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Renegade (18+, Violence, Strong Language, Mature Themes)

 
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Eddie Blake
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 13 Feb 2016
Posts: 45
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:42 am    Post subject: Renegade (18+, Violence, Strong Language, Mature Themes) Reply with quote

Blue on Black

Blind, Oh now I see
Truth, Lies and in between
Wrong, Can't be undone
Slipped, From the tip of your tongue
~ Kenny Wayne Shepherd

-----------------------------
25 December 2017
-----------------------------

Tahlia watched the drow disappear into the gentle fall of snow. It seemed her shopping trip with Ace was well timed - the Triumph, much like its owner, didn�t like cold, or ice. Running her fingers through her hair, she checked herself in the mirror..shaking her head to dispel the last of the fog from her senses. She wasn�t entirely certain what had just happened, or why, but it was hardly important now. Glancing at the clock, she bit back a curse. She had a half hour to get home, and be waiting when Eddie came to reclaim his jacket. Normally, she wouldn�t be concerned, but the weather meant she couldn�t push the Spitfire as hard and fast as she normally did. It would be close, but it would be worth it. Checking behind her, she ran her cheek along the sealskin, not entirely aware of the smile that touched her lips. Still watching for whatever chaos Rhydin might create behind her bumper, she reached for the shifter, intent on the night ahead.

She probably should have checked to make sure the locks were engaged, the oversight would become blatantly obvious as the passenger side door opened and a figure slid into the seat. A look at the snow would reveal the footfalls, though they disappeared after only a few steps. It wasn�t that they�d been covered in snow, they just stopped. The door closed, and Tahlia would find herself locked into a pair of eyes the color of a clear blue sky where the horizon met the sea. They were just as cold as well, the face that held them was young, like time stood frozen on the surface of her skin. Her waist length blonde hair was wet, as though she�d stood in a storm uncovered, but the thick fur coat was dry save for the few flakes of snow that still clung to it.

Those eyes slid over Tahlia, slowing as they roved their way across the jacket she wore. The woman�s expression became harder, if that were possible. Any evidence of feeling hidden beneath an icy shell. �You� should be more careful with that.� With a flick the woman�s eyes darted to Tahlia�s face again.

In her defense, she hadn�t realized Cianan�s hand was still on the door when she�d engaged the lock. Tahlia�s eyed hardened to the smooth sheen of carved jade. She was in no mood for delays, certainly not from chilly, fur-clad women who seemed to know the leather was only in her keeping. Of course, given how she was engulfed by it, that wasn�t, necessarily, difficult. �And you...should maybe keep your opinion outside. With the rest of you.� She didn�t carry weapons, or not exactly weapons. But there was a set of knives in her glove box, along with something snub-nosed and silent. She didn�t think she could make the grab, so she didn�t try. The new car would be better fit out - she�d been finding herself surrounded by dangerous people a lot more often, here. Including the man who�s jacket she was currently wearing.

Her car, and she wasn�t going to let the ice queen think she was cowed. Reaching for the pack stashed in the change well, she fit a gold filter between her lips, and lit it. The engine was running, so the fans sucked most of the smoke away, leaving just a trace lingering in the air. �Can I help you?��

�You�re pretty, I can see why he likes you. It�s a pity that you�re so� handicapped. Where is he?� Her voice was as cold as she appeared to be, and it seemed she should be cold as one leg shifted to cross the other, a bare leg slipping free of the long coat and ending in a foot just as free of garment. �That will be help enough� miss?�

Cold as the weather was, the woman moved to roll down the window. �Your pardon� it reeks of Drow in here, and I do not want it to cling to me.� Dispassion had become disdain, even her words were clipped short with prejudice. �I�d appreciate it if you�d start to drive, it may not be too late to avoid explanations.� To whom she didn�t say, though it was obvious there was much more to say from her. It was questionable if it was all going to be good, or any of it for that matter. �Take me to him!�

Tahlia mouthed the word �handicapped� and very deliberately, put the car back into park, and took her foot off the brake. She could guess, with the opening salvo about the coat, to whom the woman was referring, but she was not going to make it easy. Certainly not given the air of superiority radiating off of her in chill waves. �Oh...where do I begin? Ignoring, of course, your assumption that I am, somehow, broken...you�ll have to be a smidge more specific about which �he� you mean...as I�m sure you noted while you were spying on me, there is more than one man in my life. However briefly.� Another drag of her cigarette, and she blew a plume of smoke toward the icy blonde with a smirk. �You also seem to think that this is a taxi, or that I am under some obligation to bring you to whoever it is you believe I know the whereabouts of. Which I may. But I am generally not inclined to share information with nameless women who feel free to enter my life without asking, insult me, and expect me to jump.�

Ignoring the disdain, she merely took another lungful of smoke, and sent this to the ceiling. �Too late for explanations would imply you did not owe me any. And that I�m going to do anything until I have them.� Eddie, she was certain, would rather she was late for their rendezvous than that she brought some unknown party to him without warning.

�So, you don�t know where he is.� She shook her head in disapproval. �I am Nimsu Sulei� you may call me Nim, and I don�t insinuate that you�re broken. I tell you that you are limited, and while I had thought that was simply to the land, I see that it encompasses even more. That�s just ignorance though, and I shouldn�t fault you for it. I do�� The first hint of a smile passed over he lips. �...but I shouldn�t.� She looked to the roof of the Spitfire, perhaps to see the smoke, though with what came next it was unlikely. �Is this truly what you would have me protect...EJ?�

Nim lifted her hand, leaning close to Tahlia and snaking it�s unexpected warmth through the hair at the side of her head as she whispered. �You hold the key, but have no idea how to use it. What else should I have expected from the land bound? Drive please, towards the water. There�s much to say� and the air of the city smothers me.�

�Touch me again without permission, and you will lose your hand.� Ice bloomed in her veins, and the fingers gripping her cigarette turned white. �Another woman sent to protect me while the menfolk face their foes.� Without a word, she turned, dropping the Spitfire into gear and sending it flying backwards, with barely enough time to shimmy on the glaze of snow before the engine roared and the two-seater shot forward into the night. She drove like she did most things, recklessly, and with abandon. The tiny black car slid around turns, and left celtic knotwork in its wake.

�I�m guessing you�re related. He�� She snapped her teeth closed, not that she expected Eddie�s love for the sea would come as any surprise to Nim. EJ. She�d have to remember that...assuming she saw him again. Taking a drag, she let the breath out in a rush, in order to stave off the sting of tears. She was not going to let this woman, whoever she was to Eddie, see her weak.

�You misunderstand� Where to begin. Let�s start with, what do I call you?� Nim still sat close enough to her that the draw of her breath could be heard. A sudden intake through her nose, that was released almost the same way Tahlia had exhaled smoke. �Certainly not child. I doubt you�ve been one of those for� a very long time, whatever you are.�

�Much begins a long time ago. Ancient history to most, even around here. The clan hasn�t had someone quite like EJ for the past two centuries.� Nim curled into the passenger�s seat, her ear pressed against the headrest as she watched Tahlia struggle with her inner demons. �For most of his life, he�s been hidden, protected though perhaps he never knew what it was we were doing. It was believed that he was better off living here than with us. Of course we didn�t figure on his penchant to make trouble, though perhaps looking back we should have.� She held loosely to the console separating her from Tahlia. �Yet, even with how he moved around, he remained hidden, sometimes even from us by distance. He always would return to the sea, he has no choice in the matter. Hold out for a while� but he would always return.�

She thought, for a long moment, of giving her the same alias she hid behind so often, and was a bit surprised when she heard herself say instead, �Tahlia Faras. Tahlia, is fine.� She gave the woman perched on her passenger seat a sharp glance. �You�re not wrong. But it seems I�ve aged as well as you have.� She swallowed her usual barb, although there was still a hint of it in her tone. A leopard couldn�t change its spots, after all.

�He�s a force of nature, that�s for sure.� One hand left the wheel, the other, cigarette held high, braced by her palm as she steered them through the dark, and fell to her mid-section, covering the small, silver seal that hung there. �I wouldn�t think there�s been anyone quite like him. Period.� She knew about the draw the sea had on him, had sat on the hood of the Runner and watched him in the waves. She'd seen him, all of him, the night of the squid. Without really thinking about it, she turned the nose of the Triumph toward their favorite beach in Seaside. �Remind me not to hire you guys for security�� She didn't tell her to stop, though.

�None of them are ever quite the same...Tahlia, save in form. And he was fine until a couple of months ago. There are more things in the sea that would seek him out than the landbound can even imagine. Mer, Mokele, Rokea� even other selkie clans.� Nim watched Tahlia, and could see that she knew that to be the truth. �Something happened that made him become� visible if you will.� Sighing almost in frustration, the girl couldn�t understand, only this time it was Nim�s fault because words were insufficient to explain it properly. Without thought about the threat Tahlia had made earlier, she lifted a finger to touch just beneath Tahlia�s eye. The tip of her forefinger came away moist. �Brace yourself�� It was the only warning she would give, and less than a breath later she placed the tip of her finger on Tahlia�s forehead.

Salt tinged the air, the sound of waves lapping at the sides of a boat, a memory of blue on black� tears on the water� real memories and something more washed over Tahlia at Nim�s touch. Beneath it all a cry, deep and strong pulsed outwards. The sound carrying far beneath waves in all directions. An answer warm in her arms a kiss she knew and craved. The sound did not end with him though, it went onwards stretching beyond sight and was heard by more than one Selkie with an attitude. The siren call was fixated upon by others, and they were coming.

�They�re coming� come� here.� Scents overlapped, things too faint for normal noses, though Tahlia would recognize one of those, if not the other. She would know him, even if she didn�t recognize herself. Something else did, and it was following the path left by them.


The tick of the engine was the first sound she was conscious of, and it sent her scrambling out of her pride and joy, checking every inch for dings and scratches. Nothing. Letting out a sigh of relief, she sank to her knees, resting her forehead against the cool metal for a moment. The drive back was...cloudy, was the best way to describe it. No. More like she�d been watching the drive through a pool, and not actually been driving at all. Only she had. Somehow. But she had also been back on Little Tony�s yacht, or not on it but near it. She�d never asked Eddie how he�d known where to find her, just assumed he�d had Reggie track her, or someone had called, or�something. Now...her head hurt. Standing, she made her way to the elevator, her key card not only opening the door, but signaling her floor to the computer. Which gave her a moment to sink against the wall, and try to process everything Nim had showed her.

The muted chime brought her back to the present. She needed a drink. Something was coming for them, for her...and she had no idea what. She could guess, but this was all new, and an army of Eddie�s seemed overwhelming. Just one Eddie was often more than she thought she could handle, but she couldn�t seem to resist trying. The squid. The poison. The kidnapping. She was losing track of how many times she�d been helpless in his arms, and how much more she gave away with each repetition. Tahlia had spent centuries hiding, and now...now it seemed she hadn�t much left in the shadows.
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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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Tahlia Faras
Young Wyrm
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Joined: 01 Mar 2017
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Renegade

The jig is up, the news is out
They finally found me
The renegade who had it made
Retrieved for a bounty
~ Styx

The apartment was dark, and chilly, a draft sweeping through the cause obvious in the form of a half dressed figure standing in the doorway to the balcony. The denim was gone in favor of the simple comfort of sweat pants. His torso was bare, and the kiss of snowflakes graced his shoulders, and from the looks of the streams of water down his back it was obvious he’d been standing there for quite some time. The sound of the elevator had him shifting to look over his shoulder toward the door. The sound of the knob turning had him licking his lower lip, and turning back to watch the snow fall on the city. His hair was streaked white, a gift from above and one that he managed to push free with a sweep of his hand through it. “Must have been a good night?”

Eddie’s gaze looked further than it probably should, past the tall buildings and towards something hidden from sight by light and shadow. He held a glass of scotch in his hand, half gone though he’d been taking it in sips. “I wasn’t sure which I preferred more tonight… quiet or music.” The same could be said about proper lighting too it seemed.

Stepping inside, she drew the jacket tighter. The form in the doorway drew her like a magnet, although that wasn’t any different than usual. “Seems like that kind of night…” She would swear she could smell him still, although why that would surprise her when she was wrapped in his skin, and he was right there...but this was different. This was bone deep, and made her head throb. They’re coming… come… here. She shook her head, and walked faster, her heels clicking against the floor as she ducked beneath his arm and clung to him, burying her head in his chest. She hadn’t the slightest idea what she’d done, or what to do now.

The scent of him filled her lungs, subtly different that the smell in her memory. It seemed crisper, sharper somehow, with the cold. Tahlia tilted her head back, looking up at him for a long moment before resting her cheek against his chest. “I would have been here sooner, but...I got waylaid.” She didn’t know who Nim was to Eddie, or how to broach the subject of her strange visitor. She just knew she had to. Eddie would know what to do. Eddie always knew what to do.

Eddie held back a wince, letting his arms fold around Tahlia because it seemed like she needed it from him. “We all get waylaid now and again.” He took a few shuffling steps backwards, enough to let the door be closed. His hands slid beneath the jacket, and slipped it from her shoulders. Eddie knew what to do, but he also knew that the proximity of the blonde was enough to make him forget how long they’d been apart. He proceeded to do exactly what her sweater demanded of him. It wasn’t the first time he’d unwrapped this particular present, but it wasn’t going to be the last one either.

His hands found her waist, and lifted her higher, his eyes taking in her face before he engaged in one of his favorite past times. The game was called kissing Tahlia, and it was going into extra innings tonight. “We’ll talk about it later… right now I’m going to show you what you’ve been missing while being waylaid.”

“How could I forget?” Her thighs wrapped around his waist, her arms over his shoulders, her hands knotting into his hair as she eagerly joined in for as many extra innings as they both could manage. For as much as she rarely talked about the man she was currently wrapped around like a limpet, there was hardly a moment he was far from her thoughts. The various marks he’d left across her skin might have had something to do with that, but it was just as likely the smell of him, the taste of him against her lips, the heat of him enveloping her, and melting away the world outside. Tonight it all seemed so much more intense, until she had to drag her lips from his to draw in frantic breaths.

Forehead to forehead, still floating, she hesitantly brought her eyes to his. She wasn’t ready for half of what Nim had said, or implied, but this...this was familiar and as safe as anything ever was when it came to Eddie Blake. “Eddie..? Bedroom - please? And I really like this sweater…”

-------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------

The tangled mess of blonde on his chest occasionally caught in his fingers as he stroked through it. The pounding of his heart had slowed to something more restful, they had a tendency to get each other to this moment. On the brink of sleep, except that he knew this wasn’t going to be one of those days. It was day, and far enough into it that most people had been up for hours. Lunch was right around their corner. He’d rather be like this, tangled up arm and leg with her. “So tell me about Nim.” He’d known the moment she looked up at him, even if she hadn’t quite made it to the mirror to see for herself.

“The ice queen. She invited herself into my car outside the Inn.” She still wasn’t certain where Nim fit in to Eddie’s world, save that she’d clearly known him for years. “Kept calling me ‘landbound’.” Her headache had faded some in the intervening hours, but things still felt..off. Not substantially, because being with him, like this...felt more right than a lot of things in her life. Shifting, she laid her cheek against his chest, fingers idly swirling over and around the scars there. It didn’t even occur to her to ask how he knew. She assumed he could smell the other woman on her. “She...did something. Said you’d suddenly come out of hiding, and other things were coming. Because...because of me?”

She wasn’t sure how to describe what Nim had showed her, and the way it had made her feel. “Eddie...the night I got kidnapped...how did you know?” She suspected the answer wasn’t what she had assumed, but she needed to hear it from him.

“I dunno, I heard you… felt you… I just knew.” He didn’t know how else to put it than that. “What she did… it may be for the best, but she is cold. Has always been that way that I can remember. Too much time out there, too much power. Still, she did warn you… I wasn’t expecting the other.” Eddie’s finger touched the spot just between Tahlia’s eyebrows. It wasn’t something he could do, maybe if he weren’t so different. “I...there is a lot that is going to happen. I mean, I suppose I knew it could but somehow it just didn’t seem like it would.”

Eddie pointed towards the wall, there was nothing different about it but if she’d followed the direction he indicated she’d find the island. “The thing about them is… a long time ago they chose to defend this place. It was a lot smaller then, and there were more frequent visits between. They even let in outsiders. That didn’t really sit well with the others. A few of them ambushed the last...It’s not important what they did. Only that until that night they didn’t know about me. Now they do.” He shrugged as though it was an even smaller deal than his words had already indicated.

“Because I tried to escape.” She’d followed the direction of his arm, but she was still sifting through sensory memories that weren’t always her own. “I thought we were closer...that the water wasn’t so cold...tried to swim back. But it was dark, and cold..and I remembered the squid.” Her voice softened, the words not her own. “...tears on the water…” She blinked up at him, eyes narrowing while her teeth found her bottom lip. “All I could think of was you rescuing me from the squid...I wanted you there, so much...even though I knew you didn’t even know I was gone. But I…” She shook her head, curling back against his side.

“I didn’t know. And now, because I...whatever I did, it didn’t just call you. And now something’s...looking for me? Is that why you gave me your coat? Nim...she kept calling you EJ. Said you wanted her to protect me. But...Eddie..why?”

“Shhh. There are answers, they’re not what you may be expecting though.” His fingers ran the length of her spine, to soothe or distract as he could. “They’d have come anyway, the only difference is not everything out there wants to save. Fact is, more often than not they’d drag you down deep. That was the expectation, but now they realize there’s another Cosain. It would have happened eventually.” Eddie didn’t say anything about what Nim called him, his nose wrinkled, though she may have missed that.

“There are factions under the waves, different mindsets, different belief systems. Many of them would see an end to those who’re confined to the hard earth.” Even among his own people there were those who held on to prejudices. “I understand it, people take far more than they need. Take it from them. I don’t know who is coming, Tahlia. They’re looking for me because in saving you...” He didn’t say which time, or if it was both. “...I have declared my own position. You’d be safe, if I were willing to leave you alone. I’m not though.” He didn’t know if he could put it any better than that. Maybe if he had a week and an unlimited supply of paper to get it right.

“Oh.” For a moment, it was all she could think to say. There was a lot to absorb in that single statement. And some of it more dangerous than the rest. Curled up against his side, Tahlia reached over to stroke her fingers across the newly inked image on Eddie’s forearm. She didn’t know what a Cosain was, but the way he said it - the way Nim had talked about him - left no doubt that it was a title. One that didn’t come along every day. Laying her cheek on his ribcage, she didn’t bring her eyes to his face, looking at his arm while she continued tracing the edges. “I don’t think Nim likes me very much.” That, was probably an understatement.

She’d told him about her past, told him about Simon...there was perhaps one other who had any sense how much she feared abandonment. “I don’t think you’re wrong...or they are. People have lost respect for nature. Fear of the darkest depths and midnight forests. But I…” She drew in a shaky breath, the stroke of his fingers keeping her calm, and just a little distracted by the memories of what those fingers could do. “Eddie...was I supposed to drown? Is that...no…” She shook her head softly, realization blooming. “It’s not about me. Is it. You took something from the sea, and now they’re coming for you. I can help. Eddie...please?” So different from the last time, but her face shone no less intently.


“Nim doesn’t particularly like anyone. She’ll do what’s right though.” In this particular case it was his version of right. He turned to look at her, propping up his head and shoving some pillows beneath it. “What do you mean, supposed to drown? If I were the type to believe that kind of thing, then the obvious answer would have to be, no. Otherwise you would have done just that. There’s more at stake for Nim, for all of them. The roane haven’t been a power for a very long time. We keep the harbor, it’s ours. By association, the land attached is as well.” He sighed out a deep breath, and reached for the pack of smokes pulling two from it and lighting both. One he handed off to her.

“Come up here.” Eddie offered her no choice as he grabbed her backside and pulled her higher on his chest. “Of course you can help me, but inasmuch as there aren’t any rules to this game, there’s rules. Maybe they try to use you, they’re not supposed to… depends on who’s coming. I haven’t been part of the roane enough to know which groups are where,who was closest, what their opinions are. We’ll have to wait and see. I should get some kind of word.” At least he hoped he would. There was still a rift between him and them.

She was careful not to let the burnt ember touch his skin as he hauled her higher up against his side. She couldn’t resist a squeak, or taking advantage of her new position to sneak a kiss. It was Eddie, and even if they had just spent hours exhausting each other...it had been too long for her liking since she’d had the taste of him on her lips. She let the rest go, his argument was valid, and she wasn’t usually one to spend too much time considering ‘what ifs’. She was here, with him. And the rest...she didn’t know what a roane was. Save that it seemed she did. She could see the cove, and figures in it. She tried to look closer, but it wasn’t her memory, and the attempt made her head throb.

Burying her face into his chest, Tahlia let out a whimper, and focused on the scent of sea and musk that was uniquely his. The same scent that had toyed through the watery visions earlier, and surrounded her whenever she managed to coax him into letting her borrow his jacket. “Ow. Moments like this, I really wish painkillers worked…” Instead, she turned her head just enough to steal a drag from the cigarette he’d given her, and slowly exhaled. “I don’t know what she did to me...things just go...funny from time to time.” She wasn’t sure Eddie did either, really...but she certainly wasn’t going to ask Nim.

“It should pass… fade as the mark does.” He’d said it now, if she understood that he meant a real mark positioned right at the pint Nim had touched her. Eddie wasn’t entirely sure what was done, but he could see it, the warning to leave her alone. “Speaking of… you should probably go take a look at it.” It was difficult to say how the femme fatale would react to what had been done. There was no real excuse for him not telling her sooner, the reason wasn’t complicated though. It could still be felt in the ache of muscles and the way she smelled, the fact that it was almost impossible to distinguish them from one another.

“Mark? What mark?” She hadn’t looked, hadn’t wasted a moment after she walked in the apartment and been swept up into Eddie’s arms. She slid out from beneath the sheets, padding across the moonlit floor to lean one palm against the dresser and brush back her bangs with the other. Turning her head back and forth, she surveyed the mark Nim’s touch had left behind, frowning at her reflection. Her beauty was her fortune, and now there was a blemish, and so prominently placed it would be immediately obvious. Except...it wasn’t, exactly. She had no idea how Nim had created it with a simple touch of her finger, but it was delicately twined, an intricate symbol that almost looked like a tattoo. Still, though. “What is it? Eddie?” There was a note of concern, a quaver that she couldn’t quite hide.

It wasn’t so much the mark itself, as that she hadn’t had a choice - there had been no discussion, she’d simply been the canvas. Pushing her bangs away from it, her fingers sought the risen symbol behind her right ear, tracing over each delicate line without a conscious awareness that she was doing so. The two were not so dissimilar, in her mind, even if one had been punishment, and the other… “What does it mean? Is it...do I have to leave it visible?”

“It’s a ward, a little like a do not street sign for the purposes of what’s coming. It should make the others leave you out of it. It’s kind of what I meant by even though there’s no rules… there are still some rules.” His voice increased in volume, and it wasn’t long before he was behind her, hands on her abdomen. They rode her curves upwards even as he pulled her against him. “It’s meant to be seen, though other fae may know it for what it is. They’ll at least know it’s kinship.”

“At least it’s pretty?” He tried to lighten the mood as he whispered it into her ear. “Not like a tattoo covering half your face. That happens too, depending on who is doing the warding.” He shrugged, a bare movement of his shoulder more felt than seen. “I’ll show you one if I see it.” Eddie surrounded her, a robe of her very own complete with its own body heat.

“It is…” She conceded the point, leaning back against him, safe and secure, and lulled into complacency by his warmth. As strange as it sounded, she’d always felt most at ease in the company of the rogues and rakes of society. And these weren’t many out there more rakish than the darkly handsome man wrapped around her. Letting her head fall back against his chest, a thin beam of moonlight seemed to kiss the sigil, bathing her face in a gentle glow. Her arms rested atop his, fingers laid almost strategically atop the pie that graced his forearm.

“So, the other challengers will see this, and leave me alone? What happens if they don’t? And when...do we know when they’re coming? Just so I can maybe schedule...not to be out? Or not with anyone else.” Ace might understand, but Jordan would not be pleased to be surprised by some stranger with an agenda against his companion. Especially not if that agenda involved Eddie. He hadn’t quite said it, but Tahlia hadn’t been doing this as long as she had without learning how to read beyond what was spoken. She didn’t want to think about it right now. Right now, she was warm, and safe, and all she could sense was Eddie wrapped around her, and a thousand questions she’d never ask.

“Nim didn’t say. As for when they’re coming, I’ll know when they get close. We’ll be drawn together. It would help to know who’s coming, and maybe I’ll hear something if the others aren’t trying to hide.” Eddie’s thumb slid along her jaw, a distraction meant to have her leaning into his touch so that he could have a clear shot at her shoulder with his mouth. “If they come for you, I’ll do what I did before.” The closer he got to her the more his need of her became apparent. He turned her around to face him, kissing her hard and drawing her toward the bed. “Now… let’s see if you can do what you did before.”

_________________

But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress - a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Eddie Blake
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 13 Feb 2016
Posts: 45
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Princes of the Universe

I am immortal, I have inside me blood of kings, yeah, yeah
I have no rival, no man can be my equal
~ Queen

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2 January 2018
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Tahlia stepped out into the winter light, lifting a hand to wave goodbye to Rath, and ducking her chin into the collar of her leather jacket. It was chilly - and she had never been a fan of the cold. All the more reason to call someone to warm her up when she got home. Her first choice was obvious - even if he didn’t realize he was her first choice. She hadn’t bothered with gloves - it was a wonder she’d bothered with a coat. But this one went well with the leather pants she’d worn to work this morning, even if it wasn’t really heavy enough for the weather. Bright red heels flashed as she quick-stepped toward her car - the black and gold Panamera was stashed in an alleyway, something about not ruining the atmosphere from the fortress across the street.

Head down, the tiny blonde reached into her purse for her keys, and her phone, the breeze whipping her hair across her face as she turned into the shadowed alcove which held her newest toy. Letting out a squeak, she stopped just out of the wind to clear her vision, her search paused while she set herself to rights. After all, she was used to being safe as houses this close to The Line, and the brewery. Something about the combination usually meant trouble stayed away as much as possible.

Eyes, they were blue, though the shade was so dark it could only be distinguished from black if there were something of the color to compare it to. They followed the blonde, seeing like anyone would, but it wasn’t seeing that drew Jax Samson here now. The others had scattered at his arrival, land or sea that really never changed. It was instinct, and they were more than accustomed to following it. Certainly more so than the woman. She’d have made herself scarce too if she knew, if she even suspected that things were taking a decidedly darker turn tonight. The real sense that had him moving was the scent of her, or at least something she possessed. It was about time, he’d been waiting far longer than he really liked to wait for anything.

Jax could be patient, he often was that, circling, moving constantly to lull his prey into believing itself safe. That was always the time for attack, and let’s face it, Jax did enjoy playing with his food. Tonight he’d been patient for other reasons. This place, and some of the creatures that stalked it were...formidable. Not that he couldn’t have taken the half ogre, he surely would have, but that would have put his true prey on alert. These people were not normal, they believed that they were strong. They’d have discovered what strength was, if he hadn’t been aware of how they operated. Go in strong like that, and he would face more than one...likely many more. He’d be taking care of the lionfish, and never notice the school of barracuda gnawing at his fins. Patience was best, and when patience became action the brutality was worth the wait.

The little fish tried to disappear down an alleyway, that wasn’t a bad choice, could have worked if it...she perhaps...knew the danger. She preened, like some too colorful Beta fish, barely a mouthful but far too eye catching to ignore. He did like to eat the pretties.

“Excuse me, miss, but I think you have something that I am quite interested in knowing better.” Jax voice was deep, though it didn’t vibrate exactly. The harsh rasp that went into it made anything else undetectable save that it sounded like the deepest part of the sea. His seven foot frame loomed even from the dozen or so feet that still stood between them.

“Hm?” Caught in the midst of gathering those golden waves back from her face, Tahlia turned toward the voice, the delicate knotwork Nim had left behind just peeking out from beneath her bangs. He wasn’t a customer, she would have remembered such a hulking presence, and besides, Rath and Jerry (if not the Boss himself) had made it clear that anyone hassling the pretty bartender wasn’t likely to enjoy the consequences. Still, she hadn’t always been so well protected, and she’d worked more than a few places where the patrons felt free to try for more than was on the menu. “Look, buddy, whatever you think is between you and your primal urges. It’s been a long day, and I’ve got places to be.” Letting her hair fall back across her shoulders, she slid her purse behind her, tucking one hand inside, reaching for keys or phone, something, anything to give her a way to summon help. She might have been confident, but she wasn’t stupid. And she knew better than to leave a mess this close to work.

Jax moved forward with a fluid grace, despite his size. His black leather jacket was open at the front to reveal a plain white tee shirt. He gave a raspy laugh as he ran his hand along the band of dark hair that was only along the top and back. The sides of his head were shaved bare. “You mistake me.” The reason behind his voice became visible as he closed with her, scars ran horizontally along the sides of his neck in precise lines. “You possess something that doesn’t really belong...to you.” His eyes were not only too dark, they lacked eyelids, a sight that might be at least as disturbing as the overly muscled form that even the jacket couldn’t quite hide.

He scanned her face, a sadistic smile forming on his lips that revealed teeth that were not simply pointed, they were serrated and there were far too many of them visible. “Give that to me, and things will go far easier.” The symbol on her forehead held his attention. Jax rolled one eye back in his head, causing it to turn so that he could focus better on it.

“I do not understand these Selkie, and their tendency to lose themselves so easily… for landbound… even if they are pretty.” Iris and pupil of his rolled eye moved back around to look at Tahlia. “Clearly, you force him to do many things...including lie for you.”

She was getting heartily tired of being accused of theft. Of course, it was hard to claim otherwise when the item in question hung halfway down her thighs, and kept threatening to slip down to cover her hands. But the mention of the jacket had her fingers retreating from her phone. Eddie had said they weren’t supposed to touch her. So no matter how massively intimidating the shark-toothed stranger might be...all he could do was loom. Even if the looming was enough for her to seek the warm security of the stone wall at her back.

“No. It might not be mine, but it is sure as Hell not yours. He gave it to me, and I’m keeping it until he wants it back.” She had some idea how important the leather was to Eddie, and that was all she cared about. Bristling, she brushed her bangs back from her face, those wide green eyes hard as the stone they resembled. “You’ve obviously never met him. No-one forces Eddie to do anything. And I never would. Not for a minute.” She had no idea what lies this stranger thought she’d demanded, or even if there had been any at all. Tiny as she was, all she knew was what Eddie told her, and that, perhaps naively, she would stake her life on. “If they come for you, I’ll do what I did before.” - he never had answered her that night.

Jax was standing right in front of Tahlia now, looking down at her with other earthly eyes and jagged smile. “Did he tell you what your name is? Not if he gave you that as you say. I have to say that you do surprise me. The strength of your call… I thought you’d be… bigger, Misery. Misery Woe, that is what the sea calls you. There are still whispers about that night, some among my brothers when they tell of their feast. You’ve done remarkable things. They are evil to be sure, but still remarkable.” Jax raised a hand, and slid his finger along Tahlia’s jaw.

“Still, he’s attached to you. I can use that against him. If you won’t just give me the thing...I’ll just have to take it from you!” Jax’s hand grabbed her hair and gave a solid yank exposing her throat. It would be quick, and satisfying...for him at least. Pain lanced through his hand like a bolt of lightning striking every nerve ending and following it up his arm. He would have screamed, tried to but his body was no longer his own. A concussion of energy pushed him backwards, tossing him like a giant, some fifteen feet away from Tahlia.

Jax tried to rise, but he had no hands, no feet. Where once a seven foot man had stood, there lay an eighteen foot white shark. It’s gills working to keep him breathing, but there was no movement and no water to make them function properly. At the mouth of the alleyway a wall of distortion rose. It’s sides touching the buildings, the top of it rose until it matched their height. It moved towards Tahlia soundlessly, though there was the sense of something rumbling, and the pavement shivered under its pulse. It slid over Jax inch by inch consuming the creature he’d become. Where it passed over him, nothing remained, but the wall did not stop moving. It pushed onward towards her like a wall of fog.

The sharp snatch brought a scream to her throat that never made it past her lips. Something throbbed, flashing through her like an electric charge, and sent him flying backward. For a moment, she simply stared - she’d never done anything like that before, and then she remembered, the mark on her forehead pulsing through her consciousness. Eddie had said it was a reminder to keep away, it seemed it was a little more than a simple tap on the shoulder. The shark writhed on the far side of the alley, thankfully away from her car, although she would likely wreck the bumper trying to drive out over him. It didn’t seem she’d have the chance, the alleyway sealed off by some witchery. Logic would tell her that the advance of rushing deep shouldn’t hurt her, if the sigil was responsible, but in the moment...logic was far away.

The closer the fog came, the wider her eyes swelled, and the more she struggled to remember to breath - in the face of what appeared to be the advancing ocean, her body instinctively tried to hold on to the air in her lungs. Frozen against the wall, all she could do was watch as the water swallowed the struggling shark, and swept past her. When it was gone, she was left dry, and unharmed, but left with the scent of deep water in her nose, and the feel of salt across her skin. Gasping for air, she slid down the wall, hovering on her heels as she tried to make sense of the last few minutes. Out of the corner of her eye, three figures disappeared into the bustle of commerce - it seemed the wards effects hadn’t been visible to anyone outside the alley. Shaken and tingling, Tahlia scrambled to her feet, snatching her keys from her purse and throwing herself into the vehicle. Brake lights lit the stone as she sent the Porsche rocketing backwards, fingers summoning a familiar voice as she slewed the car around in the street and sent it screaming toward home.
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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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Tahlia Faras
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 01 Mar 2017
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I Put a Spell on You

And I don't care if you don't want me
I'm yours right now
I put a spell on you
Because you're mine
~ Annie Lennox

Eddie didn’t let the little things bother him after a call from Tahlia that was half panicked and all confusing. He’d gotten what he needed out of it, something had happened, and it wasn’t a hey I just won the lottery moment. So small things, like red lights and pedestrians crossing streets were just not bothering him at all. He ignored them for the most part. The Road Runner was fast, so making it through a few intersections against the lights wasn’t too difficult. The pedestrians, well, this was RhyDin after all, and pedestrian traffic was much lighter on its feet than any other city in the known universe. Probably from all the marketplace bombings… maybe… no...definitely probably. He’d formed a plan on the drive to Tahlia’s place, worked out every detail and solidified it on the elevator as he rode it up to the penthouse.

It only took a moment to work the lock, and open the door. Eddie pushed his way inside, spotted Tahlia and was in front of her in just a few steps. The key fell from his hand as he reached for her pulling her to him and holding on tightly. This was a diversion from the plan, it was a stupid plan anyway. “Are you alright?”

She’d curled herself into a corner of the couch as soon as she’d gotten home, not even bothering to remove the jacket that had been the focus of so much interest. Pupils still swollen anime-wide, she blinked up at the approaching figure until her brain caught up with her eyes, and she flung herself into his arms in the same moment he reached to pull her close. Wrapping around him, she buried her face in his shoulder and clung, nodding in response to his question. She didn’t trust herself to speak, not for a long moment, just held on tight, trembling with relief. Eddie would know what to do - Tahlia knew enough to know she was out of her depth.

Slowly, she relaxed, although she made no effort to let go of him. “I was leaving work...there was this…guy waiting for me. I thought he was just...but he had these scars, and he wanted your jacket, and said he could use me and called me Misery like it was my name and said I had done horrible things and then he grabbed my hair and everything went weird.” Relaxed might be an overstatement. Now that he was there, and she was starting to feel safe, the words came tumbling out of her in a rush that was likely no less confusing than the phone call had been. “He turned into a shark, Eddie...and then there was water but there wasn’t and he was gone and I just...all I could think about was getting out and getting to you and he said I made you lie for me and I don’t know what’s going on…” She ran out of air, and finally stopped, her face still buried against the crook of his shoulder.

Listening is not the same thing as hearing, though it’s often mistaken for it. Eddie listened to the story, though details were understandably lean. There were enough for him to actually hear her though. The description was of an attack, anyone listening would have known that. What he heard though, was that Tahlia was scared and more than a little confused. Knowing that didn’t make it any easier to figure out where to begin. “Misery Woe...A child’s story, she doesn’t exist never existed. Like Jenny Haniver…” Eddie took a moment to look at Tahlia, his explanation was only serving to confuse her more.

“You don’t know her? Jenny Haniver is kind of like Mab Darogan.” There was still that confused look on Tahlia’s face. “Right… that’s fae legend. Think of her as a combination of Mary of Nazareth, and… Lilith. She’s supposed to drive out… well that’s not important. I guess Misery Woe is kind of like…” Eddie went quiet, thinking obviously of the right person to compare her to. “Ishtar...that’s probably too far back… The Whore of Babylon maybe is closest.” It was as close as he could come with what he believed she would know. “Just a stupid myth, though I’m not surprised to hear it come from a Rokea.” The last word was spit out of his mouth like a curse. “They’re not so bright, proof being that he saw the sign and acted anyway. That was probably the lie he thought I was telling. You’re Ceangailte Talún, I doubt he’s ever seen one that actually bore the mark.” He doubted anyone had ever seen it, he’d never heard of it before, and those stories had been given to him like elementary math.

“He’s alive, but nowhere that he can hurt you, or me for that matter. It sounds like Nim’s mark took him to another plane. I hadn’t expected that.” Something painful, that had been the expectation. Maybe Nim knew something he did not? “That’s not everything though is it?” Eddie wasn’t letting go of the little blonde. He kept her ear to his torso, letting the vibrations of his speech soothe in ways that no amount of telling her that everything was alright ever could.

“I...it all happened so fast. And it...it felt funny. Threw him across the alley...everyone keeps thinking I took your jacket, and they don’t believe me when I say you gave it to me...and there…” She tried to think back, through the chaos and confusion. “There were these...figures. Three of them, I think. It was after the water...well, not water but...kind of?” Clarity was not going to come any time soon, and possibly never. This was his world, not hers, and try as she might, she was occasionally swept away by all the new things. “It passed, and took him, and they took off, and it...it felt like I passed through the ocean. Like the night…” Tahlia shifted, perfectly content with being curled up against his chest and in his arms, that raspy voice echoing through her memory.

“The night of the squid...that sort of salty tightness. He said something about a feast...that the call...the call was so strong he thought I’d be bigger?” She wasn’t sure what was important, and what wasn’t. So she tried to remember it all and was certain she was missing things. “Eddie...I’m what?” She hadn’t lived 300 years without some facility for languages, repeating them, if not always understanding what she said. “Ceangailte Talún? And the other thing...is he like...like a shark version of you? His teeth…” Shuddering, she clung tight once more - those teeth were going to cause a nightmare or two.

Eddie breathed deeply, letting it sigh out of him with relief. “They’re here, were there. Undoubtedly you answered one of their questions. The mark is real, knowing that they’ll not bother you.” It was nonlethal though, and he wasn’t sure if that was because Nim hadn’t wanted to help, or if she valued the lives of the others more. So much prejudice among the sea people. “It did what was intended, he broke the rules, consider him in a vast prison. It has no walls, but the way back here will test him… it may even destroy him.”

He put his fingers beneath Tahlia’s chin, and lifted her face so he could kiss her. This was already some kind of record to have waited for that first one. “Ceangailte Talún… literally translated it just means...attached to the land.” Plus it sounded prettier than calling her Land Bound. Still it was that fact which had given her that name. Eddie, behave or you’ll become the plaything of Misery Woe! Those words had worked once, but eventually they’d lost their influence, and he’d only act up even more. “There are many things beneath the waves, Tahlia. Fae of a sort… though men have called us monsters. Rokea, Selkie… even Sirens are out there. I guess it depends on what you mean by a shark version of me?”

One had never been enough, Eddie was like Pringles in that regard. Letting out what felt like the first full breath she’d taken since a giant hand had knotted into her hair, Tahlia kissed him again before tucking her head back into his shoulder. “He had a leather jacket. I didn’t get close enough to see if it was sharkskin, but then your teeth are normal and you don’t have leopard spots anywhere.” And if anyone had made a study of every inch of Eddie Blake, it was the little blonde currently wrapped in his arms. “But you said other challengers and I guess I just figured you meant they were all going to be able to change like you do. And then he was a shark.” She was trying to make sense of everything he’d told her, vague memories slipping like silk thread through her thoughts. The northern isles had never been her preferred climate - too cold.

She really didn’t care what happened to the sharp-toothed thug, and as far as she was concerned, the farther away he stayed from her, and from Eddie, the happier she would be. “I’ve heard of Sirens...singing on the rocks to lure men to their deaths. And I remember sailors telling stories of creatures …mermaids and dragons and kraken...and having to touch iron before they would let my brother bring me aboard.” Her lashes tickled against his neck, and she smiled, those memories not entirely unpleasant. “I don’t think you’re a monster. But Nim...and now the one today...why do they think I am forcing you to do things?” Nim hadn’t quite said forced, but the surprise at her having Eddie’s jacket had implied it was not his choice, but hers, that she wore it.

“By those standards, yes, they’ll all be like me. The sharks are more obvious, I’m sure that he was out of sorts just for having to transform in the first place… at least to a form that could walk among people. They’d likely be able to change better, if they were to pair with… but no that doesn’t happen. They only mate among their own kind, so their blood is pure. They believe this makes them superior.” Eddie shook his head. “They deceive themselves, mistaking purity as having value, rather than rarity. I’ll take steel over iron...every time.” Weird words coming out of his mouth, that was a certainty.

“I’ve read some of the things that the Greeks from your world wrote. Some of it is true, but quite jaded. Mermaids are friendly beings in their writings, but they’re really quite nasty. They’ll drag a man down, drag him deep until lungs collapse and life flees. There is power in the Siren song, but I’ve been to a few concerts that were just as dangerous. They write about what Siren’s do, as though it’s intentional, but they omit the why of it. There are no male Sirens, Tahlia. Not for a very long time. But there are still Sirens, why do you think that is? If they’re killing all these sailors, who’s telling the stories? It’s about survival of their species… and I don’t want to talk about the things done to my people.” Eddie’s voice didn’t change, the only indicator that he felt anything would be the way he stiffened as he talked about things. With her last question, Eddie’s face filled with an odd emotion for him. There was worry in his eyes, and the crease to his forehead.

“I...it…” He turned his head away, not before worry became pain enough to have him letting go of Tahlia and turning further. “Why does it matter, if we both know it isn’t true?”

For the moment, the rest could be left aside. He’d pulled away, and for a moment her arms hovered, empty, before they fell into her lap, and she focused her attention on her hands. She could understand survival, could understand wanting to keep information close, to ensure that no-one knew everything. She just...hadn’t thought he’d ever keep it from her. “You don’t trust me…” There was only one explanation, in her mind. And why should he? Simon hadn’t. No-one did. No-one with any sense, anyway. And she’d kept her own secrets...but this was a matter of survival. Her fingers twisted and ran along the cuffs that threatened to swallow them. “Do we? I don’t even know what it is - but you do. Eddie Blake...always one step ahead. Even when it comes to me.”

Wide green eyes peered up from beneath a sweep of blonde bangs that split just enough to frame the delicate knotwork that Nim had left in her wake. “You know so much about me, Eddie...even if I didn’t mean for you to. And I thought...after Westport...after the boat...Yasuo...I thought I’d proven myself. I promised…” She took a deep breath, and slid the jacket from her shoulders, pulling her arms free until it lay folded across her lap. “You and I both know better than to run a play without knowing what we hold in our deck. You gave me this. Told me to keep it safe. And I trusted you. So I did. I told him I’d never try to make you do anything. I told Nim the same thing. I didn’t expect them to believe me, Eddie - but I thought you’d already know that. It matters - because some giant walking shark just tried to eat me, and the ice queen thinks I’m stupid - and I don’t even know why.”

“It’s not the same thing, it’s not about staying ahead of anyone.” Eddie didn’t turn to look at Tahlia as he shoved hands that had a slight tremble into the front pockets of his jeans. He wasn’t afraid of anything, not Fast Eddie Blake. He stiffened, like he was flexing every muscle in his body at the same time, but at least the slight palsy that he’d taken on had disappeared… gone, it was gone...or had never been there! “Maybe you’re right about deserving an answer… I can’t say it though. It’ll have to be shown.” He sniffed in a breath and held it for as long as he could. His left hand was freed from his pocket, moving to rub something that was irritating his eye.

“Tell me to do something… something that I wouldn’t normally do.”

“Huh?” Something he wouldn’t normally do. She started to protest, but something about the way he said it stopped her. Almost without realizing it, she found herself looking for the wall from before - she felt the same tension, the same weight, but it was nowhere in sight. She knew him well enough to know that making him do something ridiculous - like a silly dance, would only make a mockery of this. Whatever it was it was serious. “Tell me…” The words died, even though she wasn’t sure she knew where this was going, she knew enough about compulsion to know there were some flames too dangerous to play with. There was, ultimately, only one thing she could think of that was safe enough to test.

“Go to the kitchen. Get one of the small steak knives.” She brought her eyes to his back, watching him like a gazelle tracks a leopard. “And stab me with it. Nowhere fatal, please?” It wasn’t much, but if he could do that...it would at least keep her alive.

Eddie didn’t say a word as he walked out of the room through the kitchen door. The faintest rasping sound could be heard, a serrated edge pulling free of a butcher’s block. When she saw him again, his face would be expressionless, his eyes empty of anything that could be called free will. He moved through the doorway, and took a direct route towards where Tahlia sat on the couch. He reached to touch her shoulder, sliding his hand down her arm until he had her hand in his own. He gripped it hard, not bothering to look at it, those empty eyes were locked on hers. The tip of the steak knife was pressed to her palm, and the first signs of struggle were visible on his face.

Eddie’s eyes narrowed pleadingly as tears began to flow from them, but whatever fight was going on, it was clear that he was losing as the pressure on the knife increased. There was no witty remarks from him, no words at all. Eddie hadn’t been given permission to speak.

“Eddie! Stop!” She’d seen enough, and she could feel the tightness behind her third eye that had come immediately after her attacker had grabbed her. She’d forgotten about the sigil, and what it could do. Her free hand tensed in the leather, a spot of red peeking beneath the flash of steel against her palm, along with a pinprick of pain. Just because she wouldn’t bleed, didn’t mean Tahlia didn’t feel the pain of her wounds.

Trusting to some sixth sense, she leaned forward, leaving her hand in his, the other still knotted in his jacket as she kissed him, hard, tears spilling over her lashes as she broke the kiss and rested her forehead against his. “I’m sorry...Eddie...I’m so sorry...forgive me…”

He’d said he didn’t want to talk about what had been done to his people. Skin harvesting was a thing practiced. Not in his time, not in recent memory really. It had become a thing as forgotten as the Roane. There were still those who took a skin, here and there. It wasn’t common, but he bet that if he went to the docks on any given day, there was at least one fisherman who had a wife that was a little too doting. Eddie kissed her back just as hard. “It was never about trust. If I didn’t, you’d never have been given it.” Perhaps she would understand, it wasn’t often that he was without it. Even when he was, it wasn’t far from him.

“Taking my will… You might as well have just ra…” Eddie bit his tongue until it bled. He wasn’t going down that road. The timing of this couldn’t be worse. He didn’t have the time to undo what had just happened. Not until it was all over, at least. “There’s a reason that those who take a Selkie’s skin hide it. The Selkie will always be looking to take it back and escape.” Would the difference be apparent to Tahlia?

“But I didn’t take…” She was still shaken by what she’d done, what he’d almost done at her word, and what the ward would have done as a result. “I didn’t know. I would never...not to you.” Not to anyone, although she’d seen her sister wield her gifts like a hammer, and Tahlia herself hadn’t been above subtly guiding a will or two in her time. But this...this was different. This was almost beyond slavery, and she would never have gone so far. And she never wanted to see him so blank again. Not Eddie. It was the kind of sin even she couldn’t condone.

“I - you know you can have it back. I’m just holding it. All those times I asked you...it just, it smells like you and it makes me feel safe, and...safe.” She finished lamely, then brought her lips to his hoping he’d never think to ask what else she might have meant. “Wait - Eddie...all those times I was just wearing your jacket...you didn’t...I mean...I didn’t make you...did I?” For much the same reason, she stumbled and stammered, still trying to wrap her head around what everyone else thought was going on here. “Oh my god - they all think I...no wonder Nim was so nasty!”

“You’ve done nothing.” Until just now at least, at his urging of course. In a way it was Eddie showing far more trust of anyone than he ever had. “It’s about will, or the exertion of it at least. Maybe think of it like a voodoo doll. A practitioner takes a bit of your hair… makes you vulnerable...susceptible.. Only this is more dominating. I’d have jumped from the balcony if you’d said the words, trapped and just able to watch it all happen.” It was difficult to explain exactly how things were for him. The rest, that would be even more difficult.

“There’s something else.” He took a few moments to breathe, just to steel himself a little better. “Now that it’s been done...it isn’t simply undone, though the how is simple.” Eddie looked at the jacket, but made no move to try and retrieve it. “I’m a little… stuck with this for now.”

“So...until you undo it, I might accidentally do what everyone thinks I’ve been doing the whole time we’ve been...together?” It was the only word she could think of, although it didn’t come close to being the right one, and she worried at her bottom lip even as she said it. She stroked the leather across her lap, and there was something calculating behind those wide, angelic eyes, her head tilting to the side as she looked up at him. “What if...what if I told you to tell me if I did? Or just...to...no...no that wouldn’t work. You stopping and walking away in the middle would just…” Tahlia stopped dead, and pouted like someone had taken away her favorite toy. Perhaps on some level, they had. “****. We can’t...not until you can undo it. I’d feel like I was forcing you.” And thank you, Eddie, for putting that thought in her head.

“I don’t want to control you. I never have. I don’t want to accidentally say something and…” Not that she would, or could. She’d tried to explain to Saul, and Reggie - but she wasn’t sure they’d understood. She couldn’t leave Eddie even if she wanted to, and she didn’t. They might wander, they might find other entertainments...but there was something bone deep that she couldn’t shake, even if she couldn’t even put a name to it. “Eddie...what do we do now? I can’t just...not see you…”

“Try this… take my hand, and lead me to where you want to go… then when you get me there… maybe you say.” That old familiar pull came to the corners of Eddie’s mouth. He leaned in to whisper words directly into Tahlia’s ear. His left hand on the other side of her head, holding her in place until he was done.

Her lips curved into a matching smile, and she smeared them across his palm, her eyes locked on his. Wrapping one delicate hand around his wrist, she rose, and tugged upwards, leaving the sealskin on the couch, and drawing him down the hallway.

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But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress - a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Eddie Blake
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 13 Feb 2016
Posts: 45
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I Am Your Leader

Street fighter bitches, this the up cutter
Nunchucka', no time to ducka'
Sign of the cross, cause this is her last suppa'
Play with me, check who came with me
~ Nicki Minaj

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9 January 2018
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For a place that often looked like a city out of time, there were a surprising amount of clubs. Dark places lit with strobes and lasers where the music was loud enough to replace a heartbeat, if you were lacking one. There was always a bar, and figures in shadowed corners if what was behind the bar wasn’t strong enough. And if none of that applied, there was still the primal bass throbbing through the crowd, moving bodies to the beat, and inspiring all sorts of inhibition lowering. Not that everyone needed it. Somewhere near the center of the crowd, a tall, dark, dangerous man and his petite blonde companion were busy inspiring waves of jealousy, and a few other things. They moved like they could read each other's minds - by this point, it might not be too far off.

It had almost been a quiet night, but the shark-toothed nightmares had finally stopped, and neither one tended to caution. Reckless, and pacing, they’d headed out to this den of poor decision-making, intent on dancing and drinking until other desires sent them to more private locales. Tahlia made sure to stay close, more often than not pressed up against Eddie and doing exactly what the beat demanded. It was no wonder they were drawing envious glances, but one set of eyes held something more curious than consumed, almost as if trying to decide which one of them to eat first.

Eyes in the dark, but they’d been watching far longer. It would have been harder to lose sight of the purple monstrosity that rolled along the streets and brought the happy couple here. The boy had moves, considering… then again perhaps it was where he came from that made it even possible. Perhaps this wasn’t the best place for introducing herself, but it was so like her to ambush her prey from a position they thought themselves safe. In fact, she relished that most of all, to ruin someone’s sense of security with a gnashing of tooth and claw. She moved with a grace of her own, eyes on him, on her, and a smile so white it had to have been done under UV. She didn’t push her way through the crowd, simply moved with the flow filling gaps and openings between other dancers, or better just dancing her way from one body to another until she’d found herself pressing against the blonde and her big friend. Who needed space, this was a dance club, and bodies pressing together was part of what you paid for. It couldn’t be said that she didn’t fit in, even if her more than ample chest was pushed suggestively into Tahlia. Alligator print leggings and a crocodile skin coat, most people would be hot. She’d watched as they deposited the leather coat into the trunk of the purple car. “Now… ain’t you two just, mother****ing adorable.”

Tahlia would have answered with something scathingly witty, but she’d found herself with a face full of crocodile covered mammaries. Luckily, her recent experience with the matriarch of the Helston clan had taught her a few survival tactics, so she wasn’t in danger of suffocation. Common courtesy had clearly gone out the window though, so she managed to wriggle her hands into position, and push down just enough to give herself some breathing room. It meant there was a positive overload of cleavage compression - enough that several of the men who had been ‘subtly’ salivating before felt the need to turn their hips elsewhere. It didn’t make it easier to speak though - hard to draw breath between a rock and a hard place, not matter how soft the rock. Strobe light flickered over the knotwork on Tahlia’s forehead, but missed the subtle shift of her hand to grip Eddie’s tight. She of all people was well aware the female was rarely less deadly than the male, and if the encounter in the alley had left her guessing, this one fairly screamed her association. Shifting back, the defiant blonde finally managed to sneak in enough breath to acknowledge the interloper. “Baby...when you’re done with her, could you leave enough for a purse and shoes?”

Eddie put a hand on Tahlia’s chin and turned her head for a breath stealing kiss. He already knew what she’d be facing when he walked away… and which guys would be trying to get in line. “I’ll be right back.” That was all he said, and followed the woman towards the alleyway door. He pulled out a pack of smokes, innocently feigning that he was going out for a smoke, though the guy on the door looked like he suspected it was closer to… John and Pro.

“So… what do I call you tall dark and delicious?” The woman had guts, but her taglines needed a refresher course.

Stepping through the door, Eddie shook his head, looked back over his shoulder with a knowing grin. The sharks had made their moves. “Tell you what, babe, in about five minutes you can just call me winner.” He hated fighting… when there was no one paying for the privilege of watching him at least. The thought had him mildly disgruntled. “Scratch that… make it two minutes… and a lot of begging, kind of like your future husband will be.”

Bouncer’s misconceptions aside, Tahlia’s lashes barely had a chance to clear those angelic jade eyes before the first of the brave, but foolish, stepped up. With Eddie elsewhere, she let him get within arms length, but no further. The professional wasn’t working tonight, and this wasn’t where she’d come looking for new clientele if she was. But there was still something to be gained, and she did so skillfully, swaying from one to the next, with a smile that promised absolutely nothing, and moves that kept her out of their grip. She was hard to lose, even in the fog and flash, dressed in Eddie’s favorite color, golden blonde hair left loose over her shoulders and flying like a lash across the face of any of the hungering throng that got too close, or tried to linger too long. She didn’t expect to be on her own for long, and part of keeping the crowd occupied was to distract attention from whatever might be happening outside.

She may have kept the dance floor distracted, but there was plenty of activity in the neighborhood of that back door. A scramble of feet and bodies rushed inwards, all bearing a did you see that? expression of fear, horror and fascination. Still they weren’t planning to stick around and see what else came crawling down the alleyway. Everyone knew that when the **** went down, it was best to be far out of the way. Well except the cocky looking guy who was moving towards the massive creature that the woman had become. Had he really said that is one big ass? It just proved that people in this town were complete nuts. The bouncer at the door looked like he’d planned to go check on things, but there was a heavy collision with the closed door, and suddenly he was finding the crowd inside much more interesting to look at. Hey a conga line… or is that just a regular one for a blonde girl?

The dark skinned woman in the croc skinned coat stepped through the door, a grin stuck on her face. She looked at Tahlia, took a step forward and dropped like a stone from a mountainside. When the door opened again, Eddie stepped through, his silk shirt was torn and a little bloody. Half a smoke dangled from his lips, bent but still lit. He took it out of his mouth and handed it to the bouncer who took it before he realized what it was. “Those things’ll kill a man.” He grinned hard, pointing at Tahlia and motioning for the door. It was time to go do...other things.

It didn’t matter how far the line had gotten, one crook of that finger, and she was off the dance floor, and moving toward the rakishly battered man at the door. There hadn’t been a moment of doubt as to what the outcome would be, otherwise she would have been out there with him, making sure the ashy creature didn’t do anything she might regret. Drawing close, she looked at Eddie’s hands, her lower lip plumping slightly. “Did you already send it out to get cured and cut?” she teased, her gaze already moving up and over, taking note of any cuts, or forming bruises. It wasn’t the time, or the place, not yet, and the bouncer could be forgiven not noticing that any bleeding the big man might have been doing seemed to slow, and stop, the closer the blonde got to him.

Looping her arms about his waist, carefully, Tahlia rose on tip toe to replace that crooked cigarette with a kiss, and then sauntered out, right in his wake. Other things indeed, although it was nearly certain she was going to inspect very carefully for any signs of damage, and make sure to give him some extra special attention to make up for it. Heels clicking across the blacktop, she gained the purple Runner, and leaned against the hood, waiting for the doors to unlock. “So, are they all going to try to take me out, or were those two just...special?”

“Trust me, you don’t want it. That was poor quality tail.” Eddie put his arm around Tahlia’s waist and gave her backside a solid smack. “That wasn’t her trying to take you out. Mostly, it was her just pretending you weren’t there. Not really sure if that’s any better though.” Funny thing about the hand that had done the smacking. It hadn’t moved from that spot either. He started towards the front door, letting his size cause space to open up as they moved. “Gimme a smoke, babe… she crushed my pack.”
_________________
Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Last edited by Eddie Blake on Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ready For It

Me, I was a robber first time that he saw me
Stealing hearts and running off and never saying sorry
But if I'm a thief, then he can join the heist
And we'll move to an island-and
~ Taylor Swift

Luckily the elevator in the garage lead directly to her penthouse, without having to deal with the lobby, and odd stares from the neighbors. Still dressed in all the sparkle and slink of the club, she kept her hand wrapped around Eddie’s wrist, as if the big guy couldn’t lift her up and tuck her under an arm if he was so inclined. The drive back had been quiet, with sporadic bursts of commentary on the club, or the route back to Seaside. It wasn’t until they were securely in her aerie that she pulled him close, and kissed him with every bit as much heat as he’d supplied on the dance floor. Maybe it was about safety, they certainly had never been shy about public displays - but there was something about recent events, knowing there were still more out there, maybe. Licking her lips, she blinked up at him, her smile blooming slowly as she started in on the buttons of his silk shirt, or what was left of it. “How many more are there?”

Silence was his companion sometimes, even if there were a driving beat flowing across the speakers of his car it would be like it didn’t really exist. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk, things were just filling his head. That was probably evident by the way the scowl kept finding his face in those quiet moments. It was like being stuck in traffic, when he really wanted to push the gas pedal to the floor. Forced to hold back, no choice in the matter. Small talk, he managed that all right. It had been a good evening. Hadn’t it? His chest burned a bit, he’d had worse but perhaps something with a bit of antiseptic would be advisable. That kiss of hers was returned, hard and full. “Two I think. She was probably the most dangerous.” It wasn’t a lie, not exactly at least. The others would be worse for a few reasons. At least they were stuck in one form, instead of shifting at a thought. He’d been expecting it, that was her fault for being so blatant about things. It had been her downfall as well once he’d gotten a good idea of her speed and size. She was far older than she looked. The damn Crocs, they just kept getting bigger.

“Not sure when the others will come either.” Eddie worked the buttons with his fingers, and peeled the red stained silk away from his chest. It pulled at the fresh scabs, scars are supposed to be pretty things, right?

She certainly wasn’t going to complain, one hand smoothing over the raw cuts, which seemed to obey some unspoken whim and didn’t start to bleed, even as she took the ruined shirt from him with the other, and her lips followed up on the gentle touch of fingertips. “Going to have to take you shopping then. I don’t suppose we could ask the other two to let you change first?” Not that she minded taking him shopping, somehow, that seemed to have carried over a little from their time in Westport. “And I’d hope so...you just wrestled a crocodile in an alley. Between her, and that…shark...” Her eyes widened and she paused, palm pressed to his chest for a long moment before she continued. “Eddie...none of them are squid, are they?” She wasn’t sure if he even knew, but she had to ask. There were nights the two battled to see which could wake her faster.

“I’ll get rid of this...and get the first aid kit.” She wasn’t moving far enough to negate the effect she had on his wounds, just into the kitchen. Actually… “You mind coming in here? I’m getting the place redone, but no need to leave evidence behind.” Bending in those too-high glittered heels, she did remember to bend at the knees, and keep from flashing too much. Not just at the moment, anyway. She wasn’t a healer, but she always had a first aid set tucked away - there were a handful of people who knew what she could do, and she preferred it that way.

Eddie let out a laugh at the croc wrestling comment. “They won’t make a move, not right away.” He didn’t know who they were, what they were for that matter, but he knew that much. There wasn’t a rule against it. As a matter of fact, there’d been such challenges where the one hunted defeated a challenger, but was left almost helpless only to have another come along and finish them. “They’ll want to figure out how to move against me. I’m sure they were there watching.” It’s what every instinct told him that he’d be doing. “You know…” He didn’t mind following after her in the least, and it was likely a good thing she remembered how not to bend… or was that bad? “I’ve never heard of one. Probably… well, they say the Sea Witch is but honestly, she’s more like the stores of Jenny Haniver.”

He leaned against the doorway, it was one of those things that he did for totally selfish reasons. He knew exactly how much of it he filled up, and was quite keen on displaying that at any given opportunity. “They think I’m weak.” Maybe he was.

“The other ones I saw?” Vague figures in the fog the wall of water had left behind, one down...and she hadn’t seen enough of them to be any help. “It makes sense, I guess...figure out your strengths, or strategies…” She’d never bothered applying the knowledge to her own fighting, but she knew enough to recognize sound strategy when she heard it. Hauling the rather ancient looking box out from a cabinet, she set it on the counter, rising slowly to give him ample opportunity to appreciate the view, and the way the fabric clung as she moved. Looking over her shoulder, she winked, and curled a finger, beckoning him closer. Not that she didn’t enjoy the way he filled the space - but then, she’d always had a thing for tall men. Eddie just happened to be taller than most.

His comment made her sputter, and then let out a long, unrestrained laugh, shaking her head at the absurdity. “They think you’re weak? How could they possibly...have they seen you?” There was nothing weak about him, and she bore the marks to prove it.

“No… it’s perfect. If they think I’m vulnerable, they’ve always got a weakness that can be exploited. What I have to hope is that they continue to be blinded by what they think, as opposed to what is.” Eddie closed the space between them, he kept his gaze completely innocent, looking for every visible attribute that he was the willing patient. Problem with that was… Eddie had hands… and while one of them was quite visible tracing the space around the marks scoring his torso. The other was being wicked and sliding along the back of a thigh, and completely ignoring the boundaries of hems. Boundaries were for other people!

Still acting innocent, even though she could surely feel the truth of him, he started to talk. “I started changing when I was three. Sooner than some, but for most I was a late bloomer.” Not unexpected really. Eddie wasn’t fully Selkie, and that had consequences. There were pictures, none that anyone had seen, Eddie kept them squirreled away. It wasn’t like he had a permanent home to keep things like that. “I was at least conscious of what I was, but when I got older… maybe ten years old, I had a friend. He was older, and he wasn’t really a friend to me. He would ask me things. Do seals dream? I couldn’t answer those questions, Tahlia. I’m not a seal, so I don’t know. That was never a good enough answer for him. Eventually I noticed that he only did that when there were people around he was trying to impress. That he was using my discomfort as a way to do that. The next time he asked me, I asked a question in return. Do Donkeys dream? He of course answered as I had always done, saying he wasn’t one so he didn’t know. I let him have it then… telling him… No, you’re not, but I think you might be Were… but not affected by the moon… it’s just whenever Julia shows up you turn into a jackass.

Yes, he was talking… he was revealing things that had hurt him when he was young. That hadn’t stopped him from trying to distract her from being able to listen. Eddie Blake was not vulnerable… not like other people… not at all.

Of course not - he was just easily distracted. Tahlia turned without moving his hand, a damp cloth moving to clean off those claw and teeth marks. She kept her head down, eye contact would somehow break the spell. “Children can be horrible. But they learn from the adults. The hate...the fear...they learn it from their parents, and then they pass it on.” There was antiseptic close to hand, but she was taking extra special care to make certain the wounds were clean. Slow, even strokes, one foot rising to draw her knee up along his thigh. They’d get to that - she was certain there were wounds she couldn’t see yet. From time to time, she let her lips follow behind, as if checking to make sure there was nothing left behind but the taste of his skin. Or perhaps she was checking to make sure there was nothing that remained to cause infection.

Setting the cloth aside, she reached for the salve, and started smoothing it over those same cuts, occasionally hissing under her breath when she could read the marks, and the damage that caused them. “So you’ll let them think you have a weakness. Keep them from coming at you at full strength. Of course, they don’t know Eddie Blake. You don’t have any weaknesses. No faults. Not a crack, or an achilles heel. Right, puddin?” She finally looked up at him, her fingers still soothing the antiseptic across his wounds.

“Who? Me? I’m like a mountain lake untouched by currents or tides. The things I’m hiding though… can be treacherous.” They likely would be too. People saw what they wanted, what they thought they knew, but they certainly didn’t understand what went on between Eddie and the blonde girl that everyone thought was controlling him. They’d learn soon enough. It was his goal to make them understand that what you see ain’t always what you get. That had been the point of the story. He didn’t wince as she cleaned his injuries, it stung but other things hurt worse. Maybe he was just concentrating on more important things than a few measly cuts and bites. There was something underlying in his attention to her. Eddie was still thinking, and the foundation of that was… if he were them, what would he do next? It was obvious by now that he wasn’t going to be able to have his normal life until this was over. It would help to know who and what was out there.

“Enough!” A man could only take so much touching before he needed a hell of a lot more. He looked at Tahlia with an intensity that said he needed more, and he needed it immediately. Why did he need it so badly? Because he was tired of trying to puzzle out what could be… not when there was the chance to have what was right in front of him. There were things he needed her to know, and he’d tell her… after… when there was no breath left in either of them.

She had expected him to lose patience, and her hands were already on the waist of his pants. A twist and tug of dexterous fingers, and it would be hard to tell which hit the tile faster, his pants, or her knees. He’d literally wrestled monsters to keep her safe, if anyone had earned a clear display of her appreciation, it was him. This - didn’t require thought. Those pale green eyes traced up along muscle and sinew, until they met his, the tip of her tongue just peeking between her lips. Arms twisted behind her tugged the zipper of that lavender sheath that clung in all the right places, even as it slithered to the floor. She had no idea what was coming, only that it felt like the next step they took would take them into uncharted territory, and for the moment, she needed something safe, and familiar.

_________________

But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress - a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Eddie Blake
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Say Something

Everyone knows all about my transgressions
Still in my heart somewhere
This melody and harmony
For you and me, tonight
Whoa, I hear them call my name

Everybody says say something, say something, say something
Let's say something, say something and say something
I don't wanna get caught up in the rhythm of it

But I can't help myself, no, I can't help myself, no, no
Caught up in the middle of it
No, I can't help myself, no, I can't help myself, no, no, no
Caught up in the rhythm of it
~ Justin R. Timberlake, Chris Stapleton

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23 January 2018
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Hot was better, I mean, I could take the cold better than most. Truth is I kind of thrive in it, but part of me knew that hot was better, at least when it came to bathtubs filled to almost spilling over. I’d started it a while ago, it was a big tub, even if it did have a decidedly smaller feel when I was actually in it, or at least when I was sharing it. It might be better to say that it was being shared with me. My place, or the place that I stayed for now at least, didn’t have a tub. Just a walk in shower with one of those damn folding doors. The thing probably worked great when it was installed, but I don’t think anyone ever even looked at it for at least thirty years. That’s saying a lot considering the motel had only been there for two. Where was I? Oh, right.

Hot was better, and even though I’d left the cold water off, I pretty much knew that there was more space in the tub than hot water in the boiler. I think they make them that way on purpose. Buy our hot water heater… because we want to torture you, and have you pay for it. It’s a ****ing racket, and as nice as the penthouse was, the buildings owners had fallen for it hook line and sinker. On the bright side, the cooler water would lower the temperature just enough to keep us from scalding the skin off of our asses. Call me crazy, but I kind of liked hers just the way it was… that meant skin on.

People say I’m not a morning person, and that’s just not true. What I am is asleep in the morning because I knew sure as my name was Eddie Blake that the nexus had convinced almost everyone that morning was when the sun came up. I knew better, so I woke when it was the correct time… noon, at the least. Later if I could. Sometimes my mind goes on these sojourns and time slips away from me. That wasn’t a bad thing in this case, because it meant that the tub was probably at just the right level to make a mess. I’m not a slob, but there’s something sexy about making the right mess, isn’t there? Try not to lie to yourself. I could tell by the sound though, that it was time to turn off the water and rouse the little blonde girl in the other room. Carried to a shared bath is a good morning that most people don’t really understand. They will even ask you as you walk down the street. Good Morning? I just tell the the truth. You have no idea.

The temperature had to be just right, there was a cloud of steam wafting from the doorway. It lacked the scent of salt, more’s the pity, and hit my nostrils with that fresh water purity. I’d see what I could do to change that shortly. The room beyond the door was a shroud of mist, the hot kind that leaves your skin slick and warm. When I stepped through the doorway, the entire room disappeared.

Tahlia lay sprawled, half on her side, blonde waves tangled and tousled from the night before, and earlier that morning. Even still asleep, there was a sated little smile on her face, although it was half hidden against the pillow. The sheet barely covered her - it almost looked like she’d been arranged by some invisible artist, but it was simply the way Eddie had left her when he’d risen to start the tub. The truth was neither of them were morning people. Not the normal definition of morning at least. The coffeemaker was permanently set for one pm, and she’d resisted any and all efforts to change her behavior. For all she looked like an angel, all blonde hair and gold-tinted skin, she was a creature much more suited to shadows and darkness.

Even the steam didn’t cause her to stir, although there may have been the barest flutter of lashes. It might not smell of salt, but the dampness in the air stirred different memories for her than it did for him.

I felt like I’d been hit by a wall, and was left somehow still standing. The slap of my bare feet hadn’t changed, but the sound of them echoed back at me off of walls that were far distant and a ceiling that rose almost out of sight. There were no windows to let in the light, odd glow lamps pulsed dully in shades of blue-green. There was the statue of a water dragon that occupied the center of the room. Judging by the pool surrounding it and the shape of its mouth, the thing was a fountain. I kept walking. Perhaps I should have turned around and tried to find my way back, but life is forward and looking back is the coward’s way of dealing with it. With each step forward the statue rose higher, I was certain that it should be the other way around until I realized that it was moving. Bits of stone fell away from damp scales that seemed to shudder to clear the casing away. Its head turned toward me and smiled sinisterly. It launched toward me with all the speed and fluidity of a Moray Eel, embracing me in its coils and squeezing as though to crush every bone in my body.

Somewhere back in the world, the petite blonde stirred, whimpering against the nightmare stirring in the last remnants of sleep. She could only watch, the moss-slick walls and water-laden air making her tense and want to warn him even before the statue struck. Her fingers clenched into the luxurious softness of her sheets, and a single word murmured from her lips, although it screamed in her head. It didn’t matter, much like screaming at a horror movie, she was only an observer.

Perhaps it was a good thing that the serpentine dragon couldn’t hear her, her scream muffled against the pillows as it struck, wrapping around Eddie and squeezing tight. But she could hear it, the dripping sibilance, condescending and cruel. “Heretic. You take from the sea what she has claimed, and dare to meet with your betters as if you have still have right to call yourself Cosain? You defile our tradition, and force your clan to support your heresy...for some muintir láibe?” The dragon got closer, sniffing at him, and Tahlia held her breath. “You reek of the filth you have wallowed in, leathbhrá.”

“I’d like to say that I’m not going to stand here and be insulted, but there’s two problems with that.” I can be a cocky bastard at times, okay… most times. It’s just something I find helps keep me from doing what any normal man would do in situations like this...panic. “The first thing should be obvious. You’ve got me a little uhm...twisted up.” Eddie Blake doesn’t panic. I instigate. “The second would be that I don’t feel insulted. Some of that is just plain truth, some of it is propaganda that you’ve grown up with, and now are a willing participant of. Besides, it’s hard to get upset by someone who hides behind illusion. Do I frighten you?”

I knew what it was now, that didn’t make me any less susceptible to it of course. This wasn’t some lucid dream where just because I was aware that I got to dictate events. “And let’s get something straight here. I don’t call myself Cosain, I call myself Fast Eddie. Others call me that, and the reason is because that’s what I am. What I was born to, but your ignorance of Selkie tradition is noted.” As quickly as it had latched onto me the dragon released me. There are things I don’t know, and things that just feel obvious. This display was meant to test my resolve, an opponent looking for weaknesses. It was designed to show me how powerful its creator was, and people like that don’t like it when you forget to be afraid, or counter that they’re the ones who are.

I stood, released from the unorthodox bonds that had held me. The dragon, wingless though it was, flew upwards toward a ceiling that I could not see. It was good that I knew where I was, because the dragon’s flight was meant to be a distraction. I let it happen, knowing that when I looked back I would no longer be alone.

Tahlia had the luxury, if it could be called that, of being able to see it all - from the dragon soaring toward the ceiling, to Eddie in all his glory, to the figure stepping out from the shadows, dressed in scale armor, and robes of a particularly slick cloth she couldn’t recognize. He, and it was definitely a he, looked like something from a science fiction movie, and talked like the preachers who she used to pass on street corners in New York and Vegas, railing about the wages of sin. As he moved closer to Eddie, and into the light, she realized the scale work was actual shell and fish scales, the fabric woven from lengths of seaweed. There was a staff held lightly in one hand topped with shark teeth, and she wondered, idly, if they belonged to the one who had attacked her in the alley. She wanted to reach out, and warn Eddie...but somehow, she suspected he already knew. She didn’t think she’d ever seen him surprised.

“Frightened of you? Why would I be? You live on land...only returning to the Mother when necessary. You live like one of them, ignore tradition and good sense - you let that striapach take your hide. The circle of life is sacred. The fathach na doimhneacht/ claimed her and not only did you steal her back, but you left him to be devoured by the Rokea. And then - then as if the first offence was not enough...you answered her Call, and saved her again. All of this...and then you force your seanmháthair to give her the mark, and keep her safe, against all custom.” The Mer straightened, pointing that jagged staff at Eddie’s throat. “I am Ridire na Farraige. I do not fear blasphemers or those who have their strings pulled by some pretty meabhlaire who ought to have been sacrificed to the Mother months ago.”

“Oh, well excuse me…sir Knight” My tone may have been just a touch sarcastic, but that would only get worse from the smirk I wore as I dipped my head. “You await The Great Uprising? Why not call me infidel, then? You seek to bring Jihad to the shores.” I tilted my head and eyed his weapon a single laugh grunted out of me. “Tell me, don’t you ever wonder why that doesn’t happen? Has Jenny Haniver never told you the truth of it?” The snarl that found his face amused me further. I know that I’m an ****hole, no one has ever had to inform me of it. Now he knew it too, speaking the name of the mother was frowned upon by extremists like him. “Because she’s told me… whispered it right into my ear as she rode my ****.”

Part of her wanted to warn him about baiting the zealot. The rest of her couldn’t help but laugh. Eddie was Eddie, always. She wouldn’t have him any other way. But this seemed larger, more dangerous...this was no con, although she wasn’t certain of the rules. The last she’d known, the giant Selkie had been in her bed, with her...this strange creature couldn’t be powerful enough to steal him away without her knowing...could he?

Illusion is a funny thing, the creator makes the construct, and then controls everything within. In a way, I was a part of that construct. Maybe I should’ve kept my mouth shut, that’s just not something I know how to do, or would do even if I did know how. I’m not sure it would have mattered really. This place belonged to the Knight.The pedestal was gone, in its place stood a low stone table. Chains ran through iron rings at the edges and across the cold expanse. It was cold, and I knew it because my back was pressed to the center of it and those chains held me firmly in place. Knowing what I was in made my mind my own, my body on the other hand, that was part of his creation. It wouldn’t dull the pain of what was coming, not unless he chose for it. Something in me doubted he’d be that merciful. What was that old quote? Mercy is for the weak? Well, ****.

Foulness filled my nostrils, breath made pungent by the consumption of too much fish. There was a reason that my kind stayed away from the fisheries, and it had nothing to do with being caught. The scent made me gag, I wanted to give him a breath mint, but I’d left those in my other pants. I suppose in this case it would just be in my pants. “You joke, blaspheme… you take her name in vain?” The serrated edge of his weapon tugged at my skin, not deep, I couldn’t even feel any blood. He was toying with me.

I’d enjoy that while it lasted, then again, maybe I’d just set him off again. “It’s not blasphemy if it happened, right? You want to know what she said just before I filled her mouth with…” Pain stopped me from speaking, the smartass remark I’d been about to deliver cut off in a scream as he cut off the part of me that seemed to offend him most of all.

“What think you of your words now?” There are in the sea many creatures, but I don’t think I have ever seen a race whose smile was so dangerously beautiful as the Merpeople. The shackles on my wrists prevented me from doing what I wanted, There would be no throat in my hands at this point… only a grip on the stone slab and convulsive spasms that I had no control over. That, and the dull splat as he dropped that piece of me to the floor.

“I’d say I’m still too much man for you…****hole.” The words didn’t hold the same kind of smarm, it was hard to do smarm with teeth clenched tightly enough to mar steel. “But you didn’t answer my question. Do you? Want to know?”

Even knowing they couldn’t hear her, and that it would change nothing, she couldn’t help the scream that tore from her at the movement, and the blood. So much blood, and wherever he was, he was far enough that her powers couldn’t help him. And Eddie was still goading, still getting under the Mer’s skin. Tahlia could only assume he had a plan. Eddie always had a plan. She just had no idea what it was.

Deep in the shadows, another pair of eyes watched. Dark as ocean depths, and just as cold, although there was a flicker of something in them as the Mer worked. It was an uneasy alliance, against one of her own. In theory, anyway. Different clans. Different harbors. But she had been sent to test the newly exposed Cosain...and been both impressed, and horrified by what she had observed. Cringing as the warrior priest emasculated the tall, muscular Selkie, Ysabeau grit her teeth. He’d made her promise not to interfere. He needed to atone his sins, and be cleansed. Only she wasn’t entirely certain, now, that he was responsible. No Selkie could be held accountable for what they did under the command of whoever held their skin.

There was a grunt from the man, though forgive me for not knowing if it was out of frustration or something else. I was a little preoccupied by the fire in my loins, and it was even the fun kind. “I must admit, you’re more impressive close up. The mother needs men like us. She who birthed us, loves us…”

“Are you asking me if I work out? I’m all natural E double D I E. And I like women, sorry.” It wasn’t easy to stay in just the right mood to poke at the Knight of the Sea. It was however my only weapon. He had control of the construct, control of my body the amount of pain I felt. I needed to find his weakness, exploit it. My only weapon, besides my dashing good looks was my mouth. I’m told I use that really well. “You wait for the uprising… I’m not surprised. The great Jihad that raises the oceans and consumes the land. You’re a fool. Exactly how long have you been waiting for it? Does it make sense to you that she waits, allows the land walkers to gain strength? Had she struck long ago…” That wasn’t working, I could tell as he began to flay the skin from my stomach. The sound of my screams echoed off the walls and ceiling. It was up there somewhere. I could hear it. Seeing, that was more difficult with my eyes squeezed shut.

“And they too are my children, born of the sea. That’s what she whispered between gasps of…” I felt the blow for a split second. The jagged edge of a massive blade at my neck, and then there was…
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take Me to Church

Take me to church
I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life
~ Hozier (Dance performance by Sergei Polunin)

------------------------
48 Minutes Later
-------------------------

I was staring at the ceiling, chained to a stone table, the iron shackles bit into my wrists so tightly that I couldn’t feel my hands. I’d been dead, but there was no death. Not so long as my body survived out there. There was only me, and him and...something else on the very edge of my sense of smell.

Tahlia couldn’t follow much of the conversation. Eddie had said this Jennie Haniver was like the name the Rokea had spit at her...Misery something. A myth. A legend. But one the Mer seemed to believe in with a fierce intensity. Her nails rent the sheets, hissing with frustration that there was nothing she could do. He’d saved her how many times, and now he paid the price and she could do nothing but watch with ineffective rage. Later, perhaps, she would realize that the last time she had shrieked with such intensity, as the staff swung, and Eddie’s head rolled and bounced across the stone, she had been handcuffed to a train, and before that it had been nearly three centuries. Even so, there was nothing that said she would admit the reason why. And then it was like the skip of a record, or the twitch of a signal. Everything shifted. And there was Eddie…her Eddie...whole and chained back to the stone.

Bo tried not to retch at the reset. She’d been warned by the knight, that there would be cycles, that he would die a few times, resetting to the beginning. They’d learned already the man was stubborn...cocky. His actions had told them that. Even if she was beginning to suspect they were not his, but the will of the blonde, for all she played at being unaware of their ways. The more the Selkie huntress learned...the Call, the skin...the more she suspected she had toyed with Jax in the alley, fully aware that the mark would protect her, and that she had this new Cosain at her command. It made her blood boil, and she steeled herself, impressed at Eddie’s resolve in the face of such torture.

Confusion, I felt it and I’m certain I had that look in my eyes. It took my mind some time to catch up to my body, or this body. I suppose for the duration of this life it was my body. I studied the Mer closely, he was shorter than I am and lean, not that it mattered much of course. I was chained down and he was standing, the torch in his hand didn’t leave me feeling very confident of my position. He grinned at me, leaning over to look right in my face. “The Mother… she births us to be warriors.”

“****, what’d you do, eat everything that looked like a sea pickle down at the sewage treatment plant?” I don’t know why he wasn’t amused, I thought it was funny even after he punched me in the face. Of course I still thought it was true. At least I could turn my head to spit out the blood. Had I been a better man, I’d have warned him to watch his shoes. Clearly I’m evil and don’t think like that.


“I’ve heard that one before.” He said it, but he also pulled away from me. Maybe he was afraid I would kiss him or something. His tough luck, I like girls.

“How many times? Three, four? Doesn’t matter… and here’s why. I’m confused about something. What the hell does a fish know about birth anyway? You’re spawned, grow in an egg that laid in the sand to be fertilized.” He seemed unimpressed by my flawless logic. Some people were never really satisfied. The torch sparked to life and with the twist of a knob the flame turned blue. “Wait...wait! You don’t have to do that you know. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing… I’ve seen the ruby fields of Tenathor. It’s quite… stunning.”

“Mammals are not allowed there, especially predators.” He seemed shocked, at the very least he hadn’t come any closer to me.

“Hi, I’m Eddie Blake. I do *** that I’m not allowed to. Still, I didn’t see any birthing… Your friend knows what I’m talking about. You fish… the Rokea, even the damn reptiles… egg spawned. We know birth. You shouldn’t hide back there.” I didn’t know her, but I knew it was a her, and I knew what she was. “The Mother, she knows birth too… do you really believe that she’ll side with you in Jihad, when she shares so little in common with you?” The zealot’s eyes went wide, wild with madness as I attacked his beliefs again. It wasn’t much of an attack, just a bit of religious theory EB 101. I caught a glimpse of the woman, she was getting closer. Then the fire seared through my shins and I was shorter by a good foot. All I had left was screams to give.

The pillow beneath her head was soaked with tears, her throat hoarse from screaming every time that shark-edged blade sliced through his body. It was all she could do, to stay in the vision with him and watch each cut, echo each scream, to stay, and not leave, the way she’d promised him she would. It took every ounce of strength in that little blonde body to keep her eyes on Eddie, and not force herself awake. If she ever found herself near that horrid creature, she would wring every drop of blood from his form, or whatever he had in his veins. So focused was she on the stone, and on the form tied to it, that she did not see the other figure until she stepped into the light.

Tall and dark, and dressed in what Tahlia could only assume was sealskin, the figure was...decidedly female. Her hair was swept back, her eyes locked on the stone, and the Mer. Almost midnight black eyes swept from Eddie to the Mer, hesitation writ on every line of her face. The knight had said this was necessary, but she was beginning to question whether it truly was. She opened her mouth to speak, only to stare, open-mouthed, as the fish-man lost his mind, hacking at the male Selkie with wild abandon. Blood sprayed everything in reach, and the screams...those screams brought her to her knees, huddling there while the world shifted yet again, and it was all as it had been. Only now...now she could not get those screams out of her head.
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Eddie Blake
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I Alone ~ Live (Embedded lyrics altered for situational content)

-------------------------------------------------
Another 192 minutes later 7 lifetimes
-------------------------------------------------

“I want to talk about your sins.” Disorientation filled me, that was good, it meant I was getting used to the shifts. Knowing that I was had other indications, it meant I’d been here far more often than I should have. That I would remain here until he was done with me. Despair isn’t something I know how to feel. It isn’t that I can’t or haven’t felt it, just that I don’t know how when it finally overtakes me. It should have kept my mouth shut.

“Jeez, did someone lick a Polar Bear’s ****?” I might be too stupid to shut my mouth. The whole thing was feeling vaguely familiar. Wake up to him standing there with his face in mine and that rancid breath. It seemed like I should know what it meant somewhere I was certain I did. I just couldn’t focus on it or anything. My mind was a haze and resistance was growing difficult. How had he managed to do this anyway? Wait, there was something… someone… “You might as well get up… I understand now. This is your doing.”

Slap…, the slap was on my thigh, apparently the Knight didn’t like being ignored. I winced, not surprising, it stung and I certainly hadn’t expected it. I felt nothing about that, but the whimper that came out of me, that was decidedly not very Eddie Blake. “Your sins, betrayer.” I hated the smug look on his face. It had formed the moment I’d made a sound. “We shall begin with your constant need to stay hidden from the rest of us… The little one’s first, isn’t that how you land dwellers like it?”

“Do you see what this is? It’s no wonder they kept me hidden.” Let him think I’m weak. That will be my advantage, but I was losing my grip on it. I didn’t look at the Mer, my gaze holding steady to the unfamiliar Selkie woman.

“Mmm, predictable.” He didn’t like my answer, truth meant nothing anymore and I realized that was my fault. I’d pushed him here, I couldn’t help but push an aggressor. It was a game that I liked to play, I didn’t lose often. When I lost though, I lost big. The first cut had my breath hissing, but by the time he’d carved a six inch square into my abdomen and removed his pound of flesh I wasn’t sure I’d ever talk again. “And...what about your refusal to come to The Mother, unless you’ve run out of time?”

It isn’t real...it isn’t real..it isn’t… The litany had replaced the screams, her eyes shut tight as Tahlia tried to memorize the landscape, just in case. Somehow she knew this was just a dream, a vision...there was so much blood...but the knowing didn’t make it any easier to watch. She had to though - had to stay and watch every cut. If she broke, if she gave in...she would break the promise she had made before they’d left for Westport. And if she did that, she would lose him. She couldn’t lose him. Not after everything.

Bo rose from the floor, her eyes locked on Eddie’s form, even as she shook her head. The Mer was ignored, something he hated, but in this moment it was more important to speak to her own kind. “I did...I didn’t realize...he just said you needed to be brought back to the true way…” Fists clenched at her side, she turned red-rimmed eyes toward the Mer, her voice a low growl of frustration. “He doesn’t understand our ways. She has your skin...I should have realized, in the alley. But the mark worked so quickly. She must have ordered you...You! You will do what is needed to get your answers, but he cannot be held responsible for what he’s done while that raicleach holds his skin. He’s withstood your tortures...and I have held my tongue...let this be the end.” Those sea-dark eyes slid back to Eddie, sweeping over him before she found his face.

“It will answer the question, or it shall suffer.” I was already feeling the next incision, and had lost my audience, for now at least. Her eyes were turned toward the Mer. It wasn’t so bad, not really, the use of the torch to cauterize was worse. Mostly because that meant things were going to be prolonged.

“How is that a sin again? I always return before it’s too late. Seems innocent to me.” There was a hard jerk at the top of my thigh, a lancing of pain as he pulled the blade down towards my knee.

“In her embrace we do remain, rising to the earth only in need. The books are very clear on this. Infidel…”

“I’m to remain with her?”

“Yes.”

“Always?”

“Yes.”

For the briefest of moments the pain eased. The fool thought I was agreeing with him, agreeing to do it. I could half hear him announcing his victory. “If that’s true, then why make us this way? We’re meant to grow… to leave. Only the fearful stay behind, the unworthy.” He took great pleasure in reversing the angle of his blade and cutting away another piece of me. Another reprieve came after, though he took hold of my arm and forced it to bend at an odd angle.

“And your pact with na diabhaltaí olc... Misery Woe? Confess your sins and be purified.” A wind kicked up, had it happened before? I couldn’t remember one, even of the parts that I was remembering from my previous sessions under the Knight’s hospitality. The way he looked up though, that led me to believe that he hadn’t created it. Probably just a bit of bleedthrough from one of us, even if it did sound like the wind had been saying Pumpkin Pie. Then again maybe I was just hearing things.

“I’m not sure we have enough time for me to list those off. Can you be more specific?” The curve of a blade slid beneath the tattoo on my arm and sliced it neatly away. That wound was superficial by comparison. For some reason it hurt more.

“You wounded one of the giants, stole its prey away from it, and left it to be consumed by the Rokea.” That last part was just stupid. That’s what Rokea did, and they didn’t care if it was land or sea dweller, not when blood was in the water.

“You ever been out, trying to mack on that pretty little manta girl… the one with the lips that just say… well never mind that! Because here comes old Oli the Octopus who moves in and impresses little manta girl with his many…. Talents. That’s what we’re talking about here...and nobody gets to eat my dates but me.” I knew better, and this was the problem with being me in this situation. Gil… I liked giving him that name. It had just come to me, and soon it would hit him too. It was the strangest of events, being carved like prime beef. I wondered if they were serving me up outside. Gordon Ramsey was out there yelling at his crew and cussing until they cooked me correctly. People complained that I was under cooked, and Gordon agreeing with them. I might be losing too much blood.

Two sets of eyes, one the palest green, the other dark as the abyss, both locked on the man being sliced to ribbons on the stone. But only one voice caught sharply at the slice to his arm, one form curled protectively, even in sleep, hands shielding a tiny silver charm trembling against golden skin. But that was all she could do. Watch, and try to will him to hold on. She could tell it was beginning to wear on him, and how could it not? It had been centuries since Tahlia had helped her brother in his lab, testing the limits of pain and healing, and what potions could do the inside of a man. Were it anyone other than tall, dark and dangerous him...she would have been making entirely different noises.

hold on...just...hold on….

“Enough! Not only do you hold him accountable for what the cailleach uafásach orders him to do - now you expect him to command the Rokea? We are allowed to defend ourselves, even against the fathaigh ársa.” Bo could not bring herself to dignify the accusations that giant Selkie was consorting with Misery Woe with a response. That tiny, pale thing the feared legend of the seas? Even if she believed in such things...and outside of the darkest depths, she never would...the idea that a landbound, magicless little trollop like the one who was holding the new Cosain hostage could be the bogeyman used to scare Selkie children for centuries was utterly laughable. “He isn’t going to give in. Surely even you, zealot that you are, can admit that. He is stubborn...strong...after all you have done to him, he still baits you. He has won, Knight...and I shall not challenge him further. Let the trials be finished before you draw Her ire on yourself…”

“It will be judged! It will be measured! Penance shall be exacted!” There was division among them, it was only natural, we were more than separate races, we were separated by species. It would take a lot for one of them, or one of us for that matter, to make a move that wasn’t heavily wrapped in prejudices. “It answered The Call!”

Done, I was done with the arguing and the questions. Done with the pain...just goddam done. “You answered the call too! Whatever you had in mind there would need to be done to everyone in the room.” If it was a sin that is… though I was sure he’d argue that the sin was in saving, not answering. Well **** him, I do what I want.

“None of that is what you really want to know though, is it? You want to know what secrets I’ve given away about us. I will tell you….no. I’ll tell her.” I knew it was what he wanted, that he’d try to force the words… I locked up my jaw, not even opening it when I needed to scream. I wouldn’t give in. Pride runs pretty deep in my family, I guess.

Bo stepped closer, watching the Mer like, well, like a seal watches an orca. But a seal with a great deal to fight for. As she stepped closer, one hand went out, pushing aside the sharktooth blade, eyes searching for a place to stand where she could watch both, and not brush against one of his many wounds. There was so much blood, so much damage, she never noticed when the inked and bloody strip of skin fell beneath her foot. Angling to keep a wary eye on the rabid Knight, she leaned in close, fingers curling against the stone in an effort not to curl against his skin. Watching him over and over, she’d begun to admire the tall,dark Selkie. “I’m here. Tell me…?”

Her hand was close, but I still couldn’t quite get my shackled arm to make contact. Hopefully it wouldn’t matter. “I can see you don’t trust me… I suppose there’s wisdom in that… but tell me the truth, don’t you ever feel like...just maybe…” The closer she came the more I knew about her. Find the weakness, and exploit it.

“It's easier not to be wise, and measure these things by your brains?” I spoke softly, eyes locked onto the woman’s. I was sure I could still be heard, the slight huff I heard from my left indicated that much. I broke eye contact as I asked the question, shifting mine peripherally towards the mer. It was all I could think to do, be subliminal with things, to be… myself, only exaggerated much further. A little vulnerability could show, right? If anyone had the right to feel it, even show it, that would be the person on the table, under the knife. Movement, it was slight, little more than a shifting of her form, the kind that happens when you’ve been standing with your weight on one foot too long and need to just change.

I pushed harder against the shackles, not unusual, I’d been testing them often throughout this...interview. It was enough, barely, the tip of my middle finger and a hair’s breadth became bone deep ache as I dug the shackle deeper into my skin. It was nothing, barely enough to warrant a look, but a look was what it got and I poured every ounce that was Eddie Blake into the next few moments. Looking back to her, I waited for the shock to end and her gaze to return. “I sank into Eden with you, now I’m alone in the church by and by.” I am not some great mage, or one of the elders with their deep beliefs, and the power that brings. I’m mostly just a regular guy...mostly. I had to try anyway, what else did I have left? I couldn’t do this again. Darkness surrounded me, and not just because I closed my eyes. I had, but this was a different kind of darkness, the kind broken here and there by the shadow of a distant light. Not stars, just points of brightness outlined by shadow on the ceiling and the wall. They were much closer now, even though the sounds in the room seemed to echo still. Hard gasps of breath, and groans of torture, it could be another place within the illusion… but that tortured sound held something else. Absolute need to be treated so… breaths quickened, and that lone voice was joined by another… and then it was gone. I couldn’t hold on anymore.

Ysabeau barely bit back the gasp in time, following the slight shift to the Mer and then she was caught, locked by those haunting reddish-brown eyes of Eddie’s. There was a flare, a flash of electricity that leapt from that minute touch and raced through her. She couldn’t see much more than shadow, but her pulse hummed with those gasps and groans, and she felt her skin flush with understanding. For a moment she was in both place, both voices, and the hall fell away, the stone shifting to a moonlit room she didn’t recognize. Only a moment, and then it was gone, and she shivered. Body tilted to hide the movement from the knight, she slid a hand into his, increasing the contact and allowing herself to sink into his gaze. That he was trying to tell her something was clear, but the vision..the strain..she needed more to be able to understand.

I took hold of what was offered, I’m not a very subtle person sometimes even if it could be excusable here. My hand was bigger than hers, there were advantages to being my size, and that could be considered one such advantage. “I'll read to you here, save your eyes.” Was it really reading? Maybe in some form it could be considered so. “You'll need them, your boat is at sea. Your anchor is up, you've been swept away.” Everything was gone, the walls, the people, the very solidness of the stone and floor were just a memory of something that might have been. In their place the open air swept across skin in a sea cold enough to leave limbs numb. In the distance a safe harbor and the knowledge that they’d never swim so far or survive if they did manage it. Behind the ominous lights of a yacht, and every evil intention that could be housed in the same place. It was hell, floating on the waves.

”And our greatest of heroes won't hesitate
So leave me here, by myself, chained to fate!”


Moonlight over the beach, and the pull against every part of him drawing him into the waves at a run careless of the trail of clothing left behind. There was simply him and the wrapping up of his skin around him, moving without hesitation. Reunion...safety in the cold deep, even when walking back into hell. The vision broke apart, they were back inside the church chained to a stone table created by fate itself.

Bo blinked, lips parting...she nearly verbalized the feeling, and caught herself. No selkie would fear the ocean, or the cold, and there were few distances that would...eyes wide, she gave a squeeze to the hand engulfing hers. These were not just his memories, these visions. Somehow he was showing her the blonde’s as well. This...this must have been the night of the Call...Bo could feel it, just on the edge of her consciousness. The tug toward the ocean...he’d had his skin, then...which meant it was not obligation that fueled the rush into the waves. The half-Selkie huntress could not sympathize with either sensation...she’d never felt a draw so powerful, and nothing in the ocean held any fear for her. It was her home, and his. There was a shake of her head, subtle, but insistent. He’d been on land too long, the Mer was right in that at least. He needed to come back to the ocean. She gave a small smile, and thought of the water, the wonders none but their kind could ever know.

“It's easier not to be great…” I’d said I would confess my sins, I’d like to say that I’m not a liar, but to be honest it’s kind of stock and trade for me. I am a liar, but I told her anyway. Maybe she’d get it though, none of this would have mattered if it weren’t for who I was… what I was supposed to be. “And measure these things by your eyes.” It may have been a scene she understood, standing among a sea of Selkie and knowing so very few of them even as he realized that all of them knew him. They wanted things, more than he understood, more than he knew how to give. The Cosain was to be trained, but there was no one who had the knowledge. Eddie just wanted to be alone. “We long to be here by her resolve. You’re alone in the church by and by.” The very air seemed to have eyes inside this cathedral. Eyes...awareness… resolve… desire… pain.

’To cradle the baby in space.
Won’t leave you there by yourself chained to fate!”


It made no sense to me, wasn’t one of my sins, was it? Was it? Perhaps it was something I didn’t understand. That wasn’t something that hadn’t happened before. I had managed to hold things back from her though. Deeper things that I didn’t need to share.

She did understand. She had been in a similar place, alone, the center of attention...and scorn. There were those who felt that anyone not fully Selkie could not be Cosain...but she could change, and she had the gifts, and unlike him, she had had someone with the knowledge, and the will, to train her. Those eyes had stayed on her, even now...she could feel a gaze not the Mer’s, and not entirely of this place. But that was impossible. She understood him, how could she not. But surely he could understand that whatever he thought...the ocean was home. He needed to be among his own kind. The Mer’s methods had failed, but his cause was just. No landbound creature could share their world...she would grow jealous, already she was keeping his skin from him, wearing it out in public like a prize. Forcing him to feel things. He just had to relent, and come back to the Mother, and he would see clearly. He would not be alone. Bo brought her other hand to smooth over the back of his, wondering for a moment at how small they looked in comparison. Closing her eyes for a moment, she took a deep breath, radiating a calm she did not feel. “You must confess everything, Cosain...confess so you may return to your own kind.”


“Are you sure you want to know the things I leave unsaid? The things whispered so softly that no one but I know what they are?” She must, she was asking even if my return to the sea mattered to me not in the least. Well, I could go there if I needed to… couldn’t I? I turned my hand over, clenching upon hers once more. One last time I’d close my eyes, and open my mouth. I can’t carry a tune, not after what I was going through, but I still had it in me to yell things out… and that’s what I did. “I alone love you! I alone tempt you!” Awareness drifted… one last time… Alone on a balcony, my phone to my ear.

“I'll never say I love you... You know why…”

“Why's that, puddin?”

“...it changes things. Makes a person start to do things... to think about what would make the other person happier. It makes a ma... person stop being theirself... stop being the person the other enjoys being with.”


”I alone love you!
Fear is not the end of this!”


It all broke away in the sound of a gurgle as the blood from his cut filled my lungs and drowned me….
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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the Arms of an Angel

It don't make no difference
Escaping one last time
It's easier to believe
In this sweet madness
Oh this glorious sadness
That brings me to my knees
~ Sarah McLachlan

I woke up on a stone table…

Bo stumbled back, stunned, staring at the Mer in horror. For the moment, it saved her from processing what Eddie had shown her just before… “You asked for a confession! He was...he was confessing!” And what a confession...but he couldn’t truly...she could not tell the Mer. If she told him anything, now. “I think he was right. You fear him. Even without the training we all received...the strength of his clan behind him...he has withstood everything you have subjected him to. You sought to make him question, and he has instead shaken your foundation. Your temple grows smaller, and no amount of blood will change that.” She could still hear the whispers in her head...the soft, breathless voice she knew must belong to the blonde, and the low, bass rumble that could only belong to the man in front of her. Just because he wouldn’t say it, didn’t change what she’d felt from him. The greatest failing of their kind...


...chains held me tightly to the thing…

“He is to suffer as no other has!”

Mad eyes and the reek of decomposing flesh lined the face of the Merman who stood over me. I tried to say something smartassed about it, but my words came out as sounds. My mouth was wide enough to bite both sides of the Mer’s head, if only I could move! I struggled against the binding chains trying desperately to break free… to shatter them. They were such little things, how could they truly hold me? We weren’t alone, there was another… a she...but she wasn’t chained as I was. I couldn’t keep the look of betrayal out of my eyes, this should not be… should not! I bent, stretched reached for her as much as I could, but there was no way to put my mouth on her. Please… Pain, it exploded through me, the feel of serrated knife sawing against bone. Trapped...hurt...afraid! Please...mother...why?

“Mammal and half breed at that. I was wrong to try to bring him back. I should just kill him and cleanse the memory of him from the waves...but not before we’ve taken him apart again… and again.”

The giggling laughter only made things worse. I wanted to swim, I could swim faster than the laugh… faster than the pain… faster than the betrayer.

The sound brought her attention back to the table, and now it was a scream of rage that slowly built and burst from her throat. “How dare you!? To force...Blasphemer! You accuse him of your sins!” It was too much, finally. “I should have stopped this before.” She held out a hand to the struggling form on the stone...even now, he was a giant, an exquisitely formed specimen of their species. “Forgive me...I did not know he intended this…please…”

His construct, but her connection, which meant she could maintained a link with the world outside - had to, to ensure they were not disturbed. The image of her froze, flickering for a moment before she steadied with a blade where none had been before. Long and thin, it glimmered darkly - not an object of the sea, but of flame. The islands of her birth were littered with them - obsidian hardened and flaked to an edge that would never dull. She could not spare a glance at the leopard seal still struggling, her attention focused on the crazed Mer. Step by step, she advanced, until she was within striking distance. “Enough! I decide who lives” The murky light danced along the blade, and then along the thick, viscous fluid that sprayed from the knights throat. And the world...shook.


“Oh, now, you took it way too far, only love can save him now...All these riddles that you burn
All come runnin' back to you…”
Bo watched as the construct began to fail, her eyes on the Mer as he gurgled...the full realization striking with a little less speed than her blade. She was conscious, and could step from the crumbling vision when she chose...but the Selkie...with a start, she realized that the other was still there. Another set of eyes. Casting her gaze on the struggling seal, she spoke to him, and to whatever entity was watching over them. She suspected she knew. “All these feelings that you hide, only love can save him now…” It was all she could do...the chains would fade as their creator did, but in his current form, there was no way Eddie could escape before the temple collapsed with him in it.

Out in the world, the blonde stirred, the words tugging at something...the only thing she had faith in anymore lay on a stone slab, and she had only the vaguest idea how to help him. Wrenching herself from the vision, she sat bolt upright in the bed, and realized the sound of water was not only within the vision itself. Her bathroom was flooding, the bedroom carpet beginning to soak through. Flinging herself from the bed, she stumbled to the prone figure across the threshold between the two. Somehow finding the strength she tugged him up and over, cradling his head in her lap as she had done once before. This time, she didn’t scream, but the intensity sang through every syllable. “Puddin...puddin...wake up..please...”

My head hurt, maybe more than that. I felt like I’d hit a brick wall with my face. Imagine my relief when it was just the tiled floor. At least it cut down on abrasions, right? I stirred in Tahlia’s hold, an overwhelming urge to weep doing its best to push through my stellar block of all things touchy feely. It wasn’t the right time, even if I could try to pass it off as the water from the tub on my face. “I slipped… fell.” I knew I was fine, that I was whole and undamaged… well except the pain in my head at least. I might have hit something on the way down too. It was hard to tell at this point. “Did you get the water shut off?”

My hand hit the edge of the tub, and I only briefly checked to make sure it had all its fingers, that it was still there...that it was a hand and not… No time for that, I started to pull myself upwards. There was coffee, I could smell it. I wanted it. “I’ll get a mop for this mess.” I probably could have had her just call someone. I hesitated, wondering if that was something I normally did and wasn’t now or… Hell, I didn’t remember and standing there was just going to make questions happen. Either way, I was closer to the supply closet and it was my mess to fix. I started moving again. “You make us a couple of latte’s?” It would get us both moving. I don’t know why I needed that too, or maybe just felt like she did.

I stepped inside the little room, pretending to look for the things I needed and letting the door swing closed behind me. I knew this was the time, Eddie Blake could lose it now.

_________________

But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress - a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Eddie Blake
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 13 Feb 2016
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In The Air Tonight

Well I remember, I remember, don't worry, how could I ever forget
It's the first time, the last time we ever met
But I know the reason why you keep your silence up, oh no you don't fool me
Well the hurt doesn't show, but the pain still grows
It's no stranger to you and me
~In This Moment

“Is it a betrayal, and if so who is it that was betrayed?†Nim sat with her back to the door of her quarters within the temple. She’d been expecting this visitor, even here. It wasn’t a place one could simply go. It wasn’t a place that could be seen with any discernibility either. This wasn’t something fashioned by men seeking to show off their skill. There were no spires, or gilded rooftops. No grand marble chambers, cut and smoothed by the prisoners of decadence. This place had been created by the mother, the limestone chambers cut by her wrath, and perhaps her love as well. The entrance was guarded, in some ways more securely than anything that existed in the city at the harbor’s inner edge.

The dive to it would be more than most could take in pressures that could injure the unprepared. Then there was the distance needed to be traversed through the underwater caverns with no hope of breathing until the sacred pool was reached. No, none came here that didn’t take extreme precautions, save those who knew the secret way into the temple at the heart of the island. And yet, Nimsu had been waiting for this one to make their presence known.

Ysabeau had been troubled since the night of the vision...the temple, the stone slab...she saw them still in her dreams, and what had happened, and her part in it, did not sit well. She’d heard of this place, of course, all their kind had. But she had never made the attempt before now. Perhaps her need hadn’t been great enough. Whatever the reason, she approached the doorway with reverence, but pride still radiated. She knew what she was. She’d passed every trial set to her, silencing even those who called her half-breed. Tall, at least compared to the woman sitting before her, jet black hair slicked back from the water, she’d changed as she reached the edge of the pool, and stopped in the doorway.

Deep brown eyes settled on the figure, and she coughed the last of the water from her lungs before she managed to speak. “I do not know. It is why I came here. The Mer seemed so certain, and I was sure that he was being held on land against his will. But now...now I feel like I did when I was yet a pup, and starting my training. I know little, and I am certain of less. I am told that here, all answers can be found. All paths made clear. Have I been told truly?â€

They’d been friends once, a long time ago, before she’d been laden with the mantle, before she’d had children or left on her own adventures. Nim hadn’t seen Bo in nearly two centuries, but she looked much the same, if a bit sterner around the mouth and harder in her eyes. Even that didn’t hide the confusion in them. “Answers tend to give way to more questions, such as was I speaking of what you’d done, or my own facilitations in the matter.†She’d helped, and wouldn’t deny that, not when that help was so obvious. It was a mark of defiance, and she’d known it the moment she’d placed it on the blonde woman’s face. A rare smile tugged at her lips, one that she’d give no more purchase to than that. “There were several that have happened over the years, weren’t there? Things like keeping the secret, failing to send him for training, but then again trust is hard to come by since we lost Kaelin.â€

Nim turned around finally, the glint of metal in her hand catching the ghost light. A long golden chain dangled from her fingers, one end an unbroken loop, the other a simple sand dollar. “I knew you were coming.†Two hundred years and still she held onto that token, she frowned at it as she set it onto the stone surface behind her. She wondered if the other one was still viable, but only the dark haired selkie woman would know for sure.

From somewhere within the skin now wrapped around her, Bo stiffly pulled a matching chain and charm, letting it flash in the light for a moment before she hid it away again. “Perhaps you spoke of both. Or all.†For a moment, she looked like she’d been carved from the stones of her home island. Kaelin’s loss had been a blow to the whole, to be sure - the loss of a Cosain was nothing short of a disaster. But for her, it had been so much more. Even after two centuries, the pain seared through her, and she had to take a deep breath before she could continue. “Let us leave what I have done to the side, for the moment. Let us focus, instead, on what has brought us here. What you have done to bring us here.â€

The taller woman barely relaxed, her hands clenching at her sides, deliberately, before another breath released as much tension as she was likely capable of. “You knew about this one. Clearly. Knew, perhaps, that we would be looking, and when. I recognized the mark, Nim...the mark, and what it did to the Rokea. No-one else ever produced such delicate work.†Bo leaned against the doorway, and fixed her old friend with a look. “Did she know? Or was she just...bait in the trap?â€

“Bait? No, not that… the truth is she was a billboard, and one that I hadn’t decided to occupy until I felt you move.†Nim’s stare, cold as it was told volumes about what she knew. “Of course I knew about him. He’s family, and I don’t believe that anyone of us didn’t hear what was happening out there. I’d have kept him away if I could, but I’m sure you see how easy controlling him is?†She’d phrased it as a question, but one that she knew the answer to already. “I hid him, I had help with that. When I was asked, I said that he’d been sent for training, but surely you see why I couldn’t do that, right? Sending him would have put him in…your hands.†Nim’s usually dispassionate tone held hints of bitterness. “Are you not the oldest of them now?†Nim’s chin lifted defiantly towards Bo as she revealed just another of those betrayals she’d spoken of. “I know a lot of things that even he doesn’t understand, who he is and how it is he’s able to stay away far longer than the rest of us, regardless of the fact that he holds his own skin.â€

“I am. At least among our own kind.†Bo paused for a moment, and then corrected herself. “Now that the Mer is gone, I think I am the oldest left, period.†She hadn’t been invited to sit, but she would be damned if she would stand there like a supplicant. Settling herself on something that seemed like it would hold her weight, she settled a dark gaze on the priestess. The truth was, as much as Nim might blame her, she wasn’t certain it wasn’t justified. She knew, of course, that there was nothing more she could have done...Kaelin had made his own choices, as they all had. “A billboard? Ah. That explains why the wall only took Jax away, and didn’t kill him outright. You don’t like her.†Something Nim had said rang through her thoughts.

“He’s impossible to control. I don’t know how you managed to get him to adulthood. Stubborn, strong...willful. But intelligent. And he knows it. All of it.†She hadn’t mentioned handsome, but she doubted she needed to. Nor could she hide the admiration in her voice. “Half the seas heard that commotion - what has he gotten himself in…†Ysabeau stammered to a stop, and stared at Nim in shock. “He...but he doesn’t. He can’t. She was wearing it when the Rokea tried to grab her in the alley...and he didn’t have it at the club, or...she has to be using it...why else would he go through so much to protect her...defy tradition...for that matter, Nimsu, why did you?â€

“Why? With him, who knows what goes through the heads of the young?†She barely remembered being quite that young beyond being certain that she was right about practically everything. “Would it matter to say he’s family?†It probably wouldn’t, not really to Bo at least. “Maybe it’s more important to say that he’s the sign of things to come. That he was bred to be as he is, and that needs to be protected… even from you, maybe especially from you.†There was a defiant cast to the look she shot at Ysabeau, daring her to claim differently. How much did she let the woman know though? There was still so much that the boy needed to learn, things that he wouldn’t find on his own no matter how clever he had become. “To address your other concern… he’s gone. Swimming and there’s no telling where he’s going or when he’ll be back. The woman may have had his skin, but she gave it up freely.†Maybe that said something about her? Either still ignorant or different than the others she’d known...most of them anyway.

“And you’ve dropped your challenge without a blow struck, does this not also defy tradition, or am I not supposed to bring up the things you’ve done?†If Nim wasn’t supposed to, she sure seemed to take a distinct pleasure in doing so. “Don’t answer that...just ask your questions and I’ll answer as I can.†There may still be things that she didn’t need to know, things that Nim wasn’t willing to share, not until she knew Ysabeau’s intentions far better than she did now.

“So you mentioned. Grandson? It’s been about that long, hasn’t it?†Ysabeau barely flinched, giving a sharp shake of her head. She wouldn’t argue with Nim on this, they’d argued the issue for days centuries before, and had gotten nowhere but silence. Silence wasn’t productive. It didn’t serve the Clan, and since Kaelin, the Clan was all that mattered to her. She couldn’t deny that the...she couldn’t call him a boy, not towering over things the way he did...that this new Cosain wasn’t tempting. He’d called himself Eddie...the blonde had called him something else, something that was so clearly an endearment that she’d felt like a voyeur overhearing it. Still, if he was swimming, it meant he’d left the land-bound woman behind...she and Nim hadn’t spoken for two centuries, she could survive that again, for the right reason.

“We’re not talking about the things I’ve done yet, Nimsu. We’re still talking about yours. We’ll address mine when the time comes. I never claimed to be blameless, but I’ve carried my burden this long.†There may have been a hint of reproach there, the woman before her had a penchant for claiming omnipotence, and rewriting history to suit her ends. “She...gave the skin back?†Bo sat back for a moment, and passed a hand over her face. Such a thing was nearly unheard of. Bits and pieces of the visions Eddie had passed on came back to her, easier now, without the pain and fear. “Bred to be as he is...impressive as that is...he’s more human than selkie, and Cosain out of instinct. And he...they...bah. She’ll forget, the landbound don’t last that long...still...that call…†There may have been a question in there, but there was a great deal of confusion to get through. “Did you know the Rokea named her Misery Woe? The Mer did too...fools.â€

Nim simply nodded, narrowing her eyes at Bo when she called him more human. “No!†She pounded her fist on the table. “He’s barely human… less than his mother by fathoms.†Nim took a breath, it wasn’t like her to lose control or feel much of anything really. “She was supposed to be, the one, and she was powerful… perhaps too powerful, but after she’d lost the other one something broke inside her.†And then she’d been taken, there would need to be another to follow Nimsu’s path. Oddly that thought held less emotion than what Bo had said about Eddie. “He’s tied to the land, not so strongly as the sea of course but it might help explain how he manages to stay away far longer than any of us… Even you, Ysabeau with your mixed roots can only manage half the time… though you choose to stay away almost completely. The thing is, in order to thrive once again, our people need to be able to thrive among them.â€

“You call them fools, and on the surface perhaps they are. I don’t know what she is, more than human to be sure. It may only be natural for them to assign her that name…†Another squint went towards Ysabeau, this one scrutinizing rather than scathing. “But you didn’t sense that either, did you? It was a shock to me, but maybe you didn’tet quite close enough.†Or maybe she wasn’t quite so sensitive as Nim was. Either way, the name giving didn’t surprise Nim much at all. The Rokea had little experience beyond the waves and did things mostly on instinct. The Mer, well they were so steeped in religious fervor that anything that wasn’t to do with the mother would obviously stem from her adversary. “Will she forget, Bo? We need her to, more than that...we need you to bring him to you...to train of course.†The last few words may have come too quickly, almost as though trying to hide plans and motives. The other Selkie would just have to understand, there would always be plans and motives now. There needed to be if her people were to survive.
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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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Tahlia Faras
Young Wyrm
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Joined: 01 Mar 2017
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In The Air Tonight

Well if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand
I've seen your face before my friend, but I don't know if you know who I am
Well I was there and I saw what you did, I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you've been
It's all been a pack of lies
~In This Moment

Bo could perhaps be forgiven her burst of laughter. “All this time...all this time and effort to keep him away from me. Out of my villainous clutches, lest I - what? Lest he befall the same fate as Kaelin? And now...now you may as well be serving him to me on a mother-of-pearl platter.†The dark-haired warrior leaned forward, setting her elbows on her knees as she considered the priestess with bitter humor radiating from her. “For two centuries, you have thrown in my face what happened that day. Blamed me, without equivocation, for his death. He knew what being Cosain meant. He made his choice on that beach, to do what he had been trained for, what we all trained for...save your grandson. Who you have thrown into this with no training, no warning...all to spite me. And now…now you want me to take him in, train him to his birthright, and...let me guess...take him to my bed? To wipe all memory of his little blonde toy from his memory? Seven years for seven tears, isn’t it?â€

Bo leaned back, and shook her head. “Have you seen them together? We spied on them, before Jax made his move. And then again before the reptile made her challenge at the club. Hours of study before Ridire na Farraige and I came up with our plan. And then your Eddie...while he was on the stone, enduring the kinds of torture only a fanatic can devise, he showed me visions. His own memories, and hers. She was there, somehow.†A hand passed over her face, and the selkie shook her head. “All that...Nimsu...he’s your kin. You’ve held that flame for centuries...do you think seven years will make him forget her after she willingly gave him his skin?â€

“Spite? Not so much…Ysabeau. Did I worry that he’d have an accident? That’s probably closer to the truth.†Nimsu wasn’t prone to sarcasm, though when it came out it was the biting kind in a dangerous low tone. “Kaelin was there to help you...and you killed him. He was a fool to trust in someone who was so obviously under orders from her own elders. Don’t think we’re blind that it’s your clan that now occupies the western isles and dominates the Verdant Expanse.†She tore her gaze from the dark haired Selkie, dropping her face towards her lap and letting the barest of smiles begin to consume the normally icy countenance. “I’ll admit to a certain amount of satisfaction in so many failures against my untrained, untamed grandson.†Perhaps more satisfaction in the who had been thwarted than the actual doing of it. “You’ve seen what’s possible, imagine how much more could be should he be honed.â€

Nim sniffed before fixing her eyes on Bo again. “I liked you once...maybe more than that. I don’t trust you, but I trust the others even less. You say the tradition, and I say does he seem the type to allow himself to be ruled by it? No, he swims Ysabeau, long and hard in solitude. He’ll come back all too quickly, and you will have limited opportunity to work your seductions on him. Even if you do manage it, I’d warn you against taking him to your bed. It might just spell the same fate as Kaelin.†The words came out of her, and Nim almost wanted it to be a foretelling. Justice so far as she was concerned, but the fact was that hated though she may be, Ysabeau was vital to everything.

“You didn’t answer my question, Nimsu. Because I suspect you do not know. Because you fear he will thwart all your plans, and return to the city. Return to her. Your untrained, untamed grandson isn’t minding your plans for him...and you wish me to return him to the waves.†She ignored the talk of the Isles, and the territory her clan now controlled. Others had made that decision. Nor did she deny that her elders had made certain requests, or protest that she had refused. That it had, in truth, been an accident. It had all been said before, and repetition would make it no more effective. “I will remind you, Nimsu, that none of our kind take oaths lightly. I meant the one I swore then, and I mean it still. You said yourself, you knew I was coming.†She did not think she needed to explain further. Not here. Not to her.

“I will not deny that if he could be trained...he would be the most formidable Cosain our kind has had since the time of legend. A match for any Rokea...or any other creature that calls the sea home. And we have discussed your choices. To hide, to deny him training. You have avoided answering why you gave the girl protection. But it matters little.†Ysabeau was beginning to suspect Eddie had been insistent that it be so. “I gave the Mer the means to do what he felt necessary. And then I killed him when I realized he was mad. And yes, I dropped my challenge without a direct blow. It is my right. Unusual, but not unheard of. Unlike, say...placing a mark of protection on one of the landbound.†The rest of her machinations...those were all too common, especially now, when the clans were in decline.

“Two things moved my hand in this. It’s true that he came to me for it, but that wasn’t why. The fathach na doimhneacht was the reason behind both things. What do you think it would have looked like if one of you had gotten ahold of her? I’ll tell you what, because it had already happened once before. Eddie would have saved her, and died for it. He was that you know or should have been, but something saved him. I may not know what, but I know who and for that I owed her...we all owe her. Besides, Ysabeau, there are no rules against it just because it hasn’t been done before.†All of that was truth, there was no reason to hide any of it now. “Let’s be very clear, dearest Ysabeau, without my interference you’d all be dead. Can you imagine what that would do to the already fragile relations that exist between us all? You Cosain are the protectors, if you’re gone it would mean open war would it not?†Nim didn’t say that she feared that her own tribe would be wiped out. They’d fallen very far since Kaelin’s demise.

“It might surprise you to know though, that I am not asking him to come back to the sea, though some would call that blasphemy. I’ve meditated on it, and I think I see another way, a better one.†Centuries of belief instilled in her, and it was only the last decade or so that she’d begun to question things. Many things. “Tell me if you know, who wrote the strictures by which we live?â€

Ysabeau took a moment. She knew, they all knew. But it was the rest of what she’d said that took some consideration. That Eddie would kill to protect the little blonde somehow did not surprise her as much as it would have earlier. And the punishment for that was written by the same hands that wrote the rest of the laws. “The Mer, of course. The youngest pup knows that. Our laws are part of us.â€

She said it by rote, her attention still on the thought of war. Nim wasn’t the only one concerned about the fate of her people. Against the larger predators, they could ultimately not hope to prevail. Not without the custom and law of the champions. And even then...she could not have won the fights Eddie had, she knew this. She suspected the others did too. As long as the newest Cosain stood, she would not have to.

“Does it not strike you as wrong that the people least able to step on the shores are the ones telling us all how long is long enough?†By the laws, Nim was speaking something close to heresy, though it echoed what had come from her grandson. “So long as our advantages are restricted, there can be no equality. You say the laws are part of us, and I say they were designed to keep us chained. The Mer may have been first among us, I don’t deny this, and thousands of years ago such rules may have been necessary if only to keep us from hurting ourselves. But the Selk, the Roane, Dubh, and Bán, we evolve. Part of this comes from our desirability among the others fae and non. You have been desired, I remember how they couldn’t take their eyes from you.†It was the most Nim had said to Bo in what seemed ages, yet she only paused for breath before continuing. “Today’s Mer is no different than the one who first penned the law. When we grow too populous, they come to cut us down no differently than the pelt hunter. They force our gratitude for it, such a favor they do for us. It stands today, even though it has been millenia since we’ve overfished. The boy represents change, we don’t need policing by cladhaire thú! Not anymore, especially if he is instructed in what it is to be Cosain...and all that the mother grants you.â€

“Why not let him have his pet for now then…? One or the other will tire eventually, and in the meantime he might see reason if the training is presented as a way to ensure her safety.†It was the easiest part of what Nim had said to respond to. The rest...it wasn’t that she hadn’t thought of it herself, hadn’t heard the young ones complain that they had to live by these archaic laws. Especially now that there were so many among them like her...Selkie because they could change, but bearing another blood in their veins as well. Too many who had siblings, or half siblings, who could not change, and were shunned from the clans, and their homes. Those too, she questioned...part of the reason she had never had pups of her own, beside the fact that since Kaelin she had found no-one worthy, was the fear that she would have to give them up if they did not inherit the all-important gift. “This has been your plan since the beginning, hasn’t it...to have him lead a charge against the laws that bind us - or at least the ones you disagree with. You meant all along for me to train him, because you know how I feel...you’ve always known. But, Nimsu...tell me this. Have you taken a good look at his grandson of yours? What makes you think he will honor any tradition at all?â€

“I harbor no ill will towards the girl.†She called her girl, though she knew better. “Her own pull on him is likely as strong as what drives her to him. I believe the only thing that will break them is them. For now, there may be no choice but to encourage them. With that in mind, of course, you’re quite right about how to bring him to you. It must be for her or he’ll resist. That means getting closer, showing him what’s possible and how it can be used. I’m certainly not telling you to put her in harm’s way. Pulling her out of it, or rather being seen pulling her out of it, that would end up drawing him in.†Nim shifted uncomfortably for a moment before shaking her head. “You give me too much credit, it wasn’t my plan from the beginning I simply adapted another’s when his dreams came crashing down.†A smile that almost wasn’t cruel passed wistfully over her lips. He hadn’t been completely wrong by any means, he was just too confident in the expected results. “Nature finds a way…â€

“Have I guided his decisions towards this end? You may think so, though much of my guidance has been in understanding E.J. If you want him to go in a set direction, you have to make that the one that he isn’t allowed to. Tell him it’s too difficult, or not for him and that’s exactly where you’ll find him the very next hour. Do I think he will honor traditions? No… at least not the ones that have no use. The ones we uphold for the sake of memory have no interest for someone like him. He’s not unlike you there, Ysabeau. I’m actually surprised that someone like you upholds any tradition at all.†Her tone held the faintest bit of contempt for the dark haired Cosain.

Ysabeau grit her teeth, and swallowed back a growl. She should have known the shamaness would not give up all of her irritating habits. “I take my position seriously. As I know you do. As we must, to keep our own safe. Your opinions on our shared past, and my actions in it, notwithstanding. Although I suppose given that you just admitted to being less than omniscient, that I can forgive your little barb. There are those traditions I would happily see fade into the past where they belong. Some of the ones I have seen you enforce with your own hand. But if you seek to raise your...E.J. to lead your rebellion, that he may do exactly that. And I doubt either of us could stop him now. That may bring the downfall of all our traditions.â€

Standing, because the warrior was not one to sit for long stretches without reason, and because like most women of action, she thought better moving. “I have little hope of finding him if he’s seeking solace in the Mother. But I do not think he will stay away for longer than he absolutely must, if that long.†Long, easy strides had her crossing the room as she spoke, her footfalls nearly silent. “And setting up an accident for the girl...one he won’t see through...I’ll need some time to think it through. I suppose I’ll have to return to the city in a few weeks. See if he’s come back. If the girl is still an issue…†She listed it as a question to be answered, but she was fairly certain the answer was already written. Nim, for all her skill, and refusal to admit ignorance, hadn’t been in that fateful vision, hadn’t heard and felt the things she had. Eddie had been in no shape to free himself, which meant the tiny blonde had pulled him out. What that meant...she wasn’t ready to put into words.

“There now, you see? It’s not so hard to get someone to believe in a tradition even when they don’t really want to.†Nim’s tone was smug, perhaps a little triumphant. “E.J. will be back, we both know that. In the meantime, sweetest...maybe you need to think about how you would direct yourself?†She doubted it was any of the answers that Ysabeau had come seeking, and knew her well enough even now to know that when her back was up like that she was done hearing anything except her own anger. That may be the best thing for the Selkie, though Nim doubted she’d see it that way. Ysabeau had shown up confused and concerned, she’d be leaving angry, and with a purpose. “Be careful out there, Bo, listen before you move too far. It’s gotten crowded out there recently, and not everyone appreciates what you represent.†Nim excelled at being cryptic, and manipulative for that matter. She had no idea where E.J. had gotten his little attitudes though. That boy could make a stone furious, and then soothe it with a grin.

“Ultimately the decision falls to you… I won’t fault you for backing out… and I certainly won’t leave you alone...chained to fate.†Nim turned away from Bo, a fist balling up in her lap until her nails dug into her palm. She could feel the warmth of her blood trying to seep its way between her fingers. It was the only indication that she would give the other woman that she knew full well what had gone on.

It was subtle, but there was no missing the coppery tint to the air, or the final verbal blade to the back. Two centuries past, and still she found herself with the urge to explain herself. It was useless, if she’d learned anything in that time, and she would like to think she had. Turning on her heel, she headed back to the pool. Back to the Mother, and the world outside. Perhaps it was her own stubbornness that stopped her just at the threshold, although she did not turn around. “I would invite you to consider this, Nimsu, since you know so much. I knew I hadn’t the power to get us both out. Remember, if you would, who did, and how she managed it.†And at that, she dove into the chill waters of home, and was gone.

Nim closed her eyes, letting her awareness flow like the sea itself. She could see it all, like porpoise echolocation only on a far grander scale. The coast that made up the harbor, and beyond. She was aware of the Verdant expanse, the place that had secured by her people and was now in the hands of the Dubh. She had every right to be bitter over that, but found herself less concerned over it than once she had been. There was more at stake now than even that place. There was activity everywhere among the Selk Islands, and much of it was mirrored through the deep waters where the Rokea ran. There was even more concern when her sight passed over the Fields of Tenethor. So many hatchlings ready to rise. She stretched her mind to the farthest reaches and couldn’t seem to find the one thing she was looking for. Not out there in the ice pack of the deep south, though she’d managed to track him for a while. Ysabeau wasn’t wrong in her belief that E.J. did what he wanted, and in this case that meant not being found.

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Eddie Blake
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Far Away

And I forgive you, for being away for far too long
So keep breathing, 'cause I'm not leaving
Hold on to me and never let me go
Keep breathing, 'cause I'm not leaving you anymore
Believe it, hold on to me and
Never let me go, keep breathing
~Nickelback

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11 February 2018
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Sleep can be a funny thing, Eddie had managed to get a little after climbing out of the surf on Overlord Island. It might not make sense to some, but there was no sleeping while he swam. There was only eating, breathing and keeping going. To stop was to die, if it wasn’t one predator or another it would be the sea itself which claimed him. That was something that always bothered him. The mother in all her wisdom in creation of her children had stitched flaws into all of them. The Mokela were large, but swam relatively slow. The Rokea they had to keep moving keep swimming or suffocate. The Selkies, they depended on oxygen as well, though in gaseous form. The Mer were different, their flaw wasn’t some physical deficiency, it was their inability to evolve. They would always be the same, with very few exceptions. That in and of itself seemed strange to Eddie, and he’d tried to puzzle the thing out before. Why? It made no sense to him. What made them different from the rest? He had a tendency to let his mind wander when he was swimming, especially when he was this tired. The change didn’t come any slower, but he had to steady himself before moving forward on two legs up the beach and out of the surf. His only possession wrapped around him, and maybe, just maybe the wary could see the skin turn itself into a very distinct looking leather jacket.

Tahlia sat on the hood of the Runner, chewing on the inside of her lip with a bit of apprehension. She’d...well, she hadn’t quite given up hope, but she’d been down a similar path before, not too long ago, and part of her was steeling herself for the worst. Cigarette dangling from her fingertips, those green eyes scanned the water, watching. Waiting. In the back of the gleaming purple muscle car was a duffel bag with, jeans, a shirt, and boots...along with a few other things she thought he might want immediately to hand. And a bottle of bourbon, with a short sleeve of red Solo cups. You’d almost think she’d done this before.

Legs crossed, she reached for her phone, decked out in a old-time beach scene, complete with seals, and snapped a picture of the empty beach, sending it off with four short words. Neither one was much for long text conversations, or sharing information where it might be found. But he’d know where she was - she’d parked in the exact same spot he had, the first time he’d brought her here. Before Westport, before a lot of things.

The ziplock bag had seen better days, but it was still water tight and that was the important part, right? He had no plans to explain how it worked, where the phone went and what it had to survive in order to be taken with him. The hard part had been being able to keep it charged. That was why there weren’t so many communications. Eddie, even if he’d taken his charging cord with him, had no place to plug in. If he’d been near one, there would still be problems. No shirt no shoes… no service… no pants, well that’s a one way trip to lock up. He had better things to do than argue with local law enforcement, or discuss Selkie rights that deeply. He clicked off one last picture, a shot of his footprints leading up the beach and out of the water. He was further along the beach than she was, those things were harder to judge than people might expect. Then there’s the rips that were a constant assault on swimmers, and Eddie was no exception to that.

He walked his way down the beach, sun setting over his right shoulder, and there in the distance a purple car with a blonde hood ornament. He didn’t run, couldn’t have if he tried. The walk was about all he had left. That last long interval between texts had been for a reason. He’d taken the straighter path, and that had left him in open sea with nowhere to stop and rest. Eddie was a lot of things, but mostly right now he was tired.

It didn’t take long - hard to miss a guy that big, wearing nothing but a leather jacket, even here. Even so, she blinked, and cleared away the strands of gold that the ocean breeze insisted on sweeping across her face...even looked out to the water to make sure it wasn’t a mirage. One of those things you want to see so badly that your mind gives it to you. Besides, she hadn’t imagined the picture. Sand, surf, and a line of footprints - she checked again just to make sure. Someone might not have been sleeping well the past few weeks while he’d been out at sea. Better than he had, for certain...but even the stuffed seal she kept hidden in her bedroom only helped so much.

He was getting closer, close enough that she slipped off the hood, and field stripped her cigarette into the sand. The filter got tucked away to dispose of later. Stiletto boots might not have been the best choice for the beach, but they went so well with the leather miniskirt, and the choker at her throat. Never patient, the setting sun gleamed off six silver letters around her neck, and the charm dangling just above her skirt, as she started toward him, keeping to the pavement until she absolutely had to veer off into the sand.

She could tell he was tired, and she tried to keep her approach nonchalant. But there was no hiding the blazing smile as she closed the distance, or the way she took longer and longer steps. It wasn’t easy to run in those boots to begin with, but she didn’t have to long. A few short strides, and she was launching herself at Eddie, assuming he’d catch her, her arms looping over his shoulders as her voice found his ear. “You don’t get to leave me like that again…â€

She wasn’t overly heavy, but she was in motion and coming straight at him. He’d expected her to be excited, he was too because the closer she got the bigger his grin went. Eddie was lucky not to be bowled over though, catching the flying blonde in the air had him backpedaling a few steps. “I’m sorry…†His voice was little more than a croak of its former self, nothing a bit of time and drinks wouldn’t cure. He didn’t mind being quiet, not like this at least. Had there been a crowd it would be different.

With his new burden well in hand, he held on tightly after all, he managed to put his motion back forward. “Maybe we could do a fire for now?†Hell the beach was abandoned, and maybe it was cold. He’d have to ask her that, it was warm so far as he could tell. “I’ll show you some things that I found.†He fished into his other pocket and pulled out a closed oyster shell. He kept walking towards the big purple car, but reached up to push the shell into one of the hands she had around his neck. “Found that someplace kind of tropical.†He had more, but one thing at a time after all.

“I know you had to.†She kept her legs kicked up behind her, to keep from tangling with his and bringing them both down. She wasn’t letting go any more than he was. “We could. I brought clothes, since, well...trying to get you into the building like this…†She’d just assumed they’d be heading back to her place - the renovations were finished, surprisingly. Amazing what an almost unlimited bank roll could accomplish. But she didn’t have any real objections to staying where they were a little longer. It was quiet, save for the rush of the waves. “I think there’s a blanket in the back we could put down too. She hadn’t thought to bring a coat, but Eddie was usually warm enough to keep that from being a concern for too long.

Still clinging with one arm, she trusted in his grip around her ribcage to hold her, and snuck the hand holding the shell down so she could look at it. She’d seen them before of course, most recently at the resort she’d visited the last weekend. The one where she hadn’t been able to sleep unless she was outside, watching the water and wondering if he was close by. The shell was cracked open, and she peeked inside, managing to pry it open just a little more, but not enough to let the pearl inside escape. “Eddie...it’s...it’s beautiful…â€

“There’s other stuff, but that’s the only one that…†Eddie shut up, there were things that he hadn’t figured out and trying to do so out loud when he could barely talk was not the best idea. “I need a drink… maybe six.†And not all of them water, and perhaps none of them with it mixed in. “If it’s too cold for you… we can sit in the car for a bit, let the heater do its job.†It was perhaps obvious that he wasn’t ready to go anywhere yet. There was reluctance to move too far from the waves or the beach or maybe just the open air.

“It doesn’t have to be long… just an hour… or two?†He didn’t inspect the Roadrunner when he got near it. He did however set Tahlia down at that point, now that her heels weren’t going to drive holes into the sand and have her falling on her behind. “I need a little time to get used to...people.†She was only one, and maybe that was the point. He felt like he was forgetting what it was to be himself.

“I brought bourbon. And cups. And it’s not too cold. Not yet. I should be ok as long as you’re close…†She didn’t think about how that might sound, or how true it might be beyond the present moment. “We can stay as long as you want.†Her heels clicked against the asphalt, and she let go with only a momentary reluctant cling. Taking a step back, she looked him over, and turned toward the car. Leaning inside, she emerged with the bag in one hand, and the bottle and sleeve of cups in the other. “I didn’t think to bring anything to eat, though...and as much as I like sushi…†She flashed a smile over at him, just soaking in the fact that he was back, he was here...it was like the world had gotten brighter.

She’d somehow managed to keep a hold of the shell, up against the handles of the bag she hd out to him. It was heavier than just clothes, and dragged her arm down just a little, but she’d wanted to try and include more than just...the basics. “Not that I mind you naked, at all...but it is kinda distracting.†Setting the bourbon on the hood, she tugged at the collar, resettling it after her rush and being carried back to the car. “I can grab the blanket while you’re getting a drink?â€
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eddie nodded, he wasn’t necessarily embarrassed by his outfit, or lack of it for that matter. He wouldn’t be able to go anywhere, except maybe that brothel down in the warehouse district. That was beside the point though. He picked up the bottle, considered it for a long moment before actually pouring out a cup full of it. “We’re pretty classy eh?†He downed that first glass before taking off the leather coat, this he took and placed reverently into the car. It wouldn’t do to leave it out, and he liked the paint job on the car too much to tempt scratching the finish with the zipper. He walked down the beach a bit, and hauled back a large piece of driftwood. Maybe making the fire was more important than getting dressed tonight. “Toss me your lighter, babe.â€

“I get enough classy, puddin…†She watched him, just…watched him as he walked down the beach and manhandled a piece of driftwood that looked as heavy as she was without a thought. Maybe a little dreamy eyed, she shook her head with a start, and went to do what she said she was going to do in the first place. One hand ducked into her clutch, pulling out her lighter and tossing it over to him before she moved around the Runner, and popped the trunk. Still watching him out of the corner of her eye, she reached into the trunk and pulled out a blanket - not his favorite color, not quite, but a blue that looked like a twilight sky. She let him deal with the fire - camping had never been a strong point, and busied herself with laying the blanket out, and reclaimed the bourbon, pouring a little for herself and refilling his.

Eddie was no boy scout, literally and figuratively speaking. What he was perhaps more than made up for it in some ways. He caught the lighter out of the air, then poured a bit of the bourbon on the wood. It was dry enough, sunbleached even in the colder months of the year. He hoped it wouldn’t take much more than that to catch the wood ablaze. He certainly wasn’t going to risk too much more of the bourbon though. A line of fire ran along the length of wood, glowing blue from the accelerent he’d used. It would work or it wouldn’t. That done he let the heat do its job before turning a curious look towards Tahlia.

“It’s funny, you’d think that the first thing on my mind would be putting on something. That it wouldn’t matter if it were nice or not, just the sense of being clothed would be enough. That’s not it though, it’s stupid things that matter. Things like lights and familiar smells.†He wasn’t talking about the city, that he had actually gotten used to not smelling. He moved toward the blanket conscious of the sand on his feet, but finding a way down without making it too gritty. He still had the lighter, now he was pilfering a smoke from her pack.

“I guess that makes sense...you’re comfortable in your skins.†She wasn’t entirely clear how it worked, didn’t really need to know...just accepted that it did, and Eddie knew himself best. She’d already slipped out of the boots, they weren’t going anywhere, and walking on them in the sand just made her look ridiculous. “I do feel a little overdressed…†Lounging back on one hand, she took a sip of her bourbon, and watched the fire. There was something that hadn’t happened, yet...they were setting a new record tonight. But bringing it up, felt wrong. He’d just climbed out of the ocean. There was something about him that seemed off, that had seemed off since the night she’d found him on the bathroom floor. They hadn’t talked about that, either.

Nestling the cup in the sand, she sat up, legs curled to the side so she could angle toward him without staring him down. There were so many things she wanted to ask him, but Eddie had a way of only letting her know what he wanted her to. Taking one of her own, she reclaimed her lighter, and lit her cigarette, letting out a plume of smoke. The words, when they came, were barely audible. “Things felt...strange...while you were gone.â€

Eddie was stretched out on the blanket, cigarette between his lips. A slow move towards her and his head was in her lap. “Strange how?†He slid one arm around behind her, the other was holding his smoke out over the sand. Tall as he was, he’d found a way to curl himself around and under her. His knees were pushed beneath Tahlia’s ankles, and while he was sure this made things uncomfortable for her he was going to do it anyway. “Figured things here would probably be running smoothly without… one more thing.†It should have been, no last second alterations of plans to announce, or unexpected Eddie viewings in places he didn’t really belong. He acted like he did a lot, but he knew the truth of things. He just wasn’t the type to let something like that stop him from doing what he wanted.

“I’ll go talk to him tomorrow.†That wasn’t a squeeze of her hip by his hand. Probably just some night sand crab with really big pincers. Probably. “Then, we can figure some other stuff out, right?†He didn’t know what needed figuring out, but obviously something did.

“Just strange. I kept wanting to tell you things, and you weren’t...there.†She couldn’t do much about the position, or the fact that he was likely well aware what was, or wasn’t beneath her clothing. “Yeah, things were fine...and him who?†To be fair, there were a lot of ‘hims’ in her world. Not immediately realizing which one he meant could be understood.

She knew it wasn’t a crab, even through leather she could tell the difference, but she wasn’t going to call him out. It wasn’t how they worked. The truth was, there were nights she would have given almost anything to hear that song making the windows of the Inn shake, and that...well it almost made her thinks about things she had gotten very good at avoiding. “Sure. There’s got to be things...right?†She took a drag of her cigarette, and let it go before looking down at him. “The place looks different. I figured, since I had to redo the bathroom and bedroom anyway...might as well do the whole thing, right? Kami helped. And I have something I thought you might like…â€

“The guy that hit you at the powerhouse party.†Of course, how could she forget? “Did you try at all? You never can tell what’s gonna happen until you try something.†He might have been teasing, it was probably hard to say considering…â€You didn’t happen to bring any coffee out did you?†That was something else he’d been without for weeks… and the whole sunrise being awake thing was certainly not Eddie Blake’s desire. Another pull from the cigarette, and he was pushing himself upwards and leaning on his arm as he looked at her.

“I don’t know Kami.†He gave her a bewildered shrug. “Or the other…†But he knew there’d been another, damn that nose of his. “You’ll have to show it to me eventually, that or maybe just find me in the bedroom when you come home some night.†The nearly spent smoke was flicked into the fire without actually looking at it. “What might I like more than this?â€

There had been several others, not least of which because the nightmares had been so bad at first she hadn’t slept at all, and even after, she’d only managed a few hours at a time. She’d been wrung out, exhausted, and another body had been the only way to tire herself out enough to get any rest at all. She would, of course, say none of this. “Oh! Kruger. Right.†She hadn’t forgotten, the man hit like one of his hammers. “I didn’t...bring coffee.†And if her attempts at reaching him had worked, his ears would have been burning.
“I’m sure you’ll meet her. She’s...fun. And you know I never mind finding you in my bedroom. Or anywhere else. I...kinda figured we’d be heading back there, after this.†She wasn’t sure why she’d assumed that, and she wasn’t going to try to explain. Reaching out, she ran a hand through his hair, pushing it back from his face. “I don’t know about better...but they’re interesting. Little mage-created candies. They change how certain...fluids, taste.†She paused, biting back how she’d hardly been able to think about anything other than whether Eddie liked strawberry or chocolate better. “I’m going to be the model on the packages, so I get as many as I want, and samples of all the new flavors.†It wasn’t like her to babble like this, but she didn’t know how to start a conversation she wasn’t sure they wanted to have.

Tossing her own cigarette into the flames, she finally brought her eyes to his. “I mean, you might like a lot of things better than this...you haven’t…†She bit her bottom lip. “You haven’t even kissed me yet.â€

“Don’t take that the wrong way… the kissing thing. I don’t exactly have a toothbrush handy. I’m pretty sure that it would be better to kiss old socks. A few more of these will help though.†He held up the red cup. He sat up, and poured out a little more the cup going to his mouth. There was a hint of the old smile hidden just behind the rim of the cup. It came with a wink of course. “I know I don’t seem like myself right now. Still trying to get a handle on who I am...what I am...something like that at least.†Stretching, like he had an ache that he was trying to work out, Eddie quickly downed the rest of the drink. When it was gone, he leaned over and took the cup out of her hand setting it aside. He stayed close enough to feel her breath on his skin, eyes dropping to her lips half a heartbeat before claiming them with his own.

For once, she wasn’t expecting it. She should have been, but neither one of them were exactly behaving like themselves just at the moment. The hand that had been holding her cup combed into his hair, the other doing barely adequate job of holding her up, her palm divoting into the sand beneath the blanket. For a moment, anyway. Kissing Eddie usually required two hands, certainly when it had been so long since she’d gotten to do it last. The way their legs were tangled up, it was more than she could manage staying upright, so she let gravity take over, slowly falling back against the blanket, and more than encouraging him to come right along with her. It would be more a more comfortable position to keep talking, anyway.

It may have been part of his evil plan, because Eddie did follow her down, and even moved so that she would bear the burden of his weight...maybe even the slight grind of hip against her. It was likely that he was just trying to make an impression… in the sand! The gods all knew that Eddie was an innocent Saint! Innocent… Saint! Just because he put his hands around her wrists and pulled her hands forcibly from his hair… and perhaps he did pin them to the blanket over her head… that was just him being a good boy, right?

She may have detected the slightest of trembles to his body, though it was certainly not from hesitation. The evidence of it was vibrated into her mouth in a low thrumming growl that may have been a bit possessive. He took her wrists in one hand, and broke their kiss, looking down at her with the heated intensity of a breach in the crust of the earth. The skin of his hands… and probably all of it, though that would be the most obvious, was new… soft… free of calluses that had once existed there. Not surprising, considering where he’d been and for how long. It didn’t affect how he touched her though, or the way every sinew and muscle tensed against her. Where the coarseness of his skin had disappeared, his nails made up for it digging in to the back of her thigh as he coaxed her leg to circle him.

It wouldn’t take much to bring her leg up over his hip, both of them, in fact. She hadn’t worn much to the beach on purpose, something he was likely becoming intimately familiar with. Pinned to sand beneath him, she made o effort to get away, her chest rising and falling rapidly against his. That growl just did things. Wide green eyes blinked up at him, and her smile could rival the moonlight for brightness. There might have been the smallest kiss of cool metal, the seal just a touch cooler than the finely crafted body it never left. Licking the taste of him from her lips, her smile returned, warm and eager, and conveying the intense giddiness that kept sweeping through her in waves. “Welcome back, baby...I missed youâ€
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even tired, they’d managed to clear that section of beach of any creatures looking to rest there for the night. Now, as the stars broke through the clear night sky, they sat, curled together, staring into the fading flames. There were benefits to being so small, she could fit up against Eddie’s chest, hips between his thighs, his arms wrapped around her torso, and her fingers idly drawing along his arms, as if reassuring herself that he was not only there, but whole. Physically at least. Whenever she thought he wasn’t looking, she snuck a peek at the slice of pumpkin pie inked on the inside of his arm, and her hand settled there more often than not. Within the shadows formed by their bodies, the firelight caught and sparkled on the silver seal laying against her skin.

“I do things that defy who I’m supposed to be… what I am.†That Eddie was tired would be right there for Tahlia to hear as he spoke. “They always said that I wouldn’t be able to come back, not so quickly. Not until I’d felt the isolation from this world. It’s why I went so far, why I didn’t run back to the Roane like so many others do. Just me, in my head and thinking, thinking thinking until I couldn’t think anymore. That was the time to return, you see? There’s a time to think and a time to act. It speaks to my determination that I made it all the way back before acting. Or maybe that’s why I swam so far from land, to avoid anything that would distract me from coming home.†The edges of his nails traced their way along her back. “The only one who knew I’d gone was Nim, but not from anything I’d said. She just knows ****. She knows I’m here now, I can sense her eyes looking this way. I don’t think she knows what’s coming though.â€

“She’s not the only one…†Her clothing was laying in the sand, abandoned in the rush, and she shifted a little closer, her cheek turned to rest against his chest, eyes locked on the flames. “I don’t think I’ve known what’s coming since that night I teased you away from Jewell… normally that would scare me. I mean, it does...a little. But not for the same reasons.†Her bottom lip caught between her teeth, and she twisted, hiding between his arm and his chest. Caught between heart and head, again. Her eyes found the water beyond the flames, and her fingers gripped tighter to his forearm. “Do I get to know what’s coming...Eddie?â€

“For starters, a slow drive back to your place, maybe we grab a coffee at one of those way too expensive stores. Just enough to wake me up so we can do this again… a bit of sleep...I don’t think that’s what you mean though. There’s a few things I need to see for certain before talking about them. If I’m wrong I’ll tell you, if I’m right I’ll tell you.†He didn’t think he was wrong, but what it meant was another story, probably a long one. “Thanks for coming out.†Eddie’s grip on her tightened a bit as he said the last four words.

Squeaking a little as his grip tightened Tahlia tilted her head back to look up at him, mouth opening to argue, or at least protest. Instead, what came out was a shaky “Of course. Eddie...always. Whenever...whenever you...need me.†She’d nearly said want, but that would hurt far too much if he didn’t call. Need was just the right amount of ambiguous. “I got a California King - so you could stretch out. Just a few more minutes?†She didn’t look at him, not entirely certain why she was now the one hesitating. Maybe it was the fact that once they got back to the city, there would be people. Calls to answer, obligations and demands pulling them in different directions. Here, on the beach, it was just the two of them and the sound of the waves. “I haven’t had nightmares like this for years...this is the first time I’ve been able to be this close to the ocean without my heart pounding…â€

“That’s not what…†He sighed a little, considering the bigger bed. “I’d’ve been okay if you went smaller.†Sure his feet might extend a bit past the edge, but then again it meant she had less space to slip away from him. “What kind of nightmares are you having, and… what does it have to do with the ocean?†Eddie couldn’t get a fix on whether the two things were related, or if she was subject jumping for some reason. The former would be interesting to hear, the latter...maybe it was nerves, maybe it was seeing if he was paying attention. A slip of the tongue, he supposed it could be a lot of things and was certain that he’d never pin down all of them, or even the right one for that matter. “A little longer isn’t going to hurt.†Not him at least, cold didn’t quite have the same effect on him that it did other people. With exceptions of course.

She was perfectly warm surrounded by him the way she was. Maybe that was why the truth slipped out before she could catch it. “I thought if you didn’t have to figure out which parts were hanging over the edge you might stay over more.†She’d started, anyway, with a sigh, she continued, her back hitching against his chest as her breath hiccuped. Admitting the nightmares to him was almost as frightening as the things that caused them. “Being held under the water...tentacles, and teeth, and voices whispering horrible things. Punishments for the things I’ve done. And blood...so much blood. And I can’t stop it.†A tear splashed against his skin, although her eyes never left the fire, or maybe it was the water beyond it she was staring at intently. “I keep trying but I can’t, and you...you aren’t there to save me.†The last admission barely above a whisper, choking out past a lump in her throat that hadn’t quite gone away since he’d left.

“Hey, have I ever not come when you’ve called me?†Eddie pulled her face around to look at him. He wasn’t smiling, there was no joking laugh in his eyes. There weren’t a lot of people who’d seen the serious side of Eddie Blake, not this up close and personal. Not ones that had survived the encounter at least. “Do you think I wouldn’t do so again?†Maybe she did? Maybe she believed that everything that had happened would change who he was? It could have, if she hadn’t been willing to let him go. There were things that people didn’t understand, people on both sides of the shoreline. Eddie didn’t give a *** about any of that though. He was here, he’d have been here if the need was strong enough. There were still ways that transcended time and distance. He’d never done it before, never needed to or had it forced on him. It wasn’t like the portal to the island. It wasn’t anything that made a lot of sense to him. “You just keep being you...and I’ll be.†It wasn’t about being him, or around or anything… he meant exactly what he’d said… he would be. It couldn’t be defined, only witnessed.

“Eddie, they’re nightmares...It’s not…†She didn’t fight the tug, the moonlight reflected in tear-swollen eyes, spilling over as she closed her eyes and took a shaky breath. “You have, every time. And I know, if you can...you will. It’s just that I’m not...used to being able to trust anyone. And then I did, but…†She blinked up at him, her gaze dropping for a moment, focusing instead on the scuff along his cheeks, and lips she couldn’t ever seem to resist for long. “I never used to feel anything at all, not all the way down. And now...I am, and I’m trying so hard to be strong, and not…†Even now, she couldn’t quite bring herself to tell him what she’d seen, what that sight had made her suspect. “You’re important to me. You should know that. And I don’t...I don’t want you to think I’m...that I’m weak.†She chanced a single glance upward, another tear slipping along her cheek. “But you left, and I know Nim, and that...other one, they want you back with your own kind. I don’t have a kind. Just my siblings, and they’re back there, and I’m here. With you.†It was awkward and rambling, but she’d had an awful lot of time to think, while he was gone.

“Did you call for me? In your nightmares?†She didn’t get it perhaps, or maybe she did, but was being ruled by fear. He’d seen the dreamscape, it was no different than the illusion forced on him just a couple short weeks ago. Well, perhaps a little different. He’d experienced all the pain, every torment inflicted, he’d been at the Mer’s mercy for lack of a better word. That was a construct though, it was a design meant to trap him. Of everyone present, he was the only one powerless, except for his mind. They needed free will, there was no other way to convert him. They’d made their own assumptions, and he’d been happy to use those against them. “We trap ourselves in dreams, becoming victims of our own mind. But the funny thing about them is… in dreams you are everyone… unless you bring in someone with you.†It could be done, had been done before.

“You’re important to me too. I didn’t go because you weren’t, I went because… I don’t want to be a toy. I don’t want to be… I need my mind to be as free as possible, Tahlia. It’s the one thing that keeps me as myself. I’m not what Nim wants, or even Bo...perhaps.†He had no idea what the latter wanted of him. “As for Nim...I’m what she gets. She doesn’t own me either… the only one who does… I resist… for as long as possible.â€

In the moment, she thought she had, but now, curled against him and saying the words out loud, she couldn’t swear that she had. Some part of her had known it was a dream, and some part of her had been afraid he wouldn’t hear her. Or wouldn’t come if he did. Now, of course, that seemed foolish. “I’m not used to sharing my dreams with someone. Anyone, really. Not for ages…†Time was a concept she didn’t think of, often. There had been so much more of it than anyone knew. “But then, its been a really long time since I came that close to dying. Or to losing someone…important. I wouldn’t know how to bring you into my dreams. Unless just dreaming about you is enough?†She wet her lips, tilting her cheek to rub against his hand.

“I don’t think you’re a toy. And I - I only did the thing with the jacket because you told me to. I’d never want you to feel like you had to...like you weren’t yourself, around me. I know you had to go. But Eddie...next time, don’t just disappear? Please? I can’t take that again…†Nim and Bo...well, as far as the latter was concerned, she could keep wanting. She wasn’t the type to stand on the beach, dutifully waiting. But she didn’t think she’d ever stop staring at the waves and watching if he went off and never came back. “I want you to be you. I know...you have to go, sometimes. Nim mentioned something about you waiting til you couldn’t, and...I just want you to always be you. Just how you are. Only...maybe curled around me in a giant bed?â€

“I never thought you did. It’s my thoughts I’m talking about.†Impossible to explain. It wasn’t that she couldn’t understand. It was simply that he had no words that felt strong enough. “Let’s get dressed, drive me to wherever you want.†He was really telling her to drive him around this time. “I’ll do my best to say what needs saying, it’s all I can promise.†He didn’t move, wouldn’t until she did, well except for that swat on her backside. That he could do. “I’d like to say, it’s seasonal, but even that doesn’t really fit quite right. Sometimes I go a full season… others I can only manage a few short days. If it helps at all though, a lot depends on what’s been going on at the time in those cases.†Eddie laid his head back a bit, staring up at the sky. “Not necessarily with me. Sometimes there are things happening that no one sees. I haven’t been called on those often. The sea is slow to change… I don’t know if that makes sense to you. Think about an iceberg in the ocean. It’s big, but what it looks like beneath the surface is a mystery.†He’d used the word Called, though perhaps bringing it up would stop him from talking. Maybe she’d learn more by picking out those gems?

Wherever she wanted. The swat didn’t get its usual squeak, instead she pulled her face from his grip, and rose from the blanket, reaching for her clothes and shaking the sand out. Blonde hair kept her face in shadow as she slid into the leather skirt. Away from Eddie’s warmth, she was realizing just how chilly the night was. “You’re the one who’s been swimming for ages...I thought you’d be more comfortable at my place, but if you need some...space...I can just get a cab from your motel back home.†There was sand caught in the pleats, but she’d deal with that later. Snapping her shirt a little harder, she tugged it over her head, and glanced back over her shoulder toward Eddie, and the dying fire. “I know about icebergs, Eddie...things being more than what they seem on the surface. I just...right now, you’re not yourself, or maybe you are and I’m just...lost.†She was feeling too much, again, and that was dangerous territory. Swiping roughly at her tears, she tried not to flounder too badly on her way over the sand to her boots, and the car.

“What the hell are you talking about?†Confusion was in the look he gave her. “Not more than what they seem. I’m talking about their shape the thing that defines them.†Eddie stood up, careless of the sand now. “You’d know if I were swimming for ages, Tahlia. Do you understand the customs I break, just to come back here? Seven years for seven tears, and never anything less. Do you want me at your place? That’s where we’ll go.†He bent over and finally started to put some clothes on. He didn’t look away as he dressed, transfixed on the blonde who was certainly not acting like herself. He kept his eyes on Tahlia even as he knelt down to shove on his boots. “What exactly do you think I was doing out there?†His tone was even more bitter than the water from which he’d emerged.

“I have no idea, Eddie. Whatever I ask, you answer me in riddles, or distract me...it’s so hard to think around you. I didn’t know what I was doing, I just knew I was scared, and freezing up, and if they didn’t find me and drag me back I was going to die in the water. Anything but a gaping wound won’t make me bleed out...but I knew...I know I can drown. I didn’t expect to live through the night, and you were the only thing I could think of. I didn’t mean to bring a mini-army of shifters down on you, I didn’t mean for any of that to happen. Everything was so good, before that...and then they came, and you left without a word. And for the second time in a year, it...it broke me a little. More than I could let anyone know.†Arms wrapped around her ribs, she shivered in the cold night air, her chin barely touching her shoulder, face shrouded beneath tangled, sandy blonde. “Those weren’t the worst nightmares, Eddie. The worst one...they had you...and I couldn’t save you. All I could do was watch. Or sit on the shore, wondering if you would ever come home.â€

“I don’t need saving. They were always coming, Tahlia, they just didn’t know it. I knew, and I came to you anyway. Because you mean something… I’m just another…**** it. It doesn’t matter.†Eddie clenched his jaw so tightly his teeth actually squeeked. “You’re still driving.†He grabbed the blanket in a fist and dragged it towards the trunk of the car. “I can’t help that you aren’t able to see the things I do, but you already know that I always come back.†Normally he’d smart off with I’m Eddie Blake. He wasn’t feeling particularly like a comedian tonight though. “Nothing really changes for me. I’m here, outside but I’m good at being outside.†The blanket was tossed into the trunk which was slammed closed harder than he had intended. He had no idea what was bothering him, but something definitely was going on inside his head. Maybe he had come back too soon? He cast a hard look at the shoreline, then spit on the sand. “I’m done looking at this place!†Eddie yelled the words at the top of his lungs, but his focus was on the water beyond the sand. “just done.â€

She’d managed to get her boots, on, although there was sand places she’d regret later. “Just another what, Eddie?†She flinched as he roared defiance at the ocean, and her stomach was in knots...even somehow knowing he’d never hurt her, Eddie Blake in a temper was something that, if it didn’t scare you, meant you were too stupid to live. Tahlia was many things, not all of them good, but she wasn’t stupid. Slow, careful steps brought her around the car, her eyes locked on him. “Because if you don’t know by now that you are not just another anything...I don’t know how to show you. I know you don’t need saving. Not from anything on land or sea. You mean...more to me than anyone or anything on this rock.†Swallowing hard, the next two words were nearly lost to the night. “Maybe anywhere†Her hand closed around the door handle, and she hauled the door open, half inside before she turned back to look at him, the color of her eyes nearly invisible beneath the shimmer of moonlight on saline. “You told me once that there were things you wouldn’t say, because they changed things...for the worse. I think it might be the smartest thing I ever heard. I am what I am, Eddie - even if I don’t know exactly what that is. Or where I belong. What I do know...is that I have a big, empty bed that seems a lot less empty when you’re there.â€

She’d come frighteningly close to saying too much, if she hadn’t put a toe over the line, and she dropped, shaking, into the driver’s seat, and waited.

If she knew about them, she already knew… but he hadn’t said it to her. Saying it killed, and that’s if people were lucky. Most got maimed, broken in wthat couldn’t be fixed. Eddie stood there breathing and listening to the rumble of the car’s engine. He needed something, he didn’t know what, but the urge to put his fist through the window of his baby was right there in the tremble of his clenched hand. “It’s simple, Tahlia. Don’t say it...show it.†He pulled open the passenger side door and slid his way into the front seat. He should have put on the seatbelt… he was feeling defiant right now. “Let’s go h…†Well that was confusing. He didn’t really have a home, so what the hell was he thinking? “The faster the better.†Famous last words, or maybe the core of that nickname?

The Road Runner leapt forward, she knew where they were headed. And she knew how to get there fast, even in the purple monster she was currently guiding. She didn’t, right now, feel like she knew a lot more than that. There had been that conversation, with Blue, a few nights back...she’d have to give that some thought. For now though, she hadn’t been been lying about the bed, or the way she couldn’t seem to sleep as well without him there. Maybe it was true for both of them, but she couldn’t bring herself to ask. “There’s a coffee place on the way...we can stop there.†She hadn’t forgotten. She never did, when it came to him.

_________________

But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress - a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Eddie Blake
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 13 Feb 2016
Posts: 45
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Can Be Found: Drifting
2586.02 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Devil

You said it yourself you're scared of being alone
You said it yourself that you can crack the code
But the static you hear automatically keeps you exposed on your own
I hope you're ready, steady, smashing through the levy...

...'Cause it's about to get heavy
It's about to be on
Yeah, I'm bangin' slingin' napalm
So nobody move
'Cause I was sent to warn you
The devil's in the next room
~ Shinedown

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14 February 2018
-----------------------


He’d said durable, even used the ‘s’ word, which still made her laugh as the clock ticked toward eight, and she stepped out of the penthouse, and into the private elevator which would take her downstairs. One could argue that black leather was always sensible, even if it was Polo Ralph Lauren pants, and boots with a three-inch heel. They had lug soles, that had to count for something. She’d even left her jewelry home, except for the seal that alway dangled against her navel, and, of course, the black and silver collar at her throat. One word. Six letters. One more than his name but it meant the same thing. Clutch in one hand, duffel in the other (he’d said to pack something slinky for later, after all), Tahlia leaned against the wall, and slid a hand behind her back to check the silver daggers strapped there. Something about the message had hinted she’d better dress for trouble.

A subtle chime announced her arrival in the lobby, and she stepped out, giving Brett a wink, and the saucy smirk the concierge ought to know well by now. The metal fittings on her leather jacket clinked against the duffel as she shifted it up on to a shoulder, shaking her head before the smoothly smiling man could move to help. “I got it, thanks...have a good night, sugar.†Juggling for a moment, she slipped a cigarette between her lips, and stepped outside, jamming the pack into the back pocket that didn’t already hold her phone. The flash of flame lit her face for an instant, and she let out a plume of smoke, dropping the larger bag at her feet to wait. She didn’t expect it would be long.

That was perhaps an understatement, it was only a moment after her lighter flared that the delicate sound of thunder ignited. Man made thunder certainly, the kind at the control of Eddie’s right foot and it was going to get much louder before it quieted. If the sound of the engine was enough to have her looking his direction, the sudden illumination of the headlights would zero her in on exactly where he was. It wasn’t dark yet, the sun was still making its presence known in deep red and purple hues along the horizon. It was much harder to appreciate among the tall buildings of course than say at the top of it. Then again it didn’t have to look down jealously at the purple Roadrunner pulling out of that parking spot and circling into the front drive of the apartment building. Tinted windows remained up as he pulled beneath the covered entrance and rolled to a stop in front of the blonde girl. There was only one thing missing, the driving beat of heavy bass through the speakers.

Eddie didn’t get out, he might be in a mood tonight, besides there was a perfectly good doorman standing right there. He looked like he needed something to do. When Tahlia appeared with the duffle, he put his hand out to take it, then dropped it into the back seat. It had been awhile since he’d put anything or anyone back there. Didn’t really have the need to lately, considering where he’d been. “There’s a bottle under the seat.†He said it like she should get it out, and make use of it. A cursory inspection of her brought an approving nod from him and the flash of a smile that belonged on a misbehaving boy. He barely waited for the door to fully close before starting forward again and making a turn onto the street.

One brow quirked up, and she leaned forward without a word to secure the bottle, twisting in the seat to press a kiss to his cheek before dropping back against the leather. Twisting the cap off, she took a swig, and purred, holding the bottle out to him as she unzipped her jacket. “So do I get to know where we’re going, or are you surprising me with a romantic getaway?†Dressed as they were, she somehow doubted it, but she wouldn’t be her if she didn’t tease him a little. Especially not with that bad-boy smile on his lips. She could guess what he was thinking, and the black tank top under her jacket wasn’t designed to let him think straight. Not yet, anyway.

Finally taking a second drag from her cigarette, the blonde shifted to avoid poking herself on her own daggers, and subtly glanced around the cars interior. It was clean...she might have had it detailed at a very trustworthy place she knew of before handing him back the keys, and Eddie hadn’t been back long enough to change that. Not that he would. She was nearly certain the car meant more to him than anything, herself included.

“Eventually, first I think we need to go to church.†It was one of those Saint’s days after all, right? He still hadn’t put on any music, but he was feeling indecisive at the moment on what he wanted to hear. It likely was the last thing that Tahlia had expected to hear out of him, but she knew him pretty well by now and a trip to church could simply be a euphemism for something else. The car rolled on, out of Seaside and across the Marketplace. There was a fantastic view of the harbor as the crossed the bridge into Old Temple district. Maybe he really did mean they were going to church? They were present at practically every corner, displayed in all their radiance. The car just passed them all by as it traveled eastwards along the coast and passed beyond the city wall. It always surprised him how quickly the concentration of buildings turned into forest when he drove outside past the city limits.

There was still the occasional building here and there, still temples to one deity or another though they looked less like places of worship and more like compounds. It took another twenty minutes before he started to slow, and Eddie didn’t have a light foot when it came to abandoned roads. The building was surrounded by walls on three sides, the fourth bordered the water. It did have a large parking lot, which he turned the car into and coasted slowly into a spot. Above the wall the building rose, tall and a lot like the places they’d seen when they’d gone to Yasou. There was even a massive stone dragon fountain jutting out into the parking lot, the pool into which it belched a stream of water nearly cutting the lot in half. There was something familiar about the figure. It was like many others that weren’t nearly so large, but that wasn’t what gave it the feel. The thing almost could have been alive.

“Church?†It never occurred to her that he might not be kidding. But as the car rolled through the evening air, she realized that they seemed to be surrounded by religious buildings, half of them to gods she’d never heard of. Idly, she wondered if this was where dead gods went, if they wandered this planet like everyone else. It had to be the odd shadows, the vague sense of being watched from shadowed enclaves as they passed building after building, with breaks of trees, and the occasional compound. More gods, although these seemed gods of commerce. Smoke wafted from between her lips, her eyes flitting from the scenery to the man beside her. At least until the car turned, and the dragon came into view.

Her hands tensed against the seat, and she tossed the butt of her cigarette out the window. She recognized the statue, and watched it like she expected it to fly at them, and start the whole process over again. This place had haunted her dreams, and she lifted the bottle to her lips, swallowing a few good chugs before licking her lips and flicking her gaze to him. “Eddie...why are we here?†It was imposing enough, perhaps he would just attribute her response to that, and confusion.

It wasn’t a look he’d favored her with very often. At best it would be called stony, if it weren’t for the blaze in his eyes that said he was barely holding the facade of control. “I’ve been thinking a little…†The man was still a fabulous liar, but there was no mistaking that he really meant a lot. “...about your nightmares.†She’d said things that perhaps she didn’t think he’d heard or understood when he’d returned. The worst one...they had [i]you...and I couldn’t save you. All I could do was watch.[/i] He wasn’t a genius, but it hardly took one to understand that. It had taken a while to actually find this place, even if Reggie had done most of the work. The illusion had to come from somewhere, and it was always easier to show a place that was known. “I think this will help us both. Confronting the darkness.†Eddie still hadn’t taken a single drink, it was unusual almost like he’d left it there solely for Tahlia knowing that she’d react as she had.

Eddie opened his door moving to step out of the car. “Come on, I got you a present for Valentine’s Day.†He stood up and closed the door behind him, making his way to the rear of the car and popping the trunk while he watched Tahlia and her internal struggle. “I was a bit surprised when I did find this place, it almost seems abandoned, doesn’t it?†The place was dark, though as the night took stronger hold lights did appear here and there. It didn’t break the eerie silence, the place could tomb what with the lack of ambient sound even among the trees. There were no animals, though it was still the middle of winter. Maybe there was going to be a cold snap coming?

“It...yeah.†First things first. She was surprised the place actually existed, let alone that it was here and he’d found it. Stepping out into the eerie quiet, she shifted phone and cigarettes to interior pockets, her fingers dipping into the front pocket of her pants for a moment, skimming over a silver disk maybe the size of a quarter. Something had told her to bring it tonight, and now she understood why. She left the bottle behind, not that it mattered much. She looked back and forth between Eddie and the seemingly abandoned temple compound, her bottom lip caught between her teeth. Closing her door with exaggerated care,she stalked back toward the trunk, still glancing back over her shoulder at the dragon statue. She couldn’t help feeling like it was watching her. Waiting for her guard to drop. One hand twisted behind her back to recheck her daggers, the other digging into her pocket, wrapping the leather cord she kept the pendant on around her fingers.

“Confronting the darkness...most guys go with flowers, Eddie...chocolates. Jewelry. Not facing down nightmares.†But he’d given her jewelry, hadn’t he - the black pearl currently being set for her into a navel stud at one of Rhydin’s premier jewelers. This was by far the strangest Valentine’s Day she’d ever had. But then...when had they ever done anything normal? “All this and a present too? You shouldn’t have.†She didn’t glance into the trunk, not yet. “But it just so happens I got something for you too…†She pulled out the silver charm, keeping it held tightly in her fist. “I’ll let you go first…â€

Eddie looked at Tahlia, she didn’t seem to have anything on her that stood out as a gift. That just meant it was small enough to fit in a pocket. If that’s what she was hoping for, she was going to be pretty disappointed when he opened the trunk all the way and pulled out the drum fed tactical shotgun and handed it to her. “It’s not exactly a dozen roses, but it is a twelve gauge.†He might not have understood the entire point of Valentine’s Day, surely the important part was the twelve, right? “It’s semiauto, so you won’t have to pump after each round… just pull back here.†He took hold of the lever and yanked it smoothly back until the first round was seated and let it spring forward. “Safety’s right by your trigger finger, pistol grips for speed in aiming.â€

He reached in and took out a second one that was identical to the one he’d just given Tahlia. “I got us a matched set.†That I’m trouble smile was on his lips again as he set the weapon down and took out a couple bandoliers that had smaller magazines on them, and their usual 9 millimeter pistols. “Happy Valentine’s day Pumpkin.â€

It said something about her state of mind that she took it with a slow smile, “You thought of everything.†She wasn’t disappointed, focusing more keeping the tremble from her limbs, or any sign of how her pulse was racing. Her hand smoothed along the barrel, and she set the gun against her hip, aiming toward the ground. She may be more comfortable with weaponry than she let be known, but not enough to dismiss the directions he gave her. Grinning up at him, she blew a saucy kiss in his direction. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Puddin.â€

Matched weapons were certainly bigger than her gift for him, but the use for them carried as much weight. Her hand pulled from her pocket, wrapped tight around the pendant, and she looked at it for a moment before tipping her face up to his. “My gift isn’t as big...but it’s...well, it’s one of the few things that’s really mine.†Her fingers uncurled, and she held her hand out, the moonlight skimming over embossed silver, hung from a simple cord. “My mother always said if anything happened to her, this would keep us safe. The night of the fire, I grabbed it...had it ever since. I don’t know how you could wear it, when you change...but it would - something just told me I should give it to you tonight.†She shrugged, suddenly feeling exposed.

“It’s...perfect. Put it on me?†There were a lot of things that he knew it was, and just couldn’t say out loud. He leaned over, pulling his jacket down so that Tahlia could reach his neck. She wasn’t wrong about the changing, there were special considerations that would need to be taken in order to wear it always. Not difficult ones, just highly specific materials that would be required. “Thank you. I can see that it means a lot to you… and that you’re obviously worried about me.†Eddie didn’t have a lot of that from people, most would be happier if something did happen to him. Maybe that was why he took great pleasure in coming through things as unscathed as possible.

One finger held the metal disk to the hollow in his neck until Tahlia managed to put a knot in the cord and he could let it dangle. It slid beneath his shirt, maybe that was more appropriate than having it out and visible, if only because he was pretty sure that was where she’d rather be too. Eddie talked while she worked. “There’s several decent tactical entrances to this place, assuming you can get over the wall. There’s a way into the upper floors, and coming from that direction would give us an element of surprise. It’s probably the smartest way to go in.†He pointed to the roof of a balcony that could be scaled pretty easily. “Normally I’d make you wear a hooded mask… but it’s not going to be necessary for two reasons.â€

“Of course I worry about you...you have a positive thing for putting yourself in danger.†Nimble fingers tied the disk in place, taking the opportunity to skim her fingers along his jaw as she let go. He wasn’t wrong that she would rather be under his shirt, or rather, she would very much rather them both be shirtless, naked would be even better. Certainly better than mounting a tactical assault on an unknown foe. Picking up the shotgun, she hefted it, half-turned to look over the facade. It was entirely possible that she might waste her first shot taking out the stone dragon, just to make herself feel better. To make sure the wretched thing would never hurt anyone else.

“Hooded mask? You...oh.†It took her a second to catch up, realizing this likely went along with his not requiring them to wear gloves, or for that matter, the fact that they’d driven his very noticeable car there, and would be leaving the same way. “Why is that?†A moment later, she suspected she had figured out the answer, or at least one of them. “We’re the only ones leaving here breathing, aren’t we, puddin…â€

“I never put myself into danger.†He was all wide eyed innocence now. Completely earnest in his insistence that such things just never occurred even as he reached for the shotgun and closed the trunk. “I honestly have no idea what you mean.†He looked from her to the temple and back. “If you’re wondering, there’s about two dozen Mer inside. I may not know why they’re here, but I do know that they don’t belong, and I’m happy to help them remember it.†He may have had a bit of a vendetta to settle as well. Eddie started his walk across the parking lot, oddly he was doing nothing to be stealthy. “And that’s right baby… we’re gonna kill em all.â€

“Two..dozen…†No wonder he’d brought extra ammunition. Shotgun held ready, she tagged along behind, which meant, with any luck, that he would miss her squeak of surprise as the bass shook the air. A warning would have been nice, but that was a conversation for a later time, perhaps. There was no argument about killing them all. She couldn’t think of a better fate, and while the one who’d tortured him was already beyond her reach, she was more than happy to make his brethren pay for his sins.

“I changed my mind.†He’d been heading for the the spot on the wall he’d determined was going to be the easiest to get over. He altered his ange heading right towards that dragon fountain. Eddie walked along the side of it, running his hand along the side of the the snakelike body pausing halfway to reach to the bandolier he wore and pull something free from it. He pressed it hard against the thing and kept his walk going right towards the front doors. “Eddie Blake doesn’t hide in the shadows.†To prove it a low rumble broke its way across the air centered on the purple beast. Maybe he’d just been waiting for the right moment to unleash the superbass? His shoulder planted against the intricately carved wooden doors and he gave a mighty shove sending them inwards with a crash that was emphasized by the blast of an explosion that tore the dragon to pieces.
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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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Tahlia Faras
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 01 Mar 2017
Posts: 139
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Can Be Found: Here and there, depends on her mood
4211.70 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Killing Strangers

We pack demolition, we can't pack emotion
Dynamite? We just might...
So blow us a kiss, blow us a kiss
Blow us a kiss, we'll blow you to pieces

We're killing strangers, we're killing strangers
We're killing strangers, so we don't kill the ones that we love
We're killing strangers, we're killing strangers
We're killing strangers, so we don't kill the ones that we love

We got guns, we got guns
Mother *** better, better, better run
We got guns, we got guns
Mother *** better run
~ Marilyn Manson

She was between the doors and the statue when the explosion hit, and she ducked to avoid the shrapnel. It was much better than just shooting the things head off, that was certain. She’d likely tell him that, when they were done. For now, she shook the worst of the dust from herself, and stepped into the darkened hall, bringing the gun up to sweep for any Mer. She had a few other tricks up her sleeve, ones Eddie may not realize he’d seen before. Catching a movement from the corner of her eye, her finger twitched on the trigger, and she sent the figure to its eternal rest with barely a blink.

Figures in scaled armor turned their attention to the doors, half at the ready and even with that advantage gained not nearly prepared enough for what was coming through them. Shrapnel in the form of bits of marble blew through the opening followed by the rising of dust that obscured Eddie and Tahlia from sight. A quarter of them were inside that first vast chamber, thick columns held up the high ceiling. It wasn’t quite so high as the illusion had been, but nothing really could be so vast as what had been offered there. “Honey! I’m home!†The words shouted out mockingly, they wouldn’t understand the reference and so maybe it was lost on them. Then again he wasn’t one to keep silent unless he was sleeping. That still might not be true, he may still talk during his sleep but had no way of knowing for sure.

The shotgun came up to Eddie’s shoulder and unleashed the first of many rounds as he aimed at the Mer closest to him and worked his way around the chamber. It was like he’d tried to tell the Knight, once they would have been on equal footing with the land dwellers. Some of them still adhered to the old methods, but he wasn’t one of those. He wasn’t exactly a land dweller either, just better versed on what was possible. Swords unsheathed, and serrated staffs came to ready but there was no closing the distance between them without taking fire and opening holes through flesh. Together they worked their way through the sanctuary and into an adjoining corridor lined with closed doors.

She’d let Eddie make all the noise he wanted, it covered nicely the intensely hissed repetition of a single word from her lips. Bleed, over and over...none of the Mer that fell would rise, not if she could help it. The nice thing about shotguns is they gave her so many wounds to play with. Careful steps, lips curled into a wicked smile as she aimed and fired, watching the bodies flail and twitch as the duo passed through. She would worry about the blades when she had to. Tahlia stuck close, shifting back to back and walking backwards to make sure no one surprised them as they entered the corridor.

The floor of the sanctuary glistened wetly in the moonlight, and she heard a giggle bubble up from her throat. “Puddin...we might need a shower first, after this. Hardly seems fair, with us armed to the teeth and them with spears and swords…†Especially since they seemed to be sharkteeth and swordfish blades. Not that she was suggesting they drop their weapons and make it a fair fight. Not after what they’d done to him. If they thought she’d done amazing, evil things before...they had no idea what they were in for. On her own, she never would have come here, not for this. Confrontation was never really her way. But this was Eddie’s show.

“Are you accusing me of cheating?†Eddie stepped past the first of the closed doors and held up a hand to Tahlia. He had a grin that couldn’t be undone by the smell of expended gunpowder in the air. “Get on your knees Puddin…†Okay so perhaps he was feeling a little frisky too, but he was staying on task… sort of. He waited long enough for Tahlia to take the low road before turning in and letting a kick loose on the door. Eddie barely got back behind the wall before the projectiles sailed through and hit the wall beyond. The sound of her shotgun going off was enough to keep his eyes down the corridor peppering any of the doors that started to open.

“Gonna be a long way to the top.†He wasn’t complaining, just stating the facts. It was Valentine’s Day and nothing says be mine quite like a room to room assault, right? “You want to kick next time or do you like what I have you doing down there?†Eddie snickered a little at his words before moving on down the hallway to repeat the process at the next opening.

“Cheating? Never...no-one ever said we had to fight fair…†To be fair, she’d only taken one knee, for stability, winking up at him, before sending a blast into the opened room, catching the now-weaponless Mer by surprise. She wondered if they’d ever seen guns before...or if they’d truly expected to win with spears and blades. It didn’t matter. Pale eyes nearly glowing in the dim light, she hissed her own personal curse on them, and then spun up to her feet.

“Yeah?†She gave a little sigh, and shook her head with a smirk. “I thought you liked me on my knees, Puddin…†It made more sense, it would take her several kicks to do what he could in one, and Eddie on his knees was still a really big target. Dropping next to the door, she swept the interior, firing a blast that took out the lone Mer inside at the knees. Up and back down, as they moved to the next. Sweep. Fire. Bleed. There was a rhythm to it, a music that swept beneath their little dance.

Three more doors with that same pattern of assault brought them a few more bodies closer to a clean sweep. The last door was different, here the hinges were on their side. It opened inward, a look through the glass window revealed that it opened on the stairwell. They’d made enough noise to wake the sacred dead, and whatever other spirits might be taking their eternal rest here, but the stairwell was abandoned. Eddie stepped through and listened with ears that heard more closely than they should. “Okay… guess we’re heading to the bottom, not the top.†He’d been expecting the opposite, just one more clue that he wasn’t thinking like an ocean dweller. Of course they’d want to go down… and…

“Do you smell that?†It wasn’t a fair question, despite that they were now slowly moving down the stairs. His words were less than a whisper given at the opening to her ear. “Brine...salt water....†it made sense, there would need to be someplace for them to go that would keep them from starting to rot, that had been the scent he’d smelled so often in the illusion. A fish out of water for too long. Pity he didn’t have a rose bush or six to plant. “We need to control that room.†It had just occurred to Eddie that there might be another reason for the scent of the sea to be down here.

Tahlia was shaking her head, barely able to smell anything other than gunpowder and the vaguely coppery scent of blood. And then the tang hit her nose, and she shivered. Since the vision, before that, really, the smell of ocean water had made her nervous. What she wanted to do was bury her face in his chest, and drown out the smell with Eddie’s unique scent. Later. After this was done. Down did make more sense - fish didn’t seem much of a fit for heights, and she didn’t think they were close enough to the ocean for them to dive off the roof and hit anything but ground. And that would take all the fun out of it. She wondered if they’d flop like the shark had in the alley.

There were two of them, and who knew how many in the shadowy cavern they found themselves in. The stone became sand, and she could now not only smell the salt water, but hear it, and see it, in the light of what looked to be bioluminescent moss that hung from crags and stones throughout the cave - although it seemed less cave than subterranean pool. Her fingers tensed on the stock of her gun, holding it steady for a moment to check the blades at her back. There was nothing behind them but death...what was ahead, felt like a battle.

Eddie didn’t exactly feel at home here, though maybe he should have been more so here than anywhere. You couldn’t get any more tied to land and part of the sea than in the chamber ahead of them. His nostrils were full of scents, the dank sand mixing in with the smell of the salt water pool and the fresh fish scent that came from the Mer that remained. There was something else there that was familiar though he was having a problem placing it with all the others around him, including Tahlia. He was sure if he got closer he’d absolutely know what it was that hinted itself to him just a fraction beneath the spent powder scent coming from his shotgun. “I need to get closer to the water.†He barely mouthed the words at Tahlia.

Eddie may not understand the why of a lot of things, but he knew on instinct that he had to get there. They’d managed to take apart half the mer that were present. It seemed impossible that the ones in the room beyond didn’t know that something was coming, even if what was a mystery. He pulled the bandolier over his head and dropped it next to Tahlia once he’d removed the pair of pistols. “There’s something...something I need to see for myself.†He was no longer even trying to whisper. Eddie Blake moved into the chamber past watchful eyes striding confidently towards the center of the room and that off scent. With every step it pulled at him, he could have followed it with his eyes closed, closer ever closer as the vague memory of it slowly solidified.

Eddie stopped in the center of the chamber, at his feet the sand was stained red but this is where it had brought him. He’d forgotten what and who were around him, dropping to one knee to let his fingers plow tracts through the sticky granules of sand. When his hand rose once more his palm bore a swath of material the length and breadth of his hand. On the one side sand coated it like paste reddened by blood, the other side was soft against his skin, fur thick enough to shed the coldest waters. He brought the bit of skin to his face, gasping as that memory solidified and a haze over his eyes caused everything to blur. Eddie’s breaths came short and tremulous. He turned his head towards Tahlia, burnt sienna gaze wet and lost as a child’s.

She’d nodded, leaving his weapons where he’d dropped them as she focused her attention on the Mer, some of whom shifted to intercept Eddie on his path. A shotgun blast warned them away, but she realized she couldn’t keep shooting blindly into a crowd if they surrounded him. Bullets had a tendency to keep moving, and she didn’t want to risk wounding the giant. Not if she needed to use her gifts. She tried to keep between Eddie and the walking fish, and keep them away from the water. Or at least that was her plan...until she saw that look. She knew that look - she’d seen it on her own face centuries before, in a moonlit pool. She’d seen it on the faces of her siblings as they watched their home burn. It was not a look she had ever thought to see on his, and the gaze she turned on the remaining band was cold and hard as stone.

The shotgun hit the sand, and in a blink, silver blades flashed in her hands. For this...for this, she wanted to see them bleed, and die, up close. That Harley grin tugged at her lips, and she was moving toward the Mer with smooth, deadly purpose. There was a difference between here, and the rings. In the rings, she did not really try to hurt her opponents. There were rules. There were wards. But here...here there was none of that. There was just her, and them. The blades caught at scaled skin, moving through it as if it was air. She did not care how deeply she cut them, or where, just that she did. Some fell, she had some skill in this, but there were more of them than she could fight without losing ground, and once or twice a blade got past her guard, and she felt it bite, there was a reaon she wore leather. “Bleed, you bastards...BLEED†Something so little shouldn’t be so loud, and in response, the sand beneath the Mer matched the small patch where Eddie knelt, crimson, and sticky beneath them as they began to fall, and a smaller handful moved up in their place.

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But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress - a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Eddie Blake
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 13 Feb 2016
Posts: 45
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2586.02 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Vengeful One

...No forgiveness from all I've seen
The degradation I cannot forget
So sleep soundly in your beds tonight
For judgement falls upon you at first light....

...You'll die
You'll know why
For you cannot be saved
This world is too depraved
When you die
You'll know why

I'm the hand of God
I'm the dark messiah
I'm the vengeful one
(Look inside and see what you're becoming)...
~ Disturbed

Something boiled inside Eddie, it churned and spun, a maelstrom in the deepest ocean whose outer rim was a mass of blades. Their razor sharp edges cut into him, not physically, he didn’t bleed...didn’t bleed blood at least. The keening had started low, too soft to be heard above the clash of weapons, but with each utterance of the word *bleed* it grew, drowning him with the agony of its vibration as the savage edges inside him cut away everything but the growing rage. It oozed in him until it filled every inch of his six foot six frame, and then it burst out of his pores like sweat after a long night of sex.

“Where is she!†Eddie’s voice rebounded off the walls and ceiling of the cavern, but even its volume didn’t give the Mer closing on Tahlia any pause. They ignored him...no, they sought to hurt him even more by taking one more from him. This would not do, no... it would not! Eddie stood up, his ears picking up the sound of cloth being torn. Had one of them gotten through? His hands still held to his pistols, but this was far more personal and required his very special loving touch. They barely made a sound as they hit the sand. Turning, Eddie started towards those who sought to engulf Tahlia leaving them behind as unnecessary as an afterthought would be.

The closest of them was lean, like all the Mer seemed to be. Eddie hadn’t spent nearly so much time at sea as most of his kin, but he’d never seen a powerfully built Mer. He towered over the scalemailed creature, one hand grasping it about the throat and pulling it back and up to look him in the face. Its mouth opened, a yelp constricted by one of his massive hands. That was when he felt the things blade take him in the shoulder. It was an odd sensation, the bite of the edge, the sting of air as the mer pulled it free and readied another such strike. Eddie moved quicker, lunging outwards, it was barely more than a shrugging push and release of the Mer and yet its body crossed the expanse of the chamber hit the weathered stone wall and dropped to the sand unmoving. He reached out for a second one, shaking it when it tried to attack until it dropped its weapon. Then he pulled it right up to his own face.


“I said…†His voice had been deep since it had first changed, but even he didn’t recognize the rumbling that came from his mouth. “...where is…†His hand was massive, too massive, it completely encircled the Mer’s neck. The thing gasped as it struggled to breathe. He was tall, but it had taken too long to lift the thing in his hand, his furred hand. Silver grey fur ran along his arm and Eddie knew that if he concentrated he would be able to feel the movement in the air with every single strand. To make matters worse, the rumble he’d begun with took on a feral growl as he bared teeth that shouldn’t be that large or wickedly pointed. “...my mother?!â€

Tahlia couldn’t spare as much attention to Eddie as he deserved, pressed as she was on all sides. Her daggers were coated, slick, so much so that when one stuck, her hand slipped free, and she was left with only the one blade. Only for a moment, as she grabbed a spear heading toward her ribs, and spun inside its reach, killing the Mer with a single strike, and taking the spear for her own. It was unwieldy, but did what she needed it to, her lips still moving, calling the blood from their veins as she twisted and ducked, the sand beneath her feet darkening. Dropping for a low sweep, she realized the Mer around her were either dying, or frozen. Turning her head slowly, she realized that the roaring sound in her ears hadn’t been her heartbeat, or the song of the blood in her veins, but the sound of Eddie’s roar echoing through the cavern. Taking the chance to catch her breath, she found herself instead gaping, her eyes wide. Eddie was...bigger. Different. Different was an understatement. He’d grown over a foot, and those teeth...the fur...she’d seen him as a seal before. Now he was - almost both, but neither.

She was covered in crimson streaks, could feel it drying in her hair, and flaking from her skin. Not her blood, of course. That remained where it was supposed to, even though there were spots where her clothes were split and torn, and so, presumably, was the skin beneath. His mother. Something in the look he’d had last had told her that Eddie, at least, had thought she was dead, until he’d found whatever he’d been looking for in the sand. Tahlia’s heart twisted in her chest, but she’d long ago given up believing in miracles. At least for herself. If Eddie could have one...well, she’d do as much as she could to make that happen.

Frustrated at the silence coming from the Mer in his grip, Eddie tried to shake the information free again only to hear a sickening pop from it. It stared lifelessly at him, something even more ungratifying. He turned his gaze on the two that were closing on Tahlia and his anger boiled once more. “Mine!†He hurled the body towards them, one managed to dodge the incoming mass of dead Mer, the other wasn’t so skilled. It hit him full on knocking him to the sand in a tangle of limbs. Eddie’s form wasn’t far behind that toss, he began to close with the Mer that was still standing. It moved into a defensive position, poised to attack but Eddie ignored it passing between it and Tahlia. He bent and scooped up a fallen spear continuing on a path that put him over the Mer pile he’d just created. Up went a massive arm and down, sending the tip of the spear through both torso’s like wet paper.

“Maybe that’ll help you get the point.†It wasn’t his best line by a long shot, but he was under a lot of stress. Something had happened that he didn’t understand or even know was possible, let alone how he’d managed it. There was no form like this among his people, not even the rumor of it. In his relatively short twenty five years he’d never had this happen and there was the worry that he didn’t know how to get out of it. It wasn’t like becoming the seal, not exactly at least. For that he didn’t have to think about it, he just was it. At the very least, bad jokes aside, he still had his mind. That pass between the Mer and Tahlia had been for her benefit, should she choose to use the distraction.

The remaining Mer had pulled short, and was too busy watching Eddie to see the silver blade that flew from Tahlia’s hand, and buried itself just above the scale armor. The blades were gloriously weighted, she’d have to thank Kal for the gift of them, and make sure she found the other one. She hadn’t Called so much blood forth in a very long time, and she leaned heavily on one hand, watching the gurgling fishman collapse to the sand. Pale green eyes shifted to watch Eddie as he dispatched a squirming pile of scales and limbs, and she let out a sigh of relief. It was done. They’d survived. More than that, they had succeeded. The Mer had no foothold, not anymore, and if not tonight, than perhaps one night soon, the cavern they were in would be crushed beneath the weight of the temple.

If she hadn’t been so tired, perhaps she would have noticed the figure stumbling up from the wall, and barrelling toward her at a run. Not to hurt her, but because she was between him, and the water. Slim, yes, but the figure still had height and weight on the petite blonde. Half-kneeling, she couldn’t move fast enough, not to get out of the way, but she could try to tangle him up enough to keep him on the shore. Try, at least. Instead, the Mer dragged her with him, and she barely managed a breath before he tumbled them both into the glowing pool. The splash drenched the shoreline, and she sank beneath the surface, releasing her hold to save herself.

The sound of their collision was enough to pull Eddie back to the blonde just in time to see her go over the edge and into the pool. He didn’t know what might be down there, beyond the fleeing Mer. Would it seize the opportunity to take her down with it? He couldn’t take the chance that it wouldn’t. He pulled the tatters of his shirt from his body, that ever present jacket of his was gone. That was less of a surprise than what he’d become, some things are just too obvious to be surprised at… like Eddie Blake diving headfirst into the pool without ever checking the depths.

It happened, as it always happened. The instant he hit the water he simply was the massive Leopard seal, sixteen feet from snout to back flippers and well over half a ton of fun. If proof were needed, it could be found in the slowly sinking denim jeans. The only real difference perhaps was that the lichen filled pool may have given Tahlia a far better view of the transformation than she’d had in dark waters. Like this he could bend in ways that would make a contortionist jealous, he turned back on himself heading for Tahlia and taking her arm as gently as he could in his mouth to bring her towards the surface once more. He waited, every heartbeat taking the Mer farther from them, but he had to see her onto the shore safely. Only then did he dive again and not come back up.

At least this time she had the leather between his teeth, and her arm. One arm found the shore, and she clung, turning to meet those familiar terra cotta eyes, and stroke a hand along that enormous head as he let her go, and she hauled herself up out of the water. There was nothing left on the surface to hurt her. Coughing, she dragged herself clear of the shore, and set her back against a stone. She’d seen Eddie leave the water before, and she didn’t wish to be in his way when he returned. At least she was clean, now, or cleaner, the blood washed away in the pool. Eventually, she wondered if the rest of the blood they’d spilled would seep into the water. Truthfully, she didn’t care, as long as the leopard seal returned.

Taking a few breaths, she rose, and searched the sand, and the bodies, reclaiming her silver daggers, and taking them back to the water to clean them. Blood would etch silver if left too long. So would salt water, but there wasn’t much she could do about that. Tearing a strip from the bottom of her tank top, she dried the blades, and set them back in their holsters, and then went to collect the rest of their weapons. Sentimental value, of course. Stripping out of her jacket, she let her hair down, and hoped she’d have a chance to dry out. Beyond that, she watched the pool, and waited.

The Mer had most of the advantages, time gained while Eddie aided in getting Tahlia out of the pool and knowledge of the pathways to take once Eddie was on the hunt. It had another, the ability to breathe underwater but that wasn’t going to stop him from chasing down the Mer. It was injured and that slowed it down tremendously, not that it could have outpaced him anyway. Eddie’s underwater eyesight was superior to many of his own kind, not surprising considering where Leopard seals usually hunted. The odd illumination came from the algae, but it was how it lay that gave away the path of his prey. It spotted him closing in, swam harder nearly making it to the exit and open waters, but Eddie put on a burst of speed. His mouth opened wide and wickedly pointed teeth closed on the Mer. He wasn’t so delicate with this one as he had been of Tahlia. Scale mail shattered under his bite, prompting him to close his mouth even harder until he felt the flesh give way and blood rush across his tongue. Abruptly he changed directions, powerful jaws pulling the Mer sideways and pushing him along back the way they’d come giving a vigorous shake whenever the Mer made any attempt to strike at him.

Time ticked onwards, seconds aged into long minutes with no change coming to the surface of the pool. The waves of their passing had died leaving the pool calm and placid, until water exploded outwards. The muscular neck of the massive seal flexed, Mer filled maw jerking sideways as Eddie treated it like he would any penguin. Flesh tore in his teeth, the Mer’s body came away from his bite and landed hard on the floor of the cavern, exacerbating the injuries sustained earlier when it had hit the wall. A wave of water rose as Eddie launched himself to the sand, flipper becoming hand on contact with the earth and curling into fist as he stood and stalked the Mer once more. He was bare, save for his ever present leather jacket. There were very few times he would ever be spotted without it, and only one who’d had opportunity to don its surprising warmth.

“Where?!†The word was half question half shout, Eddie dropped to his knees and loomed over the prone Merling. The raspy snicker it directed his way was answered by a hard punch to the face. Eddie showed little regard for the needle like teeth that lined its mouth. The blow didn’t bring any answers, nor did the next one perhaps it would have if he’d given the thing a chance to talk, but he was still in that rage. The question would sound half a second before another hard punch hit the Mer square in the face. Eddie didn’t notice when the thing lost consciousness, nor did he stop his assault. It’s face went from bloody mess to flat faced. Its skull broke apart, and the big man didn’t stop punching even though blood and brains coated his fist.


The Mer flying overhead woke Tahlia from her reverie, and she scrambled to her feet. She hardly needed to, since it wasn’t moving, and even if it had, Eddie was right there. Not making a sound, Tahlia watched the seal rise up out of the pool, following his prey. Because there was no mistaking that that was what the Mer had become. The squelching sound of the blows continued long after the snap of delicate bones had ceased. She knew that sound, knew it well, and for a moment, she forgot where she was. Not-so-distant memories took hold, and it took her a minute to recover, one hand rubbing at a hidden scar along her ribs. All the while, the sound never stopped, until there was no way the creature still lived...Eddie might as well have been tenderizing steak. Maybe he was. She’d never thought to ask what he ate out there in the deep blue.

He’d changed when he hit the sand, the fur was gone, and there was a sparkle of silver at his throat, along with a deep red line that hadn’t been there before. Wincing, because testing out how that cord would survive his change hadn’t exactly been in her plans for the evening, at least it had done what she’d hoped - it kept him safe...the only blood she could see was splatters from the bloody punching bag beneath his fists.

“Puddin? Whatever you’re tryin’ to teach him, he’s past learnin’...and I can’t imagine they taste any better than they smell.†She stayed back, not reaching out to touch him, her leather streaked with salt where it was slowly drying out, hair a tangle of waves and salt-flecked curls. “Eddie...baby, he’s dead. More than.†How much it would do to help her nightmares, she wasn’t certain. But now wasn’t the time to mention that. “I have the weapons, your shirt’s kinda shot...and I’m not going back in there for your jeans. Tell me you still have the keys?†Maybe focusing on the minutia would help him come out of whatever still held him in its grip.

His fist halted mid fall, he looked at what he’d done and smiled ever so slightly. One finger came to his lips as he turned his head and looked at Tahlia. It left a streak of red on them, standing up he rolled the body into the pool and let it sink out of sight. Maybe it would find his pants? Doubtful. He’d forgotten, it was easy to do that sometimes, curling a finger at her he stepped towards one of the walls and put his ear to it indicating that she should do the same. The hard stone surface pulsed, something deep inside sounding like a heartbeat that was out of sync. “Close your eyes… and hear the way out.â€

When she complied, she might pick up something more over that odd heartbeat. A hard guitar bassline that mingled in, a steady vibration that wove around and through the wall. “Never brought the keys in.†Why would he? The car kept his sense of direction, in a weird way it told him where not to go. “This isn’t over, Tahlia…†She probably already knew that though. Eddie turned and looked across the chamber, searching for something he’d lost. “Where is it?†Had it gotten buried again, there were so many scents in here that everything was mingling together. He moved, heading back into the chamber until he felt the tug on his arm. It wasn’t the one coated in blood, and yet it was still a tentative little thing...just enough.

She’d followed him to the wall, heard that unmistakable thump of bass, and allowed herself a small smile. No wonder he loved that car so much - she should have guessed it wasn’t just for the bench seats and the surging horsepower. She took a moment to lean there, catch her breath, tired, yes, but not enough that her magic faltered. Still blonde, for one, and while the spots where the Mer had gotten past her guard stung from the saltwater bath, they didn’t bleed. Tahlia knew it wasn’t over - how could it be? If someone had told her her mother lived...shaking her head, she realized Eddie had stumbled off, scanning the sand.

She knew what he was looking for. It was there in her off hand, the one not wrapped lightly around his bicep. Tahlia held the skin out to him, carefully positioned fur-side up. The granulation stuck to her palm, a little, but she knew enough to figure out what that scrap of hide was. Who’s it was. “Eddie…†What could she say, really? “I found it when I was gathering the weapons. I didn’t think you’d want to leave it behind.â€

Eddie took it from her, and drew it up to his nose once more to inhale. The smell made his breath shudder again, for whatever reason. There was no rage in him this time, no change into something he didn’t begin to understand. “Thank you.†It was a simple two word statement, not nearly enough to say what it really meant. He knew what it was, what it was supposed to do and that it had nearly succeeded. It might have had he gone into this alone. Once he’d have done just that. “She was…†He shook his head, not willing to finish by saying here. “They did this, hurt her to get to me, but they’re just soldiers, barely better than drones. They don’t know anything.â€

The ones who did were long gone, had been from the moment the car had turned into the driveway. He could have wished until his hands were full and never changed that fact. “We need to go see someone. I have a change of clothes in the car.†Eddie glossed over certain things, ignoring them perhaps so long as she was. “How much edge do your knives have left?†He pulled his arm from her grasp, only to lay it over her shoulder. His other hand relieved her of some of the burden of weapons she’d recovered. There was urgency in both the question and the way he was imploring her by touch towards the entrance to this place.

Tahlia wasn’t big enough to slow him down, and she didn’t even try. Getting out of that blood-stained cavern was on her short list of gifts today. “My daggers? They don’t seem to dull, really, although salt water and creepy fish-guy blood can’t be good for them. Might need to clean them again...why?†She could ask and walk at the same time, although she was having to take a couple of steps to his one. It was fine though, more than.

Looking down at her likely ruined leathers, the blonde shook her head, and spat out a salty strand that stuck to her lips. “Yeah, I do too. Not sure it’s the right kind of thing for a meeting though. Someone said slinky.†She’d assumed he meant dancing, somewhere dark and loud where they could wind each other up until they couldn’t take it anymore. Not...whatever happened now. “Do you think we could swing by my place? Get a shower, something a little more suitable for meeting...people.†One name sprang to mind, given everything, but she wasn’t going to say it first. If they were going to meet the ice queen, Tahlia wanted to look a little more presentable for that kind of company.

“No, but don’t worry, I don’t think he’ll mind.†Eddie put the skin back into Tahlia’s hand. “Think you could make this into one long thin strip?†It would mean cutting it in a spiral assuming her blades were up to the task. If not it might just have to wait a bit. “Then putting the amulet on it… cuz my neck’s on fire here, Pumpkin.†He tugged at the cord that had left a red ring around his throat, but didn’t take it off. He’d do that when the other was ready, and then it would go right back on. “I need to see a man about an iron.†Cryptic as always, it wasn’t that Eddie didn’t want to share information there were just some things he couldn’t really bring himself to say aloud. She would, or should know that about him already. “And trust me when I say, he’s seen you worse.â€

She took the skin, sliding one of the blades out as they continued up, and out. “I think so, yeah…†If her hands shook a little, it could probably be forgiven - this was his mother's skin, unless she’d misunderstood everything. And enigmatic as Eddie was, that reaction had been blazingly clear, at least to her. It had been...a very long time since she’d done work like this, but there was an old adage about bicycles for a reason. She set the blade, and then focused on their surroundings, letting muscle memory take over. A long thin spiral twisted around the blade as she worked - not the whole thing, even Eddie didn’t need that much cord. But enough. More than, really. She had an idea, in case he decided to do that half-man, half-seal thing again. Still moving, she held her hand out for the amulet - for her idea to work, she’d need to string it herself. “He’s…†Iron. She only knew one person they both knew who would be able to answer metallic jeopardy. And who had seen her worse than she was now. €œWe’re going to see the blacksmith.â€

A hard tug on the amulet broke the cord holding it, maybe it was the salt water? It could have been, right? Eddie handed it over to her without breaking a step. His expression was an unreadable mismash of emotions. He breathed hard through his nose as though trying to expel the reek of the temple. He should have rigged it to blow, but that would have been far less a warning to those who came to find it. Stay out of the harbor and off the land, or find more of the same. Maybe he should have blown it anyway, to hide what they would understand to easily. He wasn’t done with them, and they already knew the why of it. Eddie nodded as Tahlia latched onto the whom they were going to see. “We’re going to see...my brother.â€
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Tahlia Faras
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 01 Mar 2017
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part Two: Rebel

One Last Breath

I thought I found the road to somewhere
Somewhere in His grace
I cried out heaven save me
But I'm down to one last breath
~ Creed

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15 February 2018 3:15 A.M.
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Eddie’d dialed down the stereo to the point where it was more background noise than the ground pounding that he normally preferred. He had a good reason though, it was little and blonde and asleep on his shoulder as he drove. Creed’s One Last Breath was playing softly, it wasn’t something he remembered putting in his phone, probably something Reggie did. He had odd taste. That didn’t stop Eddie from listening to it while he waited at the curb outside of his brother’s shop. It was as good an excuse as any to avoid going in, that would be inevitable though and he knew it. He had another good reason not to move, that would wake her up. She’d barely said four words when they’d started out before dropping off. Guess what they say is true, always kill Zealots on a full stomach, or you’ll end up drained. That was a saying, right? Well it is now.

There was a muffled grumble, and a cheek rubbed against the sealskin covered shoulder. She hadn’t realized she’d fallen asleep, would argue, in fact that it had been more drifting than sleep. The subtle change in the sound of the engine, the lack of movement...she’d caught those even with her eyes closed. Pale green eyes caught the moonlight, and blinked up at him. It took her a moment, wetting her lips and resisting the urge to wipe at her eyes. “Hey…†A short cough, and she straightened, bumping her forehead against his cheek, lightly, and looked around. She’d never been to the shop, but she realized suddenly that she must have walked past it a thousand times. More than. They were back in the city proper, and she only had the vaguest memories of anything other than trees and temples.

So much for putting off the inevitable. It wasn’t that Eddie had a problem with coming here, not much of one at least. He’d been here a few times, but then it had been to get under the skin of his brother. He’d never come wanting, needing something, and that had him wanting to change his mind and go anywhere but here. “Hey there beautiful.†She’d woken up looking far more mussed up than she was right now. “Wasn’t sure if I should disturb you.†Translation, he’d had no plans to either. He cut off the engine and the song just as the singer was saying that there was something left. “You need more time?†He posed the question to her, but he might as well have been asking himself.

Tahlia glanced down at the tears and scrapes in her clothing, skin showing through in a few places, and some of those with angry red scratches. No blood, not really, but the saltwater still stung. Shrugging, she ran a finger along the leather choker at her throat. “Time? No...unless the time includes a shower, puddin. I know you said he’d seen me worse...but I’m thinking this isn’t a social call, so it doesn’t matter so much.†For what, surprisingly, was the first time, she stretched and brushed a feather-light kiss to his lips. “C’mon, handsome...sooner we get in there, the sooner we can get out, and go h-back to my place. This time you get to play nurse…†Eddie, somehow, seemed to have come through everything without a scratch.

The shop wasn’t hard to find, and when it was open neither was the smith despite the low light of the place. It would perhaps be more difficult to push through the scent of Brimstone and the wave of heat that pushed its way through the door when it was opened. There was no bell to signal the arrival of customers, likely it wouldn’t be heard anyway over the ring of hammer on anvil. If you did make it through the heavy air and heat, the sound would at the least give a general direction to where he could be found. Around a workbench or two, past a shelving unit that was occupied by lengths of metal in varying type, just beyond the ceiling support that served to hold up the floor above, the smith worked in relative solitude.

The staccato of hammer strikes stopped abruptly replaced by the sound of a bellows chain being worked. Kruger stood in front of the brazier, the flicker of orange dancing across his form from coals that flared with every pull of the chain. His torso was bare, on the back at least, the front covered by a thick leather apron. Sweat beaded on his skin, rolling down at odd angles as the droplets met with the myriad of scars that criss-crossed his skin. He looked over his shoulder as though expecting someone to emerge from the darkness. It was that wave of heat that telegraphed their entry, a sudden pull to the air that could only mean the door had been breached momentarily. He saw a tall figure and nearly said something exceedingly rude until he realized that Eddie wasn’t alone. He’d save it for when no one else was around to hear it, but doubted that courtesy would be returned. “What?†That wasn’t rude, right?

It had been...ages...since Tahlia had set foot inside a forge, and only rarely then. The heat, after the cool water and the chill outside, made her skin feel tight, and dried her lungs as she tried to take a breath. She ducked behind Eddie, it was just a little cooler somehow, and closed her eyes, taking a few breaths that carried the scent of not only brimstone, but salt and sea and musk. It helped. It always did. She peeked out from behind him again, taking a step to the side to look around. She knew the smith of course...she brushed her fingers along her cheek, and the corner of her mouth tipped upwards. Couldn’t forget a punch like that. They were friendly enough, she thought.

That being said, she’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind to miss the tension. Or, for that matter, that there was something more about the man standing by the fire. Not the Anvil, not here. She didn’t say a word, not yet. Eddie had said he needed to see a man about iron, his brother, he’d said. It didn’t mean Tahlia had any idea what he meant. Or why she was here with them.

Eddie didn’t want to be here for a number of reasons. The smell of the place was always an assault on his senses, the heat was stifling making him wish for the frigid waters of the ocean again. Mostly he didn’t want to come here asking for anything for fear that he’d be turned out…again. Sometimes what he wanted had to be ignored for what he needed to do. His hesitation was more than just in finding words, it seemed to fill his entire form to the point that he wondered if Tahlia could feel it emanating from him as she stood behind him. For all his earlier declaration that he didn’t hide in shadows, he’d have given a lot to have one to stand in now. One that he didn’t feel like was created by Kruger. How did someone so little cast such a massive one anyway?

“Shouldn’t you be doing things with that woman of yours?†Casual comedic, that worked right? It was, well it had been Valentine’s day. His attempt to break the ice only drew a grunt from the other man who still refused to actually turn around and talk to him like he was a person. Maybe coming here was a mistake, but it was one that had already happened. There wasn’t any undoing it, besides if anyone had the right to know it was his brother, wasn’t it? “I...there’s something that I need to tell you.â€

“Oh? Getting married or just pregnant.†So much for not being rude, but it made sense to Kruger. Why else would they both be here? “You look like **** by the way. Not her, just you.†Yep, old habits die too hard. Kruger did at least turn around before saying it, his expression was hard as he looked at Eddie, the cocky bastard. He tore his gaze away from the other, he wasn’t glaring, Kruger did not glare! He did however find himself with a need to do something with his hands. His fingers wrapped around the handle of the hammer on the anvil in as non-threatening a way as he knew how. “Out with it, whatever you have to say.â€

She could feel it, and a subtle stroke of fingertips let him know she was still there. That, and the burst of bright, sparkling laughter at what was clearly meant to be a barb, although against which one of them, she wasn’t entirely certain. “Neither, Kruger. And thank you, I guess...although if you think I look knocked up, I guess I need to hit the gym more. I could do worse, though.†It was subtle enough, but coupled with the way she stepped out to stand at Eddie's shoulder, the gentle rise of her chin as she looked up to meet Kruger’s eyes, spoke volumes. Such a little thing, but she’d proven stronger than she looked.

She could almost recognize the tension, now. Louis and Lucan had glared and posed like this, from time to time. Looking from one to the other, she canted her head to the side, and gave a brief shake. “Are you two always this friendly?â€

“No.†It was said in stereo from both men though their voices in tone and pitch matched in only the way which siblings could, and ended with hard stares at one another.

“I swear, I don’t know why I even bothered.†Bitterness worked its way through Eddie’s words, he stalked forward caring little for the defensive posture that the smith took. He slammed a large hand down on the anvil, pulling it back to reveal what was left of the skin he’d found earlier. He wasn’t waiting for acknowledgement either turning away and heading angrily back the way they’d come feeling only slightly annoyed that he hadn’t leveled a well deserved punch in Kruger’s face. “Sorry that I’m such a **** bother.†He reached for Tahlia in his passing, not nearly as gentle as he wanted to be as he urged her to move along with him. “We don’t need him.â€

She’d already had a hand out, knowing Eddie wasn’t in a mood to be patient, but she wasn’t expecting him to grab her by the arm and pull her back toward the door. Tahlia pressed her lips together, by sheer coincidence, Eddie’s hand closed over the same spot his jaws had in the pool earlier. She couldn’t stop him physically, wouldn’t even try. But she could remind him of what he’d said. “Eddie...Eddie you said you had to talk to him about iron…â€

Kruger had been ready for a fist, for almost anything really. It wouldn’t be the first time they’d come to blows, and certainly not the last. What he hadn’t counted on was what had actually happened. Fingers that were more callus than anything else ran through the coarse fur that had been left behind. It had been more years than he could count on his fingers but he still knew it...knew who it belonged to. Damn the brimstone for irritating his eyes like that, another thing that hadn’t happened for a long time. “What do you want from me?†His mouth formed the words, though whether they were for Eddie or someone else was impossible even for him to know. Neither seemed keen to answer him regardless of his curiosity. Eddie was still moving away, sullen and well as silent as someone his size could be. Even as he put his hand to the door the locks slid into place.

“You’ll leave, when I give you permission!†The air, once merely stifling seemed to take on greater weight, a vast blanket that enveloped the pair forbidding them from moving further forward. “What is it you think I can do? Certainly not go where you can.†That same bitter tone that Eddie had before came from Kruger now. The old arguments like open wounds that festered instead of healing. “Do you even know where she is?â€

The weight of the air pressing into them slowed the petite blonde more than it would a Selkie with a grudge. His momentum kept them going, and Tahlia closed her eyes and tried not to focus on the weight that surrounded her, reminding her of dark nights and water. Tried not to panic, even though there were far too many memories, too many close calls to death. Her fingers tightened in his jacket, and she stumbled, trusting Eddie to keep her safe - it was becoming a habit.

Eddie put a hand on the lock and pulled with everything he had, but the mechanism refused to budge. He tried again to no avail, then reached into his jacket to produce one of those pistols he’d taken to carrying more often.

“You’re just going to hurt yourself...or her. It’ll be faster, easier to just talk to me.†Kruger didn’t guarantee that it would be less frustrating, but his own tone had changed from the obstinate and unwilling to listen one he’d affected before. Maybe it was enough that he’d gotten under Eddie’s skin instead of the other way around this time. Maybe there were just some things that transcended their petty opposition. The growl that came from his brother still managed to make him feel satisfied regardless of the rest.

Eddie planted the heels of his hands against his eyes and rubbed like it was his eyes that were irritated and not him. He looked at Tahlia who seemed in distress, and then towards the smith. Heaving a massive sigh he changed directions again, the arm around her gentler than it had been moments before. The movement away from the door had a steadily decreasing pressure to the air. It was a lot like rising from a deep dive, except that he’d never lost the ability to breathe. “I could just shoot you.†He said the words, though he made no move to raise his weapon.

“You could, but what would your plan be then?†Kruger hadn’t failed to notice that Eddie hadn’t answered his question. That in itself was answer enough, though he had no idea how he was able to read the man so well. The skin was laid out fur side facing the anvil now. “This is her blood?†Eyes of wheat met Eddie’s redbrowns in a look that accentuated the brand Kruger’s left cheek. At the other man’s nod, Kruger fixed his gaze on Tahlia looking for confirmation or maybe he was simply trying to apologize. “There might be a way, but I can’t do it here.â€

Tahlia gave a nod, perhaps in answer to either, or both. Her breathing had returned to normal, and the weight had lifted. Her eyes were still a little too dark, and there was a subtle shiver that had her arms crossing over her chest, and leaning into that gentle arm around her. A quick glance upward, and then her gaze returned to the smith. Her bottom lip disappeared for a moment, sucked between her teeth. She wasn’t used to magic being so open...because what else could he mean? But something told her this was not the time for questions. Not hers, anyway.

Kruger squinted at Tahlia when she bit her lip and let out a single small laugh. “4-6 ×10−4 “ He pulled the apron from around his neck, reached to a well used nail and hung it up. From another he pulled a dark t-shirt down and donned it. One thing hadn’t changed at least, he still wore those things in extra medium. “It’s the iron content in blood… for humans at least. I’ll have to figure out the rest on the way.†He said it like there was no doubt that they’d be going...now.

Eddie leaned down to Tahlia, there was almost a satisfied smirk on his lips, one that he was certainly trying to hide. He whispered low into her ear. “I have to see a man...about an iron.†He said no more, letting her try to figure out who had manipulated whom.

Tahlia’s eyes went wide, and she glanced up, lips parted for a moment before she grinned, and then stuck her tongue out at him. There was no real question in her mind that this had gone exactly as Eddie had expected. The moment passed, and she turned back to Kruger, those pale green eyes much more contemplative. It had never occurred to her to think about what was in blood. Blood was blood, and hers to control as she willed...but perhaps there was something to learn here. That was a given. There was always something to learn. This just might be something she actually could use.

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But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress - a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Eddie Blake
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shine

Give me a word
Give me a sign
Show me where to look
Tell me what will I find
~ Collective Soul

Enlightenment Park, Kruger doubted anyone would ever get the full punchline of the place. It was his contribution to the city meant as a place where kids could play and home to a library where everyone could learn if that were their desire. The property that had been given to him, once held a community center dedicated to a once and now not so dead Jewell Ravenlock. It had been a gift from her brother for special services. What those were only a chosen few would ever know, that was part of the joke now wasn’t it? At the center of the park rose a spire nearly four hundred feet into the air. It wasn’t the tallest thing in the city by far, but no one could say that Kruger didn’t like to make a show of almost everything. This late, the park was empty, the library closed, and even though he’d urged Eddie to park in the parking lot, the spire was not his goal this evening. There was knowledge to be gained in every aspect of the park, even if it were something so simple as when to just play. Enlightenment however could only be found when you got beneath the surface. The real punchline was that so far as he was concerned.

The library had many doors, there was the main entrance located inside the park, a rear entrance on the street, and several emergency exits which lined the sides of the building. There was another one, concealed unless you knew the way. Fortunately for Kruger he did, mostly because he’d made it, but that’s not really important. More important was what lay beyond that door. He ushered Eddie and Tahlia through it, letting the thing close and become one with the foundation once more. For a moment they were in complete darkness, and then a purple light pierced that veil. The wall was broken at shoulder height (to him and Tahlia) by a vein of crystal which revealed a path that curved inward in a long spiral. Kruger nearly spoke, looking at the two of them before closing his mouth and just starting down the winding corridor. Their walk took them deep beneath the library, Fibonacci would have been pleased with Kruger’s use of his formula which ended at yet another door nearly six hundred feet beneath the city. The glowing crystal ended at a rectangular shape on the wall to which he pressed his hand. The door swung inward, only then revealing how massive it was. Eight feet from floor to ceiling, another six across and four deep. Maybe he was trying to hide something important down there? “This isn’t something I let people see very often.†He shot a look at Eddie as he spoke. “Normally I trust them.â€

Tahlia had been quiet on the way over, taking the opportunity to curl against Eddie’s side and close her eyes for just a few minutes. The fight had taken a lot more out of her than she was willing to admit to. Maybe that’s why she stayed quiet as they followed Krugers lead, into the library and down. Tahlia’d never been to the park before, and had no idea there was even a library there. Oops. To be fair, she’d been a little busy.

The corner of her lips ticked upwards at the light, or rather, the color of the light. She might be harboring some sneaking suspicions that the brothers were more alike than either would ever admit. Peridot eyes slid over the stone, and along the path. Something seemed vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t quite see the scope of it. All she knew was that they had gone a long way, and this...this was not a normal space. Kruger’s voice drew her attention, and she started to reply before just shaking her head with a sigh. She hadn’t spoken to her siblings, save Luc, since she arrived...who was she to judge?

Eddie hated driving in silence, though technically the engine made that impossible. Still, he’d turned off the music just in case. Not that he thought Kruger wouldn’t like the music, if anything he was a bigger showboat than Eddie could ever be…if he did say so himself. His brother had remained silent too, much as that irked Eddie. He could tell by the occassional glance in the rearview mirror that the other man was thinking. The stubborn ass wouldn’t share though. Of course he also hadn’t given up the scrap of skin since he’d taken it either, another thing that was putting Eddie out. He’d been the one to find it, now he’d be lucky to pry it from Kruger’s cold dead fingers. Stubborn, selfish...ASS. He had no problem telling Eddie what to do though, turn here...park there...no over there, seriously what was the difference?

The hidden door absolutelydidn’t surprise Eddie. Just because one minute the wall was solid and the next it was a gaping maw didn’t mean he was surprised. The momentary darkness did at least give him the opportunity to send a pinch to Tahlia’s backside, at least he hoped it was hers. Pinching Kruger’s tush wasn’t anywhere near his bucket list. The ambience once that door closed was nice too, everything going from black to a nice purple haze, it was a little known fact that Eddie sort of liked purple… now that song was stuck in his head though. He also wasn’t being childish, like he could be. Not once in the entire long walk did he actually come out and say, are we there yet? He wanted to, the words needed saying, especially since this time he wasn’t the one doing the guiding...or driving. “Jesus, I didn’t know you had access to a bank vault.†Eddie’s tone was sarcastic, and who could blame him really considering what Kruger had said. It wasn’t because the lack of trust had made him wince. That would mean he actually cared what Kruger thought of him. Nothing could be further from the truth...not one little thing.

Kruger just shook his head and stayed silent. He’d been silent most of the time since leaving his shop, he had reasons and they were multilayered. First and foremost, he needed to think about what he wanted to do, what he actually could do and perhaps more importantly how to make that happen. Having Eddie around just gave him a viable excuse that would uphold the image of him being a brainless buffoon. In a strange way he’d never cared much if people thought that about him, that might be obvious from the way he acted in certain circles. It was in some ways a test to those around him to see if they genuinely wanted to know him or simply accepted his minor eccentricities. It was just a pity that Eddie refused to do that and stay away. The massive door swung shut again with a heavy whumpf of air and a rapid fire clicking as multiple locks moved into place. “I’m not paranoid.†It was best to cut off those thoughts before they were given voice!

Echoes followed the doors closing, the purple glow that had guided them downward branched out into an openness that was nearly as long as the distance they’d traveled under the city. They were in the center of a vast corridor whose walls were sixty feet away to the right and left and rose another hundred to an arched ceiling which added another twenty at its pinnacle. There were massive supporting columns and the floor was stone polished to a high sheen. Everywhere the eye looked there were carvings, some simple elemental symbols, others more complex ideas like chaos, order and balance. Most were formulaic in nature, and might as well be a language unto themselves for how tightly packed together they were. Here, unlike the path down the light brightened. It began slowly, almost as though the place weren’t certain that this was what was required of it. Purple went to blue and then to a muted white illuminating things to something more normal. Considering who’d built it, maybe abnormal was the reason behind the confusion.

There were doorways along the corridor, most of them hid their attributes behind closed doors. The light at least made the opposite end of the place visible some five hundred ten feet away, though it was obscured by a solitary column in the center of the subterranean chamber. Kruger took a deep breath and let it out in an audible sigh. The sound was picked up by every curved surface making the entire place feel like it too was breathing. He started forwards walking towards that center column. “There’s rooms over there for you to freshen up in. A bed to catch a few hours of sleep. You should probably do that.†Drawing nearer to the sanctum’s center revealed even more about the place, the center column wasn’t a column at all. It rose up from the floor ninety meters and supported a large circular platform. Above that rose a dome another ninety meters leaving the top of the platform even with the circular opening. The domes ceiling was painted into a representation of the night sky over Rhydin, though somehow the moons which appeared up there were in perfect alignment with the pair of celestial bodies that orbited the planet. “I’ll need at least an hour anyway. You can find me, up there.†He pointed to the platform with one finger, turning toward them and blocking their forward progress. “This is the boring stuff. Nobody really wants to see it.â€

Tahlia opened her mouth to protest...but right now, there were other things she needed more than satisfying her curiosity about the smith, and what he could do. She’d seen forges...back when they were common enough to have one on every corner, practically. This...this was like none of them. It felt more like a church - a temple to the act of creation. Some of the designs on the walls, the formulas, she supposed she should call them, looked like the kind of things her brother would scribble as he experimented and tested. They’d never made sense to her, but… “Louis would love this place…†She spoke in a whisper. Somehow the place seemed to insist on it, from her at least. She wasn’t sure either of the other two was capable of whispering. Or at least not what normal people thought of as whispering.

She had a feeling Eddie would insist on being there, without an excuse. Other than that night on the beach, she didn’t think she’d ever seen him tired. Even if Kruger wouldn’t let him up, he’d insist...and something told her this place wasn’t a good place to challenge the smith, if anywhere really was. Turning, she laid a hand on Eddie’s forearm, right above the pumpkin pie inked into his skin. “Puddin...could we? The salt is really starting to sting where those Mer caught me...and I might need help washing it off. Please?†She didn’t mind playing damsel, just this once.

Eddie didn’t once feel the need to duck, that was unsettling enough that he didn’t even say the smartass comment about Kruger overcompensating for his shortcomings. He’d wanted to, really he did but something held his tongue in check. He stopped walking where the dome chamber opened up, and the walls darted away into a pair of deep transepts. It irked him somewhat that he hadn’t known about this place when he’d taken so much satisfaction in knowing everything. The writing was on the wall though, literally, and to Eddie it might as well be Greek. Come to think of it, maybe some of it was. Kruger was too eager to have them leave him alone, it made Eddie suspicious. He wasn’t a suspicious man by any means, not of anyone or anything...usually… with the exception of everyone that is. He wanted to please Tahlia, but just felt like he was being left out of something important. “What exactly are you hiding?†Other than a massive underground structure buried beneath a park.

“Hiding? Nothing. I mean, you can come too, but unless you know about how to integrate Schrodinger's Quantum Mechanical formula on Harmonic Motion via the Unity Molecular formula to extract heavy metal biorhythms. You’ll just get in my way.†Behind him as he spoke the names, portions of the intricate carvings lit up brighter than those which surrounded them. He watched Eddie’s face for a reaction, but the tall man was a study in stone.

“I think… Tahlia needs my help a little more.†He was pretty good at getting those hard to reach spots. Eddie relented to the tug at his arm, turning his back on the smith and pretty much every bit of the spectacle of the building behind him. “Besides, math is for nerds and geeks.†Eddie might admit later that he was in awe of the place...to Tahlia...when no one else was around, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him from getting the last word in against Kruger. Eddie wasn’t picky, Kruger had said rooms, so he went to the first door and pulled it open to let Tahlia go in ahead of him. He shut the door behind them, looking at the little blonde with a half perplexed expression. “Told you he could help…†The words didn’t match the expression in the least, Eddie was a walking talking conundrum.

She was almost used to that, catching sight of that look of his over her shoulder. “You did. Hopefully you two can keep from killing each other long enough to let him.†She was already letting her hair down, and tugging the torn tank top over her head. There was nothing really to be done about her clothes...even torn, this outfit seeed a better idea than the ‘something slinky’ she’d thought she’d be wearing by now. The shower hadn’t just been an excuse, the edges of those cuts were an angry red - salt wasn’t poisonous, just painful. Sitting down on the bed to pull off her boots, she flopped backwards. “Oh god...I shouldn’t have done that..now I don’t want to get up…†It was a surprisingly comfortable bed.
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Kruger
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Silent Lucidity

I- will be watching over you
I- am gonna help to see it through
I- will protect you in the night
I- am smiling next to you....
~ Queensryche

It might have been longer than an hour before they emerged, and there might have been a few choruses of Eddie’s favorite song in the interim. Tahlia had done her best, dabbing away the worst of the salt from the leather, and taking an extra moment to clean her daggers again. They sat where they always did, in crossed sheaths at the small of her back, a little more obvious now since she’d cut off the tattered lower half of her tank top. Besides, the forge would be warm. Which might also explain the fact that her hair was braided - torn and stained was one thing, she was not trying to referee the brothers looking like a fluffy poodle. Her steps slowed as they gained the top of that spiral staircase, letting Eddie take the lead.

It was just a little over five hundred steps from the floor to where the stairway emerged through the platform above. Kruger knew, he’d counted though his reasons for doing so were more practical than simply wanting to count to five hundred twenty eight. It was a number, a factor that would always need to be included in the work he did down here. There were too many of those variables which needed to be applied. Most of the time he worked to eliminate the unnecessary ones. This wasn’t a night at the fights where more was better, here precision was the key and finding it while worth it, was always a slow process.

The light within the place had dimmed again once Kruger had been left to his own devices. He worked better in the dark. He’d said as much before, but in this case it was just a matter of long habit. Metal was easier to read in lower light, so he’d adapted. When the pair emerged, he didn’t look up. He’d been expecting them, had heard their passage once they began their ascent. The floor of the platform was decorated by a large compass that pointed in eight directions at the same time. Poised in the center of that was a anvil of unusual design. Carved into an intimate scene that was only made more so by what wasn’t revealed. South of that rose a massive black forge, where the anvil was intimate, this piece could only be called ominous with its black burning flames. To the east a system of intricate bellows rested, multiple exhaust ports connected to valves and conduits that snaked away from it in nearly every direction. The western side of the platform housed a massive bath. It held different liquids partitioned apart from one another, though there was the heavy scent of brine reminiscent of the sea. The north end was more simple, a solid looking workbench that held a vast array of tools, though the place of prominence was given over to a large hammer. Next to it rested a meticulously drawn sword in the Daedric fashion. Somewhere in the distance a massive pendulum ticked away, the sound amplified by the design of the entire building. Through it all ran that alien crystal conduit, some runs glowing brighter than their counterparts. The lighted lines cut across the disk of the platform in tight formation then separated as a single string went to each piece of equipment. Overhead the scene inside the dome had changed, the moons were setting and here and there it appeared that the painted stars were actually twinkling.

“I’m nearly done… just need to make a few adjustments.†He hadn’t looked up at them, but he pointed to two marked spots on the floor, one near the bath, the other at the workbench. “When we begin, I’ll need Eddie over by the bath, and Tahlia… you take the spot over by the hammer...please. Sometimes I forget the niceties.â€

Tahlia hardly marked that he hadn’t turned around...after all, he was just as likely to ignore her when they ran into each other at the duels as he was to, say, try to give her a black eye. At least he said please this time. Stepping out from behind the Selkie, she trailed her fingers along his arm, and resisted the urge to kiss him one more time. It was a constant urge, and one she tried to indulge as much as possible. But this...this was like Westport, only more important. Time to be at least a little professional.

The tiny blonde moved across the platform, standing exactly on the marked spot, and saluting Kruger’s back with a smirk, and a wink to Eddie. Who knew how long the adjustments would take? Their ‘nap’ had helped more than she’d expected, given how little sleep they’d actually gotten. She was still tired, but the bone-deep weariness that she’d had when they arrived had faded enough to let her focus on what was going on in front of her.

“You’d think that an elevator would have been installed, would have made things easier.†Eddie wasn’t complaining about the climb really. He just didn’t like being told what to do. He would have protested about it and demanded to know why, but then Kruger probably would have told him and that was just way more detail than he really wanted to know about anything. It was better this way, do as he’s told but get a little dig in at the man as he complied with the ever so delicate request.

“So, what exactly is the plan?†Eddie figured he would regret that question, but he needed to know what was expected out of him. Kruger didn’t answer him right away, the man just picked up a large rod and settled it into the blackfire. He was about to repeat the question with a little bit of Eddieism added onto it when Kruger turned around.

“Triangulation.†Kruger said it like it should make all the sense in the world to them, but the bewildered look he got from Eddie forced him to elaborate. He pointed at the quench behind Eddie, though the man probably thought it was at him. He was that vain after all. “Water and fire… that’s her, it’s how we connect.†He nodded towards Tahlia then and continued on. “She’s at Earth, that’s us...it’s actually here more than us. In the middle, that’s where we’ll find her.†Find her spirit at least, that might have been too abstract for them, so he didn’t include it in his explanation. “What we need is the catalyst… something that draws on shared energy. Remember that song she used to sing? The one when bad dreams came.â€

“Nope...never had a bad dream in my life.†Eddie was an exceptional liar, he rattled that off like it was the truest thing he’d ever spoken. He broke eye contact with Kruger long enough to shoot a look to Tahlia.

She wasn’t going to say a thing. The truth was, any nightmares when they’d been together had been hers. Water, fire...both figured prominently. But that was now...she couldn’t believe he’d never had one...not with some of the things she knew he’d done. Those were his secrets...their secrets...and she wasn’t about to blab them to Kruger. Even if they were brothers. Tahlia met Eddie’s look with one of her own, pale green locking to those stunning terracotta eyes of his, and the corner of her mouth ticked upwards ever so briefly. He had to know her well enough to read that.

“Fine…†Kruger didn’t believe it for a moment, but this wasn’t the time to argue over dumb stuff or posture with Eddie. “We’ll use mine then, it’ll take a little longer because it’s been longer since...for me. You get to give up the other thing.†Kruger pulled out a vial of reddish liquid that was too thin to be blood. It’s contents were nearly translucent, though the base of the vial had heavier sediment resting on it. He also produced a blade which he handed over. “Just a bit of blood doesn’t have to be much.â€

Eddie looked at Kruger skeptically now wondering what the hell he needed blood for. “Some kind of ritual sacrifice? I don’t swing that way you know.†There didn’t seem to be any amusement in Kruger’s face though, not much of any expression really just the bore of his eyes but it was enough to make Eddie take the blade and slice his palm. He let a few drops fall into the vial.

“I’m not sure you understand what sacrifice is...yet. The vial contains the iron I extracted from the blood on the skin. It’s hers, you see? We share some of that, her blood in us, but it’s not a strong enough link...or everyone could do this with half a thought.†Kruger put his thumb over the mouth of the vial and swirled the liquid inside until Eddie’s blood became a part of the solution. “Probably better this way anyway. You’ll be the physical bond, the metaphysical will have to come from me, and Tahlia…†He looked at her as he moved towards the anvil centered between the three points. “You keep things grounded. Nobody moves from their spot until the connection gets made. After that, we’ll see.†Kruger emptied the contents over the face of the anvil letting it run where it would. “Do you know the difference between being attuned, and being tuned?†He turned his attention to the blonde, perhaps he’d noticed her earlier interest when he’d spoken about the contents of blood.

She wasn’t sure how she was going to keep things grounded. But then, she was also decently sure she couldn’t go where they could go. Not without the mark. And that had faded weeks ago. Pulling her bottom lip between her teeth, she nodded hesitantly, and glanced between the two . The knife drew a flinch, not for the blood, but for the memories it brought with it. Another glance toward Eddie, before she swallowed and tried to answer Kruger’s question. “I don’t...maybe?†She took a deep breath, and looked up at the formulas that decorated the walls and ceiling. They still reminded her of Louis. Not looking away, she spoke quietly. “You can be attuned to certain elements. Have an...affinity for them. I’m not sure how you could be tuned to them, but I never could understand Louis after a certain point….â€

Kruger nodded as Tahlia spoke. “That’s what we’ve done with Eddie, and our mother. For now, he is attuned to her, or the her that existed when she was...hurt. It’s as close as we can get for now but he will be able to find her when the time comes. Tuned, that’s what I do. Things can be tuned, musical instruments is probably the easiest thing to understand. Composers obsess over them being in tune, but I believe they are never out of tune, they are simply tuned to something else. That car of his is tuned to run a certain way, it can be tuned to run another. For me, if I want something specific forged...something special I tune everything to bring that about. The very building can be tuned if you know how, air pressure, motion, temperature all of these can be changed, and in doing so the active wavelength within this place alters. The point is, I suppose, before this is finished everything within will change.â€

There was no end to how far he could take his own musings, still Kruger would have liked to entreat Eddie one more time about the song. He would have liked to spend hours talking about what is and what never should be. There were a thousand things he would rather do than this, but he needed to, and he was all out of time. The liquid he’d spilled atop the anvil had run over the edge like water down a stone face. It moved slowly like it was trying to deny gravity, still it slid across the head of the carved smith letting loose a single droplet from the things face like a bloody tear. It hung in the air for less time than it took to gasp in a breath before splashing to the floor. The place was vast, a droplet like that should have sounded no different than water off a stalactite, a distant ploink and gone.

When it hit, a ripple like a stone in still water moved outwards sending waves through the floor, through the very air. Everywhere the eye could see pieces of the building lit up in that shade of purple haze. A number on the wall over there, letters through the columns, the building itself began to vibrate, and in that vibration came individual notes. Kruger squeezed his eyes closed, he didn’t want to see what he knew was coming, he didn’t want to be seen...not like this. He took a deep breath, even as the bellows opened up and then he started to sing. He doubted that would surprise anyone really, he sang often at inappropriate times. People thought it an odd quirk perhaps, and it was, but it was more to him. He’d explained it as best he could to Tahlia a moment ago, the right song in the right circumstance with the right instrument and nothing was impossible.
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Hush now, don't you cry
Wipe away the teardrop from your eyeâ€


The moment his first words began the forge was gone, but not. He could still feel the heat from the fire at his back. He knew if he opened his eyes he’d still see Tahlia and Eddie standing in nearly the same position and just as equidistant as they had been from him. What was in front of him was different, instead of the domed chamber there was another version of Kruger, and oddly a second voice sang too. It came from the figure in the center of the space, he knelt next to the bed of a small child, smoothing at wild curls with his fingers.

Instinctively Eddie knew that what was before him wasn’t more than a memory, and one that didn’t belong to him. It came out of Kruger’s mind, but he felt like if he reached out towards it that things would be solid. It was something that his brother would never have talked to him about, and he knew that if it weren’t for the current need it would never have been said. The knowing hurt, he wished things had been could be different, but like always when something hurt Eddie his mind started to make mean spirited jokes. He would have opened his mouth and made comments if he hadn’t been so stunned by the song. He knew it, remembered it despite what he’d said before. Voices behind him had him turning around, they were distant and soft though it was clear enough that they would have been deafening if heard close up. They were just echoes through the halls below, or maybe through time. Was that even possible? The sounds of high pitched giggles cut through the air loud yet soft all at once.

...Hard about, Niko me boy! ...Aye aye Captain...Yaaaar!

The laughter continued, but it changed. No longer the peels of a child at play, now it was distinctly feminine. Curiosity had Eddie turning back he wanted to look at Tahlia to see if she’d heard what he had. When he did he was met by another scene, Kruger was there, a far younger version of him at least. That second voice was still singing the words along with his brother, though the tone lacked some of the depth. He was laying in a field, his head resting on the abdomen of a dark haired elf woman that Eddie recognized.

â€Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you leaving the game of lifeâ€


The scene faded and was overlapped by another, in the distance the woman rode at the head of a company of soldiers disappearing into a deep woods. It lasted only a moment before bleeding into another. The woman’s head lay on Kruger’s knees, his fingers traced the lines of a face broken and abused which stared up at him blankly. Dried blood coated her throat and did nothing to hide the deep cut that had caused it. A hand touched Kruger’s shoulder, and a tall elf in armor came into view. He looked up at the man, his face a mask of inconsolable grief and pain. Beneath the platform more voices could be heard, still distant echoes through time, but clear and audible to those above.

It was the will of the gods, Aristotle… Gods? Then I’ll kill them all...Do you hear me? I’m going to kill each and every one of you!â€

Tahlia didn’t know the song, but it sounded familiar in the way that all songs sung by mothers to frightened children are familiar. It had been...a very long time since her own had done anything of the kind. Since she’d been alive. The emotions struck her harder than she was expecting, and she closed her eyes, pressing her lips together. Kruger hadn’t said she had to watch, just that she couldn’t move. And yet...she couldn’t leave Eddie to face this alone, any more than she had the night in the temple.

Forcing her eyes open, she let out a gasp. They were somewhere else, again...she recognized Kruger, looking much younger than she’d seen him. There were docks, and she could hear the ocean, the song still hiding in the surf and the cry of seagulls. He was on the gangplank of a ship - what she thought of as a pirate ship, masted and grand, creaking with the tide. She’d sailed on a few of them...after touching iron to remove her taint, and console the crew for having a woman aboard. With a start, she realized she was letting her mind wander, and focused back on the ocean, and the ship...and the man who seemed to be leading them all.

...You have no name boy...no family...no clan...because it's what you are...nothing

â€There's a place I like to hide. A doorway that I run through in the night.
Relax child, you were there, but only didn't realize and you were scared.â€


The voice accompanying Kruger turned high and reedy and the words came with soft sobs from the child laying on a bed of straw alone in the dark. Eddie held so tightly to the bath behind him that his forearms ached. He was barely aware of it, and had no idea when it had begun as he watched the massive red haired smith restrain the boy and whip him. The vision...he knew better, but it was easier to deal with if he didn’t call it a memory...was so vivid that he could smell blood in the air, and the burning of flesh as the brand burned its way through the skin of the boy’s face. Easier to say boy too, it removed him somewhat from the already overwhelming emotions for what he was seeing. Eddie wanted to close his eyes, he would have except that he’d already seen too much and knew it would just keep playing across his eyelids.

Another hint of blood hit him, and the smell of burnt flesh but it wasn’t coming from in front of him. It was clearly in the direction of the forge, but the singer never stopped and the song did not falter. The voices were closing in. Where once they’d seemed far off to Eddie, they were getting progressively closer to his hearing at least though the next one left no doubt in his mind. It descended from above, a hostage of the massive dome freed from captivity with that same reedy tenor.

...C...call...me...Ish...mael…

â€I- will be watching over you. I- am gonna help you see it through.
I- will protect you in the night. I- am smiling next to you, in Silent Lucidity.â€


Eddie ignored the impossible scents. He almost hadn’t, but the child’s voice was gone now. It wasn’t even a male voice anymore. He knew the sound, didn’t have to see the form of Kruger stretched over the lap of the singer to know it was their mother. She looked down at her burden, fingers smoothing out wild curls. The red of her hair burned like fire, and her eyes were so green they almost hurt to look at. The focus of the images between them changed, settling on her face and zooming ever inwards until everything turned black as it swept into her pupil. A shaft of light slammed into the anvil from the center of the dome. It rotated on itself, opening like a scroll and revealing a cluster of islands in a deep blue sea. In sudden bursts it zoomed in on the place dropping closer to the water, then descending far beneath the waves. All at once it altered, a small well lit chamber appeared though it was impossible to tell from the angle where the light was coming from. Sitting on the edge of a bed was the woman whose face had just been seen. She raised her head as though aware that she was being watched, her eyes seemed to look right at the three of them and recognition flashed through those too green eyes. Her mouth moved, sound came from all around them again in a harsh whisper.

Help me.

Kruger had said not to move until the connection was made, he’d also said they’d know when it happened. If the whisper hadn’t been enough, the maelstrom like portal that appeared in front of Eddie certainly was. Water was all he could see, still he didn’t hesitate. He simply took the step forward that would carry him through it.

It only took Tahlia a moment to make the connection, realizing who the woman on the bed might be, and a moment later, why Eddie liked her better blonde. She took a step to follow him, biting back the cry of his name. It couldn’t be that easy - could it? Bottom lip pulled between her teeth, she shot a panicked, pleading look over at the smith. She couldn’t let Eddie go alone - but Kruger had said she had to be the anchor. She didn’t think she could stand by and watch again, unable to do anything. Tahlia didn’t understand exactly what was going on, and it was that that kept her feet in place, not wanting to risk breaking whatever anchored that portal - and leaving Eddie with no way back.

“Kruger...please…†She didn’t love the quaver in her voice, but she couldn’t hide it. It was that important to her not to let him face this alone. Not that she knew what she could do to help. She just knew that she had to try…

Kruger opened his eyes, green gold orbs looked straight at Tahlia. His face burned and he could feel the blood running down his back, old wounds opened up for him to relive. He didn’t let it stop him, it wasn’t that it didn’t hurt in fact it hurt every bit as much now as the first time he’d ever felt the lash or the brand. He’d already lived through the pain once, doing so again was just easier. He knew what she wanted and thought he understood why, stopping now would alter the intended result perhaps fatally. What he needed was for her to listen, to understand.

If you open your mind for me,you won't rely on open eyes to see.
The walls you built within come tumbling down, and a new world will begin.


She needed to see what was and what needed to be, to let go because there was nothing that he could do that would let her go where she wanted to...not physically at least.

Living twice at once you learn, You're safe from pain in the dream domain.
A soul set free to fly.


No longer limited to his place by the forge, Kruger moved towards Tahlia. He didn’t speak, just kept the song going as he approached. He put one hand behind his back drawing it out and raising it towards Tahlia’s forehead. Red liquid clung thickly to his thumb, he used his nail to draw five lines on her forehead, one vertical and four horizontal beneath it like an arrow pointed downward and that’s exactly what she did. He caught her as she collapsed, lowering her gently to the floor. Part of her was still standing, that part which could endure the where she so wanted to go. “You’re in between, not here or there but both. He can find her, but you can find him...but I’m going to give you a head start.â€

Tahlia looked down at her body, and took a breath, trying to give herself a moment to adjust...and then tried not to panic that she couldn’t breathe. Right. Her body was lying on the forge floor. And breathing. “This is like the temple...only not.†She’d have to adjust on the move. She didn’t have time to learn to walk, not with Eddie heading into who-knew-what. She could feel the tug - could feel where he was. But there was something else first.

She turned her focus from the portal, back to the smith, with what she hoped was a smile. “Thank you.†Looking around the forge for the moment, she realized he was technically the only leg of the triangle left standing. “What will you do? While Eddie’s doing what he does, and I...do what I can?â€

Kruger acknowledged the thank you with a nod. He withdrew the hammer from its place and turned from the prone form of Tahlia, from the incorporeal aspect as well and stepped towards the black fires. He took up a pair of tongs and withdrew the rod he’d placed earlier. “Me? I’m going to make an entrance.†He wore a cocky grin as he looked at Phantom Tahlia, and jerked his head towards the open portal. The glowing rod was placed atop te anvil, but he waited for her to step through before sending the hammer down. It went off less like a bell than it should have sounded, more like a gong though the shockwave that spread outward struck the walls of the dome and amplified. “Welcome back my friends...to the show that never ends.â€
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I’m Gone

There's another world inside of me that you may never see
There's secrets in this life that I can't hide
Somewhere in this darkness there's a light that I can't find
Maybe it's too far away, maybe I'm just blind
Maybe I'm just blind

So hold me when I'm here, right me when I'm wrong
Hold me when I'm scared and love me when I'm gone
Everything I am and everything in me
Wants to be the one you wanted me to be
~ 3 Doors Down


Lumira

Forgetting was easier than Lumira ever thought it would be. She’d forgotten things, the taste of free air, the kiss of the sun on her skin, she’d lost them and more. Right now she’d even forgotten how much she hated the name Lumira, preferring to leave the first two letters off. No one called her Mira now, no one called her anything. She clung to the things that she refused to lose, family but they all thought her dead by now surely. It was impossible to tell how long she’d been held, they’d moved her often in the beginning believing that someone would come looking. If they had, they’d yet to find her. She’d tried to mark the days on the wall only to be taken away and forced to start over again. There was light the sort that dominated so many of the temples of her people. Not that these were her people, but the bioluminescent orbs were a shared luxury. Of course there was only light, it had taken getting used to in order for her to actually manage to sleep but she had. She still dreamt too, that was something they couldn’t take away from her. The bindings made it harder, bracelets of gold chained to a golden collar around her neck. Mira had grown used to its weight while she was awake, though she still woke herself up with a hard yank when the nightmares took over the dream.

The collar and cuffs served two purposes, yes they kept chained to an iron ring on the wall, but the arcane symbols that lined them kept her from reaching her abilities. She could still change, they needed that, but her command over fire and water were squelched. Sometimes she dreamed that she still held it, or that she was walking free. Sometimes she dreamed of the attack that came out of the depths only this time everything didn’t go black even if she did wake up in the same condition. A dream had woken her, but it wasn’t that one, it wasn’t the nightmares either. There was a song in her dream, a distant memory that was sung so powerfully that Mira had woken herself up humming it.

“How are you feeling today, better?†Mira hadn’t heard the turn of the key in the door, her mind was so full of the lullabye that it actually drowned out real sounds. It was the same routine, the faces changed often enough but always this was the same. She’d seen this mermaid before, here of course but somewhere else as well.

The woman spoke kindly to her at least, that was more than any of the others would give her. Not that Mira ever spoke back, not even to the pink haired maiden. Why should she when she could see what was in store, the empty vials on the cart that would soon turn crimson as they bled her to keep her weak. Mira thought she was past reacting to it, but the song, the sight, the sensation of the needle being forced into her arm pulled a sob out of her.

Help me, Mira sent out a silent cry to the mother to anyone who might be listening, flinching as the needle bit deep and red began to fill the vial. It wasn’t the pain that had her reacting, but the sudden darkness that encompassed the cell. Her nurse didn’t seem to notice, pulling free a full vial and pushing a new one onto the needle. Flickering light barely broke the darkness with an odd purple hue that danced along the walls, not her walls…theirs...his.

Mira hadn’t seen the faces of her sons for longer than she could guess, but there they were. Eddie’s dark eyes fierce...angry...so very angry. He was there, and then he was gone, it was the other face that held her visage now. Long as it had been since she’d seen Eddie, it had been far longer for her oldest. He looked so much older now, but there was no mistaking those eyes of green and amber or the anguish that filled their depths. Kruger’s mouth moved, she could read his lips, hear the words bleed over the song in her head, I will protect you in the night, and Lumira began to laugh, long loud and hysterically.


The mermaid had stopped, looking at Lumira like she’d finally broken on the inside. The commotion had the door banging open and a second woman entering older and wearing a face that was far from happy. “They’re coming…†Lumira squeezed the words in between gales of uncontrollable laughter.

“Has she gone mad, Mother? Surely by now she knows that no one is coming.†The words were barely out of the young mermaids mouth when the room began to tremble. The vials of blood smashed against the floor when the cart overturned. The pink haired acolyte had to grab hold of Mira’s bed to stay on her feet. She looked to the older woman for some kind of sign, fear linmed her eyes.

“I have to go, we all have to go to the the sanctuary.â Lumira’s laughter echoed down the halls long after the heavy cell door slammed closed and the lock was engaged.
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Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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