CLOSED SIGNUPS Shattered Realm: Atonement

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Jays

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#1





41st day of Enu, 237th Cycle Post-Apocalypse

The sandstorm raged outside but the cave was quiet.

Seven men and women sat in a circle, surrounding a single lone figure. Their faces were gaunt, skeletal, full of hard lines and weathered scars. Their clothes were little more than rags, strips of beast hide and fur held together by more hide strips. The cave floor trembled lightly, reverberating rocks streaming sand in currents like waves.

The women in the middle of the circle was much younger than the rest, though just as haggard and worn. Her clear, sorrowful eyes gazed into seven distant ones, soulless, faces frozen in the same inhuman stillness.

"Seven souls." The seven men and women intoned in absolute unison.

"Pure." One whispered.

"Untainted." Another followed.

"Free." A third continued.

"Rebirth." The man directly in front of the young woman said, his distant gaze somehow seemed to fix on her.

"Where?" She asked, her voice shook as much as the ground beneath.

"Udu." The entity speaking through the man replied.

"Seven souls!" Their voice rang out as one, the force of it smashed into the cave walls, cracking open rocks and blasting a cloud of sand outward like explosive thunder. "The final salvation! Seeds of light!"

"Hope." One man said, and his eyes rolled back, his body slumping to the ground motionless.

"Hope." The woman next to him repeated and dropped as he did.

"Hope." One by one they fell, like puppets with their strings cut.

"Duty." The man before her met her eyes. For a second as the entity withdrew, a spark of humanity returned to his gaze, soft and regretful, and was gone. The cave floor abruptly ceased trembling.

A single tear rolled down the young woman's cheek. Her worn boots scuffed against the dusty floor by her fallen friends, her family.

The night was frigid, cold enough to freeze one's blood in their veins. She didn't feel a thing. The storm still raged, an ocean of murky nothingness, like all the stars in heaven descended as grains of sand. It hummed an overwhelming, destructive tune few could lived to hear in full.

With a wave of her hand the rocks shuddered and flowed into itself, sealing the tomb. Pulling her cloth tight around her nose and mouth, she banished all thoughts and warring emotions from her mind to focus solely on putting on foot in front of the other, and plunged into the sightless depth. The sand devoured her whole, ravenously.

---

1.

Udu the Corruptor turned in its sleep. The beast's only vaguely humanoid features twisted in vexation, its gargantuan eyes fluttering as if about to open. Something troubled it. Something more than dirt Mages leeching off its Garden, or another preposterous revolution. No, this was something instinctual, subtle, like sensing the wind changing direction. A deep unsettling feeling gnawed at its slumbering mind. There's a word for it. Dread.

But of course that could not be. The very idea was laughable. For two centuries it had dominated the world from this dark hall, transforming, growing in power. Nothing could even force it awake, much less harm it. The only danger remaining were its siblings, and they would be trapped atop their own mountains of gold and treasure, intoxicated by the power just as it was.

A dream, then. The concept was foreign, distant, but much less ridiculous. Perhaps it was finally shredding the last of its humanity.

A dream. The beast rumbled and inhaled deeply. In a mere breath half of the King's Garden, thousands upon thousands of acres of plant life so resilient as to survive even the merciless desert withered and crumbled away, like forgotten memories.

The colossal body stilled, its eyelids relaxing. Soon. It could feel the end approaching, the final shattering of the realm, and its ascendance. Soon.

---

2.

Few looked up at the sky in these times. So many were the slaves of the sand and dirt, so many more preoccupied with earthly pleasure and sins. Those who looked up were encaptured by the moon, ever-present, a pure jewel untainted by mortal suffering, as cold and indifferent as a slaver. Only some ever noticed the stars. On clear cloudless nights, as Nomads froze to death atop the sweeping endless dunes, they said the stars would dance before their eyes, a last kind farewell as tangible as fleeting dreams.

The stars didn't dance this night. They fell like rain.

Amidst the dozens of dead bodies casually discarded just outside Udu's City, the body of a young boy twitched once. The sand had swallowed the others and most of him. In the near total darkness, the tiny mutilated form seemed to warp and shifted. Black oozing bruises busted pouring foul blood, and new clean uninjured flesh grew underneath. Numerous whip and burn scars slowly faded, leaving smooth skin where they had been.

Only a few feet from him, already buried by the sand, air bubbled through a dead woman's lips. Under torn bloody clothes, the gaping wound on her chest slowly knitted itself back together, bone fragments and pieces of organs pulling themselves back into place.

Out far among the freezing endless dunes another boy stirred, an odd sight for a corpse staked to a weathered ruin, most of its body missing, eaten by desert beasts. Pus-filled balls grew into the empty eye sockets, and soon eyelids over the eyeballs. Bones materialized out of the sand, muscle flowing over to cover them. The stake in the corpse's chest snapped and was pushed out, the hole left behind filling in moments. The rag-worn near-naked body of the boy started to sink into the dune just as the new eyelids fluttered open.

On the floor inside a lavish mansion amongst more beautiful luxurious homes, the blood soaking the carpet pulled itself unnaturally up, like time being reversed. Dozens of ragged wound made by a dull blade absorbed the crimson and disappeared between one breath and the next.

In another home not far away, the same impossible scene repeated. Blood flowed up from the cold stone into the opening in a man's heart which trembled for a moment, and started to beat.

A young man jerked awake on the muddy ground of a slum alley, his body which mere moments before bore enough bruise marks to kill a man twice over was miraculously unmarked.

An old glowering Steel Inquisitor exited a doorway and slammed it behind him, snuffing out the candles surrounding the body of a woman inside an open casket in the middle of the empty room. Impossibly, unseen, her gaunt diseased cheeks filled out into a healthy visage, her skeletal arms and torso under blood red funeral gown expanded with muscle. A near imperceptible breath escaped her nose.

The wheel of Fate, battered, broken, burned, turned one final time.
 
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Greenie

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#2
She breathed.​

Hot red blood, sharp piercing pain, a dagger, an angry face.

Another breath.​

Pleasure, gasps, sighs, giggles.

And another breath.​

There was so much more she had seen, but then began the screaming, accompanied by her barely audible whimpers. What was that noise? Where was it coming from? Her arms shook as she forced her hands to her head and over her ears, but to no avail; the screaming continued incessantly with no end. Still shaking, her eyes now opened their own accord, blinking as they greeted light for what seemed to her the first time.​

She lay still on the carpet like for a while longer, staring up at the elaborately carved ceiling and the beautifully coloured drapes hanging from the posters of a bed. If she would have been able to focus, perhaps she would have found them recognizable. However, there was only one thing transpiring in her innocent mind.​

"..." Her mouth opened and a sound escaped, nothing understandable but it was still comforting to know that she too could make a sound that could, even for a moment, distract her from the screaming.​

Her breathing became quick and she finally moved her hands away from her ears, arms still shaky but in much more control than earlier. As she brought them back to her side, she pressed her hands against the ground, pushing herself up in a sitting position. It was such a simple task, yet it felt like an effort, waking and moving and sitting all in such close time proximity. Still leaning heavily on her hands to stay seated, she carefully looked at her surrounding. Bed, cushions, chairs, wardrobes, so many things that were as familiar to her as not-​

She froze momentarily; the screaming continued but her mind was partially captured by another... something. She carefully leaned forward, using her arms once more to support herself as she shifted to her knees before slowly crawling forward a step. As she did, so did the something, crawling forward as well, though it stopped right when she did. She opened her mouth, and in the same instance, the thing did so as well.​

"... you..." A word was forced out of her, and the same was for the thing before her, except she heard nothing. A realization finally dawned upon her and she crawled another couple of steps, as did the thing. "... me?"​

It was a mirror; flashes of someone's memory had included many of these. Stopping before it, she lifted a hand from the ground, trembling as she brought it forward to press against the glass. Yes, this was her... but who was she?​

The thought had but formed when she felt it. It wasn't like the continuous screaming. This was something else, and she could feel it pulling at her inside. There was something... someone? somewhere? Whatever it was, it wasn't here, and she needed it. Pressing her other hand against the mirror, she used it as a support to at last stand up on shaky legs, breathing heavily as she did.​

It was time for her to leave.​
 
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Aero Blue

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#3
There the images flickered, memories waxing and waning until:

A face, her face -- whoever ‘her’ may have denoted -- beneath his own, enveloping his vision in its proximity. The itch of a sweat-bead forming about his forehead, threatening to fall upon hers. The twinge of discomfort from its incessant tickle, swept away by the heat of her breath upon his face, which clashed with the heat of his own breath upon hers. The swell of something powerful from the pits of his frantically beating heart -- and hers too -- like a wave of force that threatened to surge from the deepest depths and tear them asunder from within. Only then her heart seemed to slow, and her breathing too, as her eyes stared somewhere ahead, but not at him -- past him. Into some faraway horizon.

Then the illusion unravelled, and he was hoisted from it, and from whoever she had been, by calloused hands.

He awoke, then, and the cold bite of the freezing dunes came upon him like so many rusted nails dragged sadistically across bare skin before twisting and plunging. There was a word that yearned for release, that the chill threatened to pull from him, a sudden exclamation that rose up in defiance of the torturous cold. The word, however, died stillborn in his throat -- passing listlessly into the long-forgotten, or the never-known, and supplanted by the slightest intakes of breath. He gave a start as he realized he had been falling ever deeper into the grip of the sands that chilled him, each grain like some small tiny thing of want that pulled and drew him in towards its suffocating maw.

Twisting, he found solace against a piece of ruin, with a handhold newly carved from erosion. Gripping unto it with tenuous strength, there he found rest. Rest lent itself easily enough to contemplation, only he found there was little to contemplate save for the nagging cold that, upon claiming a single thought, threatened to seize dominion of the mind entirely in its frigid potency. There was, blissfully, other things that nagged at him, one an image, but unlike the images of her -- still present, like a stalking shadow in his lower periphery, an interloper. That which did not belong.

And the feeling of something else which perhaps did, or rather -- that perhaps he belonged to. Others. Things. Forces. Others. Further in the sands? Further out? Perhaps it made no difference for someone who couldn’t tell of it. His body struggled to rise against the sands, and -- perhaps unknowingly hungering for other than cruel, steely cold -- resolved to find something, anything.
 

Nemopedia

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#4
Warden
Art by: KimDingWall

Beneath the surface of consciousness a wave of emotions crashed in. Pleasant laughter, soft whispers, a look of seduction, powerlessness and a silent rage of disgust. Just like that fragments entered his mind, shattering like glass and melting together once more to become whole. No matter how it reformed, however, a smudge stain remained. Like a memory that he couldn’t recall, as if the wrong ingredient had been entered and distorted his vision.

Warden, the name sounded through his mind and the being knew that it was his name. Or used to be, for everything, from his joints to the strand of hair falling in front of his vision felt foreign, yet he knew it to be his own.

And then there was that stain on the glass, that blurriness he couldn’t get sharp. A hidden knowledge he had yet to discover, a memory he had lost.

Crawling up Warden tried to wash away the blur by blinking rapidly. All he got was a sharp pain in his head and the sense that nothing was right. As if he was too big for his own skin, that his eyes weren’t his own, that he didn’t belong.

The unknown was gnawing at him, teasing and luring him. However, where and how Warden didn’t know. He just knew that he had to move, to somewhere, for something. There was a purpose moving him, like the cogs making a watch tick to present time. Unknowingly, but still moving for a greater purpose.
 

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#5

Gasp.

It was the first sound that passed the thin-now-pink lips of the body that had but mere moments ago been nothing but a corpse, it's first sights mere flashes of images that seemed to overwhelm him, brief and too quick to fully grasp their concept. Sounds mixed with feelings followed my smells suffocated him more so than the sand that surrounded him, yet even the barren land went unnoticed by the small body that currently withered among the sand barren ground. Tiny piles of grain slid over the now smooth skin of the boy as his arms pushed and pulled through the sand. A sight of forest green flashed passed the lids as the boy tried to see the world around him, wild like that of a disoriented animal who feared for it's life and had no knowledge of it's whereabouts, all while more panted breaths passed his dry lips. Where? Who? What? These brief questions flashed in his mind in mere milliseconds as he tried to fully grasp what was happening around him, all while his hands desperately tried to pull his body from the sand that buried his legs and partly up towards his body, his feet beneath the sand currently doing all they could to push against their current captor's grasp.

These mere images and his confusion were not his only enemies that welcomed his arrival. All through his distortion, a long wail cried from the depths of his soul, pushing all else aside and demanded his attention. The small body collapsed upon the sand, small hands reached up to cover his ears as though to block the sound, yet they did nothing. The screams where everywhere, so loud and piercing, it not only caused his mind pain but also his heart. His own lips split open in his own cry of anguish, eyes flashing open as they scanned the land around him wildly, desperately trying to locate the source of such an agonizing cry that seemed to call to him. Yet there was no source. The cry itself seemed to come from deep inside of him, begging for help or the very least an end to its misery. Was he mad? Was it somehow his own anguish that he was hearing? Something told him it was not so, and that the cries were very much real, but he had no way of knowing what to do or how to make it stop. He was slowly spiraling downwards, his scattered mind becoming lost further and further with all this distortion and agonizing screams that racked his body and crushed his heart, he could feel himself becoming insane. He was scared, lost, confused, he had no idea what to do.

A cold grip settled over him. Perhaps the basic need to survive, his body's primal instinct to live, he did not know. All he knew was that a moment of clarity washed over him for the briefest of moments, perhaps some loving Creator laying His hand over him for the briefest moment of peace, and it was enough for the young boy to calm himself. To shut his eyes and still his body, to allow himself to simply breath and calm down, allowing himself time to process what was going on. He saw faces he did not recognize yet somehow knew. He felt sharp pains of whips and abuse upon his body. He caught sight of scarred hands, yet when he lifted his own hands to his face and opened his eyes, not a single scar rested upon them. Yet he knew these were those very hands. He continued to look upon them for the longest time, fully taking in their detail, and he bent each digit at their joint on their own accord so that he may grasp the fact that these were his own. He was here. This was him.

His presence now confirmed, his focus went to the screams, though in his moment of calming himself the screams themselves seemed to begin to calm. Though he was still very aware of their presence, they no longer seemed so dominant on his mind, and they no longer caused him the amount of pain that crippled him and began to drive him towards insanity. Compared to their earlier onslaught, this newfound quiet brought relief over the small body, and he felt himself sink into the sand. He allowed himself to remain their, his eyes looking up to the night sky that began to light up a bit, not near as dark as it could have been. The stars began to hide away as they sensed the sun's approach. He could tell it was near morning, though some time still lay before him before the sun would begin to show itself.

His fingers dug through the sand, feeling the texture brush up and slide between his fingers and over his hand and under his palm. He took his time to take in the senses around him, as if confirming to himself that all of this was real, and making a sort of anchor for himself to allow his mind to cope where he was, and that he was safe. At least for the moment. A cool breeze brushed the strands of his bangs and he could feel them brush the skin of his forehead and the bridge of his nose. His panicked breathing had calmed, and he allowed himself to inhale slow, deep breaths that expanded his lungs, his chest rising with the air before it lowered as a slow gush of air rushed passed his lips. He took note of every sensation, of every sight, of every sound and feeling. To the sound of the soft wind before it blew over his body and caused a few grains of sand to slide over his body, to the texture of the sand as it touched his skin, to the sound of his own breath and the feeling of his lungs filling themselves with air.

Such acts were enough to calm him and ease his mind to start thinking rationally. He began to see images a little more clear, and he began to get a grasp of them, however even though he could see these memories they did not feel like they belonged to him. He did not see enough to fully know who he was, it was all still so scattered and confusing, and he still had no idea how he ended up here. But he would get no answers if he remained where he was.

Now a lot more calm, he finally pushed himself free of the sand's embrace, working to get his feet under him. His stance became wobbled, a foot planting forward immediately to cease his descend back to the ground, and he managed to stay upright. His head lifted so that his eyes may get a better grasp of the world around him this time instead of the wild scan he had done previously, though so far he saw nothing but sand. His body began to do a full 360, trying to still his panicked heart with the idea that he may be stranded in the middle of a desert with morning coming so close, till his body now faced behind him and he caught sight of a distant city. There was enough light to show him the silhouette of the buildings against the dark sky not far in the distance, and such a sight was enough to relieve him. Perhaps there he could seek help, some answers, anything that may tell him what was going on.

It was then that he noticed something else as well. He had been so caught up in his previous experiences that he had taken no notice of it until now. There was a very strange sensation deep inside him, yet this feeling seemed to branch off into different directions, and he became perplexed. It was as though he were being pulled in different directions, not exactly by force, but he was drawn to these strange points. One pulled him in the direction behind him further out into the sand dunes, four others pulled him towards the city, but one.... One appeared to be so very near.
 
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Joan

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#6
Awakening

  
She saw violence, first. Hunting for food, fighting men, standing in front of children and attacking the air, showing them what she knew. Those images had a tinge of pleasant warmth to them, oddly enough. The images that followed were still violent, but in them, the warmth was replaced with first desperation, then anger, then numbness. Endless fights in a bloody arena, faces flashing in front of her, until suddenly she couldn't move, and her chest burned with pain.

She breathed, and then coughed. Something had filled her mouth when she breathed in, something rough and suffocating. Her eyes opened, only to immediately squeeze shut again to protect against the sand. She felt feeling returning to the rest of her body, and as it did, she realized the rest of it was covered by the sand, too, threatening to suffocate her. In a panic, she sat up, lashing out with her arms in front of her, only to fall forward on her face again as her body resisted the sudden movement. She lay there for a few moments, head turned slightly sideways so she wouldn't be breathing sand, before moving to get up again.

This time, she moved slower, carefully raising her head. That was easier. As she lifted her head, she could see there was only a thin dusting of sand on her, and she carefully pushed herself up, taking care to move slowly. She stood there in the sand a few moments, testing her balance, before carefully taking two steps forward.

She could stand, and she could walk. That was good. She glanced down at herself, taking note of the torn fabric over her chest, and the memory of burning pain flashed through her mind again. As she looked down, she felt a small presence in her mind. It was barely there, but it was there, and as she focused on it, a few of the grains of sand in front of her lifted into the air. She focused on them a few moments longer, then let them drop.

She could feel something else tugging on her from behind, and she turned to see a young boy staring at her. She instinctively knew he wasn't a threat, somehow, and as she looked at him, the tugging faded, giving way to five other separate tuggings. One led into the dunes, and she glanced that direction before focusing her attention back on the boy.

"Who?" She spoke carefully, still unsure of her voice. It came out rough and hoarse, and she paused, surprised at the sound of it, before trying again. "Who are we?" She could tell the boy and her were part of a we, of a group of some kind, and as that thought formed, she realized the tugging sensations likely indicated others. She glanced out into the dunes again before gesturing in that direction, looking over at the boy again. "Another?" She waited for him to answer, head cocked slightly to the side.
 

SkittlesAndSpike

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#7
With the first beat of his heart, his mouth opened and his lungs expanded, allowing the air to fill and permeate the organs. With the second his eyes opened, amber windows to his confusion as his mind searched for something, anything to hold on to, but the memories fell like sand through the hands of a child, leaving him grasping for more.

He remembered glee and pride. A beautiful item, shimmering with splendor in the light of the sun. Then came Wrath, strong and burning. He could see a face, a sneer, a knife, a fight and then...nothing. Darkness. He searched frantically, grasping at the drifting memories but instead finding something else, something foreign.

It didn't belong, but there it was. He hoped to find some comfort in its presence, something to hold on to, but that hope was met with disappointment. Just as the memories eluded him, so too did this...thing. No matter how hard he tried, it evaded him. It stayed a blur on the edge of his mind, leaving him frustrated.

He rolled over, raising himself from the cold stone floor slowly, only to notice the emptiness of the room. This wasn't right. No...he could see it in his mind now. The room was once filled with beauty. The walls were once lined with hand-crafted furniture and tables that held jewelry crafted with precious metals and gorgeous stones, each one more beautiful than the last. Memories of each item flashed through his mind, but they didn't fit, they weren't his. That wasn't him.

Any more soul searching was postponed by a strange feeling, a tugging at his core, pulling him in a direction. Something out there was summoning him, and the distance was small. He left the empty room and the house that held it behind and began wandering the city streets, hoping to answer the call he was feeling.​
 

DracoGale4

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#8
There had been no warning. No sign to warn him of the sudden trauma. It just happened as simple and natural as him blinking his eyes or taking a breath of air. His eyes had moved to a spot in the sand he was sure this strange feeling he had inside him pinpointed him to, and no sooner than he did than something burst out of the sand, startling him so much that he jumped backwards with so much fright that he couldn't even scream. His voice had caught in his throat as he stared transfixed with horror, staring at the person who had emerged from the sand, and he wondered if they were even alive. From what he could see, it was a girl, and she did not appear to be dead. Instead of running or screaming, he was glued right to the spot, still quite startled and filled with fright.

He watched as the woman began to move once more, staying silent and still the whole time, as though hoping that she would not see him. She began to move and only when she got to her feet did he dare take a few steps back, wanting to be sure to keep some distance between them in case this stranger proved to be hostile, though... He did not feel any danger from her. Rather it was a sense of wary curiosity. Just as he had been able to sense where she was, he also felt that she held no ill intent towards him and would not harm him, but he could not be entirely sure. Again he stayed silent the entire time as he watched her, that sense of curiosity keeping him rooted to the spot instead of running for the hills screaming at the top of his lungs, and he felt strongly that they were supposed to stick together.

Only when her eyes finally did land on him did he let out a sudden small squeak of surprise. He did not realize how tense or wary he was till her eyes suddenly landed on him that the surprise of being seen so suddenly had startled him. As soon as the sound was out he had grown quickly embarrassed, and he swallowed to try to moisten his mouth and throat that currently felt so parched, and cleared his throat. Trying to play it off as though the sound had never happened, and began to calm his nerves. Obviously this woman did not appear to be a threat, and he realized as well that she was obviously older than him, perhaps near around by ten years. By appearance anyway. The instant she whispered the question 'Who,' a single word flashed within his mind's eye, and the word slipped passed his lips and tongue before he could even consider it.

"Tear." He answered, and he paused from the shock of it, and from the shock of his own voice. Tear... He was sure of it. That was his name, yet it was also not his name. It did not feel like it entirely belonged to him, yet it felt right to have it. He blinked once and snapped out of it, before his eyes focused back on the woman. She had looked out towards the dunes and mentioned 'another', but he knew exactly what she meant. He felt it as well. That same feeling he had felt with her, yet it was tugging him out towards the dunes. Were they meant to follow? Were they to find the others that this feeling inside them was obviously trying to pull them towards? After all they had found each other, and this stranger had mentioned a 'we'. He assumed that she meant more than just the two of them.

He had no idea what was going on, and so far, it appeared that she did not understand much herself. But now, at the very least, he was not alone. That fact on it's own was enough to give him some confidence, and he was sure he could trust her, at least to stick around and not try to harm him. Maybe the only way they could find answers was to find the others, and he was sure that there were others. Perhaps they, too, were also looking for them and each other.

He cleared his throat again in an attempt to keep it clear, since like the woman's, it was so hoarse and cracked. "I...I don't know who we are." He began to answer her. "I...I just woke up, same as you, way out here. I don't know why we are here. I'm not even entirely sure how we came to be out here. I have these memories that don't seem to belong to me and I can't quite make them out." He paused as he looked around him, appearing to be uncomfortable and uncertain, but then he looked back to the woman. "But we both seem to have this...'feeling', right? You can feel something pull you in these different directions? One of those directions is further out in the dunes, so....maybe we should follow it? Because there are more people like us?" Whatever that meant, and even if they did find the others, then what? If the others really were like them, people waking up suddenly with memories that were not their own and confused as to how they got there, then how would they be able to help each other when they could barely help themselves?

He hesitated, then finally took a step closer to the woman, still wary. "Do you... Do you know your name? Mine just came to mind from nowhere and I said it.... Is it the same for you? Do you have memories that...aren't your memories?"
 

Kuno

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#9

They came and went, saw and conquered. Fleeting images of others flashed senselessly through her mind, their bodies merging and opening like one giant maw as a name was murmured, indiscernible. Eight faces viewed with considerable length: seven men varying in youth, the eighth figure warped by old age. The breathy touch of others on her skin. Reverence. Worship.

Lust. Of her. Of them. The vain pursuit of immortality lost to a weakened body. A chest--her chest--struggling to rise and fall. A gaunt reflection of a woman staring back into her own eyes, perhaps the most jarring vision of them all. So familiar...so tired. A name is sounded. It is…

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Memory began anew with gloom. The woman’s eyelids fluttered open to the pitchless black of night, a staggered breath exhaling into a sharp gasp. Her widened eyes swiveled to and fro. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she realized she was merely staring at a stone ceiling. She was laying on her back somewhere, somehow. Her hands instinctively reached out to the sides and were quickly met by a hard surface. She turned her head to look and saw wooden walls surrounding her. She was...inside a wooden box of sorts? A…

Coffin. She recognized its form, but did not understand the implications. She did not understand anything. Her head was a cloud of confusion, the underlying images from before doing little to console her. Another’s life lived on in her thoughts. But whose…?

There was something else. A foreign sense in her body that caused her to sit up instinctively in the coffin and look west, as if expecting someone to be there. There was nothing, but still; like a string tied to her heart, she felt something pulling at her in different directions. Something...something connected to her was not here, but out there. And it wanted her to find it, them. She wanted to find them. She wanted answers.

But how to get to them…? Her eyes flitted around her surroundings. Around the unlit candlesticks surrounding the coffin. Towards the stone walls and tiny window near the ceiling.

Everything was draped in shadows. She realized in the candles there was light once, but no more. The wan cut of moonlight filtering through the window served as her only guide. Tentatively, she grasped the edge of the wooden box and pushed herself up, first on bended knee, then onto her feet. One leg came over the edge, then the other. The heavy robes on her body did more to slow her down, succeeding even in knocking over some of the candlestick holders. It was an incredibly noisy endeavor.

She was not prepared for anyone to notice.

The darkness surrounding her was chased away by a sudden stream of light. The shadow of a figure stretched long across the floor towards her. Startled, hand flying to grasp her chest, she swiveled towards the source. A person stood in the entryway to her...room, she now recognized, their hands extended to hold back a door. The light spilled in from somewhere behind them. It was too bright; her eyes squinted as she tried in vain to make out the features of the other. At length, her eyes adjusted, and in that instant, she saw.

The forceful, strange emotions that surged suddenly at the sight of them caught her off guard, causing her to stumble a step forward. A foreign word leapt to her tongue unbidden, spoken choppily like a child.

“Hus-band?”
 

Jays

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#10
The desert's sky flashed with dying lights, the stars falling like rain.

The wind was picking up, breathing the frigid night air into the very cracks and breaks of the sand, streaming the surface like interlocking unending waves, mesmerizing, soft and tender. But the raw invasive sand was anything but tender.

A figure appeared over a high dune, crawling up with both hands and feet. The cloak around its form was little more than layers of weathered rags, billowing in the gentle breeze. Its hood was up, hiding features in shadow. A Dune Nomad.

The dark figure followed the dune's top, keeping far above the constantly shifting currents below. Each step betrayed resolution, bleeding it like sweat. The motion was odd, nearly mechanical, unconscious and determined.

Something caught the figure's attention and its head swivelled and cocked to one side, as if listening intensely. Deftly it slid down one side of the dune on elbow and knee, its movement hurried and deliberate.

The figure's shadow blocked out whatever little light the starless sky provided, looming over the pitiful form of the small boy clutching a piece of exposed rock jutting from the sand.

The Nomad's breath steamed in the crisp frozen air. Startlingly blue eyes shone from the darkness of the hood, as icy as the night.

"Are you them?" The voice was quiet, hoarse and rough as if the very act of speaking was unfamiliar, the question more musing than inquisitive. The cadence was unmistakably female.

A hand extended toward the boy from under the cloak, calloused and bruised, palms up.

"You are."

----

The smell of rotting flesh was only tolerable because the wind was blowing the other way.

Kywr forded the rocky terrain with familiar ease, effortlessly avoiding sandpits and fragile formations of stone ruins making his way through the rough field outside the City's walls. The butcher's mouth and nose were covered, his hands and feet woven tight within layers of rags. He hummed softly to himself, a tuneless melody that was quickly swallowed by the harsh wind.

He had done this countless times, and the last trip had been especially fruitful. Someone had wrapped a noble's body in a carpet and dumped it under the other corpses, no doubt smugly gloating about the ingenuity of the plan to someone else afterwards. It was frankly a piss-poor job, but Kywr wasn't complaining. He got a mostly new carpet, a set of fancy if somewhat bloodied clothes that he sold for 17 Loks, and the silver ring. The last one he had had to kill four men over, mostly beggars and thieves. But openly displaying something valuable on one's person was a mark of status and power in the underdark, and he radiated it like he was a Baron. The new wound across his eye would also make for a great scar. All in all, a single turn of fate in the Pits could change one's life as surely as being favoured by the Hounds.

Kywr's pleasant humming abruptly cut off at the sight of moving figures over the Pit. His Pit. In the dim starlight one could just make out the form of a child and a woman. Beggars and vultures trying to steal scraps from his table. Kywr's mood fouled in an instant. In the past he would have had no qualm doing the dirty work, but time had changed. He was more than that, now, he was a much more valuable piece if not a player at the table.

Stepping out from behind the ruins he had come through, Kywr plastered a smile that was half a grimace onto his face. "Out for a stroll, are you?" He had to shout over the constant murmur of the wind.

They always ran. He always caught them in the end. Perhaps he should learn from Lyric and strung their corpses up on poles around his Pit.

----

The man's nose twitched sharply and he sniffed the air like a dog. Something smelled odd. It wasn't the ever-present stench of dry waste and unwashed human odour that permeated the air like sand. No, this was something different, something out of place. It smelled pleasant, mingled with blood. A wide grin spread across the man's gnarly twisted features.

What he found wasn't what he had expected. The noble was alive, despite the overwhelming foul metallic scent and the pool of stain on the dirt. Still, it was no matter. The well-dressed man seemed confused, disoriented and barely able to stand.

The grin widened into a savage snarl, showing rotten crooked teeth. He pushed into the alley and before the other man could react his fist thumped hard against the man's stomach, knocking the air out of him and doubling him over. In the half-light of night the two forms looked almost entangled.

His going through the rich man's pockets was cut short by a rustling from behind. Looking over his shoulder, he saw a new figure at the mouth of the alley. This one too was draped in tattered clothes, a common sight in most parts of the City-States. The figure's face betrayed little emotion except for the intense dark eyes and tired lines.

"Piss off." He said with venomous irritation in his voice. "This one is mine. I found him first."

"Leave him." The stranger replied, his voice holding as much roughness and ferocity as him.

"This street is the Muds'." He growled, getting to his feet. He stood a head taller than the stranger, looming menacingly. "Piss off or I'll knock your teeth in." He advanced on the smaller man, his hands flexing in anticipation.

In a single flash faster than the eye could register, a glint of metal in the stranger's hand lashed across his throat. The Mud thug dropped to his knees gurgling blood, his hands around his cut throat. Crimson soaked darkly through his fingers.

The ragged figure watched silently as the thug died. Then his eyes moved to the crumpled form of the well-dressed man further in the alley.

"Can you stand?" He asked, extending a hand. The blade in his hand gleamed dangerously scarlet, and the look in his eyes was that of a man who knew many things.

---

The cobbled stone street of the High District was deserted at this hour. All who lived there could afford to stay indoor at night. The eerie silence was almost haunting. Even here where the wretched high and mighty of ruins made their home, the sand could not be kept out, could not be denied. The cracks in the stone were filled with it, every door way, every window, every wall. The desert claim this place, too, the respite was momentary, a mere illusion. And across its landscape two souls were pulled toward one another, like sparks ignited on two ends of a string.

The quiet was broken by the clicking of iron heels on the cobble, the sound not in sync but perfectly at ease. Two men and a woman marched down a side street in a relaxed formation, one ahead, two close behind. Their clothing while not clean was well-made and sturdy, albeit a colourless grey. On their chest pinned a metallic brand of a talon grabbing the sun. This identified them as a team of Inquisitors, the Nightguard.

They marched in a careful pace through the twisting alleys and streets of the District in an unseen pattern that covered ground in reasonable time, passing through every corner, every path.

A raised hand from the leader stopped the small party. He pointed, and through the lazily drifting veil of sand they spotted a shape up ahead, slowly, almost confusedly wandering the street. The leader frowned, and together the Inquisitors approached the figure carefully, until the shape could be identified as that of a man. His features could almost been seen from this distance, though his expression was still shadowed by the unlit gloom.

"Halt!" The leader commanded loudly, pointing with his cudgel. "What in dirt's name are you...?"

A hand on his shoulder cut his words short, as a second Inquisitor stepped out from behind the first, his eyes squinting against the sand, glinting with recognition.

"Master Niklas?" He asked, his voice tinged with perplexity. "What are you doing out at this hour?" He eyed the dark spot on the front of the man's shirt quizzically. The third Inquisitor swept her gaze out toward their surrounding, brows furrowing.

She had heard something else mixed within the constant hum of the breeze.

----

The old Steel Inquisitor stood frozen on the doorway of his wife's funeral chamber. His hands shook where it grabbed the frame of the door with white knuckles, as if it was the only thing keeping him on his feet.

"Udu's grace." He breathed, the words tumbling out of his mouth almost unconsciously. "You're dead. Dead. Dead. You're not dead. Udu's eyes."

Suddenly he surged forward and grabbed the red-clad woman with both hands on her shoulder, his grip hard as iron. His mind, an Enchanter's will bored into the tiny form in his grasp.

"How dare you? HOW DARE YOU? Get out of her head! Get..." Suddenly he stumbled back, his head flashing with familiar images.

His face paled to an almost ghostly white, his eyes wide in shock and disbelief. "It is you." Only then did he notice her healthy visage, the gaunt features replaced by that of someone a decade younger.

The room trembled, the Inquisitor's mind reeling like leaves battered by the rain.
 
Last edited:

Aero Blue

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#11
The sands nearly claimed him again in his entirety as his footing began to fail, unbalanced by the new presence. He caught himself once again on the rock, but by the flat of the forearm, causing an anguished scream to well up within him -- only it did not come, for his throat was parched, and dried, and just about scarred from disuse. At last coming to terms that a sputtering cough was all his strength could summon, he expunged his throat of phlegm upon the sands, and noting that his arm had not been split in twain, slowly lifted his head towards the newcomer.

He recoiled, the sheer brilliance of those crystalline eyes a force unto themselves, that reminded him of the eyes from the vision. Alike and not alike. This one’s eyes were diamond, and her eyes were emerald, and their eyes shone. Their eyes lived, their eyes were potent, and strong, and their eyes were greedy -- he could have floated in the pupils of their eyes, in the absence that pulled at him, and he could have drowned in their irises, in the expanse of coloration that did not pull, but enveloped him.

That enveloped him like her breath, turned grey in the frozen air, did. That became him.

Are you them?

He understood the words, each individual part, although he scarce comprehended them in their entirety. But he understood, he felt, the hand that reaching towards him.

He reached out in turn, as the frozen air turned colder still, and he shivered. The rags upon him were ripped to such an extent that he may as well have been near-naked, and the cold lashed at him, threatening to lacerate patches and strips of his skin.

His hands dropped, no longer seeking to grasp the nomad’s. The thoughts of that blurred vision in his periphery, too, faded for the moment, as he crawled frantically through the sands towards her legs, doing his utmost to tug at, reach in -- up and upon -- her cloak. That worn salvation that brought to bear visions of a masquerade trekking throughout the sands, but that mostly reminded him of safety, and of warmth.

“Please…” His throat relented, and he begged, “Please…”
 

Kuno

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#12

She had called the man husband, but memory stirred of something else, a proper name. His name was Mund.

Was it a cruel irony she knew his name before her own?

The hard lines etched into his skin bespoke of experience and years beyond her. It was familiar to her, somehow: the silver hair, the black eyebrows raised at attention, a tall frame lending to the strength with which it held. She watched him watching her, both individuals perplexed by the other, a dash of shock and fear sparking the tension between them.

The title “husband” denoted belonging, a sense of companionship; to some extent, she understood. The pulling at her heart to others did not lead to him, but all the same her heart stirred at the sight of him. Had she--was she...his wife? Fragmented images of him from another time lingered in her mind, but she felt no sense of truly experiencing those memories. Another’s memories, then? No; the man’s breathy response to her appearance implied recognition. So then...Her eyes steadied somewhere beyond Mund, lost in thought.

Whether hers or not, she clung to the connection with frenzied desperation. She had nothing, nothing else but that; the tugging within her to the others was there, but too far for her to truly grasp. The man was all she could sense...all she had. She decided, tentatively, to open herself to him, a small flower spreading its petals towards the sun.

“Husband. Mund,” She spoke again, softly, as the man bore down on her. Rage radiated off him, and it confused her. Naively, she did not move, expecting at any moment for her man’s disposition to change, for was she not his, as he was hers? Did he not recognize that?

There was an impending violence in his movements, something she did not register until his hands clamped down onto her shoulders. He was strong, his much larger frame swallowing her up whole as he drew close. It unnerved her. Frightened, her eyes shot up towards his, yearning to find some warmth and affection there. His eyes were the black of an endless pit, cold and unforgiving.

Panic spread throughout her in earnest. Something in her own body pushed out instinctively, a tiny sense that rose up against the oncoming storm. She had no idea what it would do. She only hoped it would be strong enough to protect her.

It was not. The man’s will crashed into her mind with unrelenting force. The excruciating pain that came swiftly after caught her so by surprise that she made no sound, her lips parting for a scream that never came. She jerked back violently, but the Mund’s grip on her arms held her solidly in place.

“How dare you? HOW DARE YOU?” Mund boomed, his voice filling the room with ease. She could not focus on his words; black spots began to dance on the edge of her vision. Just as she began to find her voice again, the tall man abruptly released her. She reeled back, nearly careening to the floor as she clutched her head in anguish. The pain had ceased, but the fresh memory of it lingered still. She gazed at her husband wild-eyed.

“I don’t...don’t understand.” Tears ran down her cheeks with reckless abandon, her words a choked wail. “Please don’t hurt me. Please...No more. Please don’t hurt me anymore.”

She began to back away frantically towards the door. The urge to run from Mund was overwhelming, and her eyes darted back and forth from the man to the lighted room behind.
 
Last edited:

Greenie

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#13

Making her way out of the house and down to the cobbled streets had been quite a feet. She was unused to walking, even if the body she found herself knew very well what to do. The flimsy and flowing clothes that covered her came under her feet with every step, causing her to lurch and fall to the ground more than a few times. An unpleasant feeling, a stinging and burning, could be felt when her hand pressed down on a rock, the soft flesh of her palm tearing open due to the sharp edge.​
"Ah!" She turned her hand, her pale skin now blossoming with red. It almost looked beautiful if it weren't for what she was feeling. Pain, the memories in her mind supplied. This body had felt pain before, in fact, it was one of the first memories she could recall. Hand shaking, she pressed it against her chest; sparing a glance down at herself, she could now see the tears in her clothes and the dark stains that further marred them.​
Scared... It had been the feeling her body had felt when it had been stabbed, and it was what she felt right now. As the dread filled her, the screaming in her head began to course through her head, once more forcing itself to the forefront as her focus on the present dwindled.​
What... where...? Blindly and with no destination she scrambled to her feet, grabbing at the only thing that made sense, the feeling inside, that instinct drive to reach that which she needed. Follow it. Not wishing to fall yet again, she grabbed at the flowing skirt that covered her legs and pulled it up, tucking one end under the belt. It was shorter now, but at least she wouldn't trip over it anymore.​
How long she walked, she couldn't tell. Soon enough she could hear something other than her own breathing and the screams in her mind. People... men. Her memories certainly knew men, but she took no comfort in that fact, for what was comforting was that the pull in her was even stronger. Whatever she needed to find was here.​
She had only to one step further when she came in view of the female Inquisitor. Her gaze however swept past her and onto the man called Master Niklas. Her eyes widened and she knew she had found it.​
"You," she choked, relief coursing through her.​
 

Joan

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#14
Fear

  
The boy was nervous, first. He didn't seem to know what was going on anymore than she did, and he seemed alarmed by her, for some reason. Yet, when she asked him his name, he responded immediately, and appeared to relax. Then the words came, and she waited a few moments after he was done speaking, trying to process what had been said.

They were the same, they both had these memories and had only just woken up, and they had been drawn to each other. They were being drawn to others now, and he suggested they follow the one out in the dunes. She nodded slowly.

"Yes. I think we should follow it. And yes, I have those memories too. They're..." She paused, trying to find the words, noting gratefully her voice was coming much easier now. "Violent, and jumbled, and..." as she paused again, considering the question of her name, two flashed into her mind. One felt more right, one was resented but also seared deeper into the memory, and neither felt quite like her. Yet they were hers, somehow. "I'm...Ilana? Kara? I don't know, they're both there..." She blinked, trying to make sense of it, before a shout came from behind, interrupting her thoughts.

She turned sharply, trying to avoid falling again. She could see a burly-looking man, dressed for the sands, with a massive knife sheathed at his hip and a confident air to him. She didn't have to see the knife before her senses screamed danger, and she instinctively stepped back, one arm going out protectively in front of Tear.

Her mind raced to figure out their options. There was nothing nearby they could use as a weapon. She felt whoever had previously owned this body and memories had known how to fight, and that some of that was still with her and she could maybe use it, but in her current stumbling state, she doubted she would do well. Similarly, she doubted they would do well running, with the difficulty she had had keeping her balance before. There was the small presence, but it couldn't do much, not yet.

The small presence...if this boy was like her, did he have something he could do, too?

She looked back at Tear. "Can you...do something? Something to stop him?" Before he could answer, she looked back at the man, not wanting to take her eyes off him for long.
 

SkittlesAndSpike

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#15
Master Niklas.

That's who he was, or at least who he was supposed to be? But that wasn't who he actually was. Master Niklas was the man in his memories, the man who owned the pretty stones. He was someone else, someone he didn't know yet. "No, not me. I'm not Niklas!" He started to speak, unsure of where to go from there.

Before his mind could conjure up any more words for his lips to speak, the pull at the center of his core tugged even harder than what it had before. He turned his head in the direction of the pull and, in an almost pleased tone repeated the woman's word back to her. "You!" He threw his hands into the air.

The Nightguards were now forgotten as if they no longer existed exist anymore. He turned away from them, walking toward the woman and repeated himself. "You!" He could feel something, a feeling swell in his chest. He knew this feeling, it was the same thing Niklas felt whenever he received something beautiful and precious. It was joy.

"Who are you?" He asked the woman, a confused yet happy look on his face. It was a strange question to ask, considering he didn't even know who he was, but there had to be a reason he was pulled to her. There also had to be a reason that she had come to him. Maybe she didn't know him? Maybe she knew Niklas?​
 

Jays

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#16

The Nomad's hand reached withdrew into her tattered cloak and unwrapped it from around herself. Underneath were more rags held together by strings. She threw the cloak over the flailing form before her, and without much apparent effort picked up the bundled boy and threw him over her shoulder. The sand beneath her feet did not give way like sand should, her steps were as sure and unyielding as if striding upon hard earth itself.

For a time they forged the desert atop the ridges of dunes with the dimming moon behind them. The rain of star slowly diminished, flashes of light growing less frequent, letting true night return to claim its throne. Silence was in the crisp breeze blowing from the North, barely disturbed by the scuffing of her steps on the desert floor. The boy's skin was feverishly hot, compared to his, hers icy cold as the frozen sand.

Eventually, they stopped beside a rock formation between two interlocking dunes where they would be sheltered from the wind. The Nomad dropped the boy, not unkindly, on the ground, and lowered herself carefully to sit with her back against one of the rocks, her legs trembling slightly.

From beneath the layers of rags her hand emerged again, this time holding a stoppered water skin. She held it out to the boy. "Drink."

Aero Blue Aero Blue
---

The same tears streamed down the old Inquisitor's cheeks. His mouth worked silently but no words came out. He took a step forward, his arms outstretched as if trying to reach out to her, to hold her. His face fell as she shrank away from him, full of misery.

Suddenly, Mund's features hardened into a deep scowl as frantic footsteps sounded on the hallway outside. A moment later, a middle-aged man wearing servant's clothes lurched into the doorway, breathing hard. "Master? What is the matter? The floor was shaking..."

His face paled to a ghostly white as he caught a glimpse of the young woman in red, and he gaped frozen in place.

"Nez." Mund's voice was dangerously low as he turned. The servant's gaze tore away from the woman as he caught the murderous tone in his Master's voice. "Keep your mouth shut." The old Inquisitor said, and Nez nodded his head so violently his long hair shook free of the neat tie he had before. "Vacate this wing. And send a summon to Lorel." Mund gave crisp orders and the servant darted away as quickly as he had came.

"It's alright. I will uncover what happened. I will fix you." With a few soothing words and one last look full of fear and mixed hope, the Inquisitor exited and closed the door behind him as he had done only hours before, plunging the chamber back into darkness. Through the wood of the wall came the muffle sounds of retreating footsteps and Mund's loud baritone ordering all to leave.

Kuno Kuno
---

Quick as a blur the female Inquisitor shot forward and grabbed the newly emerged woman in a hard, almost painful grip. Her eyes expertly examined the peculiar sight and her brows furrowed deeply. The other Inquisitors had also turned toward the new form.

"What is it now?" The leader asked in irritation.

"Young woman. Barely dressed." The female Inquisitor replied in a careful, thoughtful tone. "She's bloodied. Soaked, in fact. Multiple lacerations on her clothes, but her skin is unmarked." She tilted the woman's face up and watched her eyes intently. "She seems...confused. Distracted. Abnormal responses. She doesn't seem to feel the cold" Her eyes travelled back to the man they had stopped before, the others following her gaze. They looked back and forth between the two people, the similarity in their behaviours, the odd replies, and the same idea hit all of them at the same time. The leader scowled furiously.

"Malfeasance?" The female Inquisitor offered incredulously. "Here in the High District?"

"Uhm...Jak?" The Inquisitor who had recognized Niklas cleared his throat dryly. "I know her too. That's Mistress Riyuta. Her residence is a few streets away."

The female Inquisitor guided the woman toward the group and left her next to Niklas while the three Inquisitors stepped away to confer between themselves. They tried to keep their voices low, but in the crisp silent night they still rumbled like distant thunder.

"Could be a new mindnumber ecstasy the stuffed bastards do every day. Could be another moronic meddling with them Magic hobbies malfunctioning. Could be a lot of things." The leader insisted.

"Could also be Malfeasance." The second male Inquisitor said tiredly.

The leader turned his scowl on the second man. "Either way, ain't none of our blasted job, is it?"

The other man shrugged helplessly, showing his own reluctance. They turned as one to regard the two awkward forms behind them, as if half-expecting them to have just vanished when they turned their back. The two had not. They even seemed to be talking, though their expressions seem anything but normal.

"What do you figure? Hireling or did some high and mighty Master deigned to do it himself?" The female said in a conversational tone. "The latter would really narrow it down, seeing as how few of them high and mighty bother to hone their Charm. This would take some delicate work."

"I wouldn't be surprised if it is just a new opioid." The leader smacked his lips distastefully.

A brief silence followed. Then the second man spoke up: "Can't very well leave them here. They might remember us when the effect pass. Them bastards hold grudges like they hoard Lok gems."

The leader let out a long sigh. "Take them to the House. Afterwards it'll be out of our hands."

The three spread out in a formation surrounding the two figures, two in front and one behind, and slowly guided their way Northwards.

SkittlesAndSpike SkittlesAndSpike Greenie Greenie
 

Nemopedia

Storms lie. A breeze it becomes. A breath it ends.
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#17
Everything happened so fast.

A punch to the gut, a flash of pain, warm hands all over him. For some reason he knew that this was called a mugging. For some reason he knew that there was nothing worth stealing from him, except from the clothes on his back, however even that was tattered and torn.

And when someone saved him Warden (was that really his name?) laid unmoving on the ground, eyes blank and confused as he was still trying to rub away that mental stain away. The weight of his body, familiar, yet unfamiliar, the sky above him strange, but yet his own…

“Yeah,” he lamely responded to his savior, though he had no idea what he really was responding to. The blade went ignored, or rather, it didn’t faze him. His voice did. Had he always sounded so light? Or deep? Or… Warden wasn’t even sure if that was his voice, but he knew he had the intention to speak earlier and he felt his lips move.

Realising what the words meant he quickly scrambled up, clumsy and awkward. How did he move these arms before? Why were his legs so thin? Looking up at the other figure he wondered if he had always been so short and unknowing.

“Thank you, right?” he was unsure if he was supposed to show gratitude or if that was going to be later, or did he miss his chance?

The world seemed so complicated all of a sudden.

“Ah, uuuh, I think I need some help,” he started, but it sounded all wrong to him, or was it just his voice? “I mean, who are you?” he changed the question, but still it wasn’t right. Groaning the man let go of a frustrated sigh.
 

DracoGale4

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#18
Tear had no idea what he would get out of this, or what the woman's response would be, if she would even see him being useful to her at all. He could not get a good look at himself, but from the fragmented memories he was able to obtain, he was sure that he was but only a child. He was quite sure that children were never really taken seriously and often got in the way, so surely this woman must think the same of him? But then again, perhaps her own misgivings and desperation to discover the truth would convince her to accept his aid and together they could figure this out. It seemed as though she were, indeed, going to accept his help and suggestion about finding the 'others'. She had tried giving him a name, but it appeared she struggled with the identity of two, not quite sure which truly belonged to her. He did not understand. His own name had come so suddenly and so naturally.

Before either could do anything they were interrupted by an unwanted guest. It was strange. Tear had known he was there before he made his presence known, though he was not quite sure how and he had realized only too late. There had been...a shift in the air, as though he felt the man's presence through the air, but his thoughts and senses were so jumbled that he had been unable to pinpoint it or even notice it at first. He thought he had caught a particular scent as well, though it was hard to tell with the dry air. He had already been facing towards the direction the man came, so now the woman with two names turned her back to him just as his own body tensed, readying itself either to fight or take flight, yet much to his great surprise the woman had put out a protective arm out in front of him. His eyes briefly glanced up at her face before they settled back on the stranger before them. He didn't know why she made such a move, if it was only instinct or if she truly planned on defending him, and if so.... Why? They were but strangers, only meeting for the first time, so why would she possibly put harm to herself in order to defend him?

He could already tell that the guy before them was bad news. Even if his weapon wasn't in such clear view, sheathed or not, there was just something about his eyes. They were eyes that had seen plenty of messed up things, and had probably even been the one to cause some of them, and it did not appear like this guy had much care for him or Kara-he decided to stick with a singular name for now till she decided on a name-and so had no qualms killing them for whatever reason. Already he could see Kara's eyes searching, either for a way out or a way to fight, he was not sure. But when it seemed that her search proved unfruitful, her gaze turned to him, and her question caught him off guard. Him? Do something? Like what?! He knew just about as much as she did, so he did not have some sort of special knowledge on anything he may be able to do. But right now he felt for certain that if they did not do something soon, their lives would be in danger, so they had to come up with something fast.

His mind was racing. They could run perhaps, but the way the stranger held himself showed that he was very familiar with these sands, and so would catch up to them in no time. While they struggled and shuffled through the sands he may have been able to effortlessly glide along it and cut them off. Literally. Fighting didn't seem like much of an option as well, after Kara's brief inspection around them. Even if the bodies down in the pit had weapons, there was no way that they would have time to search for a weapon before the stranger was upon them, and Tear was no fighter. He was fairly certain of that, and he doubted that Kara would be able to defend both him and herself. Rather than running, the only place to go was down in the pits, but then they would be doing nothing but cornering themselves. No, the only thing he could really think of, was buy some time.


"Please sir," he put on the most innocent childish voice he could muster, moving himself close to Kara like a frightened child as he peeked over her arm at the man, "my sister and I only wanted to see our father. He..." He strained to speak, giving a light pause before his eyes slowly downcast towards the pit, and he waved a single hand towards it. "His body had been taken here, w-we only wanted to say our final goodbyes to him. It's my fault... I-I wanted to come, my sister was only doing what I wanted."

He managed to sniff and it wasn't hard for his eyes to tear up, though he made a show of keeping it in. "I'm sorry Kara, I should have listened to you... P-please, sir, let us go and w-we won't bother you again. We have no money, and nothing worth taking. If we overstepped our boundaries, w-we're sorry. We'll leave right away..."

It was all he could think of doing, to hopefully perhaps appeal to a softer side of the stranger or at least show that they were not worth the trouble of mugging or killing. After all, they were but a boy and girl, with not a single coin to their name. If they promised to leave and not come back then perhaps the stranger wouldn't care. After all, he hadn't killed them yet, and he seemed plenty capable of dong so. Of course, perhaps this was a man who got a certain thrill just for killing, in which case he and Kara were doomed from the start, and the man planned on killing them anyway. He really wished that the screaming in the back of his head would stop, however, so that he could think more clearly.
 

Aero Blue

he hears his master's voice
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#19
He clutched the water-skin like it was an immaculate talisman given from his saviour, some mark of protection that would keep him safe even if she were to vanish. The prospect of which seemed almost unfathomable, so prominent did she seem even amidst the silent void that seemed a large mass of something-which-was-nothing, and the endless dunes. He lifted the water-skin to his lips with a sort of reverence, a mudra, and let its sweet nectars replenish him, undoing the ravishing that the thirsty work of death had left upon his throat.

Life returned to him, and so too did a clearer visage of the symbol, lingering somewhere to the side of his saviour. Always on the edges of the frame, hovering with a stillness, before dashing out of sight as he turned his head to capture the vision of it.

To the left, did his neck crane, and then to the right, and still did the construct escape him, navigating paths unfathomable to escape his vision. And thus, did he stop, by some form of intuition, and begin to hunt it through stillness, like one would hunt the unsuspecting mark by awaiting in the sands. Only he understood not the concept of the mark, and of hiding beneath the grains, it was just an idle thing that made passage through his mind.

Slowly, however, did he feel -- in his stillness -- the symbol inch closer.

He found his attentions diverted from it by the other forces that pulled at him, cooing to him in their soft, inviting notes.

“Them?” He said, echoing to her the very first question she had inquired of him, “Where? You, are?”
 

SkittlesAndSpike

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#20
"Let her go!" Not-Niklas spoke up as soon as the female Inquisitor grabbed the woman, Mistress Ryuta as they called her, but his words fell on deaf ears Why were they being so aggressive? What did they do wrong? Was there a need for this? It all seemed excessive and unnecessary. At least they let her go once she was brought over.

"Hello again." He greeted her a second time, waving his hand awkwardly. He wondered if she was this 'Mistress Ryuta' in the same way that he was 'Master Niklas'. There was a connection between the two of them, that much he knew. He just didn't know why or what it was. He only knew that it was there, at the core of his very being.

The words of the guards were confusing to him, to say the least. Malfeasance? Opioids? He hadn't the slightest idea of what they were, but he was confident that he hadn't done any of those things. When they mentioned 'The House' he thought they would be taking them back to the house he'd come from, back to Niklas's house. But they were walking them in a different direction.

"The house isn't this way." He told the guards, believing they were also confused. They didn't know where he came from as far as he knew, so it was a simple mistake. "We have to turn around to go to the house." He stopped in his tracks and tried to turn around, only to be pushed forward by one of the male Inquisitors.

"Not that house." He responded, biting his tongue so as not to insult the man. Whatever these two had done to themselves, he didn't know if it was permanent or temporary, and he'd rather not take the risk that it was temporary and incur any future wrath. "A different house. Just keep walking."

"Oh..." Not-Niklas continued on, glancing at 'Mistress Ryuta'. A look of fear and worry crept across his face. As they were marched to some house, he couldn't help but feel dread in his belly.​