Ana remembered the words Talak had given her when she asked what the Shadowlands held, and, as time progressed, she learned that these words encapsulated pretty much every world she had been unfortunate enough to visit since then. The most recent in this tragedy of planetary exploration was Dxun, the demon moon of Onderon. Normally when a place was referred to as the “Demon Moon,” she would think it best to steer clear of it, but the rumor of potential Sith artifacts or writings necessitated that she pay this place a visit alongside a few other cultists.
She set the Muse down in a jungle clearing just big enough for the star skiff and made her way to the landing ramp without a word, letting her companions follow behind as she took the lead. She was dressed modestly in some high leather boots with bantha leather pants and a cloth shirt all concealed under a wool robe. The rhythmic rumble of thunder overhead and the cacophony of rain clued her in to the torrential downpour outside her ship before she even saw the wilderness from the ramp. She would hesitate for a moment, turning her head just enough to cast a sideways glance behind her at whatever companions came alongside her on this foray into the jungle. She hadn't spoken to them much, and the Muse had limited space for passengers, so they were kept separate by a lack of space, not that she particularly minded. She knew nothing of these individuals, nor did she trust them, but they each held a common purpose, and that was good enough for her.
There was no time to waste, however, and, after her momentary hesitation, she set off down the ramp. Her lightsaber bounced gently with her movements and her vibroknife rotated slightly in its sheath on her lower back. She read up on how dangerous the jungle was, and how frustrating its tendency to swallow everything could be, so she elected not to bring any other pieces of equipment with her. She had a rough idea of the heading they needed to go and would let the Force guide them the rest of the way. If they were meant to find this small relic site, then they would. If not, then this would be an irritatingly short endeavor.
The raindrops hammered into her cloak immediately upon stepping off the ramp and into the open and she frowned, realizing that she might have been woefully unprepared for this excursion. Still, it was too late to back out now, and she had an intense desire to uncover this world’s plethora of secrets. The clearing they were in had no visible trails, and the dense foliage made it abundantly clear that this would be an ordeal to trek through. Night had fallen on Dxun, and the thousand eyes of this world’s predators fell upon the trespassers to their hunting grounds. A ghostly fog obfuscated anything beyond a few meters, but her preternatural senses warned her that they were not alone, and they were far from the hungriest creatures here.
This was another primal world untainted by the sins of civilization; no stratification, no corruption, no malice; just raw, primeval energy as creatures killed to survive. A tinge of anxiety and fear bubbled to the surface of her subconscious, tempered by her ordeal on Kashyyyk, but she welcomed it with apprehension. She hadn't yet truly fallen, and the tinge of grey of her signature was merely streaked with the brilliant red of fear and not the abyssal blackness that would come soon.
She swatted away a mosquito and looked at the ramp, impatiently waiting for her companions to follow her down and begin this foray into the wilderness. She wanted to be off this planet quickly, and the water now seeping into her boots made that desire much more apparent.
Sin had been meditating most of he journey to the "Devil Moon". The tight confines of the ship would allow him to do little else while they were in hyperspace. He had offered to follow the young woman in his own ship, The Shadow Runner, but she would not have it. Preferring the idea of riding together. But said fewer than ten words to the rest of the group the entire ride over. It was maddening. So he focused inward, until he felt them enter atmo.
Ana, if he remembered correctly, moved quickly but with surprising grace given the tight quarters. Wasting no time in getting out of the pilot's chair and down toward the ramp. Rested and ready. He followed after, but much more casual. As it was clear they had arrived on the moon during what sounded like a tropical storm. Devil moon indeed.
Dressed in black utility clothing and an old brown blast vest. Sin looked much more like one of Ana's servants or body guards, rather then a killer and fellow cultist. At his waist and hip were the utility belt of a couple essential tools and his saber hilt. Like the raven haired woman he welcomed the challenge. That and he just replaced his datapad. He was wiser to wear a utilitarian style poncho as well. Not the noble and useless wool thing the young woman wore.
Only a couple of steps behind her when she walked off the ramp into a deep puddle, he managed to splash her in the face as he walked off the ramp himself. He would of apologized, had she not already appeared to look like a drowned rat in this moon lit monsoon.
Ventrik was irritated... tired, uncomfortable and irritated. This was the first time he had to work with others in such a capacity and he could already tell that he didn't want to make a habit of it. The dark-eyed she-witch had forced him to share a most unpleasant journey alongside two other nameless individuals, in what seemed to be an oversized trash compactor of a ship. Not only that, now he was wet. As they trudged on through the overbearing storm, Ventrik's black cloak whirled about behind him with the wind, revealing his plain black tunic underneath. With closer observation, his lightsaber, a Tear of Venus, could be seen attached by his hip, its dark, daunting form barely visible. This "Demon Moon" was aptly named, Ventrik already despised being here and would happily cut down the next living thing to cross his path, to release some tension if nothing else.
He towered over the small human woman as he walked several paces behind her, standing a foot and half taller, Ventrik had previously observed her. She seemed to be a sickly looking lifeform, unnaturally pale, she would easily be mistaken for one of his own race had her hair not been so dark. He hardly looked at Ana with anything resembling respect, this pathetic creature looked fragile and weak, the only reason he had even considered following her to this damned moon was the potential rewards. Briefly glancing over, Ventrik observed his fellow Echani with disdain. Just like the rest... he thought to himself. Ventrik despised others of his own race, with their entitled opinions and expectations of one another, being banished had taught him a great many things, not trusting the Echani people was at the forefront of that. Already fed up with most of his surroundings, Ventrik didn't even bother observing the final companion, although there was no doubt in his mind that it was yet another pathetic lifeform.
As the continued on their path, which seemed to be nothing but trekking randomly through the overgrown jungle, Ventrik could often feel minor pulses of the force. There was power here, however, he was unsure whether he simply felt the presence of his companions, or something... more...
Maelibus had kept mostly to himself during the journey, meditating and considering his own thoughts in utter silence. A low growl escaped from the Kaleesh warrior as the ship itself rumbled to a stop, the companions that joined him all began to disembark down the ramp. This was largely Ana's idea and while he had never met her before, he felt it would be best to join her on this expedition. As a follower and worshiper of the dark side, the findings of a new relic site would be useful to say the least. As the other three moved out, he soon followed, his muscular form rising to its full height.
The alpha clearly towered over the others and unlike the armored Echani who named his lightsaber the title of an aging popstar band, Maelibus was not discomforted by the rain. Water splashed harmlessly on his bare-chested torso, adding a metallic sheen to the rippling obsidian flesh that made him even more intimidating in Dxun's midnight blue skies. The crimson blade was strapped to thickened silk pants, tied under an ebony sash that looped around the waist. His preferred weapon, a golden war-hammer was strapped across his back allowing his hands free reign to move about as his advanced.
Golden eyes sank with corrupted discoloration, their sulfuric tone scanning surroundings beneath the visage of the golden helm. They moved silently for now, Maelibus wasn't one to initiate conversation. He ran a finger over the Personav system in his hand, checking to see their current location, before shifting attention back towards their apparent leader on this expedition as he approached towards her left side during their track through the forests.
Ana glared out from beneath her wool cloak, feeling the rhythmic platplatplat of the rain on her hood. The drops impacted like fat, wet rocks, and the sky above showed no sign of this thunderstorm letting up in the slightest. Luckily, wool was wonderfully waterproof, and the only victims of this storm were her boots, which progressively sank in the saturated mud, and her face, which was splashed occasionally by a particularly fat drop. Her skin prickled slightly from the chill and she shivered for a moment or two, bouncing in place slightly to keep her body warmed.
The first of her companions left the Muse, and she regarded him with idle curiosity. He was tall, almost a full foot-and-a-half taller than her with a complexion as ghostly as her own. Brilliant white hair rested atop his shoulders beneath the more technical poncho he wore, and his eyes betrayed a certain stoic quality to them. Perhaps it was the slate color, perhaps it was the utter ambivalence with which he regarded her, though she cared little. They had agreed to follow her on this relic hunt, and even such a simple gesture of obeisance as joining her on her own ship was enough to satisfy the woman. His heavy footsteps splashed into a deep puddle, spraying some of the murky water up and onto her face, eliciting an exasperated sigh from her as she wiped it clean.
The second of the party was just a bit taller than the first, though his sickly pallor and silver eyes stood in even greater contrast with his black cloak than the first Echani. Again, he towered over her, not that she particularly minded. What irritated her, though, was the unwarranted contemptuous glare he leveled her way, as if he believed her diminutive stature made her lesser. The corners of her lips curled into a wry smile and returned to neutral as quickly as it had appeared, and the grouch pressed on a bit, not even looking back at their final companion, who, alarmingly enough, towered still over even the second man.
The kaleesh stepped out of the ship wordlessly, his monstrously tall figure almost comedic when compared next to Ana’s five-foot-nothing figure. Before she could restrain herself, a curt, gasping laugh escaped her lips, and she couldn’t help but stare at the alien as he walked into a jungle thunderstorm entirely bare-chested. She wondered what might have compelled him to come even more woefully underprepared than the rest of the group, and assumed it was some matter of pride. Perhaps, she thought, it was an attempt to prove his manliness over the other two men in some infantile gesture of dominance. Alpha male or not, he had followed Ana here on his own volition, and she accepted this unofficial role as the group leader with immense amusement. She eagerly awaited the butting of heads between the three men as this expedition went on.
”I hope you’ve been vaccinated,” she remarked teasingly to Maelibus, ”Dxun is known for its many, many diseases.” She giggled to herself and turned, raising a hand for the group to follow her as she tromped through the muck and mire, ”Come along, before the mosquitos claim another victim.” She headed in the direction her navigator initially told her, but knew that once she entered the jungle, it would be a matter of feeling where they needed to go next. As she reached the dense foliage on the edge of the clearing, she drew her lightsaber and ignited it, suffusing the area in a crimson glow. She carved effortlessly through the underbrush, reaching out with her senses to feel the jungle, knowing that mere eyesight would be of little help here. Almost immediately, she was overwhelmed by the intense primal energies of this world, but she focused on a faint, alluring whisper of the Dark Side, heading towards it like a beacon. That, she hoped, was their goal, though she knew this world had a way of playing tricks on the mind.
They were not alone, however, and she could also sense the pulsing lifeforms of the predators stalking them in the night, using the cover of darkness, rainfall, and fog to conceal their approach. She hoped the men with her were good for more than just jokes and appearances.
The Echani warrior could not help but give a half smile as Ana wiped her face clean from his splashing her. He studied her then from under the cover of his hood. One could tell so much about a person from their body language. It was amusing. He could of watched her longer but the hairs on his neck would rise. He could sense the hate and disdain coming from the other Echani. Sin did not share the man's hatred for their kind. Mostly because he was not raised around them.
Sin gave a low and amused snicker of a laugh. Allowing the other pale skinned man to know and understand that he was not intimidated and in fact, welcomed the challenge. If the other man was brave enough to try.
Turning his attention to the fourth in their part. Sin's head cocked in puzzlement. Did this fool really just walk out of the ship with nothing but silk pants. Shaking off the question. Sin shrugged, turning to follow Ana as they started to move out. Taking the black handle of his saber hilt into his hand and holding it before him. But did not activate it yet. He trudged along the tiny woman's left. Allowing the glow of her weapon to lead the way. Letting his sense open to the area around them. The dark side guiding him like a pull star.
Ventrik paid little mind to the final member of the party as they walked onwards, he could sense that the lifeform was there and that it seemed capable, although its ridiculous choice in attire stood out like a sore thumb. Having no intention of initiating a conversation, Ventrik began evaluating the predicament he found himself in, A frail little girl who talks too much, an Echani pile of filth with a superiority complex and an overgrown fool that can't even prepare himself for a mission... What have I gotten myself into?. It felt good, however, participating in a mission that didn't require him to hide his power with the force... This Devil Moon is good for something at least...
As they continued forward, Ventrik pulled out his own lightsaber, its pincer-like crossguard shining menacingly in the light. He did not activate it though, choosing instead to maintain a firm grip on the hilt until he felt it absolutely necessary.
Maelibus chuckled at the woman's comments, "I suppose that's what all the needles in that safety kit on the ship were for?" He asked rhetorically, not woefully expecting a serious answer but rather simply playing around in her teasing bit. He didn't partly need to entertaining the seriousness of the other males nor did he need to cater to the animalistic struggles for dominance. He was the apex predator, gods had willed him so by blessing him with the physique and the power supporting behind it. All he needed to do on this trip was to swing that war-hammer when it was called upon, the other struggles, he'd allow their small leader to handle those.
And so, the Kaleesh continued to track behind the two Echani, off the right of the woman. War-hammer held firmly in his arms as sulfuric stained eyes scanned from right to left, maintaining a visual on potential dangers. A small squirrel type creature came to his feet, irritating his ankles with its constant gnawing. Maelibus looked down at it with a wayward tilt in his head, a playful smile coming to his face as he grabbed the animal and placed it upon Ventrik's head. He felt the man needed a companion, perhaps then he'd stop all the sulking.
Ana paid little attention to the goading of the kaleesh and continued on her way, guiding the brawn that accompanied her on this excursion. Despite their myriad shortcomings, she was glad that they were, at least visually, physically dominant. She could hold her own, but her diminutive size often meant that the larger predators of the jungle viewed her as some kind of exotic delicacy. She very much preferred to remain wholly uneaten, and so she would rely on these three to maintain the trend of not yet dying. Sin and Ventrik alike both seemed moody, though she chalked that up to the two silently fuming over who was the better pale-skinned, white-haired, six-foot-something with a lightsaber. As she walked, she shook her head with a wry smile. Men.
The trek was, for the most part, rather uneventful. Her guests drastically lacked any kind of social acumen, so she remained silent. Instead, she reached outwards beyond her body, letting the physical vessel slash through the vegetation while her mind roamed around their immediate area. She watched Maelibus place a squirrel on Ventrik’s head, watched the insects buzz around and assail his bare torso, despite the rain, and felt the ever-lurking presence of this world’s predators. It kept her on edge, and she knew the time would come when they wandered into the wrong hunting ground.
She reached a small clearing and paused at the edge of it, holding a hand up for her companions to halt as well. ”A moment,” she said, scanning the wood line with her venom-green eyes. Something felt wrong; this was a familiar feeling to her, and the memories of her torment on Kashyyyk came flooding back. Her hairs stood on edge now just as they had then, and a malevolent energy seemed to pervade this area. Unbeknownst to the four, this clearing had been stained with centuries of blood from unwary creatures.
As luck would have it, the sensation of being watched proved to be true, and from the fog emerged a beast unlike anything she had ever seen before. It was massive, like a tank with four legs. Its fat, ridged head was dominated by a maw that sported scores of razor-sharp teeth. Its skin looked durable, almost impervious to weapons, and a deadly tail lashed behind it as it walked. The zakkeg had caught their scent and was heading towards them, and the fools it desired had wandered right into its hunting ground.
The first person it spotted was Ana with her lightsaber. It pawed the ground, cleaving a small depression in the saturated earth, and let out a fearsome growl. The tiny cultist frowned, then looked towards her companions. ”Trouble’s found us,” she stated dryly, returning her gaze to the zakkeg. It stood in the clearing and began to head towards the four cultists, eager to feed. This battle would take their combined efforts to win, lest they all find themselves an early retirement in the monster’s stomach.
Sin was becoming board, cold and board. His fellow echani was trying very hard to appear to be harder then he was. Brooding over force known what. Perhaps how superior he was to Sin or the rest of them. All emotion, likely very little skill to back his ego. The over sized rat from Kalee was even less interesting to Sin. The girl apparently need the numbers to feel safer on this devil moon, but Sin couldn't help but think this would of been far easier with just him and the girl. Perhaps, more fun was well.
The weather seeming to lessen was they continued to trudge down the jungle. Allowing the thundering atop his head from the rains to stop long enough to Sin to reach out with the dark side. He wasn't as elegant or cautious as their tiny black haired leader. He was much more forceful and intrusive. Pushing past their path into into the unseen. Like Ana, he could feel them more so then sense them. Predators eager for a misstep, and a meal.
When they reached the small clearing, he felt it. Apparently just as the girl did. She would suddenly hold a hand up, and asked them to hold. Sin clutched his hilt a little tighter and moved from her side. Not separating from her, rather like taking a lead off a base in coruscant baseball.
Sudden out of the fog, a massive beast. Charging right for them. Well for Ana. Perhaps attempt to separate the perceived weakest from the heard. Sin did not mind her being bait. As he knew well from her tiny demeanor, that she was likely far more skilled and capable then his fellow echani of the group.
As the creature approached, Sin activated his lightsaber. An angry beam of red plasma to match that of the girl only feel away. The eachi would then move toward the beast in a jog. Only moving about fifteen meters to close the distance, before augmenting his body with the dark side. Leaping over the apex predator, flipping to face it's back and then landing. His saber defensively before in his left hand. His right already building the dark side once more.
Ventrik didn't even notice when the little creature was placed upon his head. He was too wary of the actual dangers all around him, everywhere he focused, he sensed predators readying themselves for a feast. Looking at their small companion ahead of him, he could understand why, She must look like dinner to the monsters of this land... What these monsters didn't seem to realise was that they were observing four much more dangerous monsters, the Eternal were predators... not prey.
Only once it began to crawl down from his head and onto his shoulder did Ventrik finally notice the small squirrel-like thing. At first, he stared at it with confusion, wondering how it even managed to get there before simply shrugging and allowing it to sniff around his long hair, no doubt it was looking for a place to nest. For Ventrik, innocent creatures such as this were worth preserving, they merely existed in a world that was far too cruel for them. He gave the little thing a gentle scratch behind the ear which it graciously allowed before returning his focus to the surrounding area. Something is off... he could feel a sudden change in the air as they entered the clearing, something the short woman confirmed when she raised her hand at them.
His little companion seemed to notice that something was off as well, the moment they entered the clearing it had dashed inside his long brush of hair, concealing itself entirely within. And then he saw it, bounding towards them, or more specifically, towards Ana. As the other Echani decided to act a fool and jump over the beast, Ventrik dashed to the left as it remained focused on the little human in front of it. Activating his lightsaber at the last moment, he slashed at its front leg, managing to slow its advance but not stopping it entirely. The impact of his large lightsaber connecting with its leg was enough to send him back a few steps before he was able to compose himself again. Hopefully this would give Ana enough time to manoeuvre herself out of the beast's path, "Quickly! Get out of the way, we won't be able to stop the charge!" He yelled at the little warrior, "We need to keep it surrounded if we wish to stand a chance!"
Ventrik knew of the dangers involved when facing such a large armoured foe, memories of his battle with the Krayt Dragon on Tattooine rushed back to him. He had no love for his companions, however, he had no intention of letting them die...
Ana’s heart pounded as the zakkeg charged directly for her. The oafs traveling alongside her, bless their hearts, managed to spring to action just in time for the sudden attack. She flourished her lightsaber, carving through some foliage in the process, challenging the zakkeg to focus on her. She was spry and nimble, and the more physically dominant companions she traveled with would be of great help in bringing it down. Sin leapt clear over the charging creature was now poised to its rear, while Ventrik dashed to the side and slashed at the beast’s front leg. It roared an ear-splitting animalistic cry that echoed throughout the jungle, but otherwise continued its charge. The roar of the beast was drowned out only by the crack of lightning and accompanying thunder, Mother Nature herself displaying her wrathful powers.
Maelibus, astonishingly, did absolutely nothing. In fact, it seemed as if he was frozen in fear of the zakkeg. He’d been standing to the right of Ana, seemingly eager for battle, but, when the moment arrived, her was petrified. Rather than allow the kaleesh to die an ignominious death on this moon, she thrust her arm sidelong towards him, sending a wave of telekinetic energy into his chest and shoving him out of the beast’s immediate path. He’d stumble and be thrown into a thorny patch of vines but was otherwise relatively safe, minus the assured damage to his pride from having been the only one here to not act.
Conversely, Ana, having been preoccupied with saving her comrade’s life, had little time to react to the zakkeg’s advance. She dove to the side opposite Maelibus, just narrowly avoiding certain doom, but let go of her lightsaber as she stumbled and rolled into the bushes. Her eyes grew wide as she realized she lost the thing, but now was not the time to lament her misfortune. Rather, she began to channel her fear and anger, travelling inwards to the recesses of her mind to uncage the gnawing hunger within. The darkness called to her on this moon, and its whispers had gone unanswered for too long. This zakkeg would take a considerable effort to slay, and only with the cruel powers of the dark side would she be able to do so.
Ventrik's jaw almost dropped when he witnessed the inaction of their largest "companion", he noted the bravery of the little She-devil, however. Looking to his side, he expected the other Echani to finally show off some form of skill, yet once again he was disappointed. Their other companion had simply disappeared, it was as if he had actually turned tail and run for the hills. Ventrik roared in frustration, his rage beginning to build as he witnessed the two acts of cowardice.
Turning back to the action, he was almost ready to accept the fact that he would alone in this fight as he saw Ana come inches from death. "It looks like it's just the two of us little one, we may not survive this but I'll be damned if I make it easy for this creature!" With another glance, he noticed her lightsaber on the grassy floor and sighed. He knew that she would need time to recover it, time and a considerable distraction. Jumping to the opposite end of the creature, Ventrik roared out as loud as he could, "Over here you giant sack of brainless trash! I'll give you a real fight!"
The creature, albeit not understanding what was actually said, turned to face the giant Echani. Letting out a roar of its own, it began to charge in his direction without relent. He backed away as it continued its charge until he felt his back come up against a giant tree, sighing again, he successfully leapt out of the way of its charge. Turning around he witnessed the beast's head become ensnared in a large hole within the giant tree, using this opportunity, Ventrik slashed down once again at the back leg of the Zakkeg. The beast seemed to feel this strike a bit more than last time.
He jumped back toward Ana, standing beside her with his lightsaber drawn as the beast managed to pull itself free. It did not appear injured at all, if anything it was only angrier after its most recent failure. Looking to his side, he hoped his partner had recovered her weapon in time.
Ana scrambled through the underbrush as she looked for her lightsaber. Tiny hands dragged across dirt, sticks, and vegetation until finally it brushed against something metallic. With a gasp of excitement, she gripped the weapon and pushed against the ground to rise right as Ventrik jumped beside her. She looked up at the man, then at the enraged zakkeg. Their other two companions had since fled the scene like cowards, leaving only her and him to fight this thing. The odds… weren’t really in their favor, but they still had the Force.
She took this brief pause in battle to fully wrench the darkness inside her to the forefront, subsuming herself in its corrupting presence. This world was full of life and the Force flowed freely here, but she would use it for malevolent ends. Talak had taught her how to channel it as a weapon, and today she would travel further down that path to power. Her eyes shifted to a dull amber hue as the beast charged at them, but she did not move. Instead, she reactivated her lightsaber; the crimson blade thrust outward with a snap-hiss and suffused the area in its pale glow.
The zakkeg continued its next charge towards them. As it got closer, however, Ana thrust her hand outward and poured her hatred into the blue sparks that leapt from her fingertips towards the beast. This was the dark side made manifest, and she channeled all of her negative emotions into making it hurt. The lightning arced through the air and wrapped itself around the zakkeg. It roared in pain as electricity coursed through its body, overwhelming its organs and senses concurrently, putting it through horrible, agonizing pain. The beast’s charge slowed to a halt, but she continued to shock it, her face a rictus of hatred.
The area around the beast glowed a pale blue in contrast with their red lightsabers. It continued to roar in agony, but it could do nothing against the Force. ”Strike it!” she shouted exasperatedly at Ventrik. Keeping the zakkeg down was exhausting, and she wasn’t sure how much longer of a window she could give him to end this fight. If he failed, at least the zakkeg would be horribly wounded, but she preferred the alternative. A prolonged battle with this thing was not on her agenda.
Ventrik briefly glanced back at Ana as she looked at him. The look in her eyes mirrored his own, they were both aware of how slim their chances were, but they would not back down. The beast was beyond enraged at this point, it was clearly expecting an easier time. As he was about to lunge forward toward the beast again, he felt a small gathering of the force near him. Once again he looked at Ana and felt her drawing it in, channelling its power throughout her body. Understanding what she was doing, Ventrik held back his assault.
He felt the hatred pouring out of her as the intense blue electricity leapt from her fingers toward the zakkeg. Her aim was true and her focus set, the beast was instantly stunned by the impact of the attack, writhing in agonising pain. It was at that moment that he got ready to attack. Already moving when she yelled out, Ventrik held his saber lower, ready to lunge at the beast.
As he neared it, the zakkeg appeared to see his approach, attempting to rid itself of the tall Echani, it began charging again, even through the pain. Too slow. Right as the beast was about to lunge at him, the Legionnaire struck first, channelling the dark side of the force to quicken his movement,he was too fast for the zakkeg. With a single strike, Ventrik plunged his lightsaber upwards through the skull of the beast, skewering its head and stopping it in its tracks. It gave a final shudder, before falling at his feet, dead.
Ventrik himself dropped down, exhausted from the painstaking ordeal, breathing heavily, he looked over to Ana, "That was well done, you are clearly more capable than I first believed." Looking back at the beast, Ventrik smiled briefly before feeling something crawl along his neck. Looking to the side he noticed the small squirrel-like creature had reappeared from its hiding spot in his hair.