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Played by Offline Raeym. [PM] Posts: 20 — Threads: 6
Signos: 1,245
Night Court Soldier
Male [he/him/his] // 3 [Year 500 Winter] // 16.3 hh // Hth: 8 — Atk: 12 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: Umbrakinesis // Bonded:
#1

Tonight, the world is black. It is cast-iron cold, bitter and silent for all but the winds that carry on in the distance – or were they the howling of a beast, uncertain – residence for the unsettling air that rises and falls like the breaths of god. The shadow the mountains fall; valleys deepen their rut, the earth swallows everything into a vat of darkness that proceeds on – on – on into nothing. The world is succumbed to a moonless sky. It is hapless, forbidden, and all around is the magnetism that a monster may like, that electricity that runs along your spine and prickles your skin with a hundred bites, that sends tremors through your bones and makes you think that maybe – just maybe, the ground is alive beneath you. And it is hungry.

It is a nightmarescape made of jeering teeth, clawing needles, the ripples beneath your feet that you feel just faintly in your gut. As the sun drowns beneath the rising backdrop, it drags all niceties with it – all fragrance of violets, lavender, flesh and leather. What rises is a curious nothing that burns in your nose. You wait.

Silence so thick you can hear your heartbeat. Is it yours?
You hope so.

Because if it's not, you can see the possibilities are endless in this fresh new hell – there is nothing for miles but quivering brush, flat land that offers no shade or mercy. The shadows that pass over head are ambiguous, and large, you think, so large that you may not care to discover their nature of being. There is nothing here that speaks to you of humbleness or anything pleasant, even if the night breeze against your flesh is a kind touch compared to the scorching daylight you witnessed before. There are other things, things you haven't seen, things you aren't prepared for.

And how the want starts in you like thunder that rolls beneath the veil of your flesh and rises, unbidden, behind your teeth. The terror is nameless and deep, and it welcomes you as if you have always belonged. As the desert night grins at you, you grin widely back at it. And your mouth is not a boy's – it is not flush with promise, sweetness, and grins full of sunshine. It is full of treachery, a forked-tongued thirst, fanged and possessed with all the wrath of a stunted god. Something in you moves, and you move with it.

As Erasmus approached the deep split in the vast plate of desert sand, he watched the starlight unfurl from behind the web of shadows, each star a pin drop that burns brightly with every birth. They dot one by one, then by threes, then by hundreds, until the night is full of galaxic current, heady and deep as any sea. He thinks he may drown if he dotes on it too long, and returns his gaze to the canyon. Something in its dismal reaches calls out to him, and he finds comfort in its peril. It winds down, down, and he is unsure if the depth ever truly ends – but he suspects that he can see the ridge of a bone-white rib jutted from one of its shelves, and he is intrigued.

But he isn't here to spectate the wonders of a geographical beauty. He is here for answers, and to follow the distant pulsings of a war drum that has echoed since he left the gates of the Night Court. For Raum, Raum, Raum, the wanted poster slips past in his mind, tattered edges fluttering wildly in the breeze, its illustration depicting one monstrous deviation of equine flesh - quicksilver and studded blue - and he struggles to find a deep-seated hatred for a villain as so many have done before. What had he done, after all, but threatened a queen, and taken the throne of another? Such ambitions he could only admire, this not-prince of the wilds. All was fair in war. 

He wondered what that sovereign would think if she knew the things he had been required to do, even as a babe, and those things that he had done that were not required. Those simple pleasures that trespassed beyond morality. He regretted nothing. Would she still pity him then, this boy who found satisfaction in war? Would she have turned him away from the courts? After all, he posed no threat. He did not care for a throne or a crown, (or does he?) not for her blood or the delectable sound that rang in his ears, when a bone is snapped and crumbled to pieces. After all, she had a dragon. There was no resident disposition, even entangled in his pride, that spirited him with the gall (and stupidity) to wave a challenge in the shadow of a dragon.

He supposed he liked her, if only slightly, and the way she turns the floor beneath her to gold, and to obsidian, and to turquoise, and to rubies, like there was a wealth in her that could never be touched. The way her shadows danced behind the valiance in her eyes, grinning and laughing at her every softness with a promise that they would bubble to the surface if she ever forgot. The way, when she allowed those shadows to rise, the air around her seemed tight and wicked, and the walls seemed to breathe with a life that extended beyond herself. Or did they hum? Did they tremble?

Consumed in his thoughts, he hadn't realized that he was treading the paths that led through the canyon. Some were thin, almost too thin, some seemed to lead too far and steep, and some seemed to end abruptly. It was like a maze of trails with no discernible outcome, winding roads that twisted and turned and tangled and disappeared into the dark. The red rock was paled in the starlight, and all seemed to blend in ways that only the sliver of shadows revealed each edge. If some poor sod had tried to run through by fear or pure recklessness, one could only imagine how quickly he would be met with an end. This in mind, Erasmus chose his steps wisely – slipping from time to time, on a skittering rock that ricocheted forever down the crevice, and catching his breath as his sight pulsed after the swallowing dark.  







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Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 241 — Threads: 34
Signos: 0
Day Court Outcast
Male [He/Him/His] // 11 [Year 493 Spring] // 15.3 hh // Hth: 27 — Atk: 33 — Exp: 59 // Active Magic: Telepathy // Bonded: N/A
#2

It did not seem an unusual night. 

But he was not himself lately, or rather himself was in a constant state of change, and the details he would have normally paid close attention to passed unnoticed: the vastness of the sky and the hungry pulse of the night air and how the starlight kissed the canyon walls, where they folded into shadow, and looked like a thirsty knife. 

The strange thing is that he did not feel the loss of these details which once seemed as essential as air. (How many times have you longed for that wide open sky, the unintelligible caress of the moonlight?) Their absence did not compare at all to the absence of the living. His queen, who was in a hundred ways more than a queen to him, was gone and the world had yet to reorient itself, although really it never would-- he would have to shift his perspective, and with enough time the strange would begin to seem normal.

But he is a stubborn creature, and terribly self-indulgent when it comes to pain, and he does not want a change of perspective. He wants his friend back, his guide, his partner. It does not matter that all the wanting in the world will get him nothing, for grief brings him to a place where there is no logic, just an endless shade of silver-blue. To distract himself he is thinking of Isra and what she's doing now (he figures someone else is falling in love with her, right at this very moment) and feeling torn between relief and agony at the knowledge of how far she is when the sound of steps brings the world back into focus.

The sun has been gone for hours now, and the heat from the canyon walls has long since simmered away into the cool night air. Eik stays still where he is, body coiled in anticipation, and when the stranger rounds the turn their eyes meet like fists.

There is no silence in the world anymore, not for those with ears to listen. The not-silence hangs for a moment, and then it is gone- "Odd time for a stroll." Where the starlight bounces off sandstone and hits his face, it conveys no expression other than fatigue. "The capital's that way." He gestures with a flick of his nose towards the direction the other man came from.

E I K
grief can be a kind of music
that knows how to rise like the sea


@Erasmus <3





Time makes fools of us all
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Played by Offline Raeym. [PM] Posts: 20 — Threads: 6
Signos: 1,245
Night Court Soldier
Male [he/him/his] // 3 [Year 500 Winter] // 16.3 hh // Hth: 8 — Atk: 12 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: Umbrakinesis // Bonded:
#3

the consumption of his thoughts are not enough to bewilder him against necessary instinct – and it isn't long before his nerves are screeching against the sight of -quicksilver, a ghost! is he not?- a pale man, not quite silver, but suspect. erasmus searches face in the swift seconds that linger like breathy silence between them, a loitering awkwardness that threatens to become intensity if allowed to persist. yet those eyes were not the same blue. those features were not the same angles. and his expression – “odd time for a stroll.” one ear flicked forward, another flicked back. the shadow draws across his brow, but in the faint starlight and the wolf's talent for nightseeing, he sees an expression that is something other than monstrous. it is tired, sunbeat, a few scattered scars finding place along the sharp bones of his cheeks. a more observatory glance, and he admires the tapestry of further scarring, but keeps himself from looking too long. he regards the man in silence. “the capital's that way.” his nose is thrown past erasmus, and he narrows his eyes before he turns slightly, keeping the stranger in his peripheral.

there is no way. though he has never stepped foot into the day territory, he had studied a map thoroughly before he had set out. he knew better than to traverse a desert scape with nary a mind to where he was going, in such a ruthless biome that offered death at every mistake. no. he was headed north. perhaps he was pointed northeast now, but he was certain of it. wasn't he? raum was a shapeshifter. was he not? perhaps he smelled denocte on the boy's flesh like potpourri and incense smoke, the scent of meadows and lingering brine, glacial air of the mountains. perhaps he knew, heard him coming, and the changeling shifted into the likeness of this weary thing who sought to confuse and disarm. why this of all things, however? there were more things to become, much more terrifying things, much more concerning things. things that could tug at your heartstrings, things that could rattle your bones and dishevel your dreams to nightmares. no. doubt prodded the thought.

erasmus beheld him still with his skull at a tilt, no longer in his peripherals but an eye wholly selected eik with a curious glance as the direction of the capital was set aside. did the man think that he was searching out denocte, so far away?

or had he really been so distracted by his mind and the perils presented that he wasn't truly pointing northeast, but pressing on to the southwest? 

his eyes narrowed again, but not with skepticism. He huffed, something of a breathy chuckle, though his expression remained unchanged – stoic, cold, riddled with a many things that danced behind the warm lap of gold in his gaze. “I was on my way to the Plains," he lied, though made no signs of ill honesty - and also not daring to provide any information to a stranger. “Is this not north?" A rugged, albeit suave voice possessed of smoke and shade, it perused syllables with the ease of a scholar, but the brute-ish brunt of a soldier. It was older than he, held a brooding so unlike the youthful features he kept, tempered with an agnostic display of trust.

He held his peace until the shadow he had seen before fell over the ripples deep in the canyon, skimming over their treacherous plates as something glided overhead. Something... large. Instincts again, he pressed quickly to the canyon wall, his eyes struck to the proprietor of the shadow, almost expecting Isra's dragon – but it was feathered, beaked, and talon'd, all the while just as if not more concerning a sight. He remembered the phoenix he had seen in the Arma temple – and while this held a similar predatory aesthetic it was much more ugly. brown barred and blue-beaked, the thing was prehistoric and gruesomely looming, passing over with the grace of a vulture. what - is - that?" he hissed to the pale stallion as the monstrous bird flew out of sight of the canyon crags, though didn't dare move until he had an answer.




@Eik




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Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 241 — Threads: 34
Signos: 0
Day Court Outcast
Male [He/Him/His] // 11 [Year 493 Spring] // 15.3 hh // Hth: 27 — Atk: 33 — Exp: 59 // Active Magic: Telepathy // Bonded: N/A
#4

Eik does not doubt for a moment that the boy before him is capable of monstrous things. All boys are, of course. It is part and parcel to boyhood, that... that potential, seemingly without bounds. All paths spread out before the young, winding and ducking and curving, often swaying back and forth like wheatgrass in the wind. There are paths for heroes and villains and those in between. Those, like ponderous Eik, too enamored with the paths to choose a single one. There is something more to the one who stands before him, though. 

Maybe it is just the slender, veinlike fractures of gold that reach across his shoulders, and the way they speak (like the sandstone walls around them, like stone) of weight and heat and time. Maybe it is in the look in his eyes, as it meets Eik's.

(So? have you done the devil's work too too?)

The moonlight watches on.

"I was on my way to the plains," he says. Eik reacts with the swivel of an ear. "Is this not North?"

Briefly, he thinks of the time before directions. It was a place before Novus. A simpler place. There was the impassable mountain range where the sun rose, the grizzled forest where the sun set, and the sea on all other sides. You moved in reference to some landmark, or by the stars if it was a clear night (it often wasn't) and that was all you needed to know. His mind still works in that way-- the cardinal directions are not intuitive to him the way landmarks are. He had only ever learned them so in court he would not seem like such a bumpkin. He was never ashamed of his otherness, but it seemed appropriate to cover it while representing Solterra.

It feels, now, like a different life entirely. A different man, dressed in his skin, going through motions until they became familiar.

"No, its not." If circumstances were different, Eik might have smiled in understanding. It was easy to get turned around in the labyrinth of the canyons, especially as a foreigner, especially at night. Sometimes people got lost and were never found again. Taken by a predator, most likely, or else lost to the earth. In some places the stone floor suddenly dropped into crevices so deep so deep and sprawling that you could not peer to the bottom of them. They always haunted Eik, those impenetrable caverns. All unknowable things did.

Anyway. He does not smile in understanding. His voice is dry and rough-- Solterran. Times being what they are, trust is no longer a thing that can be given so easily. Especially here, where it would be so easy for an accident to happen... here, where one misplaced step could leave you with a broken ankle and no one else around for miles. 

The solitude is what drew Eik to this place-- he wanted to be lost. To be unfound. He did not come here to die.

When the shadow passes, Eik leans into the rock at his side in attempt to flatten his profile (it is rather pathetic to witness, a grown horse trying to disappear into a rock wall). "Teryr," the word leaves him in a force of hot air, an uneasy hiss that conveys far more than five meager letters could, if left to their own devices. His voice lowers, although the beasts hunt primarily by smell and sight, not sound. There was no such thing as too much caution. "They usually hunt at dawn and dusk. That one must be hungry." Hungry and desperate. Like most of Solterra right now. His lip curls in distaste. It might be back, it might not.

"We should move."

E I K
grief can be a kind of music
that knows how to rise like the sea


@Erasmus bloop





Time makes fools of us all
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Played by Offline Raeym. [PM] Posts: 20 — Threads: 6
Signos: 1,245
Night Court Soldier
Male [he/him/his] // 3 [Year 500 Winter] // 16.3 hh // Hth: 8 — Atk: 12 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: Umbrakinesis // Bonded:
#5


he searches the man's face for an eternity but he does not know what. Perhaps it is the villain? The ghost, the monster – the dictator of the day court, solemn repose and something that lurked between them silent and cold. His eyes are prying things. They are penetrative, wild gold, wolf's eyes that waver and quake with a hunger that resides deep in his bones, deeper than anything he can touch. He waits for fangs, for daggers. Almost in masochistic abandon. There is blood between them, blood that sings and courses and screams with heat begged to be split like the night. Blood that is smooth and warm, an aged ichor that swims through vanity with able grace. The veins tuck and quiver beneath his muscles. He shifts, his marrow stalwart while his skin crawls with disdain for the reaping skies – death taken to wing. He sees the raptor in the man's eyes, a reflection of wisdom that speaks beyond anything monstrous but almost fatherly, watchful. Terror. He speaks, that bird whose name sits with it like a casual pendant. Or was it Teryr? 

Erasmus breaks their gaze to marvel in the trace of his memory where the bird had once flown. It is gone now, but for how long? He looked back to the narrow ledges at their feet, the way they wound and curved and all but crumbled to nothing in the dark. How long would it be until he found death, if not at the bottom of the gulley then at the talons of some mythological horror? Alone. Eik speaks of hunger, and something listens and rolls in the boy's stomach along with the mention. Aren't we all, it breathes. Aren't we all but beasts and monsters and men?

But he does not have time to doubt. This he knows now.

And so he nods sparingly, light clinging to places where his expression sharpened deftly in the refractory desert starlight. “show me." A tomb whisper, baited breath that speaks through grit teeth and destitute tongue – it is more a request than a demand, though the unruly fiend is oft an enemy of kindness, and his brusque demeanor does little to soften the edge. He is not polite, but he is not rude, he is as a stranger is to strangers, the patron unsaint of rebellion. Heretic prince. In otherwise circumstances he may have preferred to go alone – even if it meant returning to the beginning or another end, or finding himself lost to the middle of everything and nothing. But as he searched the eyes of the pale man, he found few things more untrustworthy than a hungry winged daemon in a treacherous landscape.

Erasmus moves to follow him after another cautious glance to the skies – where he thinks to have seen the glint of beak or feather or a simple twitch in the night sky that does not dare provide relief. But there is nothing there, only stars and chill and the stagnant puffs of what could have been cloud stretching over the spaces between. The air is so tense that it is like white noise rummaged in waves, a silence he hadn't noticed until now, something heavy and dim that rests between them and the grims that reside there. For a while he moves, watching the plates beneath him seem to quake beneath their feet, catching the occasional shift of movement from the deep of the canyon. A labyrinth displays below – webbing paths that entangle and branch, stemming one to three and three to ten and on into the ominous pit that bears back against them like teeth. And he wonders,

“you know this place well.” but he is suffocated by simple things, careless things, as if he only held so much breath in his lungs to waste. There is a reason for each syllable, each motive a changeable nuance of doubt or wonder or distrust or something deeper than he even knew of himself. Behind his lips his teeth sharpened, his tongue rolled over their grit rinds while his mind lolled over treacherous things. He is youth and vitality and something darker, something that crept and wove its way through his marrow and slid between his words in vicarious whispers; but he is nothing beyond this sharpness, an archer with no arrow. “have you ever fought one of those?” his voice is hushed still, resound with its severity, ageless and lovestruck by the woes of horror. His eyes passed over the many silvery carvings that seat along the man's hide, and admiringly wonder each tale wound in their depth.




@Eik




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Played by Offline Rae [PM] Posts: 241 — Threads: 34
Signos: 0
Day Court Outcast
Male [He/Him/His] // 11 [Year 493 Spring] // 15.3 hh // Hth: 27 — Atk: 33 — Exp: 59 // Active Magic: Telepathy // Bonded: N/A
#6

SHOW ME.

Eik flicks an ear, bemused by the request. These past few months he has turned inward, solitary. To help the stranger would be a departure from a routine that has become comfortable... he is not sure he is ready to let himself care about the concerns of anyone else. He was not good at not caring, and so he had to commit to it wholeheartedly or not at all. You open the door a crack and all the world comes rushing in.

But then the teryr casts its massive shadow over them and the choice is made for him. They should move, it might as well be in the direction the teryr is not. Eik leads the way with a shrug, moving with a strange, subtle grace that is not immediately recognizable. He does not like to have the stranger at his back so he walks beside the boy, where he can.

"you know this place well."

He huffs a wordless, affirmation, too focused on his steps to answer in words. They pass a particularly slick area and then the worn path opens up. Moonlight streams in from above, painting the canyon walls in eerie yet familiar shades of silver and blue. How many hours had he spent here, looking for answers in those patterns, pondering the spaces between quartz and feldspar and more quartz?

He could not say.

It doesn't matter anyway.

"I've lived here a while now, in Solterra," he says, although a voice inside of him is screaming (not long enough not long enough not long enough, not in the end, not to be of any use) and something is grinding at the back of his chest, like gritted teeth, like a clenched fist, like any unconscious and self inflicted sort of pain.

(another voice laughs too long, too long, should have gotten out while you had  the chance)

In the end, his time spent in Solterra had only been good for learning how to survive here. For a short period of time he even thought he had learned how to thrive. But that moment seems so far away now, like a half-remembered dream that haunts you all the same. It had been foolish and naive and it died with a lot of other things under that hot and indifferent sun.

Really, all of Eik's softness didn't make sense in a place like this. He was not soft on the surface, he did not smile often or say sweet things or cry, but his weakness was there beneath the surface all the same. It was a private softness, an endless longing that defied his logical mind. And oh, how often his secret self came into conflict with the cruel and relentless desert he had fallen in love with-- he was well aware of it, and still he could never overcome his nature. He was a man born to suffer, and if circumstance was not favorable for this fate then he would find a way, sure as the sun rises, to bleed.

"Have you ever fought one of those?"

The boy's tone reminds Eik of the ones he's heard on Veneror peak- hushed, reverent, awed. "Yes," he answers, a flash of amusement quickly coming and going across his stoic features. He was going to leave it at that. And he did, for a time, as they weaved through the quiet canyon, but eventually something changed his mind. A memory, or maybe a wayward breeze that came up the canyon wall and escaped into the dim moonlight. "The last sovereign was taken by one. The sovereign before last, I mean." Maybe it was foolish but it always took reminding that Seraphina was no longer alive, yet alone sovereign. "Maxence." Eik had not said that name in a long time and it feels like inviting a ghost back into his body, a shadow of a memory of who the grey used to be.

"Where are you from." he asks suddenly, because for one reason or another he does not trust where the boy with sharp eyes is going. Magic prickles down his spine and he subtly peeks into the strangers mind, hoping to sift the truth from whatever else comes out that mouth.

E I K
grief can be a kind of music
that knows how to rise like the sea


@Erasmus





Time makes fools of us all
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Played by Offline Raeym. [PM] Posts: 20 — Threads: 6
Signos: 1,245
Night Court Soldier
Male [he/him/his] // 3 [Year 500 Winter] // 16.3 hh // Hth: 8 — Atk: 12 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: Umbrakinesis // Bonded:
#7

HE HAS NEVER FELT AS THOUGH HIS BODY WAS A HOME. IT WAS ALWAYS SOME MANNER OF A CAGE – SOME COOL COMPOSITION OF MUSCLES AND LIGAMENTS AND VEINS AND CAUTIOUS MOVEMENTS, SOME BOLD, SOME PAINED, ALWAYS CONSCIOUS OF EACH TWITCH AND MURMUR. THE CRACKS BETWEEN CARTILAGE, THE EMPTY SPACES BETWEEN. HIS EYES WOULD ROLL IN HIS SOCKETS, HIS BLOOD WOULD STEAM TO BE CONFINED. HE IS A WICKED ARTERIAL COMPROMISE OF STONE AND FLESH, SOMETHING BORN FROM A LUCID DREAM SCREAMING AND VENGEFUL. HIS SKIN MOVED LIKE WRITHING SERPENTS. HIS EYES GLOWED WITH THE COLD OF A DYING SUN. STRUCK BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH IN AN ETERNAL DISGRACE OF BEASTLY REPOSE – WRETCHEDLY HANDSOME, CRUELLY UNDIVINE. HE IS SHADE MATERIAL, CONJURED MOVEMENT OF POLTERGEIST WHIM, GHOSTLY MANIFEST; TAR-SLICK AND GILDED IN GOLD. HE MOVES LIKE A HOUND. HE BREATHES LIKE A DRAKE. STEAM, ROLLED FROM HUNGRY JAWS. BUT IT WAS NOW MORE THAN EVER THAT HE FELT AN EXTENSION OF MORTALITY – STRETCHED FROM COILED FIBER IN A DESPERATE REACH TO THE UNKNOWN. HE CALLS TO IT. HE PINES FOR IT. 

BUT THE DARK IS SILENT. 

THE STATIC QUIET WEIGHS OVER THEM LIKE A SWAYING NOOSE, AND THE SYLLABLES THAT COMPOSE “SOLTERRA” ARE AS TREACHEROUS AS THE JAGGED ROWS THAT TEETH BENEATH THEM, WAITING. ERASMUS'S EYE FLOWS FROM THE MAN'S SILVER-GLEAMING SCARS TO THE DUO OF SWIMMING BLUES, AND SUSPICION RISES OVER HIS SKIN LIKE HACKLES. HIS TEETH BID WARILY AGAINST HIS LIPS. HE IS FEELING IN THE DARK – FINGERTEPS PRESSED TO VELVET CURTAINS, STARLIGHT UNFOLDING. HE SENSES FOR APPREHENSION, FOR ANTICIPATION, FOR HUNGER. BUT THE MAN'S WORDS ARE A HUSK. INDEED, THEY BREATHE AMONGST THEMSELVES, TOO REBELLIOUS TO WAIT IN HIS LUNGS – SOMETHING LIKE DESPAIR, LIKE GRIEVANCE. IT IS NOT MENACE OR CRUELTY, NO VILLAINOUS MOTIVE THAT CRAWLS BENEATH THE SURFACE OF THEIR SHARPENED EDGES. THE PARTS OF HIM THAT WANT TO BELIEVE THIS MAN IS NOT A SKINWALKER ARE THE SAME PARTS THAT WISH HE IS. IT IS CHAOS. IT IS COMFORT.

HIS NEXT WORD IS HARD. IT IS SOLEMN, CHILLED, AND TAILS WITH ENTERTAINMENT. THE CONVERSATION ENDS THERE AND ERASMUS DOES NOT SEEK IT FURTHER, THOUGH QUESTIONS RISE FASTER THAN THEY CAN FALL UNTIL THEY SMACK AGAINST THE BACK OF HIS TEETH AND THREATEN TO REBEL BEING SWALLOWED BACK DOWN. HIS TONGUE CURLS, AND HE ALLOWS THE SILENCE TO FALL BACK BETWEEN THEM IN A DESIRE TO APPEASE THE MAN'S FAVOR. SOME PART OF THE EXCHANGE MADE HIM FEEL LIKE A CHILD AGAIN, A SMALL COLT ON THE HEELS OF AN ELDER IN A WORLD THAT OFFERED LITTLE MERCY. HE LOATHED IT. FOR A SECOND, HE EVEN LOATHED THE MAN FOR HIS QUIETUDE, HIS GRIEF, HIS TERYRS. HE LOATHED HIM FOR HIS SHORT ANSWERS AND THE WAY HE ACTED AS THOUGH ESCORTING SOMEONE ON THE PATH HE WAS ON TO BEGIN WITH WAS A WEARYING CHORE. HE LOATHED HIS SCARS – NO, THEY INTERESTED HIM STILL. AND SO HE LET EVERYTHING ELSE FALL AWAY FROM HIM, HIS EYE MAPPING EACH STRETCH OF PUCKERED SKIN THAT GLIMMERED IN THE MOONLIGHT, DISTRACTED FROM THE DOWN-SPIRALING FEELING THAT CAME WITH BEING UNDOUBTEDLY LOST.

SOMETHING CHANGED THEN, A SMALL HESITATION IN THE STALLION'S GAIT THAT SNAPPED HIS ATTENTION BACK TO THE MAN'S FACE. IT LOOSENED IN THE STARLIGHT, GLIMMERS OF MUSING LACED WITH RECOLLECTION, REACHING INTO THE RECESSES AND SELECTING THE GRIM FROM ITS PROPERTY. THE BOY'S BROW FURROWS, HIS EXPRESSION LOCKED WITH CONTEMPATION AS HE WATCHES HIS OWN HOOVES TAKE THEIR STEPS, STIRRING SAND AND DUST IN A WHIRL THAT COATS THE THICK GOLD-STREAKED FEATHERING. THERE ARE FEW NAMES HE KNOWS, AND HE COUNTS THEM NOW IN HIS HEAD. ISRA. KATNISS. RAUM. NOVUS EXISTS AS A PURGATORY TO HIM, SOMETHING THAT HAS SPREAD ITS JAWS WIDE AND ENGULFED HIM IN ITS STAGNANT WONDER. HE KNOWS LITTLE OF ITS CUSTOMS, RELIGIONS, AND OFTEN MAKES OF HIMSELF RUDE COMPANY FOR THE LACK OF ITS WISDOM. HE DOES NOT KNOW MAXENCE. HE DOES NOT KNOW THE FORMER SOVEREIGN. BUT HE KNOWS THE TYRANT IN ITS PLACE.

YET EVEN HE, HE DOES NOT KNOW. AND THE WONDER PRICKLES ALONG THE BACK OF HIS SKULL, LOOMING LIKE A CURSE OF DISTRUST. TRUTHFULLY, HE KNOWS NO ONE. NOTHING. (BUT WE DO, WE SNICKER FROM THE SHADOWS.)

THAT HUNGRY THING LURCHES IN HIS BELLY AT EIK'S NEXT QUESTION. THIS CAUSES ERASMUS TO MISSTEP HIMSELF, THOUGH NOT NEARLY AS CAREFULLY. HIS LEG HITCHES FOR A SECOND, BEFORE PLACING ITSELF A STEP AHEAD OF THE REST HE HAD MADE, HIS EARS TUCKED BACK AGAINST HIS CREST. SOMETHING PULLS PINS AND NEEDLES ALONG THE LENGTH OF HIS SPINE AND HISSES, WHY DOES IT MATTER TO YOU? BUT HE SWALLOWS THIS WITH HIS NEXT BREATH, CLEARING HIS THROAT OF ITS SCOWLING RETORT. HE IMAGINES TELLING THE MAN HE IS FROM DENOCTE. HE IMAGINES HIS SILVER-MARKED SKIN UNFOLDING LIKE WAVES, RIPPLING MONSTROSITY. THERE IS DARKNESS BENEATH LIKE SERPENTS AND INSECTS AND FLOWERS AND EVERYTHING AND NOTHING ALL AT ONCE. HE IMAGINES HIS JAWS WRAPPING WITH FANGS, HIS BLUE EYES CHURNING WITH A BLACKNESS THAT THREATENS HIS OWN. HE IMAGINES RAUM PEELING THIS GENTLEMAN'S SKIN LIKE DRIED SNAKE COILS, FURIOUS WITH THE PURSUIT OF A DENOCTIAN SOLDIER. AND ERASMUS IS UNARMED. HE IS UNARMED. HE IS NOTHING“nowhere, i suppose.” HE DOESN'T SKIP A BEAT, TONGUE ROLLING AGAINST HIS BACK TEETH AND PRYING AN EMPTY SPACE, BROWS LACED WITH THE REOCURRING THOUGHT. “i am a vagrant, new to this place. i was swept here by the sea.” THE SMELL OF THE BRINE IN HIS MANE IS DISTANT AND EVER FAINT BUT TRUE. HE SHUDDERS AT THE MEMORY OF THE UNDERTOW. IT POURS INTO HIS MIND WITH A ROAR, WASHING ALL THOUGHT OF RAUM FROM HIS MIND. 

IT STAYS THERE THOUGH. IT CREEPS FORWARD SLOWLY AS THE SILENCE RESTS BETWEEN THEM, AND HE COULD ALMOST BEG EIK TO FILL THE SPACES IN BETWEEN WITH ANYTHING BUT. HE SUDDENLY REALIZES WHY HE HAS BEEN WATCHING THE STALLION'S SCARS. 

HE WAS MAKING SURE THEY DIDN'T CHANGE.




@Eik




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