A Worm Welcome
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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#1
The mud had definitely put a slight damper on preparations for Fiat Lux this year. Instead of preparing banners and viands for the party, most people were busy fighting off (or playing with) the strange not-quite-sentient mud that had oozed its way into their lives and seemed to determined to stay - like a particularly stubborn colony of ants.

At least the ants he could have tried to coax to a new home, though. For the fastidious bard the mud was far worse... well, usually. He had taken a day off of his professional vocation worrying and brooding to have a little fun with it, but only person knew that secret and Jigano hoped he would be discreet enough not to tell.

Today was not quite fun, but neither was it worrying, at least not for the Provost who insisted on overworking himself. Today he was going to help get ready for the party, come hell or muddy water, and he stepped lightly through the blossoming underbrush as he sought out a promising puddle. The snows were mostly melted now, the birds sang lustily, and everywhere the scent of green and growing things was filling the air with renewed life and hope again.

And then there were the giant worms.

The puddle was broad but shallow, gathered in a slight dip of the woods where a great forest giant must once have stood. One of last summer's fires had burned away the resultant deadfall, but the trough where the rootball had been torn up remained to gather rainwater from the spring storms. Jigano grinned sharply at it as it moved, an expression more carnivore than man, the back of a thick worm rolling over in the water a sure sign that he had found his prey.

Hotaru
Hotaru Kaito
Glassblower / Seamstress

Age: 26 | Height: 5'2 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 4 - Strg: 13 - Dext: 12 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 10
ATLAS - Mythical - Unicorn (Healing)
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#2
After Deimos - and the general state of the world around her - had made Hotaru aware of the memory mud problem overtaking the Grounds, the woman had set out in her best boots and darkest leggings to do some research of her own. And by research she means stomping around in the mud like a child, chasing slow-moving memory snow goops, and figuring out the best ways to hurry them along.

She's not exactly expecting or seeking out company, but when she hears disturbed water and squelching steps, the maiden lifts her head in equal amounts of curiosity and wariness. Of course, as she is wont to do, she follows after the sound heedless of what dangers may lie through there.

Except, as she slowly comes upon the other adventurer, the shock of pale hair instantly assures her that there is no fear to be found today. Hotaru doesn't call out yet, not when she sees the intent, predatory look on his face as he stares at the puddle before him. Gets close enough to call softly so as not to disturb whatever weird thing he's hunting. "Hello, Jigano. Am I interrupting?" Perhaps the politest way of asking why he was staring at a puddle like a lion eyeing a gazelle.
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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#3
Isuma, perched high above and blended into the pale bark of an elm, had let him know that company was approaching so he didn't jump when Hotaru spoke. The gryphlet had saved his dignity, for which he was grateful, so he could turn to the eminently capable and competent woman who had helped him build the perch with a flicker of a smile.

"Hotaru, glad to see you well. And no, you're not interrupting at all." The worms didn't have the best hearing, so though he kept his voice quiet as well he didn't whisper. She had proven an able hand with an axe before, but he realized he knew little of her past or other abilities since at the time he had been distracted by the blight. "Quite the contrary, in fact, if you'd care to join me in a little hunting." There was a hint of mischief in his smile as he made room for her behind the broad stump he was using to mask his presence from the puddle beyond. "Walk softly, though. They can get aggressive this time of year, and they'll aim for movement." What would get aggressive? It was hard to tell at the moment, ripples spreading across the puddle but the forest floor was relatively quiet around them while the birds sang in chorus above, so whatever it was couldn't be too bad.. right?
Hotaru Kaito
Glassblower / Seamstress

Age: 26 | Height: 5'2 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 4 - Strg: 13 - Dext: 12 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 10
ATLAS - Mythical - Unicorn (Healing)
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#4
Hotaru smiles in easy reflection of Jigano as he turns to greet her, walking up beside him now that he's aware she's approaching and hasn't given any sign to stay back. "I could say the same. I'm glad to see you in one piece after LongNight." A slight dip to the warmth of her smile, a natural reaction to recalling the various horrors and tragedies of that long stretch of time. Though she perks up swiftly at the mention of hunting, a predatory gleam sharpening her beautiful face. She has various small weapons on her, and her magic if she needs it, but already she is intrigued and happy to assist in such primordial efforts.

As he moves to give her room she ventures forth into the space he leaves, two-toned eyes sharp and eager. "You certainly know how to appeal to my interests," she teases softly, lightening her step - though with her negligible weight she can't do much more - when Jigano gives further information on their prey.

Her eyes track the ripples, and she slowly sinks to squat closer to the water. Her magic is weak but even so it can shock whatever prey lurks beneath the surface as soon as it's in range. "I can electrify the water minimally if you want to strike first," she offers, though she's happy to do so first to disorient it.
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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#5
"More or less," he agreed with her assessment wryly. The outer bits were all accounted for, at least, though he had lost more than one piece of his heart in that week of darkness. Too many others couldn't say the same, and he would mourn lost Caiside and Cera for seasons yet to come, as he still mourned Isla and Edrei. None of them, however, would be happy to see him sunk in his grief any longer than he had been, and Edrei and Caiside both wouldn't hesitate to tell him he was being an idiot for not enjoying the spring weather, lovely company, and imminent hunt.

He noted his companion's eagerness at the mention of that hunt, and his grin widened a bit at her enthusiasm as she joined him. "It only takes one look to know that you are a lady of classic tastes," he demurred, teasing back with far more energy than the blight had permitted him before.

Interestingly, she didn't ask what they were hunting, though perhaps she'd already guessed, given their location. "Oh, the water won't be a problem in a moment," he replied cheerfully, crouching beside her to sink his hand into the loose soil of the forest floor and send his senses out through it, feeling for the green and brown threads of his magic. "But you might want to have that lightening ready to go. It'll work better than a blade against them. Ready?"

And when she was he flexed his power, opening cracks in the earth beneath the puddle to drain the water away, revealing not one but three of the great worms burrowed into the mud. Magna Vermis that bucked and squirmed angrily as their precious puddle disappeared beneath them. The largest rolled in the mud as if to try and dig after the disappearing water, but the two smaller ones - still almost two feet around in their middles - lunged for the last place they had sensed vibrations in the nearby earth, aiming to ram Hotaru and Jigano with their considerable (and considerably muddy!) mass.
Hotaru Kaito
Glassblower / Seamstress

Age: 26 | Height: 5'2 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 4 - Strg: 13 - Dext: 12 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 10
ATLAS - Mythical - Unicorn (Healing)
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#6
What haven't they lost since LongNight? Even those who had emerged physically unscathed had still experienced the lingering tensions of being stuck indoors and at the mercy of the decisions of those chosen to decide on when doors were opened. No matter how minor, they had all lost something. Friends, family, peace of mind. Hotaru's expression is understanding, though she doesn't ask, isn't sure if they're at that stage of familiarity yet and unwilling to ruin the hunt so early with discussion of emotion and tragedy.

Instead she plays into his teasing, more vibrant and assured than when they had first met. "You only look once? You insult me," she jests, hand flying to her breast in swooning dramatics at her attractiveness being so gravely undermined. But her following smile is playful, and she gets down to work, listening as Jigano menacingly vows that it will not be a problem any time soon. Hotaru smirks, readies her hands, familiar sparks leaping to her control. It is weaker than she used to be - hailing lightning, creating storms, felling foes with thousands of volts directed onto their bodies - but the control is familiar. She nods her head in silent signal that she's ready, and waits.

As soon as the water recedes, three disgustingly large worms are revealed. Two lunge for them immediately, and Hotaru's hands snap out immediately, unafraid to receive the impact with her hands where the sparks are stronger, ready to pour the volts into their still damp bodies. Hopefully she has the reach to get both in contact, but she's sure Jigano can handle himself if it gets past her.
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,805
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#7
"Milady, I wouldn't dare to look a second time without your permission," the bard grinned back, tilting his head in as close as he could come to a gallant bow in their current position. "I've seen the way you swing an axe!" It was strange but oddly comforting to be bantering with someone again, as he used to joke with Isla and Edrei. Some had been lost to him, yes, but perhaps others would yet be found to soften the edges of those heartsore wounds, building on the foundation of those who had come before in his life.

There were no axes to hand today, but her mention of electricity was a welcome surprise, given the nature of what they were hunting. He took it in stride, no stranger to mages and their tricks, especially since he had got a few of his own back - and some new ones besides.

Swift and fierce the worms struck, but Hotaru was ready and waiting. As the first of the Magna Vermis threw itself against her its soft pink body pressed against her hands first, and the creature whistled an odd, high-pitched keening noise as electricity crackled over its damp skin. The sizzle - and slight smell of undercooked chicken - distracted it from any effective follow through, but it couldn't stop its momentum and she might find herself pushed back as it squirmed frantically in a knot that risked unintentionally tangling her legs in its slimy coils as the electricity tweaked near-mindless nerves to spasms.

She couldn't quite reach the one that went after Jigano, but the bard had it well in hand as the earth between him and the worm rose up in a rough slab. It crumbled as the worm struck it, but it stopped its forward movement and seemed to momentarily daze it. Leaving the offensive tactics to Hotaru, the bard worked swiftly to raise a second wall behind the Magna Vermis they had attracted - cutting off the attacking pair's bigger sibling from seeing the trouble they were about to be in.

"Can you fry them any faster?" he called, backing up against a tree and stomping his foot to keep his own prey's attention.
Hotaru Kaito
Glassblower / Seamstress

Age: 26 | Height: 5'2 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 4 - Strg: 13 - Dext: 12 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 10
ATLAS - Mythical - Unicorn (Healing)
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#8
Hotaru's laughter is unfettered and amused, charmed by the Bard's quick response, pleased by his - perhaps dramatized but nonetheless appreciated - awareness of her abilities. "You have my permission, no need to fear my blade just yet. Now my teeth however..." here she grins to display them prominently, a positively devilish look upon her pretty face. She can sense that he is here to play, to cavort and tease, but much like Sunjata will not seal the deal. A shame, he's just as lovely - though in different ways - and she would have loved to entice him further if he were game.

Oh but they have an even better game to play, one that starts with feral swiftness. Her lightning, her electricity, it is far weaker than she has ever felt it. Childlike and frustratingly difficult to bend to her will. But the creature squeals beneath her palms just the same, writhing under her power. It's a heady feeling, to remind herself that she may be cut down from her powerfhu throne, but she is not in any way helpless.

She leaps backwards, nimble and slight, as the worm tries to grab her in its spasming coils. Sharp eyes watch Jigano herd the two into a corral, and as his voice calls out she feels a surge of something new inside her as her hands reach to strike once more. She doesn't waste her breath on a response, old habits and training rising like a tide inside her. Completely focused on their prey. And suddenly as she moves she is grasping two simple metal bars that taper into a fine point, static electricity crackling and humming with potential down each surface. She doesn't question their appearance in her hands, striking first and putting aside consideration of this new magic later. With all her strength she lunges forward, electrified bar swinging down against the closest worm's body. Seeking to plunge the sharp end into it, perhaps even pin it to the earth if she gets all the way through, the static still crackling as a secondary defense. Then she spun and - training with Deimos coming to the fore - hurls the other in a perfect spinning arc towards the other to try and impale it as well.
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,805
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#9
"Such pearls as to make the sea-king jealous!" he declared with a gallant grin of his own, indeed enjoying the banter but seeking only wordplay, not foreplay. He might not have been a married man, but he was a loyal one, and his heart was held in hands far gentler than the woman warrior's sword-calloused palms. That didn't mean he couldn't appreciate a beautiful face or a sharp wit with which to trade clever parries and ripostes!

But banter was forced to take a backseat to the more imminent interest of the worms, who were quite put-out by the passing of their puddle. They each stopped the initial charges of their unusual opponents, earth and lightning proving to be good companions for the task at hand. Jigano's foe lunged towards his taunting stomp and he slipped sideways, letting it slam its head (well, it was hard to tell with worms, but its front end at the moment) into the tree behind him. Hotaru's prey had already had quite enough of her first shock, and was trying to slither away when she struck it with the bar. There were no bones to stop the piercing of its slimy body, but it twitched and writhed from the first contact of the electrified steel against its skin, and the stake didn't slice cleanly, getting stuck halfway through the worm's flesh, roughly a foot in. The beast keened and thrashed again, tail whipping towards Hotaru as she turned away to try and attack its sibling.

The sibling fared less well, still being dazed from ramming the tree. It, too, sang out like a tea kettle at the boil as the spike sank deep, and Jigano clenched his fists in front of him as his earthen barrier shook, the ground vibrating from the strike of the large Magna Vermis responding to the cries of its companions and throwing itself against the shield Jigano had raised against it. The bard gritted his teeth, holding the impromptu wall together through an act of will as he glanced over at the huntress with a crooked grin. "I think they're starting to get the point, but maybe try to change the thrust of your argument?" he suggested - helpful as only a bard could be when faced with slimy danger. "It's shocking how fragile they are on the inside!"
Hotaru Kaito
Glassblower / Seamstress

Age: 26 | Height: 5'2 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 4 - Strg: 13 - Dext: 12 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 10
ATLAS - Mythical - Unicorn (Healing)
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#10
"Envy is the greatest compliment I could be gifted," she teases, snapping her teeth together playfully at him in punctuation. Though she's grateful that they turn to more physical exchanges instead of verbal banter. She has an itch beneath her skin, a discordance in her bones that only this can solve. Destruction, predatory pursuits, whatever you would like to call it. Hunting is the cure, and they get to it swiftly, moving as quickly as their writhing prey.

She doesn't have time to spare for laughter, but she snorts - unladylike, spontaneous - at the worm crashing into the stump Jigano had been sheltered behind. The sound is disgusting, like throwing a wet rag at a wall, and it's infinitely amusing to her. It's a sufficient distraction as she hurls the other bar, and her ankle is nearly swept from under her as the half-pinned worm writhes. Turning back she snarls at it, a primordial response that she has not been able to outgrow in her human body.

Jigano's words prompt another short bark of laughter, appreciating the puns even if she'd rather focus on murdering these little wriggly bastards. "I'll make sure to take a stab at it," she calls back, lunging for her prey and gripping onto the half-embedded stake, shoving down hard to try and pin it further. As she does so, one hand leaves the bar to crudely shove into the wound she has left, and with the back of her hand against the bar and her palm in the creature's insides, electrifies the worm anew. Hopefully if she can take this one out quickly by frying whatever weird internal organs it has, she can refocus on the angry big'un behind the wall and assist Jigano with his own.
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,805
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#11
There was no more time for clever compliments, alas, as the worms went to work avenging their lost oasis and both humans found themselves with their hands full. Hotaru's were full of weapons as well as magic, and only her quick reflexes prevented her from engaging in a mud-wrestling match with an opponent far better suited to the sport - on account of not needing to breath as much if it found itself pressed face-first into the mud. Er. Front-end first? Their anatomy was beginning to cause narrative problems, so it was a good thing that Hotaru's attempts to pin it a second time proved more successful, the prolonged press of weight against the stake sinking it deep and through to the ground beyond.

The worm's own thrashing had opened the wound wider than the stake alone could account for, and Hotaru was able to shove her hand into the squirming, squishing, bloody mess. Her electricity might have been weak, but when applied directly to what passed for a nervous system it caused pure havoc in the Magna Vermis. The thrashing intensified as it lost all control of its own body, its hearts and brain frying beneath the assault as it died.

"I see you can be quite persuasive," Jigano called, dropping his attention on the shield for the moment and turning his magic on the earth beneath the worm near him, hardening it so that it couldn't burrow away. It continued to twist about, but the bard kept it distracted with pokes from a stick so that it remained near enough for Hotaru to handle next.

Another crash struck the earthen barrier, which cracked and began to crumble without Jigano's full focus on it. Another few strikes like that, and the larger Magna Vermis would be through it and on them, seeking vengeance for its puddle as only a giant annelid could.
Hotaru Kaito
Glassblower / Seamstress

Age: 26 | Height: 5'2 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 4 - Strg: 13 - Dext: 12 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 10
ATLAS - Mythical - Unicorn (Healing)
Played by: Brit Offline
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#12
Organs aren't meant to cycle electricity, and the worm dies thrashing and confused beneath her hands. Her hands are slick - gross, first of all - but Hotaru is a swift woman and she rips her weapon free to immediately turn her attention towards the remaining worm not trapped behind the wall. And she can't help her laugh of incredulity at the ridiculous picture Jigano paints, poking at his prey with a stick like a morbidly curious child as the worm writhes, still half-impaled with her previous short weapon. Lunging as she hears the impact of the big bastard beyond the dirt wall, she aims to impale her second weapon in the...end piece? Head or tail, she's not sure, but this time she is more focused as she creates a new object in her hand. It's small - there are likely size restrictions to this new magic, to be discovered later - but it will do the trick.

She has made a half-moon knife, almost reminiscent to an axe but fitted to her hand. And with it she descends upon the worm, hacking away with powerful strokes (and sparing some distant amusement for the fact that Jigano is seeing her do so right after teasing her for being good with an axe) at the creature's body to try and cut it neatly in half. Then she can electrocute each side, whichever one is the head will die and then she doesn't have to worry about it potentially regenerating a tail like an earthworm. It's disgusting work, but she's practically feral, intending to cut through it as swiftly as possible so that they can outpace the angry bugger smashing itself mindlessly against the dirt wall. "Hold that wall till it's dead!" she calls, because Hotaru really doesn't want to get knocked over by a damn worm while she's chopping another one to pieces.
Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 12 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 44 - Endr: 41 - Luck: 42
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,805
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#13
Hotaru's success with the first worm boded well for the second, but this time she abandoned her electricity for a more hands-on approach. Jigano's eyes widened at the bloody, brutal site, but only in surprise rather than disgust. Given what he went through last year in his fox form, he can hardly throw stones in this particular glass house! He could at least get out of her way, stepping far enough aside to not be caught by the worm's writhing length as it was hacked apart. He had to keep his full attention on the earthen wall by then as the biggest worm rammed it with more stubbornness than brains.

As Hotaru slayed the second warm with blade and aggressive static cling to the brain, the bard gritted his teeth and focused his magic, building the rough barrier stronger until a thought struck him.

Hotaru was almost through with the second worm, and maybe he could help her along with the third? He waited for the shudder of an impact, then gripped and twisted with his hands, pulling the earthen barrier apart in the middle, just far enough to accommodate the Big Bertha of wormhood on the other side. Without eyes it didn't realize what had happened, and it gathered itself to fling its body forward again.

Which was when Jigano flexed his hands and clapped the two halves of the barrier back together. A quarter of the worm had made it through, but now it was pinned in place, wriggling and keening that strange high pitched sound they made when distressed as excess air was pushed out their mouth region. Several feet across, it was no lightweight, but it's movement was also limited as Jigano concentrated fiercely on constricting the hole further and preventing it from pushing through.

"A gift for you, m'lady," he called to Hotaru as her worm fell to twitching pieces. "Feel free to open it up and see what's inside!" Not that she didn't already have a good idea of what to expect after the last two, but who knew? Maybe she'd get lucky!
Hotaru Kaito
Glassblower / Seamstress

Age: 26 | Height: 5'2 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander | Citizenship: Hollowed Grounds
Level: 4 - Strg: 13 - Dext: 12 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 10
ATLAS - Mythical - Unicorn (Healing)
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#14
There's a vicious, primordial sort of pleasure to the act of cutting the worm into pieces. A release of any pent up emotion she may be feeling. A reminder that though she has been unfairly stripped of her powers, she is not helpless. Still a predator beneath this delicate, breakable skin she finds herself in. But there's more to be done, and she idly flicks her wrist to dislodge bits of flesh clinging to her, catching her breath for a moment before turning. And laughs not only at the image the last vermin makes, but at Jigano for prepping it for slaughter with such amusing words.

"Making me do all the heavy work? A wonderful gift." But her grin is playful as she twists to deliver a hard blow to the section of the creature closest to her. This time she doesn't hack and chop, because guts don't wash out well. One firm chop and, trusting Jigano will hold it firm, she sinks her hand in one last time to spark her fingers against its nervous system. Saves her a little bit of a workout.


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