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Played by Offline rallidae [PM] Posts: 31 — Threads: 11
Signos: 270
Day Court Scholar
Male [he/him/his] // 7 [Year 498 Fall] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 4 — Atk: 16 — Exp: 16 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: N/A
#1

« see i have to burn »


I
f there is anything I have learned over these months that pass like immortal years, it is this: My mother gave her dreams to Pilate, but her rage—she gave to me. Forgive me, Mother, for I have never understood.

A knock at my door yanks me from my labored writing and it is like lurching out of a dream. I blink; slowly the bright world comes into technicolor focus: dusk slanting red through a window; a candle sputtering yellow and then white; the lyre on my bed bending light into gold. My quill hovers, dazed, over my parchment. A thick bead of ink trembles loose from its sharp nib.

Someone steps into my room. By the uncertainty of their footfalls I know they are a servant. My siblings are never uncertain unless they are wanting for something, and even then it is only an act: like a stray cat feigning helplessness for sympathy and warm milk. Perhaps they learned it from Pilate. Though I have never caught him at it it seems like something he would do, on someone in love with him. I have never seen him in love back.

And anyway—my siblings know better than to come to me for their needs and wants. All my mother's children have a nose for power, and it no longer lies with me.

"The table is set,” says the servant, her voice muffled as she bows low. “But if you wish it I will bring your food to you, prince.”

I shake my head. “No. I will go down.” Slowly I lift myself to standing. My quill drops to the table, splashing ink over the few clean lines I have written. It is a small thing but I have so little left that every loss, however small, lures to the surface a thorn of black anger. The serving girl catches it on my face and pretends not to notice.

Wordlessly she fetches me a thin cotton robe and drapes it over my shoulders. It is common knowledge that the ailing Prince Adonai catches chill even in the heat of a desert summer. I say my thanks with a faint smile, and a fainter blush colors her cheeks.

“I was here yesterday,” she says hopefully. 

“Ah, yes. I remember you,” I say, and my voice is cold enough that she knows I don’t. 


The moon hangs proud and luminous in the darkening sky, days away from fullness. It trails besides me like a bright-eyed hound, peeking through the procession of windows leading down to the feasting hall, and I am glad for its company. In the day the high, arching windows bathe the hall in sunlight and heat, but on moonless nights the shadows break in like thieves. It is blasphemous, of course, for an Ieshan to consider the world without Solis' light in it.

A guard moves to nudge open the doors for me and I take the chance to slow my breath. The rest of the House knows that I am recovering slowly—but how slowly—there is only one who knows.

I step into the room and it is only him and I.

"... Pilate," I say coolly, drifting my eyes towards him until I see the pink flicker of a snake's tongue and turn away, disgusted. A servant steps towards me, to draw out a chair, but I stop him with a hard smile. Slowly I walk to the middle seat of the long table, draw out my chair myself, and sit.

Until now I have kept the rage at bay; ragged shadows, shoved into corners. Yet if the lake of my power has been sapped away by a hundred flickering snake tongues, then what they have left behind is bedrock slick with venom.

I reach for my fork and pause, the utensil dropping back onto the table with a tinny clink. 

"Brother." A goblet of wine sits halfway between him and I, red as old blood. "I am thirsty."

And then I look at him, my eyes so bruise-blue they gape wide and black, like holes.


@Pilate // I have never been THIS. excited.








HIS DESCENT WAS LIKE NIGHTFALL

♦︎♔♦︎

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Played by Offline RB [PM] Posts: 39 — Threads: 2
Signos: 35
Day Court Scholar
Male [He/Him/They/Them] // 6 [Year 499 Fall] // 15 hh // Hth: 11 — Atk: 9 — Exp: 13 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: N/A
#2


tagged
@Adonai

credit
1 / 2
pilate
/
walking round always mad reputation, leave a pretty girl sad reputation / this that what-we-do don't tell your mom shit, this that red cup all on the lawn shit / got a fresh cut straight out the salon bitch

I know everything there is to know about black holes. In my journal—the secret-secret one, the one you will only ever find if I tell you where to look—I collect notes about them in handwriting less royal than the kind I use in public, a panicked scrawl that speaks of how stealthily I must write in it. There is nothing particularly incriminating in here; but I worry about how it would reflect on me. Have I really become a prince who forsakes his duties to go think, alone, about stars?

Small but deadly. Every black hole has an event horizon, a ring which, by nature and on principle, must refuse each and every speck of light. A black hole burns you to death; it doesn’t crush you, or suck. 

Writing has always come easily to me. Physically I have always been enamored by the loops and swirls of a good cursive font, my attention easily caught by the gilded spine of a book; and I really have no trouble thinking of things to write about, though I would prefer to discuss things like these than the fairytales Corradh and my sisters are—were?—so fond of. My desk is forever piled high with bloated journals and water-warped books. I keep a carefully organized collection of quills that the servants now better than to move even an inch. I am using one now—one of my favorites, a wide, white arc of swan-feather—to write this: 

Black holes are messy eaters. The majority of matter that passes close to a black hole will be spit back out, one way or another. 

Sometimes I have dreams. In most of them, my parents are alive, and everything is back to the way it was. Adonai dutifully completes his lessons, then skips away after dinner to play with Mernatius; I read books in the courtyard, sipping my way through a drink every half-hour; and Corradh is here—sullen and rebellious and irritating as ever, but at least he is doing it at home.

In my dreams, on the rare nights I have them, reality is but a suggestion. I see through walls. I talk to snakes. But here they talk back. I can hear from miles away; I can track footsteps through the floor, all the way to Denocte. In my dreams, I read books in the courtyard; but I can see Adonai, no matter where he is, or who is he with, or what lies between us. I can see him across the property, lazing around with his friends. I can see him when he wanders into the city and talks to the commoners. I can see him when he doesn’t want me to. Especially when he doesn’t want me to: I can see him when he is kissing some street rat, writing illicit letters, spiking the punchbowl, talking back to Mother; when he is brightening his fake smile to speak with the Hajakhas and ignoring my poor sisters, who trail at his heels like he is some god they seek the favor of.

If you were in the event horizon, even if you were moving at the ultimate cosmic speed, any path you dare to take would still lead you toward the center. There is no escape from the—

I toss the quill and the journal under my bed just as a servant knocks to announce dinner. I have grown practiced enough at this that, by the time I turn to face her, I am wearing a droll smile and not a panicked grimace.

She bends into a deep bow, and says: “Prince Adonai says he will be joining you tonight.” 

For just one second the world stops and stops and stops. My heart plummets through my chest; my chest-half-heaves; I am frozen like a victim and not Medusa herself.

“Fantastic,” I answer, glittering with fake pleasure, and the servant—whose gods-damned name I can never remember—backs gracefully out of the doorway.

I run my tongue around my teeth until I taste blood. And the world begins anew.




I am downstairs before he is. Of course. Even before all this happened, he was not one to respect people’s time. 

The table is set with its usual feast: dusty bottles of well-aged wine, grape leaf dolma, bread already broken; platters of dried apricots and figs, ornate glass jars filled with olives. When Adonai graces me with his presence, I am splayed comfortably in a pool of moonlight flooding in from a high window, eating pomegranate seeds one by one and spitting the hulls into a beaten-gold bowl. I know he will hate me for it. And I smile.

“Adonai,” I respond. And he must hear that some part of me really is happy to see him—the part I hate, which in Corradh’s absence begs for the shoulder of a brother, and in my parents’ absence begs for the next best thing to replace them—but he must also see that I am watching him as carefully as ever. I know he is tired of me and my hot-and-cold antics. Imagine, I think drolly, how tired I am. 

I watch him take his seat, unaffected. In the moonlight, he hardly looks like an Ieshan at all. He was the only one of us to come out so pale, like a ghost, as if he had been bleached of all our family’s perfectly dark blood. Corradh, even, inherited my mother’s black skin, and I, of course, her scales. Adonai has none of her. And that is the one thing I can hold over his head.

(The second thing, now.)

He speaks as easily as ever, and with the same obnoxious lack of regard: Brother. That word makes me shudder. I am thirsty.

My eyes fall to his, then to where his glance rests—a bottle of red wine, halfway between him and I on the long, long table. A black hole burns you to death, I think; it doesn’t crush you, or suck.

Unhurriedly, I rise to my feet. The servants, bathed in wet moonlight, watch as much as they can with their eyes still turned to the ground. How quiet can a room get—? I hear nothing but my footsteps, the gentle pant of my breath as I measure it, in and out.I walk toward him, picking up the bottle as I pass it, tossing the cork carelessly onto the floor, and then pausing at his side to pour it into his glass, where it sloshes like so much—

Like the Red Sea, I mean. 

We are close now, though no closer than I get to him every day. I push the glass gently toward him, wearing an expression of concern, my eyes widened in sincerity. 

“Drink, then,” I say. “Brother.”

His eyes are beautiful now. Far better than the boring, Pallas-Athene silver they used to be. These days they shine a lovely cornflower-blue, a bruise-blue, a bottom-of-the-river-where-I-wish-he-drowned blue, and the pupils are always blown wide.

Like black holes. 

I smile.







Reply




Played by Offline rallidae [PM] Posts: 31 — Threads: 11
Signos: 270
Day Court Scholar
Male [he/him/his] // 7 [Year 498 Fall] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 4 — Atk: 16 — Exp: 16 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: N/A
#3

« different defections, cut the lines »


P
ilate says my name back to me and a shiver trails cold down my spine. I cannot tell whether it is out of late-blooming fear or self-disgust, at the surety I feel when I think: I hate my own brother.

But it is too late for fear, and I have never really learned how to feel it. Even now. 

It is likely the latter.

I walk stiffly to my seat and try not to pay Pilate any more mind, but it is a task he is determined to make impossible. Pomegranate seeds crunch between his teeth like cartilage, and his robe spills carelessly over a dark shoulder. He is slumped halfway down in his seat like he is already drunk, though I know he isn't, and the golden bowl before him rings like a bell with every gram added to its weight.

If this had been in the time before, I would have bared my teeth and snapped at him to act with an ounce of decency. If I had done the same, I would say, Mother or one of my thousand thousand tutors would have had my head on a plate before the first husk could find its way past my lips.

And when the wine accompanying our meals like water softened me to him, I would launch into a wry, gesturing retelling of how the Hajakhas disciplined their ungratefuls. Luthien Hajakha had sworn to me, once, how certain he had been of his early death when Lord Senna had caught him passed out in the wine cellar.

I used to try and gauge Pilate’s reactions to my stories of the other houses. He disliked them I knew, and while I myself held no love for them save the fake kind, as the firstborn my parent’s stories of Zolin’s reign had pressed like weights upon my shoulders. My position as Head of House entailed creating peace, and seeing that it held. The Great Houses could not nurture their hatred like they spoiled their heirs.

To feed hate with hate, I preached, was like cutting off the hydra’s head to let two more sprout in its stead. 

My love of righteous aphorisms has not, it seems, aged well.

The courses are presented and taken away again with dizzying efficiency. The table had already been bursting when I arrived, but it has been so long since I have sat at dinner that I have forgotten what a prince’s meal should look like. Still, it is uncomfortably silent with only Pilate and I in attendance. The servants know better than to speak, and I don’t think I have ever, in my life, seen the cook. In the months I had not come down—I wonder how many nights Pilate had eaten alone.

But the image and the taste of something sickeningly close to sympathy are both mercilessly forgotten when Pilate rises unhurried and languid to pour me my drink.

"Drink, then. Brother."

Wine sloshes into my cup and I am furious when the ease with which he pours it deprives me of all my satisfaction. Briefly I consider dashing my glass against the wall—no one would blame me, it would be so easily explained as a symptom of my condition, the trauma of what I have lost—

But I am still a prince. I am still Adonai.

I will never sink so low as my snake-maned brother.

So I make no reply save to tilt the goblet to my lips and drink. The possibility of it being poisoned does not even strike me until I have downed half my wine, but then I find (there is my satisfaction) that I hardly care. He cannot kill me here, in front of so many. He could not even kill me then, in front of none but my gray-eyed fury.

“Where are the others?” I ask instead, my voice echoing through the cavernous room. I lean back in my chair, cup floating hazily in the air. "It's funny. When I would take my meals in my room I would imagine you all down here, toasting until the dawn." I laugh, dry, low, my eyes wrinkling in fondness.

"Or—don't tell me. You tired of their company." I place a slice of tart into my mouth and chew thoughtfully. "Except for Miriam, our sisters often pretend like they know very little about everything."










HIS DESCENT WAS LIKE NIGHTFALL

♦︎♔♦︎

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Played by Offline RB [PM] Posts: 39 — Threads: 2
Signos: 35
Day Court Scholar
Male [He/Him/They/Them] // 6 [Year 499 Fall] // 15 hh // Hth: 11 — Atk: 9 — Exp: 13 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: N/A
#4


tagged
@Adonai

credit
1 / 2
pilate
/
walking round always mad reputation, leave a pretty girl sad reputation / this that what-we-do don't tell your mom shit, this that red cup all on the lawn shit / got a fresh cut straight out the salon bitch

I will never make his life easy. Why should I, when he has been so mindful to ruin mine?

I crunch down on a mouthful of pomegranate. The seeds make a sound like the cracking of bone, and juice spills, blood-red, onto my tongue and sloshes out from the spaces between my teeth. This mouthful is particularly tart; I can’t help screwing my face up when the bitterness hits me like a rock over the head. 

But at that moment I see Adonai’s spine twist in a shiver, and the wince falls away as I focus on hiding a lightning-quick smirk.

The courses come and go. Platters are whisked away as fast as they’ve come, before I can even quite decide which ones I want; though perhaps it’s my fault for watching it so lazily, still spitting husk after husk of pomegranate seed with the red leached out of it into the ringing golden bowl. Suddenly I’m running hot. My cheeks, my scales, simmer with a random warmth. Carelessly I unclasp my cloak and let it fall, sitting up as it comes to rest on the ground in a rippling pool of white, and as I stretch outwards and upwards my whole body feels like it’s opening up, unfurling, unwinding, growing warm and vibrant with the rush of adrenaline that always accompanies my arguments with Adonai.

It’s one of very few things that still makes me feel alive.

Moonlight pours in through the arched windows like so much liquid silver, and even though I hate him I know deep in my heart that my brother is beautiful. In this river of mercury his skin turns cool and white as marble, the gold leached out of it by the cold light of the stars, his pale hair a river of silk. And his eyes—they are my favorite now, more captivating and beautiful than they ever were Before, these knee-deep pools of bruise-blue water, these pockets of purplish cobalt like the petals of a forget me not.

I’ve never seen a color like it. Sometimes it makes my chest ache, the sheer beauty of it; the kind of color you see not in nature, but in oil paintings. Sometimes it makes me jealous. And sometimes it doesn’t. 

He might have those eyes. But I have everything else.

I look into those eyes as I pour him his drink. How can I look anywhere else? He stares at me with the smile of a dead man, and I am in love with him. I had inevitably imagined him a coffin. But now, seeing him alive, fixed in place like a doll, I feel that I have never understood his loveliness: he belongs like this, postured in a way that makes him look more alive, strained under the weight of his anger toward me and all the things he wishes he could do. Just my eyes, just my presence, has him in a chokehold. I roll my tongue around my teeth and taste wine, though I haven’t taken a sip since this afternoon and now the world is all but dark out.

For a moment there is silence between us. I listen to the slosh of the wine into his glass, the labored sound of his breathing. The servants turn into soundless statues. My heart beats in my chest, a quiet but insistent brag, and I feel its pulse crawling into the back of my throat with every second I stand this close to him. The slow sound of the world coming apart. The darkness soft and comforting as a blanket.

Where are the others? I give him a cutting glance sideways, not quite believing he doesn’t know the answer, but my expression is dry as ever. When I would take my meals in my room I would imagine you all down here, toasting until the dawn. Now my lips purse; I push both dark brows down as if really considering, but my mouth (barely) hides a smirk. He is the only one in the room who could possibly see it.

This is tiring. I take the seat next to him, not asking for permission, and lean back in a lazy, catlike arc. A servant carefully moves the bowl of pomegranate seeds back in front of me. 

“They decided to dine in the courtyard,” I respond, “when they heard you were joining us.” It’s not technically a lie; I just don’t add that they were there to see my face go dark when I was the one to announce it, a carefully constructed expression of pain that fell away as soon as they turned.

I toss another seed into my mouth. Juice floods out of it, red as blood.







Reply




Played by Offline rallidae [PM] Posts: 31 — Threads: 11
Signos: 270
Day Court Scholar
Male [he/him/his] // 7 [Year 498 Fall] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 4 — Atk: 16 — Exp: 16 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: N/A
#5

« different defections, cut the lines »


I
have never wished for the death of my brother. 

Even when he reduced me to this, even then, I have never wanted to kill him. In all of my life spent as Honourable Adonai, Cleric of Virtue, Prince of Eminence, a reluctance to commit fratricide seems hardly the thing to prove definitively just how much I deserve—deserved—my titles. Lesser men would have succumbed. Greater men would have certainly succumbed.

I wish I could say it was because, whenever I looked at Pilate, sly-mouthed, honey-eyed, beautiful beyond recognition, I remembered him not as he is now but as he was then: a child, my brother, beautiful still yet innocent as a lamb, his laughter like church bells, his heart as radiant as his scaled brow. The light of our mother’s life and, by extension, the light of mine.

I wish I could blame it on memory.

But my months spent in a sickbed has lent me time for introspection. In that time I have tried to understand: Had I really been that horrible to him? Were our feuds not simply the feuds of brothers, the feuds of blood and of House and of children pretending to strap knives to their belts and crown themselves kings? Our sisters wanted to kill us. Miriam, I think, could have really done it. Corradh wanted to kill one of us, flip a coin and assign a face, and to do it himself, preferably with a sword, for all the little bits of grief we gave him. It is the language of siblings to proclaim such desires with regularity. It is a testament to the strength of the sibling bond. I was as guilty of this as the rest of them. Our mock wars, our mock threats, our mock hate, all of them sick, twisted declarations of love.

Pilate slides into the seat besides me, his robe rippling grandly to the floor. “They decided to dine in the courtyard,” he says, “when they heard you were joining us.” I know he is lying. He forgets that he has left me alive enough to catalog my memories as obsessively as a priest over prayers. And in them, my siblings have never been so quick to depart a scene that stinked of blood.

I watch, brooding over my wine, as a servant slides his bowl of pomegranates back in front of him. “Did they? Then they are angry with me. I have neglected them.” I smile at him as I say this, as he smiles at me with his crimson teeth. 

I think of the letter I had written him. Really, Pilate. Had you done it to anyone but myself I would have gladly toasted to your genius.

A laugh, sudden yet warm, spills like sun from my lips. I have eaten little and drank too much. I know exactly what I am doing. Pilate has made me this way: I never used to be so cunning. 

So I laugh like a prince and lift up my glass in a toast. “As I have neglected you.” I lean forwards in my chair until my lips brush against his ear. “Quick, little brother. Embrace me. So that the servants will see and report to our siblings, dining in their courtyard, how gracious we are to each other.” 

I drop my glass and it shatters when it hits the table. Wine sprays like little flecks of blood over me, over him, over his spotless white robe, like shed skin on the ground.

Pilate's snakes hiss softly against my hair. I collapse back into my seat and wipe my wine-stained mouth with the tablecloth. I have never wished for the death of my brother. It does not make me better than him. I have never been better than him, and believing that I was became my undoing. In truth, I am worse than him; in truth, I am the worst of us all. 

And I think that Katurah was the only one who knew it. 

There are so much worse things than death.










HIS DESCENT WAS LIKE NIGHTFALL

♦︎♔♦︎

Reply




Played by Offline RB [PM] Posts: 39 — Threads: 2
Signos: 35
Day Court Scholar
Male [He/Him/They/Them] // 6 [Year 499 Fall] // 15 hh // Hth: 11 — Atk: 9 — Exp: 13 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: N/A
#6





tagged
@Adonai

credit
1 / 2

pilate

/


walking round always mad reputation, leave a pretty girl sad reputation / this that what-we-do don't tell your mom shit, this that red cup all on the lawn shit / got a fresh cut straight out the salon bitch


I wonder if my mother knew what she was doing when she made him.

Let’s say the rumors are true—that we are children not just of noble blood, but the stuff of myths. Let’s say (and for legal reasons I will add: hypothetically) that all my siblings and I are indeed made of Solterra’s fine, glittering sands, less mortal than we are godly and less living than we are statuesque. Eyes of polished gemstone. Heart of marble, veined with gold. If it were true that she sculpted us, then she would have been a real artist worthy of recognition, would have belonged with the de Clares.

But anyway. Let’s say she made us. I have to wonder, then, why she chose to make us all so different: me in her image; Corradh and Miriam too, in lesser measures. What possessed her to wrap Adonai in white and gold instead? Did she mean to cast us as enemies by making him so, well, individual—gracing him with things none of the rest of us have, the beautiful horn, the wide metal wings? How could she not have seen that by making us so different she would inevitably push us further apart?

When I was a child I admired all of this. I envied his ability to fly (even though he did not often make use of it). I envied the horn that spiraled from his forehead like Caliburn from its stone. He was beautiful in a way I did not recognize; more Solterran than any one of the rest of us, more snake-like, more refined, and simultaneously more deadly. At banquets I stuck to his side like a burr. The other nobles would see us, and laugh: back then it was sweet, that the princes of Ieshan were so closely bound. And back then I always thought it was a good thing he stood out so sharply from the rest of us. That it marked his worthiness, somehow.

It used to be enviable. Now it makes me cringe. Now everything about him feels rotten and ugly. Now I look at him and I don’t see a sibling, not in the way I see the other Ieshan children. I only see the wretched thing my mother made when she still loved Solis more than herself. 

He is foreign to me, in every way imaginable. 

I have neglected them.

I sigh out a breath—

As I have neglected you.

And despite myself inhale it back in, more surprised than I mean to be.

I drop my gaze to look at him more evenly. I can’t help leaning slightly forward when I do it, as if I am drawn to and not repulsed by him. His handsome face is clean of real expression. I don’t know what else I could have expected—it would be foolish of him to betray anything genuine. But he has always been more hot-headed than people would assume, and sometimes I hope against hope that he will crack, slide back to his old ways, and in doing so become weak, the Adonai I used to know. 

He looks back at me with a gaze like molten silver, like nightshade, as pretty as it is deadly, and I run my tongue around the curve of my teeth and try not to become attached to the look of his eyes, because I know they will, at some point in the future, like everything and everyone else, leave me.

Dying can be a long process, but it comes to a close eventually; and when it does, I might even miss him.

Quick, little brother, he says—I can’t help the way my mouth twists in disgust when it happens, though in the millisecond after I am already chastising myself for not keeping cool, with the violent intensity that comes from years of being told that I should know better—embrace me. And again I make a movement I wish I hadn’t; I flinch, not out of fear but pure disbelief, and my scaled brow rises instinctively. 

But before I can respond (before I even really know what I would say), Adonai’s glass comes crashing down on the well-worn surface of the table with a sound like a sonic boom that sends my snakes into a fit. Even with our intricately embroidered tablecloth to break its fall, the cup shatters into a million flashing pieces, whose sharp edges turn the moonlight into spears and tumble like rain to the floor. Wine dribbles down my chest, settles into the corners of my mouth; it flecks my white robe like a bloodstain, and that irritates me the most. 

But I do not chastise him. I do not laugh, either, despite that feeling like the next most sensible option, for I know that the servants are still watching, and he has given me an opportunity far greater than he could have ever meant to.

“Oh, Adonai.” I soothe him in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, a voice tinged with carefully constructed sympathy. “You shouldn’t exert yourself so. Holding a glass is too difficult; there is no need to conceal that from me, your own brother. You must let me do it for you.”

A servant rushes over with a new glass. I hold Adonai’s gaze as I pour the wine into it: slow, methodical, not stopping when it reaches the line I was taught to stop at, not stopping until it is filled almost to the brim, quavering like a frightening prey animal caught in crossfire.

Let me do it for you, my eyes say, or you will drown.







Reply




Played by Offline rallidae [PM] Posts: 31 — Threads: 11
Signos: 270
Day Court Scholar
Male [he/him/his] // 7 [Year 498 Fall] // 15.2 hh // Hth: 4 — Atk: 16 — Exp: 16 // Active Magic: N/A // Secondary Magic: // Bonded: N/A
#7

« kill v. maim »


I
feel, more and more often these days, like there is another me outside of this dying vessel I am trapped in.

This other me is made of glass, its walls three pearls thick, and wraps all the way around my body of flesh and bone and blood like snakeskin made to suffocate.

I, the real one, am pounding on the glass—let me out, let me out, let me out—yet no one hears. Because everyone—Pilate, Miriam, our mother, Hagar Corradh Ruth Delilah Yael Miriam the Dead One, Miriam the Younger—is outside, looking in; some gasp, some smile, and some shake their heads, sadly, like they are looking at me (the glass one) and seeing a tragedy.

And none of them is doing anything.

Sometimes I wonder if I am going mad. If the poison Pilate fed me has nibbled away little pieces of my brain, none of them important, but when everything is put together there are holes too small to see, and water drips out like blood, and every time I wake up I am a little bit less.

Less there. Less Ieshan. Less holy.

Less Adonai.

Pilate leans forwards, so slightly I only know the difference because the hissing of his snakes grows infinitely louder in my head. I have the sudden urge to snap out my teeth and bite down on one of them. Fill my mouth with snake's blood, the same swirling crimson as wine. Will it taste the same too?

I know it will not kill him, but I do not want to kill him. I only want to make him hurt.

I smile once more as my brother's eyes, beautiful as petrified amber, appraise my face like he is choosing a jewel to go with his robes; yet there is nothing for him to see. I never did guard my emotions as cleverly as he had, but I am learning, and the reason for that is always Pilate. He has made me worse, and yet. And yet.

Though I would rather bite out my tongue than admit it, he is also making me better.

There is a twist of satisfaction, warm as milk in my gut, when I see how he flinches at my words. And there is another twist, harsher this time, like something is trying to worm its way out, when I smash the wineglass against the table and red flecks splatter over his chest, and face, and robe. It also flecks mine but I do nothing but sit and take it. Before, I would have minded. How I hated to be dirtied then, even a little.

Now, I think I almost relish it.

“Oh, Adonai,” Pilate says, and I feel the glass version of me shiver with hairline cracks. “You shouldn’t exert yourself so. Holding a glass is too difficult; there is no need to conceal that from me, your own brother. You must let me do it for you.”

There has always been a righteous anger in me. I hid it well from the others, I think, and though I cannot say with certainty I ever fooled any of them, I know that at the very least they had all collectively agreed to crown me with Mosts: the Most Reserved; the Most Pious; the Most—Understanding

As the eldest, I had to be. Mother had made me that way. I am the least like her, because she had wanted a king. Not just a little prince.

And so Katurah offered herself to Solis and when she came out of it, bathed in holy supplication, knew to give me nothing but a body wreathed in gold and ivory. For years, I thanked her twice daily for it. For years, I tried to tell myself that I was not any less than my siblings. That no, I did not wish for, nor was I jealous of, the magic each of them held inside them like chalices filled with holy grail. Even Miriam—even she, my twin, the one I had loved a little bit more than the rest—had shone so bright with her magic.

My siblings did not need for their anger to be righteous, when they were each blessed with so much power.

A servant rushes over with a new glass. Pilate fills it back up to the top, the wine running smooth and slow, and when I look into his eyes this time I see not amber, but pools of black.

When I rise from my seat I do it so quickly I begin to shake.

"Oh, Pilate," I echo, my eyes as deep blue as inkwells. I sweep them callously towards the servants and they bow their heads quickly. What care is it of mine to mind? Let them look all they want. Let them talk to their heart's desire. "What more do you need to do for me? You are so considerate, these days—" my eyes slit closed as I cough out another laugh. Bitter, cruel, tragic. "—that it almost disgusts me." 

I touch my nose affectionately to his bare shoulder, my eyes alight with fury, and fall my way out of the room.


@Pilate closer but we need another








HIS DESCENT WAS LIKE NIGHTFALL

♦︎♔♦︎

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