Enemies Abound

-

Silence was voided its chance to take reign over the four. As soon as the Corrupted Mage had departed, the group had jumped on the
topic she introduced. None of them were confident Shura had been telling the truth, but neither were they completely sure she hadn't been.

"Demons on the coast. That's where your group was attacked, wasn't it?" Reaper asked, his emerald green eyes filled with cub-like
curiosity. Tarvuulf only offered a brisk nod in response, not wanting to go in to any details. "Was she telling us the truth then? Were the
Demons only attacking you out of defense of their ritual area?"

"Only attacking out of defense?" Tarvuulf lifted his brow in insult. "They sought us out. That is not defense of any kind."

"But you didn't see anything, there could have been something in that area." Reaper pointed out, oblivious to the deadly waters he might
be stepping in.

"Do you sympathize with Demons?" The bleached Raveen responded, his voice low and accusing.

"I'm just saying there might of been more to it than that. Demons need a reason to attack just like we do."

"Just like we do?" The bleached Raveen snorted in distaste. "There are those among our ranks who do not require a reason to kill."

"Yes, yes. There are those types, but most do need a reason for killing-"

"That does not mean Demons are capable of thinking the same way-"

"Exactly, but they do anyway. Trust me on this."

"How many Demons have you been around?"

"Enough to tell these things."

"You are an idiot at observations. Demons do not have need for a reason to attack and kill. What they did to us was not in defense of
anything. They attacked with the intention to kill us, herded us to their ambush, and sacrificed a whole slew of cubs."

"Sad events, I'm sure, but you understand that perhaps you stumbled upon their sacrifice and they chose to att-"

After exchanging a nervous glance with Sen, Uunagari loudly cleared his throat. When both Tarvuulf and Reaper glanced his way in
irritation, the bleached Raveen almost flinched away from their gaze. They looked about ready to kill someone.

"You're both getting off topic." Uunagari spoke as calmly as he could. "What we need to discuss is whether or not Shura's information is
worth looking in to."

"If The Great Evil is planning a ritual to destroy the Shades, one which may very well backfire, we need to know for sure." Sen added.

"Morgalis and those others are looking in to the Demons. We can continue after the Doomcry." Reaper replied, his ears flicking flat back as
he waved off the idea of 'information gathering'.

"They may very well be looking in to the attack of yesterday, however, they would not be looking in to this." Uunagari was frowning lightly at
the Hunter's easy dismissal of Shura's warning.

"If there is something to find on the coast, they will find it." Reaper retaliated. "The Doomcry is more important."

"More important than a ritual that could kill us all?" Sen spoke up, his brows rising in alarm.

"Yes." Reaper nodded.

"You are a fool if you think the Doomcry more important than this, Kruuzanji." Tarvuulf spoke with a cold edge to his words. Had it been a
Raveen from the cavern he was speaking to, they likely would have cowered before him crying out apologies for their insolence. No one
dared to get on Tarvuulf's bad side.

"All of you are underestimating the threat the Doomcry possesses." Reaper sneered. "He is indeed more important than some old ritual
attacking these.. Shades. Whatever they may be, their threat is not enough for me to know of them. So if the Great whats-her-face wants
to try and kill a few flies.. I say let her."

"The Shades." Sen was now joining the ranks of those about ready to violently tear in to Reaper. "Are more of a threat than this Doomcry
will ever be capable of. You think a Raveen blessed by Demon Gods is your greatest enemy? He isn't even on the same level as the
Shades. They've been around since the birth of our world. They tried to take over, and we sent them away for a thousand generations. I'm
thinking they're going to be pissed, and they're going to go out of their way to make sure we know it. You think what this Doomcry has been
doing across Orcle's Isle is a real threat? You haven't lived long enough to see what a threat truly is."

Reaper was watching the Guardian with quietly simmering anger. How dare the Magic tell him that the Doomcry was not the greater threat
here! He knew what the Doomcry was capable of. "They sound just like The Great Evil. And they'll be just another enemy of our world that
will go away on it's on. The Doomcry will not so easily vanish."

"The Great Evil hasn't gone anywhere." Uunagari was speaking through gritted teeth. "She's still here, plotting to destroy us with the next
grand scheme."

"And she'll fail when she tries it. Someone like Yinali will show up and seal her away once again." Obviously these Raveens needed a
history lesson. Everyone knows that The Great Evil lost once before. Reaper almost rolled his eyes at the three of them. Why were they
making such a big deal out of such a minimal threat?

"That's what history tells us, but it's flawed. It had one hell of a major piece of information missing. Nowhere in the records were there
mention of Yinali's deal with Neiarishta. Nowhere was there mention that Yinali hadn't died that day. Nowhere was there mention that Yinali
had betrayed us all. But in the end, she revealed herself and her true allegiance. She never defeated the Great Evil all those years ago.
The two of them had been working together from the start, waiting until the time was right to strike." Sen's growing annoyance was freely
left to roam with his words. "Do you really want to wait around for another Yinali to come along? Another traitor?"

Reaper found himself at a momentary loss of what to say. He had never heard of Yinali being evil. Not once. "You can't be-"

"I am." Sen replied flatly.

"But-"

"You know," Sen drawled. "When She first came back we had the same way of thinking as you do. We didn't take the threat of The Great
Evil seriously. All of us thought She was weak, all of us believed someone else would deal with her. But I can tell you now - after losing a
number of my own comrades - that it was a great misjudgment. She never went away. No one ever defeated her. She came after us, and
little by little did as She pleased to our world. Just when we thought we were going to win She mocked us all, and played Her trump card in
the form of Yinali."

Reaper was silent as this new knowledge mixed with old.

"We cannot afford to take Her lightly anymore." Sen concluded.

Both Tarvuulf and Uunagari nodded their silent agreement to the Guardian's words. Neiarishta was too far of a threat to be tossed aside
and ignored. To do so would mean leaving one's life exposed to a sharp blade far too willing to swing.

"Now will you help us? Or continue your hunt for the Doomcry on your own?"

...*...*...*...

Kiya was restless. It had been a few hours since Sen had left with Reaper and the others, and Morgalis hadn't yet sent out a group to
gather information on the Demons. She was actually wishing that he would, even if it would bother her later on. His uncharacteristic silence,
and unwillingness to send anyone out in to Demon territory was beginning to bother her. He wasn't acting like the jerk she knew he was.

Last night she had been hoping that he would change, but not like this. She knew he had hidden motives in making them all stay here, and
the question now was - What could he gain from this?

Frustrated with her lack of an answer, the Raveeness roughly laid back down on the rock. Her topaz gaze lifted to look upon her Brother
for the fifth time in just as many minutes. He was sitting in his usual place, just staring in to the blue waters before him. There wasn't any
movement coming from him at all. His ear didn't even twitch when a spider dropped down on him.

He was entirely too still.

What bothered her the most, however, was the fact she couldn't figure out why the blue waters were so fascinating to him. He had been
staring at it for hours now, completely ignoring the world around him. Kiya was willing to bet that if someone decided to attack him right now
he still wouldn't tear his gaze away from the blue liquid.

"God Damnit!"

Kiya blinked and shot a look over to the north side of the cavern. What she saw was something that two days ago she would of found
amusing, but was now anything but. Xauutyn was leaning against the sanctuary's wall, in his partially blind state he hadn't seen the pool of
water in his path, and he had fallen.

With a frown of concern the bleached Raveeness found herself over by the Purgatory's side. "Need some help?"

Xauutyn blinked his one remaining eye and peered up suspiciously at the Raveeness. "What are ya playin' at? I don't need ya pity."

"I'm just offering to help, Xau. I'm not offering to humor you with a pity party."

"Tha's awful nice of ya sweety. Offerin' to help out someone like me." A pause. "What are ya after?"

"Nothing, Xau. I just think that after what we went through yesterday that it's about time we put aside our differences." Kiya was helping the
Purgatory as he shakily rose to his paws, offering to help balance some of his weight as he did so. "Before we're left with regrets."

"Ya know sweety, I just realized somethin. There's a lot more to ya than I ever thought."

"I'll take that as a compliment." Kiya paused, fixing the Raveen with a mild glare. "But don't call me 'sweety'."

As the two formal rivals agreed to put aside their animosity, neither one of them noticed as a Raveen lost interest with the glowing pool,
and departed from the area.

...*...*...*...

The area was just as Tarvuulf had left it the night before. Stained with the thick stench of blood and decay, and the mutilated corpses of
younglings. The only difference was that, this time, there were no Demons chasing him or hiding in the bush. There were no Demons to be
seen.

"So this is where it all happened?" Uunagari whispered to his comrade, as his blue eyes swept over the clearing from the group's cover in
the thick grass. After Sen's offer to the Hunter the three had set out on their own for the coast. Halfway to their destination Reaper had
grudgingly rejoined them, offering muted apologies for his stupid antics earlier.

No one had really forgiven the Hunter, but figured now wasn't the time to start chewing him out. Their disgust at his initial choice to hunt the
Doomcry could hold out until later.

"Yes." Tarvuulf replied to the other bleached Raveen with a shallow nod.

"I've seen this before." Sen quietly spoke up, his eyes draining of their color. "They sacrifice cubs like this to release the required magic for
powerful spells."

"Then there is a chance of what Shura spoke of to be truth." Tarvuulf was the one to say it, but the whole group was thinking the same
thing.

"Perhaps I had misjudged. When I heard of cubs being killed I hadn't realized.." The Hunter waved a paw in the direction of entrails and
blood. "..The extent of force they butchered with."

Tarvuulf grunted quietly at that. "What had you pictured? A peaceful scene of blissfully dead cubs, whose corpses were void of any sign of
blood?"

"Erm." Reaper paled considerably. "Something like that."

Uunagari slowly slipped forward, cautiously entering the blood-covered clearing. He is followed by Tarvuulf, who enters with mirrored
caution. Sen and Reaper carefully follow their lead.

Midway through the clearing the two leads stop dead in their tracks. "We're surrounded." Tarvuulf announces with a silent snarl.

"No we're not. I don't smell any fresh Demon here." Reaper countered with a raised brow and a skeptical look around the area.

"He's right." Uunagari says, blue eyes filling with fear. "We've just walked in to a trap."

"But I'm telling you I don't smell or see any Demons. You're both losing your touch." Reaper wasn't about to be fooled. He was an
experienced hunter, and would not play along with the fear-driven delusions of others. "There's nothing out there."

"No. There is, and it's name is Shura." Sen's lips peeled back, exposing saliva-coated teeth. He should have known better. One of Shura's
powers were to conceal all traces of herself and others - including scent and mind.

"It was a trap all along." Uunagari commented as the Demons finally showed themselves.

...*...*...*...

Shura was once again smirking in to her mask, enjoying the effects of her meddling. Her plan had, predictably, worked. The Guardian had
brought himself and the others right to her.

She would be richly awarded for this well-played round. No one could deny she had played her cards perfectly, that she had successfully
tricked a group of hardened warriors to offer themselves on a silver platter. Even Neiarishta would have to be impressed, for she had taken
a page from The Great Evil's book in this one.

By asking for help, or implying that she needed help, she had set the bait. And the prey had taken it.

Slowly she allowed for her concealment on herself and her fellow Demons to drop. The look of horror on Sen's face was more than worth it
as the Demons - all equine in appearance, with an eye on their chest and gruesome wings sprouting from their backs - stepped forward.
He hadn't been expecting to see these things again either, had he?

The poor Guardian. She could have so much fun with this one - almost as much as she always seemed to have with a male Mage. These
foolish nobles, always seeking to do right, were always the most amusing to entertain herself with.

It was just too bad that this Magic wouldn't be hanging around for much longer. She wouldn't have the chance to take the game to the next
level. Such a waste.

Feel free to wound them as deeply as you please, but remember they must be able to survive until Midnight. Were her softly spoken orders
as the Demons erupted from the bush, charging their prey.

There will be no escape for you, Guardian.
.The Downward Spiral.