Silhouettes

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Fox of Spades, Apr 28, 2016.

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  1. Silhouettes
    A 1x1 Between @BKenScout and @Fox of Spades



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    At the Broken Bard

    Last night, a man was beheaded for stealing cabbages. It was a somber ordeal that took place in the town square, and as the crowd stared on, Alina felt an odd ache in her chest, something she couldn't quite comprehend. The man was of no importance to her. He was a common thief who was unlucky enough to get caught, but his beheading brought back vivid flashes of iron-pressed coats and endless nights spent plodding through snow.

    Thinking about it made her lose her appetite, and she stared wearily at her bowl of cold porridge.

    "Serves him right. Good for nothing thief, here in Edinburg, people work for their keep."

    "Amen to that, brother! Only the hardworking will prosper."

    Talk of the execution floated around the brightly lit tavern, and halfheartedly, Alina listened. Things like this always caused a commotion because in their little settlement by the woods, rarely anything ever happened. They were a small community of roughly fifty or so people, and most of them worked the land for a living while others resorted to hunting or fishing. Alina herself worked as a farmhand, rarely ever leaving the town. And she wasn't the only one, people rarely left Edinburg, and when they did, they made sure to never stray far.

    The settlement was surrounded on all sides by a dark and ominous forest that stretched out as far as the eye could see. The trees were so tall, and their branches so thick that barely any sunlight ever reached the forest floor. Some of the hunters who'd wandered deep into the woods never returned, and those that did, came back changed people. They would speak of shadow-like creatures and of never ending paths that lead to nowhere, and often, they would claim to have seen silhouettes of strange apparitions that were not of this world. Their horrific stories circulated so quickly throughout town, that no one ever dared to venture deeper into the woods for fear of the unknown.

    This only fueled her curiosity. Sometimes, Alina thought of leaving, but James Mertens, the owner of the farm she worked on always told her that the idea would only get her killed. Still, the thought of someplace other than Edinburg tempted Alina day in and day out.

    Most of the villagers, including herself, remembered nothing of a life outside their settlement. It was odd, how they all woke up here one day with no recollection of who they were or where they came from. It was this thought that bothered her on some nights, but on most days, she kept the question buried at the back of her mind because like everyone else, Edinburg was all she'd ever known.

    Leaning forward, Alina rested her arms on the wooden table. The music coming from the makeshift stage up front managed to brighten up everyone's spirits. The lute player even did a little jig, hopping excitedly off stage so he could pull one of the ladies out of her seat and onto what served as the tavern's dance floor. The festivities were only beginning, but Alina's thoughts were elsewhere... a world of frost and missing gods.
     
    #1 Fox of Spades, Apr 28, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
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    At the Execution

    Ezekiel stood somberly with most of the other citizens of Edinburg. He bowed his head as they read the man's crime. The thief was on his knees before the chopping block, facing the crowd, his face full of regret. It was just a cabbage, how could they do this to him? Who were they to judge? He'd shed his tears as the magistrate read the convoluted list of offenses. They had found anything and everything to charge him with, just to make an example. It's not even like the merchant he stole it from called for death, he just wanted to be compensated. So why, now, were they deciding to be so cruel?

    The former Inquisitor's hands were clasped behind his back. He was known for carrying himself with dignity, never breaking his strong posture. Some of the other villagers strayed farther from him; he seemed strange to them - with his alert eyes and tense muscles. These were habits he was only vaguely aware of, but completely unsure where they came from. In every crowd, he made sure to see every face, find every exit, and look for every detail. It was completely out of his control, but it made him question what he was doing here in Edinburg. He'd been living here a while, but hardly felt acquainted with anybody, he didn't know where he'd come from. Was he raised here? Nobody else knew either. One face always stuck out to him, particularly here. Alina Alkaev. She had sharp features and something about her felt familiar. At the very least, she seemed at least similar to him. He noticed, just as he knew she'd noticed him, that she carried herself with the same alertness and professionalism.

    "If there is nothing left to add, we shall proceed." The magistrate waited several moments before turning and walking a few steps to the side in order to spectate. The executioner stared from behind his hood, a heavy axe at the ready. This was so archaic, Ezekiel thought to himself in agitation as he turned his head up. Everybody had a different perspective - some bowed their heads, some watched, others turned away... He thought it rude not to watch. If somebody was sentenced to die, then you could bear the weight of that decision and watch them die. Only children covered their eyes at death. Still, he wondered where this train of thought originated as the sound of torn flesh was followed shortly by the thud of an axe, lodging in a block. The thief's head landed in a basket. Zeke felt a pang of familiarity and overwhelming empathy as the beheaded body fell limp. He felt his insides turn inside out and it burned... He fell to his knees, doubled over with wide eyes as he felt bile rise to his throat. He felt like he was going to hurl and part of the crowd parted around him to avoid the impending splash. His insides burned as though he'd swallowed embers and he had to place a hand on the ground to keep himself level. What was happening..? The feeling passed after only a few seconds, but it felt like hours as the crowd began to mutter...


    At the Broken Bard, the Following Evening

    Zeke stared at his glass. He hadn't even ordered any food. This town was turning into a shitshow and it made him sick. They weren't the wealthiest around, but he barely knew anybody from outside of Edinburg, so there was nothing to compare it to. Maybe people were just bored, so they found it entertaining or thrilling to have a man put to death for a minor reason. Or they had to pretend like the guards hired by the magistrate were necessary, so they made work and problems where there weren't any. It seemed reminiscent of a time and place he'd long forgotten. His hands rested on the table, one wrapped around his drink. There was that mark... A sickle-bladed moon shielding a pair of crossed daggers on the back of his hand. He wondered when he'd gotten it, but still couldn't remember why or where. Certainly before Edinburg, in that vague memory of a youth... Did he have a youth? Did anybody here?

    He pushed the thought from his mind. It confused him, but there was little he could about it. No research to conduct, no way to take care of it. Things like that were better left to nature, he'd let his own life run its course and die. Then he'd be away from the ignorance and passivity which plagued this town. The whiskey was a comfort that burned his throat but relieved his mind as he took another sip from his glass. He placed it back on the table as he scanned the bar. Alina was here, oddly... He couldn't recollect her visiting often, but he was hardly surprised to see that she had no alcohol at her table. Such an astute and dignified lady; he smirked, as she reminded him in part of some clergywoman dressed in less robes.

    "Oy, you see that Zeke guy too? The fekkin' creep couldn't handle it. Ye'd think he'd not seen summin' like it in his entire life!" A voice sounded out raucously.

    Their conversation stopped as he looked back with daggers at them and they turned the subject to the execution.

    "Serves him right..." One of them said.

    Zeke gripped his glass and his knuckles turned white. He cracked his neck and rolled his shoulders.

    "Only the hardworking will prosper." The other one replied with a grin.

    The former Inquisitor took a deep breath as he watched his hand shake slightly. He rose from his chair, the legs making a rough squeaking sound as they scraped the wooden floor. He coldly turned on his heel and started to walk by the pair just after downing the rest of the beverage. He stopped behind the one who had found his own pain at the execution humorous, deliberating on his next move. He let his breath out and continued to walk, much to the relief of the pair. As he made it about six paces away, almost reaching the bar, he did a hard pivot, pulled back his arm and then threw the glass.

    It made direct contact with the man's forehead, knocking him out of his seat before finally shattering on the floor. The man rose to his feet, clutching the bleeding portion of his head as he friend jumped out of his chair.

    "Looks like our little weak-stomached friend wants 'imself a brawl," The man noted with a disgusting, toothy grin. His friend cracked his knuckles and nodded.

    "Aye, I think so too."

    The two started to converge on Ezekiel, who was wearing a scowl with more malice than a God of War. He stared the two hulking men down, "I'll let you two off with that one warning. Walk away... now." Where was this coming from? Sure, he was confrontational and felt confident, but he couldn't remember being in any kind of a fight. How the hell would he take these guys on? "And if I ever hear you talk about a man you know nothing about... a story you didn't witness yourself... so help me Gods, I will make sure you're the next two heads on that block."

    One of them laughed, but they decided to let actions speak rather than words. The one still recovering from a head-wound snatched a bottle from a table as the other villagers made room to avoid the fight. He smashed the bottom and now carried a jagged-edged weapon by the neck, holding it out menacingly. His friend stood just behind, waiting for his turn as the armed one took a heavy lunge forward and swung the bottle. Zeke leaned only centimetres back and the sharp edges missed him by a hair. He felt the wind of it come past, but he hardly waited to respond before moving past the man's arm and sliding easily around to his back. He kicked the back of his knee and the man fell, his leg losing control for a brief moment.

    The Inquisitor turned and easily pushed the second attacker's hand to the side, shifting his forward motion so that he stumbled. Zeke lifted a foot and kicked him in the back, sending him into a weak table which crashed under his weight. "I said leave. I've been more than accommodating, and to be honest, I shouldn't even give you this chance. You're running out of warnings." He flexed his fingers before turning them into a fist.

    The rest... kind of just blurred together. He blinked and looked at his hands, then at the two groaning men who lay side by side on the ground. Some blood dribbled from his lip, ran from his nose, and his hand ached from a poorly placed punch. The other two collectively had a broken nose, sprained wrist, three fractured ribs (a rounded down estimate), a black eye, and broken jaw and four missing teeth scattered around the floor of the tavern.

    Zeke shook out his hand and wiped at his face, noting the copious amount of red liquid that came with it. Where did he learn to do that? He looked around and most of the other pub-goers were staring at him in horror. If the town didn't trust him before, they certainly were going to have a harder time of it now. "Ugh... can I get a rag or something... please?" He asked anybody in particular as he held his nose. His lip still leaked the crimson liquid, but not nearly in the same volume as his nostrils were.​
     
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    At the Broken Bard

    The sound of shattering glass rang sharply throughout the tavern as all hell broke lose. In an instant, the music and singing stopped and all conversation ceased. A heavy silence hung over the room, then the fighting happened, and some people began to scream while others quickly scrambled away from the messy brawl. Chairs and silverware clattered noisily to the floor, and Alina stood up and took a step away from the tables. She backed away from the fight with the rest of the people, but her unflinching gaze remained fixated on the fight, specifically on Zeke and the way he held himself in battle. His precise movements and his overall stance brought back hazy flashes of a place whose name she could not remember. If anything was for certain, the place in her foggy memories was not Edinburg.

    The fight didn't last long but both men wound up bloodied and bruised, sprawled out on the tavern floor, much to the horror of the guests and the esteemed owner. Hans Everdale, a laid-back man many had come to love, was absolutely livid. The stocky man glared at Zeke from behind the counter, face flushed and eyes radiating contempt. Not only had Zeke injured two of the man's best costumers, he'd terrorized the rest of the tavern, putting an end to the singing and dancing and eliminating whatever cheer remained. The night was still young, and already customers were leaving by the dozen. This wasn't good for business and neither were the dark patches of blood and broken glass on the wooden floor.

    Han's icy blue gaze flitted from Zeke to his frightened customers, the former's request for a rag going in one ear then out the other. "Get out," he hissed, his face growing redder with each word. "You heard me, get out of my tavern, son. Stay another minute and I'll have my guards toss you out. This here ain't no place for brawlin', it's a place of respite." And while The Broken Bard was in no way the most quiet or relaxing place in town, people went to rest their weary bones, enjoy a warm meal, and escape the monotony that was life in Edinburg. It was one of the only places the citizens of the town could go to if they wanted to relax. And it helped that they served the best stew in town, something Hans prided himself in. "Oi, son, what are you, deaf? I said get out, you're scaring people and we don't want anymore trouble here." The man shook his head, cursing profusely beneath his breath about finding a doctor for the two men still groaning on the floor.

    A woman who claimed to be a herbalist was kneeling beside the men and tending to them, but she made it clear that they'd been hurt badly and that there wasn't anything more she'd be able to do for them. A tight frown tugged on her lips when her eyes fell on Zeke. Murmurs about how injured the men were floated throughout the small tavern, and while a small majority felt the men were at fault for singling Zeke out, the majority shot the inquisitor pointed glares while others ignored him completely and simply chose to leave without so much as another word.

    From behind the counter, Hans scoffed. "Escort him to the exit, we don't tolerate troublemakers here." The man nodded to the armored guards standing by the door, and both men marched over towards Zeke, splitting up so they could each take one side.

    The taller of the two guards gestured towards the exit "If you'll come with us, there won't be any more trouble." And with that said, he and his partner escorted the inquisitor out the door and onto the tavern's steps. Once he was outside, they left him without so much as a second glance and returned to their post. Customers or no customers, they were being paid to stand guard until their shift ended, and Hans, despite being a bumbling hothead most of the time, paid good coin. "Problem has been taken care of, sir," the shorter of the two reported.

    "Good, and I've sent a messenger to run for Dr. Alamar," Hans sighed.

    Talk of the fight that had just transpired continued, but Alina tuned it out, far more curious about why what had happened felt so... familiar. She strode past the battered men and towards the door, eyes skimming over their injuries and the dark patches of crimson on their clothes and on the tavern floor. The sight made her freeze in place - inside her head, the image of blood seeping through her fingers and mingling with snow.

    Why... why was this image so important? Why were the flashes of blurry images growing more frequent? She blinked away the hazy memories and made a beeline for the door, hoping that Zeke would still be there.

    She found him outside the tavern and quickened her pace so she could catch up to him. "Hey," Alina called out, eyes focused not on his injuries but on him. Several questioned whirred noisily inside her head. They'd never exchanged more than a few casual remarks and greetings, but she had noticed him too, the same way he'd noticed her. Something about him felt off... and yet familiar. She reached into the pocket of her coat and pulled out some tissues she'd grabbed from one of the tables in the tavern. She passed it to him. "Where did you learn to fight like that?" There were many other questions she could have asked, but she went with the first that came to mind. It was simple enough, and yet, Alina hoped it would clear more things up as well. Where are you from, really? The Question also asked. Not Edingburg, that's for sure.




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    At a Lighthouse Somewhere

    "Oh, oh, he's waking up! What a joy, what a joy!" Someone tittered.

    Garret groaned as the voice grew even louder. The pounding in his head was unbearable and his skin felt hot to the touch, feverish. Every part of him ached so badly that it made him want to disappear. What happened? The last thing he remembered was the crackling of flames and an explosion.

    He was supposed to protect someone, wasn't he?

    The unanswered question was enough to snap him awake and he jolted upright, gasping for air as if he'd been kept prisoner at the bottom of the sea. He was in a cylindrical room with walls too close for comfort and a ceiling high above him. It almost made him feel claustrophobic, and the battered mattress and wooden furniture (the lighthouse keeper's attempt to make the place more homely) did little to ward off this feeling.

    "Who..." Garret struggled with his words. "Who are you?"

    "Me?" The man in the long coat and top hat asked. He tilted his head to the left like a confused puppy. "Why, I'm the lighthouse keeper!" He gestured to a strange contraption at the room's center, but no light emanated from it and Garret wondered if the man was mad. "I've been here for as long as I can remember, yessiree! I saw you through the window. You were out a like a light, so I decided to take you here!" He clapped excitedly, but a moment later was wagging his finger in Garret's face. "Don't you know? It's dangerous to go alone. Who are you?"

    Who am I? Names floated around the inside of his skull. Xerxes, Ise, Noe, Dune, Gaara... none of the names brought up faces or people, but he felt deep inside him that none of them were his, that they belonged to people he cherished, people he had promised to protect.

    "I'm afraid I don't know who I am," came his quiet response.

    His own answer stirred up a storm within him. He didn't know who he was, but there was somewhere he had to be, people he had to protect.
     
    #3 Fox of Spades, May 2, 2016
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
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    "Hey, I'm a sober fuckin' adult. I can walk myself to a door, thanks. Wasn't planning on sticking around anyway," He muttered, using his thumb to hold the source of his bleeding. "What a waste..."

    As he pushed through the door and the two guards left him, he rolled his eyes. There wasn't another place in town to get a good drink, but at least those thugs would think twice next time they wanted to open their ignorant mouths. The Inquisitor shook his head and started down the road. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as he felt somebody behind him. He tensed, but continued walking casually until Alina came up beside him. Her gaze was alert and attentive as she physically analyzed him. He took her offering with a grunt of appreciation and wiped the blood from his fingers on his clothes. It left crimson streaks, but he could hardly care as he placed the napkins to his face.

    Where did you learn to fight like that..? The words didn't ring in his head for long. He furrowed his brow, "The Red Seminary." He answered without hesitation. He stopped dead in his tracks and looked at her, realizing only now that he answered the question... But what he said made no sense. The Red Seminary... Is that where he learned to fight? Is that where he got the scars that were scattered all across his body? Images of spires and stained glass, a cathedral larger than the entirety of Edinburg and its farms, altars, and small bunks ran through his mind's eye. What was that place?

    He cleared his throat, "Sorry... No, what I meant was... uh... I actually don't know where I learned to fight... I think that was just an instinct thing, I've lived here as long as I can remember." He was finally able to push the brief images from his mind. "I'm going to be honest, I don't know why I said that." He gave an uneasy laugh, but he was being honest. The answer didn't make any sense - that wasn't even a place, especially in Edinburg. Not that he knew of, anyway, and there were no martial or fighting schools in this town.

    "Alina, right? I've seen you around before... I've actually been meaning to talk to you, but wasn't quite sure how. I guess, seeing as I've already said and done enough weird stuff in the last few minutes, it wouldn't hurt to just come out and say it. I've noticed you're a pretty... alert young lady. I've seen you in some places around town, you look like you're always examining your surroundings, like you're in danger... But you're not. You and I are the only two people here who would walk into that tavern back there and make sure we knew all the exits before taking a seat... Or sneak a peak under another person's coat when they turn or it opens without them noticing to make sure they're not carrying any weapons..." He cocked a brow, pulling the napkins away to find a good spot of blood had formed on them. He found a clear space on the cloth and put it back on his face to absorb more, as it was likely to continue trickling for several minutes.

    "So... I wonder the same thing... What're you doing here and where'd you come from?"​
     
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    The Red Seminary, his answer brought a puzzled look to Alina's face. She'd never heard of the place before, and yet, something about his answer struck a chord. She tried to think of every place she had ever been to, but nothing stuck because Edinburg was all she had ever known. "I don't think I've ever heard of The Red Seminary... oh," Zeke corrected himself mid-sentence and the hopefulness in Alina's eyes dimmed a little. So the truth was he'd live in Edinburg ever since, just like her and everyone else who ambled around the small settlement.

    And then he started to ramble and suspicion began creeping up on the healer. The man before her was grasping at straws the same way she was...

    He couldn't remember anything outside of his life in Edingburg, nobody here could and something about that just felt wrong, sinister even. It only intensified Alina's curiosity for what awaited them outside the city and beyond the forest. Perhaps, it was time to leave this place. Zeke continued to speak about his habits, about how he noticed she did the same. The last part caught her off guard because it was true. Every day she spent here, she spent cautiously. It felt as if an unspoken set of rules had been drilled into her head, something she could no longer separate from herself.

    "Alina, right? I've seen you around before..."

    "And you're, Zeke, yes? I don't exactly know what you're talking about... and yet I think I kind of do. Does that make sense?" A hesitant pause as she tried to remember everything about herself. She was Alina Alkaev, a farmhand for James Mertens. Every day she fed cattle, collected chicken eggs, pumped water, harvested crops... that couldn't be all. Her train of thought came to an abrupt half and it alarmed her, how she knew very little about her own history. "I've lived here for as long as I can remember as well, not saying much," she added bitterly. "Since everything is hazy. This might sound odd, but it's always been just Edinburg and nothing else, whenever I try to think of a before, there's an invisible wall and I can't go any further." Her eyebrows furrowed in irritation as she tried to think. But why should it matter, wasn't it the same for everyone? Perhaps, she was just overthinking everything, she had a tendency to do so after all, and Zeke had just pointed it out too.

    Checking for weapons and exits, did they have a reason to do any of that?

    "But forget I said anything," the calculating look on her face disappeared into a look of concern. "You should get some ice for your head to prevent swelling." The symptoms of a concussion spiraled around her head, surprising Alina. "You aren't dizzy are you?"
     
    #5 Fox of Spades, May 23, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
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    Zeke nodded, furrowing his brow. It was the same for him, but it went without saying. He gently held onto his head as she mentioned ice and nodded. "Y-yeah, I think you're right. Not dizzy quite yet, but it might be good to sit down somewhere and ice it a bit." He took a deep breath and let it out slow as his head throbbed, "Where do you live? You're uh... You're one of Mertens hands, right..? You live over there, then?" He asked warily, "I'm a ways out, don't come to town as often. When I do, I just want to have some time to myself and then people go running their mouths." He slowly shook his head, "I don't know why it made me so mad - they were just so... I don't know what came over me. Thanks for not just watching them toss me out."

    After what felt like ages of walking, they finally reached Alina's place and he sat down in a chair, holding a hastily-made ice pack. "Ah... that... that helps a bit, at least relieves a bit of pressure." He rested his elbow on his knee, leaning over and closing his eyes, "Hey, Alina," He started, clearing his throat. "I was thinking on the way over here - about how we don't remember a whole lot outside of this town or being young... How we both have that issue... It's weird... It got me wondering: what's out there?" He asked, looking over at her, "I just... Now that I've talked about it, I can't get this itch out of the back of my head..."

    Zeke pulled the ice pack from his head for a minute and looked at the mark on the back of his hand, furrowing his brow, "I just... I feel like if I go out there somewhere, I might find what I'm missing... As soon as I get these scratches cleaned up, I'm going to get my things together and just... go. I've got nothing here but a little shack and I honestly don't know if they'll even notice I'm gone. I don't even know what's out there..."

    He shrugged and returned the pack to his head. He wasn't sure which direction he'd go, or what he'd be looking for, but he was one hundred percent sure that it was anywhere but here. Nothing happens in Edinburg - leaving was his only option now.

    "Thanks again for helping me out, I can't remember the last time I received such skilled medical attention. Why are you a farmhand..? Aren't there more useful things you could do that are a bit more... oriented to your skill-set?" He asked curiously.​
     
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    In response to Zeke's words, Alina gave a curt nod. The expression on her face remained mostly calm, but on the inside a storm was brewing, a storm of unanswered questions and growing doubts. "I don't really know, I've just always been a farmhand... I've never been anything else, really." Sometimes hazy images of gauze, antiseptic, and cloth on bleeding flesh would come to mind. But right now, the images were still.

    "Just as confused as you are. Hah, wouldn't it be funny if we just left?" A humorless chuckle followed. "I've been thinking about it too, every now and then. Just up and leaving the Mertens' farm and walking until I reach somewhere the isn't here."

    Her eyes flitted across her one room apartment, at the wooden bed, the nightstand, and the closet. She wouldn't be leaving much behind if she left with Zeke, not even memories. "There's not much to miss here. And if I come along, safety in numbers, right?" Reason tried to tell her that leaving Edinburg would be foolish, people rarely ever returned, and those who did were never the same.

    Here, she had a job, food, shelter—endless questions with no answers.

    "I don't know what I want," Alina said as she paced around. "But I have a feeling I might find something if I follow you out there." She took a few steady steps towards the closet, and after pulling the doors open, reached out for her inquisitor's coat inside. Draped over her shoulder, it felt like an old, comforting friend. Her eyes fell on the insignia sewn into the coat and the cabbage thief came to mind.

    The cabbage thief and someone important...

    "Yes, I think I'll find what I'm looking for outside as well," she repeated before finally returning to Zeke's side. "If we're leaving, we'll need a plan."
     
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    Zeke shrugged his shoulders a couple of times, looking himself over in the mirror. He had some bruises, but the bleeding from his face had stopped and he didn't seem too worse for wear. Better yet, now he was dawned in a black coat with red trimming and his equipment strapped snugly to his body. His belt was lined with throwing knives and he was equipped with a pair of sheathed kukhuri crossed behind his lower back. He had to wonder where this stuff came from and whether he could really use it, but after what happened at the bar... he didn't know what he was.

    The former Inquisitor headed for the door - he and Alina had agreed to meet at the Northern Road leading out of the city. All they could remember of this Red Seminary thing was that it always felt cold and that he could swear it was in the mountains somewhere. So where were they to go but North? Especially when he found that Alina had the same coat and could remember the Seminary as well. As he walked down the street, he pulled the collar on his jacket up, lifting his shoulders to keep a low profile. He didn't want anybody to see him and start anything else after what happened earlier. Things felt really quiet, though. The wind howled between the short buildings of their small town and his green eyes pierced the air as a thin fog enveloped his figure.

    His boots made a soft tap with each step, cutting through the silence in the air. He heard a low rumble and Zeke's hand reflexively shot to the grip of his kukhuri as he continued walking. He wondered how long Alina was going to need before she'd be ready. Something about this town was starting to make him uncomfortable. In fact, ever since the fight, he'd been feeling something strange just picking at the back of his mind. Where was everybody?

    Click click click click

    Zeke froze and pulled one of his kukhuri out of its sheath. It started slow - just one little clicking sound at a time, but then it turned into a repetitive patting and then it almost turned thunderous. The sound filled the street, but he couldn't find its source until something burst out in front of him. He instantly took to a battle stance, one of his feet moved back and he crouched low.

    The beast was covered in patches of matted, disgusting fur. It stood on four rather scrawny legs, its eyes sticking out of what seemed to be a malnourished skull while it barred its teeth. The monster started walking a circle around him as more joined in from the surrounding alleys. He was surrounded, but for some reason, he didn't really feel like he was in danger. The Inquisitor pulled the second kukhuri from his back. They all continued snarling, but he didn't wait for their attack. They weren't much larger than the average dog. He kicked off powerfully, moving for the canine that first showed its toothy face. They all seemed to move simultaneously, pouncing toward him. As he reached the first one, he twisted his body to avoid a bite and dispatched the creature, opening its throat as he passed. Another beast was nearly on him before he pivoted and thrust one of his blades into its chest, stepping away as he drew the kukhuri out of it. Their numbers seemed to be growing... It went from just a few to some kind of pack. One of them lurched for him from the side and latched onto his forearm.

    "Gah! Fuck!" He shouted, "What the hell are you?!" It bit down harder, its paws scraping the ground as it tried to pull him down. His free hand clumsily drove his weapon into the side of the attacker's neck once, twice, thrice, before it finally lost its grip and fell away. It wouldn't take a moment's hesitation before another leapt at his chest and knocked him to the ground. What was happening?!" He grunted as he tried to push the monster off of his torso - where was everybody? He'd known how to fight earlier, why did he suddenly feel like just a guy with a pair of short swords? He didn't have any idea what he was doing anymore...
     
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    The Northern Road

    Alina walked on, taking her time as she eyed the outskirts of Edinburg. There was a chance this would be the last time she'd set eyes on the settlement, and while leaving the city didn't bring about any feelings of loss or longing, it was the only thing she could remember so she soaked in her surroundings and tried to burn the memory of it all into her brain. The Northern road was farther ahead, past a hill. But she was in no hurry. She and Zeke hadn't specified any time of arrival, they'd simply stated that they would leave sometime before noon when they had finished preparing for the long journey.

    What sort of preparations this journey required, Alina didn't know. The only thing she was certain of was that the sign emblazoned on her inquisitor's coat gave her the extra ounce of courage that she needed in order to leave. Somehow donning it felt more natural than going about in her usual farming attire. Attached to the belt by her hip were several throwing knives and a larger dagger, while strapped to her back, was a metallic spear that felt familiar. She'd also brought with her a few extra clothes and whatever food and water she'd managed to fit into her rucksack. Everything about this felt familiar and it only strengthened her desire to find the Red Seminary.

    Perhaps she and Zeke would find the answers they were looking for there, perhaps they would not. If anything was for certain, it was that they would not be returning to Edinburg and that this journey would be a new chapter in both their lives. She continued walking, kicking up grass and dust as she went along. Things were quiet, but then she passed the hill, and they were not. From below came the soft thumping sound of several feet hitting against the ground. They were headed in a direction opposite to her, and by the sound of it, they were in a rush as well.

    Perplexed, Alina quickened her pace and settled into a slow jog to follow the peculiar noise. As she drew closer to it, she heard snarls and a voice that sounded familiar. Zeke. Worry flashed across grey eyes as Alina's fingers automatically reached for one of her throwing knives, her fingers tightening around its hilt. Eventually, she came across the snarling creatures and noticed that one of them was pinning Zeke to the ground. Out of instinct, she plucked the blade free from its sheath, flicked her wrist back and then threw out her hand as she sent the dagger slicing through the air. There was a soft and squishy sound as it embedded itself into the snarling wolf's eye and knocked it to the ground.

    "Can you stand?" Alina called out as she freed her spear from its sheath and slid into a more defensive stance. Zeke might have dealt with a few of the wolves by himself (if they were even wolves), but there had to be at least eight of them left. A handful had turned their sights to Alina while the remaining wolves continued to skulk around Zeke in a predatory manner. The strange wolves had their teeth barred and their heads hung low as they let out soft growls and padded around both inquisitors.

    She'd never seen wolves like these before. "Are these... are these even wolves?"

    One of the beasts pounced and Alina brought her spear into the air to defend herself. One of its claw pressed against the spear's shaft while the other pressed against the blade as the beast stood clumsily on its hind legs and snarled. Alina retaliated by pushing forward with a grunt and sending the animal to the ground. The girl's eyes glazed over as she pulled her newly-freed spear back and then dug the blade deep into the animal's throat.

    Endless snow and blood seeping through her fingers. The vivid memory left Alina standing breathless until a loud snarl snapped her out of it.

    The dazed inquisitor barely had time to spin around as one of the beasts leaped of the ground and pounced. She lifted her spear up once more, but the lack of a proper stance coupled with the surprise sent her falling to the ground. It was all she could do to press the shaft of her spear against the wolf's throat as it barred its teeth and snapped its jaws in a wild attempt to get at the girl's face.

    A padded paw pressed down on her shoulder and she felt the claws digging into her coat and skin. Instinctively, Alina brought up her free hand and wrapped her fingers around the beast's paw, but the creature was much heavier than her. And with her other hand on her spear, pushing it off didn't seem likely. Gobs of spit landed on her face as the claw dug deeper into her shoulder, and she wondered if she and Zeke would die here. Pathetic. They had only stuck one foot out the door and now they were going to die.

    Anger and resentment bubbled up inside as she clamped her fingers even tighter around the beast's claw. It's jaws were drawing ever closer to her face, but before the creature could snap its mouth closed it began to whimper and Alina felt a warm and sticky liquid trickling between her fingers and down the palm of her hand. She held on tighter, not sure of what was happening. The wolf recoiled, before tumbling off her and she remained lying there in a daze as the sound of several voices drifted across the northern road.

    "I saw the wolves, there was a pack of them, sir! They were scary, larger than any other wolves I'd ever seen."

    "Where did you last see them, boy?" A deeper voice growled.

    "They were right here!"

    "Well, if your wolves are as big as you say they are, where—"

    A group of four people appeared from the other side of the hill. They held pitchforks in their hands and stared on in disbelief as their eyes finally landed on the "wolves" the shoeshine boy had been talking frantically about.
     
    #9 Fox of Spades, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
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  10. Zeke let out a 'hmph,' as the wolf atop him went limp. He threw the carcass to the side with another grunt and rose to his feet, "I'm good, thank you, keep your eyes open." He twirled his kukri once, but had to sheath the other - his grip was shot. The forearm bite throbbed with pain and blood even dripped from his sleeve. Alina threw herself directly back into the fray, so he pushed through the pain. It was far less overwhelming now and the next canine to take a leap toward him was met with nothing but air as he pivoted again and drove his blade into its side, following the monster all the way to the ground. Another dashed toward him before he pulled his kukri back out, but it took a heavy kick to the jaw from his boot and reeled back. After shaking its head, it tried another attack, but Zeke was already recovered - he had his weapon back and lodged at the base of the wolf's neck, severing its spine.

    For what felt like hours, but really lasted barely minutes, he and Alina fought side by side. The wolves were no easy foe and their numbers were thinning slowly, but the progress was methodical and almost like clockwork as each opponent fell at their feet. From the corner of his eye, he saw Alina go straight to the floor as one of the heavy beasts leapt atop her. Ezekiel moved to her aide, but was stopped by another pair, one sprinting in from behind and the other frantically moving between the two of them. He raised his arm just in time to block the wolf at the throat. He could hear the loud snapping as its teeth met over and over, trying to reach his face or throat. The Inquisitor stepped back and then lunged, knocking the furred enemy off balance before moving in to finish it. Just then, several of the townsfolk appeared over the ridge and one of the beasts tumbled away from Alina, whimpering at it burnt flesh. As soon as they were seen, the pack that was now as good as dead seemed to decide that best course of action and started running.

    Zeke looked down to Alina, "Hey, hey, get up... C'mon... I got a bad feeling..." He urged quietly, reaching down to offer her his good hand only after sticking his blade into the ground. Once she was up, he retrieved it, half-cradling his injured arm as the people came down from the hill. They didn't seem too happy themselves, Zeke noticed.

    "Hey, just what the hell is going on over here?" The lead man asked, narrowing his eyes in suspicion. "Aren't you that fella that started a fight down at the tavern? What're ye doin' here... And why are the two of you in such ridiculous outfits?" He asked, his voice rising in ignorance and anger as he wagged a finger at them.

    Zeke shook his head, "Don't worry, I'm leaving town, you don't ever have to worry about it again."

    "What do you mean?!" he asked, already shouting. "Ye beat the hell out of a guy in a bar and then go put on some... mysterious... what are these? Uniforms? Coats? And what're you doing with Miss Alina? She has a good life here - she's a kind girl, she doesn't need to be walking around with the likes of you! And another thing, fighting off a bunch of wolves like that, where could you two have possibly learned that? Have we all been living our lives beside people who could kill us at any minute? I think that's something to worry about!"

    "Look, I don't think it's any of your business where I'm going, with whom, why, or who I am. I haven't hurt anybody here who didn't deserve it and it looks like we just took care of you wolf problem, so how about you just leave well enough alone, old man?" Zeke shot back venomously, sneering.

    "Why don't you let the lady talk?" He asked, turning to Alina, "Miss Alina, is everything alright..?" He asked, "Whatever it is we can get you away from him... Look what he's done to our town..."
     
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  11. [​IMG]

    The beast's blood was warm between her fingers and it left Alina feeling dazed and sick to her stomach. How? She was no magician, and yet a fresh wound had opened up where there had been none. Her surprised gaze flitted to Zeke's outstretched arm and she reached for it and pulled herself to her feet. So many things were happening at once, the beasts retreating with their tails tucked between their legs, the townsfolk mumbling angry complaints, and the man with the thick mustache accusing Zeke.

    "Why don't you let the lady talk?" The same man snarled as his eyes met hers. "Miss Alina, is everything alright..?"

    Neither she nor Zeke couldn't remember anything before Edinburg, Zeke's arm hung limply at his side, and the nasty gash on her shoulder throbbed terribly. Alright was the last word she would use to describe their situation, but if Alina felt doubtful, she didn't show it. Instead, the girl took a step forward and stood in front of her fellow inquisitor. "He hasn't done anything wrong. The wolves attacked and we fought them off together."

    "Together," one of the men sneered. "Hey, Joey, he's not the only one in the ridiculous getup."

    Joey arched an eyebrow in response to his friend's observation. "Miss Alina works for Mertens at the farm, she's one of us."

    "I'm just saying... if the shoe fits. He wasn't the only one giving those wolves a beating now, eh?"

    The words rang true and Joey couldn't help but narrow his eyes at the strangely dressed pair. "And what exactly do you two hope to find outside Edinburg? Those who've left have never come back, though none of them fought like you two."

    It seemed all eyes had fallen on them, but Alina found no need to lie. "The Red Seminary. I already told James I would be leaving, so there shouldn't be a problem." She reached for Zeke's good arm, turned away, and continued walking down the northern road. "They have no reason to follow us, but we shouldn't anger them further. The more distance we put between us and them, the better. We also need to clean our wounds and bandage them." She'd fallen back into the role of medic without quite realizing it. "We won't cause you any trouble anymore."

    Joey stared on dumbfounded before he finally found his voice. "You're both crazy. Nobody who leaves ever comes back. You two... you'll die out there for sure."
     
  12. Zeke rolled his eyes, "Fine. Maybe they don't come back because they find what they're looking for, maybe they didn't have plans to come back," He retorted, placing his hand in his pocket, "C'mon, Alina... I don't think anybody here is going to help us anyway," The Inquisitor sighed and cursed under his breath as his arm throbbed, dripping with blood it looked far worse than it felt. His gaze went back to the canid creatures that they faced off against mere minutes ago and he narrowed his eyes - they weren't quite wolves... They were certainly more ravenous, but not quite as heavy. His eyes widened as their bodies began to move. He took up a revived battle stance and held his blade at the ready.

    "I think they're getting up..." He muttered, turning his back on the citizens before he realized what was really happening. The monsters began to bubble as their very essence started to liquefy and melt into the ground, turning into a disgusting puddle of black tar which was promptly swallowed by the surrounding dirt and ground. What a horrific sight, the Inquisitor decided, spitting on the ground in disgust. "What the fuck was that about..?" He asked out loud, shaking his head and sheathing his kukri - whatever. It was done.

    "Let's take the North road, somebody out that way is bound to know where we can start looking..." He suggested, nodding his head.

    ----

    After a few days of travel and a few bandages, Alina and Zeke came to a town, with a sign that read Brekken Hold - it looked like Edinburg, but perhaps a bit larger. People were just as lifeless - walk to work, walk home, maybe eat at a restaurant... Everything suddenly felt like it was on a natural clock so that nobody was ever struggling, but still didn't have much time to spend their day thinking about much but what they were doing. It was chilling, Zeke thought, that he lived this life too. He had mentioned to Alina that he felt something strange about that wolf attack - like it was a warning. However, being able to take them down reminded him that they had something more to find than the others of this world, though he wasn't sure exactly how she felt about it.

    They still didn't have much in the way of supplies, but the need to eat was shockingly slow to come and they managed to find food when it was growing necessary. The road wasn't the most comfortable of things, but somehow it didn't feel strange to Zeke, it felt like something he did often. As they entered the city, garbed in their dusty coats and weapons, they got a few stares, but not much information on what they were looking for until they finally asked a man running a stand at the marketplace.

    "Hmph... I ain't ever 'eard o' no 'Red Seminary,' but there's a guy in town who came through a long time back, 'e was lookin' for summin' like that too. I can't quite 'member what 'e called it, but it was some strange place. Ain't ever been the same since 'e got back, 'e 'asn't. Weird feller, lives a ways out of town, haven't heard from 'im in a while, I can tell ya where 'e lives," The man offered before directing them to a small hovel not far from the edge of town and said his name was Terrance.

    Soon thereafter, the duo arrived to a ramshackle little hut. Weeds grew beyond the first rail of the dilapidated fence, with a barely worn away path leading up to the front door. The wood was chipping and the windows were grimy, but the two approached. Zeke put out his bad hand to signal Alina to stay a few steps behind him. He raised the other and cautiously knocked on the door, "Terrance? Are you here, sir? My friend and I have a few questions and would appreciate a few minutes of your time!"
     
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