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Nicanora
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 09 Dec 2015
Posts: 206
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Jobs: Sword for Hire, Tutor
Can Be Found: Avoiding all the things
13958.28 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 3:56 am    Post subject: White (Mature 18+) Reply with quote

I used to dream about the heroes of stories
As life became an endless night
When hope was gone you resurrected my spirit
Brought me from darkness into light
I can sense a storm is coming
Anchoring you to me
Beth Crowley-Skin and Bones


29 December 2015

The portal brought her to exactly where she had envisioned, the Warlock’s work had been sound. The sigh of relief in the shadow shrouded alleyway was brief, hanging in the humid Miami air as she slipped out of the alley and into the thin throng of barhoppers traversing drunkenly from one Mundane hotspot to another. Nica fell in behind a pack of scantily clad college girls. Sorority girls judging by the giant Greek letter monogrammed purses they carried with them as they stumbled on six inch heels to the next bar’s door. They took no notice of her. Never had Nica been so grateful for glamour as she was right then, since her hooded, all black ensemble would have made her stick out like a sore thumb. Not to mention the trio of bags hanging on her frame; backpack on her back, cross body messenger bag cutting a diagonal line from left shoulder to right hip, and an overloaded duffel slung over her left shoulder. It was everything that Christopher had sent to her while in Rhydin along with the handful of things she had collected while there. Her steps slowed as the pack of girls approached their next target.

The doorman was of average height but built like a brick house, the cross of his arms making his biceps bulge as if he could single handedly put a halt to the progress of the giggling gaggle of girls and ruin their night with a meer flex. As they handed over their IDs, at least two of which were very obviously fake, he gave them a disinterested scan and let them through one by one. Nica sidled around the swell of vodka scented frat mattresses to continue on her way. For a moment, just a moment though, she locked eyes with the doorman. He wasn’t looking through her as most Mundanes did but rather right into her eyes. It wasn’t completely unheard of for a Mundane to have a bit of the Sight so she kept walking. Sidelong, she could have sworn he winked at her. No, she was just being paranoid certainly. Nica ducked her head and continued toward the end of the strip.

It may have been dangerous to Portal straight to her building, so she made sure she came out only three blocks away. It was a path she and Christopher had taken many times, weaving home after a night on the town, past darkened storefronts and gas stations still bathed in the artificial wash of neon and fluorescent lights both. Nica thought her apartment may be a good starting place. She could drop off her excess bulk, pick up a few extra supplies, and set out to find Christopher from there. Without knowing exactly what he was dealing with, it was difficult to prepare so she figured she would case his apartment and if needed head to the Miami Majestic to check out the lead that his note had given her.

At this hour, Howard, the building’s night doorman, was behind a desk instead of posted outside. It allowed her to slip in unnoticed and pass the snoozing man without disturbing him. A fresh copy of Reader’s Digest was open and resting on his chest, rising and falling with each breath he took. Nica scooted by him and shouldered open the door to the stairwell. The first couple of floors passed quickly but she slowed as she neared the seventh, carefully easing open the door that would admit her onto the floor proper. The hallway was deserted but she stuck to the wall just the same. Reaching her apartment door, she frowned at the handle. It was as though someone had kicked it in but tried to piece it back together again without it being noticeable. Nica had spent three hours marking runes into that entryway so to find it demolished was a little disconcerting. Drawing one blade, she kept a second at her hip and well within reach of her free hand as she gently pushed the door open. She caught it just before it hit the doorstop and stepped inside. It would have been a good time for a Soundless rune but she hadn’t anticipated her own apartment being a target. The apartment was silent and mostly dark, lit only by the artificial light of the other buildings outside of hers filtering through the windows.

For all they had tried to put the door back together, they hadn’t afforded the same courtesy to her living room. Couch cushions were strewn about, a chair was upended. The tempered glass of her coffee table had been shattered, layering the rug underneath with splinters that sparkled like the new fallen snow in Rhydin. At the very least the TV was still intact. Tiptoeing through the condo, she surveyed the damage while working her way toward her bedroom. Kitchen cabinets were flung open, dishes were broken on the floor. Shower curtain had been shredded, makeup and hair products painted the sink and shower. Destruction for the sake of it, there was nothing to gain otherwise. Her bedroom door was mostly closed. She approached slowly, readied her blades, and kicked the door open. It rebounded off of the wall and came back toward her but the glimpse given inside read much the same as the rest of the apartment; trashed but devoid of life. She caught the door and stepped in, frowning at the mess made. Her closet was almost empty and her drawers had been ripped out of the dresser with enough force to break handles. The mattress sat cockeyed, torn open from head to foot. That had been an expensive bed too. Though her charger was still plugged into the wall, her phone was gone, likely taken by whomever had ransacked her apartment. Nica pulled the plug from the wall and shoved it into a the side pocket of her backpack. As much as she had wanted to dump her bags here, she didn’t think it a good idea, not in the state the place was in.

A creak in the hallway drew her attention. Nica froze. Only for a moment though before an explosion of motion broke the silence of the broken apartment. She kicked her bedroom door shut right into the face of the one trying to sneak up on her. It crashed into them only to be flung back open. Nica was already going for the seraph blade at her hip when she realized it was no demon she was dealing with. In black from throat to toe, what skin there was exposed was pale and laden with black Marks and silver scars, the latter of which could have easily been mistaken for moonlight. It was a face she didn’t recognize. He may have been handsome once, if it weren’t for the jagged scars that ran down one side of his face. As he came at her, she got a closer look at the brass that wrapped both of his fists. She just narrowly ducked the swing of one, countering with a stinging underhand meant for his liver. He grunted with the impact but didn’t relent, grabbing for her again.

“Who in the Angel’s name are you and what’re you doing in my apartment?!” Nica shouted at him, throwing herself back out of his reach. She landed awkwardly on the ruined bed and rolled backwards off the other side, dumping her bags along the way.

“Nicanora Gabriela Rafaela Truecross, by the order of the Inquisitor, you are to surrender yourself to the Clave immediately. Further resistance will only make things worse for you,” he growled in a rumbling baritone. He stood between her and the door, shuffling back and forth each time she shifted to one end of the bed or the other.

“How do I know you’re telling the truth? Especially when I haven’t done anything for the Clave to have any interest in,” she said, having traded out one empty grip with the solid feel of the Spanish falcata that had once been her mother’s. Brandishing it, she was a little more confident in her chances against the man’s fists, metal clad as they were.

“Your parabatai, Christopher Vincente Altatorre, is wanted for multiple violations of the Covenant. Your association with him makes you a party worthy of investigation. I will give you one more warning; come with me for questioning or I am authorized to use force,” he said, flexing his fingers. Nicanora’s grip tightened on the falcata.

“That’s a lie. Christopher would never do such a thing and neither would I,” Nica answered through gritted teeth, trying to decide on her best course of action. On one hand, she could go with the man and likely be held for questioning indefinitely. Or she could try to run. The latter would likely only make things worse but she couldn’t help Christopher if she was indisposed like that. Rather than try to beat him to one side of the bed or the other, she launched herself over it in hopes of catching him by surprise. It worked though not as well as she was hoping. She crashed into him with enough force to knock both of them to the ground and send her falcata skittering away from her grasp. Pinning one of his arms down with her knee, she crashed her fist against his face to try and stun him long enough to make her escape. Evidently the man was no stranger to getting punched in the head though. He swung his free fist and before she could move, she felt the connection of brass against the side of her head. It sent her toppling to one side, her vision tunneling for a ten count. It was long enough for him to recover and pounce, his weight easily sending her frame to the floor. He grabbed at her wrist and yanked it behind her back, leveraging it upwards to the point she felt her shoulder strain painfully in its joint.

The only thing worse than being taken in was being taken in after trying to run. Well aware of this, Nica threw the sharp point of an elbow back at him when he tried to get ahold of her other wrist. It caught him in the side of the face, snapping his head to one side. Just the window she needed, she upended his balance with a violent wrenching of her body. He fell into her nightstand, her lamp crashing to the floor and shattering. She pressed herself up to her hands and knees, a fraction of a second away from getting up when he barreled into her. Wrapping her arms around his head, she rolled with the motion and with a quick jerk, yanked his face down into a rapidly rising knee. The bridge of his nose crunched on impact, making her grateful for the thick leather that kept her from feeling the sheet of blood that streamed from his nostrils. A second crack of her knee to his face slowed him further. A third stilled him. A fourth made her feel a little better about the situation. Breathing heavily, she shoved him off of her. His face was covered in blood, his nose horribly misshapen and blooming black and blue already spreading beneath both of his eyes. Nica pressed a pair of fingers against the thick of his neck. He still had a pulse, strong and steady.

“Dios mio…,” she murmured, relieved. Quickly patting him down, she produced two sets of knuckle dusters, both laden with spikes, though one was made of silver and the other of blessed iron. Handy for fighting werewolves and faeries. Evidently standard brass was enough for accosting a fellow Shadowhunter in her own apartment. Nica pocketed both pairs before yipping triumphantly when she found her phone in the man’s jacket. That too would come in handy. Stuffing it into her own jacket, she grabbed her bags and stepped over the unconscious man. The commotion likely would have woken at least one of her neighbors so she guessed she had only minutes until security showed up to check on things. Retracing her path to the living room, she eyed the slightly open front door. Nica cracked it open further and glanced carefully down the hall. At the far end, the elevator doors had just opened to provide the first glimpse of two leather clad figures readying to emerge. Swearing under her breath, she shut the door and shoved a broken chair in front of it. The fire escape would have to do. Climbing off of the balcony as quietly as she could, she shimmied down the escape, sliding down the outer railing for a quick descent. When she reached the bottom, she dropped off and hit the pavement running. It was only a block to Christopher’s but if they were keeping that close of an eye on her apartment then there was no way his would be unguarded. When she made it to the street, rather than turn north toward his apartment, she ducked down a sidestreet that, if she remembered correctly, should take her almost directly to the Miami Majestic Hotel. Hopefully he was still there. Or if he wasn’t, hopefully he was somewhere safer. If she could figure out he was there, the Clave could too.
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Nicanora
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 09 Dec 2015
Posts: 206
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Jobs: Sword for Hire, Tutor
Can Be Found: Avoiding all the things
13958.28 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Far beneath my skin and bones
I harbor my divided soul
My greatest source of strength
Might be my downfall
But love was not a choice for me
I held my breath and took a leap
And when I lose myself
You help me stand so tall
Beth Crowley-Skin and Bones


30 December 2015

The street hadn’t taken her directly there, but with a little circling back, Nica made it to the Miami Majestic shortly after midnight. She had traced healing runes to ward off the creeping ache in her head where the man in her apartment had cracked with the brass knuckles. Still she had no idea who he was but at the very least she knew, sort of, why he was there. Just what in the Angel’s name had Christopher gotten himself into? The accusations leveled against him (and her by proxy) were beyond serious, the punishments for which she didn’t want to begin contemplating. It felt like only a few days ago, Nica and Christopher had been joking over the phone about the severity of the Clave’s law. It was no laughing matter now.

Warm light spilled through the open doors of the Miami Majestic Hotel, a fifteen story hotel that had been a part of the cityscape for almost a century. Despite its name, it was actually set in the heart of Coral Gables. Further inland than her condo, it wasn’t visible from her building, hidden away behind taller structures and obscured from an ocean view. A mix of Spanish Revival and Mission architecture, the building wasn’t anywhere close to the most glamorous place in town but it always had reminded her of Madrid. She could see why Christopher had gravitated to it. She waited to come in behind a middle aged businessman and his too young mistress, cringing through the cloud of cheap gin and even cheaper cologne that followed them, catching just the tail end of a slurred exchange between the two.

“We’ll stay through the New Year, you mean it, Al?” The woman asked, swaying further into his side. Her blonde dye job needed a touch up but the clingy red dress she wore was something expensive, likely bought on a secret credit card by a sugar daddy keen on hiding her existence from his wife.

“I’m all yours until Sunday, Princess,” the man mumbled against the side of her head, an arm around her waist guiding them both toward the front desk. Nica needed to find out which room Christopher was in, if he was even still there. She followed behind the pair, trying to decide just how to get access to the computer behind the desk. A break in the counter to her right could get her back there, but even with glamour, the likelihood of her accessing the reservation system without being detected was next to nill. A fatigued clerk came out of a back office, straightening his clip on bow-tie and stepping up to the counter for another late night check in.

“And she doesn’t know?” The blonde asked, tilting her head to a coquettish angle and batting her lashes up at the man. He looked down at her and gulped. It was exactly what Nicanora needed. Deviating from her path to the counter with the couple, she stepped aside and behind a thick pillar, pulling her phone out of her pocket. Punching in the hotel’s number, easily found thanks to the decal stuck on the front door, she listened as it rang in both ears, one on her phone and the other a half a second later at the counter.

“Ah, uh, just a moment please,” the clerk said flatly, lacking the sort of empathetic tone required of someone in the hospitality industry. He grabbed the phone and caught it between his ear and shoulder, grimacing at the cock of his head. “Miami Majestic Hotel, this is Grant, how can I help you?”

“Yes, I am looking to leave a message for someone staying there,” Nica said into the phone, adjusting the pitch just enough to pass for a decade older than she was. Grant grunted into the phone, Nica tried not to snicker.

“Sure. For whom and what would you like it to say?” He asked, shuffling paper around to find a clean sheet for the impending message.

“It’s for my husband, Al, who I believe just came into your hotel with that slutty blonde whore of his. Tell him, I cleaned out the bank account and closed down his credit cards. Including that one. He’ll know what that means,” she said as venomously as she could manage before hanging up, peeking around the pillar. As Grant confirmed that the man in front of him was, in fact, “Al with that slutty blonde whore of his” and then repeated the message that had been left for him from his “wife”, all Hell broke loose.

“YOU SAID SHE DIDN’T KNOW!” The blonde shrieked, giving Al a shove and flailing a flurry of slaps at his chest and face. He pulled his arms up to block his face, hoping to hold her at bay. The clerk was torn between looking terribly amused and completely horrified. He hit a button under the counter and the office door opened, two Rent-A-Cop style security guards coming out with batons extended.

“Baby! It’s a misunderstanding, I swear it!” Al said pathetically, trying to get his hands on the blonde. She kept swinging even as one of the security guards got his arms around her waist and hauled her back from the businessman.

“She took everything! You said it would just be you and I and we were going to go to France!” The waterworks had started, making all the men involved incredibly uncomfortable. It always amused Nica how inept some men could be when it came to crying women. Grant the Clerk escaped into the office while security handled the spat, giving Nica the perfect opportunity to slip past them and behind the counter. Staying low, she came to a stop at the computer. It was still up on the reservation system so she bent over the keyboard and tapped in a few queries to try and track down her target.

“Christopher” yielded six results, none of which had a last name anywhere close to his.

“Altatorre” brought zero hits. The brouhaha was beginning to die down so she was running out of time.

“Hightower” brought up a single match. It was a name he used as an alias in much the same way she utilized Veracruz in place of Truecross. Nica stared at the screen, forcing herself to commit the room number to memory in spite of the name that glared at her from the display. She cleared the query and stifled the growing ire.

Lidia Hightower

Nica slipped out from behind the counter right as the security guards returned from kicking out the brawling couple and as Grant the Clerk came back out of the office. She was gone before they even realized anything was amiss, taking the stairs to the Majestic’s fourteenth floor. The elevator would have been a more prudent choice but she never did trust those things. Besides, she was barely winded by the time she reached the second to last floor. Bearing the fatigue of the past twenty four hours, she hesitantly stepped into the hallway and slid a look lengthwise both ways. The sound of her canvas bags brushing against leather spattered with blood mixed with the sound of her steps to provide just the right tempo for her to march the final stretch. The room number loomed. 1428. She hung just to the side of the door and reached over to knock at it. Three quick knocks, two slower ones. A knock long used between herself and her parabatai. Though usually it meant “Get your clothes on, I’m coming in”, she figured it should be recognizable enough in this case. Nobody answered at first, but the slight shift in the light coming from under the door told her someone was standing in front of the door, liking peering out through the peephole. She reached a hand up to cover the hole only to have the door yanked open. Whoever was on the other side grabbed her by the front of her jacket and pulled her in.

“Chris, soy yo!” She squeaked, readying for the worst. But the rough grasp released her and the door slammed shut behind them.

“Nic?! What are you doing here?!” Christopher asked, staring at her as if he had seen a ghost.

“The Clave sent her! She can’t be trusted, Christopher,” said a voice to her left. Nica panned a slow look to her left and found herself staring down the sight of a compound crossbow with Lidia Blackwater on the other side.

Things were starting to make more sense.
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Last edited by Nicanora on Thu Dec 31, 2015 10:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nicanora
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 09 Dec 2015
Posts: 206
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Jobs: Sword for Hire, Tutor
Can Be Found: Avoiding all the things
13958.28 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I listen closely and hear sweet strains of music
I'm captured in a reverie
Through all these years you've been my quiet salvation
Reflecting who I want to be
Please for my sake no more talk of
Blessings and curses tonight
Beth Crowley-Skin and Bones


30 December 2015

“If you honestly think that I would work with the Clave against him then you’re a downright idiot, Lidia,” Nica said, her hands raised and her palms turned outwards to show she was empty-handed.

“Dia, she’s fine. Let her go,” Christopher said. His gaze ran over her from head to toe, worry written in the knit of his brows and the tight line of his mouth.

“No! I’m not letting her ruin this, Chris. You know what they’ll do to us if they find us,” Lidia jabbed Nica in the side of the shoulder with the bow’s foot stirrup. Nica grunted, the elation of being reunited with her parabatai dwindling. She took some pleasure in the thought that she should have brought Taneth and her lasso. It would have been all too satisfying to tie the woman up until she settled down. Christopher grabbed at the end of the bow and imposed himself between it and Nicanora, causing both women to falter slightly. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, all things considered, but with the amount of weird Nica had experienced over the past couple of weeks, she was a bit world weary to say the least.

“I came to help him, by the way. Nearly had my skull caved in in my own bedroom for it too,” Nica said to Lidia around Christopher. Chris looked over his shoulder at her and just stared.

“So that’s why you’re covered in blood? Yours or someone else’s?” He asked casually like they’d had this conversation before. They had.

“Little bit of column A, little bit of column B,” Nica answered with a shrug.

“I take it you won then?” Asked Christopher.

“Of course I did,” she scoffed. Lidia let out a frustrated growl and lowered the crossbow. Nica and Christopher both exhaled a sigh of relief.

“You two are ridiculous, you know that right? The Clave’s on a witch hunt and you’re just chit chatting like there’s nothing wrong at all!” Lidia’s voice was reaching an octave usually found offensive by canines. Christopher and Nica exchanged a look and a shrug.

“What did you expect?” Nica said, dumping her bags next to the door and taking a looking around the hotel room. She assumed they had been holed up there for awhile, judging by the number pizza boxes and takeout containers that were stacked on the table. Four bags were lined up neatly at the foot of the bed, likely full of gear and ready to grab in the event they had to make a hasty departure. Looking back to Christopher, she gave him a grim smile. “It’s pretty bad, huh?”

“It’s pretty bad,” he confirmed, nodding. Nica studied him and Lidia both. They were worn, the shadows under their eyes indicating they probably hadn’t slept much. Lidia’s midnight black locks had been sheared short. Gone were the lush waves that Nicanora had always envied, and in their place, a disheveled pixie accentuated the high angles of the girl’s face. The younger of the Blackwater twins had always been a somewhat curvy girl but she looked gaunt, her collarbones readily visible against the stiff fabric of her shirt. Christopher wasn’t in much better shape himself. “You would have been safer in Rhydin. You shouldn’t have come back.”

“Don’t you dare, Chris. Don’t you dare try to disrespect me like that,” Nica began, turning to face him. It was Lidia’s turn to look between them awkwardly, the crossbow held loosely at her side.

“I’m not disrespecting you, I’m trying to protect you,” he said tiredly, stooping to grab up her bags and bring them further into the room.

“By thinking I need to be protected, you disrespect me. And us. And everything this stands for,” she responded, tapping her fingertips against the right side of her chest, just below her collarbone. Ten years ago, he had Marked that rune upon her in the same place she had given him one while standing in the middle of a circle of fire. “I’m not some delicate flower that needs protecting.”

“She really isn’t,” Lidia said wryly, catching Nica’s third bag and bringing it after Christopher. Her baggage was set beside theirs in a neat row of black, duffels and backpacks side by side in an unbroken line.

“I know. I know you aren’t. But the thought of you getting involved in this and...and...no. I couldn’t. I wanted to fix things, so you could come home and not have to worry about it,” he said, his voice gradually decreasing until it was barely a whisper. Nica crossed the narrow hotel room and wrapped him up in a hug, pulling him close with a tight clench of her arms. He bowed his head against her shoulder, his breathing ragged.

“Christopher, I took an oath a long time ago and I intend to keep it no matter what. Even if that means getting involved in...whatever the Hell this is. I’d do that for you any day,” she murmured and leaned back, pressing a chaste kiss to the top of his head before letting him go. “Now tell me what is going on so I can actually help.”

“Someone slaughtered a group of juvenile werewolves in Aventura. Unprovoked. Eight dead. Everyone pointed fingers at the Shadowhunters,” Christopher began, sitting down on the edge of the rumpled queen sized bed. It creaked under his weight, groaning with each shift.

“That’s insane. Why would we? We wouldn’t do that!” Nica protested, shaking her head. To her right, Lidia set the crossbow down and went to sit beside Christopher. It left Nica standing, looking down at the pair.

“I know it is. We all know it is. But they began looking into it...and a few witnesses at the scene pegged me as the one who did it,” he said quietly, looking up at her. Nica’s brows rose and she shook her head.

“No. You wouldn’t do that. Did you?!” She asked, her voice low despite the rising anxiety. Christopher scowled.

“Who’s disrespecting who know? Of course, I didn’t. But they were having none of it.” He sighed and shook his head, his shoulders rounding as he put his elbows to his knees and his head in his hands.

“Well what were you doing when it happened? Can’t they account for where you were? Prove you weren’t there when it happened?” Nica continued her interrogation, as if she might turn up some bit of knowledge that would help fix everything.

“That’s the thing...we...I was in Aventura when it happened…,” Christopher whispered, not looking up at her. Nica glanced over to Lidia who didn’t have enough sense to hide the guilty look on her face. It wasn’t difficult to put two and two together.

“With her?” Nica nodded toward Lidia. The girl nodded and dropped her gaze. Nicanora groaned and rubbed a hand over her mouth. “You don’t honestly mean to tell me that you can’t just tell the Clave that you two were screwing around somewhere? It’s stupid but certainly they’d understand.”

“We tried,” Lidia interjected quietly. “But Silvano...he told them that I was just covering for Christo. That I had been with him when it happened and that I was lying.”

“I always knew that guy was a scumbag,” Nica muttered. Nevermind her best friend had been messing around with someone else’s girlfriend. She would reserve her asschewing for him for later. “They seriously won’t believe you? I mean, this just has “revenge” written all over it!”

“I know. Trust me, I know. Do you see why I didn’t want you getting involved? The Hollywood-North Miami pack expects reparations. They want blood. Obviously the Clave won’t, like, hand me over to them but they’ll try me and...with everything stacked against me, they’re going to find me guilty when I didn’t do it. I just wanted more time to prove that I’m innocent,” he said, looking up at her finally.

“Come to Rhydin,” Nica said suddenly, blurting it out without thinking. “We can get a Portal there and just stay there...it’ll give us time to sort everything out and we can come back once we can present your side of the story.”

“Nic...you know if we run it’s only going to hurt matters even more. It’s bad enough we’ve been holed up here for weeks. If we go to a completely different world and hide there...they’ll take it as an instant sign of guilt. I’ve got to fix this and I’ve got to do it here.” Christopher stood up. Nica adjusted the angle of her chin to look up at him instead of down. Lidia remained sitting. Further resistance will only make things worse for you, the man in her apartment had said. He hadn’t been so wrong after all.

“Then I’ll help. From here. And don’t you dare tell me no, because I’m not going anywhere,” Nica said, poking him in the chest with her index finger before turning and crossing the room so she could drop onto the cramped loveseat that sat just beneath a window that overlooked a half sized golf course. The boneless sprawl said very clearly that she wasn’t moving no matter any objection that Christopher presented. Kicking her boots off, she crossed one leg over the other and laid her head on an arm. “Give me like three hours to recharge. I’ll come up with a plan.”
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Nicanora
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Can Be Found: Avoiding all the things
13958.28 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Standing in silence we look out at the water
Amazed how much the world has changed
I see behind your eyes such wisdom and sorrow
You're wondering if we're still the same
Beth Crowley-Skin and Bones


30 December 2015

Three hours (and a little extra) passed and she was no closer to having a plan than she had been when she closed her eyes. That said, she definitely felt a little bit better rested. Her head didn’t hurt anymore though her neck was stiff from sleeping on the cramped loveseat. When she woke up, it was midmorning. Rubbing sleep from her eyes, she pushed herself up into a sitting position and looked around the room. Christopher sat on the bed with his back against the headboard. The suite’s bathroom was shut, the shower inside running and Lidia nowhere to be seen.

Buenos días, sol,” Christopher said, looking over at her as she tried to tame her hair with a couple passes of her fingers through the wild mane of sun-lightened brown. She covered a yawn, rose from the couch, and went to flop beside Christopher on the bed. He gave her a pat on the head and chuckled. “How’d that plan making go?”

“Morning. Not so great. I got distracted by sleep, evil thing,” she mumbled, grabbing at the pillow behind his back and stealing it for herself.

“Now you see my issue the past few weeks,” he chuckled. Fluffing the pillow, Nica tucked it under her head and tried to avoid yawning again.

“Has anyone tried to get ahold of Silvano to ask him what the heck his problem is?” She angled her head to peer up at him, squinting a little in the morning light.

“No...it wouldn’t do any good. He and Dia split up a month...maybe a month and a half ago. Silv didn’t take it so well. Went all loco stalker mode on her. He kind of faded from the radar for a bit and then we get the news that those werewolf kids were killed and he resurfaces not long after. I know he did it. I just don’t know how to prove it.” Chris let out an exasperated sigh. Still waking up, Nica patted him on the knee and rubbed her face against the pillow until she found a comfortable spot.

“What if...hmm. What if we talk to the werewolves, tell them what’s going on and see if they’ll help us get Silvano somewhere that we can get him to admit what he did. Or at least admit that Lidia’s the reason he came back around suddenly,” Nica suggested.

“Maybe...do you still talk with that girl from the Hialeah pack? What was her name...Neema...Nana...Ninny…,” he fumbled for the name, snapping his fingers with each incorrect guess.

“Niamh. We talk here and there sometimes,” she said, a dreamy smile creeping across her mouth.

“Quit smiling like that.” Christopher swatted at her.

“Like what?!” She laughed.

“Like you’ve seen her naked or something,” he answered with another swat.

“I have though!” More laughter was cut short as the sound of the shower turned off in the room over. “No, but really. I haven’t talked to her in awhile. She still...owes me a favor though. Want me to talk to her about setting something up?”

Ramera, tch. Yes, if you could,” Chris said, swatting her one more time before he got up. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was more than they had before. It could be their best shot. She could hope.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My world caught fire
You're the one who lit the spark
Now I'm playing with matches
All alone here in the dark
I had to learn the hard way
That salvation has its price
But I'll never forgive myself
That you were the sacrifice
Beth Crowley-This Goodbye


31 December 2015

Niamh had arranged for them to meet with both the Hollywood-North Miami pack and the Hialeah pack right in the center of the former’s territory just an hour before midnight the next day. She thought that maybe it would put them at ease and make them more likely to listen, especially if their sister pack was at their side. Set just north of one of Florida International University’s branch campuses, the park still offered a fair amount of secluded privacy. “In the event something goes wrong”, Niamh had said. It made Nica uneasy. She never really had issues with werewolves in the past, but something about three overly armed Shadowhunters marching into the well established territory of the Children of the Moon so soon after they had suffered a major loss like the Hollywood-North Miami pack had...it felt like a bad idea even if it was well intentioned.

The road to Hell, well, that saying about it being paved with good intentions wasn’t so far off after all. Niamh drove them there in her hatchback, all four of them plus their miscellaneous bags making it quite the cramped ride. Nica sat up front with Niamh while Christopher and Lidia sat in the back, a stack of bags separating them like the Great Wall of China. The relative quiet in the car was offset only by quiet notes from the radio and the passing ruckus of Miami on New Year’s Eve. It gave Nica time to center herself, to prepare for the best, the worst, and every other scenario she could think up. It gave her time to study Niamh, who carried a quiet sort of tension in her thin shoulders that wasn’t there typically. She was tall and willowy, fair skinned with hair and eyes to match. Her wheat blonde hair was styled into an artfully messy faux-hawk and her pale blue eyes studied the road with an intensity that had wiped away any hint of twinkling humor. Even having recently risen to second in command of the Hialeah pack, it still took some heavy persuading to set the meeting up. They had done so with the understanding that the Hollywood-North Miami pack would get Silvano there and wouldn’t tell him that Nicanora, Christopher, and Lidia would be there.

“We’re here,” Niamh said softly as she turned down a tree lined road, taking a back path to the meeting spot so they could keep a low profile until the time came to make their move. The plan was to get Silvano to slip up, to tell him that it was known that Christopher hadn’t killed the young werewolves, and to see if that could get him to admit it. In retrospect, it was really a horrible idea, Nica thought. She had only known Silvano for two or three years but what she knew of him said he wasn’t an idiot. He was meticulous and thorough in his planning, shrewd and cunning in his execution. Being cornered by werewolves shouldn’t be enough to force his hand. Niamh parked and got out. “Go ahead and get out but stay here. I’ll whistle twice when we have what we need.”

They waited in silence, staying among the trees as they watched from afar. A crowd gathered in the park’s clearing, just a few people at a time until close to twenty-five or thirty had formed a loose throng. Their low conversations swelled to a buzzing hum and crested as the man of the hour arrived. He came into view, one hundred yards out and flanked on either side by men of equivalent size to the one Nicanora had tussled with in her apartment. Beside her, a low rumble was coming from Christopher. Nica reached for his arm, stilling him with a touch.

“Quiet. We need to listen,” she murmured soothingly. He glowered at her but quieted just the same.

“Niamh Kilcannon, Ash Irwin, to what do I owe the pleasure of meeting with you both in the boonies on a night I’d rather be celebrating the new year on the beach instead?” Silvano said, his sharp grin visible even from afar. Nica’s hand tightened around Christopher’s wrist, feeling the tension ripple through him.

“Silvano Marcaluz, we’ve come to understand that the accusations of wrongdoing toward one, Christopher Altatorre, have been incorrect in regards to the deaths of our young ones. We have it on good authority that his alibi did, in fact, check out and he could not have been the one to commit this heinous crime against our pack,” Ash, the head of the Hollywood-North Miami pack, spoke with an authority befitting an alpha. He was young for a leader, at most twenty-five or twenty-six, but he was strong and charismatic. It was easy to see why they followed him.

“Is that so? And what authority is that? Because his so called alibi was easily debunked by the fact that the one offering the alibi was with me that night instead,” Silvano said, turning his hands palm up as if offering the ball back to the werewolves’ court.

“LIAR!” Lidia shouted, stumbling forward out of the treeline to point an accusatory finger at Silvano. Christopher and Nica both tried to pull her back but she escaped their grasp. They fell back to maintain their cover, looking on with rapt horror. “You lie! I knew you were capable of some bad stuff, Silvano, but this is a new low for you. Christopher was with me that night and the thought of that is exactly what made you do this, isn’t it?”

“I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about, meu bem. I know you want to protect your friend but you’re only going to get yourself hurt. If he’s capable of wanton murder, just think of what he else he could do. He needs to be brought in for everyone’s safety,” Silvano said evenly, turning his attention toward Lidia. The two men at his flank backed away with a short gesture from Silvano, disappearing from Nica’s view. “So, let’s make this easy and you go ahead and have him come out and turn himself in.”

“Don’t you dare call me that. I am not your darling or anything else anymore. You don’t honestly believe this, do you?” Lidia looked to the gathered werewolves, most of whom were looking between the Shadowhunters with an immense amount of confusion. “You did this, Silvano. Didn’t you?”

“Nephilim, if either of you had any involvement in the deaths of our own for the sake of your petty love triangle, there will be Hell to pay,” Ash said, stepping between Lidia and Silvano with his hands raised. The waning moon above caught just right to make the extended claws on the ends of his fingers glimmer.

“I suggest you move, wolf. Lidia Blackwater is considered a fugitive party at this time and must be given to the Clave accordingly.” Silvano snarled at Ash who turned on him, his gaze blazing.

“If she is who you say she is and she’s protecting who you say she is, then she’s just as much our business as she is yours. Unless you intend to bring your little Clave into my territory to take them,” Ash’s lip curled with his words.

“I doubt they even know he’s here,” Lidia said over Ash’s shoulder.

Meretriz traiçoeiro,” Silvano sneered and dove at her. He crashed into Ash who nearly lost his footing. He caught Silvano and shoved him backwards, shouting something that Nica and Christopher couldn’t hear over the sudden burst of voices. Silvano’s sidekicks returned with backup at much the same time, swarming the jilted man to try and pull him apart from the werewolf. Problematically, they weren’t faces that Nica could recognize, at least not from this distance. There was no one she could hope to speak sensibly with. This set the rest of the pack off and soon it was a collision of two waves, one presumably Shadowhunter, the other lycanthrope, all fighting. Above it all, Nica caught two shrill whistles, short and sweet. Niamh.

Before Christopher could stop her, Nicanora burst from the treeline, vaulted a fallen tree, and sprinted for the writhing mass of brawling bodies. Footsteps behind her said that Christopher was hot on her trail. Nica searched the crowd for two faces, Niamh and Lidia. She found the former fairly quickly. The tall blonde’s blue eyes glistened almost silver in the moonlight as she deftly danced and dodged around a pair of men each wielding a short blade. Despite the fact that they were very clearly aiming to inflict damage, she sought only to incapacitate with the blows she landed. Death would serve no good here. Nica searched for Lidia next and was dismayed to find her in Silvano’s grasp. Somewhat. Silvano kept trying to get his hands on her but each time he did, Lidia slipped his grip and punished him with a harsh counter.

“I’ll go for Lidia, go help Niamh and get the packs out of here. Nobody needs to die tonight,” Nica said when she realized that Christopher had found Lidia in the crowd too. He was already starting toward her when Nica caught his wrist and pulled him back. “Go. Help. Niamh.”

“No. She needs me. And Silvano needs to see that he doesn’t get to **** with me and get away with it,” Christopher said, jerking his arm away. “Get the werewolves out of here. Go. Nobody needs to die tonight.”

His repetition of her words seemed less convinced than hers had been, but Nica took it at face value as he stepped into the fray, pulling free a shortsword from its sheath at his hip and bringing it up to break up a clash of Shadowhunter and half-shifted werewolf. The latter clawed for Chris's back, snagging leather but not breaking it. The distraction gave the Shadowhunter enough time to throw a punch aimed at the side of Christopher’s head. Nica made it there just in time, bowling the unfamiliar Shadowhunter off of his feet before he could coldclock her parabatai

“Thanks,” Christopher muttered, shoving the werewolf back with his foot.

“We’ll get there together. Niamh can handle her people,” Nica said, taking his flank. Together they worked through the knot of violence, systematically fighting their way toward Silvano and Lidia, the latter of which looked worse for the wear. Christopher and Nicanora fought back to back as if it were the most natural position in the world. As easy as breathing, they had once said, two parts of one whole. In the distance, fireworks were beginning to light up Miami. Midnight must have been drawing near. Their progress was hindered midway when one of the lycanthropes let loose an enraged howl as one of their foes drove the silver blade deep into its ribs. Another howl answered and soon it was as though it was open season on Nephilim in the clearing. Growls and snarls filled the air to mixed with the grunts and groans of men overwhelmed by the sheer number of werewolves beginning to overtake them. One crashed into Nica, taking her to the ground. Pinning her down, it bared its teeth and was just about to snap when Christopher’s boot connected solidly with the wolf’s side, sending it rolling off of her. Nica scrambled to her feet and resumed fighting position.

“We need to hurry,” Christopher said, pushing her into motion only to pass her up as he ran for the final distance between them and Silvano. Nica sprinted after him, ducking and dodging flying fists and claws and weapons. They broke the final line and emerged only a few yards away from Silvano and Lidia. Silvano’s face was a bloody mess but Lidia didn’t look much better. She had a matching set of daggers, one in each hand, that glinted and flashed with each precise thrust and parry. Silvano was armed with a much larger crab sword. Despite the size disparity, he wasn’t overwhelming the woman straight up but rather wearing her down little by little.

“Dia!” Christopher called. Lidia looked away for a split second. It was all Silvano needed to strike. He punched out with the blade’s pommel and caught Lidia in the temple. The young woman crashed to the ground and didn’t move. In a blind rage, Christopher ran at Silvano before Nica could stop him. The whirlwind of blades was too quick to watch but the two men clashed with all of the practiced ease of expert swordsmen. Any ground given was quickly reclaimed then retaken and claimed once more. Christopher looked like he was gaining an advantage on Silvano but suddenly, Silvano slipped the Spaniard’s guard and got in close enough to drive the sword into his torso. Christopher choked back a strangled cough and swung weakly with the shortsword. It connected with Silvano’s left arm, embedding deeply in his flesh. He loosed a furious and pained roar and wrenched the sword upwards. Nica felt it before she even registered what she had just witnessed. Christopher slumped forward on the crab sword, coughing a spattering of crimson that streaked Silvano’s face with a macabre war paint. His legs gave out. Nicanora was certain she was falling too.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And I can't bring myself to say goodbye
I walk with my head up, say I'm fine but that's a lie
Your face will always haunt me
It's my comfort and my curse
And I can't imagine any feeling could be worse
Than this goodbye
Beth Crowley-This Goodbye


1 January 2016

Nicanora thought once that when you lost your parabatai that it would be the most excruciating thing in the world. That it would incapacitate the remaining parabatai to the point of paralysis, that it would be like the burning of a thousand suns, that it would be like falling into a pit of razor sharp spikes, that it would make her beg for death with how awful it was.

In reality it was so much worse.

It was as if the air had been sapped from her lungs and the cord tethering her to reality had been cut, releasing her into a spiritual freefall that she couldn’t slow or stop. Worse yet, there was no pain, not immediately at least. It was as if an auto-pilot switch had been flipped. At her flank, a Shadowhunter had kicked a snarling werewolf that came rolling toward her. Without thinking, Nica rolled to her right and easily avoided it. As she rose, the werewolf redirected its ire at her and she neatly brought it down with a series of blows. Behind her, Silvano ripped the sword from Christopher’s body. He hit the ground and didn’t move. Nica didn’t need to guess, she already knew he was gone. While Nicanora was busy with the werewolf, Silvano took the opportunity to scoop Lidia up, the girl still unconscious from the blow she had taken to the head. The Shadowhunters began separating from the wolves, retreating with Silvano.

Amidst a long and loud howl, Nica stumbled back over to Christopher, dropping to her knees beside him. The werewolves didn’t want to relent, zooming past her to nip at the hamstrings of those who had turned tail. Nica gave Christopher a futile shake, rolling him over onto his back. Red stained his mouth and his eyes, golden-hazel and glassy, stared up at the sky, unseeing. His chest was still, his shirt wet with his blood and stuck to his solid frame. With a shaking hand, she freed her stele, tore the front of his shirt open further, and drew a healing rune over his heart. It didn’t flare gold or even blue, instead sinking in as black as night. It remained solid, doing nothing to knit his torn flesh back together. She drew another beside it. No change. A third and a fourth and a fifth, still nothing. Nica felt a hand settle to her shoulder as she bent over the fallen Nephilim.

“Nic. We’ve gotta go. Ash’s pack is going after them and the Shadowhunters are going to be back,” Niamh said gently. Breathing raggedly, Nica shook her head.

“No,” she murmured, the tip of stele hovering over Christopher’s flesh. The wound in his chest had stopped bleeding. Not because it was healing but rather because he had lost too much blood to have anything left to give.

“Nic,” Niamh began again.

“NO!” Nicanora cut her off with a harsh yell. She felt Niamh’s long arms circle her waist and begin pulling her back. Nica grabbed at Christopher’s body, shaking her head violently. “No! No, no, no! Please, no!”

With a strength that didn’t seem possible from such a thin woman, Niamh hauled her back. Nica kicked and clawed at Niamh but the lycanthrope’s grasp locked around her. No matter how hard Nica fought, Niamh held on, pulling her further and further away from Christopher and back to her car. Still holding tightly to the writhing Shadowhunter, Niamh pulled open the passenger door and pushed Nica in, rushing to the other side to get in. As Nica fumbled at the door handle, Niamh started the car and threw it into reverse. Pulling a half circle, she turned the hatchback around and floored it back to the main road, winding around curves and blending the passing trees into a blur of black and brown.

“Please…,” Nica whispered, her voice ragged from screaming. Niamh glanced in her rearview then back to the road.

“Adam and Cassidy will retrieve his body and bring him back with the pack. We can’t prove it yet but tonight made it very clear to us who was responsible for the attack in Aventura. We just need a little more time to prove it,” Niamh said, quietly and calmly. Her words barely registered with Nica.

“Silvano got away…,” Nica murmured numbly. Niamh nodding, exhaling slowly.

“And he’ll get the chance to tell his side of the story to your Clave first. We’re bringing Christopher with us until the Clave gives us a guarantee that he will not be punished for something they cannot prove. He deserves to rest with the best of your people,” the blonde said, glancing aside to Nicanora for the first time since stuffing her in the car. “You need to lay low for awhile though.”

Laying low is what had led to all of this to begin with. Nicanora wanted to protest, to yell and to scream until her voice gave out. She wanted to tear down the sky and let the world burn. To destroy everything. The last thing she wanted to do was hide again. None of it would bring Chris back though. She sank in her seat and stared out the front window.

“Where are we going then?” She asked Niamh. For all of the action that her boiling blood wanted to take, the weight of her sorrow made her want to sink into the earth and never again see the light of day. Where thou diest, will I die. She should be dead on the ground in that clearing. If she could go back and trade her life for Christopher’s, she would have done so in a heartbeat. But if she couldn’t do that, then couldn’t she have at the very least died with him?

“Daniel Blackwater is meeting us in Key West. He’ll get you to a safe house from there,” Niamh answered, glancing down at her dashboard. They had a nearly full tank of gas. If they drove without stopping, it would be a little over three hours. Three hours that Nicanora would be confined to a car with only her grief, a few bags worth of gear and supplies, and a werewolf that she had slept with a handful of times. At least she wasn’t crying.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some days the guilt inside
Becomes too much to bear
I stopped seeking redemption
I don't have the will to care
I know I should be stronger
Cause I think that's what you'd want
You'd be so ashamed if you
Could see the nothing I've become
Beth Crowley-This Goodbye


1 January 2016

When they hit Key West, the sun wasn’t even beginning to contemplate rising yet. Niamh pulled into a dimly lit gas station parking lot, stopping beside a pump and killing the engine.

“Nic, I’m so--” Niamh began.

“Stop,” Nica cut her off, one hand lifted. “Just don’t. Thank you for your help, Niamh. I’m indebted to you.”

“Don’t worry about it. Just take care of yourself, babe.” The blonde gave her a shoulder squeeze and Nica leaned in to peck a kiss to her cheek.

“I will,” Nica reassured her. A car pulled up behind them, the headlights flashing twice. Niamh looked in the rearview and Nica twisted around in her seat, her heart pounding.

“It’s Daniel,” Niamh said, tamping down Nicanora’s anxiety if only by a small fraction. Nica got out of the car, pushing the front seat forward to grab her bags out of the back. She faltered slightly, seeing Christopher’s backpack there too. At the last moment, she grabbed its strap and hauled it out with her things as well. The thought of it getting lost in the shuffle or worse yet, handed over to someone who didn’t appreciate Christopher for who he was, was unbearable for her. Slinging various straps over her shoulders, she turned to meet Daniel. He was tall, solidly built like his sister. In some ways, he reminded her of Christopher, if Chris had been a little more uptight. His arms were held in a tight fold across his chest, a frown comfortably settled on his mouth. There was enough tension in his shoulders that they pinched upwards. He simply radiated anxiety.

“Nicanora,” he always used her full first name, “I just heard...I’m so sorry…”

“We’re not doing this, Daniel. Your sister’s been taken by Silvano, likely to the Clave for questioning, or somewhere else for him to convince her of his side of the story. My parabatai is dead. And you and I? We’re leaving,” she said coldly. Daniel studied her for a familiar three count, one, two, three and done, offering a hand out for the load she carried.

“Come on then,” he said, his voice tight. She gave him two of the four bags and followed after him. Niamh had got out of the car to watch them. Nica looked back at her. The blonde smiled but Nica couldn’t quite find it in her to return the gesture. Instead she nodded to the woman and continued after Daniel. All four bags were put into the back seat, well within reach. Nica climbed into the front seat of yet another unfamiliar car and buckled up. Daniel stepped away to talk to Niamh, their conversation muted by the distance. He joined her a few moments later, saying nothing as he started up the car and pulled away from the gas station. Ten minutes passed before either of them said anything.

“Where do we go from here?” She asked.

“Somewhere you can have some time to yourself. From there, it’s my understanding that Christopher initially intended for you two to spend some time in another realm while things were straightened out. It may be best if that’s where you go until we can sort everything here. I can get you a Portal to wherever that is by tomorrow night,” Daniel answered without looking at her. There was a certain amount of detached calm there that she couldn’t help but respect. While he wasn’t in the same boat as her, or at least not to the same extent, he was still reeling from the loss (however temporary) of his sister. There was something to be said about those who persevered in the face of loss.

“I think...I think that may be for the best, yes,” she murmured her agreement and settled in for another car ride to another unknown destination.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And I'm so sorry that I couldn't save you
I gladly would have taken your place
I wanted to always protect you
But I broke every promise I made
Please don't leave me
Beth Crowley-This Goodbye


2 January 2016

The safehouse was only twenty-five minutes from Key West, tucked off of the main highway on one of the lesser traveled Keys. It was empty when they arrived and shortly after, Daniel and Nicanora had gone their separate ways in favor of the quiet of opposite ends of the stilted beachside home. Since they weren’t staying long, Nica didn’t unload her bags but she did unzip Christopher’s backpack, peering inside. In typical Chris fashion, his clothing was wadded up and stuffed inside, broken up by sheathed blades, miscellaneous supplies, and a pair of leatherbound books. The angel blade known as Sealtiel had also been thrown inside, tucked between two white undershirts.

For death and mourning, the color’s white, the old rhyme went. Despite the fact that Shadowhunters were so deeply entrenched in symbolism and ceremony, Nica had but a single white article of clothing in her closet. And by closet, she meant the one in her apartment, hours away in Miami rather than the three bags that served as her wardrobe at the moment. As much as death was a part of the job, it was seldom something that touched Nica’s life. Miami had offered relative safety and security when compared to Madrid which was a part of why Gregorio Truecross had jumped on the opportunity to move himself and his teenaged daughter there almost eight years ago. At the end of the Dark War, Institutes had been in flux, leaving open positions in many of the places that had been wiped out by Sebastian Morgenstern’s attacks. As people shuffled and new heads were named, other positions were opened in their wake. It was the perfect opportunity for Gregorio to get away from the memory of Celia everywhere he went while helping fill a new need in Miami.

Everyone had always told Nica that her parents had had a love for the ages. They had known each other since childhood. Nica’s uncle, Celia’s old brother, had been her father’s best friend, so it had been quite a scandal when Gregorio and Celia ran off and got married without telling anyone. Celia was barely eighteen, Gregorio was twenty-two. Shortly after they returned home, Celia’s brother punched Gregorio in the mouth, knocking out two of his teeth. It was a story told often by those who had known the couple and Nica had likely heard it a hundred times from at least half as many people.

Nica didn’t blame her father for wanting to get away from that all with Celia gone. Maybe she even understood it a little better now that she was facing a similar loss. Not of a romantic love, no, but still a profound, life changing loss just the same. She had fallen asleep the night before, wearing one of Christopher’s undershirts. The white was suiting and it smelled of him, grapefruit and bergamot, cedar and the scent of home. Home wasn’t a definitive place, she realized, but rather where ever she was with him. Home was somewhere she didn’t think she would be capable of finding again.

Daniel came to get her in the late afternoon after leaving her alone for the better part of thirty hours. There had been other voices in the house, ones Nica didn’t recognize, but she hadn’t come out to investigate. But as the hour drew near, she couldn’t avoid it any longer. Daniel stood at the door, his hands clasped in front of him as he waited for her. She tugged the door open, looking every part of the rumpled mess she thought she was. He gave her an appraising once over, frowned, and offered a hand out to her.

“Let me take your bags, you’ve got enough weight to carry,” he said gently, easing the straps of the various bags off of her shoulders to take them himself.

“Is it time to go?” She asked, peering around him as she stepped out of the bedroom, pulling the door shut behind her.

“It is. Angelo Vice just showed up. Late, of course,” Daniel said with a nod. Nica blinked slowly.

The Angelo Vice?” She whispered.

“I see my reputation precedes me,” crooned a smooth voice down the hallway. Angelo “Miami” Vice was the High Warlock of Miami, though in eight years of living in the area, Nicanora had never met him. He was Nica’s height, just a shade or two below six feet tall, and average in build. Handsome in an unconventional sort of way, he wore a charming grin that helped offset the slightly unsettling solid green, pupiless eyes. They weren’t green like emeralds or jade but rather like the sort of radioactive toxic sludge she’d expect to give superpowers. He sauntered down the hall to meet Daniel and Nicanora, extending his right hand out to the latter. “Angelo Vice. You must be Miss Truecross.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Nica said, taking the offered hand for a shake. But rather than a shake, Angelo drew her hand up to brush his lips against her knuckles before releasing it.

“Yes, pleased to meet you too. Daniel tells me you’re in need of a cross-realm Portal?” Angelo canted his head to an angle more befitting an owl than a humanoid being.

“That’s the plan, yes. Though I’m curious as to what interest it holds for the High Warlock of Miami,” Nica answered carefully. Angelo took a step back and grinned at her.

“That’s a great question, isn’t it. Let’s just say Marcaluz and I have...history. But that’s a story for another time. Come along now,” Angelo clapped his hands, spinning on his heel to continue down the hall. Daniel and Nica exchanged a look, both shrugged, and they followed after him. From this angle, Nica realized that Angelo also seemed to have a long tail, black and covered with tiny barbs. For that she kept a fair distance from the Warlock so as not to end up within the swishing appendage’s way. They passed the empty living room, turned left at the kitchen, and took a tight spiral staircase upwards. The beachhouse had a second story room that reminded Nica of a lighthouse though there was no beacon. It offered a panoramic view of the darkening beach and under other circumstances, it would have been one of the most beautiful sights she had seen in her short life. Framing one of the windows was a series of Marks that would eventually become the Portal.

“One five-dimensional door to nowhere, coming right up. I’ll expect my payment upon completion, of course,” Angelo said pointedly to Daniel. The older Blackwater twin nodded gravely, his mouth set into a tight line. Satisfied, Angelo’s swagger took him to the Marks, where he put the finishing touches on them. Where the window had been only a moment before, the space within the frame of runes changed into something akin to mirrored glass. It threw a vague reflection back at them, slightly unfocused. Daniel began handing Nica her bags back. A backpack for each shoulder. They were squished tightly together when she slung her duffel onto her shoulder too. Finally she layered her messenger bag over top, feeling like the bag equivalent of that little boy from whatever Christmas movie it was that complained of not being able to put his arms down. When she was all set, Daniel set a hand to each of her upper arms and looked down at her.

“Good luck. We’ll get through this,” he said firmly. It was what she needed more than apologies and condolences. Nica nodded.

“Make sure Christopher’s seen to properly, please. His family deserves it,” she murmured. It was Daniel’s turn to nod. Pulling away from him, Nica stepped over to Angelo and the Portal.

“Visualizing where you’re going?” Angelo asked, rocking forward on his toes. Nica nodded numbly and tried to get the picture in her head. All she could picture was Christopher with his eyes bound by white silk, his arms folded over his chest and Sealtiel in his grasp. She forced the image away and summoned a vague abstract of Rhydin in her head. Food trucks and Downworlders, fresh fallen snow and watered down cocoa, helping Taneth accost cute boys in the Inn and dragging Will out of his comfort zone to dance with her. The warmth of the Inn that guarded against Winter’s chill. The faces that frequented the old bar. The picture became more and more clear, pushing Christopher to the back of her mind, at least until she stepped toward the Portal.

Atque in perpetuum frater, ave atque vale. Forever and ever, my brother, hail and farewell.

She sucked in a breath and stepped through the Portal.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cause I can't bring myself to say goodbye
I walk with my head up, say I'm fine but that's a lie
Your face will always haunt me
It's my comfort and my curse
And I can't imagine any feeling could be worse
Than this goodbye
This goodbye
Beth Crowley-This Goodbye


3 January 2016

Bring him to the garden. Bring him to the garden and this can be fixed. Nica repeated this over and over as she tried to focus on unpacking the quartet of bags she had brought back to Rhydin with her. Shaking hands hung outfits in the closet and placed sloppily folded articles of clothing into drawers that creaked with each push and pull.

It wasn’t Christopher’s time to go.

But she had been asked if his death had been natural. It presented quite the existential conundrum for the mourning Nephilim. What was considered an unnatural death for most was simply status quo for her fellow Shadowhunter. Death was a part of life, a definitive end to lives often cut down in their prime.

Accepted.

Fact.

Natural.

Fighting it was considered unnatural. And for those who took it so far as to think they could reverse the course, it was also illegal. Bringing the dead back to live was a right reserved for Heaven or Heaven’s servants, of which she was neither, despite her angelic blood. Tasked with the protection of Mundanes, offered exquisite tools with which to protect, but not offered the true benefits of heavenly blood. Immortality would have been a start but the ability to revive the fallen would have been just as good.

At the end of the day, they were simply humans with an impossible task and a weighty burden.

So desperately did she want to bring Christopher back though, that she was willing to circumvent the Laws to do so. The little gardener was no denizen of Hell so far as Nicanora had been able to tell, but rather a warden of life. Of light. Of good. Could it be a loophole she could exploit?

The more she thought about it, the better of an idea it became. The reasons “For” were quickly outnumbering the reasons “Against’. After all, for as illegal as it was to use necromancy, the darkest of dark magics, to restore the dead to life, it was just as against the law for a Shadowhunter to kill another of their kind. Mitigating circumstances, she thought. What did she have to lose?

Putting the last of her things away, she fell back on the bed, her legs still hanging off of the side. Nica drew out her phone and skimmed her contacts until she found who she was looking for. Hitting the green send button, she set the phone against her ear and waited. One ring, two ring, three long rings. Just as she thought it may kick over to voicemail, a groggy voice answered.

“ThisisDaniel,”
his words slurred together, an effect of his sleepiness she guessed.

“Daniel, it’s Nic. Were you sleeping?” She asked, glancing at the clock.

“It’s four in the morning. Yes, I was sleeping,” he answered, the irritation obvious in his tone.

“Oh. Sorry. I didn’t realize. Um. I need a favor,” she said quietly. Daniel groaned quietly and she heard a shuffling of blankets.

“Sure. What’s up?” He asked, still groggy.

“Do you know if Niamh still has Christopher’s body?” It was a cautious question, careful but probing.

“That’d be a question for Niamh. Why?” Another shuffle on the other side of the phone.

“Just curious. I was...hoping to see him before he was given back,” she answered, still careful.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea, Nicanora. But I’ll check with Niamh and get back to you, okay?” The shuffling stopped, Daniel went quiet.

“Okay. Just hurry, please. The sooner, the better.”

“Sure. Can I go back to bed now?”

Nica scoffed. “I guess.”

“You should get some sleep too, Nicanora.”

“I’ll think about it.”
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“The human mind isn't a terribly logical or consistent place. Most
people, given the choice to face a hideous or terrifying truth or to
conveniently avoid it, choose the convenience and peace of normality.
That doesn't make them strong or weak people, or good or bad people.
It just makes them people.”
― Jim Butcher, Turn Coat


4 January 2016

Nicanora didn't know for how long she had been spacing out when the ringing of her phone snapped her out of her daze. A series of blinks reeled her in and she reached for the buzzing, ringing device. The caller ID showed a picture of two dark haired Shadowhunters with their arms around one another. It was obvious they were related, bearing the same almost midnight shade of hair, full mouths, and fair skin. Truthfully, Nica had set the same picture for both Blackwater twins, but she already knew which it was when she hit the answer button.

"¿Bueno?"

"Nicanora, it's Daniel."

"I know. I have you saved in my phone."

"Oh. Good morning then. I spoke with Niamh."

"Did you? That's great! When can I see him?"

"That's the thing...he's already been taken to the Silent City."

"..."

"Nicanora?"

"..."

"Nic, are you still with me?"

"Y-yeah, I'm here."

"I'm really sorry, I know you wanted to say goodbye..."

She wanted to do more than that, but she couldn't say that to Daniel. Nica glanced down to the white dress in her lap, a needle threaded with red still poking halfway out of the unfinished rune she had been sewing into the cuff.

"It's okay...it's not your fault." She pulled on the needle until the thread stretched taut, twisted it around and plunged it back into fabric for another pass.

"Is there anything else I can do to help?" Daniel sounded worried. She couldn't blame him.

"Bring Dia home. He was fighting for her, it's the least we can do for him." Pulling the needle through again, she hissed as the tip caught her fingertip.

"Of course. Are you okay?"

"I'll be fine. Thank you, Daniel."
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“But grief makes a monster out of us sometimes . . . and sometimes you say and do things to the people you love that you can't forgive yourself for.”
― Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road


8 January 2016

The cold bit at her cheeks and fingers as she pushed out onto the porch, the dim illumination of her phone against her ear lighting her way right down the steps and around the side of the old building.

“What’ve you got for me, Danny boy?” It wasn’t a return call and she hadn’t otherwise initiated contact, so she could only hope he came bearing good news.

”I really wish you wouldn’t call me that,” Daniel said, groaning.

“Okay, let’s try that again. What have you got for me, Daniel.”

”Better. I wish I had more to tell you right now, but I don’t. I just wanted to check in with you, make sure you were doing okay. See if you needed anything.”

“I’m fine...all things considered. Any word on Dia?”

”None yet. Though she’s not been considered priority since the wolves are asking for Silvano’s capture.”

“Not a priority?! That cabron murdered Christopher and now he’s got another one of our own. Find her and they’ll find him, I guarantee it. They need to go faster!”

Daniel went quiet.

“Daniel?”

”...”

“Danny boy?”

Exasperated sigh. ”What did I say about that?”

“Not to do it, but you weren’t answering.”

”Fair point. Lidia will be okay. She is a Blackwater.”

Nicanora couldn’t help but think about the Altatorres and how strong of a family they were supposedly. Her wanderings took her back around the front of the inn and toward the door.

“Okay. Are you okay?”

”I’ll be fine. Thank you, Nicanora.”
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“We never see other people anyway, only the monsters we make of them.”
― Colson Whitehead, Zone One


13 January 2016

A low but familiar humming woke her from a dead sleep shortly after sunrise. She was reluctant to get up. The room was dark and she was warm, pleasantly exhausted, and still smelling faintly of chlorine. The quiet pattern of steady breathing beside her indicated she was the only one awake just yet. Despite her aversion, she crept out from under a comfortably draped arm and snuck from the rumpled covers. Amidst haplessly strewn articles, Nica found her jeans and patted through the pockets until she located the source of her early morning wakeup call. She found her phone just in time for the call to click over to voicemail, Daniel and Lidia’s caller ID picture smiling at her for just a flash.

One Missed Call

And then a moment later…

One Missed Call
One New Voicemail


She glanced over her shoulder in time to see the remaining form in the bed roll over and get comfortable in her absence. It was tempting to go back. Back to the warm, the sleepy, the copacetic distraction from everything else. But that simply wasn’t how things worked. Stepping out of the room, she gently pulled the door shut behind her, cringing at the high whine of protest one of the hinges gave. It was a short walk to the bathroom. She shut the door behind her and flipped the light on. Bathed in a yellow-white glow, she tried to avoid her reflection in the mirror by putting her lower back against the counter while she queued up the voicemail for her listening pleasure.

”One new message, first new message: Nicanora, hey. It’s Daniel. You must be sleeping or busy or something. Sorry.” His words broke for a soft sigh. “I heard from Lidia. And from your father. If you could give me a call, I wanted to catch you up on everything. Talk to you soon. Bye.”

”Press one to replay. Press two to save. Press star to delete.” Nicanora tapped the 2 key. Before the saved messages could begin to cycle through, she ended the call and flipped through her contacts. Landing on Daniel’s, she got the phone to her ear just in time for the first ring to go through. He answered after the second.

”That was a quick callback. Hope I didn’t take you away from anything important.”

“Just sleep. I’ll live. You said you heard from Dia?”

”Unfortunately. She’s asked that we stop looking for her. That she’s okay with...with him. I told her that the Clave is looking for him now and that I’ve got no control over that. I don’t know what he’s done to her, but it didn’t sound like her. They’ve been trying to track Silvano but they haven’t tried yet with Lidia. So I’m going to try today.”

“Daniel, I don’t think that’s a good idea…”

”I’m not going to do anything stupid, don’t worry.”

“Last time I was told not to worry, Chris ended up dead. So I’m going to worry. If something happens to you, I am positively going to lose my ****.”

”I wasn’t aware you felt so strongly about me.” Daniel almost sounded smug.

“Stop it. I would say the same to Dia too. If you find her, do not go after her. Let the Clave handle it. Please.”

”I will reluctantly agree with you on one condition.”

“Condition? What sort of condition?”

”That you give your father a call. I spoke to him and he’s concerned about you. I didn’t want to tell him too much but I think you both would benefit from talking.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea with everything right now?”

”I do, yes. He is your father first and foremost. Everything else is second for him.”

“I guess. I’ll call him later. Just promise me you won’t go after Silvano and Dia? You’re too close to the situation.”

”How about this, I’ll promise not to go after him unless you’re here too. Then we can go together.”

“I don’t like that idea either but I would prefer it just slightly over you going without me.”

”It’s a deal then.”

“I guess. I’m going to go crawl back into bed with the hot guy I left behind at this ungodly hour.”

”That is definitely more than I needed to know. Thanks.” Daniel laughed.

“Hardly. Had you called a few hours earlier, it really would have been more than you needed to know. Ciao Daniel.”

”You’re ridiculous. Goodbye Nicanora.”

Nica hung up and turned around to get a look at herself in the mirror. Bedheaded and dewy skinned, it was almost a good look for her other than the shadows beneath her eyes. She really could have done with a few more hours of sleep. Turning off the light, she went back to the bedroom. He was still asleep, his back turned toward her with the blanket pulled up just an inch of two above his hips. Nica’s gaze dragged over the display of ink across his back, distorted and faded as it was. She had caught glimpses of it the night before but this was the first time she’d had a chance to truly study it. Made of whorls and lines and unreadable text, it looked almost like a poorly done diagram that had been stretched taut over a canvas too large for the print. The longer she studied it, the more it bothered her in a way she couldn’t quite pin down. Perhaps she could ask him about it later. But for now, rather than climb back into bed, she quietly dressed and slipped out before he could wake up.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2016 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like all my family and class, I considered it a sign of weakness to show affection; to have been caught kissing my mother would have been a disgrace, and to have shown affection for my father would have been a disaster.
-- Agnes Smedley


13 January 2016

To say that she had put off calling her father was an understatement. She filled her day with any number of inane distractions and when Will texted her with an invitation to grab a bite to eat before his shift and a picture of the food truck of the night, she put the call off even longer. But before long, Will had to head to work and Nicanora was left alone once more. With the sun low in the sky and the evening’s chill beginning to set in, she made her way back to Taneth’s, a rather special cottage that the gardener had been generous enough to let Nica stay in with her. With thoughts of pink pajamas and perpetual summer on her mind, she finally drew out her phone and dialed her father’s contact. The picture that came up brought up conflicting emotions on both ends of the spectrum, the selfie of herself and her father at a tapas bar in Barcelona stirring just enough nostalgia to make her voice hoarse when Gregorio answered.

“¿Diga?” Slow, hesitant, like he wasn’t sure if he should trust who his phone had told him was calling.

“Papa, aló…”

”Anora…es que tu?”

“Sí, Papa,” she said softly. Clearing her throat, it gave her a moment to make the mental switch to the common language. “Daniel told me that you wanted to speak with me?”

”Good, he got the message to you after all. I’ve been so worried. When are you coming home?”

“I do not know. Daniel does not think it is a good idea for me to come home until the Clave brings Silvano in. So I have been staying with a friend somewhere...safe.” Safe was a relative term. Her return to Rhydin had little to do with her physical safety and more to keep her from doing something rash and impulsive that would put her on the Clave’s bad side. As it stood, she was somewhere in the grey area, right on the edge of their area of concern.

”The Blackwater boy is wise. Perhaps he is right in this case. But if you decide to come home, come to me. I will protect you. From everything.”

“I know you would. But I’m an adult now...I can’t let my actions or decisions hurt you. So for now, I’m going to stay here.”

Gregorio was quiet for an extended moment. ”She would be so proud of you, mija. So strong. How are you handling things?”

“I’m not. Not really, if I’m being honest.”

”Oh?”

“It’s...es como inhalando cristales rotos. Cada respiración que tomo es mil cortes. Cada latido de mi corazón es otra realización discordante que nunca lo volveré a ver. Él era más que mi mejor amigo, papá. Él era más que mi hermano. Christopher era la mitad de mi alma y ahora estoy tan vacía que no sé cómo funcionar sin llenarlo esa vacuidad con el plomo. No estoy manejar las cosas, no en lo más mínimo, porque si lo hago, significa que reconoce estos puntos dolorosos. ¿Y ahora mismo? No puedo hacer esto.” Nica trailed off breathlessly and was met by silence.

“Anora. Mija. Mi niña preciosa. Puedes superar este. You are a Truecross. Believe in the strength of the name and it will see you through.”

“Grave est onus mortale, gravitate carentem est animae aeterna.” She murmured, her voice rough.

“Yes. No burden can break you unless you let it. You are not the first to lose their parabatai and you will not be the last and though I won’t even pretend to imagine the pain you are in, know that I love you with all that I am and I am always here for you no matter what you may need. When you are ready, we can talk about it more. Or if you do not wish to speak to me about it, simply find someone who understands that you can talk to. It does not do to bottle it up, preciosa. Promise you won’t do so?”

“I will do what I can, Papa.”




((OOC Disclaimer: My Spanish is rusty as all get out and I can't say I know any Latin other than what Google translate gives me, so please forgive anything that may have gotten lost in translation!))
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Murderers are not monsters, they're men. And that's the most frightening thing about them.”
― Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones


18 January 2016

Real life had a nasty way of interrupting the pleasant delusion Nica had built for herself in Rhydin. It was all too easy to pretend that in this wonderland that the outside world would stop while she dabbled in petty dalliances like food truck digs and less than clandestine liaisons with the attractive paramedic who had deemed her worthy of his free time. It was also all too easy to watch that dreamy glass world get shattered into a million pieces with only the smallest of provocation. After next to no sleep over the previous two and a half days, the flutter of her phone’s text tone typically would have gone unnoticed except for the fact she was already wide awake. Despite her fatigue, she was in a pleasant headspace, content and full stomached. The steady infusion of caffeine into her veins by way of steaming cup of coffee only added to her amiable mood. She wasn’t sure who she expected to be texting at such an hour but curiosity got the best of her and she wiggled her phone free from a jacket pocket and unlocked it. From there she nearly dropped the sky blue mug from the opposite hand.

Text from Silvano: Did you get my package?

She tried not to break the companionable silence that she had been quite enjoying up until that moment, but it was difficult to restrain the tight gasp that hissed its way through her teeth. Her thumb hovered over the screen, caught somewhere between the reply window and the call button. The phone trembled in her grasp as she tried to figure out how to respond. Not trusting her composure, she pressed a single key and sent it.

Text to Silvano: ?

As she awaited a response, she didn’t realize she was holding her breath until the reply came through and she exhaled a quiet whoosh.

Text from Silvano: If not, it should be to your room before long.
Text from Silvano: Smile

There was a tightness in her chest that she couldn’t quite shake, like someone had stuffed a pair of blades at a perfect cross section through her rib cage. It hurt to breathe and all over again, she found herself reliving the moment that Silvano had taken Christopher from her. Worse yet, the text’s meaning finally clicked for her, meanwhile the rest of the world was continuing on as if Nica’s own world wasn’t crumbling around her again. When she looked up from her phone, she found Will’s eyes on her, curiously concerned and set just beneath lifted brows. Nicanora summoned a shaky smile for him.

“I’ve got something I need to take care of. Text me if you want to grab a bite before your shift,” she said, setting her mug down and leaning to brush a featherlight drag of her lips against his jawline. He tilted his head into it and hummed an acknowledging note of agreement so she got to her feet, pulled her gloves on, and ventured out into the cold. It was another reminder that she would want to buy herself a proper scarf and hat before the day’s end, the harsh bite of the wind needling her cheeks and nose within moments of leaving Will’s apartment. She wasn’t sure if it hurt to breathe because of the cold or because of the steadily increasing vice-like pressure squeezing her chest. By the time she crossed the city and made it to the Inn, she was red faced and breathless. It was tempting to get a cup of something hot from the empty bar but she was interrupted only moments after entering by a bundled up courier carrying a long, narrow box wrapped in brown paper and a crossed bow of twine.

“P-p-package for Nica-canora V-veracruz,” he said through chattering teeth, peering out at her from the narrow slit between his hat and his wound up scarf.

“That’s me,” she answered, turning on her heel to go back to the young man. The package was eyed with wary suspicion, taken as if it were delicately fragile so the courier could smack his gloved hands together a few times to get feeling back into his fingers. He pulled a clipboard out from under his arm and offered it over.

“Was a rush delivery, I’m glad I caught you,” he said, his voice slightly muffled by his scarf. The crinkle at the corners of his eyes indicated he might be smiling. She was less amused as she signed but gave him a polite smile just the same and gave the clipboard back.

“Sorry they sent you out in such crappy weather. Where’d the package come from on a day like this?” She shifted the long box under her arm and hoped the delivery man would give her more information. He looked down at his clipboard, scanning it over and shaking his head.

“Transfer station, no listed return sender. Sorry. Maybe there’s a card in the box?” He offered out and started back for the door. “Have a good day!”

“Thanks. You too,” she trailed off after him as the inn’s door shut behind him. Taking the box to the nearest table, she set it down and carefully untied the twine and slipped her fingers under the edges of the brown paper. It was likely a bad idea to open it but at the very least she was grateful there was no one in the vicinity should something go awry. Laying the paper out nicely, next she lifted the lid from the box. Plain white tissue paper covered the contents. Nica lifted one corner and winced. Pulling it off the rest of the way, the tissue paper was left to drift to the floor when she let it go. Perfectly clean and polished to a shine, a pair of easy recognizable short swords. They were nothing remarkable, the design putting them somewhere between falchion and katzbalger, lengthwise. Well used and battle worn, they looked like perfectly run of the mill blades. But Nicanora knew they had been crafted upon the same forge and by the same hands as Hatheloke and passed down through the male Altatorre line, always to the first born son. They were Christopher’s. Or they had been. Nicanora sank into a chair, her hand smothering the dismay scrawled across the line of her mouth. They were impressed into styrofoam to keep them from sliding in the box and right in between the pair, a glimmer of silver caught the inn’s light. Block typeset “A” was stamped boldly into the metal, flanked on both sides by single castle towers. They had always reminded her of chess rooks. The rook to her king, he had said, with its Canterbury cross. She pried it free of the styrofoam and brought it up for examination. Unlike the swords, the ring hadn’t been cleaned to the same extent. One half of the band was stained a rust brown and darkly she wondered just whose blood it was. Flaking it off with a fingernail, she soon had the ring passably clean. It was tucked into her inside pocket for safekeeping. The nearest of the two blades was pulled from the packaging and looked over. It had been cleaned and wiped down with a clear oil coating that left her fingertips feeling greasy.

It sent her stomach into a tumult to think that Silvano had put his hands on Christopher’s swords or his ring. To the best of her recollection, he hadn’t been wearing the family emblem ring when they went to the meet the wolf packs. Lidia must have had at it. That Silvano had been the last to touch this weapon made the bile rise in her throat. She closed both hands around the blade, squeezing until she felt the prick of steel rending flesh. As blood stained the freshly polished blade and began to roll toward the crossguard, Nica finally let go. Her eyes were burning almost as bad as her hands but she thought if she could channel her grief into the physical pain that maybe she wouldn’t cry. Two and a half weeks had passed since Christopher died, if she could make it that long without ever having cried, she could certainly go on forever without shedding any tears. Looking down at the straight gashes across both palms, she shuddered a sigh and grabbed fistfuls of napkins from the table’s dispenser. Bundling them against her hands, she wiped down the blade and succeeded only in smearing her blood along the steel. The buzzing of her phone distracted her from the futile attempt at cleaning the sword.

“For the Angel’s ****ing sake,” she muttered, uncurling a pinky to poke out the unlock code and swipe down on the notifications to bring up the message.

Text from Silvano: Like it? I’m not a total monster, just so you know.

It was slow going but she tediously prodded one key at a time with the tip of her pinky since it was the only digit not bloodied.

Text to Silvano: Go to hell

She dropped the phone on the table with the package and made her way around the bar to wash her hands up, wrapping both in clean bar towels that may have been white once upon a time but were now a shade of pale grey. The continued pain in each of her hands helped to keep her head clear so she didn’t reach for her stele just yet. She’d likely fall back on the healing runes later but for now, she wanted the pain, needed it even. Another message sent her phone into a buzzing skitter on the table. Nica sighed and returned to it, gingerly picking it up to see the reply.

Text from Silvano: Harsh. At the very least I expected a thank you. That’s okay, you can tell me in person real soon.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.'
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster.”
― Dalai Lama XIV


22 January 2016

During the noon hour, the market had more than enough foot traffic to get lost in. Those that lived or worked nearby were out for lunch or to complete their last minute errands before the weekend. Even with an impending blizzard on the horizon, the cold didn’t seem to dissuade the coat and scarf wrapped crowd, so Nicanora was more than content to get lost among them. The clear plastic cup filled with electric green honeydew bubble tea had numbed her fingertips at least twenty minutes ago and her lips were fast approaching the same point. Her stiff hands almost couldn’t adjust when her phone went off. Passing the bubble tea from left hand to right, she ducked her cold fingers into the warmth of her pocket just long enough to pluck the Taneth bedazzled device from within. She faltered when she peered at the screen, not believing the caller ID. While it continued to ring, Nica debated on whether to answer it. Finally, she turned down a less populated cobblestone paved side street and tapped the answer button.

“Silvano. What do you want?” She tightly grasped her phone as she held it up to her ear. Her head was low, as was her tone, taking care to keep her conversation away from any prying eavesdroppers.

“Don’t sound so happy to hear for me, Nic. Hi to you too.”
Silvano’s rich but chiding tone made her grind her teeth.

“Don’t call me that. You may call me Nicanora or nothing at all,” she said, unclenching her jaw long enough to pass the conversational ball back to him.

“Nicanora then,” Silvano said with a long suffering sigh. “Thought I’d call to say hello. I never received a thank you for the gift we sent you.”

“Oh yes, I must have forgot to thank you somewhere in the course of you murdering my best friend and kidnapping another of my friends. My bad,” Nica said, rolling her eyes. She turned down another street that took her back into the main market square again so she stuck to the walls of the storefronts she passed.

“Tch, now now. No need to be hostile. I’d hardly say that I kidnapped Lidia. She’s quite happy with me now. Well, not today, but that isn’t my fault,” Silvano said with a touch of annoyance. It took Nica a moment to put it together. The 22nd of January was the birthday of Dia and Daniel’s older brother, Adrian. He had been killed in the Dark War like Nica’s mother had been, though on different sides of the fight. It was never a good day for either of the Blackwater twins.

“How is she?” Nica asked.

“As well as can be expected. It does so pain me to see her hurting this way,” Silvano’s annoyance had bled into something better resembling genuine concern. It was disconcerting.

“As opposed to hurting in the other ways you’ve caused,” she said dryly.

“I would never intentionally hurt her!” He snapped before taking in a deep breath to compose himself.

“Then why did you kill Christopher?” Nica asked, barely containing her ire.

“It’s not as though I meant to. But you can’t honestly expect me to not defend myself when attacked,” Silvano said, his tone returning to the same smooth smugness of moments ago.

“He was defending Dia, who you were, let me remind you, trying to hurt as well. Don’t tell me that’s the piss poor excuse you’ve given to the Clave for your actions,” Nica nearly spat the words, her hand tightening around her bubble tea.

“I see you fail to point out that Lidia attacked me first. That was simply a mistake, though I would have been justified in defending myself against her as well. Thankfully, she and I have straightened things out. So now it’s just a matter of loose ends. I was hoping to speak with you personally about matters,” he said, quieting to see what she might think about such a proposition.

“Personally? You’re talking to me right now.” Nica had a bad feeling about this.

“I meant face to face. The finer subtleties of conversation have a nasty habit of getting lost in translation when speaking over the phone or via text,” Silvano said affably.

“No. I have zero desire to see you face to face unless it’s haul your ass into the Clave’s custody,” Nica said, not nearly as agreeable. “That’s the only reason I’d have to come back to Miami at this point.”

“I didn’t say you had to go back to Miami. If you’re inclined to spare me your time and separate yourself from the little blonde girl and that mundane ambulance driver and his disgusting food trucks, I’m sure we could find a few moments to meet,” he said, almost innocently. Nicanora felt her blood turn to ice in her veins. Her pace slowed to a stop and she turned a slow look around. It wasn’t as though she felt like she was being watched, but she knew exactly who Silvano was talking about and as such, it was impossible to not wonder if someone was watching her every move.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, Marcaluz. Really you’ve gotta stop talking out of your ass,” Nica said airily, as if she hadn’t just felt her stomach knot itself.

“Your poker face is horrible, even over the phone,” Silvano sighed. “Fine, if you wish to do it this way, we can. You will find time for me before the end of the weekend. I will let you select the time and the place though we both come alone.”

“And how exactly do I know that you’ll hold up your end of that whole coming alone thing? I’d ask you to shake on it, but you’ve already got Shadowhunter blood on your hands…,” Nica answered scathingly. Silvano was quiet for a moment before she heard the first breaths of laughter.

“Nicky, Nicky, Nicky. I’m doing this to prevent further bloodshed, trust me on that. We’re going to need all the strength in rank that we can muster before long. Think it over. Get back to me before midnight so I can plan accordingly. Tchau, linda.” He hung up before she could say anything else, leaving Nicanora to her silent fury.
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