Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered

Xanadu Weyr - Deep Forest
The wooded areas closer to Xanadu Weyr represent a compromise between man and mother nature, but to the north and west, no such arrangements have been made. The deep woods between the Weyr and the mountains are less traveled, the wider paths fit for man and beast less present. The noises of mankind are barely audible here, brief ghosts on the wind, and the quiet thrum of forest life presses in on all sides. The snapping of a twig, a bird's cry, the low cadence of insects; all of these things seem louder. Closer. The deeper one moves into the trees, the more it becomes obvious that one passes through nature only at her allowance.
The cover of trees is more severe in this area of the wood and only occasional shafts of sunlight lance down through the canopy, the sky visible in brief patches. A rough path has been blazed back towards the Weyr. It does not appear to be a heavily frequented path, but the few who have chosen to pass through this area appear to use it more than other avenues available. Only the very foolish or the very experienced would ever wander far from the path.


WILL IT EVER NOT BE SUMMER IN XANADU WEYR? It feels like it has been summer one forever, Ness. ONE FOREVER. A fact that is decidedly IRRELEVANT unless you use it to explain why it's reasonably warm out here in the middle of the deep forest, where Risali has dragged Nessalyn, well away from those more populated paths and probably (definitely) down a path that got them lost along the way. "I am telling you that I saw it, Nessalyn. I wasn't imagining it." What is it? HAVEN'T DECIDED YET. But definitely something worth dragging Ness away from the weyr for. Think about that. What you shouldn't think about is the fact that this far away and this far in, Leirith is incapable of being here to help the women out of their inevitable predicament because it's too dense for the dragon to reach, and everything looks the same. There is no sense of direction, no way to tell on a night this dark and under a canopy of trees just which way is the correct way. So Risali puts one booted foot in front of the other and then pauses, the hair on the back of her neck rising in that unsettling warning, head tilting as grey eyes suddenly wide focus on Nessalyn. It's a whisper that comes, soft words of, "Did you hear that?" that nobody wants to hear when they're alone, stranded in the woods.

Nessalyn does not want to be here, PERIOD. Not just because Risali had to drag her off into the forest, and the techcrafter very distinctly dislikes being dragged, but because now they're lost and she knew this was going to happen but no one ever listens to her wisdom. Maybe that's because her wisdom is usually lost in the midst of a bunch of lies and BS, but that is hardly her fault now. The point is that they are lost, and it is Risali's fault and she doesn't want to be here. She's actually visibly sulking as they make their way through the woods, grumbling under her breath about how she's stuck with a delusional goldrider. Whatever it was, Nessalyn is absolute certain it never existed. "You're just seeing things because we're both going to die of heatstroke in the middle of the forest." FORESHADOWING. Only it won't be the heatstroke that gets them. It's dark and hot, and Nessalyn is already envisioning the inevable lack of people who will mourn her when their bodies are discovered. Which is perhaps why she misses whatever it is that Risali hears, but she does freeze up when the other woman starts whispering. "Are you trying to mess with me?" PLEASE BE TRYING TO MESS WITH HER.

SHUT UP, NESSALYN. Risali at least knew where she was going until she didn't. And anyway, it's not her fault; the dark makes everything look different and she is pretty sure some of those land marks she is used to (and looking desperately for) are missing. But no, no Risali is not joking, and she stays still, straining to hear, suddenly feeling naked without bow and arrow to draw while they wait. "I heard -" but that whisper is cut off by Risali's heart jumping into her throat, by the step she takes towards Nessalyn as fingers reach out to catch the hem of the techcrafter's tunic and twist into it - not out of some misplaced fear, but because there, in her peripheral vision… SHIA LABEOUF. It's a warning, a silent gesture meant to draw Nessalyn's attention about 30 feet to the side even as Risali pulls to draw her in another direction. "Walk," comes breathless as she changes their direction in that age old test of are you following. And he does, Ness. He does follow, slow and sedate but matching their pace and certainly trying to remain somewhat to the shadows in an attempt to not be seen.

You know what else works just like knowing where you are until you don't? BEING ALIVE UNTIL YOU AREN'T. Which is what Nessalyn firmly believes is in their future, whether it be by starvation, wild animals, or whatever Risali just heard. Hands twisting in the hem of her shirt cause her to start more than anything else, her first response to try to draw away from the goldrider's proximity. But then she catches that gesture, and looks off to the side, not super subtle about it, sorry. "Is that what you're worried about?" she hisses, resisting a little in this new path. Risali may be concerned, but no one told Nessalyn that there were Renegades about who'd injured D'lei, so as far as she's concerned it's just a strange, random man in the woods. And there's two of them to the one of him, so how much harm could he cause? THIS IS WHY YOU NEED TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT DANGEROUS THINGS, RISALI. "Why don't we just call him out and tell him to stop following us? What's he going to do, attack us?" She turns her head to stare boldly in the direction she believes him to be, shadows be damned.

BECAUSE IT WASN'T LIKE THAT, NESS. SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU MAKE ASSUMPTIONS? Okay, so it was a little like that, but not on Xanadu territory and certainly NOT IN THE FOREST. "Nessalyn," Risali hisses, a mix of exasperation and desperation as the woman turns to face danger, something Risali might normally do when, you know, they weren't defenseless in the dark against a man who has - "A //knife. He has a knife." And the last comes with a hint of panic, possibly because the moonlight finds a small break in the trees to bleed through, to glint off of a crudely made tool just as the man lowers himself CLOSE TO ALL FOURS AND BREAKS OFF IN A SPRINT TOWARDS THEM, BRANDISHING HIS KNIFE. He makes QUITE THE SOUND TOO, and Risali is still just long enough to catch Nessalyn's upper arm and whisper a horrified, "His face is covered in blood, Ness. Faranth. There's blood EVERYWHERE." AND NOW SHE IS TRYING TO PULL THE TECHCRAFTER ALONG WITH A PITCHY SHRIEK OF, "RUN!" HOPEFULLY NESSALYN REALIZES THE DIRE-NESS OF THE SITUATION BECAUSE NOW THEY HAVE TO RUN THROUGH THE FOREST FOR THEIR LIVES (FROM SHIA LABEOUF) AND HE IS GAINING ON THEM. But at least, somewhere in the distances, there's a roar. Dragon? Probably one spectacularly bombastic queen being a little less than hilarious at the moment. Too bad it's hard to hear over all that blood in her ears - and of course, if Ness SMARTENS UP, through each step and breath that comes too fast with running and trying to make sure Nessa keeps up.

LOOK, RENEGADES HAVE LEGS. THEY'RE PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF WALKING INTO THE FOREST FROM WHEREVER THEY WERE. Maybe it's because Nessalyn has already determined that they're doomed anyway, but the urgency in Risali's voice doesn't really inspire anything until she hears the word knife and sees the glint of metal. "Oh, come on." It's definitely not the most appropriate reaction, but when she's up against a wall the techcrafter's first response is to resort to the most petty behaviors she has in her arsenal. "GET AWAY FROM US YOU UGLY SON OF A-" And then Risali is yelling about blood and she sees the splatter of red across his body, and suddenly insulting the man seems far less important than GETTING OUT OF THERE RIGHT NOW. She really doesn't have the breath to spare to be shouting things, but she's still screaming, "THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, RISALI," as she sprints after the goldrider. She might think she hears the sound of Leirith roaring, but there's no guarantee that the gold is actually in the direction of safety rather than trying to find her rider amidst the dense foliage. She nearly stumbles over a rock, her palms scraping hard against a tree trunk as she flails to catch herself before she can go tumbling. She'll assess the burn of scraped skin later, when they're not running for their lives. "Wait!" She tries to be quiet about it, but her labored breathing gives it more volume than she'd like. "Did we lose him?"

KILLING FOR SPORT, SHIA LABEOUF. ACTUAL CANNIBAL SHIA LABEOUF. "YOU CAN TELL ME HOW MUCH YOU HATE ME AFTER WE GET OUT OF HERE ALIVE." Because right now, right now they need to save their breath for running. WHICH THEY DO, BRILLIANTLY. And maybe they've been running forever, it's hard to tell time when the only thing your mind hears is run, run, run and every muscle burns with the effort to escape. But Nessalyn stumbles, and Risali is much too close to her to avoid not tripping over her. So down she goes, stumbling, then catching her foot under a root and - "Mmf!" It's a strangled sound, but there's definitely pain in that noise, pain in the way she contorts because ADRENALINE ISN'T DOING HER A WHOLE LOT OF FAVORS RIGHT NOW. I mean, it is doing her some, but she can tell something is wrong. AT LEAST IT'S NOT BROKEN, as Risali finds out when she shifts to sit up too fast, to get back up onto her feet while favoring that one foot and it doesn't stick out at her from an odd angle. So she holds her breath, holds tight to a tree as grey eyes try to see through the dark and - "I think so," she whispers. "But we should keep moving." YOU KNOW. JUST IN CASE. And there's another roar, a sound that booms out but… is hard to tell the directionality of. IT DOESN'T STOP RISA FROM TRYING. "This way," she hisses, limping through the trees for what seems like ANOTHER FOREVER and POSSIBLY in the wrong direction when - "Do you see that?" It's a whisper. "It looks like a camp." IS IT HOLLYWOOD SUPER STAR SHIA LABEOUF?

Don't worry, Nessalyn has EVERY INTENTION of telling Risali how much she hates her if they get out of this alive. Even if they probably won't. That worst case scenario mentality is probably what keeps the techcrafter from totally losing her mind in the midst of this completely improbable scenario. And the adrenaline. The blood is pounding in her ears and she knows that tomorrow (if there's a tomorrow) she's going to regret every choice she made today, but at least it's only her palms that have suffered any real injury so far. SHE'S NOT THE ONE LIMPING AROUND ON A TWISTED ANKLE. She strains to hear anything in the darkness, but aside from the pounding of her own heart and the breath she's still struggling to recover, there's no sign that anyone is crashing after them through the forest. "Are you sure?" she asks - not about moving, because obviously that, but, "I can't tell if that's the right way." But Risali is the dragonrider, and it's entirely possible that Leirith is passing on some directions she just can't hear. So just this once she'll trust the other woman's judgment. She trudges along in silence, waiting for any sound that might indicate pursuit. "Shouldn't we have-" And then there's a camp right there, and Nessalyn is ABSOLUTELY of the opinion that this is far too good to be true. Sure enough, she spots him (SHIA LABEOUF!) parked in front of the fire doing… well, she doesn't really want to know, at this point. "We should tie him up," she hisses, miming creeping up behind him (QUIET, QUIET) with two fingers serving as legs, before said legs pounce upon her other hand. FOOLPROOF PLAN.

YOU WON'T BE THE FIRST ONE TO TELL HER THAT YOU HATE HER. YOU PROBABLY WON'T BE THE LAST. But at least this time it will be somewhat warranted. BUT THAT IS FOR LATER, after they play the game and find out if the odds are ever in their favor. "No," Risali whispers back, because she just doesn't know, but it sounds and it feels correct. At least… until it's not. Risali sees him too, a breath of a second after Nessalyn does and she shifts as quietly as she can to lean against a tree, to ease pressure off of her foot and watch Nessalyn's hands and find the woman's eyes with the kind of expression that says she can't really do this by herself. "I don't think it's a good idea," she mouths, mostly because she doesn't like the thought of putting Nessalyn in danger. But also, they are lost and they're IN THE WOODS WITH A MURDERER WHO STALKS QUIETLY THROUGH THE BRUSH (SHIA LABEOUF) and there's an admitted appeal to being able to be lost without somebody attempting to fly your flesh from your bones and eat you alive. But they don't have any rope. And it's a better idea than what Risali has, especially with so limited mobility. So Risali makes due with the next best thing: her riding jacket. She pulls it from her shoulders slow and quiet, thankfully going unnoticed as she passes it over to Nessalyn and then jerks her chin towards SHIA LABEOUF. "Together." Fingers come up to count to three. One, two…! And she points, moving impossibly slow in an attempt to keep herself quiet as they sneak towards their unwitting predator. But believe that once Nessa gets there, there's maybe a fraction of a moment when he's taken by surprise, and then a gruff, "Clever bitch," before he turns on her. THAT WAS AN AXE HE WAS SHARPENING, NESSALYN. But he's swinging at her with a fist, aiming to take her to the ground if it connects.

Nessalyn did not volunteer as tribute, so the odds had better be in her favor or she's starting a revolution. She glances toward Risali's injured ankle, more calculating than concerned in her inspection. The amount of pain the other woman is suffering is irrelevant, provided she can still move on that foot. "We don't have a lot of options." It's offered matter-of-factly, because they don't. He could hear them at any moment, and the goldrider is now handicapped. And while Nessalyn might be perfectly content to leave a murderer loose in the woods and simply avoid him in the future, she's also aware that she's with the Weyrwoman, who probably has responsibilities and blah blah BLAH. The riding jacket is eyed for a moment before she takes it, inspecting it for its utility before she gives a nod. Good enough, under the circumstances. She creeps forward, glancing down with each step to watch for scattered debris along the forest floor which might nanounce their arrival. But somehow, MIRACULOUSLY, she makes it up to the man, which is about when her luck runs out. She's in the midst of moving the jacket to try to detain him with it when he whips around. "SHIT, THAT'S A-" An axe, yes, she sees it. But before she can get the sentence out, she feels the impact of his fist against her face. The angle isn't quite right and it doesn't drop her immediately, but the force of that blow causes her to stumble back and trip on her own feet, tumbling to the ground. The man advances again, and Nessalyn does the only thing she can think to do: she lunges for the man's ankles, wrapping herself around them like a human tripwire. TAKE HIM DOWN, RISALI.

Right. So this was a very bad idea. On the bright side, there's another scream from a dragon and it's much closer this time - not close enough to as give the illusion that Leirith has made it into the dense patch of forest concealing them, but certainly close enough for it to be clear they're moving in the right direction to get the hell out of it. Until, at least, they spring their trap. Nessalyn's lunge and impact with his ankles sets the man off balance, a furious roar rising from him as Risali watches the scene unfold in slow motion. FIGHTING FOR YOUR LIFE (WITH SHIA LABEOUF). Terror grips, and for just a moment, every single lesson taught - by parents, by weyrmates, by friends - on how to fight leaves her. It's not until that axe is raised above Shia's head, poised to come down on Nessalyn's skull that Risali's feet move without waiting for her brain's permission. "NO!" It's a shriek, and Risali is moving to throw herself at the renegade, to throw her weight into his side and grip his axe-wielding arm and hold on. He goes backwards and Risali gets a blow to the face as they fall. But while Risali struggles to NOT GET IMPALED (LUCK IS BACK), it seems Nessalyn is the priority to get off, because he's trying to pull his legs from her grip to kick her, sitting up to punch her IN HER HEAD. LET HIM GO. LET. HIM. GO. Risa catches another blow too when she bites him, but she keeps holding on to prevent him from using that axe. A GLINT OF THAT KNIFE. Risali reaches for it, stretching fingers and SUCCESS. But not, because he sees the moment she grabs it, when her grip on his other arm relaxes and the next blow he delivers makes her see stars. But she doesn't drop the knife, and after a dizzy moment of trying to clear her head, she slams that sucker down wherever she can. RIGHT INTO HIS KIDNEY. There's a shock that runs through here, that has eyes going wide and — no. Not yet. They have to get away. And… he lets go of that axe, stops swinging at both women as hands come in towards that wound in shock. Risali is already limp-scrambling to her feet. "Run, Ness." It's desperate, hands pulling at Nessalyn to GET HER UP REGARDLESS OF WHAT STATE SHE IS IN, BECAUSE THEY ARE NOW 'SAFE' FROM SHIA LABEOUF. And probably all of that blood is not just his. Or whatever reason he was bloody before's either.

No one ever taught Nessalyn how to fight, but she's a scrappy little thing and not knowing any fancy footwork has never kept her from a fight in her life. Add to that a general lack of self-preservation, and the techcrafter doesn't even flinch when that axe is raised to deal the death-blow. If she dies, she dies. IT'S ALL INEVITABLE ANYWAY. But Risali comes to her rescue, and it takes all her strength as the man tumbles to keep her body wrapped around his legs, because the other woman has enough to deal with. Perhaps the reason he's so eager to get Ness off of his legs is the fact that she shoves the hem of his pants up on one side and SINKS HER TEETH INTO HIM deep enough to draw blood. Unarmed ladies have to do whatever they can, even if it means tasting things no one ever wants to taste. It's his blood that she's spitting out when his fist hits her head again, making her sway and come dangerously close to losing consciousness. But if she faints, she knows that neither of them will get away, and it's this thought she holds on to desperately as darkness encroaches. It's the impact of the knife in his gut which draws her back from the brink, her reaction somewhere between horror and admiration. "We need to-" The axe. That's what she's reaching for even as she's stumbling to her feet, suddenly realizing injuries she didn't know where there. The handle is rough against her scraped up palms as she turns and HURLS the thing into the darkness. It's unlikely that it went too far, but at least it will buy them some extra time, if the man ever gets to his feet again. And then she yanks at Risali, who's likely in a worse state than she is, demanding, "You go ahead of me, let's go."

RISA IS KIND OF OKAY. She tastes blood, but she's not sure if it's her blood, or his blood, or some really unpleasant to think about combination of the two. "You don't get to protect me," comes too sharp, with a hint of temper even as Risali sways on her feet and amends with a gentler, "We will go together." Listen. She has her reasons okay, and the fact that she is a Weyrwoman means that she is pretty sure she should be the one sacrificing herself for everybody who finds home in her weyr. Risali hears that axe clatter somewhere in the distance, but she doesn't go ahead of Nessalyn, she waits. She waits for the techcrafter before she starts that painful journey back towards where she can definitely hear dragons. BUT WAIT, HE ISN'T DEAD. SHIA SURPRISE! He was smart enough not to pull that knife out, and while he's still weaker, there's something crazed - adrenaline, probably - about him, something that is giving him the ability to stand and to grab Nessalyn with another knife (COME ON, MY DUDE) and hold it to her head. HE HAS MURDER IN HIS EYES. "Bitch," comes with rust-colored spittle. BUT YOU CAN DO JIU JITSU, NESSALYN. BODY SLAM SUPERSTAR SHIA LABEOUF.

"I'm not protecting you, I'm just pretty sure I'll be in trouble if I come back without the Weyrwoman," Nessalyn spits out in return. It's for the best they both don't think about what's in their mouths, because a man like that is probably carrying something that no one wants to ingest. On an average day, Nessalyn would stubbornly wait until Risali started moving (or reduce the entire thing to a massive, screaming argument), but these are far from normal circumstances. She does hesitate longer than she likely should with a crazed man so near, but with an angry hiss she finally starts off. If going together is what's going to get Risali moving, fine. FINE. Salvation may seem close at hand, but it's not close enough, as she suddenly finds herself in the warm embrace of SHIA LABEOUF. This is why she doesn't like touching, people. It inevitably leads to knives pressed to you neck and death looming. "Can you do that with less spitting," she demands, because the thing you're supposed to do when someone is about to KILL YOU is sass them to their face. Tiny thing that she is, her elbow is appropriately placed to JAB AS HARD AS SHE CAN right over that wound, causing him to nearly crumple. The blade slides long her neck but it's merely a flesh wound, just a little trickle of blood as she shoves his hand away and turns to kick him RIGHT IN THE STOMACH. "GIVE IT UP."

BUT HE DOESN'T GIVE IT UP. THIS MIGHT BE A LEGENDARY FIGHT FOR YOU, BUT THIS IS JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY NIGHT FOR HIM. YOU JUST PISSED HIM OFF NESSALYN. And when he goes down, that knife MAYBE COMES A LITTLE TOO CLOSE TO LEGS. MAYBE INTO LEGS WE JUST DON'T KNOW NESSALYN. That's totally up to you. But he doesn't deign to answer taunts with words because he's going to kill you. Risali or Nessalyn is going down with him, and he's lashing out with that knife again, aiming for something vital, punching and grabbing and trying to do as much damage as he can. Cue Risali, who doesn't have enough time to think about what she's doing, but who moves anyway. THERE IS NO TIME FOR THE AXE, so Risali throws herself back into the fray, gets an elbow to the nose for her effort, but while he focuses on Nessalyn, Risali tries to shove his knife hand up and — no. Prying his fingers off isn't going to work, so Risali grabs the hilt of that blood-slickened knife in his kidney and jerks it free. "LET HER GO." Annnnd SHOVE. Right into his neck it goes. Not once, but twice, hitting bone and jarring, already slick with blood so that Risali's hand slips over the blade. BUT SHE DOESN'T FEEL IT. She doesn't feel anything when he gargles and gasps for air, when he claws at his throat and that knife and - a whimper. YOU HAVE PROBABLY JUST MEDICALLY DECAPITATED SHIA LABEOUF. Risali looks at her hands, at the blood all over them and hears another roar that pulls her from that moment of shock - Leirith. Right. Priorities. She's struggling to her feet and catching Nessalyn's hand if she doesn't pull away, stumbling forward. "We have to go." But she's still kind of lost. THERE IS PROBABLY A K'VIR AROUND HERE SOMEWHERE, TO RESCUE THEM. VIA CAMEO. So we can just… say that happens probably. But one thing is for certain: they're finally safe from Shia LaBeouf.

That blade DEFINITELY slices right through her pants leg and into her flesh, but Nessalyn doesn't even notice in the heat of the moment. Instead, she kicks furiously when he pulls her down, feeling that knife sink into her boot at least once but it doesn't go so far as to cut through the sole, THANKS WHOEVER MADE HER SHOES. Her teeth find flesh again - hopefully his and not Risali's - and she bites down. She's in no position to grab his knife, not from this angle, but hopefully she can do something to keep him occupied long enough for Risali to disarm him. Or, you know, NEARLY DECAPITATE HIM. Tomato, tomahto. "You-" They both know what she did, it doesn't really need to be voiced. Nessalyn doesn't even seem capable of summoning the words, not after the man ceases to struggle beneath her and goes unnaturally still. That's a cue to get off of him if there ever was one, and Ness scrambles away quickly. She doesn't notice the blood running down her leg or the thin slice along her neck - all that will undoubtedly hit her once they're OUT OF THE WOODS (but not home before dark). For the moment, she just takes Risali's hand in favor of getting the hell out of there, moving toward whatever form of rescue awaits them beyond this horror show. At least they stayed sexy and didn't get murdered.

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