Artifact Hunting with Arik

Arik Cabral strides through Empire city, the darkly clad and fiendishly handsome sorcerer on a misson, it seems. Having had one of his servants drive him to a likely spot, he now follows a certain instinct, needing to speak to one Kunoichi Kei.

Kunoichi Kei pulls up in the Bellemobile. The door opens and a powerful leg in pale lavender extends, the slit of the darker lavender cheongsam she wears closing again as she gets out, then giving teasing glimpses as it flaps while she struts toward Arik.

“Why, greetings, Kei. It is good to see you again.” Arik Cabral smiles slightly, the teasing glimpse the cheongsham offers certainly briefly attracting the villains green eyed gaze.

“Tanks. Likewise.” Kunoichi Kei bows politely.

Arik Cabral returns the bow, deeply, as the party who requested the others presence, with a certain flourish of his cloak.

Kunoichi Kei asks, “I understand you have learned where to search for another of the... artifacts?”

“I have. And as before, a woman of your unique and varied skills would be of truly immense use in helping to acquire it. Surprisingly enough, it is here in the United States as well, so not so long of a trip.” Arik Cabral seems more animated and excited than usual. These trips bring out the adventurous spirit in him, perhaps. “Do you have the time to assist me in this, or are you busy?”

Kunoichi Kei nods. "Hai. I'm glad to help per our arrangement. I'm hoping what we discover will help me heal Panda. Agreed?"

Arik Cabral nods. “Of course.”

Kunoichi Kei smiles. “Then let's get going! Do you tink I need to bring my sword?”

Arik Cabral shrugs. “If you feel it useful, I do not doubt you should. There always seem to be guardians of some sort with these particular artifacts.”

Kunoichi Kei struts back to the Bellemobile and bends to take the stonecutter out of the trunk, showing more hip as she does so. She slings the sword over a shoulder and returns to the portal. “Weady when you are!”

Arik Cabral traces a series of sigils and signs in the air, slowly bringing a blazing circular doorway to elsewhere into view. Beyond the door is a thick forest, but obviously in daylight and good weather. “Ladies first. My portals always close once I step through.” Arik grins, gesturing for her to go ahead.

“Panda really needs a cure or she's not going to make it.” Kunoichi Kei marches bravely straight on through.

Arik Cabral follows after the determined Kei, glancing back at Empire city with a brief smile, before the circle of light closes behind them.

Kunoichi Kei looks around. "Which way?"

Arik Cabral looks about in these deep woods, his expression thoughtful as a brief wind tugs at both their attire. "The Upper portion of Michigan. What a strange place for this piece of the stave to be..." Arik gestures towards the afternoon sun. "Lord Sun is our guide today" and with a smile begins to walk in that direction.

Kunoichi Kei feels the lavender silk flutter up from her legs and gives Arik a look. "Did you do tat?"

Arik Cabral shakes his head. “Not I, Kei.”

Kunoichi Kei sighs and follows.

Arik Cabral laughs gently as they walk along. He seems relaxed, almost happy. Despite his earlier warning about the dangers involved. Well, right until he steps into the oldest snare in the world, finding himself hanging upside down from a tree by one ankle.

“Okay ten... whoa! Arik! Are you okay?” Kunoichi Kei stops in her tracks and looks up, reaching over her shoulder to the hilt of the sword she carries.

Arik Cabral sputters, “...A bit annoyed, but alright.”

“Tis 'll only take a sec.” Kunoichi Kei jumps, unsheathes and slashes in one smooth motion, sword aimed to sever the rope above Arik's foot.

Arik Cabral is more than a bit annoyed as she cuts him down with Stonecutter. The drawn sword is perhaps lucky for her, as shadowy figures step from behind the trees. The shapes of men, armed with rough made axes and clubs, but somehow as though they were the shades, or images, without the same reality.

Kunoichi Kei squares off with the men, realizing they might have been responsible for the snare, cocking her sword high at one o'clock in a two-handed grip. “Arik... who... or what...?”

Arik Cabral falls to earth, his voice briefly shaky after he thuds to the ground. "The shades of the guardians, perhaps. Long dead, but still bound by their oaths.."

Kunoichi Kei observes, “Tey don't look friendly...”

“They would rather we go. We shall have to overcome them if we want to continue.” Arik Cabral watches as the tallest shade shakes his axe at them. Eerie, threatening, especially as he makes no sound as he seems to threaten them.

“I see. I guess it won't hurt to kill them if they're already dead ten... and tey stand in the way of helping Panda!” Kunoichi Kei charges, lavender silk fluttering back from powerful flexing legs in pale lavender stockings, slashing with her weapon at the axe-weilding form. “Torry, but we're coming true...”

Arik Cabral staggers to his feet, and opens the engagement with a ball of white fire thrown from one hand as Kei rushes in, dark shades contrasting with lavender silk, the clash of arms eerie and silent but for the words and movements of the living. She soon slashes down the first shade, which seems to almost rip like paper and vanish, before other close in about her.

Arik Cabral's fire strikes several down, but more rush him, forcing the Sorcerer to hurriedly circle aside, trying to get nearer to Kei.

Kunoichi Kei moves with flash and flutter, her silk rustling about her as the demon blade in the hands of the weapon savant blurs into action, carving a path of it's own. “Dares a neverending army of tem, Arik!”

Arik Cabral yells, “There is indeed!”

Kunoichi Kei shouts, “We need to work together!”

Arik Cabral's own sword soon appears in his hands, the sturdy black hilted hand and a half sword the only thing the hard pressed Sorcerer has time to wield. He backs against Kei, trying to cover her back as she covers his!

Kunoichi Kei continues cutting down shadows like paper facades as she backs against Arik, wall after wall of the figures rushing them. “It's like they keep regenerating or someting...”

“I think you might be onto something...” Arik Cabral points briefly, one handed. "On that tree, over there! Something is cut into the bark! Go Kei, go!" As he desperately tries to hold back the horde so Kei and Stonecutter can do their work.

Kunoichi Kei keeps fighting, her powerful backside grinding against his as she twists and turns and wields her blade. Kei crouches and then leaps up, flipping over the first line of shadows, fluttering silk trailing bicycling legs like streamers, and carves her way through more as she rushes toward the tree Arik pointed out.

Arik Cabral watches as Kei forces her way through the horde, thinking such skill is magnificent. He is almost overborne by the shades numbers as she reaches the tree. A large, horrid spiral carved deeply into the bark, made more visible with old dried blood.

Kunoichi Kei blinks at the carving as she arrives at the tree, not sure what to do. She spins to face more shadows, her back to the trunk with the spirals. She leaps up to avoid an axe aimed to cleave her in two, losing some trailing silk in the process, but the shadow weapon felling the tree instead of her.

Arik Cabral watches the axe hammer into the Spiral carved tree. Suddenly, thanks to Kei’s rather efficient dodge, the shadows all vanish into nothingness. “...Well done, Kei.” Arik takes a brief moment to steady himself and let the adrenaline and madness of combat leave his mind.

Kunoichi Kei lands back on her feet with brow raised, and effectively her hemline as well, her dress now ending in tatters at mid-thigh. “Tat was weird. I nearly lost a leg and ten... Poof.”

“Magic. Even we dont always understand it, and us Sorcerers use it.” Arik Cabral laughs grimly, eyeing Kei for perhaps strictly longer than needful.

Kunoichi Kei shakes her head. "I prefer my weapon." She follows his eyes, smirks and sheathes the sword.

Arik Cabral begins to lead on then, hiding a slight limp on his yanked ankle. Soon enough they come to a clearing, a small circle, oddly perfect, in the trees. One tree stands tall in the center of it, a large hollow in its trunk.

“Wow! I've heard of crop circles, but tis is like a forest circle...” Kunoichi Kei grins. “Our goal?”

“I think it may be.” Arik Cabral kneels next to the tree, looking into the just larger than man-sized hollow in it. "This is strange..."

Kunoichi Kei is already running forward toward the tree, powerful glutes threatening to burst the slightly tattered lavender silk of her cheongsam. “Do I need to crawl inside and explore?”

Arik Cabral muses, “Ah. It might be a good idea, you are a bit more compact than I.”

Kunoichi Kei nods. "I don't tink I'll be able to fit with tis sword on my back." Kei swings the weapon from her shoulder and hands it to her darkly handsome partner. "Hold tis for me while I look inside? What exactly am I looking for again?"

Arik Cabral takes the Stonecutter. “The last section of the Stave, dear lady. It should look like a piece of a staff, cut short.”

“Okies. Tanks.” Kunoichi Kei bends to crawl inside the tree, lavender silk spilling away from her protruding backside to reveal matching panties and that her stockings are thigh-highs.

Arik Cabral watches Kei go inside, smiling crookedly. He murmurs to himself "Such a trusting, good person. A shame, really..."

Kunoichi Kei hollars out in a voice that seems to echo as if from a cathedral. "Tears a huge cave down here once you get past the opening... just toss me my sword and try to squeeze through..."

Arik Cabral replies, “I'll be down in a moment, Kei!”

“Okies...” Kunoichi Kei begins to look around down below, not waiting for Arik. "Now where is tat stave...?"

Arik Cabral crawls through the somewhat constricting hole in the tree, keeping hold of her sword and taking his time at it. When he see's the cave below, while holding her sword, he is somewhat stunned. It seems filled with light, refracting from numerous crystals on the walls, which somehow halos the artifact section of the stave, which Kei see's first.

“Tear it IS!” Kunoichi Kei bounces through the rainbows of light toward the goal of their quest.

Arik Cabral follows after her, calling out "Now be careful Kei..!" while secretly desperately desiring she NOT touch the Stave!

Kunoichi Kei doesn't hesitate, her hand extending and snatching up the piece of stave from it's resting place amidst all the quartz-locked beams of light. “I've got it!”

Arik Cabral winces as a sudden wrenching takes place amongst the light.... the beams flashing everywhere instead of Haloing Kei and her prize. looks more than a bit surprised, especially as it is not his doing, as thin roots force themselves out of the earth of the walls, lashing out at Kei while he holds her sword, leaving her less capable of defending herself. Arik hears a distant roaring sound, recognizing the sound of rushing, flooding water!

Kunoichi Kei makes a face as the roots of the tree spring from the walls like tentacles to wrap about her arms and legs even as she hears the sound of a wave of water rushing through the cave toward them. “Arik! Help! It's got me!” Kei struggles as the roots tighten about her ankles and drag her to the floor of the cave. “Arik! I need my sword...”

Arik Cabral rushes over towards Kei, having to dodge questing roots as he approaches her. He keeps glancing back towards the roar of water, staggering once as he reaches towards Kei. He grasps the stave's section she holds, looking down at her aghast.

Kunoichi Kei squeals as another root tightens her tiny waist, her eyes pleading as they look up into Arik's. "You promised to use the stave to save Panda!" Kei lets him take it from her hand.

Arik Cabral nods slightly. "I will!" He drops her sword to her with a muttered "Light watch over you" and rushes out of the cave, leaving Kei to her possible doom, the wall of water beginning to fill the room even as he barely escapes!

Kunoichi Kei reaches for the sword with her free hand even as the wall of water rushes over her, washing the sword away from her grasp as Arik leaves her to her fate. Her screams turn to gurgles behind Arik as he flees. "Arik, please, hel... glub glub glub..." Water spews out of the tree like a geyser immediately behind Arik as he scrambles out.

Arik Cabral steels himself against those cries for help as he staggers away from the tree, still limping as he clutches the piece of stave tightly with a satisfied smirk.

Kunoichi Kei finds her sword washed well beyond her grasp as the tentacle-like roots tighten about her body, threatening to squeeze the life out of her writhing form even before she runs out of air. She reaches for a hairpin and stabs down at the root about her ankles. The root leaves her legs to whip away the hairpin even as the root about her waist closes down, rending fluttering wet silk to shreds. Kei is no longer in the cloud of shredded silk however, having used Yumi's shadow trick to escape her dress and the tentacle about it. She swims through the water toward her sword, wearing only lavender bra, panties and stockings. The frustrated roots snake through the water in pursuit. She loses the race as a root catches her ankle, bubbles bursting from her mouth as she is dragged back, kicking frantically.

Arik Cabral looks back and hesitates briefly, shaking his head as there is no sign of the heroine. He resigns himself to necessity and vanishes through one of his portals.

Kunoichi Kei writhes and kicks with her free leg, driving a stiletto heel into the root that holds her. It loosens just enough for her to slip free, again kicking toward her sword. She makes it, scooping up the weapon and whacking at the forest of attacking roots that attempt to prevent her escape. She disappears into what almost seems a feeding frenzy of piranha roots. Kei crawls out of the tree a moment later, gasping for air, her bra missing from her heaving chest, her panties missing from her slick shiny hiney, her stockings hanging in tatters from legs covered with welts.

“Damn! Arik just left me here! When I get back to Empire so help me...” Kunoichi Kei spins around and swings her sword with such force that she fells the hollowed tree.

(July 2011)