<kess>: I suppose your…injuries still hurt. Do you? Do you have a fever still? Feel like coughing at all?
Tris groans and curls up, letting out a cough in answer
Kess scowls in irritation.
<kess>: Figures the anti-plague didn’t work, doesn’t always work on the first dose. I have more though…
Kess spins the bottle he is holding on the stone floor in front of him while thinking.
<tris>: “Why… are you… doing this?”
<kess>: It’s the right thing to do
<kess>: Why would I let someone die, someone who can think and talk. You never actually hurt me, I have no cause to hurt you
Tris coughs again and lets out another groan of pain. “E-even after k-killing my pack sister… you try to save… me…”
<kess>: My party members killed her because they had to. We didn’t have to kill you so we didn’t. If anything we’d rather help you then harm you, despite the….unfortunate start. Why does this seem strange to you? Surely your pack helps you freely?
<tris>: "We are, were, a pack, you are not…
Tris looks over to the slab, seeing the blood pooling out from beneath it. “She… was all I had… left…”
Kess frowns, then grabs the ropes binding Tris and pulls her up to sit against the wall like him. Once righted he holds out a vial. “Drink this, please, it will help your injuries”.
Tris opens her mouth, closing her eyes and breathing slow deep breaths
<kess>: So your alone then?
Kess has a half worried half sad expression on his face.
Tris coughs up some of the drink, but doesn’t answer further than that
<kess>: I can…well….I can relate to the feeling. Us Ratfolk live and fight communally . I was….exiled when I fought for my people, I…well…in my unthinking manner caused more destruction then had I not acted. Or at least might have.
<kess>: My people decided it best I was exiled, You know I have yet to meet one of my own kind since I left?
<tris>: “You would… benefit… from the gift I have… you’ll… forget.”
<kess>: I don’t want to forget. How am I supposed to learn from my past if I can’t remember!
Kess slams his fist on the stone floor.
Kess sighs wistfully.
<tris>: “What else are you going to do?” she asks. “I’m without a pack… you’re without your comrades.”
Kess gives a small smile.
<kess>: They’ll be back for us don’t worry. Guess neither of us are alone long as we’re right here talking right?
<tris>: “Civilization’s done nothing to help you” she said, seemingly ignoring his suggestion "why stay with it?
Kess thinks for a moment.
<kess>: You know, when I was a wee rat in my warren I used to test my explosives on stray cats.
<kess>: Fed em fish until they got close and blew em sky high. I reasoned it was the best way to test bombs.
<kess>: Then my dad found me during a test
<kess>: I think that’s the closet he ever came to outright beating me, really things might be different if he had.
<kess>: He was just disappointed in me, he yelled at me for what I did. Until I ran off on my own.
<kess>: I ended up running into an old tunnel, tears streaming down my face. I was alone.
Tris sits there, eyes closed, but ears alert
<kess>: I think, now I could be wrong, but I think I learned the biggest lesson in my life at that moment.
<kess>: I was attacked by a centipede, big ugly creature. All legs and pincers
Kess shivers at the memory.
Tris lets out a small, pained laugh
<kess>: When your my height large bugs can be worrisome you know
<kess>: I was out of bombs, I didn’t even own a weapon at that age. I was completely defense-less as this giant bug bared down on me. I wasted my only defense killing innocent animals.
<tris>: “If you had the power I wield… you could easily kill any insect in your… path”
<kess>: Aye, but I was very young then. I could have died even with your power
<kess>: I ended up getting saved by a passing sheriff. He shot the centipede dead and led me home. He had to carry me actually, I was too shocked to walk.
<kess>: I remember most clearly though, just sitting on that mans shoulders and thinking “Had I saved my bombs I’d have been safe. Why did I use my weapons to hurt the innocent when something out there is ready to harm me at a moments notice?”
<kess>: Really drove home what my dad yelled at me
<kess>: I…uh…stopped using strays as test subjects
<tris>: “Innocent?… there is no innocent… just prey, and those who hunt them.”
<kess>: Oh is it? Does that give me the right to end you here and now? Why not? I’m stronger then you, but instead I chose to help you. Can you guess why I did that?
Kess’S expression is both angry and stern.
Tris turns her head, fluttering her eyes open but not looking at him
<kess>: Look, I not only spared you but I healed you and tried to remove your disease. Why?! If I’m stronger that makes you prey, why did I help you?
Tris turns and snaps her teeth mere inches from his face, baring them with a pathetic growl
<kess>: I thought like you once
<kess>: Civilization, waste of time, better to be free and wild. Live off the land. Sometimes I still think like that.
<kess>: But the same thoughts always creep back into mind. What do I do if I get sick? Who can I turn too? What if I break my limb? I’ll need help but I won’t have any.
<kess>: I’ll be…..alone. More then I am now. I won’t even have humans or elves to lighten the load.
<tris>: “What do you want?” she snarled
<kess>: What do I want?
<kess>: That’s a good question!
<kess>: Tell me, if I infused myself with chemicals. Made myself as bestial and fierce as you. In size and strength. Would it change anything?
Tris looks at him in confusion
<kess>: I could make myself just like you, a big brutish animal with nothing but anger and hate and hunger for prey. Then I could be just like you! Alone and angry until something I couldn’t deal with by myself came and killed me!
<kess>: Is that what you want? To be alone? Packless! Is that it?
<tris>: “I am alone!” she snarled, trying once again in vain to escape from her bonds. “They all died and soon I too will die! You’re wasting your time! I am weak and the strong kill the weak!”
Kess sighs again.
<kess>: Strength isn’t about hurting people, it’s about hurting the right people.
Tris sighs and slumps forward “I can’t hurt anything.”
<kess>: If I broke your bounds right now, gave you all you needed to reach full strength. Would you kill me?
<tris>: “I would have quite a thrill in a hunt to the death.” She said, a little chuckle coming from her. “At my full strength, you would have no chance, little one…”
<kess>: So you’d do it then? You’d kill me? When I’ve done everything I can to help you. To put you in the position to survive. Why? Why not save your strength for a real fight, against someone who wants to hurt you? Why risk killing me when you can live to fight a real threat like a unthinking shambling corpse, only meant to harm?
<tris>: “You are no cat… you are smarter, much more dangerous… you’d be a worthy hunt. Corpses hold nothing for me. I cannot feel their blood bathe my body as I rip them apart. If you are as worthy as I think, even if I hunted you, you wouldn’t die…”
<kess>: Is that all you care about? Fighting? Is that how your see your life, a short brutal jaunt of savagery? How can you expect to find a new pack if you kill everyone you meet?
<tris>: “nnngh, why do you lecture me? Why? I follow my nature!”
<kess>: Then why am I not skulking in the dark and stealing food from better men then me huh!?
<kess>: Why am I not a scurrying rat!?
<tris>: “raaaah!” she thrashed violently, laying on her side, and curling up, shivering. “I’m dying… we’ve tried everything we knew. No natural remedy cures this affliction”
<kess>: So is that it? Now you want my help? You want my civilized ways? My skill that defied my nature is what you want is it?
<kess>: Why should I help you when you have outright told me it will lead to my death?
Tris howls and squirms around pathetically on the floor
Kess lets a long drawn out sigh.
<kess>: Your pathetic
<kess>: You know that right?
Tris lets out another howl, but this one is followed by tears, and sobbing
<kess>: Stop it…just…stop. I can’t stand another creature crying please. Look, I’m sorry, I let my temper get the best of me.
Tris continues, but it is quiet, controlled sobs now, curled up on th floor, facing away from him
<kess>: You don’t have to live like this you know. I can help you. You don’t have to be civilized, you don’t have to give yourself up. You can be who you are, you just need to control your anger. If you focus your strength on hurting real threats. People who want to hurt everyone you will live alot longer.
<kess>: You’ll face prejudice, you’ll face people who think you have no right to exist. But forget them, if you do what is right you can find yourself a pack again. You don’t have to be alone.
<tris>: "I’m going… to die… down here…
Kess retrieves a bottle from his coat.
<kess>: I have more anti-plague. This stuff doesn’t always work but with enough doses any disease will die. As for your wounds I can heal you back to your full strength.
Kess sets the antiplague on the floor in front of him.
<tris>: "It’s no use… I can tell…
<kess>: I can make you strong again, even if I can’t get rid of the disease two clerics number among my party. Somebody somewhere can heal you. I can get you that help. But you have to make a promise to me.
<tris>: “The girl… said she could help us… but wanted us to go through the door…”
<tris>: “Knew what was… wrong… in corner, circle…”
<kess>: The fey women! She can help you?
<tris>: not… anymore" she said, shuffling up to the stone
Kess thinks for a moment. “The stone fell when I pulled the lever over there. Will it rise if the lever is pulled again?”
Tris doesn’t really respond, and just lays there
Kess gets up and moves over to the lever, staring up at it.
<kess>: I can’t reach it….Even if I jumped and grabbed it again I couldn’t force it back up…Hmmm
Kess jumps on the lever, desperately scraping his feet against the stone wall. But his foot claws can’t find any purchase.
Kess drops his hand, falling on his ass again.
<kess>: You know…
<kess>: If I cut your ropes you could pull the lever yourself. Which might open the stone and get you closer to your cure. I’m willing to bet my friends are already near the fey women’s chamber.
Tris turns her head, then lays back down again “do whatever it is you will…”
<kess>: How long do you think you have?
<kess>: Weeks? Months?
<tris>: “Perhaps a day…maybe two…?”
<kess>: that is not good at all
Kess thinks for a moment, running his fingers through his fur.
<kess>: I can prolong your life, if anything temporarily. Least until we get the fey women’s cure.
Kess drops his backpack off his back and starts rifling through his coat. Working swiftly he unpacks his alchemy lab and brewing cauldron.
<tris>: “what could you possibly make to help me…?”
<kess>: It’ll take me a few minutes he says as he thumbs through his formula books but I can make something to stave off your disease. Us ratfolk are used to carrying plagues without any negative effects. I’ll think of something.
Kess closes his book and sighs. Slumping to the floor admixed his lab.
Kess glances at Tris.
<kess>: If I saved your life, it’d come at a price. I need to know your actions before I do this.
Tris was now turned over, facing him, watching him
<tris>: “You want me not to harm you or your companions?”
<kess>: I can remove your disease and you’ll live. But the formula, the magic. It will bind us, the book isn’t clear. But I think we’d share lifespan and life force.
<kess>: Should I or you die we both die
Tris ‘s eyes widen
<tris>: Why would you consider that?
<kess>: Because….Because….I…it’s the right thing to…..No…I..
Kess covers his face with his hand, embarrassed.
<kess>: You remind me of myself, look, I was alone too and in some ways I still am. Humans, elves, they only look at me like a short little rat and nothing more. Even if they like me they always view me like an animal.
<kess>: Your…your like me! An animal and your alone.
<tris>: “I…” she says, but begins coughing violently
Kess removes his hand, hastily wiping his eyes.
Tris continues to cough
<kess>: Look, I can save you. I can be your pack. But you have to know now. You ever dare to hurt the innocent and I’ll end myself and you. If we’re in this together then we do it for the right reasons. We hunt other hunters, not prey! Got that?
Tris lifts her head but continues to cough some more, red droplets spitting out into the floor before her
Kess doesn’t wait for an answer. If turns back to his lab and begins his work.
Kess furiously works, an unnatural quickness to his hands. Creating and downing an extract as he works he quickly pulls out all manner of vials and ingredients. Smoke and exotic smells fill the air as he brews and distills many liquids. His expression throughout his work is a blank curios look except for his eyes which alight with insight.
Tris , meanwhile, continues to cough and howl in pain, eventually her fit stops and she lays there, breathing shallowly
Kess frowns, dumping a new vial into another, blue smoke issuing from it. His expression molding back to his blank look. Eventually his starts mixing vials together, each one bubbling or smoking and even once changing color. “Almost done” he whispers to himself. “Just two more things”
Tris pants slightly and whines as she thrashes about, trying to free herself from her mortal pain
Kess pulls a knife from his bag, wincing before the blade even touches his wrist is slits a semi-deep cut across it crying out in pain. Making sure not to miss a drop he pours a small amount of blood into the mixture, causing it to change color to white.
Tris lets out mournful whimpers and doubles over once more
Kess hurriedly dashes over to Tris, not bothering with his knife he holds it to her lips. “Spit your blood into this, quickly!”
Tris coughs up once more, drops of blood getting onto the vial and slowly trickling down
Kess watches in dismay as the vial changes color almost instantly, going from white to a grey color. Then it shimmers and changes to a midnight black color. “Remember” he says before drinking half the elixir “We hunt other hunters, the innocent are not our prey!”
Kess holds the vial out for her to drink the rest.
Tris finally wraps her mouth around it, tilting it back and letting the liquid go down her throat.
Kess reaction is almost instant, he slumps to the floor as he feels some of his life go out of him, he teeters on the edge on consciousness as his eyes flicker.
Tris ‘s eyes shoot open and her body bulks up from its sickly and entropic form, the rope snapping under her strength, she gets to her knees, her teeth showing as she clenches and unclenches her fist, her chest rising and falling in quick succession before she throws her head back in a triumphant howl
Kess fumbles with his coat. Weakly trying to keep awake he tries to open his vial of smelling salts but can’t do it. Sliding back he mumbles something unintelligible.
Tris looks down at the pathetic rat before her and stands up, looming over him. She bends down at the knees, claws gripping at his shoulders, puncturing his coat as she lifts him up and slams him against the wall. She shows a wide smile of those powerful teeth as she looks at the half-conscious man in her grasp
Kess ‘s head bangs against the wall. Waking him as his salt vial slides from his grip and onto the floor.
<kess>: I…What are you….you doing?
Tris stands there, staring at him, with those intense animal eyes, her hot breath brushing at his fur. Suddenly, her grip relaxes, and she leans in, her cheek nuzzling against his for a moment before she lets go of him and heads out towards the stairs.
Kess slides onto the floor, as soon as he touches ground he bolts and tackles her. Despite his size he leaps and barrels straight into her!
Tris stumbles a bit, but catches herself by placing one hand on the wall, she looks over her shoulder and growls “Let go!”
<kess>: No! Your staying with me! tightens his grip around her neck We’re in this together and your staying where I can keep an eye on you. Try to run and I’ll…I’ll kill myself! Then we both die!
<tris>: “You’re crazy!” she said, reaching up over her back and gripping at him, pulling him off of her and tossing him aside. “I want to run free!”
<kess>: You’re damn right I’m crazy! he yells as he lands on his feet skidding, without missing a beat his launches himself back at her I’m your pack now, we stay together from now on!
Tris was facing him and grabbed at the ratfolk as he jumped at her, throwing him to the ground. She lowered herself onto her hands now, eying at him, ready to strike against him.
Kess jumps to his feet, reaching into his coat he pulls out a acid bomb and raises it above his head. “You take one foot outside without my say so and I blow myself to kingdom-come and we both die! Try me bitch!”
Tris opens her eyes wide and she shudders, her ears lowering “Why are you doing this to me?”
Kess lowers his arm. “You do it to yourself, Come on”
<kess>: I can’t promise things will work out
<kess>: I can’t promise you’ll live a long happy life of a righteous hunter
<kess>: But I can promise you this
<kess>: As long as you stand by me and fight with me you’ll get your fill of blood. And maybe, just maybe, be happy
<tris>: “If you keep me leashed, I will kill myself. Then what will you do?”
Kess smirks at her.
<kess>: I’m willing to gamble my life for your sake
<tris>: “I seek compromise,” she growls
Kess smirk widens.
<kess>: See ol’ gal. Already your picking things up. What is it you want from me?
<tris>: “I want to run free, to not be stuck at your side… but to choose when I hunt with you”
Kess raises an eyebrow.
<kess>: Out of the question, we stay together at all times. I need to be there to tell prey from hunter otherwise you might kill the wrong one. But I have a counter offer.
<kess>: If we are alone and either dies we both die, we need to protect each other alright? But I can make you a even better hunter.
<kess>: I can use my science, my natural magic, my alchemy to make you stronger. I can toughen your hide, strengthen your muscles, and heal your wounds. I can’t do it if you wander off.
Tris slowly crawls up to him, the growl still on her face. “I won’t make you regret your decision, you… you thick-headed….ggggggrrrrrr!”
Tris turns away “for now, but I need to be alone.”
It as at this moment Kess notices Tris has been naked this whole time, his face colors but he ignores it for now.
<kess>: No no no stop being so damn stupid girl!
<kess>: You leave and you die, your staying right here with me. You prove your trustworthy and righteous and I’ll let you wander off but until then your stuck with me. Unless you want death? Is that it? He waggles the acid bomb at her, a sly smile on his face
<tris>: She rises up on to her hind legs, grabbing at his wrist and lifting him up, narrowing her eyes. “I’ll play your game, for now…” she says, with one hand she reaches up and scratches at her cheek, as she does, Kess feels a burning at his own “But two can play your game…”
Kess raises an eyebrow. “We share pain….but that means…What else do we share?” to concerned with that line of thinking he ignores the werewolf grappling him. “If I drink a extract will you feel it to I wonder?”
<kess>: Will you gain the benefits I wonder
<kess>: For once I’m at a loss for what I’ve created.
<tris>: She curls her mouth up into a smile. “You’ve created a monster.”
Kess smiles back at her. “No dear, I think I created a whole world of possibilities!”