The Curse Of The Eclipsium (The Midnight People 1)

In the fantasy world of Riarkum, where powerful yet dangerous 'midnight people' live hidden away from human civilization, the crew of the Eclipsium have been cursed with vampirism for over a century. When Ander Zavien is rescued from his execution by the ships mysterious Quarter-Master 'Ransom', he is pulled into the center of a violent conflict between those who are willing to sacrifice everything to reverse their curse, and the order of night-hunters set on destroying it entirely.
As his own blood hangs in the balance, he seeks out the truth of why these creatures of night are fighting to keep him alive, and why they call him 'Firstblood.'

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7. Chapter 7 - A Wandering Mage

Ander held back a moment with Alec as the crew filed off the ship, brandishing weapons. Quill had tied a tattered looking red bandana around his closely shaven head, and had a blunt steel sword that took up much of his back strapped over one shoulder. He gave Ander a far too enthusiastic grin, like a young soldier going into battle.

Alec gave a nervous chuckle back at him, averting his gaze. The boy was almost painfully innocent looking, he was like a baby tiger. Unnerved by the idea, Ander looked up at the sky.

There was barely a cloud in sight, the sky a clear, stunning blue he had never seen in the inner provinces. Even at the port city of Zafflen, summers were as cool as winters and the dry seasons had a sort of cold in the air that made sleeping on the streets even more uncomfortable, if that was possible.

The great expanse of blue seemed to stretch out endlessly, no end in sight. Yet it was the same sky as home, and he was the same Anderson. It seemed impossible.

Nothing about him had changed. If Ransom hadn't taken him with him, he would have simply received a nasty surprise when he went through the rebirth. Walking down the street, perhaps? And he would found himself in a state too dangerous even for the crew of the Eclipsium to handle..

That's if he had managed to worm his way out of his execution somehow.

Of course you wouldn't, you fool!

He shuddered at the very idea, and focused once more on the blue of the sky, how much warmer he felt just looking at it.

"Aren't you going?" Alec asked without looking away from the deckhands filing off. "Samsons waiting for you."

Ander followed his gaze. A blonde head bobbed just in view half way down the ramp, with the telltale piece of red string Samson had tied a fraction of it back with that morning, apparently as some sort of fashion statement. He raised his hand and waved, "C'mon, y'er 'ighness!"

Ander felt a soft of dread to leave the ship. If they were going to hunt, he'd surely only be in the way. He didn't fancy that much, though he'd never admit to the terror. "Do I have to?" He chanced, masking his nervousness. "It seems pointless me being there.."

Alec looked up at him. "As kind as it is that you'd rather me here with yours truly, Hunter requested it. He's the cap'n." He shrugged his small shoulders. "I know you're scared, by the way."

"That obvious?" Ander sighed.

Alec started to blush, then, colour filling his cheeks. "Uh.. I could sort of, sense it. Vampiric instincts."

Ander stared at him in shocked confusion. "What? You can literally smell fear?" He gaped. He knew he shouldn't have been so surprised after everything he had already witnessed, but it still caught him off guard. 

The boy sank back, seating himself on a closed wooden barrel. "Ransom said it was a 'hunting reflex,' I don't know.. But because of my small size, I still can't go with them, I'd be overpowered."

"Seems like dumb logic to me, you're probably faster than everyone here, if not stronger!"

"I am." Alec agreed. "I raced them once to prove it. Trust me; every tactic you can think of, I've already tried. My sister, Ransom, and the cap'n have that much carved in stone."

Ander breathed a deep sigh of defeat. As much as it annoyed him, he knew who to respect. He needed to trust Hunter - Hunter would surely lead him to a safe place, where all of this would be over for Alec and the others. And Hunter was, as unfitting as it seemed for a pirate captain, a good man. "Right you are.. I'll see you later, Alec, assuming one of them doesn't eat me."

Alec laughed, but quickly covered his mouth like he was afraid to offend him. He raised his free hand to wave meekly. 

Ander chuckled at the notion. Then, reluctantly, he headed down the ramp with boots loud against the hollow wood, to greet a smiling Samson. 

However, Samsons happy expression quickly faded as he saw the look of despondency on Anders face. He nudged him discreetly the arm with his elbow, once he had disembarked. "You alright, Ander-lad?"

"Fearing for my life," Ander admitted, looking up at him. "But I suppose so."

Samson laughed, and threw his arm around Anders shoulders like an old friend. "Oi, we should take that as an insult!"

Ander chuckled, and smiled uncontrollably at the friendly gesture. It had been a long time since he'd had someone he felt he could maybe class as one.

Still with the taller blond by his side, he stepped off the ramp and into soft, welcoming sand. His boot sunk, so his sole was entirely buried.

The stretch of rich, golden beach went on for maybe half a mile along the shore, but the trees started close by. A great forest, trees stretching high and tangling their thick branches with neighboring greenery to form what looked like archways to walk through.

Ander, having lived mainly in province cities, knew little of nature. He stared in wonderment at the new, unknown trees making up the front line of the forest. They didn't have branches; Instead the tall, slender trunks were bare, smooth, yet almost paneled in appearance, as though chipped pieces of wood had been stuck around its core to board it. 

The only part that made it recognizable as a tree was the several large green leaves extending out, rather than many smaller leaves attached to branches. They feathered out at the edges, and were layered in a circle around the top of the trunk, many flopping to one side under their own weight. 

"Aint, you never seen a palm tree before lad?" Pete asked, appearing at Samsons side and looking at him in surprise. Ander opened his mouth to speak, but Pete cut him off with a light chuckle. "Aye, you're a Coulder type alright."

"They.. Just don't look much like normal trees." 

"They only grow in hot places, I hear." Samson commented. He was pulling at his collar so his shirt fanned him, now, having released Anders shoulder. "And it is pretty blooming hot 'ere.."

Hunter had taken lead of the party, Ransom and Davelynn flanking behind, unspeaking. The entire crew had disembarked the ship, only Alec and Yates left behind. Yates was stood at the upper deck looking over with a bronze Spyglass glinting in the sunlight, while Alec was no where to be seen. Ander couldn't help but to pity him being left behind, despite him seemingly being very accepting of it, as they followed the Captain back across the beach. 

After only a minute of walking, the intense heat started to set in. Ander pulled at his top button with a sigh, flicking it undone. The sun beating down was harsh once they escaped the fierce winds close to the water.  "I found a positive to city life, though." He groaned.

Samson didn't respond. Ander hadn't noticed the group break away. 

With Ruth, Pete, and Gillian at his side, they appeared to be heading to a different section of the forest. Hunter, Ransom and Davelynn were heading to the center. While, Cyro, Quill, Antanio, William, and a couple of others were in other small groups walking to the east. 

He frowned, looking around at where to stand. They were splitting up? Such a hunting tactic seemed ridiculous.

"Samson?" He shouted to the furthest group. He hadn't heard.

He span around, trying again. "Ransom?" He called over in puzzlement. "Where are you-"

Ransom cut him short. "Hunting." He called back instantly. "We hunt spread out, so stay back from trees." 

And that's when, suddenly and unexpectantly, the humanity disappeared.

They began to run, though the word 'run' did no justice to their speed. They were bolting so fast into the forest that they became all but invisible, a blur, their legs moving beneath them so fast surely they'd damage the ground. It was unnerving, he'd have thought the pace to be impossible if he hadn't already witnessed their sheer power. 

Davelynn, flanking at the back, was a blur of red and black. Samson, a distant splodge of yellow. 

He was left standing idle in the very center of the beach, watching the crew disappear into the dense foliage, with wide eyes, stunned. He very quickly lost sight of them, and cursed quietly through his shock.

Impossible!

"R-Right." He muttered. "Perfect. Wonderful." He yanked his dagger frustratedly from his belt to avoid stabbing himself in the thigh, and sank back into the soft sand, still dazed from the display. Vampires had been merely folklore, now he was experiencing their miracle speed first hand. It was chilling, to imagine how this could be applied in the hunt they had initiated so suddenly.

Ander leaned back with his hands stretched across the sand, to find it was so warm from the harsh sun it almost scorched his hands to touch. He recoiled quickly, re-positioning himself. The heat reminded him of the time he had leaned on the stove at the bakery, and it had slowly caught his shirt aflame. He had only felt the intense heat after it had burned a hole through the fabric.

He grinned at the memory. The pain then seemed trivial compared to the cuts and aches of the past couple of days. 

Ander scanned the forest view, once he found a comfortable sitting position. Many birds were retreating the trees, taking flight into the sky in scattered formations as the inhuman intruders sprinting through their home startled them. He watched, leaning his elbows on his knees.

Would such abilities belong to him soon? His to harness?

Stop it, he reminded himself harshly. It's a bad thing. A bad, bad thing. So bad infact it's a curse they long to cure.

But, still..

He hesitantly ran his fingers through the sand, feeling its heat against his palm and the grains embedding themselves under his unkempt nails. It was a somewhat fleetingly peaceful, quiet moment, save for the birds calling warnings to each other far above him. 

And he banished all thoughts of his imminent curse for a moment, childishly playing with the sand beneath him and forming molds with his hands, ignoring the biting heat. 

"Peace, or boredom?" He muttered quietly.

It didn't last long. 

There was a cry, unfamiliar to him, a deep voice distinctly articulate, though it definitely wasn't Ransom nor Hunter. He leaped to his feet in surprise.

"STOP! STOP!" The man was shouting, slightly muffled by distance alone, but carrying far. "YOU IGNORANT PIG! STOP HIM!" 

What the hell? Another person, here?

Suddenly, like a rock to the back of the head, the truth of that statement hit him. Oh god, no..

Ander sprinted so fast through the sand a cloud went up behind him, feet slipping from beneath him several times and causing him to lurch forwards.

If there was another person here, the hunt would claim them. He had seen how driven vampires were at merely the presence of blood, if they had just tasted it, too..

"I'm coming!" He screamed out, breathless, "Stay put, damn it!"

He reached hard soil at the border of the beach, and quickened, tearing through the line of trees into the foliage. Long, overgrown shrubbery scraped at his trousers as he raced forward, driven by fear and adrenaline.

There was another booming, enraged shout, louder now as he grew closer. "GET HIM OFF!"

Ander didn't stop running. He ducked under low cut branches in graceless stumbles, jumping over fallen trunks cutting through his path.

Until he arrived at the small clearing, where Quill was being torn away by a furious looking Cyro from the source of the screaming. 

Quills eyes were, even from a fair distance, a glowing scarlet shade of the hungry vampire. Though the man he had clearly attacked seemed unharmed, and Quill himself wasn't struggling or thrashing against Cyros iron grip on his arms. 

The man was, honestly, the first thing to catch his attention.

He towered at over 6 foot, but was slender and bony, wearing a unusually styled robe-like blue trench coat, patched with black triangles at the shoulders and elbows. There was a glossy white pearl on a metal chain resting against his chest, hanging from his neck and contrasting with the dark shade of his clothing.

But the most unusual thing about his appearance was that he was an albino. His choppy, overgrown hair was pure white, and his eyes, angrily fixed on Quill, were startlingly pink. Across one of these eyes was a black tattoo, though the pattern was complex and difficult to make out from the distance. 

Ander, frowning, jogged forward to the scene. "Cyro?" He asked, shocked. "What the hell happened?" 

Cyro scowled at him. He held Quills arms behind his back, the guilty man looking sheepish and humiliated. "What does it look like, boy?" He snapped. He gestured over his shoulder. "Quickly, take this man to the beach before the others show up, I fear they will be blood driven."

He didn't bother to ask what blood-driven actually entailed, he had a clear enough idea in his head. He nodded quickly.

Ander looked at the white haired man. He couldn't have been much older than himself, or maybe Samson and Ransoms age - 20 at the very maximum. He looked more annoyed than afraid, arms folded arrogantly and eyebrows furrowed. 

"Come on." Ander proferred, reaching for his arm. "Please, they're coming.. I'll, uh, explain on the way."

The man recoiled indignantly, like he had been stung. "Don't presume to touch me! I know what these people are." He spat, icily. He looked from a degected Quill, to Cyro, then back to him. "Vampiric scum.."

"What di' you just say?" Cyro barked heatedly, throwing Quill aside recklessly to face him.

Ander glowered at him, but remained aware that 'blood-driven' vampires were fast arriving. He stepped between the two men quickly, facing the albino. "Shut up with your shallow assumptions, and follow me. You don't have much of a choice. Besides, I'm human, too."

The man scoffed. "You assume I am human.. Most interesting."

Ander frowned at him, perturbed. "Excuse me?"

"I am Reynick Sheer, sorcerer of the Northern Magi coven." He introduced himself formally, but with an undertone of clear distaste. He huffed. "Charmed, I'm sure."

Anders eyebrows furrowed. He was more surprised by 'sorcerer' than his rudeness. Ransom had mentioned them briefly in the underclans, but he had never considered meeting one. He had never even given them a second thought. He glanced to the trees a moment, aware that time was running out. "Look.. Can we skip pleasanteries, or whatever it is you'd call that, and run?" 

The man named Reynick arched an eyebrow, before nodding reluctantly.

Ander turned, and ran, slowing only to ensure he was being followed.

***

Soon, the two reached the beach, and Ander dropped to his knees in the un-littered sand, panting to catch his breath. Reynick, even having trailed behind, hunched over with exhaustion. 

Ander looked up briefly, squinting at the sun peeking from behind the shade of the trees. "What.. The hell.. Are you doing here?"

"I owe, nothing, to you.. That is, private information.. Besides, I could ask you the same question.." Reynick wheezed, as breathless as he was.

Ander slowly dragged himself to his feet, and looked up at him sourly. Close up, the mans tattoo could be made out a little clearer. It was very intricate, an arched swirl of pointed spikes, curling in from a point covered by hair and over his eye. The curls ended with sharpened curls, protruding from a point below his lower lashes. There, they began to spike out, like thorns poking out from the otherwise subtle pattern. There was something unnerving about it. Not threatening, but unnerving. 

Reynick, just straightening, saw him looking. His eyebrows knitted into a scowl. "I don't appreciate your staring very much, boy."

"Don't call me boy.." Ander muttered, "You're not much older than I am."

"That pout of yours doesn't do much to prove that." Reynick retorted calmly. He crossed his arms, but seemed to falter from his superior-like stance under Anders gaze. He narrowed his eyes. "I'm serious, stop your staring. I don't like it."

Ander looked down irritably. There was a moment of painfully awkward silence. "So," He proffered, without calming his tone. "I have heard the bare minimum about.. Mages, sorcerers, whatever you call yourself."

Trying the word on his lips, it felt strange, alien. Upon speaking it, he realized he'd never had reason to before. Reynick rolled his eyes at him. "I am rather.. Unsurprised, by that. You seem the dim type."

"Dim?" Ander repeated incredulously. He huffed. "Did I step on your foot in a past life or something? You seem to dislike me already."

"How can I possibly dislike a boy I just met?" He sighed. Then, Reynick dropped his arms suddenly, and turned to face him straight on. 

He breathed out an annoyed sigh. "Unlike some I was raised to use manners, however regarding the circumstances, you should grasp why I did not." Then he extended his hand, gloved, though the black leather ended at the tips of his fingers, exposing them. He held his gaze a moment.

"Reynick Sheer. Pleased.. To meet you." He said eliquently, hesitating a moment. The sharp stud in his ear winked at him as he tilted his head, a single, sharpened, silver piece of jewellery. He hadn't noticed it before, it seemed to match the thorns on his tattoo. He wasn't as elegant under examination as he had first appeared.

He responded hesitanly, but grasped his hand. "Ander.."

"Short for Anderson, I'd imagine?" Reynick ventured, arching an eyebrow. Ander nodded stiffly. "You'd be right. It's, uh, nice to meet you too, eventually."

Reynick released his hand, and turned suddenly to face the trees. He raised a hand to shield his eyes from the rising sun. "Your companions approach, Anderson."

As if on queue, Ransom emerged from the trees, Davelynn in tow. He seemed disgruntled, and from his eyes, he hadn't hunted. Soon, the others followed, and it was true for them all. Clearly, Reynicks shouting had scared off their kills. Ander tensed at this.

Ransom halted as he reached them, and eyed the man up and down, hostile. He turned to Ander. His eyes were not their usual calm, and they weren't a dull shade of brown, either. They had brightened significantly.

"Who is this?" He asked roughly.

Samson appeared a few spaces behind, leaving a dust trail settling in the sand behind him. "The idiot who scared off my lunch, I assume."

 His blue irises were lined thickly, making them stand out almost eerily without so much as a change of colour. The detail to the mens eyes gave very little notice to the rest of their faces. If it weren't them, and if he didn't know the purpose of such an appearance, he'd have found the dominant feature more endearing than terrifying.

Perhaps that is their purpose? He wondered. To lure in prey? A hunting tactic?

 He promptly avoided their gaze as he responded. "This is Reynick, evidentely, a sorcerer. Because the lord doesn't like me meeting other humans, apparenly.. Quill found him, in the woods."

"Found me, did he?" Reynick rolled his eyes. "That's an odd way to state my attack."

"Attack?" Davelynn asked with surprise. "I'm sure you are exaggerating."

"Hardly." Reynick spat, glowering at him. "I suggest you take my word above that, barbarian.."

"Hey! He's our friend!" Samson snapped, quickly changing his tone.

Ander sighed, hardly in the mood for another vampire vs sorcerer argument. "Please, leave it.. Cyro suggested I get him to safety, and I would like to assume this is safety."

Samson huffed, folding his arms, and Ransom narrowed his eyes at the man. Ransom was never one to look happy, but his agitated appearance was somewhat terrifying. Anyone daring to annoy him would have to be stupid, or otherwise, suicidal.

"The Captain and the others will arrive soon." He said, briskly turning his attention from Reynick. "Samson, where are your group?"

"We split up, I can hear them in the distance, though."

"Good."

As if on queue the others came darting from the forest, a gust of wind from no where, where they seemed almost to materialize before them. Hunter was leading, and now he faced the new-comer head on, his bow furrowed.

Reynick eyed his hat a moment, his symbol of authority, and dry swallowed a lump in his throat, confidence waning.

"Cyro informed me of you, sorcerer." Hunter stated, matter-of-factly. "Briefly, very briefly. I understand Quill, here, mistook you for a white wolf. I apologize for that."

Ruth grinned tauntingly at Quill, who grunted at her. 

Reynick shook his head quickly. "I am in one piece and not craving blood, therefore no apology necessary."

"I am Hunter, captain of the Eclipsium. You are Reynick Sheer of the Northern Magi coven, yes?"

"Briefly, was it?" 

"I expect an explanation of why you are here, if that isn't too much to ask. Surely your coven is aware that this island is a registered vampiric safe point.. We do not trespass on your training grounds, do we not?"

Reynick looked suddenly very grim, his scowl lining his otherwise ageless face. "I came here seeking an accomplice of mine, a sorcerer, studying the magic energy found in nature as a personal project, so I hear.. He made his intentions to find sanctuary close to the city he resided in, quite clear.. And I suppose word spread of the 'wandering sorcerer.' My clan sent me to subdue him before something regrettable happened.."

Hunter crossed his arms, frowning. "I see you travel alone?"

"Indeed. It seems the inevitable did occur and the night hunters got here before me. I can only assume they've left now."

"You can only assume?" Davelynn piped in aggressively. She stepped forward, visibly skeptic. "That sort of wishful thinking could have cost you your life if we hadn't-"

"Davelynn." Ransom extended an arm across her to stop her rounding any closer. Davelynn frowned at him, before reluctantly stepping back into line with a sigh. "Alright, alright.."

Ransom now turned his attention to Reynick. "My friend is right. You should come with us, rather than sit here in a trap."

"The bastards are tactical." Samson added, resting a hand on his side. "They're probably 'iding 'ere somewhere. And you aint' exactly camouflaged, mate."

Reynick glanced down at his attire, then his eyes flitted up toward a lock of white hair falling in his face. "Hm."

Ransom went to cast him a harsh look like a father keeping his child at bay, but it was Hunter who spoke.

"Yes, Samson. We needn't risk unnecessary deaths now. I have learned from my past dealings with night hunters. Gillian, take half of our men back to the ship. I want Ransom, Davelynn, Ruth, William, Antanio, Cyro, Quill, Pete, and Ander."

"Me?" Ander asked in shock. If anything he'd expect Hunter to be making him hold back. If he died, and the odds were rather against him, they were all screwed; if he truly was the last firstblood.

He heard Ruth mocking his tone but ignored her, trying hard to resist glaring.

Hunter frowned at him deeply in a challenging sort of way, fixing his gaze. "Is that a problem?" He asked. Ander got the feeling he didn't have a choice.

Besides, he was allowing him an encounter with his parents killers, and that reminder filled him with optimistic determination. "No, sir."

Hunter nodded, turning back to face the rest of the crew that remained. "It will do you good to face what we deal with here." He said, sidewardly to Ander.

Reynick stepped forward from the others, asserting himself. "Excuse me. But I would like to offer my, temporary, assistance, while I join you." He said confidently. "If it is a fight you are nearing."

"We would appreciate the aid." Hunter replied eloquently, and extended a gloved hand to Reynick. Reynicks hands were concealed by the length of his sleeves. He rolled one loosely to his elbow, and shook Hunters hand. He wore oddly tailored finger-less gloves Ander had previously noticed seemed out of place against the rest of his attire.

Then, Hunter leaned in, and said something in a hushed voice to the man. Ander frowned, attempting to lipread but failing. He just noticed Reynicks face flicker with something, before he gave a quaint nod and stepped back into line.

Hunter tured back to the small party. "We will head further East to search out these remaining hunters, so we may at least eat today. I suspect they will be there; if they were in our line of view they would have launched an attack already."

"Are you certain this is wise?" Ransom frowned. 

Davelynn piped in from beside him. "We have never fared well against them.."

"Well then let us recieve our training." Hunter concluded, sharper than before. His firstmates faltered at this, defeated. The debate had been dropped.

He then waved a hand at the remaining crew, and on command, they began heading across the beach without complaint.

Ander flanked at the back, looking out at the landscape. He doubted that any human, even one of these 'night hunters' they'd mentioned, could possibly defeat such powerful vampires. They were impossibly fast, strong without even meaning to be, with reflexes unrivaled by any mortal.

And virtually unkillable, with few weaknesses he could recall.

"You - Ander!" Reynick called over from a little to the left. He recognized his voice without having to look, too articulate to be one of these pirates, with a very different tone to Ransom or Hunter.

He looked up to see him approaching, his blue coat flailing out behind him as he strode. It settled on his back as he slowed, as did his hair, cutting across his face in snowy white strands.

Reynick began walking beside him. "Why do you not join the others?" He asked curiously.

Ander sighed, shrugging his shoulders. He supposed 'I am too tired to make valid conversation' would come across far too dismissive. "No particular reason. Sorry, I'm, not so used to meeting men who could probably set me on fire with a blink,." Ander said, attempting to cover his discomfort with wit. Ransom had never gone into detail about the magi, he could only guess what 'magic' they were capable of.

Reynick shook his hand. frowning. "I assure you, that is not within my skill set,  but you do posses that incomplete knowledge at the very least..." He hesitated a moment, eying him up and down. "It is odd, I sense very minimal occult energy in you, but some.."

Ander tensed. He knew why, of course he did, but decided it best to keep quiet about his vampiric origins. "If by that you mean I'm human, you'd be right. I can fight, however. Maybe just at a less extraordinary speed."

"I won't intrude on your reasons." He said. "It is more odd that you do show traces.. Perhaps merely from being around these vampires, though. It is possible." He looked at him with eyes filled with curiosity, however somewhat condescending. "Have they tried to drain you yet?"

Ander shook his head sharply, wide eyed. "No! Well, not intentionally.."

Reynick sighed, running a hand back through his hair to scrape it from his face. The strands fell back into place. "As expected. They look and act human, but they possess beast blood. They're animals."

The comment filled him with an unusual anger that bubbled to the surface, making it difficult not to scowl at him. Ander knew they couldn't control their curse, he could see it so clearly. It didn't mean they themselves were animals in the slightest. "Why would you offer to aid them if you think so little of them?" He snapped.

Reynick gave him a dumb, patronizing stare. "I do have basic intelligence. I need their help as much as they need mine. Besides - my kind have a long standing, however somewhat reluctant treaty with the vampires. We are very much alike in some aspects, but consider ourselves to be far more civilized."

Ander arched an eyebrow, still irritated by his ignorant nature. "Quite the bipolar relationship, by the sounds of it."

"Indeed." Reynick said slowly.

Ander looked ahead, turning his attention from the man to the archway of trees approaching overhead. He noticed Ransom walking close to the front of the group, surveying their surroundings with almost paranoid eyes. He glanced around, though his face remained devoid of expression. Davelynn walked beside him, watching him, though he didn't seem to notice. They said something occasionally, but he was pre-occupied. Her eyes remained trained on him, eyebrows furrowed worriedly. 

"Ransom!" Ander called over, eager to escape conversation with the newcomer. There was something detestable about him, making him far more difficult not to punch than Ransom ever had been. Ransom stopped abruptly and looked over, Davelynn copying moments later. He breathed a knowing sigh, but jerked a thumb over his shoulder, signalling that he was allowed to join them.

He began to jog over, but unfortunately, Reynick followed at a steadier pace, still with a curious look on his face that might have been permanent if it weren't for the unimpressed expression he had made when Ander had first introduced himself. It was the kind of unimpressed look you'd give to your last supper if the roasted potatoes were overdone - Another reason not to take kindly to him.

They reached them, and Ransom continued walking instantly, leaving Ander feeling rather insulted. Davelynn rolled her eyes and granted them a wry smile, introducing herself to Reynick. "Hello. I'm Davelynn, the bootswain, if you're familiar with pirates vocabulary."

"It's a pleasure, miss. And, yes, I believe I am." Reynick returned her smile, his suddenly flawless manners disconcerting. His smile was odd, boyish, but giving him a sort of happy appearance that you find in a depressed person. Momentarily alive and animated before slipping back into a facade.

He glanced over at Ransom. "And you are?"

Ransom looked up, eyes dull. Ander half expected 'a man who is too hungry to deal with your arrogance right now,' in response.

"My names Ransom Coulder." He said, with an expression that plainly read that he wasn't interested in engaging in conversation. He looked back to the trees. Reynicks supposed intelligence fell through, and he didn't pry further.

Davelynn turned back to face the empty forest too, empty save for Hunter, who walked far ahead alone, and silence promptly fell on the four. The trail ahead was dotted with fallen leaves, most still green, giving the drab brown earth a little character.

Ransom hadn't said a word, but he flashed Davelynn a smile eerily similar to Reynicks before averting his gaze to the trees, where the narrow gaps between the trunks would be a perfect hiding position for anyone. None the less someone with the occupation of 'night-hunter.'

Some quiet conversations echoed from the others beside them, but no one spoke in their end. Ander breathed purposefully quiet, uncomfortable.

"I don't know much about magi.." Ruth was saying to Samson, who responded with a snort. He had a voice that screamed of pigheadedness, yet his voice was lowered so it could only be heard if one was trying to hear it. "Magi? Cowards, all of them."

He looked at Reynick quickly, afraid he might have heard, but he seemed unchanged. 

Magi, Mages, Sorcerers.. Words he had heard, but never considered. Where had they been his entire life, tucked away? Might he have known one, and never questioned such things? Might their obvious power have influenced society itself? 

He looked down distractedly, feeling suddenly even less informed than before. Asking him seemed inappropriate, like he might call him an idiot, write him off as an ignorant fool who doesn't pay attention to matters clearly a part of life. It would take too long to explain his situation. 

He spotted the weapon hooked through Davelynns belt, a polished metal that shone like silver, curved like a kitana, and very narrow in it's carving. The hilt, shining black and impressively shaped, was encrusted with a blue jewel. It was rather beautiful for something he suspected had claimed several lives. Suiting to Davelynn, in fact. "That's, an impressive sword you're carrying.." He stated matter-of-factly, filling the aching silence.

Davelynn looked at him with attentive eyes, then glanced at the kitana. "Ah. Petes handiwork, he made it so lovely." She said, her voice like silk, in a dreamlike state as she spoke. It was uncharacteristic, but he supposed she was a girl after all.

Ransom met Anders eyes, not smiling. He spoke with a sort of passive-aggressive tone that Ander suspected to be territorial. "It's strong, fitting of her. It's purpose is to keep her safe, is it not?"

Ander held his gaze, frowning, but Davelynn seemed to let the comment slide, leaving room to let Reynick pipe in. He glanced up at the quarter-master, eyebrow arched. "Practical as it may be, it is still a pretty blade."

Ransom said nothing, his irritated expression spoke enough. But he tensed. He had seemed wary of the sorcerer since he'd arrived, with good reason. His presence was unnerving, apparently not just for Ander. It was equally as odd as not knowing what he was capable that he was the only other non-vampire in sight but Ander. And Ander was only just sliding into that category.

And Reynick had said, it was a reluctant treaty between the vampiric and the magi.

Davelynn looked straight on as they walked, the men however eyed each other with an unnecessarily hostility. She sighed deeply. "You know, I don't need protecting by some fancy butterknife. Men never take women warriors seriously until we've killed them, and by then it doesn't really matter all that much. They're not exactly in the mood for talking."

Reynick snorted, laughing, while Ander felt and looked rather terrified, and Ransom cast them both a look so cold it was a wonder they didn't just spontaneously combust.

Reynick ceased his laughter, and cleared his throat. "Well," he said after a moments pause, regaining his posture. "I'm still sure the fancy butter-knife helps."

Suddenly, Ransom stopped abruptly, extending an arm across Davelynn. She stopped, as she always did, and frowned at him.

Ander and Reynick followed after a moment in confusion.

The rest of the group approached behind, though their voices were reduced to mumbles. A hush fell, unnaturally quiet. No birds could be heard, there wasn't so much as a leaf rustling, or a twig snapping. 

"What is it?" Davelynn asked quietly. Ransoms eyes were fixed on the path, flitting about in focus. Ander followed his gaze to Hunter, who was frozen still. It took a moment for him to catch on; For a large sword was clasped in both of the captains hands..

Ransom spun on his heel, and roared out a warning so fast he sounded choked by alarm. "IT'S A TRAP!"

Just like that, the chaos began. Shining pellets rained from the trees like bullets thrown by hand, hitting them and bouncing off the ground like hail; Glinting a glossy, unmistakable shade of silver..

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