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Book 1

Chapter 1

"The dawning storm."


 

Ever since conception, Tahira was marked by misfortune. She was birthed from the joining of a female Djinn and elf. The traits of the spirit proved dominant. Faaria, once a grand innovator, now reduced to a starlet under a different guise, and Feyre a ruthless sellsword. From the beauty and the brute's love affair, something wholly new germinated and budded forth. A combination of unearthly and tangible traits, as the realms of magic and brawn, melded into a novel concoction. Her parents were opposites yet were joined in their adoration for this spawn's wellbeing. The concept of not having a biological father, inspiring the ire of narrow-minded fools. Their degradation failed to erode the child's resolve, only bolstering her conviction to excel.

By day she pursued studious avenues, honing her innate magical tenacity. Meanwhile, Feyre took her to experience the tussle of martial combat during the twilight hours with the help of Matsumota.  Unlike most children, this begotten aberration bloomed at an expeditious rate, ultimately augmenting her visage to mingle in with the Elves she flourished alongside with. Tahira fancied binding like her mother while experiencing a natural tendency toward the element of plasma. She felt compelled to pursue it through idyllic romanticized eyes as it symbolically stood as volatile, much like her spirit. Faaria imparted many life lessons via her illustrious tongue's employment. While Feyre endeavored to do the same, albeit through a more bunglingly and less refined approach.

 

Eventually, this spawn merited the recognition of the Queens. Meeting with both regal rulers in secret, an offer was extended that the inquisitive soul couldn't refuse. The Queen of Lilac's and the Queen of many faces appointing her as an agent within their newfangled branch. Tahira, ferociously loyal, investigated many crimes and dissonance. Arresting and executing would-be revolutionaries or snuffing out bandits and murderers to maintain this arid domain's stability. The deployment of her blade, hand to hand, and magic proved effective enough to deal with such blights and scourges.  Those road-worn boots returned, layered in the filth of her travels, only to spend what free time she had with her loving parents.

The Djinn wanted to earn Feyre's respect, deeming such a trying path as the only way to feel a deeper kindred bond with the Elf. Faaria, the warmer spirit out of the two, seemed content to accept any vocation their daughter aimed after. While Feyre seemed distant, even those teal eyes beheld the truth, that she cared immeasurably for her wife and their child. Whenever Tahira inquired into her parent's past, they would each pivot and alter the flow of the conversation. While illustrating itself as frustrating, the stoic girl valued their need for secrecy. Whatever sins, whatever missteps they suffered in life, seemed irrelevant when contrasted with the present. Their time as a familial unit was spent training, studying, or conversing. The latter of which confirmed to be either stiff, hilarious, or enthralling...if not a combination.

Yet, one day her world would plummet into anarchy. Feyre stood against the Queen, her defiance motivating radical punishment. Helplessly, she pleaded for her guardian's life to be spared. This bereaved child watched with utter bewilderment as Faaria rose to be the executioner. That warm mist of blood, to this day, still radiates on her cheek. The sight of this afflicted Tahira with nightmares and lasting mental trauma. The Qareen within her shadow, who masqueraded as an "imaginary" friend, took advantage of the now wounded psyche.  Agitated from torpidity once more since her younger years, he encouraged the Samurai, persuading her that Faaria butchered Feyre deliberately.

Gathering pieces from her mother's armor, she constructed her signature garb. Tahira spurned her name out of resentment and abdicated all titles and lands before fleeing to the Kitsune homeland. Here she'd train to harness her talents under the vigilant mentorship of Matsumota. She was eventually blossoming into the first "Devante" that wasn't a fox. Now she treks across the desolate wasteland, eradicating monsters and filth from society for adequate compensation. Tahira only returns to her birth home to visit her brother Rakash and sister Mazana, before once more meandering into the wilds. Preferring to be alone, speaking with the Qareen while venturing down that all too familiar road that her mother Feyre did so long ago. All in some vain effort to pay respect to the parent stolen from her hands.

Chapter 2

"A bitter world."


 

The trek through the desert proved arduous. Tahira, for the first time in her life, was alone. This desolate wilderness was no place for a solitary wanderer, as brigands and bigots alike traversed its sandy roads. The march toward independence came at a steep cost. Relinquishing her wealth and name meant that the lordly offspring was now a nobody. Many predators, the worst of which wasn't that of any beast, but that of man. These adversaries prowled and endeavored to lock their maws into the vulnerable woman. This world, its bitter and rotted core exposed, as the drawing of blood had become customary. The butchery of sentient life had voraciously devoured what semblance of innocence this mer might have still maintained.

She owned little in the way of experience with menial work or studious occupations. And so, the samurai gravitated toward that one thing that had yet to abandon her, the blade. Her time with Matsumota demonstrated inestimable, recollecting much about the monstrosities that stalk this arid badland. Each creature to successfully fell required a degree of prudence and temperance—knowledge concerning their habitual nature established itself as an indisposable asset to facilitate the hunt. That isolation wrought on by this lonesome road, the despondency she tasted, and the gore that saturated the grains all became routine. Her life, once girdled by opulence, had been plunged deep into the bowels of unbridled desperation and anguish. Life on the road, while often romanticized by those of the royal court. Had unveiled itself as anything but appealing. Tahira seemed to derive some sense of meaning in the wrestle for survival.
 

The demise her blade had inflicted, long since dispelling any juvenile delusions. It was there within the epicenter of carnage when the heart drummed that all to familiar beat of war, that Tahira concluded a grisly and morbid truth. An epiphany, while scarcely uttered, couldn't be so effortlessly refuted. That the ladder of Darwinism didn't stomach wimps, and those ill-suited for the tribulations ahead, were poised only to savor oblivion. With each ordeal conquered, the child suffocated, eventually succumbing to that asphyxiation. The once pious soul wilted, as from the carcass, something primal sprouted.  The passage of time couldn't be undone. Nevertheless, through the acceptance of Feyre's former lifestyle, the elf learned to revel within solace. Was this all a mistake? Feasible, but it was hers to make, and that had to count for something.

Ultimately, the still-maturing woman disinterred a sordid truth. That the hearts of men were capable of eclipsing the blight that any monster could conceive. A new game embraced, tackling those she was contracted to dispose of as nothing more than mere rabid animals. Pedophiles, bandits, rapists, murderers, in Tahira's eyes, she was doing civilization a courtesy. The custodian that the people were incapable of fathoming that they required. The exterminator continued to purge that cancer which eroded society's foundation.  With each murder, with each benefactor and post, she changed. The language she articulated, the philosophies she adopted, formulated into a wholly original amalgamation. The things that kept most back, roots, familial bonds, and the fear for the petty thoughts of their neighbors, held no jurisdiction over her astute conscious.
 

With each completed contract, her proficiency and notoriety within this timeless craft swelled. Rumors started to abound of an elf monster hunter who rivaled the Kitsune. Unfortunately, with this organic publicity, the ire of others had begun to simmer. Just exceeding her breadth of acumen, jealousy unfurled. Envy that most appalling of traits sent forth a deluge of woe. It wouldn't be long before those hurting for employment didn't take kindly toward this knife-eared interloper. A contingent within the Fox folk, while a minority, established themselves as nettlesome enough to warrant Tahira's teal gaze. Falsified bounties were placed, architected with the sole design to entangle and tempt this maiden. And, in due time, she fell victim to that conspiracy.

Ostensibly, the job seemed simple enough. A self-proclaimed noble of the Obsidian Canyon requested her blade and intrepid spirit to delve within the carcass of a bygone epoch. Deep within the bosom of the Sea of Dunes, a dilapidated structure persisted, soon to be swallowed by the sand. Time, a commodity rarely on her side, continued as quite the bane. This artificially erected clock had succeeded in swindling the mer, coercing her to leap without contemplating the possibility of dubious intentions. The scattered song of the sandworms reverberated across the expanse as they rose from the belly of the land to frolic and secure courtship. Those buzzards, ravenous carrions circled aloft.
 

Those sandals caked in the begrime of her voyage. Her keen eyes were tapering as the stalwart hunter stood within the gaped gullet of the ruins. Those lips cracked, grieving from mild dehydration, couple this with the iron deficiency in her blood had begun to make her skin more aesthetically anemic than usual.  That hand vaulted from the side toward the hilt of the katana. The sojourner strode further into the forgotten ruin, her gait conferred a sense of self-reliance. Meanwhile, those whetted wits prevailed, resisting the compulsion to abate less complacency demonstrate itself as her downfall. The walls worn as nature had arisen to reclaim dominion over this artificial achievement of engineering.

Those pipes that once upon a time impelled exhaust were far too oxidized to be of use. As Tahira felt the apparitions of yore lurking around every corner. This perspicacity when it came to trepidation was solid enough to evoke caution. The Kitsunes sprung their trap within a presumably stately library, a bastion formerly housing erudition. Through the utilization of her acute hearing and muscle memory, Tahira not only preemptively detected the assailants but managed to draw and swipe that fine blade. What followed next could only be accurately described as a meticulous waltz—the assemblage of warriors dancing within the structural cadaver. The clashing of their swords manufacturing an eerie disturbance of steel grinding against steel. That once unwavering resolve began to fracture, for the Mer could distinguish that ominous hand of death towering overhead. 
 

Her nose was elbowed, trickling blood, as those two adept killers outmaneuvered the cocky elf. That armor plating could repel their sharpened weapons. However, she had no protection from their magic and blunt instruments. Laboriously she breathed, perspiring, the knees wobbled from lassitude as a result of her affliction. While these men were more competent swordsmen, there was one thing this hunter knew to be accurate above all else. No matter your experience, it was challenging to prepare for an advance one couldn't see coming. The hand emiited a glow, drawing in a ball of plasma, before aiming not at the antagonists, but the thick layer of granules concealing the floor. That explosion, hurled upward a blinding cloud before subsequently following its lead with a swift fluid slash from her weapon The men's vision now impaired, their ears ringing due to the acoustics of the room cojoined with the sound of that prior eruption. A nuisance that even Tahira wasn't impervious to.

From that jagged tooth she discharged a wave of plasmatic threads that rolled outward. The men, presuming triumph, had found themselves incapable of eluding the impending blow. That river of plasma collided as its corrosive and burning substance seeped within the gaps of their protective layers. That armor, conceived to afford security, now toiled as their sarcophagus. Their bodies hurled backward while the lamentations of their misery echoed. That signature aroma of charred lard and hair permeated the room as somewhat weakly the feebled woman grimaced. Eventually, that dirge desisted, as once more the sound of silence occupied the halls. Limping ahead, recognizing the dire straits she now inhabited, Tahira made a sullen choice. 
 

Due to her external injuries and the iron's depletion, Tahira needed to find a remedy, and fast. Lamentably, their blood, likely no longer of use, only left one adequate resolution to rectify her plight. The knees descended to the ground before she crawled toward one of the bodies, turning it over so that the disfigured face came into view. Those trembling hands unfastened the chest plate while a discernment of repugnance concerning what needed to be done galled her core. Reaching over, she seized the enemy's blade and began to cut the Kitsune open. Those armored hands were ramming deep into the body before tearing out the cooked liver and ingesting it.  While not her finest moment, the samurai conjectured that this world was about one thing, continuance at any cost.

The entire time, she gagged, keeping the want to disgorge back, failing to dupe herself that this was somehow natural. Those succulent lips, left parted, veneered in bodily oils, as that sense of frailty diminished its hold over her. Once the meal had been consumed, Tahira proceeded to untether both heads, strapping them to her side before concealing them within a burlap bag. Stepping off, she gaited from that necropolis before returning to the contractor. His face flushed whiter than her own, genuinely shocked she somehow survived before being gifted what remains of his comrades. "Everything earned, nothing given..." The last thing the man saw was that blade elongating through its enchantments before perforating the chest and piercing his gelatinous heart.
 

His head, now collected, before Tahira rode off into the sunset. A man like this likely had a bounty, and if so, she knew someone who would have the details. The only problem, her abode was within the College of Whitestone. Which meant she'd have to risk floundering into her family or one of their compatriots. While disheartening, the necessity for coin superseded that contempt toward her mother and her fellow cohorts. A singular thought coursed through her mind, a line that best reflected what she had beheld while gawking into the abyss that is this domain's true self.  

"This bitter world, what fruit it bears.."

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Chapter 3

"Reunion."


 

 

This arid land knew no repose. Even now, notwithstanding the Eternal house patrolling the roads, innumerable predators prowled the shadows. Only those that drifted beyond the greed, perils, and pestilence of the badlands may find an abode in this parched land. The aristocrats preach of their manners, customs, and "inesteemable" ranks. Tahira couldn't care less about the way they perceived her. Within that great expanse, all seasoned voyagers had their ways of doing things. Ironic, the wilderness is ripe with horrors, whether you be highborn or a stablehand. Whether Mer or Beastkin, only the strong survive.

 

This ethos guided her well-honed wits and elongated blade, presenting her another sunset and rise to observe. Tahira had little appreciation for the flamboyant lifestyle of the nobles. Their egocentric consumption was bordering on gluttony. The voracity in which they gorged themselves. While perhaps lesser than yesteryear, it still engendered a degree of disparagement toward the less fortunate classes. Why did she spurn the silver spoon conferred to her lips via sheer virtue of being begotten? Who knows? Call it the pride of a southerner. A stubbornness that all those who trekked across those bleached dunes knew all too well.

The thought of returning to secure payment. Hardly enough to eclipse the emerging dread of suffering the presence of spineless, pretentious curs. Here, outside those walls that generated a fantasy of security, this meek monster slayer was a monarch. Those teal eyes were tapering as the blistering rays of the suns barraged across her pallid skin. That body, while shapely, was covered in begrimed fur from prior game. Beneath the fibers lurked an attire of leather, black as night, as strewn about were sections of the kitsune's signature plated armor. The buzzards were circling above while beads of sweat saturated her groomed eyebrows. The sky, devoid of a single cloud, as it appeared the very heavens had riled up against this traveler.

 

Thankfully, her dependable beetle mount, with its rust-colored carapace, labored as a beast of burden. Its insectoid feelers scurrying across the sands as the sun's radiance reflected from that sheened exoskeleton. The calls of the carrions resounded across the distance, accompanied by a familiar sound. For attached to the side via a bag and straps, a bloody burlap sack slapped against the steed. Inside resided the severed head of a menace, the true culprit surrounding the disturbances that warranted her contract. The prey exsanguinated, collected within a few vials, providing much-needed iron to placate her deficient blood.

Those pupils, like that of a feline, narrowed as the pair approached the fabled epicenter of "enlightenment." Muteness took root as the beetle shambled beyond the gaped maw of this fortified institution. Those orbs devoid of empathy scoured the scene as the bustling dissonance of this ceremony seemed like a wasted venture. Before her rested quite the bounty of games, food, music, and alcohol, an effective albeit shallow endeavor to enthrall the masses. These luxuries were merely diversions essential to delude one's mind regarding the harrowing plight that is permanence. It was then that Tahira noticed the ruby queen, shunting her gaze as it seemed she picked a splendid time to collect on her bounty.

 

The mount abruptly desisted its movements as the sandal-footed woman slid free from its smooth back. A nearby rope and column of stone, being utilized to secure her dear friend. That stained bag was loosened before being grasped firmly by those gloved digits. It's content swinging by her side while the free hand endearingly petted the head of her insect companion. No matter what. Tahira was nothing if not punctual when it came to her rendevous. Though, admittedly, the prospect of locating her benefactor within this sea of milk drinkers might establish itself as wearisome. Hopefully, her dirty exterior, not-so-inviting container, and imposing physical stature and garb would repel the drunks and pickpockets. Tahira, now freed stroked its mandibles a few times before about facing and marching within the midst of the crowd. Her black dress whipped in the breeze, as it seemed now, out of all times, some respite would materialize.

The crowd, its clamor, and their redolence nauseated Tahira. Their emphasized need to engage in frivolous pleasure rather than hone their crafts drove the mer to lump them as a collective of deadbeats. Her towering stature all but guaranteed she stood out amongst this sea of peasants. The peddlers like vultures crowding around, each hungrily trying to pry coin from the masses' fingers. Their wretched endeavors, whenever aimed toward the hunter would only be met with a serrated glare. Her frigid demeanor toiled as an impervious barrier. That soundless retort is a means of illustrating her lack of enthrallment concerning their advertisements. 

 

Those teal eyes rolled before colliding her side against those alongside her, disrupting the flow of traffic. While having contributed much-needed iron into her system, the blood of her prey was dwindling in supply. She desired only three things, the chief of which being her contractor—the lesser of which, either blood or liver. Frustrated, Tahira continued her stern stride, pushing deeper into the bazaar. It was then that her attentive gaze roamed to that of an alchemical shop—a stand with many curative ointments and powders on display, operated by a lonesome elf named Izmail. Those sandal-clad feet were shifting as she diagonally forded beyond the consumers before abruptly terminating that approach.

Tahira rested but a few feet from the counter, that bloodied burlap bag still in hand as the noticeable particles of sand adhered to the fur resting on those armored shoulders. The dirt of her adventures cacking not only her footwear but bequeathing visible grime athwart her porcelain-toned visage. Those eyes, baptized by magic, sublime in their hue gradually narrowed. While aphasic, that judicious stare was enough to bestow the fact that this man was being evaluated. The katana remained fastened to those broad hips as the seven-foot-tall lady marched forward as if attempting to overtower the stall's representative

The two engaged in a dance of commerce, locking horns as they each disputed one's offer or claims. Eventually, an agreement was brokered, albeit with some minor friction.

 

While Izmail extended his warning concerning the sugary blood cubes she purchased, a large rodent wobbled within their little assemblage. His beady eyes, that long snout, and bulbous nose had induced a smile—Rakash, her brother, that one bedrock that had persevered as reliable within her defiled existence. Stepping free, the two chatted, investing time into catching up on recent happenings since their last discussion. All the while, her sibling assisted the mer with combing through the mob, ultimately locating her benefactor. With the payment now obtained, the man discussed rumors of a town within Skeletal highway, tormented by a string of misfortunes.

While his tale may have been a bit too capricious for Tahira's liking, the prospect of future work always invigorated the heart to flutter from delight. The two hurried away, returning once more to the fair. The hours waned as the atmosphere gradually became enveloped by the eventide—Rakash and Tahira shared many drinks, food, and memories. This jovial snapshot, the mirth it radiated, lasted as a stalwart warning that there was more to life besides monster slaying. Still, the road did beckon this wayward daughter as the mer stood, embracing and kissing Rakash goodbye. Once more fading behind the horizon, shadowing another job. Just another page within the tragic comedy that is Tahira's life...

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