants. They were like rats, scurrying about, trying to find shelter from the assailant, the terrorist entrenched now within their society.

Raising his hand to his vision, the horizon suddenly became blurred as his focus re-adjusted. Gently, he gyrated the wrist, pivoting his hand, turning it from side to side in a slow arc. The leather fit his fingers, his hands, the crevices and even the lines in his palms... the hands and fingers are amongst the most sensitive areas on the body. It was good that he had these custom-made... expensive, but worth the price... well worth it.

And, suddenly, the response came. Contented, as the hand fell to firmly grasp the ledge, and he concentrated from his perch on the worms squirming about beneath his gaze. Just what was he here for? The word came like a whisper carried away on the wind, followed by... an unusually hearty chuckle.

"Business."

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Re: Blood and Water

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