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Lucy had a few moments satisfaction at defeating the Asian vampire but it wasn’t there for too long, there were other matters to attend with. She looked round and noticed that they were apparently down one of their number, she been so focused on the vampire that she’d missed where Blue Jay had gone.

“Did you see where are little Robin Hood went to? I don’t think we should be separate in case there’s more weirdness going on in this island. And let’s be honest there’s a good chance that other weirdness is going down.”

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Cannonade tamped down on the ground some more, just to make sure that the whole thing wasn't some sort of illusion, or that the vampire had constructed a hollow shell so that it could spring from ambush when their backs were turned. "You're right," he said, satisfied that no further trickery was afoot. He moved down the path, trying to follow in Blue Jay's footsteps. "I guess they weren't kidding about the weird crap here. Hopefully, those agents haven't run into any of this stuff yet. Or... I mean, they're AEGIS. They likely know to handle themselves against vampires. Right?"

---

Blue Jay, meanwhile, ran and ran through the woods. Fear began to leech from her, but her legs still carried her onward. She could perceive the trees thinning slightly, but she didn't really process what that meant - all that meant was fewer ambush points, more open space. The second before her ability to think clearly fully returned --

"Stop."

A voice came from above. "There is a trap 5 meters from you. The chances of you walking away from it are slim. And then I might not get the answers I want. Tell me... what brings you to this island?"

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Blue Jay ran, ran through bushes and past caves. She ran over streams and under rock shelves. She ran mindlessly, thoughtlessly, not trying to reach any particular place of safety but just moving away from the locus of her fear. Slowly though, the burning of her muscles and her lungs pierced the fog of terror and she slowed, coming to a stop next to the bole of a tropical tree. She put one hand on it, breathing deeply, when an unseen voice addressed her from the treetops.

She was suddenly aware of the sweat on the back of her neck, felt it freeze and become clammy as she imagined someone drawing down on her. She didn’t move, but she did search the ground in front of her. If there was a trap, she didn’t see it -- which could just mean the trap was too well-hidden for her to notice it. Gambling otherwise could be deadly.

So the young archer decided to talk to the unseen figure. “A boat brought me,” she said. “AEGIS lost a couple of agents over this island, and they thought I would be their best shot at finding them.” She turned her head slightly, angling her face down so she could scan the canopy with her peripheral vision. “Are you one of them? Or do you just like watching girls run through your woods?”

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Lucy though for a few seconds and gave a little frown “I suspect they don’t know as much as they’d like, and that’s why I’m here. I have quite a bit of hands on experience of Vampire of several different stripes. If there any in Freedom City though they keep themselves to themselves.”

As she spoke she looked around at the jungle around her for signs of the runaway, being a very urban girl she didn’t have a clue where to start looking for her.

“Still I’m sure we’re more than capable of figuring all this out.”

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"We're aware of your lost souls," said the man from the woods, "and we wouldn't say we 'enjoy' watching people run through our woods. But, every so often, there comes a supplicant or a surveyor." The man stepped out of the thicket and into the clearing. He was dressed in old robes and sandals, and his shaved head reflected the moonlight. He was not dead - Blue Jay had gotten used to detecting mockeries of life, and she could sense that his heart and lungs were still working. But they seemed to be working slower than they normally might, and while the man looked fit, he also looked somewhat cadaverous. 

"Welcome to Avici," he said. "Hopefully you will enjoy the stay."

---

Revenant was able to find Blue Jay's trail rather easily, and Cannonade was able to follow along. "Yeah, I'll leave the undead stuff to you," he said. "I know I probably said it before, but this whole place gives me the creeps. It's not like I'm a Boy Scout or anything, but I know when forests do stuff they're not supposed to be doing."

The two passed a small pond, framed by a circle of trees. The ground around it was immaculate, as if no animals stopped to drink here - and it soon became clear why. The water of the pond was as still as ice, and smelled like pungent rubbing alcohol.

"Like that, for instance." 

Edited by trollthumper

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Blue Jay took deep breaths, filling her lungs with the scent of the jungle and her own sweat, as she watched the man appear from the underbrush. She held herself at the ready and the vestiges of her earlier, blind panic made her twitch, but she kept control of her instincts. Not to say that the man’s appearance or words put her at ease, but the archer didn’t want to come off as a rabbit to this stranger.
 

She took another deep breath and spoke. “If you know where the AEGIS agents are,” she said, keeping her voice calm and level, “I would appreciate it if you could let me know where they are.” She paused and added, “I have people who are here with me. If it’s possible, I’d like to go back and find them so we could all find them together.”

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It took Lucy a few moments to realise what Cavalier was talking about, one of the downside of being undead was that most of her senses were deadened. She could barely smell anything wrong about the pond, luckily her eye were perfectly fine. She leant down and gently brushed her hand over the surface of the water, luckily her flesh could recover from most things if this was more than simple water.

“I’ve heard that some undead can cause corruption to the land around them, though this might be a cause or effect kind of thing.”

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As Revenant's fingers touched the water's surface, she could feel the substance against her flesh. It felt more like glycerine than water, and she could feel a greater degree of resistance than usual as her fingers lifted from the liquid. 

"I'll take your word for it," said Cannonade. "Like I said, this really ain't my department." But now that he thought about it, it did feel cold - even for November. Between that, the lake full of something that clearly wasn't water, and the absolute silence...

Well. The absolute silence except for the sound of snapping branches...

He turned, only to find arrows pointed at him.  "Y'know, you're welcome to try..."

---

"Your friends will likely be joining us shortly," said the monk. "As for the others who came here... they are with us as well. They are cared for, as well as we can. This island... can do things to the unaccustomed, and is not safe for those who are unused to its essence. And then there's whatever has disturbed the jiang shi..."

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Blue Jay took a long look at the man, wondering just how much he knew about their mission and the island. "I don't know about gangs see," she said, stressing the words. "There are plenty of gangs in the city, but none hit like that. In any case, I should see the AEGIS agents. They're why we came here, after all." She looked around at the forests, trying to discern the paths the monk used to get around. "For that matter, how long have you been here?"

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“You be surprised how much variety you get among common or garden vampires, I’ve not met any that sparkle yet though there is alway time.” she smiled at her own personal joke, some popular culture had filtered down to even her.

Whilst she couldn’t see what was happening to Cannonade she had a pretty good idea something was up, so she stood up slowly with her hand where anyone could see them and slowly turned around. If trouble started Lucy at least had her speed which she might be able to use to surprise them.

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As Cannonade looked down, he noticed that the arrows pointed at him were pure wood. No stone or metal arrow heads, just sharpened wooden shafts. Okay, so, yeah, he thought. Definitely vampires. 

One of the bowmen stepped forward, not enough to close with either person but enough to make the arrow look slightly more threatening. He assessed Cannonade, gave a brief nod, and turned towards Revenant. He moved to take a step forward before pausing. After a few seconds of study, he barked something in Chinese to the others. There was some minor consultation between him and the other archers before his attention turned back to the two. "You will come with us," he said. "The island is not safe."

"Really? You're telling us."

---

"Jiang shi," said the old man, taking care to pronounce the words. "The restless dead, driven by the po. Feed on the chi on that which lives and breathes so that their bodies remain quick. They are rare on the mainland, but this island is... a place for those who were driven by the po in life. It is--"

Another man came out of the woods, this one dressed in black fatigues rather than robes. The two traded words in Chinese before the man in the robes turned back. "It appears your friends have been found," he said. "Good. It would be best if you were all together."

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It would be a good idea to meet back up with Cannonade and Lucy, that was true. Jay fell in line behind the man, taking care to match his footprints as closely as possible while also keeping a look-out for more of his followers. "You didn't really answer my question," she pointed out. "How long have your people been here? AEGIS said this island was uninhabited, but you know English so you must have some contact with the outside world." She paused for a moment, running through the potential scenarios in her head. "If you want to leave, I'm sure AEGIS will send a boat big enough for everyone. Or two boats, even." She didn't even mention the possibility of flying off the island.

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