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Welcome to Carista. We are an original fantasy roleplay forum set in the world of Carista -- a place where the eight different systems of control are divided across countries and oceans and blood. The systems of control are Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Ice, Plant, Health and Time -- all given to humanity in ages past.

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 Meet The Princess

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Noemi Ilda

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Posts : 38
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OOC: Milksteak
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PostSubject: Meet The Princess   Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:34 pm

Noemi slammed her book shut. She was too distracted to pay any attention to her self-assigned studies; once it took her more than three tries to process a sentence she was reading, it was over. Captivity didn't suit the Valetudian princess one bit. Though she still had the run of the palace, even a gilded cage was still a cage. Outside, she could hear guards chatting quietly to one another. No one really expected an attack, did they? Intellectually, Noemi knew Valetudo was not the safest place in the world at present, but she was not afraid as she should have been. Emotionally, all she felt was irritation.

She blew out the candles and parted the curtains on the window nearest her bed. Moonlight poured in, providing more than enough illumination in addition to the dying fire crackling in the hearth. Crawling on hands and knees, she reached around beneath her mattress frame and drew out a bundle of cloth. Old, tattered cloak; loose, stained trousers; dark, thin scarf; and worn blouse. Noemi shrugged out of her nightgown and pulled on her disguise. The scarf was wrapped around her distinctive blonde locks and the hood of her cloak pulled down low to hide her eyes. The rest of her face she smudged with soot. From all the cleaning she had been doing the past few days, her hands were raw, red, and callused. Perfect.

Once properly dressed, she tied a heavy coin purse and a wineskin full of potent, clear liquor to the inside of her pants while staring intently at an ornate dagger that rested on her vanity. Her father had given it to her. He knew his daughter well; she was determined and despite the current state of affairs, she would do what she wanted. He simply wanted her to be safe while doing it. The blade was sharp and deadly. Noemi's hand hovered over it for a moment before clenching her fingers into a fist and walking away.

Turning the knob slowly, she opened her door and peeked out. No one. How could she believe that her palace was to be besieged when the security measures were so lax? There were Brothers about somewhere, but surely they were more concerned with the eldest and her parents. People of political consequence.

She stole into the hallway, pressing herself into the shadows. The illumination was limited, but memory served her well. There were numerous back ways and secret passages that would take her where she needed to go. Behind the third tapestry on the left, down the stairs, a sharp left, a slight right, through the kitchen pantries, beneath the boucherie, around the stables.... Noemi reached the bordering walls in twenty minutes. Beside one of those walls was a high tree she had climbed since childhood. Hiking up her pants, she gripped the gnarled branches and began hauling herself up, the taste of freedom already on her lips. Once she reached the highest she could go, she leaped to top of the wall. This was the roughest part.

She climbed over and began the careful, careful descent. The light was poor here and she had to be very exact about the foot and handholds. Almost there, now. Fifteen more feet. Then, her foot met moss and she was falling. She swallowed a cry as she landed in the mud, a sharp pain her ankle and her mouth from biting her cheek.

Focus...focus.... You're alright. You're alive. Is anything broken?

She rolled her ankle and winced. Not broken, definitely sprained. Walking anywhere from here would be difficult and she surely couldn't climb the wall now. Noemi spat blood and rocked back and forth, trying to will away the panic.
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Finnagan Collins

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:50 pm

The trip to Valetudo was far from pleasant. Finn had spent most of the time bent over the railing losing more than just his lunch. Thus, when the ship docked, though he wanted to run off of the vessel, he could barely force himself to move without completely dragging his feet. When his boots hit the dock, nearly half a dozen Health Controllers crowded around him, offering to help. On man even went so far to try and help the Brother by supporting his weight, but a dangerous look and a hand on a newly visible dagger made the man think otherwise. Thus, Finnagan moved to the waiting carriage slowly, his boots heavy against the dock and then the road before he climbed in, Brother Cary after him, and a few delegates from the Queen after them. Though he was surrounded by unfamiliar people, Finn was having difficultly keeping himself awake after the sleepless and ill ridden voyage. Thus, it wasn’t a few minutes down the road before his eyes closed and his head began to fall forwards. This action was very unlike a Brother, but he had a hard time caring. Thus, he slept.

Finnagan woke with a start. Before his eyes were fully open, daggers were in both of his hands and his body rose to a defensive position which resulted in a sickening thud as his head made contact with the ceiling of the carriage. Falling back intro the seatand rubbing his head with the back of his hand, he looked around the empty carriage groggily, eyes finally falling on an older woman in the doorway who looked as if she was torn between scolding him like a child and running away from him. The daggers were hidden almost as quickly as they appeared as Finnagan looked past the woman and to the tall wall that he assumed was the outside of the Valetudo Royal Palace. Climbing out of the carriage, more gingerly this time, he took in his surroundings. Brother Cary seemed to have left, it was now into the night, and there were several guards both stationed at the only door he could see as well as in a guard tower on either side of said door. With a closer look, Finn was able to see Brothers in their black cloaks on the wall, at the base of the wall, and a pair doing a patrol. The place was well guarded, at least at the gate. It would difficult to scale that wall without being seen.

Following the older woman when she grunted at him, he approached the large, thick doors to the outer wall. Immediately, four Brothers were at his sides. One looked him over, and nodded, letting Finn pass. They were expecting him. Once inside the walls, he was soon inside the palace, Brothers moving in the shadows all around him. Guards were not visible, and to a regular spy, it appeared the perfect time to launch an invasion. However, to a spy that was familiar with the Brotherhood, it was evident that an invasion would fail quickly. While the Valetudo Palace was not as well guarded as the one in Ventus, it was enough. He was given a brief tour of the Palace as the older woman, who he learned was a cousin of the Queen, well, second cousin of the Queen, talked about this and that as she lead him closer and closer to the Queen’s private meeting chambers. Meeting them wasn’t all that interesting. Formalities were exchanged, as well as directions to the servants’ quarters, where he would be staying for the next dew nights. Each the Queen and her Consort had a pair of Brothers standing at their shoulders and the people themselves were well trained and did not give away more information than needed. According to their knowledge, Finn was there to safeguard their children. The Heir already had a Brother assigned to him personally, but they were more worried about their daughters, especially the eldest. Thus, Finn would begin his duties tonight. With that, he was dismissed.

Relieving himself of the chatty older woman, he ignored the idea that he should acquaint himself with his room and instead found his way back to the door the woman had said belonged to the eldest daughter. With a quick gust of Wind, he sent his pack to the rafters and Wind Walked up the wall rapidly, swinging himself onto the dark rafters beside his pack. Shifting himself so that he could see the daughter’s door clearly, he was not surprised to have a Brother come a sit beside him for a moment to make her presence known, hood drawn over her face. The woman nodded at him in greeting, Finn returning the gesture, before she disappeared into the shadows, returning to her rounds of the palace. Drawing his own hood over his face, he settled in for a long night.

He was not in the rafters for but several minutes before noise behind the door caught his ears. Not long after, a poorly dressed woman stuck her head out of the door and proceeded to sneak down the hallway, sticking to the shadows. Could this be the Princess? Possibly. Leaping down from the rafters to land on a silent Wind Walk, he slipped into the room and looked around the darkness. “Princess?” He said quietly. No response. Moving around the room quickly, he found no sign of anyone in the room. So the Princess was sneaking out. Moving back to the hallway, he moved quickly in the direction the Princess had gone but found no sight of her. She knew the Palace well, and he was just a visitor. He made a mental note to get and study the layout of the Palace before the next night as he changed course to the door he had entered. Nodding to the guards and Brothers at the door, he slipped around the back of the Palace and into the nearest garden. The wall was very difficult to climb from the inside, and he doubted that the guards would let her out through the main gate. Thus, there was either a secret way out of the Palace grounds or she had found a way to get over the wall. Damn woman.

Running through the gardens in silence, he kept his eyes at the base of the wall, looking for any opening and anything that might give the Princess a boost over the wall. It wasn’t ten minutes later that he came upon a tree right at the base of the wall, the upmost branches easily reaching over the wall. Pulling himself up into the folds of the tree without a second thought, he used his Wind Walk to more vault himself off the branches rather than actually climbing. Reaching the top of the wall, he was just in time to watch the disguised Princess climb down the wall and see her foot miss its hold and instead slip on a patch of moss. Finn pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head slightly. Fool woman, what on earth did she think she was doing? With a slight sigh, Finn stepped from the top of the wall, using his Wind Walk to slow his descent when he came close to the ground, landing on the Wind on both feet with one hand bracing himself as well. Standing fully, he eyed the Princess -- she was sitting in the mud, rocking back and forth as she held her ankle, injured in the fall, no doubt. This was ridiculous.

Aware that he had his hood up and the woman was probably already freaking out, he pushed his hood back and gave her a slight nod in greeting before offering her a hand.

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Noemi Ilda

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:16 pm

If only she could heal herself...then this wouldn't have been a problem at all. Her ankle was throbbing. It would swell up pretty if she didn't get it elevated and iced soon - or in the hands of a capable and discreet healer. That seemed a much better option. That way, she wouldn't be limping through the corridors of the palace tomorrow and no one would be the wiser about this little excursion. Don't panic. You're fine. You're fine. She breathed in and out rhythmically as the palace physician had taught her to do whenever her anxiety peaked.

Finally, she realized that she was not alone.

Noemi slowly lifted her head to see a hand and then, the man behind it. She had never seen him before, but his cloak was darker than the night. She pursed her lips. A Brother. It was difficult to decide whether the Creator was dealing her a poor hand or a good one, but either way, He definitely had a sense of humor. Summoning what little dignity she had left, she used the wall to brace her weight and stand rather than taking his assistance - who knew how much blood stained his fingers? She only winced for a moment as she readjusted her weight and was proud of herself for it. There were cuts on her palms too. Those would have to be cleaned.

"Brother." She greeted him as haughtily as she good in the given situation, dipping into an awkward half-curtsy, made even stranger in her mud-soaked trousers. No use in pretending she wasn't the princess at this point. If he thought she was a trespasser on palace grounds, he likely would have killed her already. "How long have you been following me?"

There was not much information in the Royal Library about the Brothers of Ventus, but she had read every snippet she had found. They were a famously secret organization, but honestly, Noemi doubted there was anything interesting at all about them besides the fact that they reportedly skilled in the arts of death. Apparently, they had little in the way of personalities or feelings or individuality - all three of which Noemi had in spades. Beside that, her morals would not allow her to align herself with a group of cold-blooded assassins in good conscience. Her mother had given her no choice.

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Finnagan Collins

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:04 pm

When it was clear that the muddied, disguised Princess would not take his hand, he lowered it to his side with relief. He was aware of social customs, and when one was in a situation like this with another who was higher in social standing, customs dictated that he offer aid. Thankfully, the Princess seemed either too disgusted by him or frightened. From the facial expression that fell upon her face after seeing him, however, he was more sure that she was disgusted with him. Odd. His Brothers were swarming around her Palace to protect her and her family, and yet she was repulsed by him. That was simply ridiculous.

He remained still as she used the wall to help herself stand, her face making it very clear that she was in pain. Ankle was likely injured, and her hands looked to be a little scraped up. There was nothing serious that he could see, her condition was passable. Considering she was in decent health, he began to scan the area for an outside attack. Though the Princess left the Palace of her own accord, there could still be assassins in the surrounding area, just waiting for a chance at her. The chance was greatened by the fact that this was not her first time sneaking out of the Palace without a guard. Was she intentionally trying to get herself killed? Foolish woman. Clearly this was the reason that he was being assigned to her and her siblings, yet why her parents requested that he focus on her. Their daughter was ignorant of the dangers of the world, of the dangers that were very present in her very Kingdom.

Hearing her speak, he watched her awkward, muddy curtsy and fought a smirk. Though dressed in rags and covered in mud, she still had the mentality of a royal. Bowing from the waist, his cloak moving to surround him with the motion, he surveyed the situation concerning her ankle. The entirety of her weight was supported on her other foot, and she was careful with the placement of the injured ankle. She could not run nor walk without assistance. If they were ambushed, he would need to be prepared to make a stand and protect. With this assessment and the resulting plan created in his head, he rose, meeting the gaze of the blonde.

“When you left your room, I made myself aware of your identity and then of your location. The route you selected, once outside the Palace, was not difficult to discover,” he said dully. Did the Princess think herself to be clever? Likely the only reason she had not be followed previously was that the Brothers on rounds had set stations to attend to. He was the first to be assigned to her person in the means of safety and guard, and thus, he would be the only one to follow her outside the Palace walls. “The Kingdom is not safe,” he said slowly, taking another scan of their surroundings, “and thus I suggest you return to the Palace or employ a guard to accompany you on your nightly excursions.”

His eyes returned to meet her gaze. In reality, the Princess could do whatever she pleased to and he would have to follow her and maintain her wellbeing, whatever was left of it. However, in her injured state, he would be more firm in suggesting that she return to the Palace as she was more difficult to protect when her mobility was reduced so significantly.

Movement pulled taught on the Wind around him. Quickly, his head snapped around towards the motion and daggers were in his hands before he could blink. In the second that followed, he positioned himself in front of the Princess and let his stance lower and prepare for a fight. Reaching out with Wind towards to movement, it became apparent that it was caused by a simple drunk man nearly two blocks away. Likely he was just one his way home after a night of heavy drinking at a local tavern. However, the Princess did not need to know that her safety was not in jeopardy. If she believed herself to be in harms way, perhaps she would return to the Palace. Even though he believed her to be safe for the most part, there was still a chance that the drunk man was a cover for an assassin. Drunk movements would be a clever mask for the movements of an assassin, but the likelihood was minimal. He said nothing of the lack of threat to the princess, instead letting his movements lead her to believe what she would. There was no reason to lie verbally in this situation.

Sheathing only the dagger in his main hand, he raised the hood of his cloak before turning to the Princess. “Can you walk, realistically, your Highness?”

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Noemi Ilda

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:26 pm

Not difficult to discover? Not even the help knew those secret passages! And just as she expected, drier than a bone! She crossed her arms over her chest and fought the desire to huff. Not safe. Of course it wasn't safe. That wasn't the point. Safety wasn't her main concern, at least not her own. If it had been, then she wouldn't have thrown herself over a thirty-five foot wall. It was because of the discord of the kingdom that she felt her place among her people was more important than ever. She couldn't very well explain that to this man, though. She wondered if he had felt a shred of loyalty or pride in his life that was born from love rather than obligation. Doubtful.

She opened her mouth to reply to him, but he snapped his head around, eyes riveted by something she did not notice. Some drunk wandering a few blocks away? He was singing a bawdy song that might have made her blush under normal circumstances. These Brothers were twitchy folk, weren't they? Noemi was a lot of things, but paranoid was not one of them - though she should have been, given that she was a princess in the big, bad city. Her disguise was not a good one, granted, but just because he hadn't fallen for it didn't mean others wouldn't. She hadn't had any trouble before. She didn't like the look of his daggers, either. Though she tried not to stare, her eyes kept straying towards the one he still bared.

"I can walk. Slowly."

She would be able to for a mile or so, she surmised, before her injury would be aggravated. The worsening of her sprain didn't much matter to her, though, as she was not going back to the palace and didn't have to lie to anyone.

"Thank you for your input, Brother, but if I wish for further suggestions, I will request them. You will be my guard this eve. You will not speak of this to the Queen and her Consort unless directly asked. In public, you will not refer to me as princess, but simply Noemi. My name is common. We will say you are...my brother. That fits. Our mouths are both large and our eyes near in shade. You will also remove that cloak. It's far too obvious and off-putting. Understood?"

As she spoke, she began moving out of the shadows and toward the town, gritting her teeth through her limp. They didn't have far to go. If she had to have this...barbarian with her, then she would use him as well as she could and then complain to her mother about him the next day. If he was following her, then it was likely that she had her own personal guard. She knew of a number of knights under the palace's employ that she would have much rather had as her companion, if she had to have one at all. This Brother was not a particularly large man, unlike the knights. No one would be intimidated by him until he flashed his blades...at which point it would be all over....

"What is your name?"


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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:14 pm

Much to his dismay, the drunk who was wandering away from them began singing a rather indecent tune with which Finn was not familiar with. It was more than evident now that there was no danger in the approximate vicinity, other than the wall which she had recently fallen from. He could suggest they return to the Palace all he wanted, but without the threat of real and present danger, he doubted that he would be able to convince her to return, considering how stubborn she had already proven herself to be in addition to his lack of skill in this department. It was not in his training to be able to convince a stubborn and foolish charge back to safety. When he had ben hired before, the men and women knew they were in danger and did everything to keep themselves alive, which included hiring him. This woman, however, was either stupid or naive, perhaps a combination of the two.

Aware of her eyes on his dagger, he almost kept it out to keep her mind focused on the threat of the world around them. However, she seemed to think him more of the scum of the earth and more of a threat to the world than any other, or so he gathered from her glares and stares. Thus, with a flick of his wrist, the dagger disappeared into the sleeve of his suit without a second thought.

So she thought she could walk, it seemed. With her ankle injured, it seemed illogical to have her walk anywhere but to safety. Sure, she would be able to walk half a mile or more before she became tired and sore, but then what would happen if they were ambushed? She would have little to no strength left to run or maneuver. He would be backed into a corner to defend her, which was not his favorite option. If there was a strong wind, he might be able to give her a boost to the roof or into the rafters, but the winds in Valetudo were weak compared to the one he had left behind in Ventus. If their attackers came in numbers prepared for a Brother, he might be able to keep the back while she ran, but not in this condition. She had doomed them if a well set ambush was in the future. Foolish Princess.

His eyebrows raised slightly when she gave him commands, very basic but very solid commands. It was evident that she worked with Brothers often to recognize that they would not disobey direct orders from a post unless the one who assigned them gave them direct permission to do so. Thus, he was bound by her orders unless the Queen told him otherwise. They were not the most well thought out orders in regards to her safety, but at least she wasn’t trying to send him away. Bowing his head slightly in agreement, he undid the fastening of his Brotherhood Cloak and folded the inky fabric quickly. This would give him away easily, she was correct. If they were in Ventus, the suit would do just as much, but perhaps the people of Valetudo were not quite so use to seeing the black suits of the Brotherhood. The Brothers at the shoulders of the Queen and her Consort did not done their cloaks indoors, be he doubted many people saw those suits and recognized them as anything but simple attire. Even if they did, it would give him an advantage to have them know of his training.

Whistling through his teeth, he looked to the top of the wall and to the Brother already standing there watching the encounter. As he thought, it was no mystery that the Princess was leaving the Palace grounds, but there were no orders that required the Brothers on duty to either tell the Queen or to follow the blonde. Using the slight breeze around him, he managed to sent the cloak up about ten feet before the other Brother caught it and used her superior Wind Control to move it up the rest of the way. His cloak would likely be in his pack in the rafters when they returned. Brothers were able to understand the needs of another without speech simply by knowing how to read situations and their own experiences.

Satisfied that his cloak was in safe hands, he looked back to the woman who claimed they were similar enough in appearance to be siblings. If she could see his family, she would know that her statement was false. Her hair was much too blonde her her skin too pale and flawless to be related to one with Ventus red hair and freckles like himself. Perhaps the comment about their mouths was correct, but he preferred not to think about that. At least there was no “guppy mouth” comment yet. Following her limping movements, he considered offering to aid her, but resisted. Social custom did not dictate that he offer aid a second time. Thus, he continued walking just at her left shoulder “Brother Collins, your highness.” The comment was made offhandedly as his eyes continued to scan their surroundings. They were not in public quite yet, and thus he was not required to call her by her first name, yet.

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Noemi Ilda

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:00 am

Little did Finn know that Noemi had never before met a Brother. She was simply good at bossing people around and had been even as a child. She was the daughter of a queen, after all. Taking control was in her blood and not being in control...well, it led to fits of cleaning and hyperventilating, and no one wanted that.

"A given name would be nice, Brother Collins." She sighed, rolling her eyes. "I think it would sound a bit odd if I called my own sibling by such a rigid title."

She led him through a series of winding alleys and back streets that would give pause to even a mouse. In Valetudo, there were many hospitals, some of them free, some of them costly. The ones that provided free healthcare were often crowded, over-worked and under-resourced places. No matter how much money the government pumped into them, they could not hire more physicians than there were in existence. Though most of those who lived in Valetudo were of the Health system, the majority of them were of the citizen classification and could not undertake advanced procedures. Furthermore, there were many who distrusted hospitals for one reason or another, or could not get the care they needed quickly enough.

For those people, there were clinics. Clinics gave free care to everyone and were usually headed by Apprentices or Consulars. They usually tended to minor injuries, broken bones, and the like, and could be found in every neighborhood. All had permits and funding from kingdom, but since the Glacien presence, the economy had taken a sharp downward turn. There were no blockades yet, but trade had slowed to the point where there might well have been. Of course, the good people of Valetudo didn't know - or care - about the reasoning behind why their funding had been cut or why certain programs were being temporarily halted, though they all had their ideas about what Queen Eufenia could do. So did Noemi. It was frustrating, but Noemi understood, and did her best to help them.

Finally, she reached the door to a small building wedged between a butcher's shop and a florist's, both closed at this time of night. As soon as she turned the knob, the door flew open and she was met with the sight of Fabrizia, the clinic's hefty head physician, with her normally pristine apron absolutely drenched in blood. There was screaming behind her.

"Oh, Creator. I was just about to go out to grab some help. Get your bloody ass in here, Noemi." She stood aside and stopped, eyes falling on her escort. Fabrizia was a sharp woman. "Who is that?"

"My brother." She answered curtly before pushing past the thick woman and into the building. The less she had to elaborate, the better. Being caught in a lie would be horrendous and she didn't want to bring the trouble of her true identity on Fabrizia's head. She genuinely did not know who Noemi was; opportunity had never given her the chance to see more than a few paintings of the royal family, all of them posed for while Noemi was very young indeed.

Noemi reached behind her and grabbed the Collins boy by the lapel - she hated touching him, but she wanted no opportunity for Fabrizia to ask questions - and started dragging him down a narrow hallway toward the source of the howls. There were only six rooms in this clinic and this was considered one of the largest ones in the area. Each room was filled and all doors open, but none of the occupants were making noise - they all seemed wide-eyes and frightened senseless. The last room on the left held the screamer and as it happened, he had good reason to be screaming.

The man no longer had a right arm - well, he did have it, but it was clutched in his left hand. He had been eviscerated as well. Some poor girl was holding in his intestines with both hands, sobbing. Quite a scene indeed. Blood was everywhere and the man was pale as death. If they didn't act soon.... Noemi released her guard and tore off her cloak. From her pants, she drew her skin of liquor, popped open the top and poured it over both hands.

"What happened? Why is he not in a hospital?"

Noemi was an image of calm urgency. The girl, likely a new hire as Noemi had never seen her before, was not. It took her a moment to process that she was being asked a question.

"U-uhm...the free hospital, it was too far.... His mates say th-they were, they were hunting possums just on the outskirts, um, drinking a bit. Then they were ambushed, they said. By...by Glaciens. We're out of anaesthetics and no one here knows how to do it proper."

All the while, the man was still screaming, crying, and begging to any god who would listen. Noemi furrowed her brows and turned toward Collins. She only knew how to anaesthetize in theory and now was no time to try something she was unsure in. Not when there was another solution.

"Knock him out."
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Finnagan Collins

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:03 am

“Finnagan,” he responded, his voice tight and the name slightly unusual on his tongue. There weren’t a lot of people in Carista who would ask to call a Brother by his or her first name, especially people who had just met said Brother, and yet, here he was with a little bossy Princess who was more stubborn than any charge he had ever been assigned to. Injured, she was limping towards open danger rather than back into the Palace where it was assured that she would be safe. It was illogical, and she simply didn’t seem to care or agree. Stubborn woman. Hopefully he wasn’t assigned to her for much longer, or perhaps her parents would decide to lock her in her little room for her own well being, if they every found out about this little excursion. This was beginning to frustrate him and he had only been with the princess for a handful of minutes.

Finn followed the blonde woman down winding alleys and streets, eyes constantly searching for danger around them. There we so many nooks and crannies where one could easily hide to then ambush the two of them. At ever step it seemed as if he was formulating a new plan for the safety of the woman who didn’t even blink walking through the shadows. Stubborn and stupid, or illogically brave. Either way, he was still assigned to her. The following continued down alleys that made him nearly reach out to her and stop her movements, but he hesitated and resumed following her, eyes scanning and two throwing daggers in hand, prepared for anything that might jump out of the shadows.

Finally they stopped at a small building that looked as if it was wedged uncomfortably tight between what appeared to be a florist and a butcher's shop. The building was unlabeled, but he could hear the faint sounds of screaming from within. This could not be good. He moved towards the princess and positioned himself not a handspan behind her. If something undesirable was behind that door, he would be damned if he let them get to her before he got to them. With the shorter stature of the blonde in combination of his natural height and Wind Walking, he would be able to maneuver around or over her if need be without difficulty. Returning one to a fold in his suit, he pulled a heavier dagger from his hip that was more designed for hand to hand combat, designed to gut and kill with one swipe. He couldn’t take the chance with his lighter daggers that were only meant to warn and wound, not when she was injured and he was in unfamiliar territory.

The princess turned the door knob and he tensed as the door flew open, a woman covered in blood the first thing her saw. Immediately he flipped his throwing dagger in his right hand and prepared to throw, until she spoke to the princess. Remembering that he was supposed to be her brother, Finn let the dagger slide into his sleeve with little motion. Perhaps the woman did not notice, but he sure did. The dagger was in throwing position and, in his haste, he did not flip it back to slide it into it’s sheath. Thus, there was now a cut down the inside of his forearm where the exceedingly sharp blade moved across his skin. He nearly slapped himself for the foolish action, but before he could do anything, the princess had introduced him as her brother and proceeded to drag him by the front of his suit towards the screams he had been hearing.

As they passed rooms and their occupants, Finn got a good idea of where he was: a Health Clinic or something similar. So Noemi was sneaking out to help her people, it seemed. He still was not sure whether she was a Health or a Time controller, for neither of her actions pointed to one or the other, but he was sure was was going to find out soon. If she was definitely a Health Controller, she would have healed herself by now, but if she was a Time Controller, she would have slowed her fall from the wall, had she the reflexes to do so. A new place, screaming, trying to figure everything out -- it was kind of exciting. The screaming and the act of trying to figure everything out was giving him an odd mixture of an adrenaline rush.

That was until he was dragged into the last room, the room with the screaming.

The man was holding one of his arms, and it was no longer attached, while a woman did her best to keep in his organs as they threatened to spill out. When Noemi released his suit, Finn took a step back, his face pale. He had never killed a man, nor had he any desire to. Always the guard, it was his job to keep them alive to ask questions or give them blows that would make them think twice about harming his charge. Finn always told himself that he could do it, that he could take a life if he had to, but he had never been given the situation where that was asked of him. And now, he was in a room where a man’s life was hanging on by a very thin thread.

Time seemed to move at a crawl. He knew the princess and the bloddied woman were speaking, but he just couldn’t take his eyes off of the dying man. The man was going to die, how could he not. If the princess wasn’t skilled enough to slow her own fall or to heal herself, how could she do anything for a man that was already dancing with death? He swallowed roughly and looked to the Princess. She was turned towards him, expectations in her eyes. Knock him out? He blinked and nodded slightly. Yes, yes he could do that. Trying to calm the panic that was sending his heart racing and his mind to who knows where, he pulled his heavy dagger from his hip. Closing his eyes, he took four deep breaths, counting them all fully, before opening his eyes and stepping towards the man and raising the dagger. “I’m sorry,” he said breathily to the man without thinking before the hilt of his dagger came down on the back of the man’s head with a sickening thud. Regaining his composure, he returned the dagger to it’s place and turned to the surprisingly calm Princess.

“Unless there is anything more that you require of me, I will be waiting outside the door,” he hesitated, “Noemi.”

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:49 pm

Noemi watched the Brother curiously, making note of how mortified he seemed. The color had left his ruddy cheeks and his eyes were locked on the poor man. In her experience, people reacted one of two ways to violence: with fear or with adrenaline. She obviously felt the latter. The pain in her ankle and the sting in her hands from the alcohol were all but forgotten, dulled, and pushed aside. She now wore gloves. Though she still limped about the room, the sprain was a distant memory. Finnagan, however, seemed to be in a state of absolute horror - but that couldn't be, could it?

All her life, all information she had come across regarding the Brothers emphasized their coldness and their propensity for violence. Surely, seeing a bit of blood and organ couldn't have unsettled him so. Her eyes fell to his hand as she noticed a rivulet of red traveling down his fingers from somewhere beneath his sleeve. Idiot man! How did he manage to hurt himself in the short walk from the palace to the clinic? If this was the man her parents had thought worthy to protect her then perhaps her safety wasn't that big a concern to him. She had no time for a clumsy body guard.

At least he followed her orders, albeit slowly. She caught the apology on his lips before he brought the hilt down. What was he sorry for?! Helping to save his life? This Brother Finnegan Collins was one anomaly after another. Perhaps she had been fooled. Maybe he wasn't a murderer at all and was only dressed as one to scare off would-be assassins. Still, the expression he wore struck sympathy within her. Right now, he was not Brother Collins, but her real, blood brother, as far as everyone else in the clinic was concerned.

She placed a hand on his shoulder gently, doing her best to give a reassuring smile. She wasn't sure just how reassuring it would be though, considering there was a half-dead man behind them. At least he wasn't screaming anymore.

"I only ask one more thing of you, Finnagan. If you could retrieve for me a hot fire poker from the main room, that would be wonderful. Then, I suggest you step outside for a bit and get fresh air. Bowels are not very fragrant and I wouldn't have you fainting. Or you could have Fabrizia look at that wound on your arm when she has a moment. I believe she's tending to the others. And take my cloak, would you? I don't want blood on it."

With that, Noemi handed the cloak to him and stepped away. She washed her hands again, this time at a sink with unscented soap. Cleanliness was of the utmost importance. After that, her first course of action was to take the arm away from the man and toss it aside. He would have to live without. Her skills were not so great that she could reattach limbs, especially not after any amount of time had passed. There were too much involved with the nerves and after his bare flesh had so much exposure to air, infection was a possibility. She would have to cauterize it and heal it from there, hence her need for the hot iron. The biggest problem with handling an injury of this magnitude in a clinic was the lack of equipment and the need for improvisation. A hospital would have a cauter, or even a wealthier clinic might, but not this one.

She shooed the girl away and assessed the damage to the stomach. Healing was not like the other elements, where there was something tangible and inanimate to manipulate. Her manipulation was the manipulation of the human body, of human life, essentially, and molding it back to place. Another difference was that even the untrained in the other systems could perform a trick or two, call a gust of wind, heat water for tea, and so on. To do anything in the Health system other than patching a small cut, however, required knowledge of anatomy, knowledge of mundane medical procedures, and use of technology added to the instinct that the system gave. Health magic was always progressing and it was up to the practitioner to stay abreast of all forward motion.

It was Noemi's eyes that told her which parts of the intestine were devitalized and a scalpel that made the cut; knowledge and experience rather than anything to do with her inborn talents. It was not her first evisceration - wild boars were capable of doing this just as well as humans. Her hands took on a soft yellow glow through her thin gloves as they pushed his bowels back into the cavity; knowledge and experience now applied to her inborn talents. The flesh twined around her fingers, sliding into its natural order. One part was reattached to another to make up for the part she had removed and she pinched those pieces together, sealing them in place. This was an especially resilient part of the body. The blood made seeing difficult, but touch was as important as sight and beyond that, sheer gut feeling (pun unintended). The girl, apparently having regained her wits, came behind her with saline and washed the area before Noemi sealed the entire wound. That part was easy, especially considering that his stomach had been sliced cleanly. She had a gift with lacerations and tears in the flesh - perhaps because it resembled needlework, in a far off way, and she was good with that as well. The skin of his stomach patched together with a thin, red line marking the area it had been slanting from left rib to navel. In time, that would become nothing more than a dull scar. The only evidence of how terrible it had been only moments before was the blood and viscera still on the sheets of the tiny bed.

While she had been busy with the stomach, the girl had applied an emergency tourniquet to her patient's arm. Blood loss was still an issue. She hastily removed her gloves and washed her hands again, afterwards applying glowing fingers to his chest, over his heart, and following lines of arteries to his throat, down his extant arm, and along his thighs, stimulating blood flow and regeneration. The entire procedure had taken only a few minutes. She found herself worried about Finnagan. Hopefully, he hadn't passed out.

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:21 am

He was lost, lost in himself and the room that was flooded with the sounds of screams and the stench of fear and blood, his own blood inside that mix. It felt as if everything was moving in thick air, but more so him than anything else. Screams were ringing loudly in his ear, the smell of blood was snaking into his mouth and nose until he felt as if he was surrounded by the blood, the warm trickling of blood down his forearm and to his fingertips, and then there was the emotion of something he was unfamiliar with threatening to burst to the surface. Was it sympathy for the man that would surely die in this room, his body broken and falling around him? Or could it be recognition and horror as he looked at a man in a state of dying that Finnagan himself was trained to put people into? He was trained to kill, to maim, to cause pain to others simply because he was hired or contracted to do so. There was no choice after he had agreed, if he were to. The man before him, a Brother did things like this. Finn’s eyes flickered to the woman and then back to the man. This was what he was trained to do.

Physical contact, a hand on his shoulder, made him stiffen and his eyebrows lower, his eyes below them shifting to his shoulder and then down the arm to the person the hand belonged to. The smile she wore was completely lost on him. For a Brother who was trained to feel and show little emotion, the glare he gave her was one of the strongest physical identifiers of his humanity and the existence of emotions within him. Physical contact was one thing he detested about the society outside the Brotherhood, and the one thing he would not stand for. Lost was the dying man, lost was the smell of blood and fear around him, all replaced by anger and disgust. He shrugged his shoulder to be free of her hand and took a step back from her, expanding his personal space. This was what happened when he allowed someone to call him by his first name. Never again. He would be referred to as Brother Collins or Brother, nothing more. As far as the Princess was concerned, he had no other names.

He said nothing and responded no other way to her instructions other than simply taking her cloak and leaving the room. There was no bow or nod of recognition for her, but he did as he was told, perhaps with a slightly cool face. Walking out of the room, he shut the door behind him and moved past the other rooms swiftly until he was in the main room, squatting in front of a burning fire. Pulling a poker from the rack, he shoved it into the hot coals of the fire and waited, like he was her servant. Every ounce of emotion that he had almost felt in that room, the ideas that were rushing into his head, were all stopped by the touch of that woman. In a way he should be thankful, but his skin was still crawling at the idea of her touching him again. It was not a pleasant action, and one that she should have known better than to attempt. He was aware of her social customs, so why was she not aware of his? It was insulting to touch him, and to insinuate that he needed a Health Controller for such a small cut, let alone the idea that he would faint. He was not some child; it would take much more than blood and a dying man to make him pass out like that. She would be welcome to observe his full exercises, when he gained the time. The routine would surely force her to pass out, such a pampered little woman. Who would be the weak one then?

Frustrated, he stood and began to pace the room. Why did he have to be assigned to her. Raising a hand to run it through his hair, he realized that he still held her cloak. Throwing it offhandedly to a rack, he continued his pacing, stopping every couple of steps to check the poker. He was aware of what she intended to do with it, and was thus aware that the hotter the better. If it wasn’t hot enough and had to be held to the wound longer, flesh would stick to the iron, and that was not pleasant or productive. All Brothers had at least a basic set of skills to keep themselves alive and able to perform their task, no matter what, and fixing the body was something that was covered well. Since becoming a Brother, Finnagan had never been forced to rely on a Health Controller to heal his body, even when stopping crazed would-be assassins on the night shift in Ventus. He had taken quite a slash across the chest before he managed to subdue the three assailants. Two had gone down well, but one was clever and got a good slice in. But Finn had patched that up just fine himself, even if it had resulted in a thick scar.

Remembering his arm suddenly, he looked to his hand and the small rivulets of blood that had formed in the creases there. He had nearly forgotten. No doubt when he returned with the poker, the woman would make a comment on his injury, more so if it were not patched up by that time. Checking the poker once more and deeming that it needed more time, Finn looked around the relatively large room, for the size of the building at least. Seeing a desk that probably served as the place of record keeping, he began to rifle through the drawers for something to help seal his wound. Finding nothing, he took a step back and was about to return to the poker when the jar of honey beside an old cup of tea caught his eye. Perfect. Quickly, he unbuttoned his jacket with deft fingers and slid out of it, tossing it over the chair. Rolling up the sleeve of his white shirt then, he drizzled some honey across the bleeding wound and pressed a sheet of paper across it, ignoring the meaningless blood that otherwise remained on his hand. That would hold for now until he could get some gauze later. He rolled his sleeve back down and frowned a little at the long cut down it and the blood that stained from the elbow down. The shirt was near ruined out of simple stupidity. He would do better to take care of him and his own things before the silly cares of appearance of the Princess, if he could.

Quickly shrugging the jacket of his suit over his shirt, he removed the hot poker from the coals and moved back down the hallway, past all of the rooms, until he reached the last one with the door shut. Opening it, he handed the poker to the Princess carefully, adjusting his jacket and the daggers hidden within carefully, his face completely neutral and devoid of emotion, as he was taught. His eyes moved to the man in the room, the man who Finn was sure would die. His stomach was nearly new looking, as if nothing had happened at all. The man would not have the use of an arm, but he would live. Amazing. Buttoning up his jacket with nimble fingers, he looked back to the Princess. Health Controller, and a skilled one, that much was clear. When the poker was from is hands, Finn did not hesitate or take any extra time turning towards the doorframe, though nor did he hurry. His mind was clear on his task, nothing more. The smell of blood was still fresh in the room, but the emotions it had previously brought so near to the surface were absent. With his suit once again buttoned up to his chin, he stood in the hallway at the doorframe, watching for any entry or ambush that might be soon underway, his mind ever planning for the worst with an injured and distracted Princess behind him

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:00 am

Finnagan was not happy with her. Not that she minded, really. She was not happy with being followed. Perhaps she had been overstepping her boundaries in touching him, but he looked so desperately hopeless in that moment that she had not been able to stop herself. Many had told her that she would be a good mother some day and though she hated hearing it and hated even more that it was meant to be a compliment, she knew it was true. For all her toughness and grit, Noemi had a soft heart. It was why healing appealed to her so greatly; she could not see pain and uncertainty without the urge to help. Even if her help wasn't necessarily wanted.

When he returned with the poker, she took it from him with a mumbled thanks. No time to worry about his feelings, or lack thereof. She absolutely would be requesting a new guard. Someone outside the Brotherhood. Maybe someone better attuned to her - and someone who wouldn't nick themselves with their own weapons.

Noemi returned to her patient, snipped off the tourniquet, cleaned the wound, and rolled the hot poker against the stump. The scent and sound of sizzling flesh rose in the air as the heat sealed the wound. Had she been a lesser woman, this might have undone her stomach, as the whole thing was entirely too reminiscent of her dinner. At this point, however, she had cauterized enough wounds to think nothing of it. Once finished, she set the poker aside and rubbed her hands together, the glow reappearing about her fingers. Healing the burn was simple; it was simply a matter of accelerating the natural processes of the skin. If this man maintained his bandages properly, he would be right as rain in a week. Not bad for a fellow who only a few moments before seemed on his way to the afterlife. She allowed herself a bit of pride, but not too much. Too much led to arrogance, which in turn led to complacency, which would have led to mistakes. When handling a person's life, mistakes were inadmissible.

The girl would take care of the bandaging. She seemed in a much better state of mind now. With a nod to her, Noemi washed her hands again and left the room. Now that things had calmed, she realized her hands were red and stinging and her ankle was still bothering her, though it was much better than it had been previously. Finnagan was waiting outside.

"Did you get your arm fixed?" She asked curtly, finding her cloak on a rack in the hallway. "Once that and my ankle are healed, we can leave. My hands are always this way, so there's no need to do anything about that."

Just then, Fabrizia exited one of the rooms and cast an assessing look over the two of them. Her eyes lingered longer on Noemi's so-called sibling.

"Is the man dead?"

"Please."

"Dumb question. Anyway, thank you. Both of you."

Noemi nodded and took a seat in the small sitting room, Fabrizia following.

"I sprained my ankle and my--my brother injured his arm on the way here. Give us a quick patch up, won't you?"

Fabrizia nodded and sank to her knees before the princess, lifted her trousers, and set to work on the swelling. Noemi extracted the coin purse from her pants and gave it to her; she accepted it without a word or a nod. It was Noemi's habit to give tribute to the woman with every visit and Fabrizia was good enough to never ask more questions than was necessary. She knew Noemi was not the peasant girl she pretended to be, but no more than that.

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Tue Dec 25, 2012 12:11 am

Hands clasped behind his back, Finn waited patently for the Princess to complete the task she had come here for. It would be interesting to see just how often she left the Palace to come to this little Health Clinic. No doubt she had saved this man’s life, but why was this left on her shoulders to complete? They were in the Kingdom that had the most Health Controllers in all of Carista, and yet there was still a shortage of people with enough skill to heal those who needed it. Were the people of Valetudo more dependant on Health Controllers than others were in places like Ventus? People in his Kingdom knew how to take care of wounds without the aid of the Health Element. The people here were clearly soft and could do nothing without the aid of their elements. One must never rely on another, for in the times of desperate human need, there was no one but one’s self. That was why the Brotherhood survived for so long and why Ventus would always prevail – they relied on no one but themselves.

As the smell of burning flesh drifted past him, the vegetarian wrinkled his nose slightly before smoothing his face to a picture of perfect calm. Soon they would be gone from this little place and back at the Palace where the Princess would be safe behind the walls she was born into. His eyes flickered down the hallway briefly before returning to a relaxed look around his near surroundings. This place would have been easily defendable, however. Few windows made for few escapes, but at the same time, he would be able to defend the room the Princess occupied easily that way.

Familiar movement behind him caught the corner of his vision. Turning his head slightly in the direction of the Princess, he kept his hands clasped behind his back and nodded once. The honey and paper would hold fine as a bandage until he could get more suitable supplies from his pack. By the time they returned to the Palace, however, he would likely not need anything. The cut was clean and not terribly deep, it would heal well on it’s own. Unfamiliar movement across the hall caught his eye. Recognizing the woman as the one who had answered the door when they had first arrived, Finn relaxed slightly. The way she was eyeing him was curious however. In response to her gaze, Finn lifted an eyebrow a fraction. She was an interesting woman.

He stayed right at the Princess’ shoulder as the moved towards the main room. When she sat, he moved to stand not a few paces off at the doorway where he would be of most use in case of an attack. He watched offhandedly as the woman set to work on the Princesses ankle while keeping guard as his position dictated. “My arm does not need attendance, Health Controller,” he stated plainly when the woman approached him. Like most women, she was stubborn and began to insist that she see his wound, but he cut her off. “If my arm was in need of attendance, do you not think that,” he paused and looked at the Princess, “my sister would be more than capable to take care of it herself?” The woman hesitated, but left him alone. Whether it was because she believed him or because his tone did not allow room for any more stubborn actions, he did not care. The point of the matter was that she let him be.

“We should be taking out leave, should be not,” he looked to the blonde in the chair, “Noemi?” To further prove his desire to leave, he retrieved her cloak from where it hung lazily on the peg and fashioned it around her with quick, deft fingers not once touching her skin, before returning to the door and placing a hand on the knob. Looking over his shoulder to the other woman, he nodded once. “I wish you the best on your endeavors here.” Turning the knob in his hand, he pushed the door open carefully, his eyes and Wind immediately scanning the area for any danger. Finding nothing of note other than a handful of rodents, he moved through the door completely and held it open for the Princess. Something felt wrong. One she was through and the door closed behind them, dual daggers appeared in his hands. Something felt off about the area, and he couldn’t place his finger on it. Scanning with Wind, he branched out as far as he could, and still nothing. But that wasn’t enough; there was something in his gut that was telling him to be prepared.

“Princess, something feels,” he paused, wrong about this area. I am not exactly sure what it is, but prepare yourself for the worst.” Switching so both daggers were in his main hand, his free hand tugged a few times at the front of his jacket, settling the throwing daggers that lined his chest just inside a fold. Returning his stance so that a dagger was in each hand, he glanced at the Princess. “If we are ambushed, do not run unless I am clearly outnumbered. The safest place for you to be is directly behind me.”

Movement in a nearby alley caught his attention. Something was very wrong indeed. Just as he sent concentrated Wind down to scout the dark alley, a long spear of Ice came flying at him followed by half a dozen men in Glacien clothing. He roughly reached towards the Princess and threw her behind him as he used the small amount of Wind Control he had to deflect the Ice just to the side. His Control would not be of much use in a city like this, he needed the Winds of Ventus. Throwing one dagger, followed by the next, he reached into the folds and his chest and let loose three more in succession, only one finding its target in the shoulder of a smaller man, sending him to the ground. Taking steps backwards as the group came towards him, daggers were let loose from his fingers with ease, the movement just as natural as breathing, his body following the drills he practiced daily. Two more daggers found home; one in a thigh and another near the knee. Though three were forced to a slower pace, the half dozen Glacien’s still came towards the pair and Finn was beginning to run low on throwing daggers. He needed to get the Princess to safety so he could engage in hand to hand. Throwing a dagger to deflect a bolt of ice, he sent another immediately after which found a new target directly in the neck of a man. He fell instantly, blood covering the paved street. One down. Throwing the last appropriate dagger from his set near his chest, it missing the intended target, but finding a place in a shoulder, Finn turned around to face the Princess, showing his back to the enemy. “Find a place to hide and don’t come out for anyone but a Brother.” Giving her a shove, he pulled his heavy daggers from his hips and turned to face the attackers. “I vow to serve,” he breathed.
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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Tue Dec 25, 2012 7:02 pm

Noemi fought the urge to slam her palm against her forehead or at the very least, roll her eyes. He was so stiff! The Brothers of Ventus were supposed to be the foremost in assassination and espionage. Shouldn't someone have taught them how to act? He wasn't fooling anyone with that overly formal demeanor. Maybe if he had some semblance of human emotions other than irritation and paranoia, he would better know how to impersonate them. At least he had managed to call her by the appropriate name. Had he called her 'princess,' she might have smacked him. She would look at his wound later. There was no reason for him to have an injury or even a scar with her around. It would just be a matter of pushing away his obstinacy and getting through to his better sensibilities, assuming he had any.

At his suggestion to leave, Noemi nodded and stood. Good as new. Under normal circumstances, she might have stayed longer to ensure the stability of her patient and to talk shop with Fabrizia, but her bodyguard was getting rather antsy. He even put on her cloak for her, albeit a bit too tightly. Truth be told, she was tired herself and the longer she stayed, the more suspicion would build in her friend and colleague.

She followed him out of the doorway, freely rolling her eyes at his insistence that something was wrong. Paranoid indeed! She had walked these alleys hundreds of times by herself, always without incident. Noemi was ready to ignore his command and move forward, but something shiny and sharp was flying through the air and men were appearing out of nowhere. Her stomach clenched. Was this really happening? To her? It wasn't until knives started connecting with bodies that reality clicked into place. It was happening, to her, to him, to half a dozen strangers all bent on doing harm. One was on the ground and he was surely dead or in the process of dying. The only thing that prevented her from running forward to help him was that if she did, surely Brother Collins would run after and find himself cornered. Noemi couldn't bear the thought of death, of carnage, especially not over her.

Noemi had always thought that when push came to shove, she would be able to prevent a battle through words, bribery, trickery, or other clever means. Of course, she was wrong. Finnagan was speaking to her, telling her to hide, but she was rooted in place, the all too familiar panic setting in. Her vision was swimming - she was hyperventilating. How could she hide and leave him to die or to kill others? Such senseless, needless bloodshed and she was helpless to prevent it. He vowed to serve and she vowed to heal, not to deliver men unto their untimely demises. Then, she had an idea. Not the perfect solution, but the best she could do on short notice.

"Take her alive and as unhurt as possible!" shouted one of the men in the unique Glacien bastardization of the Enish tongue. "She's useless dead!"

She was an impulsive girl and brave to the point of stupidity. Her attackers did not know this and so they were quite startled when she ran past Collins, head down, shoulder forward, and charged the uninjured man nearest. She was not petite - twenty-two years of a diet rich in pasta, meat, bread, and dairy saw to that. The extra weight and the element of surprise served her well. The man skidded into the ground with her on top, straddling him.

Long ago, she had read a book on the potential for Health Control to go wrong. It was grisly business, but could be healed with the right touch. The object here was to disable, to incapacitate. It was important for the nation that these men survived for interrogation. It was even more important to her that she save as many lives as possible.

She wrapped both hands around the man's bicep and put theory to action. Skin tore beneath her fingers, then muscle began to unravel. Tendons snapped away. The longer she stayed in contact with him, fractions of seconds that felt like hours, the more he came apart. His blood cuddling wail rent the air, piercing her through the heart, but she held until the his upper arm was shredded and the pearly white of his bone was visible, bordered by shredded flesh. Suddenly, she felt a sharp jerk at her neck that made her hack - someone had grabbed onto the hood of her cloak and was pulling backward. Reflexively, she grabbed at the wrist and began undoing again. She pulled away and rolled off her first victim, free, though a hand was still hanging from her hood, severed.

He was on his knees, this stranger, clutching the stump that was his right hand and Noemi almost retched. She had done this. She was doing this. And for all her good intentions, she was no better than Brother Collins.

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:36 am

Surprise rammed into Finn like a boulder as the Princess ran past him and towards their attackers, or rather, towards the would-be abductors. What was that fool woman doing? She was going to get herself killed or captured running around like that. Before Finn could do more than take three steps towards her, the Princess had her hands on the biceps of a map and was doing something he had never seen before. Skin and muscle was being ripped apart beneath her hands as if she was slashing at him with a thousand daggers at every beat of his heart. It was gruesome, but immobilizing for sure. The closer his running steps took him, the more he was able to see the yellow glow around her hands that made him vaguely aware that she was using her element, but he was unsure as to how she was doing the horror he saw when she controlled Health. Though he wanted to sit and watch her work and figure out exactly how she was doing it, Finn forced himself to remember his training and remember his task; protect the Princess.

When he was finally near the fool woman who had rushed ahead of the man who was supposed to protect her, Finn drove a dagger into the hip of the man who had grabbed Noemi’s cloak just as he realized that his had was no longer attached to his body. Pulling his dagger free, Finn turned and brought the hilt of his dagger down on the spine of a woman that was rushing towards the Princess before bringing the hilt down on the back of her head. Before the body had time to slump to the ground, Finn was moving towards the next. Four were down, and only two more remained, and they were on either side of him. The smaller of the two had the Princess between Finn and himself, while the larger was just off to Finn’s side. Taking no time to think, he relied completely on his instincts as threw his off hand dagger towards the smaller person nearest the Princess, not looking to see if he hit his target of the man’s chest before he pulled an alternate dagger from his boot. Once again armed fully, he leapt from his Wind Walk towards the giant man, wrapping one arm around the man’s thick neck and using his legs to twist between the man’s, hoping to trip him and send him crashing to the ground while his free hand twisted at his own dagger that protruded from the man’s shoulder. However, the man was significantly stronger than Finn and his thinner frame and easily pushed the Brother off of him, but not before he delivered a blow to Finn’s gut an a blade ran up his exposed ribcage.

Falling to the ground himself, Finn ignored the stinging the slice at his ribs was sending to his brain and leapt for the man again, this time his daggers crossed in front of him. As the man reached out to deflect the daggers’ blow, Finn brought his arms back and let the man make contact with his chest instead, then bringing his daggers forward. Though the man was larger than the Brother, Finn had superior speed and training on his side. Swinging his arms towards the man, on dagger was buried to the hilt in-between the man’s ribs and the other sank into the man’s shoulder. Twisting the blades, he removed them and fell to the ground once again, the man’s weight and strength pressing down on his chest and neck, coming close to crushing his windpipe after but a second. With a slight bit of hesitation, Finn’s off hand swing up, the dagger aiming for the man’s neck, but he couldn’t reach at which the large man laughed. Pulling his hand down, his daggers crossed over his chest and he sliced open the man’s forearms, blood covering Finn within two heartbeats. The man was large, but the not brightest. As the man rose to cover his wound, Finn managed to sit up and throw one of his heavy dagger at the man which resulted in a strangled, gurgling sound as the blade sliced into the side of his neck.

Rolling out from under the dropping bulk of the man, Finn gasped for air, his heart pounding wildly in his chest. He had killed two men tonight; the blood the large one was still hot against the skin on his face and hands. There were many men who had been injured by his hands, but before this night, he had not killed a single one. The blood was different this time, much heavier. Lying on his back, he raised his bloodied hands to his face, looking at the dark red liquid that was thick on his skin. He had done it, though. He vowed to serve, and he had done what he had to do to keep that vow. But at what price? Finn was always loyal to the Brotherhood, loyal to everything they stood for, but the last time he had been tested, he was young and knew little of the world. Was this his last great test, the test of taking human life? He was prepared for it physically and was trained far past the point where he could take a life blindfolded, but the actions had taken a toll on a part of him the Brotherhood had simply repressed rather than trained. Inside him there was a part that wanted to brag that he could do anything now, a part that was relatively neutral about the entire thing, but yet a part of him that wanted to vomit at the smell of so much blood.

The Princess.

The sudden thought made his body twitch as he pulled himself to his feet, movements slowed by this wound up his ribs and the lack of oxygen not more than a few heartbeats ago. He knew where she was even before he looked, and ran towards her. If the other man had survived the dagger Finn threw at him, he only hoped that the Princess was able to take care of herself for just this one time.

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:23 am

Noemi was just as fascinated with the Brother's aptitude as he had been with hers. He was grace personified, every slash and turn like a step to a dance no one else knew. If he hadn't been dealing death, she might have thought the whole thing beautiful in a crude way, especially with the use of his element. Wind Controllers were rare in these parts and those who were able to wind walk were even rarer. She had read about the ability in her research into the Brotherhood, but never had she had the privilege of witnessing it herself.

All thoughts she had of his incompetence were dashed. He was efficient, fast, and smart, with an amazing economy to his movements. Even someone with no battle experience at all could see that. This was what a Brother was capable of and it horrified her just as much as knowing what she was capable of. Her hands were wet and sticky with blood and clumps of muscle, a reminder of what she had just done. Suddenly disgusted, she began furiously rubbing her hands on the ground, trying to rid them of the mess.

But looking away was a bad idea.

She raised her head just in time to see a man sprinting toward her, a crazed desperation in his eyes. Before she could properly react, he had thrown his arms around her in a bear hug around her midsection. Noemi screamed, raised her still free arms, and pressed her hands to his face in a vain attempt to push him away. She could not have known what she was doing; fear and instinct dragged her terrible talents out of her and into her digits. She would never forget the howl that followed.

His face was practically melting away beneath her hands in the order of skin, muscle, tendons, and then bone. Her middle finger was over his scalp and his hair began falling out. One of his eyelids looked torn off and his eye was disintegrating too into a jellied clump. Her thumb was over the bridge of his nose and that began crumbling as well, cartilage giving way, and then she heard the sickening crack of bone splintering beneath. His forehead had collapsed, becoming shrapnel that stabbed into his brain. She was too terrified to release him, but he released her instead and fell to the ground. He had stopped making any noise at all and his undamaged eye stared toward the sky, unseeing.

Noemi stared at the body on the ground, completely still for a moment. Two moments. Then she fell to her knees beside him, pressing her hands to what was left of his face.

"No, oh, oh Creator, oh no, no, no, no. Please, don't, I'm sorry, I--no, no, no." She babbled, trying in vain to piece his flesh and bone back together. There wasn't enough there to fix. His leg twitched and Noemi turned to the side and expelled her dinner.

Once she had finished, she wiped her mouth with her shoulder and continued trying to heal the corpse, shaking fingers grasping at splinters of bone that were so sharp they cut her. Eventually, she gave that up and tried to remove the leather plating on his chest, slipping on the buckles. Maybe she could get his heart starting again. Maybe it wasn't too late. It was then she noticed the glint of something sharp protruding from just beneath his rib cage. A knife blade. Finnagan. She had forgotten about him.

Her face was pale and her entire body was trembling as she raised her head to stare at him.

"I...killed...he's...."

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:43 am

Finn’s footsteps slowed to a gentle run as he approached the Princess, as it was apparent that she was no longer in any danger. Surveying in the area, he almost cringed. The faceless corpse nearest the Princess had one of his heavy daggers protruding from his lower ribcage, a wound that was neither quickly debilitating nor fatal with the thick leather the attackers were wearing. If he were charged with the protection of one less skilled than she, he would have failed his post. That was entirely too close for comfort, and he would punish himself for the action, or lack there of, properly when he returned her to the Palace. Obviously he should request to be removed from his post, seeing how he was not a fit guard for the woman, but then again, he had a hard time understanding how anyone would be fit to guard such a woman. The fool had just rushed past him directly into the arms of the very people who where there to abduct her. Though he would take the blame for danger coming so near to her, he logically knew that some was to be laid on the lap of the stubborn Princess.

His eyes moved from the corpse to the Princess who sat on the ground beside it. She was clearly trembling and her face gave away her emotions more clear than he ever thought possible. “You did what you had to,” he said simply, forcing his own face to fall into some semblance of calamity, despite the turmoil within himself. It would do little to help the situation if his own face mirrored hers. But he knew, he knew what was going through her mind and what the blood felt like on her hands, he knew that she was struggling with the fact that she had, for the first time, taken the life of another. He was trained for it, at the very least, and knew what to expect in theory. A life of strict training clearly was working to his advantage in their common situation, where her life of working to keep people alive was clearly not.

Carefully avoiding the former contents of someone’s stomach but ignoring the large amounts of blood pooling around the Princess, he knelt on the Wind beside her. Social customs would suggest that he embrace her, that he offer her comfort in some way. In this moment, he could almost understand as to the reasons why, almost. She was experiencing a moment of fragility at the cause of her pathetic overruns of emotion. In this moment, he could either build her up and support her or tear her down and absolutely destroy her, and if he chose to do the latter, he was sure that he would better be able to protect her life. If she feared the streets, feared the people that existed, he could convince her to stay in the safety of the Palace, at least for a time. He could keep his vow to serve. However, he chose to neither build her up with support nor to tear her down and protect her. The choice had to be hers, or what use was she to the society she was born to live in?

“Your highness, there might be more parties of these people around the city waiting for you, especially since the path you took here was direct and your disguise is,” he nodded to her bloodied clothing,“not particularly helpful in concealing your identity, especially now.” If they had his cloak, they would have had a better chance of getting back to the Palace more or less unseen. His hood alone would have been a better disguise than the one she currently wore. Looking around them, his eyes landed on the two groaning men on the ground and the woman who was knocked out cold. They would need to be bound and the bodies around them cleaned up before the sun rose. The longer this scene lay apparent, the more likely any other parties would take notice and begin to look in immediate area. They needed to move.

Standing, he offered his hand down to the Princess who sat upon the ground for the second time that day. Though bloodied, the gesture was similar to the first incident only in appearance, for this time it had nothing to do with social customs and what they demanded of him. Choices and their reasons where not always aware to the brain before the body made them. “We need to move, your highness. I would assume that it is no longer safe for us to return to the Palace along our original route.” He knew that he would be less useful in protecting her than he had originally anticipated, especially in a city that he was unfamiliar with. He was tired and his body was weak after the loss of oxygen and the long wound that ran up his side. It needed to be bandaged up before they continued, or he would surely begin to slow. Considering how the last encounter went, neither of them could afford that.

He quickly began to move around the scene, gathering his daggers and sheathing them after crudely cleaning them on various places on his ruined suit. Knocking out the two individuals who were moaning in pain on the ground, he continued without blinking. They would wake and cause a commotion, not to mention be a danger to his ward, if they were not hidden and bound. The bodies would also need to be dealt with for the night, but he was unsure of a place around their location where he could remotely trust with their well-being. In fact, he only knew of two places in Valetudo at all; the Palace and the small clinic where the Princess had run off to that had caused this mess. Sheathing his last dagger inside the folds of his suit, he turned to the blonde woman.

“Perhaps it would be in our best interest to return to the clinic, your highness, unless you have a better location. We need to bind these people for our protection and for the future use of their information as well hide the bodies from plain sight.” He did not mention that she, at least, she change out of the bloodied clothing and that he was in need of supplies for the wound on his side. Already he could feel his body slowing.

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:12 am

“You did what you had to."

What a stupid, cliched response. Noemi didn't have to kill that man. They had loudly proclaimed their intention to capture, not murder. She could have disabled him, as she did the other two. What had happened was an accident of the worst possible kind. She had let her fear and weakness conquer her, just as she was doing now. With visible effort, she slowed her breathing and tried to still her shaking. Later, when in private, she would break down and sob and pay the proper penance.

She could appreciate that he was trying to console her in his own way, or at least abate her guilt long enough so they could leave the area. What a cold man he was, to be able to take lives and then go about his business as if he had done nothing more than swat away a few flies. How did he do that? What evils and sorrows had occurred in his life as a Brother to make him this way? Noemi never wanted to reach that point.

“Your highness, there might be more parties of these people around the city waiting for you, especially since the path you took here was direct and your disguise is not particularly helpful in concealing your identity, especially now. We need to move, your highness. I would assume that it is no longer safe for us to return to the Palace along our original route.”

She stared at his hand and then down at her own. Both were crusted in the drying blood of the recently dead and maimed. Denying his hand with the intention of keeping herself unmarred was now a moot point. Noemi accepted his help up; secretly, she was relieved he had offered it. Her legs were still trembling enough to make standing up on her own difficult.

"You're right, Fin--Brother Collins." She replied slowly, fighting to keep her voice even. Her eyes strayed toward the man by her feet. She jerked her gaze away and swallowed deeply. Stay in the present.

All in Valetudo were concerned as to how the Glaciens were entering the country unnoticed. Natural boundaries had protected them from invaders for centuries. True, their borders until recently had not been guarded very well, but the mountain ranges had made it unnecessary before. Even now, with the added security and presence of the Brothers, they were obviously still making their way in somehow. The safety of her kingdom relied on getting these people in for questioning. If she concentrated on that thought and mission, she would make it through the night. She needed some measure of control, be it real or feigned - anything to hold onto.

Luckily, he was traveling the same train of thought as she was, albeit much more calmly. His mind probably wasn't a disjointed jumble of emotions. Noemi would not say it aloud, but she was glad he was there. He had helped save her life, after all, even if it had meant destroying the lives of others.

"Yes...the Clinic. We need help moving these people and there will be enough material there to bind them. Also, there should be an incinerator in the back for the..." She cleared her throat. She had been doing so well up to that point. "For the bodies."

She paused for a moment. There was a hitch to his movements that hadn't been there earlier and he was clearly favoring one side.

"Brother Collins, are you injured?"

She was an idiot. She should have asked as soon as things had settled. He was not any more invincible than she was, damn it, and how rude and terrible of her not to ask after her protector's health. Noemi started toward him, frowning.


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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:32 am

Touch of skin against his sent a shiver down his spine and eyes flickering from her hand to her face. Physical contact with a Brother was more than uncommon. For some, the lack of contact made it easier to forget what they had given up, made it easier to forget that the world offered pleasures that they would always and should always be denied. Then there were Brothers likes Finn who simply had no desire to touch another human being. Perhaps it had to do with the training and the will that was taken from every young person at the time. Then again, Finn had always believed that it was a personal choice, that he avoided touch simply because he didn't crave it and he never wanted to. Personal attachments and connections were simply a distraction to the duty he was there to perform, there was no time to talk and feel something with another.

His eyes held on her face. And this was exactly what he had always tried to avoid, and done so well over his lifetime. Her skin was cool to the touch, the blood between his skin and hers at some points adding an element of slickness where it hadn't yet dried. Eyes flickered to her hand. The Princess seemed so fragile, so close to breaking, and her hand felt small in his. Closing his own bloodied hand around hers, his thumb brushed across the delicate skin on the back of her hand as if it had a mind of its own before Finn pulled the woman to her feet, reaching out with his other hand around her waist to steady her on her shaking feet. He stood there for a heartbeat, his hand holding hers and his other at her waist, the cool touch of her hand beginning to warm in his and the heat of her body feeling as if it was going to burn the hand that held at her waist. The moment continued for a second beat of his heart, blood rushing to his face. Remembering himself, he pulled away from her swiftly. What had come over him? The blood rushing to his face intensified and reached his ears with ease, lighting his entire face in a pink and red set of hues that contrasted significantly with the dark spots of freckles that covered his body.

Stammering something in Vennan that was as mix between gibberish and apologies and comments at his own improper behavior, he shifted his ruined jacket that was one again full of daggers and let his eyes fall to the ground. Thankfully he had not misplaced a single one on the streets. They were not easy to find, especially not made with the skill and balance that he desired. If he had lost one of his two larger daggers that once again sat at his hips, he would have had to return to Ventus to have another pair made. He rested a hand at each his hips on the hilts there, just to reassure himself that they were indeed there. Glance flickering to the Princess for a moment, he nearly nodded. He needed to make sure he was fully prepared with all of his daggers to protect her. Short a few could mean the difference between her living and her laying lifeless on the street beside him. Perhaps he should increase his drill as well, just to keep himself prepared and at the top of his game.

The touch of his name on her tongue sent his eyes back to her face. It was only the beginning, but it caught his attention. It was still odd to his ears, but then again, she was the only one to call him as much in quite awhile. It was strange. He blinked once. What was he doing, thinking, imagining in his head. He was a member of the Brotherhood of Ventus, and this woman, the Princess, was his charge. He was to keep her safe at all costs, and with the party they barely bested likely not being alone on these streets, he couldn't afford to get distracted tonight of all nights. Standing a little straighter and taller and forced himself to cool down and return to a state of calamity, for he had not even realized how fast his heart had been beating. Concentrate at the task at hand, he had to.

"How many questions would the people at the clinic ask?" he asked, not daring to let his eyes look to her. Instead, he moved away from her and to the three living attackers. Checking to make sure they were still knocked out, he looked around them, taking in their placement in the streets and the best place to run if they were attacked again, the best place for her to run. "Bringing things there would include them on a lot of information about you, assuming people would still be there." He did look to her then, but for only a moment. The people at the clinic seemed kind, but they did not know just who they had under their roof all of these late nights. They could assume all they wanted, but there was no solid proof to them that a Princess of their Kingdom came to them out of the goodness, and stupidity, of her heart. Would they keep quiet once they discovered her identity, and his? Would they be willing to help then? Three dead bodies and three people that were injured and needed to be kept silent might be too much for a little clinic to take. Perhaps they could find an abandoned building somewhere nearby, or a tucked away inn, a place where they didn't have to worry about anyone finding them or giving them away. The less people that were involved, the better. He was about to suggest that they find someplace other than the clinic when she spoke again, this time about something he did not want to talk about.

"I am fine," he lied, doing his best to stand tall. There was no need to worry her just yet about his injuries. He would be fine for a little while longer, and needed to be. There was no time to bandage him up and this wasn't the place to do so either. Knowing that she would not believe his lies, being of the Health System and he a terrible liar, he offered a sort of bargain. "This isn't the place for you to concern yourself with my wounds. We need to get off the streets and to cover, preferably in a place where there aren't people to ask questions." He would be able to get the people in through the window, and the bodies could be disposed of when there was time, otherwise he could hide them in the stables somewhere. His eyes flickered to the Princess, though the action took more time than he would've liked. He needed rest, and he needed her safe.

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:37 am

If circumstances were different, Noemi might have noticed how he swept his thumb across her skin and how he closed his hand around hers. She was still too distracted by recent events to reflect too deeply on what his touch might have meant. All she knew was that their hands were clasped for a little longer than what was necessary and she was glad for it. She was only human; the comforting touch of another was stabilizing in a very primal way. Maybe she felt just a tiny bit self conscious about the roughness of her palms, but it was a silly thought. He was helping her to her feet and anyway, he probably didn't notice anything about her skin. There was no possible reason for him to.

Casual touching was not uncommon in Valetudo, but she could not remember the last time she had touched any man who was not a member of her family or in immediate risk of dying. She was not the norm for a Valetudian woman. Flirtation and the like left her flustered and blushing. Public displays of affection discomfited her greatly, but she could not really say why. Something as innocent as being pulled to a standing position by another - even if their hands were coated in blood - did not bother her, but she realized it might bother him, judging by how he had reacted when she had placed a careless hand on his shoulder before. Was that why he was flushing and mumbling?

He was speaking in Vennan, but she would have been a poor princess had she not understood him. He was apologizing and stammering. She did not know how to react beyond...letting him do so. Maybe he had trespassed against some custom from her homeland that she did not know about. Awkwardly, she accepted his apology in his mother tongue, hoping her accent was not too terrible and was extremely relieved when he moved the topic forward. Noemi resolved to brush up on her Vennan and Vennan culture when she returned home.

After they took care of the little issue of six or so dead or half-dead people, naturally.

"Er--Fabrizia...wouldn't...I don't think. I do give her a great deal of coin." She replied hesitantly, embarrassed that she had not considered how much of a danger it would be to bring them there. She knew of no other places the bodies could be dumped. There was a river nearby, but she did not like the idea of depositing a corpse in perfectly clean water. Her royal education had not prepared her for the hiding and removal of multiple human bodies. Oh, she was going to need a good cry and a scalding bath as soon as she got home. For the first time she could remember in a long time, Noemi was thinking longingly of her prison cell of a bedroom.

"I...I don't really...I can't think of many other options." She was not so shaken anymore that she could admit this easily. "I could work the incinerator myself. As for the uninjured fellows, we could borrow a horse and get them back to the castle much easier that way but--ah---"

Her mother was going to find out about this unless they could find some discreet way to deliver the survivors to the appropriate authorities. She didn't have much time to contemplate this terrible reality before he went off being unreasonable about his wounds. He was lying through his teeth. As a horrible liar herself, that much was fairly obvious. He could hardly stand upright. His clothing was too dark for her to assess his damage well, though she did see some torn fabric along his side. A laceration, most likely. The longer it was exposed, the more chance there would be for infection and any heavy lifting would tear it further. A small part of her was almost happy that he was hurt; it gave her something familiar to latch her attention onto.

"I'll be the judge of whether or not you're fine! It won't take me but a moment, unless you're gutted, and even that won't take me much longer." She sniffed, hands on her hips. "What if we get ambushed again? How are we going to get the--these people anywhere if you're hurt? I can only do so much lifting by myself. Don't be stubborn, Brother Collins...I'll--I'll not touch you more than needed." She added the last part in an awkward rush, avoiding his eyes. What an infuriating man, making things so awkward for her! They were already in a sea of death and destruction and her own vomit. The least he could do was be cooperative!

Another thought occurred to her and that snowballed into her considering all the worst possibilities that could ever befall a man.

"And judging by your flush and mumbling, you may have a fever! What if their blades were poisoned?"

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:08 pm

So it appeared that they had few options, the clinic or the Palace being the only two he knew of and the only two she thought to be remotely appropriate for the unique situation. Her home was easily the most secure and the safest, but it was significantly farther away, and they would only waste time to secure horses to reach said place. The logical option was the clinic. With a little more coin and some Brotherhood persuasion, the woman who ran the place, Fabrizia, would not likely deny them. She couldn’t. Finn looked away from the Princess and nodded. It was the closet place, and he could protect her more easily once they were inside, possibly even sleep. If they could both get a change of clothing, they could possibly sneak out when the shops opened at first light. A carriage for hire would serve them well, as would a messenger to the Palace with a request for a carriage and guards for the Princess, though the messenger would be more likely to be caught. All of this relied on gaining safety for the night, for both themselves and the three that lived from the attack.

Eyes moving to the three that lay scattered on the ground, but breathing, Finn considered the options, assuming they all survived the night. They would certainly have to be interrogated, though he was still not entirely sure whether or not the Queen would be hearing about this night. Already Noe- the Princess had given him orders to not speak with the Queen about it unless she asked, and he would thusly assume that she did not want her mother finding out about the night via these three being brought in. The other option then would be to turn over the three to the Brotherhood inside the palace for quiet questioning. He glanced at the Princess, yes, to the Brotherhood in the morning. But there were more important tasks at hand.

"I'll be the judge of whether or not you're fine! It won't take me but a moment, unless you're gutted, and even that won't take me much longer. What if we get ambushed again? How are we going to get the--these people anywhere if you're hurt? I can only do so much lifting by myself. Don't be stubborn, Brother Collins...I'll--I'll not touch you more than needed."

Her concern was admirable, but not needed in this instance. Besides, it wasn’t as if he was going to allow her to heal him. The wound was not fatal, simply draining. Though she had a fair point, if they were ambushed again, he was entirely too weak to take on another half dozen attackers and come out alive. More so, his main side was the slower of the two now, with the small wound on his forearm in combination with the slice that ran up his ribcage. The clinic couldn’t be too far back where they had come, though, they could make it. Besides, it was unlikely that another party would be in this immediate area quiet yet. If they moved now, they could get to the clinic before anyone realized that the Princess was not yet captured.

The words added into the Princess’ argument at the end made his face instantly glow bright red. Thankfully, when his eyes flickered from her face to the ground, she was not looking at him to be able to see his embarrassment. But why was he the one to be embarrassed? Time and time again, more forward women had pressed their bodies close to him in their failed attempts to seduce the Brother, and even then his cheeks reddened slightly, but with an equal amount of anger as there was embarrassment. He did not enjoy when women, or men, threw themselves at him in their vain attempts to worm their way into his bed. He had even found one woman in his bed once, though she had only found a dagger to her neck and gut as she left the room in a hurry. Those cases were rare, but they did happen. Though this situation was entirely different; Noe-the Princess wasn’t forcing herself on him, it was entirely the opposite. She was offering to heal his wounds and respect his personal space as much as possible. This was exactly what he should want. And yet his cheeks were an astonishing shade of red, even in the low light. This woman was messing with his mind.

Shaking his head both to clear it and to respond to her advancing steps, he swallowed heavily. What had he gotten himself into? He was about to verbally deny aide yet again when her next statement made him take a step back from her. Poisoned? At least she had assigned that cause to his foolish actions and responses rather than the truth, which he himself was not even fully aware of yet.

“I am not poisoned, Noe - Princess,” he said softly. As quickly as he could mange, he stepped around her and towards the three that should be their priority considering the current situation. He would not be able to physically carry them all himself, and he would never ask the Princess to do as much. Stepping down from his Wind Walk, his soft soled boots made little sound as he settled into them. Not daring to look behind him at the Princess, he dragged the three together until they lay side by side on the road, more of less. “Time is of the essence. We can deal with my wounds when we get back to the clinic,” he said, giving into the only thing that she wanted in order to do what must be done. Finn created a platform of solid Wind, similar to what he used for his own Wind Walk, beside the ones on the ground. If he made it move in a step-like pattern, it would be bumpy but he could move all three with his Control alone. Satisfied with the size of the platform, he bent down and pulled the first onto it, followed by the second. His breathing grew laborious. Reaching down to grab the legs of the third person, he felt his side split further. Ignoring the sudden rush of new pain, he looked back to her and nodded once. “Lead the way.”

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:33 pm

Before she could argue with him, he was already collecting the survivors. Of course his wind abilities were useful here. Noemi was relieved. She had not been looking forward to the idea of lugging people around. Physically, she was not weak, but she was not strong either; she had above average strength for a woman of her breeding, she had found over the years, but she still probably would have collapsed of exhaustion had she been tasked with more than one person to drag around. As for the actual corpses.... Noemi opted to leave them. If he could move three people at a time, it made no sense for her to bother. She wasn't sure if she could even touch one of them without dry heaving anyway.

Instead, she moved ahead, turning to look over her shoulder at Collins every few feet. She could hear his breathing over her footsteps. He shouldn't have denied her help. It really would have only taken a moment. Now, he was only worsening his wound and making more work for her. Valetudians never turned down free help, especially when it came to their health. In a land full of health controllers, the idea of ever being sick or injured for longer than necessary was ridiculous.

"How do you know you're not poisoned?" She pushed, crossing her arms and turning backward to frown at him as they walked.

She let his slight slip of title go unmentioned. At any other time, she would have given him a hard look in warning. Noemi had told him to use her given name only in public - otherwise, it was improper. But surviving something of this magnitude with someone, someone who had taken an injury in the name of protecting her, made it seem ungrateful to correct him. They were linked in a way that surpassed that of the normal bodyguard/charge relationship, but was too new to be called friendship and too foreign to be called anything else. Indeed, Noemi had completely forgotten her earlier resolution to have someone different assigned to her.

When they reached the clinic some long minutes later, she opened the door and held it for the Brother. Fabrizia, who had been resting by the fire, raised her head and blinked at them with surprise, then shock when she saw what the cat was dragging in. Before she could speak, Noemi interjected.

"I need you to shut the doors to all the patients' rooms."

"They're all asleep, but--"

"Please, shut the doors. And, erm, it might be best if you go to sleep."

Fabrizia shook her head emphatically.

"You can't tell me what to do in my own home, lady or not!"

Noemi sighed heavily. Of all the times to be difficult, she had to choose now. They stood in a quiet battle of wills for a few seconds. Maybe she saw something in Noemi's face or maybe something in Collins - or maybe the grotesque injuries of their prisoners - because after a moment, Fabrizia relaxed her hackles and rolled her eyes. She moved past them to secure the lock on the door and turned off the lantern outside that signified the clinic was open.

"Fine. The less I know about what you troublemakers are doing, the less trouble I get into. Use whatever you want, but in the morning, I want you two gone. Is that clear?"

The princess nodded contritely to the heavyset woman who, after a good parting glare, turned on her heel and stormed down the hallway, closing doors as she went. Her steps, surprisingly light for a woman her size, faded up the stairs into the slight creaking of the ceiling above them.

"Good. She's out of her way. Now, take off your shirt."

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:29 pm

Following the Princess in silence, Finn forced himself to pay attention to his breathing patterns. Slow and steady. Even though he was not physically moving the three individuals, using his Wind was only slightly less taxing. He was only an Apprentice, and using so much of his element in bulk was difficult for him, and was quite evident in his forced breathing. Arms extended before him, he kept his eyes focused on the Wind platform, the gray glow around his hands and in his eyes strong with the supreme effort he was putting forth. There were times when he missed a step, and the platform drooped a little too low as he walked it along. It didn’t take him long to realize that each time his missed a step, the Princess was looking back at him. He chose to believe that it was simply his attention to detail that caused him to focus on the movement ahead of him, for it just could not be the fact that he was taking special attention to her in particular. He was too focused and well trained for that.

Her vocalized comment did give him a start, quite a large one at that. Nearly chocking on his own saliva, he stood still for a heartbeat, the Wind platform drooping significantly. How did he know? He just knew. Her reasons for believing that he might be poisoned were caused by, well, other things. Blood raced to the tips of his ears, the betrayal of his body still unwelcome even though he was beginning to expect it. Resuming his movements after her, he considered giving her a vocal response, something along the lines of the Valetudien weather still being new or her eyes playing tricks in the night, but he could not force himself to flat out lie to her. He knew why he was blushing and stammering, but he also knew that it would pass soon enough. It was the physical contact, something he was entirely not use to anymore outside sparring or within the Brotherhood. Unaccustomed to it, that was all.

Choosing to stay silent, he returned to concentrating on his breathing, the action becoming more difficult after each passing moment. The wound opened more bit by bit from the exertion he put forth, causing warm trickles of blood to begin dripping down his side and along the tops of his trousers. His focus remained on his breathing, in and out, with each step, ignoring the pain in his side and the energy that he was quickly being sapped of. Soon, they would arrive at the clinic soon enough, he was sure of it. As if the Creator was listening to his silent prayers, his eyes caught the door of the clinic. He moved towards the door, slowly, but he moved. Not even acknowledging the fact that the Princess held the door open for him, he moved inside with great difficulty. Did the three attackers somehow gain hundreds of pounds on the lifetime of a journey to the clinic? Not caring, he collapsed on a couch, not taking the time to notice or care that the fabric was beginning to soak up his blood. The Wind platform collapsed as his eyes began to close, his attention wavering. He vaguely heard the Princess and the large woman speaking before he felt the other woman disappear and heavy footsteps come from above him. Less witnesses the better.

Finnagan forced his eyes open at the sound of someone talking to him. At first his eyes were unable to focus, taking in blurs and shifting shapes. Though his eyes seemed to betray him, his ears finally recognized the voice that was speaking to him and just what she had asked. Nodding slowly, he stood from the couch on shaking feet as his hands moved to the neck of his jacket. His fingers fumbled on each hidden button, the task of each one proving to be time consuming and take a lifetime. However his mind saw and felt his actions, though slow for a Brother, they were still deft enough to do the job at a reasonable speed considering he was barely on his feet. Once the buttons were all undone, the jacket began spreading on its own, the weight of the throwing daggers hidden in the chest pulling down. Wincing, he slid the jacket off, allowing it to fall heavily to the couch behind him. The white shirt beneath the jacket told the tale of the stubborn Brother. One sleeve was ruined to the elbow, a long slit up the forearm stained with blood and crept higher than the wound that was now covered with honey and a bit of parchment. However, that was not the wound which she was after. The entire left side of his formerly white shirt was a sea of blood. One long slit ran from his hip to his upper ribcage, the blood easily absorbed in the thin fabric so that it clung to his side tightly. Even as he stood undoing the dual buttons at his neck, the blood continued seeping up the still white fabric and when it reached his dark pants, it pooled around his waist.

When the dual mother of pearl buttons were undone, Finn opened his eyes and looked to the Princess with his groggy vision. He was done fighting her on this whole healing business, he simply did not have the strength to do so anymore. Untucking his shirt from his pants gently, he pulled the torn fabric over his head with effort, wincing as the slice on his side ripped more when it was stretched out with his movements. Forgotten was all modesty he was taught and trained to have as Finnagan Collins stood in an unfamiliar place with a woman, half undressed. What so many women in Ventus would have given to be in a situation such as this with a Brother, though likely without the large wound aspect. He should not be attempting to stand tall, as he was, and he mostly certainly should not have his hands just hanging at his side. Were this any other situation at any other time, he might have tried to cover himself up, then again, where this any other situation, he would not allow himself to be healed by his own ward. First night with her, and already he was having difficulty keeping up.

In that moment, however, Finn stood there, swaying slightly, with his nearly his entire upper body exposed to a woman he hardly knew. Though his shirt and jacket were removed from his skin, a leather harness still remained. The straps crossed in front of his chest and ran across the upper part of his ribs, then straight up across his shoulder blades with two throwing daggers across his chest and one large one down his spine. The straps would need to be replaced or repaired before he could wear them again, however, for the strap that ran across his ribs was sliced along with his flesh. Already it was straining to stay across his body. In addition to the leather straps of his emergency harness, a thick scar ran across his chest from a post long past and thousands of tiny sparing scars lined his arms and neck. There were slightly larger ones from when he had to put himself in harms way for a ward, but nothing much of note, especially considering there was dry flaking blood clinging to his freckled skin as well as fresh blood dripping from his freshly ripped wound.

Ill focused eyes clung desperately to the shape of the Princess before him, his will alone keeping him conscious and standing, though precariously. He was not entirely sure what he was doing anymore, but his body followed his routine, reaching up to undo the buckles at his chest, though his fingers moved slowly and he could not grasp the small buckle, let alone focus on it long enough to see just what his hands were doing. Dropping his hands after a few seconds, he looked to the Princess with defeat. “Please?” he said quietly. Few would ever live to tell such a tale where a Brother depended on his ward, and if they ever even thought to tell it, he would be there, daggers in hand. However, at that moment, he couldn’t care less what he was and was not doing. He just wanted to sit down.

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:19 pm

At each reveal, her eyes widened. It was far worse than she thought. He had been very good at masking the full extent of his pain. She wouldn't be letting him have his way anymore, that was for sure. She should have healed him at the first evidence of injury. How very like a man, to refuse medical attention until he simply couldn't bear it any longer! And here she had been, thinking Brothers were a different breed of male. It did not occur to her that Finnagan might be uncomfortable baring himself to her. She had seen enough men in different states of dress to care beyond how bloody he was. She did not know how many women in Ventus coveted the Brothers or she might have been a bit more bashful.

Noemi strode forward, expression filled with consternation as she made work of his buckles. They were slippery, but she managed them off just fine. The weaponry gave her pause, though. So much sharpness and metal.... It was difficult to believe this frail man had been slaying people in her name only minutes before.

Once she had finished with the straps, she dropped them to the floor with a clang. She was very glad Fabrizia was not there to see all the blades. She hardly liked seeing them herself. Upon witnessing how he had patched his own self-inflicted wound from before, she snorted in a very unlady-like fashion. That was his idea of a bandage? The honey had been a good touch, but wholly unnecessary had he been less stubborn and willing to ask for her help earlier.

"Sit." She commanded, but gave him little choice in the matter as she pushed down on his shoulder and forced him back onto the couch. Having him lay out would have been ideal, but the furniture was not long enough for his lanky frame and she did not want him to stretch his wound further. The back of the chair would support him fine.

Noemi straddled his lap, giving a slight thought to how she hadn't been in this position with anyone since childhood. The intimacy of having his face so near hers caused a pale blush to rise her cheeks, but she ignored it as she sat back and assessed what needed doing. Her hands took the glow as she pushed her element into her hands.

"This will only hurt for a moment."

With that, she pressed her hands on either side if the cut and pushed then together. There was a quiet hiss as his skin began sealing together and regrowing. This was not so bad as the poor man whose intestines had been falling out and there would be no scarring, jagged as his laceration was from his strenuous movement. She moved down the long wound, sealing as she went before she paused at the top of his trousers.

"Does it go lower?" she asked quietly, her blush returning. Be professional! she admonished herself. Usually, when she removed a man's pants, the man was unconscious and she had no need to ask for permission.

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:29 pm

He felt like a child again, like a ten year old boy who knew nothing of his new life nor of what to expect from the people around him. Unable to undo the straps of his own leather harness, he really was like a child. Though removing them was one thing that he did rarely. A Brother could hardly be cause unawares simply because he was bathing. For that reason, he only removed the harness once every other week or so. Even with that being the case, he had never allowed someone to take his daggers from him, let alone the ones he kept in case of emergency. Yet, he had asked with one word for his own ward to disarm him almost completely. The daggers at his hips and in his boots were the only ones left on his person. Something in the back of his mind stirred at that idea, be he wasn’t exactly sure why. They were safe here, nothing could happen to him, to his ward. Eyes looked around lazily and the corner of his mouth nearly twitched. Safe. Were Finn of sound mind, he would never have even thought that word let alone believed it -- safe. There was no such thing for a Brother and his ward, but Finn was hardly of sound mind.

Closing his eyes, he felt the slight brush of her fingertips against the flesh of his chest. It was slight as she undid the buckles of his harness, but he almost felt like he knew her touch. That and she was the only other person in the room. Lifting his shoulders back slightly so she could remove the leather and daggers from his shoulders and arms, he watched as it was dropped carelessly on the floor with a metallic sound. If he had the energy to cringe, he would have. Daggers on the floor was never a pleasant sound to a Brother, but his attention was immediately taken elsewhere. A snort caused his head to turn and the corner of his mouth the twitch upwards. Was that from her? It certainly wasn’t from him, yet it was hardly a lady-like thing to do. Wasn’t she a Princess?

His attention was once again snatched out of his slowed thoughts by a sound from her lips, though this time he was pretty sure there were actual words. By the time he had figured out what she said, her hand was upon his shoulder pushing him down. Her once cool hand was no longer so, instead it burned at his skin, almost so hot that he could not bear to be touched any longer. Almost. A small voice in the back of his head was attempting to commend his body to flinch away from her, to be repulsed by such an invasion of his space. It was a voice that sounded so sure, but with the blood-loss and exertion clouding his mind, the voice was very far off in the distance, much to far to hear clearly. Thus, he soaked up the uniqueness of her hand on his flesh, trying like a child to figure out what it meant and what it felt like to him. Hot, so hot.

He allowed the touch to push him backwards. For a moment, it felt as if he was falling down with no bottom in sight, until his body hit the cushions of the couch behind him. A slightly uncomfortable sensation pulled his attention away from the fall as it grew from the discomfort to legitimate pain. Turning his head down slightly, he realized that he had sat upon part of his jacket, and he could feel the points of two daggers pressing into his flesh. He pulled the jacket and daggers out from under him just as a new sensation gave him cause to turn his head. When he did so, he found his face intimately close to that of another. His eyes struggled to focus, and when they did, soft features and blonde hair registered in his mind, the face of the Princess and his ward. The moment clung to him, their faces so close that he could feel her breath on his lips. A soft red flush rose to his cheeks but quickly disappeared. The precious blood in his body could not be spared for such betrayals when he was not yet well. Though it seemed the blood had other places to go as well.

It was then that he noticed the new experience that had arrived with the Princess so very close to him. Eyes moving downward, he realized that she was sitting upon him, her thighs on either side of his. He swallowed with great difficulty. Suddenly the voice at the back of his head was coming in very clearly, and it demanded that push the woman off of him before anything could happen from the position he was put in. Weakly, he attempted to do so, but tired and weakened as he was, it simply resulted in his hands at her hips. As soon as his hands were there, however, the voice faded again and he could not quite remember why his hands were there. Heat pressed against him, and immediately he removed his hands as if he was holding burning coals, but he only got them as far as over her thighs before pressure at his side caused him for focus his attention elsewhere, thus letting his hands drop unknowingly upon her thighs.

Two hands were at his side, pressing as if they were trying to force their way through his skin and meet together. But as soon as he felt the pain would begin, a warm sensation flooded his side and things felt, new. He twisted his neck towards the body on top of him to that he could get a better angle at his own side, lifting that arm slightly in the process. Her hands looked to be holding his skin together as it stitched itself back together with brand new skin. He was amazed. Where the skin was once split it was whole without even a line left behind to show where the slice had originally begun. And then her hands reached the top of his trousers. He looked to her face, and she to his. Already he knew what the answer was, but the annoying voice in his head was trying to convince him to lie, to let her believe that only a little but of the slice remained, that he would be fine to let that heal on its own. Perhaps he would be able to draw her attention away from it by using his crudely patched arm. Yet while the voice screamed into the cloudy thoughts of Finn’s mind, the Brother was looking into the eyes of a woman who sat upon his lap, and he with nothing but his trousers and boots left on his person. He knew he should say no, that he should lie, but for some reason, a new voice was emerging.

His eyes flickered to his hip. He knew what his answer was. Reaching down, Finn pulled his heavy dagger from his hip and let it fall to the floor, tip down into the hard wood where it stayed. Doing the same with the other dagger at his hip, he paused as the noise found his ear. He was down to a simple pair of daggers in his boots, a fool Brother was he. However, at that moment, his vows here left in the back of his cloudy brain was was consumed entirely by questions that all surrounded the Princess on his lap. His cheeks reddened to match hers. “Yes,” he breathed, if a touch heavily, “I am afraid it does.” With one hand, he undid the belt of his trousers, which seemed a tad tighter than he remembered, and undid the ties of his pants as well. Wrapping his poorly bandaged hand around her waist, he shifted his weight to his other side and taking her with him, filled with a bit more energy it seemed, likely due to the healing and the significant slowing of his blood loss. With his other hand, he pulled the side of his pants lower, exposing up to his high thigh in the process. The gash extended down to the mid to lower section of his hip, but it was not the remaining are of the wound that caught his attention as he returned himself and the Princess to balance properly on the couch. No, his eyes were locked on her face, his brain no longer as cloudy, but the extra blood it might have needed to process any logical thought seemed to be rushing elsewhere. “Do you need me to move at all?” he asked quietly, as if someone was around to overhear their conversation, eyes still locked on hers. He wanted to please her, to do anything to make her current task easier, and he was not entirely sure as to why.

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PostSubject: Re: Meet The Princess   Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:28 am

He was behaving strangely and Noemi did not know whether it was because of the blood loss or...or because of her. He had almost smiled, it seemed, but it might have been her eyes playing tricks on her. She was doing her best to remain professional and conscious of his personal space issues, even when his hands landed on her hips, and then her thighs. This probably hurts. He needs something to hold onto. She told herself, chewing on her bottom lip. Had he been in good health, she would have slapped him, but had he been in good health, she wouldn't be sitting on his lap. She was extremely aware if the weight of his touch, feeling every gentle twitch his fingers may or may not have made. When she lifted her head, his eyes were on hers and for some reason, her mouth felt very dry.

She allowed herself to be put aside and watched as he unbuckled and unbuttoned, more fascinated than she should have been by all means. It wasn't as if she hadn't removed her own pair of trousers a million times herself. It wasn't as if watching an attractive (attractive?) man undress himself was inherently stimulating. He was covered in blood still. His voice was low and heavy, and though the back of her throat was a desert, she felt it necessary to swallow. Perhaps she was dehydrated or falling victim to fever herself. That would explain how very warm she was feeling, despite the coolness of the room.

What remained of the cut on his upper thigh didn't seem so bad. It was pretty shallow, actually, as if the blade had been drawn in an arc with the deepest part of the wound being the beginning of the arc and this part being the tail end. She considered telling him that it would be fine without healing, but...well, he had already pulled down his pants. And if he didn't maintain the bandages well - which she was almost sure he wouldn't - then it would take much longer to heal than it should have.

“Do you need me to move at all?”

Noemi raised her gaze to meet his. She felt pinned in place by his eyes. She was in control, wasn't she? Yes. Yes. The situation was in her capable hands. Her heart was racing, but that didn't matter and didn't make any sense besides. The sensation in her stomach was somewhere between adrenaline and indigestion. Dehydration. That had to be it. Any other alternative was too perverse to consider.

"Oh...um, no. No." She replied after realizing that she had stayed quiet for entirely too long.

With hands much less certain than they had been previously, she shifted herself onto his left leg, perching herself on his uninjured thigh. She had never sat this way on anyone before and the pressure it created made her gasp. Noemi switched her weight so she relied more on her right knee. Creator, what was this? There was something bumping against her knee through his pants. Another dagger? She thought he had removed all of them. Maybe there was another. Maybe she didn't need to think about it. She reached between them to his hip, fingers trailing over the ridge of pronounced bone there, beneath lean muscle. There was no reason for that. Why did she do that? She needed to go home and sleep.

As she did with his side, she pulled together the skin of his upper thigh, conscious of how very warm he was beneath her fingers. The glow flickered once or twice before fully taking her hands, indicative of how distracted she was. Her face was a pretty shade of red now. She was being foolish and she knew it. This was all very innocent. Noemi was no school girl! They were not going to enter into a necking session! She didn't want that anyway, had never wanted that ever! She was simply mentally unbalanced at the moment. That was it. She had just endured terrible suffering and danger. There were studies that recorded how the libido surged after adrenaline-filled situations and...

Oh. She had healed him, but in her inner dialogue, had forgotten to take her hands away. Noemi scrambled off his lap quickly and pushed herself backward to the other side of the couch.

"Ah yes, that's done then. How are you feeling? You'll need rest, but, um...oh, your arm. I should--I should take care of your arm too. Would you like to redress first? I can also accelerate your blood flow if necessary, you did lose quite a bit. Y-you need a washing too, Finn--Brother Collins, I'm sorry, but you can manage that yourself when we return to the palace, yes?" She babbled, her voice higher pitched than she had intended. Oh, Creator. Noemi, you should just throw yourself into that fire right now.

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