The First

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The inevitable never came. Sen wasn't struck down where he stood by these strangers; instead they just continued to watch him intently. It
dimmed upon him that they were probably waiting for some sort of introduction, and he cleared his throat to push his unease back.

"Greetings," he says smoothly enough, glancing to his left to make sure Kiya was still with him. "I am Senbotsuusha."

"He's with me." Kiya pipes up, offering a grin to Sen. "Found him out in the open, looking like a lost cub. I think I scared him."

At this, one of the younger bleached Raveens rises from his rock perch. "Greetings to you as well, Senbotsuusha. I am Morgalis Trimuun."
The Raveen bows his head lightly, bits of dark mane gently falling over his smoked red eyes.

Sen nods to the Raveen as his eyes roam over the other, coming to a stop upon the Raveen's right front leg. It was completely void of
flesh up to the point where his shoulder began. A sheet of black fur was wrapped around the Raveen's neck, preventing Sen from seeing if
the leg was the only bone exposed in that area. From the way the Raveen was able to move the limb the Guardian had a feeling it wasn't
some kind of war-wound. A mutation, perhaps.

"I apologize for trespassing on your area. I was in the middle of a search when I found myself here, and at the mercy of Korikiya's help."
Sen speaks again.

"No need for apologies. Although we make this our temporary home, we hold no claim on the land. It is a safe haven for any of our kind to
find shelter from the enemies outside." Morgalis falls silent for a moment, giving Sen a thoughtful look. "You teleported in to this area?"

"Yes." Sen replies with a nod of affirmation.

"Unusual."

"Hm?"

"Those of us who can teleport have never been able to teleport here. Neiarishta had made it impossible for such easy access and escape
from here. By all logic, you shouldn't have been able to come here." Morgalis was still watching Sen thoughtfully.

"Perhaps She wanted him here." Another bleached Raveen speaks up, this one with a long silvery mane and smoked blue eyes.

"That would be the obvious conclusion." Morgalis agrees with a nod. "Tell me, Senbotsuusha, can you teleport out of here?"

"I hadn't tried." Sen admits, frowning slightly. "Nor had I intended to teleport myself here in the first place. It was a desperate move to
escape an otherwise unpleasant situation."

"It sounds as if She pulled you here, Senbotsuusha." The silver maned Raveen says.

"We should make him leave." A gruff voice speaks up from near the rear of the cavern, where a heavily scarred Magic Raveen had risen to
his paws. "He'll only bring us trouble by being here."

"And why do say that Louunza?" Morgalis inquires quietly, his red eyes focusing on the Magic.

"He's a bastard Guardian, that's why!" The Magic, Loounza, sneers in response. His orange eyes turn upon Sen like a gun settling its aim
before being shot. "If he's here it's because She needs him! Can't you see? We need to make the pampered prince leave."

Sen frowns deeply, wondering if perhaps he had crossed paths with this Raveen before. Although he didn't look familiar, it sounded as if a
personal grudge might be lingering here. "She has used Guardians before," he admits quietly. "Myself included. One such time was when
She called Her Sacred Beasts in to this reality."

"So you could be a danger here." The yellow eyes of another bleached Kat narrow accusingly. "Perhaps, Morgalis, we should find out if
there is anything to support his usefulness to Her."

"If I may speak," Kiya begins, looking around the cavern with a slight frown. "..I haven't seen anything to support this theory. There hasn't
been an increase in Demon activity. There hasn't been anything out of the ordinary in the past several months. Well, other than.. well, you
know. The whole losing their minds thing."

"That's exactly why he shouldn't be here!" Snarled the Magic. "The Demons have to make up for their lack of grand schemes -- and he's
exactly how they're going to do it!"

"Calm down, Louunza." Morgalis warns the Magic, scowling a bit at his behavior. "As long as he is here, in our sanctuary, we will not force
him to leave over theory and fear."

"It's more than just theory and fear! If you let him stay you'll be doing Neiarishta a favor! Don't you see?! She needs him here!" The Magic
persisted.

"I'll admit that if the Demons haven't done anything on a large scale for a long time, they might be hoping to bring something about now.
However, I won't turn anyone away from a safe place to stay without evidence to suggest they must leave." And with that said, Morgalis
turns his attention back to Senbotsuusha.

"Please, see if you can teleport."

The Guardian nods somewhat absently. After a moment his current frown deepens, and he sends an uneasy glance over at Louunza. "I
can't."

"A sign that we should get rid of him right away." The other Magic states desperately.

"Nonsense. It merely means we have some investigating to do." Morgalis' gaze flickers around the cavern, and he nods to the rising
Raveens. "See if anything is out of the ordinary, but be quick and remain unseen upon your return."

The Raveens move past Sen, a mixture of curiosity and dislike evident in the various glances sent his way. He didn't know any of the
Raveens who were passing, but recognized one of the bleached Raveens as the speaker from before. The yellow eyes of that particular
Kat completely ignore the Guardian. After only a few moments the cavern is left mostly empty, with only five Raveens remaining.

Morgalis turns his attention back to Sen, looking thoughtful once more. "Please, remain here whilst we pursue answers to this matter. By
morning we should have some clue as to why you were brought here, and why you can't seem to leave."

The Raveen steps down off his perch, his bone limb moving as if it possessed invisible muscles and was not truly just bone. He stops as he
passes the silver maned Raveen, exchanging a glance with him before speaking again. "Senbotsuusha, this is Uunagari. He will remain
here with you and Loounza to make sure of your safety."

Not having noticed that the other Magic was indeed still in the back of the cave, Sen is nearly startled to see the death glare being sent his
way. He gives a mute nod to Morgalis, but when he looks back the other Raveen is already heading back up the cavern entrance, Kiya in
tow.

"Why does he insist to leave me here with that?!" Louunza cries, pointing an accusatory paw at Sen. "My injuries have healed, I can be just
as useful out there as everyone else!"

"Be quiet, Louunza. If I have to deal with anything in Morgalis' absence, I'll make sure to throw your body to the Demons." With the threat
said the silver-maned Raveen rolls over on his flat rock, stretching out and making himself comfortable. "Senbotsuusha. If he starts
anything - I won't hold whatever you do against you."

Although he has the desire to smirk at that, he refrains from doing so. With an absent shuffle of his wings he steps forward and settles
himself upon a vacant rock. Without the other Raveens in the area he could see just how big this place really was. It surprised him, really,
how a large group could even live in this underground cavern without being found out.

Perhaps the Demons were too damaged from the Shades to pay them much heed. Just like how Sen was currently ignoring the continuous
glare from the other Magic. He still couldn't recall if the other Magic had ever crossed his path before.


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

When Sen awakens with a throbbing headache, and no idea how he got propped up against the far cavern wall, he knows something isn't
right. And when he catches sight of Uunagari only a few feet away, also knocked unconscious and seemingly having been thrown into the
opposite wall, he knows something is amiss. And as his gaze falls upon another motionless body between him and the bleached Raveen,
and the sent of blood reaches his nostrils, he knows that something has definitely gone wrong.

And when he manages to get to his paws and steps closer to the other Magic Raveen, he can't help but stare in mute horror at the three
deep holes in the Raveen's skull. They were deep, cut clear through the bone, and were dripping with thick ringlets of blood. Without even
stepping closer, Sen knew the other Raveen wouldn't be getting up.

For Louunza was dead.
.The Downward Spiral.