In the Wake of Giants


The Eager Rper
Janine looked to Raban as they walked and wordlessly shrugged her shoulders.
"Yeah, I suppose," she replied back.

She was so in thought that she didn't even notice that the sun had gone down. She gasped softly as the darkness of night began to cloak all of Amastad; had they really been out all day like that? It didn't even feel like it was that long. How nice to have been out all day and to not keep track of time. She hoped that her mother wasn't worrying about her.

She smiled a little when Raban offered to take her home. With a short nod, the young knight continued on her way home, with Raban next to her the whole way.


The next day, it began as a normal day. Back out into the field, Janine had to go out on patrol with Raban. She mostly registered what she had to do, but with what happened the day before, she was on edge all night. The edginess bled into the morning, and the entire time she was constantly scanning the crowds for anything suspicious as she traveled to the Order's grounds.

Even though she was concerned for her and her mother's safety, she had to keep careful of the possibility of paranoia setting in -- with danger like this, there was always a thin line between practicing caution and being outright fearful and distrusting everything around her. If left unchecked, a paranoid Knight can be just as dangerous as any other threat.

And that wasn't counting the fact that said knight was part demon.

Janine turned her head when she faintly registered Raban's voice talking to her. She blinked absentmindedly before shaking her head, snorting as she spoke up.

"I'm fine, thanks for asking," Janine said as she felt her horse move under her. She growled softly and scowled.

"Excpet maybe for this damn new horse that I was given. How do you guys travel with this much bulk between your legs?" Janine said with a huff. She then turned to Chestnut and gave a sheepish chuckle.

"Of course, not to say that you're super big, Chestnut. You're a nice weight," Janine said with a silly grin. With Venus out of the picture for a while, Janine had to use another horse to ride while waiting for her horse to recoup at home. She struggled with the stallion as the equine bobbed his head up and down constantly, snorting at Janine with what she assumed to be irritation. Janine snorted back.

"Damn horse. This one doesn't seem to want to cooperate. Maybe if we start moving around he'll listen," Janine said with a sigh.


the Hugger Troll
Raban nodded although he was not entirely convinced. He turned and lifted himself into the saddle, adjusting as Chestnut adjusted her stance to compensate for the weight pulling at her back. She turned her head and appeared to try and bite at him but she was well far from being to achieve such a bite. Raban settled and placed his feet into the stirrups before both horse and rider looked back to Janine and her horse. A horse that was not Venus.

Raban smiled at the talk of bulk and glanced as Chestnut snorted, throwing her head with indignation. "Easy Chestnut," he murmured and the Shire Demon snorted, stamping her hoof before drawing up alongside Janine's stallion. The horse peered towards Janine as she received an apology and snorted loudly through her large nostrils.

"Well, he's a warhorse and a workhorse, he needs the exercise no doubt," Raban nodded and gestured for the way out of the complex, "Come on, let's go stretch their legs." He smiled and with no visible direction, Chestnut walked out of the complex uncaring whether the other stallion kept pace with her.

He didn't know if they'd spot anything of worth either for themselves or to the Order. He supposed they would just have to wait and see what the day brought. In either case, the patrol would give them both a sense of normality. He hoped it would be just another dull day of nothing. He felt they could use the respite but he knew outside forces rarely gave anyone that luxury.


The Eager Rper
Janine sighed as she followed Raban out of the complex. The stallion continued to snort and huff on occasion -- which wasn't too much, but still annoyed Janine a little. She may have gotten used to Venus' stubbornness, but something about dealing with another horse's stubbornness was something else. However, she'd deal with it if it meant getting away from the city.

The young Knight watched the outskirts of the city as she led her horse outside the gates, keeping the stallion at a fast trot. Part of patrol was to see if there were threats outside the walls of the city as well as inside them.
On occasion, Janine would glance towards the distant scorched circle that still left its mark on the grass that day. She sniffed the air and barely picked up the scent of burnt grass...... And the blood of that dragon.

Only those with the stronger sense of smell would be able to pick it up, so she didn't expect any normal human to be able to smell it. But still. The scent lingered much too long for her comfort. Not to mention, that it reminded her of that crazy day.
She snorted softly as they passed the area, and began to travel towards the designated farmlands for Amastad. While some farmers were able to choose where they wanted to farm, there were spaces that others had to use since there was limited space for such a job. Only so much land was to be used for farming before it became unmanageable.

She glanced towards a large red barn and stopped her horse as she stared at the building for a moment. Something about it spoke to her -- perhaps the size? It was definitely big enough to house multiple animals.... Could she go in there during the nighttime hours, whenever she needed to hide somewhere? She had to find out on her own time.


the Hugger Troll
Chestnut snorted and tossed her head before attempting to snap at the other horse a little before she matched the pace without any need for instruction. Raban had nudged her but it was purely for appearance's sake as he sat warm in the saddle. He was happy to get out of the city. It was busy and stressful with full of potential threats and situations. He was good with getting some space in between him and the city again. Just as long as it didn't involve the forest for a while yet. He was sure those trees had seen much they would rather forget.

The scents were heavy in the air. Some new, some old, all telling him a variety of information that for the most part was largely inconsequential. He ignored most of it dismissing it as everyday wastage. Only some he found interesting and committed to memory so that if he scented the same smell again, he would recall the information.

They headed towards farmland and for him, it made him uneasy or in the least, guarded. His family had come from a line of farmers. He had been the first of his line to have risen from the lower classes to reach Knighthood.

"You've got nothing to be unrestful about, Little Wolf"
"I know... but still,"
"Silly Wolf"

Chestnut's comment made him smile to himself before he caught Janine gazing at a barn. It was of a decent size and something large could hide easily within. He realised she had stopped and Chestnut had drawn on too far ahead. He made a mental note and she snorted before turning her bulk round and rejoined the Stallion's side.

"Penny for your thoughts?" he asked.


The Eager Rper
Janine was lost in thought for a good moment longer before she registered Raban's thoughts again. She shook her head and glanced at Raban.

"Huh?" Janine asked with a tilted head. She was quick to clear her throat and shake her head again.

"Oh, sorry.... Nothing really, just thinking about how big it was..... reminds me of the barns that I saw when I was younger," Janine explained with a scratch to her head.
While it was true for the most part, Janine didn't want Raban to know all that she was thinking. At least not yet. She wanted to keep that and all her behavioral ticks hidden from the world as long as possible. To her, demonic activity was more feared by humans than Werewolf activity. They were more powerful and more unpredictable to deal with.

"Let's keep going. I would like to have some actual fresh air on this patrol," Janine said with a sigh. She took one more glance at the barn before she slapped the reins, making her horse move with a short snort. The stallion kept a wary eye on Chestnut as he rode on, making sure he didn't bump into her as they traveled.


the Hugger Troll
"Ah-ha! Deer in headlights!"
"Yes... but a deer with teeth and claws, don't forget,"
"A good thing too. Deer are fun to chase but very skinny on the bone,"

Raban smiled slightly at Chestnut's humour. It was not unknown for her to enjoy his hunts when in form. There was a part of the wolf that required the need for a chase to be answered and deer were often a way he could do so without harming human life.

"Seems we have something else in common then... Saw a fair few myself when I was but a nipper," he replied, easing back in the saddle, his hand lightly holding the reins. He glanced from her back to the barn with guarded thought before he shrugged.

He smiled, "Would be nice... free air t'boot," he agreed wholeheartedly willing to be away from the city air which hung thick with tension. The pace quickened and Chestnut fell easily into a matching stride with the Stallion even going as far as to show off. Raban glanced down as she began prancing slightly.

"Don't get ahead of yourself,"

Chestnut did tone it down for him and yet still made her stride confident, her hooves well placed. The air was quiet, there wasn't much around that oughtn't have been there and he hoped it would just be a boring day of nothing. They could both use a boring day of nothing. Her attacked still concerned him and he peered behind them just to be sure they weren't being followed. Nothing seemed to be doing so and he turned back round a again.


The Eager Rper
Janine nodded her head as Raban and Chestnut sprung forward. She followed along and gazed out at their surroundings as they traveled. With Amastad being such a large city, they had a bit of ground to cover.

She turned to Raban with a small head tilt. "When I was younger, I often played near the forest edge. I wasn't like the other kids. Doing all that silly girl stuff just didn't appeal to me. I also went to some of the big barns to hide in when I wanted to be alone." Janine said with a sigh.

She recalled hiding behind large bales of hay whenever she was teased; she even had the occasional barnyard animal neighbor to talk to. The solitude that was allowed to her sometimes calmed her down; but not all the time.

"My mom scolded me for trespassing on another person's property, but I kept doing it on occasion. Sometimes I needed a place to be alone, you know?" Janine asked as she glanced up and down the city walls for any anomalies.


the Hugger Troll
Patrols were not always a busy affair. Quite often nothing occurred and it turned into a necessary but mundane task for the Knights of Amastad. He knew it would be a little while yet before they met with the same gate through which they left. It would provide Chestnut's trapped form with sufficient exercise easily enough and perhaps calm Janine's excitable stallion a little.

He smiled and nodded, "As soon as I could walk, I was helping to work my parent's farm. I was more interested in playing than working, and often ran from task to one of the barns we used for hay and livestock. I was very much a typical boy... more interested at swordplay than tending to cattle. Heh, used to ride old Bertha and pretend she was a horse rather than the cow she was. I think she took it rather well, smart but docile thing she was. Only thing I do miss from that place," he replied, he was uneasy talking about his past but they both shared a dark secret and he knew he could trust her with his life.

Raban glanced at her and nodded, "We all need our thinking space." He peered around his surroundings keeping alert for danger. he sniffed the air at intervals, reading the scents that came through.


The Eager Rper
Janine nodded slowly as she looked to Raban. It was kind of nice to know that he was from humbling surroundings as well. That made him more relatable, which Janine hoped would be comforting in the long run.

"Yes. I know what you mean. We all need some sort of space to be alone," Janine said with a small shrug of her shoulders.

The rest of the scouting was event-free -- besides a flock of birds that startled Janine, and a stray dog that wanted to bounce around Chestnut and Janine's horse, it was rather calm. Raban and Janine would return to their superior and relay the good news. The rest of the day would consist of the more simpler and miscellaneous chores. Occasionally, a youthful Knight would annoy Janine with their senseless banter, but it would keep her mind off of the personal problems she had.

At least.... For the while.

After the first day, Janine began to sense danger at random times of the day. Like.... She was being watched. She shivered occasionally whenever she felt that way, so it often looked as if she was cold on a warm day. Janine kept an intense watch on her surroundings, making sure she wasn't caught doing something that wasn't the norm for a human. The other Knights asked if she was alright with ehat she suspected to be out of courtesy, but she only responded with "I'm fine". She would only hope it was the cases for the next day.

Unfortunately, it would get worse for her.

The next day was the beginning of worse times. She began to get hungry at a more quicker pace than usual. She figured it was her body needing more food since she was being more active, but when the time came to eat and she still didn't feel satisfied, no matter how much of her more favorited food she ate, the true answer was clear.
Janine grimaced at the realization of her body's needs. It was less of a human one and more of her demonic one. Something akin to a hunger pain. And they weren't going to go away unless she relented and ate what her body craved.

Mice. Or rats. Anything that was something a snake would eat. Thanks to her other half, Janine occasionally went through this period where she would have to eat what her more beastial side ate, to satiate some of the needs that it had. This was one of the few things that she hated about herself and her demon side. Since it was more of a need and less of a desire or preference, the urge to hunt was going to gradually get stronger and stronger until one of two things happened: Janine hunted to calm her urges, or she'd end up giving in to her urges and going off on instinct.

As much as she didn't want to risk anyone she was around, the risk of just being seen was too great. So Janine opted to try and hunt whatever mice might happen upon Venus' stall, and prayed that it would be enough.

But after two more days, it proved to not be so.

For some reason, there were rarely any mice or rodents of any sort to pass through the stall. Pickings were scarce, and it was far from enough to satiate Janine. At one point, she tried to go out of the house to go hunt like she needed to, but the sensations of danger being nearby were too intense. Hisses and rattles echoed in her head, and even a scent wafted into the air. Panic set in, and Janine was quick to keep herself in the house until morning came. The danger was too great.

The hunger pains grew more frequent, and Janine's mood and behaviour began to take a negative turn. She got snappier and more aggressive, wanting to be alone and secluded. This didn't bode well with the other Knights, and they started to grow wary around Janine, even if the task involved being with a partner, lest they evoke her newfound wrath. Even the stallion she rode was growing more and more nervous around her, nickering nervously and eyeing her every once in a while. She even grew snappy at Raban, talking to him as if she would hurt him at any given moment.

Eventaully, Janine's behavior bled into her home, and her mother grew wary and worried about her. Whenever she asked about any problems, Janine would just growl at her and ask for her to leave, and would stare out of the window, as if she was on guard for something. Was she expecting someone?

She seemed to be afraid to go anywhere; Janine's mother was able to sense that much. But the reasons were unclear and troubling. She needed an answer, but who would know?

Then she got an idea. Perhaps that Knight that she met in the forest that one fateful night would help. Surely he could tell her right? They are in the same Knight brigade.

With a nod of determination, Janine's mother dressed herself for the evening walk she was about to embark, and set on her way to find him. Them a problem presented itself; how was she going to find him?
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the Hugger Troll
Raban could not and would not disagree with her words. There were often times he had to get away from people, especially when full moons drew near for fear it would hold its sway. Those times were rare and infrequent but the lupine Knight rarely liked to risk innocent lives. The forest presented the perfect opportunity for those times of need.

The rest of the day was collectively one both Raban and Chestnut found dull. Raban had been feeling the threat of a dagger poised to strike from the shadows. Ever since the attack on Janine, which he did not believe for a moment was all that random at all. The day itself was dull and as normal as it was for any normal human being who was oblivious to the supernatural state of the world in which they lived. A dog, birds... Small points of interest to three hunters that enjoyed a good chase.

The days since that initial patrol only increased his concerns. Even Chestnut was broodier than usual and she did not refrain from letting him know all about her complaints. That and the ever present problem of how to solve her issue of being trapped in mortal form. It was something he thought about every day, trying to honour his word and promise to the demon he rode. Raban had long accepted Chestnut for what and who she was and over time he had learned to not fear her moods or her heat. It was a strange bond between fire demon and wolf that no one could guess at.

He got on with his duties, all of them mostly mundane and nothing that strained him. Raban had to be careful though. He had to play at being a regular human with limitations to his senses and natural strength. In truth, he could do the work of three men in one day at a task. In the least, he had not just his playacting to worry himself over. There was also Chestnut and there was also Janine.

The woman was changing in an almost feral manner. Her expressions were hard and unmoving, ready to lunge rather than observe or to show lenience. It was quite unlike the Janine he had gotten to know and respect. There was also the problem of recent events playing on his mind and of late he was getting a lot more curious looks than was usual for him to receive. The other Knights were cordial enough but there was an edge to them that had not been there before. Raban erred on the reason of Janine being behind their animosity. I t was no secret that he and Janine had become good friends or that they both shared concern to the other. The looks he gained from the times he bumped into the Matron was just open proof of it.

"That Matron is up to something, Little Wolf. I just know it. Those beady little eyes, like a rat after cheese."
"She's just concerned, is all, Chestnut."
"I wouldn't be so sure. One thing is for certain though... She has her eye on you. I caught her watching you at work the other day. Wouldn't remove her gaze, a frown, as if trying to work out how to get to the cheese."
"She's no rat, Chestnut"
"Might as well be,"

Raban mulled over his thoughts and thought over Janine once again. It was a point of being what he was to know or reason behind what could be the cause but he did not know her demon side well enough to know what her individual needs were. He supposed he could guess since their darker sides were both predatory that it might have something to do with that but he wasn't going to be making bets on such. He could be wrong after all.

He had a few hours to himself and decided to give Janine her space rather than seek her out like he wanted to. He wanted to investigate the attack on her some more but both the demon he was telepathically connected to and himself knew that would press on buttons he might have cause to regret doing. He headed for the gardens and soon found himself a bench upon which to sit himself on. He leaned back into the seat and watched the sway of peony flowers. It was relaxing and helped his mood and thoughts and it cost him nothing but his free time to do so.

He barely noticed as the afternoon moved into the evening hours. His thoughts swayed much like the flowers and it was a long time before his heightened sense of hearing picked up upon the light steps of feet. A woman then and one not encumbered by armour. He didn't move, he saw little need to and stayed to enjoy the scents of the mint and lavender floating in the air.


The Eager Rper
Janine's mother knew her way around town - she'd walk down the streets plenty of times to know where to go. But when she was looking for someone in which she'd never known where they lived.... Well, that was where things were confusing. Up until now, she never had any reason to find the man, and now, she was out and about in the night, hoping to find some sort of sign.

To her surprise, she got more than a sign. Somehow, as she walked down a random street, the woman saw the knight she was looking for. He was sitting down in the small garden that made up the town square, and he looked like he was deep in thought. She quickly approached the man with a mixture of hesitation and urgency, her mind taking his possible exhaustion into consideration out of courtesy.

"Um... Excuse me. I don't know if you remember me, but we've met a while ago. I'm Janine's mother, but you can call me Tina," Tina said as she extended her hand.

"I'm sorry for interrupting whatever thoughts you might've had, but I'm..." the woman paused herself, trying to find the words to describe her predicament.

"Worried. F-for Janine. You see, Janine has been acting... Strange lately. I don't know if she's said anything to you these past few days, but I have no idea what the problem is. Well, I know what half of the problem is, but she won't do anything about it."

The woman sat down on the bench across from Raban, and crossed her legs and hands over one another as she looked down at her lap. After a short moment, the woman looked up to Raban again.

"She won't go outside, unless it's absolutely necessary, and that's only been when she's out as a Knight. I've tried to help, but I can only do so much. She can do what she needs to do much better, but again that requires her being outside.... I'm at a loss as to why she's behaving this way," the woman said with a worried sigh.


the Hugger Troll
Raban broke his stare from the lavender heads and turned his own towards a woman with a recognisable scent. It was all part and parcel of what he was. Once he knew someone's scent, he never truly forgot it. It could take him a time to remember it but it was always there. He smiled with recognition, standing as she approached. He nodded and accepted her hand, "I remember you. Raban," he nodded despite knowing she already knew his calling. He studied her face and realised something was very wrong. He could smell her anxiety and fear almost as if it were a fresh loaf of bread from the baker's oven.

"No you're not interrupting. Your need clearly outweighs my own."

He didn't entirely know what she would have need of him for but he suspected. He waited, listened patiently and there it was. The sum of both their concerns. Her as a mother and him as friend... at least he liked to think they had become friends. He sighed softly, sitting back down upon the bench and nodded, "She's been snappier, more... aggressive than usual. Chew my head off a few times... I may have overstepped, I don't know..."

The wolf looked at her and frowned as he ran what she was saying through his own mind. A refusal to go outside spoke of fear. One what level he did not fully entirely understand but he knew Janine had been fearful of an attack happening again. However, he could understand a fear of losing one's self in the midst of innocents. Even if it wasn't her fault, the Order and the people were not like to see it that way. It was a fear he shared.

"She'd be right to... one toss of whatever it was in her face and chow time!"

Raban ignored Chestnut even if her words rang true if indelicately put and rubbed his face with thought before looking at Janine's mother with purpose, eyes searching.

"Tina... Has she told you about the attack on her? The one that made her lose her self control?"


The Eager Rper
Tina looked up to Raban with a shocked expression on her face. An attack? When?

"What?" the mother said as she blinked her eyes. Apparently she was not informed of such an incident. "I was never told about this. Why did the Order never say anything? I have a right to know about these things as her family!" Tina said with increasing frustration. How dare the higher knights not say anything to her about Janine's health? She had just as much of a right to know what happened to her child as any other parent, whether they were a knight or otherwise. The woman got up on her feet with a huff. But then she thought about the words Raban said. Losing self-control? Janine? Did that mean.....? She sat back down and leaned in towards Raban.

"Wait... You said self-control? As in her.... Other half?" Tina whispered the last part.

Worry was now painted on her face, instead of anger. If it was her demonic half being exposed, then the Order wouldn't have any part of this. Perhaps....

"Raban. Does this have anything to do with those burns on Janine's body?"


the Hugger Troll
Raban winced and inwardly felt Janine may have preferred him not to have told her about the incident but he knew it was important in more ways than one and that it was something that could not be confined to just him or Janine knowing about it. Her mother knew what they both were and how far their forms could prove to be dangerous. She had seen him at his worst and he had little doubt she had seen her daughter at hers at some stage before. It was a dangerous raod being what they were in such a populated city. If anyone deserved to know of a potential threat it was Janine's mother.

He knew her mother would realise the significance behind such an attack regardless of whether it was a trial run or worse. He glanced up as she stood for the moment letting it sink in for her rather than rise to quick calms from his part. Thankfully, patience won out and she sat back down easing his own anxieties.

"I must pass on my apology... the Order doesn't know and cannot be allowed to know of it. Too many questions would be asked... and they're jumpy enough without this adding to fear and superstition," he began, pausing to rub his face a little as she leaned towards him.

He nodded uneasily to her question, "I had hoped she would have told you herself. Perhaps she does not wish to worry you... but I do not see how that helps her. She's lucky to have you in her life who understands her and loves her regardless. The attack was sudden, I did not see all of it and thankfully no one else saw her but somebody knows what she is now. Or at least suspects. Whatever was used one her... it forced her to lose that from what she told me." He spoke low tones, she would be able to understand every word and he sniffed the air but for the moment it seemed to be just them and the flowers. He spoke again softly nodding a little.

"Whoever was behind this... they must know alchemy. They threw something at her and it forced her hand. I strongly think it does... but I don't know what concoction would work to force another half to show," it was painful talking in such riddled terms but they had to be vague in case people were eavesdropping. Just cause he couldn't smell them, it didn't mean they weren't there.

"I'm worried that whoever did it will try again. Perhaps Janine fears this too and fears it more than she is willing to admit. "


The Eager Rper
Tina sighed as she rubbed her hands together. She wished that Janine had told her about her incident. But at the same time, she had an idea why Janine never said anything to her.

"Raban. A part of me wants to be disappointed that Janine didn't say anything, but I think I know why. When she was much younger, I often rushed to her defense whenever anybody wanted to confront and accuse her of anything. I was rather aggressive in defending her in my own right. But surely she would know that things have changed. I have enough common sense to know not to make a scene. She is very concerned about unwanted attention; I imagine that you can very well understand how those concerns feel," Tina said with a small tilt of her head.

The woman sighed as she listened to Raban, turning her head to the miniscule amount of people walking down the darkened streets. Concern was a constant emotion as the mother tried to understand what he was saying, and what each word meant. Janine being attacked by someone who had some sort of liquidated weapon against her.... That must mean that they have her weakness... But was it a weakness as a demon, or a specific weakness tailored to what kind of demon she was? The mother didn't know a lot, but thanks to her husband, she was taught a few things. Unfortunately, she never really learned about all of Janine's weaknesses as a demon; before she actually got to discuss about it in detail, her husband mysteriously disappeared. The only ones she knew were holy items and the cold temperatures. Anything else was a mystery to her.

"With the way she is, I'd say she's very fearful. She wouldn't normally let her fears keep her from doing anything, but if she's refusing to even go outside, then this is a serious situation. With the way this is turning out, if something isn't done, I'm afraid she's going to get worse," the woman said with a noticeable hint of nervousness in her voice. She looked over to Raban with a shake of her head.

"It's not your fault, that Janine's snapped at you. As edgy as she's becoming, even I'll become a target to her blind rage sooner or later. I must admit, this problem has never gotten this serious before.... I daresay that.... I...." the woman paused her statement before she gave a small smile.

"... Oh nevermind it... I'll manage, like I always do." Tina looked up at the sky and muttered softly to herself before turning to Raban once more. "It's getting late. The way she is now, Janine might dare come outside to look for me, which wouldn't be good for anybody that's roaming around."

The mother quickly stood up and gave a weak smile to Raban. "Thank you so much for your time. I haven't spoken to anybody for things like this in years. It feels good if I'm honest. I best get home," the mother said, trying her best to hide the concern for her own well-being and child. She walked around the small garden and began her way home, praying that she would be okay when she got home. A tiny part of her wished that Raban would walk with her, but she couldn't dare impose on the man, who was most likely rapped up in his own concerns. No, she'd have to take it like the woman she was; she knew what she was getting into when she gave made the decision to be with her father.


the Hugger Troll
Raban listened in his usual way of listening with his focused not on that one he was listening to but on the calm heads of the lavender that swayed in the same breeze that tugged gently at his dark hair. Given what he was, he did not have to fear for missing a word. Janine was proving to be a far more complex personality than his own. He was a simple creature despite his oddity that drew hate from both man and werewolf but she was all that and more. She already drew jealousy from Chestnut for her abilities even if she had garnered some begrudging respect from the fiery mare.

His head lowered slightly, he did indeed was mindful of gaining the wrong kind of attention. He feared he had done so just in the act of returning with no clothes in the wake of the dragon gutted and bloodied and surpassing wounds no normal man ought to have survived. That matron who had tended to him was for too nosy for her own good. Raban had learned to play the game early on after his first few changes and through that game made very few friends. Trust was everything. Trust the wrong person and it could mean his life and those who knew what he was. He was under no illusions there.

"I understand," he breathed low before his head turned, eyes peering towards her with genuine concern and understanding. Fear could be the difference of saving lives or taking them, getting killed or surviving. He had seen fear drive a man to freeze in battle and he had known fear to drive a man to wield his sword with ferocity. It had many uses but Janine's fear came with a sword edge that wasn't only dangerous and perilous for her. It would strike at those around her. It was already starting to if his judgement was in the right direction.

"Fear and trust..." he murmured, echoing the words of his mentor. He frowned when she trailed off and didn't finish what she was going to say. He sighed slightly but he wasn't going to push her but for her to be so worried only increased his concerns. He had to find Janine before she hurt those she loved. It was a cruel fate if that were to be the case.

He rose when she did and bowed his head to her before he reached out, "I'm at your service, Tina. I consider her my friend, a good one and I do not wish for her to hurt herself or others. She has to see that. If you have need of me, just give the word," he nodded before letting her go, watching with a stiff back.

"Doubtful little wolf... Keep it in house by appearance."
"Can't fault me for trying. She knows what her daughter is. If the conversation comes up again... she could have help with your freedom, you realise?"
"Potentially. It's too much of a long shot."
"Worth chasing."
"Everything is worth chasing to you, little wolf. The wolf endures and runs on stamina,"

Raban sighed and looked towards the flowers once more before he turned and slowly headed back to his lodging before he stopped halfway and then turned back towards the barracks and guard houses. There would be some books there that would be worth looking through and he was finding he was not in the least bit tired.


The Eager Rper
Tina took one more look back at Raban before continuing on home. Worry and fear was swirling in her head; she had to give Janine what she needed before it was too late. But how? Where was she to get what was needed that wasn't poisoned? The mother shook her head as she gave a heavy sigh. The woman wasn't fast or as skilled in hunting as Janine - but she was desperate enough to try. First, she needed to check the horse stable. Maybe the trap in there had bore some results.

When she got home, Tina noticed how everything in the house was dark. To everyone else, it would just be another sleeping household, but considering that Tina knew otherwise, it filled her with an ominous tension that she didn't like. She was sure that Janine was most likely awake. The woman hurried to Venus' stall and checked beside the enclosure. The woman sighed and shook her head. It was too late to walk around. She had to stay in the house to minimize the chances of Janine leaving to look for her.

Upon entering, Tina felt as if she was being stalked. She shivered and looked around in the dark, but as expected, she couldn't see much. Then, brown eyes glowed at the woman from the corner, making the mother gasp in fright.

"Jesus Janine! Why are you down here?" Tina asked with an intake of breath.

"And where were you tonight? A little late for a stroll isn't it? I had half a mind to go and look for you," Janine slowly stated. The mother snorted incredulously.

"Don't you give me that tone of voice, child of mine. Just because you're hungry, doesn't mean that you can just question me and ask where I've been. I'm an adult; I can go wherever I please," the woman said as she took off her coat.

Janine growled softly and sniffed the air a little. The scent of someone familiar was easy to detect. Janine narrowed her eyes as she lowered her head.


"Excuse me?"

"Raban. You went to see him. Why? What did you ask?" Janine asked.

Tina scoffed and folded her arms across her midsection, like a parent would to her disobedient child. "Janine Slovas, you watch it. Must I remind you that I'm your mother? You can't ask me about my conversations, like you have the right. And even if I was talking to him, I wouldn't tell you," Tina said with a huff.

"Why? You said something you shouldn't have said?" Janine asked with a scowl.

Now her mother was growing cross with Janine. How dare she be smart with her?

"Watch your tone. I said things that I wanted to say, and nothing more. If anyone should be asking about what was and wasn't said, it should be me!"

"Oh yeah? How?" Janine challenged.

"For starters, you should've told me first that you were attacked earlier this week! You lied to me in my face, and said that you spilled hot water on yourself. I thought you told me everything that troubled you?" Janine's mother said with a scowl.

Janine froze and blinked in surprise. Her gaze then shifted from that to one of anger. Another growl rose out of her throat. "Raban told you that? Bastard! I never told him to tell you! You weren't supposed to know!" Janine shouted.

"Don't you yell at me! I never asked him, and he assumed that you would've said something yourself, considering that I am your mother. Why'd you hide it from me?"

"Why? Why? Someone is out there, wanting me to show myself to the world. They sit in the shadows, waiting for me to slip up. Ever since they lured me that day, drew me in close like a rat to a trap and..." Janine was in her mother's face at this point, eyes glowing bright as she glared at the somewhat nervous mother.

"They're after me. And that means that they'll come after you."

"Janine -"

"No! You can't leave! If I'm in danger, then you're in danger as well. That's how this works. I can't afford for you to get hurt. I refuse!" Janine snarled. At this point, she had grasped her mother's arm. The pressure made her wince a little, but the pain was watered down because she was listening to Janine. Now she understood her fears.

The fear of losing her mother.

Tina sighed and looked down. "Janine-"

"Mom. You can't leave the house. Not with this threat roaming about. Promise me you'll stay put," Janine asked with a slightly less threatening tone of voice.

"I can't just-"

"Mom! Promise!" Janine shouted.

"Yes! Alright. Yes, I'll stay inside," the mother said with a sigh.

Janine growled softly, eyes narrowed as if she was deciding whether she was lying or not. She let go, then the young woman turned to the stairs and went to her room.

Tina released the breath she didn't even know she held, and lowered her arm and hand. Something needed to be done.... Janine's fears were now realised, but her hunger was still a threat. She may have not been that aggressive this time, but it seemed like a special occasion. Tomorrow, she won't be so open with her feelings. What was she to do? Tina went over to her chair and pondered on the topic until she went to sleep.

The next day was a new morning, and it was a warm one. Janine was once again on duty, and her steed nickered nervously as he clopped down the road. He sensed the demonic energy within his rider growing progressively worse, and it was extremely unsettling to say the least. He made sure to not do anything that would be considered unpleasant, but he couldn't help but to shake around and nicker to himself.

Janine rode to the compound where the other Knights would gather. She had no idea what the day would bring, but she knew that it wouldn't be able to focus much so long as she was this way. She looked towards some knights, and they all looked amongst themselves nervously before turning away.

Humph. Seems like the men had no spine today. Whatever. Janine steered her horse to a corner of the courtyard, while everyone waited for Sir Kiegal to arrive.
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the Hugger Troll
Raban was not an uncommon sight within the archives of the Guard since he was well aware how the past often could aide the future, or aide in general with information he may otherwise not have known before. What was more unusual was the time in which he had decided to go and see to the books. He was not known for frequenting the place at night often making excuses for missing out on the socialising after hours. He passed a few known faces along the way as he climbed stairs that creaked beneath his weight. He sniffed the air and found it musty and a little sweaty. Wrinkling his nose free from the dull scents intermingling with decayed trails of other guardsmen, he continued on, climbing and descending more stairs and following hallways before pushing thick wooden doors the led to the archives and headed inside, closing the door behind him.

He stood there for a long moment, thoughts and his prior conversation with Tina running around his mind. He was worried and concerned for Janine, Tina and the rest of those in the vicinity. Raban was aware only too keenly how anxiety and fear turned into anger and frustration for both sides of the coin. He was fearful the guard would learn sooner than later about what Janine was. Knowledge was power and information could be bought and sold for numerous prices. He would like to think honourably of his fellow Knights but he was aware some could easily fall to corruption. There was also the fact that if any Knight was told the truth, they would also be honour bound to inform their seniors. Raban was already breaking that code with both Janine and himself.

The wolf knight sighed before he rummaged the books and scrolls, looking for anything that would aid his line of thinking of understanding and dealing with this situation. He found a fair few and sat himself down at a dusty table. He spent the next few hours reading on past works about demons, their forms, alchemy and allergens. Anything he thought that might have some relevance. It was almost three in the early hours before tiredness pulled at his mind along with a moody mare of a fire demon concerned for the headache she would undoubtedly have to endure if he didn't get some sleep before long.

He rose from the sight and stretched limbs aching from having been sat too still for too long before he returned the books to their places along with the scrolls. He headed back out the way he had entered, sniffing the air at intervals as he made his way home. He paused once or twice along the route back to the humble lodgings he used. He gained a feeling that he was being watched but he sensed nothing. Shrugging, he carried on and found sleep quickly once he got to his bed.

Morning rose and with the dawn came a warm sun that woke the sleeping man from his slumbers and he spent a good minute staring at the ceiling boards before he rose from the cot and groaned. He hoped Janine was of a better mood but he had his doubts. These things ultimately grew worse before they turned the page. He sighed and rubbed his face before he got dressed and headed out.

"The sun marks a long day."
"No kidding, old friend. Sir Kiegal is quite likely to have a lot set out for the day.
"That dragon hasn't made a return again has it...?"
"Not as far as I know... We'll find out"

The conversation progressed further as he got her tacked. It was not a process either of them liked but one they had to go through. He led her out before he mounted up and headed for the compound. The shire made for an easy route there, the large bulk of the horse meant people had to step aside or get trampled even though they were at a simple walking pace. They turned into the yard gaining a few looks as they did so. Raban peered back with a blank stare as Chestnut found her own place with deceptive leading from the man who rode upon her. The demon horse snorted, pawed the ground and went to bite at another horse who snickered, raising his head out of the mare's way.

Raban peered round and soon saw Janine in the corner. He maintained silence though he inclined his head to her before his gaze continued its customary sweep about the compound, his nose gaining fresh scents letting him know exactly who was present. Kiegal had yet to arrive.

"When are you going to get a new horse? Yours is never well behaved, Raban,"

Raban glanced to the one who had spoken who sat upon a grey gelding that stood perfectly motionless beneath a man that looked ten or so Raban's junior by all appearance. He could hear the indignant chatter Chestnut produced and she pawed the ground again in agitation. Raban knew she wished she could fry him to a crisp but he knew that would get either of them nowhere. A waste of time.

"And suffer a still wind like yours, Tarroth? That'll be the day," Raban tossed a grin that more show than much else. He knew all these Knights would turn on him if they ever learned his dark truth.

The other laughed and nodded but both men drew silent when a door opened and Kiegal walked out with his shiny armour. He was shadowed by another but Raban did not recognise him but assumed he was not a knight for his garb was simple and plain. Raban was unsure but he was too busy thinking on other matters to wonder at what Kiegal had planned.

"He looks new," Tarroth muttered
"It's Amastad. There's new folk coming through all the time," he replied, his senses reading numerous amounts of information all at one time.


The Eager Rper
Janine huffed to herself, subconsciously trying to keep herself - and her emotions -at bay. The human side of her knew that she was getting out of hand, but with this kind of instinctual dominance, it was near impossible to control it. All her other half wanted was the thrill of a hunt - a legitimate kill. And it was being denied of that simple desire. Janine couldn't help it, her fears somehow being more powerful than her hunger. But she knew that her hunger was close to overpowering her, and everyone would be at great risk.

How was she to go about this?

Her gaze slowly scoured the courtyard, and she caught Raban's gaze from the other side. She blinked slowly, but gave the slightest inclination of acknowledgement before returning to her aggressive glaring.

Then Sir Keigal walked in on his own horse. Behind him trailed someone she hadn't seen before. Were they a friend of Sir Keigal? She straightened herself out as her superior entered, trying not to attract too much attention to herself.

"Knights! We have been fortunate that nothing has befell on the city of Amastad. But still, in light of the events of weeks prior, I -"


Something hit Janine's armor, distracting her a little from the speech. She snorted softly, and turned her gaze, but didn't focus for too long. She wanted to get back to the speech.


It happened again. With a soft growl, Janine turned her gaze to see three younger knights that had slowly and quietly approached her and her horse. The stallion underneath her nickered soft yet urgent warnings towards the other three horses under the knights' commands, but they weren't understanding the urgency.

One of the knights got close to Janine. She growled in her throat and turned a piercing eye towards him.

"What do you want little boy?" Janine huffed.

The young Knight leant back in his saddle a little. "Whoa there. Wait a minute, you're mighty mean today. What's your problem?" The man asked.

Janine's condition had already put her patience at a low level to begin with - this man right here was going to get himself hurt with whatever foolish plan he was trying to play out. "None of your business. Go back in the corner and stand still like some scarecrows. You're good at that," Janine said as she tried to focus on Sir Keigal once more.

It was quiet for a moment more, but then, she heard him speak up again.

"You need to stop acting tough you dark heifer."

Everything seemed to freeze once she processed the words that entered her ears. Janine felt her eye twitch a little at the insult. The stallion under her began to snort with anxiety, and throw his head up and down as he stomped on the ground.

Her patience had immediately depleted to absolutely nothing; maybe even further past that point if it was possible. Now everything in her body just wanted to lunge out and tear at the young man's body. Maybe it would quench her desires for a hunt. A fight could be just as thrilling.

No. She had to keep it together. She couldn't give in to her demonic impulses.

"You hear me, heifer?" The young man jeered.

No. That was not going to happen. She wasn't going to take that and have him to expect for nothing to happen. With a snarl, Janine whirled around and grabbed the knight by the throat. Without any thought, she used her strength to pull the startled knight off his horse, and used his weight and gravity to let herself fall off her own. Janine ended up landing on top of the younger man, and began lashing out with anger. The horses from both knights cried out as they reared up and ran away.

"You want to call me a heifer? I'll show you what a heifer does," Janine snarled as she struck repeatedly on her victim's chest and face. He tried to fend himself, but the blows were too much for him. Janine soon got off of him and shoved the young man against the stone wall.

"Please! I'm sorry!" He begged.

"Oh, now you want to beg?" Janine growled. She lifted a hand up to make another strike, when a hand grabbed h3r wrist before she could bring it down. Turning around with fierce eyes, Janine saw herself to be stopped by Sir Keigal himself.

"What in the devil's name is going on here!?" He shouted.

Janine snatched her hand away and pointed at the bloodied up knight. "He called me a 'dark heifer'!"

Sir Keigal blinked and looked to the man in front of him. "Well... Did you?" He asked.

The knight tried to look insulted. "No sir, I would not! She's just making stuff up!"

Sir Keigal crooked the corner of his mouth as he gauged both Janine and the other Knight. Janine huffed. If he was going to believe that lying asshole, she was sure she was going to lunge at him as well. The older Knight gave a soft growl and approached the knight on the wall.

"Are you sure? Janine isn't the type to make stuff up. Are you sure you're not lying to me?" Sir Keigal asked with an intense stare. The young Knight gulped a little, and began to stutter.

"Well... I-I-"

"He did!"

Sir Kiegal looked up to see two young knights approaching them. Their heads were down low with shame and a little apprehension. They all knew that Sir Kiegal did not like it when his knights acted like fools. "How do you know?"

"We were all sort of playing around. We goaded him to mess with her. We didn't tell him to say that though..." a knight said with a small nod of his head.


"Enough. You three, step over to the corner. I'll deal with you momentarily," Sir Keigal said as he glared at the beaten up man. When the three moved away from them. He turned to Janine to talk to her in a softer voice.

"I don't know what the matter with you is, but you are getting way out of line. Your aggression is going to harm you more than good if you keep this up," the older Knight stated.

Janine huffed and glares at the three men. Her eyes narrowed before she was brought to attention again.

"Janine! Listen to me. You're just as guilty as the other three. No fighting amongst one another unless it's a drill. However, I can tell that you're aggression is powered by something. I can't tell what it is. Either way, for this your punishment will be to leave the courtyard and take yourself to the forest for the rest of the day. And you don't come back until you're ready to return as a proper knight. You have until sundown to get yourself together," Sir Keigal said as he backed away from her. Janine growled lowly in her throat at him, but she didn't do or say anything. She simply got on her horse, and rode out of the courtyard.

Sir Kiegal sighed and got up on his horse. He steered it towards Raban, and stopped next to him with a concerned look on his face.

"Raban. I hope this isn't asking for too much, but may you trail Janine for me? You seem to be closest to her, and you know me - I belive that if we grow better bonds, we can work together as a better unit. But these outbursts is going to cause a rift between her and the rest of the knights. Besides. You seem to be the only one she hasn't flat out mauled," Sir Kiegal half-joked.


the Hugger Troll
Chestnut stood and pawed the ground with full knowledge of the worry and concern lying within her little wolf. No matter how easy he seemed to sit astride the saddle, she was keenly aware how his mind worked. Not only did she know the extent of his human mind and how his thoughts were processing the world around him, she also knew the extent of his lycanthropian mind and how that lay in the shadows. Large velvety nostrils flared as she breathed, pawing the ground with her fire and anxious need to get a move on. She never understood these so called debriefings, they were usually all the same routine and had been for years, nine out of ten. It was all very boring. She wouldn't mind a little fire and incineration but she doubt Raban would appreciate that much nor anyone else with her.

"No, I would not. Fire, for a mortal, is a horrid way to die,"
"Too bad. It's rather refreshing for me "

She could hear her friend snort in his mind as if he'd expressed aloud but he also knew the importance of secrecy about their dark sides just as much as she did. She didn't like it but her power could be taken from her quite easily in the trapped state she was in. She was lucky she had Raban for companionship and he in her.

Raban watched as Kiegal appeared with what appeared to be his steward. The wind wafted the right direction and Raban frowned to himself as the scent was drawn into his accurate receptors. The scent was foreign and new which was something that troubled him. Raban often made a point of learning the face to everyone who served in the Guard. Not only did it mean recognising their identity, it also meant knowing whom he could learn to trust. Raban disliked new faces to a large extent, it made him warier than usual.

He lifted his head when Kiegal spoke and smiled to himself. Kiegal might be old as far as mortal men went but he could still command an audience. Faces turned to him expectantly even if they knew that nothing had occurred that had really required their devoted attention. Raban was well aware the dragon could make a return. He doubted it had left. It had made the forest its own and would brook no trespasser's. The fact he, Tina and Janine had survived their second passing there together had been a lucky outing at best.

"We must remain vigilant. Stand in the light and shun the shadow that threatens the safety of Amastad. We can't bank on that dragon never returning, not one that size and strength. It may return and gods willing, we shall shun it once again, or better yet, remove the threat entirely!"

Raban listened as he usually did but Chestnut shifted beneath him echoed by the bay gelding alongside him. Frowning, he turned turn his head and peered back towards the direction of the corner in which Janine had been taking some sort of refuge or stance by. His eyes flitted upon the Knights speaking with her.

"Young whelps,"
"Barely a scale between them,"
"I often wonder at the practice of allowing young blood into old practices such as the one you serve, Little Wolf. I doubt their blade has killed more than a vagabond,"
"Hm... I wonder at it too but understand it. You're not wrong though..."
he mused silently.

Raban's eyes rested on Janine before long, studious and watchful and it seemed he was not alone in reacting to the hubbub behind him. Kiegal too had taken notice, moving his horse closer before he spoke. Raban felt himself turn and knew Chestnut was taking an interest. She had always found these briefings dull and loved any bit of excitement. However, Raban was left more of a concern. How were Knight whelps supposed to know the flip side of a demon's anger?

The Wolf Knight leaned forwards in the saddle as he watched and listened with the same apparent interest as all the rest of the Knights around him but he was troubled. This was just the start and already he was concerned with the situation of her mother. Had she survived Janine's wrath? He doubted she was harmed... her mother was all she had as far as he knew, along with her horse.

"Fire, toil, trouble and spark, The slave watches and the eyes see," Raban glanced between the ears of Chestnut briefly before he glanced towards the steward. There was something off about him but he could not yet tell what it was that unsettled him. He sighed and looked back to Janine knowing that if she displayed another outburst, she was in danger of proving her secret and her fear. He understood it, perhaps better than anyone else.

Yet he could not help her now. To intervene would place further danger to her and him both. He trusted Kiegal to react accordingly. Raban was old and in teh game long enough to know the old man's thinking. He was that breed of Knight, akin to his old mentor.

"I think me and her need a chat, Raban."

Raban's nostrils flared at the thought but he understood the reasoning Chestnut gave. Their type may have differed but they were all in this together. A wolf could endure the long chase but it didn't have the same level of patience as a demon or heat. He watched and listened with the rest, waiting upon a hope he could have some say in the matter yet.

He watched as she huffed and rode out of the compound and it was only when Chestnut snickered and tossed her head that he looked to see Kiegal joining him directly. He sat straighter in the saddle, a mark of respect, his hands tightening a little on brown reins. He listened, eyes attentive before he inclined his head towards the man.

"Of course, Sir Kiegal," he agreed and smiled lightly but his concern was plain to see. He would not hide any fact that he was perhaps closer to Janine than most here. Some truths were not worth hiding. "I hope my hide is thick enough should she change her mind on that front," he nodded before he turned Chestnut around. Other shifted, moving their steeds out of the way to allow Raban and his shire room to head out. Raban gave Kiegal a salute before he rode out. chestnut broke into a trot almost immediately before they left the gates.

"To the forest then, wolf?"

Chestnut tossed her head again before she turned and headed to follow the scent Raban currently scented of Janine's direction without need of physical attention. The man simple played the part and she did all the rest following his hope of coming to her aid even if she did no want or allow it.

She just hoped it was not a conversation that would bring demon to find against the wolf.