Author Topic: Death After Death  (Read 317 times)

Offline Marietta

  • Prima Figlia
  • Battaglia Militancy
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  • Posts: 8
  • I'll be the guard dog of all of your fever dreams
Death After Death
« on: January 04, 2020, 11:59:54 PM »
Posted by Marietta   
A second attempt at leaving for Uhrwerkstadt... foiled, but probably for good measure since it allowed her to show face at one of the more important events to her more personal slice of the country. She was astride the raptor and reliant on a mixture of nuts to get her by as they made way to the place that Shi Shen had given her cartographer. A place he felt was the place, or at least their best guess of it. Marietta was losing track of what details she knew and did not know these days.

From first light they rode, rushing, exhausting their steeds. She was dressed in a gear best described as something that absolutely wouldn't pass for armor, though it was leather... at least. Pants for riding and her hair pinned up in a <i>messy</i> manner she'd never go for otherwise, just so it could be stuffed better under hood. Of course a hood wouldn't keep her from being singled out. Both of them, her and Bass, were well known. Especially together. She paid someone to enter the Zeithalle and send word that certain Battaglia members were to join her at 'the tree' if they were free and able. She didn't state a when, or how long she would be there.

The raptor was reined to a stop on the arrival and she looked around dropping the hood off her head. "This is supposed to be it... "
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Bass   
He knew her plan, it had a deceptive elegance to it - she had no idea what she was doing. Only what she wanted out of it, and even that was obscured in the mist of her being difficult and standoffish, even if he could well guess what she wanted now, given what Ben had told him. He still couldn't really believe it, but seeing was believing, and today they would have the chance, if her confidence in this was not misplaced. He had a raptor of his own, a surly, surprisingly bulky female that looked as weathered and scarred as he did. He preferred a horse, but he wanted something with literal and figurative teeth, something that wouldn't hesitate to inflict horrible injury if required.

He eased his mount to a stop as Marietta came to a rest, looking around at the nearby terrain features and frowning slightly. This seemed pretty unremarkable to him, but he had to trust her, if only to stop himself from accepting she was as mad as her father, and losing his last relative, in his mind, if not in reality. "What are we expecting to see...?"
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Ben   
Ben hadn't arrived much later, though it was from the opposite direction. Not that that had to see him first to know he was coming...

The rattling of metal was surprisingly good at riling him up. Plate armor he hadn't worn except to practice in all the time it was his, and only possible in the colder seasons. Scraping, clinking, the burden of carrying a shield while trying to lead Molly around...he was already furious behind the visor when he came to stop by the others.

"Prima, Grand Conductor." He dipped his head low and placed a hand over his heart in place of a bow, then straightened up to await their order, gently patting his horse's neck.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Shi Shen The Eye of Dreams   
Shen rode later in the day, it was a dark time that he would have to be out at best, but he left a few hours time to get back if he did. He stopped as he reached the field and scanned the area. He had brought with him a seven section staff tied to the belt that held his robes closed. He stayed atop Hasi he recognized the figures overlooking the area below. Hasi for her part seemed to sense the importance and was being far less obstinate than usual coming to a halt where he directed her to. Not all he had directed were there and so he wondered just what had caused the Prima to call all here, and now.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Marietta   
For once, she wouldn't pretend she had a plan. She just knew she had to be here... whether she had to be here or not. Her attention silent, and one might have seen the gears at work as she tried to figure out what would be the next step.

"I was hoping him. Or the Virtuoso. We will wait maybe, til dark if we have to," she approached the tree to stroke its bark, pausing before to acknowledge the First Chair of Brass with a grateful nod. There was a reason she didn't bring an army; intending to not tread down the path of last time. If dealing with Meizarae by force wasn't the right way, and the hounds were immune to the same... an army wouldn't do anything. Havelock didn't seem to be interested in talk, either though. There were ideas in her gut; or rather her hypothetical reactions depending which direction things went. Her fingers actually touched the bark now, tracing the small crevasses. "I cannot even confirm this is the one we saw, its so hazy..."

A look up now that she was under its gnarled branches, free of leaves... either because of winter or its otherwise spooky nature. How'd any of them miss the sword, the sword. "Ah!"

When Shi Shen arrived she felt a little relief that she was at least at the right place. "This is it... how do we get him to pay attention to us without... complete provocation?" Because she was going to scream and throw rocks at this 'blessed' tree if she had to.
~ ~ ~ ~

Bass rolled a 5 out of 20!
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Aleksandr   
He was beckoned here, knowing that the sword was in the presence of someone, although he didn't understand how he knew that, just an abstract feeling - tooth ache was pain in your tooth, but why it ached, who could say? He stood in the grass as if he had always been there, on the far side of the tree from the other people gathered, a brief hope in his heart momentarily.
"Azalie...?"

His voice was raspy, dry like dead leaves, his hope souring in his stomach as it wasn't Azalie at all... Of course it would be her. Who else could it be? That was it, then, his wish denied because Azalie had been too slow, or too unlucky perhaps.

"You... It would be you..." He could feel it welling up inside him, an awful pressure and heat that felt like it was swallowing his reason, eating up his mind. The fire that leaked out of his body illuminated him, revealing him to look very much like the riders that followed the hounds, his body made up of an inky gauze, his one white eye staring at them all as the fire spread along his arms. "Tell Azalie... Tell Ben I am sorry..." His hands clutched at his head, tearing out strips of black, inky mass that revealed a skull beneath, a deafening roar as fire flourished over his body, his one white eye molten gold as another roar escaped his lips, howled at the air as smoke and cinders billowed from his mouth.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Shi Shen The Eye of Dreams   
Well it seemed that the Prima was discussing things with Bass. Shen, for his part, was staying atop the hill when the familiar form of Aleksandr approached. There was a straight answer to the line of question by the Prima if there ever was one. He loosed the tie from the seven seciont staff, letting the sections fall into his hand as he started down the hill and toward the Prima, clicking to Hasi and signalling for her to return to the stable, she'd end up there eventually, likely to shelter before dark he was sure. The mount getting killed would do little and he had none of the magics of Journeys that would protect her from such if things came to be problematic.

Shen spoke in old realm, a language he knew did not resonate with this place as it had Creation, but still he would say the words, a prayer to His Maiden. Then he would look between the two guaging the distance between Alek and Mah to see if there was time to reach her side before the man reached her.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Ben   
His ears raised under his helm at the sound of his voice, different from the grouchy man he had traveled with, but his all the same. Scents through the visor were impeded, but it was Alek, alright. As far as he could tell, it wasn't some illusion meant to distract.

His hand found the hilt of his khopesh as Alek began to light up, prepared to launch himself off Molly in an effort to keep her safe. Let her run, if worse came to worse.  Alek spoke his name...he swallowed hard, raising a gauntlet to push up his visor, staring back at the man with his own single eye. He made his peace. He said his goodbyes. Why bottle up his feelings now?  "I forgive you, Toasty! Whatever you do here! " He shouted at the end of Alek's roar, determined to be heard, even if it meant nothing. Face exposed, his pained wince was clear at the sight of the skull.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Marietta   
"I heard, so I had to... My vow will have to break the promise, both to you and neither final to this moment. " Fear coiled around her like a thorny vine, but she was frozen not because of it but the surprise that so simple a thing had summoned him. She didn't balk from the pressure, the warmth in this cold at least bearable for the moment as he was transitioning out to something out of control. Ideas, she needed ideas. Also, who the hell was Azalie?

"Secundo," she hissed before sucking air to her diaphragm her free hand reaching toward Alek's chest, fingers intending to touch, not grab nor push. "There's a spark inside us, that we can all ignite..." She began, the words well known to those under her colors. The first verse had many meanings in this moment. Her eyes focused on his molten core.

She'd not last though, that roar shook her enough to step back, her grip on the sword lost to the tree. Her fire, however, sparking on the failure to hold her ground. Determination growing, her hand toward him still reaching even as she backed off and tried the next verse of the song, and the verse after that. Trying to yank him out of the hold of the curse, even if temporary. It worked before, she recalled, back in the manor when the very wall came alive to get him. A lift of her free hand to point toward the sword urgently. Someone needed to get it.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Bass   
He was seeing it with his own eyes, and even now he didn't believe it - watching the man, a ghastly spectre of the one they had sent to fight Meizarae, now reduced to a monster, and wild, unstable one at that. The fire, that had been explained to him, sort of, but the darkness, the partially torn face that revealed the skull beneath.... This was wrong, on so many levels.

The wrongness could wait though, as he dismounted in one swift motion - he wasn't sure how this man would even behave, and if he was unseated then that might just kill Bass at one blow. When meeting a new foe, exercise caution. His sword came free of its scabbard, shield pulled from where it rested on his mount, and his was running up the hill towards Marietta, her urging him needing no repetition.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Aleksandr   
He lurched forwards, driven by a terrible impetus as fire rolled off him in sheets, anything flammable beneath his feet springing to life, anything within arms reach starting to smoulder and smoke. There was no reaction the first time, but as Marietta back pedalled and attempted again, he seemed to trip over something, staggering and listing to one side. The mindless roars of fury that escaping from his gnashing teeth mingled with something else as he he flailed around for a few moments, the sound agonised, mournful even before it was swallowed up in blind fury and he was running again, eating the distance up the hill in long, lunging strides.

Nearby, the grasses whistled and whispered, and soundlessly, a pair of luminous, canine eyes settled on the group, it attention impossible to ignore...
~ ~ ~ ~
   
Ben rolled a 4 out of 4!
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Shi Shen The Eye of Dreams   
Shen had ground to make up and running was not something he oft took in stride, his own words sung out echoing the Prima's in the chorus of the Battalgia's songs, those words poer laced into the world was something that he was familiar with, for it was the words of the four languages that held the edges of reality together where he was from. He had sensed the strength of the powers that they were in opposition of and did not wish to go without something such as ancient rights protecting him, at least so far as they could.

His hand stayed curled around the seven section staff, glad to have someone with a shield in front of him knowing it to be much preferable when it came to fighting in that sort of style.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Ben   
There was a second of hesitation as the Conductor dismounted, his first thought being to urge his horse to follow, keep between Aleksandr and the Conductor as a living shield, or at least to hamper his view. But would she? Already she was showing subtle signs of her distress, forcing her up the hill until finally she bucked him off would be worse than if he dismounted now, though slower for it.

The man with the staff got down, and without another thought, he moved, barking a sharp order to Molly, racing her up to block Aleksandr from Bass. The closer he got, the more she observed the flame, the less obedient she was, threatening to break away without him.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Marietta   
Things were feeling familiar. This was the dream realized, and she was in the path rather than watching him destroy the hunters. Or maybe... they were the hunters. Her stomach knotted with the many paths this could take. But the song had made him falter, kindling hope that they can subdue him with the very thing he wouldn't have thought would have a hand in it.

Her voice wasn't alone either, which aided her blood-given gift in strength. A boon, especially as she was trying to multitask with something she was even less proficient at. Trying to coax his fire under her control, trying to get her own to rise up and meet him half way. His speed by the grace of his stride alone was unnerving her, she was having trouble having faith this would work, especially with the eyes on her from who knows what. Her gaze slipping toward it, trained by the months of dreaming to not look away or end abruptly.

Another verse, her voice strained. It was the last verse of this very short song, chanted to the cadence of a march. "There's a strong inside us, that tells us wrong from right; becomes the song inside us to chase away the night."

From here it would repeat, stronger, if applicable. Her heart was pounding, nerves taut right down to her fingers. 'Work, dammit. Bolster yourself...' she thought. Another gesture at the sword, this time more aggressively.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Aleksandr   
*condenses down Bass and Alek to one post for convenience/ narrative making sense*

Bass had wasted no time in setting himself before Marietta, shield held before him as his one blue eye and one scarred, cataract filled eye met with the blank and molten metal of Aleksandr's. With a howl of fury Aleksandr lunged, and Bass moved like water, under and around the wild swing, his sword flashing out. A long ribbon of inky mass was flayed from Aleksandr's back, cinders spitting out as he roared and flung a fist out with reckless abandon.

Bass lifted his shield, and was staggered almost off his feet as the metal crumpled and the wood splintered in to match sticks, a grunt of pain wrenched from him as he wheeled back, the leather strap in his hand all that stopped the pieces of the shield from falling to the floor.

It had stalled Aleksandr's momentum though, who now raged at Bass, at the sky, at the rest of them as smoke coughed from his mouth in oily black gouts, the heat from the flames licking off his body oppressive, akin to a roaring bonfire. And again Marietta sang, and he staggered, lurched heavily, his fingers hooked and tearing at the black mass that made up the 'skin' of his body as the awful soul-numbing wailing emitted from him again, the crackle of fire punctuating the sounds. "I can't... Stop..." The words were strangled, coughed out between fire and soot and embers, but he hesitated, seeming as if about to snap, uncertain as to which direction it would go, though, hovering on a thin line between one madness or another.

The hound that watched was patient, and saw Marietta watching it - and it knew how this would play out. She had seen it so many times before, and even if she watched it, it did not necessarily matter, if others were not...
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Ben   
Bass had the Prima, just fine. With a quick glance back at the man with the staff - What was that thing?! The eyes staring at them, his gaze locked on them for a second, before he risked it and turned away, urging Molly to the tree, not Aleksandr or Bass.

He'd use her height and bless his old hangouts with his brother, climbing trees was no difficult task to him, though the branches of this one might have proven a challenge otherwise. He had to trust that Bass would protect the Prima, right now, his full focus was grabbing that sword...and hopefully, not getting sniped from the grass as he lunged.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Shi Shen The Eye of Dreams   
Shen was following Bass well behind, he saw the other man going for the Sword, one that seemed to know the man of fire, the Prima had ordered the Sword the target of their attentions and as he closed in he saw his initial plan was not going to work, not with one such as the man Bass was facing. The adaptability of him and the struggle, adding odd might anger and focus him, that was not something he wanted to do, then the dream, lurking in the grass it always ended at the tree that way. Shen broke to follow Ben, it was not something that he thought he would make, a distance to the tree No, too far to reach the man before he neared it, close, but never reaching, that was what the perception he had from their descriptions. What would happen would be beyond his reach, but he stayed alert, Hearing focused behind him, listening for a rustling of the grass as his eyes looked ahead to the tree and to the man running for the sword.

Offline Marietta

  • Prima Figlia
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  • I'll be the guard dog of all of your fever dreams
Re: Death After Death
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2020, 12:02:52 AM »
Posted by Marietta   
A knot in her throat caused her to break the song, the hand that had been pointing to the sword now rubbed at her collar bone, swallowing firmly. Where was Havelock in this... his hound was here, so he had to be nearby?

"Listen, join the words. I want to free you... not hurt you." Aleksandr had spoken, this was the only thing working; if only to buy them time. Risking seconds to lift her gaze from the wolf to the burning, inky man, and then to Shi Shen hoping he'd look her way. There was a lot to watch and take in, though. "What do we do? Where's the virtuoso? His hound!" she mouthed silently to her adviser if he should look her way, her eyes bouncing nervously between him and the wolf until then.

And her uncle, alive and managing. His age and wear-and-tear not interrupting his dance. She hadn't told him explicitly not to kill the man as she wasn't sure if that had to be off the table, but she hoped he was going for busy-ing than destroying.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Aleksandr   
*Once again, post combination*

Bass' arm throbbed angrily at him as he dropped the wrecked shield, glad the shield had absorbed the blow - he did not think he would take such an attack and be much use for anything afterwards. He had heard Marietta singing, but his mind had just paired the singing with all the old battle hymns that Battaglia used - he hadn't realised until now that she was doing something with that song. The skill of the old bards was not something he really had - he could sing, and pretty well at that, but he couldn't sing like she seemed to be doing. There was something more to it, even if he didn't understand it, recognising a little piece of folklore tied to his family for what it was. As such it gave him pause in combination with Ben furiously accosting the tree to grab at something, and Shen's seeming to back up that action. "What is happening? What are we doing...?"

Aleksandr swayed as if being pressed upon by a great weight, fire rising and falling, almost like a heartbeat, or like the rhythm of breathing as he clutched his head. The fire flared as she spoke of freeing him, not hurting him, nearby vegetation wilting away under the intense heat as his body started to regain some of its feral posture.
"Hurt... You revel in my hurt...Plan it...No disdain too small to show..."
His teeth gritted and gnashed, and once again cinders started to shower with every exhalation of smoke. Fire started to flourish along his arms and shoulders again, one hand pulled from his head and flexing murderously.

The hound had moved in the long grass... Again, and again, and again... its presence more felt than seen now, even as the eyes remained ever visible, its presence like an unwanted touch in the dark, when expecting to be alone.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Ben   
"Aleksandr thinks he knows how to stop this, or him specifically. The sword? Marcato?" Azalie's words came to mind as he grabbed it, then let himself half-fall, half slide down the tree, his descent was harsh, a loud clanging as he barely landed it, and with hardly a pause, slapped at Molly's side to order her away.

He almost expected it to burn his hand off, or explode, or some other violent cause of his demise to happen with all the awful things told to him about it, from the Prima and Alek, only heightened by his paranoia. Still, nothing seemed to happen so far, and with a shaky breath, he indulged in superstition.

"Marcato, regard me." He didn't know if speaking to it did anything, having never seen Alek do it. Still, it wouldn't hurt... I'll help. Hadn't he said he'd help take down Alek? The horse out of his way, he raced to defend Bass, and by extention, the Prima.

"I apologize." Whether it was for his delay, for having the audacity to touch the sword, or to Alek, he didn't know.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Shi Shen The Eye of Dreams   
As Ben reached the tree he looked back, coming from behind, watching from the grass was the dream of the hound. Always from behind. He caught the last of the Prima's call, what she was asking and he saw no point in running after the other two.

he was no slouch in combat, but his weapon worked best in large numbers of behind a single shield, more would limit his attacks, and there was a threat, the one that always was the end. He was not one to fight with weapons, when other methods could substitue. Switching the staff to his left hand he let it unfurl as the Prima mouthed to him a warming.

He followed her gaze to where the hound was and projected his voice toward it, calling out. "Harbinger, hear me! I the priest anointed first by Maiden Jupiter, then spoken to by sight of The Skald."

His right hand came up to his forehead where the mark had burned that night, focusing in case it flared ready to block the searing pain should it come. "Marked by the one you foreshadow. Bring him here, for it is not you that belongs here. The Sword and those marked by its saga are present, the tree of old lore too casts it's shadow here even in the dark for storms. Let him come forth, lest the Hawenddyion reveal more than he wishes seen."
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Marietta   
Most things were in control now. Shi Shen working on getting to the root of the problem and with his attention on the wolf, or at least it gave her confidence that despite the feeling of being watched, she was less likely to become dog chow. Ben had recovered the sword. Bass was still ready and capable. He asked for a plan, and still she really didn't have one, instead trying to ensure all potential pawns were accounted for.

The conversation with Aleksandr, while he could think semi-normally, was given more of her attention now. Blubbering slightly as his words both wounded and frustrated her. They've been through this, up the hill and back down it a few times. How was she going to talk sense into him between the verses of a song? Change songs? But this one was working, what if another didn't. It was hard to think, she couldn't multitask like this.

Hopefully he could hold it together. She stopped the song and inhaled. "I do no such thing... you asked to be left alone and I did that, I really tried... insisted no one go after you to respect your wishes... I shouldn't have listened, clearly."  She huffed, then continued, the usual strain on keeping still present in her neck and her fingers and the small of her back. "I came here anyway. Not knowing what I was going to do when I got here... but hearing what... happened." Her lips pressed a thin line. Another breath. Every time she spoke her words seemed to struggle and wave between too fast and too strained. "And I'm... so... angry... with you. When I confessed what I had been hearing you jump on me about not coming clean sooner and yet armed with that knowledge you..."

Her head bowed, wiping her face with her wrist. She had been determined not to fail anything, and by default she seemed to have cursed herself to only do that. "Aleksandr." Words failed her at this point, her vision bouncing with every breath she took. A loopy look toward her uncle, a check on Ben, and Shen-- expecting to be interrupted at any moment. "I did it again. I never wanted to... and I did not expect it to be so hard. If we had not--" she paused there, that was a little too personal, though at least two people present were already suspicious. "No... I do not think our encounter would have made a difference... it would have been hard even if it were only the moment you spilled my champagne."

She gritted her teeth. Surely by now he was weakening without the song aiding the painful suppression. Marietta couldn't risk losing any of the people currently in this field. Each for different and special reasons.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Aleksandr   
He looked at her like she was speaking another language, like all the things he had pointed out had not existed in her mind; that her lousy attitude had been something he had imagined and had the audacity to imply she had been engaging in. The longer she talked though, the more he seemed to slow as she skirted around a lot of things that made no sense to him, because she was so vague about them as to mean absolutely anything. Some of it he understood though - it was easy enough to see she was here, and the oblique reference to something else she was hiding from other people was impossible to miss even if she was once again so vague as to mean anything.

He could hear Shen's voice in the background, but it seemed distant somehow, far away as he watched Marietta, vaguely aware of the fire in her belly, not sure when he had started perceiving it, only noticing now. None of it really cooled his anger though, not until her speech came trembling to the end, woven inbetween her singing, where she referred to the very first night they had met. It seemed forever ago now, but what she admitted even without saying it was easy enough to understand, all the rambling before it unnecessary if she had led with this, and just spoke it plainly. The fire dimmed.

"Since..then...?" The surprise was in his voice even with the raspy tone, his body seeming to sag under its own weight as the flames banked and the metallic orange glow in his eye cooled like campfire embers.

"Since then..." He seemed to trail off and almost seemed like whatever force animating him, had left his corpse there to be a statue, but for his eye on her, watching her intently now, feeling something different there about her. Something about her admission and the way she spoke...
~ ~ ~ ~

Havelock has arrived.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Havelock   
The sky has taken on a vaguely red hue....
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Ben   
Aleksandr slowed, and for a second he felt a desperate hope in his chest, that maybe, somehow, the Prima was fixing him. Maybe they could avoid a true battle after all...

He had stopped his run when he noticed that, taking on a cautious approach, somewhat behind Marietta, where he could be partially seen by Alek, in case his sudden slowness was taken as an attempted attack.

He hoped...but as his gaze flicked up his heart ran cold. So subtle a change, but so, so, foreboding. Perhaps it was only the arrival of the Virtuoso? No. Aleksandr was suffering. He wouldn't want this. In fact, didn't Azalie hint that he wanted to be re-killed? He reached up slowly, pulling down his visor, then tensed before making a savage spring for the corpse. Marcato in hand, he'd attempt not to stab him in the chest, suspecting that wouldn't stop a dead body, but cruelly slice him across the middle, in half, if he was lucky.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Shi Shen The Eye of Dreams   
Shen pulled the fingers of his hand away from the center of his forehead eyes on the hound as he moved a set of paired fingers in front of him, drawing a circle in the air, the red hue to the sky a sign he had gotten something's attention. The hound hunted, those that hid lived, those that fought and those that ran surely perished lest they find shelter.

The finger's finishing their circle ht brought them between the hound and himself. "Virtuoso of the Red sky, of the bloody night, come, Virtuoso of the red blade, of emotion's bleeding come, Virtuoso of the black sap of the Baron land, I call upon your vassal to bring you here." His mind focused on the circle he had made he held the thought of it in his mind, around it the sound of the Prima's words, that power that filled the air in his mind. He had no use of essence as he once had, but hoped the simple workings such as this would work the same here, the Tapestry was different, but he hoped that the songs of the Battaglia would be enough to hold it a moment for the Prima to find her voice, for the Sword to whet itself and for The Skald to play what was stopped when last he prayed to her.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Marietta   
Her eyes left him, looking somewhere in the middle distance toward the ground. "Possibly... or maybe it was finding me in the crowd after." A frown here. Her largest secret being that she had released all of this on the land in the first place. They would all behead her personally and publicly if they knew. Her fingers betraying this thought as she stroked her neck, feeling a far off twinge, a reminder of that same feeling she had felt sparks of here and there, the most recent being the other night at the Gala. She was startled when Ben ran past her suddenly, cursed sword ready to rumble and she realized too late to stop him. "N-NO!"

She wasn't aware of the instruction from an outside source. She only saw one of her soldiers strike down someone she was trying to convince and prove that she wasn't trying to hurt him. She pushed forward hands intending to yank away the weapon from him even though it was a said and done deal. Her eyes wide and glossy as they looked over the nearly unrecognizable wreck of a dead man. "Y-you can heal... burn the edges together... like last time," she muttered, mostly to herself despite how it sounded for him. "WHAT ORDERS HAD YOU?" A broken growl before the natural sign had her heed to the now. "Be alert," she ordered with a crack in her voice. Alek's blind rage wasn't going to be used back against the Virtuoso like in the dreams. His rage capable of disregarding the pain of the arrows... the rest of them there for back up. That couldn't happen now. It was them... and him. She tensed, checking the status of her uncle, Ben, and the summoning Shen and waited for the arrival of the virtuoso physically... or some sort of smiting from someplace they couldn't reach. Half expecting to be surrounded by the phantoms that raided the night.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 12:04:23 AM by Marietta »

Offline Marietta

  • Prima Figlia
  • Battaglia Militancy
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  • Posts: 8
  • I'll be the guard dog of all of your fever dreams
Re: Death After Death
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2020, 12:03:56 AM »
Posted by Aleksandr   
Whatever tranquil moment had been there was removed entirely as Ben slashed at him, the sword seeming to pass right through him for a moment, until the black mass that made up his skin tore like fabric, fraying where the sword had landed. Whatever power held him here started to unwind to even the most cursory of supernatural sensitivity checks. "Thought it would have been Azalie...Thank you, he never would have let me go otherwise. Say hi to Dovosh for me." The black material peeled away slowly, revealing bones that had been brutalised, gnawed by animals of some sort, nothing left by the gnawed and cracked marks in the bone.

"Maybe in crowd, maybe the champagne.. Definitely the wine. You meant that, didn't you? A shame there's not more time for us...." His body seemed to lose its animating spark, sagging to his knees as the blackness peeled away and drifted in to the air like vapour, eventually leaving nothing but bones that clattered to the floor, devoid of life and meaning.

The red sky changed to a deep, bloody red, and a moon like a half lidded eye appeared, in the same hue, casting a grisly light over everything it touched, washing out colour and tone until all that was left twas the deep red. At that same moment, the hound struck and Bass toppled, hacking at the creature with his sword, reaching for a wedge of his broken shield to jam in the creatures mouth when it lunged at him again. Something moved so fast as to be barely visible, flashing through the air with a menacing glint.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Ben   
He braced himself for a counter, only to find the man unraveling. He stayed alert, Marcato brought up yet again to defend himself, chest heaving, eyes wide as he stepped back, the realization of what he had done sinking in, finally. The Prima yelled at him, but he only bore his teeth, not that it was seen behind his helm, and snarled, "None! He wanted this! Azalie - where?" He shut up as Alek continued, addressing Mah now, glancing between them until when he looked again, Alek was little more than a pile of bones.

Bass fell, and with a sharp turn, he tried to go assist, leave the Prima in her grief, only for a sudden force to nearly knock him over. Ka-thunk. A sound he knew well, but had never heard rattling through his own skull. The image of the last deer he shot came to mind, the sound, the second of stillness, realization...the break for the woods. But he wasn't running, something was off with this sound. The sharp metal hadn't crashed through both ribs, tore both lungs, just one, thanks to his twist, and bit into the ground behind him. He sank to the ground, first trying to settle onto a knee, a metal-clad hand scrabbling at the new hole in his armor, blood quickly spilling out the chinks, before a gargled attempt at a breath had him fall over in agony.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Shi Shen The Eye of Dreams   
"Prima.." The warning fell short, the leader not the target, but rather the man that had wielded the sword against Aleksandr, the Prima lost something he ahd worried about when the pair was separated, The man that wielded the sword, likely lost as well unless a healer got to him quickly. The hound on Bass more than a match for him, he focused there, for it would help the most. He brought the seven section staff down then foreward letting it build up motion as it swung back behind him, the next foreward swing crossing in front of his body then comeing down behind his right side. As it was crossing down his right side he stuck out his arm letting it start to wrap around it before withdrawing it letting the motion of the pointed end carry it darting foreward, toward the hound's head, doubting the beast so distracted it could not dodge, but perhaps he could give Bass a moment's respite.

"Prima, he is here." Shen stated, once again the obvious, though hoping to catch the Prima's attention and draw her back to her duty.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Marietta   
"Who even is Aza-- WE WILL TALK LATER." The fact that he had thanked Ben absolved him of her anger, but only for the moment, too surprised he responded at all. The fact sprouting a hint of tears as the gloss thickened and billowed along her lower lids. A hasty nod, her voice low since she was by his side at this point. "Yes, definitely the wine," She might have laughed, gritting her teeth because even now she was refusing to show herself, though anyone here would find that about as effective as a two-way mirror with her on the wrong side."Mulled wine will never be the same. The smell of it will take me back, every time."

Her hands cupped his cheeks with the pads of her fingers rubbing the hairline along any flesh that remained currently. A press of her forehead to his, nose to nose, feeling him fall apart, his body getting heavier and clattering to bits. Each one falling from him broke her. Without a body she wasn't sure how she could get him back. In her mind there was only the one option that he would take, ready and willing or not. "Find me again in the crowd, or maybe its my turn, when you are remade. If I manage to not anger you first... maybe I can know it sooner, say it better. I tried to tell you, but, I would have been cruel to offer myself when I should not." She bit back a groan, she was no better than Amara in the end wasn't she. "I know I needed you. Things felt normal and right despite all of the... yelling, but I think I love you. Not unless I got you titled, remember?"

And when he was gone-gone, she froze there a moment and uttered the scripture of the Oratorio that spoke of their beliefs beyond death, a prayer that it would apply and one that would be said many times by many people before this was through. "The Great Skald attends each final repose and hears out each requiem presented. Speak, the loved and the hated, speak and breathe life back into the legend. And the bard may compose an aria for them, too. The artist may remember their image in a greater pointillism. The writer may record them still. Recycled stories into new reprisals: the lost are found again." Her shoulders heaved, her back shivered, and the only thing distracting her from her own sadness was the fact that things had started. Her uncle had fallen, fighting the large stalking hound. Panic set in, driving her even with the fragment of relief that Shen had stepped in. Both hands up with a glow in the dip of her palms. Still heaving, still angry. Not very powerful, but she can be a nuisance.

She looked for its master as the world went even more drastic. "Call off your hound and lower your bow." A bow that had already let an arrow loose, at Ben. A quick look, a step in the man's direction but then she refocused. Shi Shen or Bass will deal with it as soon as they get free. "Whatever my family has wrought in a past... I have no intentions of paying for it with more blood than this already. Tell me the crime that sours you. Expose us entirely or go back to suffering in silence."
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Havelock   
The dislodging of the hound was more to do with Shen's skill, and physics, than injury - if the beast was bothered by the strike, it gave no exterior expression of such as its head whipped back from the force of momentum applied.

"Suffer in silence..." The voice was cold, blisteringly cold, but contained a wry, disdainful amusement at her words as he stood by the tree as if he had always been there. One arm seemed to sprout in to a long, curved bow, impossible to tell if it was part of him, or just looked that way from the darkness that surrounded him, his one eye narrowing slightly as he spoke again. "Your pet beast masquerading as a man - he suffers. Your ragged, worn out uncle - he suffers too. And it would be a lie if you said you don't, after killing my pawn. I am quite comfortable right now."

The hound peeled away and seemed to turn in to smoke as it vanished in to the grass, presumably to start the whole dance of its approach again when required. Havelock himself stood as if a statue, the long arms of the bow fading away like mist as well and replaced with a smaller, curved object that could have been a curved blade, or all manner of other tool of injury. "You will pay for the Lady of Ysteria. Your line will pay for striking the first blow. Your people will pay for the cold blooded murder of Cecily, whose buildings mark the traitor's empire your squirming ilk have built on the blood of me and mine. Does that satisfy your curiosity?"
~ ~ ~ ~

Ben rolled a 3 out of 4!
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Ben   
The Virtuoso's words were backed - quite annoyingly really - by wet, racking coughs and strained wheezes. He hadn't moved other than to writhe, flipping onto his back, still scratching desperately at the metal that kept him from saving himself. He knew what needed to be done...but was incapable of it. His ability didn't cover lungs.

Airy, cut-off groans announced his final move, possibly. He could hardly raise his sword arm, Marcato quickly taken into grip again, but yet, with the last of his strength, he pushed it over his chest, took it in his other hand, and loosely tossed it. It landed just shy of two meters in the Prima's direction, a largely pointless move, but the dizziness and blackness overtaking his vision wasn't lending to clear thought.

His arm dropped, and he fell entirely still but for his sabotaged breaths and quaking in shock, bleeding him dry.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Shi Shen The Eye of Dreams   
Shen heard the words spoken, The first spoken, then a place, he noted that as well, waiting there where the hound had come in her vision, he listened for Bass, to hear what he was doing. Shen knew nothing about how to treat a wound such as the one Ben had, in a practical sense anyway, there was some knowledge of the basics, but this was well beyond that. He had seen even a wound strike did little more than nudge it aside, still that was the dream, turning to find it there, He would assure that did not happen so long as there was nothing he needs do more to safeguard her.

"A world stolen. I have spoken to those that have had such happen. Some as you chose death, blood and violence, others chose once again unity. I have seen those that chose death sealed away again. The Prima knows her duty and will not let pain turn her from it." He would wait to see what the Prima's next action held before moving further, his thoughts seeing something in the moment, beginning under his breath, "Once there was a maiden in pain,"

Offline Marietta

  • Prima Figlia
  • Battaglia Militancy
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  • Posts: 8
  • I'll be the guard dog of all of your fever dreams
Re: Death After Death
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2020, 12:14:19 AM »
Posted by Marietta   
With the hound and bow put away she lowered her hands and stood firm, not daring to look behind her to know whether anyone was alive or dead. Her stance was that of someone ready to fight, her feet just under a shoulder width apart and slightly askew to give her a more natural appearance. Everything he said cemented some things, opened her eyes to others. More things to digest under pressure.

"We did not. I set her free and she killed many on her way to my home, where she killed MY family. SHE struck the first blow." Marietta snapped back with very little decorum. This was personal by far at this point. "...Cold blooded murder? Hadn't she converted as well, becoming a danger to the very city she built?" Then a pause before she added, firmly: "Still, my people are centuries removed from the ones who did that."

It brought up questions. Did this mean Meizarae was dead? They won? For once this was a victory she wanted to take back. She considered bargaining tools at her disposal. He wanted her line to pay for it all, which could mean years of suffering or a sudden death. She could offer him her womb, ensuring her line would end with no heirs... and she could live and work on other things. Would that even be worth offering though? The gears kept turning, grinding at speeds that slowly built a foundation for a headache.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Havelock   
"Maybe she did, but then that is the work of the Skald, twisting a sweet, simple herbalist in to a cruel being. Not that she is half as cruel as your murderous, treasonous ancestor and his ilk. Murder in the name of dynasty and lies. Berenice was a fool, but not so much as to deserve being stabbed in the back - funny that she died before this great 'mass turning' of the virtuosos was even knowledge to the public. Cecily was one of the best among us, and they burned her to death... I could smell it, taste it as she cooked, then burned... Then charred. I heard her scream, and for that, I will end you all." The tone was icy in a way that was impossible to convey normally, dispassionate when it was not that glacial tone to the point of sounding like he was talking to an object, a meaningless thing. "While you might be centuries removed, I am not, and I will see that you enjoy the fruits of your ancestor's work. I am not a tragic herbalist, a noncombatant. And you merely stalled the Lady from continuing her work. Fixing her seems beyond hope now, but I can direct her, at least, you have willingly put the ligature around your neck, all I have to do now is tighten it."
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Bass   
Where he had been jumped, and there was no armour on his body, he had been raked pretty badly, torn clothing and openly bleeding wounds. He was not so bad as to not be able to stand or move, but he was certainly far from fresh for a fight at this point. He pulled himself to his feet and gripped his sword as he tried to process all these differing pieces of information.

Strangely, her affection for the man that they had just now been party to murder of, was the one that was sticking in his mind the most, and he had to push past it to make sense of things. The allegations of the virtuosos being the defending party rather than the aggressors was hard to take, even if he was lying, he had been there, had lived all these years, he had more credence than it was comfortable to admit. Bass understood conflict, and if he was going to remove something like the maestro's he could see the sense in the way it was done. "Prima... We are out in the open, Ben is down, dying... We cannot stay here to argue who struck who first..."

The hounding... if it came now, that was it, the crown and all its immediate supporting members dead at a stroke. It would be an easy win...
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Shi Shen The Eye of Dreams   
"Prima, I have seen this before, you will not talk him out of his opinions, but the songs have been called for a reason, those that sung the first below the ground, this second sought his end from a few." His thoughts moves to the songs, considering any that spoke of fire in a good way, and he would begin to sing, his voice nothing special, not bad, technically on pitch, but little beyond that.

~ ~ ~ ~
Posted by Marietta   
She still refused to look away, treating him like the dog. But she listened to the advice and notice of the ones behind her. "Then we will strike a treaty, a bargain. Opinions take longer than anything we can do in this moment." She was confident that Havelock's hounding would be at bay until he felt he had enough of this, but it would be best that the wounded got a head start away. Her attention to the sword on the ground, kneeling to pick it up, slowly.. and in a manner that was more presenting than brandishing.

"Take yourself and Ben away from here, Bass. I'll be here with Shen until we absolutely must." She noted the singing and a little unsure what Shi Shen meant in his explanation, and considered more of what Havelock had told them. All the information they sought, readily given. It was a dream... if only they could get him on their side again, a Maestro to provide knowledge in combating any future awakenings. "Is all you want the end of the Arturos?"
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Havelock   
"While it would be gratifying, that is merely an alternative to what I want. I want Cecily not burned to death, which of course, is pointless now, and why you will suffer. The Lady of Ysteria is far from dead, but inert right where she was left, in a different form at least. I want her restored... Truly restored. Perhaps even one such as you can appreciate that sentiment." There was a slight thoughtful tone to his voice on that last point, but the ice never left his manner of speaking. Of course, there were other things, but he knew how this played out better than all of them, knew the hand that guided all of this did not care for their wants or needs beyond how entertaining they were. The thing he had been holding in his hand for some time now took on a more dense shape as the dark misty mass clarified itself in to the shape of a hunting horn.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Bass   
He wasn't about to leave her, but he did go to check on Ben, kneeling down next to him and seeing the awful wound with the equally awful twisted arrow that stuck from his chest. Was this something they could help with? It would be folly to move him, but folly to stay too. "I won't leave, and I cannot leave with him like this - I cannot carry him alone. He would die before we got out of the fields. We all need to leave before none of us leave..."
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Shi Shen The Eye of Dreams   
Shen stopped singing giving a frown, then a sigh. "Bass is right, your strategy here will not accomplish anything we should go now before things get worse, Running with a body is not something that I should like to do considering the hounding coming as often as it is."
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Marietta   
"Hmph... Fine, we leave." The princess was startled in a way. Shi Shen had stopped singing and agreed to a retreat. How could they be sure they would get him here again? She backed, sword in hand. The girl had been in a prime position to try and strike him, but the sword was weighted more suitably for someone less delicate than her. It was weighty, moreso with her current grief she was keeping tight and stuffed down. "She's not dead... then what we've learned we can try. Restoring her? Was that an option, is it an option?"

Could they restore Havelock? Her haughty confidence was at maximum: "Stay your hand, see what comes of it."

Of course, he could just opt to kill them all. The horn had gone mostly unnoticed by her until now, a sign that he was ready to call them for the night. The red sky, she wondered, already a set up. Did the rest of the villagers see it? Were they going to get access anywhere with the sign so clear?

 "Do we need anything?" She asked of both conscious men.Three mounts to race with, but bouncing around wouldn't be good for the wounded. Her grip tightened on the sword, intending on taking it with her. In a way it was all she had of him now.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Havelock   
"Indeed - were she dead, I would have peeled open your little houses and destroyed your civilisation over night." He regarded her and her baffling confidence, or perhaps just arrogance, as she asked these questions, but his mind turned it over - that would be entertaining, surely. It was possible to game the Skald, in the short term at least, he had done it with the sword. Maybe this was stupid enough to be indulged. "Perhaps. Perhaps not. She deserves a life more than any of you, so maybe she will be granted one. Go then. I know where she is, and every inch of her being - if she perishes, your world dies that night and the tree will have its fill before you join them."
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Bass   
Shen was on the bandwagon too, now, so he beckoned to the man to come help him with Ben, however they might achieve that. Beyond carrying him and hoping Bass didn't know what else they could do though. "Help me work out if we can move him.... Come Prima, we are beyond fortunate, let's not waste it. We will have to carry him, so you will need to lead the mounts.."

But also make sure you are on yours, so you can flee if this changes, he thought, but didn't say aloud in case it encouraged the being to indulge the idea. He didn't understand what any of this meant - they were going to help the other virtuoso now? All he cared about what keeping Marietta safe right now, so if they had to run away, making weird deals as they went, he would accept it for another day for her to wake up unharmed.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Ben   
He was fighting in his own quiet way, struggling to keep conscious, assuming the blurry slats of red in his face was his reward. Or maybe he wasn't awake for half of those, and his fading mind only thought so, clinging to one small goal at a time.  He didn't know how long he had been there by this point. Not that it mattered. The panic his body was going through left no energy for quick thinking, not enough rushing in his head to allow anything but slow, mundane thoughts. He was cold, terribly so, fingertips on the way to blue. Maybe he wouldn't have shorn his whole pelt like that. His limited vision was smudgy; he knew he should have had breakfast.

His tune would change of course, as soon as the first attempt to move him was made. He'd grasp weakly at whoever it was, a wheezed excuse for a growl crammed over foreign words. Something akin to Hell on your mother, though he was cut off by his vocalizations of pain.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Shi Shen The Eye of Dreams   
He was not really on the bandwagon, but the Prima seemed to focused on distractions, less on the big picture, it was something that he had hoped would have proceeded differently, the songs the battaglia clearly had a power, especially when sung by her, but she seemed to want to banter instead, that was a loosing proposition here for the man was consumed by hate and driven to revenge.  Perhaps they would not have worked, he looked to Bass older and worn from the fight, Shen took up a position behind Ben, ready to take the top half of his body as Bass directed, not sure how to do so without further injuring him. His own eyes distant in thought.
~ ~ ~ ~

Posted by Marietta   
The stubborn girl had hit her capacity, though she had not quite started shaking and trembling just yet. In that respect she was actually doing very well; keeping Havelock talking and just piqued enough that he hadn't blown the horn in his hand. She might have actually won them something on her own, made the right decision on her own. Though how perfectly would be yet to be seen as she seemed to have signed them up onto another wild goose chase. At least this with more direction and focus. They also had far more information to play with than before. The braid behind her throne, the very first banner. The cause?

"Secundo... what about you?" He shouldn't be lifting at all, but as Shi Shen maneuvered to the front she figured the same, the least heavy end at least. "Can we not just... prop him in the saddle?"

Bass instructed her to handle the mounts, so she went for the horse first, then her raptor, and lastly to Bass' in order to slide the blade into whatever ring or loop she could figure it into. She would let the men guide ahead, providing some buffer and keeping herself of the same pace.

"We won't make her kindling." Marietta noted aloud, if only to ensure Havelock that she had heard what he said. The pressure was on, but she was already finding herself with little to lose. She was silent from then on, falling into herself the closer to town, talking only when spoken to.

END