[P] [M] Burning Shadows in the Dark
Casa Members

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

Specifically, this thread is marked mature because of: Violence, Injuries.

Through This Magnifying Glass - I See A Thousand Fingerprints - On The Surface Of Who I Am 

OOC: Ember League Plot - Dated June 6th just after midnight - cNPC: Booker Dalton - other NPCs: Mentions of League throughout, primarily Ember, Selby, Ackley and Mills - Set just north of Clement's Park on east side of Fundy Crossing
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Getting to the meeting point on time had been a struggle. Cedric had to round up the Cavaliers moments after his discussion with Booker in order to set out from the pack in time to reach the location. No one had a chance to sleep and, as the next night had now rolled in, Cedric doubted they would rest any time soon. He imagined this was part of Booker's plan; another caution to try and stop Cavalier retaliation and weaken any attempts the pack did try to make. It was clever, but wouldn't beat the determination of Cedric's pack to save their own and punish these mercenaries. There was pride in Cedric's heart, as he left the majority of the group on the outskirts of Clement's Park, looking at their tired faces still burning with resolve. How no one had complained, they had all marched with purpose and a promise to succeed. As Cedric and the small group left, the Lune's mind had to cling onto the hope that they would all return once this was done, exhausted but happy. 

The group following the Lune had been picked specifically for their ability to hold their own; should things go to plan, they'd be fighting on less than equal grounds whilst awaiting back-up. By Cedric's side was Zetsubou, the man trained for any kind of intense combat, and a father who Cedric knew would give his all to protect children in need. Lucian and Nilda followed as well, younger but still strong, faces the pups knew well and who Cedric put his faith in when it came to keeping his children safe when things got violent. And Eros, unable to sacrifice himself as he'd been so eager to do, but still risking his life for the sake of creating this plan. When they all returned to Casa, alive and successful, Cedric hoped his cousin might learn a thing or two about the value of his life. 

Far out of sight, though as important to the plan as a light in the darkness, Cedric tried to picture his other brother along with Pushok and Arotia. The three brave souls had volunteered for the task of taking back the Avalon, a turning point to ensure Casa's counterattack worked, but a huge risk for those involved. Cedric thought of the trio, putting his faith in Pushok as a knight, but also in his brother and Artoia. At this distance, it was impossible to see them, or even the Avalon in the dark, but instinct told Cedric that they were out there. 

The moon was a cresent in the sky, barely bright enough to light the way, forcing the Cavaliers to rely on what sight they had at night. It was enough to guide them to the shore however, along with the sounds of the water lapping against rock and the few cries of sea-birds who had been disturbed by the activity. The rocky terrain was fairly jagged, but there was a flat point that dipped out towards the Loch a few hundred foot across that seemed like the ideal place to stand. A thought shared by their enemy, as Cedric could see a few figures waiting on the coastline, his heart then skipping a beat as he also heard quiet whimpers around them. 

Booker stood in the center of the group, flanked by three of his mercenaries; the fiery-pelted leader, the small thief who had attacked Kai, and the scarred woman who had dealt the fatal blow to Theo. Behind them by a short distance was their sharpshooter, the woman with a keen eye and a drawn bow, seemingly there to shoot at the hint of suspicion. And shared amongst Booker and his hired hands were Cedric's children, trying to whimper through the pieces of rope used to tie their mouths shut, their young eyes struggling to get a bearing on their surroundings. 

"You arrived." Booker began, his voice more clear than his actual form, at least until Cedric and his Cavaliers came closer. 

"That's close enough." The mercenary leader growled, tugging a little on the scruff of the child she was holding, Dagon, to make a point. Cedric couldn't help but look at his terrified son, then all the others being held roughly by the group, finally forcing himself to glare to Booker. 

"We've brought Eros." Cedric announced simply, then moving his arm back to pull his cousin closer and a bit in front. A forceful push, an attempt to act as if he cared little for his relative, probably pointless given this entire awful event began when Cedric refused to let Booker near the man. "We give him to you, and take the children back, exchange at the same moment."

Booker shook his head. "And give you the chance to attack us the moment the pups are in your hands? No." For a moment Cedric's stomach sank, wondering if Booker was about to reveal his true plan; attack all of them and kill the pups. Though what the man really said wasn't much better. "You'll take some of the little worms... but we're keeping two. At least until we're back on the ship. Once that happens, the last two will be dropped on the shore where they can scurry back to you."

Holding back a growl, not daring to even think of asking which of his children would be kept in enemy hands, Cedric gave a stiff nod and pushed Eros to prompt him to move. Wishing he could speak to his cousin's mind, wish him luck in the upcoming carnage, instead Cedric remained indifferent, focusing his attention on the children instead. As Eros got closer, the mercenary leader nodded, dropping Dagon to the floor so the boy could run to safety. A few more steps, and two more children were released, Tor and Lotai. Once Eros was close enough for Booker to grab him, Pandora was also allowed to run, leaving just Tokhaka and Tegan in enemy hands. 

"Eros." Booker growled, his eyes somehow able to go even colder now that he was meeting the man he'd been so desperate to find. "Nice to finally know your name. After all you've done, ruining my life, taking my family... well now I've ruined yours, and you'll certainly remember my name for that."

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The group that trudged to their rendezvous was a quiet one.  He knew that Cedric must be worried for the pups, and that this situation was less than ideal.  Eros though, wasn’t worried, and he wasn’t afraid.  Perhaps he should have been, and he knew a normal person might have been worried for the pups, but he didn’t know them, and he didn’t want to.  He wasn’t the melodramatic loner standing in the shadows, though he didn’t mind if people thought that.  The fiery pelted Male had made a promise to Casa and a certain distance helped.  Mostly Eros was angry.  He was angry that some mercenaries had the audacity to attack what was his.  What was worse, and definitely unbalancing, he had no knives.  Arriving armed to a swap would doubtless have appeared more than a little bit suspicious.  Eros only hoped that if this went sideways he’d get those knives back.  They’d been a gift from Luca and had helped him make a living for a long time.

Eros felt Lucian and Nilda walking behind him, though he didn’t look around.  He also saw Cedric out of the corner of his eye and knew beyond him was Zetsubou.  The fiery pelted Damaichu looked straight ahead, golden eyes watching the figures resolve themselves into the mercenaries, along with their boss and the smaller forms of the pups.  Eros couldn’t help noticing that the sprogs weren’t squirming, and had their muzzles tied.  Eros was only too aware of how effective the promise of pain was to gain a pliant subject.  The promise was often a better tool than the reality.

Eros didn’t resist as his Lune grabbed him, thrusting him towards the group of loners.  The fiery pelted Damaichu took in the faces of the mercenaries.  He understood that most of the time it was only business, but he was hopeful they didn’t realise what Eros often tried to do when folk interfered with his work, or what was his.  If any of them survived this, Eros would do his damndest to get Casa’s burgeoning network to find them.  His expression remained cool as he walked towards Booker.

The Keeper spared a glance to the pup’s as they were released.  Clearly terrified the blue eyed one called Dagon paused for an instant to make sure his siblings were coming, before his nerve appeared to break and his legs pumped furiously, weaving slightly.  The rope end of the rope tying his muzzle shut, trailing on the ground.  Dagon zipped pass Eros without a glance, and the fiery pelted Damaichu didn’t turn to see if the pups reached the pack, although he had little doubt Dagon was heading to Cedric with a focus that left no concentration for anything else.

Booker’s grip wasn’t gentle, and though Eros ached to start something with this loner, not for the seeking of vengeance, but because the loner had the temerity to grab him.  Eros’s expression remained cool though, and he didn’t have to feign the lack of recognition.  The Keeper truly didn’t remember this Luperci, or their family.  For all Eros knew he had killed them, but it hadn’t been personal, or at least he supposed it hadn’t.  Eros had been paid for many things, a bit like these Mercenaries perhaps, although he liked to think he had managed it with greater discretion.

”Ruined my life?” Eros spared a glance for the sprogs ”I mean, they’re not my pups.”

They needed a distraction right? Well, Eros had been told he could be pretty distracting.

”Listen, I don’t remember you, and if I did kill your family, it was just a job, like these guys.” Eros waved to the mercenaries ”You pay, we come.

Eros decided not to threaten anyone just right now, but he could feel the roiling anger he kept in check inside of him.  That anyone thought they could come and threaten those he was meant to protect?  He had a damn contract.  Eros watched Booker’s eyes get colder, and through their grip, he could feel the other’s increased heartbeat.  The Keeper was sure he was safe though, Booker or the mercenaries would want to torture him, after all the trouble they’d gone through, dying quickly didn’t seem like something on the cards.  Perhaps if these Luperci were just, or Booker wasn’t so twisted with grief. 

The punch wasn’t a surprise, but Booker’s anger leant it a breath-taking ferocity.  The second punch came in quick succession.  The mercenaries realised that Eros had been let go and tensed, but the fiery pelted male stayed put, blood beginning to flow from his muzzle.

”Not personal?!” Booker hissed, his breath ragged with barely contained fury.  ”THEY WERE MY FAMILY!” Booker roared.  Eros thought he heard the sprogs whimper at the sudden noise ”It was personal to me.  You…you ruined my life.  I can’t get them back.  I’ll never be able to get them back.  I can make sure you feel a little fraction of how I do before you die though.”

Eros was oh so tempted to retort, it’d be so easy, and he was so good at it.  Another remark though, that might drive Booker over the edge, and that’s when folk got unpredictable and did unexpected, and often emphatically dramatic things, like eye gouging, or tongue cutting.  Not to mention with the pups, Eros’s coolness might make Booker seek other targets.  So the fiery pelted Damaichu said nothing, instead he waited for the next blow, or Cedric’s signal.
Through This Magnifying Glass - I See A Thousand Fingerprints - On The Surface Of Who I Am 

OOC: Ember League Plot - Dated June 6th just after midnight - cNPC: Booker Dalton - other NPCs: Mentions of League throughout, primarily Ember, Selby, Ackley and Mills - Set just north of Clement's Park on east side of Fundy Crossing - PP of characters approved
[Image: zE05Z64.png]

Cedric winced a bit as Booker lashed out at Eros. He could feel the other Cavaliers flinch, as if waiting for this to be the cue to start fighting, but Cedric remained silent and patient. Eros could take a hit, Booker wouldn't kill him immediately, so right now Cedric needed to focus on getting his children back as soon as possible. The timing of things in the dark could never be perfect, so the Lune had to wonder if the group taking on the Avalon were already there, which was hard to confirm given he could barely see the ship and couldn't look over to it without giving himself away. So instead Cedric focused on the two remaining children in need of rescue; Tegan and Tokhaka. Tegan was furiously wriggling in the hold of a small, black and white pelted woman, the one Cedric recognised as the one who'd attacked Kai. Young but clearly already dark in her heart, the jackal woman didn't seem to care much for the upset puppy other than grip her tightly by the scuff and legs to stop her from escaping. Tok, meanwhile, wasn't with the main group of mercenaries. His size being more of a challenge to carry around, the large pup was instead tethered to the mercenary with the bow, the one hanging back a few paces to keep an eye on things. The burning look to their magenta eyes told Cedric that they'd have no issue aiming their arrow at Tok's head or stabbing the boy the moment things went wrong. 

Dagon was scrambling at Cedric's feet, along with the other kids, the man unable to resist the cries of his children as he slowly crouched down to them. Pulling the rope from each one's muzzle, but then shushing them with careful touches and passing them back towards Nilda and Lucian. It hurt him to push them all away, but right now the Lune couldn't afford to break his focus on the exchange, putting his faith in his brother and Nilda to guide the pups back and behind them all. 

Booker's fury on Eros was buying them time, time to assess all the things going on and decide on the best approach. Who would Cedric take on when the real plan was revealed? How would he get back Tok and Tegan before the enemy had a chance to kill them for the Cavalier's rebellion? It would need to be done with speed, before the mercenaries knew that their plan was falling apart, with their escape route taken from them. 

Cedric could practically see Booker shaking with anger, specks of blood on his knuckles from his blows against Eros, the temptation in those icy eyes to just end things right there did pass by, before the man went to roughly grab Eros once more. "Don't think you can just pass all this off in silence. I'll make you talk... I'll make you beg for me to kill you." He tugged on Eros, taking a few steps back from the Cavalier group, his place then taken by the other mercenaries still watching carefully. Each step was a countdown, Cedric's skin buzzing with anxiety and building adrenaline, ready to snap the moment he knew the Avalon was reclaimed. 

The spark to lit the fire. And it came a few seconds later with a cry for help echoing from the shore. Everyone looked back to the Avalon, including the mercenaries, but the night came as a disadvantage for them as well as it was near impossible to see what was going on. For the League it was a surprise, for the Cavaliers, it was a signal. 

Cedric was moving immediately, feeling the others also prepare to fight. Lucian took aim at the one holding Tegan, the arrow only grazing the small woman's arm but delivering enough shock to make her drop the wriggling child, allowing Cedric's daughter a chance at escape. Nilda was calling to the Lune and throwing him something for Cedric to catch; a sheathed dagger, belonging to Eros to help arm the man. Zetsubou was Cedric's shadow, moving with the Lune as he made a charge for Booker and Eros. The man was looking back towards the Avalon, his ears pulled back and his head shaking, rage replacing the shock just a moment too late as Cedric managed to shove into him shield first. It broke Booker's grip on Eros, sending him stumbling backwards before righting himself and glaring at the Lune, before both of them turned to the muted yelp not too far away. 

Cedric's heart dropped as he was Tokhaka flailing against the rope around his neck, an animalistic panic taking over the boy as he tried to get away from the woman who had him tethered. The woman who had just shot at the boy, arrow managing to catch the boy's ear and leave the torn leather splattered with blood. The arrow had clearly missed, but the amount of blood still left Cedric feeling sick, the father managing to compose himself enough to shove Eros's dagger into the Keeper's hand. "Get back my son." Eros was quick and nimble, Cedric knew he'd get to the mercenary holding Tok well before the Lune could, leaving Booker to Zetsubou and Cedric. 

A quick glance around to his other Cavaliers was all Cedric could afford. Lucian and Nilda were defending their position as the wall between the mercenaries and the pups, but they were outnumbered with three currently closing in on them. Zetsubou had Booker occupied and Eros was moving to take out the mercenaries sharpshooter. The surprise had paid off enough to grant the Cavaliers a moment of control, but it would soon be lost without back-up. 

So the Lune lifted his head and howled, short and loud, calling for the Cavaliers they had left behind to begin the charge. It would take them a few minutes to arrive, and those tense minutes would be spent defending and stalling out the mercenaries. For now, Cedric focused his attention on the three trying to break through Lucian and Nilda's defence, drawing out the one wielding their own shield to try and get them in a duel.

c   r
Ooc here

[Image: Zetsu-Lisanata.png]A splinter of the pale moon cut through the dark of night, the stars present like an omnipotent audience, waiting in anticipation. The twinkling lights saw the Cavalier entourage, and those that lie in wait. They watched as a second faction worked under the cover of night. They witnessed the muzzled pups and heard their whimpers in the dead of night.

Tension gripped Zetsubou in the center of his chest, tight through his shoulders and neck as he walked aside Cedric and Eros, their charge. Alongside them, Nilda, the Hushhowl woman, and Lucian, the brother of their very Lune. Hackles threatened to rise beneath the cascade of black locks that fell, unruly, from the grip of a leather cord that barely held his hair at bay.

The Tekko, hidden at his back beneath his cloak and upon separate hips, did not jingle in the silence of the night as they walked toward the rendezvous. Mentally, he prepared himself as his paws crossed familiar grounds. Emotions surrounding his mourning thoughts, of his own children and their loss, filtered away from his mind with a deep exhale. With their young prisoners, he could not risk the distraction. A soldier, stoic, walked beside his Lune and his packmates. He would do what must be done for the sake of his fellow Cavaliers.

Heterochromic sights washed across the faces that they approached the League, and his paws stopped obediently where he was ordered to. As Cedric spoke, Zetsubou took note of the mercenaries that were at Booker's beck and call. Their builds, their weapons, and their gaze were all put neatly into the Sworn's mind. He scrutinized every inch of them, utilizing all that he could get from a glimpse in the dark of night with eyes that glowed with the reflection of the pale light of the moon.

One by one the pups were released, until Eros would be handed over. The last of them remained in custody of their kidnappers, as it had been decided without Cavalier input. Booker's contingency plan complicated the situation.

Eros was pushed forward by his Lune, words were exchanged, and Booker engaged him. A strike was laid upon the Cavalier, but Zetsubou stood gravely firm. Eros didn't understand the gravity of what he'd done, but Zetsubou expected this. Truthfully, the more furious that Booker could be made, the more dangerous it was for the pups, but in that same vein, Booker could grow sloppy. Their interaction wasn't what he was concerned with. The peaks of ink-dipped ears were forward set, but seeking. They were all waiting for a sign.

It came just shy of seconds when Booker placed himself behind a wall of his hired mercenaries. Ears darted at the cry, the signal, that echoed from the shadow of the Avalon. From behind his back, Zetsubou wrapped his hands into the grips of the Tekko and ripped them free of their binding cords. Now armed with the deadly iron weapons, he walked in Cedric's tracks, and broke past Booker's guard.

The Lune loosed Booker's grip on Eros with his shield, and Zetsubou strafed in between the two of them. Cedric would need a moment to call for backup, and the Sworn could provide it. Leaving nothing to chance, Zetsubou's attacks were strong and quick, and if his weapon did not strike Booker, then it put space between the man and his mercs. Splitting their form would do enough to hold them off for as long as it took Eros to grab the pup and arm himself; give them time for their aid to arrive from the veil of night.

Eros could see it.  Booker was psyching himself up.  The loner was rapidly losing his grip on the situation and on what was real.  It was very easy, lazy perhaps, to see Booker as evil, but Eros learned while wandering the neutral territories that those labels were the luxury not often afforded to many.  Grief made folk do stupid or even insane things.  Eros always had mixed feelings when he came up against those lost to anger, hatred or grief.  On the one hand they were often super easy to manipulate and get them to do exactly what you wanted, but mis-calculate and those results were often spectacular and almost always bad.

The loner might have thought Eros was being coy, or stringing Booker along, but the fiery pelted Damaichu had no idea who the shorter male was, or anything about his family.  The widower might have been right, maybe Eros did kill the guy’s family, he’d helped lots of people settle scores, wriggle out of debts or take control of bits of land.  He had never been cheap, but Eros got the job done and had very few qualms about what those jobs entailed.  Was he evil then?  It wasn’t really a question or concern that Eros was ever burdened with.  Now, he worked for his family, and Booker et al had something the fiery pelted Damaichu wanted.  Well, technically speaking Eros never wanted anything to do with pups, but he did want to make sure the mercenaries’ corpses could be displayed as a warning to others who might try something this stupid.

When the signal came, Eros watched Booker turn, the scent of tension strong in the air.  The Cavaliers had known it was coming though, and so Eros wasn’t surprised as a knife, just the one, was shoved into his hand and Cedric re-iterated his order.  Eros heard Booker’s cry of frustration as the Keeper slipped from his grasp both figuratively and literally.

He'd been called many things.  A whore, a bastard, a drunk and many more things which were far less pleasant.  Eros didn’t care, because those same Luperci still paid him, still slept with him and still bought him drinks.  Why? Because he had a talent he excelled at, even beyond his reputation in the sack, and now, knife in hand, he went to work.

The Keeper moved with a fluid inexorability.  Covering the distance between himself and his target in the barest of heartbeats.  Without pause or hesitation, the fiery pelted Damaichu sliced into the rope tethering Tok to the mercenary.  The sudden lack of tension made the pup lurch and tumble to the ground.  The mercenary’s eyes were dark, and their expression calculating.  They threw aside the bow, at the same time drawing a knife.  Eros knew where this was going.  They were aiming to put him on the defensive by stabbing the prone pup.  With only one knife a feint would be difficult, and blocking would mean he’d get slashed instead.

”fuck it!” Was all the warn Tok got as Eros’s foot, punted the boulder weighted pup out of danger. 

”Man, he’s going to be so pissed!” Eros said, thinking of Cedric. 

The fiery pelted Damaichu didn’t make the rookie error of watching the pup’s trajectory, confident he’d judged it correctly.  More importantly, he had very little doubt the mercenary would be following Tok’s flight, which is why he managed to get in a slash.  He’d been aiming for the other’s knife holding wrist, but caught their upper arm instead.  Eros saw the bloom of blood and the wince of pain, but he smelt nothing.  His muzzle bled freely, and his sense of smell was ruined for now, clogged with the coppery stink of his own blood.  The free slash was all Eros got before the fight began.

The mercenary was fast, and relentless, and apparently despite their employer’s wishes, seemed quite content to try and gut him.  Eros often coated his blades in something noxious, but the blade had passed to through too many friendly hands, it would have been too dangerous.  As they fought, the Keeper felt the ever burning ball of anger, on a slow burn that he drew off of.  He blocked and dodged as best he could, though he’d never found knives the greatest weapons to defend with.  Still, Eros fought, landing small and safe cuts, never hurried or panicking that he needed to end the combat.  The two opponents learned more about each other the longer they fought, and there was an ever increasing likelihood of a mistake.

The mercenary’s slip up, when it came, wasn’t a desperate one, but Eros had been watching for something.  The balance slightly off, the arm just a little too extended.  Eros lashed out with a foot, driving a kick at his opponent’s knee.  There was a sickening crunch and a horrible cry of pain from the loner.  Somehow though, they retained enough of their faculties not to drop the knife.  They had lost their balance though.  It didn’t mean that as they fell and Eros slashed them across the throat, they managed to get in one lucky shot, aided by gravity, slashing down Eros thigh.  Eros grunted and felt the warmth matt into his fur.

Eros didn’t stay to watch the mercenary’s inevitable end.  Nor did he give them the mercy of a quick death.  He’d done what he’d needed to, and their corpse wasn’t going to be going anywhere, he’d take the warning when he had time.  Once again, like so many times before, Eros had killed another Luperci.  Perhaps the lack of guilt, shame or satisfaction should be worrying.  Yes, there was anger, but it wasn’t directed at the slowly suffocating loner, he didn’t care enough about them for that.  It was the audacity of what they’d done.  These nobodies had gall to come here and attack this place?  With a shake of his head, he’d already forgotten the fight, and his mind had gone back to wondering if anyone had seen him kick the pup.  How likely was it after all? I mean, they were all fighting right?  Besides it’d been the fastest way to get the mass of a pup out of the way.  The kid was huge, it must have been like dropping a rock.  Eros shuddered to think what Kai’s….and he decided not to finish that thought, there was still stuff that needed doing.
Cerberus hated this waiting in the wings. He had to trust that everything would be fine. Nilda and Lucian had the pups and there were others with them. But his nerves were getting the better of him as Armani waited near him. He was prepared to fight with his pack but he also worried about leaving Armani with the pups alone. The older warrior had been adamant of doing her part injury or not. She stayed in Secui and waited for her moment.

Red eyes watched the earth waiting to hear his leader when finally his call rang over the land. The red hued woman bolted by him. She charged in towards the fray. He knew she would be going towards Nilda and Lucian. Electa moved past him as finally his feet released themselves from the earth they had felt glued to.

Glaive in on hand as he followed the others. Armani had halted and began to hold herself over the pups the best she could. Electa took a battle stance in front of her mother. It shocked him how strong Armani really still was especially in her Secui form an opponent would have to get her moving to really notice her limp.

His mind was taken back to the battle as the sound of Nilda caught his attention. Cerberus didn’t have to look hard for her as she struggled against the smaller coyote woman. The woman had sunk her hook into the sworns leg causing her to cry out. As he watched her leg get ripped out from underneath her. No real thoughts crossed his mind as he launched forward. His feet and anger carried him first and foremost forward. Glaive held ready to swing as he made first initial impact with the woman’s face as she pulled a dagger not noticing him. Unfortunately for him the end he used was the wood end and not the blades end meaning his strike hurt but wasn’t very leather.

Nilda cursed under him as she pulled the hook from her leg casting it aside. “Bitch” she snarled. “Using children as a means to get what you want.” She snapped slowly standing using Cerberus as he snarled at the woman who was starting to stand. His hit had definitely hurt her but he wasn’t fully certain it’s done much. “You ok?” He asked in a hushed tone standing defensively in front of Nilda. “I’m fine” she spoke her tone hard as she drew a breath. She could feel the blood soaking her fur slowly as she turned her wince into a snarl of anger. Her cousins, innocent children taken it was bull.

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