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  1. Yesterday
  2. Sorceri

    Valkheim. 200 years ago. The cold, salty air buffeted her pale skin. Whipping her long, white hair about her face. Her long, pointed ears twitched at the sound of two people approaching, clad in armour. Morag yawned and rolled over, opening her eyes, which were a shade of crystal blue. She slept in a large tent. Larger than most, as she was the daughter of the Chief, Mordrang. Two figures paused outside her tent and stood in silence, casting a shadow over her. "Morag, your presence has been requested by Chief Mordrang!" A man yelled into the tent. "You'd better go." Morag glanced over and saw her partner, Grelka, had woken. Grelka had a thick mane of white hair that cascaded back and was woven into braids. "I suppose you're right." Morag muttered, sitting up. The covers fell from her and she stood and crossed the tent, pulling on a pair of dark brown trousers and a white blouse, she picked up her blade, a longsword, and fixed it to her belt. "I don't know how much longer we can do this." "What do you mean?" Grelka asked, brushing hair out of her face as she pulled herself up, drawing the covers close to her. "I mean... one by one, the clans are falling in line. Father says the Emperor wants to erase our way of life. Every day I wake up, I hear another clan has been... absorbed, into this Empire of his. Now our scouts say they've found the northern pass. We're next." Morag sighed, sitting at the side of the bed. "Remember who you are." Grelka cautioned her, "You're a Swordmaiden. You have to leave your feelings here, with me." "What if I can't?" Morag muttered, looking down at her hands. They were calloused and rough, scarred from years wielding the blade. "You have to." Grelka rested a hand on Morag's shoulder. They kissed. And Morag left. "Show me to my father." Morag barked, as she strode out of the tent. The men nodded and led her through the war camp. She heard the clash of metal on metal as hammer struck blade, still hot from the furnace. Sparks flew into the muddy, snow-blanketed path. A man was cooking fish over an open fire. While another man was dropping things into a stew pot. A woman passed her, and noted the scar on her collarbone. In the shape of a downwards facing crescent moon. The clan symbol of the Lunéan. Every Valkyr held a mark from their clan and she bowed to Morag. While the Lunéan. were the last free clan of the Valkyr, hundreds of other Valkyr from other clans had joined them in resisting the Empire. Morag returned the bow, when one of the men indicated the tent ahead of them. It was perhaps twice the size of her own, but then it also held the war table, with a map of the surrounding regions and all troop movements by the Empire. Morag knocked the cloth cover aside and stepped inside. Her father, Mordrang, noted her with indifference. He was flanked on either side by several warriors dressed in full armour. One man, three women. They were arguing with one another over the placement of the models that represented their forces. Morag had just long enough to notice just how few figures on the map belonged to their forces, and how many more figures were now planted on all sides but north of them. That was not useful, however. Only a few hundred feet to the north was Valk's shrine, and beyond that, only a sheer cliff. "Father." Morag nodded to him. "Oh, Morag... yes, good..." Mordrang looked up from the war table. "I want you to go to Valk's shrine." "Why?" Morag asked, frowning. She saw something in her father's face she'd never seen before. She didn't know exactly what it was, but it seemed like he was afraid. She opened her mouth to argue, she didn't want to go anywhere, but at that moment, a scout ran into the tent, unannounced. "What is the meaning of this?!" Mordrang snapped, angrily. The council of advisers fell silent. The scout stepped forwards, panting. "A dozen figures are coming up the southern path, Chief Mordrang!" His blade was already drawn. Mordrang crossed the room and grabbed his blade, a longsword like Morag's but it was longer and larger, and certainly a lot heavier. It took two men to carry that blade, but her father slung it on his back like it was an infant to be carried, unconcerned by the weight. "To arms, then. The Emperor has come for Valk, and we shall not give her to him." "I'll fight with you." Morag added, her hand on her blade's hilt. "YOU WILL DO AS YOU'RE TOLD!!" Mordrang roared, losing his temper. "For once... in your life, Morag. Do this, for me." Morag grit her teeth, her nails biting into the skin of her palm as she clenched her fists. "Fine. I'll go to the shrine." She started to leave. "Daughter!!" Mordrang called out, as her hand reached for the cloth partition. Morag glanced back and they shared a look for a moment, and then she was gone. Morag walked out into the frigid air once more. She was out of the camp within a few minutes, and she started up the steep path to the shrine. An ancient building that sat atop the cliffs. It was a long climb, but she had promised her father. What she would do when she got there, she did not know. She knew only that the Emperor was coming, and she was not allowed to fight. Tradition would not allow it. If both she and her father were killed, then who would lead the clan? Mordrang breathed a sigh of relief. His daughter was safe. For now, at least. "Gather all our remaining warriors. Today is a good day to die..." Mordrang reached over his shoulder and drew the blade from its scabbard and rested it on his shoulder. "Now let us go and see what the Emperor wants..." He stepped out of the tent, flanked by the four other warriors. As they moved through the camp, dozens more joined them. More and more joined their ranks until hundreds were marching down the path to the southern tundra. They walked in silence. Armour rattling. Swords clinking. Heads raised and sure footfall. The Valkyr had lived in the cold all their lives. They were accustomed to it. But it made outsiders sluggish. They were stronger, faster, more capable. One Valkyr Swordmaiden was equivalent to a dozen Solari fighters. But there was so few of them now. Less than a hundred. It wouldn't matter when the armies of the Emperor washed over them. Mordrang had never met the Emperor. He imagined he was like any other Mesmeri. Small, tan skin, round ears. But whatever else the Emperor was, he knew he was a threat. He had already gained the favour of the other clans, essentially undoing years of work. Mordrang had spent nearly two decades trying to unite the clans. Now the Emperor had all but done that under his rule. Mordrang stopped, his feet crunching in the snow. There ahead of them, lay the tundra. Snow slowly gave way to tufty grassland dotted with snow. It was still cold, but the bitterness had been taken from the air. About fifty feet ahead of them, stood a man dressed in a simple sarong, but he also adorned himself in golden bangles and braclets, jewels and all manner of finery. Mordrang - a Valkyr warrior - saw them as ridiculous trinkets. Unnecessary. He was used to a spartan way of living. "Greetings, Emperor Reshik Esperitus Hashiram!" Mordrang yelled, over the intermittent howl of the wind. "You've come a long way. The north isn't suited... for some. Perhaps you'd like to go home, sit inside your palace, and count your coin. I would gladly point you in the right direction." Mordrang held his sword forwards and pointed it to behind the Emperor. "It would be that way." The Emperor did not reply at first. He looked at Mordrang with a penetrating stare, golden lines within his pupils that were the shape of a five-point star. A buzzing ripple of energy cut through the wind from where the Emperor stood. "I have come to end this," his voice was deep and calm and carried in the distance even though he didn't appear to be yelling. "This need not end in the death of your people." Mordrang smirked. But he felt a shiver as his body tightened, he felt a kind of pressure coming from the Emperor. He had never known this power. The wind whipped his thick, mid-length white hair about his face, and watched as the Emperor stepped forwards of his accompanying figures. Mordrang gazed out and caught a face beneath a hood that he recognised. "Baldur!" Mordrang yelled. The figure recoiled, "Aye I see you, you old goat!!" "What of it?!" Baldur yelled back, standing behind the Emperor. "Valkyr do not bend the knee, Baldur! You and all your lot have forgotten the old ways!!" Mordrang spat on the ground. "The old ways are dead! The old gods are dead, Mordrang! They are spirits!! ONLY SPIRITS!!" "BAH!!" Mordrang snapped back, "So what of it, Reshik?!" Mordrang yelled, refocused on the Emperor. "You can prevent our deaths! You need only walk away. This, is our land. That," Mordrang pointed his blade to the building in the distance casting shade upon them from on high, "--is our shrine to Valk. And Valk, belongs to none. You have come to take her, or kill her. I cannot allow it." Reshik's expression did not change as Mordrang spoke, and after a moment he nodded his head just once. "I understand." He said, "Yet I cannot acquiesce to you. I am not taking this land from you, for this land has always been mine. Your Daemon is not welcome within my land, but your people are. I could see you made Highlord of Valkyr, Mordrang. Your people would be united under you. Daemons will be scoured from this land but all else can remain, and more could grow if your pride allowed it." There was sincerity to what he said, despite the measured tone. "You call them Daemons, but they're a terrible bondage for both host and spirit. You don't respect the sacrifice that's made when even one is bonded to you." Mordrang sliced a line through the snow and frozen mud and turf. "No further, Reshik. Our lands are ours and Daemon is an ugly word for a Spiritling. Take it back with you, if you like, and teach it to your court, i'm sure they'll have a great laugh." "You will not win." Reshik said with certainty, "You will die to protect the Daemon, I see that now but your traditions allow for it to end another way. I challenge you to fight me in combat for the fate of your people. If you die then they will surrender to me, and they will be spared." Mordrang felt the bite of the cold. He swallowed. He had never felt the cold, until now. The Emperor stepped towards him, and he felt a weight press against his chest. Mordrang lifted his blade, it was heavy. Heavier than he ever remembered. So this was what happened when a Spiritling took more and more until their power was leaking out of them. To him, it looked like the Emperor was broken, cracks of light almost seethed from him, but it didn't matter, it was terrifying. Mordrang roared in rage and bloodthirst. It was time to give his ancestors a song to sing in Korvortor, the after lands. Mordrang ran at Reshik, whipping his sword up through the air as he skid to a halt in front of the Emperor and swiped to cleave the man in two. There was a sudden rush of power and suddenly the sword shot off in the opposite direction, pulled by a powerful force. Reshik's eyes narrowed at Mordrang and then he forced Mordrang back with another blast of powerful wind. The snow flurried around Reshik in a spiral, and his clenched fist tightened as he took a step forward. As he slowly advanced toward Mordrang roots began to emerge rapidly from the ground beneath him, earth parted and rose into the air, orbiting the Emperor as ancient roots rose around him like a network of sentient vines. So, the stories were true. Mordrang brought his arms into his sides and focused, tapping a power he had kept caged for a long time. It's fury in being released was enormous, fire burned from within and before he knew it, it was around him in a swirling inferno. The other Valkyr retreated, even the Swordmaidens fell back. Mordrang stepped forwards, fire swirling around him, forming around his limbs and body. He felt a presence, then. I'm out. I'm out. It's time? The fire took shape, and when Mordrang stepped forwards, his Valkyr body was somewhere inside an enormous bear of living fire. When he spoke, it was like a combination of Mordrang and whatever was with him now. These are our lands. We hunt here. You are in our territory. LEAVE!!! Ursun. A spirit of the wild, one that was focused on the control of territory and those that violated its perceived boundaries. The Ursun/Mordrang bear of flame and anger charged Reshik, melting the snow with a hiss with each stomping stride. The bear roared, and a wave of heat struck the Emperor moments before the bear opened it's maw and leapt to strike. Reshik grimaced and shot his hand forward in a command and the roots suddenly began growing rapidly, exploding from the earth and coiling around the creature as it ripped and tore at the vines. rocks and earth rose up to compact itself between the vines, then Reshik countered with his own intense heat as fire scorched the compacted earth and rocks, melting them into a burning magma. Finally the magma cooled rapidly and became solid as the heat was sucked out of it. A small tower of scorched vines bound together by black rock now stood within the field, Mordrang contained within. The wind howled mournfully for a moment, and between them a cracking could be heard from within the structure. The rock exploded from within, as the bear grew to twice its previous size, it roared in anger and pain as it's fire went from red to blue and its heat grew ever more intense, then suddenly it was over. Mordrang jerked as something hit him. He looked down at his chest and saw his own blade. He reached to his chest and touched it as though he wasn't sure it was really there. His eyes drifted up, he saw the Emperor with his hand outstretched. It seemed, the act was over. He would never have been victorious. As he collapsed to his knees, the fire dispersed around him. Where do spirits go? To Korvortor...? Ursun asked. "I don't know..." Mordrang muttered aloud, and then as the Emperor approached him, he saw a figure standing behind Reshik. It was his daughter, Morag. There will be rage... "Don't--" Mordrang whispered, his world turning to black. "You're not-- supp-- be here..." He felt a hand grip the hilt of his blade. Morag screamed in horror and anger as her father's sword was yanked free of her father's corpse. The body collapsed to the ground, eyes glassy, staring to the sky as blood pooled around him. Her anger and hurt and sadness funnelled into outrage as her gaze fixed on Reshik. A dozen warriors, and three Swordmaidens stood between her and Reshik. Morag drew her blade. "You monster..." "He chose this," Reshik replied, his tone measured. "Do this and you will dishonour his sacrifice." "What good is honour, when we have forgotten all the songs and tales of our people. I defy you, and everything you stand for!" The Swordmaidens grew restless. "Don't do this!" Baldur piped up once more. "Morag! You have a greater responsibility--" "Kill them." Morag growled. The warriors charged, but the first to reach the Emperor were the Swordmaidens. Their blades fell at different points to cut the Emperor down but he was too fast, he spun, blocking two of the strikes and grabbed them, throwing them into the men behind him. The remaining Swordmaiden, clad in the typical white armour, charged and fought with the Emperor in one-on-one. The other two Swordmaidens easily dispatched several of the Imperial-sympathetic Valkyr Chiefs, but by the time they reached Baldur, vines struck them and pierced their bodies in multiple places, ending them. Then a gust of wind pulled the final Swordmaiden's feet out from under her, and a blade found her back. Morag ran. As she fled, the remaining warriors threw themselves in vain, upon the Emperor. Like a wave crashing against a mountain, it made little difference. She heard their screams as they were cut down. She had to reach the temple. She could hear rapid footfall behind her. The Emperor was not just following her. He was chasing her. She was in terrible danger. She heard Baldur screaming something as she raced up the old stone stairs. Disappearing into the shrine. By the time she reached the statue of Valk, the Great Raven, she heard the doors open a second time as the Emperor's shadow was cast through the shrine, shrouding her. "Great Raven, protect me, give me the strength to dispatch our enemy..." Morag put her hand to the breast of the stone raven. "Great Raven, help us in our time of need." The raven remained motionless, she heard footsteps. Morag whirled around and drew her blade as the Emperor approached. "I won't let you..." The blade was ripped from her hands and pinned to the wall. The Emperor narrowed his eyes at Morag. "Step aside," he ordered. Morag charged Emperor Reshik. Anger and sadness welled up inside her, and she gave in to her emotions. She grabbed for his throat, but this was not a being she had ever faced in combat before. He moved so quickly she barely understood what had happened. One moment he was there, the next he was passing her, and she felt a rip and something hit the floor as she suddenly felt lighter and off-balance. Then waves of pain tore through her and she saw her left arm had been severed. She fell to the floor as the Emperor passed her and stood before the Great Raven. "No..." Morag growled, picking herself back up. She turned and ran once more at the Emperor. He seemed absorbed, long enough that she was able to grab his neck from behind but then suddenly he was mist, he reformed behind her, and she felt the blade pierce her back and saw it extend before her. She felt the blade drag its way out of her body but she was numb to the pain now. She hit the freezing stone floor and blinked, trying to focus on the Emperor. A brilliant flash of green light, thunder, rain and lightning cracked inside the shrine. The statue glowed with green light as it gave off black smoke and pulled itself away from the stone itself. An enormous raven, formed of glowing green light and black smoke took flight. Morag heard the Emperor yell, and then something struck her in the chest with a force strong enough that she felt herself become airborne and land at the top of the stairs leading out of the shrine. There was footfall again. She had to get to her feet, now. Her doom was coming. Fleeing the shrine, Morag ran for the cliffs. The camp was overrun now. There was no going back. To her surprise, she saw that while she had been inside the shrine, the weather had changed. A storm had developed. Rain began to fall. Lightning flashed in the distance. And the sky grew darker and darker. Reaching the edge of the cliff, Morag looked down and saw the ocean churning below, crashing against the rocks. She glanced behind her, and saw the Emperor approaching her once more. She had only two options. Stay and die with certainty. Jump and die in all likelihood. "I defy you..." Morag repeated. One day, she would have vengeance. She would not die. Not today. Korvortor would have to wait a while longer for this warrior. Morag Lunéan, daughter of Mordrang, Chief of the Lunéan Clan, Captain of the Swordmaidens, leapt from the cliff. As she tumbled through the air, the spray from the ocean hitting her face as she descended. She saw the face of the Emperor, staring down from the edge of the cliff. Then her world collapsed in on itself, as the rush of water enveloped her and the world above became a murky illusion of light and memory. Valkheim. 200 years later. Darkness. She felt fuzzy. She couldn't focus. She tried to take a breath, and pain filled her. Her eyes shot open and she gagged on water. She kicked her legs with all the force she could muster, and just as her lungs were beginning to burn she breached the surface and took an enormous breath. She kicked with her legs, and her only arm. She only had one arm? The shore wasn't far, but it certainly wasn't any easier only doing it with one arm. She had to fight the current all the way there. When she finally pulled herself up onto the beach she was exhausted. Her clothes were in tatters. She checked herself over. Her left arm was missing. A large section of white scar tissue spread from her shoulder where an arm should have been. And there was a white scar in the shape of a large, slim diamond, both on her front and, as she discovered in checking,on her back as well. Where was she? It was freezing. Was that normal? "Who are we.. we?" She said aloud, her voice was authoritative, yet she hardly had the knowledge to back it up. And it had a kind of resonance to it, as though two were speaking at once ever so slightly out of sync. She coughed again, feeling a bit better and stood up. As she did so, she noticed she was a few feet from a harbour. It was completely unrecognisable to her. Ships were moving back and forth, people were everywhere, all kinds of people. Some of them looked like her, at least what she could see in the reflection of the water, but a great many more looked very different. None of them seemed to pay her any mind. Why would they? She was just some woman in rags. She felt strange. Like she was having a conversation with herself. Her thoughts were all jumbled up, and she couldn't remember anything. "Hey!!" A voice called. She looked up and saw two men in light armour with an emblem of a wolf on their uniforms. That emblem meant something, but she couldn't think what. Had she known? "Look!" One of the men said, "She's got a Clan mark of Lunéan. Black hair, but... I know that symbol anywhere. She's probably run off from her Master-- Hey!!" He yelled down at her, "Wait there!!" She bolted. She knew that whatever was going on, these men were not here to help her. She ran as fast as she could, but she felt so weak. Suddenly, as she turned a corner, she bumped straight into one of the men who wrestled her to the ground. "Alright, alright, that's enough o' that, you're spendin' the night in a jail--hey!" The guard paused and looked her over, "There's something wrong with her..." "Don't worry 'bout that, just report it to that Sorceri and maybe we'll get a reward," The other guard chuckled and leaned over her, "An' in the mornin' we're findin' your owner." "NOTHING OWNS US!!" She snapped, the very idea of this suddenly enraged her. She began to thrash violently. Something would take her freedom away? She was freedom. She was flight. She was... something struck her in the back of the head, and everything went dark. When her eyes next opened, she was in a cell. It was freezing and damp, but she was alive. She didn't even know who she was. But she was alive, and that was a start. She heard footsteps. The voice of a man talking to someone. He was describing something. "Like a Valkyr woman, only hair is black an' it's like... smoke or ink or somethin', an' her eyes are green. Green-eyed Iceheart, ya ever hear a such a thing?! An' talkin' funny--" She listened intently. A Valkyr? She was a Valkyr woman, then. She reached up with her right arm and brushed hair out of her face. They were right, it was almost like a waterfall of ink pouring over her head and vanishing around her chest. When she moved it with her hand, it was like correcting a trail of water, laced with black smoke. But she was not so different from them. These beings were like water too. But she was even wetter than they were. Is that what it meant to be Valkyr? But she felt like a storm, a tempest, a-- then she saw a face that made her angry for a reason she couldn't describe. She didn't know why it made her angry, but she knew she was in danger. Like an instinct. She fled to the back of the cell, into the shadows. Her eyes, glowing in the darkness, black and emerald smoke rising from them. The guard banged on the cage, "Aye she's in there alright, Master Sorceri. She's a Daemon i'd wager, an' uh, don't suppose... there's a reward?" The iron bars of the cell clanged as she slammed her body against the metal, one black-clawed hand outstretched, she bore her teeth, which were more like fangs and grasped at the air, inches from the man with the face she hated, "Why do we hate you?!" The guard leapt out of his skin and recoiled until his back slammed up against the wall. But the man she hated, well... he didn't move an inch.
  3. Earlier
  4. Darkpine Valley

    The engine of the Pontiac GTO muscle car roared with bubbling menace as it glided through the winding roads framed by nationally-protected forest on either side. The enormous pine trees glistened off the ruby red, well-maintained body of the vintage car. A voice wailed from inside the car, the radio playing 'Immigrant Song' by Led Zeppelin. A pale hand tapped on the driver's wheel, their nails almost like claws, filed to a point and painted with black nail polish. She leant back in her chair and shoved her boot up against the wheel, holding it steady. Reaching into her black jean pocket, she pulled out a black lipstick and re-applied then took the wheel once more. Her amber-coloured eyes glanced at her road map. The town of Darkpine was only another mile into the heart of the national forest. Up until the 1980's, Darkpine had been a mining and logging town. When the surrounding forest became protected land, all industry stopped and Darkpine became focused on conservation, education, and wildlife protection, which brought in tourists and all kinds, but it kept the town afloat. So said the flyer, at least. She wasn't coming to Darkpine for the conservation though, unless that is, it was her own. Her name was Alice, and she had seen a few things. A few things that most people would scarcely believe, even if they saw for themselves. She brushed her medium-length scruffy raven hair out of her face and refocused on the road. She saw a sign approaching but her keen eyes quickly noticed it was so worn that it was illegible. There was a gas station coming up, and from there, several roads going in every which way. She'd have to stop and ask for directions. Alice pulled into the gas station and killed the engine. The music continued to wail until she hit pause and got out of the car. As she did so, two men stepped out of the gas station shop and approached with a wave. "Evenin' miss!" The man called out, "Hang on--" He leaned over and pressed a button, the gas station lit up with an assortment of lights. "Sorry, I know it's already pretty dark but we're savin' energy, gotta be mindful o' the environment, y'know?" Alice smirked, canines gleaming, "Sure." She looked the man up and down. He was tall, balding, wearing denims. Alice glanced behind him and her eyes were met by the second man. This man, she did not like. She recognised in something she knew all too familiar. He was quiet. He was meticulous. He was a predator. When her eyes caught his, he looked away sharp. "So," She turned back to the man in denim, "Which way to Darkpine?" "Darkpine!?" Denim repeated, blinking in surprise, "What'd ya wanna go there for, Miss--?" "Alice. Do people need reasons t'go places these days? What's it to you?" Alice asked, putting a hand on her hip, her tone accusatory. "Oh no, nothing. Just bein' curious is all, sorry, Miss. Take the road to the left there, you'll be on Darkpine in no time." "Thank ye." She nodded to him, then jerked her head at his colleague who was now walking back to the pumps, "What's up with him?" "Oh, don't mind him, Tom's a good kid, wouldn't hurt a fly." He brushed her off, "Name's Jack. I'm the only gas station for miles, well..." He paused, irritably. "Well?" Alice asked, her brow raising. "Besides that one in Darkpine, lord knows how they got the contract to that town when i'm stuck out here on Route 14, but--" Jack took a deep breath and shook his head, "That family's old as this wood, so what's a guy t'do?" He laughed and started back towards the pumps. "Bathrooms over yonder," Jack nodded in their direction, "If you want something to eat, or fuel up or anything just come in the shop, we'll sort you out." And with that, he left. Alice whipped the keys around on her finger a few times, considering her options. Throwing the keys into the air, she snatched them and shoved them into her pocket. The gas station door jingled as it opened. Jack's eyes lit up and he nodded to her, "What'd ya need?" "Wanna fill up the tank for me?" Alice asked, flashing a wad of notes. She paid for the gas upfront and walked outside as both Jack and Tom rushed to service the car. Jack grabbed the gas and started filling it up, while Tom was hoovering the inside. Alice tapped her short-cut leather jacket. She felt the pack of cigarettes inside and reached in, pulling one out and lighting it. She took a deep drag, savouring the flavour for a moment, then exhaled it from her nose like a dragon and wandered into the women's bathroom. To her great surprise, the bathroom was incredibly clean. She figured they didn't get many visitors. She crossed the bathroom and entered the furthest stall. She had time enough to close the door, when she heard the bathroom door open, and a second person walked in. To the average person, it could have been anyone. But Alice knew who it was. She recognised his smell. She felt the weight of his footsteps. And he favoured his right leg. His heart was also beating out of his chest, just as it had been when he first saw her pull up. The old work boots stomped across the slightly damp tiled floor. She heard him pause at the first stall. Alice walked to the back of her stall, put the seat of the toilet down, and sat upon it. A few more steps. The door to the second stall was knocked open. A moment's silence. Then more footsteps. She looked to the bottom of the stall, and saw a shadow cast from the other side. She could feel the heat of his body. Then it happened. Tom kicked the stall door open with a single attempt and took one step towards her. He didn't speak, he didn't even really acknowledge her. He let out a long-held breath, and advanced. "Aww for Christ sake, would you look at all o' this..." Police Chief Andy Marchand growled in disgust. He had just arrived after poor Jack, the owner of the gas station on route 14 had reported an animal attack. Whatever it was had gotten Tom. There was nothing to be done. When Andy stepped under the yellow police tape and walked into the bathroom, he had to steel himself or lose the contents of his stomach. It was bad. Real bad. He almost tripped on something as the front of his foot got caught. He looked down to see a clutched hand and stumbled back, "Aww Christ, geezus!!" He croaked, but he hadn't even seen the worst of it. Blood everywhere. On the walls. On the ceiling, still dripping down onto them like it was raining indoors. The body was in several pieces, and it had lost most of the blood. That much was obvious, from the copious amounts splattered on everything in the bathroom, and the grey, wrinkled body. "Fuck." Andy cursed, clenching his fists. "FUCK!!" His yell echoed across the bathroom. A flash brought him back to his senses and he saw a woman taking photographs of the fallout. Another flash from her camera. "Hey!" He called out to her, "You got a sec?" Andy asked. "Sure." She let the camera fall limp around her neck and carefully crossed the room, missing the worst of the blood pools. "What's up, Chief?" "Is this the only body?" He queried. "Yep. Jack said there was a girl came through here not long before the attack, but luckily she left before whatever it was took out poor Tom over there... and there... and there." She pointed at the dismembered arm. "Well i'd like to speak to her, maybe she saw something before she left, or maybe she left quick because it was already there when she left..." Andy rubbed his face, running his hand through his thick moustache as he often did when he found himself thinking. "Did you get a name?!" He yelled out to Jack, who refused to come back inside the bathroom. "WoooOO!" Alice hooted, "Now we're cookin' wit' gas!" Her playful drawl was unmistakably from New Orleans. The Pontiac sped past a sign saying 'Welcome to Darkpine!', as Alice used her long tongue, to lap up the last streaks of blood on her lips. Darkpine was a small town, population of a few thousand. Most everybody knew everybody. Facebook made that all too clear. Alice threw her phone onto the passenger seat and then glanced up in the rearview mirror. "Dang it!" She pursed her lips as she reached back for her lipstick again. She found it and looked at the road ahead. She was coming up on the other side of the town, almost home. One last road, pub on the left. Not a car or person in sight. Alice glanced up, quickly grabbing her lipstick. She rolled it across her lips, pursed and rolled her lips so that it re-applied. Her eyes caught movement in her periphery but by the time she looked, it was too late. A drunk, stumbled out into the middle of the round, and she had been speeding. There was nothing Alice could do. An instant later, she hit the man, her windshield cracked and he flew out ahead of her as she brought her car to a screeching halt. The man hit the concrete, she heard a terrible 'crack' and he tumbled and finally hit a tree on the other side of the street. Alice hesitated behind the wheel. Alice felt the need to bail on this situation looming. Self-preservation. She was very good at that. But now she wasn't sure. Alice hesitated. But then she saw a couple walking towards the body. "Aw SHIT!!" Alice leapt out of her car and sprinted towards the couple, "Sir! Ma'am!!" She yelled out. "Hey is that man--" The man squinted in the darkness, the nearest street lamp was too far away. Alice caught up to them, "Sorry folks, sorry! Don't mind my friend, he's had one too many." "He looks hurt!" The woman gasped. "Hurt?!" Alice whipped her head back to look at the man. He looked, well... he looked dead. His limbs were splayed in all directions and his neck was definitely snapped. But then she realised. It was as though it hadn't registered at first. This man, the one she had hit with her car, was not dead. Well, he was dead. But only as much as she was. Alice looked him up and down, "Well... maybe a little more dead..." She thought aloud. "What--?!" The man yelled in surprise, "Did I hear that right?!" "Bed... BED!!" Alice clicked her fingers at them and laughed, "Sorry. Bed. Maybe he needs a little more bed, y'know. Time to sleep." She ran over to him and picked him up, "See he's fine look, he's helping me carry his weight look, i'm five foot nothin' and half his weight, for sure." The man looked to the woman and she shook her head insistently and the pair darted off. "Right then..." Alice muttered, turning and hoisting the corpse of the man onto her shoulder effortlessly. "Come on, then, best get you home..." With the Pontiac parked, Alice got out of the car and pulled the stranger's corpse with her, shutting the door behind them and locked it. "Welcome to ma maison!" She cooed as she walked up the drive to a modern-looking house with lots of glass - though it was all deeply tinted, nothing could be seen of the house inside. "Just like the estate agent said--" She pulled the house keys from inside the soil of the potted plant beside the door. Opening the door, she pulled the corpse inside and shut the front door behind her and locked it. "Best get ya some fresh clothes or somethin'..." He was mangled. Alice frowned and went into the kitchen and came back with two glasses and three bags of blood. The first bag, she pierced with one of her nails and then emptied the contents down the corpse's throat. Then she stood over him, grabbed his head and with incredible precision - perhaps as though she had done this a great many times before - she snapped his neck back into place. Then she sat back down, and pierced the other two bags and emptied them into the glasses. By the time they were full, she heard moaning. She brought one to her lips and took a sip, then offered the other to the man who still had several bad injuries that required healing. "So..." Alice held the glass out to him, "You're a vampire? Like me, then." She smirked, her canines hanging over her bottom lip.
  5. Sorceri

    Fade walked swiftly down the cobbled roads of Grimstone’s main street. The sketchy old town was mostly hidden in darkness at night, illuminated only by the firelight of the few homes and establishments still awake. The rain was falling in that half-hearted way it always did just before it finally gave up. Eilun, the smaller of the moons was beginning to pierce through the gaps in the clouds, casting a faintly purple light. The streets were empty, Grimstone was not the kind of place that you stayed out in after dark, well, at least if you were other people. Darkness frightened most people, but Fade was the type of creature that relished the darkness and the shadows. Of course, there were lots of dangers in the darkness, but he had yet to encounter anything that was quite as dangerous as he was. He turned on to a side street and made his way towards the orange glow of lamplight coming from a small tavern. It was a little out of the way but seemed to still have patrons. He stepped inside. Rainwater dripped from his cloak on to the wooden floorboards. He was immediately greeted by warm air and bright light from the torchlights. He noted the tiny serpent creatures that danced around the flames, fire serpents. The lesser spirits were harmless and often entirely oblivious to their surroundings, but they seemed to appear around open flames quite often. Fade stalked across the room and sat himself at a stool by the bar, outwardly paying no attention to the other patrons. He kept his hood up, obscuring his face as the barman came up to him and cleared his throat. He kept his gaze down at the scratched wood of the bar and hesitated for a moment, keeping his body hunched and cowered slightly. The trouble with small towns is that strange faces brought suspicion. Appearing weak was an effective means of lowering someone’s guard. “What’ll it be?” The barman asked finally. “Whisky.” He said it quickly, let out fall out of his mouth despite himself. It took a bit of practice to mimic the quick, desperate plea of a man who was dependent on his liquor. He did not look up but none the less he could see the barman’s expression. In fact, he could see the entire room he was sitting in. Strictly speaking all he could see was the bar in front of him, yet he had a sense of where everything was, in the way that you know what your house looks like and where everything is placed even when you aren’t in it, like a memory. The memories were not his, however. There was another presence, a light pressure he could feel against his mind, a creature that observed while he played the role of a harmless drunk. Dangerous people were often easy to spot, because you could watch them watching everything around them, assessing and calculating. Fade had kept his head down the entire time, and yet he knew that there were 6 people in the room including himself. Three of them sat at a table behind him and to his left, another was sat alone in a small table by the far wall to his right, and the barman was in front of him. He was also aware that there were at least 3 distinct sounds of footsteps from the floor above him. As the barman poured him a glass of whisky he became aware that the barman was armed with a small dirk he kept stuffed in his left sleeve. The 3 men at the table all carried swords, and the lone woman had no visible weapons. “-Spotter’s Wood has gone dark as well, what are- “ “Sh!” One of the men shushed the other one who spoke, slapping him lightly on the head. “What? It’s just some old wino.” The man replied in a hushed whisper that Fade shouldn’t have been able to hear, and yet he could. “Probably doesn’t know his arse from his elbow I reckon.” “Yeah and twits like you mouthing off is exactly why every single one of our hideouts have been cleaned out. How else do you think people find out?” Old clients, dead drop surveillance, paying off multiple informants, hiring plants to pretend to be clients. Fade listed off just a handful of the many ways in which one could uncover the secret hideouts of a group of assassins. If it was as easy as overhearing someone in a pub then he’d have finished this job months ago. 4 months, 47 people killed. 47 members of the most renowned assassin guild in The Reach, a guild known as Maelstrom. Renown probably wasn’t a great quality in assassins, but while the guild was famous, the people within it were not. Fade had tracked down most of them now. He had located their various front operations, killed their operatives and destroyed their documents. Anything of real value would be in the hands of whoever was running this operation, a person he had yet to identify. A person that he was almost certain was one of the three footsteps from the floor above. This dirty little pub was the last of their hideouts, and the dregs had come running here just as he had expected. Now he just had to think about how to end them all. Any disturbance would alert the people one floor up. If they chose to fight then that wasn’t an issue, but if they chose to flee that would be a problem. It was not worth the risk. “6 dims.” The barman said, holding his hand out for Fade to pay him. Fade reached into his cloak and retrieved his money pouch. He opened it and took out 6 small grey coins. The barman took them and stepped away from Fade, who sipped his whisky and hid his annoyance. 6 dims for this piss? In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a large sum. He’d paid as much as 4 brights for whisky before, but stuff that expensive was in a different league entirely. Even that wasn’t a great deal of money for him. This job alone was paying him 15 blindings, he knew Lords that didn’t have that much wealth. “She watches.” A voice in his head said suddenly. It was a deep, harsh voice that only barely resembled that of a human. “The one who sits by herself, she is watching you carefully” the voice said with a throaty, purring quality. Fade did not respond; the creature could speak to his mind, but he could not speak back in the same way. Instead he began to think about his next step. The men sitting together would have to be dispatched quickly if he was to prevent them from raising alarm, yet the woman sitting by herself was focused on him, likely she was the most capable person in the room. He knew of only 6 more operatives he had left to kill, and this barman would make seven. So, the woman…had she slipped by his intel? Or perhaps one of the ones upstairs was a captive, or a new initiate? What is this woman was the ringleader? She seemed sharp enough to have caught the creature’s attention anyway. He considered his next step, and then Fade downed the rest of the terrible whisky and placed the glass back on the table. “Another please, barkeep.” He said, and he tapped his finger on the edge of the glass. The barman finished cleaning a glass with a rag that looked dirtier than what it was apparently cleaning. He picked up the bottle of whisky and came over to pour the liquid into Fade’s glass. As he began to pour his eyes focused on the glass. Fade took an inhalation of breath and held it, a rehearsed behavior for him by now, and then without warning he disappeared, leaving behind wisps of black smoke. He reappeared behind the bar, at the barman’s back, and in the blink of an eye he had grabbed the barman’s head from behind and pulled it back, as he drew the sharp end of a curved dagger along his throat. He disappeared again, and by the time the barman had fallen, the whisky bottle smashing against the ground, he had already reappeared behind one of the men at the table, and he slit that man’s throat as the other two shot up, their chairs scraping in horror. In a blink he had teleported once more, appearing in a crouch on the table, he rammed the dagger up into the soft flesh under the man’s jaw at an angle, causing him to gargle quietly as life rapidly fled from him. The remaining man was about to scream, Fade wouldn’t be able to react in time. His shadow rippled, and he felt the sudden surge of excitement from the creature. A large black cat shot out of his shadow like it was the exit to a dark cave, the creature mauled the man, clamping its powerful jaws on his throat and riding him backwards to the ground, where he menaced at his flesh, reveling in the kill. With another blink Fade was at the woman who had stood up from her chair, but as he came to face her she held her hands up in surrender, a smirk across her face. In her right hand she held an object. It was a stamp, one used for sealing wax. His eyes studied the glyph on the end of the stamp. The stylized, symmetrical glyph was not one he could read, it was a uniquely designed glyph and he was not scholarly enough to make out the script the glyph had been derived from. Yet he recognized it immediately. The black cat padded up behind him, it was the size of a large dog, lean and muscular. Its eyes were an alluring shade of purple, the pupil’s tiny slits. Kuuri was no ordinary beast. His black fur seemed to glint every so often, as if his coat were made of the night sky itself, stars twinkling throughout. “Why is she still alive?” Kuuri asked, sounding mildly incredulous. “Because…this woman is our employer.” Fade replied, and he turned towards the woman who was still smirking, and she lowered her arms. “I suppose I should be glad that you’re as sharp as I expected, or else I might have been a beautiful corpse, hm?” The woman had the light tan skin of a woman from Mesmer, she had hair the colour of sand, long with loose curls. She was dressed in a white shirt with a green jerkin, and a pair of brown breeches, and knee-high brown boots. Along with the maroon bandana she had tied around her head she didn’t dress much like a lady. “I have questions.” Fade said to her, but she held up a hand to stop him from asking them. “You are close, but you haven’t finished your job yet.” She said with that sly grin, “I’ll answer you when you’re done.” Fade resisted to urge to cut her down right there. He was not a man to be toyed with, and he had no patience for people who liked to play games with him. At the same time, he could not allow himself failure, he could not allow a contract to be unfulfilled. “Very well.” He said, and then he turned around and walked across the room, drawing the other curved dagger from his belt and held each in a reverse grip as he walked up the stairs to the next floor. Kuuri followed him without comment and disappeared inside his shadow once more. Fade’s extrasensory awareness returned to him as Kuuri returned to his shadow. While they were bonded in such a way his senses became more acute. Teleporting was harder without Kuuri within his shadow, it required more calculation. As he walked up the steps his awareness told him that one of his targets was reaching for the door ahead of them. He quickened his pace and as the door opened a balding man emerged in its frame and had just enough time to look alarmed before Fade teleported behind him and kicked him, sending the man tumbling down the stairs to the bar. Fade turned to face the last two people in the room. One was just getting up from a chair behind a desk while the other had already drawn his sword and was advancing towards Fade. The man went at a run and Fade waited for him. His attacker came at his with a strong forward thrust which Fade side stepped. The man swung the blade upwards and Fade leaned away from it and ducked as it went over his head. From the crouch he made a dive at the man, and then both of their worlds were engulfed in black smoke. There was a sudden rush of cold air, and the sensation of plummeting. The world around them was black, but below them there were some soft glows of light that were gradually getting closer. Fade let go of the man, pushing him away with a sudden blast of wind, and the man screamed as he fell towards the earth, his fate sealed. Another blink and Fade reappeared in the room. Gravity’s work on him was still going, and as he reappeared he had positioned himself sideways, and he fell forward through the room, towards the last remaining member of Maelstrom. His foot struck the man with a powerful kick, but the man did not budge. The impact was as if he’d hit a solid wall, and as he fell back and landed on his feet it was only then that he saw the thick tree branches that were coiled around the man’s legs, holding him firmly in place. “Finally.” Fade said with a nod of respect, “I figured one of you had to be bonded, surely.” “Second Awakening.” The man replied with a smirk. The wood of the floor suddenly shot up and grew around Fade, coiling rapidly around his limbs, tightly binding him until he was imprisoned in a mess of thick, twisting branches and vines. “So, you are the one who has devastated my guild? Disappointing I have to say…I thought you would offer up more of a challenge.” “…Well I didn’t expect such a display if I’m honest. How much growth did you have to absorb to pull this off? Second Awakening you said? So…years of stockpiling I imagine.” “What can I say? I’m prepared.” The man replied smugly, “I’ve been bonded since childhood, I achieved my Second Awakening almost 5 years ago now, I’ve adapted well to the power that comes with it. And what of you? Second Awakening also?” Fade allowed himself a satisfied smirk. “Seventh.” He said casually. “What?” came the dumbfounded response. Fade suddenly teleported, freeing himself from his bonds. Dread filled his target’s eyes as he flickered in and out of existence, rapidly cutting at the man, blood sprayed across the room, Fade moving and cutting at him with such speed that the poor man could not even track him. In moments he fell to the ground, his body in tatters, and the floor crimson with his blood. “Messy.” Kuuri said as he emerged from Fade’s shadow and stalked across the room, inspecting the scene. “I do enjoy the sight of blood…but this is out of character for you.” “A brief lapse of judgement.” Fade replied as he walked over to the desk on the other side of the room. In truth, for the longest time, he had become steadily bored of this work. Nothing seemed to offer him a worthy challenge any more. So, for a moment he decided to cut loose. “It won’t happen again.” He added as he inspected the desk and picked up the book on it. “It had better not.” Kuuri replied with a warning tone, “I will not allow my power to be wielded by a man who cannot control himself. Our bargain can come to an end, I am not some sentimental guardian spirit who will follow you to the ends of the earth.” “I am well aware of that, thank you.” Fade replied as he flicked through the pages of the book. It was a ledger written in Ishaaran script. He had a basic understanding of the script, but he was no scribe. Even to his novice reading level the structure seemed quite unusual.” “What is in it?” Kuuri asked, as he hopped up on to the desk and turned around in a circle before sitting down, his tail flicking lazily. “It’s a cypher.” Fade replied, closing the book shut. “Probably a ledger…client list perhaps. If they’ve taken the trouble to encode the script, then it’s probably valuable information.” “Very valuable.” Said the woman from before as she emerged from the staircase, “I think that man you threw down the stairs was the scribe. His head is bleeding quite heavily…I’m fairly sure he’s dead.” “As will you be if you do not start explaining yourself.” Fade replied coldly “Now is that any way to speak to your employer?” The woman asked with a smirk. “You are no longer my employer, I have fulfilled my end of our contract. Now you are simply a woman who owes me a great debt.” Fade replied. The woman sighed and tossed a large pouch of coins towards him and they landed with a clink on the floor. “15 blindings as agreed.” The woman said, “Now I have more work for you if you’re interested.” “You are a very capable woman, you already knew where this hideout was, you knew the value of the book I hold, and you did not show even the slightest bit of surprise at witnessing my power.” Fade walked over to the money pouch and picked it up, fastening it to his belt. “I do not work with people who know more about me than I do them, especially since I work hard to keep a low profile.” “Yes, you do.” She agreed, “I am very resourceful though. Many know of the legendary assassin Fade, but I doubt many living people know that you are he. You are also Vama The Knife, Kurik Bloodstealer, and at least a dozen other identities including, once, the Lord of Duskhollow. However, I know the one name that no one else knows you by…Raze Trellian.” The utterance of that name rattled Fade to his core. That name…his true name. How could she know it? He had not uttered it himself in…how long had it been? 30 years? More? “You better have a good offer, or I’ll end you right here.” He growled. “Of course, I have a challenge that is fit only for the very best assassin Ishaar has ever seen. The reward for which is 200 blindings.” “That’s obscene, you can’t possibly have that much wealth.” Fade replied. “I can, and I do…” The woman said, “Of course I know money is not the wealth you seek. You desire a real challenge…something that will help you reach your true goal…and yes, I know what that is too. Do you think you are ready for it?” Fade was still toying with the idea of slitting her throat. She knew far too much about him. Yet she knew exactly what he was after. She had set this little job up as a test, he could see that now. Months of his life spent on a test, so that she could see if he was worthy of her true mission. What could possibly be so challenging? “Tell me.” He demanded. “I want you to assassinate Emperor Reshik Esperitus Hashiram, The Ascendant God.” She said, and her sick little grin only got wider. Fade almost laughed. The idea was ridiculous, but then he saw that despite the smirk he could see in this woman’s eyes that she was serious. “You wish me to kill an immortal being that has ruled this land uncontested for at least 2 millennia?” Fade asked. Kuuri gave an excited purr. “He is worthy prey.” Kuuri said encouragingly. “He’s God!” Fade protested “God is dead, Raze Trellian.” The woman said. “Reshik is but a man who has claimed power…just as you have. He can be killed, I promise you that.” “If you’re so sure then why don’t you do it yourself?” Fade asked “Unfortunately I am somewhat forcibly following a path of pacifism.” She replied, “Which is why I wish for you to be my knife. What say you Ra-“ “Fade, if you please.” Fade replied. “And what do I call you?” “Me?” The woman asked, “You can call me Wander.” --- --- --- --- "When I was a boy Etri helped me tend my mother's garden. All I could offer was a light touch, but time and sustenance were still necessary for growth. When I attempted to grow the plants quicker i would fall deeply lethargic and occasionally fell to illness. Yet when I was a man with children of my own I found that I could do so much more with Etri's help. Where once I drew from within I now find power from elsewhere." This excerpt from the memoirs of Manev Laerin, a horticulturalist from the 12th century is one of the earliest records of humankind's awareness of Spiritual Investment. Interestingly the absence of scribe annotations indicates that the words were possibly written by the man himself. It is interesting to see literacy in a man already specialized in another field, especially in a text from almost 800 years ago. The text contains no other mention of Investment and Manev seems unaware of what essence he drew power from. Wood elemental sorcery is known to draw Investment from plants, causing them to wither, then this energy can be distributed to other plant matter to allow for growth. This is a logical parallel, rapid decay of one source and the rapid growth of another. If this is an accurate assessment of the investment process then it indicates that energy cannot be generated via Sorcery, it is more likely that this phenomenon is simply the redistribution of energy which already exists within our world. Osha indicates that my hypothesis is too rigid, too simple. As always, he is unable to offer further extrapolation. It is a frustrating but nonetheless universal trait of spirits that their knowledge is dependent on that of their bond partner. Osha declares that he knows the answers I seek, but that he cannot summon them in to words. He described this as, "Knowledge held captive. Treasures locked within a chest. A key we must find. The right key. Discovery!" Use of metaphor is a relatively new behavior to him, in our youth together Osha often found metaphors confusing. Osha's understanding begins to extend beyond logical concepts and he begins to contemplate abstraction. The indication is as clear to me as it is to anyone who has achieved the Second Awakening and beyond; We must learn on our own, we must discover the secrets of our bond. Spirits can guide us but are unable to simply supply the answers we seek. It is interesting that with such a range of different spirits catalogued within our world that all recognize and are bound to the principles of endeavor. This may seem a digression, but I think these factors are related. Common spirits are often bound by trade guilds to enhance their craft. While common spirits can form a lasting bond, unlike the typical temporary bond of a lesser spirit, it is unheard of for such spirits and their partners to achieve anything beyond the Second Awakening. Common spirits also seem to invest in essences closer to their elemental association; Fire spirits draw in heat, Water spirits draw in water, Earth spirits draw in earth and so on. Yet these examples of broader investment seem to be relative to the potential abilities that can manifest via the bond. The Sorcerium teaches that spirits are primarily beings that represent natural forces, and secondarily they are shaped by the ideas of humans. Yet research cultivated over 2 millennia has enriched our understanding of the natural world. The five elements that Sorceri doctrine clings so tightly to has already been proven to be mere vagaries. In developing my own sorcery with water, I have discovered that this substance which we refer to as an element is in fact a compound of other elements. One of these elements I have found is quite possibly the most abundant element in our entire land, perhaps the entire world. Water can exist in a solid, liquid or gas state based on the conditions of its environment, and I have found that through deeper understanding of the very nature of this element I have achieved a degree of refined manipulation that has yet to be matched by any water sorcerer I have encountered. Is it possible that common elemental spirits are manifestations of the very common understanding of said elements? Could spirits be manifestations of human cognition in their entirety? If my hypothesis is correct, then our limitations in manipulating the forces of this world are only limited by our individual understanding of the finer workings of nature. As our understanding of the world advances will our spirits change to adapt to these refined ideas? Or will new spirits be born? As dated ideas begin to fade in to history will spirits that represent these ideas also perish? So many questions and yet if I am to answer them all I would require more minds working on the problem. Yet convincing my peers to focus on such things will require undeniable evidence. Any potential doubt in my hypothesis will result in dismissal. Unfortunately, society paints me a heretic for my ideas. “Mmm!” The approving hum broke Talena’s concentration and she looked up from her notebook to the source of the noise. She was in her study, a room of smooth stone walls the colour of sand. Her space was clean and utilitarian. Bookshelves lined the walls, each crammed full of dense volumes detailing a variety of strictly academic studies, she had little interest in the creative arts. She sat at her writing desk, towers of books and stacks of paper piled around her. The room was dim, lit only by a series of candles around the room that gave a warm, orange glow. The source of the noise was an odd creature that had been hovering at her shoulder but had now descended closer to her notebook and seemed to be reading over her inscriptions intently, which was quite odd considering it didn’t have any eyes to speak of. The spirit was about the size of a small melon and shaped like an orb comprised of a viscous, metallic substance that provided warped reflections of its surroundings. It hovered in the air without any visible supports, its surface smooth for now. “Mmm!” It hummed once more, and it’s surface buzzed with a rippling vibration, “Provocative. Mm…dangerous ideas. Many enemies could be made of this.” “You say that like I don’t already have an ocean of them.” Talena replied with a quirk of her eyebrow. “Incorrect.” The orb replied, “Your fellow humans disdain you the most. The fish have no quarrel with you, I think.” Talena rolled her eyes at this. He was getting better at metaphor, but he had clearly missed that one. “Must you be so literal, Osha?” She asked him, but she couldn’t help but smirk a little at him. “Mmm. Language is structured to convey thoughts clearly. Words have clear definitions. This is logical. Mmmetaphor is…incoherent. Mm…why do humans create rules only to break them? Then they become upset when they are not understood.” “It was a comparison. The ocean is incredibly vast, as is the collection of people who oppose my ideas.” Talena explained. “Yet the ocean is far vaster than the land. It can fit the entire human population of Ishaar within it many times over. Therefore, the comparison is…mmm…exaggerated.” “Yes, sometimes we exaggerate for effect.” Talena said as she settled in to get back to her writing. “What effect? Confusion? Inaccuracy?” “Oh be quiet,” Talena said with a huff. The little sprite was an annoyingly logical thinker at times, although he was beginning to get better at understanding the nuances of human interaction. Talena found her companion’s confusion and constant questions to be quite charming…most of the time. Osha hummed again, something he did often when he was thinking. At least she assumed that was why he did it, although he seemed to vibrate more whenever he was excited, so perhaps it was simply an expression of interest. He was quite the oddity, then again people said the same thing about her, and that was probably why they were such an inseparable pair. Osha had been with Talena since she was a baby, the little spirit had been there for as long as she could recall. For a great deal of that time he had been quiet but curious and had only started to master the art of speech when she was in her teens. Often when he spoke he came across as naïve, but other times he displayed an exceptionally complex understanding that surpassed her own. For most of her childhood she had referred to Osha as an “it”, as there was nothing about his form that implied a gender, but soon after he began to speak he had made it very clear that he was a “he” and not an “it”. She wasn’t quite sure why a floating ball of liquid metal would have such a passionate stance on pronouns, but it didn’t matter to her in any case. For all his oddities he was still her very best friend. The door to her study opened without warning and a tall, slender woman in a sleek, black dress with gold trim, buttoned up the right side of her torso from waist to neck, the collar high and fitted closely to her neckline. The sleeves were tight and went the length of her arms, the material covering her palms, buttoned in the space between her middle and index fingers. It was a dress of traditional Mesmeri fashion, the black and gold colouring indicating her position as a member of the Sorcerium. Talena knew she was no Sorceri agent or priest, however. The woman had lightly tan skin and light brown hair that was tied back in a bun, with three golden hair sticks pinning it from either side. Her eyes were dark, and she had speckles of brown freckles around her high cheekbones. “I told you to go to bed” She chided at Talena. “So? I see you’re still up.” Talena replied, rolling her eyes. “Still up?” The woman replied as she glided across the room and pulled open the curtains, then opened the wooden hatch in the window and the room was suddenly aglow with morning sunshine that briefly blinded Talena. “I’ve slept, woke up, bathed and eaten since then!” Talena groaned as she adjusted to the light. Had it been that long? She could have sworn it had only been an hour or two at most. Yet the woman was undoubtedly right, as she had been every other time this had happened. “Meridia I-“ “Three nights in a row! All this lack of sleep cannot be good for you.” Meridia said sternly, “Have you eaten?” “No I’ve just…” Talena’s eyes fell to the basin of water that was to the right of her between two stacks of books. “Sorcery is not a substitute for a balanced diet and a good night’s rest.” Meridia said with a narrow-eyed scowl that made Talena feel like she was a little girl again. “Meridia, you are my matron, not my mother and I’m 36 years old, I am not a child.” Talena replied testily. She didn’t like anyone talking to her like that, not even the woman whose job was to look after her. “I’ll stop treating you like a child when you stop acting like one.” Meridia said as she began tidying up the room, picking up books and placing them back on the shelves. “This is not how a noble lady is supposed to behave.” “Oh I’m sorry am I supposed to fritter my time away buying gowns and courting the sons of Highlords like all the pretty little puffs at court?” Talena replied with a tone of revulsion, “Believe it or not I have more important matters to be dealing with.” Meridia stopped what she was doing and turned around to face Talena. Her stern expression softened slightly as she shook her head slightly. “Talenazerazar Esperitus Hashiram…” She used Talena’s full name, “Have you had a good look at yourself lately?” Talena looked down at herself. She was dressed in a dress of a similar modest style as Meridia’s but hers was an aquatic blue with dark blue trim and detailed filigree woven in to the fabric. She had a similar skin tone and hair colour to Meridia, as did most Mesmeri natives, but her hair was long with full, wavy curves, and her eyes were a brilliant blue. “You have a brilliant mind and I have no desire for you to dull it, but you are also a beautiful young woman and that combination makes you a force to rival the five elements. You are the only daughter, the only child to ever be conceived in the 2000-year reign of your father. You have position and power like no other and yet you choose to hide yourself away with all of these books.” “These books are the reason my mind is so sharp!” Talena said firmly. “And they are the reason why no one heeds you despite your mind.” Meridia replied, “You must make the world listens to your knowledge…you must demand their respect. You are the daughter of God, after all.” “He is just a man.” Talena said dismissively. Why did Meridia continue to bring that up? She knew Talena’s feelings on the matter. “That man saved us from the Devourers. He united us, made us whole.” “Yes, yes because he fused with the great elemental spirits and bla bla bla” Talena waved her hand mockingly as she spoke. “No, he accomplished that because he actually did something with his talents, Talena. I just wish you would too.” Meridia looked away as she finished speaking, and then she left the room leaving Talena to feel guilty and a little embarrassed. That woman had a terrible habit of always being right. Unfortunately, she had taken care of Talena since she had been a little girl when her mother had died. Her father was too busy ruling the known world to spend time parenting his only daughter, of course. “Mmm! I like her. She is wise.” Osha hummed. “Oh, shut up.” Talena bit back. The little spirit edged closer to her, and he nudged against her cheek and buzzed against her affectionately. “I like you too.” He said. “Yes and I like you too, you little demon.” “I am not a demon!” Osha buzzed indignantly. Talena shook her head, then she got up off her seat. It was time for her to get on with her day. She felt the prickling, tight sensation of exhaustion creeping up on her. She reflexively reached for the basin of water and flexed her fingers in a beckoning motion. The water rose up out of the basin and reached for her waiting hand like a vine coiling up a tree. The water enveloped her arm but then sank away as she absorbed it, investing its energy within herself. Immediately she tapped the invested power. Water – the element necessary for all life to exist, it seemed natural that it was associated with healing. She felt its properties immediately, easing away the tension in her muscles and providing her with a boost of wakefulness. She had not slept a wink in 3 days, normally at this point any ordinary person would be dead on their feet, but with just a short working of sorcery she felt sharp and ready to start her day. The nagging empty feeling in her stomach, however, was not so easily ignored. “Talena.” Osha said as he hovered by her head, floating along with her as she left her study and entered the hallway outside, “Investing heals only physical ailments…mmm…it does not facilitate biological processes required for health.” “It relieves the tension in my muscles, provides me with wakefulness and gives me strength and energy to keep going.” Talena replied. They moved down the short hallway and came out on to a small, secluded courtyard inside the palace, a simple square space with a garden, lots of potted plants and colourful flowers. The air was more humid in the outdoors, and the plants made the air smell sweet. “Mmm…sleep increases cerebrospinal fluid flow within the brain dramatically. It cleans the brain of toxins. Mmm…efficient.” Osha buzzed. Talena frowned. “And how would you know such a thing?” She asked “Humans…comprised mostly of water.” Osha explained, “Your bodies are…protected…mm…cannot be touched by sorcery. Yet external sources can enter…mmm…water invested within the body provides a map. You know this…mmm…you have seen it.” She nodded, she had indeed. In fact, it was what had allowed her to heal her exhaustion just a moment ago. It was also true that all life was comprised mostly of water, except for spirits of course. Talena had pondered why she could not manipulate the water that is within a person quite early into her sorcery training. It was considered a fundamental principle that sorcery could not be used to affect the human body. However, she herself had circumvented this, as had any who used the healing properties of water sorcery. To do so one had to introduce an external source of water to the body, a source that was already affected by sorcery. Doing so provided the wielder with a kind of sense of the body, an impression of its inner workings, like a complex diagram within their minds. They could use the invested water to locate problems within the body and often provide healing. In this sense water was like a conduit, it could transport the necessary chemicals required to rapidly heal wounds, mend bones, flush out poisons and several other medical marvels. “Yes, I have used healing sense Osha, but I’ve never seen what you have just described.” Talena said as they passed through the courtyard and through into a hallway on the adjacent side. “You are human.” Osha said simply, “Humans think in a line. They move from one point to the next. Dots connecting. Mmm…following a trail. Only one thought at a time.” “And spirits are different?” Talena asked “I am different.” Osha clarified, “I cannot speak for other spirits. It is hard to describe. Knowing yet not knowing. Knowledge there yet unable to be grasped. This realm…we forget ourselves…mmm…like fish swim in a school, we drift…coordinated yet unknowing. I see patterns…mmm…possibilities…a map with no key…no direction.” Amazing. Talena marvelled at these moments with Osha. He interpreted experiences differently from her. So often the little orb seemed naïve, and then other times he was brilliant. She had no doubt that in this spirit’s mind were the answers to questions scholars had been trying to decipher. Through simple observation he saw ideas that hadn’t even occurred to her, or perhaps anyone. “Additionally…healing sorcery requires presence of substantial nutrients…sorcery removes the requirement of time yet….mmmatter…matters. Matter, matter, matter….your language is flawed at times.” The little orb rippled in a manner that reminded Talena of someone shivering, shaking off an unpleasant sensation, “Nutrients must be present. If you do not eat then healing will consume your reserves, in time you will have none left. You will die, and sorcery will not save you.” “I see…” Talena said. As they continued through the palace the revelations had given her a rather pressing urge to eat something. She realized that Meridia had warned her to do these things as well, but her arguments came from a place of caring, she worried for Talena. Osha had provided a logical explanation for this, and it had made sense to her, and that desire to follow logic had driven her faster than the simple consideration of another person. The thought of that troubled her. Was she becoming cold? “And this…brain cleaning cycle you spoke of, is that life threatening if avoided?” She asked. “Mmm…yes, however it happens much more slowly.” Osha buzzed, “However avoiding this process effects cognitive capability. Impaired reasoning. Decreased problem-solving capability. Decreased attention span. Decreased attention to detail. Memory lapses. Depression.” “That settles it then.” Talena said, sounding slightly alarmed, “Regular sleep and food breaks from now on.” “Mmm…A wise decision.” Osha replied, sounding slightly relieved. “You should have listened to Meridia. She is smart. I like her.” “Shut. Up.” Talena demanded with a scowl, and the pair went off to finally get something to eat. --- --- --- --- The orange glow of fire light illuminated the warcamp. Out in the barren drylands of the Solari desert, away from the intense glows of the cities the night sky was clear. Bright stars twinkled overhead. Twin moons glowed like a beacon in the sky, Eilun the smaller moon that would rise first, and Makath the larger would rise second but would always overtake her sister and fall first. The camp was bustling with energy, although only a temporary military settlement it was the size of a town and was equipped with vendors, smithies, a lumber yard and large warehouses used for food and resource storage. Nazir walked through the barracks. His shoulder-length brown hair was tied back in a ponytail, revealing a clean-shaven face with dark brown eyes. Like every other man and woman in the camp his skin was the dark tan of the Solari. He had a slim, lean build and angular features, and was an average height for a Solari standing at 6 and a half feet tall. A black symbol was tattooed on the center of his forehead, three identically sized rhombus shapes, two adjacent to one another, with the third slotted in the space beneath them. The same symbol could be seen on all of the soldiers and workers around him, as they were all Kalak just as he was. The heat of the day had escaped in to the clear skies and the air had become cold. Nazir wore the standard uniform of the Ishaaran Imperial Army; black boots that went up to the knee, tan breeches and a cobalt blue double-breasted undercoat with silver buttons and a high collar, and a jacket of the same blue colouring that had a tailed back, the shoulders decorated with three silver pins shaped like triangles on his right shoulder that indicated his rank of Captain. The red sash around his waist indicated which command he fell under. Red indicated he was under the command of Highlord Vashir, ruler of Solaris. The Highlords of other nations were represented by different coloured sashes. Everyone in this camp served Highlord Vashir. This entire regiment had been out here holding off rebel armies for months now. Of some 5’000 men there, Nazir was responsible for a company of 140 men. However, now the camp was relaxing after a long battle. The air was thick with the scent of burning wood, cooked meat, and a variety of fragrant spices. Soldiers were sitting around campfires singing and telling each other stories while they ate and drank, and for a time forgot about the struggles of warfare. Nazir walked towards a fire where three other people sat. One of them waved at him and he nodded back, coming over to sit on a large log that had been placed by the fire as a makeshift bench. “Naz!” exclaimed the only female in the group. She stood up from her own log, standing only an inch or two shorter than Nazir. Her hair and eyes were dark like his, almost all Solari had dark hair, dark eyes and dark skin. Her hair was cut short, however, and generally there was little to indicate she was female at all. She wore her uniform jacket unbuttoned with a simple white shirt underneath. She had grabbed a bowl filled with rice and had began ladling a rich, orange coloured curry out of the pot placed over the fire. She handed it to Nazir with a spoon and sat back down. “Finished berating the new recruits?” She asked with a sly grin. “They needed it.” Nazir replied with a soft smirk, “Is it just me or do they get greener every year?” “More like you become more of a hard-ass every year!” She said with a chuckle. “You going soft on me, Rizen?” Nazir replied in a playful tone. “No, sir.” Rizen said with a cocky grin and she tapped her index finger against her forehead in salute. Nazir took a bite of his food. The curry was delicious. Hot and spicy just how he liked it. Rizen paused to eat her own meal along with her two companions. To her left was the shortest and thinnest of the group, he had shoulder length hair that was thick with natural curls, and his uniform was disheveled and sloppier than the other’s. To Rizen’s right was a giant of a man who looked about half a foot taller than Nazir, and about twice as broad. His hair was cut short and he had long sideburns, the closest anyone could have to a beard while serving in the military. “So, Cap, I was thinkin’…” The short man, Leven said. “Hah! Is good joke, Leven.” The large man, Biran replied with a deep, jolly voice, “A tiny man like you has no space for brain.” The group chuckled along with him. Biran had always spoken in broken Ishaaran, he’d lived in the Erduk mountains for most of his life and had never picked up the common tongue. Solari had over 32 different languages dating back from when they were scattered in to tribes, although everyone spoke Ishaaran these days. “Oh, there’s plenty of room in here,” Leven said as he poked the side of his head with his finger, “See not everyone fills the space with rocks like you do, big guy.” “If you are thinking about anything, is probably about chasing skirt.” Biran said with a soft shake of his head. “I resent that, I’ll have you know I’m a gentleman, I am.” Leven replied, holding his hand to his chest, “The ladies, they’ll tell ya. They’ll say ‘Biran, your wonderful friend Leven is the handsomest, most charming, most intelligent and thoughtful man I know, he is. An’ he’d have bed all of us if it were up to us, but no…he wouldn’t allow it because he’s a gentleman, see?” “On behalf of my gender may I just say…” Rizen started, and then she followed up with a retching noise that got another round of laughter from the group. “You are very strange little man.” Biran replied, shaking his head again but smiling, “spirits protect any woman who ends up with you.” “Spirits?” Leven asked, “Now that’s a fine idea, I’ll get myself a little spirit chum to give me some sorcery and then no woman will ever be able to resist me. ‘Leven’ they’ll say, ‘I see that you are handsome and incredibly smart, but I also see you can fly! I shall have to kiss you now!’ an’ that’s how The Great Leven ends up marryin’ Highlord Vashir’s daughter.” “Highlord Vashir doesn’t have a daughter, you idiot.” Rizen said, rolling her eyes. She turned to Nazir who was quietly listening to his friends and eating his food. “You’re quiet tonight, Naz.” She said with a frown, “Everything alright?” “I’m fine, just enjoying listening to you three run your mouths.” Nazir explained. It was a true statement. These three people, his old squad mates, his Lieutenants, they were the only real family he had. Each of them shared the same surname – Szash. It was the name given to those who had given up their citizenship and become slaves. Of course, they were all soldiers now. They were well-trained, they were given purpose, a bed to sleep in, regular meals and clothing on their backs. Their pay went towards paying off their slave debt. For a slave the army was the best place to be. Each of them had a tattoo behind their ear that could only be seen if you pulled the earlobe back, a small glyph that branded them as slaves. If they ever paid off their debt, which few ever did, then they would be allowed to have it covered up with another glyph that confirmed their freedom. Strangely, the thought had never crossed Nazir’s mind. He had everything he needed here. He had his friends, he had his company of soldiers to look after, and he had an enemy to face. He smiled as he looked up at the stars above, they were beautiful out here in the desert. As a slave he was sure that this would likely never end for him, and he didn’t really want it to. Yet it had. Had it? He frowned at himself. Why had he thought that? He was here, now, living this life. How could he think it had ended? “Naz?” He looked up to see that Rizen was watching him. Leven and Biran had also stopped what they were doing and turned their gaze on him. They were smiling softly, but they weren’t saying anything. “What’s going on?” Nazir asked, frowning. “Come on, Naz…” Rizen said softly, and her eyebrow quirked. “This isn’t healthy.” “What isn’t healthy?” Nazir asked, and he shifted uncomfortably. Why were they being so strange? “This thing…” Biran gestured around him, “Is not real, Nazir.” “Not…” Nazir felt confused. Of course, this was real. He was here in the warcamp, eating with his friend as he always did after a battle. “Quit fooling around, guys.” “Cap’n…” Leven smiled brightly at him, but his eyes looked pained, “You need to wake up.” “What?” Nazir shook his head. He stood up, suddenly feeling uncomfortable standing still. He needed to move. He felt an uncontrollable urge to run away. As he stood up the wind suddenly picked up, becoming violent tremendously quickly. His friends just kept watching him, and he winced as the wind hammered into him. He turned to run, but when he turned around the warcamp he had walked through was not there. He was stood in blackness. No. He was floating. He could feel the wind raging around him, feel himself moving with it, flying through the endless blackness. Yet he was not alone. In front of him was a creature. She was as tall as him and was only vaguely like a human. Her body had feminine curves, but her chest was flat and featureless. She wore no clothes to speak of, but she was almost entirely covered in black, downy feathers, like a bird. The skin exposed at her midriff and on her face was dark like his, but her eyes were entirely black with yellow pupils. Instead of hair she had a crest of large, semiplume feathers that pointed backwards at an angle. Instead of arms she had a pair of brilliant, dark wings that stretched out on either side of her, and her legs ended in a pair of sharp, black talons that looked like they could cut through steel. Those piercing yellow eyes were locked with his, and the creature seemed to stare deep within his very soul. He felt like he could not hide anything from her, whether he liked it or not. In return he could sense her thoughts and feelings as well. She was a violent, dangerous creature. Proud, powerful and unyielding. “They are gone.” The spirit said to him, her voice feminine but firm and confident. Memories flashed through his mind; a great battle. It had gone wrong. There was just too many of them, they were surrounded. So much screaming, so much blood. Ruthless violence. No! He pushed the memories away, locking them up inside his mind once more. He could not face them, not yet. They would destroy him. “They are gone!” The spirit said more forcefully this time, her eyes narrowing as her expression became a slight frown. “I know that…” Nazir whispered, his hands balled in to tight fists at his side. “I am…just dreaming.” “Must you always dream of ghosts?” The spirit asked. That was right. They were dead, all of them. Biran, Levan, Rizen…and the other 140 men and women under his command. Every single one of them gone…except for him. He cursed himself. Why had he lived? He had failed them all. Why did he have to live with that? His gaze fixed on the spirit again and his eyes burned with anger. She was the reason. She had saved him. “You are not the man I saw on that day.” The spirit said, “…I want that man. The man who lived for the fight. The man who was one with his spear. The man who fought so well that he impressed the winds and rattled the rains…the man who shook the skies with thunder. I want that man.” “That man is dead.” Nazir replied quietly. “That man stands before me!” The spirit snapped at him, her eyes blazing with fury. “You are not dead, Nazir. Only your comrades are.” “It should have been me.” Nazir replied, “I dishonored them by letting them die.” “Then honor them by living!” The spirit’s voice boomed like a thunder clap and he felt the air rattle and shake around him. --- --- --- --- Nazir shot up in the modest bed he was sleeping on and gasped for air. His shoulder-length hair hung loose, and his body was coated in a thin layer of cold sweat. He was in a room made of cold, grey stone. The roof overhead was thatched and the ground beneath him was wooden. He threw off the thick fur blankets over him and immediately felt a chill in the air. Something squawked to the right of him and he turned to see a large bird, a black hawk with golden eyes and a large crest. “Shrike…” He said as his memory of where he was came to him. The disorientation from the dream faded quickly. He began to feel alert quite quickly, old soldier reflexes kicking in. He got up from the bed and began to quickly get dressed, feeling the cold snap in the air. This blasted country was far too cold all the time. The room he had been staying in had a mirror and he examined himself. His body was covered in old scars but was otherwise fit, with lean muscles and no fresh wounds. Across his back was a large tattoo, three glyph tattoos stylized in to one large design, a maze of symmetrical lines that spelled three names; Rizen, Biran, Levan. Even in death he had ensured they would always be behind him. “Are you well?” The voice was in his mind, but it was a familiar one, and he turned to the large bird that was perched on the back of a chair in the room, as it was the source of the voice. “I’m fine.” Nazir said to the bird, Shrike. “I don’t appreciate you invading my dreams like that though.” “Well I don’t appreciate you moping around like a gloomy, lost puppy.” Shrike replied. “I do not.” Nazir replied testily. Shrike said nothing in response and he got the distinct impression that the conversation was over. He spent some time readying himself, he washed and shaved and got dressed. He emerged from the room dressed in black boots, black trousers, a black, studded leather jacket with a collar of white fur and a pair of matching gloves. Around his waist was a black sash with a gold trim, and he wore a leather pauldron on his right arm that had a symbol emblazoned in gold. It showed a large eye, but within the pupil was a five-pointed star. It was a symbol known as God’s Eye, and all who saw it knew it as the symbol of the Sorceri – agents of the Ascendant Emperor. The room led to a short hall which Nazir followed and then descended the steps to the ground floor. He was in a disused area of a small keep near the town of Vaedmire in Valkheim. The ground floor was a larger room with fur rugs decorating the floor, the walls decorated with various stuffed animal heads, trophies from hunts. There was a fire going in the hearth and a woman was stood over a large table which had a map pinned across it. The table was covered with a variety of notes written in non-stylized glyphs. Nazir could not discern any of it, which was partly why the woman was there in the first place. Parr was about a foot shorter than Nazir and had a petite, soft frame. She had striking blonde hair and a pale skin tone, with keen blue eyes that fussed over the map studiously from behind a pair of spectacles. Her hair was tied back in a neat bun, and she was wearing a crisp, blue uniform – trousers, a jacket and a pair of brown boots. The uniform marked her as a member of the Mesmeri military but her features were unmistakably Reshin. The black and gold sash around her waist, however, marked her as serving under the Sorcerium. “Good morning, Captain.” Parr said absently as she continued with her work. “Morning, Parr.” Nazir replied, “Do you have a report for me?” “Yes…” Parr replied, stilled by thought, “The accounts from our reports do indicate malevolence. Lots of farmers have had low crop yields this year. This far out from the capital, the people here are going to have to rely on supply shipments to last them through the winter. Children have also been disappearing in the last few months.” She pointed at spots she had marked on the maps. “The farming villages in this area all supply to Vaedmire. There’s no other towns for miles so the community here relies on each other and supply runs don’t come out this way very often.” Nazir frowned. They had only arrived two days ago and had spent most of that time getting accustomed to things. He had been sent here to investigate reports of malevolent activity and to hunt and destroy the Daemon who was responsible. Of course, this also meant dispatching whoever was working with the Daemon. The circumstances here were troubling, and in many ways the damage had already been done to these people. The children disappearing was far more unsettling though. It had to be stopped. “Did any of the farms have a good harvest?” Nazir asked “No…a nice thought though.” Parr said with a smirk, “It would be too easy if one of the farmers was at it to bleed out competition.” “The disappearances paint a more sinister picture.” Nazir said, “Innocents, blood magic, sacrifices perhaps. Such magic is supposed to be used to draw huge amounts of power. This could all just be symptoms of something worse.” “Then what are we waiting for?” The voice came from Shrike as she flew down the stairs into the room and then suddenly changed before them. She took the form she had taken in his dreams, all black feathers and sharp talons for feet, however the feathers of her wings had shrunk and she had formed a pair of humanoid hands with long, sharp nails. Her talons clacked on the floor as she walked towards them, her yellow pupils darting around the black abyss of her eyes as she surveyed the room. “The information doesn’t point us anywhere.” Parr said, and she looked a little nervous around the spirit, “We need to start canvassing and gathering more accounts.” “By canvassing you mean abducting your citizens and interrogating them?” Shrike asked, her eyebrow raised in interest. “Do you have a problem with that tactic?” Parr asked “Not really, but canvassing is such a boring sound. Interrogate sounds much better!” “Not if you’re the one being interrogated.” Nazir said with a smirk. “What fear have I of interrogation? I am not human, I have nothing to hide.” Shrike said, folding her arms in front of her. “Well humans don’t tend to like it. Which is why they don’t tend to like us.” Nazir replied. “Actually it is you they don’t like. I am a spirit and Parr is a scribe.” Shrike said, putting her hands on her hips and smirking, “You are the Sorceri. So people don’t like you. You are Solari, so the Valkyr don’t like you.” “Rub it in why don’t you?” Nazir said with a roll of his eyes. “I thought that was what I was doing…” Shrike said with a toothy grin. Nazir was ready to fire back another comment when they were interrupted by a knock at the door. Nazir walked across the room and opened it. A Valkyr guard was standing outside. “Uh…Sorceri…uh…sir?” The guard said awkwardly. “Captain.” Nazir corrected. “Uh no I’m just a guard, sir.” The guard said, looking abashed. Nazir held back his response and instead gave the man a patient smile. “Can I help you?” Nazir asked him. “Uh…well we picked up a slave that escaped in the night and put her in the cells. She’s…she’s not right, sir. We thought you might need to take a look at her she’s…strange looking.” Nazir turned to Parr and Shrike and they both had a concerned look about them. “Parr, hold the fort. Shrike-“ “Let’s go!” Shrike interrupted as she pushed past Nazir and then barged past the guard. She got about 5 yards away before pausing and turning back to them, “Where are we going?”
  6. What's up?

    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL
  7. Amegakure

    [Morning] It was a new day in Amegakure. The rain that blanketed the city more often than not had abated just enough that smiles seemed to be on people's faces. A young girl with snow-white hair walked down the street, dressed in a cream-coloured kimono, with a flower blossom print. Her skin was almost as pale as her hair, but her eyes were a brilliant light blue. She had feminine features and almond-shaped eyes but was a little short for her age, even if she was 13. She weaved through the crowd, walking on traditional wooden geta. A small book clutched to her chest. Droplets splashed down off the guttering and rooftops of the city around her, while the merchants set their stores ready for the day. She crossed off the main path and disappeared down a back alley until she came to a large tree, surrounded by a small courtyard. It was quiet and intimate here, with only the wafting lines of clothing from the houses around the courtyard, blowing in the breeze. The white-haired girl walked up to the tree, turned and sat. Crossing her legs and pushing her back into the trunk of the tree. And just like that, practically on queue, it started raining again. It never stopped raining for very long in this city. You could count on maybe a few minutes to a few days, and then it would start raining again. She heard the tree getting pummelled by the rain, but it was running off and away from her. She sighed, enjoying the rattle of the water on the leaves and opened her book. A resounding thunk interrupted the gentle rhythm of the rain as a grocery bag fell from the sky and crashed into the ground, spilling it's contents all over the path. A few moments passed with nothing else happening, and then a figure shrouded in a dark green poncho hopped around the courtyard using balcony fences until he finally reached the ground and ran over to the grocery bag. When he reached it he cursed softly and scrambled to start picking up all the groceries. When he picked up the box of eggs the contents dripped out over his hands and he dropped the box back on the ground. "Aw c'mon..." He said with a sigh, "Guess I'll have to go back." He started seeing what else he could salvage, until the girl under the tree finally caught his attention and he turned to her looking a little startled, and then embarrassed. She held the book up to her mouth and chuckled, then closed the book and placed it on her lap. "Good morning, Shinobi-sama." Her voice was soft and full of cheer. She bowed slightly, with only her head. "I'm Kaguya Yui, pleased to meet you." The boy stood up properly with the grocery bag and tipped back his head to reveal his face. "Yo," He said casually, "I'm Uketsuki Sora, pleased to meet you too, Kaguya-san." "Ah, so you would be Uketsuki Satomi's son, then." Yui smiled at the boy, "Yes, I think, you must be an academy student? I'm home-schooled. My mother and grandfather teach me. But I still had to take and pass the exam to become a Genin. Luckily, it wasn't too bad, ne?" "Peace of cake." Sora replied with a smirk, "So you're a genin now too, huh? I guess you won't know anyone if you're home-schooled. Do you know who you're being paired with?" "No, I was told--" Yui trailed off, her eyes wandered down to the bag in Sora's hand, the bottom of it wasn't torn from the weight of the groceries inside, it had been sliced open from the bottom. A clean cut. Her eyes lit up as she felt the approach of projectiles. [Reverse Situation] Yui spun around, kicking away two of the thrown kunai and leapt back as a foot attempted to sweep her supporting leg, she cartwheeled backwards and landed on the courtyard stone as the shadow dropped a smoke bomb and vanished. Who was attacking them?! She wanted to know Sora was alright, she could hear footsteps all around her, the sound of clashing metal. Then something glittered in the smoke and Yui deftly dodged to one side as the kunai flew past her head, but as soon as she'd moved a fist came flying towards her. But her reflexes were honed like a well-kept weapon. She deftly spun to one side, and leapt into the air to kick her attacker in the head. Two rock hard fists knocked each of her kicks aside as she whirled in the air like an acrobat, compensating for the loss of momentum due to her attacker's strikes, and launched off from the ground with her hands, knocking aside two more thrown kunai and landed with a soft tap. She had to stay quiet, she couldn't call out to Sora. He had to be okay... but she could hear the clash of battle somewhere else in the smoke. A sudden gust of wind swirled around the courtyard and carried upwards in a spiral, taking the smoke up with it and revealing the courtyard once more. Sora was crouched on the front of his feet, his hands forming a seal. Somewhere in the scuffle he had discarded his poncho. He had a few scuff marks about him and he was panting heavily, but otherwise seemed okay. The attacker was nowhere to be seen. "Are you alright?" Yui asked, remaining motionless. Her eyes scanning the environment for movement. "I'm fine." Sora replied, his eyes also searching the area. "How about you?" He asked. "Confused." Yui replied, the smile on her face had barely lessened, "Their attacks are too advanced for most in our class, and a ninja from another village wouldn't bother with a couple of genin..." She drew a kunai from within her kimono and held it up, ready to defend herself. "That would depend on who the genin are," Sora replied, "Younger ninja are an easier target for stealing clan secrets and special bloodline techniques. More importantly... the attacker fled when I blew away the smoke, which could mean keeping their identity hidden was a priority." "But they cut your bag, not your throat, ne?" Yui smirked and waited. The rain intensified. "You're right...which means..." Sora's brow furrowed as he recalled the events prior to this, "I wouldn't have even come down here if the bag hadn't been cut. Which means whoever is doing this wanted me down here... wanted me to meet you." [Nervousness] The realisation seemed to come a little late, however, as a dark mist seemed to be rolling in from every direction. It was quickly getting as thick as the smoke bomb, but it stretched out even further and seemed less likely to shift in a breeze. Sora managed to reach Yui before he lost sight of her and he stood so that their backs were facing. "Aww... so adorable." The voice echoed through the mist, a deep but feminine voice with a taunting tone to it, "What's the next move, chumps? Have you figured it out?" "Sora, you should know, they might be here for me, i'm a--" Yui knocked a thrown kunai aside with her own and readied for the next attack. "... do something." Yui whispered to Sora, "Distract her. Anything." Yui took a step away from Sora and vanished into the mist. The mist was clawing around her. Hugging her, suffocating her. But she weathered it. She could feel movement around her, but she didn't know where it was coming from. Yui held her breath. She had trained for this, she was ready to fight. She wanted to fight. Reading and chatting were their own things. But this was combat, and her eyes were alive. She glanced one way and then another, making her way through the mist. "The great thing about this ninjutsu is that it distorts my voice, making it hard to locate where I am until it's too late." The voice echoed all around her, but then right at the end it became more localised, like it was right behind Yui. "Kaguya-kun..." The voice said from right behind her, the attacker's grey face appeared from the mist over her shoulders, her white eyes wide with anticipation, her serrated teeth fixed in a hungry, sinister smile as she drove the kunai down at Yui's neck. [Beautiful Wild Green Beast] Like a whirling dervish, Yui spun around without warning and kicked at her attacker who jumped back to avoid the strike but Yui followed her with a speed she hadn't shown until now. She was upon the woman in an instant. Yui kicked twice more, each strike thumping the woman's forearm as she blocked but was knocked back a step from each of Yui's powerful strikes. Yui moved like a flash, dashing one way and then the other, throwing kunai at the woman who deflected them with ease. Who was she? Why was she here? Yui finally saw her chance, as the woman moved back, losing further ground, the back of her heel caught on a loose stone and she stumbled, for only a moment. That happy accident was all she needed to take advantage. She flew forwards, dodged the woman's obvious counter-attack, and thrust her palm into the woman's torso, a bone spike shot out from the centre of Yui's forwards-facing palm and impaled the woman. She held the spike in her hand for a moment, shocked, and then she melted into a puddle of water. "A clone..." Yui held her hand up and retracted the bone spike back into her arm, her skin naturally healing closed, leaving not so much as a scar to show it had ever been broken. This was her kekkai genkai. The Kaguya were master manipulators of their own bodies, in particular, their bones. However, the talent was extremely rare, only 1 in every 100 are born with the skill. And of those, maybe only 1 in a generation ever has the skill to wield it as she did. She was her clan's last true survivor. She was not going to let them go extinct today. "Sora...!" Yui turned and ran back the way she'd come. [Orochimaru's Fight] As Yui returned to Sora the mists seemed to lighten a bit, and they revealed Sora was trapped, suspended in a sphere of swirling water, and was floating limp and lifeless. Standing next to him, with one hand outstretched to control the jutsu, was the attacker. She was an average height woman with grey skin and eyes that were almost white. Her teeth were serrated like a sharks, her spiky black hair was cut short and pointed out to one side. The forehead protector she wore had the symbol of Kirigakure across it. "Whoops... he's dead." She said with a shrug and gave Yui a fierce grin, "Are you next? Or will you come with me alive, Jinchuriki?" "So you know..." Yui smiled to herself. So, a Mist nin was here to kill her. She had been told this might happen. The Jinchuriki were weapons, of a sort. Weapons of defence, or mass destruction. They were a form of mutually ensured destruction, that kept the villages in-check with one another. For a village to gain another Jinchuriki, it would be an enormous advantage. And what was a Jinchuriki? A host to a demon. A tailed beast, formed of pure chakra, the energy they accessed within themselves. Two years ago, the beast had been sealed within her, and now it seemed, on the day of her first Genin mission, she was forced to fight for her life. That boy was dead, she barely knew him, but he was a part of this city, and now it was her duty to protect the people remaining. [Fake] "Nah it was just a shot in the dark!" With a roll of her eyes and a sly grin, "You've got a dangerous look in your eye, I like that. You failed already though." The woman dropped her arm and the water prison collapsed, and Sora lay limp on the ground but breathing. "Allow me to introduce myself..." She said as she snapped her fingers and the symbol on her forehead protector changed from mist to rain. "Kirisame Omitsune, I'm your jounin leader!" She held her hands up like she'd announced the winning lottery numbers or something and gave a toothy smile, "Oh and he's fine by the way I just knocked him out. I'll explain it to him when he wakes up." Yui lowered her hands and crossed the courtyard back to the tree, picked up her book and sat down. "Thank you for the work-out, Sensei." She said, smiling. Then sat, crossed her legs, and re-opened her book. Licking her finger, to turn the page. "You failed your teammate." Omi said darkly, "Despite your clear skill with taijutsu and the trump card of your bloodline ability it was Sora kun who made the best decisions. Neither of you have what it takes to beat me, but together you might have escaped me. We'll be training every day until you can prove to me you really are a genin." Omi turned to rouse Sora from his sleep, "Oh and don't use the J-word in front of Sora, he doesn't know about it, and we're keeping it that way for now, clear?" Turning the next page, Yui looked up from her book, "As you like, Sensei." An interesting turn of events. Her sensei was the kind of person to put her students in danger to test them. Maybe they had decided to pair her with someone who could stop the demon inside her, if it ever got out... Yui gripped the cloth of her kimono, glancing at Omi, "What now?" She asked, with a quizzical smile. "You have your first mission." Omi said with a grin. "Hwa? a mission?" Sora asked groggily, "Who are you?" "Omi, your boss lady." Came the reply, "And your mission is..." Omi pointed over to the far corner of the courtyard where there were two metal litter pickers and two trash bags sitting against a wall. "Litter picking duty!" Omi said with mock enthusiasm as she began to walk away, "And that's all you'll be doing until your training is complete. It's all you're fit for." [Kakashi's Theme] "Uwa!" Yui gasped as an awning above her collapsed under the weight of the rain, drenching her instantly. Thunder boomed in the distance. So, Omi really hadn't been kidding about cleaning up litter. She jabbed a piece of litter with her picker and placed it in the bag, then another, and another. She watched Sora a few paces ahead of her, poking bits here and there. Yui spied an old tin can, she made a beeline and with a smirk tried to pierce the can-- snap! The picker broke in two. "Ehh?!" Yui gasped and stood staring at the mess on the ground. "Ah--" She held her arm out, and a long spiked bone ejected from the centre of her palm and as it detached and flew out, she caught it with her already healed hand. It was like a needle but the size of a sword, and several times stronger and sharper than a metal instrument. With a squeak, the bone needle pierced the tin can like it was a styrofoam cup. Then she jabbed the old picker and placed both in the litter bag. "Sorry I got us in this mess." Sora said with an annoyed frown, "This is worse than school and I didn't think that was possible." "I should not have left you." Yui replied, giving him a smile, "I am the one at fault." Yui finished picking up the litter in her area and as she looked up to move on, she thought she'd seen something hiding in the shadows in the corner of the street. But when she moved her eyes to focus on it, there was nothing there.
  8. Amegakure

    [Guren] In this world of shinobi none stand taller than the 5 Great Shinobi Villages. Spread across the countries of Fire, Water, Wind, Lightning, and Earth, they are Konohagakure, Kirigakure, Sunagakure, Kumogakure and Iwagakure. There are many other lesser known ninja villages, but none hold the infamy of the Great 5. While each of these villages has a myriad of great legends to unfold, today we will tell the tale of a hero from one of the lesser known villages. This is the story of Amegakure. War was once all we shinobi knew, a time where clans warred against clans, and many died within the battle. The ninja villages were a means to end this conflict, by uniting clans and working together so that all shinobi could thrive, and so children could live happier lives. Yet as the villages grew more powerful, soon they began to see one another as threats, and war returned to this land. The wars that followed would be known as the Great Shinobi World Wars, as they were fought across the entire continent, leaving death and destruction in their wakes. Amegakure is a shinobi village that was unfortunate enough to reside within a land bordered by three of the 5 Great Shinobi Countries. When the great wars were waged the battles were fought in this small country and the land was laid waste to. As the 5 made peace with one another yet again, the land they had used as a battleground had been left destroyed and the people left dead, injured, or facing a lifetime of poverty and hardship. As Konohagakure sent shinobi to lend aid to the country, Amegakure’s leader became increasingly reclusive and unwilling to lend aid, until eventually there was no news coming in or out from the village. At this time there was a young orphan. She had lost her parents in the war and had no other family to speak of. She lived on the streets, stealing food when she could and sleeping outdoors in the caves outside the towns, trying to keep sheltered from the almost constant, drizzling rain. This poor young lady had given up on any hope of a better life, and was consigned to her fate, until she met a shinobi from Konohagakure. The man, who had fought in the war, felt exceptionally sad and guilty as he looked upon the girl. He decided that through this young girl he could try to make amends for his deeds, and so he decided to train her. He asked the girl her name, the first to ask her in a long time, and so she told him; “Kotetsu Asuna.” Asuna, it turned out, had a hidden talent for the shinobi arts. Under the tutelage of a Konoha Jounin she excelled in the martial arts of Taijutsu, the Chakra fueled arts of Ninjutsu, and the illusionary arts of Genjutsu. A year passed and the Jounin was called to return to his village, and so he led Asuna to the village of Amegakure, where he hoped she would continue to hone her skills and become something one day. Hope had once again returned to Asuna once more. Amegakure was not what Asuna had expected. The village was ruled by a powerful but bloodthirsty shinobi. This man had kept the village safe as wars were waged, and had done so through brutal and underhanded tactics. There was no school to speak of to teach young ninja as the Konoha Jounin had told her of. Amegakure had no ranks, no clans, and made its living by carrying out assassination contracts for lower prices than any other village, and they had become quite proficient. Years passed and Asuna became stronger in this harsh new environment. As she grew into a woman her heart grew colder, and she became the most effective assassin in Amegakure. Then during a mission with a small group of comrades, when the mission turned sour, she had been abandoned by them. Left to die Asuna realized that Amegakure was not a village at all, it was corrupt, and it had corrupted her. Asuna did not die, however. Weak but alive, she managed to escape and hide her presence, living a quiet life for a short time as she recovered. However when her strength returned Asuna left the small village she had temporarily called home, and was never seen again for many years. When Asuna returned to Amegakure she was not alone. Asuna brought with her 12 shinobi each with strikes through their forehead protectors. She had rallied missing nin, defectors from other shinobi villages, and had gained their allegiance. Together they struck at Amegakure during a heavy rainstorm, in the dead of night. They moved swiftly and quietly, killing any who stood in their way. Asuna had turned the very skills she had honed within Amegakure against it. She killed the corrupt shinobi who was still in control, and killed all of his conspirators. The streets of Amegakure ran red with blood on that day, but it was not long at all before the rain washed it clean. Asuna had not returned to Amegakure to simply seek vengeance, she had come to bring her revolution. She assumed leadership of Amegakure, vowed not to run it the way her predecessor had, but also not like the 5 Great Shinobi Villages either. 20 years later and this industrialized, modern village is finally beginning to thrive and stand out once more. --- --- --- --- [Kakashi’s Theme] “-and the reason I am telling you all this story is very important.” The teacher stood in a large classroom, addressing a hall of young teenagers who for the most part looked thoroughly bored about being there. “You see today you have all graduated from this academy, and you will be beginning your journey as young shinobi soon, so it’s important to keep in mind that things were not always this way here. After all it’s important to consider that Kotetsu Taichou gained-“ Boring. Why couldn’t sensei just shut up already? Sora tuned out from the dull nattering and leaned back in the chair he was sat in among all the other students. The expression on his face was often one of mild irritation, as if just living was a minor inconvenience to him. He had always been someone who got lost in their thoughts, and he wasn’t often very interested in the thoughts of others either. His shoulder length, red hair was tied back in a high and tight ponytail, and his amber coloured eyes looked sharp and focused despite the fact he wasn’t paying much attention. He had three silver studs spaced out along the rim of his left ear and wore a thin, olive green coat with a high collar and a black fishnet vest underneath, a pair of simple, black trousers and black sandals. He sat with his arm folded, leaning back in the chair with a relaxed slouch. He wondered how much longer this assembly was going to go when something snapped him from his musings. He tilted his neck sharply to the left as a piece of chalk missed him by inches. He gave a satisfied smirk as he looked back at his sensei, who had hurled the chalk at him. Then gravity did it’s work and he fell off the side of his chair and landed with a thump on the ground. There was a ripple of laughter through the students and Sora quickly stood up and groaned as he looked at the giggling students looking at him. “Uketsuki Sora!” The teacher called out his name from the front, “Couldn’t pay attention for just one more class, eh?” “Whatever…” Sora replied with a half hearted shrug, “At least I won’t have to listen to your cheesy history lessons.” “It’s recent history, Sora. Your own mother was one of the brave shinobi who fought with Kotetsu Taichou, what would she say if she saw you dozing off to the story of her past?” “She’d tell you that you’re telling it wrong.” Sora said with a frown, a testy frustration starting to bubble up within him. “And you would no better, hm?” His teacher asked. Sora’s lips became thin as he tried to say something, but there was nothing to say. [Many Nights] Uketsuki. It was the name of his mother’s clan. The rest had died during a planned assassination from a vengeful clan who had feared their abilities. His mother had always been very secretive about their clan. He knew that his mother had excellent chakra control which made her an expert medical ninja, and many in the village praised her expertise with sealing jutsu. He knew that their clan were originally from Sunagakure, and that his mother had fled as a missing nin and soon after joined Asuna to liberate Amegakure. The adults of Amegakure were always so secretive, and his mother was no exception. She would always tell him that he wasn’t ready whenever he had questions about their clan. After a while of this he had just stopped asking. His mother had always been quite distant, she was brilliant and clever but she had never been the affectionate type. His father was even more puzzling. He was a man born here in Amegakure, a Jounin ninja who worked within the village. He was a brave and confident man, but no very bright, at least not compared to his brilliant wife. At some point the other students had began filing out. The final class of the ninja academy was over. Sora was a Genin now, and starting tomorrow he would meet his assigned team and begin doing work for the village. Real missions; like spying and bodyguard assignments. Sora hoped it wouldn’t be as much of a chore as the academy was. At least it would be more interesting. --- --- --- --- [Hidden Will To Fight] Kotetsu Asuna stood on the balcony of the tallest tower in Amegakure. She looked out over the village, a cluster of large tower structures complete with running water, waste filtering systems, electricity. This was an industrial village of dark brass tones, and a dull skyline of grey clouds, and a constant, drizzling rain. It was a melancholy place, but one that Asuna found to be quite beautiful. She was a tall woman, dressed in a long, black rob with a wide and high collar. Her jet black hair was long, spiky and stuck out to the left. She wore a black eyepatch over one eye, a few deep scars coming out of either side of it. Her remaining eye was a cold blue and looked keen and prepared. Asuna turned around and walked inside the tower to her office where two people were waiting for her. One of them was a woman only a few years younger than Asuna in her early 40s, she was an average height woman with a slim built, dressed in a long black labcoat, with a short skirt and fishnet leggings, and a pair of heeled sandals. Her hip-length red hair was pinned away from her face with a couple of light blue hairpins, and a pair of black, thick-rimmed glasses were perched on her nose, the glare of the lenses in the light masking her eyes. “Asuna Taichou…” The woman said with a monotonous tone, then she tilted her head and revealed a pair of amber eyes, “Are you ready for your report?” “I didn’t ask for a report, I asked you to come here.” Asuna replied. “Correct.” The woman replied with a slight nod, “However…considering the Jinchuriki is graduating from the academy today I deduced that you would like to know the progress on our…project.” “Your son graduated today too, Satomi.” Asuna said. “Yes…” Satomi replied as if she hadn’t thought about that until it had been mentioned. “Have you thought more about teaching him-“ “He’s not ready.” Satomi said, cutting Asuna off. “That’s a real shame.” Said the other person in the room. She was a younger woman with a lean, fighters build. Her skin was almost a slightly greyish blue colour, and her eyes were a pale blue, almost white, and as she grinned she revealed a set of spiky shark-teeth. Her hair was cut short but had a set of unruly spikes not dissimilar to Asuna’s. She had a forehead protector tied around her head with the symbol of Amegakure emblazoned on it. She was dressed in a dark grey flak jacket, a pair of tight-fitted shorts, but wore a belt with long sashes of black material that covered her lower half almost like a skirt, but less restrictive. “You see…they matched up for being squad mates.” “Impossible…” Satomi said with a shake of her head, “Sora is too much like his father, head in the clouds. He’s unfocused, lacking motivation and unhelpful in a crisis. He’ll make a good ninja one day I’m sure but…we need a genin with genius capabilities.” “Your lab nerds have been gathering all the data from every test conducted in that school and they’ve crunched the numbers.” The shark-toothed woman explained, “They’ve determined that his lack of motivation comes from lack of challenge. He scores high on tests and by all accounts he does so without really trying. Which means he’s going to be chum for me and the Jinchuriki.” “This is…” A flicker of concern appeared in Satomi’s eyes, and then she was back to her stern look of concentration, “…If that’s what the reports have concluded then I will have to agree.” “Geez…who took your mojo?” The shark-toothed girl turned to Asuna, “Am I right?” “Omi…” Asuna said with a sigh, “You could try for a little more tact.” “Yeah, yeah.” Omi said with a dismissive wave of her hand, “So when do I get to start torturing the little pups?” “You can start as soon as you’re ready. I can find you a mission if you like, something safe…” Asuna suggested “Nah…I’m gonna mess with them first.” Omi said with a toothy grin.
  9. Hallows S2

    The drive back to their motel was a long, silent one. Vincent drove for once, Violet needed some more time to get her head together he felt. His sister was sitting in the passenger seat staring aimlessly out of the window, a deep look of concern on her face. Vincent pulled over into the motel parking lot and parked the car, and they got out with their things and got back into their room. Vincent turned the TV on just for background noise and sat on one of the beds. He reached under it and retrieved a mostly full bottle of whisky. He gestured at Violet to get him two glasses before retrieving his cigarettes from his pocket and sparking one up. He was feeling pretty numb right now, his brain still had to process everything fully. He had felt so hopelessly overwhelmed when facing those beings. He had designed a field of magic to give them an edge and yet it left them so hopelessly outclassed. Why hadn’t he thought about that before going ahead with the ritual? The way they skirted his barriers, wards and defences with ease seemed like cheating, which is precisely how he felt about Violet’s magic. Cosmic magic was not the same as his magic, or really any other beings magic. There were fundamental laws to magic, things even greater beings could not break, and yet the Nagloshi had. Then there was his father’s appearance, which had been more of an event for Violet apparently. For Vincent it had all happened in a sudden burst, a flurry of action where there hadn’t been previously. Before he had gotten a good look at his father they had been sent out of The Void. Violet, however, had spoken with their dad. He had saved her from falling off the ledge, had somehow frozen time within that space. Two impossibilities in one day. Time magic was…messy and complicated. So complicated that he wasn’t certain it was even possible. His father was alive. Alive and well, apparently. Free enough to travel through time and space with little effort and just summon a freaking black hole to save his kids. Which meant he was choosing to be gone. Which meant Vincent’s fears were right, his dad was a selfish asshole. One who was apparently wielding some seriously powerful magic the likes of which he had never seen before. His brain was buzzing thinking about the potential magical theory of it all, trying to understand it. Violet handed him the glasses and he poured them out a drink each. He took his and drank it down, quieting the scholarly thoughts and replacing them with the soothing burn of the whisky. “So…” He choked, putting his glass down and pouring another, “…Drown your sorrows in a bottle with me?” She swallowed, pulling her gaze away from the motel window. "Yeah." Violet had been crying. She had wiped the tears away but he could tell all the same. She watched the amber liquid rise in the glass with an apathetic stare until she leaned forwards and pulled the glass away while Vincent was still pouring. She brought the glass to her lips, paused for a moment and then finished the contents of the glass in a single gulp. Violet retched, followed by choking and coughing. Then wheezing. Then she took one deep breath and regained her composure and then nodded and held her glass out at him. Vincent poured her another glass and put the bottle down on the little table by his bed. He sipped at the whisky this time and took time to gather his thoughts. “So what particular earth shattering bombshell do you want to talk about first?” He asked finally. He wasn’t fine either but he had more experience with suppressing his feelings than Violet, which he was sure was totally healthy, right? "I don't know... I don't know." Violet repeated. She lifted her legs onto her bed and sat there cross-legged, nursing her drink. "I think... I'm... Not me? Or I'm not... Who I was... I remember being this complete being. I knew so much, my emotions were so different, everything is different... I don't know who I am. I thought I was a complete person. But I'm not..." For the every day person saying such things was an alarm bell that the person might be having some sort of mental health episode, but when it came to the supernatural these sorts of comments could be taken more literally. Violet was not human…or at least he thought so anyway. She was a being of energy and light, and now she was not. It was quite possible that something more than her power had been taken from her. “Zeal…” Vincent said as he remembered what Violet had said earlier during the conflict, “You never really spoke about her much. I guess I never really knew what she was, or if she was even something or just something your brain cooked up to help you understand your powers.” "I don't know what I thought she was... I felt like the only time I saw her was was as this strange little animal in a dream or... Something." Violet took a sip of whiskey and visibly grimaced. "It wasn't until she was being torn out of...us. That I realised we had been more together, somehow. I'd become a lot stronger than I'd realised. Learned how to control my emotions, and now..." Tears still ran down her cheeks, she wiped at them with the back of her sleeve and sniffed. "How do you feel?" “Worn out.” He replied with a sigh, “There’s always another hurdle around every corner, and the stakes keep getting higher but I’m not getting stronger, just older and more beaten and scarred. I’m in my 30s and I haven’t got a life to go back to, what little of it I had in the first place. I’m tired of following trails of blood, always on the move, and even when I get to sleep it’s nothing but fucking nightmares.” Violet nodded and sat in silence for a while. "I'm..." She muttered and Vincent looked up only to see Violet collapse back onto the bed, dropping the glass which hit the ground with a dull thud, spared of breaking, and rolled across the floor as Violet began to snore. “Really?” Vincent said aloud but he didn’t get any response from Violet. She probably had overdid it today, and she wasn’t used to being mortal again. Who knew how much energy it took to wield cosmic energy. Violet had always seemed to work magic from her own personal pool of power, except her pool was more like an ocean. She didn’t have much need for learning to use the forces around her. Ultimately he thought it best that she rest. After another five glasses of whisky he decided he could use a nap himself. He lay down on his bed and stared at the ceiling for a while. As a warm, boozy feeling settled in he let his mind drift off, and eventually the deep darkness of sleep took him. --- --- --- --- “Vincent!” The sceam was close but muffled through a wall. Vincent shot up in his bed and looked around the room. Violet’s bed was empty, only a mess of sheets where she once was. He heard Violet scream again and he leapt over the bed and pulled open the motel room door. On the other side was chaos. A small army of perhaps twenty or thirty people were gathered outside, including a man he recognized as the motel owner, the others perhaps other guests or staff. The only problem was they were all quite clearly dead, but walking all the same. Violet’s impala was a wreck, it’s remnants nothing but hot metal, flames and black smoke that was piling into the air. Next to the burning wreck Violet was on the floor, being held up by her hair, a black tendril of dark magic clawing at her throat, squeezing it tightly. The woman who stood there was an enemy, one that had been plaguing his nightmares for 2 years. “Morgana!” Vincent spat her name like he would a profanity, “Let go of her!” Morgana Le Fay, they very one from the legends, stood in a body she had stolen. While it was Meredith’s body, Morgana’s expression and the way she held herself made her look so unlike Meredith. She gave a lazy, satisfied smile as she scanned over him with her eyes. She was dressed in black, heeled boots and a pair of black leather pants that hugged her frame, as well as an emerald green leather jacket with a wide collar. Her long, red curls of hair looked wild and untamed, and her cold, blue eyes were piercing. Meredith’s eyes. The thought made his blood boil. He searched through every nasty curse he had in his arsenal and moved his body to face her, and then Morgana pulled out a slender athame, a ceremonial dagger, and pressed it against Violet’s neck. All the rage evaporated. His confidence crumbled and his resolve slipped away like sand through his fingers. Vincent stood very still, his eyes fixed on Morgana’s. She was still wearing that contented smirk. “Did you miss me, child?” She asked, her voice smooth and relaxed. “Just tell me what you want and let Violet go.” Vincent said, although it didn’t sound like much of a demand the way he said it. Morgana seemed to consider this for a moment. She bit her lip and let out a little sigh of mock frustration. “Hmm…no I think not.” She said finally, and then she cut Violet’s throat. The bottom fell out of Vincent. His entire world crumbled, and the environment around him became irrelevant. There was so much blood around Violet’s neck. He fell to his knees. Just so much blood. How did she know Violet was vulnerable? Why did she come here now? Questions nagged at him, tried to drag him back to reality, back to the problem at hand. What did any of it matter though? Violet was gone. Despair gripped him tightly, he couldn’t move and he couldn’t speak. Morgana dropped Violet’s corpse like it was a garbage bag and slowly stepped towards Vincent. Just as she was about to get close to him she suddenly raised her hand and Vincent was yanked back through the air and crashed into the wall of the motel, he hit the back of his head and his vision swam. “This is how you pay for what you have done to me, child.” Morgana said, and her tone was bitter and angry, the jovial façade was gone. “I will take everything from you.” He heard her words but the intent behind it barely registered. Violet was dead. The very thing she had narrowly avoided had come to pass only hours later. He was quite powerless, the grief and despair made it too difficult to focus enough to work a spell anyway. He was done for. Morgana made a subtle twisting motion with her hand and suddenly pain blazed out from his chest near where his heart was. He went to scream but the pain was so excruciating that he couldn’t even muster one. The sheer burning heat of it was unbearable and he thought he might pass out from the pain, when suddenly a cool sensation ran through his body. A cold power washed over him. It was a delicious cold that snapped him back to his senses like a fog had been lifted. Cool energy traced over his skin and it felt cruel, vicious and unyielding, a biting cold that survives when all other things die, the icy heart of winter. When he finally gained enough focus to see again, he noticed that he was now sat in a heap on the ground. Morgana was not there, but in her place was another woman. She was shorter than Morgana, dressed in black boots that looked stylish, with little rhinestones decorating the heel. She wore purple and black striped leggings and a short, black skirt. Her upper body was covered by a baggy, black hoodie with purple detailing, and the hood which was pulled up had a pair of kitty ears and simple design of a pair of cat’s eyes and some whiskers. The young woman cocked her head to the side slightly as she looked at him. She was pale skinned with white hair that was a variety of lengths and had a sort of punky look. She wore purple lipstick and her eyes were so bright blue that they looked almost white, and her pupils were narrow like a cat’s. “You’re having another nightmare, Vincent Hallow.” She said to him. She had a Russian accent but her English was very good. She came closer to him and squatted down, leaning her arms on her legs and she watched him curiously. “Who are you?” Vincent asked weakly. “My name is Isoleth, but my friends call me Izzy.” She explained with a bright smile, “and I know that you are Eli’s son, Vincent Hallow.” “You know my dad?” Vincent asked, but then he shook his head. If this was all just a nightmare, a very real feeling nightmare, then either his psyche had conjured this person from his imagination or…or they were invading his mind. “Get out of my head.” Vincent said as he pushed himself to his feet. “I’m not in your head, stupid.” Izzy replied with a smirk and she stood up as well, “You’re in the Dreaming.” “The what?” Vincent asked “Come on Vincent.” Izzy said with a grin, “You are familiar with worlds existing parallel to one another; you’ve seen the Void, and Faerie. Did you not think there were other places too?” “So…your saying when I dream I go to a place? This place?” Vincent asked. “You project an image of yourself; all mortals do this. Generally there is not lasting damage to suffering pain through your projection here but…well there are ways to use the dreaming to establish a connection between two individuals.” “Morgana? That was really her? I thought this was a nightmare.” “Indeed she was, and yes this is a nightmare, however, it was one of her making.” Izzy explained, “The wound on your shoulder.” Vincent pulled his T-shirt up over his shoulder and examined the black, sprawling wound emanating from a small crater in his skin where something had impacted it. He had gained the wound two years ago when Morgana had hit him with a blast of some nasty magic. It was a wound no conventional doctor could fix, and he had tried every magical healing technique he could think of but nothing seemed to help. In the end apart from a few painful twinges he felt fairly normal. Didn’t he? “Gross…that’ll do it.” Izzy said with a thoughtful expression, “She must really have it in for you. This curse is…very unpleasant. We’ll have to do something about that. I can fix it, but only in person. I can come to you but it will take a few days I think.” “Wait a minute.” Vincent held up his hand as he spoke, “What makes you think I trust you? Cat eyes, and your magic is cold, which makes you one of the Fae, Unseelie court. The kind that trick desperate mortals in to bargains that rob them of their life and body. I don’t want whatever you’re selling.” Izzy stared at Vincent for a moment with a slightly stunned expression, but then she broke into a laugh and waved at him dismissively. “Oh, Vincent Hallow, you are so very like Alphonse described. I suppose caution is a good thing but in this case you are mistaken. I am a changeling, All the perks of being Fae minus the immortality part. Worth it when magic is so easy. Changelings are often viewed as dangerous because they have access to a lot of power and free will to use it.” “…So you know Alphonse? Know any more of my associates?” Vincent asked “Quite a few. Your father, Alphonse, Lucia, Vael and I’ve crossed paths with David Argent once or twice.” “So you’re some changeling girl who’s all buddy-buddy with my dad and Al, and you expect me to just take you at your word?” Vincent’s frown deepened. “What the hell is going on? Where did Morgana go? Why the hell is my dad and his cronies suddenly deciding to crawl out of the woodwork?” Izzy gave a soft shrug and glanced away from Vincent. She closed her eyes and Vincent felt that cold energy again. Before his eyes the environment began to change, the motel disappeared, along with the flaming impala and the corpse of his sister. In its place appeared a vast skyscape of stars that seemed far to bright and numerous. They were on top of a very large mountain, so high that there was a layer of clouds blocking the earth below from view. Vincent felt a chill in the air, but it was nowhere near as cold as it should have been on top of a snowy mountain he was beginning to suspect was Everest. The noise of the wind was also barely a whisper and he swore he could hear a light EDM track playing in the background. “I specialize in illusions, which means a lot in the dreaming.” Izzy explained, “I thought I’d change the setting to something a little nicer. Do you like it?” “I don’t care about the setting I just want answers.” Vincent replied irritably. “Don’t you ever stop to smell the roses, Vincent?” Izzy asked, and she looked a little sad. Then she put on a smile and shrugged, “Very well Vincent, I shall answer you. Morgana Le Fay has been sent back to her mortal body for the time being. You stopped her from calling down a great deal of power two years ago. With that sort of power there would be few who could match her. That is why she hates you, and that is why she has cursed you.” “So what exactly does this curse do? Give me nightmares?” Vincent asked “No that was Morgana doing that through your connection.” Izzy replied, “This curse is designed to siphon away your power and give it to Morgana. Each time she visited you in these nightmares she took a part of your power to replenish what she lost. Each time she grows stronger and you weaker.” “I…I never noticed.” Vincent replied “Well of course not. You’d account the fatigue to not sleeping well, and with the journey you and your sister have been on…who would blame you for feeling depressed or worn out. The symptoms were masked by your circumstance.” Vincent felt a strange pang in his chest. The thought of someone taking his magic like that was…very uncomfortable. He hadn’t even noticed that it was happening. He felt completely foolish. How much power had he lost? With his sister’s drop in power as well, the odds just kept stacking against them, and that weight bearing down on him was starting to feel crushing. “Get out of your head, dude.” Izzy said with a roll of her eyes, “You’re Vincent Fuckin’ Hallow, you eat lightning and crap thunder! You eat vampires for breakfast! Do you even have any idea how scary you are!?” “Sure doesn’t seem like it when I’m ducking for cover or getting tied up in word games with scary fuckers like Lucia.” Vincent replied, frowning. “Oh please, Lucia doesn’t show fear to anyone, but she knows what you’ve done just like the rest of us.” “And what have I done?” Vincent asked. “Hunted.” Izzy replied simply, “Stop trying to play the game, just break through. It’s what you and Violet have always done best. Sure you guys stumble a lot, but you’re both still alive and kicking. You should be confident in yourself.” “Yeah I’ll get right to work on that.” Vincent replied, he wanted to change the topic, “How do you know my father and Al?” Izzy bit her bottom lip and seemed to hesitate for a moment. “You don’t know it yet, but you have been chasing us for quite some time now.” She explained, “Recently you and Violet discovered that your father was part of some sort of group. You also discovered evidence which suggested that Lucia was part of the same group.” “If you know all that then why are we still searching? If you want to help us then why wait until now?” “Well, that’s complicated.” Izzy replied, shifting uncomfortably, “We’re bound by a lot of conditions. One of which is not helping people discover us.” “Wouldn’t this be classed as helping?” Vincent asked, brow raised. “There’s been some foul play so different rules apply for now. I have been tasked to watch over you and Violet for a while, and help you out a little. I’m sorry but I cannot explain much more beyond that. Though it will still take me a few days to reach you. In the meantime I believe you have work to do.” “Two dangerous vampires need to get smoked. I’m sure we can manage.” Vincent replied. “Do not underestimate them. I suggest you gather a hunting party.” Izzy gave Vincent a knowing look, “I think you already have a few allies nearby who can help you.” “I’m still not sure how I feel about this.” Vincent said with a frown. “Well then I’ll settle it with a peace offering.” Izzy said with a grin, and then she took an old photograph out of the her pocket and handed it to him. Vincent examined the old photo and his eyes widened as he scanned over it. The room had about 12 people in it, it was some kind of gathering in a small events room. Vincent recognized a few of the figures. His mentor, Alphonse was sat at a table talking with a man with slicked back, black hair dressed in a suit. In the background Vincent’s father, looking very young, was talking with an attractive woman who he vaguely recognized. “Vael…” He murmured as he continued scanning the photo. “This was before Violet was born.” “Correct. It is the day our little group was first founded. Although I wasn’t around back then.” “How old are you?” Vincent asked “I’m only 25, dude.” Izzy said with a smirk. “And your name is Isoleth? Bit of an old sounding name for a millennial.” Vincent teased. “It is a regal name…chosen by Queen Mab herself.” “Your…the daughter of the queen of the unseelie fae?” “Yeah dude, I’m pretty dope, I don’t know if you noticed.” Izzy said with a chuckle. “I think it’s time for you to wake up. Get your shit together Vincent, you’ll feel better.” “Easy to say when you don’t have a full day of ass kicking ahead of you.” Vincent said with a grumble. “My name’s Vincent and I’m a grumpy wizard!” Izzy said in a particularly poor impersonation of Vincent, and then she started giggling at herself, “Aw I like you Vincent. We’re gonna be the best of friends, I can already tell.” “Don’t hold your breath.” Vincent said and a hint of a smirk escaped his lips. “Yass queen!” Izzy said with a triumphant grin and she clapped her hands together, “Okay just keep doing more of that smilin’ until I find you! Oh this is going to be fun. I’m so stoked to meet Violet!” --- --- --- --- Before Vincent could reply he gasped for air as he suddenly woke up on the bed in the motel room. He turned to his side and looked at Violet who was sleeping soundly. For the first time since the nightmare had began he finally allowed himself to feel relief. That had been an extremely weird dream. Then he looked down at his hand and saw the photograph he was holding, the one that Izzy had given him. “Shit…” Vincent said with a sigh, “Violet! Wake up!” He had some explaining to do.
  10. Hallows S2

    "What's our standpoint on eating on a grave, then?" Violet asked to the air, unwrapping a taco. It never took long to find a graveyard. Although, this one had seen better days. Grass ran over most of the old graves. A small pink orb illuminated the graveyard for several feet in all directions, floating over Violet's shoulder as she bit into a taco, sat upon a grave while Vincent was busy drawing symbols in chalk on an area of the ground they'd sanctified. While he worked, Violet finished wolfing down her food and then grabbed the remaining taco and held it up, when she pulled her hand away, it remained floating on the spot and began to glow pink. Ancient words recited in a hushed tone, and something appeared in front of her. It appeared for a moment, snatched the food in front of her, and was gone. Violet was sure she knew what it looked like, but when it was gone, it was just a cloud of shadow. "Cool. That's the offering out of the way, and--" She looked over to see Vincent dropping little stones with runes etched into them, scattering them around the summoning site. She'd never seen so many charms, protection spells, cleansing rites and magical barriers erected in one spot before. That, in itself, was dangerous. There is such a thing as being 'too safe'. Magic does, after all, tend to attract trouble. "-- you done?" She asked her brother. "Almost..." Vincent said after a long pause, his attention seemed focused on the task more than Violet. With the final placement of a rune-engraved stone there also came a strange pressure to the air, like everything had just been wrapped in plastic wrap. As Vincent stepped inside the outer circle of their spell the runes lit up on the stones, and a green aura began to emanate from the patterns of salt that were shaped into all manner of ancient symbols; Chinese, Egyptian, Sanskrit and a smattering of others. "Are you ready?" He asked Violet, and he looked at her with a hardened expression. He was focused, but he clearly wasn't thrilled about what they were doing next. "How am I supposed to be ready for this, i've no idea what to expect, things that came naturally to me, it's like fighting through treacle now... more focused, less capable... I think..." Violet frowned and then shook off her confusion. She couldn't dwell on that now. Now was the time for action. "So, you want to take the lead on this? I'm kind of-- not as--?" Violet scowled. "I'll take care of the technical stuff." Vincent assured as he sat himself down on a pre-designated spot within the circle. He crossed his legs lotus style and took in a deep breath, and then exhaled just as slowly and purposefully. "Just lend me your mojo. Spells are stronger the more will you put into them, three would be better but I figure we're already pretty jacked in the mystical muscles department, so it'll be fine...probably." "Well now i'm really confident." Violet muttered, half-joking with a pained smirk. "... I'm ready when you are." Vincent didn't reply verbally. He had closed his eyes and had been focusing on his breathing. As he fell deeper and deeper into a trance-like state, the environment began to react to his will. The ambient noise that normally filled the silence just stopped. No wind, no birds, no distant car engines, just endless, crisp silence. Vincent's breath became visible on every exhale, like he was breathing out an aura or energy rather than just air. Then the world seemed to crack like glass. The circle split and broke apart, reflections of itself refracting upon themselves over and over. The graveyard scene became confusing and treacherous within moments, as a deep, true darkness engulfed the outside of the circle. However, the circle itself was growing, splitting off into fractal reflections of itself, and in each version a Vincent and a Violet. Reflections, but not the kind you found in real mirrors. They were real, or as real as anything was in this place. The Void was emptiness. The dark space in between all things, a place where there was a vast nothingness, but where everything existed in some strange paradox. Simple ideas, dreams and imaginings could become a reality within this realm. It did not obey the laws of the physical world, and even under the influence of a practitioner's will the realm could become quickly confusing, and many could lose their minds to this place, simply by attempting to understand it. There was a ripple within the tumbling mess of fractal realities, a pulsing, steady power that seemed to permeate throughout each. It pulled on them, gripping each reflection and pulling it tightly. The reflections began to merge and form a new, single reality. Vincent opened his eyes finally, and now the circle they had created had become an enormous platform floating through an endless abyss of darkness. He looked around them to see patches of floating bits of the graveyard just bobbing along as if gravity didn't affect them anymore. "Well..." Vincent said as he stood up, "Yep... this place still gives me the heebies... and also the jeebies." "I remember feeling comfortable here, like I was taking off a heavy jacket at the end of a long day." Violet looked out across the shadowy hellscape, "Now, it's just like anywhere monsters lurk..." Violet squinted as she looked into the darkness, where vague shapes of landscape could be glimpsed. "I'm not expecting it to take very long for our presence to be noticed. I just don't know what to expect, Vael often appeared when I came here, but she's worryingly absent now... never thought i'd say that." "Nothing is getting in without an invitation." Vincent said, an he sounded fairly certain of that, "That was the point in the....split." Vincent shivered a little, "They might have just been reflections in the physical world but reality isn't a concept that holds much weight here. The purpose was to rework the spell, over and over, across multiple realities, or non-realities...Im never quite sure how to refer to it accurately." Vincent paced around the new circle, which was now about the size of a freaking Walmart store. "This is the best I can offer you. A little playground on the edge of nothingness that we can let loose in. Demons and spooks can't get in here unless we summon them...and hopefully the same rules apply for these...orb thingies." "I'd like to think..." Violet paused, she felt like every little hair on her body stood on end at once. The feeling was mirrored in Vincent's expression. From the darkness ahead of them, over the rise, came a procession of twinkling lights. "Should we be pleased we found them already...?" "The sooner I get out of this realm the better, Vi." Vincent replied, "Better put our game faces on." He looked down at his black jeans and grey stone roses T-shirt, "Starting to think I should have worn a cool coat or something..." "Well i'm glad you've still got a sense of humour..." Violet muttered back. The orbs grew in size, until their forms shifted. Light grew in radiance from the cores of the orbs, but the light expanded and took physical form. Violet noticed they looked similar to her own appearance as a Nagloshi, but they were all white, not purple. It was like staring directly at the sun and made her uncomfortable and dazed for any more than a few seconds. She found herself looking at them through the shutters of her fingers. "Why did you hurt me?!" Violet called out to them. They seemed to ignore her for a moment, talking with one another quietly until the smallest of the group stepped forwards and looked them over. Her form was feminine, her hair - if you could call shifting strands of light hair - was short and spiky and danced around like she was in a wind tunnel. "They're mortals, do you see?" She said, without looking back at the others. "Hey, i'm speaking to you!!" Violet growled. "They're human." She added, her eyes lazily inspecting them, "I don't know, they have rudimentary understanding of cosmic magic. No. This one--" She pointed at Violet, almost hitting her in the nose in the process. "Hey!!" Violet reflexively slapped the... she had no word for her yet... but she slapped aside her hand. "Violent. Irrational." Then she was stood in front of Vincent, examining him. "Shall I remove them?" "Why do all you 'higher being' types talk to us like we aren't here?" Vincent asked, he didn't seem especially shaken by what she had said, "I mean you're speaking English or using some sort of psychic communication, either way you're making an effort to speak with us in a way we understand but continue speaking as if we can't understand you. Are you trying to appear intimidating? You just come off as assholes, y'know." "Intimidation tactics, basic reasoning, attempt at provocation." She turned her head, the way a dog or bird might, then looked back to the other orbs, "Then what?" "Violet, your ancestors are kinda rude... I think even Vael's less intentionally difficult than this..." He gestured at the creature's 'hair' , "Pixie?" He smirked, "My name is Vincent Hallow. You're currently standing in our domain." He gestured to Violet as he spoke, "We have questions. Depending on your answer, we might have to tangle. Not a threat, just a fact. So tell me Tinkerbell, do you want to proceed civilly or not?" "Pixie..." She repeated thoughtfully, but her interest lay in the other name drop. "'Vael'?" Pixie's eyes locked on Vincent, "Where is Vael? She is the other." "Don't know, don't care." Vincent replied, "We're here to talk about Violet." He gestured once again to his sister, "You'll have to excuse her as she appears to be lost for words...which is a universal first by the way so congratulations." "I... the other what?!" Violet blinked, coming to her senses at the mention of her 'aunt'. "Abnormality." Pixie replied, then added over her shoulder, "The human the rogue White Dwarf fused with, and her... Vincent Hallow." "Excuse me?" Vincent asked, his eyebrow raised so high it was dangerously close to rising off of his head altogether. "VINCENT!!" Violet screamed, launching herself at him. Pixie lifted her hand without warning, it seemed, for all but Violet. A light grew at the tip of her finger and shot in a beam, Violet shoved Vincent out of the way, turning to see the beam widening and blinding her, then she felt a rush of wind as something snatched at her. It was like a jolt. Was that death? She didn't even get to catch up with her ex... Violet blinked, she was staring at a black sky. Violet sat bolt upright, she was still in the Void, but she seemed untouched. "Vincent?!" Violet called out, but she saw her brother kneeling by something and she held her breath as she approached. "Vincent, what happened, there was a light and--" Violet's mouth fell slack. Vincent was cradling Vael, who had a hole in her shoulder. Violet walked over and knelt in silence, looking at the wound. Cracks began snapping out from the hole, creaking and spreading across Vael's body. "W-what happened...?" Violet asked, taking Vael's hand. "They were... going to erase you... for having infected... a Star." Vael struggled to focus, as the cracks spread and multiplied across her body. "I couldn't... watch you... die..." Violet was crying. She never fully understood her relationship with Vael, but somehow, in spite of everything she had done to them, she was still dear to her. "Why...?!" Violet looked up at Pixie with tears streaming down her face. "You shouldn't exist." Pixie said quietly, turning to face them. "Violet get behind me!" Vincent said frantically as he lowered Vael to the ground. When he stood up the air crackled with power and something mostly invisible spread through the air around them, a powerful hum of excited energy, a barrier between Pixie and the rest of them. "I don't know how she got here..." he said to Violet, and he wasn't sounding so confident any more, "I cant sense their magic... this is really bad." his gaze fixed on Pixie and it became a determined scowl. "Don't think I'll make it easy for you, bitch!" Vincent spat a few words, they sounded unintelligible and completely foreign to a human tongue but they were, in fact, names. As he spoke them there was a sound like a scream being sucked up into a vacuum and multiple tears opened into their domain. Three creatures emerged; snarling, quadrupedal beasts with hides as black as coals, and matted, coarse fur. They had long scar-like cracks throughout their bodies, and something glowed with an eldritch light from within. Their eyes glowed with the same light, their powerful claws and teeth producing an aura of magma-like energy that scorched the ground at their feet. Demons. "I said by invite only, but I didn't say I wouldn't invite them!" "Mortals..." Pixie cut the beam across the courtyard and caught one of the Demons in the light, they shrieked in horrific pain as they folded in on themselves almost instantly. Pixie turned and fired this concentrated magic and struck another Demon, it too, shrieked and fell. But the remaining Demon fell upon her. Violet drew in a breath to yell in victory when the Demon was vaporised instantly. Little more than ash in the wind. The largest of the orbs of light came forwards and formed a being similar in makeup to Pixie and the Nagloshi, but her hair seemed to flow back long past her feet, yet all of it was in the air behind her, like the currents of the ocean. Her light was most brilliant. And when she approached, Pixie apologised and moved out of her way. Her face was kind, knowing and jovial. But she was also like a giant, towering over them yet she stood passively, holding her arms behind her back. "Children..." Her voice was booming and yet gentle in tone, it frightened Violet for a reason she didn't understand. Like a hazy memory, warning her of something. She could only watch though as this being crossed the courtyard of Vincent's creation and stand before him. With the lift of her hand, she brought Vincent floating into the air to hover before her eyes. "Are you done fighting? Have you got it all out of your system?" The bright one asked, her tone measured and happy, like she was asking Vincent if his tantrum was through. "Luminous one--" Pixie interjected, "-- this mortal attempted to destroy a Star--" "Because you attacked them, impatient one." She clarified, "Now, what is it you want, Mortal?" Pixie recoiled and lowered her head in fear. "Why are you addressing me?" Vincent growled, "Why are you all addressing me!?" Vincent kept his barrier up between them, although who knew what good it would do them. "You have taken....so much from my sister, from Violet! Why aren't you speaking to her!?" Violet looked from her brother to the towering giant, whatever she was. "She has no right to speak with us. She is an abnormality." The being of light swept her hand across, Violet saw a battle play out, Star killing Star. All were being wiped out. And at the head of it, was Vael. She was killing them. Her hand moved back across and Violet found herself refocused and as distressed as Vincent appeared. Vincent shook his head like he was physically trying to remove something from it and his scowl darkened. "Stay the fuck out of my head." He snarled, but there wasn't a great deal of bite to him. It was clear on his face that he knew their options were limited. He was running his mouth to buy time because time was a wizard's most effective weapon. With a heavy sigh Vincent seemed to gather himself and stood a little more firm. "This just in: Vael is a violent agent of chaos. Stay tuned for our next big reveal: water is wet!" "Then you understand." She turned and looked to Vael, the cracks still spreading across her. "Ceasing to exist would be a relief, you are guilty, and should suffer." She waved her hand, and Vael wailed in pain as her body crystallised, spreading out from her chest until she was a frozen crystal statue. "You'll have time to think in there for a few millennia, and then we'll talk punishment." "You can't do that!" Violet spoke up, "Two wrongs don't make a right! And you said I was a fusion, a fusion with what? Was it Zeal?! Where is she?!" Violet marched towards the giant being of light, ignoring Vincent. "Hey! HEY!! I'm speaking to you, and i'm not going away!!" "Be quiet." It was an off-the-cuff demand, but it could not be ignored it seemed. Violet continued speaking, but her voice was gone. She yelled at the top of her lungs, but nothing came out. She clicked her fingers, sound. She opened her mouth and formed the words. Nothing. She clenched her fist, she wanted to yell, "What am I? What was I? How can I be that again?" But she couldn't so much as say a single word. She raised her hands, but again, without the words to back it up, and with no focus, and no direct access to the same breadth of cosmic magics she had when she was... fused? Or whatever that meant, she was relatively helpless. She wanted to throw everything she had at their enemy, but she was so utterly beyond her. "Stop it!" Vincent yelled, and his voice boomed along to the clap of thunder in the eternal darkness of The Void. The grass underneath his feet stirred with a growing, turbulent wind. "I've had enough of demons, vampires, faeries, and gods, and fucking cosmic energy beings imposing their will on us! You all come from the same place, you call it ki, mana or the power fuckin' cosmic but it's all the same! Power... and we have power too!" The ground shook and small pieces of the earth broke off and began to vibrate and shake, rising gently into the air as unseen forces played havoc with the environment. "Stop what you're doing... or I'll make you, I swear it!" "Make me?" She asked, she leaned down and picked Vincent up, holding him at the throat with her thumb, "I needn't use magic, I could simply squeeze and you would cease to be. You are so fragile. Why risk so much for so little..." Violet raised her hands, glowing pink light formed and she tried to strike out with the energy she was mustering. However, this being simply drew the energy away from her, concentrated it into a tiny orb and threw it back at her with a simple off-handed gesture. Violet was struck in her centre mass and thrown across the courtyard until she hit the ground, tumbled and rolled to the edge of the platform, one arm hung limply over the edge, threatening to fall into the very Void itself. Someone grabbed Violet's arm just as it was about to slip. The figure dragged her up with a firm strength. He let go of her as she was pulled safely back on to solid ground, and he had turned around before she could get a good look at him. The man was dressed in a dark robe with a hood, the entire garment decorated with a constellation of strange runes and diagrams, glittering slightly like the pattern had been woven in starlight itself. The hood covered the man's head, all but covering his face in a shadow that was definitely the result of some magic. Only the edge of his dark but greying beard could be seen in the vibrant light emanating from the Star beings. Said beings were currently frozen, as was everything else within The Void. Everything was perfectly still, not a breath or whisper in the air. Only Violet and the robed man seemed to be unaffected by this. Even Vincent remained frozen in the grip of the star being. "I'm sorry I didn't act sooner." The man said in a deep but gentle voice, "We don't have time to explain I'm afraid." He gestured towards the star beings as their forms seemed to be twitching and moving around in short bursts of rapidity. "It only slows them down for a moment." The man explained, "When it starts again grab your brother and get out of here. Do you understand?" "... Dad?" Violet asked, stepping forwards to put her hand to his shoulder, but as she reached out, he seemed to be ever further from him. Her arm stretched out to span an infinite yet unreachable goal. "How are you here? You don't need to go, you can come with us, we'll all leave together..." Elias Hallow tensed visibly, but he didn't turn to face her. "I can't explain now, Violet. I'm sorry." Then there was a sudden rush of noise and movement as time started again. Eli was already in motion. "Get your hands off of my son!" He barked and there was a noise like a shockwave and Vincent was suddenly and quite forcibly separated from the star being. Vincent fell across the floor choking for breath and oblivious to what had gone on. He raised his hands, his palms outstretched and several things seemed to happen at once. Bolts of energy flew immediately from the star beings who seemed threatened enough to attack the man on sight. Eli simply disappeared and reappeared, to the naked eye it seemed like he was simply materialising in and out of existence in different places. Then as he drew closer to the beings there was an explosion of light and energy as the wizard began to fight back, summoning all manner of strange magic to block their strikes and strike back at them. He moved gracefully, like he had done this kind of thing a thousand times before, and then he suddenly stopped in his assault and took a deep breath. The assault on him also halted as the attackers seemed to sense the severity of what was to come. Above them all the void suddenly twisted in on itself, infinite darkness coiling in on itself, surrounded only by the faintest of white light. The strong pull of force was instant. Everything started breaking apart and getting sucked up. Chaos ripped the world to shreds, hurtling through empty space. And then Vincent and Violet landed with a soft thud on the grass of an untouched cemetery. "No!" Violet yelled out, thumping the grass with her bare fists. "I don't understand! Why won't anyone talk to me!!" Violet's tears began cascading down her cheeks. "It's not supposed to be like this, i'm not strong enough, and you've left us again! You don't get to decide when we're in your life!!" Violet yelled, but it only echoed through the empty graveyard. She tore up a patch of grass and threw it into the air, the blades whipped and flurried through the air and fluttered back down like feathers on the wind. Violet held firmly onto the ground, as though she might tear away from it if she wasn't anchored. "Vincent, I... I don't know what to do any more." Violet shook her head in defeat, "I'm so helpless now... i'm incomplete."
  11. Hallows S2

    Vincent was the first to reach Violet, and he knelt on the gravel next to her. “Violet!” he shouted every so often as he got his hand under her head and saw the bloody wound on her head. He touched at the blood to check if it was real, and it was. That could not be good news. He put his fingers to her neck and felt for a pulse. He was shocked to find one. Violet didn’t have a heart in a physical sense, she didn’t have organs at all for that matter. Yet she was bleeding, and she had a pulse. She was breathing, although it seemed a little shallow currently. She was alive, which was good…but she was mortal. His brain was buzzing with questions, trying to puzzle it all out. He could have sworn he had felt the working of forces for only a moment earlier, but it had faded so quickly, less a pulse or a ripple and more of a blip. He had felt that interfering blip often around Violet though, and nothing had ever come of it before. Perhaps she was sick, or poisoned. Could that even be done to a Nagloshi? Had a spell been worked on her? Had she done this to herself? So many questions rattled through his brain until it turned into frustration and he dismissed them from his mind. “Come on Vi!” Vincent said in a tense tone as he began to lift her up off the ground to carry her. As he turned he saw Lucia being dragged away once more, probably smart to remove her from the equation just in case she tried anything. Vincent had to admit that Mordred was a smart woman who didn’t take chances. Which led him to question if she would take a chance on them. “Help me, please.” He said, it came out harsh, and not like a request. "To do what, exactly?" Mordred asked, her tone equally harsh, but it softened when she looked down at the girl, unconscious and bleeding. "Mother!" Morag growled. "Ah'know!" Mordred snapped back at her daughter. Then she turned, glanced at a couple of people in the crowd, and they shot off. A few seconds later they came sprinting over, pushed Vincent gently but firmly aside, and then slid a cloth under Violet and hoisted her up like she was in a hammock. They led her away at a swift pace. "She can stay in my bedroom for now, I'll not be sleepin' anyways..." Mordred sat back down in her chair and fished around for another beer in her cooler. Vincent nodded his head in gratitude and walked closer to Mordred. He would get to Violet in a moment, with her blood on his fingers he would be able to track where she was. Before he left this place, before having to deal with Violet, he had to finish what they had come her for. “Thank you.” He said as he approached, “I’m afraid I have to ask more of you though.” He tried to watch his tone this time, he’d fight this lady but he really didn’t want to, especially from this close. "Like what?" Mordred pulled a beer from her cooler, snapped the bottlecap off and took a deep swig. “Ten minutes alone with the vampire.” Vincent said simply. "Morag, take Vincent to the vampire and tell the boys to leave 'em be until he comes out that cellar." "Yes, mother." Morag walked in long strides up to Vincent and then passed him and walked around the side of the building. "Keep up, then!" Morag called over her shoulder. She stopped at the rear of the gas station where it looked like an old hurricane cellar had been built. The old doors rattled as she undid the lock from a small set of keys. "Down there." She said simply, then as Vincent started down the steps she added, as if an afterthought, "Tell Luca and Max that mother sent you or they'll eat your face." Then she slammed shut the cellar doors and pulled out a cigarette and lit it, resting against the wall of the building as she waited. Inside was darkness. A flickering candle at the back of the room illuminated columns of black metal bars. A makeshift cell took up the first quarter of the room at the far back. It was otherwise very dark. Lucia's form was huddled on her bed, her arms drawn in like a wounded animal. Then, a pair of yellow eyes, each the size of a plate, opened and gazed out at Vincent. Panting, growling. The growl awoke a second pair of yellow eyes. Snarling grew like a pair of rumbling chainsaws as globs of saliva splashed the dusty ground. A small groan escaped Vincent’s mouth. That was all going far too smoothly. “Mordred sent me?” He asked at the two snarling beasts moving in the darkness. The two enormous wolves came bounding out of the shadowy corners and barked, deafening Vincent. Snapping and barking at him, yet too afraid to do anything to him, until they pressed themselves up against the walls and sat down, panting but loosing a rumbling growl as Vincent passed them. He had faced a lot of danger over the years, he’d learned to squash his fear for the most part, he knew how to focus, and he had a whole range of magical tricks up his sleeve. Those wolves were really big though, and Vincent rationalized the gripping fear he was facing as incredibly healthy and sane. Right? As he came further into the dark cellar he reached out with his senses to guide him. He raised his palm up and created a small, glowing magelight that he cast out ahead of him, a dim blue orb that didn’t assault his eyes with brightness in the dark. The blue light eventually stopped over Lucia, chained to the far wall in manacles that were locked in with 4 sharp pins embedded in her wrists, and one larger manacle of the same design but piercing her neck. “Kinky.” Vincent said. “Visiting me again so soon?” Lucia asked in reply, her head raising up to look at Vincent, her dark eyes glinting under the blue light. “How is dear Violet?” “Resting.” Vincent replied, “I don’t know what’s happened but I will find out. First I need to deal with you.” Lucia gave an open toothed smile, and her tongue lazily drifted over her sharp, little canines. “Scions are often plagued with strange troubles.” Lucia said as if she hadn’t heard him, “Our progenitor was one.” “A demon and a human?” Vincent asked, “Vlad Tepes, son of the dragon?” “Oh please that was only five centuries ago.” Lucia said dismissively, “A misunderstanding of history, for it has its parallels. Our progenitor was, after all, the son of a dragon.” “A dragon and a human?” Vincent wasn’t sure he believed that. Scion was a term often used to refer to various cross breeds of mortal and supernatural creatures. Most common were changelings, part human part fairy. Then there were half demons, demi-gods, and all sorts else. Violet technically fell in to this category, but he had a feeling that the similarities stopped there. “I don’t need your help with Violet.” Vincent replied, “Let’s cut the crap. The only way you’ll talk is if I get you out of here, and the only way to do that is to find this missing werewolf and clear your name, assuming you’re telling the truth anyway.” “It’s not the only way.” Lucia replied, “You could kill them all and rescue me, light a knight in shining armor, hm?” “I think not.” Vincent said with a frown, “You know how my sister and I operate. Point me in a direction and we’ll see it done.” “Oh you’re no fun.” Lucia said with a slight pout, “Very well. There are several in the court who are foolish enough to challenge me. However, only a handful of people knew of my dealings with the Moreau clan. Your suspects are Cassius Quint and Xiao Liang, both have the most influence within the court. Cassius Quint is a clever, sneaky little shit. Ambitious, powerful and bloodthirsty; he has a history of killing his way into authority. “ “Sounds like most vampires.” Vincent said. “Perhaps, but do not underestimate him.” Lucia replied, “As for Xiao Liang…she is an influential member of the court, one of the few Jiangshi left, and the only one you will find outside of Asia. Her sorcery is as powerful as her martial arts, and she is especially a threat to you, wizard.” “Yeah I know…” Vincent grumbled. Jiangshi were not like typical blood-sucking vampires. They originated from China, and were very few in number. They did not feed on blood, but instead on their victim’s qi, or their ‘life force’. Vincent called it mana, but it was all the same thing just interpreted differently. Jiangshi were fairly well documented but were not the easiest thing to take down regardless, and especially so for a wizard. “What would motivate them to take you out? And why not do it in the open?” Vincent asked. “Vincent…I fear you grossly underestimate who I am.” Lucia replied, “No one has yet beat me in open conflict. Our kind’s power grows with age, and those who grow more powerful are harder to kill. Without our tricks we would never overthrow the oldest of our kind.” “So they outsmarted you?” Vincent asked “Perhaps.” Lucia admitted, “Or perhaps I am allowing them to.” “Why?” “Because I like to be underestimated, Vincent.” Lucia said with a soft smile, and her eyes seemed to become glossy and hungry, “And I will continue to be underestimated if I am saved only by my powerful subordinate, the wizard Vincent Hallow, ahahaha.” Her laugh was…beautiful. That was the thing about vampires, they really were often quite flawless creatures to look at. They were beautiful, charming and very hard to resis- “Stop it.” Vincent growled, and then he blew out a breath charged with his will, and suddenly the air was alight with a purplish smoke that was swirling around him like thick cigarette smoke. Glamour. “Still enough left in the tank for that?” He waved a hand and the exotic smoke swirled and then dissipated before him. “I have been burned at the stake at least 40 times in my lifetime.” Lucia explained, “I have had my limbs torn from my body, I have had all of my bones broken, all of my fingers and toes, I have lost and regained this form countless times. I can endure far more than this, so do as I ask or you will not receive your reward.” Vincent didn’t have much else to say to that. His jaw clenched as he bit back the anger at being told what to do, but in the end he had gotten enough to proceed. He snuffed out the magelight with a whisper and they plunged back into the darkness, and Vincent made his way back out of the cellar. “Morag, was it?” He asked as he climbed out of the cellar. He retrieved a carton from his pocket and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it and pocketing the carton again. “Show me to my sister if you please.” "No." Morag growled, then pushed him back towards the cellar, "You've been asking us all these favours. Now you're gone do one for us." She shoved him down the stairs and followed, chastising Max and Luca for barking at Vincent once more. "Lucia, we need to talk! Vincent is here as a witness." Morag crossed the room and stood in front of Lucia's cell. Lucia lifted her head once more, as if she had been in some kind of brief slumber in the short time, and a thin smirk escaped her mouth. “So many visitors today. I am touched.” She said. "I heard everything, but you know that." Morag pulled the small set of keys from her pocket, "I have a deal for you." “Oh child…you really should heed your mother more.” Lucia said with a wicked grin, “What would you ask of a woman in chains then?” Vincent stayed quiet, smoking his cigarette and simply observing. Morag seemed a strong woman like her mother, but definitely lacking the experience. There was an optimism in her that was rare when you lived so long in the shadows. He remembered a time when that earnestness would have endeared him, but sadly he found himself more in agreement with Mordred, constantly assessing the danger that each individual nearby could cause him. "You're obviously far more powerful than any one of us." Morag crossed her arms, the admission of weakness hurt her, "Many of my family and friends would die before we'd stopped you. Also, if what you say is true, we have also tortured and imprisoned you without reason, and you are at least, in this, innocent..." Morag paused for a moment, "You and my mother have never seen eye to eye but you were working towards some kind of peace and someone clearly wants to stop that. So this is my offer - I let you go, you find and return my baby brother. I will help. And when we return him, my mother will be forced to admit your innocence and we will have peace, and if not... I'll fight my mother for leadership, and I'll honour the peace. As long as you promise no repercussions." “Have you no faith in the wizard?” Lucia asked, her brow tilted slightly in intrigue, “This is precisely the sort of work the Hallows do, after all.” "It's not that, I just don't want you breaking free with all this power of yours and killing a bunch of my family because they didn't believe you when you said you had nothing to do with it." Morag flicked through the keys and held one up, "So...?" “I have no need to do that.” Lucia replied simply, “You mortals never seem to understand the importance of sacrifice. Consider this pain as a price I must pay for allowing such machinations to unfold without my knowledge. That is the way of the court. The court are still responsible for the disappearance of your brother, and I am the authority which governs the court here. It is necessary that I suffer through this and forgive if our partnership is to continue. If I was to be released then there would be war between your kind and the court, and I do not like your chances, big as you are.” “If word gets out that Lucia is free then the ones who betrayed her won’t have any reason to keep Michael alive. They’ll keep him alive as long as it keeps you chasing him, and keeping Lucia locked up in the process.” Vincent explained, he was beginning to see the bigger picture now. “The same would apply if you managed to somehow kill me.” Lucia replied, “Good luck with that though.” “I’d start by installing some UV lights in here.” Vincent said, and Lucia’s eyes narrowed at him. “That’ll hurt her real bad and make it harder for her to focus and work forces in here. And if you get real tired of her you can just introduce her to the sun. No vampire can walk in the sun.” “Are you sure about that, Vincent?” Lucia asked, her eyes daring. “You wanna be my test subject?” He replied, his tone hard. "UV lights? Oh, sure. They're in every corner of this cellar, but I convinced my mother to leave them off." Morag laughed, "Alright, so I learned something, that was helpful. We'll see you when we get back. Come on," Morag nodded to Vincent, "Let's go see your sister." “Finally.” Vincent said with a mock sigh of relief, “Are you sure you don’t want to turn those lights on or…?” “Goodbye, Vincent.” Lucia growled, and it made him smirk. There was nothing more satisfying than annoying the Queen Bitch. They left the cellar again and made their way across the gravel and down the road from the gas station. “So what’s your clan’s story?” Vincent asked as they walked, “You’re not typical Loup Garou, their curse is dependent on the phases of the moons, it draws power from lunar energy. Never seen a shifter turn into a wolf your size before either.” Morag gave Vincent a sideways glance, "Why you want to know?" She asked quizzically, as though it was more she was bored of talking about it, than afraid of sharing. “I’m a wizard, I like magic.” Vincent replied, “This sort of thing is my version of stamp collecting. I like to reverse engineer the magic I come across, try to understand it. Shapeshifting is something of particular interest to me…I could tell you everything there is to know about shapeshifters, skin walkers, wolfmen, loup garou, and most other types of it.” "Do you really want to know? Most people freak out. I think even a wizard wouldn't want to be near us." Morag grit her teeth as they walked down the road. “Most wizards are dusty old bookworms that study magic through very private and careful research. They’re clever people who’re smart enough to avoid danger. Hallows are hunters, have been for generations. I’ve seen a lot of weird shit.” Vincent shrugged, “But you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, obviously.” "Yeah..." Morag snorted a laugh and looked Vincent up and down, then she came to some sort of decision, "We're Hellhounds. We take souls to hell." “Oh…so like just Hell? Or do you also swing by Hades and Tartarus?” He gave a little smirk, “Not my first encounter with an agent of death, I’m afraid.” "That's a relief. People usually think I'm lying or they freak out like I'm going to take them to hell. It doesn't work like that. Sure, there are different forms of hell." Morag shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans, "So, what's the story with you and your sister?" Vincent took a moment to digest how casually the young woman had just confirmed the existence of multiple afterlife realms of torture. The realms of the afterlife were a mystery even to wizards. It was the kind of thing the living just wasn’t supposed to know about. “Like I said we’re hunters.” Vincent explained, “We’re half siblings actually. I’m just another mortal with a little more magical talent than most. Genetics, I think. Our father was a hell of a wizard apparently. Violet is…well that’s not easy to explain. Technically she’s a Scion but…if you’d asked me yesterday I would have said there was none of her mortal biology left…but apparently there is. Her kind…I don’t know a lot about them, but they’re made up of some kind of raw form of energy…it’s like some kind of…cosmic radiance. I couldn’t tell you much more than that.” "Alright I guess..." Morag frowned but didn't further question. She reached the steps of her house and walked up onto the decking of the old cabin and opened the front door. Inside were two men sat at a table eating large bowls of cereal. "Oh hey, Morag." A man with a thick scar through his milky right eye waved to her. "Hey, Silus. Abraham." Morag added the other man's name. He looked up from his cereal, a man with dark hair and darker bags under his eyes. He nodded at her then went back to shoveling sugary cereal into his face. Morag passed them and walked upstairs and down the hall to the room at the end. She opened the door and stepped to one side to let Vincent step inside. Mordred was, unsurprisingly, a minimalist. Photos of family and friends, or maybe part of her clan, lined the walls, but little else than a bed and side table. In the bed lay Violet, staring at the ceiling, very much awake but seemingly in her own thoughts. “You’re awake.” Vincent said, sounding relieved. His gaze turned back to Morag and he nodded at her in appreciation. “So…” He turned back to his sister, “Anything you want to tell me?” "I... Something's different. I can't... I feel weird..." Violet looked down at her hands and just stared at them. “You’re bleeding.” Vincent explained, “And you have a pulse.” He came in to the room and sat on the edge of the bed, facing his sister. “Vi…if you don’t know what’s going on then I’ll help you figure this out. If some nasty is working forces on you I’ll find them but…” He paused to take a breath and his shoulders seem to relax a little. “Sometimes you stare at nothing, and not like you’re daydreaming, I can see your eyes focusing, but there’s nothing there. Sometimes I feel this sensation in the air…like a short buzz of electricity or something, It’s like it was there and then just as quickly it wasn’t. Nothing I know of does that, magic seems to always leave a trail. What’s going on?” "Orbs..." She whispered, then her eyes locked with Vincent, "They did this! They took something from me!!" “What orbs?” Vincent asked, “This is the first you’ve mentioned this.” "I didn't want to worry you, you have so much on your shoulders, I couldn't, why couldn't I articulate this before..." Violet frowned and thought for a few seconds, "I don't feel right... I feel... Empty." Her stomach growled, "--and hungry." “We can get you a cheeseburger later” Vincent said dismissively, “How long has this been going on? What are these orbs you’re talking about?” "Maybe... Years. But I've only seen them a handful of times before the last few days..." Violet trailed off again as she was examining the skin on her forearm. “Years!?” Vincent replied incredulously. “Violet you’ve been seeing orbs that no one else can see for years!? You…you idiot!” He punched his sister in the leg hard, something that felt especially gratifying since it actually stood a chance of leaving a bruise on this occasion. "OWWuh--" Violet growled but the growl wobbled on her lips and she started crying. But she quickly became angry and pointed her open palms at them, "Get, out!" Violet's palms glowed with pink light and both Morag and Vincent were ejected from the room like debris into the vacuum of space. The door slammed shut before they could get to their feet. Vincent slowly got up, the pain of the abrupt landing brought forth anger and frustration. He wanted to blast the damn door down and throw his sister out of the window. Instead he refocused those intense emotions, and he placed his hand upon the door. “Violet.” He said loud enough for his voice to carry through to the bedroom, “…I’m disappointed you hid this from me. I don’t care about your reasons, I’m not made of glass, and my whole life…our whole life has been nothing but chaos and turmoil. I’ve been studying all I can about Nagloshi so that I can help you and understand you, but it’s not like there’s a book on this stuff. You should have told me.” "I don't understand any more, I need to fix this!" Violet called out. "I'm not whole!!" “Well then talk to me or let me examine you.” Vincent said, “I can go through all the supernatural diagnostics; check your aura, chakra alignment, check for curses, hell it could be something to do with the alignment of the stars for all we know, Violet. What we don’t need is any more of this withholding bullshit that our family is so good at. We have to trust each other.” "Shit, shit! Fine! I can't believe I'm doing this..." With a rush of air the door swung open and Violet pulled herself up in the bed and wrapped herself in the covers. Vincent stepped inside and gave his sister a long-suffering look and rolled his eyes. “Oh grow up it’s not like I’m sticking my finger up your butt.” He said as he stepped closer to the bed. With just a small effort of will he opened his third eye. It was not a literal third eye on his head or anything, but it was the eye of his mind. Specifically it could be awakened by focusing chakra, mana, whatever you want to call it, into the brow region of the forehead. The change in his sight was immediate, and always quite intense. With the third eye you saw the truth of all things. Some things were dark and ugly to the point that they could drive you insane, and some things were so beautiful and bright…that it could drive you insane. Violet, however, was looking decidedly normal. The energy that was radiating out of her body was nothing like the impressive radiance that her true form had. It was a vibrant red colour, typical of the carefree and impulsive person she was. “Aura looks fine, well it looks mortal.” Vincent explained. With some focus he could refine his view of her, and not just see the aura, or the physical being in front of him, but also the energies that coursed through her. “Whoa…” He said, sounding mildly surprised. "What's that look for?" Violet asked, raising an eyebrow. “Have you been keeping up with your meditations?” Vincent asked. Violet’s chakras were all in turmoil. Generally speaking there were 7 chakra points of significance, and they tended to reflect your mental and spiritual state. Without balance within these avenues, it created in most people a general sense of unwellness, or that something isn’t right. For practitioners it could deeply affect their ability to work forces. “They’re all messed up, unsteady flow right the way through your system.” Violet’s root chakra was chaotic and the flow of energy sporadic, which might have been normal on it’s own, as it was affected by her sense of foundation and being grounded, and she’d just had a rather nasty shock, but there was some kind of knock on effect happening. “No wonder you’re flying off the handle. It’s like you’re having a really serious identity crisis on a spiritual level.” "I'm not having an identity crisis, I know who I am... I'm Violet Hallow. But... She was... More. We-- I... Were more." Violet looked to her brother, "I have to learn what the orbs are, and what they did to me... I can't live like this..." “You’re mortal, you’ve lost a big chunk of you, like it or not. That’s bound to affect this sort of thing.” He sighed and let the power fade from his brow and the auras and energies faded from his perception. “Violet…I have our next lead but…” He sighed frustratedly, “Finding dad is less important than looking after you.” He turned back to the door where Morag was standing, “I want to find her brother though…they trusted us.” He thought about telling Violet about Morag’s lineage. He didn’t know a lot about Hellhounds but he knew that they were likely a more valuable asset than a run of the mill werewolf. If any of the people that had taken her were in the know then there might be more to this than they thought. Rare supernatural entities often seemed to be careful not to be known, so they couldn’t be exploited. Anything that was careful to blend in or not be seen usually had a reason to do so, or perhaps a vulnerability. “These orbs…” Vincent muttered, deep in thought, “Could we try summoning one of them? You’re not above that, right? We’ve summoned Vael before, it can be done.” "Do you think they're the same thing as me and my Aunt?" Violet asked. "I... I don't see why we couldn't, but if they're powerful enough to do this to me..." Violet was clearly nervous. “So we take precautions.” Vincent assured her, “We’ll make a proper three layer circle, runes, bagua seals, and we’ll do it together, blend our magic. We’ll do a full ritual, we’ll wash up, clean clothes, we’ll make an offering. If this thing has worked magic on you then you’ll have a connection to it, and we can use that to try to find it.” "Geez, I'm glad you at least paid attention to Al." Violet smirked and nodded to her brother, "Well it's your show then, Vince." “Good. Well then let’s get to it.” Vincent replied and turned around to face Morag, “Can you tell us where the nearest Taco Bell is and then where the nearest graveyard is?”
  12. Hallows S2

    "Super." Violet huffed and walked towards her car. "That's something at least." "Wait!!" Helena yelled, running after them. "I need to come, as well!!" The vampire got as far as the front door and recoiled as her bare arm dipped into sunlight and exploded into flames. The little girl-sized monster shrieked and hissed and withdrew into the shadow of the doorframe but stood there like a gargoyle. She couldn't leave. Violet glanced from Helena to her brother and shrugged. "Oh for crying out loud." Vincent said with a sigh of frustration and walked back towards the house. He took his phone out of his pocket and opened up the contact menu before handing it to Helena. "Put your phone number in." He said briskly and folded his arms as he waited. His eyes cast over her arm which was badly burnt but healing as he watched it. He frowned slightly as if chewing on a thought and then after a moment he asked, "Are you alright?" Helena's upper lip pulled back, more in cautious confusion than outright hatred, "I-I'm fine. My epidermis will be healed momentarily." "Oo, la-dee-dah! Like an epidermis is such a big deal!!" Violet grumbled as she threw herself into the driver's seat. Helena handed Vincent's phone back and waited patiently. Vincent pocketed the phone and turned for the door. "I'll call, alright?" he assured her as he walked outside. He got back in the car next to Violet and sat silently waiting. "Is that it?" Violet asked simply. "She's obviously important to Lucia..." Violet started the car. "Yeah and Lucia's the bad guy." Vincent reminded her, "Which makes you wonder how bad these werewolves really are, right? If we take a vampire along its going to be a fight. Unless you have any better ideas." Vincent shrugged, "I mean we could wrap her in blankets and throw her in the trunk. It'd be amusing listening to her rattle about with your crazy driving." "Much as it'd be fun to watch werewolves and vampires tear each other apart, if Lucia knows something about our dad, i'd rather have that information. I can get a bloodbath any day of the week, come on--" The engine roared as she pulled out and drove onto the main road. They drove with the radio on for a little while. Violet looked over a couple of times but her brother was staring out the passenger-side window. She turned the radio off and it roused him enough that they caught one another's gaze before she refocused on the road. "You okay?" Violet asked. "I think so..." Vincent replied and shifted his shoulders uncomfortably, "Relatively speaking, anyway." He sighed and faced forward, focusing on the road ahead, "We're so close Vi, y'know?" "We keep thinking that and it keeps not being true though, doesn't it?" She muttered back at him. "Which is why I'm so done with all of this. It's all we've been doing for...forever. Like what do we do if we finish this? Do you have a life to go back to? I sure as hell don't..." Violet's gaze wandered down to the hands she was using to steer the wheel, "Mm... I... don't know...." She fell silent for a while, when she spoke though, she seemed a little more chipper, "Do you think, wherever dad is... maybe he's thinking about us?" Vincent was silent for a long time, just staring ahead of them. "I can't compare the man I knew with the one that left..." He said finally, "Who knows. He'll be thinking about us when we find him though." "--if, we find him." Violet corrected him. "So, what's the plan here," Violet looked over at the compass and took the next left turn, "We find out where Lucia is, smash 'em up, take Lucia, and home with dad in time for tea. Or maybe in time for a midnight snack - worst case." She forced a smirk. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend.... sometimes" Vincent said, "We could try some diplomacy for a change. Werewolves can be reasoned with, right?" "Mmm..." Violet pursed her lips as she thought, but the answer never came. "We're here!" Violet pulled into an old gas station in a run down part of L.A. Pulling the key from the ignition, Violet whirled the keychain in her hand a few times before it disappeared. A handy little pocket dimension for all those knick-knacks. You know, buttons, keys, demons from the 43rd floor of Hell. Useful, useful magic. She stepped out of the car and put one hand on the roof as she surveyed the apparently abandoned gas station. "Well, I don't care what it looks like, they're here..." "Yup." Vincent said as he held up the little compass. He got out of the car and held it out, and watched as the arrow started spinning round and round in circles. "Uh...either they're directly below us or...we're surrounded." "Vince?" Violet cautioned under her breath. She watched her brother look up and see what she was staring at. They were indeed surrounded. Violet found herself laughing. The men and women surrounding them didn't see the humour in it, in fact, it put them on high alert. But she couldn't help herself. It seemed cosmic magic didn't mean much when the whole lot of them can hear the car coming from down the road, and smell them before they ever left the vehicle. "What d'you want?!" A voice called from the small shop of the gas station. When Violet turned to see who had spoken, the people surrounding them grew uneasy. Like they knew, she knew, where to aim for. There was an uneasy silence filling this tense moment. If she'd had any, the hairs on the back of Violet's neck would have risen. "We're hunters on a trail." Vincent explained as he put his hands up passively and began pacing in circles on the spot to address everyone, "We need information from the vampire you're holding. Short of that what you do with her is of no concern to us. Can a bargain be put on the table?" "Let 'em through..." The voice commanded. And that was what it was. It wasn't a request. It was expected. And just like that, the small crowd diffused and parted. Violet and Vincent started walking past them, but they were closing ranks behind them even as they went. When they reached the front of the gas station shop, they saw a woman in her 40's, sat on a rocking chair with a beer in her hand, and an old bloodhound, grey flecked on the end of it's otherwise brown muzzle. "I'm Mordred Moreau. What information do you want from a vampire, and who the fuck are you to be asking for it?" She was a tall, muscularly-fit woman. Dressed in plaid, with the sleeves rolled up and an old pair of denim jeans that looked as though they'd seen more than a decade or two. Her hair was short, blonde and wavy and while she was attractive and youthful-in-appearance, her eyes appeared tired. Mordred moved with the fluid confidence of someone who thinks they have the upper-hand. And in many ways, she did. "Vincent Hallow, wizard." Vincent replied "My sister Violet and I are looking for our old man and Lucia has information that can get us there." "And what d'we get?" Mordred asked nonchalantly taking a swig of beer and scratching at her bloodhound's ear. One of the crowd broke ranks and walked up to Mordred. She wasn't as tall or as strong as Mordred, but the crowd parted for her just the same. She had the same wavy blonde hair but it was cut short by what looked like a pair of shears. It was jagged and spiky, pointing in every which way. She said something to Mordred in hushed tones and Mordred's face softened. "Bring it out." Mordred took another swig of beer and a few seconds later two enormous wolves appeared, each holding Lucia by one of her arms. Each wolf could have doubled as a rhino. Even Violet took a step back reflexively, she couldn't help but feel a degree of psychological fear associated with her time as a mammal. There before her was the definition of an apex predator. Lucia's arms were mangled and she was groaning in pain, but otherwise, she seemed fine. The wolves were gnashing and pulling at her arms, pushing her back down to the ground, yanking her back up or pulling her this way and that. Mordred whistled and the two rhino-sized wolves both jerked as though they'd been slapped across the ear and let go of the vampire but remained flanked at either side of her. Vincent's expression was hard to read as he looked at Lucia's broken form. His eyes inspected her studiously. "puncture wounds..." he said as he noted the wounds all over Lucia's body, "You drained her completely..." "What did y'expect us to do, wizard." Mordred waved her bottle at him, "We ain't got your magic. All we can do is hurt her 'til she can't heal no more and then there's not much she can do without a drink..." Mordred leaned forwards in her chair and held her bottle out to Lucia, "You want a sip?" She asking, shaking the bottle back and forth mockingly before leaning back in her chair once more. "Well go on now, wizard, ask your questions and leave us to our business..." "Vincent Hallow." Came another voice. Lucia looked up slowly. Despite her injuries, she was a remarkable beauty, an olive-skinned and raven-haired woman who spoke with a vaguely Italian accent. While the woman was physically very weak, there was a glint of energy and confidence in her eyes. She was nowhere near broken. "...Have you come back to me, finally?" "Guess again." Vincent replied, a hard edge to his voice, "You've let yourself go since the last time I saw you." "Still a petulant child then..." She said, and she managed a wicked smirk. Her gaze flickered to Violet and her eyes flashed with a predatory look that was not at all to do with her Vampiric hunger, "...Hello again Violet." "--a good boy, you are--!!" Violet stopped blowing kisses at the enormous werewolves flanking Lucia and glanced down at her, "... yo!" Violet gave a little salute, then her attention refocused on the werewolves. "Who's a good boy, i've got a treat here, I do--!!" A degree of colour returned to Lucia's face, albeit from anger. "Why are you here, Vincent?" Lucia asked, her tone becoming more business-like. Vincent shifted a little on the spot and eyed the present company, a little uneasy. "I need information you have about Elias Hallow, and where he's been for the past...oh, 25 years." Lucia smiled and her eyes closed as if she was savouring the moment. "You have something to offer then?" Lucia asked, her eyebrow raising in interest, "Such knowledge does not come cheap." "You're dead to rights. You don't exactly come from a lofty bargaining position either right now." Vincent replied, his tone getting a little heated. "This...this is just a misunderstanding." Lucia said, and she genuinely didn't seem to be afraid, "This is not my end, I can assure you." "Oh really because from where I'm standing you've finally pissed the wrong people off and getting what has been coming to you for fuck knows how many millennia." "A misunderstanding, as I said." Lucia replied, quite calm. "I've yet to misunderstand anything you've said." Mordred spoke up from her seat, "I've always tried to maintain healthy relationships with any who would seek it, but vampires? All y'all are a bunch o' malcontents. Living forever, amassing wealth and power." Mordred went to take a sip from her beer bottle, but it was empty. She stood up, and threw the glass bottle just in front of Lucia, shattering and spraying her with glass, "So--" Mordred continued, walking towards Vincent, "Yeh wanna know where your dad is, she can maybe tell ye that, but she also knows where my son is--" Mordred's voice cracked for the first time with a hint of parental emotion, "--don't you?!" Mordred barked her question. Lucia kept her eyes on Mordred as the woman spoke. Her eyes were cold, and distant, but she did not interrupt her. "I do not, as I have already told you, Mordred." Lucia replied, her tone neutral. "Wait, is that what's going on?" Vincent asked with a frown, "You're kidnapping children on this side of the border now too?" "Mind your tongue, child." Lucia chided firmly, "There is no reason for me to conceal that boy, I gain nothing from it." "She tells you to mind your tongue, because she uses a silver one herself!" Mordred spat on the ground in front of Lucia. "Steals children... doesn't deny it. Just tells you to mind ye manners." "--haha! ... Vampires..." Violet interjected. Mordred's face snarled a smile if only for a second, with a gruff snort as she paced back and forth as she thought, "She says she doesn't benefit from concealing Michael, but she knows fine well what i'd do t'her if he were here." She turned and paced back to Lucia, "Get your information, wizard, so I can finish getting mine..." "You will not get it here, Vincent I assure you." Lucia said before Vincent could speak. "You know all too well that the road you tread on bears some secrets, ones you yourself may wish to keep." "And what am I supposed to do about that?" Vincent asked, "You kidnapped a kid, now you're paying for it." "Idiot child..." Lucia sighed, an impatient frown forming on her ghostly pale head, "Do you even hear yourself? Do you honestly think I would have been taken by surprise when this lot came for me in my home if I was well aware of why they'd have cause to? I have many, many enemies Vincent but these people were not one of them." "Are you saying you were framed?" Vincent asked with an incredulous look on his face, "By who? Your list of enemies is probably 100 miles long." "My meetings with the Moreau clan were not publicly shared. A play from someone inside the court, I assume." "Awwwh, hogwash..." Mordred growled, crossing her arms, "Wouldn't even matter if it were, you take kids, if it weren't mine it don't matter any more. We're involved now. An' best you recognise that, even if ye think you're stronger or smarter or older than us. We'll still kill you. Because Moreau are born... not turned... our lives are short but our instincts are as old as the Earth itself." "Wait a minute I thought you two were negotiating before?" Vincent asked. "If Lucia turns out to be telling the truth, then you're wasting your time when you could be out finding who really took him. If you got your son back in that scenario you're still killing her?" He shook his head a little, "I mean any other time I really wouldn't care if you do, but I know Lucia has the info I need, and I know she's not going to give it up here, even just out of spite because believe me she has plenty of that." "Flatterer." Lucia said with a smirk. "Urgh! Negotiating?!" Mordred snorted again in disbelief. Her pacing quickened, her nose curled as she spoke, "I don't care any more..." Her voice quivered in anger. A rush of anxious movement washed over the crowd surrounding Violet, Vincent and Lucia. Suddenly, Violet jerked forwards as though she was shoved by something. She opened her mouth to 'complain' to the werewolf behind her but when she turned, she saw immediately - he was frozen like a statue. Everyone was. Violet took a step back and instinctively turned to her brother for answers - he always was better at diagnostic magic - but Vincent was equally frozen. Everything seemed to dim, as though she had put on sunglasses. Then, a sharp, strong, white light. No larger than an apple, but so bright it would have been dazzling to a human. Violet stared into the source of the light, and realised, it was looking back at her. Violet opened her mouth to speak, but the orb of light loosed a long, echoing screech that rose and dipped in cadence. It was speaking an ancient language. It seemed familiar, but... wrong, at the same time? No, maybe not wrong. Different... she didn't understand it, but she did? Violet's mind raced as she tried to understand what was being said. Then, there was another orb. Then another. And another. The orbs danced amongst themselves, and the shriek of the single orb, became an unpleasant symphony. "Hey, what are you?!" Violet called out to them, but the sound barely carried. "Hey!!" She yelled, it barely registered. "What are you doing? Why are you here?!" The orbs... scattered. One remained. Violet took a step back, and looked to her brother. He'd know what to do. Stupid, Violet, really stupid! You should have told him you saw these things before, you know he'd have believed you, he's seen stranger things! Violet shook her head and glanced back at the orb of light. Time returned to normal. Everything resumed. "No more!!" Mordred snapped, whirling on Lucia. Breaking into a run, Mordred leapt and transformed in an instant. From human, to an enormous brown wolf larger than either of the two flanking Lucia. Landing with a resonating 'thump', Mordred flew towards Lucia, her mouth salivating as her face contorted into a snarl as she bared her teeth and went for the killing blow. "Mom, no!!" In the same moment, another, somewhat smaller brown wolf exploded from the ranks of the crowd and collided with Mordred. The two wolves snapped and growled at one another, testing each other and then like a clap of thunder, they crashed into one another. Claws and fangs were everywhere, tufts of fur flew and smacks of blood splashed the courtyard, then just as quickly as it began, it was over. Mordred lurched backwards, avoiding the swipe of the smaller wolf's clawed paw, and surged into the opening and bit at the smaller wolf's face. A painful, high-pitched yelp escaped the smaller wolf's muzzle, as though this was the first time it was genuinely injured, and Mordred recoiled in surprise and stopped as the smaller wolf transformed back into a young woman - the woman from before. She was panting, lying on the ground, wounds everywhere and partially shredded clothes. Slowly, Mordred began to shift back into her human form. It wasn't instant as it had been for her daughter. It was... difficult. Mordred eventually stood as she had done before and fled to her daughter's side. "Are y'alright, Morag?" Mordred asked, fussing over her. "I thought i'd really--" "It's fine..." Morag muttered, looking up. Her face was dotted with a half dozen long but shallow cuts from her mother's fangs. They were already starting to heal. The cuts became scars in a matter of moments. Morag's face was scattered with a number of shiny new trophies, but she was otherwise fine. "You just... didn't know..." Morag stood up slowly. "You can't kill her, mom. She might know where Michael is! And Vincent, and Violet, they need her alive as well. You can't just--" Morag trailed off as something caught her eye. She looked to Violet, who seemed to stare off into space, for as long as she had been watching her. Then, Violet's pupils rolled into the back of her head as her eyes closed, and she collapsed. The last thing Violet heard, was the sound of waves, crashing in around her, and the panicked shouting she recognised as her brother's. Then darkness.
  13. Hallows S2

    The Impala drove through Beverly Hills to take them to Lucia’s mansion and private residence. Well, one of her private residencies. This seemed like the best place to find a vampire during the day, and it was the closest place to them before heading into Los Angeles or Hollywood where she did most of her business. When they pulled up however, they slowed for the security at the large iron gate, but found that the gate had been opened and there was no one manning the guard booth nearby. Vincent gave Violet a nervous glance, and they drove into the estate itself and down the long driveway towards the mansion. The building itself was exactly the sort of thing you would expect when you think of over-luxurious celebrity mansions. The grounds were extremely well kept, with the flowers in bloom and the hedges all neatly trimmed back. Everything looked perfectly put together, and yet Vincent already had a bad feeling. “No guard, gate open, no security walking the grounds…” Vincent folded his arms in thought as Violet parked in the driveway out by the front entrance of the mansion. “This doesn’t smell right. We were expecting extra muscle, but there’s not even a low budget fat doorman.” "So, they're either not here and don't care who is, or..." Violet clucked her tongue as she looked around, "... Or they want us to go inside." “That’s not Lucia’s style.” Vincent said, shaking his head, “If she wants something from you then you better believe she’ll make it seem like she’s doing you the favour. This is…” Vincent trailed off and stepped out of the car. He straightened up and looked around, lifting the sunglasses he was wearing so he could look around properly. Something just wasn’t adding up. Lucia was big on security, she would never leave her assets unattended. Vincent supposed that even for vampires it still paid to be careful, especially when you’ve been alive since the renaissance. He paced a little on the gravel and waited for something to happen. Birds chirped. He could hear the cars passing by in the distance. The flowers gave the warm air a slightly aromatic scent and he thought he could even hear a bee buzzing away. “Little details…” He murmured to himself as he swept his gaze up and down the grounds, and then his gaze stopped on the gates back at the entrance. The last time he had been at this mansion the guard at the gate had been a big, dumb thug. He would be no trouble to most supernatural visitors, and probably a good few of the mortal community as well. He was for show, an expected measure that she kept in place because mortals of status were supposed to have security. He breathed out a gentle murmur of power as he projected his will outwards. He felt the crunching of his boots on the gravel, and felt the solid earth underneath it. There was power there, as there always was. A deep slumbering power that existed within the earth, dormant until called upon. Commanded by his will, this energy pulsed rhythmically like a deep heartbeat, and that pulse rippled around the grounds. It was a kind of magical disruption spell, something that grounded out residual energies. The magical illusions fell. The gate they had driven through was open because the iron bars had been blasted away from the stone housings. There were no corpses but Vincent could suddenly smell blood, and the residual smell of smoke. The flowers and hedges had been upturned and destroyed in a serious altercation. His gaze fell back to the mansion where the illusion revealed that the front door had also been blasted away and there was evidence that the fight had made it’s way inside. As Violet stepped out of the car Vincent let out a tiny groan of frustration. “It’s such a burden always being right…” He said with a resigned sigh. "Yeah..." Violet frowned, rubbed at her eyes like she was removing sleep and then started inside the mansion, stepping over the debris of the broken entrance. "So, maybe warn a girl the next time you're gonna disrupt residual magic in the area. Feels a bit like having the air pulled from your lungs only... Everything." She shuddered. "No biggie." “Oh I know that feeling…” Vincent replied with a smirk, “It’s a bit like the feeling of impending doom you get when your sister drives on the wrong side of the road way over the speed limit.” He raised a single eyebrow and then stepped past Violet and walked into the mansion. Walking in to houses can be a bit weird for magical beings. Humans, somewhat shockingly, all hold a great deal of magical power even if they can’t consciously make use of it. But when people have shared thoughts and ideas, and enough people believe these things so fundamentally, it can create a kind of universal magic. Oaths, vows, promises, confessions of love, all of them held power at least in a magical sense. This was due to the universal belief in their importance by humanity. Another common belief of humanity is that a person’s home is sacred. So if you are a being with magical talent, if you enter a mortal home without permission, then you leave all of that power at the door. Not so when the house is owned by a vampire, however. Monsters don’t get a safe space, apparently. The main lobby was one of those grandiose affairs with the twin staircases at either side leading up to a balcony floor and hallways leading off to the upper quarters. Straight ahead there was a hall leading through to an open plan kitchen area, to the right a large lounge area, to the left a dining room. The back garden had a swimming pool and, perhaps most importantly, there was an entrance to the basement through the kitchen. Basements are kind of the most important room in the house when sunlight through the windows can burn you to ash. The white walls were covered in black scorch marks, splatters of blood and sticky ichor. Furniture was all over the place, book cases knocked over, glass shattered, ornaments toppled or broken. There had definitely been some kind of showdown. He wasn’t sure how to feel about that. They had been planning to kick the door down themselves if they had to, but that was all part of the fun and games with Lucia, a little foreplay before they got down to business. This wasn’t the work of a couple of outlier hunters looking for information though. Someone, or a whole bunch of someone’s, were gunning for Lucia. “Help me out here, Vi.” Vincent said with a concentrated frown, “Who’s got enough magical muscle to come stomping in here and clean the place out?” "I didn't touch them, I swear I just got here, geez!" Violet flicked her hair with mock anger and then turned and looked out at the chaos and destruction, "Although, we know a few...." “Could be a big group of hunters?” Vincent suggested, but he didn’t seem convinced with that, “Let’s check the basement. If there’s any vamps still here then that’s where they’ll be until dusk.” Vincent withdrew the wooden steak he had retrieved before they had arrived and held it in his hand. Master of the mystic arts he may have been, but he still had a squishy mortal body and he knew how much vampires loved to play “jump scare”. Violet clocked her brother's stake, "Is your plan to kill the remaining vampires we came here to talk to, or are you assuming it's some kind of clan war?" Vincent gave Violet a flat stare. “Friend or foe, vamps are pretty unpredictable and if they’re hungry then…” He shrugged, “I’m not taking my chances with creatures that consider children to be a delicacy.” "Yeah I guess that's a bit of a downer, huh?" Violet pursed her lips together, "So... what are you thinking?" She asked curiously. “I’m thinking we need more information.” Vincent replied as they walked into the kitchen. The damage looked less extensive here but there was still signs of a struggle. Vincent found the single unassuming door that led down to the basement and tried the handle, the door opened with a click and he pushed it gently, standing back a little to see if anything decided to jump out from the darkness below. “Hello?” He called down the steps. There was no response. That didn’t necessarily mean there wasn’t anyone there though. “Hey do you wanna go first since you don’t actually have…y’know, blood?” Vincent asked. Violet snorted and closed the fridge - the contents of which she had been worryingly examining. "Baby." She chuckled and walked over to the doorway down to the basement, when she reached it she looked down at the darkness of the room below and paused. "... Pssh." She took a step off the ground and shed her human form like an unnecessary jacket. Purple and white light flooded the room, naturally cast by her body. "Alright, I'm coming down now, I'm going to start hurling laser beams if you attack me though--ARHH!!" Something tackled her to the ground, "Euch it's sticky get it off me!" Violet recoiled, she raised a hand but as the magic coursed into her palm all will to act was sapped as she realised what had clung to her, and why it was sticky. It was a little girl, no older than 13 or 14 but half-covered in blood, her hair partially matted to her face. "Uhh....." Violet looked panicked and turned to Vincent for assistance. “She’s old enough, check her just in case!” Vincent said urgently as he came down the stairs quickly, pulling a silver pentacle amulet out from under his T-shirt and with a murmur of power it suddenly shone with a cool light and he held it up in front of the girl. She didn’t react to it, which meant she probably wasn’t a vampire. Probably. "Come on, put that stuff away, you're supposed to be the compassionate one here..." Violet took the girl by her palms and focused her magic. Drawing the blood from her skin, hair and garments, Violet gathered it in a sphere floating above her. With a flick of her wrist the sphere flew across the room and splattered on the far wall. "Hey, what's your name? Violet asked. The girl had short blonde spiky hair and dark eyes. She was pale and her face was full of fright. "Helena." Vincent let the light fade – a light created by faith magic, which was especially effective against vampires among other things, and put his amulet away under his T-shirt again. He watched the girl carefully. She looked scared. Then again she was also clutching on to Violet in her real form, whereas most people just tended to look either awe-struck or horrified when they saw that. Which meant, Vincent began to piece together, that this little girl had likely seen far worse things. “What are you doing here, Helena?” Vincent asked, “Where are your parents?” "I'm a grumpy wizard." Vincent replied with fake frown and then flicked a thumb back at his sister, "and this is my half sister. Her mother ate glowsticks." "I'm a cosmic joke." Violet added with a smile. Helena frowned in confusion as Violet stepped back and transformed back into appearing human. "So, like the grumpy wizard said, 'what happened here?'" "Werewolves attacked." Helena said matter-of-factly. Then stood up and patted off the dust from the old, black dress she wore. Vincent scratched at his head. “Werewolves?” He asked, “Why did they come here? Who was here? Who are your parents?” "I don't remember, unfortunately, I drained their bodies of plasma shortly after I was turned into a vampire." Helena cleared her throat with a soft, polite cough, "Why do werewolves ever go anywhere, look around..." She raised her hand to indicate the rest of the bloody scene. "Great." Violet grumbled, and started stomping up the steps back up to the ground floor. So Helena was a vampire. One that had shrugged off his faith magic like it was nothing at all. Vampires, unfortunately, became stronger and stronger the longer they lived. So that meant that Helena, despite appearing to be a child, was in fact very, very old. That confirmation alone made the hair on the back of his neck raise. Vampires were fast, strong, and were one of the few supernatural entities that adapted to modern times. Once upon a time they were only a threat if you let them get close, but with modern firearms, and modern technology, combined with their power and influence…vampires were probably the single most dangerous creatures to humanity, at least on a global scale. The good thing was they had weaknesses. Reciting scripture, holy symbols and relics and sometimes even just the raw aura of a person’s faith could drive them back. Yet as they grew older these things became a mere annoyance, and as their connection to The Void grew stronger they would gain new abilities, their own twisted brand of magic. Oh, and their saliva was a powerful and addictive narcotic that activated on skin contact alone. So even a young vampire, a fledgling as they would call them, was quite dangerous. Helena…she was likely far deadlier. Of course, Vincent was no slouch in that department. He may have a squishy, mortal frame but he had plenty of power. Maybe not enough to do Helena in, but enough to blow the roof off of the building, and then the glorious California sunshine would take care of the rest. No vampire, no matter how old could ever walk in the sun. “Where’s Lucia?” Vincent asked. This was the most important question, because the answer would greatly affect whether he needed to give a shit about any of this business. Helena watched Violet leave in frustration. She raised an eyebrow with curiosity and then her gaze fell upon Vincent and her tone became ever more dry and sardonic as she spoke. "Well, so you see her...?" Helena raised her hands as though she were the innocent in this mystery. “I know you blood-suckers love a bit of banter, but I wouldn’t test my patience about this.” Vincent replied, his tone calm but warning, “I don’t give a crap about what’s going on here, honestly. Tell me where she is.” "Excuse me?!" Helena looked incensed, "Honestly, is that how you speak to people? I've done you no harm. For goodness sake, I'm covered in blood, surrounded by the disemboweled bodies of my loved ones and colleagues and while you step over their viscera, you say I 'shouldn't test your patience'?" Helena shook off the bottom of her dress. It was drenched. Blood splattered in every direction and then she sighed, "Ruined... Before I tell you where Lucia is, I want to know why you want to know where she is, what you want from her, and how you will go about getting that. Not an unreasonable request given her status, and your... Obviously combative... Nature..." A tiny hint of a smirk appeared at the edge of Vincent’s lips. “Oh so you’re one of the ‘we’re people too’ types of vampires? The ones that try to justify their nature by comparing us to cows and pigs. A poor analogy, because cows and pigs don’t fight back, of course.” His eyes narrowed as he looked her dead in hers. “We are not allies. I’m not here for a request I am here to get something Lucia has, by any means possible. I’m not afraid to admit that what she holds is of utmost importance to me and my sister, because that admission is also a threat. I will burn you all if I have to…but if I don’t have to…well then perhaps everyone can walk away unharmed. Understand?” Helena blinked as though she couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I'm the special attaché for Mistress Lucia, my name is Helena, I am 4, 826 years old and my favourite colour is blue and until you address me as a person, I will not acquiesce. Do whatever you like, but until you stop making assumptions and speak to me with the same respect I am showing you in spite of your behaviour then I will gladly burn just to watch with glee in the knowledge that you killed me because you couldn't be civil to someone you know nothing about..." “Here you lure in adolescents with dreams of success and fame, you dazzle them with your exotic lifestyle, you give them drugs and alcohol and work them to the bone, get them hooked on your saliva, you make yourself so interesting so that they will come to you.” Vincent explained, “In Mexico and South America you run drug cartels, you steal children from their beds and keep them locked up in cages to be devoured at your leisure. You have entire villages that are effectively human farms. Your kind have been spreading through human society like a cancer, and you are thriving. I may not know you but I know your boss, and she is a bad lady. Believe it or not, I understand your kind quite intimately…but it’s not that you are a vampire, it’s that you are a bad person. Whatever you do, you do it for that bitch and so you don’t get basic, civil decency.” "... I'm an administrator!" Helena barked angrily, "You idiot child!!" Her unmitigated anger was tempered somewhat by her outward appearance. "I've never killed anyone, I've never done those things, I can't help the cards I was dealt, but apparently I don't have basic rights, I'm not entitled to civility because my employer is a bad person. I'm starting to understand how easily humans rationalize violence themselves and for far less than hunger. Spit whatever venom you wish at me, human. I'm over this conversation I simply wish to get home, bathe, and put this whole thing behind me." "What's taking so long?! I'm getting bored!!" Violet yelled down from the top of the stairs. “Never killed anyone…yeah, didn’t you just admit to murdering your parents and draining their plasma?” Vincent shook his head. “Forget it. I already had this covered before you came along. Have fun in the basement full of your dead friends’ organs for the next…” Vincent took the phone from his pocket and checked the time on it. “Wow…8 more hours. I’m pretty sure Violet and I can stomp through at least 3 of her other buildings by then.” Again, she sighed. "Actually, I think you'll find what I said was, 'Unfortunately, I drained their bodies of plasma shortly after I was turned into a vampire', I did not say anything about admitting I had murdered my parents. It took me several hundred sessions of therapy to work through that and let me remind you, of something humans like reminding us - we cannot help our thirst, and more than any other time, when we are made, we are young, we have no control, we cannot help ourselves. We are not murderers... Not... Not all of us... Anyway..." Helena trailed off into silence. Vincent rolled his eyes and turned around and began walking back up the stairs. “Well I’ve killed a lot of things. I don’t care about whatever moral highroad you’re pitching. Your people eat my people, and I don’t like that. Help me find Lucia or I’ll just start burning all her property, which was plan A anyway so it’s fine with me.” "I don't care what you do." Helena muttered. "It doesn't matter now. Nothing does..." "UURRGHH!!" Violet kicked open the door to the basement and came stomping back down the stairs, "How long are you going to take with this, I've been up there about a billion years!!" "Are you here to threaten me, too?" Helena asked with a tiredness in her voice. Violet scowled at the vampire and then punched Vincent in the arm, "COME ON!!!" She yelled at her brother. "Why are we still here?!" “The ultra-progressive vegan vampire has a stick up her butt because I’m not being very nice.” Vincent replied with a shrug, “Forget her, we’ve other leads we can follow. Like whoever put up that illusion outside, if there’s a practitioner cleaning up after this then they might know where Lucia is.” Violet considered this thought for a moment, then she turned on Helena. "Yes?" Helena asked indignantly. She tried to scream but only a hoarse cry left her lips as Violet's eyes alighted, she opened her mouth and began pulling life energy from Helena. Violet smirked. "It was her illusion... she has... some kind of magic..." Violet gasped with joy as Helena reached out for help and fell to the floor, her skin had lost all colour. "So much..." Violet took a sharp breath and Helena heaved out a short, sharp breath in tandem. Vincent sent out his will reflexively, a simple spell that sent a blast of force under Violet’s feet and knocked her on her ass. “Sun’s going down…” He said in a mock calming tone. As his sister snapped back to reality and Helena gasped for breath Vincent sighed and sat down on the stairs, pinching the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed in frustration. Why couldn’t anything be simple. If there was anything more potentially dangerous than a 4’000 year old vampire it was one with a talent for the arts. Worse yet she was as stubborn as he was. This was getting them nowhere. “Alright.” He said finally to break the silence, “Vincent Hallow, 34 years old, and I don’t have a favourite colour. I’m a wizard, and I kill your kind when they step out of line, which is quite a lot by the way. I’m not interested in playing nice with you, but I don’t have a particular desire to harm you either. We want information, and Lucia has it. I don’t care enough about you or your kind to even begin caring whether you’re a good person or not. I want Lucia alive to get what we need, so as long as nobody pulls any shit nobody has to get hurt.” It was about as close as Vincent was likely to get to being civil. “Oh and I do hope you’ll forgive my sister, she can’t help herself, that hunger…ah you know this speech, right?” "She was taken by the Moreau clan." Helena muttered. "A family that can transform into wolves. Lucia had been in talks with them to settle some kind of old, bad blood." "I'm so sick of talking." Violet groaned and buried her head in her hands. "It had been going great. We invited them here as a show of trust but we barely had them in the door before it was all blood and screams and chaos..." Helena continued, ignoring Violet's protest. Vincent leaned forward and clasped his hands together in thought. Werewolves were not organized in the same way that vampires were. Firstly they weren’t all the same sort of creature. Some were shapeshifters who tended to live in small communities together, some were of Celtic roots and others Native American. Others were cursed humans; there was the wolfman curse that was transferred through bite and the bloodline curse humans known as Loup Garou, who transformed into large bipedal wolves on the fool moon. Of the three, Vincent felt only the Loup Garou would be effective enough to kidnap Lucia, although if the pack was large enough anything was possible. “So we have to save the bad guy from another bad guy? Super…” Vincent grumbled and got to his feet, “Come on, we better get to work. If they’ve left any fur or blood here I can track them pretty easily.” "Finally." Violet floated up from the ground, became vertical, and then landed with a soft tap. She looked over her shoulder at Helena as she started back up the stairs. Helena caught her look, "Yeah..." Violet walked up the last step and looked around at the death and destruction in the mansion. She seemed indifferent, crossing her arms and looking over the scene with a mildly bored expression until Vincent walked up. Her eyes lit up, "So, you think the perp left any DNA behind, detective?" She laughed with a snort. If Lucia didn’t even make one of them bleed then she wasn’t nearly as tough as Vincent thought she was. “Oh I’m sure I’ll find something.” Vincent said with a smirk and then he got to work. Within 20 minutes he had gathered together some blood and fur from around the wreckage and was sat burning the fur and crushing the ashes left behind into the dried blood he had scraped into a bowl. He dumped the contents into a magic circle he had drawn on the kitchen table and sealed it closed with just a small burst of his will. In the other circle he had placed a small compass he had kept in the car. He worked the spell he had completed thousands of times. However, spells like this had always been his favourite. It was doing something on a small scale to make something happen on a larger scale. There was something…elegant about it. Within a few moment it was done and he returned to Violet with the compass in his hand, it’s arrow pointing off in a direction that definitely wasn’t north. “To the batmobile!” He said with a smirk and they made their way outside.
  14. Hallows S2

    The White Stripes' 'Icky Thump' blared from the old radio of the black Chevrolet Impala. The L.A. sun made everything hazy. She could feel the heat like anyone, but it wasn't the stifling, airless heat she remembered as a child, before she'd been tracked down by her aunt - a cosmic being who went by 'Vael' - and had her powers drawn out by the part-time ally, part-time enemy. Since then, besides having a burning need to consume energy and matter in order to exist, her body was no longer the mortal frame she'd inhabited in her early years. She had transformed. Beneath the paper-thin 'disguise' of a human, she too was a Nagloshi, just like her aunt. A creature of the cosmos, wielding magics very different from those her brother had mastered. It might have been practical to disguise herself as human, but she was also sentimental. Sometimes it was difficult looking in the mirror and seeing a featureless, feminine body that seemed comprised of space itself, glowing white eyes, mouth and hair. She preferred seeing a girl in her late 20's, with medium-length cobalt blue hair, cut in a punk style with a shaved side. She was covered in blackwork tattoos, mostly runes, symbols and glyphs that made her look like some kind of ancient textbook. Violet Hallow licked her lips - more a habit than wetting lips with saliva she didn't make any more - as she fished for something in the pocket of her short leather jacket. A short, thick piece of white chalk. The song continued beating drums as the vocals started, Violet bobbed her head with the beat as she began to draw lines across the tarmac with the chalk. She stood up and admired her work for a moment before pocketing the chalk and wiping her chalky hands down on her black tank top before she sat down, cross-legged, surrounded by her chalk marks. She was sat inside a pentagram. Strictly speaking, she had more than enough power to tear her way into another dimension. But if she did that, she'd be consuming energy to replace the stores that essentially made up her very being. And why shouldn't she use her powers? She'd-- Violet stopped herself. She thumped her fist down onto her leg until it started to hurt. "Don't think like that, Vi, come on, girl..." She took a deep breath and focused. The pentagram would help channel her magic without drawing too much out of her reserves. Slowly, the light and heat of the sun began to die. It grew darker and darker. The song's beat slowed and warped, slowing until it sounded almost unrecognisable. The singer almost sounded like a demon growling. Birds flitting between the branches of nearby trees began to slow mid-flight. She closed her eyes. A familiar coldness touched at her and when she opened her eyes - she saw nothing. Complete blackness. The music had become little more than one note, stretching into infinity. White noise. Raising a hand, she used a fraction of magic to ignite a soft luminous light source in her palm. Instantly, she saw dozens of mouths, eyes, claws, fangs, gnashing, rending and tearing, clawing over one another, feeding on one another, crashing up against the barrier her pentagram was providing. "Mornin' all..." She raised her other hand with a half-hearted wave. A gnarled hand smashed up against the magical barrier and then a large head came into view, mouth full of a million needle-like teeth. The other creatures cowered and moved away as it focused on her, it's eyes enormous discs, bearing down on her, a speck of light in an endless sea of blackness, writhing with all manner of dark creature. This, was the Void. The birthplace of monsters. The first monster, Lilith, created as an affront to God, by Lucifer. She birthed the most ancient of them, then banished them to this warping hellscape. Sometimes little more than a Void as she saw it now, and other times an endless forest, or a destroyed cityscape. The Void was as intangible and unknowable as the Nagloshi themselves. But it had it's uses. "Asmodeus." "Ergh!" The monster recoiled as though physically struck. "Nobody's supposed to know that name..." It's voice was cracked, like metal nails down a blackboard, scratched out through the gaps of endless rows of teeth. "You mean it's not your name... Asmodeus?" Violet repeated, a wicked grin alighting her face. "ERGGHH...." Asmodeus growled, his hand wrapped around the entirety of her protective barrier and began to squeeze. There was a wrenching, squealing sound. Like metal under pressure. Violet chuckled to herself and stood up, making Asmodeus reflexively jerk back. "Haha, big ol' monster, scared a little ol' me." She crossed her arms and jerked her head at him, "So, what's the story with L.A.?" "Haven't you heard--" Asmodeus took a long, gurgling inhalation, "--City of... Angels..." He choked out a deep, resonating laugh as he batted away a snarling creature that crashed up against her barrier a moment later. "Why do you... want to know...?" "Goin' hunting, right?!" Violet chuckled, noticing the various debris, bones and assorted junk that littered the monster's teeth. "You said, I help you-- and you help me kill Garga... I want his turf!" "Uh huh. So give me something to work with and I will!" Violet glanced over her shoulder, as though into nothing, "My brother's up. Best make it fast." "--there's a, I know... if you just give me more--" "Nope!" Violet let her arms fall by her side, and then she took one boot-clad foot, and scuffed out one of the pentagram lines. It happened all in the space of a couple of seconds. An otherworldly cacophony of screams, screeches, roars, hisses and other noise penetrated her protective barrier and just like that it shattered under the assault of Asmodeus' grip. The creature lurched forwards to grab her, as did the mass of claws, eyes and fangs. Violet lifted from the ground, hovering a few feet above and then her skin began to peel away like it was being burnt. Beneath it, the glowing form of her true body. Several of the creatures reacted on sight and fled, Asmodeus roared in defiance but she opened her mouth and screeched. The light from her body grew brighter and brighter, blinding everything, forcing them to recoil. Asmodeus screamed and dug his claws into the ground. "I've served you for 4 months!" Asmodeus' deep, resonating voice was gone. He was screeching for help, raking at the mass of monsters around him, trying to find purchase. "But i'm hungry?" Violet's voice was ethereal now, humming with power as light shone from her eyes and mouth. Asmodeus' screams turned into gurgling, guttural noise as his body was drawn of all energy, matter and magic. He collapsed to the ground, a grey shell and the mass of monsters turned their attention on the withering, old beast and tore him apart. Then Violet quickly withdrew from the Void. Light rushed back into her space, she felt the warmth of the sun and heard the music warping back up to speed, and the birds slowly resumed their flight. She had barely enough time to regenerate her fragile human 'skin' and hop onto the hood of her car before she saw her brother emerge from the motel. She reached over and picked up one of the two breakfast burritos, unwrapped it and took a big bite, even though she wasn't all that hungry now. "Hey, you want this?" Violet asked, lifting up the second burrito, "If you don't take it, i'm basically gonna eat it too, y'know." "Fine." Vincent said and she tossed him over the spare. He unwrapped it as he puffed away on his cigarette, and then took a single bite, followed by another, then a pause for consideration. "Damn it..." He grumbled with his mouth still half full of food. He swallowed. "It's good...which means it's probably really bad." "But who cares right, ya only live once--" She took a bite, then while her mouth was still full and chewing she added, "--y'know, unless-- you're like--" She took another bite and continued talking while chewing, "-- like a zombie-- vampire-- ghost-- angel-- demon--" She took another bite and went to continue listing them off, but saw Vincent's pained expression. "What...?" She frowned, then to put the cherry on the cake, she stuck her food-encrusted tongue out at him, "Meeeh!!" "A delight as always..." Vincent said as he turned his gaze away from Violet's gross tongue and instead looked out to the horizon. "Ugh, I hate LA. Bunch of posers and wannabes make their way here to become a star, only to get scooped up by a bunch of blood sucking vampires." He shook his head in disapproval. "And then there's the actual vampires." "Haha! Ha! --sick wordplay." Violet snorted and stuffed the last of her burrito into her mouth and swallowed. "You're gonna have to like--" She picked at her teeth, "--say it again, y'know--- when the cameras are rollin'." She got something between her fingers, rolled it back and forth, smirked to herself, then looked up and flicked it at Vincent. "We goin' then?" "No time like the present." Vincent replied, "Let's load up our shit on the car and get a move on." "Eeehh..." Violet groaned and swept her hand back through the air dismissively. A dozen or so items flew through the air from their motel room or the hood of the car and flung themselves in the back. The trunk popped and took a few more items, including weapons, stakes and all manner of relics, and then covered itself with a blanket and then closed the trunk once more. "See, so much better..." She looked to her brother to share in her pride. "Y'know one of these days I expect old Al to pop out from behind a bush or something and hit you with the whammy for being so frivolous with your magic." Vincent said with a smirk. As he got into the car he put on a southern drawl, "Now jes because ye can use yer magic, doesn' mean ye should, darlin'" A sour expression spread across Violet's face as she remembered their old mentor. A crotchety old coot if ever there was one. Though, his knowledge and his magic had saved them both on more than one occasion. "Whaddaya want me to say?" Violet shrugged and slipped off the hood and got into the driver's seat. "If you've got it, flaunt it!" With Vincent in the seat beside her, she fired the engine to a roar, and they tore off down the road. "So, what's the plan here? We gonna just tear into the city and make ourselves known or what--?" She was practically yelling between the windows down, air rushing past and the sound of the engine. "If I know Lucia then she'll know we're here not long after we enter the city." Vincent yelled back at her, "Although this is her bed time so we might have an advantage there, but if we go in guns blazing during the day we'll be tangling with mortal guards." "Ah who cares, they're mortal, what are they gonna do, hit us with sticks or shoot projectiles at us, c'mon Vincent, it'll be easy!" Violet laughed as she put her floored it, overtaking the car ahead of them before darting back into the lane as an oncoming car rushed past. "We'll be there in no time, now!!" "You know for a shapeshifter you're terrible at blending in!" Vincent yelled. Violet blinked and realised, shame washed over her and she slowed right down, then rolled the windows up as the car behind them honked their horn with a prolonged press before overtaking them this time, driving on as Violet gripped onto the wheel as tightly as she dared. "Sorry..." "It's aright. I'm used to it." Vincent replied as he settled back in his chair and relaxed a little, "You realise that Lucia is a countess of the most powerful and far reaching vampire courts in the Western world? She is literally and figuratively the most powerful vampire in the Americas. Her mortal guards aren't going to be night club bouncers." "... hired bodyguards?" Violet asked with a wry smile and a raised brow. But she knew. Soon, the shrub-dotted road cleared up and was replaced with symmetrical palm trees lining the streets, and buildings of all shapes and sizes. It was a busy city, full of every multi-faceted shade of person, and supernatural thing. Some, you could spot if you had a trained eye, or you knew what to look for, smell for, listen for. It was knowledge, but it was also the gift of magic. A spot of luck. Or any number of factors. Usually though, if it was up to Al? He'd have them pouring through dozens of old textbooks to find the answer. Luckily, these days, we have technology. "Hello, Google..." Violet called out, her phone screen lit up, but nothing happened. "Hello... Google..." Nothing. "Hel-lo. Goo-gull. Hell--with--this--" She threw her phone onto the backseat. "I miss books...." She grumbled. "Okay Google." Vincent said with a monotonous voice, pronouncing each syllable carefully. He was rewarded with a digital bleep of approval from Violet's phone. "That's not funny." Violet muttered. "'s not funny." The Google assistant replied, muffled by the backseat, "Try not to laugh challenges, Youtube video playlist." Suddenly there was a deafening sound of a donkey, followed by a baby laughing, and then a loud clatter as something fell apart and then Violet managed to grab her phone and turn it off while she kept one hand on the wheel, "Alright, so do it yourself. We should figure out what to expect, these days, crews like vampires could be hiring anythin' for muscle." "Well people like me for starters." Vincent replied, "I've run jobs for Lucia in the past, she pays well. She has an eye for talent so you could be facing all manner of sorcerers, low tier supes that can hide in plain sight like ghouls and weres. Could have some faerie muscle if she has the right contacts." "Can't wait..." Violet nodded to herself, looking up at the rearview mirror. She saw herself, but her eyes were completely white. She blinked, and she looked normal again. She was going to have to find more time to spend in the Void. She was sure the answers she needed remained in the Void. But not now. Now, she had to focus. On her brother, on this, on their search for their father. Focus, Vi, come on. You can't... she trailed off as a glowing orb rushed down the road towards them, flew through the car, whipped around inside and about her head a few times, and then flew down the road until it vanished behind them. "Uh..." Violet looked over at her brother who seemed not to have seen the light, "Okay then... totally normal." She added, under her breath.
  15. Hallows S2

    The nightmare began as it always had; with a victory. Vincent Hallow stood over the charred remains of a ghoul, only vaguely humanoid in shape. His shoulder length hair blew about in an aetheric wind. His shirt was gone and his chest and arms were covered in bloody cuts, wounds given by the now dead ghoul on the floor. Vincent winced at the pain and stepped away from the corpse, he could feel fatigue tugging at him. His body was exhausted, but adrenaline had wiped out his pain for now. His body protested for him to rest, but with he opened his emerald eyes with a look of determination. He gripped on the cane in his hand, the enchanted vessel he had chosen to channel his destructive will through. He looked to his surroundings. He was outside but it was almost completely black in all directions. He knew where he was, in a plaza outside of the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. The Hotel, a large glass pyramid, was currently reflecting the only source of light in the entire city, an eerie green glow as shadowy entities flew through the sky. The Wild Hunt; All manor of ghostly entities and predatory spirits were now prowling the skies above Las Vegas like an enormous hunting party. People were trapped in a city with no power, and in that darkness they would sow fear, and would kill all in their sight. “Vincent!” A voice called in the darkness, and then a young woman emerged. She was in her mid 20’s with a long mane of red curls and a pale complexion. Meredith Palmer; the gifted clairvoyant who had been the beginning of this entire disaster, “Vincent! We’re too late, they worked the spell! It’s here!” “Yeah…I can see that.” Vincent replied dryly as he looked skyward again. Then he inspected his wounds. There was a lot of blood but he didn’t think he’d hit any organs or major arteries. “We need to stop the ritual.” He turned toward the Luxor building and went to walk towards it. “People are going to die if we don’t stop that!” Meredith cried, “I can…I can see it.” “There’s one crazy Necromancer in that hotel with his ancient ghost buddy, and they’re about to bring all that power down and into them, and then we’re not dealing with a two bit spell-slinger and an upstart old spirit, we’re dealing with Gods. Do you understand that?” Vincent shook his head and started walking. Meredith simply watched, a helpless expression on her face. “Then they’ll all die…” She whispered. Just then a bright light exploded in the sky. In the center of the maelstrom of ghosts, a bright light began to go brighter and brighter. Someone was cutting through the sea of ghosts like they were made of butter, a being of light and raw energy. She raged and soared and her power burned through them like a wildfire. Meredith gasped at the spectacle, whereas Vincent only smirked and rolled is eyes. “She’s a little hard to predict, even for spooky fortune tellers like you.” Vincent said. “Is that…?” Meredith asked “Violet.” Vincent said with a nod. “She’s the main event, kid. I just take care of the trash.” He didn’t waste any more time. He strode towards the Luxor while his legs could still carry him. As he stepped into the main foyer he realized how tapped out he was. He had worked a big spell that night, and had channeled a great deal of magic through himself, he was reaching his limit. His limit would have to be enough for this next part though. As he emerged into the room he noticed that the fake Egyptian-style styling of the inner building was lit up by a glowing flame in the center of the room. The center of the room had been cleared and a magic circle had been drawn in what looked like blood. Inside the circle an ancient, ghostly form that looked so dried up, rotted and disfigured that it barely resembled a human. Outside of the circle stood a man in a long, black coat and a wide-brimmed fedora. The man had a ponytail of dark hair and a clean-shaven face that looked gaunt and pale. “Lacroix!” Vincent barked across the room as he swaggered towards the necromancer, “Sorry, but your pet had to be put down.” “Oh great, you’re still alive.” Lacroix replied unenthusiastically, he seemed unconcerned by Vincent’s presence. “I’m afraid you don’t look up to posing much of a threat my good man. You’re already too late anyway. Your sister might have been up to the task but…it seems she submitted to her more primal urges I fear.” Violet’s light tore through the sky in an arc around the glass pyramid, and as she disappeared back in tot eh darkness again there was a rushing noise, followed by a crack and a boom. This seemed to drain the little colour that was left in Lacroix’s face. “Now did she absolutely have to break the sound barrier?” Vincent said with a shrug. Then he pointed his cane at Lacroix. “Listen up you washed up sorcerer, you should probably stop underestimating me and my sister. I know you think you’re badass because you’re rockin’ the dark arts and you’re about twice my age, but you won’t beat me.” “You?” Lacroix scoffed, “You’re just a thug. Throwing spells around with no grace, no consideration at all.” “Is that why you kept dodging this confrontation then? Why you came at us through your agents and pawns?” Lacroix went to work a spell, but then there was another bang and he stopped in his tracks. Vincent held the pistol he had been carrying in the back of his jeans. “What is it about wizards and always/ forgetting to account for bullets?” He asked with a smirk. Lacroix fell to his knees, clutching the area around his heart. He looked up to Vincent and for the first time he looked genuinely afraid. Funny for a Necromancer to fear death so much. As Lacroix keeled over lifelessly Vincent sighed and retrieved a carton with just 1 last cigarette. He took it out and lit it, tossing the empty carton to the floor. As he exhaled the sweet, sweet concoction of death he glanced towards the invisible barrier of the magic circle Lacroix had brought up. It was still active, and would stay that way until Lacroix finally drew his last breath. “You know…you should really hire better lackeys.” He said to the spirit inside, who was watching him with a piercing, unblinking gaze. “Lacroix was talented enough to do my bidding and stupid enough to obey my every command. He was an excellent lacky.” The spirit said. “So what now? In a minute this barrier is going to go down and then we’re going to tangle, right?” Vincent asked. “Oh I expect so, Mister Hallow, was it?” The spirit replied. Despite her grotesque appearance her voice was distinctly feminine, with a well-spoken English accent. “I’m going to enjoy that very much I think. You see you’ve ruined all the work I went to. You have unraveled a great deal of planning and dedicated work.” “I’m not too worried about what a ghost can do, even an old one like you.” “A ghost?” The spirit asked, indicating to herself. “I am not a ghost.” The circle’s magic finally faded and the barrier went down. Vincent brought his cane up immediately and called fire, and it shot out like a lance towards the spirit. She chuckled in amusement and faded away, only to reappear a safe distance away from the blaze. Vincent turned to face her again with another gout of fire but this time she simply moved through it and crashed into Vincent, phasing through him with that familiar, chilling sensation that seemed to rake at his very soul. However in that instant, where they had become connected, he realized the truth to her words. She was not a ghost, she was a soul. A real human soul, existing in a realm where it should not, where it could not without a vessel. “How!?” Vincent managed to ask through gasps of air. “What are you!?” “I think ‘who’ is a better question.” The woman said, “I think you may know my name. It is old, the last one I wore was…Morgue.” “He died before I was even born. I know who killed him.” Vincent replied. “Ah, I knew your magic reminded me of him.” The spirit replied. “Alphonse Blackmire, that old fool.” Vincent felt his stomach drop. The spirit knew his mentor, knew the man who had killed the dark wizard Morgue over 40 years ago. Information that was known only by a select few people. Which meant…this spirit really was that dark wizard. The dreaded Necromancer who could forcibly eject people from their bodies and take them for himself. He had been a constant headache, popping up for centuries, far longer than his mortal life would have allowed. But by stealing the bodies he stole their youth and their power and continued on his dark crusade. Al had finally put the guy in the ground, and it was said to have been for good. The voice, however, was feminine. “Morgue was a man.” Vincent said with a frown. “The body I inhabited was a man, yes.” The spirit replied. “But Morgue was just one name I have held, and just one life I have lived. So many know my name and yet they know nothing of me. I am…something of a story told to children these days.” “So why the big ritual? If you’re a body snatcher then why not just snatch a body?” Vincent asked. “Because, dear boy, power is not something you get to take with you when you die. If I was to truly return in my original form then I would need tremendous power.” “Which you aren’t getting any more.” Vincent said with a smirk, “Sorry.” “I’m afraid you have only delayed the inevitable, and have forced me to find a new body in the meantime.” She said. Then she came at him. “Yours.” He could do nothing to defend himself against the spirit as she passed inside him. The psychic assault that followed was agonizing. He brought up the mental protections he had trained with all of these years but this woman knocked them away like they were made of paper. She reached inside and gripped hold of his mind, and his soul. She did it all with an effortlessness that was absolutely terrifying. He could do nothing. Absolutely nothing. He began to slip away. It was an endless feeling. Like time was no longer a factor. Instead he drifted in a cold darkness. He felt his thoughts and feeling peeling away layer upon layer. All of the little things that made him whole just fell away. He was no longer Vincent. He was no longer anything at all, and before long he would simply drift into nothingness, into void. His eyes opened to an extremely bright light. He had experienced this kind of light only once before. When he had been younger, and when he had allowed his darkness to rule him, he had done just about the worst thing he has ever done, and it had nearly cost him his life. God had stepped in and saved his life. Sort of rude of him really considering Vincent was a filthy pagan and all. God had, apparently, decided to save his life not once, but twice. The light was emanating from a man dressed in black. He wore pointed toe boots, black trousers and a black shirt, with a pointed collar and white clerical collar. The man had a stubbled beard and short, jet black hair that was combed back. He also carried a sword; the one that was currently blazing with the light of God. David Argent was not a priest, despite the collar. He was, in fact, a wanted criminal. He was a highly skilled assassin under the hire of, as far as the authorities were concerned, unknown. If you asked David, he would tell you that The Lord was his client. His targets, of course, were a bunch of vampires and demons hiding in the guise of humans. David was not a good people, but he did not kill good people either. More importantly, he had an insane knack for showing up wherever he was needed. He was chanting scripture under his breath as he stepped closer to them. Vincent could now see that David was driving back Morgue with just the power of prayer. Vincent managed to find just enough time to find that irritating, and then he was rising to his feet. David lunged for the spirit but she shrieked and flew off, disappearing out of the foyer. David sheathed the glowing sword and the room grew dimmer. He came over to Vincent and helped him to stand. “It seems the Lord has more work for you yet, Vincent Hallow.” David said with a distinctly southern drawl. Vincent pattered the man on the back and smirked. “I’m still not convinced you aren’t full of shit about that but I’ll take the rescue all the same.” Vincent said with a nod of gratitude. “We need to find that thing before-“ A scream cut through the room from outside the hotel. “Meredith!” Vincent yelled as he was suddenly going at a sprint, David trying to keep peace with him. Panic shot up through him and propelled him forwards despite the blood loss, and the fatigue. Meredith was not like him. She was a kid with power but she’d had no training. She wouldn’t last a second. By the time he emerged outside once more the sky was aglow with the energy flying around as Violet finished up her own fight. Meredith was stood alone, not far from where he had left her. She was looking right at him, and his heart was crushed as he saw the wicked grin on her face. “No…” He breathed as he stopped a few feet from reaching her. “No…you…” “Vincent!” David caught up to him. “Stop her!” Vincent barked back at him. “Now!” “It…is too late.” David said regretfully, “She has already taken the girl…you can see this.” Vincent’s gaze focused on Meredith, and just for a moment he could see just behind her. A pale woman with raven hair was walking another Meredith away. She looked sad. He could have sworn he’d seen that woman somewhere before. Then he could only see the creature that was now inhabiting Meredith’s body. “Well…prescient abilities, this will be useful.” She said, her English accent coming through but with Meredith’s voice. “Not a great deal of power though…she’ll take some work.” “The girl is gone now.” David said to him. “We should do what needs to be done.” “Shut up!” Vincent growled back at him. He was beyond angry. It just wasn’t fair. His life saved by divine intervention, and moments later his fate is passed on to an innocent woman. It hadn’t sunk in yet. It had only just happened. He wasn’t ready to accept her death. He wasn’t willing to admit that she was…gone. Not while she stood right there in front of him. “I’ll…make you pay!” Vincent snarled. He clutched his cane and the runes etched along it cast an eerie, green glow. The air grow wild around them, and the pebbles and loose stones on the ground began to rattle and shake. He pointed his staff at her and his hands shook. It felt so wrong to point it towards that face. He screamed in rage as he called on fire with the last of his power. He took every last bit of it and put it into the blast. Light exploded from the end of his cane and bolten fire burst out and engulfed Meredith’s body. But then all that heat and fire was sucked up by an unseen force and disappeared inside Meredith’s body as if it were no trouble at all. “Oh how disappointing….so much power is wasted on you.” The spirit said with a chuckle, “You see even with just a small amount of power like this body has…well if you knew real magic then you would be so fearsome.” “Save me the ‘dark magic rocks’ speech.” Vincent said, gasping for breath. He had nothing left to hit her with. “Light magic and dark magic are modern philosophies, child.” The spirit said with a wicked smirk, “Restrictions placed upon this world by cowards with no vision. Darkness is not evil, Vincent. It is a force, and what are if not beings that work forces?” “Save it!” Vincent yelled angrily. “Foolish child, I lived in a time before your very concept of magic was ever constructed!” She cried back, her eyes alive and energetic. “I am The Enchantress! The Legend! Morgana Le Fay!” She strode forward and reached out to Vincent. He gestured his cane toward her and she gripped it’s end in her hand. She released the energy she had taken from his own spell and sent it down the length of the cane, causing it to shatter into ash. Vincent fell back and landed hard on the asphalt. He looked up in time to see Morgana point a single finger at him, and a dark energy began to form at it’s tip. “We’ll meet again Vincent Hallow.” She said, and then Vincent’s vision went dark. Blinding pain seared through every fiber of his being, pulsing from an area on his chest, burning at his insides. --- --- --- Vincent sat bolt upright in the bed, gasping for breath. He winced as he opened his eyes and the light from a gap in the curtains cut into the room. The disorientation from waking from a nightmare was, unfortunately, becoming a familiarity to him. He sighed and tossed the sheets away from him and climbed out of bed. He was in one of those roadside motels that were just a single room with two beds and a bathroom. He walked into the bathroom and switched on the light. The bathroom was small but had a full size mirror on the wall. Vincent stood in a pair of black boxer shorts. He was a pale individual with a wiry frame. His jet black hair was shoulder length but was recently trimmed and styled. He had grown a dark beard over the last two years. His body was a mess of various scars, burns and a particularly nasty looking wound at his chest that looked like black veins stretching out from a charred impact zone. Something of a love tap from the ancient sorceress who now inhabited his dreams most nights. Vincent undressed and got into the shower. As the intensity of the nightmare began to fade, along with the bracing cold of the shower, Vincent began to feel calmer. It had been 2 years since “The Vegas Incident” and a lot had happened. The government had done their usual “freak gas leak combined with power outage sparks mass panic” routine to explain away what had happened. Vincent and his cosmically-inclined sister, Violet had continued their search for their father, and as was the way of things they had gotten into a lot of scrapes along the way. It wasn’t long before their reputation among the hunters of the supernatural began to return in a big way. That had opened some doors and had sent a few messages. They had followed promising leads and gotten a lot closer to finding their father yet had still not found him. Vincent had also managed to admit to himself that Morgana had been right. He had spent the years training diligently in his study of magic, looking to eastern disciplines to broaden his understanding, and slowly he was discovering that magic did not have quite as many rules as he thought it did. He still wasn’t convinced that dark magic was the way to go, some magic just didn’t feel right to use. Violet had been on her own path of self-discovery. It’s not like there was a rulebook for being a shapeshifting energy-eating entity of the cosmos. One thing was certain, every creature that had ever learned of what Violet was, no matter how powerful they were, they all paid a great deal of attention to her. Nagloshi, not the true name of her species but the only one that was pronounceable by Vincent, were apparently something of an outlier, which was a terrifying notion when the system in question consists of all manner of supernatural beings, and gods of various pantheons. Even death can’t resist her, apparently. Vincent emerged from the bathroom and dressed himself. A pair of black boots, black jeans, and a grey t-shirt with a Stone Roses graphic on it. He picked up a pair of sunglasses off the table along with his wallet, keys and his cigarettes, and then he headed out of the door. The Californian sunshine was bright and sunny. The motel was on the roadside out in the Hollywood Hills. The city of Los Angeles lay in the valley beneath them, and just happened to be the next stop on their trip. A black Chevrolet Impala sat in the parking space outside of the room. The car was old but has been cleaned and detailed. It was Violet’s pride and joy, and she took good care of it. Speaking of the cosmic disco ball, she was currently sat on the hood of said car eating some sort of calorific breakfast burrito. “That shit will kill you.” Vincent said as he put a cigarette in his mouth and lit it.
  16. U.A. High School

    double post deleted
  17. U.A. High School

    As Miss Mass started on her next student Ichirou picked up his blazer and walked away to the side and sat down on the gravel, resting his arms across his knees. He watched as the golden-haired Miss Mass talked with the dark-haired boy he had spoken with before the class. As they spoke Ichirou huffed out a breath and felt his anger bubbling away under the surface. He had embarrassed himself, that was on him alone. He hadn’t learned anything, however. He respected that Miss Mass didn’t pull her punches, but there was nothing for him to accomplish there, she had just wanted to provoke him to lash out so she could find his weakness and show it to him. He had already known it though. Her methods, however, had not agreed with him. He didn’t like that it reminded him too much of his father and his own tactic; to keep knocking you down until the day you managed to stop him. That method had hardened him, had removed a great deal of his fear, but it had also kept him weak and struggling. At any rate he didn’t need someone to show him where his weakness was, he was all too aware. Ichirou turned his attention back to the dark-haired boy and Miss Mass. “- Seto Yoshinori.” The boy said as he politely introduced himself. He extended a hand towards Miss Mass, “I hope my best will be good enough, sensei!” "Show me your best, then." Miss Mass leapt back, leaving the boy's hand extended. "Hurry up, Seto Yoshinori, I'm waiting..." “So you’ve been briefed on our quirks.” Seto said with a sly smirk and got in to a primed stance, “Makes sense I guess.” Seto went at a sprint to bridge the gap between them. Ichirou’s eyes widened in surprise. Seto moved quickly for his frame, he looked like he had a runner’s physique but he moved too quickly for someone of his size. Was his quirk speed? No, Seto was fast but not ridiculously so. Seto came in fast on the offensive, he seemed unconcerned about getting in to close quarters with Miss Mass. Was he that much of an idiot? Her strength alone could crush him. If he wasn’t careful he was going to come off worse than Ichirou had. He came at Miss Mass with a flurry of open palmed strikes, utilizing some kind of martial arts that was unfamiliar to Ichirou. Seto was attacking with speed and grace, and seemed to be unconcerned with deploying force to his strikes. So he wasn’t relying on his physical strength then. Ichirou thought back to the beginning of their match, when Seto had offered Miss Mass his hand, she had ignored it. So, Ichirou guessed, Seto had a quirk that required physical touch to activate, and it was something dangerous enough that Miss Mass was avoiding him. She was on the defensive. Forced to dodge each rapid strike. She knew all it took was a touch. But she had experience. She leapt back, drawing Seto towards her and as he did, she drew her leg back and kicked the ground with the force of a digger. Rubble flew everywhere and Seto found himself soon to be peppered with debris. Seto tapped off the ground and suddenly flew upwards, although it looked more like falling upwards. He tumbled through the air, not quite as graceful as he had been on the ground. He moved in an arc, falling sideways and then back down to the ground behind Miss Mass, reaching his hand out to grab her once more, but she reflexively moved out of his reach once again. He rolled to the side and scooped up some of the rocks that had been directed at him, and then he did something and the rock fired at Miss Mass like a bullet. “What the hell is that?” Ichirou grumbled as he tried to figure it out. Seto was moving quicker, and seemed to have a limited flight capability. Was he like that dumb cat, just not as confident with his abilities yet? That wasn’t it either, the cat could use his quirk from a distance, whereas Seto needed contact to do so. The rock flew at her so fast she had no time to dodge, her arm was drawn back and she punched the rock, and it blew into a cloud of dust but to her surprise, Seto was right behind it, using the rock as a way to block her line of sight. Miss Mass gasped and tried to move but it was too late, Seto managed to graze her torso with his finger and she had time enough to grab him as she flew up into the air. Reaching with her other hand she grabbed onto the lamp post before she passed it and looked over at the boy, "Alright, and when does this wear off?" “Roughly 3 minutes if I don’t re-apply it.” Seto replied, smiling but in an earnest way. “I can lash you back to the ground if you want though.” He took her hand again and then with just a touch Miss Mass was returned to the ground slowly. “Miss Mass…thank you for the test but…” He frowned slightly and gave her a knowing look. “I’ve studied your abilities, and I have always suspected I may be a poor match up for you, however…” He gave her a determined look, “I’m no fool. I’ve seen you fight, you had multiple opportunities to change the flow of battle. In a real fight, I acknowledge that I wouldn’t have been ready to face you.” "You must bear in mind, as well you all must, that my purpose here is not to assess your ability to beat me. But to simply use your powers without fear or repercussion so I can better understand where you are all starting from." Miss Mass looked to Seto, "Perhaps in a true fight, I would have knocked you unconscious but you could also have found a way to defeat me just as easily. You must all remember that we are prone to mistakes as anyone and it is only if a villain is capable of seeing those mistakes.... That they are most dangerous..." Miss Mass quieted. Seto nodded in agreement and moved away as other students seemed to step up for their turn with a little more confidence now. He walked past Ichirou but stopped as Ichirou spoke. “Gravity.” Ichirou said, staring ahead and watching as a female student with turquoise shoulder length hair and a gaunt, tired expression stepped forward. “You can change the direction of an objects gravitational pull…and what’s more you can change the intensity of the gravitational pull. You moved faster because you had halved the gravitational force on yourself and had became comparatively lighter. Then you gave yourself an inverted gravitational pull to move through the air. You were awkward though, you had to adjust your directional pull so as not to fly off in any direction too far.” “That’s correct.” Seto replied with a single nod. “Miss Mass knew to avoid me because I can use her mass altering powers against her. If she had increased her density at any point after I had touched her then gravity’s effect would have only intensified for her. However, I don’t have her kind of resilience. She could just as easily have taken me out with a well timed strike. “ “Do you think it’s wise to just tell me all of that?” Ichirou asked “You were already figuring it out on your own.” Seto replied with a soft shrug, “besides, we’re comrades. We can work together much more effectively if we understand each other’s quirks.” “Yeah and I can exploit what I know to beat you in examinations, by exploiting your weaknesses, or sabotaging you so I come out on top.” “True, sometimes we will be rivals.” Seto conceded, “But if we strive to help each other we can all come out of U.A as heroes, and then our teamwork can be used to better serve the public. Sabotage and exploitation aren’t things you do to your comrades. Only a villain would do such a thing, right?” “You-“ Ichirou let out a snort and seethed with anger for a moment. Then he quieted himself with a deep breath and continued, “Fine I’ll throw you a bone. My Quirk looks like fire, right? Well it isn’t. Its like a…a shroud that acts like an extension of me. Anything it touches is subjected to intense heats that incinerate them. I can control the heat to some extent, but I can’t make it not burn things. It’s only use is destruction. That’s all your getting.” “Hmm…weird.” Seto said as he began to walk away. “What’s weird?” Ichirou asked. “Well your clothes don’t burn off…” Seto said with a shrug, and then he walked off out of earshot. Ichirou thought about that last comment as he turned his attention back to the match. The gaunt girl with the turquoise hair – Yachiru Totonome – had come out of the gate strong by unleashing her quirk – which had taken the form of a towering spectral figure that emanated from Tachiru, the spirit was vaguely in her likeness but had wild, crazed eyes and sharper canines, and where her hands should be were a pair of shadowy claws instead. “Another lamb to the slaughter…another…another…sacrifice…” The crazed specter said in an excitable but erratic tone, “You wanna go, bitch? Hm?” “My apologies…” Yachiru said in a monotonous, quiet tone, “My quirk is quite loud. And rude. Also violent.” “I’LL CUT YOU, FREAK!” Her Specter yelled in response. “Very rude.” Yachiru confirmed. The spectral entity went on a warpath, but ultimately ended up losing to Miss Mass when Yachiru seemed to run out of stamina and fell asleep still standing on her feet. After her came a host of other students including a boy who could absorb the material properties of things that he touched, another boy with a mutation quirk that made his skin stretchy like elastic, and a punky looking girl with black hair who had a herculean strength, and a so it kept going until the entire class had stepped up, all except one. “Let’s see what you’ve got, Noriko.” Ichirou said under his breath.
  18. U.A. High School

    Double Post. Deleted. :(
  19. U.A. High School

    Noriko walked into the classroom and saw it was already mostly filled. She spied a spare seat but as she walked towards it her eyes locked on the boy she was sharing a dormitory with. Ichirou Kazuro. She didn't want to sit next to that guy. He had a serious attitude problem, and coming from her, that seemed like a pretty big issue. But the seats behind her were full now, and so she sat down. She glanced over at him then faced forwards as the door opened to the classroom, one last time. "GOOD MORNING, STUDENTS!!!" Noriko's face dropped. A tall woman stepped inside, her strides were long and confident, and so they should be, for she was was one of the top heroes in the country. Known for her incredible power to control her own density, becoming as light or as heavy as she needs, "--by taking in mass, she becomes stronger and heavier, Miss--" "MISS MASS!!!" The woman's voice carried through the classroom, silencing any students who were still talking amongst themselves. "That's what you can call me. But, teacher or Miss is fine, too." Noriko's eyes had lit up at seeing this woman enter the room. She had followed this hero's career for years. She was instrumental to taking down several supervillains over the last few years, as well as saving thousands of lives. She was an inspiration to a great many heroes, and Noriko wasn't the only one to be a little star struck. For everything she knew about Miss Mass, she never realised she was a teacher at U.A. High School now. "So, then... who's ready for a little training? I could do with seeing your abilities in action." Miss Mass scanned the classroom, "C'mon! We're going outside." She turned and left without another word, and the majority of the class stood immediately to follow her. Noriko stood up and looked over at Ichirou, still sat in his chair, "Hey aren't you coming?" She asked. "Wha?" Ichirou said distractedly, then he scowled and got up, his chair scraping along the floor behind him. "Mind your own, blinky." He muttered as he walked past Noriko and went out the door. "Hey, wait up!" Noriko ran after him and fell in-step, "So, why did you wanna be a hero, huh?" "To stomp shitheads." Ichirou replied coldly, "Someone has to." "Dramatic." Noriko nodded solemnly, "But that's kinda what every hero does, more or less. I mean why do you want to be a hero?" She laughed, "I wanna be a hero because, well, my brother was a hero, and I saw him help so many people, so y'know, I guess I wanted to be like him. If I can save a few people, then at least i'll have done some good..." "Hmph! Pegged you as a glory hunter, blinky." his tone softened but the frown remained, "All those dumbasses who want to do it for the fame...that shit pisses me off." "Fame is important." Noriko corrected him, "If people know who you are, and you beat villains and save folks, then you inspire people and make a difference to more than the people you save in the moment. And besides--" "QUIET IN THE BACK!!" Miss Mass yelled, and Noriko shut up immediately, her cheeks blushing with embarrassment. They stepped out onto a large courtyard as the teacher turned to face them, "Alright. So you've all got Quirks, you might have talents beyond them, well i'm here to test them for you. So I want each of you to come at me like i'm your worst enemy, like i'm the one that's going to take away everything you love, REMEMBER THAT!!!" She yelled, pointing at the crowd of teenagers. Ichirou raised his hand, "And if we don't?" he asked. The students of U.A. parted like a biblical wave, giving Miss Mass a direct sight line to Ichirou. "Don't what?" Miss Mass asked, tying her long blonde hair back into a high ponytail. "Come at you like the one who's going to take everything I love?" Ichirou replied, "y'see I've been there, and done that. You've got nothing to take from me in that area." "Wrong, Ichirou-san!" Miss Mass, she started to close the gap between them. "You have nothing to lose?" She asked aloud, "You have your lives!! Without that, you can save nobody. Without that, you have failed. You die, and the people who are relying on you to save them, are dead too. You don't have anything to lose...?" Miss Mass grit her teeth with a smile, "How's about you just show me you don't wanna die, and we'll go from there. In fact, we'll start with you--" Her approach shifted from a walk into a sprint, and each step she took, she seemed to become heavier until the pavement below her step, cracked, and then it imploded on her next step, and by the time she reached Ichirou, the pavement crunched like a pile of fallen leaves and then her foot found Ichirou's centre mass, and he was airborne. Ichirou tumbled through the air limp as he began to fall back to earth, but with a grunt of effort he righted himself as he hit the ground and slid back across the dirt in a crouch. Clutching his chest with one hand he looked up with a dark glare in his eyes. He wasn't afraid. "Beating on a student to teach a lesson? Some hero you are." Ichirou snarled, and the air began to ripple with heat haze around him, "Just like my old man then..." He said more quietly, a tinge of bitterness to his voice. He stood up finally and removed his blazer, tossing it aside. Then he adjusted his stance, and he locked eyes with Miss Mass again. "It won't be that easy the second time." "That's the whole point, kid!" She yelled back at him, as she started her march towards the boy. "You think you can be a hero and expect your enemy to play by the rules? You think they're gonna just go easy on you, because you're a student, huh?!" The rest of the class scattered, Noriko teleported up onto a nearby lamp post and sat to watch it. A few moments passed before she realised there was something sat beside her. The not-a-cat, that, was now sat watching with nonchalance. "I'm Mew." Said Mew, then they blinked and looked to Ichirou, "Do you think the boy can prove himself?" "I'm more worried about me..." Noriko muttered. "You think you're hot stuff, huh?!" Miss Mass called out to Ichirou. "Gimme your best shot!!" "You don't get it." Ichirou actually smirked. "You can beat on me all day long. I have nothing...and while you focus on me you're not focused on other people... People who have something to lose!" Ichirou's fists shook at his sides and the heat shimmers continued around him, growing more instense. "Getting me angry isn't going to push my buttons, you're barking up the wrong tree. I've been in this position as long as I can remember." Miss Mass was almost upon him when the sparks struck across his skin like a lit much. Blue fire exploded across one half of Ichirou's body like a cloak, barring the path between him and Miss Mass. "Phew--!" She leapt back and stood firm, "Cute trick, kid." "I wouldn't describe something that sets things on fire as 'cute'..." Ichirou said. The shroud retreated until it was an aura around his head, shoulders and arms. "...My quirk is dangerous. Its not suited for throwing at your instructor like a baseball pitch." Ichirou held his hands up in front of him, making fists, "Defence only. Keeps my conscience clear." "You have to be able to find more ways of using your ability than simply to defend from being struck. Remember, I don't have to hit you directly, to stop you and if I think my time is better spent elsewhere because I can't attack you?" She crossed her arms, narrowing her eyes on him. "My quirk is not what makes me a hero." Ichirou replied. "You're way out of my league. Close quarter is a mistake, so I'll stick to my defence. If you turn on someone else, then that's fine, they're here to train just like me. I dont need to protect them, but if you turn your attention on someone else you take your eyes off of me. That gives me opportunity to level the playing field, set a trap, exploit a weakness or just support the other guy." Ichirou's jaw clenched as he glared at her, "You're Miss Mass, you'll shrug off my attack. So why should I lower myself to it?" "You think that because this is a test, that you can put your comrades in danger, or open civilians to attack. A hero is not their quirk, but a hero uses everything at their disposal to stop a fight as quickly as they can, within the confines of the law which you are sworn to protect when you signed up for this. That includes using every facet of their quirk, with complete control, which you lack, and so you are afraid to use it. You also think you don't need to learn and follow the instructions of your teachers, and that says to me you're not just afraid of your own power, you can't accept you're at fault. I knew someone like that, but you, are not him." Miss Mass started to leave, "Even if you think you are." "You...dont...know!" the shroud shot away from Ichirou with a sudden rapidity, coiling widely around Miss Mass like a scythe blade, but the flames had grown thinner as it stretched out to a further range. "Don't talk like you know when you don't!" He snarled. "Do you think i'll fail you, as I failed him?" Miss Masa turned back around to face Ichirou and started towards the front wall of flames surrounding her. "Wrong. It was him who failed." Ichirou's flames coiled around Miss Mass as she drew closer she only reduced the range and the flames became larger until they were surrounding her, and then they vanished and left nothing but scorched marks in the ground. "You've made your point." Ichirou said with a dark scowl. "It's a start." Miss Mass nodded and turned to another boy in the class, "And you?"
  20. U.A. High School

    deleted - double post
  21. U.A. High School

    The door behind Noriko swung open followed by a bang as it hit the wall inside the room. The young man she had just popped in on was stood in the doorframe, still in a state of undress. “Where d’ya think you’re going, dumbass!?” He barked, his teeth bared in a snarl, his eyes wide with narrow pupils. “What’s the big idea!? Locked door not a big enough hint for you, huh?” His fists were clenched tightly at his sides as he loomed over her. "Force of habit?" Noriko raised her eyebrows and shrugged. "Cute boxers, by the way. Totally you." She glanced over his shoulder, "What's with the cat?" “Just another extra.” He replied through gritted teeth. Then his expression softened only a bit as he examined Noriko, and the wheels started turning in his head. “Tch!” He cursed, turning and stomping back in to the room, “Figures I’d be stuck bunking up with a scrub and a house pet.” The main room of the dorm was a basic kitchen/lounge area with a sofa, a tv, coffee table, and a small area to sit and eat. Noriko pursed her mouth and followed the boy into the main room of the dormitory. Her eyes darted over everything, drinking in her new environment, then she noticed movement at ground level and she looked down just in time to see the cat from their room. It slid through her legs, and sauntered over to the coffee table and then, miraculously, lifted from the ground and onto the table through sheer levitation alone. "Whooooaaah!" Noriko's mouth fell open, she reflexively reached out - she wasn't sure what she was intending, whether to pick him up or stroke him, but it didn't matter - and the cat, sank it's teeth into her hand. For a moment, the pain didn't register, then Noriko wailed and threw her hand up into the air, the cat went with it. Shaking rapidly back and forth, the cat refused to let go until she tried to pull one of it's paws away from her arm and it yowled. "Don't touch my toe beans!" Muffled, partially, by the mouthful of Noriko's hand it had wedged in it's maw. Then it spat her out and landed softly back on the coffee table. "You're both so loud and obnoxious. And I am not a scrub." It added, matter-of-factly. “You’re a sidekick at best, furball.” The boy said with a frown. “Ichirou Kazuro. You best remember that name because you’ll be chanting it soon enough. Maybe the faculty think you losers might pick up something by hanging around greatness. But don’t get in my way, or I’ll toast your whiskers.” "Oi boy, you should think twice about making assumptions!" The cat warned. "Hah! The cat told you off." Noriko smirked and crossed her arms. "Or you!" The cat's eyes turned from yellow to white and Noriko shrieked as her feet lifted from the floor and before she had time to think, she was slammed into the ceiling and pinned there. She coughed and tried to pull away from the ceiling, but it was like she was stuck in fly paper. She managed to glance across the ceiling and saw the boy - Ichirou Kazuro, as she now knew - in an identical predicament. "Pfft. I'll just--" Noriko vanished in a puff of smoke and just a moment later, her ear-splitting scream echoed across the campus and faded rapidly. "In about 3 seconds, she'll be in the troposphere..." The cat mewed. Then purred and it's eyes turned from white, back to yellow. A few seconds passed, and the screaming returned. It grew louder and louder until suddenly it stopped with a jerk. A few seconds more passed, and then a burst of smoke and Noriko was pinned back against the ceiling again, arms crossed over her chest with the angriest expression. But it was equally, and completely, an expression of defeat. "I, am not a regular student. I am your student liaison. You can think of me as a student teacher, if you like. If you need anything, if you have any questions, you will direct them to me." Slowly, both Ichirou and Noriko descended until their feet touched the floor once more. “Whatever, furball.” Ichirou said dismissively, turning to walk away from them both. “I’ve had plenty chumps throw their weight around at me. You just keep showing me your hand, dumbass.” Before the cat could say anything else Ichirou had opened the door to his bedroom and slammed it shut behind him. His room was a simple one with a single bed, a weight bench, and a pile of unpacked boxes in the corner. He quickly dressed himself in the blue trousers and grey blazer he had been supplied. He tied the red tie around the collar of his shirt but left it hanging loose, and popped the collar of his shirt. When he returned to the main room of the form he noted that the nerds appeared to be bonding. He supposed if they were busy bothering each other then at least they wouldn’t be bothering him. He had expected more. U.A was prestigious and yet he couldn’t have felt more disappointed in what he had seen so far. How were these brats supposed to be the heroes of the future? Sure, he’d already noted a good selection of useful quirks since he’d arrived, but very little brains behind them. He saw wide-eyed, optimistic kids who wanted a shot at glory. They didn’t understand the danger involved, not like he did. “So guess we’re stuck together then.” He said, folding his arms across his chest. “So fair warning, either of you decides to hit me with another whammy, or pop into rooms without warning, there will be consequences.” "Y'know, its bad to be so angry all the time. You'll get a hemorrhoid." Noriko added to the end of his statement, then turned back to talk to the cat. "So, you're not a cat?" Noriko looked him up and down, "Look like a cat..." "Yet I speak, levitate and throw you into the lower-atmosphere. Clearly, I am not a cat, as these are not things, for which cats are likely to partake." "... Ichirou-kun?" Noriko asked, turning to look at the boy, "What's your Quirk?" "That's for me to know and you to find out." Ichirou said with a smirk. "Teleportation. Levitation. Noted." "It's okay if your Quirk is bad, I won't judge you." Noriko turned in her seat and faced Ichirou. "Or if you can't use it right now, y'know..." She held up her little finger and then let it drop and gave the most reassuring, 'its okay' expression. Ichirou’s scowl worsened and he turned from her dismissively. “Tch! Idiot.” He said, shaking his head. “Talk is cheap. You’re trash talk won’t be much use when you’re so far behind that you’re eating my dust.” He went for the door. “Later, dorks. Class is about to start.” He waved his hand in a dismissive gesture as he left the two of them in the form and disappeared down the hall. Walking through the campus it was a clear-skied and sunny day. The clean, open space was a far cry from the places he had lived growing up. Students passed him by, not all on the hero class like him, of course, but U.A had students studying other subjects too. A couple smiled politely at him but he ignored them. Most people didn’t even bother to smile at him. He had heard peers tell him that he came across as “hostile”, but Ichirou knew that they clearly had no idea what hostile really meant. --- A memory played in his head like a movie he’d watched a thousand times. He could feel the heat of the blazing fire around him. The charred remains of a dead woman lay on the floor. He was whimpering like an injured puppy, a black-gloved hand was gripping on to his hair and dragging him away. “This is your fault, you little brat!” The deep, sinister voice said to him with a quiet, bubbling anger that always tinged the man’s voice. “Mom….” He choked through the cries of pain. The grip on his hair tightened and he let out a cry of pain. “Shut up!” The deep voice snapped. “Real men don’t cry, got it!?” --- The memory flickered in his mind, it became hazy as he tried to block it out. He couldn’t let himself remember those things. It was too painful. He tried to push it away, he felt the fear of it all washing over him, and if he let it he would be crippled by it. He stopped in the middle of the path towards the main school building, his fists clenched tightly, his head bowed down to hide his expression. He was frozen. He couldn’t move. Just like that time. --- The entire building was engulfed in flames. He could feel the burning on his skin. He choked on the fumes of the smoke that was billowing up into the night sky. He was trapped on the roof of the building with a mad man. A villain. The man stood looking up at the blackness of the night, his crazed eyes illuminated in the blazing light of the fire. He was dressed in black boots, and black jumpsuit made of a rubber type material, one that Ichirou knew wouldn’t burn or melt. A wild mane of blonde hair much like his own stuck out from the crazed man’s head making him look like a lion. He was wider built and muscular, with a short goatee at his chin with a sharp point. Ichirou had known the man as Kagetsu Kazuro. His father. The world at large knew this man as Hellfire, the supervillain who burned all in his wake. “You are such a disappointment.” Hellfire said bitterly as his crazed eyes turned back to his son. “Too much like your mother. You’re pathetic. A loser. I have burned a path of fire and ash to give you a good life, and this is how you and your mother repay me?” “…You killed her.” Ichirou whispered, kneeling on the ground, too scared to move. “She made me!” Hellfire barked, turning to face his son. “You brought this on yourself, both of you! Without me you are nothing! You are no one!” Hellfire removed his gloves, and his hands glowed and shimmered with heat haze. “And now you’ll be ashes.” “I wouldn’t bet on it, Hellfire!” The voice was deep but clear and cut through the fire and the smoke like an icy chill. Then Ichirou realized that there really was a chill. He could see his breath in the air. A series of crackling noises began to snap around him as the fire began to disappear, and in it’s place came sheets of ice, and eventually the entire building erupted in thick icicles that snuffed out the fire, Ichirou turned as he sensed a figure walking across the rooftop towards them in the darkness. She was a tall woman, built like a bodybuilder, dressed in a tactical vest, trousers and boots, all a pale blue colour. She wore goggles over her eyes with a light blue tint, and her hair was a darker, cobalt blue, short and spiky. As she walked the ground underneath her became slick with sheets of ice. “Winter!?” Hellfire gasped, stepping backwards. That was the first time ever that Ichirou had ever seen a sliver of fear in his father’s mad eyes. He turned back to the woman as she came closer to him, then passed him and stood in the gap between him and his father. She was the woman he had seen on TV, and heard about countless time. The legendary hero and arch rival of his father, Winter. “Don’t worry kid, I’m here now.” She said with a confident smirk. “You’re coming with me.” “You ain’t getting him!” Hellfire snarled, “He’s my son!” Hellfire dropped to a crouch and pressed his hands against the ground. Suddenly an intense heat began to melt the ice around them, and steam hissed as Winter fought back with her own power, fire and ice battling it out at equal measure. “I ain’t holdin’ that against him.” Winter said with a confident expression. “It doesn’t matter who your old man is kid!” She yelled, and she took a moment to turn back to Ichirou and smirk. “What matters is what’s in your heart!” Suddenly the ice around her rose up and the two rivals went at it without restraint. Ice began rising up, and the two were hopping between the pillars, Hellfire using his power to melt the ice and slide across it, as Winter created more ice that pushed her upwards into the night, firing projectiles towards Hellfire. Soon the smoke and the steam engulfed them both and Ichirou couldn’t see any more. He began to feel faint suddenly, his vision blurred and then went black. --- “Are you alright?” Ichirou blinked. The boy in front of him had shoulder length, dark brown hair and light blue eyes, and was dressed in the same uniform that Ichirou was wearing. “What!?” He asked with a scowl. “I said are you alright?” The boy said with a raised brow. “You’ve just been standing there looking like you saw a ghost.” “Mind your own business!” Ichirou barked and pushed past him with a shoulder check. “No need to be so rude!” The boy said, rubbing his shoulder as he watched Ichirou storm off. “I was just trying to be friendly!” “I don’t need a friend, so stay out of my way!” Ichirou yelled back and kept going. He finally made it to the large ‘H’ shaped building where classes were held and made his way inside. He was a little early and sat at the back of their classroom, even the teacher wasn’t there yet. Slowly other students filed in, including the brown haired boy from earlier. Ichirou sighed and folded his arms, leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes. He was going to make it here even if it killed him. He didn’t care if anyone liked him. He didn’t need friends. He didn’t need to be admired or loved. That wasn’t why he wanted to be a hero. He had a debt to pay and a score to settle. I will find you, Hellfire. I’ll be the one to defeat you…once and for all.
  22. U.A. High School

    U.A. High School "We live in a world of superheroes... ... and supervillains. All thanks to Quirks. Another word for 'superpower'. Around 80% of the population has a Quirk. These can range from the--" The teacher, Miss Noda, had been writing on the board for over 40 minutes. The class was bored and restless, but she was oblivious. Her voice dissipated through the classroom, barely reaching the students in the back row. On the far left, sat in the corner by the window, sat Noriko Nakagawa. The 16-year-old girl was in all ways, unremarkable. She was not the tallest girl in class, in fact she was almost the shortest. She was not the prettiest, or the funniest. She was not even the smartest, or the most popular. But then, she didn't register to bullies either. She was just 'nobody'. And most of the rest of her class had Quirks. She, did not. So Noriko sat there, staring out the window, trying to drown out Miss Noda's end-of-school lecture on Quirks and their importance to society. She said, "If you've got a Quirk you can use, you better be using it to benefit society." None of this applied to her. She let out a short huff and her eyes refocused on a figure stood by the school gate. She squinted, and saw the instantly-recognised outfit of a superhero. But not just any superhero, it was her older brother, Shinji. Known to most of the city as, 'White Lightning'. He had the power to move as fast as lightning. That, and his hair had turned white when he was 10 and his Quirk activated. Noriko's face lit-up at the sight of her brother. Her eyes darted from the window to the clock. School was almost out. The moments ticked by while Noriko hurriedly bagged up her things, by the time the alarm bell rang, she was vibrating at her desk. She tried to get to the door first, but she was right at the back in the corner, so she was squeezed into the throng of fleeing students and was practically carried out onto the main courtyard where the students dispersed and she wheezed as she was dropped to the ground. There was a crackle of electricity and suddenly arms were around her, squeezing her tight. "Let go of me, I feel like i'm getting hugged by a giant condom." Noriko growled, wriggling irritably. "Right, right, sorry, Nori-chan!" Shinji's voice was deep and gravelly, but it hadn't always been. He'd spent a long time deliberately speaking deeper so that he had a more commanding presence, or so he claimed. "Listen, I don't have long, i'm still really busy--" His voice partially muffled by his helmet. "Ugh!" Noriko grimaced, "You smell like you live in that suit. Never hang it upside down, you'll be tasting your ass." Noriko flashed a toothy grin and held her nostrils closed. "Well, since mum and dad saw fit to disappear when you were a baby, i've had to look after us, i'm not just doing the Hero gig, i've got to cook and clean the apartment, and look after you, and--" "You don't have to look after me, I figured out how to get the cube in the square hole today." Noriko pushed her brother, it did nothing. He chuckled as she pushed her way past him and he fell into step beside her. She had to walk nearly twice as fast just to keep up with her brother's long strides. "So what's on our delectable menu tonight?" "Curry." "Sacré bleu!" They had curry every time her brother cooked. Noriko slung her bag onto her shoulder as they walked down the street. She glanced at his Hero outfit, the White Lightning costume was pretty simple overall but it looked ridiculous to her. It was all white, with a utility belt and a white helmet. Her brother reminded her of those suited martial arts shows on TV that kids love to watch. You know the ones, where they fight and win and then the monster grows, and then they fight and win again? Shinji loved those shows growing up. It didn't surprise her at all the first time she saw him dressed as White Lightning. Shinji was telling her all about how his day had gone. He'd stopped a bank robbery, rescued a cat from a tree, pulled a woman from a burning car and fought a supervillain. Her ears perked up. Bank robbery and saving cats was one thing. Supervillains though? "What the hell are you thinking, Onii-chan!?" Noriko whirled on her brother and hit him with the full force of her schoolbag, books and all. "Ack!!" Shinji recoiled, "It was just the one!" "You told me you don't fight supervillains! You said it's too risky!! You pinky swore!" "I know what I promised!!" Shinji got angry and stopped walking, turning to face her. He reached up, and touched an imperceptible button on the side of his helmet and the darkened visor whipped back inside the helmet, revealing his face and a scruff of white hair poking out in places. His eyes looked red raw, like he'd been awake for days. "I didn't have a choice!" "You pinky swore, is nothing sacred!?" Noriko yelled, getting angrier and angrier. "I can't help it, sometimes I have to intervene, it's not about--" "--you don't think-- "--saving others, it's my respons--" "--about me? You could get--" "--you can't expect me to just--" "--it's not about that you--" "STOP!!" Shinji snapped, the visor clicked back into place, hiding his face once more. "I'm tired of having this discussion. We have it often enough." Noriko opened her mouth but Shinji held his hand up. "Hey, you feel that?" Noriko paused, listening and waiting. The sun was out, it was summer, she heard kids playing in the distance. She heard the regular hustle and bustle of the city. "No?" Her brother straightened up, "I'll be right back." "I'm not done with you, spandex--" By the time she'd raised her finger, her brother was gone. A snap of electricity, and he was a blur. A few moments passed as she tried to process what had happened. She felt bad. Another argument. Why couldn't she just talk to him like anyone else? And he'd made dinner, even if it was curry again. She'd have to buy him his favourite dessert from that corner store on the way home. An explosion rocked through the city. She saw an enormous plume of black smoke rising, birds scattering in all directions, car alarms whined in response and Noriko's heart sank. She started running, but by the time she arrived the police had cordoned off the building. It was an old apartment, and now it lay in ruins. A dozen people lay bewildered in the street, blinking and shaking their heads like they couldn't understand what had happened. One of them was naked, another was holding 3 dogs in her arms and looking at them as if she was unsure how they got there to begin with. It was her brother. It had to be. Nobody was that fast. Onlookers gasped and stepped back as a section of the building crumbled in on itself as the fires raged higher and higher. She kept waiting, staring at the blaze, until an officer came to ask her if she had been one of the resident's and she just broke down crying. He reached out to comfort her and she recoiled, "NO!!" She screamed, turning and managing to take a single step and then... pop. She was gone in a puff of black smoke. A moment later... pop. She reappeared, smoke dispersing. She was falling. Noriko screamed in panic as she watched a building go rushing past her. Floor after floor, window after window. Her eyes darted all around her, she'd teleported to the end of the street but about 60ft up. Her mind couldn't process what was happening, she acted on instinct and reached out to access the ability to teleport once more and found it came naturally. Pop. She hit the ground. Hard. It seemed momentum carried through her teleportation. Noriko gasped as the air was knocked from her lungs and her bones ached from the impact. But she was alive. That was the first and only time she had used her Quirk. She lay there, gasping, staring through her tussled hair. It looked like her brother's. 2 Weeks Later "Special base of operations for the next generation of superheroes..." Noriko muttered, looking up at U. A. High School, "Smack dab in the middle of the city, for anyone to just walk up to and--" She pushed her against the door and it didn't budge. "Uh huh, what am I supposed to do, knock?!" Noriko looked up at the enormous double doors, "Eh..." She leaned forwards, staring into the keyhole. She could see a courtyard on the other side. "Aaaand--" Pop! Noriko vanished in a cloud of smoke and reappeared on the other side. "Hah! Super-security and--" An electrical current shot up through her spine and she hit the ground, twitching and convulsing as she tried to turn onto her back so she could see her assailant. She saw a crotchety old man smirking down at her. "Konnichiwa, Noriko-chan!! Welcome to U.A. High School, I trust you got your invitation and pass key in the post?" He beamed at her as the shadow of his body shaded her from the summer sun looming down on the courtyard. As the convulsions stopped, Noriko tried to straighten up and sit upright. A few seconds later, the doors opened with a beep as two students stepped through, each holding a pass. One was a boy, of average height and with a lean muscular build. He had shoulder-length, thick, jagged blonde hair tied back in a high ponytail, sides shaved. A permanent scowl sat on his face. Dark green eyes. He wore black high-top sneakers, 3/4 length black cargo shorts and a sleeveless basketball t-shirt black with yellow accents and a logo of a wasp emblazoned on the front. As she stood up, the boy passed her. He was nearly a foot taller, and while he took notice of both her and the old man, neither of them seemed to register with him, and he walked on. "Oh my, he's intense, huh?" The old man chuckled to himself, then turned back to Noriko, "Well then, no pass? Here, take this one." The old man pulled a small plastic card and handed it to her then, just like that, he walked off. "Dormitory 1-C!!" He called over his shoulder. "1-C, 1-C..." Noriko muttered, walking past each of the doors, "A, B--" She came to a stop before the next door, "Ah, 1-C." She tried the door handle. Nothing. She wriggled it back and forth but nothing happened. She heard a voice from inside say something but she missed what, it could have been, 'Just a minute!' but she decided it sounded more like, 'Come in!' so instead, she just teleported inside. Instant chaos. A cat leapt up in sheer terror, ricocheting from the floor to the ceiling and clutching onto the ceiling light, making the light in the room spin and dip in and out as shadows were cast everywhere. "Yo!" Noriko held one hand up, as the boy from earlier stood staring at her, dressed in nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. For a second, nothing seemed to register to either of them. Then the silence was broken as the cat unsteadily dropped from the light and onto a sofa with a soft 'thwump'. "S-sorry!" She ran out of the room and slammed it shut behind her. Then noticed students walking past her to each of their rooms. It was a shared dormitory? She checked her details again. Yep. Room 1-C. She was rooming with the spiky-haired frowny-face, then. Super.
  23. I know that for all you know, I could be a 30 year old man in his basement, or a 15 year old kid with ambition, but I'm telling you right now, my name is Arika Stack, I'm the Aspect of Death (very cool job title I know) and I'm about to tell you the story of Zeke, my daughter, and the one person who could stand up to challenge me if I ever went the way of the last Death. To tell you about Zeke, I have to first tell you about Michael, and the endeavors of VF101, basically this story of when I saved the world by opening up portals and sending many thousands of nukes straight to hell. It's a novel, a real one, but I'll shorten it down to the essential details to give you an idea. VF101 is how I got introduced to this world you humans call Earth. For the first 7 centuries of my life, I was a resident of Cohtoa, a far away world, one very similar to the human ruled Earth. That is no accident, for Cohtoa was originally a ground for exiled gods, stripped of most of their power. It was a world without belief, and the humans there were more in tune with the vastly more powerful ley lines that coursed through the planet. It was truly a paradise for an Aspect who wanted to live without duty. I left Cohtoa, though. I left to hunt down the incarnations of the Aspects of Reality and Life, a man who called himself murder, and a woman who was dubbed murder. See, about 500 years ago, 200 years after I was born and 100 years after I had proven myself by destroying the original Death, Life and Reality decided it was time to retire, and use their essences to create intelligently designed versions of themselves. That was the plan. It turns out when you take an infinite and divine conscience and let humanity have its way of influencing it, it becomes a serial killer. Back to earth. Michael. He was one of the first people I came across on this planet known as Earth. He was in charge of the fighter Squadron VF101: The Grim Reapers. Normally I don't like people hailing essentially what I killed around my 100th birthday, but I understood what it represented. I met him on the battlefield, facing the horrible weapons humanity has created. I mean, not really. Cohtoan rebel-tech was fear itself. Human weapons, however, were oddly functional. I joined, and became the leader of what then became just the Reapers (I have issues with references to a failed Aspect), and we essentially saved the world like it was no big deal. I couldn't use my power beyond opening portals, or else the plane of reality would tear and... oops, I did just that. Michael, the brave soldier and amazing man, offered to jump through a tear of reality caused by my mistake, and hold off whatever was on the other side while I mended it. It turned out that Michael had a wife who was terminal, and his final wish to me was to take care of his daughter, who, unbeknownst to him, died in a miscarriage 2 days prior. Enter Yuri. While all traces of Michael were destroyed in the rift, his wife was still alive. All I had were a list of traits, a blank canvas, and no experience creating life. So, I did the rational thing. I sliced off a part of my soul, large enough to sustain itself and become much more than a typical recon-doppelganger, found his wife, and in one of the most terrifying things I have done, punched her in the stomach and let a god-sized helping of my perpetually in motion soul (all souls work like that but they can hardly create the amount of energy to create more soul). Fast forward 9 months, and the terminal disease spread to the resulting child. Fast forward 17 years, and the child died. That is when the links to mortality were discovered to not exist. 17 years and 9 months after that day, give or take a few months, I visited the daughter, Michael's daughter, and kept my promise. Yuri was dead, but in her short life, her soul already was strong enough to create her a new vessel, a body that was suitable for such power. Of course, I accelerated the process, and learned alot as well, but Yuri, or Zeke, was the first. All of her memories were in tact. She didn't speak english, because alot of my time on earth was spent in Japan -there might be some bad side stories there involving the Gunma drift scene and a white AE86 showing how displacement doesn't matter- hunting down Akane but she possessed the mind of an Aspect and picked it up quickly. I mean, for all intents and purposes, Yuri, or Zeke, as I call her, is my daughter. Now that you know the gist, let's go to where I met her for the first time, her deathbed. Of course, by now, the Reapers were openly hunted by some groups due to my... I sort of held the 1% of the world by the balls, and some of them united to hunt me using Reaper intel. That was a mistake to be fixed shortly after this scene. They heard that I was going to visit a place soon, that it was important, so they organized a highly paid, and vast militia to destroy it. The next chapter will be from mother's, and daughter's viewpoints. Stay tuned!
  24. These Bloody Streets: Origins

    The Final Chapter
  25. These Bloody Streets: Origins

    Slightly delayed but here nonetheless... Chapter 5
  26. These Bloody Streets: Origins

    Chapter 4
  27. These Bloody Streets: Origins

    Chapter 3
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