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Played by Offline Kezz [PM] Posts: 43 — Threads: 8
Signos: 20
Vagabond Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 2 [Year 502 Spring] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 15 — Atk: 5 — Exp: 19 // Active Magic: Medium // Bonded: N/A
#1


The mountains part like wings - tawny and solemn - that beat above the castles of Denocte. Her memories of this earth seem suddenly bloodless in lieu of the glittering country that stretches like a waking cat, arching the dark Night hills that slumber beneath a turbid sky. Her mind dared not rival the magnificence of reality. 

Each step taken feels leaden, feels debilitating, and it does not take the barb of an eagle's eye to catch the way her sylphlike shoulders wilt and cave. Perhaps, if one should stumble upon the young girl, you might notice the crude tousles in her curls that have bound themselves so tightly against her crest - and you would feel that such disarray looks amiss upon a girl with eyes like blue orchids.

Sabine had not thought she would again walk the path that lead back toward her birthland, not after all that had since passed. The last time she had touched this earth, she had been plagued by the sight, scent and sound of a man who should have been long dead; Sabine had since prayed to Gods she did not believe in to first crush the madness that held her head in a high-church fever and, when that had failed, to then take him from the soft nook of her arm, for she could not deliver to him the paradise he should need. 

But the madness did not wane and his voice never left her heart -- even now, she could feel the gasoline chill pressing against the nape of her neck like an eye she could not avert. 

And Acton was only the first. 

But she cannot not think of that now; not when the alpine scree drops into thin air only inches from her feet, when the thinness of that air seems to beckon her closer with each passing moment. 

It would be so easy, wouldn't it?

To close her eyes and lean, momentarily, a little too hard to the left. Sabi imagines the way she might initially stumble (lungs billowing, muscles yielding) before the chasm would reach up to claim its long-awaited prize. She doesn't think it would hurt -- better than burning, better than bleeding, better than the death that was alive within her ribs. 

The thought clings on long enough to bring her weary pilgrimage to a stop, and as she casts a wistful gaze down-down-down into the black, Sabine cannot not help but realise, if she takes that final step, there is not a single soul alive to miss her when she was gone. 



-

art by rallidae | table by kezz


@Caine




[Image: dbnivdi-4dcf9461-8e04-49e8-966c-3f4599c0...KvnIBGQKn8]

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Played by Offline rallidae [PM] Posts: 65 — Threads: 6
Signos: 1,005
Day Court Scholar
Male [He/Him/His] // 6 [Year 498 Summer] // 17 hh // Hth: 8 — Atk: 12 — Exp: 20 // Active Magic: Dream Illusion // Bonded: N/A
#2

a cardinal sang just for me
and I thanked him for the song

Two silk ribbons, their edges frayed and crusted with sand, trailed like a peacock’s limp plumage down either side of Caine’s wings. It was, at first, hard to tell their color under the wash of moonlight that frosted everything a sickly shade of grey. But the ribbons were cut of the same silk as the king’s bed sheets, Solterran-sewn and Solterran-dyed. Would Solis’ golden coat dare weaken to a ghostly grey under Caligo’s moon? 

Caine clucked his tongue. Of course not. The sun dimmed for no one, least of all its sister moon.

In the monochrome night the gold and crimson ribbons were as stark as bone against his shadow. Gold, he thought as he turned to look at them, like the billowing capes of the imperial soldiers. And crimson, like —

He sighed as he looked at the bloodstain marring the lustrous gold. There hadn’t been time for him to be meticulous. The soldiers assigned to the ration carts were trained to anticipate attacks, no matter how early they took their shifts. Daylight no longer shielded soldiers of the Blood King from the rage of the starving citizens. Attacks on ration carts were becoming almost as common an occurrence as children dropping dead in the streets, skeletons wrapped in skin.

Even under the shadow cloak, after he’d struck the first soldier down Caine had barely managed to leap away from the flash of silver hissing down where he’d stood, its bewildered wielder hacking frantically at the presence he could not see. It had taken him longer to disarm the three soldiers than he’d anticipated. (He’d done more than disarm them. But didn’t he always?) Longer still to drag the stacks and stacks of food crates into an alley, to be found by a Rebellion member who would receive a strange note by hawk early in the morning, its contents limited to a location and a swirling capital V.

He couldn’t remember why he’d taken the ribbons affixed to the cart, marking it as property of the king. But he had, and had used them later to bind a shallow cut on his leg he didn't recall getting.

The events of yesterday night played back like a reel of damaged film, skipping whole scenes and blurring out the rest. The ribbons were an insignificant detail in a strike he'd planned for weeks. The first item on a list two scrolls long of threats to the Rebellion he had to eliminate, Raum's decrees he wanted to sabotage. The result of sleepless weeks walking on glass under the electric-blue gaze of a man more ghost than flesh, until he'd finally had what he needed.

And then he’d been sent to Denocte. His plans had vanished to smoke.

The Arma Mountains stretched out before him like the mouth of a grotesque beast, the cliffs its jagged, breaking teeth, the shrouding mist its putrid breath. Caine’s hooves moved to a mechanical and weary beat as he continued his ascent up the crumbling face. His wings had given out hours before, forcing him to attempt the climb from the ground.

A reedy cough snaked up his throat from a lethal combination of thin air and lack of rest. The ribbons fluttered weakly behind him, batting at his legs, and Caine dully considered throwing them off the side of the ridge. Touting Solterran imperial colors into Caligo’s hostile court was probably a death wish.

It took him too long to notice the girl. 

His breath stilled when he saw the slope of a pale shoulder, the slip of a small hoof. A fragile little shadow leaning into the moon. Quickly, Caine tore the ribbons from where they hung over his shoulders, rolled them into a ball, and threw them into the churning mist below. He didn’t look to see them fall. 

Instead, his jaw clenched as he considered how profoundly stupid he’d been keeping them on him for so long. He’d been careful, he was always careful, and he hadn’t run into anyone else when he’d crossed the borders of Solterra that morning (and he’d been in the air up until a few hours ago) but what if she had seen them? He couldn't rule out the possibility of her being Solterran.

His breath streamed out in a plume of white. What was she doing up in the Arma so late at night? Was she attempting the passage like he, ravaged with a similar aversion to rest? From what Caine could tell through the dark, she looked young — far too young to be traveling alone. 

And, he realized with a start, she was standing dangerously close to the cliff’s edge. Parts of it crumbled away beneath her hooves, tumbling into oblivion, but the girl remained rooted there like a goddess turned to stone. He moved closer, puzzled, and watched her. 

Twin horns of crystalline blue arced through the air, dazzling him with their blinding reflection. He narrowed his eyes and lowered his head resigned to slip past her, he had no reason to stay, until —

Those twin horns pointed down and down and down towards the swallowing blackness hundreds of feet below. Her hooves moved forwards, instead of back. His breath stuck like dry feathers in his throat. Was she going to...

“Hey,” his voice struck out, lightning on rock. “It’s not my place to interfere, but you won't find anything of value down there.” Something wound tight and panicked in Caine's chest. His pupils constricted to slits as he threw his telekinesis out towards her, pressing cold as a knife against her chest. Do not, it said, though his lips remained tightly sealed, his breath heaving clouds of winter snow. 

Nothing. Nothing is there.

And then, as soft as a confession, he murmured, “I checked.”


"Speaking." @Sabine breaking my heart
credits








WE LIVE IN THE FLICKER
but darkness was here yesterday

♠︎ ♤ ♠︎

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Played by Offline Kezz [PM] Posts: 43 — Threads: 8
Signos: 20
Vagabond Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 2 [Year 502 Spring] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 15 — Atk: 5 — Exp: 19 // Active Magic: Medium // Bonded: N/A
#3


The darkness, gaping and hopeful, pants like a ravenous hound. It waits with baited breath for a sliver, a scrap, a mere morsel to dampen that too-loud hunger. She knows she would be not its first meal, nor its last, but perhaps for a short while the flesh on her thin chalk bones might serve a purpose greater than elemental motion. 

She thinks of what her body would look like 100 metres down. Would it be ugly, or beautiful? Would gravity paint her black or red or nothing at all? Would the dust bloom in alarm at the violent disruption of its repose? Sabine wonders -- no, hopes, that her burst and cloven skeleton might never be found. Like a lightbulb dropped over gravel, she would never cast shadows again.

She dreams of the rats that would dance across her rotting skin, weaving through her ribs as though they were tassels at a fair. She thinks of the coyotes that would snap and yip and swallow her intestines whole, free to roll the dice one more time. Her flesh would give, give, give and the world would spin five times over before her bones would begin to show. She knows her grave would not be as miraculous as Acton's, nor as hallowed as her mother's, but if life might flourish still from her broken weight, she could be willing to make a deal with the Gods. 

But she knows the Gods don't make deals. 

Not with the daughter of a butcher. 

"Hey,"

Undiluted shock. 

She yelps, "oh!" and tries to turn toward the voice that is reaching out like a lighthouse at sea.

But the surprise is still shooting through her skull, radiating like nuclear fission out and up and out again. Her feet are moving, slipping, too fast for her to catch the rest of the stranger's words and her heart is mauling its way through her larynx as the alpine-air shrinks beneath the weight of her falling hips. Sabine cannot even grab a glimpse of the man for the scree beneath her feet, already worn loose by hopeless wayfarers, is beginning to crumble completely and involuntarily her muscles are screaming in a terrible primitive tongue that tells her to keep that darkness at bay.

Sabine thought she knew what it would feel like to fall to her death. She thought it would feel like relief. 

But as her shoulders lurch forward into the void, her hindquarters searching for grip and finding only sinking rubble, she realises falling does not feel like relief at all. 

It feels like terror.




-

art by rallidae | table by kezz


@Caine




[Image: dbnivdi-4dcf9461-8e04-49e8-966c-3f4599c0...KvnIBGQKn8]

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Played by Offline rallidae [PM] Posts: 65 — Threads: 6
Signos: 1,005
Day Court Scholar
Male [He/Him/His] // 6 [Year 498 Summer] // 17 hh // Hth: 8 — Atk: 12 — Exp: 20 // Active Magic: Dream Illusion // Bonded: N/A
#4

we cannot simply sit
and stare at our wounds forever

When the glass-boned girl pitched forwards with a startled “oh!”, teetering, teetering (like a little fairy on the lip of a rose petal, he'd later recall)—

For a moment, he didn't know it had been him. His intrusion that had pushed her cartwheeling over the edge, blue eyes wider than all the skies. His words that had loosened the stones beneath her hooves, pitching her afloat into crisp mountain air.

A horrific, bone-crunching fear lurched through the space between Caine's ribs when he realized. Blue-eyed fairy toppling over the edge!

Where were your wings, little fairy?

She — “You’re — !” She was going to die.

As a child, Death had been Caine’s constant, closest companion. Who else could've promised him solace, brought him the praise he so desperately sought? Only when fed with ripped-out life had his curse calmed. Only when singing his dagger along the curve of a throat had Agenor smiled. Death had pressed a child-sized scythe into his child-sized grasp, painted his pale eyes shut with scarlet blood, and in return —

It had only asked for his morality. Served fresh every evening, like a cut of tender lamb. For children, morality was a very small price to pay.

But something had changed, along the way. He didn't know what. Only, as he leapt into frantic motion, useless telekinesis grasping for the slippery ends of caramel hair—

Solterra—blood-borne Solterra, golden-duned Solterra, silver-skinned Solterra—had cut it’s heart out for him, and filled the holes eaten away.

He had learned how to be afraid.

(Later, after reconstructing his memories of the event over and over, ripping apart scenes and sewing together conclusions, he would remember most strongly: Time had not stood still.)

Caine knew he had only moments. Thinking became secondary as his limbs sprang into motion. Assassins lived their lives in moments.

He began counting.

One: black wings extending, black hooves following. (Two glass horns, darkness swallowing.)

Two: panicked breath heaving, panicked heart screaming. (Four little hooves, pulled down pleading.)

Three: ‘was I this far?’ pounding through his brain. (One slender body, swirled down the drain.)

He stopped counting when he dived, because all he felt was weightlessness (fear). All he knew was darkness (fear). Until —

Crash! A slender body slammed down upon his left wing. A shout. Hers? His? Both. He’d caught her.

But—he couldn’t slow their descent. Blood flooded his mouth as his teeth sliced open his tongue. He didn’t even taste it, because now the girl was slipping, and his left wings, crushed to the cliff walls, torn and bloodied, shook with the effort of bearing her weight. His right wings pushed down gallons and gallons of air, but he was tilting he was falling he was—

When Caine realized he couldn’t hold her, dread swallowed him whole and spit him back out like a marrow-sucked bone. Panic kills no one, Agenor crowed. Caine understood. Panic saves no one.

He had one choice. He looked at the girl, at those ice-blue eyes. He looked at the ground, so far below.

He said: “I’m going to drop you.”

And he dropped her.

The instant his left wings were free, down he dove after her ribbon-sleek tail. This time, he waited until his nose was almost even with her flank before flaring out his wings, wrapping his inner ones tightly around her body, and beating his outer wings with the fury of hell snapping at his heels.

Slowly, miraculously, they began to rise.

When they spilled back over the edge like drowned sailors dragging themselves to land, Caine heaved out a sticky mass of blood and spit and flipped onto his back, gasping for air.

The girl—where was she?

“Hey,” he called hoarsely, just as he had when she fell. “Little fairy. You alive there?” Punctuated his question with a dizzy, aching laugh.

So this was why he’d been given double wings, he thought. To save cliff-diving girls.

"Speaking." @Sabine AHHH
credits








WE LIVE IN THE FLICKER
but darkness was here yesterday

♠︎ ♤ ♠︎

Reply




Played by Offline Kezz [PM] Posts: 43 — Threads: 8
Signos: 20
Vagabond Youth
Female [She/Her/Hers] // 2 [Year 502 Spring] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 15 — Atk: 5 — Exp: 19 // Active Magic: Medium // Bonded: N/A
#5



She falls like hail. Colourless and pinched. 

The vacant air holds her the way a priest might hold a child at the altar: baited, celebratory, faithful. 

Did her mother take her to the church table and lay her before the dawning sun? Did Solis kiss her forehead and wrap her in gold? Did her father comb out her spiderspun curls in an offering to the darkness? Did Caligo think to shelter her the way the moon guarded the stars?

No.

They couldn't have.

Because when she falls and her stomach drops through the delicate webbing of her abdominal skin, there is nobody to stop her ugly thunderous descent. 

Black. 

It is all she can see, all she can feel, all she can hear. A deep oppressive black that swallows and gags on her limbs as they thrash against the great nothingness. And she cannot stand the sound of the black-brick void choking on her bones as she plummets closer and closer to the flat earth beneath. 

She wants to say that her memory of near-death was clarion. That each second stretched on into individual, perfect lifetimes whereby she might hold her demons accountable; but life is never perfect -- it is messy and all-too-quick and the gritty flank of the mountain flashes past her before she can even think to scream. 

When she collides with, what she comes to realise as, the shadow's wing, Sabine thinks she might have hit the edge of Hell (it could never have been heaven) but she is still falling -- they are still falling? The wind whistles in her ears to a tune she cannot forget and she can feel the THUD-CRACK-THUD of the winged beast's heart. 

'I'm going to drop you.'

She had heard those words before. I'm going to drop you. Hadn't she? 

Or maybe she had felt them, in her bones and her lungs and her stupid-fucking-heart that wouldn't stop crying for someone to love it so and--

She isn't falling anymore. The air had become dizzyingly still. Sabine tries to blink away the stardust that clings to her eyes as she realises the world is rising; no --

that she, they, are rising. 

Oh, now she has definitely reached Hell. 

The ledge is upon them before Sabine can console the muscles that ring like unanswered telephones. Breath does not come easily; her lungs contract in short, sharp bursts as though they wish only to punish their Mistress for jeopardising their sanctuary. And so they lie there, ankles splayed, heads crooked, waiting for the world to right itself.

Until quite suddenly the Shadow speaks. 

Unsure of reality, of her own goddam sanity, Sabine dares not to turn her head in the direction of that opaque accent. She can only gasp a short reply that echoes her hope that if he is real, he does not hate her as much as he should for risking his life to save her own. 

"I'm sorry -- yes.. I am so sorry."



-

art by rallidae | table by kezz


@Caine




[Image: dbnivdi-4dcf9461-8e04-49e8-966c-3f4599c0...KvnIBGQKn8]

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