Shady Impressions

A place for writers to offer creative feedback and post works in progress.

Re: Shady Impressions

Postby Kusanagi » Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:42 am

Hilarious update, nice to see my interpretation of Dax smiling and nodding at Jem not only make it into the story proper but lead to such comedy. Also Russo finally escaped one of these situations! That's experience right there. Really his whole conversation with Dax was perfect. :lol:
http://www.furaffinity.net/user/kusanagi/

http://giantessworld.net/viewuser.php?uid=27873 (something new has been added :o)

catch other stories by the drunken writer
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Re: Shady Impressions

Postby TendoTwo » Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:20 am

I love the fact that what Dax did was just so so SO stupid, even with Russo fully expecting it and bracing himself, that he couldn't even remain his normal sarcastic and cynical self and just plain yelled at Dax. :lol:

Even Jem was flabbergasted.

(Is it just me, or does Dax seem to be getting dumber? :P )
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Re: Shady Impressions

Postby The Sorrow » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:33 pm

I have been reading your story off and on. I have to admit that this just maybe the best RPG inspired story ever. Whenever I read your story it reminds of Slayers. It is an anime that I have been watching recently. If you have never heard of it then you should check it out. The Slayer has humorous characters and sometimes anthros appear in some of the episodes.

http://www.watchcartoononline.com/slayers-episode-1
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Re: Shady Impressions

Postby RaddaRaem » Sun Jan 25, 2015 12:41 am

Holy hell it's been a while since I commented on this. Freaking embarrassing to give six months without an update, good God. Oh crap and I even post the same day DTF comes back from an extended break as well. Did not mean to steal your thunder DTF, honest! D:

Kusa, TendoTwo, and The Sorrow, my apologies for not getting back to your comments back when it was timely to do so! As for this post, well... this is gonna be a special one. Now, this was not supposed to take anywhere near as long as it did to complete. What I have here is a history lesson of sorts for the Shady universe told through Twine. Some of you may remember that Diverging Duel I did a year and a half ago where you got to choose your sparring fight between Jem and Russo. This is similar but different. This story is fairly linear however branching paths are offered for you to tread down to expand and extrapolate on details at your leisure. First time I've done something like this. It's an experiment more than anything and hopefully the results prove somewhat entertaining at the very least.

Twine's fairly easy to use. Just use Restart to go all the way back to the beginning and Rewind to return to prior checkpoints. Wherever the story branches off in a major way I added a checkpoint as a heads up.

So without further ado, to dig into this latest addition to Shady feel free to click on the link below so graciously provided by incongruency. Google Drive sucks for hosting Twine now and incon was gracious enough to help me get my own little Twine story hosted and up and running.

ALSO A HEADS UP. I do have background music implemented into this Twine story. Wanted to communicate that so people could prepare themselves or react accordingly. XD


Shady History



Edit: And included is a link to the finished Twine file itself for those of you that might even be remotely interested in Twine and setting up and interactive story of your own.

http://radda.incongruency.com/Twine/Shady%20History.tws
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Re: Shady Impressions

Postby RaddaRaem » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:18 am

Man it feels weird trying to get regular with my updates again. I am woefully out of practice at this. At least there wasn't as big a gap between the last chapter and the Twine this time around.


Chapter 48

His eyelids scrunched together, Russo sleepily acknowledged the errant sunbeams batting against his face. Light filtered through the imperceptibly thin pillars of black spread across the mage’s vision. Lamentably, his eyelashes did little to shield the human from the sun’s pronounced presence.

“Mmmffff…”

Russo groaned and shifted slightly. That stubbled chin of his scratched coarsely against the arm that lay flailed out across a pillow. “Today’s the day…” Sighing in disappointment he forced his eyes open. A smattering of ill-defined shapes gradually came into focus after a couple blinks. Sprawled out upon a dresser opposite the bed was a green crystal. The flickers of magical energy that lazily coursed through its cutting and angular form distracted the human from the crusty weight bearing down against the bridge of his nose. Russo had honestly forgotten about the thing until he had been forcefully reminded of it.

“Why am I doing this?” He recalled himself asking the old man some days prior. While he waited for the response to play back in his head, Russo dragged a hand along his scruffy cheek.

“Because Nadie has been nothing if not heavy-handed. These last few correspondences with her have been packed to the brim with subtle prods and questions about whether or not you’ve considered paying her and Yash a visit,” Master Varun’s disinterested voice called out from the depths of Russo’s mind.

The mage ran a hand through a couple greasy locks of bedhead. “You old timers are always so freaking coy,” he repeated his now days-old complaint aloud.

“We have to be. How else are we supposed to lure you young’uns in?” The memory of Varun smirked at the rise he got of Russo. “Nadie also let slip that she provided you with a warp crystal for an easy and instant trip. Now look, you can volunteer or be voluntold. Take your pick.”

Volunteer it was. At the very least it’d buttress Russo’s shoddy standing if he willingly went along with the old man’s demands. Though… in the months that had passed following Greg’s defeat Varun still hadn’t settled on the matter of what to do with him. Besides practically shackling Russo to Jem and Dax so as to keep tabs on him.

Russo exhaled loudly. He had proven just as incapable at answering that same question. Once upon a time he had a comfortable routine. Take up a mission, wing it, blow off the complaints that piled up afterwards, and then rinse and repeat. Gone were those glory days. An influx of demons, dragons, and gods made certain of that.

He scratched at his head. Russo dismissively flicked away the flakes of dandruff that started to collect under his fingernails. Was everything, karma included, just finally catching up to him? Or was this Dark’s doing? Hell, that or some unrelated third thing that was still probably Dark’s fault.

“Does it matter?” The mage asked himself aloud. If there was one thing that monstrosity had drilled into his head by now was that, at the very least, he would always wield control over his reactions. He and he alone had final say over how to respond to whatever the hell it was that life or darkness incarnate could throw his way.

Russo furrowed his brows. He wielded an incredible and incorporeal power at his fingertips. This concept known as ‘choice’ which could be used to forge a new path for himself. Of the endless possibilities that awaited him, Russo would use it to… to… to sleep in for a few more hours. “All this existential bullshit makes me sleepy,” he grumbled.

-----------------

“I know Nadie specifically asked for me by name but don’t you think that uhh…” Standing before the Tedrah guild’s double doors Russo curiously eyed the handful of sacks accumulating at his feet. His own cloth sack, lumpy and misshapen from a week’s worth of clothes shoved inside, lay flopped across one of the few stair steps that wasn’t covered with slush or melting snow. “Okay I really should not have to be the one pointing out somebody else’s shitty manners.” The human’s brows arched at the awkward acknowledgement his own hypocrisy.

The double doors noisily swung back and forth in the lukewarm breeze heralding spring’s imminent arrival as Master Varun meandered in and out of the guild’s entrance. “Nowhere in her letters did she say she’d be against entertaining guests.”

“Not no does not mean yes.” Russo grit his teeth at the sight of Dax sidling up besides him, tail wagging furiously. “If you’re punishing me you can just come out and say it. No need to go pussyfooting around it.”

Varun responded by yoinking open the mouth of the burlap sack at the wolf’s feet. A spare set of clothes were unceremoniously inside soon after.

Russo groaned as the grinning wolf leaned into him. “Can I at least ask why Jem isn’t coming?” The anxious mage’s idle hands occupied themselves while he fumbled on his words. He rolled the green crystal that would serve as their one-way trip to Yash between his thumb and index finger while he waited for a response.

The old man pressed his wrinkled hands into the back of his spine. A cacophony of snaps and pops accompanied the straightening of his posture. “This kind of clandestine business between guilds doesn’t particularly interest him. Now Dax on the other hand…”

“Surely somebody else is into… whatever this is.” The mage shuddered at the sound of the excited eees slipping forth from Dax’s muzzle.

“Name ‘em,” Master Varun replied with a derisive snort.

Russo nervously twiddled his gloved fingers against his thighs. He absentmindedly stared at the nameless humans and furs milling about inside the main guild hall until the breeze gave out and the double doors slammed shut. “Do I get any hints?”

Wrinkles creased the old man’s forehead as his brows flattened.

“…Not Dax?” Russo oofed as his belongings were shoved into his chest.

Dax giddily wrapped his thick arms around his own belongings and clutched them close to his torso. “Ooh ooh ooh so what should I learn about first? That Nadie lady or Yash or teleporting or…”

Master Varun cleared his throat and spoke over the wolf’s steady stream of questions. “It’ll be a good learning experience for the both of you. Russo, Nadie seems to think you’ll be of some use. Try to humor her. And Dax, stay out of trouble.” He reached forward and jabbed at Dax with an outstretched finger. “That and see if you can get that panther to help trim some of this tubbage off.”

The wolf giggled at the figurative, and literal, prod at his flab. “Okay, okay.”

Russo sighed and rested his chin against his belongings. “How long do we have to stick around for?”

“For however long you’re needed,” Varun curtly answered. “I expect another correspondence from Nadie on your return. If not, I’m sending your ass right back.”

“Well I’m glad we cleared that up,” the mage grumbled in a subdued tone. There wasn’t much more dragging of his feet to be done at this point. May as well get it over with. “Ready Dax?” Russo clenched the crystal against his palm.

“Mmhmm!” The wolf held his burlap sack close to his bosom with one hand and clutched at Russo’s cloak with the other.

A tingling sensation tickled at Russo’s curled fingers as he siphoned magic into the crystal. Green light poured out from the gaps between the mage’s digits when the magic inherent to it reacted with his own. The intensity of the light flared briefly, overtaking both the human and the wolf. When it faded they had all but vanished.

“And here we are. Yash.” With a free hand Russo gestured at the transformed landscape before them. Unfamiliar alleyways, new storefronts and homes, burnt out buildings capped with melted rooftops and oh shit that’s right that was a thing that happened when Umbra did what demons do. Crrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaap she was probably still locked up in the Yash guild’s basement wasn’t she!? “Ohhhhhhhh please don’t let that be why Nadie called me back here,” Russo mentally moaned to himself.

Dax oohed and ahhed at the new town to take it, paying no mind to the passersby shooting the duo curious glances after having manifested themselves out of thin air. He sniffed and snuffed eagerly at the air. “So that way’s the bakery… and ooh that must be the butcher over there!”

“We can tour the place later, Dax. For now let’s just go ahead and get the introductions done and over with.” Russo turned his attention to his feet and hmmed at the shadow swallowing him up. Turning behind him, the human eyed the Yash guild looming overhead. “That huge fucking panther is bound to be around here somewhere…” he thought to himself.

“Aww… alright.” Shaking off his disappointment as quickly as it came, Dax padded over to Russo. “So what’s this Nadie lady like?”

“She’s a cat, and a big one at that. You’ll know her when you see her.”

The canine’s ears perked up. “Big? You mean like me and Jem?”

“What? No. No, not like that. Come on, you’ll see. You can be big without being a freaking giant you know.” Underneath Russo’s gait, the wooden stairs leading up to the Yash guild’s entrance creaked and groaned noisily. He shivered as he stepped into the shade of the shingled wooden awning, icicles dripping down from its edges.

“And what kinda magic does she know?” His nose already smudged against a window, Dax grumped at the fact his every exhale obscured his view inside.

Russo paused to consider his answer as his hand clasped around the front door’s handle. “…Good question.” He cocked his head side to side in the vain attempt to shake free any lost or misplaced thoughts. “…Maybe dark magic? I remember she did some freaky stuff with a demonic memento I had laying around last time I rolled through here.” The mage pulled the door towards him and shoved it aside just enough for the wolf to scooch in behind him.

“Oooh.”

A vaguely familiar sight greeted Russo. Thick wooden tables lined with benches flanked him on both sides upon entry. “The kind that Nadie used to fucking flatten Umbra,” Russo mentally noted. Beyond them, tucked away into a corner where the walls intersected at about a ninety degree angle, was a thick wooden door clad with iron. “…And that leads down into the basement.” The specifics of this place escaped him but he recalled enough to get by. “Come on, I think I know where we might find her,” he called out to the wolf. Unsurprisingly, Dax paid him little heed.

Wandering through the aisles of benches, his soft hips scraping against the wooden seats as he did so, Dax marveled at the sights. “So fancy…” His padded fingers dragged along the polished surface of the tables, relatively free of stains and nicks. A gentle warmth radiated from the plain but functional chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Their light added to the sun’s own that poured through the squat square windows embedded into the walls around eye level.

“Oops! ‘Scuse me,” Dax excitedly apologized as be bumped and brushed against humans and furs alike. Holstered weapons slung over backs both furry and fleshy were jostled as he awkwardly navigated through the tables. A steady stream of introductions were mixed in with apologies while the wolf continued to plod ever onward.

“They run a better business than we do, that’s for sure,” Russo murmured to himself upon taking in the relatively lavish surroundings. The mage sighed while he watched Dax waddle his way towards the back of the room in the least efficient manner possible. Damn wolf would take whatever path let him explore the most regardless of how much time it took. “Might be faster to just ask around at this rate,” he thought to himself aloud. Russo’s eyes swiveled towards the nearest guild-goer.

Resting upon a polished bench just beyond the mage’s reach sat a green hooded figure. Two triangular protrusions poked up from the fabric covering the person of interest’s head.

“Hey.” Russo pointed at his potential source of information. He cocked an eyebrow at their startled reaction. “Uhhh… you. Yes, you, the one having a mini-freakout.”

Wrinkles formed upon the green fabric as the figure composed itself and turned their head to the side. “Yeah?” A dark brown muzzle revealed itself to be the source of the feminine sounding inquiry.

“You wouldn’t happen to know where Nadie is, would you?”

“The guild master? She’s… outside. Back behind the building with a couple of her underlings. Training them, I believe.”

“Underlings? Shit, it’s not like you’re any higher up on the totem pole than they are. Thanks anyway, I guess.” With a dismissive laugh Russo brushed her off and paced towards the wolf. “Dax! Dax, this way! You can explore later.”

“Aww alright. Coming Russo!” A couple more oofs, heys, and apologies sounded out before the wolf freed himself from the latest aisle he’d gotten himself caught in and hurriedly padded after Russo.

From underneath her hood the hyena quietly harrumphed when the human and wolf slunk out of sight. Hiding in plain sight was not her forte. Well, at least she had been fortunate enough to be discovered by the only person here that couldn’t peg her presence here as an anomaly.

“…Russo, huh?” she muttered to herself. The hyena scratched at her fuzzy chin. “Same name came up in that letter Argost was so keen on me intercepting,” Kovania thought. It wasn’t what she had come here to learn about but his mere presence was valuable information all the same. A flash of her white teeth contrasted against the shadows covering her face. “Wonder what kind of price that tasty tidbit will fetch…”

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“That place is like a freaking maze,” Russo grumbled. He wobbled with every step down the twilit alley running alongside the Yash guild, ice and frozen slush crunching loudly underneath him.

Dax grunted softly while he struggled to squeeze between the buildings. Splinters embedded themselves into his cloak as his generousness forced itself through. “Are all guilds like that? Aroo, I still don’t know where everything is back home.”

“…Fair enough,” Russo reluctantly acknowledged. The duo had given up on traversing the winding hallways that wound through the structure like wooden veins. Instead, they meandered back outside so as to seek out the most direct route to their destination. “After all, I think it’d be pretty hard to screw up walking in a straight fucking line,” the human reasoned as he took the lead. His gloved hand dragged along the wooden planks comprising the side of the building for balance.

Underpaw Dax’s tubby toes splayed out as the frozen rock and clay gave way to patches of dead grass and weeds. “Think we’re getting close?” the wolf asked. “Mmff!” Squinting his eyes, Dax peered past the back of Russo’s head to take in the sudden and blinding source of light. Rays of sunshine that illuminated patches of brown grass and barren bushes before them answered his question.

“Master, don’t you think this comes off as a little… excessive?”

“Nonsense! How am I to expect you to take this seriously otherwise?”

The human and wolf exchanged confused glances at whatever the hell it was they were eavesdropping on. Curiosity clenching at their shoulders, the duo quietly slunk towards the end of the alleyway.

“Make no mistake, I’m immeasurably proud of the both of you. Competent, intelligent, and loyal to a fault. I couldn’t have asked for better pupils.”

“I’m going to side with Tyr on this. I don’t really see how dragging us out here to be beaten to a pillowy pulp constitutes training.”

Russo and Dax poked their heads out just beyond the alleyway.

A hulking black panther, clad in a grey cloak and dark blue pants, cupped a fist into the palm of her free hand. “Would it be fair to say that neither of you have yet to face down an opponent that completely overwhelmed you?”

The fox and raccoon before her exchanged wary glances. They tentatively shook their heads side to side.

“Make no mistake that is not a mark against you.” Nadie let her arms drape to her sides. Mounds of pillows and bedsheets were bound to and wrapped around her limbs with rope. “But I fear there will come a day when you do. Now, I don’t doubt that you two have preparations in place should such a scenario come to pass.” The feline cocked her head side to side. Her long black braided hair slid back and forth across her broad back as she did so. “…It’s one thing to prepare for an emergency. Living through one is something altogether different.”

Tyridia wrung his orange furred hands nervously. The fox’s muzzle parted and closed multiple times before he worked up the courage to say what needed to be said. “Master, is there something we should know about?”

“Now that you mention it, this wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with the planned trip to Kovous would it?” Morgan tugged down the white hood of her robe and peered up at her mentor.

The panther’s black kitty nose flared while she inhaled deeply and sighed. “I won’t deny that might have something to do with it. Think of it as a precaution. Better to prepare for the worst and hope for the best after all.”

Both Tyridia’s and Morgan’s shoulders slumped slightly at the acknowledgement.

“As I was saying, no one knows how they’ll react to a crisis until they’re in the middle of one.” Nadie tugged down on the column of padding until her exposed fists were ensnared in pillowy fluff. “Should you find yourself exposed to them in let’s say… controlled doses, it’s possible to acquire the experience and practice needed to keep your head about you even in the most dire of situations.”

Rubbing at his shoulder uneasily, his loose sleeves crumpling as he did so, Tyridia’s eyes reluctantly met with the panther’s own. “And that means what, exactly?” A pathetic whine escaped his maw when he watched Nadie shift her stance.

Knees bent and arms held up at her sides, Nadie’s thick fluffy tail flicked gently behind her.

“I think we should run now,” Morgan gently urged her foxy friend. Clamping her black furred fingers around Tyridia’s wrist she dragged him just outside of the panther’s immediate range.

A pillar of pillow brushed against their noses as Nadie lurched forward. “Let’s set some realistic expectations for this shall we?”

Both Morgan and Tyr collapsed backward into stiff frost-covered blades of grass. They were left reeling, hearts pounding their way out of their chests, by the wide whiffing swing. And to think, it was a pulled punch at that.

Her padded and puffy arms swinging side to side, Nadie scrunched her brow in disapproval. “I see you two are still having trouble suspending your disbelief for this little exercise. You are not in mortal danger, I assure you. However… if you can’t find a reason to treat this seriously then I will give you one.” The panther reared an arm back as far as she was able. In turn the cape of her cloak was tossed aside to reveal mountains of fluffy muscle tensing beneath her form-fitting attire.

The initial panic having faded Tyridia frantically shoved Morgan aside. Streaks of dirt and grass stains collected on her white cowl while she skidded across the ground.

“Ahhh!” Morgan couldn’t help but wince painfully when a burst of air, followed by an eruption of pebbles, painfully pelted into her back and sides. The raccoon pressed her padded palms flat against the ground and stumbled to her feet. Morgan ran from the impact crater she had nearly been embedded into courtesy of her mentor’s powerful plush punch.

Dax whined softly at the sight. “Why is… is that panther lady trying to hurt them?”

Russo curled his fingers around the wrinkles collecting on the neck of the wolf’s hood and tugged him back into the shaded alleyway. “Last thing we want to do is get involved in this.”

“Tyr, move!”

Nadie dragged her arm along the frigid earth. Uprooting tufts of grass as it went the panther swung her limb out to the side. It quietly connected with Tyridia’s chin and sent the vulpine tumbling. The fox groaned painfully while he shakily balanced himself against a tree trunk. His clawed fingers, trembling terribly, tore chunks of bark loose.

“Tyridia let’s… I don’t know just stay away from her we’ll figure something out!” Morgan yelled out unconvincingly, her voice faltering.

“Sheesh,” Russo muttered wordlessly to himself at the sound of Morgan calling out to her foxy friend. “And I thought the old man’s ‘help’ was bad.”

Dax grumped at the mention. “That doesn’t look like help to me. Looks like she’s just trying to beat them up.”

The human sighed and feebly tossed his arms out to his sides. “It’s the school of hard knocks, Dax. It is what it is.”

A grumpy exhale from the wolf’s flared nostrils signaled Dax’s lack of satisfaction with the answer provided.

Russo rolled his eyes. “Look. Better they get smacked around and pummeled by someone that’ll dust them off and pull them back on their feet rather than bury them in the ground. At least Nadie will teach them what to do and what not to do next time when she’s done.”

“That still…” Dax bit into his bottom lip and held his sack close to his chest. “Still seems mean to me.”

“It’s kinder than the alternative. Lose a fight here and you can learn from it. Lose a fight out there and you’re just dead.” Russo arched his brows and slung his own bundle of cloth over his back. “I don’t spar with Jem because it’s fun. I do it so when I do fight someone like him I have some idea in mind on how to not die.”

“Hmmph.” The canine gently rocked side to side. “Still doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

Russo shrugged dismissively. “Like it or not you better get used to it.” Though… the mage’s lips curled down at the thought. He may not have considered them close friends. Really good acquaintances, maybe, if he was being honest. Even so, the human still had a marginal interest in the fate that was slated to befall them. Unpleasant as it was. “Look, Nadie has a point. Sucky as it is.”

Dax arooed softly and snuggled his belongings close like they were a security blanket. “Think they can win?”

The human clenched his teeth together. “Welllllll let’s put it this way. They’ll be lucky to get a hit in on her. It may not look like it but those old timers don’t fuck around.” Russo shook his head at the thought of the last sparring match he’d had with old man Varun. Old bastard had surprisingly creative and diabolical uses for all those Thunder spells at his disposal.

Nadie spoke aloud as she sprinted towards Morgan. “Alone in a clearing I find myself staring down a fox and a raccoon. One’s garb is unfamiliar, loose and flowing. Is it just a matter of style and personal preference or representative of a school of magic I’m unfamiliar with?” Her tone was plain and uninspired while she rattled off her observations. The panther tossed her arm out before her and swung it wide across her bulky frame.

Morgan frantically dropped to her knees to avoid the murderous range and reach of her Master’s attack. A rush of air whisked by overhead and blew back her hood to reveal long black hair that draped down to the raccoon’s shoulders. Wheezing, Morgan brushed aside loose strands of hair that tapped gently against her eyes and the black furred mask that surrounded them.

The panther continued droning on. “The other awash in white. Their cowl and the red trimmings along its hood and sleeves screaming out that they’ve devoted themselves to practicing Light magic, and more specifically, the healing capabilities of it.” She hopped forward and lifted her other arm high above her head. Throwing her weight behind her left shoulder Nadie’s limb cleaved through the air and crashed into the frozen earth like an axe. “That or they just like the look and feel to it. Those robes are admittedly quite comfy.”

Rolling out of the way, Morgan scrambled into the brush on her hands and knees. Dead leaves and blades of grass crunched and scratched at her furred fingers as she forced her way through brambles of bushes. Ringtail flitting behind her, the raccoon stumbled to her feet and made a beeline towards Tyridia. She didn’t even have the breath to retort or banter.

“Given the circumstances who do you think I would target first, hmm? If I do anything short of killing Tyridia then he will always remain a potential threat courtesy of your magic.” Nadie straightened her posture and took to jogging after the raccoon. “You have the potential to keep your allies up and on their feet far beyond their limits. You are the greatest threat to me here. Therefore, you are my biggest target.”

Tyr leaned his head back against his post and groaned. Where his teeth had bit down into his lips courtesy of Nadie’s punch, blood dribbled down and tinges of iron lapped at his tongue. “Is it worth it calling on Xis?” Tyr pondered to himself. He worriedly watched his best friend dart between lines of trees in what was proving to be a futile endeavor in shaking off Nadie. The panther was closing the gap and fast “Mmff. No. He’d probably agree with her and stand idly by,” he thought with a dejected flop of his ears.

The fox held a hand out before him and readied what options he had available to him. Around his extended fingers the air warped and wavered as a tiny purple flame collected atop each one. Limbs still trembling, he aimed his open palm at the raccoon and traced her path. Lurching it violently to his side he focused intently on where she would be in a matter of moments. Or where he sure as hell hoped she’d be. With a violent splaying of his fluffy fingers the purple wisps of flame sailed forth between the trees and vanished. Distorted patches of air that seemed to bend and compress the landscape around them served as indicators of where they had faded.

“I hope your only reaction to this isn’t to run, Morgan,” Nadie noted aloud. Bounding leaps carried the panther forward to her prey. Once the raccoon fell within reach, Nadie cocked an arm back behind her shoulder. Her muscles strained as energy collected within her limb. “Otherwise this won’t be much of a fight.” With that declaration she hurled her arm forward at the raccoon’s back with the intention of sending it right through her torso.

To the panther’s consternation and rumbling mewl of confusion she was blasted in the face with a billow of burning air. The raccoon’s form exploded into a flurry of flames and Nadie stumbled forward as her swing whiffed wildly. Grunting, she steadied her balance and sighed at the fading sounds of frantic footsteps bolting away from her. “Those two really do complement one another wonderfully,” Nadie proudly mused. With a shake of her head she resumed speaking in her impassive and observational tone. “Now I could just as well be brutally pragmatic and kill Tyridia so as to render any threat you posed irrelevant. But, that’s beyond the scope of this exercise. So we’ll ignore that.”

Dax couldn’t help but stick his muzzle out beyond the alleyway’s corner and drink in more of the unfolding fight. He sighed in a mixture of relief and confusion at seeing the raccoon regroup with the fox. “Didn’t that huge kitty lady just make her explode?” Dax asked.

Turned out Russo was little better. His head poked out from just behind the wolf’s own. “Huh. Always wondered if Tyridia had anything else in his arsenal besides that snooty fucking fox,” the mage thought aloud.

“Hmm?”

“That was an illusion he whipped up there. And a convincing one at that. Tyridia made a fake Morgan to give the real one a chance to bolt.”

“Phew!” Dax’s tail wagged gently side to side. He watched curiously as the white mage approached the fox and gently placed a hand upon his orange furred cheek.

Morgan hurriedly kneaded and massaged at her friend’s bruised and battered flesh. White wisps of energy trailed off her black furred digits while her magic seeped into her Tyridia’s form. “Thanks for the save, Tyr,” she managed in a tired but grateful tone.

Tyridia winced at the brief but stinging flares of pain that accompanied her soothing touch. “You’d do the same for me,” he said with a shy shrug. The heaviness and aching pain that plagued his jaw and skull vanished while his lips stung terribly. He could feel his mostly superficial wounds scabbing over and the faint taste of metal that coated his tongue and teeth begin to fade. “H-hey. Where’d Nadie go?” he worriedly realized. His eyes darted back and forth between the trees and bushes. “It should not be this hard to find someone that big,” he whined to himself.

“Come now, I would think you two would know better by now,” Nadie’s worryingly familiar voice rumbled from behind them. “Celebrate your victories, however small, after the battle is won not during it. Those little flares of hope are awfully easy to take advantage of, after all.” A dark haze surrounded the panther’s limbs upon her suspiciously silent approach. The magical energies muffled and dampened her gait and the sounds of chafing fabric that sounded out every time she swung her arms side to side. Leaning forward, she gently papped against the back of both the raccoon and the fox’s heads with her cushioned hands. “Tyridia, while your illusions were well placed they came with at the risk of playing your hand,” Nadie continued speaking to no one in particular. The black mist transferred from one target to the next and wrapped itself around Morgan and Tyridia’s eyes and ears.

Both the fox and raccoon wheeled around fearfully. A gentle but persistent ringing in their ears deafened them to the world around them while a heavy haze blackened their vision.

“Knowledge and information are powerful things that you can ill-afford to provide your foes with and… woops that’s right you can’t actually hear any of this! I’ll just have to chastise the both of you afterwards,” Nadie smirked. With a shrug of her shoulders the Yash guild master leisurely swung those pillowy clubs of her arms at them. Both limbs connected with their targets. A satisfying force pressed back against her curled fists and wrists as the panther could practically feel their ribcages crumple under her hits. Pained yelps sounded out from the duo while they hurtled and tumbled backwards across the ground.

“Nooooooo!” Dax wailed softly at the sight of the latest pummeling. “Shouldn’t we help them?”

“Absolutely not,” Russo immediately interjected. “I don’t have any clue what all kinds of magic Nadie can toss around. Do you?”

The wolf groaned.

Russo exhaled through his teeth. “Not like she’d need to if she wanted to kick our asses up and down both sides of Yash. Besides, this is their sparring session not ours. It’s not our problem.” He winced at the muffled thwack of one of the panther’s padded arms against the raccoon’s back as Morgan tried to crawl away. A cloud of dirt rose up around the raccoon’s stained cowl after she was practically embedded into the ground. “If you want to call it that…”

Nadie could only shake her head at her pupils. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. She was capable of tossing out an errant kick here and there to keep the blinded and deafened fox sprawled out at her feet. “Spontaneously crafting tactics and reacting to threats on a moment’s notice is something you two clearly need more practice with.” She snapped her padded fingers together to dispel the suffocating haze that afflicted them. “If this is the best you two can manage than I can’t risk sending you out along with Russo to Kovous just yet.”

“Wait wait wait, what.” The mage shoved the wolf aside as he upped his eavesdropping game. “I’m going where?”

Circling around the felled white mage and summoned, Nadie flipped them over onto their backs. “We’ll repeat this exercise in a week or so, after you’ve had ample time to recuperate, and try again. Until I’m satisfied with your performance I can’t in good faith permit you to leave.”

“That could take fuckin’ forever!” Russo whispered in a raspy panic. “We could be here for weeks!”

Dax wiggled side to side excitedly at the prospect.

The mage clenched his fists together in a frustrated sense of urgency. “No no no no no.” Stifling a pitiful moan he steeled his nerves in advance for the stupidity that was sure to follow. “Aughhhhhh now it’s my problem! DAMMIT.”

Nadie narrowed her eyes and glared down at Morgan.

The raccoon clutched at her chest and trembled with every heaving breath she drew. A gentle white aura that enveloped her hands outed her surreptitious attempts to heal herself.

“I can’t fault you for trying,” the panther growled while she hefted an arm overhead. “But that’s never going to be enough. Stubborn tenacity will only carry you so far.” Nadie shifted her weight and allowed gravity to drag down her limb once more.

A muffled thwump sounded out much sooner than she would have expected it to as her simply stopped mid-swing.

“What the?” The feline’s eyes drifted down curiously to a shimmering green wall of magic made up of interlocking hexagons that thwarted her attack. Before the panther even had time to register her confusion the faint hum of energy filled her ears. Nadie’s head jerked to the side as an orb of concentrated magic slammed into the side of her face.

“Weren’t you the one that just said to hold off on the gloating until you’ve actually won?” Russo stepped out from the alleyway, fists clenched, and arms swinging at his side. “Or is this one of those ‘Do as I say and not as I do’ setups?”

Ribbons of blue energy wafted off of Nadie’s black and fluffy cheeks as she turned to face the interruption’s source. “I was wondering when you would slink out from the shadows,” she smirked.

“…Aww so she already knew we were here?” Dax peeked his head out and timidly waved at the hulking feline.

Russo rolled his eyes and groaned. “So much for the entrance.”
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Re: Shady Impressions

Postby Kusanagi » Sat Apr 18, 2015 11:09 pm

The Return of Dax and Big fucking panther...oh and also Russo I suppose. Good to see you're back at it.
http://www.furaffinity.net/user/kusanagi/

http://giantessworld.net/viewuser.php?uid=27873 (something new has been added :o)

catch other stories by the drunken writer
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Re: Shady Impressions

Postby RaddaRaem » Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:34 am

Managed to get this in less than 2 months after my last post. Can still do better, hopefully can nail that with the next chapter.


Chapter 49

“Russo! Russo what should I do?” Dax barked nervously. Stamping his paws worriedly against the ground the wolf could feel his heart caught in his chest. His arms trembled terribly and his limbs locked up from indecision. It was an all too painfully familiar feeling. “This is just like with that scary Mimic…” he mumbled to himself. Back then the wolf didn’t so much act as he reacted. Russo screaming out orders that he dutifully followed as his addled mind failed to concoct any of their own.

“Just hang back, Dax! This isn’t a fight we’re supposed to be able to win.” The mage kept his eyes locked on the panther’s affable yet threatening form. “So what’s it gonna take to meet these lofty standards of yours?”

Nadie’s attention shifted from Russo to the magic he made manifest. Her eyes dilated as unbound curiosity welled up within her and she brushed her fingers gently along the barrier’s surface.

“Hello? Nadie? I know you can banter.” Russo cocked in confusion while he watched her pap gently against the wall of magic. “Ummm… I’m just…” Hand held out before him the human curled his fingers inward gently. The edges of the translucent green rectangular slab of interlocking scales softened and curled down towards the ground until both the raccoon and fox were enclosed in a protective dome. “Yeah let’s do that.”

Attentive and rumbly mrowls sounded out from the Yash guild master’s throat. “Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. This is a draconic magic. The likes of which can only be gifted, never taught. Just what have you been up to, child of Varun?”

“Meh, just the same old same old.” In the periphery of his vision Russo spied Morgan struggling to prop herself up. “Hurry it up…” he impatiently thought. “Can’t keep that thing up forever.”

The hulking panther’s tail flit to and fro behind her. “Uncooperative as ever, I see,” she replied with a smirk. “Two can play at that game.” Nadie reached out and placed a padded palm against the magical dome that dared to deny her. Waves of black and purple energy pulsed out from her fingertips and clouded the surface of the barrier. Its transparent surface grew dark and murky. Morgan and Tyridia’s shifting forms faded into the swirling whorls of dark magic clinging to the barrier’s surface. “Wouldn’t want to make this too easy on you.”

“Dammit,” Russo irritably cursed. So now he had no clue when it would be safe to lower his spell. Awesome. “Didn’t take you long to throw that right back in my face,” the human yelled out to the panther from a safe distance.

“I’m surprised you’re going to let me leave it at that.” Nadie’s lips curled up into a deceptively sweet grin as she continued. “Come now, as one of Varun’s flock I expect more from you. He’s not the kind to let someone stop him from getting his way after all.”

The mage rolled his eyes and groaned. Darn cat was enjoying this way too much.

“Russo!”

Russo slouched forward and sighed.

“Is this how fights normally go?” Dax barked out from his hidey hole of an alleyway.

“No, Dax,” Russo shook his head side to side while he flattened his brows.

The wolf dared to shuffle out and take a better peek at the riveting lack of action on display. “B-because if it is then I think I might be okay at them! Well… umm…” Dax tapped his paws together timidly. “This part of them anyway. Sure you don’t need my help?”

“Yes.”

Dax wrinkled his nose and whined loudly.

“What’s the harm in letting him practice trading barbs? Everyone has to get their start in somewhere,” Nadie inquired while she tossed her free hand out to her side. Lazily, she twiddled her fingers in the air as if to beckon the wolf forward.

“Oh for- You!” Russo yelled in exasperation and pointed a finger at the Yash guild master accusingly. The panther arched her brows and smirked in response. “Yes you! Stop encouraging him.”

Wiggling with excitement, Dax bounded around the corner.

With a dismissive wave of his hand Russo motioned for the wolf to get gone. “It’s a trap you idiot! Did you already forget how she fucking blindsided Tyridia and Morgan like it was nothing?”

“Y-yeah but… we’re just talking right now.” Jogging forward, the wolf’s tail pitifully wagged to and fro. Reluctantly, Dax pressed his weight against his heels and skidded to a stop.

Nadie brought a hand up to her chin and stroked at the graying fuzz. “This guest of yours, Russo. Is he truly this… inexperienced when it comes to strife?”

Straightening his posture, the human kept his focus upon the panther. “What gave him away?”

“I’m right here you know…” Dax grumped at the constant third-person references.

The panther’s curled lips drooped slightly so as to downgrade her smirk to a smile. “My apologies. Dax, I believe it was?” Nadie received an emphatic nod in confirmation. “Hmm. Not all battles are fought with fists and flares of magic. Words, both explicit and implied, are just as potent weapons.”

“R-right!” Dax replied with uncertainty. “I think.”

Russo interjected with a frustrated grunt. “What she’s trying to say is that you don’t run your mouth off and banter for the hell of it. There’s a rhyme and reason to it all.”

Ears splayed apart, Dax failed to follow the flow of logic. “Wait…” His eyes went wide and ears perked right back up. “This really is just like the mimic!” Dax thought to himself while an epiphany struck him. “Like when you tricked those thieves into showing themselves! Oh so that means… Ooops.” Shuffling back into the alleyway, Dax timidly poked his muzzle past the wall. A grumpy bark slipped free from his maw. “So that means she’s trying to trick you! She’s sneaky.”

“Yes, I’ve noticed.” Russo ran a hand through his hair and breathed easy knowing he wouldn’t have to babysit the wolf. At least he had that going for him. Scratching at his scalp, the mage was pleasantly surprised to find Nadie had yet to move away from her post at the darkened dome’s side. “I’m honestly surprised you didn’t try and take advantage of that.”

Nadie twiddled her fingers against the barrier and was mindful not to rest her weight upon it. “Stern I may be but I’m not unreasonable. Rewarding your companion’s curiosity with what could be perceived as cruelty is not my intention. That and I know better than to engage you on your terms. You’re far too mobile for my liking.”

The two mages stared each other down as Russo digested that tidbit of information. A biting gust of air punctuated the silence that followed. Crisp brown leaves tumbled out from beneath the bare trees and bushes and crinkled against the human’s boots. “…You’re not going to move, are you?” the human dared to ask.

“Now whatever may have given you that impression?”

Holy hell it was like he was arguing with himself. “Dammit,” Russo silently mouthed. “Think think think think think don’t fuck this up,” he thought. His eyes swept over Nadie’s stationary form. “Hmmm.” Tentative tactics started to play out within the confines of Russo’s imagination. On the pretend playing field of battle that manifested within his mind, a chess board comprised of alternating black and white tiles, the players presented their pieces.

Russo made the first move and deftly maneuvered a knight into position so as to protect his threatened rooks. Nadie in turn plunked her queen right then and there to show she wasn’t fucking around. He paused and considered his options. On the opposite side of the board he nervously stared down her seemingly infinite supply of playing pieces. While on his own side sat a markedly finite and pitiful in comparison amount.

“Can’t bait her away from there… she’s too smart for that.” He commanded a rook to dance amongst the tiles to draw out a reaction but it was promptly knocked aside. “Ummm… I could force her to move?” A knight timidly approached the Nadie’s queen and was smacked asunder. “Yeah she’ll just beat the shit out of me. And I can’t just drag it out. My magic will run out long before hers does.” A steady line of chess pieces advanced row by row as time ticked on and steadily suffocated his options. “Can’t lower the barrier since she’ll just clock Morgan and Tyridia out the first chance she gets… I mean the whole point of this is to get them out of there.” Russo let out a tired sigh. Nadie had gone and turned his trump card into a trap. Hell even if she hadn’t gone and blackened his barrier he’d probably still be screwed and hold on now.

The mage squinted his eyes. “If I can’t see in there then neither can she.” A tumultuous rumbling rattled the pretend battlefield as Russo flaunted the rules. A flood of checkers, a veritable fuckton of them, overwhelmed the board and tossed everything into disarray. “I can’t outsmart her when I play by her rules, that’s a given. So… I’ll just quit playing by them. Or better yet, break them.”

Nadie hrmmed to herself while she watched her opponent’s attention drift elsewhere. Now really would be the ideal time to rush him down but… best not to risk it. He could recover from any act of carelessness far too quickly for her to take advantage of it. With a rumbling growl the panther cleared her throat. “It would appear we have reached an impasse.”

“Go ahead and keep thinking that,” Russo shot back. A muffled snap sounded out as two gloved fingers slid against one another and he vanished in a burst of light.

Jaw clenched, Nadie mulled her options. She twiddled her fingers against the barrier once more to verify its continued existence. A curved surface pressed back against her padded fingertips. “Still there…” she muttered to herself. It was admittedly refreshing, if not mentally taxing, trying to take into account Russo’s tactics.

“What kind of risk would that human deem worthwhile to take?” The panther pondered while stroking at the grey furs on her chin. Her cheek still tingled from the rudimentary spell that had slapped her upside the head. “He chose not to approach her nor did he lob any more spells from afar. Simultaneously casting two spells of any notable power is probably too much for him to handle…” Nadie squinted her eyes for a moment. “Then again he did just teleport yet the barrier remains…” Then again that is a spell he most likely can cast effortlessly. Hmm… if he could have safely forced her back from afar he would have taken the opportunity. She swiveled her head side to side. Not a sign of him amongst the trees or undergrowth. Her pupils bobbed against the top of their sockets. He wasn’t among the tree canopies or on the roof. Nadie growled. She didn’t like having a target that couldn’t be stalked.

“You there, Dax!” Nadie awkwardly lifted up a padded arm, mounds of pillows chafing against her side, and pointed at the wolf.

A surprised albeit confused aroo sounded from the pudgy wannabe mage. “M-me?”

“Yes, you. By chance would you happen to know where Russo would have vanished off to?” The wolf promptly tossed his arms out to the side and shrugged. No panicked or frustrated whispers could be heard from beyond the alleyway. Nor did Dax ever look back to any unseen guests to gauge whether or not his response was an appropriate one. “It was worth a shot,” Nadie grumbled.

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“I’ll be honest. I was expecting some sort of smart-ass response or complaint the second I teleported in here but uhhh…” Russo sheepishly scratched at his cheek, “You’re welcome.”

“What would there be to complain about?” Knees tucked up against her chest, Morgan’s ringtail flopped against the ground. “I mean if you really want us to I’m sure Tyr and I can find something to moan and groan about.”

Hunched over his legs, Tyridia gently rocked himself back and forth. “Well… it is a little comfy-cozy in here. Some room to stretch our legs would be nice.” The fox gestured to the darkened dome walls that stretched over them. What little light filled the air was courtesy of the interlocking lattices of magic that gave off a subdued green glow.

“You’ll take what you get and like it,” Russo replied half-jokingly. “So uhh… I take it you two are probably a little confused and or curious as to why the hell I’m here.”

Tyr arched his brows and gently bobbed his head side to side. “Maybe just a lot.”

“Fair enough. But can we save that for after this whole Nadie business? Can only keep this up for so long.” The human pointed towards the top of the magical construct that housed them. A fine mist wafted out from between his lips as he shivered. “Been here long enough as it is.”

Morgan swiveled a hand about her wrist to coerce the conversation to a close. “Agreed. Let’s not waste our second wind. The only…” The raccoon paused as she caught herself on her words. “Okay, the only desirable way out of this mess is to defeat Master.”

The entire group awkwardly averted one another’s gaze in response. With a sigh Morgan, was the first to break the painfully drawn out silence with a blunt acknowledgement of their odds. “Which is no small feat, I’ll admit.”

“I don’t think we’re supposed to be able to,” Tyridia grunted while he nervously scratched at a flicking ear.

Morgan’s lips drooped slightly. He wasn’t wrong. “Even so, it’s not like her to set us up for failure. Master wants us to be challenged, not tortured.”

Russo hrmmed and bit his lip. “So what will it take to get her to ease up?”

“She’s already taking it easy on us,” the raccoon glumly acknowledged. “Even with the kiddie gloves on Master is still nearly taking our heads off our shoulders.”

Tyridia’s white tipped tail curled around his ankles. “Do you think…” He cocked his muzzle to the side and pursed his lips. “Do you think she’d concede if she wasn’t able to take it easy on us?”

Russo and Morgan shot the fox quizzical looks. “Isn’t that the only reason you two are still alive?” The human asked.

Beginning to crumple under the pressure, Tyr simply shrugged. “Master said it herself that she’s not out to get us. If we take away her pulled punches then maybe all we’ll be left with is no punches?” Tyridia leaned back against the barrier, his neck tilting forward uncomfortably.

“Nadie seems like the type to start headbutting or kicking the crap out of us if it came to that,” Russo groaned through clenched teeth.

“That’s the point though,” Morgan interjected. “I didn’t see her tossing out any boots or knees or foreheads out there. Did you?”

The pale skinned mage’s eyes bobbed to the sides of their sockets while he contemplated the matter. “…She is very punchy, yeah. So, what, are you saying we should rip those pillows right off her? Her being so, you know, fucking punchy in the first place kinda complicates that.”

“It’s not like we can run around forever though. We uhh… we already tried that.” Tyr tilted his head side to side and cringed. Loud cracks sounded out from his neck as the fox worked out some kinks.

Morgan took back the reins of the conversation and steered everyone back towards a definitive plan of action. “Right, well, we need to do something. At this point it’s better to have a flawed plan than none at all. Unless you have a better idea, Russo.” Hood flipped up over her head, the raccoon’s brown eyes flit back and forth between her companions.

His jaw loosened for but a moment before Russo pressed his chapped lips back against one another. “You know her better than I do.”

“Alright then, we have ropes and twine holding them in place to target.” Morgan’s gentle tone grew authoritative and commanded the fox and human’s attention. “Tyridia, Russo; Both of you have spells that can burn them off.” Feeling their eyes on settling upon her the raccoon quickly chimed in with how she would contribute. “I suppose I can as well but that’s contingent on me nailing her with a Reverse spell first. Which risks negating your work so never mind scratch that.”

Tyr shot Morgan a wry but nervous smile. “Heh, no need to go and freeze those ropes lashed around her. Master hits hard enough as it is.”

“What about that black gunk?” Russo added. “The both of you locked up when she slathered you with that.”

“Right right… Blindness and Deafening are two of her favorite spells. Very potent and debilitating when combined together.” Hand held out before her, a warm but piercing light radiated off of Morgan’s digits. “Leave that to me. I can undo just about any damage she can deal out.”

Arms crossed about his chest, Russo felt his feet skid forward against the frozen ground while he leaned back against the barrier. “Simple enough,” the mage responded. “Tyridia and I burn shit and you keep throwing fuel onto the fire. So we have a plan of attack. Any ideas on how to make sure the two of you don’t end up embedded into the ground again? No offense.”

Morgan stifled a grimace and brushed away at the dew, dirt, and grass stains that had collected on her sleeves. “None taken. That’s uhh… that’s a work in progress now that you mention it.”

“Hold on hold on,” Tyridia dared to interrupt. “How exactly were you planning on getting us out of here?”

“I teleported in, I’ll teleport us out,” Russo replied nonchalantly. “Can’t wait to see the look on Nadie’s smug face when it sinks in that I can slip us right out from beneath her fingertips.”

“Well… now…” The fox hesitatingly interjected. “Tempting as it is to teleport us directly back onto the battlefield if uh… if that’s what you want to call it, you don’t have to do that. I mean,” Tyridia’s hands circled about one another while he spoke, “Master never said we had to face her head on. Or that we couldn’t convene out front of the guild or on the roof or in the alleys. Or flank her from multiple sides and uh… yeah.”

Unable to stifle a toothy grin Morgan leaned over and nudged her foxy friend’s shoulder. “Look at you getting all devious!”

Tyridia’s orange furred cheeks masked a welling blush, much to his eternal relief. “Master did leave us a lot of ambiguity to work with…”

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Nadie brushed one of her padded arms back and forth against her forehead and sighed. “You’re sure he’s not back there?”

“Mmhmm! Hey… aww shoot I probably shouldn’t be telling you that should I. Darnit.” Fists clenched and at his sides Dax dared to bark at the panther from a generous distance away. This banter stuff was harder than he thought it’d be.

Pointed teeth grinding against one another, Nadie allowed herself to slouch forward. She felt shackled to this barrier and every minute that agonizingly ticked by only served to remind her of that. Intentionally or not, that mage had done a fine job sowing seeds of doubt and discontent within the panther’s mind. Nadie had to constantly remind herself that this was, mind-numbing as it was, the safest and surest route to victory. Deny them the chance to regroup above all else and for goodness sakes do not chase him. Yet at the same time nor she could afford to let herself get complacent! She had to remain vigilant, alert. Simply standing sentry was not going to win this fight.

“So uhh… big kitty lady.”

Taking the time to inhale and exhale deeply through her wrinkled black nose, the feline composed herself. “You can address me as Nadie if you like. And my apologies Dax, but I am preoccupied at the moment.”

Padded fingers clutching at the splintering planks of wood along the side of the the building, the wolf narrowed his eyes. “Is that just you being sneaky again?”

Lips curling down into a frown the panther growled softly. Not only that, but Russo had managed to leave a distraction of unmatched prowess in his absence. It had been a long, long, time since she had engaged in such a mentally taxing fight. “No, young wolf. This is me being frustrated. Even though I am capable of doing so I have little interest in engaging in drawn out battles of attrition.”

A brief burst of light at the edge of her vision enraptured the panther’s attention. Nadie’s head whipped up towards the source.

“Holy crap you’re still there?” A familiar voice called out from above. Brows arched, Russo peered down from atop the Yash guild’s slanted roof.

“Ahh there you are! I was beginning to think that you had abandoned them and run off…to…” What satisfaction had been present in Nadie’s voice abruptly fizzled off the tip of her tongue. Jaw gone slack, the panther blinked not once but twice to be absolutely certain as to what she was seeing.

Foot tapping against frost crusted roof tiles, Russo quietly bit into a buttered roll. “What?” he inquired between chews.

A flurry of questions, most of them characterized by anger or disbelief, circulated through Nadie’s mind. “I… Do…” The panther’s brows flattened as did her lips. He was a child of Varun, all right. “I can’t help but think that no matter the question I ask and no matter the answer you provide, I won’t approve of it.”

“Probably not,” Russo replied with a shrug while he poked the remainder of the pastry between his lips.

“Wait what’s going on now?” Dax yelled out.

Hands cupped around his mouth the human turned to face towards the wolf’s general direction. “You need to learn to eavesdrop harder Dax, I took a snack break.”

“Awwww!”

Rolling his eyes, the mage reached into his pocket and produced another pastry. With a flick of his wrist Russo lobbed it off to his side where it bounced against the weathered wooden tiles that lined the roof. After its second bounce it teetered over the slanted edge to a waiting wolf below. A muffled thank you sounded out moments later.

“Far be it from me to offer my opponent counsel, but you’ll find such tactics ineffective. You can give it a rest, Russo. I have no intention to bite at the bait you’ve laid out for me.” Nadie narrowed her gaze and glared up at her opponent.

The human couldn’t help but smile. If there was one thing he was good at it was running interference. How best to string this along until Morgan and Tyridia got set up… “Oh is that how it is? Hell I’ll go back for seconds at this rate.”

Nadie clenched her teeth together and exhaled. “I really shouldn’t have to repeat myself. From what I recall, you and your guest were skulking around when I gave both Morgan and Tyridia reason to take this exercise seriously.”

“Yeah yeah we heard.” Russo dismissively answered. “See, the fun thing here is you can’t tell if this is a show of confidence or me just being an ass.”

Tail bristling behind her, Nadie forcibly flicked it to and fro. The black hairs standing up on end reluctantly flattened themselves. “Repeating the same action ad infinitum and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity. I am not leaving this spot, Russo. Nor does it appear you can force me to do so.”

“Good,” he uttered without a second though. The mage flicked a thumb across his upper lip to dislodge some lingering crumbs before crossing his arms about his chest. His gaze remained locked upon the panther. “Eyes on her, eyes on her, eyes on her,” he feverishly thought to himself. Wouldn’t want to blow the raccoon and fox’s cover this late in the game.

“How far do you intend to take this?” Nadie called out. Her composed but markedly irritated voice rumbled in her throat. “If you aimed to take me on by my lonesome then why maintain the barrier? It’s an obvious magical drain that you can ill afford to let go to waste.” She awkwardly shifted a pillow wrapped arm around until her exposed palm pressed against the darkened dome. “Morgan and Tyridia remain trapped.”

The feline flicked her fingers against the murky goop of magic that clung to the barrier’s surface. It parted just enough to reveal the hunched over forms of the fox and raccoon. The darkness contracted just as quickly with the clenching of her fingers. “I don’t doubt that they’ve already recuperated but at the very least I can deny you the chance to coordinate with them. Even if they were to conjure an illusion within those cramped confines what good would it do them? I can fell the both of them the instant this shielding of yours falls.” Shaking her head side to side, Nadie’s braided ponytail dragged along her broad back. “If you want to drag this out to the bitter end, fine.”

“Ehh, you know what. You’re right,” Russo replied with a half-hearted shrug. If those two hadn’t gotten into position by now than that was their fault not his. That and this little rant of Nadie’s was just far too good an opportunity to pass up. “Let’s just get this done and over with.” With a muffled snap of his gloved fingers the semi-spherical shape of his dragon scale barrier began to crumble and deform. The coating of darkness bubbled and lurched as it simply dripped through the exposed and growing gaps in the magical shield.

Nadie had expected, craved even, for him to act but… not so casually. No matter. If Russo was expecting her to be taken aback or shocked at the disregard for the well-being of his companions, perhaps offering both the fox and raccoon a sliver of hope to escape, then he was sorely mistaken. “So be it. I can’t claim that I was expecting you to throw away this fight so easily.” Raising her puffy arms overhead, the panther clasped them together the best she could. The tops of Tyridia’s orange tipped ears and Morgan’s black ones came into view as the forces keeping the interlocking hexagons gave way and they crumbled one by one. Nadie shifted her weight forward and brought the ruinous weight of her limbs down upon them.

A loud and heavy whap rumbled out across the clearing and clouds of dust intermingled with fading black wisps of dark magic rose up around the feline. Her swing had passed through the fox and raccoon’s forms without resistance. Nadie’s eyes went wide at the implications of what she had just done as a scorching and suffocating heat crackled to life around her. “This was the bait,” the Yash guild master realized much too late. No crumpled and groaning bodies lay beneath her. No, Tyridia’s illusions had long since given way to a flurry of purple and inky flames that swarmed around the panther.

“Gotcha.” A triumphant grin creased the human’s lips as he held an upturned hand out before him. Ethereal energy swirled about his palm, embers and tufts of smoke crackling and sputtering from the wisps of magic that collided with one another. Following a bright and fiery flash, a dense ball of flame was seen to be hovering just above his fingertips.

Her nostrils flared and breaths shallow, the Yash guild master leapt back. Purple flames crackled to life in her wake. The disturbed air fed their fury and encouraged them to nip ravenously at her legs and padded limbs. “So that… all that muster and bluster wasn’t for show?” Nadie thought to herself as she winced. “Should’ve known better.” She smacked her arms against one another to try and smother the flames and flow of ashen feathers pouring out from the smoldering pillows. Russo had banked on her foolishly dismissing his incredulous claims, even when she of all people knew better, and still she doubted him! Every outlandish claim he had brought before her thus far had proven true. Why would this one have been any different?

“So glad I took the high ground,” Russo thought out loud while he took aim at the fleeing feline. With every pulse of his palm an orange orb was sent spiraling towards her. “Oooh that was a good one,” the mage smirked as a steady stream of flame sailed into Nadie. Too distracted with trying to put herself out the panther left herself wide open to an attack.

Both of Nadie’s arms practically burst into flame, a mixture of red hot and purple embers wafting off her as the ropes wrapped round her long limbs hemorrhaged splinters. “Enough!” she growled. They had made their point. Flickers of black pierced through the inferno that threatened to engulf her arms and a low ringing sounded out as Nadie flooded her form with magic. A dark aura engulfed her arms and swallowed up the flames entirely amongst it. Ruined bedding and rope continued to plop to the ground. Sparkling drops of moisture coalesced on the tufted blades of grass around the panther as they quickly thawed in the ambient heat of the shed padding.

“Very impressive.” Visibly no worse for wear, the Yash guild master brushed the ash off her ruined sleeves. “To think you could turn around what looked to be such a decisive defeat on such short notice… fine work indeed!”

“Yay! They won!” Dax cheered on excitedly as he trotted out of the alleyway, tail wagging a mile a minute behind him. “Oop. Wait a minute… You’re probably just being sneaky again!” The wolf’s muzzle scrunched up and a series of grumpy barks spilled forth from his maw.

A half-smile creasing her lips, Nadie cocked her head at the canine. “I can assure you Dax that-” She grunted as a fireball floated on down and bapped her in the chest. “There’s no need for further hostilities, I’ve-” Yet another fiery orb whisked by the feline. “You can stop now.”

“Just checking,” Russo replied before taking a seat on the roof. “I mean, Dax did have a point there.”

Off some ways behind Nadie, hidden amongst the trees, the air wavered and the flora warped and bent out of shape as an illusion gave way. Timidly, Tyridia and Morgan stepped forth from the brush. “It never hurts to err on the side of caution. Nothing personal, Master,” the raccoon nervously chuckled as she approached.
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Re: Shady Impressions

Postby Berserker » Wed Jun 03, 2015 5:44 pm

Return of the Big Fucking Panther, part deux, and dang if she doesn't know how to set a stage. I always like seeing the creativity with which you approach magic, especially with using the barrier as a way to perpetually keep Nadie wondering, and the banter between everybody was a ton of fun. Great work!
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Re: Shady Impressions

Postby Kusanagi » Sat Jun 20, 2015 11:52 pm

Finally got around to reading this. Big Fucking Panther and Russo have good chemistry, and Dax getting a banter remedial course was great too. :lol:
http://www.furaffinity.net/user/kusanagi/

http://giantessworld.net/viewuser.php?uid=27873 (something new has been added :o)

catch other stories by the drunken writer
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Re: Shady Impressions

Postby RaddaRaem » Sun Jul 12, 2015 3:50 am

Appreciate the comment as always, Kusa! Okay. I am sort of back into a routine with these things. One chapter a month seems feasible.




Chapter 50

Russo regarded the huge panther with a liberal dose of suspicion. “So… you’re saying Umbra isn’t the reason I’m out here?”

“I will say this as many times as needed,” Nadie said in a tired tone. “No. That demon has nothing to do with why I summoned you forth.”

Eyes nearly squinted shut, the human grunted. “If you say so.”

The feline gently shook her head side to side and sighed. “Must you always be so guarded...” Whapping a thick black furred finger against the mage’s head so as to preemptively stifle a reply, Nadie continued on without interruption. “Fine. Let’s entertain the notion that she was the reason I called you out here. If that demon were to be the topic of a conversation where would it even drift to?” Those pointed ears of hers flicked at the noisy crunches that accompanied the footsteps padding up behind her.

“She hasn’t escaped if that’s what you’re asking,” Tyridia chimed in. The fox groaned when a large padded hand plopped down atop his head and playfully, albeit forcefully, ruffled the orange fur matted atop his head.

Morgan was mindful to keep well out of her guild master’s reach while her foxy friend writhed under Nadie’s noogies. Once Tyridia had escaped from the panther’s bout of tough love she casually brushed his fluff back into its proper place. Much to his bashful embarrassment.

Now that he thought about it, Russo doubted that Umbra would have the patience to stake him out and bide her time. She’d just bust out and get right on back to attempted murder. The fact she hadn’t harassed him was all the proof he needed that that demonic psychopath hadn’t regained her freedom. “…I got nothing.” Russo oofed as Dax gently bapped into him, the wolf’s soft arms wrapped tightly around their belongings.

“All that fuss and you can’t even muster a single question?” Towering a good head and shoulders above everyone else gathered around her, Nadie peered down at the human. “Hmm?” She couldn’t help but peel those black lips back into a toothy grin when that red hood of his flipped over his brown hair. Her thick kitty tail flicked excitedly as the silence that followed awkwardly persisted.

Russo’s blue eyes rolled about in their sockets. “I’m done…” Reaching behind him he tugged his knapsack out of Dax’s grasp and slung it over his shoulder. “You can get on with your monologue now.”

“Come.” The hulking panther pointed a clawed finger towards her guests. “Let’s continue this conversation in the privacy of my office. Tyridia, Morgan; your presence is desired as well.” Grey cape of her cloak fluttering behind her, Nadie sauntered towards an alleyway. Her broad shoulders nearly scraped against the planks of wood flanking her on both sides as she tread down the narrow gap between the Yash guild and surrounding buildings.

Gloved fingers pinched at the mouth of his crimson hood, Russo tugged the fabric further and further over his face. Anything to mask the welling blush gracing his cheeks. Gah. When he wasn’t busy avoiding being pancaked by her that huge fucking panther was… she was… augh at least it wasn’t like her backside was shoved into his face all that often. His eyes dipped down to and remained focused on the ground.

“I’m Dax!” Bumbling alongside the Morgan and Tyridia, the wolf barreled into the introductions.

“Oh, uh, hello!” Tyridia awkwardly answered back. A bump of the raccoon’s shoulder against the fox’s own served to nudge him into keeping the conversation alive. “I’m… Tyridia. And you’re a friend of Russo?”

Dax nodded emphatically. “I’m his apprentice!” Snuggling his bundle of clothes close to his chest he proudly straightened his posture.

“Lies and slander,” the human called out from up ahead.

Morgan snrrked. “Really now? Just what all has he been teaching you, Dax? And I’m Morgan, by the by.” The ringtail continued to brush at her stained sleeves. Every time she dragged her fingers across the fine white cloth the dirt and plant matter only seemed to spread. Darn robes messied up far too easily for her tastes.

Secretly grateful for the distraction, Russo sighed and kept his eyesight focused on the heels of Nadie’s boots. As the banter carried on in the background he watched the blades of grass that splayed to their sides under the weight of her gait give way to clods of dirt, gravel, and finally planks of wood. The familiar creak and groan of a door swinging upon its hinges was enough to finally snap his neck up to attention.

“As an aside, I truly am quite curious to where you picked up that new spell of yours.” Neck nestled against her shoulder, Nadie peeked back at the human riding her heels. “There are only so many creatures capable of granting you such a boon. None of which I would immediately peg as... generous.” The panther plunked a padded finger down atop his noggin and slid back Russo’s hood. It quietly crumpled into folds of crimson fabric along the back of his neck.

Russo groaned. “Like just about everything else, it’s a long story,” he said. Marching ever onward, at the edge of his periphery the mage eyed a familiar hooded figure. That woman, the one he had dismissed earlier as some sorta jackass. He turned his head just enough to the side to lock gazes with her. “You again…” he pondered to himself. A pair of copper colored eyes peered back at him from within the shadows that shrouded the fur’s face. That… hyena, it looked like, was staring rather intently at the disheveled group. A disapproving glare on Russo’s part was enough to force her focus to drift elsewhere.

“Amusingly enough that makes for an ideal segue,” Nadie purred while she wrapped a thick black furred hand around the wrought-iron door pull. The Yash guild master shuffled to the side, tugging the heavy slab of wood open with her. “We’ll be speaking at great length about another spell of yours shortly.” With a swish of her hand she corralled both guests and guild members alike down the basement’s stony stairs.

The group’s footsteps echoed loudly off the narrow walls while they descended. “Umm. So.” Tyridia’s uncertain tone bobbed up and down in pitch with every step taken. “I take it this is something Xis should be present for?”

Nadie hunched over slightly as the ground flattened out. Otherwise, her ears threatened to scrape against the rocky ceiling were she to remain standing fully upright. “Unless you abstain from summoning him so much as once on the upcoming mission, then yes, I would think he should hear what I have to say. This concerns him too,” Nadie replied. The panther snorted when she heard the fox sigh behind her. “Tyridia, you are a summoner and he is your summon. Yours ought to be a straightforward relationship. I admire that you think of him less an instrument and more a person but… this is a conversation for another time.”

“R-right. Yes, Master,” Tyridia mumbled. Paws scuffing against the ground, the fox forced himself to keep his muzzle held high. No pats or nudges of reassurance came from Morgan. All but confirming that she was in agreement with Master Nadie.

“Who’s that?” Dax asked. His curiosity aroused, the wolf chomped at every uncertainty that buzzed by him. Dax wanted to meet whoever this someone was! In the corner of his eye he watched Russo shake his head side to side in response. “You’ll see,” the mage cryptically answered. “Besides. I’d rather badmouth him in person than behind his back,” Russo followed up with a smirk.

Slowing his pace to a halt Tyridia waited until a generous amount of leeway separated himself from the remainder of the group. “I’ll catch up.” The fox inhaled deeply, to the point where his chest puffed out against his kimono. Drawing out his exhale he slowly took to channeling his magic. Trickles of blue and white energy bobbed atop his clothing and fur traveled up from his toes and his fingertips to a diamond patched shape of white fur along the bridge of the fox’s muzzle.

Orange eyelids gently shut, the foxy summoner shuffled all thoughts from his mind and focused intently on the physical act of breathing. He ceased thinking and simply experienced the world around him. The footsteps that echoed in his ears, the weight of the cloth on his shoulders, and the arid air that drifted through his nostrils. And of course, the blinding flashes of blue that bled through the back of his eyelids courtesy of the consolidation of magic upon his nose.

Gathered in full, Tyridia’s magical toll was offered up to the ether. The orb of energy balanced atop the bridge of the fox’s muzzle simply vanished. Xis’ passage had been paid for. Lingering wisps and ribbons of magic pulled themselves free from air, as well as from the crystals embedded into the stony ceilings for illumination purposes, and gradually coalesced into a skeletal frame for the kitsune. Its form thickened and solidified as Xis pulled himself free from the ether’s ebb and flow.

Oohs and ahhs tumbled forth steadily from Dax’s muzzle. “What kinda spell is that?” The wolf asked loud enough for everyone to hear. His tail drooped when no one immediately piped up in response.

Nadie nibbled at the bait after another minute or so had passed. “This is a summoning, Dax. Has Russo never told you of such things?”Dax shook his head, along with the majority of his fluffy frame, side to side.

Russo shrugged as he watched four billowing tails sprout from the ethereal kitsune’s backside. “Not like you’ve ever shown any interest in learning that kind of magic. So why bother?”

“Maybe I would be if you told me about it…” Dax grumped.

“Myself or Tyridia can educate you further should you so desire, young wolf. For now we have business to attend to.” The panther rumbled while she plopped a warm and heavy furred hand atop both the wolf and raccoon’s shoulders and nudged them forward. Russo dutifully followed behind her, though his attention remained focused on the foxes.

A gush of air bellowed out from Xis’ form, blue and green waves of magical energy carried along the short-lived breeze and lapping up against the narrow walls. “Do I dare ask what could have compelled you to draw me forth today, Tyridia?” No sooner had the timid orange fox’s jaws parted from one another did Xis shut him down. “Ahh no need to waste your breath, as it is both unnecessary and unwarranted. If I may wager a guess, did you do so to disappoint me? You’ve proven yourself dreadfully capable of doing so as of late.” Eye level with Tyridia, even when walking upon all four feet in a feral form, Xis dismissively turned up his muzzle at the vulpine.

His eyes half-lidded, the orange fox patiently waited out the pleasantries. Tyr pressed his tongue against the roof of his mouth and waited for Xis to pause long enough for him to get a syllable or two in.

Just how long do you intend to let me stagnate?” Xis’ concentric eyes, blood red in color, drilled into the one who summoned him. “I grow impatient, Tyridia. Without fail you continue to shackle me to a form that cannot wield even half the strength I once proudly possessed.

Tyr exhaled gently through his nostrils. He could already tell this rant would last longer than-

“Nobody cares, Xis,” Russo casually interrupted. Leaning against the doorway of Nadie’s office, the mage motioned for the two to get a move on.

The summoner’s foxy ears flicked to attention. That tone, that callous indifference. It was practically music to Tyridia’s ears hearing someone address his summon in such a manner. He couldn’t help but let the subtlest of grins poke between his lips as the kitsune’s composure faltered for a moment.

You?!” Xis angrily wheeled around. The kitsune visibly deflated when ascertained the source of the putdown. A disgusted sigh tumbled forth from the alabaster furred fox’s maw when Russo half-assedly waved at him. Teeth bared, wrinkles formed along the diamond patched shape of pale red fur atop Xis’ muzzle. “You did this on purpose,” Xis growled as he craned his neck back to glare at Tyridia.

“No comment. Anyway, now that you’re here…” Tyr saw his opportunity and took it. He slowly started padding on over towards the human who had so kindly derailed the conversation. “Master has something she’d like to speak with us about. You included.”

Eyes narrowed, the kitsune’s gaze grew incredulous. “Does she now?” Russo responded by propping open the entrance to the Yash guild master’s lair ever further. The door tunked to a halt once it had achieved a ninety degree angle with the doorframe that contained it. Something blocked its advance. “Hmmph. I suppose I should be flattered that you’re all but helpless sans my assistance,” Xis grunted with no small amount of snoot when he observed the panther, raccoon, and wolf crowded inside. He wordlessly followed after Tyridia in a resentful show of cooperation. The angular red streaks of fur painted across his back and tails undulated back and forth along his alabaster form while he walked. Said fluffy limbs roughly slapped against the human mage as Xis showed himself into Nadie’s office.

Hunched behind her desk, Nadie glanced over her cramped audience. Morgan, Tyridia, and Dax remained standing with their arms pressed tightly against their sides and leaned back against the bookshelves that so greedily monopolized every square inch of the walls behind them. Musty leather spines pressed into the back of the fluffy trio’s heads as did the wooden shelves holding countless tomes aloft. Russo and Xis however… the panther sighed as she watched the both of them trade bumps and nudges while they tried to outmaneuver one another for real estate. Fortunately, the dusty towers of knowledge all around them didn’t so much as budge any time either of them was sent stumbling back.

“I am bitter and petty enough to keep this up for as long as I have to,” the mage whispered as a snaking set of tails not so subtly shoved him aside.

Nadie coughed into her hand and rapped loudly against her desk with black furred knuckles. “Once you two have decided who is the most petulant of them all, I would appreciate your attention.” To her pleasant surprise both the human and kitsune obediently, if reluctantly, heeded her. The panther clasped her fingers together and rested her hands upon one of the many splayed open books upon the desk. “Now then, as most of you here may already know I would like for you to travel north to Kovous. Of the many questions that could come to mind that should already address who is going where. As for why… perhaps it’s best if I allow Russo to explain.”

All eyes in the room settled on the crimson cloaked mage. “Ummm…” Russo trailed off. The old man opted out of telling him whatever this was about just to make him look like an idiot, didn’t he? Russo certainly wouldn’t put it past him. “Well… I mean. There’s just so much to talk about I wouldn’t know where to begin.” Smoooooooth.

The feline stifled a snicker. “Let’s start with the basics then. Would you be so kind as to explain to us, in your own words, the finer points of teleportation? You are our resident expert, after all. I may be well-read on the mechanics and machinations behind it but you are the only one here who can claim to be well-versed in them.”

“Basics. Right.” The human scratched at his stubbly chin in uncertainty. In the corner of his eye he spied Dax wiggling excitedly in anticipation for another lesson. It wouldn’t be the first time he had gone over the topic with the wolf. “So. Teleportation. Or Blink. Warp. Or whatever the hell you wanna call it, I don’t care. I take it everyone here is familiar with teleportation crystals?” Everyone save Dax nodded affirmative.

Russo dismissively waved at Nadie before she could react in any manner. ”I’m just gonna assume you’ll make me explain regardless. Alright, Dax. You know about magic crystals right?” The mage received a nod from the lupine. “I would certainly hope so since you bank on them so much. Anyway, normally you can think of those crystals as like… umm… a magical canteen. Or.” Well shit there were such things as canteens that were enchanted and magical in nature. Teaching was really not Russo’s thing. “A canteen that contains magic. There. Yes. That is what they are.”

Struggling are we?” A toothy grin creased the kitsune’s muzzle.

“Nobody asked you,” Russo defensively snipped back at Xis. “You sink magic into them so you can draw it back out later when you need it. That’s just one use for those crystals. Another use for them is for creating a one-way teleport. Let’s say for instance you have a run of the mill magical crystal.”

Dax giddily tugged at his neck and produced the size-smothering crystal that stifled the shrunken giant’s inherent magic. “No, Dax,” the mage called out much to the wolf’s disappointment. With a stifled bark he poked it back underneath his shirt.

Russo turned his attention to Nadie. She simply smiled and urged him onward with a wave of her fingers. Darnit. “Alright uhh… the whole premise of this revolves around the fact that magic likes to clump together when there’s enough of it. That’s how you get fireballs and orbs of ice and all that in the first place. It’s all just condensed magic. What teleportation crystals do is exploit that fact.” The human’s eyes drifted towards Morgan and Tyridia. They looked to be… attentive. And not bored out of their minds. Reassuring, if anything. Russo continued speaking. “Magic is especially eager to come together when it comes from a single source. Like, say, you or me or anyone else standing in this room. Let’s say you start plunking some magic down into a crystal. Cool. While you’re doing that though you also sink a bit of your own magic into the land around you. The magic you just expended into the earth itself is sort of a necessary lost cause. You’re not getting that back. However the magic you stuffed into that crystal now has options to choose from. It can either group back up with you. Or it can get back together with the now you-infused patch of dirt.”

The wolf raised his hand, feverishly waving it above the raccoon and fox’s heads. Their ears flopped forward from the gust of wind the canine whipped up.

“Yes, Dax?” Russo asked with muted enthusiasm.

“How do you make it so the crystal makes you poof away? Instead of just making you all magic and strong. Oh oh oh and how come you get poofed with the crystal too?” Dax shoved his muzzle between Morgan and Tyridia as he eagerly sought to satiate his ravenous appetite for knowledge.

Brows arched, the human fumbled for answers. Holy shit. Dax of all people was asking these kinds of questions? Russo ran a hand over his head and ruffled that short brown hair between his fingers. He had forgotten that the wolf could focus on things other than food. “Ummmmm. So I think it works like this. If you have a crystal, held firmly in hand, and choose not to draw out and absorb the magic nested inside you’re denying it one of the two options available to it. Sort of swatting it down and saying no you cannot return from whence you came. That leaves it only one other option. To haul ass to a magical source that is pretty much identical to it in terms of likeness so it can mingle and mix with it. Which it does.” The mage’s eyes quickly glanced over his audience. “Since no one here has stopped me or told me to quit being an idiot I’m just gonna keep at it.”

Xis snorted in amusement. “You act as if we’d make the effort to prevent you from digging yourself into a hole. By all means, carry on.

So long as that snooty asshat kept his mouth shut, Russo was willing to chalk it up as a win. “As for tagging along for the ride… that’s the whole magic wanting to cluster together thing again. I mean I guess the crystal could take off by its lonesome. But since I’m already here why not drag me along and get the gang back together? I’m already brimming with the same kind of magic the crystal is. It’d be rude not to. Along with everyone else nearby since these things aren’t really all that picky at that point.” Silence settled over the room as the information contained within the human’s rambling presentation was digested. “Make sense?”

Morgan bit into her lip and hmmed to herself. “You’re not wrong. I can at least say that much.” The raccoon tilted her head to the side and peered back at the wolf. Dax’s infectious enthusiasm prompted her black lips to curl into a gentle grin.

“Rudimentary and rambling,” Nadie rumbled as she leaned back into her chair and straightened her posture, “but it’s satisfactory all the same. Though you did neglect to mention that the magic contained within the crystals is exhausted by the process of teleportation. Hence why a return trip is unfeasible. That and the simple fact that anyone is capable of using a teleport crystal to be carried to their pre-determined destination. Doesn’t have to be the person who invested magic into it who wields it. After all, how else would you two have been able to make your way here so quickly without the crystal I set up for you?” She smirked at the sight of Russo rolling his eyes and flicked her tail behind her in delight. “Though now I have to ask, if Dax won’t, is the reverse true as well? You’ve explained how someone might use a crystal to teleport any given place. Is it possible to teleport from any given place to a specific crystal in turn?”

Russo turned to face the wolf. He spied Dax bouncing up and down on the balls of his paws. The human’s gaze just as quickly returned to the panther. “Why can’t you explain that to him?”

“He may be my guest but Dax here is your responsibility. Besides, are you not his teacher?” Nadie’s brows arched while Russo’s flattened. She had forgotten how satisfying it could be to butt heads with one so stubborn. “Let’s pretend you are. The practice will be good for you!”

The mage leaned back and tunked his head against an uneven arrangement of books. The paper spines of varying heights and thickness nudged against his skull. He could weasel his way out of this yet. “Dax, as your pretend teacher I would like to congratulate you on sitting err… standing through your pretend Basic Teleport lecture. Now go and bother Nadie for your Advanced Teleport lectures. She comes highly recommended.”

Tyridia and Morgan exchanged subdued laughter while Xis rolled his concentric eyes.

Eyes narrowed, a smug kitty grin spread wide across the panther’s face. So that’s how it was gonna be, huh? Nadie coughed into her hand and tapped the sides of her hands against her cluttered desk as if she were straightening papers. “I would love to teach you Dax, but according to your pretend syllabus here you are one lecture short of moving on up to the Advanced level. It’s a simple enough mistake to make, your pretend teacher accidentally miscounted your credits.”

Russo dug in his heels and refused to be coerced. With a flick of his wrist he motioned like he was lobbing something the feline’s way. “Well… here’s my pretend resignation.”

“Hmmmm. Without so much as a two week notice?” Nadie cupped her chin in the palm of her hand and twiddled her fingers along her cheeks. “This is a flagrant breach of pretend contract! Per the fine print we imagined that you agreed to, I’ll have to detain you immediately. Can’t risk you taking our pretend secrets to competing guilds. It’s hard to view such an abrupt departure as anything other than suspicious.”

“…Yeah I’m not gonna risk that,” the human thought. He’d bounced Dax back and forth between Nadie long enough as it was. Forcing a smile he exhaled through his teeth. “Yes, Nadie, you can teleport to a given crystal. And yes, Dax, I’ll explain.” All this exposition was making him hoarse. “Sooooo yeah. For the most part teleport crystals are a one-and-done. Usually because there’s next to no magic stuffed into them to begin with.”

Hopping up and down upon his pudgy paws, Dax’s heft pushed Morgan and Tyridia aside while he flailed about for Russo’s attention. “Ooh ooh ooh!” The bookshelf behind him trembled every time his thick fluffy tail whacked against it. Before Russo could so much as reluctantly acknowledge him the wolf took to speaking his mind. “So if you put lotsa magic in you can use it more than once?”

“More like you use the crystal itself as your anchor,” Russo answered. “It’s the same principle as before. All the magic in you wants to get back together with all the magic stuffed inside that shiny rock. Only way it works though is if there’s a metric fuckton of magic mashed into it. It’s gotta be big enough so you can feel it out and hone into it on your own. I mean, it’s a pain in the ass to set it up but it is awfully convenient being able to just flick someone a crystal and knowing you can poof up next to them on a whim.”

Dax furiously bobbed his head up and down in ecstatic understanding. His chin smacked against the now somewhat irritated raccoon and fox’s shoulders.

“This… is going to sound a lot like I’m complaining,” Tyr grunted as the wolf’s pudge and heft continued to knock him about, “but can you get to the part where you explain how this leads into whatever it was you summoned us for, Master?” The fox doled out a subdued apology when he found himself roughly bumping against Morgan.

The panther directed an apologetic smile at her summoner and white mage. “My apologies, these cramped quarters are quite demanding on the patience of everyone involved here. The long and short of this is that I wanted to be certain that you all were familiar with the concepts behind teleportation. Otherwise this gathering risked being a moot point given that we’ll be entertaining a lot of… hypotheticals.”

“Go on?” Morgan asked with some uncertainty in her voice. All eyes settled on Nadie.

Clearing her throat, the feline sank her teeth into the heart of the matter. “As of late I have been considering the… potential for the spells you hold so near and dear, Russo. In particular, the thought of instantaneous navigation between one guild and the next. The concept is appealing for any number of reasons. Putting it into practice though is an entirely different matter.” Nadie sighed and twiddled her clawed fingers against a parchment that had practically been drowned in ink. One idea after the next jotted down and promptly scribbled out as the feasibility of every given one crumpled. “Let’s say we came across a crystal. One utterly colossal in size that had the potential to be a veritable vault of magic.”

“Okay…” the room responded in half-assed unison.

Undaunted the panther continued on. “Imagine that Russo were to donate a generous portion of his own magical energies to the crystal. Per his explanation earlier we would expect him to be able to teleport back to it at his leisure, no?” She received a couple of slow nods in response. “Now what if say, Morgan, were to also invest a great deal of her own magic into that same crystal? Would she too be able to return to it without issue? And would Russo continue to be able to visit it even though the magic contained inside is no longer just his own?”

The comfy-cozy room grew silent as the furs and human inside it, ethereal and otherwise, juggled with uncertainty. Russo was the first to answer with an all informative, “Fuck if I know.”

Nadie released a drawn out exhale through her black kitty nose. “The answer I’ve come to on my own is little better. Which is why I’d like for you to travel to Kovous to find out.” A subdued smirk creased her lips. “These questions aren’t quite as hypothetical for Master Norn.”

This has the potential to be an egregious waste of both my time and effort,” Xis wryly commented. The thought that such a journey even had so much as a chance to prove all but useless wrankled the kitsune.

Tyridia contemplated speaking up in the feline’s defense. In the hope of putting Xis in place and reining in his summon. Before he could even begin to ponder what to say Nadie went ahead and did the job for him. “Very true,” the Yash guild master replied. A mixture of disappointment and relief brushed over the fox’s shoulders. “Though there’s just as a great a chance that this proof of concept could bear fruit. The potential for fast travel between guilds is one we can’t afford to not explore.”

The human, wolf, fox, and raccoon quietly watched on as the flow of banter kept bouncing back and forth between the two. Tails swishing behind him, Xis’ clawed toes curled against the stone floor. “Even were this gamble of yours to bear dividends… there is little stopping this boon from becoming our bane.

“For every use there is a misuse. I’m well aware of the potential for abuse, Xis.” With a wave of her hand Nadie dismissed everyone present. “We’ll talk more tomorrow about when you can expect to head out. Until then, rest. You all have quite the journey ahead of you.”
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