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Nicanora
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 09 Dec 2015
Posts: 214
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Can Be Found: Avoiding all the things
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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
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Can Be Found: Avoiding all the things
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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
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Jobs: Sword for Hire, Tutor
Can Be Found: Avoiding all the things
10682.46 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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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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Nicanora
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Truth is everybody is going to hurt you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.
― Bob Marley


23 January 2016

Part One

The snow was piling quicker than people could shovel, accumulating on the streets and sidewalks to the point that the twenty minute wait time she had quoted to Will would soon be closer to the forty-five or hour that he had countered with. Nica really hated being wrong. She hated snow even more than that. At the very least she was kept warm by the lingering thought of grazing teeth on the sensitive flesh of where her jaw met her neck. The Grillenium Falcon was close to closing when she reached it and only by the grace of the Angel was she able to put in their last order of the night. With a bag around each wrist, wisps of steam rose up around her as she made the final leg of her journey to Will’s apartment.

“Worst snowstorm since Hannibal,” she muttered as she climbed to the third floor and turned down the hallway. Whatever Hannibal was, it hadn’t been pretty according to the two men working at the food truck. This one, they were calling Winter Storm Odin. Ominous. At least she had grilled cheese and tomato basil soup. That said, she nearly lost the latter when her momentum carried her right into Will’s locked front door. Her hand had grasped the handle, muscle memory expecting it to pop right open for her to flow through. Instead she was met by an unyielding door and silence on the other side.

“Loaf! Food’s gonna get cold, open up!” Nica called against the door’s crack. Shifting bags, she pounded the heel of her fist against the old door and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

“Mm, must’ve beat him here,” she said at last, sinking to sit in front of the door. No use in letting good grilled cheese go to waste while she waited. With an unwrapped sandwich in one hand, she pulled her phone out with her other and puttered out a short message.

Text to Will (0210): Beat you. Hurry up!

A third of the way through the sandwich, she sent another.

Text to Will (0214): Or I’m going to eat your grilled cheese

Two thirds saw one more message sent.

Text to Will (0219): Let me know you’re okay at least?

Her sandwich was gone and her soup halfway so when she took an alternative route. Dialing his number, she waited for him to pick up. Thirty seconds of ringing gave way to a short message and a long beep. Nica hung up and frowned.

The monotony of the silence was broken when her phone lit up and a saucy little flow of digitized flamenco buzzed through the speakers, a sudden alleviation of the static unknown. The Caller ID added to the mystery and little more besides that a fresh prickling of paranoia's shallow needs with a frustrating: Unknown Caller.

The voice on the line was distinctly unlike Silvano's refined and slightly accented tone, a raspy falsetto full of amused malevolence, witty but not necessarily educated. "It's two thirty-seven, Cinderella. Do you know where your Prince is? Midnight's come and gone. Your stallion's the mouse you knew he was and we're gonna carve him like a pumpkin with a broken glass slipper. He warned you. Now you get to watch."

No sooner had the last word fled, the line died. Barely a few minutes passed after before Nicanora's phone lit up again: You Have 1 New Video Message.

The snow was coming down hard and at an angle due to harsh winds whipping, spotting the camera lense with the occasional dot of moisture that the cameraman had to wipe away with a sleeve or the pad of a finger, leaving it streaked at times. The video cut in and out between the jostling and the weather, but there were six or seven distinct figures loitering in the alleyway, laughing over the inappropriate jokes told or ruminating in disjointed bits of conversation over what was coming.

It went on for about thirty seconds before another moving body appeared, a duffle bag slung over one shoulder and the form hunched down against the biting chill. Each step was dogged and determined, purpose driving him, until a sudden cry for help broke the night and the head snapped up.

It was Will.

He was a dozen lengthening paces into a charge towards the call when a clotheslining arm took him from his feet and sent him sprawling into the snow. Words on both sides, calm and harsh, were exchanged in a mess that was broken up by the howl of the wind and the phone's poor ability to record through the ugliness of the elements. The assailants postured. Will calmly protested, ruined it with a facetious quip.

That was when the violence started. Punches were thrown and left unanswered. The paramedic turned the other cheek. A glass bottle ricocheted off of the nearby brick wall, peppering him with shards of frigid glass. Will did not back down. Did not beg.

But he did not fight.

The beating grew worse, punches and kicks graduating once more until something cylindrical was brandished like a bat and smashed sharply across his shoulders, driving him down to a knee. They told him to fight, to beg for his life. To smile for the camera and beg for his life.

Brutalized but not yet broken, Will winked for the camera.

The men moved in for the finish.

Then the whole world went white. White and then dark.

The video ended that way.


Nicanora had been on her way to her feet when the video came through. It was with no small amount of dread that she opened the message, a trembling thumb tapping the play button before her hand moved to cup the speaker. Frantically tapping at the volume button, she listened for anything that might tell her what was going to happen but the low quality of the sound matched well with the poor video feed and it ended up a garbled mess of back and forth banter. She wasn't sure what she was looking at until familiarity bled into the frame. Nica didn't have to see his face to know who it was. The posture, the outline of his shoulders, the bag, the jacket.

"No..." Never had she thought that merely ignoring Silvano's request would lead to this. He looked so oblivious to what was about to come and Nica was stuck watching, powerless. She left the remnants of their dinner sitting in the hallway as she took off for the stairwell, eyes wide with rapt horror as the video progressed. Will ran right into it. She shouldn't have expected anything different. With the first sharp crack of a fist meeting jaw, Nica found her breath sapped from her lungs. Scanning the video, she looked for something, anything that might help her figure out where they were. The half dozen men that assailed the paramedic wore varying dark shades, but as far as she could see, bore no Marks. It was a small relief that was short lived as Will dropped, the four inch screen of her phone shrinking his peril into a handheld horror movie for her private viewing. She reached the bottom of the stairs and burst through the exit and into the storm outside right as the video ended in a blaze of white followed by black.

"No, no, no..." She had been muttering it all the way down the stairs and outside. This wasn't his fight. He shouldn't pay the price for her follies. Her fingers slid the video's slider to rewind and fast forward, forcing her to relive Will's pain over and over. She flinched with each crack and snap but did her best to look for landmarks to guide her way. Already, Winter Storm Odin's snowfall had dropped another six inches over top of what was on the ground before, cloaking everything in white. Street signs, storefronts, all white.

Except.

Nica ticked the slider back to the point just before Will was blindsided and paused it. Across the street from the alley's mouth, the neon red glow of the sign was enough to permeate through several inches of accumulation. It was a pizzeria that she and Will went by every time they had walked back to his apartment from the inn. If she remembered correctly, it was all of fourteen blocks from where she was currently, almost exactly north. She needed to get to him and she needed to do it quickly. Exchanging her phone for her stele, she jerked up the bottom of her jacket and marked a couple new runes into her abdomen for good measure.

Fortis for strength.

Heightened speed.

An additional Stamina Mark for good measure.

Tucking her stele back into her jacket, she took off. Without the Angel's gifts, it would have been slow going, but she found her footing sure and her pace swift as she sprinted down the streets of Old Temple and through the looming shadows of grand cathedrals. Every sense felt heightened, tendrils of awareness extending outwards all around her. Freshly fallen snow has a way of absorbing sound, lowering ambient noise as it blankets the landscape by trapping air between flakes and muting sound vibrations. It lent an eerie stillness to the air and made her hyper-aware of the adrenaline coursing through her veins, the throbbing of her heart in her ears, the short and sharp breaths she took, laden with the exertion of maintaining the pace on such terrain. The first pangs of a stitch in her ribs as she felt the speed rune beginning to wane did little to slow her down. Nica hit the last stretch, the dim glow of the pizzeria's sign in the distance telling her she was almost there.

The snow was whipped around hard by the wind, turning random alleys into freezing tunnels that spit small, icy cyclones into streets that would have been more populated under better circumstances. It piled the snow higher where the drifts ended.

Barely a block from the pizzeria, the view of the way beyond had become obscured by a wall of fog; it was a roiling, rolling mist that ventured no farther forward, what lay beyond only picked out in small pockets of open air and shadows where those pockets failed. The snow had melted in large divets against the greater masses of accumulation. Great chunks of winter had gone missing, unfathomable clues that gave no logical hint as to what had taken place deeper and beyond.

The silencing cradle of winter heavy fallen was broken in faint spells where one crunk in solid, frozen-over snow was followed by the muffled thump of something striking down in wet slush, creating a contrasting tandem that echoed in the fog at a frustratingly slow pace. A single shadow rose against the gray-white gloom, pressing onward despite a listing sway.

There were no sounds of violence, no great indication of what met the Nephilim's approach. Not until a battered and tattered figure, uniformed in a heavy navy blue, materialized where the shadow died, upright against impossible odds and sluggishly putting one foot in front of the other.

"By the Angel...," Nica murmured, her eyes widening as the fog came into view. The way it hung in a single area was unsettling, reminding her of the hellmist used by demons or even unsavory warlocks. Her sprint slowed to a jog and finally a halt, well back from the mist's edge. If it were anything like hellsmoke, it could easily render her Marks nearly powerless. But it couldn't have been...it was a rare occurrence that a demonic being could summon such a wall without impacting its own power. Not one to take chances, she freed a rounded cylinder from her inner jacket pocket. "Penemue," she called on the angel's name to give the seraph blade life, the brilliant glow illuminating her side of the street as she stood her ground. With the night's quiet broken by the thump and slide of only the Angel knew what, coming from the dark beyond. Never had she been afraid of the dark until now. Afraid of what she might find. Of what her carelessness may have cost her. She readied herself, steeling her calm against the worst of her thoughts.

Fight-or-flight response in full bloom, her heart rate and breathing both quickened. The glow of the seraph blade made her look preternaturally pale, her pupils blown wide until golden brown was a barely there sliver around black. Her mouth felt dry and her muscles coiled with tension. Tension that faltered when a familiar uniform loomed out of the dark. It couldn't have been possible, not with the beaten the video had shown him taking, but as sure as the day was long, it was him. Nica lifted the seraph blade outwards to let the light eat away at the shadows as she grappled with her wariness. "...Will?"

The combination of the shadows and the fog made the shaky red light of the pizzeria's sign appear sickly, splashing against Will's shambling form. It made him appear as something straight out of one of she cheesy horror movies that had played out as ambient background noise to one of their more recent sexual escapades. The left side of his face was a mess of battered flesh, little better than freshly pounded steak from the bottom of his jaw, all the way up to where his left eye was already swelling shut. The right side was smear red with blood from a shallow but jagged scalp wound. Ever step was slow and purposeful, one leg showing a faint drag through the thickening snow of the ground.

"I think I'm gonna file a complain with Rhy'din's Thugs-R-Us Union," he replied with softly slurred speech, slowed by a split lower lip. "For ruining my plans for a wild weekend of debaucherous cabin fever sex. And soup. I really like that soup..."

He drew up short of her about a dozen steps, squinting beneath the brighter light of the pizzeria's sign. In that light she could see his one good eye, burning bright with determination and something else that was harder to discern. A little more aware in the moment, his attention shifted to the blade.

Will frowned.

"I frustrated them into quitting. Hope it sends Whats-His-Face into fits." He didn't know the name, but figured out enough to know there was aHe and that the someone had quite the egotistical hard-on for Nicanora.

The light of the angel blade quivered with the shaking of her hand as she studied him. It was difficult to pinpoint the source of her hesitation, but she didn't move even when she saw finally who it was. In short, he looked awful. The smear of red looked like unnatural war paint when bathed in the light's neon glow and highlighted by Penemue's light. Head wounds were messy. It was no wonder he was covered in his own vitae. At last when he spoke, she exhaled a breath that she hadn't realized she had been holding, the low whoosh clearing her lungs of the painful lack of surety.

"Wait, you're going to what? Mmf, nevermind that." She waved her free hand and pulled the seraph blade back in tandem with her step forward. Covering six of the dozen steps, she paused to look him over before urging herself forward to close the remaining gap. "Of all the things to worry about...and that's it? Seriously? You...you could have been...seriously hurt!"

Her annoyed admonishing came laced with an undertone of deep concern that still couldn't bring her to say out loud that this could have been much, much worse. It came as no surprise that he would joke through an assault like that but it still served to fluster her further in her already frazzled state. Adjusting course at the last moment, she moved to his left and slipped tight to his side, her shoulder ducking beneath his arm and her own arm rounding his torso. The angel blade remained in her left hand, its soft glow serving to light the way as she urged him to lean on her. It had only been a short time prior that they had been in a similar position when leaving the Inn, only this time his blood wasn't thick with liquor and her stomach wasn't aflutter with girlish giddiness.

"There's a clinic a few blocks from here, if I'm remembering right. Your head might need stitches," she said softly, glancing over his explanation of how he had made it through the onslaught of violence and just how it might impact the one who had sent the message to her. It physically hurt to think about but finally, she mumbled three words to acknowledge what he had said.

"I'm so sorry..."
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Nicanora
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part Two

"I'd rather worry about the things I enjoy than the things I don't." It was a single ray of sunshine against the darkness of the night's events, a small flash of optimism to ward off the pain. Glittering blue stared at her across the distance between them, drinking her in with all the seriousness of a Catholic taking the sacrament as mass. He read her expression and toned down the sarcasm, his voice tepid when he gave her the final tally. "Scalp wound. A few dozen bruises. Bruised shoulder blade and four bruised ribs in the back. Six bruised ribs up front, two of them likely cracked. Left knee was dislocated but I popped it back into place. They were going to break my hands. I asked nicely so they didn't."

There was no masculine protest when she came to his aid finally and looked to prop him up. The help was accepted quietly, his weight leaned into hers. "Cool lightsaber."

That he was still upright was a testament to his will, perhaps lending greater credence to his nickname.

"You're ridiculous, you know that right?" Despite her terse tone, a threadbare smile threatened one corner of her mouth. Bowing her head against the cold, the wind whipped her hair into a fury, a gale of sun lightened chestnut that glittered like diamonds when the streetlights caught the snowflakes that had made her a crown as their final home. As he rattled off the laundry list of injuries, she loosened her grasp around him in favor of a lighter touch and a sturdier shoulder to lean on.

"It's cooler than a lightsaber," she protested. Of all the Mundane movies she had seen, Star Wars was most assuredly among them so the comparison brought a derisive snort from the Nephilim. Taking them away from the scene of the crime, she opted for a side street in hopes of getting away from any lingering prying eyes. "But I'm glad they didn't break your hands...I'm a fan of what they're capable of."

"Acting like an idiot is good for the soul." Smiling made him wince, but even when his mouth curved there was little mirth to it. It was a sad smile. "Keeps the demons at bay."

A soft grunt or sharp inhale punctuated the seriousness of the beating he'd taken during their slow progress away from the scene of the attack, but Will never complained. Instead he continued to ply her with small smiles as she spoke, until finally addressing the offer of going to the clinic. "No. Just take me home. With all this mess out there, they're gonna need their resources for other people who're needier and more precious than me. I just wanna lay down."

"Oh, is that the secret? Here we've been wasting time with runes and angel blades for over a thousand years," Nica said dryly, her own smile dim in comparison to the subtle curve of his own. She was caught somewhere between rage and her own sadness, so the less she said, likely the better for all parties involved. Instead, she focused on their trek through drifts that were reaching for their knees. At the very least, maybe the cold would sooth his damaged knee, she hoped. Had he been one of her people, patching him up would have been a matter of some well placed healing Marks and some time to rest. But she couldn't even fathom trying such a thing on him and the extent of her first aid knowledge came down to the bare basics. Will was just past the basics, that was for certain, and head wounds were nothing to write off.

"I think you might be a little concussed. I'm of a mind to drag you there whether you want me to or not." It was a bark that lacked bite. Casting a wary look over her shoulder, she tipped her gaze forward again and sighed into a wispy cloud of hot breath. "I'm staying with you then. Once the snow stops, we'll reassess and I'll probably drag your ass somewhere anyways."

That was a compromise.

"No concussion," he told her pointedly. "I'm not dizzy or ringing in the ears. No nausea. My speech isn't slurred." Well, not so much as the split lip would allow. "And haven't been delayed in my responses." Will was very lucid.

It would have been disturbing enough to anyone normal that he knew exactly what was wrong with him post-attack. Frequent looks her way notwithstanding, he kept his attention on the path ahead, a slow, ponderous trek that carried them back towards his apartment. "I'll talk you through stitching my head and playing nurse. It'll be fine. I'll be back on my feet by Monday for work."

He didn't argue with her, per se. Compromise!

"Shh. Not what I meant. I was implying you're a prat to argue with me for wanting you to get looked at." That and she had seen with her own eyes the beating he had taken. Anyone normal wouldn't have walked away from that on their own volition and even if they did, it wouldn't be without lasting damage. Perhaps she took it for granted that he was able to rattle off a comprehensive compendium of his issues. Maybe due to his medical training. That's likely what she wrote it off as, if she was thinking about it at all. Seldom did she lift her head from its bow against the cold to look his way, instead leaving her eyes on her boots to assure their footing, broken by intermittent sweeps of their surroundings.

"Head wounds are messy. And I don't have one of those little nurse outfits to wear," she mumbled, weaving them wide around a patch of sidewalk that would have been precarious terrain even on a clear day. Cursing the fact that she hadn't layered multiple Thermis runes before setting out, the cold wriggled its way into her extremities, making her grip stiff and her nose numb. She sniffed and finally glanced up at him as they turned the corner for the final leg of their journey. "I thought...hm...I thought that I wasn't going to make it in time. So...once we get you cleaned up, tell me more about what happened?"

"Head wounds are messy," Will agreed. "And I'm only arguing because I know what an ER nurse and doc would tell me. No point in wasting their time and my limited resour--." His shoulder hunched beneath a sudden bout of coughing, a grating thing that made his chest heave painfully before a single, small spatter of crimson hit the snow. A disgusted sound followed.

"Can I offer to buy you a nurse outfit," he asked her moments later, a little hoarse but seemingly no worse for the wear. Tone and expression both softened when she sniffer and her voice lowered. His hand found the flare of her hip and squeezed lightly, a gesture meant to reassure. "I'm still here. You're here. Come stand under some hot water with me for a while and we'll figure some stuff out. Deal?"

"Your limited resources?" She narrowed an intent look up at him that softened when he was racked by a fit of coughing that sounded less than pleasant. The arm around his torso tightened just slightly, as if she could hold him together through the red that sullied the white, an artist's brush mistakenly tapped over a new canvas to paint it before it was ready. Dimming Penemue's blade, she stashed the seraph blade inside her jacket with her stele when they met the door to his building.

"I doubt we're going to be able to find a nurse outfit in this weather. Regretfully, you may have to settle," she said through a feigned grimace. Nica let him go to catch the door, drawing it open to bath them in a wedge of light and warmth before gesturing him inside. "I think we can make that work."

"Doctors aren't free, Nicanora." It was a gentle admonishment, a reminder that despite all of the eating out and the modestly decent apartment, Will's finances were finite. Her blade was given one last considering look before the door to his building was pushed open and they were enveloped by the dry warmth of the apartment building's lobby. He drew away from her with a brush of his hand along her arm before reaching limping to the first set of stairs and taking the first step of his ascent. Progress was slow, but there was nary a complaint as he climbed, slowing once to glance back over his shoulder at her.

"Stop staring at my ass."

"Don't worry about that." She brushed off his concerns with ease. After all, she had got him into this mess, certainly it was her place to see it through to the end. Nica tapped her boots free of excess snow at the door's threshold and stepped through, letting the door shut slowly behind her. With her hands free finally, she ruffled through her hair until most of the snow there was gone. Anything lingering would be melted momentarily. Progress was mind numbingly lacking so when he stopped, she used the opportunity to take up her position at his side again.

"I wasn't staring at your ass for once. I was watching your knee," she said with a roll of her eyes, fingers sliding through a belt loop for a better grip. In the close confines of the stairwell, it put them hip to hip almost awkwardly but not enough so to prevent their climb. "Lead with the good, take it one at a time. I'm your nurse now, so you're obligated to listen."

"I know how to do this, you know." He stared at her sidelong when she took up position next to him again, one hand steady on the rail as he all put hauled himself. They passed the second floor and eventually crested the final stairs that brought them to the third, an extra push of pace putting him past her to grab the door that led to hallway beyond.

"And what would you be doing now had they cut off one of my ass cheeks? What would you admire then." It was meant to throw her off balance, to keep her focused on the ridiculous and distract her from the increasingly sluggish movements that dogged him the last few dozen feet to his apartment door. He fumbled with the key before it was turning in the lock and admitting them to the modest apartment beyond. It was until he was three steps within that Will stumbled and nearly went down.

"You won't let me take you to see a doctor, just let me have this so I don't feel so worthless." Though she tried to curve her tone into the realm of good natured self-deprecation, it couldn't quite free itself from the drudges of legitimate despair. She realized it immediately and inhaled half of a breath. "Sorry. That came out a little sharper than intended."

Her scowl chased him through the fire door. "Then I'd be obligated to hunt each of them down and do far worse. It's a crime to ruin such a work of posterior art." As if she weren't already considering doing that regardless. He had done plenty to throw her off but it still did little to mute her concern for his condition. Watchful, her brows furrowed as she turned to close the door behind them. Nica turned back just in time for him to stumble and she lurched forward, intent on grabbing the back of his jacket in hopes of keeping him upright. "See, if you'd quit showing off, you wouldn't have to kiss the floor either."

"Worthless?" Held up by his good leg and steadied by her renewed hold on him, Will turned his head until his good eye could pierce her with a pointed look. "I didn't see anyone else braving a snow storm to come for my sorry ass."

She chided him but Will gave in and leaned into her, wincing but tightening his grip on her as he directed them towards the raggedy old couch.

There was a less than subtle line of tension through her jaw and the pinch of her shoulders when she nodded without meeting his look. Instead she threw her focus into helping him hobble over to the couch, relinquishing her hold once she got there. "Yeah, well, they wouldn't have known and it's my fault anyways. It was the least I could do."

What she didn't say is that she wholly expected to arrive there to find his body cooling in the snow. The thought made her shudder slightly and she turned away to take a look around the apartment. "How're we putting your head back together? After all, it'd be tragic if your brain fell out."

"Stop." It was a simple word. One syllable. He delivered it quiet, but it still had power. She found him looking up at her from where he'd sagged down on the couch's arm. "Stop. Stuff happens and if it isn't one thing, it's another. I'm still here." Will reached for her, grunting as he stretched out an arm and caught her by the front of her coat. She was drawing in slowly until their noses nearly touched and she was given no recourse but to meet his one good eye. "I'm still here."

"I have a back-up medical bag in my bedroom. Grab it. I'll show you how to make neat stitches." The last was a gentler murmur.

He had a way of delivering a shock to her system that stunned her into silence. Weary eyes met his with reluctance but thankfully failed in betraying the full depth of her concern. With a little bit more maneuvering, she might even be able to tuck it away neatly behind door number one for safe keeping.

"You're still here," she repeated clearly, though she lacked his his conviction. Things changed all too easily, she couldn't get her hopes up otherwise. Forgoing the urge to kiss his split lip, she bit at her own and drew back, backpedaling toward the apartment's sole bedroom. She spun a quick one-eighty and militarily precise steps hurried her away from him before he could distract her further. The sooner he was put back together, the better she would feel.

-----
(Thank you to Will for the collaboration!))

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

”There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.”
― Niccolo Machiavelli


23 January 2015

After knitting Will’s head back together and a long conversation under the stream of a hot shower, she finally got him into bed to rest, leaving her alone to her thoughts and the slow boil of her anger. Wonderland had been invaded, the fight had come through the rabbit hole and the white roses had been painted blood red. Some time around half past five, gently slipping her hands underneath Will’s head as she freed the leg he had been using for a pillow, she replaced it with a proper pillow and crawled from his bed, snatching up her phone along the way. It had been mercifully silent in the wake of the video she had received though she was about to ruin that.

Taking care to close the door behind her to provide a buffer between Will and the conversation she was about to have, she went to the furthest reaches of the apartment to double the gap. The kitchen was in need of some updating, the wash of yellow toned fluorescent light serving only to glaringly highlight this fact rather than minimize it, but it was tidy and more than enough for a single man living alone. Nicanora took a deep breath to dampen her rage and keyed in Silvano’s phone number. He answered just before it rolled over to voicemail.

“Admittedly I’m quite surprised to be hearing from you at such an hour, but hello Nicanora,” he said, immediately setting Nica’s nerves on edge.

“You’ve gone too far,” she retorted without elaboration.

“And you should have been polite enough to respond to my request,” he said haughtily.

“Excuse me for not bending to your demands, because that sure as Hell wasn’t a request,” she bit back and leaned against the counter, her eyes on the hallway that led to Will’s bedroom.

“You’re excused. This time. I’m sorry the boys got a little...overzealous with your man candy. Now let’s talk meeting times, yes?” There was a shuffling on the other end as Silvano shifted his phone.

“They were going to kill him, Silvano. First the werewolves, then our own blood, and now you want to add a Mundane to the tally, really?” Nica’s words were acerbic in the way they rolled from her tongue, a disgusted admonishment that mixed with disbelief. Silvano chuckled dryly.

“I wouldn’t really call him that,” he murmured in a tone befitting pillow spoken secrets.

“Yeah, well, close enough,” she shot back at him. While she knew that Will was by no means normal, hearing Silvano acknowledge the same made her insides squirm.

“Not close enough but I’m not interested in debating the boy’s bloodlines. I assume you’ve called to give me your answer finally?” Silvano’s tone had bled back into the realm of bored disinterest.

“I’ve called to tell you that the fight doesn’t come to Rhydin. The people here have nothing to do with it and if you try to involve any of them again, there will be Hell to pay and not even the Clave will be able to save your ass. If you’ll abide by that, I’ll agree to meet you,” Nica said, her calm tone contrasting with the weight of her words. The thought that he might try to go after any of her friends again was almost enough to upset said calm. Will had barely made it through and while she knew that there was more to Taneth than met the eye, she couldn’t bring herself to think about something befalling the blonde. Her list of friends thinned from there, but even to have any of her acquaintances threatened was too much. Silvano was quiet as he considered her terms.

“I am willing to take you at your word on this and offer you that concession as a token of my good faith. See, now was that so difficult?” He clucked his tongue chidingly.

“You’re making it incredibly difficult to not want to rip your tongue out right now, Silvano. Nightingale Park in Miami Springs. Monday night at eleven. Alone,” she said with finality.

“So inconvenient, especially in this snow, but very well. Monday at eleven. Come with an open mind.” Without saying goodbye, Silvano hung up. Nica’s shoulders sagged as she lowered her phone from her ear. As much as she wanted to go crawl into Will’s bed and wait for the storm to blow over, there were preparations that needed to be made. Three messages sent out in quick succession set them in motion.

Text to Daniel Blackwater: Got Silvano to agree to meet me. Monday in Miami Springs. We need minimal presence and he needs to think I’m alone. I’ll call you tonight or tomorrow with more details.

Text to Niamh Kilcannon: Coming back to Miami, have a meeting set with you know who on Monday. May need backup if you’re willing to get dirty.

Text to Gregorio Truecross: Papa, I’m coming home but I need some financial assistance to arrange transpo. Can you help? Daniel knows how to get it to me. Te quiero siempre. XX, Anora

Nicanora turned the kitchen light off and trudged back toward the bedroom.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a natural law of karma that vindictive people, who go out of their way to hurt others, will end up broke and alone.
― Sylvester Stallone


25 January 2016

Part One

Si vis pacem, para bellum. If you want peace, prepare for war.

In nothing but her underthings, Nicanora looked over her arsenal one last time, certain she was missing something. No, she had gone over it six, seven, eight times now and nothing was out of line. She had been judicious in the excessive number of Marks she had applied, fresh runes covering all the flesh she could reach, and in the number of blades she was taking with her. Those she couldn’t carry easily were left in her room at Taneth’s Little Cottage. With a shake of her head, she began the lengthy process of dressing and arming herself. The first harness of three was slid on over her bra and wiggled until it was comfortable. A flat, handless blade was slid horizontally into either side of the harness, tight against her ribs. They were the insurance policy. The third blade she picked up was a new addition to the collection, one of two gifted to her by Will. For what must have been the thirtieth time since receiving it, she tested its balance, deemed it perfect, and finally slipped it into an unconventional and seemingly inconvenient holster between her breasts. Never underestimate the power of cleavage.

Next came the gear. Heavy leather pants, tight fitting enough to provide no extra material at which hostile sorts could grasp but still loose enough to permit fluid movement, were tugged on, buttoned, and zipped. A sleeveless zip up vest of the same processed material was drawn over her torso and zipped as well, drawing the neckline to a V where the zipper wasn’t pulled all of the way up. Nica lifted the second harness up and over her head and shoulders then buckled it into place. It took quite a bit longer to load this one up, blades slipped into the numerous leather loops. When they met, they sang songs of tempered steel until they were muted with the slide of a hooded jacket over the whole ensemble. Before the third harness, she stepped into her boots, lacing them tightly enough to hold the quartet of daggers that circled each of her lower legs. A cursory check of spring loaded toe knives proved sound so she moved on to the final piece. The back sheath was angled cross body and positioned just right so that when she slipped the falcata into it that it would be easily accessible over her right shoulder. Finally she slipped her hands through the muted gleam of the electrum bracers and tugged them into place. On the middle finger of each hand, she wore a single silver ring. Truecross on the left, Altatorre on the right. The finishing touch came in the form of a thin garrote wire wrapped around the high bun of her hair, easily pulled free but still well concealed from prying eyes.

In short, she looked like she was going to war.

For all she knew, she was.

Her phone hummed a discrete notification alarm, pulling her away from her messenger bag just as she was about to open it up and triple check its contents again. It was time to go. She pushed the falcata into the back sheath then picked up her bag by the strap and lifted it over her head to settle it on the opposite shoulder. The drive from Old Temple to New Haven was a quiet one without even the radio to break the near silent monotony of snow being packed beneath the Jeep’s tires. Nica and Will arrived at the empty fountain at exactly five minutes until seven in the evening. It was no longer snowing and the city was in the process of digging out, so the area was void of the passersby that typically frequented the high end shops and boutiques of the city’s northeastern most district.

The pair had said their goodbyes in the hours leading up to her departure, repeated in each stolen moment and each bit of drawn out affection. Words were no longer necessary. The arctic winds swept circles around the fountain, kicking up twisters of powdery snow that danced around them and died just as quickly as they were born. Their hands were laced together, his right with her left, his thick, woolen gloves with her leather fingerless ones that had been substituted for the charcoal grey mittens she had bought ahead of the storm. At ten until eight, on the other side of the fountain, an emerald light flared to life. Nica’s hand tensed around Will’s then careful unlocked.

“I am reminded exactly why I left locales like Moscow and Chicago in favor of Miami. This is dreadful,” Angelo Vice’s musical voice met them before he came into view. He was dressed in a royal purple smoking jacket reminiscent of Hugh Hefner, the crushed velvet catching errant snowflakes and melting their glitter within moments of contact. Beneath the jacket, black on black reigned from the low V of his shirt to the polished dress shoes. He had no winter wear but his electric green eyes sparkled with mirth just the same. Doffing a non-existent hat to them both, he gave a short bow and straightened. “Shadowhunter Truecross and company, I presume.”

“Thank you for your assistance, your...uh...High Warlock-iness,” Nica said awkwardly. Angelo laughed, clapping his bare hands together twice.

“Your High Warlock-iness, I like that. I’m going to use that, I think. May I?” He grinned. Nica noticed that his teeth came to minute points instead of blending into an even row. Angelo looked Will over, scrutinizing him intently. “And you. Are you coming as well?”

“Feel free to use it. But no, he just came to see me off,” she answered with a sidelong glance toward the paramedic. While he was healing remarkably quickly, he definitely wasn’t in any condition to take his first Portal trip right into a likely fight.

“Hm. Shame,” Angelo clicked his tongue and turned back toward the glow of the Portal, gesturing for her to follow. “Time to go then. Half payment upon arrival, of course.”

Nica took the first couple of steps after Angelo before faltering. She lingered on her leading foot for a solid three count before turning around. Angelo paused at the Portal, its light haloing him as he watched her rush back to Will. She slid on the icy cobblestones but caught herself with her hands to his shoulders. His right hand slipped to the small of her back while the left gripped tightly to the balance given by the gaudy cane that compensated for his injuries. Before he could protest, she cupped both sides of his neck and rocked up to crush her lips to his, the smoldering kiss fervent with its burst of need. She let it linger for a few moments longer than she should have, considering the time, then slowly leaned back. Behind her, Angelo was slow clapping.

“I will see you later,” she said with such conviction that it was impossible not to believe her. With reluctance, she slipped his grasp and hurried after the Warlock, pausing only in the final three steps to turn around to get one last look at Will. Even after the toe curling kiss, his expression was still unreadable, but as she gave him a parting smile, she caught its return just as she stepped backwards into the Portal.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part Two

Compared to Rhydin’s unbearable cold, Miami was sweltering. Just above seventy degrees and quite humid, it was a shock to the system to say the least. Nicanora sucked in a tight breath when she and Angelo emerged in a warehouse somewhere in Hialeah. The air was thicker than she remembered. Angelo gave her little time to adjust, immediately closing the Portal behind them and starting for the warehouse’s exit.

“Tick tock, Shadowhunter. Your chariot awaits,” Angelo said, catching the door and holding it open to let a spill of moonlight cut a wedge out of the warehouse’s shadows. While Nica was still curious as to why the High Warlock of Miami would have any interest in a squabble like this, she didn’t ask, instead sliding through the doorway and outside. With a clang, the door shut behind them. Fifty feet from where they stood, a black sedan with heavily tinted windows sat idling. The Warlock gestured toward it. “Chariot. And half payment now, yes?”

“And half on the return,” Nica said softly, flipping the flap on her messenger back. Daniel had sent ahead to Nica an undisclosed amount of money from her father and she had stashed it at the bottom of her bag for less than easy access. Plunging her hand into its depths, her fingers curled into fabric, vaguely soft and completely unfamiliar. Closing her hand, she pulled free…

Boxer briefs... Dark grey with a black band, they bore a single eye and a toothy mouth over the crotch along with the words “Unleash my beast… if you dare” along the leg. Nicanora stood there grasping the men’s underwear, utterly confused. Angelo barked out a laugh, pulling her from her perplexed puzzling over their origins.

“I accept cash, check, and credit cards. We stopped accepting undergarments in the 1980’s,” the Warlock said, more than amused at the creeping red that had suffused the Shadowhunter’s pretty features. Nica cleared her throat and stuffed the boxers back into her bag while muttering about payback and angels. When she pulled her hand free, she had a rubber band bound bundle of bills. Angelo looked pleased, his tail swishing side to side like a cat. “Ah, there we go.”

“If,” a heavy word, “things do not pan out for me, Daniel Blackwater will arrange the remainder of your payment, at the very least for the inconvenience. Thank you for your assistance, Mister Vice,” she said, bowing her head gratefully.

“Sometimes things are bigger than what we are able to see when we are close to the matter. I wish you well in bringing Marcaluz in. He isn’t good for the state of things, not with as unstable as they could get,” he said in a low tone. A blonde capped head leaned out of the sedan’s driver side window.

“We going or what?” Niamh called, banging her hand on the roof of the car. It jarred Nica out of her study of the peculiar Downworlder.

“I’m coming!” She hollered back, stuffing the money into Angelo’s outstretched hand and hurrying over to the car. The Warlock stood stock still as he watched her leave, his neon green eyes pinned on her path until she reached the passenger side. Nica lifted a hand to wave then got in.

“Been awhile since I heard you yell that,” Niamh said when Nica got in. For all of her anxiety over the impending meeting with Silvano, the Nephilim sputtered a laugh. In the backseat, there was an unamused snort. Nica twisted in her seat, the cross back sheath digging uncomfortably into her kidney. Daniel sat in the middle of the back bench seat, a long, thin object sitting across his lap.

“Daniel. Hi,” Nica said, her amusement waning in favor of a thin smile.

“Nicanora. I was worried you were going to be late,” he answered, the flat line of his mouth failing to match her upward curve.

“Angelo showed up late. I was at the meeting place on time. But we’ve got time still, right?” She straightened out and looked to the car’s clock. Digital green against black read 9:45 PM. They had an hour and fifteen minutes still.

“We do. I’m simply glad that we do not have to see what happens if we’re late,” Daniel said softly. Nica visibly tensed.

“I already found that one out the hard way,” she murmured. Niamh glanced over at her, one brow inching up. As the lycanthrope drove, Nica regaled them with the story of what had happened to Will. Bits and pieces were withheld but otherwise, it was all laid out for Daniel and Niamh. The latter took the car through a tall, wrought iron gate, hung a left around the corner, and pulled into a waiting garage. The gate closed behind them, as did the garage’s door. Nica recognized it as the chop shop that Niamh and a few of her wolvish brethren worked in.

“This’ll be where we leave from and where we return to. Ash offered backup but they’ll be hanging well back from the park just so nobody gets suspicious. He said come alone but I don’t trust him as far as I can kick him so we’ll keep an ear out for any trouble if you need it.” Though the brogue had faded some, Niamh’s accent was still unmistakably Irish, especially when particularly impassioned. “Any questions?”

“No. Daniel will be on Dia duty and I’ll take Silvano. Dead or alive, he’s mine. If there’s anything left after that point, we’ll let the wolves have him.” Nica looked between Niamh and Daniel, who exchanged a short look and finally nodded in tandem. From there they set off for Nightingale Park in the neighboring Miami Springs division. Though it was called a park, it was more of an industrial subdivision, a row of derelict warehouses and empty factories. It had been abandoned some time ago and was slated for demolition so that more housing could be put in. In short, it was empty and nobody would likely notice a little bit of damage if worse came to worse. The closer they got, the more their pack thinned. Ash’s wolves lingered furthest back. Niamh’s were next to fall back, leaving Daniel and Nicanora to make the final leg of the journey on their own.

“Alright. Here’s your stop,” she said, freeing her phone from her pocket. Per their plan, she dialed his number and waited for him to answer the call. From there, the phone was dropped back into her jacket. It would be muffled, but it should do enough to give Daniel an ear on the situation. “I still think the cue word should have been french toast.”

“And how, pray tell, would you work “french toast” into a regular conversation without it being terribly obvious?” Daniel asked, keeping the connected phone in his hand.

“Easy. French toast works in every conversation,” she said with a cocky grin. It barely covered the pang of regret at the thought of peanut butter french toast and sunny side up eggs, the breakfast she had enjoyed during what she could only think may be her last Rhydinian sunrise.

“Sure it does. Be careful in there,” he said with a quiet sigh. Never one for physical affection, he offered a hand out for a shake. Nica curled her fingers into a fist until Daniel did the same, then tapped her knuckles against his.

“I will be. I made someone a promise,” Nica answered and started off toward the dark warehouses. At the end of the row, the last building had a single window lit with witchlight. It was obvious as to where she needed to go. She made a slight adjustment to her messenger bag, tucking herself tight against the cover offered by the buildings.

At eight minutes until eleven, she came to a stop at the last warehouse’s side door. The witchlight had died down a few moments before she did and the door was opened before she ever got the chance to knock. It appeared there was no one on the other side, which Nicanora found suspect at best.

“I’ve seen enough horror movies to know you don’t go through doors that open themselves,” Nica called through the door doorway. Her voice echoed in the emptiness and was met by a low chuckle.

“Merely a charm. I assure you that I am alone. Please come in,” Silvano’s voice drifted out to meet her.

“I am alone but I’m not unarmed. No funny business, Silvano. I mean it,” she shouted, teetering at the threshold.

“No funny business. You’ve my word,” he said in return. Nica stepped inside, leaving the door open behind her. Scooping her witchlight stone from the pocket that didn’t contain her phone, she let the soft glow guide the way. On the warehouse’s main floor, Silvano stood with his hands clasped in front of him in a pool of moonlight that flooded through the skylights. He was wearing Shadowhunter gear just as she was, bearing black from throat to toe. He had a sheathed sword on his left hip while on the opposite hip, hung a trio of chakram that matched the pair of chakri around his left wrist.

“Marcaluz,” Nica said formally, stopping twenty steps from him.

“Nicanora,” Silvano responded in a tone that bordered on taunting.

“I’m here. Say what you’ve got to say,” she growled, her patience already wearing thin with the man.

“Come sit. Have a drink while you hear me out,” he said, gesturing to a battered card table that had been set up just at the edge of where the skylight’s moonlight lapped at the shadows. There were four chairs, all unoccupied, and a dark stain over the table’s top. A single bottle sat in the center. Giving Silvano a wide berth, she started for the table. He did the same and when they came to a stop, they found themselves at opposite sides. Nica sat first, Silvano joined her soon after.

“So,” he began, taking the bottle and removing the cap. The label said something about tequila though she couldn’t tell the brand as he took it up for a swig straight from the bottle. “I’d like to start by clearing the air about everything that has happened so far. It’s most regrettable that there was any loss of life, in particular Nephilim blood. That said, I’ve called you hear to make you a proposition.”

“Always knew you were the sort to sell yourself out. Sorry, hermoso, I’m not the sort to play john,” Nica retorted dryly. Silvano stared at her across the table and slowly sat the bottle down.

“While I’m certainly glad you find this humorous, I think you’ll find soon that it’s no laughing matter. The winds of change are upon us, Truecross, Before long, the Nephilim will need all of the help they can get and with the plan I am going to bring them, you would be well advised to declare your allegiance sooner rather than later. Besides, surely a warrior of your caliber would be interested in helping to lead the winning side.” The more Silvano spoke, the worse Nicanora felt about what this plan entailed.

“The Clave is more than capable of handling any issues that may come up. I seriously doubt that whatever you’ve got up your sleeve is anywhere near the realm of reasonable for their consideration.” Under the guise of diplomacy, she reached for the tequila bottle and drew it to her lips. Though she pursed them around the bottle’s mouth, the tip back served only to splash tequila against her closed lips. She didn’t trust him enough to properly drink.

“That is where you are mistaken. The Clave is too concerned with pandering to the very half breeds that should be well under our rule. We coddle them and bend to their whims when they should be the ones obeying us. They threaten our very existence and have the audacity to question it when we stymy the threat they pose. It is time they are put back in their rightful place.” Silvano’s gaze burned with the conviction of a zealot, washing a cold chill down Nica’s spine.

“You realize you sound absolutely insane, right? You were alive for the Mortal War and all of its fallout. Have you forgotten all we lost? How much more we would have lost if it weren’t for the Downworlders who joined our fight?” She was staring at him like he had gone crazy. Really, he may have.

“And ever since, they have acted as if we owed them the world. We owe them nothing and they need to be shown this. That we wield the power here,” he said, stubbornly slamming his fist against the table top. The tequila bottle wobbled but remained upright.

“So that’s why you had no issue slaughtering the Moon’s Children for the sake of getting back at Christopher? Because it is our right to do so?” Nica chose her words carefully, hoping she didn’t incite him further before she could get more information. This was, in fact, bigger than she had realized, just like Angelo had said.

“It was convenient at best. It will, however, make for good fodder once I show them the extent of what we can do. Besides, he was a mediocre excuse for a Shadowhunter at best. His was no true loss,” Silvano said with a certain amount of calculated cruelty. It was just enough to jab Nicanora beneath the fragile facade she had constructed. She stood up quickly enough to send her chair tipping over backwards.

“Don’t. You. Dare.” She snarled each word with such ferocity that if words were daggers, they would have run him through.

“You, though,” he continued calmly, as if she weren’t looming over him from across the table, her hands balled into fists at her sides. “You have always been the better half. As such, I hope you’ll appreciate this demonstration. Perhaps once you see it with your own eyes, you’ll find yourself more agreeable.”

“Don’t do this, Silvano…” The pleading voice came from on high. Nica and Silvano both looked up to see Lidia looking down on them. She was gaunt and pale, the contrasting shadows cutting angular lines into her face in the moonlight. The young woman looked like a ghost in her white nightgown, like she had risen from sleep just to beg him not to proceed with whatever it was he was about to show Nicanora. “Please?”

“Ah, Dia, darling. You’re just in time for the show. Stay there, you may enjoy the view,” Silvano rose from his seat and loosed a shrill whistle. As it pierced the air, a rumbling at Nica’s flank had her whirling around. From the aether came a spill of shadows, writhing and as black as night, reeking of the stench of death and decay. They began to advance on Nicanora and she sidestepped the table with an incredulous look for the man.

“Demons? You didn’t seriously summon demons, Marcaluz,” she said, frantically pulling one of two seraph blades on her person. Just as she was about to lunge at the nearest shape emerging from the black, Silvano whistled again. They came to a halt, pulsing as a single entity though as her eyes adjusted, she could see individual sets of eyes peered out at her from the darkness.

“Beautiful, aren’t they. They’ve been raised on half-breed blood and oh, how they hunger. With just a word, they will help us rein in the scourge that threatens the very Shadow World itself.” He sounded all too proud, if completely insane.

“Silv. Listen to me, please. This is crazy. It isn’t revolutionary. People have tried this in the past and it has only resulted in death. A whole...lot...of death,” Nica said, backing up from the squirming throng of demons that were just itching to get at her.

“Where they have failed, I will succeed. So will you stand with us, Nicanora?” Silvano canted his head and stared at her. There was a wild gleam in his eye, visible even in the dim light of the warehouse’s floor.

“Nica! Just do it so he’ll make them go away! It’ll be better that way, I promise!” Lidia shouted. Nica looked up at Dia then back down to Silvano. It would have been a really good time for backup but in the moment, she couldn’t remember the silly Latin phrase that Daniel had insisted upon for the cue word.

Sometimes it’s better to resort to Plan B.

“No, but I’d really kill for some french toast right now instead. Think you can help me out?” She put on her best poker face and waited for Silvano’s reaction. Before he could react though, her backup arrived. Crashing through windows, barrelling through doors, spilling through every discernible entrance, the wave of werewolves descended upon them. Nica grinned. “Oh, I guess that’s a yes.”
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part Three

Shortly after the cavalry arrived, Silvano’s mess of demons exploded into a whirlwind of chaos, the individual beings that made up the whole aiming to engage the attacking wolves. In the calamity, Silvano begun a retreat for the warehouse’s back door, however Nicanora wasn’t going to let him get that far. Stepping just right, she disengaged her right boot’s toe knife, sending it shooting from the tip of her shoe and for the back of Silvano’s knee. It caught him but the thick gear worn lessened the damage that would have otherwise been inflicted. Still he faltered, giving Nica enough time to vault over a pair of werewolves that were ripping a single demon apart from opposite ends. Ichor gushed across the warehouse floor, staining the lycanthropes’ paws black. Somewhere in the midst, she spotted Daniel scaling a staircase while fending off three writhing demons at once. He hacked and slashed through them, the glow of his seraph blades cleaving through in a blaze of holy fire. True to the plan, he had pinpointed Lidia’s location and was climbing to meet her.

Now Nica only had to execute her job. She flung another knife at Silvano, swung her blade bearing hand to cut through an advancing demon, and without missing a beat, followed up with another throwing knife. The first missed him by inches but the second stuck him in the back of the neck, just above the collar of his jacket. He turned and with a wide arcing twist of his arm, spun one of the chakram at her. She had to divert her course or else run the risk of taking the full brunt of the sharp disc, so she dove over a stack of empty pallets, rolled and sprung to her feet again. Just as she emerged to seek Silvano again, one of the smaller chakri caught her in the shoulder, it’s edges embedding it in her jacket. She stumbled back a step, let out an annoyed growl, and dove for the man.

Nicanora had trained with Silvano a number of times. Not nearly as many as she had with Christopher or the Blackwaters, but she knew the way his body moved. On the other hand, it meant he also knew how she worked as well and so their close range battle proved, for the most part, to end in a stalemate. It was reminiscent of watching Christopher fight him. The same tense determination dictated the efficient defense and counter of Nicanora’s posturing even as they ended up in a rolling heap on the ground. Silvano was stronger but she was quicker, and around them, the battle raged on.

She felt the bite of a blade tear through her oblique, caught beneath the lifted edge of her jacket. In turn, Silvano was subjected to a knee to the groin, enough to stun him. It was a cheap shot, but all was fair in love and war, and this sure as Hell wasn’t love. She seized the opportunity to roll them so she was on top, her knee against his throat as she pummeled his face with her fists. Eventually, she could have sworn that the right handed jabs had left a telltale impression of a blockset letter “A” in the crest of Silvano’s cheek. He groaned with each impact as his head bounced against the cement floor. Before she could do further damage, a heavy mass hit her from her right side and sent her to the ground. The demon bore down on her, pinning her to the floor in a prone position. As she twisted to buck it off, a suction cup like mouth lined with rows of serrated teeth chomped down on her shoulder, its acidic bite injecting only the Angel knew what into her system. She freed a blade from her sleeve and jammed it back toward the demon’s upper body. It squealed and reared back, readying another bite. Before it could capitalize, a swish of displaced air was followed by a squishy sounding thunk as an arrow fired from above hit its mark. The demon burst into flames and disintegrated in a spray of ichor and venom. It hissed against her gear and burned the flesh it touched.

Nica pressed herself up on her hands, her head swimming. While in reality, it wasn’t, the ground felt like it was melting under her fingertips. It came as no surprise that she couldn’t get up in time to avoid Silvano, who had recovered from the beating she had given him. She felt him before she saw him, the hard sole of his boot connecting with one of her supporting elbows. There was a wet snap of cartilage and tendons pulling free from a joint broken by the kick, followed by a pained yelp as Nicanora dropped back to the ground. A knee against her back pinned her down, her injured arm splayed out wide while the other hand ended up stuck between her and the cold, wet floor. She curled her fingers against her chest, feeling around for whatever purchase she could get.

“See,” Silvano said as he grabbed her by the hair, yanking her spinning head up until her neck arched painfully.

“Had you quit being so damned stubborn,” he continued, slamming her face down to meet the pavement and pulling her back up again.

“We could have avoided all of this,” he finished with another smash. Between the two, her face was a mess of blood and split flesh and all she could taste was metal. Time seemed to slow down for her, which helped little when added to the worsening hallucinations brought on by the demon poison in her veins. He pulled her up by the hair one more time and she could have sworn that the sky had swallowed the ceiling, bathing them all in the light of two moons. Two moons? She wasn’t in Rhydin anymore. Two moons blanketed the now snow covered warehouse in a neon glow that steadily turned orange and then blazed red. Bluebirds seemed to swoop from the heavens, dodging and diving around the slowing brawl.

Unbeknownst to Silvano and Nicanora, the werewolves seemed to be gaining the upper hand over the demons. Nica let out a low groan, trying to shove the images out of her head before they truly distorted her perception of reality. Instead, all she saw was fog. Fog and a figure in the snow. Wrapping the two shades of red, one was artificial while the other organic, one was light while the other was the darkness of fading life. She saw Will sprawled over a bed of white painted crimson, his arms wide and his eyes lifeless.

What could have been, she told herself. Will was okay. Will was safe and sound in a realm far, far away. He wasn’t here and he wasn’t dead. So why could she see his face so clearly? Each step she took toward him was a hammer’s blow to the head, her brain screaming with each sudden jar. The next moment, she hovered over him, trying to shake him back into existence. Cold in her hands, she could do nothing to keep him alive.

“Why didn’t you fight?” She mumbled, her mouth thick with her own blood. It was bitter but she couldn’t catch her breath long enough to spit. It was also then that she remembered where she was. She wasn’t standing overtop of Will’s dead body but rather pinned beneath Silvano as he sought to bash her face in against cement sticky with ichor and Nephilim blood alike. Before the hallucination was thrust from her mind, the paramedic offered her a single wink of a dull blue eye then faded away.

It was the moment of clarity that she needed. Throughout Silvano’s relentless assault, her fingers had caught the zipper of her vest, tugging it down enough that the combat knife’s handle was easily accessible. Her hand closed around it and the next time the larger Nephilim lifted her by the hair, she slashed backwards with the knife. While her shoulder bent uncomfortably, to the point it was near dislocation, she still felt the resistance of flesh cleaved by steel. Silvano let out a startled gurgle and toppled off of her. Nicanora felt the momentary lucidity beginning to fade just as quickly as it had come over her and she knew she was running out of time to capitalize on it. Rolling over, she sat up and tumbled after Silvano, who had fallen onto his back and was clutching his neck. Red seeped between his fingers and he looked up at her as she crawled over top of him.

Like a moment out of a horror movie, she was a vision in red, a sheet of scarlet having stained her face from hairline to chin. Her arm hung loosely at her side, her elbow broken to a painful angle. The grin she wore was crazed, her lips quivering as if she were on the verge of laughing at a joke only she could hear. It was almost intimate the way that she climbed over him, straddling his hips with a wide splay of her shaking legs. Even in the way she leaned down toward his ear, her own blood dripping against the side of his bruised and broken face. Her lips hovered just beside his earlobe, her breath hot against his skin.

“He was always my better half,” she murmured as she stuck the combat knife through his trachea and pulled to one side. The jerk of the blade coated them both in his blood but at the very least, his death was a merciful one. The light faded from his eyes and Nica rolled off of him, pulling Will’s knife from Silvano’s throat. As the world tipped over, she found herself at peace with whatever may happen. The remaining demons didn’t seem to know what to do with their summoner dead. Some fled, others doubled their efforts. Nica lay on the floor, looking up at the moon as it smiled down on her while she felt around in her bag. She smiled back until the moon was blotted out by three figures standing over her.

“You guysssss,” she slurred through a giggle. “look what I found.” Her hand was wrapped around a flash bang grenade that she had definitely not been the one to pack. Niamh was the first to get to her, carefully rending it from her grasp. Daniel turned away to dispatch a looming demon then looked back to the small gathering.

“I’ve no clue what that does but we should be getting out of here while we still can,” Daniel said in a hushed tone. He slipped his electrum tipped trident through a loop on his back and bent down to scoop the fallen Nephilim up. The nearest exit wasn’t exactly clear but Niamh looked at the flash grenade considerately.

“Get ready to run and cover your ears if you can. It’s going to be loud,” she said with a hint of a grin. Lidia took point with her crossbow, leading so that Daniel could carry Nica, who was fading in and out of consciousness. Niamh took up the rear, gave Daniel an urging nudge forward and pulled the pin on the stun grenade. She let out a piercing whistle to signal the remaining werewolves then tossed it into the thickest throng of demons. Before anyone could count to two, the warehouse lit up with a brilliant explosion of light with an accompanying bang that gave the weapon its name. Daniel stumbled but made it through the exit while those within the warehouse tried to contend with the temporary blindness and deafness that came from such a thing. Nica wondered if the red and blue lights she saw in the distance were actually there or not.

All she wanted was for the throbbing in her head to go away. Or some hot chocolate. It was her last thought before she lost consciousness just before they met Angelo Vice for the return Portal, as promised.
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Nicanora
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“However cozy things seemed, the facts of life were the same. You couldn't escape death: It would get us all in the end.”
―Rachel Ward, Numbers


26 January 2016

Only twelve hours after Nicanora had first stepped through the Portal to Miami, a spill of Shadowhunters accompanied by one werewolf and one warlock emerged on the exact point that she had disappeared. Angelo Vice had led them to a less than reputable inn just on the south side of the wall that split New Haven from Dragon’s Gate. The inn keeper had asked no questions about the limp and bloodied girl being carried by the large man, nor about the strange marks that three of the five (the unconscious girl included) wore all over their skin. It was normal for a Tuesday morning. All he cared about was that they paid their bill. Angelo had lingered to do exactly that, taking from the stack of bills that Nicanora had given him in order to prepay for two rooms for two nights accommodations. Beyond that, the kids would be on their own. The second of the two rooms was left abandoned while they tended to the fallen Nephilim.

Niamh reset the numerous broken bones as best as she could while Daniel followed after with a stele to etch deep healing runes to help repair the remaining damage. While they did, Angelo examined Nica’s shoulder at Daniel’s urging, a troubled frown worn where a smile normally was. Of all the injuries she had sustained, the bite was most concerning since the angelic runes that the Nephilim bore could only do so much to stop the spread of the venom. On the upside, Nica had passed out so at the very least she didn’t have to be conscious for all of it. At one point, the Warlock left to gather a few things, returning while bitching about the cold. It took a little work, but eventually Angelo was able to counter the demon venom and stop its spread.

“Her fever should continue to drop to a more manageable level, I imagine she’ll come out of it in the next day or two. Keep up with your intermittent healing doodles and she’ll be fine in no time,” Angelo assured them as Daniel counted out a whole new payment for the warlock, some to account for the money spent on the rooms, and the rest for the the Portals and his assistance in the wake of their siege on Silvano and his demons.

“No lingering effects?” Niamh asked, pushing a few sweat dampened strands from Nica’s forehead. She was resting peacefully or so it seemed, which was a far cry from the restless tossing and turning before.

“Maybe a little scarring, but I’m told you sorts like that kind of thing. Her little lover boy should be pleased,” Angelo answered, counting through the bills and tucking them into his smoking jacket. They had already made arrangements for their return to Miami at which point Angelo would inevitably require further payment.

“Lover boy?” Daniel snorted, arching a brow.

“Either that or he was her pimp, though I don’t think any self-respecting pimp would wield such a gaudy cane,” the green eyed Warlock laughed, as if he should be one to talk about gaudy. Niamh and Daniel exchanged a look but before either of them could ask further since Angelo was already halfway out the door.

“I guess we’ll figure out once she wakes up?” Niamh suggested with a shrug. Daniel rose, intent on passing through the door that adjoined the two rooms.

“I guess so. I’ll keep the door open in case you or her need anything,” he answered gruffly.

“So what do we do until then?” The werewolf posed a follow up as Daniel reached the door’s threshold. He looked back at her, his mouth grim.

“We wait. Nothing else we can do.”
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

”Slowly, with many lost days, I come back to life.”
―Suzanne Collins-Mockingjay


30 January 2016

“A day or two” turned into three.







“Nic, baby girl. It’s about time ye be waking up.”







“Think she can hear us?”

“Perhaps. It’s hard to say.”

“She looks just like she’s sleeping…”









“Gregorio called again.”

“Wha’d ye tell ‘im?”

“Didn’t answer it.”

“Oh…”







Three long days of that.





And then the fourth.

Four days spent fretting, four days fighting a fever that didn’t want to quit, four days spent wondering if Angelo was wrong. Daniel, Niamh, and Lidia had traded off shifts of watching over Nicanora as she slumbered, each spending four hours at a time at her bedside in the event she awoke. Saturday morning arrived, stretching sleepy and tentative fingers of rose gold through shades too old and battered to properly fend them off, cutting long slats of light and even longer rectangular shadows over the ceiling and the room’s occupants.

Nicanora was certain it was another hallucination, the weight against her leg and pitchy cartoonish voices ringing in her ears. A broken moan slipped past dry lips from a dryer tongue, making her head throb painfully. Sitting up wasn’t an option but the pressure on her leg lifted with a squealing of chair legs being scraped backwards over warped wood.

“Nicanora?” Daniel’s voice was hoarse but familiar, slowly dragging her out of the fog that seemed to fill her head. She made a noise in the back of her throat that was equal parts whine and grunt.

“Stop yelling…,” she groaned, grudgingly opening her eyes. Just to narrow slits though. Even the morning light felt like daggers to her optic nerves. Someone had seemingly filled her limbs with sand, moving was a chore. As she tried, she felt the weight on her thigh again, persuading her to open her eyes further.

“Sorry. No need to move, you’re safe. You’re safe and you’re okay,” Daniel whispered, his hand resting over the heavy comforter that covered her from chest to toe. The bed beside her shifted and soon a grinning face slid into view.

“Top o’ the mornin’ to ya lass,” Niamh said cheerily, laying the accent on thick. It always made Nica laugh when she did that but oh how laughing hurt right now. She held at her left shoulder to keep it from jarring with the giggles.

“How’re you feeling?” Daniel murmured, reaching to touch the back of his broad hand to her forehead and then her cheeks. Nica tried to lean back from what felt like cold skin and bumped her head against the headboard.

“Like I got ran over by a pack of Hellhounds and then let them use me as their chew toy. Ugh, where are we?” Again she tried to sit up, her head whirling and forcing her back once more. Things were coming into focus finally, little by little. The room was small but cozy without feeling cramped. Two full sized beds were separated by a nightstand with a single lamp. A tube television on a short, squatty dresser was blaring cartoons and a nearby desk was laden with less than neatly stacked takeout containers.

“Angelo Vice Portaled us back to that place you were staying,” Daniel answered, offering her a hand to help her sit up.

“We’re back in Rhydin? Where’s Silvano? Where’s Dia? Where’s my phone?” The questions came rapid fire as she tried to push the numerous blankets off of her so she could swing her legs over the side of the bed. In tandem, Daniel and Niamh both grabbed for opposite arms to slow her down. With good reason too. The flurry of movement sent the world tilting and Nicanora slumped back again. “Actually, first, where’s my stele?”

“Marcaluz is dead. Lidia is here. Your phone is wherever Niamh put it after playing with it. Here is your stele.” Daniel answered her questions in order, patient as he offered over the slender piece of ornately decorated adamas. Her left hand felt stiff as she tried to curl her fingers around it. After a few tries, Nica settled on a rough and unrefined grip, peeled up the edge of her sweat-stuck shirt and let her unsteady hand burn another iratze into her skin. It flared gold then sank into her flesh. She found herself wishing Christopher were here. Their bond would have made it such an easier process.

“How long was I asleep?” Nica asked, rolling her shirt’s hemline down and trying again to sit up. Taking it slower this time, she managed to get upright.

“Awhile. But you’re okay now, that’s what matters.” He was reassuring at the very least, scooting back as she wiggled her legs over the side of the bed at touched her bare feet to the floor. It was cold. She wanted to retract back into the warmth of the bed, stay there for a few more hours.

“Yeah, I guess. I need a shower, I smell awful.” Nicanora got to her feet, steadying herself with a hand to Daniel’s shoulder. He looked up at her, his brows tugging with concern. She gave his shoulder two heavy pats then let go, shuffling for the suite’s bathroom. “So…it’s done? It’s over?”

“It’s done, Nic.” Niamh reassured her. Nica sighed, nodded, and shut the bathroom door behind her. Daniel sighed as well, waiting for the door to latch before he muttered.

“For now.”
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