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Sinon Lagos
Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:54 pm    Post subject: Bloodlines Reply with quote

"In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight way was lost." -- Dante Allighieri, Canto I

The arch stretches fifteen feet high across the southern gate, black wrought iron hammered into shape sometime by hands unknown. Untold centuries of weather has rusted the skin of the monument into a red not unlike blood, while merchants of the market have resurfaced it dozens of time, stripping and reapplying the art, words, and symbols meant to usher people in. Most recently the work has been done in gold and read, in latin, Nocte in Foro, the night market. A place of wares, of wants, of dreams. Men and women loiter around the entrance, a collection of those unsure of entering, mingled with the more desperate or unlucky of sellers, unable to afford their own stalls further in.

Sinon walks amongst the southeast corner of the market, moving around the books and scrolls of the scholarly dealers. He is, as always, looking for maps and collections of history, real or unreal. In a black peacoat and boots, he appears warm. A scarf wraps itself around his throat and vanishes beneath the coat, sunset red. His hair is grown out and swept back. Even among the exotic smells of the market, Sinon leaves something of himself behind: fresh tobacco, old paper, expensive leather oil. He picks up one book, flips through it casually, and tosses it back into the pile. He owns copies of most of the common books found in these stalls, but still holds a hope of something new. It’s exactly the kind of quixotic quest he likes to find something impossible amidst so much detritus.

Mila is no stranger to the night market, nor to its southerly end where the scent of paper and ink overtakes the fragrance of exotic fruits and foreign spices. Her mother, Natalia, first brought her here, and Mila has always assumed—whether correctly or not—that the market has been in existence since the dawn of time, perpetually factionless and ungoverned, the bustle of it forever a millimeter shy of true chaos. It is a dangerous Venus Flytrap for those of ordinary perceptions; a strange, unfolding Bird of Paradise for those more extraordinary. Mila had drifted and gotten lost a hundred times in the past, learning eventually to find her mother by the blood red stripe of her hair or the sound of rich laughter rippling as an undercurrent to the voices of traders. And it was in the night market, too, where her mother first met Una, a story her mother kept locked tightly away, whether because it was precious or for the opposite reason, Mila never knew.

Her visitation tonight is not coincidence, but a pointed search. She arrives at the southern end of the market after the north end bears no fruit. Mila shouldn't recognize him from behind, but she is as certain of the way his figure is cut against the stack of books as she is of anything else. A short inhale confirms a childhood memory and she steps forward, black knit sweater slouched off one shoulder, silk pants silent as a breeze. She imagines her approach has long been noted by him, so when she stops within an inch of of his coat as it catches and billows open, her mouth is already opened to speak, one slender finger drawing down the length of a book's spine he'd touched only moments before. She feels the residue of his fingerprints like a gentle press against her eyelids. "Surely by now you own everything worthwhile in existence?"

There is no doubt she is Natalia's daughter: oxblood waves spill over her shoulders, her eyes the same lush-lashed shape even if the coloring is different, and her mouth is the same arresting, near-vicious red that once stopped Una in the middle of a busy street.

Her approach is noticed, because little wasn't, especially one like her, an unknown, untouched quantity invading his space, pressing through the boundaries of his senses one by one. He saw her first, before she saw him, from the corner of his eye, a streak of red like a meteor tail. Then he smelled her when the wind shifted; the salt on her skin, the oils of her hair, the tang of freshly opened pomegranate. Finally, he felt her near him, sensed the weight of her inquiry, her questions. They radiate off her as sure as light, as heavy as gravity. Sinon hides his smile carefully.

"That would be impossible. Most things worthwhile are not ownable," he says, turning to level her with his dead galaxy eyes, lightless expanses except at the edges, where silver rims turned, shimmered. They eat up the shifting lights, both oil and electric, just as they eat up her, too. Devour, wholesale, thoroughly and entirely. He looks her down from the feet up, slow and deliberate, saving her hair for last. "I know you," he says, on the verge of reaching out to touch a strand of red laid across her cheek. The desire to verify her substance is put aside. If she's a dream, a hallucination, she's a pleasant one, and he does not yet wish to dispel her.

"Clearly you've at least amassed a good deal on the subject of philosophy," Mila counters for his theory, a smile tuning itself into brief harmony at either corner of her mouth, a perfect curve that completes the perfect symmetry of her features. Her mother died before she'd passed along all of her tricks, but Mila has gathered a few of her own regardless. Her smiles are one of them and are capable, almost, of their own language.

When Sinon’s eyes drop, hers remain on the crown of his head, and she doesn't move otherwise beneath his examination, but lets his gaze pull and push and whatever soft parts of her it wants to. For a half second she considers a slow pirouette, but that would be overkill. When he's finished, Mila speaks again, her eyes steady upon him a deep, violet nebulae of life where his are a death-filled darkness. "You know of me, but you do not know me. It might be argued that no one can truly know another person. Most don't even really know themselves. That's my contribution to tonight's theories." The chimera of her smile shifts and diminishes until it remains only a half-moon glow of a curve.

Now she has all of his attention. The books, and their potential contents, are suddenly less interesting to him than her, rendered unimportant by her sheer being. A memory surfaces, potent and heady; a river of hair laid out on alabaster sheets, a crush of lips, the taste of blood, limbs, fingers, fire unending. Hunger like he'd rarely known. Though she doesn't know it, she drags with her a whole universe of life and death. She's like a star, wandering lost through the stellar waste, pulling constellations out of shape. Sinon's smiles mimes hers, though fainter, for the sensation of memory is overwhelming. "You are trying to impress me," he chides, quiet and playful, turning to face her fully. The urge to move the hair is consummated. He touches her, selects it out of all the others, and moves it into proper place. She's real.

"You are wrong, aside. You can know a person, if you are really dedicated and unafraid. Most people are not up to it." He turns his head away, only for a moment, to verify the location of his man lurking some distance away. His skin is the color of a bloodoak, his face like a gargoyle. Sinon turns back to her and starts to walk, slowly, away from the books. A hand vanishes into a pocket, only to reappear with tobacco and paper. A pause to eye her, skeptically. "Are you coming, or not?" She is meant to come.

Perhaps Mila does know what she carries with her, of the legacy that connects them on deeper levels. There's a perspicacity to the way she looks at him that's far older than what she appears. "I don't need to try to impress you. I know what you like, Sinon.” Her comment coincides with the traipse of his finger across a strand of hair. "I want things from you," she says, correcting his assessment of her motivation, untroubled by her own honesty. "Perhaps you are right, and in that case I haven't met anyone yet that I truly want to know." Her fingers leave their resting place over the covers of books and brush against her thigh. She blinks slowly for his question and then starts forward after him.

Sinon lets her catch up before turning left, then a right, leading them through a selection of maps he had intended on investigating until she altered the night’s trajectory. Fingers roll a cigarette without needing his attention; a good thing, as he hasn't taken it away from her, except by the smallest of necessary degrees. They leave the stalls behind and cut through a stream of people. An alley to the left, an empty space of wall to their right. Sinon goes right, lights his cigarette, inhales, and blows a cloud of smoke up. The lights in the market wash out the stars. He wishes they didn't. "Tell me, what do you call yourself? As you know my name, it is only fair I know yours." It was not a mistake that he asked, what do you call yourself? The question spurred thought. All the strands of their conversation, he ties into one thread, puts it into place like her hair, which has already moved again. Such was the way of things. He resists the temptation to fix it a second time.

Mila catches up without appearing to put any additional hurry into her stride. Like her eyes, there is a way of movement about her that's beyond her years, that's tapped into a collective sense of grace and ease of motion, and she seems to move perfectly within her surroundings, neither taking up too much space nor shrinking within it, as if a preternatural awareness guides her steps.

She turns to the right at the same time Sinon does, his trail of smoke blending into the night sky and perfuming the air around them. "I call myself Mila, the same as my mother did. You look almost exactly as she would remember you, but then that isn't surprising, is it?"

Her animal grace is noted. He chases after it in his thoughts, seeing memories in the wake. A night chase, a church tower, fevered skin, cold wind, and the bell, ringing, ringing. So much like her mother, yet differences here and there. Enough to keep him curious. He studies the outline of her chin and mouth, imagines their shapes sketched on raw paper. In charcoal, all black except the lips. He would want blood for that.

An old habit emerges; while he smokes, he rubs the letters tattooed across his fingers with his thumb, NIKO. The ink of the letters displace the flatness of his skin. Mila, too, is four letters. He notes that it could fit on his other hand. "Mila is a good name. How old are you?" Another inhale. He enjoys the smoke, the way it fills his lungs. It reminds him to be present. He stops chasing her shape and listens instead, eyes closing, though his head is still upturned.

As Sinon studies, he's studied in return, a trade they levy back and forth between them: Mila’s chin and mouth for the dark magnitude of his eyes, his thumb, the letters inked across his knuckles, the way he draws from his cigarette. Mila takes out of turn, and then takes more; a living thing, after all, has much more to give than a photograph. "I know those things, yes," her smile is precise and unapologetic for her liberty. "This body is 27," she says, speaking to his tilted chin. She follows the point of it up to a distant place among the stars. Their light is hollow and empty for the moment, holding tight to their stories. But she will unravel them later, perhaps.

"And other parts of you?" The act of smoking is casual for him, but also sensuous. A hypnosis of mouth, a rhythm of hand, producing smoke from a small little coal, a primitive magic. An old alchemy, but not the oldest. Sinon exhales through his nose and listens to her, truly listens. She is, at the moment, the only person in the world. He can even hear her heart beating away in her chest. The rest of the market simply ceases to be.

"Other parts? Let's call it borrowed age. Or stolen wisdom, whichever you prefer," Mila says, her smile unwinding enigmatically, perhaps for the reply, or perhaps for the way he dances with smoke. It feels like an act but she's uncertain of its purpose, whether it's motivated by habit or is something meant to entertain. She is unavoidably the latter and finds no reason to hide the evidence of it, the way the angle of her body shifts always to remain centerstage within his field of vision.

Empty starfields turn on her, thin lines of black opening beneath lids. They glow impossibly, perhaps by a trick of the light, or maybe by way of an over-active imagination. They are, at the moment, far more real than the rest him, including the amused smile or the inked fingers tugging open his scarf and coat. A merchant walks by them hawking, and compared to those eyes, he is insubstantial, illusory. She, too, is more real than the market around them. She is substantiated upon the world. The long arms of the scarf come undone and cascade down his chest, now uncovered. Beneath it there only a white shirt. "The stories are true," he says, voice resonating songlike, a bedroom murmur. "I always wondered if they were."

[ To be continued. Thank you, Mila. ]
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Mila
Wyrmling
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sinon loses her for moments to the passing vendor, her eyes studying the man intently as if she sees past the drabness of his coat, past trinkets he lofts up in display, past his very skin to the make of his marrow. She is distracted that way sometimes. But his voice brings her back, how it unfurls and ripples in the air like a ribbon for her to grasp. And she does, in her way, giving her attention back to him fully, the blank canvas of his shirt, first. Bold for a man like him to wear white. Beyond the irony of the color are the practicalities of staining. He must have gone through thousands in his lifetime. Mila watches the ends of his scarf as they dance in the breeze and tickle her forearm. "Even lies contain a kernel of truth if they're to have any hope of being believed. I know too many stories of you to begin fathoming a starting point from which to unravel truth from lie."

The smile grows, spreads across his face, reaching his eyes as they roll amidst a quiet laugh. "Please. Do so tell me of these stories you know of me. You must have a favorite." His own reputation was a constant source of amusement. The stories that had been told in his name, the myths that grew where he'd gone. Sinon smooths a wrinkle on his stomach and he turns to exhale smoke after the passing vendor, disrespectfully dismissing him.

"Some years ago, when I was in my teens," Mila begins, voice lowering as if in confidence, her body somehow closer to his even as its language retains a respectable air of companionability. The effect sequesters them from the crowd, creating a dividing line that begins along the river of red cascading down her back and ends with the boundary of his scarf on the other side. "I heard you ritually slaughtered the entire populace of a small village in India and then cannibalized them." One carmine brow slashes upward in amusement, though she doesn’t appear to be completely skeptical of the story, either.

"Some years ago," he echoes, as quiet as her, even quieter. Smoke permeates their space, but it is exotic and rich, not foul, not acrid. Sinon passes the cigarette between hands, putting it on the far side of him away from her. A look down to her, a subtle shift in her direction. His now empty hand reaches down to hold the very bottom of her knit top, running the fabric between thumb and fingers experimentally, possessively. He cants his head at nothing except the feel of it. "I heard the same story, except that it was Bangladesh. Your version of closer to the truth. I wonder who told it." When he looks up from the fabric of her sweater, it's only to examine her face in closer detail: tender mouth, feminine jawline, the slope of the throat as it runs into the collar bone. He asks, "Would it scare you to know I had killed that many people at once?"

The fabric moves in his hands as if the links and loops of thread that compose it are made of mercury, slipping through and around his fingers, evading (for the most part) a solid hold. "I'm sure many mouths carried and twisted it before the one that gave it to me," Mila shrugs, a movement that pushes the pale ridge of her collarbone to prominence, shadows welling beneath the strict arch of it and then stretching up the side of her throat. "But I wouldn't tell you who told me. I like to think I am better at keeping secrets than my mother was." Mila's gaze pins his for a moment, an iron and violet spike seeking out any reaction. When it departs once more, it slides along the corner of his jaw where it sharpens and then drops off. "Would you like me to be scared?" she volleys back.

"No." The ambiguity of his retort is deliberate, as are many things with him. Sinon's fingers pull away from her, stretching the fabric from the flat of her stomach until he lets go of her entirely. He turns away from her, too, though he does not depart from the small world they've constructed for themselves, the area defined by the two of them and only the two of them. She has his throat level with her, now. It shifts when he talks. An admission, "Maybe." The smile, he wields it like a weapon, so sharp it should be a knife. Perhaps that's all he ever needs to kill. A little here, a little there, and then they're spilling blood for him, as much as he could ever want. He drops the cigarette and crushes it beneath a boot. "I would like tea. Do you enjoy tea?" The shape of the crushed tobacco and paper fascinates him for one brief moment.

"It wouldn’t scare me or surprise me," Mila says for his chosen ambiguity. The admission doesn't bother her, but she doesn't elaborate any further. Her chin tucks closer to her chest, a length of hair like a red carpet unrolled down the curve of her cheek as she watches fabric stretch in his hands. The night air rushes across her abdomen and crawls along her ribs, would go higher still except that that's the moment Sinon releases the hem and gives her a smile that carves away at the available air. This is the man she expects, the one who does everything with a purpose. "I try to find something enjoyable in almost every endeavor, even tea," she says.

"I am taking you for tea." Though he isn’t asking, his voice doesn’t hold an edge as sharp. Simply a decision is made, and having been made there’s nothing to do but to follow through with it. Sinon detaches from the wall and slips his hands into the pockets of his coat casually and without airs. One would never know him to be a monster or a beast, even if they had the eyes for it. It was only with a map, like the ones from his books, that it became obvious. The way his spine was always taut, the way he sized people up like meat. He waits for her again, seeing if she'll follow, despite knowing of him what she does, despite possessing one of the best maps made of his life. He wonders if she really wants to know what lies beyond the edge of her knowledge. "I know a lovely shop in Istanbul, beneath a hotel that rents out by the week."

Mila is not physically in Sinon's thrall, nor beholden to him in any way. She comes of her own volition and perhaps it's her own curiosity that binds her to his whims just as effectively as the decisiveness his voice commands. Surely he can sense the latent power she carries, just as potent as that of her mother before, like an aura that spreads rather than lashing out, a tide that allures and then drowns.

But it is evident in the upturn of her face toward his, the raw moonlight pale of her skin angled full upon him and a light in her eyes that is sorely lacking within his, that Mila is uncertain how to interpret his last comment, that something has been lost in translation and he is suddenly a stranger again. Her mouth twists in consideration and then blooms from its tight bud when she speaks again. "This is where you want to take me for tea?"

"Yes. We can walk the painted streets when we are finished. It is lovely there at night. Most of the city is even older than I am." That she chooses to follow and is not simply drawn into step makes her all the more indelible to him, all the more worth the time, energy, and effort. She is substantiated on the world, far more real than any soul in the market, and for what area she occupies, there is far more to her than she lets on. And while she might have maps of him, he has none of her, except perhaps old ones, and even then, only of what came before her, not of her in particular. Still, Sinon continues on, calm and collected, as unafraid as he is interested.

"I know the city very well at night," Mila assures him, her smile small and labyrinthine as the Turkish mecca's network of streets. She lets Sinon lead but is hardly behind by more than a half step that could be interpreted as simple absorption of the night market as they move through it, a kind of drowsy gait that gives her the full benefit of the odd kaleidoscope of creatures and wares it offers. "Do you visit Istanbul often?" Perhaps she knows the answer, but asks anyway, an effort her eyes unmask as an attempt at polite conversation on the level with his offer of walking painted streets

"Not as often as I once did. The memories in some places are like ghosts." Sinon does not rush her, but he does not meander, either. The pace allows him the freedom to look at her pointedly, in clear expression that he is let down by her attempt at being polite only for the sake of it. They pass a stall full of dark fruits, as though the color was more the theme than the contents. Byzantium grapes, dates as rich as bruises, black figs. Sinon has a plum in hand, yet it seemed as if he had never so much as looked at it. It vanishes into a pocket.

"Are you afraid of ghosts?" she asks, both brows lifting this time, an errant tease in them that doesn't linger as they come upon the stall of darker fruits. Her laughter might be for her own comment or for his expression and the sense of disappointment that emanates from it. "My head is full of them, you understand. There's no room for me to be afraid of them." She watches the plum vanish into his pocket. Her own hands remain empty.

"At times. I have a lot of ghosts." A solemness cuts through his usual air of detached amusement without making the former seem insincere. Sinon glances at a bin of white flowers, pausing as though considering taking one of them, too. With no change in tone, "I admit, I do not always know how I feel about them. The matter is complex." The smile is lost to a frown. He brushes the thought and the flowers aside and continues on. "But I do not fear much. Do you?" They are near the south gate now, with its gold letters. Beyond it lay wherever they wanted, such being the nature of the nightmarket. Sinon imagines Mila among the old streets, walking by his side, making conversation as he once did with her mother. It makes his heart ache and he doesn’t bother hiding it for once. The feeling is bittersweet. The smile returns as he looks at her over the shoulder.

"My mother would have said you were a man who would never change. I’m not sure if she'd be intrigued or frightened that her prediction was not so black and white." Mila’s eyes sweep an alleyway as they pass by, scouting the dark corners where a man pours a handful of pills into his hand. "I remember fearing the dark as a child, the sense of emptiness. Then I learned that in actuality it was full, and I no longer feared it. I fear being nothing, I suppose. Unremembered, no legacy." She pulls the wide neck over her sweater from its tumble down the slope of her shoulder, addressing him with briskness that seeks to cut through the interlude of his melancholy. "Are you going to ask me what I want from you?"

Sinon listens to her admission without interrupting, without commenting. His suspicion is that she knows enough of him, without knowing him, to not need to hear his thoughts on her fears. When she adjusts her sweater, he takes it as the time to pause, just before the boundary of this street and another, one a world away. If people move around them, he is wholly unaware of them. They do not exist. "No. You can tell me, or you can continue to work up to it. Your choice." In his pocket, he rubs the skin of the plum with his thumb. That, at least, is real. He is real. She is real. That the rest exists in limbo is not of his present concern.

She is undecided whether or not his answer disappoints her. It suggests a certain amount of detachment, perhaps a challenge. She isn't sure, and the memories she's taken from her mother do not tell her either. They're of a different timeline and cloth than the man who stands before her now. She will have to learn him anew. "I will hold onto it for awhile. Perhaps after tea."

Mila inclines her chin to the gate. "I'm ready."
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