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Author Topic: Sleep Now in the Fire  (Read 1326 times)

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Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Sleep Now in the Fire
« on: Nov 10, 16, 06:26:35 PM »
Location: Onn, Pruul
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening




It was time.

For months now Hayll had slowly moved away from the corrupt, bloated vessel that had been under the direction of Nero Augustus and Prudentia. While its war machine prepared to march against the beleagured Askavi and the Eyriens who lived there, Lilith Cinerus had lived as the mother of a traitor. She had freed her slaves, had set them to their own purposes. She had broken the chains of her thralls as her son-in-exile had urged. But now was not the time for Lilith Cinerus, it was time for her to don her true face and to act once more for Hayll.

She knew where to find him; He would be in Pruul by his child half-blooded Queen. Through a Gray Wind she flew to the edges of Pruul and then walked on her feet to the festival city. The use of Craft in Pruul would have been a death sentence due to the Sand Worms. So she instead used the armaments due to her former mantle, Indomitus, and came to his temporary home with spelled robes, blade, and mask.

Lilith, an operative of the Tenebrosi Iarvis for nearly a thousand years, did not even need to use Craft to make her way past the guards posted nearby his home. And as she came to the edge of his tent she sensed the webs of a Black Widow guarding his door.

Curious. She thought to herself. A feminine scent. Who have you called to your side, my beautiful son?

While she was now the Master, she bore the face of the Aegis and the Shield. And it was that mind she drew to the surface. Indomitus lifted her hand and with a surge of her Gray power she dissolved the webs and spells laid in protection, then harnessed that energy to wrap a skin-tight shield about herself. With a flowing figure that, to onlookers would appear to float more than walk, she came to the doorway and gently pushed her way through the wall to enter the chamber itself.

"Cinerus." The same cold voice, devoid of intimacy and kindness that she would grant to him normally (as much as Lilith ever exuded such things) came forth from the mask. The same figure he had seen beneath the Coliseium that had saved him from the trap that had been sprung by Sabine Vicentius.

A hand made out of shadow reached out and pointed to him as he roused at the intrusion. "I have come to claim the debt owed to me."

Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #1 on: Nov 11, 16, 02:16:37 PM »
As well as Gideon and Kesare typically got along, the two did not see eye to eye on everything. Most of the time, they handled such differences of opinion with respect and grace, as any two adults ought. As much as they were Priest and Healer, however, they were equal parts Warlord Prince and Black Widow. Sometimes, stubbornness and emotion won out over patience and compromise. Sometimes, the little differences of opinion between them struck a nerve with one or the other, and tempers flared and voices rose.

Gideon's refusal to answer some questions, for instance, occasionally struck Kesare's latent insecurities in just the wrong way, and there was no venom in the world like the words of a wounded Black Widow. But perhaps in the end it was lucky for them that their combined castes were as volatile and as swayed by passion as they were. What began as idle conversation and quickly bloomed into heated argument only boiled so long before it spilled over into something else entirely. Anger and lust were such near cousins, sometimes, and sometimes - graceful solution or not - staking his claim on Kesare anew seemed to be the only way Gideon had found to make her feel safe and assured of his enduring presence in her life.

This particular night, the lesson had merited repeating a few times.

Gideon slept hard for several hours afterwards, until his body woke him to remind him that their earlier theatrics had managed to make them overlook any sort of evening meal. He was on his side, curled behind Kesare with his arms all but cramping in their hold around her body. Even so, he didn't move right away. He lingered there a moment, only bowing his head further to more deeply breathe in the scent of the raven hair that spilled over her shoulder. He sank his face down against the crook of her neck, and let the warmth of her throat stir him to wakefulness. She sighed in her sleep, and his hold on her shifted, tightened.

"Come back to me, Seeker," he murmured, a low-pitched rumble that sounded softly near her ear. If he'd said it to her once he'd said it a hundred times, as often to call her back from her exploration of the Deep as to summon her back from sleep when he desired her. He uncurled his topmost arm from around her and pulled his hand from her chest down to her belly, around to her waist and then down to rest atop her hip. He gripped her there, gently pulling her back against himself, and he opened his mouth to speak again, but was interrupted by the queer sensation of the security webs she'd keyed to him firing off. Just an instant, and then there was naught but silence. Half-asleep as he was, it took him a second too long to understand what that meant - there was, after all, no sound from the exterior of the room to indicate that anyone had actually triggered Kesare's traps and felt their sting. By the time his mind caught up to the alternative situation, someone was stepping through the wall into his quarters.

Before his feet even hit the floor, a ring of Sapphire Craft manifested and blew outwards from the bed, a concussive force meant to throw the intruder backwards, if not shear off the skin from their bones. It was as this spell was cast that Gideon recognized the intruder. That voice, and the dizzying kaleidescope of psychic scents could only be one entity.

"Peace," he said to Kesare, holding out a hand towards the woman who had likely responded just as violently (even if perhaps slightly faster) than Gideon had.

If everyone survived that initial moment, Gideon would work with an extreme exertion of will to calm himself from the initial fury of having had his sanctum breached. Indomitus, this creature had called itself, when Gideon had first encountered it. The trauma and frustration of that night rushed back to Gideon, though he ignored it for the moment. He dared not greet the creature by name, painfully aware of the fact that Kesare was witnessing something that was not lightly shared. A fear sparked to life in the back of his mind, that this Indomitus would attempt to protect its secrets at any cost. And such power it wielded... Gideon knew without trying that he would die attempting to interfere, if the creature concerned itself with silencing Kesare.

"I am Hayll's," Gideon acknowledged, too consumed by a torrent of emotions to single one out to feel. "Tell me my Price. I will pay it."














Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #2 on: Nov 12, 16, 02:10:20 AM »
Location: Onn, Pruul
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening




Kesare Fuentes slept, deeply and peacefully. The heavy weight of the arms banded about her kept both fear and common sense at bay. Gideon's warm presence at her back, and his deep, thrumming heartbeat laced through her dreams, banishing nightmares and the lessons of her past both. His scent surrounded her, a promise and an enticement. He made her feel as if he'd always be there to hold her, as immutable as stone. The pleasant exhaustion of her body calmed the tumult in her heart, and in these quiet hours Kesare was truly at peace. That deep peace was not so much disturbed, as drawn from the hidden crevices of her soul to entwine and bewitch her mind when his voice rumbled through her. The intimate timber reached beyond reason, his powerful desire erased logic, taking her to a place where only instinct and passion ruled as he spoke the quiet summons that never failed to move her.

Come back to me, Seeker.

And here, cradled against him, Kesare didn't have to wonder why she obeyed Gideon when he Called her, or why the feel of his arms brought a curve to her lips, or why his fierce passion roused her own so readily. His hand soothed over her, possessive and tender both, as he pulled her against him. She angled her head, and had not even freed a hand to press his more tightly to her, when a faint stirring in her Webs and then an absence of what should be sent terror through her.

Lady Kesare Fuentes de Costa Ciraea had come of age during the Great War, and endured 600 years of the brutal Askavi occupation. She had but one response, when her defenses were breached: Attack. She rolled to her feet, summoned Rose Shields about both Gideon and herself, and was poised to strike the intruder with her Snake's Tooth in one smoothly silent motion. She was lightly Jeweled, with no margin for error, and a goodly number of her White Security Webs served their purpose only in being light enough and skillfully woven enough to escape detection.

Not this time.

This time, every single Trap, Warning and Defensive Web Kesare had woven was neatly and completely absorbed between one breath and the next.

Only an extremely skilled Black-Widow could have so handled her Webs.

Her Avatar was tied to her Security Webs, and Power surged and burned through the room, deeper than Kesare could sense directly, but the echo of dark power and the effect were clear enough. Gideon was on his feet, ready to fight, with a speed and grace that sent a fierce, exultant pride through her. His dark, Sapphire power echoed through her senses, the perfect complement to her own shields, and likely to scythe sufficiently through anyone's personal shield that her Fang would be a true threat.

Before Kesare finished her strike, Gideon spoke. One word. Peace. that word froze her in place, though she remained poised and battle ready.

The intruder was masked and cloaked both physically and psychically, an image of tentacles or snakes in the shadows, and the Caste/Sex/Jewels of the creature roiled and crested in a random weave that was truly a work of art. And yet said intruder was able to speak coldly, calmly, without an ounce of effort or fear in voice or posture, which placed it as more darkly Jeweled than Gideon.

Cinerus. I have come to claim the debt owed to me.

Kesare assigned it as feminine based on the deduced Caste of Black-Widow, not from any confidence that the creature addressing them held any sexuality at all. She wasn't even fully certain they were seeing a member of the Blood, and not a Shadow-apparition. Yet if it were real, and were at least humanoid, still its jugular must be in the same place. Tension and portent swirled through her senses, but this time she fought to remain focused and alert. She had so very much to loose, suddenly; her heart burned within her, even as training forced emotion to the side. Yet not even her formidable will could banish it altogether, and fear battled with anger for dominance. She Masked herself, her scent smoothing to perfect calm, her eyes and face unreadable, her body a perfect mask for her emotions. Her amber gold eyes were focused intently upon the intruder, and a not even a shudder of rejection revealed her response when her Avatar answered.

I am Hayll's. Tell me my Price. I will pay it.

Despair threatened her, that he promised so much, so readily; Had Gideon never been taught how to negotiate with the ferry man? Kesare's mind instinctively reached for his, seeking contact rather than to question him. She remained still, a perfect, naked Dhemlani statue, neither protesting uselessly nor retreating fully from her threatening position. Gideon desired her not to attack, but he was anything but calm. Was this, then, the Price she had glimpsed in that first vision of Gideon? Or had that been an image of the past, and this new Price a burden yet to come? Gideon's phrasing of his answer had been oddly formal, almost a ritual in itself; she could not decipher if that was merely Gideon's way, or if this entire encounter were part of those deep secrets he felt he could not share.

Whatever this creature truly was, Gideon at least believed it served Hayll.

Kesare was not so sure. She had seen much of deception and double-cross when fighting with the Resistance. She warred within herself, for surely one such as Gideon, trapped in Hayll, had suffered too heavily to trust easily. Nonetheless, she would not let this creature trap Gideon in a devil's bargain. For all most of Hayll hated Gideon, still he loved the land of his birth, and served it as faithfully as he did the Darkness. Hayll, the Darkness and his family were the cornerstones of his world. She couldn't stand aside and see any of that threatened.

The Black-Widow Healer took a short step back, placing herself closer to Gideon. Not that it would matter; she could not even risk flinging them into the Winds to get him out of here, for Pruul was painfully limiting that way. Despite the pain within, her voice was cool, court perfect, and revealed only calm consideration.

"You won't face the Price alone, Gideon. But do let us hear this Price, before all bargains are sealed."









Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #3 on: Nov 12, 16, 06:38:29 PM »
The Sapphire blast that came from her son flowed across her shield like water across a stone. Its energies dissipated as it swept past her, finding no true purchase. The naked Widow's attempt to use her Snaketooth against her would have been equally ineffective, had she not stopped herself short. Beneath her true face Lilith lifted an eyebrow at the sight of her son with this woman. They had not been in coitus upon her arrival, that meant he trusted someone to be near him in his bed as he slept.

Curious.

Still, her questions of who this witch was that rose to the defense of their tent could be shelved for a later time. Lilith recognized that such inquiries were of a personal nature and had no value to her purpose here. The presumptiveness of the witch had to be addressed, however, as she assumed that she had a say in the matter between them.

She did not.

"Your voice holds no weight in this matter." The cold iron voice of Indomitus echoed through the tent, lacking emotion, gender, or inflection. It was as true as the stone and as sure as a river. "There is no bargain to make. It is a Price. And Cinerus knows of what I speak."

The True Face turned to look directly at her son then, the witch forgotten as she gave priority to the object of her mission. "In one week's time the slaves of the Coliseum will be freed. It will be done during the cover of night -- when there is no moon, and after a great celebratory feast. At that time the Eyriens will be free in truth, as you had struggled to achieve on our last meeting.

From there, the slaves must find shelter as they organize, gain strength, and begin to grow into the force of revolution that Hayll requires.

Your price is to see to their freedom and their immediate safety. The Choice is whether you will help lead them to the future you have foreseen for Hayll, or if you will return here.

I do not care for your Choice. Only the Price.

You may gather others to aid you in this, but you will tell no-one of your true purpose. You will meet me in the Temple of Agrippa as the sun falls, within the sanctum, along with any others you have brought. If you do not do this I will consider that you have forfieted the Price, and I will claim it in another manner."


The ominous manner in which that was left open to interpretation, given what Gideon had witnessed of Indomitus's power, would plant the seed of hesitation to resist her issued order. That, Lilith was certain of.

"Are the terms clear to you, Cinerus?"

Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #4 on: Nov 12, 16, 09:41:46 PM »
Kesare refrained from attacking, which Gideon counted as no small miracle. A woman with her history, being surprised in her sleep by an unknown assailant was a recipe for nothing but violence. It spoke to him of her great trust in him that she stayed her hand. At least, it would speak to him that way later, when he had time to consider and reflect. For the moment, it was all he could do to resist the urge to demand her silence. Not out of any reluctance to hear her input, but simply because the more she spoke, the more she would draw this creature's attention to herself, and the less certain her survival became. Gideon had no means by which to measure its abilities; he only knew the sense of immense timelessness and awe-inspiring power he'd felt in that ancient chamber when it'd been brought to life before him. Still, had he been alone now, he would not have felt fear in its presence. It was as much an extension of the Darkness, to Gideon, as a hurricane off of the Hayllian coast was. It was worthy of respect and capable of much harm, but it was in itself less a villain and more a force of nature.

At least, that's how Gideon felt.

And the more Kesare drew attention to herself, the more possible it seemed to Gideon that this Indomitus might take offense to its secrets being shared.

*I will explain all of this to you. But please trust me for now, and do not draw it into conversation. Let it say its piece and leave, and then I will answer your questions. Please.*

"I do," he solemnly affirmed, when Indomitus pointed out that Gideon knew of what it spoke. "I have not forgotten." He fell silent then, listening while the stranger explained what Price he would pay. He watched that unmoving face with wide eyes, breaths heavy, his heart hammering in his chest. The Coliseum was going to fall. That alone would have been enough to thrill him, but to hear of everything else that was coming - it was almost more than Gideon could bear. He had dreamed to see revolution in Hayll, but had not dared to hope that it would come so soon.

"I will do this," he assured the creature, emphatically, when it threatened to extract the Price by another means, should he refuse. "I will do all that you ask." His words were not the words of a man begging for his life; they sounded relatively calm, all things considered. Still, beneath the mask, Lilith would understand the roundness of his tone, the impassioned strain that was not normally present in the even tones of her son's voice. The truth of the matter was that, obvious or not, he was begging. Not for his own life, but for the Black Widow Healer who'd crept closer to his side, and towards whom Gideon's guarding hand was still extended. He was not yet convinced that this creature meant to leave any superfluous witnesses. Its allowance that Gideon involve others in his task gave him hope, at least. "I understand," he said, when the creature asked if the terms were clear.

When Indomitus turned to leave afterwards, Gideon was gripped by a moment of desperation. "Wait," he said, in hopes of pausing the creature's retreat.

"I will do as you ask, regardless. I will serve Hayll and I will pay my Price. Gladly. I have endless questions. I know there is much you cannot or will not tell me, and I accept that. Give me one answer, and I will ask for no more until you deign to tell me." There was not a person in that room who ought not to have been surprised to hear Gideon Cinerus promise to cease questioning, least of all Gideon himself. But when Indomitus did pause to hear his question, he found his resolve to be true. If he had this one answer, he could bide his time in peace for the rest.

It was harder to ask than he'd anticipated, and if he hesitated a moment longer than he should have before continuing, perhaps that was why. Fear could do that, after all.

"Why did the webs fail?"














Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #5 on: Nov 13, 16, 04:50:10 AM »
Location: Onn, Pruul
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening


Kesare Fuentes took another precisely measured step towards Gideon, and away from the creature which had so easily overcome her defenses. Not even the oblique offer of a second victim diverted it from its focused purpose. A few inhumanely cold phrases placed Kesare at one remove from the negotiation - if that was even the correct word - between her Avatar and this shadow-creature. The Black-Widow Healer allowed no emotion to translate into her body; no narrowing of the eyes, no lifted chin. A Protocol perfect curtesy, her soot-black hair a silken waterfall, was her only reply, though the intruder's attention was fully on Gideon.

Almost simultaneous with the precise verbal repudiation of her interference came Gideon's welcome mental presence. She had not been certain he would let her in; sometimes battle required great individual focus. That he did reassured her, and while his request made her spirit howl in frustration, she allowed only the merest touch of her dissatisfaction to echo between them. She understood that he was protecting her, much as she still struggled with the concept, and that rueful knowledge, laced with both affection and guilt, dripped onto her newly healed spirit like acid refining silver. She longed to act, for all she had long since mastered inaction. She ached to protect Gideon, with an intensity that threatened her fine control, yet she could not master his foe with skill, did not have sufficient Jewel Strength to fight it, and it would not be lured into debate and thus fall prey to more subtle skills.

It's focused purpose made Kesare deeply uneasy; Dispassionate zealots, free of greed or impulse, were incredibly dangerous. And she very much feared that that was exactly what they faced. Each coolly perfect, utterly emotionless word the creature spoke deepened and distorted Kesare's sense of reality, luring her into dangerous waters. Healer, Black-Widow and even nascent Priestess instincts sought what simply could not be found, as if a Void dwelt within the shadows of the creature's carefully woven mask. She felt as if it were a portal to the Twisted Kingdom, and if she searched too hard for too long she would fall endlessly into madness. She examined each trace, each shadow of a hint, hoping desperately for some clue of what lay within. It's precise, carefully calculated instructions sent cold spikes of dread through her. The images of her violent, blood-drenched Vision of Gideon and the Colosseum danced once more before her inner vision. She recalled Gideon's profoundly emotional response to hearing that one envoy had made it home; this creature dangled a bait before Gideon he could not possibly refuse.

Even if the task itself were all but impossible.

I will do this. I will do all that you ask.

Gideon's words were fervent; passionately true, deeply driven. A pressure lurked behind his words that she could not parse, but the very intensity sent disquiet dancing through her. She had a vastly more intimate knowledge of what such a revolution would cost both Gideon, and Hayll. He had not even been born yet, during the Great War. But Gideon spoke again, and she found her whole attention was riveted not to the alien creature's reply, but to Gideon himself. She could not even imagine how one single question, however burning and critical, might satisfy Gideon's brilliant intellect and questing mind.









Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #6 on: Nov 14, 16, 04:30:33 PM »
The question that Gideon posed was not an unexpected one. He had asked it before, over a year ago, in the deep earth beneath the Coliseum when he first met Indomitus. A burning question -- but it was not the true question.

Indomitus turned to face Gideon again before it left him bereft of its presence. Its voice came out as chilly as before as the eyeless mask stared directly into the eyes of her son. "You seek the wrong answer, Cinerus. You have asked the wrong question.

But I know what it is you truly seek. You wish to know if you can still trust her.

The answer is yes."


Even if you may not understand what it is I do.

Long shadows stretched around Indomitus then, and the masked figure once more turned for the flap of his tent. "One week. The Temple of Agrippa. Bring all that you dare. There will not be another opportunity." Lilith then stepped from the tent that was the haven of her beautiful son, not sparing him or his consort a second glance. She had delivered the message she had meant to, and there was much work to be done. She could spare no further time for sentiment. There would be time for that when the work was finished.

She once more activated the ancient spells in the mask and her robes, disappearing from sight and sense as she left the Festival City behind. Within minutes she had departed from the boundaries of the city, and within hours she left Pruul behind completely. From there, she would go to the bowls of the earth to the ancient temple that held the heart of the Tenebrosi Iarvis.

There, in the sanctum of Hayll's Heart, she began her work in earnest.

Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #7 on: Nov 16, 16, 11:16:10 AM »
The mysterious creature who had single-handedly rewritten so much of Gideon's situation left, just as abruptly and enigmatically as it'd arrived. Its words echoed in his head, an answer and yet not an answer at all! He tried, for the sake of his sanity, to take the creature at its word. It was right, after all; Gideon's actual concern was whether or not his trust was misplaced. However, the way it had neglected to avoid his simple and specific question in favor of a more complex and vague one sat ill with him. It only inspired more questions.

It would have been a simple matter to say that Indomitus had predicted that Gideon would have sought Lilith's help, and when they'd been preparing for the night when they'd helped Gideon escaped, they'd taken measures to ensure the webs failed. It would've been equally simple for Indomitus to have said that they didn't know why the webs failed, that they'd merely seen it in a vision or read it in a web that they would fail. With so many castes swirling about the creature's scent, it was not unlikely that a Black Widow could be underneath all the mystery, and could have seen a portent describing how the night would end.

But Indomitus hadn't given either of those answers. They'd not answered. Were they involved with his mother, then? In collusion such that she'd willingly given Gideon faulty webs to use? Or perhaps his mother had been compromised somehow, and was being manipulated in a way she could not sense. It seemed impossible to Gideon, but so did most of the other scenarios. What if she'd meant to give him working webs, but some sly compulsion had made her unwittingly do otherwise? That would explain why Indomitus had been aware of Lilith enough to judge her trustworthiness, and in a position to assure Gideon that he could still trust her intentions.

A dozen possibilities rioted in his head, and the need to understand burned more fiercely now than it ever had. Yet the specter who haunted him was gone now... not that it would've been likely to clarify the situation for him even if it'd remained. The entire ordeal - the not knowing, the forced mystery, even the sudden and violent awakening at the intruder - it all descended on Gideon at once in a wash of utter frustration. He roared through gnashed teeth, and the nearest moveable object (a lightweight rack upon which he'd begun stacking the books he'd collected in his time in Pruul) was ripped from its place and thrown angrily across the interior of the modest room. Books and scrolls went flying and the rack itself shattered, but it was not nearly as satisfying a gesture as he'd wanted it to be.

He was immediately ashamed, of course. Not only had the gesture been childish and futile, but Kesare was present to witness his rare moment of petulance. He was unaccustomed to constant company, and though he'd never had cause to mind her before, he suddenly longed to be alone. Even now, he was sorely tempted to leave. He wanted to take wing, to pummel himself with the cool night air far overhead, to see the world from that higher perspective that might help take the edge off of his frustration.

Instead, he closed his eyes. He let the tension ride his body and tried to center himself where he stood. He pushed past the questions, the anger, the fear, and tried to align himself to the truth that he suddenly had much work to do.















Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #8 on: Nov 16, 16, 08:46:05 PM »
Location: Onn, Pruul
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening


Kesare Fuentes remained poised, ready for action, both in the delicately nuanced presence within Gideon's mind, and her body. She watched Gideon, though the creature was kept carefully in her peripheral vision. When the creature turned to face Gideon, she had a faint moment of hope that it would answer him, and put his heart at ease.

The Black-Widow Healer didn't think one question, however deep, would bring the same peace to his mind.

But the creature delved into deeper matters, offering a greater truth that only shadowed and hid the simpler one Gideon searched for. And then the Darkness seemed to rise up as it repeated its demands, and vanished into the night. Try though she might, she could discern no trace or track of it; it was gone as if had never existed.

To a Lady used to sensing every subtly, each tie to the Darkness and portent that surround an entity, that cloaked figure was amongst the most terrifying and confusing foes she'd ever encountered. To not discern secrets of health and wellbeing, age and race, nature and origin merely by being in its presence left her more off balance than she was comfortable admitting, even to herself. Was this how the Landen felt, when dealing with each other?


Kesare was accustomed to working on several layers at once, and yet the turmoil within Gideon made it hard to focus, hard to compartmentalize. Yet she made herself focus upon the creature's final words.

One week. The Temple of Agrippa. Bring all that you dare. There will not be another chance.

Carefully, she walked to the borders of the room, searching for any trace. She ran her fingers over the tent wall, let her toes drink in the very spot where the creature stood.

Nothing. The walls held no memory of the presence which had addressed them, the rug and sand beneath her toes assured her no one had trespassed. Yet her Security Webs were gone, without a trace, the only evidence that the creature had been there.

Aside from the shattered furniture.

Kesare was still prepared for combat, still hair trigger. So although she had been surprised by the destruction, she had not startled. Nor had she needed to turn to discern if Gideon had perceived a true threat. The clever evasion, the pretense of giving more than had been asked for whilst withholding the essential truth, would have provoked an outburst from Kesare were she less terrified. Add that to the spiking frustration and sense of ... entrapment? ... she felt from Gideon, and she knew an entirely different sort of battle lay before her.

It wasn't a building, at least. The thought brought a touch of ironic humor, and some much needed perspective. She waited, not cursing Gideon with her direct gaze while he fought to master his emotions, but neither did she evidence any shame or outrage at his behavior. She knew he would find it shameful, but to be so close to a fight to the death, and denied action was brutally hard on a Warlord-Prince, Priest or no.

Gideon stove to focus himself, and Kesare waited until she felt he had found some sort of balance, before speaking.

"She ... I am saying she, because that creature swallowed my Security Webs whole ... left no traces. Nothing that i can read." Kesare turned to face Gideon then, a faint smile on her face, concern in her amber eyes. She remembered this feeling. Terror and pride in equal measure. Purpose and risk simmering though her so strongly that she could not eat. the only way to end the tension, was to complete the mission. "I shall have to place new webs, before we sleep again." She stepped gracefully through the chaos around her, and stopped directly in front of Gideon. She would catch his gaze, if he opened his eyes. But he wouldn't need sight to read her lifted chin, her battle-ready posture. Those would echo through her mind, her scent.

Challenging. Questioning. Planning.

"When do we leave?"









Offline Cutter al-Sabbah

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #9 on: Nov 18, 16, 07:35:45 PM »
Location: Agrippa, Hayll
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening







Gideon probably didn't admit it, but 'ol Cutter was sure he was happy to have the grumpy Warlord along.

When Gideon had told Cutter to tell Nima that he was leaving to do something important, the curmudgeon of an Escort had said simply that if Gideon was leaving then Cutter was coming along. For one, Cutter was sure that if Gideon died something in Nima would break permanently. For another, as much as he was a pious pretty boy, Cutter didn't mind the Eyrien double-casted Warlord Prince. And for another thing, he needed someone who was stronger than Lucky to deal with the pain-in-the-ass when he got too big for his britches. So Cutter had said in no uncertain terms that he was coming along and was going to make sure that they'd all get back safe.

But now that they stood outside of the old temple, the moon full and high in the sky casting long shadows upon the open ground, and Cutter was considering he may have made a fucking mistake. The howl of the wind across the nearby shore sent the waters of the sea crashing against nearby rock. The spray and foam filling his nostrils as he moved under the not-there-cover of night toward pillars of marble that were older than most civilization. He clutched his hand tight to the hilt of the blade he'd brought, figuring there'd be some knifework before the end of the night by how this had all been described. He hovered near Gideon who led the way -- a few steps from Kesare so that pretty-boy didn't think he was trying to get close to his girl. Cutter licked his chapped lips as the salt tinged the air and as they stepped up the stone stairs he felt that the shadows from the pillars seemed longer and more sinister than they ought to.

Cutter didn't say anything, though, it'd ruin his crusty old man image if everyone thought he was a little bitch and afraid of the dark.

Gideon hadn't given him a lot of information to go on for what to expect; either because Gideon didn't want to spook them or just because he didn't know, but when Cutter stepped into the temple grounds his eyes went wide in surprise. Three stone statues, some twenty feet tall that served as the pillars of the grand hall, came alive as they entered and looked down at those entering the temple with bright golden glowing eyes. As if the statues had once been giant Hayllians whom had been interned in the stone.

"Cinerus." The statues said, their voices cold as the stone that they appeared to be, their voices echoing in chorus through the hall. Upon the high altar stood a figure who's features were wreathed in darkness. Formless and sexless, the only thing Cutter could make about it was a single detail that stood out from the shadow; A mask made of iron.

"The time has come." The stone chorus sang, and Cutter felt something in him grow cold in a fear that he tried to strangle and not allow to show itself in his face or his form. "Have you brought all that will aid you?" The statues gaze shifted from one person to the next, and Cutter felt their golden and glowing gaze pierced through his skin to see the fear beneath.

Man the fuck up, Cutter. Something in him snarled, and he forced himself to stand a touch taller.

He didn't speak, but something in him wanted to yell out 'Fuck yeah we are', even though it was neither apt to the question nor proper timing, if only to show that he was far readier than he felt.








Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #10 on: Nov 21, 16, 11:11:19 AM »
Cutter had surprised Gideon, though it was not a revelation that was unwelcome in the least. Gideon was in no position to turn down an offered hand when it belonged to someone he had reason to trust. And while he hadn't known Cutter long enough or well enough to have given that trust via mundane means, he'd seen nothing in the man to make him doubt the sincerity of his expressed desire to help. There was the matter of the shared Bond to Ghanima as well; in truth, that was likely as much motivation as anything else to concede to Cutter's wish to join Gideon on his mission. Even if Gideon had little reason to trust Cutter outside of that Bond, he was convinced that he felt the hand of the Darkness in the matter. So it was as much by faith as it was by reason that Gideon decided to accept Cutter as a brother, and resigned himself to the warlord's company for the foreseeable future.

...not that he explained any of that aloud.

Kesare, on the other hand... there really hadn't been any doubt that she'd go with Gideon. Not from the first when do we leave? she'd given him immediately after Indomitus' departure. With everything else he'd had to consider, Gideon hadn't had reserves enough to even try and argue the Black Widow Healer out of her decision. What's more, he didn't want to leave her behind, even if he did feel it would have been safer. As thrilling as it felt to finally be embarking on the beginning of such a long-awaited journey, he knew that the days ahead would be some of the most trying of his life. Selfishly, he wanted Kesare around for a number of reasons. Her experience would make her an asset, certainly, but Gideon drew such comfort from her mere presence that he might've agreed to her joining him even if she hadn't had any wartime history to draw from. Had he dwelt on the matter long enough to truly acknowledge that, he might've been bothered by how closely tied their futures already seemed, to him. How easily he assumed that they would encounter whatever was coming together! And yet he had plenty of other matters to occupy his mind, and so it was easy enough to ignore those details and keep moving forward.

The travel was frustrating. Gideon was unaccustomed to walking on such journeys, but flying pushed him too far ahead of Kesare and Cutter, who had no wings with which to keep pace. They opted to head south first, dipping down into Dhemlan until they found the fringe threads of suitable Winds that the Warlord and the Black Widow Healer could use, though they had to drop and find new ones frequently to avoid being whisked further down into Dhemlan. Gideon avoided the Winds altogether at every opportunity he could, finding them an awkward and immensely uncomfortable experience. The result was a sort of leap-frogging, where between walking, the Winds, and Gideon's flight they traveled together for a while, then apart for a while, and then picked up again further down the border towards Hayll. As convoluted as it all became, however, it was still faster than simply walking the entire way by foot.

The three of them were together when they reached Agrippa Euracini, just north of the Province where Gideon's family resided. That he did not stop in Faro was a strange choice on his part, but it felt right. He trusted Brutus and Keziah and even Jupiter implicitly. They each would have brought something powerful to this task he was beginning. But with so much unknown to him still, he did not feel it was right to bring them into the shadows with him yet. He was, after all, still technically an outlaw in Hayll. He had no reason to think that Sabine's minions weren't watching his family's property for signs of his presence (from a distance, of course; Lilith was no one to trouble lightly). Beyond that, he hadn't the time it would take to explain everything to each of them, and then navigate their questions and various reactions. Gideon's family had never known a lack of strong opinions, and this matter would most certainly be no different.

No, this was a task he must at least begin without encumbering them. They could be brought in later, if this effort did not implode upon its initiation.

The temple itself was a place of awe and reverence for Gideon. Those feelings were only amplified by the portent surrounding them this night. When the magic of the Shadowed Ones (which he'd taken to calling them in his head, so long as he was still bereft of any other information about them) suffused the massive stone pillars before the group and they lowered those spectral eyes to address the trio, Gideon's heart trilled in his chest. It felt like speaking to the gods of old, and summoned a cold thread of excitement through him. As much Warlord Prince as Priest, something in him surged forward at that tickle of anxiety and fed him confidence rather than temerity despite the awesomeness of the sight before him.

"All that I trust, and could reach in time," he responded evenly. Firmly. If he was ashamed at all of showing up to such a significant mission with only two others to assist him, he gave no sign of it. Gideon drew people slowly to his heart, and his trust was not easily won. That even Cutter had been brought was due more to his faith in the Darkness and its Bond than any real preference on Gideon's part. It was more a miracle, he felt, that he wasn't standing here alone.

His mind touched Kesare's, a wordless gesture.

"How must we proceed?" he asked, of the Shadowed Ones.














Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #11 on: Nov 24, 16, 02:55:28 AM »
Location: Onn, Pruul to Agrippa, Hayll
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening




Kesare Fuentes found the long walk through the desert draining to the body, but invigorating to the spirit. The dry heat. The shifting, burning sands. The powerful wind, so hot it seared her cheeks and chapped her lips. It was not safe to use Craft in the desert, so heat and personal shields could not be used. All the tiny, myriad ways she used her Healer's and Black-Widow's gifts to ease her body and soothe her spirit, even basic Craft, forbidden lest the Sandworms devour them. The desert forced her to be painfully embodied, from blisters on her feet, to broken nails and the faint tang of blood on her lips, yet it invited deep mediation. The desert forced her to explore her physical limits as nothing save bearing a child could do.

Lord Cutter al'Sabbah's presence intruded upon this time of introspection and solitude, as she prepared herself for the grueling challenge ahead. Yet the grumpy Warlord was impossible to resent, a fount of odd stories and a calm, confident presence. For all she needed to withdraw, to harden her heart and regain the edge she'd lost in the last 200 years, she had hoped for this time alone with Gideon, to frame a few memories before the upcoming trials. That, even more than to find out if the true purpose Gideon was not to reveal was something more even than she knew of. Those words of warning from the creature that had so casually invaded her personal space kept her from sharing anything at all with poor Cutter, and Gideon himself seemed oddly silent on the matter.

Or typically silent. He did not readily share things that touched him deeply.

Nor did Gideon willingly use the Winds, and Kesare found that fascinating. Was he afraid the Darkness might claim him once again, if he granted the Psychic Winds dominion over his body? Between his aversion to the Winds and ability to fly, the odd hopscotch travel would be extremely difficult to track, and impossible to predict, which pleased her. Such security measures would need to become habit, if they were all to survive challenging the stranglehold of the Hundred Families. Touching the edge of Dhemlan filled her with a desire to show her Avatar her home; to make love with him in the sea. In Costa Ciraea she could find old contacts, and warriors with their own hatred for slavery of any sort. Yet this was so personal, for Gideon. A sacred Quest, laid before her exquisitely tormented Warlord-Prince Priest. So she yielded without protest or demure when he opted to travel with single-minded intensity towards the Agrippa Temple.

The wilds of southern Hayll were almost as familiar to Kesare as her own home, but the more heavily populated areas near the coast were still a wonder to her. So much decadence and wealth, despite the Great War and Purge. Luxuries even the wealthiest of Dhemlani Aristo families could not command were daily trivialities to the Hundred Families. And the center piece of all of that privilege and power was the Colosseum itself.

The fierce wind seemed to have followed them from Pruul, trading the harsh desert dryness for the dank promise of violence from the sea. The full moon scattered silvered hopes before it, making a mockery of true secrecy. The ocean was riled, violent, its roar a dark counterpoint to the howling winds. If the creature who planned this was timing it to the advent of a punishing storm, their chances of living increased profoundly.

Kesare followed Gideon, as they stalked through the brilliant, moonlit night. She held a position that allowed him to unfurl his wings and fight without worry that he would hit her, but kept her close enough to guard his back or heal him in need. Cutter hovered near to Gideon as well, obviously as skilled at unit tactics as he was in single combat. That was reassuring; not all Blood bothered to learn to fight as a team.

The ancient Temple of Agrippa filled her senses before they even entered it, or set foot upon the stone stairs. Echoes of centuries upon centuries of hope, despair and power tumbled down the silvered stairs and across her senses. The Temple held a depth of power that stole her breath. Kesare pushed back the scarf which covered her soot black hair, and Vanished her gloves, so as to feel that power against her skin. The caress of the Darkness was sensual, tangible and real to her. Almost, she removed her boots, as well. It was her habit, when seeking worship or embracing the Darkness. But likely battle lay ahead, and thigh high boots filled with traps, spells and tools were not something donned in haste.

Pillars of fire and shadow, from her Vision, resolved into ancient marble statues that likely predated Dhemlan. Hayll's ancient guardians turned and moved. At first, Kesare assumed it to be mere Vision; such portent and power flowed in the temple that she could not even look upon Gideon without discerning the deity beneath his flesh, nor look at Lord Cutter without feeling the hot deserts of Pruul beneath her feet. Her lips curved in one of her rare, fleeting smiles and she angled her head back, to better read the portents coursing over her skin. Shadows reached out for her, challenging the moonlight pooled around her, both as alive and sinister as the three gleaming, ancient pillars turned into gods.

Cinerus. The time has come.

The world tilted, wonder and exultation edging to fear, as she realized Gideon and Lord Cutter heard them, too. Saw them. The statues were real. Actual, physical embodiments of a power so vast she could not even tell where it began, and her own ended. The Twisted Kingdom sang from every flash of light, every shadowed corner of that Temple. Stone cold, those voices were, passionless. Ruthless. And standing upon the altar was the creature who had so easily bested her defenses and ignored Gideon's attack. Dark tendrils of power curled around it, exploring the world as if they were foreign to it. That exquisitely crafted mask obscured all features, and she could no more discern its true nature now, then before. Every Caste, every Jewel, radiated from it in turn. 

And Gideon's soul was carved of stone, as ancient and fierce as any here. They spoke to him, watched him, questioned him. No doubt they weighed his worth, and could only envy his power and focus, his primal strength and great beauty. His answer, all that I trust and could reach in time, soothed into her soul. Kesare knew Gideon. Knew him. He did not speak such words lightly. Trust ... mattered, between them. And that trust allowed her to stand in silence, and wait. She did not ask of the creature upon the Altar why the Purge had failed in its mission, or how the stone came to life, or why Gideon was tasked with this mission, though she her assessing, eager gaze studied each in turn. She did not query the guardians for what they thought of dragons. Or ask the masked creature whether the old gods were as real as Mother Night, or merely an older representation of Her. She did not place her demands and conditions upon the creatures gathered there, or step closer so as to touch the marble statues turned titans, to see if they were warm flesh or still cold marble. Nor did she study the roof to see how the Temple still stood with three statues animated, or why there were precisely three and not thirteen ...

Gideon's warm, welcome presence grounded Kesare, as if he cupped her soul in his hands. His mind touch pulled her back from the tantalizing portents; warmth, anticipation and their shared awe danced between them. Her Avatar belonged amongst these beings of vast power and ancient lineage, of that she had no doubt.

And it was not in her, to question her own worthiness to stand there, though perhaps she ought to. Nor did she doubt her purpose, being in Hayll's Temple, and plotting the downfall of the corrupt. The Purge had taken too many lives to let its work go unfinished.









Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #12 on: Nov 29, 16, 02:36:57 PM »
The statues shifted slowly as Gideon posed his question. The shadowy figure that was Indomitus did not move, seeming to remain as stoic as the stone ought to have been. One statue began to gesture, as if speaking, and move its hands slowly about as it began to indicate the plan for the words that flowed forth from the ceiling, the walls, and the marble floor beneath them.

"There was a great feast for the Coliseum and the Investors. The principle slave owners were all present and have drank and reveled. Led by the Consul, the celebration enshrined their greed and their loyalty to his vision of the future.

Now they rest, or focus their ambitions upon the currency of flesh. Soon they will exhaust their hungers and their bodies will lay in torpor. We will collect their control rings, and as we do we shall free the slaves from the bowels of the Coliseum."


One statue outstretched its hand toward Gideon then, opening its titanic palm and revealing within the center of it a ring of black onyx, inlaid with runes of gold lettering that hummed with power that touched his senses. The psychic scent of his mother strongly wrapped around the ring. "One has already been secured. The others we will take tonight."

The statues slowly began to solidify and once more stand erect, returning to their position as stoic, silent guardians of the ancient temple. The figure of Indomitus stared passionatelessly at Gideon, Kesare, and Cutter without so much as the slightest body gesture of its feeling. Such was the way of the Mask. "You will wait in the foyer, beneath Sight Shields, and await for me there. Once I have given you the Control Rings, we will move in earnest.

It is likely that you will have to kill the defenders and servants of the Slave Owners. You must be prepared to do what is necessary to secure not just the freedom of the slaves of the Coliseum, but the future of Hayll.

Are you prepared, Cinerus? Are your companions?"

Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #13 on: Nov 30, 16, 03:21:05 PM »
Gideon listened in silence, nodding his understanding while the Shadowed One explained the night's events at the Coliseum.  Fattened before the slaughter, he thought bitterly, not entirely certain how much of his sharply-edged reaction was contempt for the slavers, and how much was contempt for his own willingness to be unconcerned for their fates. Principle investor though she was, Gideon did not consider that his own mother might be among those mentioned. She did not revel. If she did, it certainly was not in public, and not with the likes of the other investors. No, she would not have been there.

That did leave the matter of how her slaves would be freed. Then again, maybe they already had been. Her last words to him had been cryptic, and there was no telling what, precisely, she'd been planning. But he'd no sooner had that thought than he found himself staring at her very ring, dwarfed in the giant hand of the statue-turned-avatar.

Gideon tensed. A snarl tried to curl his lip, despite his attempt to keep himself even. His teeth clenched, and his hands twitched... though he did manage to stop them from balling to fists.

"I must see her," he said, more quickly than he typically spoke. "Did she surrender that willingly? Has she been harmed? What is her role in this?" He tried to reel the words back in, but they kept coming, forced out by frustration and concern. They didn't have to have shown him her ring. They could've given it to him later, after they'd collected the rest of the rings. They didn't have to make a point of her standing apart from the others. Part of Gideon wanted to believe that it was a message in itself; they were assuring him that she was part of this somehow, that she was not only unharmed but that she was helping them. Yet it was his mother. He could not rest on assumptions and hopes. He could not go into this battle under their banner while there was some chance that his mother lay conquered in some dark corner. 

"I have made no demands of you. I have shown up here, following whispers and shadows and riddles. I have brought those I've trusted, have given over my safety and my arm towards helping to accomplish your aims, and I have made no demands. All I have asked is to understand her role in all of this, yet you have steadfastly refused me. And now you taunt me with this?!" He snarled the last, his chin jutting angrily towards the massive palm, despite how easily that giant statue could have sent him flying with a flick of its mighty wrist. But it was too late. Gideon was frustrated.

"WHERE IS SHE?" he bellowed, his voice bouncing sharply from one wall of stone to the other and back.














Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #14 on: Nov 30, 16, 04:54:52 PM »
Conviction.

Rebellion.

Impudence.

Were she weak of heart and soul, she would have revealed herself to her child then to assauge him of his fears. Was that not, after all, what a good mother would do? Would not a good mother have no secrets from her son, whom she had impressed upon a perilous journey? Would she not convince him of the certainty of their cause?

But she was not a good mother. She was Ignoto. She was the guardian of Hayll's very soul and she took that responsibility very seriously. It was not as Lilith Cinerus that she were here. That was just a mask. A face to wear when she was not her true self. Lilith Cinerus's continued existance was only because Ignoto willed it so; because Indomitus -- her former life -- had been needed.

As wrathful as her beautiful son was, he was only a man. One man's love and his convictions and his faith had no weight against the needs of the Tenebrosi Iarvis, and she -- their architect, their master, their leader, could not betray their cause for whim and love alone.

"You do not demand." The chorus sang, but as they did tendrils of gray power lashed out and wrapped around Kesare and Cutter both. Lashed chains of dark energy bound them by throat and wrist and hoisted them into the air, immediately cutting away their breath and any hope of resistance.

The mask seemed to grow darker -- the shadows about her now growing in size. Gideon Cinerus may be a doubly blessed Warlord Prince of the Blood with the temper of an Eyrien, but she was a Black Widow blessed by Mother Night and bearing the face of a creature more ancient than all of their histories combined. Ignoto stepped forward and the voices came out in a growing crecendo that shook the walls.

"Your life was saved by my intervention. Your fate was one of humiliation, mutilation, and agonizing death. It is by my power, and my will, that you live Cinerus.

I have told you that she is safe. That her part has been played. That your trust in her was not misguided."


The voice became a roar -- dust coming from the statues, rocks lifting up from the ground at his feet, and the entire temple began to quake as if it would come apart from the cold wrath of the masked figure before him. The chains upon his companions tightened, and their skin began to flush.

"A price is owed. You will pay it with your life or your death. There is no room for your questions; Only your obedience. The choice is yours.

But be it life or death, your companions will follow."



Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #15 on: Nov 30, 16, 08:43:25 PM »

Location: Agrippa Temple, Hayll
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening




Kesare Fuentes breathed in the power and age of the ancient Agrippa Temple, trying to both focus her mind and calm her body. Too much adrenaline could be as fatal as too much. Any plan that called for a tiny force to infiltrate and sabotage a much larger organization would require keen minds and unyielding will to succeed. So she tried to bring herself, body and mind, down from the wonder and glory washing over her senses. It was the instincts of the Black-Widow she needed now, to categorize the assorted threats they would meet, not the calling of the Priestess, to study the precise echoes of the thundering stone chorus before them. She, as the only experienced Rebellion fighter on this mission, had to anticipate danger points and prepare set-spells, to enable them to survive the inevitable set backs and dead ends.

The spike in Gideon's emotions as he took in the horrific glory of a slaver's Control Ring took her off guard. Kesare's gaze snapped to his, before he even spoke, and hopelessly inadequate Rose Shields flared to life around the three of them. The world was in flux, stone fluid and shadows hardened like steel. Gideon's certainly turned to doubt, and her world narrowed to the more critical task of trying to get them all through this alive. The enemy had abruptly defined themselves, but every word Gideon spoke lowered their chances of surviving the evening ahead. All emotion vanished from Kesare, as the singing threat of imminent danger changed her in one instant from woman to weapon. One honed in 600 years of brutal warfare. Her aura smoothed to unreadable, her body fell into the deceptively relaxed posture of a warrior ready for battle.

WHERE IS SHE?

Gideon's final demand dwarfed the echoing, shadowed voices of the stone itself, shattered parts of words curving back and forth between the walls of the ancient temple. Kesare's whole life could be defined by the different shattered, hurting people who had shouted some version of that desperate query in her presence. Kesare knew how to feign submission, and didn't struggle as the welcome presence of indefinably Dark Power turned into a bitter, vice-like grip, yanking her arms over her head and closing her throat. Her own Rose Shields were nothing to a power that had shrugged off Gideon's Sapphire Power Blast as if it had never occurred.

The Masked Creature spoke, even as it choked the life out of her. She struggled to focus, to hear each word it spoke; if it talked long enough, it would reveal its weaknesses. It had not attacked Gideon, which meant it hoped still to use them to its purposes. If only Gideon could be kept from the Killing Edge, they might all have a chance. She'd have ground her teeth in frustration, if she weren't dangling in the air, unable to even take a single breath. This was not how you fought a superior foe. You never even let your opponent know that you were an enemy, until the fatal strike fell.

*Gideon.*

Kesare invoked his name between them, seeking to embody all that he was in that single word. The driving need to breathe and the instinctive fear that came with it she merely acknowledged, then let it pass through her without visible effect, no more than background noise in the intertwined minds. No, what drove her was neither fear nor anger, but her formidable will, that refusal to be fully conquered.

Sarque yet stands.

The subtle battle cry of the resistance flowed through her, as past and present threatened to mingle in her mind. Yet it did not; the strength and insight gained over the summer kept the flashbacks at bay. Vivid colors muted, silvery moonlight turned to a grey mist, draining the life from the world as the coil of power at her throat gripped tighter. Still, she refused to struggle beyond the instinct-level twitches as her body fought for breath.

*So long as they need you, she will be safe.* Unlike most, Kesare had some understanding of the volcanic nature concealed within the outward calm of Gideon Cinerus. So she did not know if he would hear her words; did not know if the Judge would weigh them, and find them worthy.

Or if the Judge had already spoken, and they would all die an an explosion of wrath and rage, taking Hayll's future into oblivion along with their own.









Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #16 on: Dec 02, 16, 12:52:05 PM »
For an instant, the fate of the evening, and the fates of all those in that temple, balanced precariously on the head of a pin. Gideon, normally so controlled and measured, had already been thrown off balance by the sudden idea of his mother's ring being taken from her by force. The subsequent challenge of his brother-in-arms and his lover being accosted at once swept the legs out from beneath what remained of his normally formidable self-control. Absolute fury, raw and sweet, bloomed up inside of him with a quickness that was terrifying. Left unchecked, it would have frosted the ancient temple around them, would have chilled the stone enough to cool the wash of blood that would surely follow.

A few things happened at once, though, to prevent that last shackle of self-control from bursting free and calling doom upon Gideon and his fellows. Primary among them was the Shadowed One's confirmation that Lilith was safe and unharmed. Despite what it believed it'd told him, it had not spoken those words to him in a form so clear. Perhaps it felt its mere inferences should have been enough to sate him indefinitely, but they were not. In all its arcane knowledge, it did not understand, somehow, the bond between Gideon and his mother. It did not understand how gladly he would have accepted the fate of humiliation, mutilation, and agonizing death it predicted, if the price to avoid it had been his mother's life.

But she was safe, the Shadowed One said, at last.

Simultaneously, the scholar in the back of his head was recalling the last time he'd aggressed against this creature. His deepest burst of raw strength had washed over it like little more than seawater; he was utterly outmatched in terms of sheer strength.

And then Kesare touched his mind. He could not focus enough, for the moment, to hear her words... but he didn't need to. The mere presence of her against his barriers was enough of a final push to help him back over the ledge, to help his feet find solid ground once more. The chains lashed once more around the beast within, and Gideon dropped at once to his knees.

"No! I yield!" he cried out, still growling through gritted teeth because of the fury that still rippled through him, trembling his hands and his heart. It seemed as though his body despised the words his mouth formed, despised how quickly he'd hit his knees. He pressed the matter, forcing himself against a nearly physical pain to bow forward, to plant his palms on the ground in supplication. It was important to make his point quickly, so he forced down the revulsion the beast in him felt at the act. What his tempestuous heart wanted in that moment was not what would dictate his actions. He forced himself to repeat that, to close his eyes and swallow down acceptance that this was neither the time nor the place for that release. Soon, he promised himself. He'd have an outlet soon enough, and waiting was easier than being wholly denied.

"I yield," he repeated, if Kesare and Cutter were not immediately released. "Please."














Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #17 on: Dec 03, 16, 02:09:08 PM »
There was no sympathy in Lilith's heart as Gideon's distress overtook his rage. He, whom was born of her womb, whom had been her savior child and her rock during the worst years of her life, could not move her now. She was the unstoppable force that would move through Hayll like a tidal wave and he would ride that current or be left behind. For all of her love of him -- indeed, he was one of the only things that could make her feel these days -- he was not enough.

Some things transcended love and family. Some things were worth more than anything this mortal coil could offer.

Her true face offered a nod slowly to her child as he surrendered to her will; an acceptance of his offer. She lifted a hand and made a slow gesture, one elongated by the shadows behind her, and the tendrils of power released both Kesare and Cutter. They were able to land safely on their feet and she and the statues around her turned their full attention to Gideon. She would not offer an apology for the way she'd disciplined him. She never had previously, and she would especially not do so in this critical juncture. His service was now no longer in question. He understood that her resolve would not break or bend, not even for him.

"I will leave now. Travel quickly to Draega. I will begin the work without you, but you must finish it. There is no room for hesitation in our mission, Cinerus. There is no room for mercy. Your wrath will soon have its deserved vessel."

The statues slowly stood more straight and started to lose their animation. Like great bears, they became sluggish until they hibernated into a state of stoic silence. As they entered a state of rest the room grew slowly darker and colder as one by one the torches were snuffed of their light. The shadows grew larger and so too did her power. Wrapped in spells and purpose, Indomitus gave a final glance toward her son and his cohorts. There was nothing more to say at this juncture. Any affection she may offer would diminish his wrath, and she needed that for what was to come. Like any other weapon it needed to be finely sharpened to its purpose.

Indomitus departed in silence, one moment there and the next she had vanished to the tunnels beneath them, moving with deadly purpose to the Coliseum.





She went to his wing first. He, the worst of all of them. The one most bloated on the opulence of the Coliseum and its trade of skin and suffering. Not that she were guiltless -- indeed she had made a large fortune on the trading of slaves into the arena. But Indomitus was not concerned with her hypocricy. Slavery was a tool, like any other, and its use had ran its course. Now the time had come to discard it as well as many other things that Hayllians had made as pillars of their community.

With silence and stealth she moved through the halls of the Coliseum; unseen, unheard, unfelt. Only a cold chill followed in her wake, a harbinger of the doom that awaited those she set her golden eyes upon. Sensing through the defenses of the chambers (many she had designed herself to the benefit of her fellow investors), she moved past the strands of alarm and mental disfigurement. Door after door, barrier after barrier, she bypassed spell, stone, marble, and flesh until she came at last to her destination.

She appeared like a haunting spectre into his chamber, keen eyes staring out through the black holes of her mask where her eyes ought to have been, and set her gaze unto him.

"Lucius Pullo." She addressed him by name, her voice the cold steel that he had clasped around the necks of many and more. "I have come for you."

Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #18 on: Dec 07, 16, 12:35:00 AM »
Location: Agrippa Temple, Hayll
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening




Kesare Fuentes, for all her great age compared to the short-lived, or even to Gideon himself, was still only just over a thousand. Quite young, still. And it was that youthful part of her that burned with resentment when her Gideon was brought to his knees by the Masked entity. A hatred was born, not in the moment bands of implacable darkness cut off her breath, but in the moment that her Avatar bowed his neck to the creature standing on the Altar.

It didn't matter that that was exactly what needed to happen. It was irrelevant that some form of temporary submission had been entirely her intention when she'd reached for his mind. It should have been her forced to such an anguished choice, not him, never him. The hate burned anyway, hot and fierce, a wound all the more startling because Kesare had not anticipated it. Had not expected to feel anything at all, and certainly not a burning desire to punish the Masked Creature forcing Gideon to jump about like a puppet on a string.

Using her against him.

Kesare's feet hit stone with a precision that only further fueled resentment. It was so dispassionate, so coldly calculated that it felt like a perversion of the Blood's power. The Masked creature ought to at least be angry. Or fearful. Or anything but ...indifferent. She felt as insignificant as the creature intended; shame warred with the rage that burned within her.

Yet the Black-Widow Healer had learned a control so fierce it nearly rivaled that of a Warlord Prince, and so she fell gracefully into a kneeling position, when released, rather than remaining defiantly on her feet. Her gloved hands touched the cold, solid stone of the floor.

More than the Hundred Families were now at risk, if only Kesare could find a way to pierce the concealment hiding the Black-Widow under the Mask. She could not yet point out to Gideon the true identity of the single creature most worthy of his wrath, but she would, someday. She did not shake with her rage. Her aura did not flare with relief, as her aching lungs gasped in the sweet luxury of air. She did not even look up, as her vision cleared and the thing which had so earned her wrath spoke its final, pointless exhortations.

Kesare had no intention of disobeying it until the moment she slipped a knife between its unsuspecting ribs.

But the withdrawal of the arms of shadow drew her eyes, the way the statues seemed less to have been woken up to meet with them, than were now bound into a false and hated captivity. She ached for them, the beautiful and ancient guardians bound to an evil without even the decency to feel passion about its kills. The torches snuffed out as easily as the creature could have slain them, and the tiniest tremor of rage shook her right hand. It had to be rage, for she didn't have time to wrestle with fear.

Only when the strange, alien presence left them did she turn her attention to Gideon and Cutter, assuring herself silently of their well-being. She gracefully stood, either offering help or accepting it if offered; she wanted, needed to touch real people. To feel the heat of life, and the brush of anger in her companions. To know them to be alive, in a way the true enemy was not.

Kesare would reach out her hand to place it on Gideon's chest, if permitted, even though his shirt and her gloves denied her the skin-to-skin contact that would ease her. She didn't really think he'd let her touch him. But Cutter and Kesare were hostages to Gideon's good behavior, and an anguished rage, fueled by guilt, burned in her eyes. She craved reassurance, longed to kiss him, assure herself that he was whole and well in every way that really mattered. Only she knew he could not be; her touch intended as apology and thank you combined, would likely only represent insult and hurt. After a long second, she'd step back, drop her hand.

A carefully assessing look at Cutter followed, ascertaining that the Warlord had found his balance after what could only be a terrible reminder of the past he'd left behind. If he required aid, she'd offer it.

What had to come would be both painful, and deadly. Once they did this creature's bidding, it had no reason to leave them alive. As she prepared herself for battle, she reached out once more to brush Gideon's mind, though she did not speak silently.

"Did it leave you the ring, Gideon?"









Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #19 on: Dec 07, 16, 08:37:11 AM »
The Shadowed One relented, and Kesare and Cutter were released. Relief might've flooded Gideon, save that he was too lost still to the tumult inside himself. The scholar strained and groaned against the attempts of the warrior to break free, and especially in those few seconds when the target of his fury fled from him, it took every ounce of Gideon's will to keep himself sane and keep his higher mind in control.

Action helped. The instant the creature vanished, he was back on his feet. He moved quickly to Kesare's side, helping her to stand even while he looked over to where Cutter ought to be finding his feet as well. A quick assessment to assure him that both of his fellows were unharmed, and then his mind turned forward, seeking refuge from the insurmountable frustration of the moment in practical matters that would bring him closer to the release of battle. He did not even feel Kesare's seeking touch, or he did feel it and did not stop to acknowledge it. Either way, as much as he'd specifically inspected her to asses any damage done, he didn't seem to truly see her until she spoke. It was then that his gaze snapped to her, burning and furious in a way it so rarely was.

Did it leave you the ring, Gideon?

He merely shook his head. Though he moved his eyes over to where the thing had stood just to be certain it hadn't left it behind, the gesture was superfluous. The fleeting scent of his mother was gone; he knew that before looking. There was much that he knew, in some distant, currently-suppressed sense of reason, that he ought to stop and explain to Kesare. She likely had questions, but he could not remove himself from the faintly detached practicality he'd only just managed to achieve. Moving away from that too soon would only bring the return of the fury he'd so struggled to control. He couldn't risk it. Her questions would have to wait.

"The Coliseum," he said, looking back to Kesare with a direct, pointed gaze. "You know it?" Of course she did. Few people indeed knew anything of Hayll and did not know of the massive sporting arena in its capital. Still, he waited for her to confirm before he continued.

"Take Cutter there. There is a sculpture, a monument to the Hundred Families, fifty meters to the north of the building. Wait there for me; we'll go in together." At the first hint of acknowledgement from Kesare, Gideon would turn away. He moved towards the entrance, and as he passed under the arched doorway his pace quickened to a run. Seamlessly, he leapt into the air, and a powerful downward thrust of his wings launched him more fully into flight. Sight shields wrapped around him as he ascended, and in mere seconds after the exit of the Shadowed One, Gideon was gone as well.














Offline Lucius Pullo

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #20 on: Dec 07, 16, 09:28:24 AM »
The feast had been one for the annals. In his years, Pullo had attended and hosted countless celebrations, and it was rare that any one of them impressed him anymore. Nero had outdone himself this time, though, and the event had showed such creativity and enthusiasm that Pullo was fairly certain the Consul had found for himself a new witch to organize the event. He'd have to do some digging, he thought. He had Winsol events coming up before long for his best clients, after all, and it wouldn't do to be upstaged. Thankfully, poaching Nero's new planner ought to be an easy task, if he could just find out who it was.

The celebration itself had included opportunities for Pullo and the other investors to slake whatever desires they might've had. There was no party like a Hayllian party, a notion that had Pullo murmuring the words of the Territory's anthem to himself while he made his way back to his quarters. He was tired and full of wine and food, and was very much looking forward to falling into the luscious piles of satin and feather down that comprised his bed these days. While he did not take women into his personal quarters for the purpose of sleeping as a rule, by the time he reached his residential wing he regretted that he hadn't brought one of them with him to suck him off one more time before he slept. The first face that came to mind for the task was Lilith Cinerus, but that was only because moving into his wing meant he passed through the security webs she'd made. He hated her every time he moved through them and felt the wash of power so dark he'd never be able to appreciate it in full. Still, business was business, and Gray Jeweled Black Widows were not exactly common assets. While the thought of that almost too-pretty face staring up at him with hate-filled eyes while he fucked her face was more than pleasing, he had to admit that even her throat was likely layered with ice by now, for all the chill in her demeanor. Even if his dick didn't freeze and fall off, it wouldn't be an enjoyable time.

He thought of his little mouse, then, and his thoughts lingered there for a bit. He thought of her warm, supple body and the sounds she made when he fucked her. The more he considered her the more he felt himself stir, and by the time he was in his chambers he'd made up his mind. He sent a thread to Gaius to fetch her. He could've called her directly, but sending Gaius kept her guessing. He was not in the habit of attaching his mind to those of his slaves, no matter how pretty and nubile they might be.

He'd just started unbuttoning the cuffs of his sleeves when a voice sounded unexpectedly right there in his rooms, and he swiveled his neck to find himself confronted with an eerie, masked figure.

Lucius Pullo, it said, its voice a thin, metallic compliment to the dizzying kaleidoscope of psychic scents radiating from it. I have come for you.

"Come for me?" he repeated, derision clear in his tone despite how something in his lower mind told him that he should be afraid. It'd been nearly two centuries since Pullo had truly felt real fear, though. He didn't recognize it any more, didn't know how to heed its warning. "You don't come for me, whoever you are," he growled, even as he sent off threads to Gaius and the others on guard. He was thrown off by the sudden trespass; it wouldn't be for another moment or so that he realized his threads hadn't been accepted or completed. he was too busy being outraged by the costumed freak before him. This was such an impossible situation (he had multiple layers of security set up JUST so something like this couldn't happen, after all) that for a moment he considered that he might merely be dreaming. That made more sense to him than the possibility that this was reality. Quickly, his sharp eyes skipped over the sight before him, looking for the faintest tell of an edge to use against it. The extensive study he'd given towards being able to exploit weakness in his opponents was usually applied towards more diplomatic and less physical means, but the same concepts applied. His Craft surged to aid his search, and it seemed to Pullo that the being before him was likely unaccustomed to being refused or denied. So much so, perhaps, that a sudden attack from two flanks instead of immediately cowering might catch it off guard. At Pullo's command, display weapons surged forward from their resting places upon plaques on the walls. A battle ax and a machete drove themselves blade-first towards the creature's right, and a sword and a Pruulian khanjar attacked from the left.

"You hear me?" Pullo snarled, shielding himself as he gnashed his teeth. "I am Lucius motherfucking Pullo. YOU DON'T COME FOR ME, BITCH!"





Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #21 on: Dec 10, 16, 12:55:20 PM »
Pullo’s palpable rage and indignation might have amused another in her place. As it were, she felt very little outside of the fact that he was an objective toward her mission to achieve and little else. She had never cared for him or his manner. He was a tyrant to his servants, a man who enjoyed the power he wielded over others as their ultimate lord and master. She was aware that he raped his slaves and that in and of itself should have summoned some form of empathy in her to those underneath his lash. But it did not. For her to empathize with them she would have to connect her own trauma to theirs, and Lilith would not connect herself willingly to that long span of degradation and misery once more.

She had willingly severed it from her mind -- had cut it out like a cancerous tumor that would have consumed her, had she not the strength to remove it.

Pullo was much the same. He was a cancer to the society of Hayll -- a product of their society that encouraged that exploitation. Pullo had grown rich and grown powerful because he latched onto the currents of Hayll’s culture that loved spectacle and turned a blind eye to suffering. And if she were to change Hayll for the better (as was her purpose), then she had to remove him.

She felt the vibration in the air before she realized the weapons were coming for her. Excessus, the assassin of the Tenebrosi Iarvis and the one who recruited her, had trained her in the ways of battle. All those who took up the True Face had to have an understanding of close-quarter fighting as they would at times be expected to conduct such missions on behalf of the Iarvis. While she was no master at arms, she was also no novice, and she was able to duck herself flat to the ground beneath the blades as they came for where she had been moments before. Gray energy fueled her limbs, making her stronger and faster than she would have been without her Jewel, and she came up to a three-point crouch at the doorway.

Interesting trick, Pullo. She thought to herself, but did not speak. Even drunk and angry he was level-headed and resourceful. He was many things, but stupid was not one of them.

The blank-featured mask stared ahead at Pullo without inflection, her psychic scents thrown into disarray by manner of the spells on her robes and mask. He would gain no insight into how his attack had thrown her off balance or given her pause to consider him. Instead he was gifted with the featureless stare of a masked, sexless assailant.

She regarded the weapons and considered them for her purposes. They were all lethal, and as they came about to attack her again she decided on which one would suit her best. The axe, she decided. Despite the fact it was the heaviest and most ungainly, it would further intimidate Pullo and make him not expect the identity of his attacker. Leaping forward, she flowed her shields forward and drove aside the other blades to take hold of the axe’s handle in mid air, and came down in a roll before him.

”Your name does not matter.” The metallic voice came as it stared at him with black holes for eyes, bringing the axe back in a wide arc to smash aside the other instruments as they came at her exposed flank. She heard the running steps of one of his guards -- the Security Webs still working for her purpose, and she spun to add momentum to her enhanced arms so that when the guard came through the doorway the axe was already in mid-air to take him at the waist.

Pullo did not have incompetent guards, however, and the axe struck the shield and made the guard step backward to resist the inertia of the killing blow. It served its purpose, nonetheless, as she wanted the weapon to drain some of the man’s shielding. A shadowed hand lifted itself up -- dark tendrils of smoke appearing more than fingertips, and a blast of pure Gray power flowed forth to smash through the guard’s shield and burn a hole straight through his chest that left a burning, gaping wound before he fell to his knees to release his final breath.

”Your wealth does not matter.” Long tendrils of darkness sprang forth, wrapping around Pullo’s arms and throat, hoisting him into the air. Slowly and methodically she turned and approached the fallen guard, grabbing hold of the axe and hefting it up from the floor.

Axe in hand, she turned to focus her gaze upon him directly, approaching him with the slow and calm pace of the reaper.

”All that you have built, I will now destroy.”

Offline Lucius Pullo

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #22 on: Dec 12, 16, 10:00:42 AM »
To say Lucius Pullo was a proud man would be an exercise in understatement.

However, he was also something of a pragmatist. He watched as the intruder before him deftly dodged his attack and then rerouted it. In a manner of seconds, the assailant was not only unharmed, but he/she/it was burning a hole through chest of one of the responding guards. That kind of power was so obviously out of Pullo's league that staying in place felt as good as surrendering his life.

So he didn't.

While his guards died screaming, horrible deaths, Pullo turned and darted away. There was an exit from his quarters into the warrens underneath the coliseum, and while he certainly wasn't happy about running away into the tunnels, he far preferred the idea of being alive and pissed off than proud and dead.  His escape was thwarted before it could truly begin, however. He'd not taken three steps before he was suddenly hoisted off of the ground by his neck and arms, a sensation as queer as it was terrifying. He was manipulated so that he once more faced his assailant, dark and dizzying and looking utterly untouched by everything that had transpired so far. This was, Pullo realized, very probably the face of his death.

Defiance surged through him, reddening his golden skin and distorting his face into derisive rage.

"You're wrong," he snarled, hands fisted, limbs tensed and straining against his shadowy restraints. "Names matter. I was nothing, once. A footnote, my entire family just one of a million average families who meant nothing to anyone. But I changed that. Now there isn't a person in Hayll who doesn't know the name Pullo. Love it or hate it, I am PART of Hayll now, and history will bear witness that I WAS HERE. Even if I die here today, you cannot change THAT."





Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #23 on: Dec 12, 16, 01:00:46 PM »
"You are still nothing." The cold voice of Indomitus echoed through the chamber. She felt strength surge through her form, through her very spirit as she spoke to this creature of tyranny and cruelty. It was if she were speaking to Hayll itself. For who else modeled what Hayll was in this very day, but Lucius Pullo?

"Names have been erased, histories lost, deeds forgotten. The very ground you step on was once a temple to greater Gods than you will ever know. Yet all their names are lost to time and lost to memory. Only a few remember."

She leaned over and hefted the axe, perfect for her purpose. It felt almost light in her small hands. When she gripped it she felt purpose and determination flow through her -- an elation she had not felt since...

...since she slew her sister. What did that say of her now that her heart was moved by murder more than anything else?

"But no-one will remember you, Pullo."

She brought the axe down at his wrist, taking the hand clean off of his arm and leaving him with a stump. She did nothing to stop the wash of blood that flowed down from his arm to his chest, unto her robe and splattered on his face. She discarded the axe with a heavy thump and reached down to gingerly pick up the hand that was now free from its master. Slowly, gently, she reached for the control ring with shielded fingers. Ah. Spells on this, too. She thought, and slowly reached between the strands of the spells to unweave them gingerly so as not to destroy her own mind for touching another slave owner's binding lash.

"You have always been clever, Pullo." She said without looking to him in his agony. She wondered if shock would take him, or if he would stubbornly refuse to pass out even in the face of death. "Intelligent. Severe. A waste of great potential." Her metal face turned to stare at him, emotionless and cold as those pits of darkness took in the features of his face. "I wonder what you would have become had we found you first. What would you have been had we stripped away this veneer, and revealed your true face."

Her hand shot out, iron cased in flesh, and grabbed his throat, forcing him to stare into the face of his end. "A passing thought."

Then she pushed at his outer barriers, she used the great strength of her Gray to take hold of his Outer Barriers and rip them to shreds. He would feel a great agony -- maybe, she hoped, something similar to what the slaves who were beneath him felt when he raped them and made them feel the presence of his body inside of them. Something in Lilith grew in great exultation. Yes. She thought, hard and cruel. Know what it's like to have everything about yourself tainted by another. To have everything of who you are ruined by the invading, unyielding want of some cruel monster.

A snarl, unbidden, filled with hate came forth from her mouth beneath her face as she pushed into Lucious Pullo's mind to find every secret knowledge he may hold, and to plunder it from his mind. She was not gentle. She wanted him to hurt.

"Tell me." The words came out full of more malice than she realized she was capable of bringing to bear. But it did not feel foreign; it did not shock her. It felt good to summon that wrath. "How does it feel to be someone else's little fish?"

Offline Lucius Pullo

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #24 on: Dec 12, 16, 02:44:45 PM »
"You're wrong," Pullo snarled, defiant even in the face of her ax-laden approach. He felt fear, certainly, but it was so far surpassed by the indignant rage he felt that it hardly registered. "I was here. ALWAYS, no matter what, I will have been HERE." He couldn't know, in that moment, the perspective behind the mask. It spoke of histories lost, things that existed many millennia before, but it was so far removed from Pullo's experience that it didn't feel possible, much less real. He'd lived too many centuries himself, seen too many short-lived lives come into existence and be snuffed out by time to not feel immortal in comparison.

Too quickly, his assailant moved, and it took Pullo's mind a pair of seconds before the reality of what happened settled in. Pain lanced through his arm belatedly, as though his body was similarly shocked into denial, at first. It was not the pain that drew his voice from his throat in a furious roar, though. It wasn't even the practical matter of looking at continuing his life as a cripple (despite how logic might've painted the situation, there was part of him that could not accept the impending reality of his own death here and now) that summoned his shout. It was his pride that bellowed out of him in that roar, the stubborn refusal of a man to concede to his better, to admit that this creature had any right to touch him, much less maim him. He raged against the audacity of the masked creature, of the situation, of fate itself.

He swore at her, once the first wave of rage lulled enough for him to articulate words. They were not well-formed, and in fact slurred together some because of the gnashing of his teeth and his labored breaths and his still too-great fury. But they were clear enough and colorful, though they paused in abject shock as he watched her pull the control rings off of his severed hand. His mind fixated on that sight, so appalled that someone could just waltz through every measure he'd taken to protect himself. The notion that none of this was supposed to be possible kept replaying through his head, and everything outside of that repeated thought began to go fuzzy and vague. He could hear her speaking to him, but her words began to stop making sense. It was only when she stood before him and took hold of his throat did he return fully to the moment, and it was clear in the way fury darkened and twisted his features once more.

But only for a moment.

The creature shoved its way past the barriers of Pullo's mind, rending them in the process. He screamed, and this time it was the sound of true pain rather than fury that filled the entirety of his quarters. He flexed, at first, instinctively resisting the intrusion, but that only damned him to shattered outer barriers almost immediately. He relaxed then - tried to, at least - upon realizing that this beast was going to shred his mind completely if he continued to resist. He was only partly successful, as instinct wanted him to lock his mind down in an attempt to stave off the intruder. Each time he attempted to do so, the assailant ripped through his defenses like they were naught but paper... but each time the beast moved to a new depth Pullo could not stop himself from that initial resistance. The deeper the assailant went, the harder it became to yield, and the more painful it was when his webs were torn apart.

She (for this could only be a she - none but a Widow or a Queen could assault a man's mind with such precise and devastating malice) went directly after his secrets. Whether because she knew he would resist and sought to wreak as much havoc as she could as painfully as possible, or whether she sought something in particular, it was impossible to know. He only knew inescapable pain, the humiliation of being violated, and the bitter taste of defeat as each secret was laid bare one by one.

The backroom deals he'd brokered were child's play to uncover. They might have been guessed at even without intrusion, but perhaps the scale of his efforts might've surprised anyone aside from the Iarvis. The arrangements he had with a disturbing number of senators, with some of the other slave owners, with merchants in Hayll and elsewhere, and even within the ranks of the Praetorian Guard ran the gamut of tactics. Bribery, intimidation, blackmail, and an assortment of gentler influences were employed in a spread that had not only kept Pullo very wealthy, but had enabled him to multiply that wealth via business and legislative deals that favored him.

A little more deeply guarded were the slightly more personal secrets: his personal little perversions that'd run deep enough over the centuries that he kept them private even in a place like Hayll, for instance. Everyone knew Pullo could be cruel, but not everyone knew how many different ways he'd discovered to turn that cruelty into pleasure for himself. Sometimes it seemed that half the reason he kept the number of slaves he did was to serve as his own personal menagerie. But it was in tearing her way through those faces, those secret defilings of all manner of slaves, that Pullo's attacker would find a thread leading to his most jealously guarded secrets.

It was only then it would become clear that he hadn't been truly attempting to resist at all. Even screaming in agony, he'd been giving up secrets, laying down a path for the assailant to follow in order to lead her away from the quietest ones, the ones buried most deeply of them all. Pullo had such extended practice at distancing himself from those things that it was possible, perhaps, that they might have escaped being dragged into the light of scrutiny completely, had the matter of his slaves not included one particular face.

For all the range of perversions he visited on his slaves, there was one woman who did not suffer like the others. Oh, he'd raped her, of course. More than once. But as heinous as that was, the other slaves had endured far worse. Maybe that in itself would not have been noteworthy, but the instant the assailant's attention fixed on that one face, it would become clear that there was more at play with that slave in particular. The threads of meaning and thought that branched off of that topic were old and thin and deep, and yet silver and shining compared to the dark and tangled mass of everything else. Following those threads would present the assailant with true resistance, proof that he hadn't been fully forthcoming until now. It didn't matter, of course. She would burn easily through even the most vehement resistance he offered, but she would feel him crumble around her more thoroughly than he had before, as though she'd finally found the wound that would break him.

Somewhere beneath all the misdirection and bluster was another face. Much like the first, except that it was burnished with the sheen of the long-lived. Her eyes were golden instead of green, her hair jet black and straight instead of wavy brown. Aside from those details and the golden cast to her skin, this woman bore a striking resemblance to the slave who was spared from the deepest of Pullo's depravity.

Drusilla, his memories named her, but as that name was pulled from the depths of his soul, Pullo cried out in the most honest version of agony his assailant had yet to find. She did not stop, and proceeded to force her way through Pullo's most private of thoughts and memories, uncovering the long-suppressed truth of his great love for his wife and his family, and the man he'd been before the Purge had cost him everything. Had he been capable of forming words then, he might have been moved to begging for mercy by then, but for the moment he had not even that much mind left to him. Powerless to resist in any way that mattered, even his deepest thoughts and memories were laid bare before his merciless assailant.





Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #25 on: Dec 22, 16, 12:21:56 PM »
This filth that lay weeping in her grasp disgusted her. He was the very type of creature that had visisted its terror, humiliation, and violation on her for centuries. Lucius Pullo was just a Hayllian Jadar. A rapist. A creature who had used his power to make himself feel better. A man who denigrated others to bolster his own esteem.

She hated him. She hated what he represented. And as she discovered his perversions on this Drusilla's look alike, her hatred swelled into a blistering heat. She'd not felt such fire inside of her in decades. Always it had been cold purpose. Always her emotions had been locked away and severed so that they could not bring their trauma and their affect to her. She had long ago surgically removed such things so as to enable her to survive the torment that had been her prison.

The feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and lack of worth had dominated her during the Occupation. She had been chained by hostages to her heart -- her sons, her siblings, all bound to the Eyrien will that used her body and her jewels as they saw fit. And Lucius Pullo had been her countryman. A man that had witnessed their actions and their deeds. And he had become one of them.

Fury filled her with such strength she lost sense of self. She no longer was Indomitus. She was lost to the mask of Lilith Cinerus and her experiences, and she called upon the power of her Jewel to fill his body with agony. She made him know the sensation of rape. She took her own experiences and transposed them unto Lucius Pullo then. She made him know what it was like to be  on the receiving end of his perversions.

"You are unworthy of the love you had been given." The snarl that came forth from beneath the mask was not her own voice. It was the wrath of a thousand thousand Hayllians whom had suffered beneath men like Lucius Pullo. "You are unworthy of the wealth you have stolen. You are unworthy of the power you have been bestowed."

She amplified his suffering, until his words were lost to screams, until he lost all control of his bowels and his bladder.

But she did not destroy him then.

Something in her, her true self, called to the mind beneath the wrath. Stop. It called. Her true face, the face of the future and guardian of Hayll. Not Lilith Cinerus, mother, victim, slave, but of The Master. She was the vanguard of Hayll's soul and its spirit and its future, and Lucius Pullo, like every other person, must yet serve.

"All men must serve." She repeated the mantra, and lowered him then to the earth, to let him lay among his own blood, urine, and shit. She had stripped him of his power and his dignity. She had taken away the opulence of his rule. Now it was the time for something new.

The rage was gone, replaced by cold and true purpose that filled her and fulfilled her much more than the vindictive wrath of a wounded woman. She took his memories of Drusilla, his wife that he loved and adored and mourned, and began to reshape her in his mind.

"You will make yourself worthy again of Drusilla's love. You will make yourself a man that Lucius Pullo should have been. Not for fear of my return, but because if you do not, she will know what you truly are."

There, she rebuilt Drusilla in his mind, and beside her masked and hidden face the spectre of his dead wife, fully formed and actualized as if she were living flesh, stood beside her and gazed down at him. She was not real, not in the sense of being physically present, but to Lucius Pullo she would be his ever-present companion, his constant voice of reason, the buried guilt and truth of who he was formed into a spectre who would forever haunt him. And she was naught but his idealized wife, his own conscience made manifest.

She turned then and left him behind, focusing her mind and her path to rendevous with her son and his compatriots.

She had no more time for Lucius Pullo. Hayll's future awaited.

Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #26 on: Dec 23, 16, 07:53:24 PM »
While Ignoto brought Lucius Pullo to his knees, broke his mind and spirit and delivered him into oblivion, Gideon tore through the skies over Hayll. The full expression of his wings and his Craft combined still wouldn't get him to Draega as quickly as the winds which took Cutter and Kesare. Still, he needed that time and that exertion. His head was full to bursting with questions, with fury, with fear and with anticipation. He'd dreamed about this day for so long, but never in his wildest imaginings had the vision of it ever come with such complicated trappings. This was not happening as he'd thought it would; how much different would the resolution be than what he'd dreamed? Had he brought Kesare to her death? Had he brought one of Ghanima's protectors to his end, as well? He'd mounted this beast in the darkness, trusting in Mother Night to guide its course. Now he felt like he rode astride a tornado instead of a beast, and though he was now indebted to accompany it on its course, he would have no control over the carnage it wrought as it passed through his homeland.

For the first time in a long time, Gideon knew fear in a way he hadn't. Not merely the momentary reaction to a threat to his loved ones, but worry over how his days would progress. Had he given his trust too quickly to this creature? Deeds would be done tonight that could not be undone. Lives would almost certainly be lost. The fate of Hayll itself would change this night, and he'd given himself over to the service of one of the deciding parties without actually knowing who or what it was. Had he gone mad? Was he so desperate to see Hayll changed that he no longer cared to make careful, weighted decisions? What if tonight was not the catalyst for Hayll's rebirth, but the moment that was written down in the annals as the night it finally came crashing down?

He longed to stop and take to his knees. He longed to descend into the Deep Place, to seek out the answers he felt he now so poorly grasped. If he could just stop, could seek the face of the Darkness for himself, he could emerge on the other side of this with a better idea of where his steps should take him. And yet hadn't that been what he'd done all along? Hadn't he prayed, fervently and consistently, to be used as an instrument to help return Hayll to glory? Was not the Coliseum a blight upon the dignity of his homeland, and had he not quietly longed to see it torn asunder for so much of his life? And now he was here, on the cusp of seeing it breached, and he found himself drowning in doubts.

Too soon, the distance was covered. Hidden by Craft, Gideon circled near the front of the Coliseum, looking for Kesare and Cutter. They would sense him, whichever of them had erected the shields to hide them from sight. Looking for them as he was, it would not take long for his Sapphire to pierce the caul of Purple Dusk or Rose. They would only wonder for a moment about who it was that'd spied them; Gideon descended at their side and wrapped the three of them in Sapphire sight shields as his feet hit the ground. Visible now to each other, he gave each of them a sober look before he pulled Kesare to his side and pressed a solid, thankful kiss to the side of her head.














Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #27 on: Dec 24, 16, 11:41:50 AM »
She flew like the spectre of Death Itself through the halls of the Coliseum. Her reaping was of a singular target: The other Slave Owners. There were a dozen principal owners, and of them several were on site in suites built for those who had provided the funds, sweat, and blood to keep this den of iniquity not only operational but prosperous. Lucius Pullo had received whatever 'mercy' she was willing to provide this evening.

The others she found were not so fortunate.

Ignoto did not slay the slaves that were bound, but the guards, the slave owners, their willing accomplices; they were not able to escape her. Suite to suite she delivered death through blade and Craft. Some were slain in their beds or in the middle of coitus, others she tore their heads or hearts out of their bodies with her bare hands, others still she simply overloaded their mind until they lay as writhing hollow husks.

She collected her prize and left the field. There was still much more to be done and for all of her power she lacked the strength to do the rest of her task. She needed her son and his compatriots to do the rest.

So it was that she found them not far from the field. Her son's sight shields were not poor by any means, but by the fact that he held her Control Ring and that he was hers it was childsplay to locate him. The fact that the Control Ring had been imbued with a tracking spell was something she bore in the back of her mind. Others could have done the same. They would have to move quickly.

He had no sooner greeted his skinny lover and the rough Warlord with her that she appeared nearby them. She wrapped all of them in her own Gray Sight Shield so that none could detect her presence. She still bore her former face as Indomitus, the cold and plain metal mask sufficing for obfuscating her features.

"Cinerus." Her words were solely for him, as if the other two were not even present. She extended an arm, her hand palm up revealing several sets of Control Rings upon bloodied hands.

"The time is ripe. I will sow chaos among the guards. Take the rings. Free the slaves. Arm them with weapons or, if possible, their jewels. Then we will meet within the arena.

We have one further task to do together, and then your debt is paid."

Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #28 on: Dec 25, 16, 06:01:20 AM »
Location: Agrippa Temple, Hayll
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening




Kesare Fuentes watched as Gideon vanished into the evening sky. She did not permit herself to linger there long, but turned swiftly and walked into the Temple. She searched, briefly, for any hint or sign of a presence, or the  least trace of lingering Craft. Later, she might come back and attempt that Craft which brought to life specters of the past.

But not tonight.

Tonight, she contented herself with acquiring a tiny bit of incense, left at the altar, and a half-used candle. She replaced each, from her own supplies. Some instinct drove her to claim this small trophy from the ancient Temple, and she did not have time to stop and question that urge.

Returning to Cutter's side, she did as Gideon bid and brought them both swiftly to the Coliseum.  She knew a little of Gideon's determination to destroy the place, but still the deep-seated rage which had burn in his eyes as he took his leave lingered with her. She had to master her own feelings, in order to survive long enough to seek retribution.

Kesare found the chosen monument, presiding over the death and misery within. They sheltered at its base, choosing a location that would offer some physical concealment as well as the Craft Shields. The Black-Widow Healer was rather quiet, choosing to focus not on unanswerable questions but on their task. Thoughtfully, she turned to Lord Cutter. "Have you ever used a trap web, Lord Cutter?" She had not had much time to prepare, but had thought it wise to alter some of her Mind-healing webs into Trap spells, designed to win a few seconds of calm from the freed slaves. "I prepared a few, so that those who seem unsafe to free will have a few minutes of calm when you first release the Collar."

She'd not even finished speaking, when Gideon appeared in their midst. She checked her urge to go to him, determined not to impose when so much was pushing and prodding at him. To her surprise, he reached out for her, and pressed a kiss to her temple. That touch, skin-to-skin, worked its own magic, and she let herself lean into the brief salute, her eyes closing for one brief moment of peace before they flew open again.

The Masked Creature had appeared as if she found the brief gesture of affection irritating. 

As before, it spoke solely and only to Gideon.

Free the slaves.

It would take time, to discover which ring matched which collar, unless she could somehow use her Black-Widow's Craft to ascertain that. With a sinking feeling, she realized they would have to wear the control rings in order to remove the collars. And who knew if any of the rings had been trapped? It made sense to protect such a device against theft. Yet even as she had the thought, she dismissed it; the Black Widow before her, so Dark Jeweled, must have already dismantled any such deadly devices.

Arm them with weapons.

Kesare  could only assume the creature meant them to open the armory; they surely had not had time to acquire a small army's worth of weaponry and armor in seven days. It had been all Kesare could do in the time they had to arrange for a largish cargo ship to be in port tonight ready to sail with the tide.

if possible, with their Jewels.

That drew Kesare's attention, for surely there were only three places said Jewels would be. With the dead owners, locked in the armory for Coliseum fights that used them, or still with the Slaves.

"Ask if it brought us the key to the armory, or knows where it might be. I would expect a good number of the best fighters had their Jewels held there." Her words were soft, a merest whisper; she didn't try to brush Gideon's mind for she did not think he would hear her. He might not hear her words either, so focused as he was likely to be upon their ... enemy.  She did not ask it directly for it had made very clear at each encounter that it would only interact with its chosen victim. She and Cutter were mere hostages, to force Gideon to play out whatever drama it had planned. But it was important to return as many Jewels as possible, too important not to ask. While she might be able to find such a concentration of Jewels using one of her Jewel Shards, she already knew Gideon's stance on that.

Blasphemy.

Then we will meet within the Arena.

Darkness be Merciful. They weren't to run with the slaves, build them into an army as had been first suggested, but to assemble them in the one place they likely hated even more than their cells? But she didn't argue, nor even betray her unease at the unexpected command.

We have one further task to do together, and then your debt is paid.

Kesare's throat went dry and her stomach clenched, for it felt so very much like a planned murder / suicide. Yet her slender body was still, her breathing even. Soot black hair fell in a silent wave over her back, not revealing so much as a tremor from her bitterly fast heart-beat. Amber gold eyes watched the apparition, seeking some flaw in its shielding, some hint as to it nature. Neither that intense scrutiny nor her fear were permitted to mar the calm perfection of her features.









Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #29 on: Dec 27, 16, 09:18:06 PM »
Cinerus.

The summons drew him from his too-brief respite at Kesare's side, the scents of blood and death in its wake. Gideon turned, leaving Kesare soundly behind one shoulder as though wanting something between the Black Widow Healer and the mysterious creature who'd brought them all here. Sober, golden eyes dropped from the eerie mask before him to the outstretched palm and its offerings. A shield of Purple Dusk lifted the bloody rings and brought them before Gideon, who sent a pulse of Sapphire through the whole of them. Whether he sought to burn away the blood of others or any hidden webs or traps they contained he did not say, but only afterward did he take them into his palm. At the bottom of the pile was the same one he'd seen on his mother's finger so many times. The source of so much strife between them, at times.

You must know how to use them, should the need arise.

As much as he'd hated the lesson all those years ago, as much as he'd resented the implication that he'd ever manipulate those infernal devices, he found himself in the strange position of having found the need arisen. For a moment, he wondered if she'd known all along, somehow. One never knew, with Black Widows.

Kesare posed a question, but Gideon's eyes lingered on the control rings for a moment more.

"I know where the armory is," he said, only then lifting his eyes to find the masked creature once more. Three hundred and twenty something years, his mother had kept slaves. Still kept them to this day at the family estate, as far as Gideon knew. He'd been taught enough of her business to be able to function if something happened to her, even though she had to know his only recourse would have been to set them all free in her absence. "It will be done."

He turned then, to address Cutter and Kesare both. His features were grim and severe; this task, as overdue as it was, weighed heavily upon him. "I will use the rings from the center of the arena, if I can get to it. All the collars will open at one time, but many of those wearing them will still be locked in cells underground. Go down the western stairs and start breaking locks on the cells to let them out; after I've used the rings I'll go to the armory in the southern corridor and breach it. Tell them to wait in the arena if they wish to see justice done, and to have their Jewels returned. Many of them will be Jewel-less, but the offer of weapons and vindication may be enough to convince them to cooperate. If you find any who seem to hold sway among the others, use them. The faster this happens, the safer we will all be."

He did not suggest locking the coliseum gates as a means to keep everyone corralled in the arena, but he assumed Indomitus knew it would be the only way to keep a large portion of the freed slaves from fleeing at once. Whether the masked creature was that intent on retaining them or not, he did not know. Knowing what kind of carnage could so easily result from such an act, however, he hadn't the heart to bring it up.

"Be careful," he said to both of them in parting, before stepping forward to press a firm kiss to Kesare's brow. He released her quickly, before he could linger on how terrifying the situation suddenly was. He looked to Cutter directly then, and on a spear thread gave a single added command: *Bring her back to me, Cutter.*

















Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #30 on: Dec 28, 16, 12:11:17 AM »
For a moment Ignoto considered rebuking Kesare for attempting to ask a question of her through Gideon. But that would serve only as a distraction, and Kesare's place here not as ancilliary to  her as it was to Gideon. The dual-casted witch was not worth her time at the moment.

Something in her was proud of Gideon then, of how well he had accepted his place and how he was willing to see this out. It would have been easy to surrender to doubt and fear. The fact that he did not showed her she had raised him well. She wished, for a moment, that she could have told him of her identity then and make him understand. But that would have violated not only the need for expediency but also the oaths she had sworn. Unlike many other words, those she had made with Blood and Craft were sacred, and she would not violate that for anyone. Not even Gideon.

Cutter, the Warlord at Gideon's side, seemed grimly focused, and though she doubted Kesare's presence, she could see why the Warlord was here. She would have to investigate later as to what tied them to this Queen in Pruul, and if she were worthy of such men. The Darkness did not always make a Male bound to a female that was worthy of them -- such was self-evident with Jupiter and Sabine. She did not wish the same to be true for Gideon.

Inconsequential to the current task. Go. She told herself. She did not spare Gideon another word. His litany of proposed actions indicated his understanding, and there was nothing more to say. She left them behind then, turning to fade from sight with her powerful Stealth Craft and left them once more held only under Gideon's own power.

As she went, she once more summoned her Gray, and the doors to the Coliseum forced themselves open, allowing entrance for the party behind her.

From there she moved with singular purpose, down, down, down below the screams and cries above of those mutilated or dead. Into the cells of filth and desperation she submerged herself. She ignored those she saw that were inconsequential to her plans until she came into the cell block that belonged to Lucius Pullo's slaves.

Once more she summoned her power, wrenched apart the Craft-reinforced bars, and reached a shadowy hand down to the broken man that lay on the cot staring dreamlessly to the ceiling above her. Her words reached him like a clarion bell, and he turned to her with fear and for a moment, recognition.

"Come with me, Cadmus Slate."

Offline Cutter al-Sabbah

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #31 on: Dec 28, 16, 12:20:55 AM »
Cutter was a little overwhelmed by all of this crazy shit going on.

He had been on board with everything up until the statues came alive and this freaky metal-faced person who's psychic scent he couldn't even understand had been inches away from snuffing out his life. Whatever garbage that Gideon was involved in was some stuff that Cutter had only heard horror stories about. The fact he hadn't managed to shit himself yet told him he was doing a solid job of not embarrassing himself, but it didn't reflect how he felt in the slightest.

But he'd told the literal bastard that he'd have his back. He didn't know the Dual-Casted Half-Eyrien very well, but he knew that he was Nima's and that he wasn't as much of a pain in the ass as her other males, so if he didn't want to have himself driven crazy in the next forty years he'd need the guy around to help him knock sense into the little shits.

Plus, Cutter had a feeling Gideon was a stand up guy. He'd learned to trust his gut a long time ago back in the Salt Mines. That survival instinct had told him long ago who he could trust to watch his back and who he couldn't, and Gideon was one of the only shits in Pruul that qualified.

So at one point, after Indomitus or whatever-the-fuck-creepy-thing-was-called left, he just kind of shrugged and said 'to hell with it' and told himself to stop being a pussy and just get this over with.

Now, in the moment, after all of that terror and blase-attempts at courage had passed, he felt excited at what they were doing. He'd been a slave for years under the Geiba. Now he had a chance to pay it forward and not only free others like himself, but gut the fuckers that did this sort of thing for the living. He could look at every snotty Hayllian holding a leash and imagine the Geiba who kicked him around and enjoyed it.

Gideon was on his way for something big, and he gave him an order to make sure that Kesare got back to her safe. Cutter flashed the winged man a wink and a grin, and responded back with his gruff, smiley mental voice. I'd watch over her like she was my own, baldy.

"Come on, cutie." Cutter said over to Kesare, nudging her as he drew the khanjar that he had earned from its place, starting to make his way for the open doors. His smile broadened to something of an almost manic excitement.

"'Ol Cutter's gonna show you how he got his name."








Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #32 on: Dec 30, 16, 07:42:12 PM »
Location: The Colosseum, Hayll
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening


Enya, Only Time

Spoiler:  Only Time Lyrics (click to show/hide)




Kesare Fuentes watched Gideon, as he studied the vile rings he held. She memorized his profile, the heavy brow and stubborn, arrogant chin. She'd felt only a dark brush of power, but seen the physical filth burn off the rings. It being Gideon, she suspected he'd burnt away more layers of filth than mundane senses might detect. She was far too close to mortal combat to release the careful shield's she'd erected, just to find out. The whispers of stone, in this place, were screams of torment; the soft seduction of Visions would only lead to vicious nightmares laced with the deadly touch of the Twisted Kingdom. The Black-Widow Healer had no desire to pierce the veil of the past in this place, let alone the future.

She'd seen it once already, in any case.

Kesare's gloved hand rested in silence upon Gideon's back, at the base of his wings. This one action, placing his shoulder between her and the deadly creature who commanded him, also put her at his vulnerable back. It shook her, and she couldn't quite say why. When he turned, her eyes traced the lines of his face, rendered severe and harsh by the burdens of this destiny of his. Kesare wasn't sure she believed in fate, or destiny; only necessity, and those strong enough to endure its Price. But Gideon did believe, deeply.

She listened to his plan silently. West stairs. Break cell doors, locks and bonds. The collars would all release at once. The Arena. Work with what organization the slaves had. In an odd way, Gideon could not have picked two people better equipped for what was to come. Both had some experience of such a horror, and would hopefully have a small chance of earning that bit of trust Gideon and the creature were relying upon. In truth, though, it might be simpler than that.

Neither Kesare nor Cutter were Hayllian.

Gideon stepped towards her, and Kesare angled her head to look him in the eyes for a moment. A heart beat. He kissed her firmly upon the brow, a blessing and benediction. Her gloved hand rested upon his chest, in that intimate moment, as she turned her head to press a feather light kiss to his cheek, breathing him in. Her hair brushed over him, and she Called in a Healing Web, half Widow's Webs, half Healing Craft. She stole a strand of her hair, worked it into the Web, smoothed the whole of it into the crook of his neck, to curl as if a tattoo. "A Healing web. It should trigger, if you need it." She glanced back into his eyes, as he stepped back.

She had stood here before, bidding farewell to those precious to her. And that knowledge echoed in her eyes, along with that reckless, determined drive that haunted her. Her chin lifted, and she made herself release him. She would not voice promises she could not keep, nor ask for any. Yet the slogans that would mean to such to her people were nothing to him. Sarque yet stands, would be empty words, to both he and Cutter. Make them count the cost just as out of place, as opposed to an assurance that the task was worth the Price, which it is what it had meant to the Resistance. Black company is everywhere would not give to them the hope that they would be remembered, their deeds recorded, whatever came. There were no words, no slogan, no quiet phrase that summed up all this meant to him.

And her throat closed and locked on more personal admonitions.

The doors to the colosseum were blasted open by Craft, drawing her gaze away from Gideon.

It had been 191 years since Lady Kesare Fuentes de Costa Ciraea had been a resistance fighter, and once more those skills were called forth. The violence which ripped the doors from the colosseum sent a searing, terrible tension through her body. Her weight shifted, her Craft enhanced her senses, reflexes and strength.

Kesare's concealing Burnoose was vanished, the long edges too easy for an enemy to use. Beneath it, she wore an armored corselet that closed around her neck in a high, armored collar. Strands of pearls covered her shoulders, each one a Widow's Web ready to be torn free and tossed at the enemy. the decorative tracery of silver in her gloves, corselet and boots gleamed as she triggered set spells that hardened that tracery to true, silver-etched bands of steel, protecting her.

When Cutter looked down at her, she flashed her rare smile at him, her amber-gold eyes lighting. It would be ever so much better if Gideon never saw her in combat. She had no fear of revolting the sturdy Warlord with her tactics. He seemed a terribly practical man. "I've some skill with locks, as well as battle."

She turned to follow Cutter down the west stairs, though she looked back at Gideon, once more, and tossed him a small satchel. Scents rose from it:. Tumeric. Sage. Clove. Smoke. Blood. Sex. Hope. "Set them free, Avatar. Find your moment." With that she whirled, to follow Cutter down the long stairwell.

Kesare moved with a trained silence, and the grace of both a natural dexterity and a thousand years of training. She kept a set distance between them, far enough away not to be skewed on the backstroke of his blade, close enough to keep anyone from attack in his flanks or back. She expected some resistance, and layered a Rose Shield over herself before they even passed into the darkness below. "I've poisons, illusions and flash/bangs that are chemical, not craft; another set again of each that are Craft. I'd rather you slit a man's throat before he gives warning, than after ... so please don't take any chances on my account."









Offline Anders Nyberg

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #33 on: Dec 30, 16, 11:20:51 PM »
Sunny assured himself, for what was surely the millionth time today, that Glori was probably fine.

...wherever she was.

She was strong. Capable. Whip smart. Way smarter than Sunny was, in his opinion. She hadn't been able to explain to him just where she needed to go, or for how long, or why. She just needed to go, and it was important. Sunny hadn't had any choice but to tell her that he understood, even though he really didn't. But it didn't matter. As much as he adored her, he didn't own her, and wouldn't have tried to even if he hadn't been someone else's slave. Glori had made his life better just by being in it, and the way he saw it, he could either focus on that and be grateful, or he could spend his time wallowing in the misery that tried to well up when he considered the fact that she might never come back.

She'll come back. And if she doesn't... it's because she's found what she needs and she's happy. I want her to be happy.

He was laying with his arms behind his head atop the stale and dirty pile of straw that served as a bed; that is, the straw he'd gathered from the floor of the cell into one pile, because his bed of rags had been taken away from him as punishment a few weeks ago. Worth it, though, he thought. It wasn't often that he got one over on that prick Gaius, but he had. He paid for it with sleeping on straw and stone, but every once and a while he still had a chuckle about the look on Gaius' face. Big dumb oaf. If he didn't have that Red, he'da been someone's court dunce a long time ago. He countered that thought almost immediately afterwards, realizing that a dunce probably had to have a sense of humor, and Gaius had all the humor of an over-full bedpan.

His musings were interrupted by a ruckus somewhere else in the Coliseum. These old stone walls echoed something fierce, and most of the halls and rooms on this level were connected by archways rather than closing doors. Sunny rolled up to sit, then pushed up to his feet and moved towards the cell door. He pressed his face against the bars, trying (like he always did) to see further down the hall than the two or three feet beside his cell. It didn't work (it never did), and he grumbled to himself. He had been excited (as much as one could get about which cell one was assigned to) when he'd been moved to this cell. Not only was Marcus just a few cells down, but Sunny's cell was on the end of the row. At first he thought this meant he'd have more to see while spending so much time locked up. He'd been wrong, though; the row of cells ended in a stone wall that blocked any extra view he might've gotten otherwise. A guard went running past, towards the east hall, which confirmed Sunny's suspicions that someone was misbehaving, somewhere.

"Hey, Mahcus," he called quietly, the words rounded and distorted, but quasi-intelligible thanks to the work Glori had done with him. "Cuhn you thee anythin? Thoundth like thumwun's hafin' a--"

The shape of a guard flew into view suddenly in front of Sunny's cell, and hit the ground with an unpleasant thud. Sunny stepped back a pace from the cell door, staring wide-eyed at what looked very much like a dead coliseum guard to him. He looked up just in time to see two unfamiliar faces emerge from the darkness before his cell.

"--pahdee?"




Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #34 on: Jan 01, 17, 04:09:41 AM »
Location: The Colosseum, Hayll
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening


The descent down the winding stair had been interrupted by Guards drawn to the blast which had pealed open their gate. By the time Kesare and Cutter made it to the bottom level, blood spattered her face, her armored corselet and her ancient, curved blade.

The pearls guarding her shoulders were no longer perfectly balanced, as some had been used in the fierce fighting upon the staircase. She stood for a moment, perfectly poised, the glittering tracery of steal bands reinforcing her armor softening back to silver trim. She could not pick a lock with her gloves hardened to battle-stiffness.

A long, sweeping glance of the isle between cells verified no guards close, and she silently, lightly sprinted to the first locked cell door. Her gaze swept over the blond haired, blue-eyed man who was caged within the cell. She checked her fluid froward motion, and slowed her approach. His nose was broken, never properly Healed. Scars were glimpsed along his body, likely from lashes, cats of nine tails and the bamboo switches so many slavers preferred. Her jaw set; it was here, facing the wounded and trapped, that both she and Cutter would have to watch their tempers. Or at least Kesare; her soul was was a pean of hate towards slavers and slavery; she did not care that Hayll was not her home. That she had never personally been imprisoned within that land. Nor did she care that the man outside whose cell she knelt was short-lived, rather than long. She only cared that he was caged, collared and battered. He had not even a bed, only straw. Rage was not the answer, she reminded herself. Cool calculation and following the plan gave them their best hope.

Though she only heard the end of his comment, ...sounds like someone's havin' a party? Kesare did him the courtesy of meeting his gaze. She forced her breathing back to even, veiled her burning gaze, forced a half smile. Her perfectly cool, aristocratic tones were pitched low, rather than risking an echo through the area that might bring more guardsmen.

"One I hope you want to attend."

"I am Kesare Fuentes, Emerald Company," the Healers, and the ones most well known outside of Dhemlan. Though of course Kesare had served in the Scarlett company - the witches of war - who specifically avenged rape. And White company, of course, the especial home of Black Widows. And with both Onyx company (the priestesses), and Gold Company, (the Warlord-Princes). the only company she had neither served in or with was Azure company. The Princes.

All of which, was likely meaningless to the short-lived man she ostensibly spoke to. But she had no illlusions; her words would be sharply attended to by all of those nearby. Silently, she prayed that at least one knew what her introduction meant, even while dreading to discover that one of her own had languished her, without rescue. She had never been to the colosseum, had assumed until the incident with the Eyrien envoys that only Hayllian Blood was so imprisoned here.

"The Colosseum falls tonight."

Kesare let that implacable truth settle in his mind for a moment, before kneeling and releasing her rune-echoed blade. It hovered, mid-air, precisely where she placed it. If someone attacked, it would even attempt a parry. It had not her skill, nor true reasoning, merely pre-set counters to certain strikes. But it was both far better than being helpless while she worked, and shocking enough that most opponents avoided it.

"Once your collar releases, you may either leave, or head to the Arena. At the Arena, will be weapons, armor and, if possible, your Jewels. We need as many as are willing to fight, to join us in the Arena. But you will not be compelled to do so." she pulled her lock pick set out of her left boot, and began to work upon the lock, awaiting his response to her words.









Offline Cadmus Slate

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #35 on: Jan 07, 17, 02:08:07 PM »
For what felt like years he had languished in darkness.

He languished in a pit of suffering reinforced by his own woes and inadequacies. He had met his Queen, but found no comfort from her. He had stood up to Lucius Pullo, the man who had given him his name, the lash, and his collar. But in the end all that had done was threatened the life of Joy -- the woman he loved but had not admitted it until it was too late.

His first time with Joy he'd been forced to 'perform' for the Hundred Families, for Michaela Augustus-Tibault, and he had taken her with the lust and desire that he'd truly felt for her. Afterward he had been ashamed; ashamed of it, and had let that shame influence his decisions for too long.

And now he'd not seen her in months. For all he knew Pullo could have made her his new bed concubine. She could very well be dead for his insolence. Cadmus had tried to train her, to make her a better warrior, but she was not going to be the star in the arena that he had managed to be. In time Pullo may well have done such a thing. The fact fucker liked his pretty faces. He liked it when they begged.

He hated the man more than anything else in this world, but that hate was a cold ember beneath the misery of being held hostage for Joy's life and good behavior. He couldn't rebel because if he did, she would suffer. Pullo had found something far more effective than the collar to get him to cooperate, so he did.

He won when Pullo told him to win. He lost when Pullo told him to lose.

In the end Pullo always won, and Cadmus always lost.

And as he laid upon his cold bed, thinking on that matter, he had been so lost in his thoughts he'd not sensed there was someone else in the area with him until the cold metal voice spoke to him and startled him.

The bars had been ripped apart by the faintest exertion, and in the strange figure before him he saw something that haunted him in his dreams -- a shadow with a metal face, that at times would bear golden glowing eyes and stare at him as the world began to burn.

"Y-you...." He said softly, fear welling up in him. He began to get to his feet, scrambling to find his footing. "Y-you're real!"

"Yes, Cadmus." The figure's voice sounded like what steel would have if it could speak. "The time has come to break these bonds, to unchain yourself, to take your place among the Hundred." The figure began to step closer, and Cadmus felt his courage fall into his stomach. Slowly a hand made out of darkness unveiled itself from the voluminous robes it bore, and showed something that struck Cadmus as bizarre because it was so unexpected.

It was a severed, dark golden skinned hand.

It was Lucius Pullo's hand.

He was stricken dumb for a moment, looking between the hand and the metal, formless face that stared at him with the same emotional output as a still statue. Slowly, his grime-covered fingers, worn and calloused from swordwork, reached out to touch it... so as to assure it was real.

"It is time, Cadmus, to do what you were made to do."

"And what is that?" He asked, uncertain, his fingers leaving the hand in its shadowy grip now that he had assured it was not an illusion.

The sound of steel leaving a scabbard filled the room, and another hand of shadow produced the same gladius he carried into the arena, extended to him hilt first. Its steel looked sharper than normal, the light of the room reflecting off of the metal mask and the sword.

"To lead."






Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #36 on: Jan 08, 17, 07:30:33 PM »
"Emeral..." Sunny started to repeat, both confused and a little awed by what it seemed was happening. His eyes darted back and forth between the pale beauty working on the lock to his cell and the rougher-looking warlord standing watch, and a dangerous note of hope sparked to life in a place inside him that had been long cast into darkness.

"I mean..." he started to say, managing a lopsided, gamine grin despite the strangeness of the moment, and the pressing weight of portent. "Who doesn' luhf a pahdee?"

She told him the Coliseum would fall, and that lure bit into his chest, chewed straight through the bone and roused his heart, and warmth spiked there in a low, quiet rumble. He dared not hope to fully believe yet, but it was clear she more than had his attention. "But who..." he started to say, but the woman who'd called herself Kesare went on to talk about his collar releasing (he wore no visible collar, but was bound by a ring around his cock, but he was guessing now was not the time to argue semantics), and his Jewels being returned. She talked about fighting, and Sunny stepped forward to grip the bars of the cage and addressed her with a very sudden lack of smiles and jests, despite how almost playful his demeanor had been til then.

"Ith Puhlo dead?" he asked, with an intense ration of focus.

But it didn't matter. Kesare unlocked the cell door and Sunny moved quickly. He relieved the dead guard of his sword and his keys and set about helping to unlock the rest of the cages underground. He repeated Kesare's instructions to those he freed, though he did so as often by psychic thread as he did by way of his half-present tongue.

***

Above ground, Gideon made purposeful strides towards the Coliseum's arena. Most of the guards were running in  the opposite direction, summoned by a commotion undoubtedly organized by the Shadowed One. It left Gideon with very few standing in his way. The ones he did encounter only slowed him; they did not stop him. His sword arm was not the most practiced one in Hayll to be sure, but it was trained enough and fueled not only by righteousness but by a long-denied, holy rage. He did not think about the lives he was ending. He did not think about absolution or redemption for the men he encountered. He thought about the rings they bore on their fingers, and how often he'd seen the likes of them inflict soul-scorching pain onto others with a mere thought. He cut through them without words, without expressed reason, without bargaining, and by the time he reached the center of the arena he was painted with blood, sweat, and furious resolve. He turned, making sure he was as close to the center as he could be before pulling the rings he'd been given from his pocket. He only wanted to do this once; he prayed that his strength would be enough to reach the entirety of the property from where he stood.

Gideon slid the rings onto his fingers, revolted at the sight. One of them began to burn, and Gideon gritted his teeth and growled through the pain of it, even as it began to glow with the heat of the spell he'd triggered. He closed his eyes and focused on that pain, drawing it in to help him center himself rather than hiding from it. He flexed the Craft he hadn't used in a century or more, and sent his will out through the rings.

Everywhere in the coliseum at once, pain shot through every ring and every collar.

Gideon growled, knowing immediately that the screams and shrieks that echoed from every direction were a direct result of his work. His skill with the rings was unpracticed, and though he could use them, it took a precious second or two before he edged the sensitive rings over into unlocking rather than triggering.

The pain from the collars and rings subsided, and then all at once, every one of them released.

Gideon pulled the rings from his fingers (though several fingers were bloody and charred now) and vanished them, loathe to hold onto them but afraid of destroying them, lest he find out later that someone had been missed. He started towards the wide, wooden doors that closed the armory off from the open arena, and began plying raw Jewel strength at them in unmitigated blasts. They were shielded with Craft, but the longer Gideon worked, the more clearly he could feel the shields begin to give way. In the back of his mind he remained vigilant, half-expecting the Shield to emerge from some dark corner and end him, but he was either complicit or the Shadowed Ones had seen to him. Whatever the cause, he did not emerge.

Freed slaves began emerging from the stairwells just as the doors to the armory broke apart. Gideon was confronted with a Sapphire Jeweled guard waiting to charge as the doors gave way. Gideon had not replaced his cracked shields after his last brawl, and in his mind he could hear Jupiter chastising him furiously as his weakened shields crumbled under the new onslaught. He took a bolt of power to the chest with enough force that it staggered him, but snapped up new shields before the rest of the bolts landed. It was a contest then, to see whether the guard before him could hit him with enough power to break through his shields and cripple him before he closed the distance between them. Gideon replaced every broken shield with another (and another and another and another - they seemed as though they were cracked by the attack the instant they formed), but the strain was enough that he roared against it as he advanced. When he was finally close enough he lunged forward to tackle the guard, and the fury of the Warlord Prince soon forced the caste-less guard to an eerie, absent stillness.

Gideon climbed to his feet and turned to find the arena filling. Some of the slaves had stopped near the armory doors to watch the altercation, and now were eyeing Gideon with uncertainty.

"Arm yourselves!" Gideon called, and moved to begin pulling swords and spears off of the racks to hand out to those nearest. "TONIGHT YOU ARE FREE!"














Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #37 on: Jan 08, 17, 10:04:14 PM »


Location: The Colosseum, Hayll
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening





Kesare Fuentes permitted no visible reaction to the slurred, difficult speech of the man behind bars. He had likely dared to resist one time too many, and so been mutilated. Her rare smile came to life at the man's courage; his brave grin. That was the sort of courage usually beaten out of a man or woman in place like this. The metal-on-metal crash as the lock popped open wasn't truly loud, in a physical sense. Yet the weight of that moment, the way it happened to fall in a perfect lull so that singular sound echoed up and down the dark cell block, carried a power and portent all its own.

She glanced into the deadly, serious gaze of the man before her. She stood stepping away from the door to his cell. "I do not know who that is. But ours ..." She gestured to indicate Cutter and herself, "Is not the only team working here tonight. Does Pullo require rescue, or death?"

Kesare moved on to the next cell door, repeating her instructions in that same, cool, almost remote voice. The man - never introduced - worked swiftly, guiding and directing. He seemed to be one of the leaders of the slaves; but more he kept his wits about him, and focused on the need to get organized and their strength gathered as swiftly as possible. They dare not await the reprisals of the Hundred Families or the Territory Court.

The freed men and women were surprisingly disciplined, neither attacking Cutter and Kesare nor forming a mindless mob, eager to lynch the nearest slaver or guardsman regardless of consequences. Kesare could not say if that was because the Arena training kept their martial skills sharp, or if someone had prepared them for this event. And a gratifying number seemed eager to join them in the arena, either for the lure of weapons, Jewels or vengeance.

Kesare fell to the back, eager to be certain no-one was left behind; she checked cells for the ill or injured with the lightest tracery of White power. There would surely be no hell worse than to be left behind in this exodus.

The Black Widow Healer was taken by surprise, when suddenly every person they had freed stumbled, and fell, either to their knees, or all the way to the ground. The screams were horrific, an agony that could not be eased by any contortion of the body or wail of the spirit. Several agonizingly long seconds passed, and then the screams eased. Collars fell off, clattering to the floor. Rings of Obedience, too, were loosened, and soon also littered the floor. It took a profound act of will not to let herself ease their pain, or Heal old wounds, but there was no time, and they were far from done.

Kesare focused instead on getting them back to their feet, headed to the Arena. It was harder than it should have been; powerful, Dark bursts of Craft slammed into the Armory doors over and over again, slowing their advance. Yet the shattering of the Armory doors both spurred on those behind, and slowed those in front as the guardsman attacked.

Gideon's roar of rage reached her, just as she exited to the Arena floor.

Primal, not merely enraged but inspired, blood, sweat and a terrible, terrible purpose dripped form him as he destroyed the guardsman who opposed him. Gideon was breathtaking, the rent in his chest and his singed, tormented hands only highlighting the shear strength of will and purpose that drove him. It was a painful gift, to see him just then. She had no doubt that he would he spend his strength and life recklessly to see his purpose realized.

His voice filled the Arena, the Colosseum, as he declared them all to be free.









Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #38 on: Jan 09, 17, 04:22:43 PM »
Slate had taken the sword from her, gripping it solidly in his hand. His fear shifted to questioning, then understanding. A nod came from the slave fighter and she turned and left him to his role. He surged after her, moving to engage others in the halls of the cells and face the guards with blade in hand. But she had no more time for him -- his time would come later at the hands of her Sestra.

Her task was a different one, now. She had prepared for months for this moment and had already created the webs that she would use for this task. Spools of spidersilk, charged with Green and Gray energies, were conjured from her expansive cabinet. With long and dextrous fingers she span the silk across the pillars deep in the earth. Site to site to site she moved and spun and wove while the sounds of blasts of Craft and the meeting of steel against steel roared in a din above her head.

There, she finished weaving the last web, placing the last of her enchantments in the depths of the Colosseum. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes beneath the mask. She centered her heart and her mind and focused on what needed to be done. Fatigue was starting to set into her from all of the Jewel strength she had used. She'd dug deep into her power to achieve her goals that night.

One task left to do.

She opened her eyes, and began to ascend.





Cutter followed Kesare along with marble-mouth as they went through freeing the slaves in the lower cells. The sudden cry of pain that sent everyone crashing to the ground (besides him and Kesare) caused him to blink in alarm, as he knew what that was. But it abated after a few moments and he breathed a sigh of relief that it was a side-effect of them being free rather than the slave-owners putting the smack down on all of them.

"Yeah, I remember when that happened to me. Ooooboy." He stated with a note of sympathy and a shake of his head. He extended a hand down to Sunny to help the poor guy to his feet, giving him a broad grin of encouragement. "Smarted at the time, but after, yeah. Worth that little bee sting."

It felt strange to Cutter that this blondie Warlord Prince seemed so.. calm all things considered. It was jarring considering all the Warlord Princes (even Baldy, sorry) were kind of dicks. He figured at least one of these screwballs would try to go crazy on Kesare, what with getting stuck in cells this whole time. He remembered when they got freed from the Mines that it was a genuine clusterfuck. This, in contrast, seemed much better.

There was more killing of slavers this time. Well.. more killing that he personally got to do.

Eventually the lot of them made their way to the arena grounds. It felt weird to go through all of this garbage just to put themselves smack dab into open ground in the middle of everything. If anything, it felt kind of like a trap. But who would gain anything from tricking a bunch of people to murder a bunch of wealthy people and then corral the slaves in one place? That seemed a little over the top to him, so he shook off his paranoia.

As they gathered, several of the slaves looked to one of them -- Hayllian looking fucker, who looked like a bunch of gold beneath a bunch of dirt. He had stains of blood on his bare chest and his rags, his sword likewise marred by red streaks. The slaves brought up a chant, those whom he'd helped through their dark moments and through their personal demons. 'Cad-Mus' 'Cad-Mus' they began, and it struck Cutter as odd.

"Bal-dy! Bal-dy!" he roared and lifted a fist to chant with the others, and looked at Kesare and Gideon and gave them a shrug.





"Cinerus." The song of steel spoke from above them and its eerie, otherworldly voice caused the crowd to immediately quiet. She stood in the Queen's box, staring down at the slaves below her as they were gathered with their weapons at the ready. Her eyes shifted to her son then, and though there was an echo of concern in her for the marks of battle he bore, they were small ripples compared to the rush of pride she felt in him.

He had not failed her. More importantly, he had not failed himself.

"Your task is done. The Price is paid." Her words, though they were as cold as the metal in their hands, held a note of agreement. The metal face she bore turned to face the others and hands of darkness rose from her robes.

As she extended them, she threw out several bags that landed heavily onto the dirt before the slaves. They opened, revealing jewel sets belonging to many -- though not all -- of them.

"You have been given your freedom, but it is not without its own Cost. The entire Territory is filled with slaves and slavers. Hayll lives upon the backs of others like you. They, too, need champions willing to brave great odds, as these three heroes have done.

In Faro, the Province Court has resources and fertile lands. It has defensible areas. In order for you to be fully free, you must let the cry of your freedom reach every corner of Hayll.

You must be willing to fight the Hundred Families and their guards, their servants, their slaves.

But if you are willing to fight, then you will not fight alone."


She dug deep into the Abyss then, calling all her might and her power. This was the moment that she needed to impress upon them that theirs was not a hopeless plight. This was the moment that she needed to fuel the embers of the flame within all of them. She dug deep and through gritted teeth behind her mask she summoned the power of the webs she'd wove. She activated them all at once with the full strength of her jewels. Sweat poured down her face, into her eyes, her bones ached and her skin split, but even with that she did not cry out in pain.

The ground beneath them cracked. It groaned. It cried out in pain as she split it asunder. The mighty, Craft reinforced walls trembled as a great silver fire began to erupt from the earth below and begin to rise along the walls.

"I..." Her words were, now for the first time, filled with pain that transcended the illusion she wove over the mask to hide her voice and her gender. "...will... make... them... fear.... the... flame... of your... revolution!"

The fires roared higher, becoming great pillars of flame that turned the marble black and began to melt wood and stone. The heat of the flame bled into the blood of the Blood beneath her, their angers, their hopes stirred by the passion of that moment. In the center of the arena they were safely apart from the display of destruction. Yet they could see the symbol of their degradation and their bondage began to burn.

"I WILL FIGHT!" Cadmus Slate roared, lifting his gladius into the air. "I WILL GO TO FARO, AND I WILL FIGHT FOR ALL OF US!"

His golden eyes swept to the others, blazing with the light of the flames in his eyes. "COME WITH ME, AND I WILL FREE EVERY LAST SLAVE IN HAYLL!"

Offline Kara Valyrian

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #39 on: Jan 15, 17, 12:48:10 PM »
Pain shot through her neck, a wicked bolt that screeched into her brain. Her back arched hard, wrenched her body enough that the top of her head dragged on the bed, her spine bent in two. She wanted to scream, but the sound she made was a pathetic mewl, her lungs burning from the inside too badly to push forward the air to make more of a sound.

She felt the pain in every bone, like something burrowed inside of them and exploded them from the core outward. Her heart exploded in pain, and an instant after she bent backwards, she doubled forward. Her stomach kicked, and she feared her bowels would let loose. But it all lasted no more than a few seconds.

“Fuck,” she gasped. Pullo must have been holding back, though she didn’t recall whether he’d ever actually used the ring as more than a threat. Whatever she’d done to piss him off had to be serious -- he wasn’t fucking around now. She’d been a model slave of late, so either this was a new game (one she did not want to play with him) or someone had blamed something on her. When she found out who it was, she’d make them pay for that blast of pain and dish out a few extra servings to make sure they didn’t cross her again. She’d learned that lesson of the Coliseum fast. Cross each other, and the penalty was pain.

She’d gotten good at that game, too.

Kara rolled up to sit on the edge of her bed. Her room was small, windowless. But it got cleaned several times a week. The sheets were fresh and thick. She’d lived in worse rooms in Little Terreille. She didn’t mind it. It was a Darkness damned luxury by the local standards, and to feel grateful for it seemed like some kind of betrayal. A betrayal of herself. Or of the others who lives in the cages below, who sometimes slept next to puddles of their own piss either as a punishment or out of neglect.

Gratitude all the same, though.

She rubbed her neck where the pain had come, and the collar fell off in her hand. Her immediate impulse was to try to fasten it back on, in case she somehow got caught without it. That seemed like the kind of thing Gaius might kill you for, and apologize to your corpse for later should Pullo decide his favorite pet killed in error. Didn’t make much different to the corpse, she imagined. She didn’t want to find out for herself.

Except, these things didn’t come off by accident. They didn’t come off at all, unless Pullo wanted them to. Through the thin walls, she heard roaring. Were there matches that night? And was this the right time for them? How fucking long had she been sleeping?

She padded to the door of her cell, wearing only a linen shift. She leaned into the wood and pushed it open silently, peeking out into the hall. A guard ran by, and then a slave. And another. And somewhere, in the background, she heard the cries. Words that she could pick out among the thunderous notes.

Cadmus.

Freedom.

There’d been a coup, and she’d slept through much of it. Which could mean a faction of slaves who wouldn’t include her as an enemy, necessarily -- but didn’t like or trust her enough to bring her in on their plans. Or, it was some kind of outside force. In any case, it was likely to be a damn bloody shit show.

And me, with nothing but basic fucking Craft.

She wanted her Jewels, and she wanted them right the fuck now. She imagined Pullo kept them somewhere in his quarters. Either he was holed up in there and didn’t consider her worth saving, or she guessed his guard might use that as a stronghold. Alternately, it’s where the angry mob might go first.

Fucking Hell. She should have been figuring out this contingency these last months. But of all the scenarios for profit or escape she envisioned, all of them suddenly being set loose on each other wasn’t one of them. She trusted none of this. She crept down the hall, and found the body of a slain guard, already stripped of his weapons. He had a nice bloody gash, though. She glanced around, and seeing no one, she wet her hands, or tried. The blood was just turning sticky right away.

“Fuck.”

She did what had to be done. She sunk a hand into the wound until she felt blood pooling, and then pulled it out dripping she smeared it on the plain linen shift, shook her hand so it splattered her face and her hair, streaked her legs a little with it until she was a believable mess, who could pass for wounded. She ran back to her cell and rinsed her hand enough that the ruse wouldn’t be obvious, should she run across someone likely to think the same way she did.

She went back to the hallway, and made her way, leaning heavily on the wall, as though wounded. From there, she stayed on this level of the Coliseum, but made her way to one of the viewing decks, to get a view of what was happening.

All of them, down in the dirt, armed as ever, and calling for the blood of those who imprisoned them. When her eyes teared up, she realized it wasn’t a game. It wasn’t a trick.

They were free.

If they could just get the fuck out of the Coliseum alive and not become collateral damage they were free. For most of them, it would mean what? Living on the streets of Draega? Becoming exactly what so many of the Hundred already believed them to be? Thieves and whores and grifters.

But they would be free. To fight whatever revolution they thought was born that night. Or free to get the fuck out of Hayll.

Kara knew where her money was.

Now, if she could figure out where the fuck her Jewels were, she’d find a Green wind to kinder pastures. But the only one who knew where her Green and Summer Sky were was Pullo -- and she didn’t dare try to find a thread. Who knew what Black Widow would be monitoring that shit. And, if he were inclined to help her, he would have let her known. Wherever he was, she hoped he was in large enough pieces that she could find out where they were.

Because Kara had no intention of living out the rest of her days without them.





Offline Anders Nyberg

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #40 on: Jan 20, 17, 01:38:33 PM »
Calling Sunny a "leader" of the slaves might have been stretching it a bit much, and was a title at which he'd certainly cackle. But he was one of them, and had been lucky enough to develop kinship with a large number of them during his imprisonment. So when he helped to open cells and spread the news Kesare had given him, the other slaves were quick to trust his word. Calling him "calm" was a bit of a misnomer as well. The longer he worked the more ardently his heart beat in his chest. He was afraid to hope that this little raid would actually net him his freedom, and he kept waiting for the ring around his cock to bring him and everyone else to his knees as soon as Pullo realized what was going on. He couldn't not try, though; it wasn't in him to lie dormant in the face of a chance, even if it seemed a doom one.

Sure enough, collars and rings lit up all across the Coliseum at once, from the sounds of it. Sunny didn't notice the way it seemed to hit everyone at once, though. He was too busy being crouched on his knees, screaming through clenched teeth and trying to not lose control of his bodily functions. Then, quite suddenly, the torture stopped. The popping-open of the ring was so unexpected that it startled him, and he flinched and gave another strangled little cry. Slowly, though, it dawned on him what'd happened. He pulled the waist of his trousers away from his belly and stared, wide-eyed at the unfastened ring that lay dormant on his tortured cock. He was stunned at first, but then all at once reached down and pulled it off of himself, and stared at it as if it'd spoken to him.

"I'll be gohd-dammed," he whispered, in awe. He looked over to Marcus, who was just climbing back to his own feet, and who stopped now to offer Sunny a hand up. Sunny, who only then realized he was still on his knees, grabbed the offered hand and leapt upright with growing enthusiasm.

"Thumwun got to Pullo!" he exclaimed, slapping his free hand to Marcus' shoulder in what could've been an embrace, had he been thinking more about it. Marcus was grinning as well, an expression that made his face look utterly foreign to Sunny. The Glacian didn't care, though. He leaned back and crowed, "THE FAHT MAHN ITH DEAD!!" Marcus laughed, but was quick to sober, giving Sunny's arm a shake as he started to move.

We will be too, if you don't shut up and get moving!

He was right, of course. Sunny started after him and the others, a grin as bright as sunlight on his face. They opened the rest of the cells on their level and followed the crowd to the arena, where a winged man was encouraging the slaves to raid the armory. Sunny gawked. Was this-- had Askavi done this?? But a look around showed him no other Eyriens that he could see. What he did see, though, stopped him just as cold. Up on one of the balconies, Kara watched the chaos below.

Sunny moved suddenly, with the driven determination of a hunter after prey, and began to make his way quickly up to where she stood.

His movement was paused when a masked figure suddenly spoke from the Queen's box. Sunny glanced around quickly again at the mention of three heroes, and thought it funny that this one figure was the other "team" Kesare had referenced. But then the masked one spoke of Faro Province, and about how there was work to be done to fight for the other slaves still trapped in Hayll, and Sunny was legitimately torn. He truly longed to help bring justice to all those oppressed as he had been, but his mother was out there in the world somewhere still, and he had no way of knowing whether she was being abused as well. He had to find her.

The masked figure caused the very earth to tremble and summoned great pillars of flame, and Sunny cursed at the sheer awesomeness of the display of power. Cadmus was speaking then, urging the newly-freed slaves to follow him to Faro, but Sunny's attention snapped back to where Kara had been standing a moment ago. He took off again towards her - or where she was likely to emerge at the ground level - and did his best to avoid falling pieces of the crumbling coliseum walls.




Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #41 on: Jan 20, 17, 01:57:23 PM »
Adrenaline coursed through Gideon, to the point where he was only barely aware of his disfigured hand or any of the wounds he'd taken in the scuffle with the Sapphire guard. Fury still beat through him like a war drum, and once the armory's offerings had been depleted, he surged out among the gathered people. He began to search through the faces for Kesare and Cutter, but before he found them the voice of the Shadowed One cut through the din and silenced it. Gideon was released from his service, a truth he acknowledged with a short nod of his head while he watched.

The display of power that followed was impressive enough that even Gideon's eyes widened. What font of Craft must be available to this creature in order to orchestrate such a feat!? But it was neither the flames nor the trembling coliseum that held his attention, for as the effort exerted took its toll on the Shadowed One, its disguise was pulled threadbare for a moment. The pain that was audible in that voice grabbed at Gideon like only few things in the world did. To say that he recognized the woman beneath the mask would not have been entirely accurate. And yet he lunged out away from those immediately near him so that he could take to the air, all the same. He rose until he was level with the creature, though he remained out in the open air rather than joining her inside the box. Panting still from exertion, Gideon studied her with a sharp, discerning air, all of his senses extended towards this creature that had unintentionally revealed itself (in his mind, at least) to be female.

And very darkly Jeweled.

And in possession of a voice that was hauntingly familiar.

Instinct knew what intellect wanted to deny. The two factions warred within him, the Warlord Prince understanding where its claim lay, and the Priest refusing to believe what the beast wanted him to see. Beneath him, the slaves of the arena cheered and rallied around their Champion, and the coliseum burned in what would be an historical night for Hayll. For the moment, however, Gideon merely lingered there in the air, looking for any sign from the Shadowed One that would either confirm or deny the terrible suspicion he could not yet even consciously acknowledge.














Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #42 on: Jan 24, 17, 11:09:12 PM »


Location: The Colosseum, Hayll
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening




Kesare's attention had largely been upon Gideon, trying to assess how injured he truly was. But the swarm of slaves funneling into the arena soon blocked him from her sight, save for a glimpse now and again of his black wings rising above the crowd. She, too, looked at the blood-specked gladiator who had won the crowd's attention with very little more than his presence. And if some part of her resented the crowd chanting Cadmus instead of Gideon, well, Cuter's irreverent counter of Bal-dy, Bal-dy, won him not merely one of her rare smiles, but a surprised, velvety laugh. She saluted him with her weapon before vanishing it.

"We need to get to Gideon before-"

Not only her voice, but all sound seemed swallowed when that unnatural voice spoke, making that single name that the Masked One chose to speak ring clearly throughout the Arena.

Cinnerus.

The creature announced Gideon's identity to all who were present, demolishing any chance of his family escaping retribution for the night's actions. It took Kesare a few precious seconds to spot the figure in the Queen's Box. The Masked creature went on to claim that Gideon was free of future claims, and to extort those freed to march upon a Province Seat.

Kesare felt another ripple of dismay go through her when the prisoners' Jewels were tossed to the arena floor in several bags; she braced for the sort of chaos and carnage the chance to regain their Jewels had caused when she had been freed. Her gaze intersected Cutter's, and her head angled to the Jewels, and then to where Gideon had vanished into the crowd, in silent question.

But then the Colosseum itself began to groan and burn, the very stones melting as Craft bled out of the ancient structure, and choice was taken from them. She spun to watch, her senses seeking out the limits or edges of the Craft used, but it was vast, powerfully Dark. The Masked figure seemed to hurt as deeply as the doomed stone around them, the Black Widow's voice finally breaking free of the bland, genderless indifference it had used so far. Kesare tore her attention from the destruction around her, to the pained creature wreaking such havoc.

Pillars of flame rose around them, wood and stone ran together and flowed down to fill the holding cells and sewers beneath them. Had anyone been missed, they were now hopelessly entombed below. She felt the impact, as the near-mob around them was focused and refined by the flames. Oh, it was effective. This vast symbol of hate and despair brought low in a single evening? The implication that they could take a Province Court without being destroyed? Even the promise of more help like this, added to the strength of Cadmus' legend (whatever it was).

Not to mention that the Cinerus family had been sworn to their revolution the moment the Masked One had spoken their name.

Cadmus, roared his defiance, daring any to walk away, instead of following him into death. It said something, that the twin spectacles of vast destruction and magnificent purpose slowed the rush towards the Jewels. Kesare allowed a brush of her own White to shred the bags holding the Jewels, and scatter them around Cadmus' feet, so that each set lay individual. Even Basic Craft should allow those recently freed to use Telekinesis to call their own Jewels to them. But she dared even one of them to attempt to steal a set not rightfully theirs, while they lay at Cadmus' feet. All of his rage and purpose was simply looking for an outlet.

Kesare took a moment to try to isolate his Psychic aura, so that she would know him in a less fraught state. Reminded, she searched for the smiling, blond man so aptly named Sunny, but he had vanished into the crowd. She had not even arranged a time, as of yet, to tend to his tongue. Her lips thinned in frustration, but a quick scan of the crowd did not readily reveal him. It would never have occurred to her that he had bolted not towards his Jewels, but the destructive heat surrounding them, so she did not look behind her. She searched then for Marcus, but if he too had melted into the crowd, would deliver a simply message to any of the slaves from Sunny's block. "Tell Sunny I'll find him later, at the Faro Court, and Heal his tongue."

Gideon took to the air, despite the swirling clouds of fire and smoke, the risk that one of the Guards or Slavers yet lived. She thought at first that he wished to find her, but he did not look down; his attention was locked upon the suffering figure in the Queen's Box.

Kesare ... felt less compassion. She hovered there, torn; she knew very little, truly. Gideon had yet to make good on his promise to explain. But that he regarded the figure with more reverence and less suspicion than Kesare did was ... a safe assumption. She knew that Black Widow for what it was; a relentless, driven being without compunction or morals, so convinced of her high purpose that it relieved her of all need for morality. She'd met people like that, on both sides of the long Occupation and during the Great War. But Gideon was young, and lacked her experience of the more enticing evils.

And once all compassion was ground out of a man or woman, they became evil.

Kesare sent a driven look towards Cutter, then angled her gaze once more upon Gideon, still making a target of himself. She deftly freed a healing Elixir for each of them, and offered one to Cutter. She knew better than to approach Gideon with more than a few bruises. The burning, exquisite mixture eased down her throat, a mere nudge of Craft aligned her ribs, eased the blow to her back that would have taken a kidney if not for her armor. The rent on her thigh became a thin line, her arm carried only a ghost of a bruise. Her Craft likewise guided the elixir through Cutter, if he chose to drink it; if he kept it for later he'd merely earn an appreciative nod. Lady Silvia's elixirs ought never to be squandered.

Determinedly, the Kesare then drove through the crowd to end underneath Gideon. It never seemed to occur to her that a single, slender Dhemlan Aristo and a fierce desert nomad ought not to be able to simply walk through a crowd of furious, suddenly freed slaves. She took another moment, once she was beneath him, to compose herself. She had a feeling he was going to ask her to intervene on behalf of the Masked one, and she needed a moment to prepare herself; getting that creature into a helpless position was more likely to bring out the Black Widow's need to avenge than the Healer's urge towards forgiveness. It had brought Gideon to his knees, and that she would not forgive.

Only once a calm, quiet certainty filled her did she allow her mind to cautiously reach for his. It was a light touch, no frantic demand or desperate contact. Quiet. Controlled.

*Gideon.*

Kesare did not know if he would hear her, but it eased her simply to brush his aura, nonetheless. He'd been so driven lately, so closed and distant, as if preparing for his own death. In truth, she had not expected to ever see him again, yet his long hover there suggested the blow to his chest was not fatal; might even not be terribly serious.

Or that he was in shock.

She maintained that same even, gentle tone. *You are terribly visible, should a guard have lived. Ought you to either sight shield, or land?* She phrased is as a question, for she had no way of knowing if he was working some Craft she could not sense.

But if he remained silent, or indicated a need, she'd begin looking for a safe way to attain the access to the Queen's Box. She schooled her voice to cool calm, though not the cold of a Court mask. A hint of rather driven, conflicted emotions braided through her voice. "Do you see a way to get up there, Cutter? I suspect he'll be asking us to assist, as soon as its Craft is finished."[/b









Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #43 on: Jan 25, 17, 02:09:32 PM »
Foco.

The mantra, echoing from a voice far away in her mind, wreathed in words of the old tongue, came into the forefront of her thought. Excessus, her mentor, had used that word as an anchor to her in her formative days within the Iarvis. He had trained her to chain her psyche to that single word of power, to disconnect herself from pain and exhaustion, and use it as the rallying point for her mind's energies.

Foco.

Lilith breathed beneath her mask. It was not her true face. She had discarded Indomitus to take on the face of the Master. Her former face had a role to play still and she had to complete it before she could rest.

"Take these..." She exhaled slowly as the masking spells were once more reinforced, her metallic voice once more obfuscating her identity from her son. Shadowed fingers beheld two jewel sets, holding a cut Sapphire and a cut Opal, and she gestured to Cadmus below with her other hand. She offered the jewels to Gideon to collect.

"He will be your sword in the coming trials. Wield him well."

Once he did so, her task almost complete, she drew her hands back into her voluminous robes. "We will speak again, but not soon." Slowly she lowered herself to a crouch, laying her hands upon the floor of the Queen's Suite, her head lowered.

"You should depart now with your charges. Your work is now beginning in earnest, Cinerus." There was a tremor of deep, dark power and the ground quaked beneath her feet. The slaves, Kesare, and Cutter felt the shift and would get a sense of alarm.

The shadows around her being stretched and grew in shape and in power -- a trick she had learned from Belasarius in her formative years. In many ways the Shadowmancy seemed more flashy than useful, but in the well of darkness she now understood its true strength. The dark tendrils moved to wrap around the pillars of the suite, her form becoming more menacing and demonic in its appearance as each second ticked by.

"Go." She commanded, leaving no room for conversation or question. It was time to finish what she had started.

Offline Gideon Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #44 on: Jan 26, 17, 06:27:40 PM »
He was so close, something told him. Press forward, and you'll find it. He stared darkly at the near-phantom before him, played back over in his mind the pained shout that'd drawn him near in the first place. His heart hammered wildly in his chest, his muscles tensed where he did not force them to relax.

But you will be sorry if you do.

He did not have time to reconcile the two pieces of intuition before he was forced to focus outwards again. The creature before him was offering him the Jewels of another man, and Kesare was whispering against his mind. He looked down, saw Cadmus Slate rallying the freed slaves. He saw Kesare watching him. He saw the mass of people who were collared and bound only moments before, but who were now free men and women once more. He looked back to the Shadowed One and began to speak, but she allowed for no words. She commanded him to leave, and began to shake what felt like the entirety of the Coliseum at once. Gideon released his fevered hold on that almost-knowing, and allowed the moment to pass.

He sent a thread back to Kesare, a wordless acknowledgment and plea for patience, and swooped down to land with a gust of wing nearby the gladiator the Shadowed One had indicated.

"Here," he said, closing the distance to return Cadmus' Jewels to him. He did not spare time for introductions or questions. "You must lead them to Faro. I will meet you there. It will be difficult, but do what you can to limit the violence they inflict on the courtiers there. There will be enough blood shed in the coming days as it is." He would wait long enough to receive acknowledgement from Cadmus, and then he'd turn and make his way through the crowd in search of Kesare and Cutter.

Once he found them, an arm wrapped almost instinctively around the Black Widow Healer, and he pressed a kiss to her temple, though he did not stop moving, and did not drop the driven feel to his voice and movements.

"Cutter, I need to find my family and make sure they're safe," he told the warlord, as he fell in stride. "Will you help Cadmus get these people to Faro? My family's land is not far from the Province seat that was spoken of; I will meet you there as soon as I can."

When Cutter agreed, only then did Gideon look down and give his full attention to Kesare. He stopped, and he took her face in his hands, not even settled enough to feel his wounds yet, but settled enough to focus on her for a pair of seconds.

"Come with me," he said, as much plea as invitation. If she consented, he'd take her hand and duck beneath it, prompting her to lock her arms around his neck. He hadn't carried anyone on his back since Keziah was small, but it wasn't a feat he was likely to forget. If Kesare did not object, Gideon would launch the pair of them into the air and take off towards the south.

Hayll's revolution had begun.














Offline Xaviera Greco

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #45 on: Jan 29, 17, 09:35:37 AM »
She’d walked the halls of her former prison half stunned. After the pain at her neck had passed, Xaviera had found the collar had come unbound of its own accord. With fear she touched the metal, almost afraid at the hope that surged within her. Her fingers touched the walls and she moved in a direction due to her own accord.

There was no fight to attend. No man to service. No trainer to please.

Xaviera was free to choose her direction, but she followed the masses. It was there she saw Cadmus, saw the winged man and two more who were not slaves. She watched their show, for it was a show (and a damn fine one). When the Jewels were placed upon the ground, Xaviera felt within herself for the bond between her Rose and Summer Sky.

There was nothing there. Her Jewels were not among them. It was crushing, the weight of knowing the somewhere, Pullo still had her Jewels.

The call to arms resonated within her, but she hesitated. She’d never truly been part of the Slaves, but then she’d been stripped of all that made her Hundred Families. As the cries, around her and further, closer to Cadmus and his winged compatriot, Xaviera felt apart. Men and women, many unjustly imprisoned, some less so. She’d earned her place, allowed herself to be manipulated into a power grab for the throne of Hayll and failed.

But Nero had promised her freedom.

The decision was not black and white but as Xaviera turned from the slaves, she decided to take the easy path. She knew what to expect from the Hundred, from her father and could even imagine that Nero was not done with her. Following Cadmus and the winged man, that was the harder of the paths, sweat and suffering.

As she turned, leaving behind the slaves and their revolt, Xaviera felt the weight of her choice. It was a coward’s choice. Nevertheless, she head held high, bereft of Jewels or fine clothes, she made her way away from the slaves. She choose her freedom over revolution.

Let the slaves have their war. Xaviera was done with fighting.

Offline Kesare Fuentes

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #46 on: Feb 04, 17, 06:39:02 AM »


Location: The Colosseum, Hayll
Autumn 191 AP
Late Evening




Kesare Fuentes' gaze was torn from Gideon when the earth began to quake and heave, even within the Arena, where they were standing. Her first gruesome thought was that somehow the Shadowed One had brought in a Sandworm to finish off the Coliseum, though she swiftly dismissed that as mere over-exposure to Pruul. If only her imagination were so wiling to bow to logic. Her second thought, that already the Hundred Family members had massed to take back the people so recently freed, was no more comforting, if less horrific.

The masked figure, shadowed and terrifying, whom Kesare had almost disciplined her mind to regard as merely a very well equipped and phenomenally trained Black Widow who happened to stand vastly deeper in the Abyss than Gideon, warped to extend horrific limbs of Shadow that reached into the very pillars which held the Queen's Seat. The Pillars whose foundations ended far below the Arena floor itself, in the bedrock of Hayll. The creature lost all semblance of a mortal shape, twisting and deforming into a hideous monster made more of Craft and Shadow than stone and blood. When that creature pulled upon the Pillars, it seemed to Kesare that all of Hayll groaned.

Kesare was transfixed by the coming destruction.

Part of her yearned and ached with the Shadowed One as it sought to level this most ancient symbol of Hayll, consumed by the need to leave not one stone piled upon another. There was a profound abandon in the act, an almost sensual terror. Simultaneously, the Black Widow Healer was horrified by a hate so vast it threatened even the weapon that the Shadowed One had so carefully crafted. Dust and pebbles danced, stone shrieked; it was only a matter of time before the sand of the Arena suffered from liquefaction and bound them all where they stood in a new-made quicksand. Yet it was only as debris from the upper levels pelted her, slicing her cheek, that Kesare could look away from the creature in the Queen's box.

Gideon was there, suddenly. His arm wrapped about her, but he never stopped moving. The kiss to her temple, skin-to-skin, was shocking, so certain was she that he would be taken by the creature destroying Hayll. Her gaze sought out his wounds, for the press of his lips was gone before she'd managed a Delve.

Kesare was torn, as Gideon tasked Cutter with the dismaying job of seeing all these strangers through a foreign land to a place he'd never been. Yet she could not argue; Gideon had to warn his family. They did not know either Kesare or Cutter; nor could either outlander even find his home with certainty to give warning. Yet if anyone could fit into Cadmus' loyalists, if any outsider would understand their hurts and needs, it would be the stalwart desert Warlord. She nodded agreement along with him, expecting to be left with the new-born Hayll Resistance Fighters.

When Gideon managed, though some vast force of will, check his forward movement long enough to cup her face, Kesare dared to trace her gloved hand over his heavy brows, the shaven head, in a caress that ended with her hand at the back of his neck, a gesture of intimate possession, however fleeting.

Come with me,

The burn of guilt on Cutter's behalf couldn't survive the entreaty in Gideon's voice, let alone the driven, hurting weight of Gideon's every movement. She wanted to protest, to insist that Gideon let her stop and Heal him. But he could not, when his family was at risk. She only nodded her agreement, expecting him to ask her to ride the Winds while he flew.

Instead, Gideon ducked under her arm, placing her directly behind him; not only was she in his blind spot, but she had perfect access to his vulnerable wings. Not even when they made love, did he put her in such a position.

"Cutter ..." Kesare said, even as Gideon tensed, preparing to take off. There was no time for the dozen and a half things she felt needed to be said just then, everything from acknowledging his skill in combat to begging him not to make her mourn his death. She was unwilling to offer glib answers or false assurances, but needed to gift the man with something. She wished she had his gift for making others laugh; surely that was the right thing, in this moment. "I ..."

And they were airborne.

Kesare used Craft to brace her weight and keep her arm from closing on Gideon's windpipe, but otherwise let him maneuver her as he willed. His body was hard and strong beneath hers, and once in the air, she vanished her armored corselet, leaving only the thin silk camisole to shield her. His beautiful black wings flared wide, before descending in a powerful downstroke. Another beat of his wings, the backstroke sharp and hard enough to bruise if he misjudged her weight shift. Yet his wings were so flexible and warm that she yearned to feel them against her, despite the risk. Her lips brushed the back of his neck in soft salute, and she let his silent presence at the edges of her mind soothe.

The shaking, bitter world fell away. Air sang and danced along her body, clear and fresh and yet hard to breathe. Inexplicable shifts in pressure tossed them up and down in what was to her random motion. The night was indecipherable to her, brilliant stars, the roaring of wind or wave,  leaving her in a sea of sensations she could not interpret. Even more then when she'd been cradled in his arms after Lucky's assault, flying so required a profound amount of faith in him. Trust that he knew how and where she should be placed, so that his wings would not knock her free on the backstroke, nor tangle in her and doom them both. Confidence that he knew his own body and had not overstretched himself, despite how driven he was.

Once Kesare surrendered those fears, committed herself wholly to his care, joy and peace dared to steal into her soul.









Offline Cutter al-Sabbah

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #47 on: Feb 04, 17, 09:30:41 AM »
"Uh."

Baldy flew down from his one-on-one with the scariest thing he'd ever seen in his life; and while he was no Hayllian he'd spent 145 years on Mother Night's green planet. Enough time to know that wasn't no normal Blood Magic and there was more going on here than just a bunch of dark jewels busting out a group of slaves. It reminded him a little of when he saw Lady Mad entomb the Geiba into the earth, but much, much freakier.

Then Gideon was talking some nonsense about leaving and checking on his family. He didn't seem concerned overmuch about them before. Wasn't he some hoity-toity Hayllian noble? It wasn't like they left a whole bunch of people to talk.

"...Yeah, I guess your wings give you away around here." His eyes scanned the perimeter of the arena and didn't see a single other Eyrien or Eyrien half-breed. Not that he minded, considering almost every Eyrien or Eyrien blooded person he'd ever met was a dick. Gideon was kind of the exception.

Cutter gave a shrug as Cadmus put on his jewels and started pulling the crowd of freed slaves toward an exit. The Sapphire Warlord Prince was shouting over the din of the Colosseum starting to rumble and quake, and Cutter squared his feet to make sure he could afford a firm posture while he was talking to Gideon while Kesare mounted his back. "...Yeah.... he don't look like the subtle type. I'll take care of 'em and make sure they know how to keep their fuckin mouths shut. I'll try to stop 'em from going in on the Faro Court 'til I see you two lovebirds."

He flashed a smile over toward Kesare who looked worried and concerned, trying to reassure her. He would have made another glib comment toward them both but before he could, Gideon was already airborne and taking off. For a second Cutter just watched them go, transfixed by the sight. For a moment, he felt a small pang of jealousy.

ABRAHAM! The metal voice of the creature in the box startled Cutter, doubly so because she used his given name. "H-how did you.."

FLEE, FOOL!

Cutter's eyes took up the area around him then, noticing that the seating of the stands were starting to split and crack open, chairs and railing starting to slip into the chasms that bore bedrock and deeper stone. Even the ground beneath him was beginning to crack.

Well. Shit.

He didn't need a second word. Turning on a heel Cutter rushed after the yelling Warlord Prince and the other slaves who were trailing behind him toward the exit. He let out a bark as he vanished the sword in his hand so as to free up his entire body for the purpose of fleeing the destruction behind him.

"HEY! WAIT FOR ME!" And then they ran as fast as they were able from the uproar of twisting stone behind them.








Offline Lilith Cinerus

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Re: Sleep Now in the Fire
« Reply #48 on: Feb 04, 17, 09:45:15 AM »
Her child and his lover had departed. He would go to Faro, but she would not be there. It would increase his worry and his concern, but perhaps he would find solace in seeing his sister, his brother, his uncle and his many cousins.

So too did the freed slaves. Ignoto had been careful. There would be some among them that knew the paths and safest routes and winds to Faro. They had been instructed to steal carriages as necessary and to have those with Jewels aid those who did not. They had been told where to land, away from their true goal, and the roads they would need to follow in order to hit their target unaware. Cutter al-Sabbah was a seasoned mercenary, Cadmus a warrior, but Gideon would be their general.

Even Fuentes would have a role to play before it was all over.

But the Master could no longer focus upon those ancillary concerns. With no watchers she no-longer had to expel effort on masking her appearance save beneath the metal mask over her face. With a primordial scream she unleashed the full power of her Gray on the webs that she had woven across the Colosseum and its foundations. Earth upturned, stone liquefied, pillars warped. It would not destroy the structure completely, but it would maim it. It would make it an ugly cost to correct. Her efforts would mark Draega with her touch and be a reminder to those who looked upon it what was coming.

It would instill fear into the wealthy. It would tell them, clearly, that they were no longer untouchable.

She was coming for them.

She roared and screamed and wept from the exertion that tore at her body, her jewels, her chalice, and her very soul as she pulled and pulled and pulled. She knew she had to stop soon, lest she risk breaking herself in the task. But she poured all of her Green now, too, now that the others had left and they would not sense her Birthright.

There. Agonizing minutes later, it was over. She lowered her arms, exhausted as she saw this world she help build begin to turn on itself. A most magnificent black-eye to put to the One Hundred Families.

Fatigue wreathed itself heavy on her brow and she staggered as she took a single step forward. She was too tired to take a wind. She had overstepped her power. She had used too much in her fury.

The world shook and spun. She tried to take another step and fell, landing heavily unto the cushioned floor of the Queen's suite. The metal mask of Indomitus was stifling on her face. She could not see. She could not breathe. The world turned and turned and she could not find her center. The roof above her cracked wide and the floor beneath her shook.

She turned her eyes to the sky and for a brief moment she could see the stars and the moon high above her as the suite began to collapse, the ceiling lurching forward to fall toward her. Just a brief moment of brilliant, serene light.

Then darkness.

 

 

anything