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* Plot Information for Little Terreille

A naive Black Jeweled witch has destroyed the Territory Court. From its ashes a new court is being constructed, one run by a manipulative killer. As the blood runs in the streets of Goth from open gang warfare, the Steward of Little Terreille begins a gambit to rebuild the Territory from the ground up and challenge the Star of Kaeleer.
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Author Topic: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be  (Read 498 times)

Description: Attn: Kora

Offline Darien Embers

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a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« on: May 24, 19, 05:08:38 PM »
Early Spring 194-Tottering Otter Tavern


Darien hadn’t been to the Tottering Otter in months, but nothing had changed. It was still charming and catering to a crowd that one wouldn’t find in the hoity-toity bars near that eyesore masquerading as the Territory Court. The tables were full and several waitresses was running to and fro, taking orders from a rough-looking guy here, a well-dressed lad there that seemed woefully out of place, and even a drug-dealer and her cronies over in a booth in the far-corner. That last group caught Darien’s attention, if only because he knew more than his fair share of drug-dealers. After what happened to Sean, the Sapphire Prince was loathe to let anyone else get involved with them, especially when they got all touchy about people cutting in on their “territory”.

That worry extended to an old friend.

Darien saw Kora behind the bar and made his way over, sliding into the barstool to her right. Her attention was elsewhere, currently, making sure that some burly-looking longshoreman got his fourth ale of the evening. Darien settled in and watched her for a bit, looking for any of the telltale signs that something was off with the Black Widow. Goth was safer now than it had been in past years, but Darien would never consider Goth a safe place. The rest of the Unchained were doing their own things, leaving Darien to try to figure out what he was going to do with the rest of his life. But he didn’t want to think about that right now. He was barely managing what he planned to do with the rest of his day, and he still had to see Tylmandra again at some point.

Excuse me, barkeep. Who do I have to sweet-talk in order to get a drink around here?” he asked, his tone teasing. He hoped that Kora took it that way. He’d seen a few men make what they thought was a “harmless” joke in a Black Widow’s direction, only to learn that it was the last joke they ever made. A Black Widow’s sense of humor could run a little dark and their moods were hard to predict. Kora Amarrant was no exception and Darien decided that survival was better than dying on the floor of a bar, or in an alley, over a terrible joke.

Of course, if sweet-talking isn’t your thing, I brought money too.” he grinned.



Offline Kora Amarrant

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 19, 05:22:28 PM »
Kora couldn't shake the thought of the dead man in her alley. She could still see his face, a mixture of pleasure and absentia. The description wouldn't make sense to most, except for addicts. The escape was the goal, the euphoria that lingered with a sense of relief was secondary.  It all sounded so romantic until one saw the reality of it. There was no sweet release, only the scent of piss and the pale pallor of flesh that lost its health long ago.

Kora remembered what that was like, looking in the mirror and not recognizing the urchin staring back at her. Seeing that man was like finding that same mirror all over again. She never left.  So yes, there was some self-pity involved but she had a whole night to let it slowly eat away at her, whoopie. Wiping a rag over the counter she eyed the drunken male. He was three deep and would be on his ass on the fourth and this wasn't even her special cocktail.  He leaned over, almost slurring and fit her with what she assumed was an attempt at a charming wink. “Another pert, pretty lady.” Kora’s brows lifted reminding herself she only had a couple more hours in her shift.

Already she could feel the irritation settling in. She’d taken to carving out an hour of quiet time to herself each day. Geir had approved it, mostly because it kept his black widow mixologist in a better mood and his customer’s alive. Only today her mind kept traveling back to that man, the scent of him, the rancid odor that clung to her memory. Something felt wrong, something was wrong so close to her home. Sure he could have wandered in and decided to die in the alley, but she had seen this man in the Tottering Otter, not a day before. No, something was creeping closer and she couldn't keep the feeling of anxiety from spreading over her bones. This was her territory, unwritten or not. Geir had a no drugs policy in his bar and she expected it to be followed.

So her hour was a wash, which was fine considering the dinner rush was upon them and they needed all the help they could get. She filled his pint and set it before the shoreman again before turning to set a bottle on the decorative bar. She wore a low cut lace shirt that hung off her olive shoulder and a pair of tight leather pants, her brown hair was loose, tucked behind her ears displaying a long silver arrowhead earring on one ear and a simple stud in the other. “Isn't your kind supposed to be off, poisoning men, whittling webs in Court?” He asked with a smirk.

“Why do you think I'm here?”

The man paused, straightening a bit.

“Enjoy your drink.”

She heard a familiar voice call out to her and she turned her attention toward them. Yet another charmer. The moment her eyes settled on his face she grew still. Speaking about faces from the past. Darien Embers sat at her bar and for a moment she wondered about that hollow-eyed woman staring back at her. He’d met her before and she wasn't sure he would recognize her the way she was now. Once a fuck up, always a fuck up? “I'll take your money. It's the only think of value you have.” Recovering she gave him a big smirk and walked over, standing directly in front of him. He didn't look different. “Prince Embers in the flesh. Hi. How are you?”

Offline Darien Embers

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 19, 05:25:39 PM »
I saw you take a moment to come up with that one.” he said, thought there was no malice in it.

All the same, top marks for a good burn. You look great, Lady Amarrant. Do you mind if we drop the formalities, though? I’ve dealt with more Lords and Ladies today than anyone should have to. I’d rather check in on a friend and enjoy her skill with mixing things.” Darien said.

He smiled, taking a moment to undo his tie and vanish it. The light blue shirt had a row of brown buttons leading down below the end of the bar-top, and Darien undid the one closest to his throat so that he could breathe a little easier. It didn’t help that the longshoreman was now lighting a cig to go with his drink, and Darien grimaced in the man’s direction before returning his attention to Kora.

His eyes flicked down to her arms and then upward toward her neck before reaching her eyes. From another man, it could have been sexual interest, sizing her up to weigh his odds of taking her home after her shift. But Darien knew the Black Widow well enough to worry about her habits. Not long ago, the idea of her holding down a job was unthinkable. She’d had some bad times, but she seemed to be on a better path. He liked it even better than he liked the cut of her top.

I’m good. Got a lot of things going for me these days, so I’m mostly happy. Decided to stop in again when I heard you were working here. I was here a few months ago on business. Good times.” Darien said, rapping his knuckles against the counter-top. More Midland wood, like the tables out on the floor. Once more, Darien admitted to himself that the owner of this joint had damned good taste.

I see why this place is so popular, though. Heard that one of the bartenders here was damned good at what they do. Should’ve known that there would be a Black Widow behind the counter. Definitely should have realized that it was you.” Darien said, grinning.

I’ll have today’s special, if you don’t mind. While we’re at it, you can tell me how you’re doing. You like it here?” he asked.



Offline Kora Amarrant

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 19, 05:31:00 PM »
She was caught, the surprise in her expression was not lost to him. He wasn't a face she expected to see anytime soon, though he wasn't special in that regard, she didn't like running into many people from her past. After a while a sense of embarrassment eases in with the guilt once the drugs fade. “Yeah well, if you didn't hear, I'm dropping some venom into each glass and betting on who croaks first.” She smirked, the shore man eyed his drink again for a long moment before relaxing against the bar. “Guess he decided to take his chances,” she whispered to him and smirked softly at the compliment. “The burn is free.”

She nodded once when he asked to drop the formalities. He’d come in well dressed which was a change. Not that he was ever dirty, just casual which Kora very much preferred. The last time they interacted was a haze, she remembered him trying to convince her to come inside, and she thought she did. The lack of much real memory was more of a blessing than a curse. “I'm clean.” she answered the question on his mind as he surveyed her.  Kora’s smirk faded but she was being honest. Her skin held a healthy tinge to it, her cheeks were no longer sunken and golden speckled eyes were clear. He would note that the track marks on her slender arms were gone and she was alert. “Two years now. I usually work nights in the back but I'm pulling a double. You must have just missed me.”

Kora smiled and tilted her head at the compliment. “You're going back to sweet-talking, but I'll bite. I don't think you really expected me here. I didn't. I owe it to Geir. Though I know you
tried...thanks.”
   Taking in a deep breath she exhaled through her nose. “Coming right up.”   It was the best customer service anyone could ask for. Plus speaking with darien was preferable to serving anyone else. Her mind just wasn't in it, she needed the distraction and here he was in a tie. “Where did you come from all dolled up?” Kora collected a few bottles and poured ounces of liquid into a shaker filled with ice without the use of a jigger. The last one she collected was bright green and swirled with Craft. A teaspoon was enough of that and soon she was shaking the whole thing and pouring it into a tumbler with an orange peel. Setting the glass in front of him she wiped down her station and made another., though this one with considerably less bourbon and more of the green stuff. “Not the special, but its on the house.”

He would gather strong notes of bourbon, rye whiskey, and bitters with some other flavor. The drink was designed to burn the back of the throat but release a soft unbalancing wave of lightheadedness that lingered for only a second then disappeared. Like the pleasant sensation of a very temporary buzz. “I do like it here. It's home. The bar is doing well, and I have an apartment not far from here. I'm good, I take it day by day but I'm very good.”

Offline Darien Embers

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 19, 05:32:12 PM »
A chance to become a spirit with my spirits? Man, I came to the right place tonight.” Darien said, laughing. He couldn’t help it. Anyone foolish enough to think that a Black Widow would poison good customers deserved the anxiety. Kora wasn’t a stupid woman. Any bar where the patrons ended up dead soon had no patrons. Darien had been the reason a couple of bars shut down once upon a time, on account of dead patrons. The situation had nothing to do with alcohol, though, and everything to do with people who didn’t know how to listen when a woman said no.

Then again, someone had to kill the stupid people now and again, rather than let them trouble the living.

Count me among the people willing to take their chances tonight.” Darien grinned.

She said that she was clean and Darien gave her a last look before nodding and leaving it at that. He wasn’t her jailor or anyone she needed to report to, but he’d tried to help her in the past. It had not gone well, but it worked out in the end. Kora looked healthier, more alert, and just more alive than she did back when she was slowly poisoning herself to death. Darien was glad that she got the help that she needed, even if it wasn’t from him.

I was checking in on a friend. He’s recovering after a run-in with the seedier side of Little Terreille’s populace. He shouldn’t have been dealing with them in the first place, but people do things they shouldn’t if the chance of a big reward is involved.” Darien said, watching her make his drink. His eyes scanned the bar out of habit, looking for anyone paying too close attention to their conversation. Darien had his suspicions, but he didn’t want to alarm Kora yet, not while she was working.

He accepted the drink gratefully and raised a toast to the longshoreman. “Cheers, mate.” Darien said, before taking a sip of his drink. The bourbon was there but it was so smooth that he’d have missed it if he didn’t know the favor. The gentle wave of lightheadedness made whole thing better. Darien held up the glass to look at it, then to Kora.

You make stuff like this all the time? I know some people who could use a good bartender for their swanky parties. I could refer you if want.” he said.

Damn, that’s good.” he said, taking another sip.



Offline Kora Amarrant

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 19, 05:38:09 PM »
“You’re a risk taker.”  he had certainly taken one on her and found himself on the losing end of that bet. She tried not to let it get to her. Darien was an old face, but one of the welcomed ones. There were plenty of other people she would rather see in the business end of a bear trap than he. “A real rebel.”  she teased and set the rag down behind the counter.

“Anyone I knew?” Lifting the cup to her lips she took a long sip, smacked her lips and smiled. “I am good.”  the playful grin was short lived.  It was the perfect balance of bitter and sweet with just the right buzz.  Kora took one more sip and then set her drink on the counter. Her’s was a bit stronger but had significantly less alcohol, it just made the mix that potent. “The drink was never my vice. Plus working here has had the opposite effect. Its like cooking chicken all day and night, when you get home the last thing you want is more chicken.” It was the best example she could give. Somehow it felt like she was excusing herself, or letting him grant her permission to drink, which she didn't need.

Maybe she was just a little nervous. “All the time. I mix it up, I'm trying to get a secret menu going, but its usually whatever I have on hand. Specialty Craft drinks are well, my specialty, while yours are terrible, terrible puns. Spirit with my spirts? Really?” her brow arched but it was good humored. “I wouldn't drink it too fast. That's the trick with this one. The buzz doesn't stack up unless you let them catch up to one another, then you're on your ass.  How about you? Are you keeping out of trouble?”  she was curious, what had become of his life since last they met. “I'm sorry, about before, about all that stuff with me.”  She shook her head, brushing her hair back. “I never caught back up with you and I don't like to talk about it, it's humiliating, but uhm I just want to say I apologize for being a burden that night.”

Offline Darien Embers

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 19, 05:49:57 PM »
You know what they say. Rebels rebel. It’s in the name...or something like that. I try not to listen to that tripe much.” Darien said, taking another sip from his drink. He was glad that Kora was alright. He wasn’t the kind of man to sit at home and brood over people or worry about their lives (unless it was Isbeil, Tylmandra, or one of the Unchained), but Kora had earned a place in his thoughts after his attempt to help her had gone so awry. He knew very, very little then about helping a person through a drug habit. He knew more now, enough to handle it differently, but things with Kora had left a bad taste in his mouth and he’d wondered after her now and again.

No. I don’t think you hang ‘round his crowd anymore.” Darien said. He preferred not to tell her that Sean was a drug-dealer. Better to let her let that part of her life go. He gave her arch look when she related cooking chicken to being an addict, but there really wasn’t another way to put it, was there? He’d never been an addict and he prayed that he never ended up in that position. Something had dragged Kora down to that dark place and refused, for a time, to let her go. Darien hoped that she was done with that time in her life.

My puns are not terrible. You simply lack a sense of humor. It’s fine, though. You stick to making drinks and I’ll stick to making jokes, hmm?” he teased. He wondered if she was right, though, about the way she made her drinks. He wore the Sapphire and it was notoriously difficult to get him drunk or even buzzed. He’d been disappointed at more bars over the years than he cared to admit. Faking a good buzz for friends was fun, but damn if he didn’t wish that he could get super drunk from time to time. How much worse was it for Ishanvi and Silver, both of whom stood deeper in the Abyss than him?

He was tempted to tell her to make it as strong as she could. “I’ll keep than in mind.” he said, watching her.

Keeping out of trouble? Me? Of course…not, darling. I enjoy Fire Craft, my friend. I’m practically incapable of playing it safe or staying out of trouble. Most of my friends are allergic to playing it safe, too.” he said with a laugh.

But when she talked about how things had gone back when he found her, Darien’s smile dimmed and then disappeared, going back to that place. It was bad, then.

I never blamed you for that, Kora. You were in a bad place. When that happens, people turn to whatever kills the pain. For some people, that’s family or a loved one. Other people use a good fuck or three.” he said.

People like us cope differently, even if it steals a piece of our souls in the process.” he said, downing the rest of the drink. It had gotten uncomfortably morose between them, all of a sudden, and Darien thought about the number of people he’d killed or seriously maimed just because they had the misfortune of running into him when he was in a bad place. A Black Widow could do far worse than an angry Dark Jeweled Prince if she put her mind to it.

No hard feelings.” he said, looking up at her.

What time are you out of here?” he asked.



Offline Kora Amarrant

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 19, 05:53:35 PM »
“I can see where that kind of depth would deter you.” Kora took a breath, what felt like her first all day and smirked into it as she glanced over Darien. Their last interaction was fuzzy. She remembered he had made an effort, a real one, not some half-assed attempt to lecture her into getting her shit together. Like words could make a difference in the battle of sobriety. He’d done more and she paid him back with disappointment. How many people had she run out on? Not so many, because not many of them gave a shit long enough to make an effort.

Now he sat at her bar like all of it didn't happen, and the last time she saw him she hadn't run away with some of his valuables in her pocket. Right, she had to make amends, she hated this part.  Nodding softly she let the topic go. Whoever Darien spent his time with was his business, and she knew exactly what he was getting at. Not her zoo not her monkeys.

Kora kept her lips politely sealed when he boasted about his ability to tell a joke. No one thought he was funnier than Darien himself. It was so him to think so.  “It's good to see not much has changed. Every big city needs a good arsonist. At least you're consistent.”

Apologies were not her forte. They always made Kora uncomfortable. It felt like she had debts to pay and owing anyone anything was her allergy. She hated it, the feeling of being beholden to anyone else when for so long she couldn't even take care of herself. The shit sucked. “Or four.”  she raised four fingers and wiggled them at him. “Take a sip of mine if you like it.  Just take it slow, I haven't cleaned this floor and I can't vouch for what you'll end up eating if you fall out of that stool. I can't handle anything harder than this, and yet I'm still no lightweight. It takes forever to get drunk. “ They shared at least one jewel, he would be able to relate. He was gracious enough to give her a pass. She didn't know if that made her feel better or not, but he was understanding, so the apology was more for him. “Thanks, for understanding and again, sorry.”

Clearing her throat she glanced about the bar. The Shoreman was asleep, at least she hoped he was asleep at the bar. Waitresses moved around the room balancing trays on their palms and serving customers. Someone shouted out an order to her and she pushed back from the station to gather what she needed. She poured, shook, and measured with barely a glass before stacking the colorful glasses on the counter. A waitress quickly collected them, grinning widely at Darien before rushing off.

“In an hour, or now. Depends on my mood. Like I said, I'm pulling a double as a favor and in an hour this place will be dead. Why?” Did he want to go somewhere? Or was he just falling into polite conversation?

Offline Darien Embers

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 19, 05:55:00 PM »
Darien remembered coming home to find several things missing. He’d stolen a few (hundred) times in his life, so he knew to keep his really valuable items elsewhere, but she’d taken a few keepsakes that he’d had some attachment to. His mood had been sour for weeks afterward, mostly because he should have seen it coming. He’d gone soft for a pretty girl in need of help, though, and let his defenses down. Blaming Kora for that would be abdicating his own responsibility. Marks always did that to avoid the embarrassment of being taken for a ride. He’d tried to help her, she’d stolen from him and vanished, and he’d let it happen. That was the end of the story.

It was nice, however, to know that she felt bad for it.

Artist, not arsonist. I like to think that what I do isn’t as pedestrian as setting fires for something so basic as money.” Darien said, flashing that smile again. She corrected the number of fucks that she needed to get through a rough spot and Darien laughed, but there was something darker in his eyes as he watched, wondering if she exaggerated. He didn’t challenge the number, not even with a playful question. Kora was working. She probably had men staring at her ass on a nightly basis and trying to score themselves an evening with a Black Widow. Darien refused to be one of those customers.

Besides, he had something more personal and pressing to discuss.

He took a slow sip of her drink while she tended to her other patrons. He did, however, take a moment to drop several marks on the counter for Kora, for taking up her time. And for the wonderful drink. She’d given him his drink on the house, but Darien knew that places like this didn’t pay much and that the staff really made their money on the courtesy of others. He hated bad tippers and resolved to be a good one.

When she turned around again, he set the drink down. He did not want to become the longshoreman tonight, unable to stand up or remember the evening after he left his place.

I was hoping to catch a meal with you. There’s something I need to talk to you about, but it would be better if we didn’t do that here. The night’s young. What do you say? For old times’ sake?



Offline Kora Amarrant

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 19, 03:34:06 PM »
It had never been her intention to hurt Darien. She’d never specifically set out to take advantage of anyone who was trying to help her. Assholes she’d steal from, guilt-free, but this had not been one of those cases. Then again, intent wasn’t worth shit when all she was looking for was the next fix. There was always that selfish voice in the back of her mind telling her it wasn’t that bad, that she could and would pay her debts back once she was clean. She just needed the fix to tide her over, to get her head on straight and then she would fine.

Everything would be okay, but she needed to feel better.

That’s what it boiled down to. Feeling like absolute garbage, like her skin was trying to peel itself from her bones and hunting for anything to make it stop. To make it better. Only there was one cure was also the poison. She could tell herself she was a victim to her own vices but that served nothing but to minimize her own guilt and she was done being self-serving.

Darien didn’t want to talk about it too much and for that she was grateful. For now, he hadn’t asked her where his stuff was, considering it gone. Most likely pawned or traded on the street for something more valuable. It didn’t seem to bother him that she felt some guilt about it either, which was fair. He wasn’t there to enable her. She just hoped she didn’t burn that bridge.

Smirking at him she listened as he corrected her and grew pointedly pensive when she threw in her two cents. Her brows rose, no, four fucks was about right and she wasn’t changing her mind.  The Prince recovered and took a sip of her more potent drink. She enjoyed that mix. It was just the right amount of whiskey and a special blend of sugar and extracts that gave such an unexpected buzz. For a Black Widow, drinks like this were tame compared to the hard shit they could get into, but it was just right for patrons. If Geir allowed her to make that secret menu, patrons like Darien could special order cocktails like this.

“You don’t need to do that. On the house, remember? I owe you anyways.” Of course, he did. Kora eyed the marks and jutted her chin out for him to take it. “For tonight only.” He could save his marks for later if he came back anytime soon. Darien was sort of a nomad, you never knew where he would spring up.

Once she completed the drinks in record time she set them on a tray along with the waitress’s slip. She was exceptionally fast at bartending which didn’t compliment her skill set but matched it just enough to be impressive. Once that was out of the way, she set the bottles back, labels out and on display when Darien got around to the real reason he had come tonight. On nights like this, she preferred to go back to her apartment. The day hadn’t been particularly good. Finding a dead body behind your place of business tended to put a damper on the day. However, this was Darien and if it was something easy she had no doubt he would have brought it up right then. He hadn’t. She could be antisocial or get away for a few hours and share an awkward meal with someone she owed.

Bigtime.

Ugh. Fine.

“Sure. Im off in an hour we can go after that. Ill have someone else close up. Everything is okay right?” she wasn’t sure. Was that a question she could ask? Surprises were the worst.  “Where are you taking me anyway? Let's keep it simple? “


Offline Darien Embers

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 19, 06:26:48 PM »
Darien knew that his request would be a little weird. They hadn’t seen each other in a while and now he was suddenly popping up at her place of employment. How many other people had surprised her like this and lived to tell the tale? Black Widows killed people for less every day. Darien had no desire to end up on Kora’s bad side, but he still felt a little responsible for her. He couldn’t help back then, but he could help her stay alert now.

Fine. But next time there will be tips aplenty.” he said, vanishing the marks. He would just wait until she turned her back, of course, but there wasn’t any reason to tell her that.

She still seemed a little hesitant to trust him, likely a holdover from her more suspicious days. She asked questions, though, and Darien decided to forego most of the cloak-and-dagger routine just to get Kora to open and trust him a little bit more.

There’s a little mom-and-pop place just down the street that’s open all night. If you want to leave word with anyone here, feel free. Or I can walk right back here after we’re done. Simple and no frills, just a little food between friends.” he said, holding up his hands, palms out, to show that they were empty.

As for your other question...something is up, Kora. I didn't want to get into it here and make you jumpy. I also didn't want to draw attention in case someone comes looking.” Darien said.

He took another sip of the drink, marveling at the way the liquors blended together.

I’ve got reason to believe someone’s looking for you, Kora. I don’t know whom, but if I found you here without difficulty, it stands to reason that someone else with my determination could do the same.” he said.



Offline Kora Amarrant

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 19, 01:58:38 PM »
“I know the place. “  She didn’t even need the name to recognize the one he was talking about. Few places that weren’t clubs or gambling venues were open all night. Even the Tottering Otter closed at midnight. It was safer that way, and Geir kept a nice life-work balance policy so she wasn’t going to argue. “They have amazing fried potatoes and this spicy dipping sauce from some pepper. I really should go there more often.”  She mostly ate at home, or at the bar, but that place was pretty perfect for a quick bite. 

Distracted from her initial point of questioning with the promise of food she waited for him to continue. He didn’t let her wait long. Alright so now she was curious and yes a little spooked. “Quit the ominous shit Darien..” she warned in a sing-song voice. He hit dead center and it took her a second to absorb what he had just said. It wasn’t as though she was running for her life, just from her past. She hadn’t made it a secret that she worked at the Tottering Otter but she certainly didn’t advertise it either.

Didn’t she? Secret menus and craft drinks were starting to sound like a bad idea.

“Do you know what for?” she asked, unsure and trying to make some sense of the whole thing. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe Darien, it was that she -did- and that was the problem. Glancing around the bar she scanned familiar and unfamiliar faces a like. They never blended together, she was pretty good about remembering faces. Names she sucked at, but faces, those were simple. No one stood out, no one was looking in their direction.

At least not until an individual caught her staring.

"Forget it, we can talk at dinner."The all-night restaurant would have to do. “Okay, give me an hour. You can stay and drink, if you get ditzed I have something that will clear that right up, but you wont like the taste, or me for a while.”  She warned him. “Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.”  Someone was looking for her, but who? Her mother was dead along with her sister. Dreama. That was a nightmarish name that didn’t disappoint. Father was, well fuck knew where he was, wealthy and possibly far, far away. Did someone know about Dreama’s murder? Did someone piece the fire together? 

She was spiraling, she had to stop. Giving Darien a thin smile she tapped the bar in front of him motioning for him to stay.  The next hour was blur. It helped that the dinner rush would keep her busy and fill her pockets with marks.  A hundred simultaneous conversations were being had and she couldn’t help but push them out to the corners of her mind. She returned once to freshen up his drink once and then again when it was time to leave.

Aprons weren’t her thing, but Geir insisted she wore one. Pulling the straps over her head she motioned to a waitress who waved her off. Not before long they were enjoying the stuffy city air, her hand shaking out her hair as they walked. She wore a pair of ankle boots that slimmed out her legs.  The diner was open as always and they were directed to take a seat wherever they liked. Kora slid easily into a booth with her back to one of the larger restaurant windows. “So, what do you know?”

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 19, 12:01:05 AM »
Darien waited patiently for Kora’s shift to finish. He didn’t drink much after that, deciding that he wanted his head to remain clear for their talk once they left the Tottering Otter. He hoped that Kora would listen to him this time. He didn’t want her to get hurt when she seemed to have her life together. Goth had so many traps and pitfalls ready for anyone who wasn’t on top of their game every single day. Darien had seen people much better adjusted than Kora lose their way. He’d lost his way in the past, less than some, but enough that he regretted some of the choices he made in the past.

The hour was up before he knew it.

Kora handed over her apron to her co-worker and then came to join Darien on the other side of the bar. He wore the Sapphire, but the drinks had still taken a little bit of a toll. He had slight buzz going thanks to the brave bartender, so now was the time to really keep his mind focused. He escorted Kora from the Tottering Otter and into the semi-cool evening of Goth. He slipped his blazer on an led the way to the diner. They arrived and slid into a booth, where Kora immediately wanted to know what was going on. The waitress arrived to take their beverage orders, so Darien held up a finger asking her to wait. He ordered a coffee to start and waited for Kora to choose her own drink. He rubbed his face, trying to clear his head, until the waitress moved away. Then he focused on Kora and smiled.

Straight to the chase. Top marks.” Darien said.

Here’s the thing, I think that someone’s looking for you-know-who. I was in another bar on the other side of town last week. There was slimy-looking fellow asking around, flashing a picture of a woman. I spoke to him, got him to chat for a moment. Family’s been looking around for them for a bit.” Darien said.

He paused as the waitress arrived with his coffee and Kora’s drink.

I’ll have two orders of the eggs and bacon. Cheese on the eggs, please and thanks.” Darien said, falling silent to let Kora place her order. He looked to the door as another couple entered, engaged in their own conversation. Rich kids slumming it on this side of town. He shook his head and raised his coffee to his lips. The cooling spell it just before the coffee touched his tongue, making it comfortable enough to sip.

When the waitress stepped away again, Darien spoke up.

Got a look at the picture. She looked like you, but a little older. I thought it was you for a second. Then I remembered some of the stuff you used to say...back then.” he said gently.

I told him that the last time I heard from you, you talked about crossing the Dark Gate. If he’s any kind of investigator, he’ll know that was a lie. Figured that I should find you and get the message out first.” Darien said, leaning back in his seat.

Who would come looking for you, Kora?



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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #13 on: Jun 19, 19, 01:48:19 PM »
“Coffee, black and a big piece of that lemon pie I see over there.”  Kora pointed toward a small display case sitting on the counter. There was enough for two pieces or one massive piece. She hoped for the latter, but was polite enough for now not to assume.  Lemons were the perfect mix of tarte and sweet to awaken her appetite.  Though she wanted to know exactly why Darien had popped back up into the scene, she could see her prospects for snagging a piece were too low to risk.  The woman smiled and wandered off.

Kora turned her attention back to Darien and settled back into the booth.  It didn’t take him any time at all to cut right to the chase, something she appreciated. Black Widows weren’t famous for their patience and she was no exception. Instant gratification was the key to keeping her caste happy. Darien was always pretty good about navigating social queues with more than just her. He could lay on the charm when he wanted and he was damn good at it. At that moment, however, Kora was anything but comfortable.

Alarm bells, all of them were ringing in her ears, but she didn’t feel panicked. There wasn’t enough information for that yet. Some man was looking for a woman and it had grabbed Darien’s attention long enough that he felt the need to investigate. She was about to strike him with a flurry of questions when the waitress arrived again, much to her irritation and set the coffees and a massive piece of pie in front of her.  Good, she didn’t have to share it. If anything she could stress eat her way through two inches of meringue while he spoke.

“Same, but sunny side up, no cheese, toss in some fried potatoes, extra crispy oh and that bacon club you have, hold the mustard.”  They could share that. After pulling an unusual shift, finding two dead bodies, dealing with drunk assholes and nice assholes alike she had earned herself a big dinner.

Kora didn’t interrupt him, but her hand may have shooed off the waitress.

Kora mulled through the information she was provided. Having a copy of the photo would have cleared things up right away. Then again, the fact that a photo existed meant that the investigator had gotten it from hands used to handling a lot of money.  Her brows knitted as she tried to think. She hadn’t spent the last two years making reparations to anyone she had offended or stiffed like Darien when she was high, but she also couldn’t think of anyone who would care enough to chase her down for a few marks.  Her eyes flashed back to him when he mentioned the past, her past.  Kora didn’t remember half of what she had told him, but it had been the truth, a weak moment of self-pity mixed with the desperate need to get that one more fix was enough to loosen her tongue. A big part of her had wanted to get clean, she wanted her life back and perhaps Darien had seen that desire to better herself, maybe that’s why he let his guard down.

Darkness she sucked.

“I don’t know. “ It was the truth. “What did the girl look like? Older than me? I haven’t had my picture taken in….I don’t know, five years maybe, not since…not for a long time. “  Taking a sip of her coffee she wrinkled her nose at the stark bitter taste before locating the sugar and pouring some in. A bit of Craft and it was all stirred in. “I really don’t know. I don’t owe anyone else money, present company excluded, Ive kept my head down. Im not really hiding per say, at least not well.”  Changing her name or appearance would have greatly helped with that. “My mother is dead, so that’s not her. I didn’t make it to the funeral.” It was certainly not her sister. “My father? I honestly cant tell you why he would even care.”  Dad didn’t know what part Kora had played in the downfall of her family or her sister’s death. Maybe someone else knew. Whatever the situation was, now she was getting a little nervous. “Thanks, for coming to me about it, no one has been in the bar and Geir knows if someone asks for me it better be by the name ‘K’, we have two Kora’s working at the Tottering Otter.  Did he give any other indication at all of why he wanted to find that girl? I don’t see why Lord Grosel would want anything to do with me.”


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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #14 on: Jun 19, 19, 10:44:15 PM »
Darien snickered as Kora ordered her coffee and pie. The Sapphire would always, always get its fill, no matter how long it took. His hungers, physical and otherwise, had always been sharper and deeper than most males he knew that held lighter jewels. His meanstreak and capacity for violence ran deep and he was one of the more even-tempered men that he could name. That made his empathy for Kora’s situation stronger, knowing that when she was riding the depths of her addiction, she would have said or done anything to catch her next fix. A less-scrupulous man would have taken advantage of Kora to get anything and everything he could before leaving her high and dry.

And yet you insist that you’re a terrible person, not to be trusted as far as you can be thrown.

A little older, I suppose. Well, you can take a look for yourself and tell me what you think.” Darien said, focusing his Craft. He passed a hand across the empty space on the table between them. One moment, there was nothing there.

Then a memory crystal lay on the table between them. He looked over a Kora.

I bought the guy a drink, got him talking. Then I got him drinking and talking a bit more. I managed to lift this off of him before he left. Whoever hired him probably won’t be happy that he lost it, but if it helps keep you off someone’s radar, I’m happy to do it.” Darien said.

He pushed the memory crystal across the table to her as his food arrived. Everything smelled great, but it usually did in the greasy-spoon places like this. Darien would take a hundred meals at a diner like this than a single one uptown where they supposedly had the best chefs in the Territory making “culinary artistry” that sat in one’s stomach like stone balloon.

I thought it was you at first, but realized it wasn’t.” Darien said gently.

You talked about Dreama quite a bit when you were drying out. Nothing specific, but you…” he paused, realizing that he was about to delve into a topic that Was Not His Fucking Business.

You would say her name, sometimes, when you were out of sorts. You’d ask her why? Never much more than that, but I figured she’d done you a bad turn. I did a little digging of my own. I would have asked you about it straight out, but then I came home one day and you were gone.” Darien said.

It wasn’t hard to see why she’d started down the wrong road in the first place.

Look, I didn’t drop by to dredge up bad stuff. I just wanted you to know that someone else might be digging into this, too. When I talked to the guy who had that crystal, he said that his employer was trying to get his family back together. I pressed him for more, but he wouldn’t talk and I didn’t want to try to get into his head.” Darien said. He was terrible at breaking barriers, even with his Sapphire, so he avoided it whenever possible.

Does anyone else know about...this?” he asked, spearing a forkful of cheesy eggs and chewing thoughtfully.



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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #15 on: Sep 20, 19, 03:37:47 PM »
It was a day of unexpected surprises. She didn’t think that all of them had to be good, Darien finding certainly threw her for a loop, but he was just the wrapping on the present. If she would have known what he would uncover inside, what she might be forced to face, she might have simply returned him to sender and gone back to enjoying her comfortably mediocre day.

That was the new Kora. The one who lost a bit of her streak. That was certainly the case after coming down from years of being on a high. No, now she enjoyed having her feet planted solidly beneath her. Too bad Darien’s news looked to sweep her legs out from under her.

Kora listened, hoping the waitress hurried back with their coffees as quickly as she could. He produced a memory crystal and she appreciated how thorough he had been. In fact, he was being extra careful, maybe even a little protective. Cute. She’d become a damsel. Why was that as endearing as it was annoying?  Her finger tapped over the crystal while he continued to explain what had happened between himself and the investigator. The guy would notice the crystal missing as well as the misdirection once he sought out that lead. It was only a matter of time until he caught up to her.

Kora pulled the crystal off the table and set it on the bench next to her just as Susie? Debbie? Gretel? The waitress returned with their food. What he said next made her almost lose her appetite. He thought it was her? Darien knew what she looked like at her worst, this was certainly not her best either but it was a stretch of an improvement. Trying not to try so hard was a fashion statement in the bar industry. She had to look delicious, but not so much so that people paid too much attention, just enough on tips to get her by. Also, it kept the creepers at bay, or it should have, it didn’t work drunks would fuck a chair if their gams were thin enough.

Kora brought herself back to the present. It had been a while since she had thought of her sister out loud. She must have been really fucked up if she admitted all of that to Darien.

She must have trusted him.

“What digging did you do Prince Embers?”  She looked at him know, the worry seemed to have faded from her voice. She was curious how much he had uncovered, but didn’t wish to let him know how much it bothered her that he knew anything at all. He had taken the time to look into her business and while in the back of her mind she understood why he would do it, especially if he was trying to catch up to her to get his stuff back then she could see why he would risk poking his nose in a Black Widow’s business.

“About what? The fact that my sister is dead or the fact that I killed her?”  she asked following his lead and taking a stab at her impressively large slice of lemon pie. The buttery crust flaked instantly.  Her sister had died in a fire or at least that is what the Court assumed as the Red Moon House she owned had been brought down to nothing but ash. Good riddance to the house, her sister’s loss, well, that was something else altogether.  Darien wouldn’t know it by listening to her, but that was the first time she had admitted any culpability in it. “No, no one knows. My mother might have had an idea because shes the reason after all that my family got involved in…some bad stuff to begin with. She’s gone and all that was left was my father. I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to him since I vanished and he hasn’t tried to contact me.” Could that man have been hired by the remnants of the Hell Lords? Were they even a thing still? “Ill look at this I promise, just maybe somewhere more private.”  Her fork clinked against the plate, dark eyes lifting to him. “Thank you for the heads up. I do owe you, uhm, its shitty of me, I know, but do you think you can try and fish around for that man’s name? or his employer? I can pay you. I need to know if I should stick around.”

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #16 on: Oct 02, 19, 01:51:27 AM »
Kora Amarrant wasn’t the type of woman who needed protection. As a Black Widow who wore the Sapphire, others needed protection from her. Darien had given serious thought to walking into the Tottering Otter and giving her this information. He cared about her well-being and he didn’t like how they’d left things when she’d up and vanished from his place in the middle of the night while she was recovering, but there was something deeper in his caring. A lot of people would have reminded Kora how much she owed them for favors done in the past. Others might have tried to blackmail her for whatever they thought they could take. When it came down to it, though, Darien Embers was motivated by guilt.

Not guilt with Kora, but guilt from someone else his inaction had once harmed. Simply put, he could have lived with himself if something happened to Kora because he didn’t pass on the information.

The look on her face told him that his timing wasn’t welcome, but she didn’t tell him to leave. Darien took that as progress. “I know that she was involved with some bad people in the gangs. Like I said, I wouldn’t have looked into it but I had to.” he said.

He sighed when she asked what she used to talk about when she was so delirious that she couldn’t tell which way was up. Looking at her back then, Darien thought about what he would have wanted if someone had found Ishanvi, ill and strung-out on drugs. A lot of shitty people in the world would have taken advantage of her, emotionally and physically, without looking back. Other men would have done the same with Kora. Maybe that was another reason he’d helped her out. He treated her the way that he hoped someone would treat Ishanvi or, Mother Night forbid, treat Tylmandra if she needed help and he wasn’t there. He preferred that people think of him as some cutthroat and ruthless beast, as quick to kill as help out, but the truth was that Darien Embers cared about people. He hated it. It sucked. But he did.

You said that you did it. You used to ask her why she made you do it. Sometimes you’d cry for hours and keep me awake. In one notable instance you ate, threw up on my shoes, and then slept for a whole day.” he said, shrugging his shoulders. They both knew how the story ended, so there was no reason to rehash it.

So your father is the only one left. You really think he doesn’t care? You’re a Dark Jeweled Black Widow in Little Terreille. If you were a member of my family, I wouldn’t misplace you. Not purposely. If I did, I’d try to find you without tipping my hand. Hard to do when a Black Widow is involved, but there are ways.” Darien said, staring out the window at the street for a long moment before turning his attention back to Kora.

Yeah, I can look into it and help you out. And if you want to pay for my help, I could actually use yours in turn. I have a...friend who needs her chalice repaired. The damage is pretty extensive. You’ve got the strength necessary to help her, I think. You do that for me and I’ll back on you on this until you figure out who’s looking for you and how you want to handle them.” he said.

He extended his right hand across the table, fully aware that she’d have to shake his hand with her right hand, the one with the snaketooth. He trusted her not to stab him in the back at the moment.

Did she trust him to do the same?



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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #17 on: Oct 08, 19, 06:52:34 PM »
“Not just the gangs.” Bitterness held a sneer against her lips before she could control her reaction. Lowering her voice she leaned forward until her voice was no higher than a pressed whisper “-The- gang. Not some shitty would be street entrepreneur, but the head of the viper itself. ” Kora did not enjoy exposing herself, let alone her past to anyone. Darien Embers had been lucky enough to catch her at just the right time, high off her fucking mind, high enough that those feelings leaked out from her like a crack in a dam. He had seen enough to know more than anyone else who was left alive.

What bothered Kora, truly, beyond the feeling of exposure was that a tiny part of her was relieved. It was like she was holding tight to some heavy weight and here came Darien, bumping into her and sending chipping a large section of her secrets away.  Now wasn’t the time to consider why she had so many opposing feelings and why it made her feel unsteady. Sure, she was already indebted to him but now it also felt like she owed him. For the last two years she had made damn sure that she did not need to lean on anyone, loans were paid in full, but not his.
He apologized for looking into her family secrets and she was surprised he had even been able to come across her sister’s involvement at all. Shed think Daddy would have covered their tracks better.

“They were probably shitty shoes.” She tried to inject some humor, if only because an ornery black widow could set anyone else on edge. A Dark Jeweled Widow was volatile enough by nature, she didn't need to also be embarrassed. “Fuck me.” She sighed and stuffed her mouth with a large chunk of lemon pie and a good helping of meringue. So she talked a lot when high, great. Thank the darkness she quit those habits, getting high and oversharing.

“My father cares about his money, his legacy, which is shit now by the way.I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he remarried right after I left. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t exactly in the right mind to keep in touch and if Im being honest my family has not done a damn thing for the right reasons in a long time.  My mother always pulled the strings. She had a way of making the world, our world seem so perfect. Her daughters were Widows, blessed be the Darkness, Dark Jeweled, easy to look at, her husband was prominent, she was successful in her own right, but it was never enough. She would literally clean out my closet on a monthly basis, whether I wore every item in it or not and buy a whole new wardrobe. Not because I needed it, but because I couldn’t be seen in the same thing twice. Marks burned holes in her pockets. She needed the whole of Goth to see how good the Amarrants had it.  The worst part?” She waved her fork around like a stylus. “Was that I fell for their shit. It was all my mother’s dealings that inevitably ruined our house but my father, despite what he told the Court, had to have known. He would have been a fool not to. No nope, I don’t think he cares for the right reasons.”

That was a lot to unleash on him and while she didn’t feel guilty about it, a part of her thought he would understand. She asked for a favor because she needed it even though she was certain her credit wasn’t worth shit to him. Darien had been there for her when he didn’t need to be. Her eyes lifted to him again as she studied his face and the way his hair sometimes fell at the corners of his eyes.

His request wasn’t really a quid pro quo, it seemed more personal than that. A friend of his was hurt? Damn, it had been a while since she had put her natural-born skills to any practical use. He could have asked her to cook up something nefarious for him, to look into his enemies and she would have paid up. Instead, he was sitting across from her drinking mediocre coffee asking for help for a friend. Damn the Night Kora, why did you have to make friends with a closet nice guy?

Her lips thinned then as if considering his request relaxed. His hand extended she wondered if it wasn’t Darien who was misplacing his trust. She didn’t think she was on him.  “Alright, Ill see your friend.” Touching his hand, her thin fingers slipped across his palm, the retracted snake tooth grazing the outer edge of his fingers. “You have a deal, but after you pay for dinner, come by my place. There is something I want to show you.”Taking her hand back she took a sip of her own coffee. "Tell me about your friend."




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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #18 on: Oct 08, 19, 10:26:57 PM »
Kora’s distaste for gangs seemed to rival Darien’s own. He had no problem with most of Little Terreille’s criminal element. The drug dealer trying to corner a block or two and the regular thief didn’t bother him at all. The gangs of Goth, however, were a cancer that made Little Terreille more dangerous for everyone. He supposed that the Unchained counted as a “gang” by the strict definition of the word, but they didn’t profit from the suffering of others. He didn’t agree with Lord Black being the arbiter of who could thrive and who couldn’t, but Darien was glad that the Hell Lords had been wiped out.

Yeah, they were shitty shoes. But they were mine.” he said, taking a few more bites of food. He almost ordered another plate, but decided against it. He could fuel up again later after he and Kora parted ways. This couldn’t be easy for her, he knew, trusting someone with her secrets. He didn’t need Craft to see her weaknesses. While Kora Amarrant had successfully defeated her demons for now, Kora was an addict. That imbued a certain set of responses and triggers within her, and the chance of relapse was high. The only way that she could avoid that relapse was to occupy herself with something else.

My place or yours?” he asked. He grinned and decided to ease up on the teasing. While a Black Widow wearing the Sapphire would be a wild time on the best days, she could also kill him pretty easily if she put her mind to it. He turned his attention to the information about her father. “A man like that sounds like he’d be desperate to control the narrative around his scattered family, especially if he doesn’t know where they are.” Darien said, taking a sip of his coffee. The fingers of his free hand drummed against the table.

What’s your father’s name and where’s he located? I’ve got some contacts I can shake up for information. Your mum sounds like someone my mum would have hated, though. She was always on me to stay clean. After she lost her job with the Courts, we had some tough times. Tough enough that she couldn’t see a Healer when she got sick. Aristos never leave the safety of their private communities long enough to see how the other half lives.” Darien said.

Now we’ve got things like that massive eye-sore sticking up in the middle of town and giving everyone the finger, rich or poor.” Darien said. Tarn Nataniel, as the Territory Court was called, looked like someone’s personal victory dance over a beaten land. Goth might have been a shit-hole under Logain Morr, but it was a place he understood.

Now it was cleaner and prettier, but run by people who condoned wholesale murder.

Alright, I’ll take care of this and we can go. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to make sure that no one’s found your place yet.” Darien said. He got up from the table and went to the counter to pay. He left a generous tip for the waitress and then returned to the table for Kora. He offered her his hand and helped her out of her seat, then led her to the door.

Once they were walking down the street, Darien spoke again.

Audra’s been my friend for a long time. She and her mother were good to me when I didn’t have anyone else. I was involved in some bad stuff when I first came to Goth. Pissed off a few people. One of them took enough exception that he sent some goons to my place to teach me a lesson.” Darien said.

Audra and her mother lived next door. When they couldn’t find me, they attacked them. Audra’s mother died. She didn’t. They broke one of her jewels, though, and...they hurt her pretty bad. I’ve been hoping to get her some help but I don’t want to go through my usual channels.” Darien said.

I guess I’m a lot like you in the fact that I don’t want to owe anyone, no matter how good they are to me.



Offline Kora Amarrant

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #19 on: Oct 08, 19, 11:12:19 PM »
There wasn’t a night that Kora didn’t remember that fight with Dreama. The last moments of her sister’s life were recorded on a memory crystal and stabbed into her mind. There was no way she could get rid of the image, guilt, that nasty venom lingered long after she got clean. The drugs were enough to distract her, to make her so numb that the dreams just vanished. She couldn’t feel anything, she wasn’t anyone, she didn’t matter.

It was temporary though as most good things go, they are terrible for you. Kora replaced her guilt with self-loathing. The more dependent on the drugs she became the more she hated herself, the weaker she convinced herself that she was.  Glad to be out of that life, Kora would be lying if she said that in the past two years she hadn’t felt a bit of dread creep over her on a rare occasion. This little monster reminded her of how weak she was, how truly pathetic she could be and strangely with it came a spark of temptation. To say her willpower had overtaken the addiction completely was a stretch, but Kora reassured herself that she was no longer the same lowly urchin who passed out on alley ways or in strange men’s beds. She also wasn’t the same girl who had watched her sister die and burned everything her sibling had built to the ground.

For the first time in her life, Kora felt like the product of her circumstance. The guilt wasn’t so terrible anymore, at least outside of her dreams. She could even face the people she hurt and not want to say fuck it and run off.

Kora tried not to smirk at the loss of his shoes. “You took in an addict, you're lucky I didn’t puke everywhere.” It was known to happen. Now she wondered if some of this self-deprecating humor was making him feel better or if she was doing it for herself. Her golden flecked eyes shot to his, a flare of consideration and confusion at his jest. Toying with a darkly jeweled Widow was dangerous, even one so petite as she, but Darien was the kind who liked his jokes too much to give a damn about the implication. Finally, she merely smirked and then nodded, finishing off her meal. “I can see that. I don’t know why he would be looking for me now. He has had years to try and find me and by the looks of it he hired a dimwit.” Kora sighed. The idea of seeing her father again made her want to pack up what little she owned and move herself and the Tottering Otter somewhere else entirely, even through the Dark Gate if she could help it. It took her a long moment to respond. Kora wondered if she had shared too much already and why any of it would matter now.  She’s also just asked Darien for a favor, one he couldn’t complete without some information on her part. She’d have to trust him, maybe a part of her already did. 

Maybe I'm still high.

“Lord Julian Grosel. He never took my mothers name.  Also, I know it, Amarrant is an old aristo house. You're speaking to one of the elite, the finest that has come out of the line in a long time.”  The corner of her lip lifted into a slight smirk. The only thing she could pride herself in was excelling at being a disappointment. Darien spoke about his mother, which was as rare as an eclipse. She watched him carefully as he spoke and nodded her head once in understanding. What was she supposed to say? She had been one of those ivory tower aristos. “Money is the only thing that matters in Little T. It's not about your jewels, but how much you own. Black Scorched the earth and put some seeds down. The worst gangs are the ones in office, those who lead.” It was the evil they had to live with or face chaos.

They were back out on the street and her belly was content with its meal. Wrapping her arms around her narrow waist she walked with him, always aware of her surroundings though she seemed to be engrossed in conversation, she spread her Craft around them, aware of every rat scurrying between cans, every person having a conversation a half block away and certainly every shadow.

“Let me guess you found the guys?” She didn’t assume, she almost knew. Darien wouldn’t let something like that just slide. If he found them, those men were already dead. “You could have appealed to the Coven, or the Court. I'm still technically a member of the Coven, though they haven’t come collecting for my membership fee for quite a bit.”  A hand brushed her brown hair from her shoulder. The click of her heeled boots against the cobblestone street was soothing. Kora Amarrant didn’t rush, she sauntered, keeping pace with Darien at every turn.

Leading him back toward the Tottering Otter she glanced up at a five-story building just behind the bar which shared an alleyway. “I didn’t say I didn’t like owing anyone. Not, exactly. I don’t, just to be clear, but I didn’t say it.”  She looked at him. She hated that he could get a read on her sometimes, even if she wasn’t so subtle. “I'll see your friend. It's not contingent on you looking into this for me. Let's say it’s due payment for a pair of ratty shoes. They were probably tacky, snake or suede, no wonder I threw up.” She laughed for the first time and waved her hand. The door to the main lobby swung open and she caught it before it could shut again. “I swear its clean. Go ahead.”

Once he was in, Kora secured the door behind her and led him up a set of very narrow stairs. The building was not well cared for but it also couldn’t be classified as a dump.  Once on the third floor, she guided him to an apartment at the end of the hall, which wasn’t very long and broke the webs securing her abode. If he wanted to go in first she would certainly allow the chivalry, if not she stepped in and took a seat on a nearby wooden chair to remove her boots.

The apartment was a spacious two-bedroom with large windows overlooking the alley and the Tottering Otter’s roof.  The furniture was used, but in really good condition with a fireplace and some personal effects, as few as they were, displayed on the mantle.  Artwork hung on nearly every inch of available wall space. A fluffy throw was tossed over a large couch. The kitchen was small and sparse, except for a spelled icebox and a fruit bowl. A door led to a lavatory and another open door was clearly a bedroom.  The last room was closed. 

Kora sighed with relief as she extricated herself from her boots and set them by the door, padding over to him, then past him toward the mantle. A small trunk was used in place of a coffee table and she opened it to retrieve a wrapped item. An old shirt bound it. She rose and walked back to him and with a bit of hesitance extended it out to him. The jewelry she had taken from him was bundled within. Some of the pieces had belonged to a woman, so she figured that they were of some importance, especially the locket. “I don’t know why, don’t ask me, but , I didn’t tell this. I couldn’t. Even then, I couldn’t bring myself to, it felt wrong.” Sure shed taken a few items and those were long gone, but there was something about the necklace that she could not part with. “Im sorry Darien. I fucked up, and I took somethings from someone who tried to help me. The only one who had even tried in a long time. So yeah, It doesn’t make up for it, I don’t think I can, but I can give you this back.”

Offline Darien Embers

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #20 on: Oct 08, 19, 11:51:29 PM »
Yeah, I found them. Didn’t have to go very far. Guys like those hang out in the same places all the time. I found them and I didn’t even leave enough of them to put in a matchbox. I’ll probably pay for it someday. An angry girlfriend or someone’s pissed off child who grew up looking for revenge. When that day comes, it comes. As long as scum like that isn’t breathing the air of good people, I’ll call it a win and return to the Darkness with a smile on my face.” Darien said, stuffing his hands in his pockets as they walked along. He didn’t know if Kora would understand it. He was a vengeful, petty, man who wore the Sapphire. When he liked someone, he tried not to screw them over too much.

When he hated someone, he stopped at nothing to destroy what they held dear.

He shrugged at her mention of appealing to the Coven. “I’ve heard some rumors that the Coven’s been in disarray since Lord Black showed up. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’d rather not take my chances if it’s all the same to you.” he said. He flashed her a smile that hinted that he was maybe kidding or that he wasn’t. There was any way to really know with Darien, most of the time. He kept his own senses sharp, the better to keep them from being surprised or followed without notice. There number of people who could hide from him at this point was low and, even if the did, he wasn’t without enough tricks to get them to safety before turning his attention to someone who’d burn to death wishing they’d picked an easier pair of  targets.

The building behind the Tottering Otter was far better than Lord Astin’s place had been. That rat-infested hole wasn’t suitable for human habitation, but people lived there. While Kora’s building was a little better, it wasn’t one of the places uptown that came with an exorbitant price tag. Prince Cade had one of those. Darien reminded himself to talk to the First Escort about borrowing it sometime, as a ‘thank you’ for saving the man’s ass.

Kora’s apartment was nicer than it had any right to be. Darien took a stroll around the man room of the apartment, looking at the various items she had laying about. He noted the location of the restroom and the bedroom, and the room that was off-fucking-limits. A Black Widow’s laboratory was a workshop of death and suffering that most people never exited from if once they entered. While he didn’t want to think that Kora was that kind of woman, he wasn’t going to test it. He sat on the couch. She said she needed to show him something, but that wasn’t an invitation to hang out, necessarily. When she walked past him to the trunk and withdrew something from inside. He expected something that would give him a bit more info to use to find Lord Grossel, or something related to her sister.

When she offered the small bundle to him, Darien accepted it...and inhaled softly. He knew what it was by weight, but he could scarcely believe it. He thought it was gone for good after Kora left, but…

He opened it and looked down at the golden, engraved with the initials “T.E.” on the inside. The picture inside was one of his mother and father. They looked happy. They looked like two people meant to be together. If only his father hadn’t been a philandering asshole simply looking for a way out of a shit marriage that he didn’t have the courage to walk away from. Perhaps his mother wouldn’t have died alone, then.

Kora, I…

Darien paused. The other pieces of jewelry belonged to his mother as well. He’d never even told Tylmandra about her. They had their boundaries, ones that Darien was careful not to cross. Tyllie was his, but he didn’t push her to be more than she could be. What did that say about him?

Thank you, Kora. You didn’t have to do this, but...this means a lot...” Darien said.

I know why you didn’t sell them.” he said suddenly. “You didn’t do it because, no matter what you tell yourself, you’re a decent person, love. You survived your family because you are. The other shit doesn’t matter. When it came down to it, you did the right thing. Remember that if you ever have doubts.” Darien said.



Offline Kora Amarrant

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #21 on: Oct 09, 19, 11:00:36 AM »
As she suspected the guys who attacked his neighbor and broke his friend we no longer taking up valuable air. People who were so petty and malicious rarely ever left a good legacy in their wake. If they were abusive jerks to the general populace, one could imagine how horrible they could be to the people around them. “I think you’ll be fine. “  By the sound of it Darien would more likely get a thank you note from some kid who wasn’t completely screwed up by his father’s bad choices.

“I think Little T has been in disarray since this Lord Black has shown up. He’s turned into some nightmare that hangs over the city. No one wants to get the attention of a Black Jewel on a good day let alone not knowing who he really is. Like that would somehow give a face to the monster.”  It would not be so palatable either way. “Im sure the Coven is doing fine on its own. They figure things out and Im certain they are looking into it, if not for their own safety but for the opportunity for a powerful ally. “  Widows didn’t have any qualms about seizing a good offer.
“How long ago did this happen?”  It was an important question. She needed to know how long his friend had been broken so that her chalice could be repaired. Fresh wounds were the easiest, older ones came with scars.

Other than Geir Darien was one of the only other man or person for that matter who had been graced with entry to her apartment.  Kora had always been quite territorial, with her secrets and her space. Geir was one of the only people in the world who had unfettered access to it and even he just made himself comfortable whenever he wanted to hang out.  She wasn’t sure how Darien would react, she knew only the parts of him he wished to show and she figured he was like that with everyone. It was almost comforting knowing that they each had secrets and neither was in a rush to share them or to pry.

She’d gathered the jewelry that was rightfully his and offered it back. It was the shittiest regifting ever but better late than never. She hadn’t thought of the damage she was causing when she swept through his apartment caking only what she could carry. She remembered the desperation she had felt like her life depended on the next hit. By that time she had been clean for three days thanks to Darien, but it was short-lived. Little did he know how her life would turn around just a few weeks later. She’d sold some gold items shed taken, but there was something about the locket that even in her delirious state she could not part with. Kora knew if she sold it she would never be able to face Darien Embers again.

“I did have to do this.” She countered, shaking her head. For a moment she seemed to soften, her eyes were less steely. Instead, that hard fixed stare was replaced with contrition. “I owed you. “

Darien’s words mimicked what Geir would tell her time and time again. She was a good person, she was better than she gave herself credit for, and yet she never truly absorbed the compliments. Kora knew what she was, what she was capable of and while she made a life out of keeping her head down, it wasn’t because she was hiding from her family, but from her own vices. “I'm not so sure about all that, but I'll try.” Compliments like that were a hard swallow, but she was learning to accept them or trying to. “Your mother, she was pretty fine.”  She smiled wistfully and joined him on the couch. With her shoes off her long legs crossed across the length of a single cushion. There were three, giving him ample room to make himself on the couch. “I got clean, or rather I got kidnapped by a well-meaning samaritan, Geir Voll a few weeks after I left your place. He kept me in this apartment, it did not look like this before and made sure I didn’t leave for two weeks. I think by then I was ready, Id hit some lows and to be honest Im not sure how he didn’t get himself killed. When I was lucid enough I handed over my drained jewels and made sure I stayed clean.” Which she had every day since with zero relapses. She wasn’t sure she could have accomplished that if Darien hadn’t given her a chance to peer through the veil if even for just a few days.

“What trouble have you been getting into. I feel like we’ve talked a lot about me.”

Offline Darien Embers

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #22 on: Oct 09, 19, 11:47:04 AM »
He looked over his mother’s jewelry once more and then vanished it to his psychic cabinet. There would be time to look over it later and lament the sob-story of his early life, preferably without an audience. Kora was a nice person, but Darien didn’t want her pity or a friendly pep-talk about something so personal. She came to join him on the couch and he shifted so that he could face, though he didn’t need to. He’d taken up the third cushion while Kora and her legs dominated the first two.

Audra got hurt about six years ago. I’ve worked with some other people to get her some help, but they’ve all indicated that there’s deeper damage to address. Not only that, but they want to be paid exorbitant amounts to help her. Anything you can do for her would likely be an improvement.” Darien said. He had some money of his own, but he knew that Audra wouldn’t want him spending anything on her. He solved that problem by simply not telling her. That made it easier to assuage his guilt and help her all at the same time.

He listened to the story of how she got clean and smiled. “Forgive me for noticing, but you appear to have a thing for men locking you in rooms until you can function in polite society, K.” Darien teased.

Keep this up and someone will tie you to a couch or something just to make sure you don’t do anything else crazy.” he said.

She asked what trouble he got into and he laughed. “You’re far more interesting to talk about. All I do is knock around, disrupt the lives of terrible people and convince beautiful women that I’m some kind of misunderstood hero. They all try to fix me a little bit, but I’m more like a cat. I just go where the wind takes me.” Darien said, reaching for her legs. He lifted them at the ankles and then slid over onto the second cushion, letting her calves and bare feet rest on his lap.

How do you like working at the Tottering Otter? Is it a good time, outside of the men who hit on you every night?” Darien asked.

His hands began to work on her feet, massaging them slowly while he watched her reaction. If she didn’t like what was happening, she’d let him know. But Darien figured that Kora didn’t receive a lot of spoiling very often, especially after the kind of night she’d had.



Offline Kora Amarrant

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Re: a little pile of ashes where my old life used to be
« Reply #23 on: Oct 25, 19, 10:53:07 AM »
It was important to Kora to return to Darien what was rightfully his. Sure it was a little too long but maybe not too late. She didn’t want to give herself a pat on the back for not being a completely shitty drug addict. A loser with a conscious, that was a sweet thought. No, instead she preferred what had transpired. He was touched by the gesture and then put it away. She could look back at this moment and scratch one apology off of her already long list of penances.  Once comfortable on her couch she watched Darien take to the space. Most didn’t find a lot of relaxation in a Black Widows home, even when that time was spent tangled up in sheets. There was always a razor's edge between lust and danger where her Caste was concerned.
If Darien felt that way he was hiding it well. “So shes put up with a broken chalice for this long due to what? Pride?”  Anticipative of his response she tilted her head. The girl had been badly injured and at risk of breaking, but she stuck to her pride and refused to allow Darien to provide the aid that he felt so responsible for. There wasn’t anything noble about suffering and she chose to do so anyway. At the same time, pride was about as powerful a force as she had ever experienced.

Six years though. Six years with her brain on backward. No matter that Darien was seeking out a favor.  One that she owed and would pay.  It had been some time since she had been able to help anyone with their problems upstairs, Darkness knew her own mental apartments looked like a hoarder had moved in.  Kora told him a bit about how she became clean, leaving out the nasty details of night sweats, screaming, pleading and lying. He had seen those and they never cast her in a flattering light.

“I do. Its how they keep away from danger.” She flicked her finger in the air, the one with the snake tooth and smirked. Darien was…flirting and rather openly so. It wasn’t exactly the most appropriate time for it and all the more reason she found it amusing. “I like to do the tying up now.”

“Nah I don’t think I am.“ she shook her head softly and stretched as he gathered her feet up onto his lap and began working on the soles. A thin brow arched and she studied him with a smirk. “I'd say you’re more an antihero. The guy you still want to root for no matter how dirty his hands get.  There is no misunderstanding about it, there are lines and you cross them as you please or as needed. I can see you as a cat. You’re always testing your luck.” Smiling she pressed the tip of her tongue to the point of her tooth just at the edge of her lips. “You have limited lives though kitty. I'd be careful about how you spend them.”

Moistening her lips she made herself comfortable. The couch was clean, not something she picked up out of the alleyway furniture gallery and best yet, it had cushions, thick, fluffy cushions.  The warmth of Darien’s lap against her calves made it feel even more luxurious.  “ I enjoy mixing, it’s the closest I've come to any real poisons. Alcohol in itself is one.  The drink you tried today is a house special, it hits Blood like a battering ram which is a pleasant change. I'll tell you a secret if you promise not to spill it.”  Sitting up she leaned over her thighs, closer to him without need to move her legs. “ She who giveth can taketh away.  That particular concoction is made with a filtered web. That means I can cut the buzz.  Those same sloven assholes who are looking to spend a penny to get hammered out of their minds so they can hit on girls or wreck shit with their pretty jewels will find themselves sober as the day their mother pushed them out of that gopher hole. Just, like, that.”

Snap! Her fingers clicked together just under his nose before settling back. His hands worked on her feet and she breathed in a heavy sigh. He had managed to find just the right spot on the arch of her tired feet. Closing and opening her eyes slowly she found herself enjoying the comfort of his touch especially when his thumb dug into the tiny bones of her foot. “Where have you been staying?”