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Kai (All Chapters)

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Joined: 16 Jul 2009
Posts: 233
Location: Kaane

PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:01 am Post subject: Kai (All Chapters) Reply with quote

Chapter Index



Chapter 1

Kai crept along the beams. Hand over hand she slid through the shadows, watching the glowing man below. Curious, she dropped to a lower beam, to get a closer look at what he was looking at. It crinkled as he opened it. She liked the sound, but Kai could not read the familiar markings on the paper. Familiar only because she had stared at them for hours at a time, but had never been taught to decipher them.

She pouted as the man with hair the color of flour obscured her view of the paper. As she leaned out farther, particles of dust fell from the rafter onto the pale skin of his shoulder. He reached up to brush it off but paused. At his movement, Kai flinched and dropped. She sunk as low to the rafter as she could. Perhaps after she had her fun with this man she would take the paper. Her master would never teach her these things, as she might use them against him. But she could bring it to one of the monks and torture them until they taught her what the markings meant. Maybe they could even teach her how to make the markings. Her pleasant thoughts were cut short when movement caught her eye.

The candlelight flickered as the ghost man stood and looked around. His eyes scanned the room, the rafters, everywhere. Kai held her breath and hoped he wouldn’t find her. Hide and seek was only fun when Kai was doing the seeking. The girl smiled as she noted the color of his eyes. Red. Like the warm liquid that bubbled when she had her fun with her toys. Her toys being those she was sent to kill, of course. It made her happy to hear the little ones squeal in terror when she chased them, swinging her kusarigama, cutting through their flesh like a hot knife through butter. The big ones were much slower, less fun to chase, more fun to toy with. They took longer to stop moving forever.

The ghost man sat down again and Kai relaxed a little. She reached into the holster at her side, drawing out the deadly sickle. It’s chain resided in a small leather pouch. Every time she touched it she remembered the blood curdling screams of the woman she had taken it from and smiled. Lost in her daydream, she paid less attention to the quiet removal of “Miki” (her kusarigama) than she should have. She was unaware of the gentle tinkling of the chain piling on the beam next to her, unaware that it alerted the Atalan man below her of her presence.

Kai gathered her feet beneath her and poised herself to jump. He’d be so surprised! She could have some fun with this one before he died. He was strong, with skin so pale she could see the veins pushing that red, delicious liquid through him. Kai took the sickle in one hand, and a handful of the steel chain in the other. She could feel the weight of the small, spiked steel ball at the end of the chain. Kai let loose a quiet breath and dropped from the beam.

She landed on the mans back, but he had been prepared. He grunted and reached over his shoulder, tangling his fingers in her hair. His grip tightened and he dragged her up and over. Kai growled at the failed attempt as she was tossed through the air. She hit the table and rolled into a crouch facing her target. He made toward her, but Kai began to swing the spiked end of her chain.

A sharp whistle cut through the air as the ball swirled around her. Gentle flicks of her wrist kept the ball in motion, maintaining a protective field about the petite girl. The pale man’s eyes widened subtly. He seemed mildly surprised in her choice of weapon.

Kai started toward him, intending to plant the menacing ball into the soft fleshy part of his face. She grinned at the thought, making an almost unsettling picture as she stalked toward the Atalan. A subtle shift in her position of her wrist and the arc widened, bringing the deadly spiked sphere ever closer to its target.

Having followed this man for the past few days, she had felt prepared for his reflexes. Again he surprised her with his ability to dodge her attacks. She swung the spiked ball and chain in his direction over and over again, retracting again with each failure to resume the balanced circle around herself.

The onslaught continued, with the sharp edges of the deadly ball circling ever closer to the pale flesh of the Atalan. The wooden chairs splintered as the ball crashed through them, sending a veritable fog of wooden pulp into the air. Kai stood at the edge of the table, maintaining her higher ground. She began to grow bored of this man. She lunged forward, swinging the ball around and out, letting the chain slip easily through her grip in his direction.

But something was wrong. Kai began to tense up as she noted the change in this man’s stance. Lightning fast, he brought his hand up and wrapped his fingers around the ball. Kai’s mouth dropped open in utter shock. Needle thin spikes pierced his white skin and he let out a growl of pain. Kai made to haul back the end of the chain but he was faster still. He rotated his forearm, curling even more of the excess length of chain around him. An evil grin contorted his features and he stared Kai down.

The intensity of his glare made any courage she had begin to shrivel up. She yanked on the chain, making it appear as though she meant to fight for it. Finally Kai spotted a way out. Springing from the edge of the table, she tossed the scythe in his direction. She hit the floor and slid between his legs before bounding up the pile of barrels in the corner and out the window she had come in.



Chapter 2

Trillin watched the girl disappear through the window. The ball dropped to the floor, almost forgotten. Droplets of the red sticky fluid collected at his fingertips and fell, gathering in a pool at his feet.

Questions flooded his mind. Who was that? WHAT was that? Who would be foolish enough to attack ME? Crimson rage filled his gaze and Trillin decided to pursue and end the existence of whatever had dared inconvenience him.

Shards of what was once the door of the small house filled the air as the wood exploded around him. A startled squeak drew his attention to the rooftops. The creature was still close, hopping from rooftop to rooftop, flipping and rolling over obstructions. Her movements were hurried, yet as languid as if she had all the time in the world.

Trillin follows, racing through the alleyways, between the houses and shops in his pursuit. He kept her in his sights, only losing her long enough to round a corner. As he passed through an alleyway he caught sight of her leaping over him. She had changed direction, and was evidently aware that he was close. Close enough to make her panic. She lost her footing and fell. The dark haired girl tumbled end over end. Trillin could hear the faint gasps of pain as she rolled, opening shallow gashes on her bare arms and legs as she went. The end of the roof came, but before she rolled right off of it, the girl latched on. What she had managed to grab, Trillin couldn’t see, but he meant to bring her down anyway.

The red of his eyes began to flash and a ball of flame manifested in his open palm. He’d watch her burn and smile as her bones turned to ash, as her hair and skin melted away and she became something less than human.

For reasons he could not begin to fathom, he hesitated. The girl hung from the roof, scrabbling to get up. A moment passed and she was hauling herself up and over, casting a confused glance over her shoulder at the Atalan. She disappeared over the peak of the roof.

Trillin cursed his incompetence and pursued. He rounded the corner and spotted her making to leap across the alley he occupied. He refused to hesitate this time. The fireball flashed into his palm once more and he flicked his wrist in her direction, aiming for the ledge the waif planned to land on.

A shrill shriek of terror made Trillin smile as the girl crashed against the roof and fell. A sickening crunch could be heard as she bounced off of a pile of wooden crates and hit the ground. She had landed in the corner of the dead end of the alley. High walls surrounded her. She had no where to run.

Pain clouded her eyes as she gathered her feet under her and slowly got to her feet. Trillin stalked toward her, stopping a few feet from her still half-crouched form.

“N-no.” Kai managed to get out. She gripped one arm at the shoulder as blood trickled between her fingers. Trillin watched and grinned, thinking the battle - if you could call it that - already done.

Kai made to run and dive, between his legs as she had before but Trillin wouldn’t fall for that again, and grabbed a fistful of her hair on her way by. He dragged her back, tossing her down before him. Kai scuttled backward, kicking up dirt with her bare feet.

She whipped around, climbing the pile of crates that had ‘broken’ her fall. She leapt, and Trillin caught her with a hand around her throat. He could feel more than hear the low growl in her throat as he held her aloft. Tiny feet began to kick at his midriff and tiny claws tore at his flesh. Trillin simply twitched to avoid the kicks, though they would do little enough damage, he was sure. His grip began to tighten and he thought he could see the fight leaving her.

Kai gathered the last vestiges of her strength. She planted her feet on his chest and kicked out with all of her might. His grip broke and Kai hit the ground. A cloud of dust settled around her. There was no getting passed him. She assembled into a crouch in the corner of the alley. Trillin could see very little of her, but the reflection of the lamplight on her skin kept that little bit visible.

“You thought to attack me and get away unscathed? Foolish child. You must not know who I am, else you never would have deigned to attack me. My face will follow you to the under-” Trillin stopped as the tiniest and most annoying of sounds assailed his ears. Was she…She dared to LAUGH at him?

The giggle was almost inaudible. It began to unsettle him.

The glint of steel in the dark caught his eye and Trillin dropped, avoiding the blade that sailed past him.

Hurried footsteps snapped his attention back to Kai. She was gathering what little speed she could and leaping up that pile of crates. She used the momentum to ‘run’ up the wall and leap from wall to wall. It was almost as though she was ricocheting between the surfaces. A moment passed and she was up and over the wall. She turned and looked down to the bewildered Atalan.

A cocky grin plastered her features. Kai wiped the back of her hand over her mouth and turned , simply walking away.

It was time to consult with the Bloodroot.



Chapter 3

Kai swung down from the roof, slipping into the window of the dark house. The small room she landed in had a dirt floor, and was dimly lit by a solitary candle in the corner of the room. Most of the flickering light was blocked out by the huge figure sitting at the desk. Kai heard the fervent scratching of the pen against parchment.

Her gaze traveled over the room, taking in the desk, the large bed, the trunks with her Master’s belongings. Finally her gaze traveled to the cage resting in one corner. The metal bars were rusted. A dirty blanket covered the floor. He would make her sleep there tonight, when he learned that she had failed.

Kai huddled in the corner just under the window. She dug her bare toes into the dirt floor, hoping that maybe if she stayed here and stayed quiet the monster that owned her wouldn’t notice her. The girl began to fidget, crossing her arms over her bare legs, scratching at a scab on the pale skin of her shin. The bruises from her tussle with the pale man were beginning to manifest. She became lost in the tiny movements, sitting there in the corner, when the scratching of the pen stopped.

Her multicoloured eyes darted to the hulking figure sitting at the desk. He was silhouetted in the candlelight, but Kai knew that he was aware of her presence now. He turned to pick her out in the darkness.

“Kai, sweetling. I’m so glad you’ve returned. And unharmed! Great news. The Atalan is dead, then! He must be, if you’re here“ He stood and made his way toward her. Kai stared into his dark, cruel eyes. She could see the lash hanging from his belt. His enormous girth swayed to and fro as he lumbered toward her.

“…And without a scratch on you!” His eyes roved over her body, and Kai huddled even further into the darkness.

“M-Master. The At-talan was s-s-so strong!” Kai didn’t even have time to close her eyes before the blow struck her face. The tiny girl sailed across the room, crashing in a heap against the opposite wall. For such a huge man, he could move quickly when he wanted to. His fingers closed around her throat and soon she was hanging from his grasp. Survival instinct still intact, Kai braced her feet against his chest and pushed back. She tore at his skin with her nails. His grip tightened and Kai blacked out.

She woke minutes later to find herself in the spot where her master had dropped her. Kai stayed as still as she could, hoping he would not realize she was awake. She should never have come back. Kai could have run, could have made it a few weeks free of him, even if he would find her and kill her at the end of that blissful time.

“I realize that my temper may have escaped me, child. So please, tell me that the Atalan is dead and perhaps I will forgive you for keeping the news from me.” She could hear his voice, but was unsure where he was in the room. Kai tried to shrink, to get as small as possible. But it was to no avail. Her master’s fingers hooked around her biceps and dragged her into a sitting position.

“Kai, you begin to anger me. Tell me how he died before I put you into the ground.”

Kai hesitated, and the longer she took, the tighter his grip on her arms became. She felt as though he would break her bones. He had, many times before. Only to beat her some more for the expenses incurred to heal her. She was constantly covered in bruises that were neatly concealed by the clothes she wore, and the wrappings around her hands and feet.

“I f-f-fail-” He tossed her across the room. The unfortunate chair that she landed on splintered. Kai hit the floor and rolled into a crouch, prepared to defend herself. She was unsure what exactly about today was different than any other. Why would she choose to defend herself today? Perhaps it was because she was newly made aware of a threat more menacing than this man.

“Kai, you tempt me. You have not been earning your place around here for a long while now. Soon I may have to make you earn it in other less desirable ways. Similar to how your mother earned HER coin. With grunting riff raff between her thighs!” Her master’s face was purple with rage. Spittle frothed from his mouth as he screamed at her. “You’re worthless! I’ve less use for you than the flea bitten mongrels that beg and die and in the street! You’ve failed me for the last time!”
His fat hand went to the lash at his belt, dragging it out and lifting it into the air. His eyes blazed, but Kai was unafraid. She slipped the small knife from the wrappings at her ankle and palmed it, blade down at her side. She waited for him to advance.

The lash snapped in the air as he made toward her. As he began to bring his arm down toward her, Kai rolled forward and slipped between his legs. She gathered her feet beneath her and leapt upward and onto his back. The knife held firmly in her grasp, Kai brought it down to the vulnerable spot between his neck and shoulder. The knife was small, and a small trickle of blood formed at the puncture spot.

Her master howled and swung the lash back at her. His weight hindered him here, he couldn’t bring his arm around far enough to get at her. Kai rode upon his back, holding on as he failed. He would tire soon, and Kai could hang on all night.

Her assessment came true and the fat man faltered, crashing into the desk that held the candle. The light rolled and dropped to the floor, landing in a pile of rushes in the corner of the room. The light blazed, and Kai decided to end this. She braced herself and held the knife aloft.

Kai inhaled and drove the knife down again. Over and over.

The peal of her laughter mixed in with the horrible gurgling screams of the man beneath her knees. She kept a steady rhythm, slamming the small blade into his flesh, cutting through the skin, fat, and muscle. Blood splattered her face and chest. She could taste the delicious metallic flavor on her tongue. Kai licked her lips and kept on stabbing. The size of the knife made the job take quite a while, giving her the time to relish the kill.

The strength went out of the man’s knees and he began to drop. His weight brought him down quickly and Kai went right along with him. She landed on his back and began to giggle. A pool of blood began to form around the torn up flesh of her ‘master’s’ neck.

But it was getting warm in here. Kai pried the lash from the dead mans fingers. She must be quick. Flames were already licking up the sides of the house, smoke was billowing from the open window. She went to the small trunk where her meager belongings were gathered, flung open the lid and grabbed the clean wrappings and tunic she kept there. The tunic was much too big for her, so she went back to the dead man. The belt was thick and much longer than she possibly could have needed. She took the small knife and quickly sawed through the leather. Kai planted her feet and hauled on the belt. It wouldn’t budge. She dropped the belt and began to push on the corpse. He rolled over, exposing the belt enough for her to drag the belt out from under him.

Kai stuffed her stolen belongings in a small satchel and turned to survey the room. He would never make her sleep in that filthy place again.

As she climbed through the window she looked back. The flickering light glimmered off of the gold coins sitting on the table. Her master had been counting his earnings from the day. Kai jumped back into the room, grabbed the leather coin purse at the dead man`s hip and shoved a few handfuls of coin into it. She dropped it into the satchel and slipped out the window.



Chapter 4

Trillin watched the girl disappear over the roof. He had half a mind to go tearing after her, but he knew that the Bloodroot must be consulted on this one. What could she possibly be after? What motive, aside from suicide of course, could she have to attack him unprovoked? He touched a hand to his cheek and started as his fingers found...Moisture? Trillin peered through the dark at the small black smear across his fingers. The knife had touched his cheek before it flew past. His eyes blazed with hate. She’d drawn blood. Impossible.

The sleek features of the Atalan contorted into a grimace of disgust at the sticky droplets on his fingertips. He began to stalk toward the Stronghold in Maedas, imagining all of the horrible ways he was going to murder the little wench. His thoughts turned to blood. Her blood, this time. He’d slowly torque her arms around and around, twisting them until the bones broke and splintered. Trillin planned to watch the pain twist her face until the light slowly died from her eyes. However, he must warn the Bloodroot of her existence. It simply wouldn’t do to have her attack the Firstlord while Trillin was away searching for her in the first place. Trillin would be loath to miss out on the opportunity to kill her himself, and she surely would not survive an encounter with the Bloodroot.

The stronghold was quiet as Trillin entered. He quietly slid through the shadows and past the small gathering area to the stairs. The replica of Noxbane sat silently on the dais as he passed. As quiet as the ornamental blade was in reality, in Trillin’s mind the display screamed at him. The blind lust for the blade curdled in his gut as Trillin forced himself to look away and mount the stairs. He knew that the Bloodroot would already be aware of the anger roiling inside him. Trillin could hardly believe that a being so small could be the catalyst for such a violent hatred. It disgusted him that a human creature could draw his blood. He meant to destroy her.

“What matter distresses you so, My Spearhead? The anger rolling off you is nigh palpable.” Asimov sounded almost impatient as he addressed Trillin. The Firstlord sat at the great stone table, peering over the lists of costs incurred from the recent battle with the orcs. Though there were no Atalan lives lost in the battle, there was still the matter of repair to the buildings in Kaane to consider.

“I was attacked. An assassination attempt.” Trillin spoke through clenched teeth.

“An attempt implies failure, Trillin. I do not understand the rage you carry after spilling the blood of the fool who made the attempt...Unless, you join the fool in failure...?” Asimov let the inquiry trail off and cocked a brow at Trillin, waiting for the answer.

A curt nod was the only answer Trillin could give. His fingers curled into tight fists, imagining the slender throat of the girl in his grasp. “I will hunt her down, Bloodroot, I will destroy her-“

“No.” Asimov cut Trillin off. The Spearhead glared at the red fibers of the carpet, withholding his anger for the moment, hoping for a change of heart. “We must know who sent her after you. She may have valuable infor-“

“I WILL NOT STAND FOR THE DISGRACE SHE HAS BROUGHT UPON ME!” Trillin could feel the muscles in his jaw twitch with the pressure he was exerting to hold them shut. He knew what would come now.

Asimov was over the table in a flash. He drove his fist into the tender flesh of Trillins stomach. The blow was quickly followed by a sharp elbow to the shoulder, bringing the proud Atalan Spearhead to his knees before the Bloodroot. Asimov’s voice ran cold. He spoke the words slowly so Trillin would have no cause to misunderstand.

“I will not tolerate the disgrace YOU have brought upon the Atalan with this disgusting failure. You will not fail me again. Your first mistake was coming back to the Stronghold without the bloodied, but breathing, wench in tow!” Asimov pushed away from Trillin with a rough shove to the floor. “You will seek her out. You will subdue her and return here with her ALIVE. Defy me and find yourself learning another hard lesson much the same as the first.”

Asimov resumed his seat across the stone table. “Senjin awaits you at the outpost. Meet her and find the assassin. Get out of my sight.”

Trillin turned and left. His hatred for the wench had been somewhat reined in by the discipline of his Bloodroot. He slammed through the iron doors and made for the outpost.
The night was balmy. The quiet of the city served to quell some of the rage inside him, but Trillin stomped toward the outpost, much the reprimanded child he seemed to be. Graeve stood outside the outpost. The red eyed beast huffed in Trillin’s direction. He ignored the beast and shoved his way into the building.

Kai balanced on the balls of her feet high in the rafters of the tower. It was her favorite place. They were a place to be secret and sneaky while hunting the pale man. He had no idea to look for her there, right above him. She had tracked the Atalan after setting fire to her old master’s cabin. It was easy enough, she mused. The anger of his failed attempt to catch her made his movements careless and easy to follow. He led her all the way back to their castle. The Stronghold was intimidating pile of cold grey stone with black stone deamons on the roof. Kai had spent her time waiting for Trillin amongst the statues, climbing over the stone facade of the castle with ease.

The white man had been arguing with the hooded figure in the tower for quite some time now. The volume of their voices made it easy to enjoy one of the pair of apples she had stolen from the street vendor on her way here. Kai smiled as she heard herself mentioned some more. ‘Wench’ he called her. Kai did not know the meaning of the word, but a smile broke out on her face at the tone he spoke it in. She had obviously caused the man some...Injury. Physical injury was not the only kind. Though Kai specialized in the physical, she delighted in the idea that she could have caused some discomfort to him.

Kai moved to a crouch, staying on the balls of her feet in order to make a quick escape should she be noticed. With the meat of the piece of fruit gone, Kai tossed the core from the open window. Kai had been careful to avoid the frightening red-eyed horse outside. The glowing gaze of the animal made her wary. It was unlike the normal slow witted and gentle beasts that frequented the town. Kai’s pink tongue darted out from between her lips, mopping up the leftover juice from the fruit before she dropped down a beam or two to get a closer look.

“The Bloodroot told you that we are to capture her alive and so we shall. I refuse to be reprimanded for your foolhardy actions, Spearhead.” The voice wafting from the red cloaked figure seemed gentler, somehow. It seemed as though she was in much more control of herself than the other one. She spoke calmly, keeping her tone even as she fended off the pale man’s argument.

“That human,” Trillin almost spit the word. “will watch as I squeeze the life from anything she has ever cared about.” At that, Kai scoffed. Aside from fun and her own hide, she cared about very little. “But I will do it alone. I have no need of a babysitter!”

“The Firstlord would not force me to accompany you without cause. This girl has become a problem for you, and I am here to ensure that you do not lose your senses when you get her in your grasp.” Senjin took a seat at the wooden table between them. “Come, let us talk strategy. Where did you last see the girl.”
The dark haired girl cocked her head to one side. So this one was here to ensure her survival? Interesting. Kai had already decided she liked the pale man, but was unsure of his ability to quell his anger enough for her to plead her case. She palmed the second apple. A peace offering. The second cloaked figure would stop the pale man from hurting her long enough for Kai to convince him that she would be of use. And then she would be next to him and partake in the slaughter that seemed to follow him everywhere. Kai could kill with brutality, but efficiency was not her strong suit. This man could change that.

Kai watched as the pair gestured toward the map, planning out a route to search. For her. She stifled a giggle. A quick cartwheel brought her to the center of the beam, between the two robed figures and into prime surprise position. She grasped the apple and dropped, landing heavily on the table. Kai landed facing the pale man.

The look of shock on his face brought a smile to hers. Kai wiped her mouth with the back of the hand grasping the apple. The smile returned to her face as she shoved the apple in Trillin’s direction.

“F-friends!” Kai held the apple aloft, her smile ever brilliant. When Trillin didn’t take the gift, she gestured with it in his direction again.

“Trillin...DON’T” The pale woman cautioned, but with no avail.
It was only a second afterward that Kai realized her mistake. It was still, however, a second too late. Trillin’s fist collided with her temple. The wall ended her short flight and Kai crumpled into a heap on the floor. The apple rolled away.



Chapter 4.5

Written by: Senjin

The apple rolled to a stop at her feet. Her long white hand snaked out and grabbed it and she pocketed the peace offering giving Trillin a rather stern look.

Her gaze became almost..familial, as she looked upon the Spearhead, his fury palpable the girl's life hanging in the balance. For a moment his influence was strong upon her and she wished to murder the whole town. Her hand itched with a spell and her mind traded logic for rage. Yet her loyalty to the Bloodroot was unshakeable.

Senjin had to deliver the girl back to the Bloodroot alive, a few cuts and nicks were not her concern. Yet the blow to the girls head worried her and a raining fire of healing spells came down upon the girl.

Trillin, my brother..

The words were not spoken to be heard, this was a connection forged among the Atalan. It blazed between Senjin and Trillin ringing in his head, and radiating out to the others. These words were no plea, but a simple request, made by one that Trillin knew well. She was balance to the sharp edges of the Spear, a cool wind upon a hot day, a fire in a frozen night and so why she had been chosen to come.

Now she watched as Trillin tense and uncertain, angry with rage, made his decision..

She tossed the apple straight at him... let this belay your hand for now. She gave a little smile.



Chapter 5

Trillin sat alone in the stronghold. The chill night air wafted over his skin from the drafty corners of the keep. The only light filtering through the darkness was from braziers along the walls. Trillin brought his flagon to his lips, filling his mouth with the taste of the bitter mead as he watched the light dance over the blade of the replica of Nox Bane. It silently lay across the room from him, and though the blade made no actual sound, it called to him. Trillin longed to feel the cold metal in his grasp. The muscles in his empty hand twitched and closed his hand into a hard fist. Mead splashed onto the stone tabletop as Trillin slammed the flagon against the slab. He thrust himself upright and stalked toward the dungeons.

The girl who attacked him had revealed, quite willingly, the name of her Master and his purpose to take out the Spearhead of the Atalan with her special skills. It turned out she was highly skilled in keeping tabs on difficult targets. This skill could be useful to him...If he had any information on the possible location of Nox Bane.

Trillin walked in on Xianna and the girl talking. Calmly, quietly. The girl seemed to be happily devouring an apple. She sat in the cell, perched on the end of the bed, gripping the apple in a way that reminded him of the little furry creatures he saw darting through the foliage during the warmer months. It disgusted him.

“What has she told you? Anything useful? Why does she seem so...Happy?” Trillin sneered over the last word, glaring at the girl in the cell as he spoke to the Valkyrie. The girl shot him a grin in return.

“Nothing more than what has already been revealed. Kai has been more than co-operative.” Xianna seemed almost remorseful over the lack of torture required.

The cheery attitude of the girl in the cell angered Trillin. He lost all interest in using her to find Nox Bane. He didn’t need the hassle of dealing with the waif; he would find the sword by himself. “Kill her, then. She’s useless.” Trillin turned to walk away, but once again was stopped by the eerie little giggle drifting from the figure at the end of the bed.

“I’ll execute the prisoner only if I receive such orders from the Bloodroot. You would do well to heed his orders.” Xianna kept an even tone with Trillin. She did not wish to defend this girl from her own kind, but her allegiance remained with the Bloodroot, where it belonged.

Trillin started toward the cell, bringing a hand up, preparing to call on the flames he so favored. Kai sat still, smiling that creepy smile, only making his decision to end her more sound.

“If Master kills me, he’ll never find the shiny!”

The ball of fire gathered in his palm, brightening the room. The sound of Xianna cautioning him to stop was drowned out by the quickening beat of his heart in his ears.

“What are you tittering about, insect? Tell me quickly and I’ll make your death just as quick.”

Kai leapt the short distance from the edge of the bed to the bars that separated them.

“Master stares. At the shiny! Kai watched him. Master didn’t know I was there.” Kai gazed up at Trillin, and the realization dawned on him. This girl, for one reason or another, had adopted him as her new Master. He was unsure what kind of insanity this girl was plagued with, but his interest was piqued. The ball of flame evaporated and Trillin struck, filling his hand with the material of the girl’s tunic and lifting her up to meet his gaze.

“Kai saw it! The bad man sent her to kill the monk! Kai saw the sword!”

Trillin let the girl hit the floor and stepped back. He had been so close to severing any possibility he had of finding it...So close to losing everything and never knowing it.

“Nox Bane. You’ve seen it?!” The Atalan rushed back to the iron bars, grabbing for the girl. Kai, however, was beginning to learn and easily danced out of the way. She cocked her head to one side and gave him a look of pure confusion.

“What’s a Nox Bane?”
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