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Askavi / Re: Within My Garden Falls a Bird
« Last post by Talyrian Zima on Today at 06:47:39 PM »
Abaddon kept playing his fingers against her skin, and she wanted to purr at the feeling of someone genuinely enjoying her presence.  Had she ever had such delicate touch before?  No.  No she had not.  Well, maybe she had as a small child when her father would play his fingers against the back of her arms while she laid out across his lap and tried to sleep.

Sleep had never been easy to obtain when she'd realized that she would never fly.  Her dreams were always plagued by the idea of taking wing.. and she hated waking up to find herself locked to the earth.  Her father had often helped her fall to sleep in those early years, and while it galled her to admit it, he still did sometimes. 

You are already of use.

She lifted almost sleepy eyes to smile at him.  Really smile at him.  She was already of use.  Abaddon al-Sabbah did not look at her and see something weak or pathetic.  "My people..."  She turned her eyes back towards the mountains.  "For all their years, they are still people, with all the flaws and strengths that people can have.  I think... sometimes.. that they fall prey to the illusion of the Short Lived.  Their years may be long - but long years do not grant a person inherent wisdom.  If it did.. perhaps they would not see me as an abomination that should have been left to death at birth."

She sighed, running her fingers through her hair.  "Though.. to be fair.. most of those I've met here are just indifferent.  Perhaps that was a more pronounced problem in Kaeleer."  She grinned, glancing at Abaddon with something almost playful lurking in her eyes.

Am I less frightening or more frightening to you now?

"At this moment?  I find I am inclined to think of you as less frightening, even if only because you are trying hard to be so."  She smiled, bringing a hand over his.  "And to be honest.. you can be as frightening as you want to.  Strangely.. I think so long as I know you are not going to turn that frightening bit on me it will be comforting.  All my life it has been my father and I.. and ever since coming here, I find that the oddest of alliances have been struck."

She snorted, lifting her chin towards Starfall.  "If you had told me a year ago that I would be under the protection of a Broken Queen and a Gray Prince, I'd have laughed at you and hid in my room.  Will you be staying with us long, Prince?"  She smiled, squeezing his hand lightly.  "I.. if it would not offend, I would like to befriend you.  It brings me comfort, not being the only odd goose in Askavi."  She paused.  "Perhaps we could exchange letters after you leave.   I would like to hear more of the other lands of Terreille.  Pruul sounds..."  She laughed, a little.  "Well.. alien."
Announcements / Re: Fall Cleaning Event!
« Last post by phinneas on Today at 06:22:12 PM »
Yeah, just the final post triggers the bonus. This is aimed more towards cleaning up old abandoned threads rather than continuing current ones.
Announcements / Re: Fall Cleaning Event!
« Last post by Rated Em on Today at 06:08:38 PM »
let's say a thread gets two more posts from the people that are in it. do the bonus points only go to the person that says "the end"?
Pruul / Re: Taking your lumps.
« Last post by Elenor al-Sabbah on Today at 05:59:35 PM »
Elenor felt as if her body wasn’t responding to what her mind told it. She wanted to reach out to him when she saw that flash of pain and anger. She knew that look for it had graced another precious face before when she had attacked Fin and Judiah in panic during her Virgin Night. It was horrible, viscerally, maddeningly horrible to see one of her Bonded in that kind of emotional anguish and to know she was the cause, that their own love and care for her was tearing them apart because she had just rejected it. So Elenor wanted to comfort, she wanted to tell him to wait, to stay, to just give her a moment to work through these fucking flashbacks so that the thought of his touch would be pleasant again and she could wipe that pain away with sweet kisses.

But her mouth wouldn’t form the words and her body would not allow her to move to intercept him and she was so tired. By the time she worked up the energy to so more than shake and sob, he was gone and Leila was there.

Over the next half hour, between asthma and panic attacks Elenor tried to voice even a tenth of the feeling swirling inside her to her already overworked Healer, but eventually just fell silent until Leila declared her as healthy as she was likely to be in the current circumstance and suggested rest.

Elenor took that suggestion.

With help she dragged herself back to her bedroom and collapsed onto the bed with Vera, who looked positively murderous until Elenor explained what happened. Then her Heart just looked angry and stricken and held Elenor as she wept again for nearly an hour. Michael was hurting too, she could feel it and his pain…

It was unbearable. Elenor has lived with the echo of his pain for ten years before she had ever known him. It had been her focus, her mystery, her longing for so long that it sunk into her very soul and to feel it again was torture. So when Vera was at last asleep much later, Elenor stepped out onto her balcony, looking out over the darkened olive tree at the center of her Courtyard garden and reach out on a narrow thread directly to her hurting Warlord Prince.

**Michael, it’s me. You don’t need to talk, in fact, this might be easier if you don’t but I need you to listen. You did nothing wrong. What you gave was wanted, what I returned was genuine. You are my Bonded and so I love you, but I loved you long before then and I think would have regardless of what the Darkness said. I can’t even express how good it felt to be in your arms, even for such a little while. I’m not well right now but that’s not your fault. You heard the story I told but I did leave out some information that it wasn’t fair to pass over given where the afternoon went and might have colored your actions had you known. That was on me, this is my fault and responsibility and I hope you’ll stop blaming yourself for it soon.

Intimacy has always been problematic for me. When I arrived in Pruul even simple touch would make me start bawling and the first time I shared a bed with a man I nearly killed Fin and Judiah. My memories play havoc with me all the time. I learned to only feel safe when I was alone and hidden but that isn’t the way I want to live anymore. I had been making progress but now between Shalador and Vera’s memories I also know the fear of having been raped. I wasn’t expecting those nightmares to interject themselves but I should have. They are the monsters, not your actions. You are wanted; part of me very much wants to leave Vee sleeping and come to you right now to assure you of how much, but I think I need a little while yet to unwrap these new memories and build up some resilience to them.**

She shuddered then, arms wrapped around herself wishing they were his. Then her fingers drifted to the little bruise on her neck and the shaking stilled, her breath returning to her.

**Michael, don’t let my demons make new ones for you. I’d much rather have you help me fight mine together than either of us dealing with this apart. So please, stop beating yourself up and instead start thinking. I’ve seen your mind at work and it’s brilliant. You have a Queen who has some trauma but wants you and a lifetime of your own pain to work through: work out a plan, think through the steps that both of us need to take and in the meantime know that your arms around me and lips against my skin were one of the best things yet to come out of this mess and I’m going to sleep wrapped up in that sweater you let me borrow in Hayll and I know your scent on my pillow will bring me nothing but good dreams tonight.

Now, sleep, my Michael and try to forgive yourself for nothing you did was wrong.**

The End
Announcements / Re: Fall Cleaning Event!
« Last post by phinneas on Today at 05:58:53 PM »
the following threads are done and need HBC lock:

Thread: Making With the Sneaky Sneak
Thread Link:

Thread: What A Pretty Picture
Thread Link:

Thread: There's a Stranger in my Bed
Thread Link:'s-a-stranger-in-*my*-bed!/

Thread: Delicacy Fit for a Spider
Thread Link:

Thread: A Stormy Encounter
Thread Link:

and this one was finished long ago but never locked:

Locked the above threads.

Your closing posts on the threads you locked will get you the bonus from the fall cleaning event. As most of them were less than 250 words, however, you'll still get docked a few points each post for not meeting minimum word count. If you want to go back and expand those posts to meet the minimum word count requirement before points are tallied at the end of the month, you're welcome to.

Just FYI!
Pruul / Re: You Can't Play on Broken Strings
« Last post by Elenor al-Sabbah on Today at 05:57:09 PM »
Elenor tackled Vera to the ground.

Bodies lay scattered around them, fire and smoke and the screams of Elenor’s people surrounding the both of them. The Queen of the Sabbah’s heart pounded, fury and fear warring within her as she twisted Vera’s arm behind her back to press her down.

With shaking hands, slippery with the blood coating Vera’s skin, Elenor tightened her grip on the knife, raised it, and hesitated.

Vera had been ready to kill again, she had seen the way her body was moving and from behind Elenor had no idea if the intended target were Shira and Zhaleh who she would be happy to see dead, or Salma and Theo, who could not die.

The part of her that was a Queen howled for blood, for the death of the woman who had plowed through her Clansmen towards a little Queen. It howled for vengeance for a crime committed nearly two centuries ago.

It howled for endings.

The part of her that was Elenor screamed back that this was Vera.

Vera was capable of this atrocity but Vera wouldn’t go after a child… right? Not after Matin’s daughter…

There was something wrong. Vera was thrashing under her, screaming and flailing. There was no sanity in those sounds, just the keens of a wild thing that had fallen into a trap. It was a death wail, not a grunt of frustration or anger.

Something was wrong.

Elenor tried to say something but Vera’s elbow smashed back into her rib making her wheeze. “Vera!”


**VERA!** over a psychic thread, except she couldn't connect. Where there should be a mind there was just a raging void. Something was wrong with Vera’s mind, something deeply, terribly wrong, and if her mind was broken…

She moved on instinct alone now, drawing from memories still too new to have been sorted or ordered. All she knew was that her friend was dying and her mind was no longer her own and no one else with the skill to save her and get answers was close enough to do it. The urge to kill still sang in her veins but she pushed it back. Vera’s mind was the strongest Elenor knew. She was the one person she absolutely trusted to not go after a Geiba child even considering her past.

Elenor could not kill her without knowing what had happened to cause this.

Without pausing to consider her actions, the Queen blade fell but not into Vera’s neck. Instead, it slashed open her own palm, one knee still holding the flailing Jinan to the ground. She could feel Michael closing in but if he was saying anything she couldn't hear it, not through the ringing in her ears. The pain of the cut was drowned by adrenaline and fear as she pulled Vera’s hand towards her and repeated the process. Then, without so much as pausing for breath, Elenor pressed their palms together and as Blood sang to Blood dove through the shattered remnants of Vera's inner barriers, collapsing by her side, the spells that kept her invisible faltering.

The inner landscape she emerged in was like a sea of shattered glass during a storm. It was so violent and disorienting that she was almost crushed before she was able to get her bearings. The wind howled, a maelstrom of screaming emotions that pushed at the Queen, resisting the invasion.

Elenor braced and flung her arms up, the wave of glass shattering against her, slicing her forearm and shoulder as it crashed. With each stab and slice came a snippet of memory. They were fast and bloody, filled with fury and desperation. She felt blood spatter her -no, Vera’s- cheeks as she ripped into a woman holding a khanjar. She felt the glee of seeing splattered brains staining the hooves of a stallion.

Those matching emotions rose within Elenor as she saw the scenes she had raced to stop from the eyes of the woman who had carved through her people, battling with Elenor’s own horror at the carnage of those she had sworn to protect and whose butcher she was now trying to understand.

“Vera!” She shouted, turning to face the pit of broken memories that stretched into the Abyss down to the level of the Tiger Eye. What had caused this? What had shattered the harshest, most willful woman in Pruul? There were no answers here, not with how every shard was disintegrating before her eyes. “VERA!!!”

Nothing. Her friend’s shattered self was dying, crumbling, failing…

This was far, far worse than she had feared. Elenor didn’t have the training to do this, not even to stabilize her mind. Terror seized her at the same time a hand, the size of her torso made of shards of glass shoved her from behind. She stumbled forward, away from the relative safety at the border of Vera’s mind and into the cacophony, as if the broken shards of Adavera were using their jagged edges to rip and entrap the person entering it.

She lunged for her own mind, for safety and realized she didn’t know where that was.

Fear wrapped around her heart. No. Nononono!

The blood that connected them kept the Queen rooted where she was, trapped in the mind she had voluntarily entered to try… what had she meant to try?

To save her friend.

Darkness she was an idiot.

Panic threatened to overwhelm her, but panic wasn’t new. Elenor breathed, in this place where breath meant nothing, and closed her eyes.

She was trapped. She had been trapped before -not in a mind but by hidden memories and compulsions - and had escaped. If this was the path then looking for another would do no good. There was no going back. She had to go through and try her best to survive until someone could come to help. Surely Shadya and Kiarian would help, would figure out how foolish she had been. Doubt wasn’t an option. If she doubted she would die. If she died, her males would suffer, Judiah would suffer, her people would slip back into evil.

Teetering at the edges of the broken mind she looked into the Abyss. There was no safe way down, nothing to hold on to that wasn't sharp, but Elenor knew from personal experience that the only way she was going to be able to even try and hold the pieces of Adavera al-Jinan together enough to let her out was to get to the inner web as swiftly as she could and protect it until help came.

She could vaguely feel Vera still struggling in the real world far above. Using her Opal, she slammed her Touch into her, then a wave of Emotional Healing. It wouldn’t do much for a mind that was already broken, but it might calm her physically and if Vera broke the blood connection between them there was no way Elenor would be able to hold onto this mind without becoming lost in it. If that happened, she somehow doubted she would ever be free of this Twisted place.

But how was she supposed to descend? Everywhere she looked more waves were forming and breaking, the pieces of Vera’s mind fragmenting. Realization came slowly but ominously. There was no way to do this that wouldn’t hurt, no way down to the inner web to weave her power into Vera’s consciousness without risking herself.

If Vera’s Jewels went too, there was no way Shadya would be able to save them. Elenor had to just grit her teeth and do it.

She stepped forward and the first full shard of memory pierced through her, her bare foot tearing open on it.

The rumble and crack were ominous, so loud that they made time stand still as she saw the roof of the tunnel above her begin to fall.  She dove, desperate… victory!  She was going to make it! 

and then she didn’t.

The pain was immediate.  The dust clogged, caught in her throat as she struggled to scream.. And her scream echoed against stone and .. empty tunnels.  Everyone had abandoned her, fled as the tunnel ceiling did its best to end her life.  None of them came back as she struggled, thrashed, pushed for all she had against the literal weight of death.  She could feel her leg dying beneath this boulder, and no one was coming to help…

She was panting by the time it faded, her own throat raw as she echoed that scream. Elenor’s foot was sore, the place the memory had impaled itself bleeding and aching but she was one step further in. She could feel it now, that piece of Vera settling within herself, sinking through her own soul and seeping into her mind in a way that felt very much like having someone crawling inside her skin. She could feel the agony they shared, the blinding pain in a limb that was both hers and not hers at once. The despair and yearning for it all to end so the pain would cease.

Her hands were shaking and she felt sick, but Elenor couldn't stop. It had worked. That was all that mattered.

With a single look at the thousands of shards along her path, each likely as traumatic and personal as the last, she took another step along the road down to the core of Adavera al-Jinan, that seemed to be growing thicker and thicker as if the witch were using her own memories as a weapon against the intruder

Then, like a dagger to the chest, shards of memory and self slammed into the Queen with malevolent intent, an attack against the invader. Her raised arms did nothing at all to block it.

--Trigger Warning, Rape--

Her hands were held in place by salt-worn fingers, her face being pressed into the salt-slicked walls by one of the Guards.  These two always worked together, having discovered months ago that it was the only way to handle the fiery Horse Lord that they enjoyed so much.  The one pinning her for his friend was laughing in her ear, whispering of how much he loved watching her fight like this.

The other… the other was ripping into her, driving between her legs with a furious pace as his hands clasped so tightly at her hips that he would leave bruises.  He always left bruises.. Her body always felt as if there were permanent finger marks in her flesh just from him.

The pain she could handle, even if it made her scream.  The pain wouldn’t break her, not really.  It was the sounds.  This time, the sounds painted pictures she couldn’t ignore.  This time the sounds were so real, that she swore she would be torn in two by the sheer ferocity of the beast between her legs.  The sounds made her mind see him as ripping her flesh, made her feel every scratch and burn as if it was a precursor to her peeling apart and bleeding out into a stone floor that would forever keep her tears and cries as a memorial to the evils of this place..

It didn’t matter how much she screamed, or begged, or sobbed.  The salt rubbed into her face, into the abrasions from their most recent ‘entertainment’.  It burned.  Everything always burned.. That wouldn’t stop them - it never did.  They always seemed to get worse; harder, faster, whenever they saw that she was in pain.

A choked gasp of fresh agony echoed out of her lips as she felt the wretch behind her pull her hips back so quickly that she almost thought he would pierce her insides with his spear… and a hiss of debilitated fury left her as his hand slapped at her rear cheeks in ‘appreciation’.  They moved as quickly as they ever did, switching positions and quickly slamming her to the floor of the tunnel without care for who might see them.

No one ever came to stop them.. No one ever helped.  She’d dared to help the boy with wings, and for it she was to be punished whenever these two got it in their heads that they were in the mood.  Her head struck the floor as the man who had whispered into her ear slammed her down.  She could taste blood in her mouth.. Salt and copper.  Salt on her skin.  And then she could feel the other, the one who had already finished, fumbling to force her mouth open.

Salt in her throat.. Mother have mercy.

Elenor gasped and fell to the ground, her knees digging into the fine sand of glass beneath her. It shouldn’t have surprised her, not with what Lucky had told her of the Mines, but there was a difference between knowing about something and feeling it. As she was pelted with those shards of Vera’s life it was Elenor feeling their hands pressed into her skin and the searing pain between her legs as torn flesh touched salt. Salt was everywhere in the memories, caking her skin, making her hair coarse and stiff, drying out her nostrils until they cracked like her lips did. It made her choke and sob, huddled in on herself as she endured again and again without pause in between years of rape. How, how had Vera survived this? It made Elenor want to rip the flesh from her own bones for having been touched that way, for betraying her, for not being strong enough.

Lucky had always told her that he never wanted her to really understand the mines. Now, she was living through every moment Vera had spent there. Attacked from every sides by the mind she had sought to understand before condemning, those pieces of a life torn apart by the Geiba became nearly indistinguishable from her own memories, as if they were willfully burrowing into her mind and heart, finding the places to embed themselves deep and bring her pain.

Then it got worse, because they - both Vera and Elenor - could endure pain. Pain was their constant companion, but Vera seemed to sense that, finding instead something worse, something that would wound like no amount of personal suffering could…

Seeing others in pain…

Lucky had small hands. Hands that could fit between bars, snatch bits of food, and carry small pales of water to other slaves. They were good for quick movements, excited stories, or subtle caresses, but they were not good for fighting. Not yet.

They could not fight off the Bad Man.

They were held down, again and again, their shadows thrown against the walls as he cried out. The other slaves looked on, silent, waiting, staring at their own hands. Lucky’s liked to claw into the rock while the Bad Man was with him, the Warlord Prince’s fingernails catching on small cracks in the ground until they bled. She imagined the pain was nice. Distracting as her own was.

She watched in the shadows until she could not stand it, until the pain of doing nothing was worse than the pain of doing something. Then she realized it might have been a mistake…

Elenor gasped as those memories faded within the turmoil of her own mind, becoming her own. She felt sick, appalled, heartsore for the little boy who had grown up to become the ruler of Pruul and for the woman who had tried to help him and paid the price again and again.

“I’m FINE. If you so much as utter this to my Queen or my people, I will snap your neck and end your miserable existence before you can even take a breath to apologize.” His voice, his angry, dirty little face and balled fists.

“What happened in the one needs to know. What’s done is done, to the both of us.”
The same face but older, more worn. These were secrets that she shouldn’t be seeing, secrets that Vera had kept and promises that Elenor was breaking without her consent simply by being here. How would she look Lucky in the eyes again after this, after knowing that she had invaded his privacy not just that of the woman whose mind she was locked in?

Yet she could not ignore them. Vera was observant. She saw everything and now Elenor did. With every step she became more unsure of which one of them had been down in those pits and which one running for her freedom. How had she ever thought to redeem those places of torment? How could she have been so naive as to think water would be enough to wash them clean?

How could she have had the hubris to think she knew better than the survivors?

Her path down was jagged and left her feet bleeding, a trail that hopefully Shadya would be able to follow.  It was so familiar.  Not the first time jagged glass had cut her feet - and it left her chilled as she remembered that warning Kiarian had given her. This was it, the darkness looming in her future. The Black Widow had tried to warn her but as predicted Elenor had not listened. Now it was too late.

She passed the Yellow and it became so dark that it was hard to see where she was going, having to blindly feel her way through the shards that now felt more like ice than glass. The ice of rage growing so cold it burned.

Elenor cried as she climbed, every inch of her aching and bleeding and horrified but then, as if as a last final attack to the invader, Vera sent an arrow of memory, jagged and cold straight for her heart. It knocked Elenor over, her head slamming back against the dark infinity of Vera’s mind as she was hit by the reason that her mind had broken so.

TW; Mind Rape  -

She couldn’t speak, though she tried.  The Craft so dark she couldn’t perceive it with her psychic senses binding her to the chair, gagging her words.. It was infuriating.  And that smile... that smile as if the Spider in front of her was eyeing a juicy fly.. It made her feel murderous.  It made her mind tremble with the need to just let go, to react with the violence she had leashed for years.  Numerous curses spilled through her thoughts, and through her gagged lips - but they didn’t reach the Widow’s ears.

Her blood ran cold as that hand moved forward, grasping at her Jewel.  It was like feeling dead and decaying fingers grab her soul, she could feel it.. Like ghosts caressing within her flesh, rather than simply touching her skin.  Like rotting meat sliding across her inner webs.

“Starting today, you will end your personal association with the Sabbah and the Mineborn…. begin a journey of self-discovery... You will notice every time you act or think differently than the Pruulian norm. You will start wondering whether your support of the Mineborn is because you do not truly belong to this land. When you realize that it is, you will consider that if you were truly Pruulian, you would have given yourself to the desert when you were crippled... Jinan...expended resources...out of pity..”

Her rage was cold.  Her Rage was ice.  She wanted to rip the woman’s face off, scream her curses and thrash against the inevitability of actions that would not be her own… but that would accomplish nothing.   So she whistled instead.  She let loose that few living had any knowledge of, and she let her Craft stab out towards Shira’s ears, let it try to drive into the soft tissue and reach that brain…

If only she could kill her.  Maybe she’d get lucky and the bitch would be surprised long enough to not Shield.  Maybe she would do damage that left the Spider helpless, and Torin would wake to take the spider’s head and free his Witch from Craft she could not break.  If only she could reach that important tissue before the shields ro...… there they were.  She felt her Craft get blocked, thrust away, and still she smiled.

She had drawn First Blood and the Spider would always know the truth.

And then that corrupt and dead hand was on her throat.  That hand cut off her air, just a little.. And she thought perhaps this would rouse Torin.  Perhaps he would shake off whatever spell this Red spider had covered him in…

“Each time you get up on a horse, your leg will scream in pain…. You will not be able to stay in the saddle… forget this ever happened!”

Even the mines had not taken her horses, not really.  Even as her mind had fogged on her, even as she felt the memory being locked away.. She felt real terror.  The only thing that had gotten her through the pain of recovery was the horses and the solitude and safety of her own mind.. And now… now…


She had thought nothing could be worse than the mines.

That had been foolish optimism.

Elenor’s rage rose to match Vera’s and there was no stepping away from it here, no amount of self control to keep the woman whose mind she was in from feeling that echo, shooting between them, reverberating and amplifying with every pass.

THIS was why Vera had broken. This monster that had driven her to wash Onn in blood, and one thought, her own and Vera’s both, wiped away all others.

Shira could not win.

It meant Vera had to live, that Elenor had to find a way to keep any small piece of her safe until someone could come to help, not just to get out of here alive but because she hadn’t been wrong to hesitate in taking Vera’s life.

The path was clear, and as her own will to survive was swallowed up by the need to save Vera, who had deserved none of this, all hesitation left. She pushed herself to her feet, the pain a feeble second under her rage.

Elenor forged ahead with the clarity of the Killing Edge now, except there was no one to kill in this place, only one objective.

Not let Shira win.

Vera could not die, could not be lost.

She had to do this.

Her own chalice ached but there would be no half measures. Elenor needed to get to Vera’s Inner Web and shield it. If she failed Shira would win.

That was simply not acceptable.

She was wading through a sandstorm now, or at least that was how it felt, Elenor’s sense of self being scoured from her bones as she stepped up to the Web of power that was Vera’s Tiger Eye. She knew better than to wrap it in her power at once, even for protection, not after what that spider had done. Instead, she pressed her hand against it and without hesitation opened herself completely. Power, mind, blood. Everything was unguarded and connected as she quietly begged Vera to take whatever she needed to survive.

Take it. Take it all if you need to, to believe I mean you no harm. Take anything you need just let me help you.

Reckless, but she wasn’t thinking like a Queen right now. She wasn’t even sure she WAS a Queen right now, wasn’t sure what the sum of the parts that she held were, or where she ended and Vera began.

Just choose to live.


Here, at the core of her, it was one of the last things she could hold onto.  She had done that, hadn’t she?  Salma was safe… as safe as she could make her.. Wasn’t she?

Adavera was falling to pieces as parts of her hunted down the invader, and parts of her scattered to the edges of her mind to seek peace and escape the violence and blood.  She could feel it.  While she sought the Price from those who had wronged her, she had felt.. Together.  She had felt right.  But every shadow who got between her and her targets.. Every person who tried to stop her …

It was as if the World was intent on making her suffer and never letting her balance the scales.  Was she so evil?  Was she so wrong that she couldn’t even claim that spider bitch’s life as a Price for what had been done?

Shira had taken her horses… she had taken her will.  She had raped her mind and enjoyed doing it.  She had been working for the True Sabbah - Zhaleh must have ordered it.  Zhaleh must have told her to ruin the Jinan, to get them out of the way.. And Shira had raped her to do it.

And worse.. She was going to use little Salma.  She was going to twist and corrupt a child, a child who had already lost so much and who still carried so much joy…  It sung to her heart and had her weeping in sorrow.  Salma had lost enough.  Taisha had lost enough.. And Shira would take all they had and more.

What little of her she could still feel huddled there; lost in the shadows of her own nightmares and waiting for the walls to cave in and the storm to sweep her away.  Nightmares weren’t real; Mother had always said that.  But her nightmares were.  Hers were all real. 

”Run!  Ru..”  The sounds.. Mother Night, the sounds as that arrow collapsed her mother’s lungs… she clung to that body, watched as the light left her mother’s eyes.. And she screamed.

She clung to her head, her fingers locked in her hair as she rocked in the shrinking cocoon of her soul.  She could feel the pieces ripping away and the walls of her last refuge trembling in the face of the storm SHE had unleashed on herself, for the attack SHE was directing at the intruder.  Salma.. She’d done it for Salma, and Taisha.  For Barin, Yari, little Niv…  It was worth it, but that didn’t mean that this interminably slow death was not terrifying.  She could feel it, taste it, as the Darkness reached out to drag her home.  She was going to die.  She wanted to die.  Didn’t she?

The Jinan pity you… expended resources and kindness.. If you were truly Pruulian, you would have given yourself to the Desert…

She wanted to scream.  She wanted to die.  She wanted to live and fight and kill.  She wanted to lash out and kill all those who had harmed her, who still thought her something they could use as they liked with no regard for her sanity.  For her heart.

Take it. Take it all if you need to.  Just.. choose to live.


Elenor had come to stop her.  Elenor was trying to save the worthless, trying to save her.  Too sweet Elenor, like some sugared candy on her soul.  A taste and scent that slithered over her skin, under it, down her throat and curling in her gut until it could spread through her veins like a stream… 

Ah Night.. Torin.  Her hands came to her face, her body tightening further in the shrinking corner.  She’d hurt Torin.  The memories distracted her from the sweetness and the light, and she felt that reaching shadow nearly touch her throat. She could still taste his pain on her tongue…

She’d betrayed Torin.  Had she hurt Taisha? Salma? 

I have to save.. Salma…

For Matin.  For Elenor.. For Taisha.  Her eyes peeked out between her fingers.. And through thickening shadows she could see her.  Elenor.. Glowing in Opal and so beautiful.  So kind.. Too kind.  Shira would kill her.  Shira would kill her.  Shira would kill her.

I won’t let her.

Papa… what happens if we fall..
… We do better than before.

So she reached out, reached through those shadows, and grasped at the Opaline Queen that was trying to reach for her.  She grasped, holding tight, and prayed that she had the strength to not kill the Queen who brought nothing but Mercy.

A hand reached from the dark. It was nearly translucent, so faint a shadow of a self without a Chalice to hold it but still hovering here at the center of her Web, held safe by her Jewel. Sudden fear gripped the Queen. What if the Jewel didn’t survive? What if the last anchor to the Self was destroyed? But no, that hadn’t happened yet. Vera had considered that road but she hadn’t taken it.

Not too late. She wasn’t too late.

Her hands, both of them, grasped Vera’s, pulling her close into her arms. She wrapped her up in Opal shields, desperate to preserve this map of the self that still clung together. It would be needed if any rebuilding was to occur, and more than that… she held on because she loved her, this angry, fair, hurt woman who had taught her more about honor and leadership than anyone.

She had lived so many pieces of Vera now. Each was a pillar, a reason for the woman she had been and the choices that had led her here. All good, those choices. All just, honorable, fair even in the face of pain and fear and anger.

This soul who had been so hurt and yet had still found it in her heart to forgive and take in a Geiba child. Protect a Geiba Queen. This core, this deepest piece, it was so exquisite it hurt to hold, burned her with it’s brilliance but she clutched at her nonetheless.

Love, this was love that flowed between them, blood in the vein, weaving them together and bridging what little gap there was left.

“I need you to trust me,” Elenor whispered, pulling the phantasmal witch closer still. “Help is coming, I know it is. I need you to trust in that and just hold on. Please.”

Then she pressed her lips to that translucent brow as she started to weave her Opaline power through the strands of Vera’s Inner Web, protecting the witch from herself as her mind continued to tear itself apart. ”I’m going to shield you and your Jewel. You might get scared, you might get angry, but I need you to try to remember that I’m not trying to hurt you. Help is coming. I promise.”

Elenor just hoped it wasn’t a lie.

Shadya, please. If you’re out there, help us.
Pruul / Re: You Can't Play on Broken Strings
« Last post by Kiarian Vasiliev on Today at 03:33:23 PM »
"How much silk do you want?"  Kiarian grinned, tipping her head to the side as she studied Shadya's face.  "Not that I've an unlimited supply, mind you, but I have a habit of packing.. a bit.. away."  Months' worth, at least.  Just in case.  It wasn't that she was paranoid - ok, so maybe she was - and it wasn't that she was a packrat.  She just felt that a Black Widow should always have tools on hand.

And in her case, that meant she could always have a great deal of tools on hand.

She settled onto a chair near the passed out beauties, narrowing her gaze on that golden hair.  "What I would suggest, Lady Shadya, is to make sure you are shielded well.  If I know Elenor.. and I do... she likely did not shield herself very well when she stepped into whatever mess is in that head.  I know that the mare was sinking in red sand.. I imagine whatever is going on in that skull of hers is ... unfriendly."

She turned that gaze back towards Shadya.  "Do not make the mistake of assuming the Tiger Eye witch can't hurt you.  Too many this day have made that one, I think.  Let us learn from their folly, hrm?"

Yes, she was a Red spider suggesting care of a Tiger Eye's strength.. but she felt no shame in saying such things.  There was a reason that Protocol existed.  There was a reason that people got out of the way of even a White Jewelled Male's Rut.  Because at some point, Jewel strength didn't really matter.  The insane, the shattered, and the Rutting didn't really care about limits, or standards, or politeness.

They cared only about their objectives.  They would do anything, kill anything, to accomplish that objective.  It was what came after that wasn't predictable.

In this case?  Had the Witch obtained her objective, or had she been interrupted?  Kiarian was willing to bet she had been interrupted.  If she had been interrupted, then chances were that inside of that skull was a mind in fury - and a mind in fury for the untrained or incapable would be quite the devastating landscape indeed.

Kiarian was prepared - but she didn't have the capability of entering it and ensuring the body's survival.  With Elenor and the horse lord tied together she wasn't going to risk attempting to touch that mad woman's mind directly.

It probably wouldn't go well.

"Might I also suggest a .. delicate, subtle touch?  Something easily missed by the observant, if you are capable?  I doubt that a wounded lion would be welcoming of yet another in their lair."
Announcements / Re: Fall Cleaning Event!
« Last post by halyonix on Today at 03:10:43 PM »
first pass of threads!

Thread: Winter Winds
Thread Link:

Thread: Markey Day
Thread Link:

Thread: Shifting Dunes
Thread Link:

Thread: You're Only In Trouble
Thread Link:'re-only-in-trouble-if-you-get-caught/

the following threads are done and need HBC lock:

Thread: Making With the Sneaky Sneak
Thread Link:

Thread: What A Pretty Picture
Thread Link:

Thread: There's a Stranger in my Bed
Thread Link:'s-a-stranger-in-*my*-bed!/

Thread: Delicacy Fit for a Spider
Thread Link:

Thread: A Stormy Encounter
Thread Link:

and this one was finished long ago but never locked:
Dea al Mon / Re: Winter Winds
« Last post by Solstice Moriwen on Today at 03:01:29 PM »
Later that night, as Solstice reviewed the contents of their conversation while pacing stately in her office, she decided that perhaps the other Districts had been too lax in their preparations and that surely Oberaula, her District, was more prepared than others. Quill’s words did not fall entirely on proud ears but would Solstice change the procedures she had in place based on those words? Not much. Oberaula was secure. She had faith in her males.

She would find out months later how wrong she was.

The end.
Glacia / Re: Making with the Sneaky Sneak
« Last post by Svala Elkshaarn on Today at 02:51:13 PM »
An eternity later, Kaleb and Svala stumbled back out into the bright sunlight, thoroughly horrified at what they had seen. “We must tell the others,” Svala whispered in a shaking voice the moment she thought it safe as they began to run. What had happened...what she had would remain in her mind for months to come, those brainwashed and blood-splattered bodies writhing in mindless ecstasy as whatever Craft the Priestesses had summoned erased the thinking, free-willed people they had been.

All in favor of the Dark Religion.

The end.
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