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Dec 01, 2021 2:26 PM
a Cameron is the demon lord
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"It's a beautiful sword, worth at least a solid week of me being your personal fuckpet," Ame agrees, "but, we don't have a week. So I think it'll be trade in goods after all."

Ame turns to her party. "I'll be right back."

Ame bounces over to the carpenter, quickly negotiates the borrowing of a bucket (with a lid) and then streaks out of the village.

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The wind in her face feels like a roaring wave crashing against her body as she retraces her party's steps at a flat sprint, holding her back, shoving her with unbearable force... but she knows she's faster than this. She was faster than this during the fight with the crab monsters.

Ame stops pumping her arms.

She stops trying to run.

Her upper body goes horizontal, her arms trail behind her, hands flat.

And she pushes. Energy surges down her leg, her boot doesn't slip. The dirt path craters under the ball of her foot as she shoots forward.

 

An entire afternoon of leisurely walking. Ame's back at the corpses of the crab monsters inside five minutes.

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They're being picked over by a horde of small and large scavengers. And predators eating the scavengers. One of them, some sort of pale-feathered ostrich standing at least six feet high, spreads its wings and points its head at her and warbles a loud cry. Yellow blood stains the surrounding soil.

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Of course.

Ame sighs.

Ame gets the bucket out of her pack.

Ame strips off her clothes and puts them in her pack.

Ame puts her pack on the ground.

Ame starts channeling as much ghur as humanly possible.

Knife in one hand, bucket in the other, otherwise naked, Ame stares the ostrich down.

Then she moves.

Straight through.

She reaches the more-intact of the crab monsters, slides into place against it, stabs, puts the bucket down. Dodge!

The bucket fills slowly, blood oozing out of the hours-dead carcass. She can't dodge everything, not without losing her prize. Her own blood paints the forest as claw and tooth and beak, so much razor sharp beak, tear into her flesh, but Ame grits her teeth and heals and heals and heals.

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This ostrich monster is fast. It's using magic of some kind, aqshy and ghur and something less primal than one of the Eight, to massively boost its speed somehow. She suffers three bites in one second.

But the fight doesn't last too long. Once she lands a serious, bone-breaking blow on the enemy, it WAAARKs away to look for easier prey.

But other creatures are still in the area, and a lot of them swarm with blind aggression. Even some of what look like baby crab monsters, happily cannibalizing, so she has to run after all.

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Finally, the small bucket is full. She slams the lid closed, snatches it up, and leaps out of the fray. She kicks off the dead crab monster's shell, rocketing through the scavengers. She snatches up her pack, slings it on---fuck, she left her knife, now she only has one---and bolts.

 

It takes her ten minutes to make it back to the village, slowed down by having to carry the full bucket in her hands and by the mental fatigue of so much healing.

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Her party meets her at a dead sprint, about half a mile out from the village.

"Ame," Bys says exasperatedly, panting and glaring slightly. "I'm glad you're alright. After running off so quickly."

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"No splitting the party without making plans first, especially to go into potential combat," Liz complains from her Shadowhorse. "We kind of had to come after you. What if something stomped you and we weren't there to help?"

(Theo has flopped down in the dirt, rather than say anything.)

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Ame's healing slime crawls up onto her shoulder after consuming the last trace of the massive amount of her own blood Ame was just covered in, jiggling innocently.

Ame holds up the bucket of monster blood, a sorry-not-sorry expression on her face. "We'd still be talking about it. This was faster. Pulling this shit off is my niche."

And, more because the mental drain from all that healing has her cranky than because she actually feels her party deserves it, she almost leaves them there to continue on to the village by herself at full speed. She doesn't. She knows her party isn't actually holding her back or meaningfully slowing her down, that this feeling that they are shouldn't be allowed to make decisions. But it is maybe slightly apparent that she is slightly irritated with them as they walk back to the village.

This slight irritation doesn't stop her from holding her hand out to offer her Axiom, though.

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Theo takes her up on it, dusting himself off and muttering. Bys - doesn't. Liz doesn't really need it.

 

"I think," Liz says after a bit of silence, "That we are suffering perhaps from a difference of expectations. Maybe we should have a talk when we settle down for the night. Trade stories, get everyone on the same page? We're a bit high strung, and we're in a strange land together now - I know Bys has a mission here and maybe Theo could get back home quickly, but I really couldn't."

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"You have a copy of the twist-directory," Ame points out blandly.

She shakes her head, sighing. "Why'd you come after me? I told you I'd be right back. And I was. I'd be back to the village by now if you were there instead of here."

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"Because we were worried you were charging into danger, and would need help."

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"I wasn't sure if you were going after the body or all the way back to- Elsewhere. You didn't even pause to ask 'oh, think we can go back for more crab blood?', you just went. Half an hour is not worth a risk of death."

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Ah, that was the vibe Bys was giving her. "I can't start assuming anyone'd care if I died, I'd never get anything done." Ame frowns. "I'm joking. Mostly."

"Liz, yeah I could've said where I was going, but, well, it didn't seem important, because the whole point of going alone was to avoid risking another fight or dragging you all into an irrelevant errand. I was in and out in a few seconds, bypassing what would've been a large battle if I'd had anyone slower or less durable than me to worry about."

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"Getting you a new weapon is very relevant. You all should care about getting me new spells. And about getting Abyssia new armor and guns. And about Elizabeth learning close combat or more sorcery. If nothing else the rest of us are less effective without you."

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"Right. I know that. And yet."

Ame shakes her head at herself.

"It still feels like I made the right decision, and objectively I know that's crap. You're right. Even if making that run alone was the right strategy, that's not why I did it that way. Fuck."

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Bys hugs her with one arm. "We're a party. That's like family, in a way. I know you all are here because I need to do something, and that's - big, you know? And..." She pauses for a while. "And we do care if you die. Nobody should die. I mean, sometimes the worst people out there will force your hand, unrepentant monsters and murderers, but anything that results in death should be an agonizing choice and this is not relevant to what we were talking about, sorry."

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"I think it kinda is. If I'm right about where we're headed, so to speak, I'm going to matter. In the grand scheme or whatever. I've had that in the back of my mind a lot, had it pushing me to go further than I would've."

Ame squeezes Bys and leans her head on Bys' shoulder for a moment.

"Taking rather than giving, leaning on others, sharing my burdens. I'm still not used to that being thinkable. Even my best friend back in the Bay... I never asked her for anything, and she never asked me for anything. We'd help each other out, but we'd never expect it. Expecting someone to be there to catch you when you fall was just a faster way to die. That's a hard habit to shake. There's a reason my first and most powerful Skill is," she makes a vague gesture, "transforming a mask of strength into genuine strength. Healing is almost a side-effect."

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They all pause for a bit.

"That place really crushes the human spirit, huh? We're social creatures, and sure that means deception but it also means cooperation."

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"If I'm going to come back from that spectacular clusterfuck and do some actual good in the world despite-" He purses his lips, conscious that they're in public. "-You need to play nice too."

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"Smooth, Theo. But also, point taken."

Ame unhugs from Bys, hands her the bucket, then fishes her clothes out of her pack and puts them back on.

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(He hardly even noticed she was nude. What even is his life.)

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"Back to negotiate for that blade now, then?"

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"Let's."

 

When they reach the village, Ame takes the bucket of blood to the (al)chemist from before.

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The same alchemist from before who cheerfully offered them a big bottle of olive oil is a bit less happy about this huge delivery, but they do something Skill-like to the bucket 'to keep it from degrading any further', and dither a bit before offering Ame a pouch of coins that works out to most of a gold.

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