• Closed • Blind Date [Max]

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Re: Blind Date [Max]

Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:02 pm

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Caramel eyes, sharp like tempered steel, settled sharply on Ellasin. This was it, her Ambrosia-addled mind recognized. This was the moment that they got down to business and into the nitty-gritty. Into the treachery, the bloodshed, and the comeuppance of an angry, motivated pair with a mutual enemy to topple.

Maxine's vice kicked the dark parts of her mind into high gear, propelling her thoughts toward an unorganized whirlwind of chaotic strategy designed to wreak pain and havoc in her spiteful wake. It was during that focused spiral, leaning toward the table, that Audrae rose from her chair in her dress of darkness and shadow. For all her power and grace, it wasn't her menacing, active presence that won back her favored's attention. It was the sharp, mocking laugh she offered with the words she spoke to Ellasin.

Like a blast of unexpected, harsh winter wind, the moment froze and Maxine gave pause. Her blood ran cold. The inkling that something wasn't quite...right entered her consciousness. The drum of war and death stopped mid-beat, and instead her million miles an hour brain slammed on its brakes. She glanced toward Audrae and then the other hooded woman sitting before her.

Wear the Empress?

Slowly, Maxine fell back in her seat.

Fuck.

The weight of a reality she knew on some subconscious level was slow to up-take in her mind. That wasn't much of a shock though. So blinded and driven by hatred and fury was she that there was no room in her vision for anything else. In only the span of a couple trills she knew. She knew before she knew. Brow furrowed and face falling, Max found her shadow patron with a hard, accusing gaze.

"You set me up," Max said with contempt. "I am no daughter of yours." She never had a mother. Not at any moment in time that she could remember. Always the orphan, she knew nothing of what it was like to have a present parent. But this? This was not what mothers were supposed to do. The disappointment didn't last. Her own mother gave her up and left her to find herself here, having walked down this fucked up path. She hoped that woman was dead. Maybe this was what mothers did. And like the mother Maxine had, Audrae too abandoned her to her fate.

Ellasin proved not to be Ellasin at all. Hood and illusion cast away, Maxine discovered it was no mage she parlayed. She'd never met Famula. Not even when she'd spent time in her Zuudaria or among her abhorrent champions and servants. This woman fit that role though like a glove, and the marked woman knew this was the divine patron Faith Augustine devoted her entire existence to. The same woman Carter served when he tried to drive a dagger into her throat, unwarranted. The one too cowardly to fight her own battles and decreed her friends took up arms instead.

"Done hiding, you craven little cunt?" Max spat her acid between bared teeth, seat moving back as the top of the box fell open. Threatening overtones coloring the meeting before had bubbled to a roaring boil at her surface. Pure, hot hate consumed her entirely. Her wild eyes caught sight of the black leather leash. Understanding once more delayed for a trill until she felt the etching around her neck. She knew not what the Immortal was doing, but she knew it was another attack upon her. A stare as desperate as it was violently vengeful locked onto Famula as she spoke of the leash, Kura, and commands.

She's right here! End it all now!

Maxine hurled the table from her way, spilling Ambrosia ash, the leash, and alcohol upon the floor. The furious ex-convict lunged toward the Immortal, glowing right fist hunting for Famula's true face. The only thing her knuckles connected with was the thin air her target seemed to vanish in. She stumbled forward, twisting and turning in place as if she expected the woman to still be hiding elsewhere in her lounge.

"No, no, no," Max repeated, furiously shaking her head. "Come back! I said come back, you red-eyed bitch! I see you! I see what you are! Come back!" A chair became the casualty of her kicking boot. Even as she carried on, fists clenched and expression that of a woman thirsting for blood, it was devastating loss she felt. An alliance with Ellasin in her efforts had one true goal.

In exchange for her betrayal, Maxine had been trying to buy the life of her friends. A contingency plan, should Faith's strategies fail. If the Necromancer's forces prevailed and those tied to the attempt on the ex-convict's life were slain? Well, that was just a bonus satisfaction. Now? Burned by Famula's camp long before this trial and without the alliance with Ellasin? She had nothing.

Maxine tossed the finished joint, and remembering the sensation on her neck, raised a hand to her throat. Her pounding feet took her to the bathroom to gaze into the mirror. When she did her jaw fell slack and her muscles tensed. A black, chain spiked collar tattoo had been given life on her skin. Her memories drifted back to the box, the leash, and Famula's decree that she would be commanded. Blood drained from her face. She was no fool to think this was like her run-ins with her own patron Immortals. This was no blessing. This was a cruel, unforgivable curse.

The mirror was shattered by a quick fist. Bottles came off the shelves of the bar next. Breaking glass and groaning furniture played the background symphony for slews of shouted profanities. No employee dared enter the business despite the havoc they heard inside. Those still lurking quietly took their leave. The front door was locked at some point during the violent tirade.

Even as Maxine destroyed her surroundings, surroundings that meant something deeply to her, the black leash found itself safely back in the box and unharmed. The discreet back door to The Red Hand was left unlocked. The thought to leave did not cross her mind. This was the only place she expected Nell to return to, and whether she realized it or not yet, she had Famula's command to fulfill.

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Re: Blind Date [Max]

Fri Jan 03, 2020 4:06 am

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Kura had been out spying on the Scalvoris council, though with little luck at the moment, and had only just returned to Max's bar to check up on things when she saw the bars employees scattered out around it looking very nervous. Kura, under her Nell disguise, had been around enough for several of them to recognize her as a friend of Max's, or as close as the firebrand ever got to it, and they approached her nervously. "Nell, thank goodness. She's lost her mind, she's trashing the place and she locked the door!" the barkeeper said in a panic.

"Stay here." Kura said and she circled around to the back of the bar. Most people came and went by the front door, even employees, but Kura mostly used the back door to the Red Hand. It was discreet and away from the public eye, something Kura found very useful given the nature of her activities in Scalvoris. That one was unlocked and Kura made her way inside the bar, careful to look out for flying debris. As it turned out, it was fortunate that she was on her guard, as she just had time to see a Max throw a bottle at the door that Kura had just come through.

Ducking under the bottle, which shattered behind her, Kura looked around in shock at the state of the bar. "Max, would you calm down?" she said, her voice startled. Max, while incredibly volatile, had seemed to have a great deal of care for her establishment. Kura had even tried to coax Max into taking more of an active hand in the establishment, as she felt that managing such a grounded business might help Max learn to control her volatile temper and blunt the most volatile and self-destructive aspects of Max's nature. Getting a good look at Max, Kura noticed the tatoo of a collar around Max's neck and frowned. This had, evidently, been a bad time to be out of the Red Hand, judging by the look of things. "What happened?" she asked, a mixture of concern and genuine worry in her voice.
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Re: Blind Date [Max]

Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:23 am

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Raving madness wasn’t a worthy description of the scene Kura had found herself walking into. This tantrum came from somewhere deep and primitive like an active volcano erupting in destructive fury when it could take no more pressure without retaliation on its exterior world. Perhaps it was best that the immediate object of her rage had vanished after she had done her damage. The only thing that could’ve quelled the ex-convict now was burying her gloved fists into Famula’s face until even her closest servants struggled to recognize her mangled form.

There was the vaguest flicker of regret in Maxine’s eyes as she became aware of Kura’s entrance, mostly because she’d hurled a bottle of swill dangerously close to the door she’d entered. It didn’t last. At her direction, Max paused with a bottle of half-finished rum in her bloodied hand.

”Calm down?” A nearly maniacal laugh escaped from her, half doubling her over before she recovered and took another drink of her vice. “Calm down?!” Her boots crunched over the glass as she made her way toward the disguised Councilwoman. The inevitable inquiry for what happened came and Max was happy to oblige. “Just take a fuckin’ seat. I’m about to tell you some shit you’re not gonna like.”

Max roughly shoved a chair toward the woman with her foot, sending the bruised piece of furniture groaning across the wood floor. Whether Kura took it or left it, she didn’t care. Reeking of alcohol and neck marred with blood around the wretched tattoo she couldn’t scratch away, she was about to spill the truth. All of it.

”After I walked out, I came back here to keep doing what we were doing,” she started bitterly, searching for a way to summarize the important bits. “Blackwood had sent me a letter about Leshlie, so I followed the lead. Turned out Blackwood had been onto something. Leshlie was a mole in your council. I leveraged her into contacting her husband. I figured he was on the other end. I was wrong.”

Another dark laugh. A pause. A new fire lit in her dark eyes, and a twitch of a mirthless smirk crossed her lips briefly.

“Some Zuuda bastard showed first out of thin air. I still don’t know how he did it. I didn’t even know the fucker was there until I felt his dagger in my neck. We both know who's doing the fucking commanding from that front, so don't you go god damn defending her or I will lose my fucking shit! I'm supposed to be dead. Instead, Leshlie’s contact showed: Ellasin.” Saying it aloud was somehow more hilarious than the ironic thought of it all. The villain everyone despised and demonized had been her salvation. “Big Bad Ellasin paralyzed Faith’s toy soldier. I killed him. When she paralyzed me too, she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Can't say it was a hard yes to give considering.”

Her fingers tightened around the neck of the bottle she held. The hilarity of it all vanished. Blood oozed from the bright red skin of her irritated neck. The place where Carter pierced the skin of her throat was a deep red, newly healed scar.

“We were supposed to meet here to negotiate and strategize,” Max explained, an angry void consuming her voice. “Ellasin’s face showed, but it wasn’t her. I realized that too late.” Max dropped in a heavy, small heap in the nearby corner with her elbows resting on her knees. She leaned her head back against the wall. “I bear her mark. She called me ‘daughter.’ And in the same breath, Audrae set me up with the same bitch whose little servant came damn close to finishing me. Famula was gone before I could kill her. I tried, too. But not before this.”

Max gestured to the black chain spiked collar tattoo. She lifted her bottle to her lips and finished its contents in one long pull. Once empty she dropped it haphazardly to the floor beside her.

“And now she tells me this is yours,” the cursed ex-convict murmured with contempt. The heel of her boot struck the box, sending it sliding across the floor toward Kura.

The command followed, she nearly felt relief. It was quickly replaced by anxiety. She had a suspicion that Famula had sought to make a mockery of the ties that bound her. Yet how exactly that manifested, she didn’t quite know.

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Re: Blind Date [Max]

Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:38 am

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Max's reaction to being told to calm down was not unexpected, but Max was willing to explain, so Kura took the chair Max had semi-kicked to her and stood it up to sit next to the bar. The explanation about Leshlie wasn't exactly unexpected and Kura shrugged at the mention. "Figured she was in someone's pocket. I was bankin' on the bitch over at the Logging Consortium, but I guess she hadn't been as ditched by her husband as we thought." she mused, before raising an eyebrow at what followed, her eyes turning gold as the story progressed.

As Max kept talking, Kura's frown increasingly turned to a scowl, which was broken up by an exasperated look and a sigh when Max mentioned that Ellasin had set up a later meeting. However, when Max mentioned Famula and Audrae, Kura's expression went blank, though Max would likely be able to see some indicators that Kura was doing it to suppress that her feelings had become rather mixed when Max had brought up the Immortals. When the firebrand kicked over the box, however, Kura's initial reaction was to recoil from it as if it had contained a living and rather large slug.

After a moment, though, she bent down and gingerly picked up the box. Upon opening it, however, she gave a noise of contempt and disgust before slamming the lid shut and setting the box on the bar. "Somethin' like that, and yet Famula claims that she never had a connection to the slave trade. Never trust a Daughter of Cierel to be honest or open-handed." she growled, her voice echoing with the cries of owls due to her barely suppressed rage. She gave the box another look of contempt, then turned back to Max.

"That, unless I am mistaken, gives me some measure of unilateral control over you. I suspect that if I were to give you an order, you would find yourself compelled to obey. And for added fun, it's likely mandatory. If I don't use it, it's liable to find someone else to give power over you." she said, shaking her head. "Likely indestructible as well, if Famula hasn't gotten both stupid and lazy." she said, before leaning back in her chair and looking at Max with an expression that couldn't quite decide if it was anger or exasperation.

"That said, you have dug yourself rather a deep hole. Famula's agents attemptin' to act on my own while her and I are allies is a rather egregious oversteppin' of the bounds. Your transgressions while on Scalvonite soil are mine to deal with." she said, taking out her pipe and filling it with tobacco. "However, unless I miss my mark, you were holdin' a knife to an infant when he stepped in, yeah? That little incident was reported to me near the beginnin' of the season. Along with the news that Ellasin was defeated last season. Apparently, she's lost her Spark and has spent the intervinin' time in extreme withdrawals at the very least. Just our rewards for bein' out of touch, we get all the news late." she said, giving a tight and entirely humorless smile.

Lighting her pipe, Kura paused and gave the box another look, clearly thinking about something. Then she turned back to Max. "No knowin' how sensitive that thing is. I don't want to use it accidentally. So, for the time bein', we're goin' to use questions, yeah? You said you made a deal with Ellasin. Would you tell me what it is that she offered you, that was enough to get you to stab me in the back? she said, her voice surprisingly calm given the nature of that last sentence.
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Re: Blind Date [Max]

Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:39 pm

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Kura seemed about as displeased as Max was about the contents of the box. That felt like a small victory to her, at least. That sensation was quickly diminished in the face of The Owl's logical assessment. A leash and a collar had one purpose: to control. Like an untamed mutt, Famula apparently though it amusing to assign a master to break her. The irony over who was chosen to serve that role wasn't lost on her. Not one bit. As Kura explained the most probable power the leash held over her, the ex-convict's ire drained with the worrisome furrow of her brow.

Her freedom was being stolen from her. Again.

Maxine's dark stare settled on the object of her panic.

Indestructible? Yeah. Alright. We'll test that theory.

At the mention of her supposed crimes warranting action, the cursed woman rolled her eyes. The politician missed her mark, but she didn't land off target. "It was a temporary leverage until I had Leshlie under control," she scoffed, brushing off the confession of using a vulnerable pawn in the grander game. She raised her head to regard Kura steadily, shying away from anything but the truth. "I was holding a knife to Leshlie when he tried to kill me, making a new advantage. The little spawn was back in the crib by then." Maxine didn't see why it mattered anyways. Even if her knife hand slipped, putting an end to that family line should've earned her a medal.

Mention of Ellasin's defeat elicited the briefest flicker of surprise upon the ex-convict's face. Her head slowly shook and her body sunk heavier against the wall. The lines of communication were too delayed. If she'd known Ellasin had fallen a Spark-less loser on the field, maybe she would've seen through the Immortal game she'd unwillingly become a participant in. Maybe. The past had become as permanent as the collar around her neck. No amount of wishing could change it now.

But if I catch you, Ellasin...

The scent of smoking tobacco gently wafted from the end of the newly lit pipe. Its familiarity was almost a comfort. That, and the fact Kura intended on letting her speak on her own volition rather than give the leash a test run. So calm did she start her interrogation, Maxine nearly missed the bite in her words. The cursed woman frowned. She'd slowly come to find the oddities within the disposition of a politician. Sometimes it was the chosen word, not its delivery, that betrayed the feelings at bay. Maxine was illiterate, but she could read between the lines of curiosity. Especially when the accusation was of such personal treachery.

"Would you tell me what it is that she offered you, that was enough to get you to stab me in the back?"

"You," Max answered in a tone both soft and final. Saying it aloud felt like regurgitating hot acid. She turned over her bloody palm and let the back of her hand rest on the top of her bent knee. The thumb of the other hand began to slowly rub at the drying stain. She adjusted her jaw and glanced once toward the wretched box. The career criminal had been a liar her whole life. She lied to herself as much as anyone else, and she used her vices to help make it easier to accomplish. The title of traitor was new, but it had been flung in her face enough for her to wear that skin, too.

Maybe it was the weight of the unforgivable curse that wore her down, or the threat of the leash looming like an ax over her neck. Whatever it was, business cleared and doors locked, The Red Hand was earning more volunteered confession than a crowded church. She hated that too.

"I knew I was fucked," she began to elaborate quietly, still busying her attention with rubbing her palm clean. "I thought I pulled off what I was sent to do: find and expose the traitor here. I had Leshlie. I didn't realize it, but I maybe had Ellasin too. I was so...close. They needed to just let me do my fuckin' job or, I don't know, back me up. Faith. Famula. I don't even know anymore. One of them gave the nod. He failed, but I knew from being on the inside that the Zuuda were everywhere. Them. The Lightning Knights. Elements. Run or stay, someone would find me. I wasn't going to get that lucky twice. I knew I was probably done. And then there was Ellasin."

She dropped her head back against the wall and abandoned her vain, idle fidget. Max shrugged, "I found a contingency plan with her. In exchange for information, she agreed to spare Blackwood when she finally launched her campaign. No acts by the Coven would touch her, or the deal was broken. We were supposed to plan here to-trial. I thought I was trading up again: your life for whatever she wanted me to do with that box. Fucking joke's on me, huh?"

Dark caramel eyes studied the old ceiling for a couple silent moments. Her hand absently rubbed at her neck. Something seemed to occur to her, and her face leveled to meet Kura's stare again.

"I never trusted her," the raven-haired criminal clarified firmly. "I had every intention of standing on the wrong side of that battlefield to honor my word. If she broke hers, I was going to kill her from behind her own lines. Odds were good I was dead anyways. I didn't have anything to lose." Her one leg bounced while her mind replayed the events leading up to her betrayal. "I won't apologize."

After all, the only way to keep from watching the two of them die was to make sure they didn't, wasn't it?

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Re: Blind Date [Max]

Sat Jan 18, 2020 3:32 am

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Kura huffed as Max explained that she had never meant to harm the infant, and that the infant had in fact been back in the crib when everything went south. "I'm sure your unspoken plan would have been of great comfort if Leshlie had called for backup and you'd have had to fight off a squad of thugs with an infant in your arms. And yes, I'd have expected you to keep the baby alive, seein' as you were the one that got involved in that business in the first place. Morality issues aside, as that's a whole 'nother debate I don't feel like havin' right now, you should know how I feel about sub-par workmanship, and if you managed to sneak through the whole island to get to my door, you shouldn't have needed a hostage to deal with a bloody receptionist." she said, her tone irritated. Max's skewed morality was something Kura did want to address, but that was a longer task. Max performing below standards, however, was a problem that could be addressed much more immediately. Perhaps she'd have Pierce teach Max some tricks, depending on how things played out.

As Max started to explain what Ellasin offered, Kura went quiet again as she listened to the firebrand explain what the terms of her deal had been, and by the time she was done, Kura couldn't quite seem to decide what emotion she was feeling the most strongly at the moment. Finally, she let out a small laugh. "Well, it's nice to know you care." she said, with some warmth to her voice. Then her expression sharpened again and she frowned. "Ellasin is a Webspinner, a Champion of Sintra, the Immortal of Manipulation. She saw you as an easy mark, and you played right into her hands. In all likelyhood, at best, she'd have turned me and Sephira into undead thralls and given us to you as her "kept word". At worst, once she had access to all the dead in Zuuda, she'd have killed you and made you a part of her army as well, an undead creature forever bound to her will. Either way, she was never going to call you to that battle, you'd be too unreliable for her tastes, being alive and all that." Kura said, her tone bordering on harsh.

Then her expression softened slightly. "It is important that you understand, Max. You are not weak, and you're good at survivin', but you're impulsive and if you don't learn to control it, you'll suffer for it. This could have easily cost you far more than your life." she said, before looking at the box with the leash. "Knowin' how you feel, it may well already have. Not even I can undo what Famula did to you, and the leash is just a physical token to make the thing more clear, like as not. Even destroyin' it, if it can be done, is unlikely to free you." she said, a subdued note in her voice. After a moment, Kura turned back to Max and leaned forward. "Max, do you believe that I keep my given word?" she asked, her tone intent.
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Re: Blind Date [Max]

Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:46 am

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Max rolled her eyes at Kura's scolding. In all fairness, she wasn't wrong about the lack of planning that went into confronting Leshlie. She'd never admit it, but she was strung way the hell out when she got inside that house. Logic hadn't been driving her. Emotion had. Picking up Orrick's child and sticking a knife to his throat hadn't been entirely thoughtless. Max had been banking on Leshlie finding herself shackled by emotion, too. Mothers, at least good ones, were supposed to do anything for their child. Even lay down their weapon and bend to an intruder's will. That much she'd managed to calculate correctly. The rest she'd left affectionately up to complete and utter chaos.

"We both know she was a little more than a receptionist," Max grumbled irritably. She'd seen Leshlie with Orrick in that hall filled with mages. If she and the Diri of Destruction had killed the two of them in their massacre then, she probably would've been saved considerable trouble later. Then again, that memory was odd and dream-like. Maybe Leshlie was a mage only in that muddled memory. In any case, there was no denying the inkling had driven her careful steps of insanity in that house.

Max resigned to come off the floor and lean against the wall instead. Arms folded and brow knit when Kura's tone changed, accusing her of caring. "I didn't say that," she snapped quickly. The sharpness returned to her in kind as the more calculated of the pair began to explain all the fallacies in her actions. One after another, The Owl dropped reason and logic with a heavy-handed knowing that nearly made her wince. The truth was, Max had only the foresight to see limited outcomes.

Each was simplified by winners and losers. If Faith beat Ellasin, it was the best case scenario in the grand scheme of things. If Ellasin beat Faith, it was the worst case scenario. She already assumed the latter meant a mass conversion of people into mindless thralls. A deal with an untrustworthy devil only hoped to mitigate the chances a select few could be spared. Still, someone voicing the images of what she'd tried to avoid set her blood aflame.

Maxine moved from the wall quicker than she should've, lip curled and muscles tense. She didn't say a word though in her defense. While her brain numbed in its ire over thoughts of betrayal, corpses, and wars already won and lost, the cursed woman merely flipped a nearby chair upright and took to it. Her foot bounced on the stained floor while she listened.

Impulsive?

Her lips parted to shoot down that assessment, but a glance at the destroyed lounge made her think the better. The evidence of the accusation was literally surrounding them as they spoke. She bit her lip instead and crossed her arms. She caught Kura's gaze drift toward the box. Her eyes widened in kind and quickly followed, her foot pausing in its tapping until it appeared the politician wasn't making a move for the leash. She relaxed slightly in her seat. The words that kept coming continued to be anything but comforting. The manifestation of this punishing curse continued to be deeper than she had yet processed.

"Shit," she sighed, dropping her head into her hands. Famula had done this to her. Famula and Audrae. Her suspicions were right. She was cursed, and that curse was linked to the holder of the leash. She was cursed to be beholden to someone, and the only silver lining in sight was who had been chosen to hold that right. There needed to be a plan. There had to be some way to shake the ties that bound her, but the leash couldn't be destroyed. Even if it could, she would not be free. She was a prisoner again. A slave. Impulsive reaction lent her one acceptable solution. There could only be one thing to do.

"I'm going to kill her, Kura," she vowed darkly through grit teeth. "I'm gonna kill Famula." She sat up again, running her hands down her face. She willed panic to leave the shores of her racing, wound-up thoughts. It was an eerie, familiar feeling. It was almost reminiscent of her first trial in Level Seven. The darkness, the sound, and the horde of danger waiting to swallow her before she ever saw daylight again. It was the hopeless feeling of being trapped. She only knew how to rage against it.

"Max, do you believe that I keep my given word?"

The ex-convict paused. Slowly, she drew her hands away from her face and peered up. She found the politician eyeing her intently. Max slowly sat back against the back of the chair. She was silent for a time, caramel eyes hunting The Owl's expression for deception. That leg bounced again. Then it stopped as a smooth sigh slipped from her.

"Yeah," Max conceded reluctantly. The tension softened from her frame. "Yeah, I do."

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Re: Blind Date [Max]

Fri Jan 24, 2020 4:13 am

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Kura had ignored Max's grumbling about whether Leshlie was mroe than a receptionist or not, and her only reaction to Max's defensive posturing about never having said she cared was a slight smile that was gone almost as soon as it had appeared. Kura had no intention of being drawn into a pointless debate with Max about whether the former mattered in the current situation or whether the firebrand would admit that she did care. There would, perhaps, be a time for those later, but for now other things were more important.

However, when Max said she would kill Famula, Kura's attention snapped back to the Firebrand. "What did I just say about your impulsiveness? Killin' even the weakest of the Immortals would be a risky task for even the most dangerous individuals that have ever walked Idalos, especially the older ones, the ones that are the Immortal equivalent of a war veteran, and Famula seems to be one of the eldest of them." she said, before her expression sharpened. "And frankly, even if you had the physical ability to kill an Immortal, right now you stand no chance of even layin' a hand on Famula." she said, before gesturing at the tattooed collar around Max's neck. "Do you really think she can't hijack control of that at will? If you tried to face her with that on, you'd be walkin' right into, at best, a humiliatin' and ignoble death that might not even leave your soul free. At worst, you'd just be givin' yourself to Famula to command. Either way, it's a losin' proposition." she said, her tone firm before she turned back to the box.

When Max said that she did believe that Kura kept her word, though, Kura let out a sigh. "Good. That will make this much easier, for the both of us." Kura said, before standing up. "If I were to follow the law in this, Max, you would be either sent back to Slags Deep or executed. Everythin' you've built here would be taken from you." Kura said, before smiling slightly. "However, even were I foolish enough to believe Slags Deep could hold you, I have no desire to send you back there. Frankly, I find the whole concept of prisons like Slags Deep to be rather counter-productive, and that's not even gettin' into my personal feelin's regardin' you." she said, before shrugging. "However, if we attempt to cover this up completely, we create the very real possibility of it blowin' up in both our faces sooner or later." she said, before starting to pace.

"Fortunately, there is a third option, and that's the one we'll take. You were actin' as one of my black ops agents through-out the war, officially." she said, before holding up a hand to forestall any argument. "Whether you considered yourself to be actin' in such a capacity or not, that's what the official report is goin' to say. Now, because officially speakin', none of the black ops assignments ever happened, nor does any such group exist, you can't be officially tried for anythin' you did in such a position. Instead, your trial and punishment fall to me to decide." she said, before coming to a stop again.

Kura knew that Idalos was filled with hundreds of thousands of Spirits that most of the population had no idea even existing, but these Spirits meant that there was an incalculable power to certain acts. One of these was, in fact, the murder of an infant, as children so young were the only true innocents. Such a thing was apt to forever stain the soul of the murderer and lead to their inevitable downfall. However, another such act was an act made out of love. Kura didn't doubt that revenge and anger had played a part in Maxine's treason, but if that had been all of it, she wouldn't have asked for Sephira and Kura to be saved. Max had walked out of the alliance with Faith because she couldn't watch Faith, as Max believed would happen, get Kura and Sephira killed. So Max, in her own highly repressed and volatile way, did seem to care a great deal about the two she had asked to be spared.

Kura had taken all this into account when she had made her decision, but she said none of it to Max. She knew that Max would not be willing to accept it right now. Instead, she picked up the box and held it up between them. "You said you believe I keep my given word. Then I promise you this. I have no desire to humiliate or degenerate you, nor to see you imprisoned, killed, or broken. Moreover, I will never use this to compel you to work directly for me or for any government I serve. If you work for me, it will be of your own free will." she said, her tone intent. "If it ever becomes an issue, if we are made to give an answer for you were punished for your actions that night, this will serve as an answer. That you were bound to service as punishment for treason. No one will question such a punishment, and it will keep you out of prison and with your neck attached." she said, before sitting down again. "Of course, this is if it ever becomes an issue. I have no intention of mentionin' the existence of this leash to anyone if we don't have to."

Kura sighed again, looking down at the box she still held. "I said that it's likely this has to be used once a day if we're to keep it from changing masters. More than that, I suspect the use of it is involved in any methods of freeing you from it." she said, before pinching the bridge of her nose in irritation. "And knowin' Famula, there's other clauses built in that we'll have to work out. Among other things, she may want to see you become a better person if you're goin' to be freed." she said, before looking up at Max. "If you'll trust me to do it, then I will use this with the sole intention of helpin' you be free of it. All I ask is that you trust me to know what I'm doin', and that if I don't explain somethin' right away, I have a very good reason for it." she said, her tone calm.
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Max
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Re: Blind Date [Max]

Sat Jan 25, 2020 1:52 pm

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Kura was doing it again, that thing Max hated so fervidly. To-trial, she was doing it particularly well. While Max had fixated on the most obvious next move in her violent mind, Kura's attempts at dissuading her ambitions were landing their mark. The politician made sense. Her logic was sound. Maxine huffed at the voice of reason, shaking her head. The stupid collar had put her at a severe disadvantage. An Immortal already possessed as immense amount of power, making even the most docile a worthy challenger above her weight class. Her curse ensured she'd never even get close enough to wreak the havoc she desperately wanted to impose upon Famula and her domains. In that, Kura was right. Although it was interesting failure was the only rationale the woman offered. A lack of defense for Famula against her unveiled intentions wasn't lost on the ex-convict.

Fine. Collar off first.

For a little while, she managed to actually shut up and listen. Her eyes carefully watched the standing politician as she began her lecture, and though she remained silent for now, it was a slew of spoken word that she didn't like. Her brow furrowed at mention of the law, Slags Deep, and executions. Kura was suggesting she'd committed a serious crime. She frowned at that. The only people she'd targeted with her deception had been Famula and her army. She was going to deliver Ellasin the Zuudaria. A decimation of Famula's domain, champions, and the Immortal herself would've decisively satisfied Maxine's wishes. Then she remembered the business with Leshlie was in Scalvoris, and was technically a crime.

Breaking and entering. Holding the kid at knife-point as a hostage. Imprisoning Leshlie in her own home. Cutting the bitch and using her as a hostage for a bigger fish. That's all gotta be a couple charges I guess. Scalvoris should've been thanking me for doing all of it. I found their little traitor working right under their noses.

The consequences were bad. That was apparent. A glance around the business she'd destroyed, Max found a sinking feeling in her chest. She didn't build things. She destroyed them. Except for the Red Hand. She didn't want to give up her little house of sin. Not yet. The thought of Slags Deep was darker. It wasn't that the experience had been so traumatic that she couldn't face the abyss of Level Seven again. It was that she'd decided that she wouldn't. There would be no moment in the chaos where she dropped her sword and let a friend bring her in for judgement. Either she'd get away, or they'd have to kill her. As far as she was concerned, going back was the same as an execution. The idea of walking toward the hanging post though...it elicited a grim feeling that nearly made her shiver.

So which is it gonna be, Councillor? Death or death for me?

The Councillor chose the surprising, wrong thing. Kura chose neither of her lawful options. She picked door number three: covering up for the career criminal. If over an Arc ago someone told her that corruption in Scalvoris would one trial be her saving grace, she would've laughed. Her shoulders lowered and her muscles relaxed slightly. Death by the letter of the law was at least off the table. She might've fallen on her own sword if she would've been forced to stand as a witness to another trial against her. Kura's judgement was something she was more likely to accept.

Max fought a smirk at Kura's explanation of what the third option entailed. A black ops agent for Scalvoris was what she'd officially be on record. She would've thought the idea more ridiculous if she hadn't actually fulfilled that role in Rynmere. That was Rynmere though. A whole different nation, which was an enemy to Scalvoris. She'd turned traitor then, too, but it was always in service to keeping people alive she'd rather not see dead. A foreign agent conspiracy seemed like a lot to explain away some crimes she committed against a two-faced receptionist spy. That seemed more like the type of excuse concocted to cover up something far more serious. Like...

"Treason?" she asked incredulously, brow raised. "You're the only authority on this stupid island I don't presently want to take an ax to, but really? You're serious? Treason?" She would've laughed if Slags Deep and execution didn't have a far heavier meaning. "Fuck!" She ran her fingers through her raven hair. Sitting had suddenly become unbearable. Max stood suddenly, nearly shoving the seat aside as she fell into an immediate pacing. Walking back and forth kept her from going back to breaking her own belongings. Her mind was racing again. The moment Kura picked up the box, she froze in place. And listened intently.

Earlier she had admitted she believed Kura was someone who kept her word. It felt like a mistake. She knew better than that. Trusting others was a bad idea. All it could bring was a dagger to the back. Watching carefully the eyes and demeanor of the Councillor, Max found the murmurs of whispering doubt were quiet. She didn't believe Kura to be lying. At the very least, she was confident that Kura seemed to believe the words she herself had spoken. What Famula had done to-trial was worse than what the Element cultists had done to her. It was at least on par with Slags Deep, but even in that pit she held free will. What should've been Rebekah's killing blow in Rynmere felt like a kindness by comparison. The room for grievous torment was wide. Kura was given the reins to orchestrate it. And yet she stood here instead, vowing not to be complicit. She'd help her be free again.

While the disguised woman sat back down with the box, continuing to weed through the details of the curse and the upkeep of the ploy, Max remained stoically in place. She didn't know what she felt. Always, she was so angry. She was still angry but something else had moved to her emotional surface. The criminal didn't have a word for it and if she'd been tasked with describing it, she'd fail miserably. She felt like she wanted to be able to give Kura back her office soon.

"That Immortal bitch doesn't want to make me a 'better person'," Max finally broke her statuesque silence with a roll of her eyes and a grimace. "She wants to see me be a slave. That's why I'm wearing a collar like a god damn dog." Now that she'd made Max a firm enemy, it would never be in Famula's best interest to see her upper hand vanish. "How is it that I'm always the one getting the fuckin' punishment?" The main culprits of the Element cultist charade had gotten squarely away. Scalvoris didn't go after Francis, the soldier who wore the Earth Mask. Max did. Scalvoris didn't hold him accountable for his crimes. Max did. Hold one little public demonstration against corruption, and she's the one tossed to the wolves. Try to put a quick end to a vendetta between two people, which somehow got blown out of proportion into a multi-national war, and she's the bad guy supposed to be up on the chopping block. Turn her sword toward the forces that tried to kill her for no valid reason, and she's handed divine punishment in the form of slavery. "Who do the Immortals answer to? Who punishes them?!"

It was a rhetorical question. The answer seemed to apparently be no one. As fearsome and sometimes hated as Chrien was, Maxine was starting to empathize with her all the time. Hatred and begrudging rage was coagulating thick inside her. There was no getting rid of it. She had to be rid of the curse before any of it could hope to be satisfied. If she couldn't end the Immortal who put it on her, she didn't know if she'd ever be let off the leash. Hope was something she had to entertain. She knew she, like another visit to Slags Deep, she couldn't handle this life sentence.

"When I'm free," Max voiced the only acceptable outcome as she eased back into the chair across from Kura. "I'm going to make her suffer for this. I'm going to find out who sent that Zuuda and authorized him to kill me. I won't stop until I do. And when I find them, I'm going to let them feel a blade in their neck." She never slept as it was, and when she did, it wasn't well. Max was always looking over her shoulder. It didn't help that killers were literally appearing out of thin air to finish her off. "But for now...I'm not free am I."

She leaned forward and rested her elbows on her knees. "I want to trust you. I want to, because I believe you. Those things you promised." Max sighed and lifted her gaze from the floor to eye the politician. Her words were weighted and ominous, but there was a rare glimpse of vulnerability in her leveled stare. "Don't betray me, Kura." She let the veiled threat sit for a moment before a smirk twitched at the corners of her lips. "I'm willing to bet you don't want me at your door step again. Pierce doesn't scare me." The amusement in her face fell away when she looked to the box in Kura's hands. She leaned back in her chair, adjusting her jaw before she settled on a thought. "Alright." She gestured to the box. "Go on then. I'd rather you keep the damned thing than some other asshole."

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Kura Wolfsdotter
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Re: Blind Date [Max]

Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:01 pm

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Kura's expression turned grim when Max protested the charge of treason. "Yes, Max, treason. Scalvoris was allied with Famula's army, and our elements were part of the information you gave her. That would constitute treason in the eyes of Scalvonite law. If lesser charges were involved, we wouldn't be takin' such drastic steps." she said, her tone serious. When Max questioned Famula's intentions, Kura shrugged. "Oh, it's quite possible she doesn't believe you can be a better person. I, however, do believe so, and I've made a career out of doin' what others tell me is impossible." she said, smiling slightly as she spoke. "As for why you're usually gettin' punished for things, it's because you don't think more than a moment ahead and therefore take no precautions and make no attempt to cover your own hide. One of these days, that proclivity is very likely to get you killed." Kura said, her tone blunt. In response to Max's questions about the Immortals, however, she just shrugged. "When you stand atop the food chain, there's no one to punish you. That's why the world has been hoverin' on the edge of a war between the Immortals for the last seven hundred arcs." she said, before giving a grim smile. "That question, Max, has been the core of most of the worlds politics and major events, and things aren't goin' to get any easier. If you want to stop bein' screwed over by almost every Immortal you meet, I can help you, but it would mean a lot of change for you." she said, her tone quite serious.

When Max made her speech about what she would do when she's free, Kura listened, then shrugged at the end. "No, you aren't free. And we'll see how you feel when you are. It could well be that when you are free of this curse, you won't want to risk gettin' another one put on you by takin' a swing at an Immortal. Or more important things may have come up. No one can perfectly predict the future, Max." she said, before turning silent again as Max made her decision. When Max said she wasn't scared of Pierce, Kura smiled. "Ah, Pierce isn't the one you should be scared of though, is it? But no, I've never broken my word, and I have no intention of doin' so now." she said, before looking at the closed box in her hand.

"All right. Like I said, I don't want to make a servant of you, but the next step is to figure out how this thing works. After all, we don't want this thing goin' off accidentally and leavin' you tryin' to climb a wall or boil your head or somethin' else that could get you killed. Best to know the rules, yeah?" she said, before setting the box back on the counter and looking around at the destroyed bar. "Oh, this will never do." she said as an idea very clearly came to her. "Clean up your bar, Max." she said, her tone very clearly an order. Given that they were trying to make the leash respond, if it didn't trigger, Kura would then hold the box while giving the order, then open the box, then hold the leash, or whatever it took to make it work.
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