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    Wise Loreseeker
  • Birthday 05/12/1987

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  1. Sorceri

    Morag stood, head jerking to one side and then the other, assessing the large, brass object in front of her. It looked as though it could hold her twice over, and was full of hot water. Steam was rising off the top of it. "Bath?" Morag quietly asked herself. She knew that word. Sort of. Get in, scrub, get out. Smell different. Smell strange. "Why bath?" Morag shivered, glancing at the brass bath and then back to Nazir who was holding a towel out to her. "Because you smell like rancid seawater." Nazir said with a smirk and gestured a little with the towel, "You'll feel better once you're clean I'm sure, or at least I'll feel better..." Morag took the towel and then turned and walked up to the bath. She wriggled free of her clothes. Standing there naked, her body was covered in scars, many of which looked like she had sustained serious wounds. Her black, inky hair only reached her chest but as she stepped into the hot bath, her hair continued it's waterfall cascade down her back and into the water, which rapidly turned as black as her hair. She sunk into the heat and sighed, closing her eyes for a moment in silence. "Bath is good." Morag muttered, "Ouch!" Morag recoiled inside the bath and looked around as though something had attacked her. "OW!!" She recoiled again and her stomach growled. "Our guts ache!" Morag looked to Nazir for an answer. Nazir's demeanour had changed slightly, he seemed a little uncomfortable suddenly. "I'll get you something to eat. What do you want?" he asked, his gaze fixed on a blank part of the wall. "We don't know..." Morag growled quietly, then her eyes blinked open. From somewhere, the sound of sizzling meat echoed in her ear. "Meat!" She proclaimed, splashing her legs in the bath. This was strange. But familiar. Pleasant, yet uncomfortable. Ridiculous, yet mundane. She studied Nazir's peculiar habits but couldn't understand his reasons, then returned to playing with the surface of the water. "Fine, I'll get you some stew." Nazir said, and he turned to leave the washroom, "Parr has left you out some clothes in the room next to this one. Report to her when you're done and I'll return with your food." He gave a stiff nod and then left. Morag refocused on the water when Nazir had left. She stared down into it's glossy blackness. Suddenly she sunk her head beneath the surface of the water, and touched the bottom of the bath. She could see very little beneath the water. The eerie green glow of her eyes illuminated the interior of the bath just enough she was able to trace the welding lines with her finger. It felt as though very little time had passed when she heard a loud surge as a pair of arms crashed into the water and frantically searched. Morag laughed, bubbles raising to pop on the surface. This was funny. She batted at the hands playfully and they refocused on her immediately. Snatching at her arms, they yanked as hard as they could and Morag breached the surface of the black water and was pulled from the bath by a woman and they fell to the floor in a heap. Morag looked down at the woman, dripping water and her long, inky black hair gently flowing down on her. "You are Par? Why do you pant and sweat, Parr?" Morag asked. "Get off me!" Parr - as it was, indeed, Parr - shoved Morag aside and stood up, patting down her uniform. She seemed more than a little shaken. "I came in to bring you your clothes and you were underwater, I thought you were drowning." Morag cocked her head at this, but said nothing. Instead, she addressed her want. She wanted the clothes that were promised to her. She saw them on the chair by the door and stalked over to them. They were new, and clean, but that meant little to her now. She only knew that it was supposed to be strange not to wear clothes. She saw their reactions to her without them. When she had finished dressing, Morag now saw her clothes were much like Parr's. They were blue, in a similar uniform fashion, with brown boots. Only, she noticed they didn't have any of the symbols and glittery medallions upon her own clothes. "You're not one of us, just because you're wearing that uniform." Parr cautioned her. Morag jerked her head up slightly and sat on the chair that had held her clothes. Parr spent a moment gathering herself and fussing over her uniform that was now covered in damp patches. She looked at Morag for a moment and scowled, "The Captain said you were a little touched in the head but..." She made a studious expression at Morag, her brow furrowing as she assessed her, "He's soft-hearted, not that he would ever admit it. What about you, Morag? Tell me about yourself." "What would we tell you?" Morag asked simply. Parr raised her brow at that, "You know like...where you come from, your family and friends, your job or..." She paused to consider, "Well...what duties you were assigned at least." She seemed to have made herself uncomfortable by saying that, "Sorry, Valkyr don't normally keep slaves. Your clan is somewhat special in that regard." "But..." Morag didn't understand, "... the man we met, he called us Valkyr. How can we be a slave, if Valkyr?" "You...don't know?" Parr asked, looking a little shocked, "Well then uhm..." She strode out of the room for a moment and returned with a thick book that she was busy flipping through, "Let's see...ah here it is - Lunéan clan. They led the last remaining Valkyr who had refused to swear fealty to the empire. It says here that their leader... Mordrang, well he entered in to a right of combat with the Emperor himself. He died in the fight and his people were to surrender as part of the agreement. His daughter... oh, wow." Parr paused for a moment, a little shaken by the words, "Mordrang's daughter ordered the armies to attack the Emperor, and then she fled the battle and committed suicide by falling from the cliffs. Valkyr traditions are quite sacred, Mordrang's daughter was branded a dishonourable coward, her actions cost the lives of many of their clan. It seems the remaining clan were enslaved and had their civil rights stripped as an example to be set for all other clans who think of betraying their ancient code." Parr had gotten a little absorbed in the text and wasn't even paying attention to Morag any more. Black tears streamed from Morag's eyes, she brought her hands to her face and brushed them away as they fell, but seemed equally perplexed, "We are coming undone..." "What?" Parr asked, looking up from her book. Before Morag could answer, however the door in the outer room sounded and Nazir called for them to come through. On the large table where their maps and books were stacked were also three pewter bowls of steaming stew. Nazir had picked one up already and scooped a spoonful into his mouth, and grimaced as he chewed on the meat. "Someone needs to tell these Valkyr what spices are." He moaned. Morag eyed the nearest bowl and swept down upon it within a moment, wasting no time she brought the bowl to her lips and slurped the stew from the lip. When she brought the bowl down she glanced at Nazir and parroted him, "Someone needs to tell us what spices are?" She asked. It was a serious question, but they seemed amused. "Ignore him he doesn't like any food that doesn't burn the roof of his mouth off," Parr said as she picked up her own bowl and ate a mouthful. She spoke again when she was finished, "So, Captain are you thinking she's possessed by a Daemon?" She asked, eyeing Morag to gauge her reaction. "I don't know. Shrike didn't seem threatened by her and I trust her instincts on such matters," Nazir explained, "Morag doesn't seem to remember much before she washed up on the shore. If we find her master perhaps I can petition them to release her. In Solaris slaves are freed if they bond a spirit usually, plenty of guilds pay slave debts off for a good sorcerer." "This isn't Solaris." Parr warned, "Morag's clan are stripped of their honour. They're essentially like a Valkyr version of Kalak." "Kalak have rights, I'm Kalak you know." Nazir said, frowning slightly. "You get my point." Parr said, "They are slaves because they are not even being given the chance to reclaim their honour. It's deeply personal to Valkyr culture." "If they don't give someone a chance to prove themselves then what honour do they really have?" Nazir replied, shaking his head. "What honour do we really have..." Again, Morag parroted quietly. The room fell silent at that, but she seemed unaffected by her own comment. "Give us that." She jerked her head at Parr's bowl of food, "We are not sated." "Manners cost nothing." Parr replied, and ate another bite of her food. "Here have mine, I can't stomach any more." Nazir said and handed his bowl to Morag, "Are you feeling any better?" Morag snatched the bowl, but jerked her head down slightly, as much a sign of thanks as she was willing to give and continued eating her second bowl of stew. "Our insides are quiet." She replied, between mouthfuls. When she finished she licked her lips with a long tongue and ran it across her canine fangs. At last, she seemed satisfied. But now she was alert. Her eyes darted around the room and swept over the table and maps and all these things she'd never seen before. "Why are you even dealing with this anyway?" Parr asked, "If she's not bonded with a Daemon then we don't have jurisdiction in this matter." "I'm just keeping an eye on her, I've never seen a bond where the spirit is... inside the human?" "Seriously?" Parr's eyes widened a little, "I seem to recall this really famous one, oh yeah, the Emperor!" "Oh..." Nazir hadn't seemed to have considered that, "That's different though, it's the Emperor we're talking about. He's a god." "I'm not comparing their power, just the process." Parr replied, "There's nothing that says a bond can't be done this way, in theory." Just then a black hawk-like bird flew through the open window and dropped a dead vole on the ground and stood next to it, looking very proud of herself.
  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. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 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."
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. U.A. High School

    Double Post. Deleted. :(
  9. 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?"
  10. 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.
  11. Mistborn Alterna

    Galatea lay in her bed in silence. She just wanted to rest and cease the endless cascade of thoughts her mind assaulted her with, but she found herself unable to focus on the little noises and sensations around her. The bed felt strange to her. It was cushioned, not hard like the beds of Skaa. It wasn't the first time she'd laid in a 'soft' bed before, but she never could get used to them, they made her squirm. Galatea wished this had been the first time she'd experienced a soft bed. She heard the quiet chirping of insects outside. The chatter of her hosts in the next room. It wasn't the noises she could recognise that were the problem - it was all the noises and sensations she couldn't understand without her eyes to explain their sources. She heard something barking in the distance. A scraping noise beneath the floor. She felt as though the bed was swallowing her. She felt stiff and awkward and-- "Enough of this..." She muttered to herself, and kicked off the layered covers and got out of bed. Galatea then collapsed onto the floor, laid down on her side and pulled one of the covers over herself, disappearing beneath the sheet. The floor was hard, the breeze wafting through the floorboards was cold, but these things were familiar to her. She fell asleep, wondering what would happen in the following hours, never mind the coming days - if she lived that long. She woke with a start. Something had her. Her nose and lips curled into a snarl as she shoved the attacker away from her. "Wake up!" "What?!" Galatea tried to focus but she couldn't see. The sun had yet to rise and-- no. She was awake now, and remembered swiftly - she was blind. "What's happening?" She asked the room, as fingers released her arm and she drew herself into the corner and drew the cover over herself defensively. "We're leaving." said Ranette, who was standing by Galatea's bed. "It should be fairly safe but we need to move quickly all the same." "Oh--" Galatea stood and let the cover fall away, she was dressed in the same rags she was always in, they covered her body - mostly - beyond that, she didn't care for clothes and finery the way she saw the nobles covet them. She just wanted her freedom. "Okay. Ranette, will you do something for me?" "You want a favour right now?" Ranette asked, raising her eyebrow at Galatea and smirking, "Honey, we're about to sneak you out of the city, I haven't got time for errands." "It'll only take a moment." Galatea clarified, her arms reached out as she probed the room for Ranette's shoulder. As she found it, she held it tightly and leaned in close, "Actually... maybe you're right. Leave me, and i'll prepare for the journey." "That's alright." Ranette replied, giving Galatea's left hand a gentle squeeze, "You've got a few minutes to gather yourself before Raze comes for you anyway. Most of us will be leaving through the gate but they're looking for you and the others from the execution. Raze is carrying them over the walls discreetly, he'll be back for you soon though." "Alright." Galatea gave Ranette a quick nod and waited as the girl left. The door closed shut behind her. Smirking, Galatea turned her right arm over, revealing the vial she had pick-pocketed, held in the cradle of her middle finger. She considered the vial for a moment, after all, Ranette had said if she drank it and couldn't utilise its contents, she could die. "I have to know..." Galatea whispered to herself, uncorking the vial with a squeaking 'pop'. She downed the liquid contents of the vial. It tasted bitter and metallic - of course it did - but she buried her distaste and felt the last of the liquid passing her lips. For a fleeting, frightening moment, there was nothing. Then there was fire. Electricity. Power. Surging up through her body. She could barely contain herself. Her strength had returned and it felt as though it had been amplified ten-fold. It was familiar to her, like a guiding hand, on those days when she thought she could go no further, when she was ready to give up, somehow, something was burning. This was it. This was the strength she knew. The fire was hers now. She knew that in the instant the metals burned in her stomach. Galatea tried to compose herself. She took one long breath and let it out slowly, focusing on what she wanted to do next. "Raze." She spoke his name aloud, then left her room in search of him. As she walked out she heard multiple, panicked voices, clattering and all manner of objects hitting the floor in front of her. "Raze!!" She yelled his name as loudly as she could manage before her voice went hoarse. "Raze!!" She called again, stepping over something - then she froze. She just stepped over something? How had she known it was there? She turned around and somehow, she knew there was something just-- she picked it up. It was a small wooden cup, with metal studs along it's upper lip. "Interesting..." "What in the Lord Ruler is going on!?" Ranette called angrily as she stormed up to Galatea, "Are you trying to blow our cover!?" She looked geared up to chew up Galatea and spit her out when there was a rustling of curtains, followed by footsteps as a shadow climbed through an open window and strode into the room with graceful speed. Raze lifted his head and revealed his face under the hood of his mistcloak. "I didn't even need to burn tin to hear that, what's the big idea, hm?" He raised his brow expectantly, he didn't look angry but his lips had formed a tight line, and there was a slight twitch at the corner of his eye. "I had to try..." Galatea muttered, but she felt dizzy, it felt like a dozen different sensations were pulling at her at once. The metals in the vial had renewed her as though she'd just slept. She was stronger than she ever felt before. She felt as though she could see shadows moving around the room, the faintest outline of certain things. Something was coming towards her but she couldn't focus on it. But somehow, she knew it was Raze. "What?" She asked, unable to know his expression. "" Raze turned his gaze on Ranette, who patted at her pockets and then scowled at Galatea. "She pick pocketed me!" Ranette said. "Impressive. Glad we found her before the thieving crews did." Raze said with a wolfish grin, as he gave Ranette a comforting tap on the shoulder. Then he paused on Galatea for a moment. "You're not burning anyth-" he cut himself off, his expression curious, "Unless you're burning copper which...but you said..." the wheels kept turning in his head, until finally realization arrived in the form of an excited grin. "She's Mistborn." The deafening ringing in her ears, drowning everything out, couldn't stop her from hearing that one word. Mistborn. She didn't understand what that meant. Not really. But she knew it meant one thing - a better life than what she'd had. That was all she could ask for. She held up the wooden cup with metal studs and held it aloft. "Show me...?" She asked. Then she focused deep within her, searching. She felt a tingling in her fingers, spreading out across her hands and through her body and she knew. Galatea crushed the cup, sending a hail of splintered shards onto the floor. She smirked, "Show me." She wasn't asking. Raze's eyes went from Galatea, the the remains of the cup, and finally to Ranette, who looked a mixture of awed and annoyed. Raze cocked his head to the side and gaze a little shrug. "I suppose I could-" "No!" Ranette snapped, "Raze we're trying to get out of the city this isn't the time to go flying around with a girl who doesn't even know how to control her allomancy!" "I was going to have to fly her over the city anyway, but now she could actually learn something in the process." "I don't have a spare mistcloak for her-" "A regular cloak will do." Raze replied with a smirk. "This is the perfect time to increase the strength of this group." Galatea added, lacking Raze's smirk but the sentiment was the same. "What's first?" She asked, eagerly awaiting instruction in what had once been the power of her Master, and would now be her own. She vowed she would return to the fields of her former Master and free her friends and fellow Skaa. "We need to leave the city, but I can give you a taste along the way." Raze replied. He moved around the room picking up a few things and then returned to Galatea. He handed her a hooded cloak and a belt with a thick, metal buckle. "Put these on. And stop burning your metals for now." "I don't like this, Raze." Ranette said disapprovingly, but she sighed in resignation. "But, you're the only one who can sneak Galatea out easily. So I suppose I should wish you luck." "Ranette, I know very little of allomancy. Until I met you all, I wasn't even sure it truly existed." She held her hands up before the girl, "But now I have those powers... And I should think I could have been given no better luck than that." Then she walked forwards and stood just before Raze. Galatea stopped burning her metals and she reflexively jerked as she realised she'd been seeing the world in a kind of Twilight darkness. Only the faintest lines were shown to her but now it was gone and she could no longer take a confident step. "Let's go." Galatea nodded to Raze. She was ready. She had no idea what was ahead. But she would be ready for it. Somehow. "Hold on tight." Raze said as he took hold of Galatea and led her to the window where he had entered from. "Don't keep Mraine waiting, you know he get's grumpy when we don't run on schedule." He said to Ranette. "Yeah, like he isn't perpetually grumpy..." Ranette said, but she smiled softly and made her way down to the lower floor of the tavern. Then before Galatea could open her mouth to speak again, he had pulled both of them out of the window, carrying Galatea with the same minimal effort as before. Then they shot into the sky as he pushed off against coins. They soared up and disappeared into the mists, Raze didn't stop to sprint the rooftops but moved them through the air in arcing leaps enhanced by allomantic pushes, the coins returning to him with every ascent. Finally they landed on solid ground again on a flat roof with a thick stone ledge. Raze released Galatea and stepped back, giving her some space. He looked around them, still grinning slightly. "It's a pity you can't see it probably don't comprehend the importance of what you are...what you can do." His gaze fell on her and he gave her a soft smile. "Even among the nobility the mistborn are free. We wear the mistcloaks to hide in the mist, but also as a symbol to those who might see us. City guards see a mistcloak and know to stay out of our way. Well, perhaps not tonight actually, considering a mistborn just released skaa criminals." He shrugged, the mists curling around his feet in little, reaching tendrils and curls. "Many of the skaa fear the mist. Do you?" "I know that I... When I was a child, the oldest of us said the mists were dangerous. That the mist could reach out and take your very soul, and then return to the village as a shade... That tale gave me nightmares for weeks. But I was also an unruly child, which often earned me a lashing, and worse. One such punishment I earned after staying in town too long until the mists rolled in and I got lost on my way home. I was terrified. Then something came for me. But suddenly it was dead or gone, as this woman with lights in her eyes appeared. She told me how to get home and then vanished. I felt better then." Galatea paused and reflected on that experience, "Perhaps, as a Mistborn, I am not scared." Raze's expression seemed a little disbelieving about the comment of the woman with lights in her eyes. "Well you don't have to fear the mists, as a mistborn they are your ally. They keep you hidden." He explained. "Now...the vial you swallowed had eight different metals inside. I want you to burn one and tell me what happens." "I'm... I only know what one does." Galatea replied, recalling her familiar strength amplified tenfold, "I remember being strong..." And she burned that feeling of strength. "Pewter." Raze confirmed, "It increases your strength, speed, endurance, and you can heal quickly from wounds that could kill you." He paused a moment and then decided to clarify further, "Not so quickly that you should be fearless of taking damage." "I can't allow fear to control me." Galatea replied and then reached inside and burned another metal. "Ah--!!" She gasped, "I can use this to see, something... Light noise I can barely see. Like a whisp of mist." But she touched her temples with her knuckle, "Ugh..." "That sounds like tin." Raze said, "It heightens your senses. It can be useful for seeing in the dark, although perhaps not so much for you. It's also good for listening, spying on conversations, listening for people close by so you can stay hidden. Mistings who burn tin are called tineyes, and pewter mistings are called thugs." "There's a lot of noise, it makes my head ache..." Galatea clutched at her temple and reflexively withdrew from this feeling. The noise dampened, and her world was cast into blackness once again. The darkness scared her, but she would adapt. "Tin is a slow burning metal, so you should try to use it whenever necessary." Raze continued, "There are always consequences, of course, but I'll teach you the specifics another time. Tin helps you stay alert to your surroundings and can be vitally important. Our spy network relies heavily on tineye scouts and smokers running safe houses. Turn it off for now though, and burn one of the others." Tin. Pewter. 6 others. Galatea reached out, she felt two of the familiar strands, the sensations that Tin and Pewter gave her. Pewter was familiar to her like the back of her hand. She knew it better than she realised. The strength she felt from it was easy to understand and control. Tin was new to her, however. It made her head swim, but its uses were immediately obvious. Now, another... Galatea reached inside to grab another thread of power that seemed to float within her. She tugged at it, and felt it tug back. That was strange. She pulled harder at it and it seemed to unravel inside her and explore outwards. The threads fanned out as she pulled, she realised then she was pulling on something in front of her. She felt an invisible line stretching out from her to this object. Galatea touched the thread inside her and suddenly the object catapulted towards her. Knowing it was coming at her, made her natural reflexes kick in. Galatea deftly dodged to one side as an old, dust-covered coin whipped past her head. "Ah, Iron." Raze said with a chuckle. He reached out with his hands and pulled the coin back towards him and into his waiting hand. "When it comes to allomantic metals, they come in pairs. There are four external arts, or pushing arts. Then there are four internal arts, or pulling arts. Pewter is an external pushing art, I know that might be hard to imagine but when you think of it's counterpart, tin, which is internal pulling, then you can understand where this idea comes from. When it comes to Iron and Steel, the pushing and pulling is quite literal." To further illustrate his point Raze pulled on Galatea's belt and dragged her forward slightly. "Iron allows you to pull on metal sources around you. The blue lines normally overlay your vision, but the lines are in your mind. So you should be able to see them to a fashion, even without sight." "Everything inside me feels like a great thread." Galatea's laugh held no warmth, "Making dresses, hemming socks... One of the few things I could do in peace. It wasn't working in the fields. Or time spent with the Master..." Funny the way the mind works. This power that felt like a tapestry. She could pull at the individual strings, yet the tapestry seemed endless as she used the strings of power to navigate the world around her. That gave her an idea. But it would take time and practice. She reached out and pulled at another thread, and she had guessed right - this, was Steel. She knocked the coin from Raze's hand but then pulled on her Iron thread, directing it at the coin that was tumbling to the ground and it whipped back towards her. She could see it! She snatched out for the coin and lurched as the metal struck her in the shoulder and she hit the ground. "Ouch!!" She grit her teeth and reached up to feel her shoulder. Galatea couldn't see the brilliant shades of pink, purple and yellow her shoulder was already turning, but she felt the pain. The tender flesh. "Okay, maybe not..." Back on her feet, "That was dangerous." "Burning pewter will dull the pain." Raze suggested with a smirk. "Of all the metals I think steel and iron are the ones that can most likely kill you if you aren't careful. There are two main factors; weight and balance." Raze started pushing on Galatea's belt, a measured push that only pushed her back slowly, edging her towards the end of the roof. "If I push a metal that weighs less than me, then it will be pushed forward, but the weight of what the metal is attached to also matters. Right now my weight is more than yours and your belt combined, and so you are being pushed back..." Raze dropped a coin and pushed himself into the air, then he arced until he was directly above Galatea, and once more he pushed on her belt, sending her to the ground with the force, but then he started to rise higher and higher. Finally he relented, letting himself fall back to the ground, reducing his fall with pushes until he landed softly. "If you push something that weighs more than you then you get pushed." He took Galatea's hand and helped her back to her feet. "The same is true for pulls, if you pull metal heavier than you then you will be pulled toward it. Furthermore, you can only push or pull in one direction out from yourself. Therefore, being a successful coinshot, or a lurcher, is all about balance and weight. It also requires keen awareness of the area, and using your environment to your advantage. Never get yourself in a raw pushing match with someone, Galatea. You won't find many opponents that weigh less than you." Her mind was racing with the possibilities. All hampered by her recent loss of sight. She would have to change... change everything. She would have to learn to explore and understand the world again, both with and without her powers, if she was not to be weakened. But she also knew, that with the loss of her sight, there would come certain advantages. "So you can push yourself into the air, because the coin on the ground, cannot be pushed into the ground easier than you can be pushed into the air. Is that correct?" Galatea asked, reflecting on everything he'd spoken of so far. Nothing seemed beyond her. "Precisely." Raze replied. "So we have 4 metals left now. Zinc and Brass mistings are called rioters and soothers. They are the two emotional allomantic powers, zinc allows you to riot a person's emotions, while brass allows you to soothe them away." "Yes, I know those two, already..." Galatea replied coarsely, then felt the ground with her bare feet, "What are we standing on?" The ground was bumpy, hard and slanted down. "Look, as much as I want your instruction. This seems like a poor time for it. I will have to use what I can, and learn the rest as we go." As she spoke, she heard the sound of footsteps. She searched back for the Tin thread and burned. Suddenly, the footsteps turned to loud marching. She could hear at least three sets of feet, but despite the speed of their step, they were quite quiet. "Someone's coming!!" She whispered to Raze and readied herself for anything.
  12. Mistborn Alterna

    Blinded by the light as the bag was yanked from her head. Voices everywhere. Hands reaching for her, grabbing her. She wanted to scream and kick and bite and lash out but realised her arms were bound behind her and her mouth had been gagged. She choked as she felt the moist fabric on her tongue and teared up. She looked out for a friendly face, but none seemed concerned. In fact, they were assessing her thoughtfully. "I'll give you, say, 20 boxings for her?" One man asked. "She's worth 30!" Another responded. She tried to focus on what was happening but she felt like she had been drugged. Things moved in front of her, hands explored her body, she wanted to scream and bite and flee but she could do none of these things. "...25... and not a boxing more." She felt the presence of a tall, muscular man, a shadow came over her. "You'll make up for that, won't you...?" Calloused hands gripped her chin and then thrust it aside, and darkness enveloped her once more. "What's your name?" She told him. He didn't like that. He had been asking ever since she'd arrived 2 weeks ago. There were lots of things the Master didn't like, though. If it wasn't this, it would be something else. So did it matter? He asked her again, and she told him. That made his anger all the more pure. The whip sliced across her flesh once again and she screamed out. "What's your name?!" The Master was foaming at the mouth, it was rare he took the whip into his own hands, but his workers knew better than to question it. She tried to open her mouth to speak, she felt spit pour out and splash onto her legs and the ground beneath her, only she looked down to see it was blood, not spit, that was now splattered across the barn. At last, through laboured breathing, she spoke her name. "I'm... m-my... n-name..." She dared not look up at him, "... is... Galatea." "T-That's right!" The Master beamed in disbelief, "I'm glad to see we're learning at last... Galatea." Then a sharp pain in her temple. "You can't keep this up..." The old Skaa, a woman by the name of Tress, shook her head in disbelief and frustration. But Galatea refused to listen, as always. "The Master will kill you next time!" "The Master likes my company, now are you going to help me or not?" Galatea gestured at her right leg, a thick, deep wound had sliced it open. It lay between dozens of other wounds, albeit they had healed and now shone white against her tan skin. Her arms and legs were covered in scars, as was her back, but never her face. "You be careful he doesn't tire of it..." Tress muttered, reaching for a poultice. "I learned to bite my tongue, didn't I?" Galatea retorted. "Oh yes, you've broken on the outside, sweetheart, but it's going to take years for you to understand you are never going to leave here." "I'll get out one day..." Galatea growled, wincing as Tress applied a thick paste to her wound. "Wake up! Galatea, wake up!!" The voice was immediately familiar. It was her best friend, Lariot. Galatea had been on this farm since she was 11. At 26, it was all she knew. 2 years after she arrived, Lariot came to the farm. She was smaller and scrawnier than Galatea. She was a little more boy-ish, and had to have been grateful for the lack of attention the Master paid her. The two girls soon became close friends, as Galatea had a habit of getting into trouble, and Lariot had a knack for getting her out of it, and now Lariot was saving her, again. "W-what?!" Galatea groaned, sitting upright. She pulled at the iron collar snugly around her neck, and pushed a finger inside her matching shackles to give her wrists a moment's relief from the pain. The instant she arrived on the farm and was given her iron collar, she had been weakened, and it had only gotten worse over the years. There was no fight left in her. "Galatea, move it!" Lariot was running from their hiding spot as two men in armour marched down towards the barn. The doors crashed open and the two men stepped inside, looking Galatea up and down, giving her the same look the men at the slave market had given her all those years ago. It didn't help that the Master kept her in rags. It hardly allowed her to keep her modesty. She marched past the two men, and up towards the Master's house, she knew why she was being called for. It was no different than any other day. But it was. Galatea just didn't know it yet. As she entered the room, she saw the Master. His bloated belly arcing over the bed like a mountain. She could smell the strange, exotic spices and perfumes that lingered in the room. She could also smell food being cooked in the next room. She was so hungry. She could feel her ribs as she clutched at her stomach. "Come here, Galatea..." The Master beckoned. She couldn't refuse, no matter how badly she wanted to eat. "Yes, Master," She nodded politely to him, as he'd shown her how to bow like a noble woman. Though she wasn't very good at it. "Mm, bring me that fruit there," He nodded at the bulbous, round, fleshy grey thing sat on the table beside his bed. There was also a small, sharp knife beside it. "Yes, that one. And the knife, as well. Hurry up, girl! Or i'll tan your hide before our night's dancing!!" Galatea grabbed the fruit in one hand, the knife in the other and walked back to the bed. Before she could hand the Master the two items, however, he grabbed her and pulled her on top of him. "There, that's better!" Anger welled up inside her, she wanted to lash out, but she couldn't. She couldn't access the anger, she wanted to, she was desperate to. She focused and pictured herself lunging for the knife. But as her concentration increased, she started to feel different. At first, she didn't know what it was, but then she realised. This was strength! "Get off me, you unwieldy whore, why are you so heavy all of a--" The Master looked up at her eyes and panic set in. For a moment, he knew he was trapped, and there was nothing he could do. His face held a kind of serenity, before it was caved in with a single punch. Galatea struck again, chunks of blood, brains and viscera flew everywhere. She hit again, and again, until there was nothing left. Dripping in blood, she got off the now extremely dead Master, and leaned forwards. Picking up the fruit, she grabbed the knife beside it and began peeling the fruit ever so carefully. A few seconds later, as she was slipping the last sliver of fruit into her ravenous lips, the room filled with the Master's guard. She tried to fight them off, killed a couple of them, but then one of them got a lucky hit, cleaved right through her face. The attack took the use of her eyes, and would leave a terrible scar, but she didn't scream, despite the pain, she lay quietly on the ground, cradling her face, as she knew she would not be long for this world. And that was okay. "--Skaa found to be rebellious, have broken the law in multiple counts, including but not limited to theft, conspiracy, plotting, loitering and murder. Have been found guilty and in accordance with the laws of the Lord Ruler are to be put to death." Galatea heard their voices, smelled the rancid stench of the crowd, but that was all. Bloody bandages wrapped around her eyes. They did little but staunch the blood flow for long enough that she may be hung for her crimes. She felt a noose roughly fall around her neck and tighten. She heard the man addressing the crowd explain to them how happy they should be, and that we would soon pay for our crimes and be forgiven in the eyes of the Lord Ruler. Was that really how it worked? She wondered. Then she heard chaos once more. Panic seemed to slip through the crowd. But it didn't last...
  13. Bloodlines

    Bloodlines Dotonbori is a strangely unique place in Osaka, perhaps even in all of Japan. You might call it a bit of a tourist trap, what with it's colourful lights, luring you like a moth to a flame. Or perhaps it's incredible selection of restaurants and street food that make it a foodie's dream destination. Dotonbori's night life is equally popular, and it's slim backstreets are often fit to bursting with locals and tourists keen to experience the neon highlight of Osaka. None of them expect to die here. Soma Ramen was a small place. It was out of the way. Positioned directly beside the canal, but away from the majority of the hustle and bustle. A few tables and chairs sat outside, just so you could appreciate your meal, or a hot cup of coffee, beside the water. As you enter, the door's bell jingles. It's usually quiet inside. A small place like Soma Ramen exists mostly on the custom of regulars and the occasional lost tourist. It was warmly lit inside, though sparsely. Tables and chairs lined one side of the room, a bar on the other, and behind the bar a door led back into a kitchen, occupied by a single person. The manager, owner and chef - Soma Mitsuko. Mitsuko was in her late 20's, she was tall and slender though her clothes hung off her as though she wore a size or two too large. She wore a white tank top and a baggy black zip hoodie with the sleeves rolled up. Her arms were covered in black and grey tattoos and she was pierced in multiple places. Most obviously, a couple of black bands on her right ear, studs in her ears and another on the side of her nose. She had long, black hair, partially tied in a ponytail. Shaved on one side of her head, while her hair cascaded free down to her collar bone. She knew that she was... unusual, in appearance, but Dotonbori had many characters stranger than her. Her attention lazily refocused upon one of only two customers in her restaurant. Noodles slipped between lips and disappeared into a void. "Delicious, as always, Soma-sama!" A plump, middle-aged man exclaimed. His chopsticks clutched a thick bundle of noodles and brought them to their end while she watched with little reaction. As he finished his bowl with a sigh, he looked up and she blinked and smiled at him, closing her eyes a little and chuckling. The man smiled in return, happy that his hunger had been alleviated, then he left. The bell jingled and Mitsuko released a quiet sigh. Her smile vanished as she wiped her dishwater-covered hands clean and quietly placed the cloth down on the counter. She felt it. Hunger. She knew it better than most. Hunger never surprised her. It was inevitable. His hunger would be sated by her death, at least for a time. But she was disinclined to allow him that satisfaction. Even if it also meant an end for her own special brand of hunger. She yanked her head out of the way as something crashed into the counter beside her, sending wood and debris flying everywhere. She barely moved, but it was enough. Allowing herself the most fleeting of glances, she saw her assailant's weapon, through eyes that had turned entirely black, revealing her true nature. The weapon was like an enormous sword, only it had no edge. It was like a blunt slab of metal with a long handle. It seemed, she thought to herself, they're getting smarter. But, as she also reminded herself, smarter than cattle wasn't enough. The metal slab lifted from the crushed counter top and withdrew as the man who had been quietly sitting in the corner, a customer like any other, had now assumed the role of her attacker. From a coffee to a claymore in an instant - the shift, that is, as she didn't buy into the instant coffee fad. Screaming, the man pulled back his weapon and raised it above his head, ready to attack a second time, but she couldn't allow that. He'd already ruined her counter. Faster than the man could entirely follow, Mitsuko crossed the restaurant floor at a sprint. She moved gracefully, avoiding the tables and chairs until the last second, at which point she kicked a chair at the man with such force that when it hit him, it knocked the length of metal from his hands. His eyes screamed before it could reach his mouth, at which point his head separated from his shoulders and landed with a heavy thud upon the black-tiled floor. Blood splattered her face and clothes and the standing corpse collapsed as a puppet suddenly sans it's strings. Mitsuko straightened up, licked the blood from her fingers and heard the familiar jingle of her door's bell. Turning, she saw the plump customer from just moments before. It seemed he hadn't gotten far enough away to have missed the sound of her fight. He was stood, frozen in the doorway. She knew it would be maybe another second or two, and then confusion would turn to horror. Panic and self-preservation would have him call for someone, not because he wanted necessarily to hurt her, but because he did not wish to be hurt. Thoughts of hatred and fear of what she was would come later, when his brain wasn't screaming at him to run away as fast as his pudgy feet would carry him. "Thank you for your custom, please excuse me, the mess..." She apologised, a smile renewed on her face, just for him. He blinked, and it was enough. He joined her would-be-assailant on the tiled floor. "What a mess..." She muttered to herself, the smile she had used like a mask, vanished and with it, any semblance of humanity. But do ghouls have 'humanity'? Do humans? She wondered sometimes. The humans hate us so much, but are we not just animals as they are? We must eat to survive, just as they. But they kill one another over nothing. They rape and steal and hate and betray. But i'm a monster? Mitsuko asked herself, looking at her hand, tinted pink with the blood she'd licked clean. The black tiles were turning red all around her, rousing Mitsuko from her thoughts. "Mop..." She said to herself, and got to work. An hour later Soma Ramen was open for business again. A couple of familiar faces smiled and greeted her as she turned the door sign around to 'We're open! :3", then she followed them inside. She turned the big-screen TV on in the far corner opposite the bar. It was an old thing, and the buttons didn't always work, but she didn't really care and it never seemed to bother the customers. Two bodies immediately flashed on screen, they were mid-conversation. The news. That's what humans called it. They repeat information that was handed to them, to others, and then the humans accept it as part of their reality. "--other news," The anchorman continued, glancing at his colleague with a grim expression. She couldn't know what this expression meant other than it was a kind of sadness. He was letting her know he was going to say something upsetting. "--2 found dead and partially consumed in Dotonbori--" Mitsuko was trying to listen, but she was having trouble focusing. His expression was distracting her, as it was sad, but his mouth was flat and thin, and his eyes were dull. He wasn't sad at all. He wanted her to think he was sad. Mitsuko found herself curiously pleased at the reminder of a curious thought she'd had more than once in the past. The concept that humans wear masks upon masks, while she only one. "Dreadful! Another ghoul attack I expect, in my--!!" An old lady snapped, as she shuffled into her booth. The man silently slid into the opposite side and started taking his scarf off even as the woman continued to yap in a most loud and unnecessary fashion. She studied him carefully and knew this was not unusual behaviour for his partner. Yet, there was something underneath it? He was content to listen. He didn't mind. Interesting, she thought. Something to mull over later. The couple just wanted coffee from her and continued watching the news, and unfortunately, she found herself just as transfixed by the story the anchor was weaving. He told them that with 2 dead in a likely ghoul attack, it would be the first reported incident in over a month in the Dotonbori area. Then he asked them a question they could not possibly answer. It was phrased to scare them. "Could this mean a return to similar levels of ghoul-related incidents in the rest of Osaka?" Fear-mongering. Mitsuko had used such a tactic herself, she had worked hard to keep incidents as low as possible. The more the government focused on other districts of Osaka, the less they would interfere with her home territory. It worked, because she knew how ghouls thought. Humans were still very much a mystery to her, despite her attempts at understanding them. But she needed only know that killing a ghoul whenever it's own kill was spread across the human's media, would show ghouls that hunting in this area was likely more dangerous than others, and so they would leave or kill and clean up after themselves. And so, presumably, without high numbers of deaths, the humans would leave them be. It seemed that time had come to an end. With an attack on her life from what could only have been one of the government's ghoul killers. Ghouls didn't use weapons like humans. That big chunk of metal had a purpose. Their bodies were tough, tough enough to stop a blade. Conventional weapons were mostly useless against them. So the government had started equipping officers with a variety of weapons intended to cause pain and break bones through impact, which could be enough to subdue a ghoul long enough for them to kill it. It wasn't the first one she'd seen, but they were getting better with them. It was lighter than the ones that came before it, but not much smaller. Was that then made of titanium? Mitsuko pulled herself from the television and quietly walked behind her bar and checked behind a loose backing. There it was, the bone-breaker blade. She pulled a nail - which was not unlike a thick claw - across the metal. Just a scratch. Yes, titanium. Or something stronger. Mitsuko stood back up and saw what she was expecting, the old woman, though the woman herself seemed surprised that Mitsuko wasn't thrown by her sudden appearance. Despite what had happened earlier, or perhaps all the more because of it, she could never take any chances. She might be old, she might not throw her weight around and so she just walks quietly, but she was still a potential threat. "Boo!" The old woman snapped, and then smirked to herself, though her face turned sour once more upon seeing a lack of reaction from her. "Hey, waitress, you seen that couple up there on the news? I can't believe you run this place all on your own, y'know, and we're your customers and we're old, so...!!" "We're real old..." The real old man grumbled to himself from back in his stall. "We can't be expected to protect ourselves from monsters!" The old woman looked indignant. What was she upset about? Was she upset because they might, maybe, die? Wasn't that a certainty? Mitsuko saw the sour look on the old woman's face deepening. She had to correct this. "Oh I know!" Mitsuko said affirmatively, nodding. No? "I completely agree." The woman still looked upset. Mitsuko added a smile but the woman still looked pained. What was she missing? Ah, of course, the woman didn't want her to agree with her, she wanted her to be upset for her. Mitsuko lost the smile and let the corners of her mouth droop just a touch and closed her eyelids slightly. It felt like juggling. Luckily, she could catch knives like this with practice. "It's so hard for you..." She pulled out the master class. She turned back to a smile but dialled it to 11, scrunching her face up as hard as she could and let her voice quiver, "I'll do better! I'll hire someone on!!" "O-Oh--" The old woman was instantly disarmed, unsure what she'd triggered. Then she reflexively started patting Mitsuko and encouraged her into an embrace. Then Mitsuko slowed her crying into silence and stared off into space. Now was a good time for idle thoughts. She had a few minutes to kill. Humans liked touching. Not just their partner, but anyone who will let them. So now she had to hire a pair of hands she didn't really need, when she struggled enough already with paying the bills. But, that was just another cost of her blending in as much as she did. She was just trying to survive. At any cost. So why then did that girl...? Mitsuko couldn't dwell on years-old memories though, as the door jingled once more and a scruffy-looking man stepped inside. She knew the moment he stepped inside. He wasn't human. But he wasn't a ghoul either. He was something... else. Also, he needed a bath.
  14. HEROES

    OOC: Private RP between Kyo and me. HEROES "Zoe King if you don't get your butt in gear you're gonna be late for highschool!" That was mom. The clock read 8:40am. The alarm had been ringing for a while longer than that. Zoe leaned over and turned it off. Silence, at last. Zoe let out a sigh and fell back onto her bed, knocking some comics to the ground in the process. Though it didn't matter much. Clothes, comics and general mess covered most of her floor and shelves. Her walls were covered in posters of heroes. Men and women she'd grown up watching save the world time and again. To say she was a fan, was more than a slight understatement. They amazed her. Ant-Man. Captain America. Ms. Marvel. Black Panther. Spider-Man. Wasp. Iron Man. Each poster reminded her of the incredible feats that the Avengers had accomplished. She even had their action figures. Well, most of them, anyway. Her kid sister, Ruby, had gnawed Hulk's head off, then fallen in love with the headless Hulk, so that was in her sister's room, but still. "Zoe if you're not downstairs in 5 minutes you'll wish you were dead!" She sat bolt upright and blew a few strands of her shoulder-length black hair out of her green eyes. It was time for school. As she crept down the stairs, she saw her mom was putting breakfast on the table. Ruby was sat, focused on the toast soldier she was dunking in her runny egg. Zoe was almost at the bottom of the stairs, and her mom was none-the-wiser. Her foot touched the second to last step, and it let loose a loud creak. "Good, you're up!" Her mom beamed, "Toast on the table. Go, go!" "Stupid step." Zoe muttered, then darted into the kitchen and grabbed a slice of toast. "Morning, mom." "Not for much longer it's not." Her mother retorted. Zoe looked at her watch, it was 8:47am. What was she on about? "I won't be late, mom. I promise." Zoe said, stuffing toast in her face. She finished up, gave her sister a kiss on the cheek and started to leave. Something wet struck her in the back. "Eugh!" She wriggled in discomfort at the wet patch that was soaking through her plain red shirt. She didn't need to look to know what was on her back. She figured it out based on her sister's delighted laughter. A drowned soldier. "Oh, for goodness sake..." Her mother chided her sister, then turned on her, "Go change and be quick, you've got 10 minutes to get to school!" "I'll change on the way, mom! I've got a spare shirt in my bag, i'll see you later!" Zoe was quick to leave before her mother could reply. Closing the front door behind her, she took a moment to appreciate the lively vibe of the street she'd grown up on in Queens. Kids were leaving for school, dog-walkers were out in force and an ice cream van drove slowly by as it was a hot, hot day. New York was a big place, but anywhere you wanted to go, a yellow taxi could get you there. Though, she preferred walking. Darting into the first quiet alley she saw, she changed out of her soiled red t-shirt into a black Pink Floyd top then pulled a red leather jacket out of her bag and a pair of biker goggles. Putting them both on, she let the goggles rest on the top of her head for a moment as she stretched, flexing her muscles. Bag zipped shut, check. Got your homework, check. She glanced at her watch again, it now said 8:57am. "Uh-oh!" Zoe quickly pulled the goggles over her eyes and grinned, "Maximum effort." As she ran forwards, Zoe's speed exploded. She was a red blur. Zoe was out of the alley and shooting through the streets of Queens at the speed of lightning. Dashing through the early morning traffic, she made a beeline through the blocks towards Queens Metropolitan High School. Mid-step she glanced at her watch. 8:58am. Good, she was making excellent time. It never took her more than a minute to get to school. She spotted a coffee shop and came to a stop, the world was still moving at a snail's pace for her. She saw two people who had bumped into each other and were slowly, very slowly, beginning to fall in front of the entrance. Shooting forwards, she grabbed the man and gently moved him back a step then put his flying coffee back in his hand. She darted to the other man and took the open newspaper from his hands - likely the reason they'd knocked into each other in the first place - folded it, and put it under his arm. Then she moved him out of the way and shot into the coffee shop. In a flash, she'd made herself a coffee and grabbed two doughnuts, leaving the correct change behind. The girl behind the counter was mid-blow on her bubblegum, the large pink bubble obscuring most of her face. Zoe grinned, leaned forwards and shoved a finger through it. The bubble perforated and began it's - at least to her - excruciatingly slow deflation. Zoe dashed back outside, put a doughnut in the newspaper man's hand, nodded to herself with satisfaction and shot on. The bubblegum bubble burst. The change rattled on the counter. The two men stared at each other in confusion. And everyone went about their day. She was almost at her school. 8:59am. Time was on her side. But that wasn't enough. As she ran, she shot around a corner and came across another scene unfolding. But this one was a little more serious. Two men, their faces obscured by balaclavas, were mid-robbery of a convenience store. One of them had his hand on the door handle of his car, while the other was turning back as the store owner ran out after them. He had his gun aimed at the store owner, and he'd pulled the trigger already. Zoe watched as a mushroom cloud blew out of the pistol and a bullet slowly cut through the air, directly on target. She was late, there was no time, but she'd have to make time. First, she ran to the man at the getaway car and looked him up and down. He wasn't holding a gun. She grabbed the hand he'd placed on the car door handle and swiftly pulled it up and away and gently pushed it into his cheek, "Boop!" She added, cheerily. Then she dashed over to the gunman and gently pulled the gun out of his hands, then gave him a little flick on the forehead. She started to run on, and then she realised she'd forgotten something. She turned and dashed over to the bullet, noting it was already halfway towards it's target and plucked it from the air. She threw the gun and fired bullet into the open window of a cop car that was driving towards the scene and shot on to school. The getaway driver knocked himself unconscious, the gunman flipped backwards over himself and hit the ground forcefully and the store owner blinked in surprise and felt over his chest. He'd heard the gun fire, but no bullet? Sirens. A few seconds later, the cops arrived. "I'm the boss, i'm the boss, i'm the boss..." Zoe chanted, trying to reassure herself. She was going to be on time this time. She flew through the last few streets, up the steps to her school, through the main double doors, and down the corridors, dashing past the last couple of students filing into their classrooms. One more corner and she was there. She came to an abrupt stop and put her hand on the handle, then tapped herself on the head. "Hello!" Zoe chided herself, pulling the goggles off and pocketing them, she stepped into a classroom full of seated students and a very angry looking teacher. "Uh..." "You're late, Ms. King!" The woman snapped. "Oooof course I am..." Dropping her shoulders in defeat, Zoe slumped into her chair to the background noise of the teacher explaining why, for the third time this week, she had detention. But that was alright, she told herself, at least she'd made a difference. She took a bite of her doughnut and delved into her textbook. School had been a drag. It consisted of a number of subjects that bored her, then she ate in the cafeteria by herself. She'd had a best friend, Amy. But then Amy moved to Colorado last summer, so here she was. Eating lunch by herself as usual. After lunch, a few more lessons and then the bell. What a relief! She was glad to be out of there. As usual, it didn't take her long to get home. But as she unlocked the front door and stepped into the entryway, her mother walked out to greet her. She had lipstick on. Her single mom. Lipstick? "Hi honey, come in, come in! You've got a guest!" Her mother had a wide smile plastered on her face. "Okay..." Zoe muttered, closing the door behind her. She walked through into the living room and then she saw him. Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man. One of the founding members of the Avengers and one of her biggest heroes. She stared for a moment, her mouth moving but unable to speak. Tony Stark stood up and smirked. "Got a sec?" He asked, raising an eyebrow curiously. That was the last thing she remembered. "Honey...?" Zoe heard her mother speaking, asking if she was alright. She opened her eyes to see her mother standing over her. "It's fine, happens all the time." Tony added, "I'll wait in her room?" He started up the stairs. No! Zoe screamed in her head, panic spreading through her. She got to her feet and as her mother disappeared back into the living room, and used her superhuman speed to shoot up the stairs, carefully squeezing past Tony Stark - that was Iron Man - she reminded herself. Then rushed into her bedroom and like a whirlwind, she ran around picking up clothes, throwing them into the closet, shoving comics and mess under her bed and within a couple of seconds her room was sparkling clean. Then Tony walked in and whistled. "Well, look at this, huh?" He nodded at her walls and she frowned and turned to look at them. It was only then that it dawned on her that her room was covered in the memorabilia of superheroes and now one was in her room. He walked over to the far wall and glanced at each of the posters in turn. "No," He said, pointing at the poster of Thor, "No," He said, pointing at Captain America. He did this to a half-dozen superheroes in the Avengers. "No. Nope. No. No." Then he came upon a poster of Iron Man, "Yes. Obviously." "W-wh-do-you-I-If-you-wh--" Her words mushed as she tried to speak. "Right." Tony frowned at her, "Y'know honestly I had a couple of drinks with breakfast so I don't know if that was you or me..." He turned his attention to the figures she'd neatly placed on her shelves. "W-what are you doing.. h-here...?" Zoe managed after she collected herself. "Hey, look, he's got his little hammer and everything," Tony picked up her Thor figurine and started mimicking him, "I am vehemently opposed to manscaping!" "M-Mr. Stark?" Zoe asked again. A mixture of panic and wonder settling over her. "Hello? Right, yes, sure." Tony placed the Thor figurine back and then turned to face her, "I know you're a superhero --Don't faint!" He added quickly, as Zoe went pale. "B-but... how--I..." Zoe stuttered, then walked over to her bed and sat down. "Well it's sort of obvious, really, you're just..." Tony pulled out a phone-like device and held it up, it began projecting a series of videos that looked as though they'd been taken by satellite or something. She could see her house! Then she saw a red blur leave her house and then it came back. Then it left her house. Then it returned. And so on, over and over. Zoe was stunned into silence. "I can't explain any better, really. I don't have any art supplies and I left my puppets at home, so if you could just--" "Oh..." "--there it is." Tony smirked, pointing at her, "Hey, don't worry about it, kid. What's your secret identity? You've got one right? Like Speedy, or Lightning, or The Fla--" "--No, I don't. I haven't thought of a good name, I mean, i've been really busy and--" "--sure sure, school, teens, drama, angst, armed robbery-- that's great." Tony shrugged, "But don't you want to be better?" "W-what are you...?" Zoe couldn't think, she could barely talk. "The Avengers are always looking for new recruits." He said simply, shoving the device back into his pocket. "You're a little rough around the edges, but--" "Hey!" Zoe growled, coming to her senses, "What do you mean, 'rough around the edges'?!" "And you fainted. That was fun." Tony added, reaching into his jacket he pulled out a small folder. "Please don't tell anyone about that..." Zoe muttered, her cheeks turning pink, "Wait..." It finally dawned on her what he'd said, "The Avengers?" "Sure just... give that a read." He placed the folder beside her on the bed. "And, when you've decided, pack your things, you'll be moving in with our other recruits." He started to leave and then flicked the collar of her red leather jacket, "Red. Nice." Then he walked out, leaving her sat on her bed in an empty room. The room that Tony Stark had been in just moments before but even now, as she still heard him walking down the stairs and apologising to her mother for going - and her repeated attempts to keep him from going - she still, even now, couldn't believe she'd just been talking to him. Zoe looked down at the folder he'd placed at her side. It was plain brown, with nothing on it but three words, 'The Avengers Initiative'.
  15. Hallows

    As the evening wore on, James offered the group to stay for the night. There was no good getting everything ready to fight ghosts in the dark, with half the group greatly fatigued from recent events. Plus, Violet thought to herself, it was nice staying in a home, with friends. Slowly but surely, each person excused themselves and went to bed. James and Jinx vanished first, then Meredith, Rachel and Vincent. Violet sat on the sofa in the living room, stretched and then finally walked up to her room and closed the bedroom door behind her. Violet shed her human outer shell, and as it disappeared she lifted into the air and floated over the top of her bed, crossing her legs as she sat hovering inches above the bed-sheets. "Can't sleep... but I can meditate..." She muttered to herself. Al had seen the darkness in her long before she ever had. While Vincent was given a full education, much of her magical training focused on controlling her inner-self. Clearly, she hadn't mastered that. But she was trying. Violet placed her hands together and took a deep breath, placing them on her lap. She closed her eyes, and let her mind wander. A starry void, crossing through space, picking up speed. Stars turn to streaks of light. Then suddenly Violet's surrounded by orbs of light. Reaching out to one, she managed to graze it with her fingertips, and it giggled and danced away. Violet was strangely drawn to them. She reached out again, but this time one of the orbs flew straight through her chest. Violet's eyes shot open. She was breathing rapidly and for a moment, she couldn't stop. It was only upon reminding herself that she didn't require air to live that she calmed down. Strange as it sounds. The room was as quiet as she'd left it, but she still felt uneasy in what she'd seen. For a moment, it was as though there was something else there as well. Or maybe multiple things. The entire experience, whatever it had been, had made her feel as though there were a lot of eyes upon her, and not all of them were friendly. A few minutes passed as she sat hovering above the bed, when she heard a distant noise coming from downstairs. She looked over at the clock. 3am. Who was up at this time? Everyone else needed sleep. She remained in her energy form, as she was with friends and was tired from maintaining a human shell. As she reached the door to the living room she saw a blueish light coming from within, opening the door, she saw Vincent sat on the sofa, watching TV, with a glass of whisky. "You're up late." Violet said quietly, floating over to the sofa. She lowered herself into it beside him and sat there in silence, watching what was on TV. It was an old spaghetti western or something like that. Cowboys were shooting guns at each other in a laughably bad cardboard-looking 'town'. "And you're watching garbage..." "I haven't watched TV in about 5 years." Vincent said, "Al used to like these though." "They're so silly..." Violet muttered, pulling her legs up onto the sofa and crossing them. "I miss Al..." "Of course you do, you're his favourite." Vincent said, rolling his eyes. He took a sip of his whisky. "The old fart may be the best damn wizard I've ever met but he was always softer on you. A bit of that old school sexism I suppose." "I think he knew what I was before I did. I'm pretty sure that's why you were always given combat training and 1 on 1 magic lessons, and I was given meditations, mantras, chakras, self-reflection and self-control. Much good that did for me." Violet sighed, leaning back on the sofa. "You made a mistake, Vi." Vincent replied, "That's human. You're not the only one in the world who fucked up and hurt someone. You're not even the first one in the family, for that matter." "She's just a kid though. What if I hadn't stopped? I was so close to killing her, Vince." Violet pulled her legs up and hugged her knees, "Half my power comes from my emotions, but when I access them, I can't control them. How's that for fucked up? Plus, all the little ghost orbs that have been floatin' around lately have really started to piss me off." "Well you didn't kill her... Which already makes you better than me, besides my emotions affect my magic too so..." He trailed off, his expression going quizzical, "Ghost orbs?" "Yeah, y'know..." Violet laughed nervously at Vincent's confusion, "The little... orbs... y'know what I mean, Vincent." Violet growled with annoyance, her eyes locked on the spaghetti western. "Don't they just show up on camera?" Vincent asked, and gave a little shrug. "I've never seen orbs...actually that'd be so much more pleasant than the fucked up shit I see with the third eye." He stopped to smile a little, "Rachel she...she's tougher than she looks. Man she looked like a fucking amazon when I saw her back at the bar." "I like her white hair even if she doesn't..." Violet added quietly, then she looked over at her brother, "I'm goin' to hell when all this is over, Vince. I'll never do enough to square away my wrongdoings. Vael will see to that. I won't be strong enough, and..." Violet's eyes scrunched up as though she wanted to cry. "Hey..." Vincent put his hand on his sister's, "You're not her. And besides... Pretty sure the devil wouldn't know how to handle you." "Thanks Vince... that means a lot coming from you..." Violet tried to smile, and she saw a happiness in her brother's face, but she couldn't stop her peripheral vision from taking in the third person on the sofa. Sat on the other side of Vincent, a man in a brown trench coat with a square jaw and slicked-back blonde hair. He grinned at her, his eyes were so sharply in contrast. From the white of his eyes to the black of his pupil. Then he began to warp and stretch, taking up more and more of the room. His eyes seemed to fill the entire space, as his pupils shrank further and further until two tiny black dots were stranded in a sea of white, ever staring at her, unblinking. "I'll be alright..." She added, forcing a smile and turning to gaze at the television once more. "Hey, who's--" Rachel opened the door, rubbing her eyes. She saw Vincent and Violet sat on the sofa watching TV and groaned, "Ugh, can't you lower the volume a little, oh--" She saw the spaghetti western on TV and immediately walked over, considered the sofa for a moment but decided she didn't want to be sat by Violet. Instead, she sat on the floor and was content to watch TV quietly. "Aww..." Vincent said as he smiled warmly at Rachel sitting in the floor, then he turned to Violet, "You know I'm glad we got a pet." "Ssh! Quiet!" Rachel growled, "It's not like I get to watch TV every day, let me enjoy this!" Violet smirked at her and then shrugged at Vincent. Rachel had earned that much. It wasn't much, but any happiness, however fleeting, was worth pursuing. The three of them sat watching TV, Vincent and Rachel might have dozed off during the night, but when the early morning light shone in, they were all up and raring to go. Stretching to relieve the discomfort of being sat on a sofa all night, Violet stood up and went to walk away when something grabbed her by the wrist. She looked back, and once again, she saw the blonde-haired man with the scary eyes staring back at her with a grin, his hand wrapped around her arm like a vice. "Y'can say g'bye t'yer girlfriend on the way down..." "--Violet?" Rachel asked again, shaking her arm. Violet blinked and realised she was looking at Rachel. "What?" Violet asked, frowning. Rachel scowled at her. "You're not even listening! Vincent said it's time to go. Come on!" Rachel stormed off and Violet stood there in quiet disbelief for a moment. She had seen him all too often and it was becoming more and more frequent now. She could no longer ignore him and what's more she could hear him now. She knew who he was, but she couldn't bring herself to say his name. Maybe denying his existence was enough? "Alright so tell me class, what are the advantages of a little daytime ghost hunting?" Vincent asked as Violet entered the kitchen where everyone had gathered. When no one answered he answered for them, "No ghosts!" He said with a grin, "Ghosts can't come out in the light of day, something about the boundary between the mortal realm and the void being stronger at this time. means we can try and find these bastards while their spooky army is out of commission." "Hooray." Rachel said with a neutral tone of mock enthusiasm. "You know I swear when we decided to take you in you told me you wanted to smoke some bad guys, did I mishear you or something?" Vincent asked with a frown. "I want to kill monsters, not chase ghosts around like Scooby-Doo." Rachel retorted, picking up her tools and tying the bracelet around her wrist, "If you say we're hunting ghosts, fine. I don't care. That's part of my education? Then let's go." Violet sighed, "You don't have to like me, or listen to me, but you do have to listen to Vincent." Rachel scowled at her and Violet scowled right back, sticking her tongue out, "Like it or not, you have to listen to him, he'll save your life one day... I mean, a separate occasion, you know what I meant..." "We're after the assholes who stirred up the ghosts." Vincent explained, "People who want to ritually sacrifice large groups of innocent people in order to gain more power for themselves. Is that not monstrous enough for you?" "Can we go now?" Rachel asked, raising an eyebrow. "She's quite feisty." James piped up at last, prompting Jinx to add her piece. "If you don't all leave soon, I may just transport you to a pocket dimension and forget about you." Then Jinx waved with a smile, "Okay now, have fun out there!" "Right..." Violet shook her head at the familiar. "First we have to figure out where we're going." Vincent said, and then he held his hand up, pointing his finger out like a gun, and pointed it at Meredith, before making a clicking sound with his teeth. "So where to Mystic Meg?" "Uh..." Meredith looked around nervously. "How should I know?" "Well you foresaw all this right?" Vincent asked. "Yeah but my scrambled prescient dreams don't exactly come with google maps coordinates." Meredith replied with a frown. "It would be really useful," Violet replied, still in her cosmic birthday suit. Her hair waved around as though it had a life of it's own, or was suspended in water. She concentrated on herself and reformed her human outer shell, and her hair became human and the both striking yet familiar shade of blue. "Ugh, sometimes that's like pulling on a wet coat..." "Gross..." Rachel muttered loudly under her breath. Meredith huffed a little and then folded her arms, closing her eyes in concentration. She waited a moment in silence before her shoulder relaxed a little and she spoke again. "...there was...a lot of's more like a feeling. Aggression...thirst for blood...lights flashing...a...a cage?" "Uh...I'm not liking the sound of that." Vincent said with a raised brow. "...a battle..." Meredith continued, "It's a battle...they're watching and cheering. All that's so powerful..." She visibly shivered. "I can feel it..." Violet's voice echoed, Rachel looked over at her and the Hallow's eyes were glowing white. "The battle..." "Double gross. Vincent!" Rachel yelled, "I think your sister is getting a lady boner for all this fighting!" Violet snapped out of it and scowled, "What?!" She pointed at Rachel and considered issuing a threat, but thought better of it and instead crossed her arms and walked over to a nearby stool and sat upon it in silence, content now to no longer be part of the conversation. "T-mobile stadium, it's on the strip." Vincent said with a frankness in his tone. He held up his phone with a webpage open. "UFC match tonight between Domino Reeves and Clyde Walsh. Big room full of people feeling the same emotion. Tapping emotion is a little different, nobody is going to get hurt...but if you sacrifice lives the power becomes yours permanently. So this is the warm up, so he can stir up ghosts again and kill another crowd of people later." "So he's going to get the crowd worked up until they start killing each other?" Rachel asked. "Another possibility." Vincent said with a nod. "...In a place where fortunes are made and lost, the dead will rise to lay slaughter to the greedy, and the Sphinx will be the guardian of their tombs." Meredith said, her tone much more grave. "Wait, what?" Vincent asked, "I thought you said it was the fight?" "A fight, yes." Meredith said, as if she was in a trance, "There will be a great battle. A storm is brewing. The dead shall rise and....and...." She stammered and tears fell from her closed eyes, then she gasped and her eyes opened in shock. "Wh-what happened!?" She asked. "Super." Violet muttered, "I love a good prophecy. Because they always work out so well." "You've experienced prophecies before?" Rachel asked. Violet was taken aback for a moment, it was the first time since their scuffle that Rachel had asked her a direct question. Violet considered her for a moment, smiled and then nodded in confirmation. "What were they like?" Rachel asked again, genuinely interested. "Al told me a few." Violet replied, "To begin with, I would die and be born anew. Tick. I would become an agent of chaos. Tick. And there's one that hasn't happened yet, but I super love that one, so give it time, eh?" Violet mumbled off the last couple of words and Rachel frowned in frustration. "Well what's the one that hasn't come true?" Rachel pushed. "Uh, well, that I would destroy the world." Violet replied. The room was quiet for a few seconds. "'A' world, remember?" James chimed in. "What?" Violet frowned at him. "Al said, 'A' world. Not 'the' world." James smiled. "Hooray. I'm so relieved. That made me feel sooo much better, James. Thank you." "You're welcome." James replied, missing Violet's obvious sarcasm. "Wait--" Violet thought about what Meredith had said. "Tombs and Sphinxes, it makes me think of Egypt. But then you talk about fortunes made and lost... it's got to be that casino here, right? Y'know the one with the big Sphinx? What's it called..." "The Luxor Casino." Rachel provided the information. "Right!" Violet cheered excitedly, clapping her hands together. "Are you okay?" Vincent asked, as he put his hand on Meredith's shoulder. "Uh...y-yeah I think so." Meredith said, but she didn't look fine. "So it doesn't matter where we go...people are going to die." "...or we split up." Vincent suggested. "We barely survived together last time." Meredith said in protest. "Hey...Violet's an agent of chaos, remember?" Vincent said with a smirk. "We're prepared this time." He turned to Violet, "Right?" "I dunno. Maybe?" Violet shrugged and offered a consolation smile, "Agent of chaos, remember?" But she seemed to sober up at the same time. "Well... I suppose I have to remove doubt... Still, chaos, etc..." Violet muttered and walked outside. Rachel frowned but wanted to see what Violet was talking about and so followed her outside, then Vincent and everyone else followed suite. Violet walked out onto the main road of the cul de sac and lifted off from the ground. "Violet! What if someone sees you!" James called out. "It matters not!" She called back, commanding and authoritative. In an instant, she shed her human shell and just as quickly she flew up and hovered between the suspended power cables. "I don't think this is a good idea, Vi." James called out, shielding his eyes from the early morning sun. "No!" Violet called back, "Possibly not!" And with that she grabbed a power cable with each hand and sparks exploded and cracked. Several of the party dove for the ground as the power feeding into Violet spat out in little arcs of electricity. One hit a car and blew out the windows, setting the alarm off. Another stuck a nearby roof, charring the tiles. Violet glowed so brightly that it was difficult to look directly at her. Then all the power in the street went out. Seconds passed until the silence was broken by Rachel as she held her phone up. "So, yeah, power just went out across half of Las Vegas for several minutes... Car crashes, downed hospital equipment... Chaos..." "But I am no longer starving..." Violet replied, her voice echoing as she lowered to the ground and cloaked herself in her human shell. "And so, I will not lose control..." "Super." Jinx snarled, "Now will all of you leave!" "Yeah for once I think I agree with the demon." Vincent said with a smirk, "Alright, youngest sibling gets the first pick." He said and indicated to Meredith and then Rachel, "Pick a sidekick and a venue, I'll take the sloppy seconds." "Then I will--" Violet stepped forwards but as she did so Rachel scoffed and walked up to Vincent. "As if!" Rachel growled, crossing her arms in defiance. "Alright." Violet nodded, "That's fine, I am happy to accompany Meredith, if you'll have me?" "Uh..." Meredith looked a little hesitant, "I suppose." "Take the fight at the stadium." Vincent suggested, "At least the threats there will be physical, so you should be safe enough." "The ghosts weren't the ones who hurt me last time." Meredith said. "Yeah well you lured us there thinking I'd die to save the rest of the people in the room." Vincent said with a dark scowl, "Nobody is perfect. Now get in the fucking car before it's dark out again."