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Played by Offline Sonneillon [PM] Posts: 12 — Threads: 4
Signos: 335
Night Court Entertainer
Male [He/Him/His] // 7 [Year 496 Fall] // 14.2 hh // Hth: 13 — Atk: 7 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: N/A
#1

  
there are bullet holes where my compassion used to be
Only is standing inside of a cave looking up. 


He is fifty miles outside of any town, hiding from the morning sun which rises valiantly over the shoulders of a distant horizon.  It is almost beautiful, almost, but he is trying to understand something else entirely.  He would go out to greet the warm sun and bask his snakeskin underneath it, but logic and reason hold him back.  Paranoia of the unknown makes him stay here.  Right here  Staring up at stalactmites and wondering if older times are catching up to him.   Very quietly, and to himself, he analyzes his pros and cons before making a decision.


What he knows is that he is in Solterra, deep, deep, deep, inside of a canyon.  

What he doesn't know is how he got here -- or how long it took him.  

Did anybody see him?  Does he know someone here?  Does Stephen?

Only is looking up at the limestone stalactmites and wondering if this is a place that Stephen likes to hide.  He has seen the soft bed, the small collections of baubles and trinkets carefully tucked into, stacked, or even hidden in crevices of the stony walls.  A small cache of things, perhaps his things, but he has already spent the greater portion of the night touching them and hoping for pneumonic memory to unlock another secret.  Stephen's secret.


I live in Denocte now, this cannot possibly be m-- Me?  Oh --


Oh! -- but it is.  All of this certainly is Stephen's.  The poisons.  The traps. The totems.  Definitely Stephen's.


But how?


Stephen must be getting stronger to cut Only out of his rituals and bad habits, stronger yet to take control without Only even realizing it.  Here in the now, Only wonders 'when' he made the decision to go West.  How long does he intend to stay?  Who is he in touch with?  What is Stephen up to?  


Footsteps echo - echoing down the sides of the wall, bouncing around until Only loses his edge and moves out to meet whoever it is that might be coming.  They don't need to see this 'nest' that Only woke up in.  They don't need to know that an outsider is here and that that outsider has secrets that not even Only is privileged to.  


He tilts his pointed black ears forward, green eyes gray in the din of the cave as they spy a thin, wiry figure moving along.  The warmth is piling in, it feels good on his chilled scales and absorbs quickly.  His horn, beautiful and sharp and viscious looking gleams like a weapon (little does he know that it truly is, was, and will be again) -- he has to duck his head down low because raking the tip across stone is the worst feeling ever.


"Oi, what are you snooping around here for?  Go away."  Only's attempts to be unfriendly fail, he's so easy on the eyes that it is difficult to assume that he means any harm.  Sun hits him, he is shiny and spent like an old coin, the awkward look on his face suggests that he might not be the best at chasing anyone off.  The luscious golden hair spilling down to his knees soften him. Nothing about him seems off, not even the scar on his face marking him a theif in Novus stands out when he turns his right eye onto her -- that is his good eye.  Stephen has all the rights to the left eye as far as visual acuity goes.


You could always kill it.  Bury it here.  No one would even know - even you could get away with it.


'It', Stephen says, Only's lip curls in disgust at his own thoughts which aren't really his anyway, but try explaining that to a stranger...


Immediately Only does what he does best, he apologizes,


"I'm so sorry, I just woke up.  I -- eye --"  Her third eye makes him stutter stupidly, he has only ever seen one other horse like that and that one got lost in the Rift.  "Eye just,"  nothing can help him finish the sentence.  Carion wheel overhead, their shadows pinpricks in the red hardpacked earth beneath her feet.  Only, that hapless fool, that dumb idiot, can think of nothing to say except for the obvious.


"I'm just passing through -- "  Or is he?  He is, but is Stephen?


He gets a stranger idea then,  but he will wait for that.


He will wait.




O N L Y
and there is violence in my heart


 

@Apolonia :  I suck at openers but I'll make sure you suffer with my reply.   <3





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Played by Offline RB [PM] Posts: 57 — Threads: 8
Signos: 990
Day Court Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 2 [Year 502 Spring] // 15.1 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 21 // Active Magic: Perception Manipulation // Bonded: N/A
#2



made in the projects
slave to my progress



She picks her way across the canyon with all the ease of a snake.

There is no part of Solterra she has not yet explored. Elatus is no exception - young as she is, O is intimate with the sand and the rocks and the tough, scrubby brush as much as she is with the inside of her mother’s tower. It is winter, but not cold. Still the sun leers over Solterra with bright teeth and a brighter stare, turning red to gold and gold to white and splicing little shards of light to sparkle in Apolonia’s gaze like so many stars. It is difficult to see against so much glare; she ducks her head and shakes her mane over her eyes to filter it more, with little avail. 

No matter. A cactus wren, swathed in pale gold and deep, cool brown, goes darting past her shoulder and turns to dive down into the canyons with a little twitter of of a dare, sharp and sweet as any song.

O takes off after it.

Nimble and fearless, she leaps down the first ledge, lands with a thump, and without a moment’s pause goes tearing along the edges of the canyon, following the bird’s flight path. Now it is twirling and dipping in the air, as if to tease her; she snorts, the noise of derision cut early by her shortness of breath, and goes plunging after the wren with a renewed vigor. Her hooves crack against the striated rock. Its drumbeat matches the pounding of her heart against her chest and the blood pulsing in her ears and, oh, she is alive, running just fast enough to prove it - 

She thinks of her father, and unwittingly slows.

Her heart twists in pain a little, physically tenuous for the way it wrenches her of her confidence. If only here were time to grieve - but no, her home is on fire, and her mother, too - and even as she slows to a crawl at the bottom of the canyon, swallowed now by the obelisks of the surrounding walls, what little part of her wants to cry is distracted by the snake-like figure emerging from the dark of a nearby cave. She raises her head indignantly, and though she continues toward him, it is not without a great measure of suspicion and a practiced twirl of the axe at her side. 

It’s not snooping if I live here, O responds resentfully. She comes to an abrupt stop and looks him over like she would a new weapon, a piece of clothing up for sale - something that warrants careful consideration of worthiness. There is nothing special about him, she thinks, almost mournfully, but for the phosphoresce of his skin dialed into little scales. 

And the way he cannot seem to recover from the sight of her eye.

Often she forgets about it. It is no more to her than a birthmark, or a freckle; beyond that, it is so often hidden by her hair that no one generally notices, but it is now that she realizes her run has split her forelock and revealed the bright curve of her eye. She cannot help but sneer at him a little, both disappointed and unsurprised at his reaction. I’m just passing through -

O glances somewhat boredly at the cave behind him, noting the trinkets, the feathers, the tiny temples of bones. Really, she says, though it is not quite a question. Her voice is even and unconcerned. It seems like you have a nice little camp set up.




@Only | "speech" | notes: <3
rallidae | art





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Played by Offline Sonneillon [PM] Posts: 12 — Threads: 4
Signos: 335
Night Court Entertainer
Male [He/Him/His] // 7 [Year 496 Fall] // 14.2 hh // Hth: 13 — Atk: 7 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: N/A
#3

  
polarized, divisive drowning in strife
Suddenly a memory of meeting Florentine when she was a kid predawns any other thought(s) that come up when the girl starts her way up to the discovered encampment.  Shit, shit, shit, Only kicks a horse skull back as hard as he can and it scuttles loudly (not his intention) into a pile of what looks to be fur and fabric scraps.  One quick glance behind him tells him all he needs to see, the skull is obscured enough, but the rest of the stuff...

Apolonia has already spied most of it in her approach.  What has he got to say for himself?  The man tosses the blonde locks out of his face and steps out further to see what he is up against.  Not much.  A pipsqueak with a weapon, everyone seems to be packing heat these days.  Only feels the desert wind sing through the blade on his head as if its sharp edge cuts the very molecules that weave air together, apart.

"It does, doesn't it." Also not a question.  He feigns concern, nods with interest as he glances back at the piles himself.  Overall he seems confident, calm, collected despite all the screws rattling around between his ears.  Stephen is back there, searching for something to hold onto so he can crawl his way out.   He doesn't give her time to carry on herself, he muscles his way through her brilliant observation.  "I am actually curious to know who has been living here too." 

Not a complete lie. 

"I was searching the things, I thought I might know who it belonged to -- I've seen some of this before, not here, but in Tinea of all places."   The feathers in his hair also came from Tinea and matched the skull, the strange horned mask, the furs, the beads, the bones...

The teeth tangled in his hair rustle like rattlesnakes underneath a bed of flaxen hair, only to reveal themselves with one gusty breeze that whips through unexpectedly.  They are long, old, but fresh.

Feathers scatter then eddy about in the wind caught up in the shelter, they scurry up, over, then out, catching around the pair's feet before being taken by the sighing valley-ways.  Only watches them go until he cannot see them anymore.  It only takes seconds before his golden green eyes focus on the young girl again.  Clarity finds him.  He changes his motives on the dime, he has to.  It is survival.


"You around here often?  I take it you haven't seen the one who might live here?"   He tries to walk her observation right out of the canyon.  Walk it into the sun where it should burn and bubble and turn into ash.  He would rather she think someone else entirely lives here.  It is not hard for him to pretend that he did not just wake up in the belly of the shallow cave. 


"Given the recent developments, I'm sure whoever is hiding here might want to keep it a secret.  Why don't you go -- better yet, why don't we go."  At once Only is moving past her, eyes hopeful as they look far ahead of him.  "Come on, I don't know if I even want to meet the man who lives here."  He calls back, the irony of his words eat him alive from the inside out. 



O N L Y
technically I still exist, but not in my mind


 

@Apolonia    Liar liar pants on fire





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Played by Offline RB [PM] Posts: 57 — Threads: 8
Signos: 990
Day Court Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 2 [Year 502 Spring] // 15.1 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 21 // Active Magic: Perception Manipulation // Bonded: N/A
#4



made in the projects
slave to my progress



O sniffs casually as she observes the contents of the cave. Feathers splintered and bleached by too much time in the sun, rattling small bones stacked in endless latices, scraps of dark, bloody skin and fur. It is… messy. That is what bothers her most. That whoever did this (and she is still not convinced it isn’t the man that stands in front of her) is a criminal of the worst kind - one that does not really care whether he is caught.

To her it is disgusting. O and her family, though brutish, are clean. She would never leave so much evidence behind.

From Tinea, he says of his necklaced teeth and feathers, and she watches him through narrowed eyes. She does not know enough about Tinea to say otherwise; it’s rare that she leaves the Day Court, much less wanders to empty Terrastella. But she’s heard enough whispered stories and read enough smudged scrolls to recognize that when he says Tinea he means Ilati, those strange swamp warlocks who beat drums in the night-jungle and thirst for blood. Or bones. Or something. 

They too are the kind of murderers she hates more than the usual - if it were her, there would be no one left to tell stories about it.

Not until now, she says, and raises her gaze at him in a kind of challenge. Her slender legs are firm, and she stands stubbornly still as he walks past her, the only movement a slow turn of her head following his path as he brushes past her and tries to pull her away: she only watches, with hot, sharp eyes and pulls her shoulders back. For a moment she debates following - 

But her gaze catches on the almost-frantic look in his eyes as he sweeps forward, and then her curiosity ratchets even higher.

O takes a slow step back toward the cave. She does not quite care if he follows or not, but some part of her, mischievous as it is evil, wants to know just how much she can scare him - a little girl against a psychotic man. That’s alright, she says wryly. I’ll look. You can go.




@Only | "speech" | notes: <3
rallidae | art





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Played by Offline Sonneillon [PM] Posts: 12 — Threads: 4
Signos: 335
Night Court Entertainer
Male [He/Him/His] // 7 [Year 496 Fall] // 14.2 hh // Hth: 13 — Atk: 7 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: N/A
#5

  
there are bullet holes where my compassion used to be



Step out of this cave and I'll make sure Florentine doesn't get to eat cake for her birthday.

Only has seen too many threats of Stephen's come to fruition to stop the moment he hears that cold, razor sharp voice interrupt his own thoughts.  Apolonia is not afraid, she is not passive either, gaging by the large axe she spins so easily at her side -- she is confident, actually.  "Ah,"  a genuine smirk wrings the fretful frown out, Only seems more relaxed with a smile, something that can rarely be associated to him.

"I am always up for a bit of a scrimmage."  He says against the wind - which takes his words and relays them back to her as it echoes back from the shell of the cave.  "Not with you, of course."  Oh, but why not? Stephen asks.  Only slams the door to the basement and turns back to her, nonplussed, and calm.  Time to switch gears, she has called his bluff and he doesn't need her to confirm it.  It might make him angry to hear it outside of his own head anyway.  The man rolls his midnight black shoulders and heads back towards the encampment slowly, casually.

"You got me, I am camping here but I got jumped hiking in.  That's all of their stuff."  A lie. Only is scared.  Scared that she'll tell on him, that she'll go home and tell someone about an outsider having come in.  If someone comes, Stephen will get mad.

If Stephen gets mad.
Someone will die.
Someone that Only cares too much for.
Someone he will lie, beg, cheat, and steal for -- even kill.

His heart tic-tick-ticks, qui-quick-quickly, but the lies are flowing smoothly now, like molten silver into its cast. 

"I have only just returned to Novus after my voyage at sea, I left after my incarceration."  True.

"I was just so eager to see all of Solterra, the dunes, the oasis, and this canyon was my first stop.  I have always hoped I could find my place in the desert." He means that, the gutter rat truly does by the way hope sparkles like foamy, frothing cyanide in his gold-green eyes.  

Or does he? 

The wind blows more feathers up, around, out, over .. gone.  

A shift of blond hair passes over those same eyes and reveals a different hand entirely,

a singular irregularity,

not quite insincerity, but neither serendipity the way he weaves his words together.  It is clear, now, that he has an agenda here regardless of what he has told her.  "Word on the wind has it that my queen is trapped here.  Isra?  Do you know her?  I do not." 

Mostly true. 

Only has forgotten about the third eye, the axe, the smarmy look on the girl's face -- all he can do is weave a web thick enough to black out Stephen's intentions.  Even if Only does not know Stephen's plan, it is Stephen who warns like a crow that Apolonia might.  Weirdly, he hears one (or thinks he hears one) cawing off in the distance.  His blood chills.

Do something to distract her, anything.  Only tells himself.

"Why an axe?"  Only asks then, his eyes sliding down the weapon with silent intrigue.  If there is anything both Stephen and Only can agree on, it is the appreciation of a finely edged blade.


O N L Y
and there is violence in my heart


 

@Apolonia





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Played by Offline RB [PM] Posts: 57 — Threads: 8
Signos: 990
Day Court Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 2 [Year 502 Spring] // 15.1 hh // Hth: 10 — Atk: 10 — Exp: 21 // Active Magic: Perception Manipulation // Bonded: N/A
#6



made in the projects
slave to my progress



Of course he’s lying! She can smell it in his voice, the way it trembles in the fine, cool air. How his lip twitches just a little as he talks. She smiles back at him, feline and easy. O has never been a good girl but she is not a liar. There is power, always, in keeping your cards on top of the table — it shows that you have nothing to fear.

He talks too much. Far too much. It’s hard to tell whether this is his modus operandi or an unfortunate side effect of keeping whatever secret he has under perfect lock and key. Either way she is not impressed by it; O was raised around people of few words, people who relied more on power than on praying, and it’s almost grating to hear so much at once. She flicks an ear at him but manages to bite her evil tongue. 

“The desert welcomes those who deserve it,” O remarks with perfect casualty as she peeks her head into the darkness of the cave. Even up close it’s hard to ascertain the origins of the feathers and the bones — between Solterran creatures there is not much of a difference in composition, built as every one of them is to withstand the heat and the wind and the sun. O herself is nearly the same, sculpted from Solterra itself. She has the light bones of the birds, the hard gold skin of the lizards, the sooty points and hair of the desert cats.

This man does not. 

She lets out a series of hums looking over the contents of the cave. “You do not know her,  and yet she is your queen?” A little snort erupts from her. “That seems — irregular,” and the bite in her tone is almost humor but not quite.

A crow sounds off in the distance. It is loud enough and sudden enough to shock Apolonia from her perfect focus; she startles just a little, jerking her narrow head back from the pit of the cave, and turns over her shoulder to face Only again, mismatched blue eyes meeting green. Her gaze remains on his stubbornly. Why an axe? he asks, and then she really smiles, wide and perfectly sharp, as if it is a compliment and not a question.

“It came to me,” she says, and there is nothing else to it.




@Only | "speech" | notes: <3
rallidae | art





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